...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Bearded Lady versus Suntory Royal SR (late '80s), unbearded

Once upon a time there was The Bearded Lady...
The corrupted lass
...discovered by a whisky blogger who was unwittingly relieving Long Beach of its sh*ttiest whiskies during his dusty hunts.  The intrepid blogger realized something was wrong on his way home from the liquor store as his car smelled like hot rotten whisky.  He soon discovered that The Bearded Lady's seal had been eaten away and its cork dissolved by the whisky within the bottle.  At first the whisky, formerly known as "Suntory Royal SR", was judged to be drinkable, then sort of not drinkable, then relatively unpleasant, and ultimately bad.  About a third of the bottle found its way down the sink drain.
What remained of the cork
Months later, the ever persistent handsome blogger found a liquor store with a bakers dozen 50mL mini bottles of Suntory Royal SR for all of $3.99 each.  The bottle design itself was cute as a button, mimicking the 750mL bottle almost precisely.  And the seal was intact due to a screw cap.  But what about the whisky within?

Okay, I can't keep this third-person crap going any longer. It's exhausting. The fact that Rickey Henderson did it for 25 years' worth of interviews is more impressive than his stolen base feats.

I had hoped there was something nice beneath the oxidized and possibly-tainted Bearded Lady.  It was a good thing I had optimistically saved two ounces of The Bearded One so that I could compare it to what was likely the real thing.

Info for both whiskies:
Brand: Suntory Royal
OwnershipSuntory Whisky
DistilleriesYamazaki, maybe Chita?
Age: ???
Maturation: ???, my guess is a blend of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and Mizunara casks
Type: Blended whisky
Country: Japan
Alcohol by Volume: 43.4%
Bottled: Late 1980s

Her Royal Beardness - At first it's okay.  Then it's not.  Artificial-watermelon-flavored Yamazaki......in fact there's lots of fake fruit stuff.  Sandalwood in cinnamon syrup.  Fungus.  Old school Bayer children's chewable aspirin.

Suntory Royal SR, unbearded - Malty and a little dusty.  Incense and citronella candles.  Orange peel, hints of dried fruit, a spicy creamsicle. Some bright but not buttery American oak.

Her Royal Beardness - Something not quite safe, aggressively chemical, perhaps like cleaning fluid mixed with Sweet-n-Low.  Cardboard with pepper, cinnamon, and imitation vanilla extract.  After a while some of the weird artificial fruit notes show up.

Suntory Royal SR, unbearded - Very light and subtle, but with a significant silky mouthfeel.  Salt, sugar, and mild Talisker-like pepper.  A bit of toasted oak and tropical fruit appear towards the end of the glass.

Her Royal Beardness - Very saccharine at first.  Then acrid with lots of vinegar.  Mouth drying.  A little bit of spicy zing that quickly gets smothered by stale vanilla.

Suntory Royal SR, unbearded - Short-ish at first sip.  But with succeeding sips more vanilla bean and toasted sandalwood linger, growing ever spicier.

While dotted lines connect some of their characteristics on paper, these are two very different whiskies in the glass.  The untainted SR is fresh and spicy.  A better, richer blend than Chivas 12yo, with the nose being the best part.  It would be great to match this with Yamazaki 12 to see how they relate.

At one point during the taste off, I got the two glasses mixed up.  But I immediately sorted them out via the noses.  The Bearded Lady has grown worse at every tasting (the first grade was 75, the second was 71, and this one will be lower) and it may actually get uglier with time in the glass.  It was such a shame that a spoiled bottle was my introduction to Suntory Royal SR.  While the SR won't make anyone swoon, it was good enough that I saved half of the mini to sip for fun later that night.  I'd take it over Hibiki 12yo.

The Bearded Lady
Availability - Hopefully it was unique
Pricing - $25.99
Rating - 69

Suntory Royal SR (un-tainted)
Availability - Happy hunting
Pricing - was $25-$30 before it was discontinued
Rating - 84 (my original guess was actually spot on)