Earlier this year I had the distinct pleasure of completing a sample swap with Finland's own Mr. Whisky Science himself: Teemu S. If you haven't gone to Whisky Science yet, you should leave this post right now and go there. You will learn something there. Comparatively, this blog don't learn you nothing good.
Anyway, when I received my parcel I discovered what I thought was an error......there were too many bottles. Oh shoot, had I accidentally requested a higher number than I had thought? And the extra one had no label. Turns out, the extra sample was purposeful.
MK's email: What is the 7th mystery dram???
Teemu's email: For me to know and for you to find out.. I'll tell after you have tasted it.
Of course, just then Southern California was hit with a 90-95ºF heat wave. But I couldn't wait, a week later I tried it and send him my notes.
MK's email: The nose is full of bourbony goodness. Vanilla and butterscotch. Minty menthol, anise, and ripe banana. Hints of charred meat, butter, and buttermilk pancakes. My empty glass has a maple syrup thing going on. The palate is less sweet than the nose leads on. A little woody and salty, but still some corn syrup and creamed corn. A little bit of spice, menthol, and (maybe?) sweet basil. Pretty lengthy finish. Sea salt, caramel, and slightly dusty. I'm going to go with my nose and say it's bourbon. The nose reminds me of my favorite old-style bourbon by the defunct National Distillers. If it's a current bourbon, I'd be pretty excited.
Yes, sadly, I email my notes in a similar fashion to the way I post them on this site. But how close was I? This was good stuff, especially the nose! Teemu responded quickly:
Teemu's email: Your notes are spot on, very much a "sugarfree heavyhitting spicy bourbon"
It is actually a great old rum.
Albion Velier 1994/2011 casks 7100-7103, distilled in a wooden coffey still in Demerara.
Very much a whisky drinker's rum.
This is "a light young version" of Albion ;)
Well, shoot. When I drank the second half of the sample, four months later, I found a little more molasses in the nose and palate, but it was never a sugar bomb. Judge me as you'd like, but I liked this Albion better than the majority of whiskies (and definitely better than any bourbon) I've tried this calendar year.
There's a good reason why a number of prominent whisky bloggers are now reviewing non-whisky aged spirits (or malternatives). Okay, two good reasons. Firstly, whisky prices have ascended quickly while the quality has at best remained the same. Secondly, the universe of hedonistic pleasure gleaned from spirits doesn't end at whisk(e)y. In fact, there's a lot of sensory overlap between aged rums, brandies, mezcals, and whiskies. Many of us have been ruined by the goopy sweet bestseller rums, the Korbels and Martels of the brandy shelves, and J. Cuervo. Had we written off whisky after only drinking Dewar's White and Johnnie Red, then we wouldn't currently be in the middle of our personal whisky voyages.
That's just something I'll ponder for now. While I doubt there will be any non-whisky reviews this year, I cannot say I'll never go that route...