...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Birthday Booze Batch

The Whisk(e)y:

The Drinkers, the following afternoon:

On Friday, August 23, Kristen and I drove down to San Diego to spend a couple of days with Florin and his family.  Upon our arrival, the pizza was brought out and so was the whisky quickly thereafter.  The first picture is little Picasa-assembled collage of the bottles.  The second picture is of Florin and I, the following afternoon.  That birthday gelato we're eating, it was very good.  The faces you're seeing are those of whisky students who were up until 4:30am drinking studying.

Here were our texts:

Grant's Family Reserve Blended Whisky - MUCH better than I'd expected.  In fact, it's the next blend I'm buying: $14 for 1 liter at Trader Joe's.  I found none of those odd young grainy notes common to all of the blends in its price range (and many of those above its price range).  Instead, it tastes like young Glenfiddich and Balvenie, which is a good thing.

Bank Note 5 year old Blended Whisky (Solera Bottle) - I was enjoying the glass of Bank Note Florin had poured for me, thinking to myself "Man, he's got a really good bottle of Bank Note."  My most recent bottle has been a bit on the hot grainy side, but this one was maltylicious.  My host informed me (around 3am?) that it was his vatting/Solera bottle; he'd been adding single malts to the Bank Note here and there over the past few months.  I may lift that idea.

Teaninch 10 year old Prime Malt and...

Dailuane 10 year old Prime Malt - Two single malts that seemed almost oakless.  Naked malts.  They were crisp and fresh.  They weren't lightweights, but they made for excellent summer drinking.  Kudos to Prime Malt (an old Duncan Taylor brand) for having the confidence in their casks to release them in their all their malt splendor.  There will be further writings about these two as I now have samples.

Glentauchers 16 year old Gordon & MacPhail - I'd never had a Glentauchers malt.  This one doesn't have me running out to drink a second.  It was okay at first, seeming like a simple malt, maybe more like a 12yr starter.  Not sure if it's due to the malt or just some weird refill sherry casks, but the finish gets very odd -- that's all my fuzzy memory will allow.  Anyway, there may be a good reason why Pernod Ricard utilizes it entirely for blends (especially for filling out Ballantine's).

Tomatin 12 year old - More substantial than I'd remembered it to be.  When I'd had it last, about two years ago, it seemed like a plain inoffensive single malt, an easy step up from blends.  But this has more character now, unless Florin was using this as a Solera bottle too.  :)  Just kidding.  For $20-$25, a respectable option.

Kirkland Speyside Single Malt 18 year old Sherry Cask Finish - We matched this up with the Tomatin 12 because Florin was thinking that this unnamed malt was in fact from Tomatin too.  After sampling both, I concur.  Now, technically, Tomatin has been designated as a Highland malt since it sits a little west of the Speyside whisky region borders.  But the palate on this "Speyside" is very very similar to Tomatin.

Fettercairn 15 year old 1995 Signatory - A bracing single malt.  Florin is a big fan of it.  It has a swirl of farmy and floral notes going on in both the nose and palate.  There's also a touch of soap in the mouth as well, but not too much.  Old Fettercairn can be a little divisive, but this bottling was curious in a good way.  Unlike Glentauchers, I'm motivated to explore the distillery further.

(Not pictured) Tuica - A spirity Romanian plum spirit, truly homemade.  Much better than the Kosher Slivovitz I've previously suffered to, since Tuica has an actual nose and is very tasty.  Think ripe plum skins crossed with chili peppers.

(Not pictured) Compass Box Hedonism Vatted Single Grain - My drinking cohort was enjoying this one immensely.  I nosed it a bit, but didn't dive in any further.  I knew I was approaching that moment when I was going to have a difficult time sorting out any new drink.  I'll say this about Compass Box's Hedonism, as per last year's report, it's my favorite Scottish grain whisky and its nose is lovely.

Willett 7 year old Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon - My first Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon.  And now I'm hooked on Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbons.  Holy moley.  These Family Estate bourbons seem to have almost vanished from retail shelves, which is a bummer (but not surprising to me now).  They are heavy, dark, powerful, and deeeeee-liciouss.  And I have a sample to review further, at a later date...

Bowmore 21 year old 1982 Prime Malt - This one is special.  I'll be reporting on it in October, along with another Bowmore from the '80s.  It IS full of violets, but it IS NOT full of FWP.  It's quite an intense experience, though.  Proper respects go out to Prime Malt again for letting the whisky be whisky rather than lathering on the oak.  More on this in October.

Many thank yous to Florin for his generosity.  In addition to all the spirits, he and his wife, Maja, opened up their home to us and fed us well.  Enjoying a casual 24th, strolling around sunny Coronado, was exactly what I needed.  Thank you to my friends for all the wonderful gifts!