Monday, October 31, 2022

Special Mystery Tasting v2

Almost exactly 20 months ago I’ve done a Mystery Tasting with some fancy samples from a Generous Benefactor. https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210301-223652 … It’s time for another one, this time with slightly less fancy components and slightly more mysterious undertones. None of the components were revealed to me beforehand so the guessing is completely blind. Of course, I’ll post the reveal and perhaps some thoughts afterwards, but generally, blind tastings are a big equalizer. I do know this:

  • It is not all cask strength components.
  • This is a blend of Kentucky and Indiana distilled bourbon.
  • It is a blend of four different bottles from three different distilleries.

Quick note on scoring here. I was asked to rate these 1-10. As my system isn’t numeric-based, I’ll approximate 10 to A+, 9 to A, 8 to A-, 7 to B+… etc all the way to 1 being a unified ‘D/Avoid’

Sample 1
N: Oooh I like this nose! Slightly metallic cinnamon. Old leather. Old wood varnish workshop with lots of cedar chips in the rafters. Aaaand then some nuttiness comes up.
P: This is proofy and tasty. Lots of nuts of the roasted variety (without being overwhelming, which is great). No off notes, this slides directly into peppers and cinnamon.
A: Peppery cinnamon, cloves, sichuan peppers, very light nuttyness. Slightly on the sweeter side. Almost zero off-notes or funkyness.
O: This distillery needs to put out more of whatever this specific bottle was. Borderline A.
Score: A- (8/10); Guess: This is the blend of everything. Proof is ~105.

Sample 2
N: Nose is reminiscent of Beam (#4) though less potent. Funky corn, wet leather.
P: The palate is very pleasant and highly complex. None of the funky notes are around anymore. Toasted baking spices, burnt pie crust notes. Very balanced. Not much to complain about. Slightly low proof is my only real nitpick here.
A: Long warming aftertaste that sticks around for a while. Surprisingly gentle.
O: I really like this. It starts like Knob Creek but finishes like something entirely different. The low proof is a problem though.
Score: B+ (7/10); Guess: Something from Beam again… Not too sure what this is. Basil Hayden’s maybe? ~95 proof. No clue on age but let’s say ~7.

Sample 3
N: Slightly nutty baking spices. Salted pickle (dill) notes. Lots of complexity. What I’d call great bourbon nose.
P: Lively palate with layers of wood, cinnamon, vanilla, burnt caramel… etc. Very slightly too sweet.
A: Perhaps a touch too heavy on cinnamon in the aftertaste. I’m also starting to feel the proof in this one.
O: Extremely enjoyable. This really reminds me of SiB Magnus stuff. This also seems like the proofiest of samples.
Score: B+ (7/10); Guess: Remus/Magnus bottling from MGP. ~115 proof. ~10 years old.

Sample 4
N: High proof nose. Slightly funky nuttyness. Light cinnamon that fades quickly.
P: Rather gentle palate… Perhaps ~100 proof. Funky nuttiness from the nose, yet again funk fades quickly. This is like pecans perhaps. Definitely not peanuts. High rye, it’s spicy.
A: Lots of warmth and baking spices here. Long aftertaste with slightly bitter notes at the very tail end.
O: Very enjoyable experience most of the way. The bitter aftertaste isn’t enjoyable and borderline off-putting on its own.
Score: B- (5/10); Guess: Something from BEAM stills. Since they all taste roughly same… ‘Knob Creek 12, 100 proof’, but could be almost anything from there.

Sample 5
N: Whoa… Road tar? Sulfur? Sweet saltiness? This smells *WEIRD*… good weird, but still strange. Thankfully most weird notes leave after some time. But it reminds me of salted nuts from snack machine.
P: Sweet and wood-bitter at the same time… Somehow falls flat on the palate; this is missing that leather and minwax notes it’s also isn’t corny. Wheated mashbill I suspect.
A: Lots of heat in the back that gets sweeter with time.
O: This is not that interesting and not offensive at the same time. The palate falls onto flat one-note; the aftertaste is warming and enjoyable but the rest of the experience is skewed.
Score: B- (5/10); Guess: Makers Mark of some kind. ~100 proof. Wheated mashbill. Age ~6.

This will be edited later to add the reveals… but for now my rating is: 1>2>3>4>5

Personal note: This was really hard. The samples came as 1oz (for wider distribution reasons), so trying to glean insights from small pours while leaving a little bit on the bottom to revisit later is really tough. I initially thought that #2 is the blend but due to doubt that The Benefactor would voluntarily proof down their creation… I’ve decided to do tiny amount of math and assume something that’s proofed in the middle is likely the blend.

The reveal was the following and I’ll put some notes below:

Blind 1: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof K&L Single Barrel (10yr 128.2pf)
Whaaaat?! I actually have this bottle. I should revisit this. Totally didn’t taste like typical Heaven Hill. I’m way off on guessing across all parameters.

Blind 2: Buffalo Trace Neat Drinker’s Single Barrel (NAS, 90pf)
Also whaaaat!? Totally didn’t smell or taste like any BT I’ve had. But, I’m told this is a very funky BT cask, not at all typical. Close guesses on proof and age.

Blind 3: Redemption High Rye Barrel Proof Bourbon (10yr 114.4pf)
Spot on guesses here on it being MGP. At least this one is makes me feel a little better.

Blind 4: Old Weller Antique Eureka Single Barrel (NAS, 107pf)
Whaaaat!? For the record, this tasted almost exactly like Knob Creek 15 year old pick I have. Reasonably close guess on proof, very wrong guesses on everything else. I did call out same distillery correctly with #2 though not its location.

Blind 5: Steve’s Blend (45% ECBP, 25% BT, 20% Redemption, 10% OWA)
Also whaaaat!? I cannot believe after the blend with those components worked out to taste like a funky Cask Select of Makers. Sorry, sir, this isn’t really my jam. But most Maker’s aren’t my jam either.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Black Bottle, Glen Garioch 12, Longmorn 10, Benriach 12, Benriach 15

Black Bottle Taiwan Blend, 40%
This is a blended whiskey for Taiwan market. If I recall this is a dusty from couple of decades ago. Maybe? Friend Charu supplied the source. Nice nose with malt, slightly nutty and lightly peated. More light peat on the palate, I think that’s fighting with the nuttyness. The palate itself is watery. Aftertaste is kinda flat; spice, malt, and wood mix that’s been watered down. Overall: This is interesting for curiosity sake and checkbox, but ultimately bland and disappointing experience. Don’t bother. The fact it’s not revolting and can be drank without gagging are positives in this case. Value: N/A
Score: D-

Glen Garioch 12, Old Particular, K&L SP, 52.6%
A 2008 Glen Garioch bottling by Laing’s Old Particular label from a refill ex-bourbon cask. Oh boy, the nose has a very familiar note for me, which ironically I seem to be unable to place. Baked apple or plum candy perhaps? Let’s go with plum hard candies from the Motherland. More of that candy note on the palate, backed by malt and vanilla. More herbal notes, that transform into some spice, vanilla and malt, with some citrus zest in there. That same zest leaves a slightly bitter leftover note that spoil repeated sips by running into each other. Oddly, with time, the same plum candy notes seem to transform into more pine and mint notes. In context, mind association games are an interesting thing. Overall: Quite enjoyable though perhaps a little too ‘zingy’ for some (most?). Value: The preorder for this was $50? Solid value!
Score: B

Longmorn 10 Sherry Butt, Hart Brothers, K&L SP, 56.0
A 2006 Longmorn 10, bottled by Hart, aged in 1st filled sherry butt… An interesting bottling here, considering it’s 1st fill sherry… The actual malt is… straw-colored. Probably a very dry cask there as the malt went in. Nose is certainly sherried and quite punchy. Grassy, malty, buttery, peppery notes whiff from the glass. Slightly bitter, anice-y notes on the palate, backed by some white candle wax. Long peppery finish. Overall: Certainly flavorful but not quite my glass of whiskey. The sherry influence is barely felt (very odd on how light it is for 1st fill). If I cringe while trying this straight then it should be something to consider. The glass is a lot more interesting with some water. Tons more sweetness comes up as proof takes a step back. Very meaty, almost sweet-and-savory notes. Value: This was ~$75 for a 10 year old malt… Perhaps about average here.
https://www.klwines. … whisky-700ml/1565108
Score: C+

Benriach 12 Sherry Butt, Hart Brothers, K&L SP, 58.2%
A 2008 Benriach from 1st fill sherry butt. This one is properly light chestnut, though not a full monster as some get occasionally on the color. Familiar varnish nutty notes on the nose, quite pungent, mostly due to the alcohol. There’s something particularly funky with either BenRiach distillate or with this bottling specifically as it’s got some unaged whiskey note in there. Perhaps an odd cut has been done on this particular batch that kept bunch of funkyness in. The palate continues with the punchy notes, but there’s a reasonable amount of sherry that balances itself out. There are a few bitter notes in there, like burnt spices. Long finish that gets spicier and mintier towards the very end. Overall: I’m torn. This starts weird, then is decent, but the more I drink it the less interesting it becomes. I taste some bitter, drying, or burnt notes on repeated sips. They are light, but they are there, like more and more varnish. Water helps a bit here scaling back the strange notes and letting cask and malt through. Nothing is particularly bad here… but it’s also not particularly great either. On a revisit, this is tasting slightly better than its grade may suggest… but still not spectacular. Value: This was ~$99. For a sherry cask from a good distillery? I’d say slightly above average price.
Score: B

Benriach 15 Port Pipe, Hart Brothers, K&L SP, 56.5%
A 2006 Benriach 15 from a 1st fill port pipe. For what it’s worth, the discontinued circa-2015 special cask finishes Benriach bottlings were all of 15 year old, but I digress. Back to this pour! Slightly funky on the nose. Now I’m really beginning to wonder if that is something specific to do with Benriach stills as it’s 2nd in a row that’s ‘funky’. Sweetly spiced plum jam on the nose, kinda as expected of port. Slightly syrupy, proofy, spicy, malty, palate with mostly prune notes that come in the fruit section of my brain while trying to taste it. It really does have that dried fruit compote, oddly enough. Lots of sichuan pepper in medium-long aftertaste that sticks around for a while. Interestingly, most of the sweetness is contained to the palate and a few drops of water can take care that. The aftertaste is balanced well. This leaves an enjoyable, no-gimmick malt with some spiciness that’s got a bit of a port notes in there. Overall: Enjoyable overall, if a touch too sweet on the palate, add few drops of water to deal with that. Hope you enjoy some peppers as it’s got plenty of that left. It’s a consistent experience that is honest with me. Value: This was $109 preorder… very slightly above average on price.
Score: B+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

John McCrae/Balvenie 28, Glen Scotia 15, Blue Hanger 7, Amrut Malted Rye

I’ve got a list of stuff ahead of me… Let’s get into it finally.

John McCrae (Spooned Balvenie) 28, Hepburn’s Choice, Single Cask, 43%
This is one of the 153 bottles, teaspooned Balvenie malt, sold as John McCrae by Hepburn’s Choice label… Exclusively at K&L wines. I’ve written about teaspooned malts before so no need to repeat myself. I’ve also had John McCrae before too, though that one was from Sovereign (in 2017) and that was fantastic! But, let us dig into this one. The nose is lemon vanilla cookies. Palate is lemon vanilla cookies. The aftertaste is lemon vanilla cookies with a solid pepper kick towards the end and lasts for quite a while but ultimately fades. There’s some thick vanilla and a touch of oaky dryness somewhere in there but it’s not of too much consequence. Overall: I’m disappointed here. I’ve expected greatness but what I got is quite citrucy, very malty, somewhat peppered, kinda generic malt. Good everyday drinking. Nothing special in my book. I really wanted it to be special in my book. Value: This was ~160 or so. On paper a 28 year old Balvenie is many times more expensive… Value per year is great. Value per experience isn’t particularly great.
Score: C+

Glen Scotia 15, 46%
This is a lightly peated bottling of Glen Scotia… Whose limited editions have been… positively been looked at in the past https://www.aerin.or … y:entry200411-073247… Anyways… The nose is lightly peated, malty and got the typical ex-bourbon spice mixture present. The palate is more of the same… and slightly nutty. The aftertaste is yet again more of the same, lightly drying. Overall: This isn’t great; this isn’t terrible. Somewhere middle of the road malt that’s lightly peated. Actually inoffensive everyday drinker. Nothing special is perhaps its weakest point. Look elsewhere if you want something special. Value: Total Wine lists this at ~$70 and I would argue is okay for a 15 year old age statement.
Score: B (Light Peat)

Blue Hanger, 7th Limited Release; Blend; 45.6%
This is a Blend by the Berry Bros and Rudd independent bottlers. I guess this is them trying for a premium blend? To compete with new wave of premium blenders? Limited to only 3,088 bottles, this this variant of Blue Hanger is comprised of the following whiskies; one hogshead of Bruichladdich 1992, one butt of Bunnahabhain 1990, four hogsheads of Miltonduff 1997, and two hogsheads of Bunnahabhain Moine (peated) 2006. Let’s dig in! The nose is unmistakably peated… and basically smells like Peated Bunna and/or Laddie. It’s got that salt and smoke and a little bit of nuttiness. Almost like an old BBQ smokehouse. Salt combines with sweetness here, malt, peat (though reasonably balanced and restrained). Shockingly flavorful for the proof, this isn’t pulling its punches on the palate. Mouth-watering aftertaste with some coffee, tobacco, salted butter that finishes up with ginger spice tingle at the tail end. Overall: Not bad! Really, not all that bad… The peat works against me… but it’s reasonably enjoyable, balanced blend. Value: K&L was selling it for $99 back in the day… and I don’t usually go into packaging here… but for $99 this better have some legit wealth of information on the label… but this doesn’t! It’s a rubbish label! So blindly, for a blend, this is a terrible value, but knowing more about components, and having tried it… this is an interesting bottle that’s worth picking up… Provided one likes peat.
Just look at it! It’s ugly: https://whisky.aucti … -7th-limited-release
Score: B+ (Peat)

Amrut Malted Rye 2016, Batch 2, 50%
How did this get lost in here? Oh wait… It’s a 100% single malt… except it’s a Rye malt…. Like Old Potrero (and few others). Did I mention I like malted rye yet? I’ve had American Malted Rye… French Malted Rye… Now for Indian Malted Rye! The nose is cedar sawdust and freshly baked rye bread crust. This is all resin, no pine. A little bit of pine comes through the palate with more of the punchy rye bread notes. The aftertaste is all malt and some solid fruitiness shows up among the spices, of those a most prominent being a solid pepper kick. Perhaps, buttered rye toast with fruit and jalapeno jam on top. Very impressive ‘legs’ on the glass too here confirming the viscosity. Overall: This is like Old Potrero single cask cut with some young cognac/brandy and some single malt. Very interesting and certainly to be polarizing as it doesn’t fit into typical niche of flavors. This has to be contemplated to really ‘get’; and it may be a little too hard to get for me other than scratching the surface. Value: SRP is around $200 which I would say is a terrible deal for a full bottle, when Old Potreros are found for ~$100… but it’s definitely worth trying for the curiosity sake.
Score: B+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The Rum Task/Marathon…

Loooooooots of Rum samples. Mostly single cask or limited releases. Little time. Will post whatever info I’ve got on the bottles that is relevant. Some just say ‘mystery’. Quick notes for everything !

Origin — Age — Score — Notes

- Appleton Estate (Jamaica) 1994, 60% — 26 years — A- — Funky, medicinal, minty, woody, touch too intense, though in a good way.
- Samaroli, “Spanish Sand” (Belize), 48% — 12 — A — Delicious, wonderful balance, cheers all around
- Samaroli, Venezuela Rum 2005, 48% — 14 — B — Wood, vanilla but is rather dry and flat for a rum. Like licking a seasoned 2×4.
- Dictador (Columbia), Episode 1 American Oak, 2001, 41% — N/A — C+ — This is NOT the Port Cask release. Dark molasses, almost savoury, nutty, and toasty. Needs more proof… or cut with something lighter and proofier. Great nose. Everything else is too thin.
- Holmes Cay (Trinidad), Ten Cane, 2012, 59.1% — 10 — C- — Grassy, minty, light for the proof, herbal. Feels like there’s some green cane in there.
- SBS Single Cask (Antigua) 2015, 64.9% — 7 — B- — Funk, wood, vanilla, leather, huge alcohol punch.
- Black Tot (Blend) 2021, 54.5% — N/A (Blend) — A — This is great. Some of the best notes from Jamaican mint profile mixed with Foursquare-like flavor bomb.
- Black Tot, “Last Consignment”, 54.3% — N/A — Unicorn… (For me: ~B) … ot-last-consignment/ Earthy, savoury, wood, leather, tons of tobacco, borderline bitter, super concentrated. Amazing nose. Unicorn experience… not for everyone.
- Uitvlugt (Guyana) “Silent Ambassador” 1994, 51.9% — 22 — C+ — Grassy, peppery, warming, spicy, funky, sweet vanilla and dry leather without much wood in the mix. Not my preferred palate though. After a bit of time, it’s either growing on me or my taste buds are dying. Strong grassy = (agricole green cane juice) note on nose… Mostly hidden on palate, comes back in aftertaste… Age helps a lot to balance out the grass notes.
- Velier Hampden “LFCH” (Jamaica) Pot Still 2011, 60.5% — 7 — B — Funk Funk Funk. Nose like an old Tiki Stand, complete with grimy torches and wood all around. Flinchingly hot, a little young. Vanilla, sugar, spices, heat, dried mango in the aftertaste? Light funk that doesn’t overwhelm.
- Velier Last Ward (Barbados) Mount Gay, Pot Still 2009, 64% — 9 — B+ — Toasted vanilla sugar. Dry cherries!? Minwax wood polish. Syrupy-thick. Very interesting, but leans towards too much burnt (bitter) sugar.
- Velier Worthy Park (Jamaica) 2007, 59% — 10 — A- — Funk, sweet vanilla, wood, spices. Funk is there, but doesn’t linger. Kinda what I’d expect out of good Jamaican Rum. Almost a mix of Barbados and Jamaica profiles.
- Velier Worthy Park “Forsyths WP” (Jamaica) 2005, 57.8% — 10 — B+ — Starts a little funky… becomes solid drinking. Mint hard candies. Some anise perhaps. Sweetness and baking spice. Aftertaste lasts and lasts.
- Lost Cask/Rolling Fork (Barbados) Foursquare, 61.8% — 16 — A- — Super solid Foursquare ex-bourbon profile … if slightly hotter balance than usual. Blindly… I’d guess ex-bourbon exceptional cask release. Let’s call it 2009 equivalent, even if it’s not quite the same; it’s made from the same framework.
- Velier (Barbados) Foursquare 2013, 64% — 2 — B- (Top shelf mixer or add water) — 100% Pot Still… This is just two years old! Super flavorful, yet very raw around the edges. The typical notes fighting with grassy funk of newmake. Absolutely not holding back on eye-watering alcohol punch. Fantastic mixer… Not sure on it’s viability straight, although water does wonders for the drinkability.
- Colors of Rum Edition 7 (Barbados) Foursquare 2005, 61.1% — 15 — A — Beautiful stuff. On par with some of the best regular Foursquare bottlings. Looks like ex-bourbon maturation. Very very good.
- Colors of Rum Edition 9 (Barbados) Foursquare 2009, 64.4% — 11 — B- — Alcohol Hot. Leans towards caramelized bananas covered in some tropical baking spices. Little too hot for my liking. Water helps but it’s not quite there in age and balance.
- Colors of Rum Edition 10 (Barbados) Foursquare 2007, 62.1% — 13 — A- — I tastes like there’s some sherry in this one. The blurb says it’s ex-bourbon and then ex-scotch casks… So it may have been some sherried scotch in the wood. Very tasty. Very little to complain about here. Almost malty… Slightly on the hot side of the alcohol spectrum… Arguably, a touch too sweet in the balance.
- Foursquare Indelible, 48% — 11 — B+ — Pleasant and sweet, quite a bit like Doorly’s 12 with a touch of red wine fruit in there. It’s a ‘good’ Foursquare in a sea of ‘excellent’ Foursquares.
- Foursquare 2007, 59% — 12 — A- — It’s good ex-bourbon Foursquare. Fairly typical for the year series
- Foursquare Touchstone, 61% — 14 — A- — Tasty, if somewhat typical, addition to Foursquare exceptional cask series, slightly sweeter and fruitier due to cognac wood in the mix. Rather hot on the palate, a tiny bitter note in the aftertaste. Really benefits from sitting in a glass for a while.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown