...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Randy Brandy drinks......Clear Creek Cherry Brandy (Kirschwasser)

It seems like Our Dear Leader is useless today because of something called "children", so he handed the website password to this wiser gentleman. That's right, snowflakes, Randy Brandy's going to write whatever he wants.

So, I had a colonoscopy last week, as is required of men of my enlightened age. Here is my entire conversation with the gastroenterologist. I speak in all caps.

"For the 24 hours before the procedure you can only consume clear liquids."
"GREAT. I'LL LOAD UP ON PEAR EAU DE VIE."
"Actually, that's not--"
"SPIRITUEUX DE CANNELLE?"
"No."
"GRAPPA."
"No."
"FUCK."
"You'll want to refrain from that after taking the laxative--"
"DON'T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE."

That meant I had to drink broth for a day, which is depressing because it doesn't mix with vermouth. I was intrigued when my wife, Brandy, told me about some pop-up shops selling hipster bone broth. But I lost interest when I found out it's actually made from chicken.

The day after the medical professionals looked at my magnificent ass, Diving for Girls invited me over to celebrate the birth of his second daughter. Usually Jews bring Slivovitz (kosher plum turpentine) to celebrate the birth of Jewish children, but Kirschwasser is a German spirit so I thought that would be funnier.

Speaking of hipsters. Portland's Clear Creek Distillery makes brandy out of everything from poire williams to banjos. Steven McCarthy fired up the stills for the first time in 1985, then sold out to Hood River Distillers in 2014, thus losing his Portland citizenship forever.


Clear Creek kirschwasser is made from sweet cherries grown in the Pacific Northwest, which is quite locavore and sustainable, especially considering they then ship the product to retailers thousands of miles away. Clear Creek, guys, you know Latvian or Chinese cherries would be much cheaper.

Here are my notes.

Color: Appropriate
Nose: Fruity bubblegum, maraschino liqueur, dried blueberries, orange brandy. Only a mild spiritous note.
Palate: Moderate acidity. Warm cinnamon spiciness and honey. More on sweet apples than dark cherries. Creamy texture, minimum burn.
Finish: This is where the cherries show up and take over. Some late sweetness and bitterness.

There were my notes.

It drinks fast and easy, so the 375mL bottle is a damned flask. The fruity nose is good, the palate is fine. Imported kirsch isn't cheap, so Clear Creek's version is one of the lowest priced options around. Though German and Swiss kirsch often have a better palate than this one, be prepared for $40-$50 for half bottle prices. So, I guess at $25ish, this one counts as a good deal. I guess. It's better than vodka. It's better than cheap Sliv. It's better than Hiram Walker's "brandy". But so is a colonoscopy.

NOT WHISKY RATING: B-, though by the fourth glass it's a B. Deal with that, Kravitz.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Beatrice Booze Report: Springbank 19 year old 1997 from Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting

After two weeks of a bad cold and one week in the newborn baby zone, I'm back in the game.

COME ON!!!



Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Owner: Springbank Distillers Ltd.
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 19 years (May 9, 1997 to July 13, 2016)
Maturation: Sherry Butt
Alcohol by Volume: 59%
Purchased after the Cadenhead Warehouse tasting on, um, July 13, 2016

NEAT
The nose holds tons of honey and thick toffee. Then roasted nuts, berry candy, blackberry liqueur and clementines. Beneath those notes sit a steady stream of antiseptic, band-aids and good unsmoked cigars. The palate is not as sweet as the nose would have one believe. While there are some sugary berries, it's full of dry sherry, lemons and ginger powder. It's intensely spicy, likely from the cask. It's also very earthy (as opposed to peaty). Loads of fresh ginger and chili peppers in the loooooong finish. Dried berries, crisp tannins and peat embers.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
It's a different whisky. Pineapple and honeydew join the nose's honey. Grape jam and blue Mr. Sketch marker. Toasty peat and a bigger antiseptic note. Hints of milk chocolate and barn. The palate is milder, sweeter and more approachable. Ginger and nutty sherry, with the berry candy around the edges. More smoke, more tangy citrus. Moderated wood spice. The finish is less tannic. More fruit and more tobacco. Dry sherry and a hint of cinnamon raisin bread. A wisp of smoke.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
The best way to experience this whisky (and nearly any whisky) is by doing so straight from the cask in Cadenhead's warehouse #9. But that's dickish of me to mention because this cask is no more, it has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible.

The second best way to experience this whisky is by adding water. It's a hell of thing on the nose, when neat. But the full strength palate, while good, needs some elbow room. Diluting it a little bit helps the finish out as well. No matter how you choose to drink it, the whisky never tilts too sweet. But it can't be accused of subtlety either. It's all power. Thunderous cask notes exist side by side with vivacious Springbank spirit, neither giving way.

When we received the good news about our baby-to-be nine months ago, I knew instantly this was the bottle I'd open when she arrived. There are too many open bottles in my cabinet right now, and that's because they're all okay-to-good. None of them are great. This one is great. And I anticipate it getting better around the bottle's midpoint. At the moment, it isn't the 93+-point whisky I'd thought it would be, but who knows...

Availability - Sold out at Cadenhead
Pricing - it was £115 when I bought it, UK auctions have it for a lot more now
Rating - 90 (with water)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Killing Whisky History, Episode 5 - Three Decades of Chivas Regal 12


It's the 1950s versus 1970s versus 2010s in this month's Killing Whisky History episode. This trio of Chivases, or Chivae, presented me with a pair of surprises, one positive, one not. If you think the 8:30 runtime is long, you should have seen the 14:30 Heaven's-Gate-director's-edition Ralfy-sized second cut. No, you shouldn't have seen it. It has been destroyed. This edit was approved by blind studio executives and me.

The brand and bottle history lessons end at 3:42, after which the tastings and faces begin.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Malt Bar South Park, the second night, part two

Malt Bar South Park posts
1. Bar introduction
2. Night One
3. Night Two, part one
4. Night Two, part two

(Continued from Part One)

Malt Bar South Park's special guest, a thin bespectacled man wearing a checked pattern shirt that was somehow both conservative and riotously colorful, was greeted by the owner as soon as he walked through the door. He gave the owner a bottle of whisky as a gift as they chatted in the right corner of the bar. After several minutes he came over and sat in his reserved seat next to me. We nodded to each other and I went back to nosing my glass of Tomatin.

Once I'd emptied my glass, the bartender, Fujita-san, came over with the bottle of Ardmore I'd tried earlier. He pointed to the bottle and said, "Whiskyfind", referring to the independent bottler of the whisky. Then he gestured to the man next to me and said, "This is Whiskyfind". The guest nodded and laughed.

And I replied, "So I guess you find whiskies."

Yep, I said that.
I felt like a robot toilet.
Let's quantify this idiocy.
1. The man laughed politely. But then things got quiet. Even the bartender walked away.
2. It truly was my "Well, we're not in Kansas anymore" (of Swingers fame) line.
3. I said it LOUD and SLOW, as if he were deaf and mentally handicapped rather than being from another country.
4. Because the gentleman was of Asian background, I had assumed he was Japanese.

His name was Odin Chou and, it turns out, he was not Japanese, but Taiwanese. And he spoke perfect English.

To recover from my social fart, I turned to the one subject that whisky nerds can talk about. Whisky. We talked about Ardmore. Odin walked me through how his company works. I detailed the bizarro world of spirit sales in the USA.

He asked, "Have you tried the Craigellachie?"

I then tried the Craigellachie.


Craigellachie 26 year old 1990 The Whiskyfind for Mash Tun Tokyo, cask 5401, 50.1%abv

Color - light gold
Nose - Very nutty (hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds), peach, candle wax, lots of cereal notes and a whisper of caramel sauce.
Palate - Malty malt. Lemons and limes. Salt and dunnage. Soft, silky texture.
Finish - Candle wax and tangy citrus meet up with salty and savory notes.

Words - This is the oldest non-sherried Craigellachie I've had, and it's the best. Excellent mouthfeel, complex nose. Again, no oak obstruction. Instead, the whisky imparts the gentle passing of time.
Grade: 89

I suddenly remembered that Fujita-san had recommended a Port Charlotte to me on the first night, but I knew that I was d-o-n-e done after the pair of Ledaigs. I had promised to come back and try it. So there I was on my second night. It was time to give it a go.


Port Charlotte 11 year old 2004 bourbon cask for Malt Bar South Park, 58.9%abv

Color - light gold
Nose -  Very pretty for a Port Charlotte. Cocoa, roasted smoked almonds, anise, brown sugar, lime and confectioneries. Also grilled vegetables and bacon.
Palate - Brown sugar, barbecue, sweet cherries and peat. A great bitter bite. Much less heat than expected.
Finish - Peat, anise, cherries, brine and a wallop (or dollop) of horseradish.

Words - Clean crisp PC with a more moderate level of peating than usual, so it's not a palate-killer like some PCs can be. Friendly good stuff.
Grade: 86

Odin then shared pours of a trio of 1989 Burnsides, as well as an Allied-era Ardbeg. (Thank you, Odin.) We discussed the high quality of the former and the delicate grace of the latter. Modern Ardbeg and Laphroaig are bereft of the fruits and subtleties of their old versions, and have replaced them with aggressive peat and/or oak levels.

He was very generous with his time and we spoke for hours. He shared his extensive experiences with the whisky scene in mainland China, as well as his thoughts on the future of Suntory's single malts. I cautiously inquired about his opinion on Kavalan, and then burst out laughing when his opinion of that distillery matched mine precisely.

Amidst this conversation, Malt Bar South Park's owner, Futakata-san (I think!), brought over pours from his YAMAZAKI OWNER'S CASK. How many times can one man say arigato gozaimasu, before things get embarrassing? Whatever it is, I passed that quantity instantly.

(Yes, Serge has had this cask. It is cask #5J3072, 63%abv. Here's the link.)

It was one of the richest whiskies I've ever had. Layer upon dense layer of malt and fruit and rich oak and nuts...

...and that is when my pen died. My phone had already plotzed so nothing was recorded, anywhere. All I could do was be mindful and fully experience the moment.

I did. And it was wonderful.

I treasure these encounters. Writing about them refreshes me. The kindness and graciousness extended to me by strangers throughout my trip overwhelms me still and keeps me aglow in times of struggle and doubt.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Malt Bar South Park, the second night, part one

Malt Bar South Park posts
1. Bar introduction
2. Night One
3. Night Two, part one
4. Night Two, part two

My second trip to Malt Bar South Park marked my final Japanese bar stop. I found my way to the Nakano bar using a printed-out map and my memory. Parts of my cellphone didn't work that night, nor the next. (Frankly, fuck my Samsung Galaxy S6 for being useless when I was lost and in trouble during this trip. I'm happily ridding myself of it this week.) For instance, neither my wireless or data worked that night. Neither did the keyboard. Neither did the power, at times. But the camera randomly functioned (as you'll see below), until it didn't.

As a result the notes for this night were handwritten on the back of the map...until my brand new pen ran dry.

Despite these issues, this experience was awesome. I'll add the narrative for your enjoyment.



After I'd bypassed Malt Bar South Park, again, I found it, then rushed down the stairs to find shelter. Fujita-san was still behind the bar. Everything was still spotless.

The seat at the center of the bar had a "RESERVED" card, which I dumbly and Americanly didn't see as I sat down on it. The owner's wife hurried over to politely ask me to move to another seat, explaining that a special guest was expected to arrive soon. So I thought it would be a great idea to plant my ass next to this mystery person's seat.

After getting another great plate of fruits and nuts and dark chocolate, I began with an Ardmore from an independent bottler that does its business only on that side of the Pacific Ocean.


Ardmore 16 year old 2000 The Whiskyfind for Mash Tun Tokyo, cask 800214, 55.5%abv

Color - light amber
Nose - Very fruity. Lychee, Meyer lemon, apricot and barbecued peach(?). Mild peat, subtle vanilla. Wet sheep!
Palate - More smoke here. Tangy and lemony, with a nice sprinkle of cayenne pepper. From my notes: "Sweet, though almost out of its baby fat phase." Yes, this was my first drink.
Finish - Smoke, lemon and sugar. There was something Hakushu-ish about it.

Words: This is a good intro for drinkers new to Ardmore thanks to its lemons and beachy peat. Despite its 16 years, there was no oak interrupting the flow. I liked it.
Grade: 85


Sherried Inchgower!
Inchgower 32 year old 1980 The Whisky Agency, refill sherry butt, 52%abv

Color - gold, Jerry
Nose - Chocolate fudge, chocolate frosting, chocolate pudding. Nutty pudding. Leather. #FromMyNotes "Nummy sulfur".
Palate - Chocolatey, similar to the nose, but there's also pineapple and peaches. Smoked paprika. Fresh ginger and lychee. Its fruitiness grows with time. Just a whisper of gunpowder, like a seasoning.
Finish - The fruit remains in the finish, shedding the chocolate. Some new notes of oranges and nuts. A hint of smoke.

Words: A treat. The chocolate is a bit heavy on the nose. Though that sounds silly as a complaint, the chocolate's weight prevents additional depth. The whisky is at its best once the fruit comes through in the mouth. (And no, I have no idea what the heck Serge was drinking when he reviewed this, an issue I've been finding with increasing frequency.) But this whisky would be great for dessert.
Grade: 87


I had to do it. One 1978, please.
Tomatin 35 year old 1978 Cadenhead small batch, bourbon hogsheads, 44.4%abv

Color - light gold
Nose - Dunnage. Musty melons. Chalk. Mangoes. Canned peaches and pears. A biscuity malty note. It picks up some oomph with time.
Palate - It's as thick as a liqueur. Loaded with fresh peaches and mangoes. The fruits' essences rather than sugars. Dunnage! A hint of herbal bitterness.
Finish - All tropical and stone fruits, playing separately, then together.

Words: Yes, this was a small batch and, yes, that ABV is accurate. Cadenhead has a few of these '78s with low abv. The result is whisky concentrate. And it is fab. Romantic, even.
Grade: 92

So there I was, sipping on this whisky, looking like a total baller, when the special guest walked in.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Malt Bar South Park, the first night

Yes, there was a second night at Malt Bar South Park. But, as logic would dictate, if there was a second night, then there was also a first.

(Also, click here for yesterday's intro to this drinking establishment.)

Because the atmosphere (and music) made for a perfect drinking experience, I'm going to be silly and give these whiskies number grades.

More Ben Nevis?
Of course more Ben Nevis.
Ben Nevis 22 year old 1992 Cadenhead Small Batch, bourbon hogsheads, 53.5%abv

Color - Light gold
Nose - Lemons, grapefruit, berries and anise. A hint of alcohol showing through.
Palate - My kind of BN. The aromatic herbal and lightly peated note bursts through instantly. Fudgy chocolate, earth and cantaloupe.
Finish - Honey and cantaloupe, with a lovely round herbal bitterness.

Words: It's bang on, as I think some people say. The nose and palate are quite different, both are good, though the palate gets the edge here. Very solid overall, though complexity isn't its strong point.
Grade: 86



Longrow 14 year old 2002 Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 49.3%abv

Color - crumbling crispy corn husks
Nose - Islay, GTFO. Springbank has beaten you at your game. Raucously medicinal, full of disinfectant and bandages. Clay, plaster and seashells. An old hospital. Gone mad. By the sea.
Palate - Dirty. Dirt. Direct. Dynamite. But never hot. Horseradish, barley, and soil. Hints of white fruits and sugars. Mmmmedicinal.
Finish - Similar to palate, but friendlier. Medicine drops back, barley and white fruit move forward. Again, no heat.

Words: Longrow had been letting me down recently, but this restored my confidence. Dear Springbank, more of this please. Cheers.
Grade: 90



Arran 21 year old 1995 for Malt House Islay, sherry hogshead, 49.6%abv

Color - Gold
Nose - A French patisserie: cocoa, vanilla extract, marmelade, figs and pineapple.
Palate - A happy absence of generic sherry raisins. Instead it's full of mint and chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The tannins roll in but don't overwhelm. Plenty of oak spice. Grows sweeter with time.
Finish - Roasted notes, toffee, some decent tannins. Neither mouth-drying nor hot.

Words: The 21st year may have been the longest this whisky could take the oak. It walks right up to the line. Usually 10-15 years is my preferred Arran window, but this makes for a good dessert whisky. Gorgeous nose on it.
Grade: 87

And then I saw two Ledaigs...


Ledaig 19 year old 1997 Cadenhead single cask, bourbon hogshead, 53.9%abv

Color - Gold
Nose - Barbecue, seaweed, fishy. Tsukiji Market after hours. (Sorry.) Smoke.
Palate - Oh, rugged after all these years. Dirty and bitter, but in that great way. Big salt and smoke. There's a hint of sweetness that wiggles up, then gets stomped back down.
Finish - Smoke, salt, pepper and cigarettes. From my notes: "this whisky hasn't showered in three days." Right?

Words: This was so very spirit-forward, that I'm not surprised they still got 252 bottles out of this 19yo hoggie. ❤ The oak went out for a smoke.
Grade: 89

Ledaig 21 year old 1992 Cadenhead small batch, bourbon hogsheads, 53.6%abv

Color - Lighter than the 19. Oh boy...
Nose - Huh. It's much neater. Less of the seaweed and fishiness. Instead there's a sambuca-like anise, hints of vanilla, cream puffs, apricot jam and maple syrup.
Palate - Less peat to this one than its younger sibling. But very very barley. Big on baked treats. A little bit of salty butter. And, "toffee without the sweetness. Figure it out."
Finish - A little bit of its sibling's smokey salty stuff. But also barley, citrus, sweeter herbs and spices.

Words: Less of a fighter than the 19yo. It's great in a different way. More balance, more fruits and sweets. Perhaps a Ledaig for more sensitive sippers?
Grade: 89




Good news all around. I regained faith in Longrow. Got some confidence in Cadenhead's Ledaigs. Ben Nevis and Arran also showed well. And I received a great little snack plate for my seating charge.

So, about that second night...

Monday, October 2, 2017

An intro to the great Malt Bar South Park

I missed out on a LOT of bars during my second trip to Japan. Basically all the ones that were recommended to me. (Sorry!) There were other reasons, very personal ones, behind the trip and those took priority over whisky on most days.

But there was this one bar...

I went there twice. It's not in a traffic heavy section of Tokyo. And unlike America's Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants arenas that can be spotted from a quarter-mile away, this Nakano bar was hidden. But not hipster-speakeasy-hidden. Instead it's modest. Nothing flashy in its entry way to steal your attention.

You have to look for the whisky bottles lined up not far from the sidewalk. Follow them to a steep concrete stairway — which is something to consider before one starts drinking, seriously — and then you'll see this:

When I saw this part of the sign...
...I thought, "Boy, I could get comfortable here."

And then I opened the door, looked within, and thought, "Boy, I could get comfortable here."

Malt Bar South Park was spotless. Like, not a mote of dust on a single bottle. There were about 10 or 12 seats, a pair of which were occupied in each corner. The tall, stately chief bartender Fujita Satoshi sported a vest and a crisp unwrinkled (like unearthly so) shirt.

It has taken me five years to craft the Pandora station that I use only for whisky tasting. Somehow, Malt Bar South Park has lifted it. I mean, every single song...

And then, you know, the whisky. Whiskybase says the bar has 1000+ bottles. That's probably a safe guess. I have no idea. It's a lot. It is, as someone else described, a library.

I was not expecting this. A strategy was needed.

Fujita-san helpfully handed me a small menu which awoke me to the fact that the entire bar counter was neatly lined two-deep with Cadenhead's bottles. There were, in fact, 139 of these current Cadenhead bottles to choose from. And the prices were, again, very reasonable.

While I was lost in Cadenheaven, Fujita-san placed a plate of excellent fruits, nuts and dark chocolate in front of me. Having recently completed an excellent Ben Nevis tasting at Highlander Inn Tokyo, I spied a way to begin...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ken's Bar, Shinjuku

If you're staying in Shinjuku and you're looking for a casual corner of Golden Gai (or if you don't want to repeatedly shell out cover charges while bar hopping), Ken's Bar is a snug but easygoing spot to enjoy some new or dusty bourbon.

The Bar


Once upon a time (like, three years ago), Ken's Bar was The Place for Bourbon in that part of Tokyo. But Ken Matsuyama himself has opened a second bar and has now split his stash between the two locations. So be careful about your expectations. You won't find any Very Old Fitzgerald or Pappiez. But you will spot a couple dozen items that have long since vanished from American shelves, plus a few Japan-only Old St. Nick-type of bourbons.

I visited Ken's Bar on my first night in Japan. Jetlag had formed a calcified shell around my cerebrum, so the time of day was nothing more than someone's opinion. But I had a tummy full of noodles and beer, and nowhere to be; a true luxury for a parent.

Ken's sits about four people, but I was the only one there. A very early-90s-looking Pat Methany jazz concert was on the small TV in one corner. Lots of fun empties in another corner. A collection limited Maker's bottles in another.

The gentleman behind the bar didn't look like Ken (yes, I properly cyberstalk). He was very friendly, but it was instantly obvious that we spoke different languages; imagine that. I had yet to shed the smell of airplane, and already I had to put my infantile Japanese to the test. But despite our wide language barrier, the bartender and I spoke for nearly two hours. It was really nice.

He had the line of the night:

I said, "Watashi wa, Michael".

He pointed to a familiar bottle on the shelf and said, "Yamazaki 12 year old," then pointed to himself, "Yamazaki 41 year old."

Three months later and 6500 miles away, I came up with my comeback line, "Then you're worth millions!" I'm slow. And not nearly as funny as I think I am.

Bourbon 1


I was taking it easy on my first night in town because my senses were cloudy. So my first couple of drinky things would stay in familiar territory.

First up was Old Charter 10 year old. Weirdly enough, the next-to-last tasting I'd completed before this trip was Old Charter 8, which was not great. But people on the secondary market keep paying top dollar for the OCs, so I thought I'd try the 10. And the price was right.


If you can embiggen the photo, you'll things get blurry around the bottom of the bottle. That's more or less an accurate depiction of my acuity at the time.

This was a Frankfort (thus Buffalo Trace) Old Charter, so it wasn't hella dusty. But it was a good drinker, significantly better than the 8, the difference between a C- whiskey and a B- whiskey. It's something you can drink whenever, wherever and however. Moderate oak nestled with moderate corn. Perhaps if the bourbon bust ever happens, Buffalo Trace can bring this back. Maybe?

Bourbon 2



Next up was Old Fitzgerald 1849. I know I just got finished writing about how I don't dig wheated bourbon, but I've always enjoyed Old Fitz 1849. I spent a long time searching this bottle for some clue if this was Stitzel-Weller or Heaven Hill stuff, but a big Japanese import sticker covered up some serious real estate on the back. No matter who made it, I liked it. Another B- bourbon. The sweetness was in check, as was the barrel. It's miles better than current Maker's, and could easily compete with the Old Weller line.

Bourbon 3


Yamazaki-san then set a private barrel in front of me. And I went with it, needing something barrel proof to close out the night. And I wanted a drink I couldn't get anywhere else.


This bourbon's source is officially unnamed but it may be from some Untamed Istanbul (not Constantinople). If that's true, then it's better than any OB whisky I've tried from them. Even better than their dusty stuff. It spent its first six years aging in Kentucky, then the next four years maturing in one of Chichibu's warehouses. It's a 2016 bottling so it may still be available at either of Ken's Bars. Oooh, and I have notes for this one!

The nose is much much fruitier than anything else by its rumored source. Then there's walnuts, almonds, fudge, butterscotch and pie crust. The palate has no bitter oak to it. But it does have lots of anise and green peppercorns. Strawberry Bubble Yum, toffee and a belt of rye. It finishes gently sweet, with some of the nose's fruity stuff, like berries and baked apples with cinnamon.

I'm not sure if I've given a contemporary bourbon an A- type rating on this blog, but this whiskey deserves it. It's fabulous. The fruit content is scrumptious, and surprising. Could this be due to the barrel's four years in Central Japan? A great selection by Matsuyama-san.


Final thoughts


Ken's Bar Shinjuku does have a cover charge, and I honestly don't remember if that includes snacks. But their whiskey prices were great. I think I drank all the above for $30-35 including the cover. I believe Ken is usually at the new bar (which is, I think, in Hacchobori, Chuo) but if he's at the Shinjuku bar, he's known to be an excellent bourbon resource. If Yamazaki-san is slinging drinks instead, please tell him I said hello. He's a great bartender with a lively sense of humor and is very sharp regarding whiskey options. He helped make Ken's Bar the perfect stop for my first night in Japan.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Bars of Shinjuku Golden Gai and......nope

I've had so many grandiose projects that never came to fruition that I've actually lost count of all the current ones. These ideas often remain incomplete due to my cowardice or lack of willpower at the end of the day. Other times it's due to having spent half of my adult life in pursuit of a screenwriting career and the miserable experience that turned out to be. But every once in a while, a brilliant plan gets nipped because of reality.

The place

Golden Gai was unknown to me until after I had returned from my first trip to Japan, in 2015. Then I immediately became obsessed with the place. To paraphrase Liz Lemon, I wanted to go to there. Over 200 bars squeezed into a handful of tiny alleys? Count my ass in. I was ready to change all of my anonymous online avatars to Golden Guy. I'd even thought out how I'd train for the mission.

The plan

As I scheduled this year's Japanese excursion, I made sure to set aside two nights to devote to Golden Gai. I bought an extra SD card for my fancy camera, and a stabilization device for my cellphone camera. The plan was to shoot a massive amount of footage and interviews (sober or not) so I could assemble the great YouTube document of Golden Gai.

Through airBnb, I'd reserved a nice apartment in Kabukichō, about two blocks from the edge of Golden Gai, for five nights. It was HQ for the Tokyo portion of my voyage.

An excellent sign

The reality

It wasn't until a few days before the flight to Japan that I started reading some online grumbling about the Golden Gai bars' widespread usage of seating/cover charges. As in ¥1000 (or $9) per bar. Upon my arrival in Shinjuku, this practice was confirmed.

Japanese bars are my favorite drinking establishments in the world. I've written quite a few posts about my dreamy adventures, and believe it or not, I've yet to drop the best one. But I cannot reconcile this cover charge practice with the rest of the experience. Some bars will provide snacks in return for the fee. Many don't.

If you like going wine tasting, you've encountered something similar: the tasting fee. A winery will hit you with a charge to taste 4 to 8 of their wines, which is understandable on the surface. But from there, wineries split into two camps: those that wave the tasting fee once the customer buys bottles, and those that don't. The latter are a major pisser. If I'm putting six bottles on the counter, and they're weighing in at $150, the fact that your business can't waive the $10 tasting fee is not only petty but it demotivates me from ever buying from you again. If I just do the tasting and walk away, then yeah the $10 charge makes sense.

When I go into a Japanese whisky bar, there's a 50% chance I'm about spend money like I'm 10 times wealthier than I actually am. If I'm polite and friendly, while being one of the biggest spenders of the night, why would you still charge me the seating fee?

There may be a cultural difference involved here. Tipping is frowned upon in Japan, but seating charges are frequent. Thus, when the bill came each time , I just pretended the fee was a crummy tip.
GOJIRA!
But nobody even notices her
because there's so much stuff going on.

The result

I did not go to the 200+ bars. There was no way I was going to drop $100, let alone $1000, to capture what was likely going to be poorly-lit poorly-focused visuals with bad sound. I mean, that's whisky money, man.

For my arrival day, I'd structured things so that I'd get to Shinjuku Station during daylight. If one is balancing several layers of jetlag, exiting that train depot at night may reduce your cognition to lemon Jello. Shinjuku is a sensory assault and there are chains and walls of fast moving city bodies blasting past you by the thousands per second. Last time, I was unprepared. This time, I knew better.

Despite finding my apartment with relative ease, I was plenty woozy. I was thankful I'd changed that night's plans from "Golden Gai, Night 1" to "wandering". Of course, my first move was to snoop around a half dozen liquor stores. Next I got some righteous noodles and a beer to clear my head.


Then, I settled in at one casual cozy bourbon bar, saving my real trouble-making for a few days hence.

To be continued...

Monday, September 25, 2017

State of the Blog 2017: Trying to keep things good


My first Single Malt Report posted six years ago and the Jewish New Year has begun. So I think September marks a good time to reflect on the past year.

Work and personal life require much more of my time than they used to, so I turn to the blog as an increasingly necessary form of recreation. But the more I need it, the less time (and energy) I have to devote to it. I could say that's why it's taking decades for me to return emails and reply to comments, but, let's be honest, I've always sucked at that.

Though I believe lower-case 'w' whisky is fun, capital 'W' Whisky is rarely fun. The industry and social media groups feed each other in particularly foul fashion. People buy more and more and more, and brag about how they're out of control, as if they've unlocked some amazing life achievement badge. Whisky producers, both official and independent, are more than happy to keep serving up hot brown products to this hypnotized segment. Meanwhile, corners of the bourbon secondary market turned viciously against each other this year, highlighting a sector of that marketplace which operates in a conflagration of anger, suspicion and self-hatred which burns with a heat that's too much even for this Jew.


On a related note, a very good enemy of mine traded a quarter of his collection for an international adventure. And he highly recommends it.

The point is, the blog shouldn't be work. I ain't getting paid for this. In fact, this is expensive. So my aim is to enjoy this distraction. Revelry is possible, even though the innocence is gone. Here are some steps I have taken or will take:
  • Despite my extensive history of whining about the scotch industry, I do deeply enjoy rummaging through the export numbers each year and pulling out of my ass producing the annual report for everyone's perusal. So I dig that part of capital 'W' Whisky because I love spreadsheets. And I'll continue with those posts until it's no longer fun.
  • This year, I introduced two guest reviewers, who have a llllllllot of catching up to do. Especially the fool sitting on all my brandy samples. Literally, sitting on them.
  • I've also started the "Killing Whisky History" video series, so you can watch how quickly fatherhood ages a man.
  • The blog may gain an additional guest reviewer, but she's elusive.
I also just bought a load of whisky samples. While reviews from purchased samples don't float everyone's boat, sorry Everyone. I prefer spending my now-hard-earned USD on an expanse of experiences, not overflowing my shelf space with things I'll open during Baron Trump's third administration.

Finally, I just did a headcount of the bottles I bought in 2017, and only five of them were Scotch whisky. One Springbank, one Kilkerran, one Benromach, one Port Charlotte, and one Ben Nevis. I've actually bought more world whiskies (no, not Kavalan) than scotch. A couple of those thingies should be reviewed over the next year. I do drink slowly. But I enjoy it.

Once the slog of capital 'W' Whisky starts hampering your lower-case 'w' whisky experience, it's time to take a step back and remember what you enjoyed about it in the first place. My daughter, Mathilda, has taught me how to play again, which has awakened me to the possibility that perhaps some of us grownups need to bring mirth back into our free time. Otherwise fuck Whisky. The bundle of burdens weighing on the spine of life is heavy enough. Stop voluntarily adding to it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Old Weller Antique 107 proof (pre-2017 label)

Over the past three years, about 75% of the whiskies I've obtained have been from purchases made during international trips: Japan, Scotland and Japan. My recent Japanese excursion resulted in a suitcase full of, mostly, bourbon.

One evening, after a particularly lovely dosage of dry sake, I wandered around some residential streets in northern Kyoto to appreciate the summer night and also explore the nearby liquor store. Though there weren't too many surprises on the scotch shelves, I did instantly notice a certain bottling on the bourbon shelves. I hadn't seen Old Weller Antique at an actual liquor store in three years. And here it was, stocked six deep. Going for about $24.

Though I'm not a wheated bourbon enthusiast [apologies for the lack of trigger warning], I have found the Antique 107 to be the most compelling of the Old Weller series. I was also planning a private bourbon tasting event at the time, so I bought a bottle and brought it home. We opened it at the event last week, and it rated pretty well with the guests. I salvaged three ounces for myself so I could finally review this bourbon.

Owner: Buffalo Trace (via Sazerac)
Brand: Old Weller
Distillery: Buffalo Trance Distillery
Location: Franklin, Kentucky
Mash Bill: BT's mystery wheated mash bill
Age: probably south of 7 years
ABV: 53.5%

NEAT
Loads of cherries (fresh, dried, candy) on the nose. Orange creamsicle, vanilla bean, halvah and Milk Duds. The palate isn't that hot considering the ABV. Some nice citrus notes. Lots of barrel char. Some moderate hard candy sweetness. Witbier, dried ginger, caramel and cayenne. It also has an acidity that continues into the finish, where the sweetness turns cloying. Some dried ginger and lemon sour candy.

WITH WATER (~45%abv)
More caramel on the nose. Dried cherries, cherry shisha, Luxardo syrup and cologne. The palate has citrus, pepper, vanilla and lime lollipops. The finish's sweetness improves. Cherry and lime lollipops. Still quite some acidity.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Like its older and more expensive sibling, Old Rip 10yo, Antique's nose is the highlight. The 10yo's nose is better, but I like Antique's palate more than Old Rip's. Antique's main weakness is its finish, but it improves once water is added. It also results in a much too sweet Manhattan.

Though Antique 107 is younger than Old Rip, their overall qualities are very close. Considering that whiskey is for drinkin' and considering the crazy price difference, I'd always be happy to go with Antique first.

Neither of those two bourbons are must haves for me, but if I ever find the Antique at its old price, I'd be happy to pick up a bottle.

Availability - Worldwide, on the primary and secondary markets
Pricing - All over the place, though usually $22 to $122. Some retailers are being cute, charging north of $200 for it. Good luck to them.
Rating - 83

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Blend: Exclusive Blended Malt 20 year old 1994 (50%abv edition)

Long time reader (all one of you!) knows I'm a straight-shooter (I can't believe I just wrote that) when it comes to the Creative Whisky Company (CWC). The last time I reviewed one of David Stirk's products, I caught a bit of heat. Will today's post get me into a different flavor of trouble?

During the June 2016 Malt Nuts event, I tried 18 different "Old and Older" blends. My top three favorites were all blends by CWC. And the best was one was a particular 20 year old blended malt. A year later — and you know a whisky's good when you're still thinking about it a year later — I chose this same blended malt to sneak in amongst a bunch of single malts during a whisky event I was hosting here in Columbus. Though I'd found the whisky for $80-something, all other US retailers were selling it for $100+. Anyway, it was my pleasure to share it with some great folks.

Once again, I was too flaky to remember to take a bottle pic. But I do have a photo of what's now left of my two ounce bottle of leftovers:


Company: Creative Whisky Company
Brand: Exclusive Malts
Type: Blended (or Vatted) Malt
Distilleries: from the Highlands and Speyside
Age: 20 years (1994-2014)
Maturation: first fill ex-sherry butt(s)
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No

NEAT
The rich nose is more complex than I'd remembered it to be. There's dark chocolate, lots of stone fruits (especially apricots), honeydew, toffee and Ovaltine. Some French oak-like spices around the sides. It has a edgier side to it as well, with horse barn and salty beach air. With time in the glass, the toffee notes swells, while milk chocolate and oranges roll in. The sherry in the palate is lightly sweet here and there, though dry more often. Some raisin and prune. Orange peel, molasses, nutmeg and cloves. Giving it some air heightens the citrus and brings out fresh plums. The long, warm finish has toasted oak, citrus, black raisins, fudge and a slight mintiness.

Lovely stuff. But since I like to try to ruin everything, I'm adding some water...

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
I dare say the nose gets prettier. Apple skins, Ceylon cinnamon, honey, plums and roses. Just a passing hint of gunpowder. Lemons fresh off the tree. The palate has more nuts, fewer raisins. Good mix of sweet and spice. Honey, dried cherries and a little bit of malt. The milder finish reflects the palate, with additional hints of soot and tart fruit.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Monday's bad blend and today's good blend were both better than my previous impressions. In fact, this blended malt is wonderful. I declare this my favorite CWC whisky yet.

The fresh fruit in the nose and the baking spices in the palate are terrific. The very subtle peating shows up at all the right times. (Ardmore or Benromach or olde Glen Garioch?) It dilutes nicely as well. The good cask action is preferable to most of the Glendronach single casks I've tried.

Reviews of this whisky are scarce. In fact it's not even listed in Whiskybase. There's a 51.4% European version, but that appears to be a different creature. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this whisky tremendously. Damn good work, Mr. Stirk.

Availability - It's around, kinda
Pricing - good luck finding it for less than $100
Rating - 90

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bad Blend: 100 Pipers, bottled 1989

My first review of this particular fluid:


I wisely (or not) saved a two-ounce sample of this blended scotch shitsky for further study.

Brand: 100 Pipers
Ownership at the time: Joseph E. Seagram & Sons
Current ownership: Pernod Ricard
Type: Scotch Blended Whisky
Age: minimum 3 years
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Bottled: 1989

Its color is almost as light as water. The nose is approachable. Apples, cinnamon, caramel, plastic, brussels sprouts, nail polish remover. And then *wffff* gone in 10 minutes. Pretty much a bottom shelf dusty scotch nose. That palate, though. Really really bitter. And not herbal bitter or woody bitter. Chemical bitter. I've never tasted rust, but this probably tastes like rust. White vinegar, coconut, aspartame, urine (not that I....). Chemicals. Cleaning chemicals. Ammonia! The finish somehow worsens. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Acidic. Strange acrid burn. Ammonia.

Pro: It doesn't smell like it tastes.

Con: Between the ages of eight to seventeen, I cleaned my bathroom with ammonia. I know that smell. The hairsbreadth of difference between what ammonia smells like and what this whisky tastes like is terrifying.

Pro: Give it a half dozen shakes of Angostura bitters and it's salvageable in a highball.

Con: The burning sensation it leaves behind is not normal.

Moral of the story: If you see a dusty bottle of 100 Pipers on the shelf, leave it, my dear. Go live your life in peace.

Availability - It's around, but don't look too hard
Pricing - found my 375mL bottle for $8.99
Rating - 52 (received a few bonus points for the highball)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Returning next week...


To protect the sanctity of my whisky reviews, I am pausing for a few days until my tools have been sharpened my system has rebooted life finds a way I have a proper post in hand.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Balblair 2005 First Release (2015)

I like Balblair. There's a general lack of baloney in Balblair's regular releases. All but two of the bottlings I've had were 100% ex-bourbon cask, and the spirit always takes the lead. And even though they provide vintages without age statements, it's easy to quickly figure out the bottling date and then use maffs to deduce the age.

DISCLOSURE TIME: Amy from Ten27 Communications sent me this bottle of Balblair several months ago. Thank you, Amy!

So now you know its source. Feel free to turn back if you're afeared or distrusting of my intent...

...

...

Still here?

Okay. Here's the review.

Distillery: Balblair
Ownership: Inver House (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Northern Highlands
Maturation: "American oak ex-bourbon barrels"
Vintage: 2005
Bottled: 2015
Bottle code: L15/8968
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

NEAT
Its color is light amber. Some mellow barrels, perhaps? The nose leads with barley, lemon and an big note of unaged brandy. This is followed by shortbread cookies, hay and Irish cream butter. The palate has a very creamy mouthfeel. Toasted barley, sweet white fruits (pears and apples) and candy canes. It finishes similarly with barley and the white fruits. Grass and simple syrup.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose leads with hay and hard toffee. It keeps the unaged brandy note, and picks up wort. Hints of lemon and apricot. That great mouthfeel remains. The palate is mostly sugars, cereals and kirschwasser. A soft peppery thing peeks out here and there. A floral new make note. The finish is short but still very clean. Floral tea, barley, mild sweetness, mild acidity and mild bitterness.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
There are two great things about this whisky.

1.) Despite being about 10 years old it reads much younger, like the sort of extra-young-style whisky that only independent bottlers are releasing right now. Other official bottlers out there are releasing very young whisky but are applying all sorts of oak technology to hide the youth and age statement, and then charge more for the vanillin. What's also unique is there's no peat here to mask any potential flaws. That takes some confidence. And, you know, there was nothing to hide.

2.) This takes to water gracefully. The whisky keeps its excellent mouthfeel, while releasing some new notes. I had no idea what to expect when applying water to unpeated 46%abv baby whisky, and all was well.

I'm not going to tell you that this whisky will change your life or bring you to tears. What it does it does well, and that's that. What it does shouldn't be the exception for official bottlers, but it is.

Availability - 
Worldwide

Pricing - Japan: $30-$40, Europe: $45-$55, USA $60-$70 (of course)
Rating - 84

Friday, September 8, 2017

Auchentoshan 1983-2004 Scott's Selection

More often than not, I find officially bottled Auchentoshans to be sleepy, while independently bottled Auchentoshans burst fully awake and loony. Even when they spiral out all wrong, they're at least interesting. That's why I couldn't resist splitting this whisky bottle with my trio of whisky-bottle-splitting-people.

I reviewed the Glenlivet 1977 on Monday and the Bunnahabhain 1988 on Wednesday. The Glenlivet had a great sniffer, but the Bunny appealed to me more. Let's see where today's Lowlander lands.



Distillery
: Auchentoshan
Distilled by: Eadie Cairns Ltd. or Morrison Bowmore
Current Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Lowlands (Glasgow-ish)
Bottler: Scott's Selection (R.I.P. 😿)





Age: 21 years or so (1983-2004)
Maturation: "in Oakwood casks" (great)
Alcohol by Volume: 52.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

Remember what I said about loony?

NEAT
The color? Five beer piss. Oh yeah. The nose is all the cereals: oats, barley, spelt, farro, emmer and effer. Lemongrass, chives and pickle brine. These awesome Japanese ginger cookies I can't stop eating. The palate is really herbal and grassy. So many lemons. Spearmint gum. Malty and briskly bitter. More grass and lemons in the finish. Minty, bitter and malty.

Hmm.

How about I lower it to the usual OB strength?

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose is the olfactory equivalent of the pretend salads my daughter makes for me. Oregano, bay leaf, cocoa, white rice, toffee, barley, lime yogurt and sidewalk chalk. The palate is still grassy and herbal. Slightly floral, with a softer bitterness. Barley and a mild sweetness. Kind of ashy. It finishes super herbal. Ashy, bitter, and malty, with hints of mint and malt.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
I can't even.

This stuff is a riot of sensations and not a single one belongs together.

Some people would HATE this whisky. I am not some of those people. In fact, I'm sorta sad to see this one go. Count my boat rocked.

Availability - It's around
Pricing - $100-$200
Rating - 86 (maybe)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bunnahabhain 1988-2004 Scott's Selection

On Monday, I reviewed a Glenlivet 1977, the oldest of three bargain bin Scott's Selection single malts split by your favorite local #whiskydicks. Today I'm reviewing the Bunnahabhain 1988 which is, like Master Gee, the baby of the bunch.

While the Glenlivet was held by some very refill "Oakwood", the Bunny had a least one active cask in the mix. Aside from having some color to it, there was all sorts of curious stuff going in the palate during my first approach. First I thought it was a sherry cask, but then Scott's usually labels those malts with a "Sherry Wood" designation. Then I thought it was there was a spritely American oak cask involved. Now, I sorta kinda think there may be a refill sherry cask and a first fill ex-bourbon. I blah blah blah all this because Scott's Selection hasn't labelled these whiskies as "single casks".


Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Distilled by: Highland Distilleries Company Ltd.
Current Ownership: Distell Group Ltd. (via Burn Stewart Distillers)
Region: Islay, but not the Sexy South
Bottler: Scott's Selection (R.I.P. 😿)





Age: 16-ish years (1988-2004)
Maturation: "in Oakwood casks" (plural!)
Alcohol by Volume: 53.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

NEAT
Its color is light gold, which really is one of the darkest shades I've seen in my Scott's bottles. The nose holds milk chocolate, caramel and lemon cake. Occasional hints of lychee and shoe leather. With time and air, it turns into maple syrup and Skittles. Seriously. The palate starts off salty and sweet, with a ginger zing and something phenolic. Tart citrus, tart berries and almond cookies. It grows sweeter and the fruit gets......fruitier. A touch of vanilla beneath. It has a long tingly finish with tart citrus and off-season cherries. More sugar and citrus with time.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
In the nose, an earthy note joins the milk chocolate and bright fruits. The palate gets sweeter. Some tart lemons and limes. There's that edgy phenolic thing again. Tartness, sweetness, bitterness and vanillaness in the finish.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
At first the palate is a little closed, but then it blossoms with lots of air, turning into whisky candy. Its nose always works, with or without air, with or without water. Seems to swim well overall, though.

The "phenolic thing" stumps me more than the mystery cask(s). From my limited experience, Bunnahabhain of this period usually isn't this peatish. Could that be a cask artifact too? Or maybe just some whack funk in the juice.  👈 That sentence.

Monsieur MAO and I have some scarily similar notes on this same bottle of whisky. He picked up on that peaty thingamajig too. Florin (a prince) wasn't as excited about it, finding the oak a bit loud.

If you're in Illinois, Binny's may have a bottle or two left at the correct price of $79.99. Or they might not. It has that weird noncommittal status on the website. Otherwise it's selling for $150, $230, $250 and $400 elsewhere. What a country.

Availability - 
It's around

Pricing - see the final paragraph
Rating - 87 (with water, without water, whatever)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Glenlivet 1977-2004 Scott's Selection

Almost a year ago, Binny's Beverage Depot dropped the prices on all their remaining Scott's Selection whiskies. So four of us whisky gents split three of those bottles. Not too long after that, Binny's stopped shipping to Ohio. That's a bummer, but it has kept my whisky purchases limited, which is not a bummer.

It took a while before I tapped into my portions, but once I did they didn't last long. Luckily I saved 2oz of each for reviews......which are happening this week, starting with the oldest of the trio. A Glenlivet distilled in 1977.


Distillery: Glenlivet
Distilled by: The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd.
Current Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Bottler: Scott's Selection (R.I.P. 😿)





Age: 27-ish years (1977-2004)
Maturation: "in Oakwood casks" (rad!)
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Alcohol by Volume: 53.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

NEAT
Its color is light amber, which bodes well. The nose starts off big on peach and mango. Then lemon zest and cantaloupe. Some shortbread and confectioner's sugar. Its palate is completely different than the nose: sharp, tart and tight. Barley, lemons, limes, almonds and a hint of vanilla fudge. It finishes warm and simple. Vanilla simple syrup and barley. Tart, with a slight bitterness.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose gets creamier. More vanilla. Ginger candy. Most of the fruits are gone. Only lemons and overripe peaches remain. The palate becomes softer, but no more complex. Lemons, barley, mild bitterness and woody/papery note. The finish hasn't changed much. Just a little sweeter.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose feels younger. Wort, salt water taffy, orange peel and vanilla. The palate is tangy and tart. Slightly woody and a little peppery. And that's it. The mellow finish has a melon note and acidic citrus.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Normally, I don't add much (if any) water to a whisky north of 25 years. But this one's palate would not open up at full strength. A little bit of water didn't do much, and by the time it hit 40%abv it was nearly dead.

This unfortunate because the nose was gorgeous at cask strength. Water didn't kill it, but it didn't improve it either. Had the palate sung like the nose, this would have been a dynamite thing.

The finish was alsio oddly flat and short throughout. These issues have me guessing that there was some lethargic "Oakwood" involved. Great nose, though.

Availability - Scarce
Pricing - one Midwest shop is selling it for $200
Rating - 83

Friday, September 1, 2017

Killing Whisky History, Episode 4 - Teacher's Highland Cream (bottled 1986-1989)


It's here! Episode Four of Killing Whisky History. Two successes: It's the shortest episode yet and I knocked out the first act in a full take.

I'm a big fan of the Teacher's blends — though not the current version so much — I opened one of my dusty bottles for last week's celebration. This will not be my last Teacher's episode because there's more where that came from. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Rum Dummy drinks......Foursquare 11 year old 2004 Barbadian Rum

I like rum. Sweet rum is not for me. Very oaky rum sometimes smells like bourbon. Foursquare is in Barbados. 4chan is everywhere. This one time, my friend did a shot of Bacardi 151 and threw up in my face. Diving for Pearls is paying me in rum to review the rum I drink. This bottle was bought because of hype. That's a bad reason to buy things.

Here's the bottle's label with the bottle's information.
Why put "Exceptional Cask Selection" on the label? What does that mean? If they left it off would they have sold fewer bottles? I won't buy the next bottle that brags about itself. Who am I kidding? Yes, I will.

I drank this Foursquare Rum from St. Philip, Barbados without water, with water, and as a Dark 'n Stormy, a cocktail I don't like. I also don't like adjectives so this review makes me nervous.

Nose - Melting candles, motor oil, vanilla ice cream, burnt dunder. Water wipes the dunder out. Replaces it with bananas, caramel and citronella.
Palate - Bananas and lighter fluid. Olives and sugar. Vanilla, lemon Warheads and cayenne pepper. Water doubles the bananas. More cayenne pepper. Some brine.
Finish - Bananas and lighter fluid. Olives and sugar. Vanilla, lemon Warheads and cayenne pepper. I copy and pasted.

It's not good in a Dark 'n Stormy, a cocktail I don't like. So I ate the lime garnish.

The rum fits in a glass. It smells good. It tastes.

It's big. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum is big too. It costs less money and no one is going to tell you to drink it. Not even me.

This is rum, so I'll drink it.

NOT WHISKY RATING: B-

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Randy Brandy drinks.....Delord Bas Armagnac 33 year old 1978

What's all this jilted lover crap? Pearly Coward is outsourcing his brandy reviews now? At least he picked me. I know my 'gnac. Because that's what the cool people call it. 'Gnac. How about I pour a wee dram of 'gnac and have a #TwitterTasting with the #brandyfabric? Assholes.

I do like brandy, though. Here's Krab's birthday bottle:


He told me he bought it for $90 in 2013. But that's probably a lie, because he just wants everyone to feel bad about brandy prices now.

Here are my notes. I don't do sentences. Much.

Color - Rich mahogany
Nose - Good & Plenty (my nickname with the ladies, nudge nudge wink wink, etc.). Madeira, dried cherries, black raisins, orange peel, flowers and grape juice.
Palate - Shoe polish, no, shoe leather, no, shoe polish. Very tangy. Black licorice and black pepper. There's ginger ale, plum and raisins but they're really faint.
Finish - Tangy and sharp. Pepper, prunes, black licorice and shoe polish.

There were my notes.

Wikipedia says the average infant is 73% water. Just like this brandy. But how much of the infant is boisé?

BRANDY JOKE!

Also, this:
Everyone involved should embarrassed.

Look, this armagnac doesn't suck. It's just hidden in water. This reminds me of what Angus the Acceptable recently said about Connoisseurs Choice. It took G&M 40 years of drowning excellent scotch before they bottled it at a "proper" strength. Just because one can bottle an old brandy at 40%abv, doesn't mean one should. This armagnac was probably brittle at full power. Why drown it then? You figure if someone is buying brandy, he's going to want to taste some brandy and not just smell it.

Krab wants me to give it a letter grade. Good. Numbers are a performance.

NOT WHISKY RATING: C+