...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Meeting at The Morgan, starring The Coopered Tot

Last Friday I had the honor of meeting one of my great whisky friends, Joshua Feldman of The Coopered Tot.  It wasn't just a "Hey, how are you doing?" meeting (though it was that as well), but a meeting inside a lovely museum.  With a lot of whisk(e)y.

Josh was a tremendous host, guiding Kristen and I through the museum as well as his beverage selection.  The Morgan Library is a great little museum on Madison and 36th in Manhattan.  Formerly the home of JP Morgan and his son JP (Jack) Morgan, the museum displays the Morgan's tremendous library, great architecture, elaborate frescos, as well as the art pieces Jack did not sell off.  I also found myself unexpectedly drawn to ancient seals.

Not these:

The intricate detail the artisans were able achieve three to five thousand years ago gave this contemporary viewer a moment of considerable reflection.  Some of these small cylindrical etchings revealed action sequences like the one above, while some were dramatically spare and subtly honed, like a later period seal of a single bull pausing on a flat plane.  The level of precision, texture, and space scratched into these tiny pieces made those people from halfway around the world and thousands of years previous feel very close and very present.  May we all leave something behind to remind our ancestors that we were once human as well.

And then there was the drinking.

Here's Mr. Feldman:

Here's one of his guests:

Actually my pose was a ruse.  I barely got any notes down because we had such a great time discussing all things malty; such a great time that I probably made him significantly late for his trip out to his kids' summer camp.  Sorry, Josh!

Here's the liquor lineup:

Balcones Texas Single Malt (Batch 12-4) - Really good! It's very young, very crafty, but delicious.  Chip Tate is doing something right out there.  The whiskey is intensely expressive like a barrel strength rye or high-rye bourbon...yet very malty.  Lots of citric fruits, massive waves of vanilla beans, gingerbread cookies, and deep boozy spices.  And heck, Kristen liked it too.
Hudson Manhattan Rye - Also better than I expected, but it's almost quaint next to the Balcones Malt.  Some good dusty spices sitting on a rye bread base.  Pity about the price, though.
Wemyss Malt "The Dunes" Inchgower 29yr - As Josh has discovered, this one can be divisive in the intensity of its character.  Think citric clay, big bursts of floral fruits, menthol, and flowery perfume (but NOT f.w.p.).  I like Inchgower and found this one zesty and bright.
Yoichi 15yr Japanese Single Malt - Fantastic!!! Think Laphroaig without the peat blast, which is a hell of a feat. Gorgeous iodine and seaweed float on a nutty soft malt. Its price is a bit steep for me, but I need to figure how to make it happen.
Brenne French Single Malt (cask 262) - White chocolate, orange peel, saltwater taffy, cardamom. Both K and I liked this one a lot.  It would be nice as an aperitif, but also maybe as a mellow digestif. When trying this, drop your preconceived notions of what single malt should taste like and let yourself float down Brenne's silky creamy stream.
Pine Barrens Single Malt - Josh had me try it out just to see my reaction.  It's so weird but not fun weird.  Somehow both coniferous and chemical.  Pine cones and bug repellant.
Blair Athol 12yr Provenance - Sturdy solid malt. Soft on the oak. Very easy drinking at 46% ABV. Or maybe it was just so pleasant after the Pine Barrens. The Tot says this is the best of the recent 200mL Provenance releases.
Glen Grant 37yr 1972 Duncan Taylor - I think I've found my sherry tolerance point: very old refill sherry malts. I jest, but I don't. Almost all of the old refill sherry matured whisky I've tried has displayed a perfect merging of the wine and malt to the point where it is difficult to find where one ends and the other begins. This is another excellent example and it is dangerously consumable at cask strength.  So, more 1970s whisky for me!
Port Ellen 1982 23yr Provenance (sherry cask) - Oh yeah. Four for four on Port Ellens. PE is the best petrol you will ever drink. Seriously, think Islay boat docks: gasoline fumes, seaweed, salt, smoke from the village chimneys. Plus this one drops a spent matchstick into the mix. Yeah, Murray would flip his lid over that sulfur note, but he can keep his lid flipped, I love this stuff.
Balcones Brimstone - If the Brimstone is on the tasting list, it must bring up the rear.  Big, intense barbecue, mesquite, bonfire notes.  Kristen found a brisket note in it as well.  It's a large, singular experience.  Very Texas.

Josh is a warm brilliant guy and a terrific generous host.  It's a pity we're on opposite coasts, because I could foresee us causing some whisky trouble around New York.

Thank you, Josh, for all your kind words, shared knowledge, and welcoming whiskies.  You have been one of the most important members of the whisky blogging world since the first day you entered it, not only being a great whisky guide, but also by bringing people together both online and off.  When the time is right, we all look forward to the return of The Coopered Tot!


  1. I've never heard of Pine Barrens until now and after reading a few reviews I think the problem is that they are aging for only a year in small barrels.

    Old Glen Grant never fails to impress. It's good and fresh when young but it's absolute magic after 20 plus years.

    1. Hey Eric. I agree there's definitely a considerable premature bottling factor in play. But I'd probably be a little concerned about their distillate if I were them too. Just because one can distill barley wine doesn't necessarily mean one should. Or maybe one needs more practice.

  2. I can't believe you found the time to post while on vacation with in-laws! Kristen is a really amazing partner. It was a real delight meeting you and drinking with you - challenging as it was to find things you hadn't tasted before! You amaze me being able to write about the drams we had, particularly given that I never gave you a moment to write notes.

    What a pleasure to meet you and Kristen. You guys are just so incredibly nice and smart. Thanks for your generosity with samples. I was glad to be able to give something back with our dram session, but samples are coming your way in the near future.

    Eric, I think you nailed the issue with Pine Barrens. Maturation is needed, plus more copper in the distillation pathway. Maybe some coils of 'sacrificial copper' guys? Glen Grant is aces young and old as you say. I'm looking forward to cracking a Dun Bheagan Glen Grant 15 I have on deck to see how fares in the middle. I've heard it's fine there too...

    1. We have very limited WiFi here too, so I had to sit in the middle of the house to write it. Kristen says thanks for your great hospitality and very kind words. She had a great time with us and may even encourage me to obtain one of those whiskies.

      You're right, I didn't get much info down into the journal, but I had some intense sense memories attached those whiskies. Can't speak highly for the rest of my memory, but my whisky memory is still razor sharp, for now...

      I also realized that the dusty old bourbon mini (I.W. Harper?) you have is actually different than the dusty I'd found in my in-laws cabinet. That one was J.T.S. Brown. I get confused by all these initials. E.H. Taylor, etc.