...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Mackmyra 10 year old Swedish Single Malt Whisky

We live in interesting times.

I'm talking about whisky. You may use whatever adjective you'd like to describe the general present tense.

The new whisky distilleries we'd gushed over five years ago are now coming of age, releasing whiskies with firm age statements. But we were so innocent five years ago. Some of us have since (probably wisely) given up whisky for brandy, rum or time with loved ones. The rest of us are either actively working for the whisky industry or are just A BIT more cynical than we were.

In the next year or two, I look forward to taking a good look at the single malt scotch distilleries/brands that are all growns up. Each has taken its own path. One may wonder if they're hitting this milestone at the right time or the wrong; and if their successes or failures should be heeded by the next generation of new distilleries.

I foresee those posts requiring some real work on my part. For now, I'm going to review the first regular ten year old from Mackmyra, the leading Swedish whisky distillery.

Mackmyra has actually been running for more than 18 years, and is in their (I believe) second distillery building. They seem to have had a good time over these past several years, constantly experimenting with classic Scottish methods as well as casks and ingredients native to Sweden. They were also not always in the habit of listing age statements. This ten year old seems to lean a little closer to classic single malt cask types, so lemme see how it goes...

Distillery: Mackmyra
Region: Sweden
Type: Single Malt
Age: 10 years
Maturation: Here comes a paragraph, sorry. I've seen some conflicting online reports about cask types. But Mix Master Angela D was quoted saying there were four types of casks. So for now I'm going with: virgin American oak, Oloroso-seasoned Swedish oak, first-fill ex-bourbons and refill ex-bourbons.
Alcohol by Volume: 46.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

Its color is blond (Ha! I got Swedish jokes). Okay, it's yellow amber. The nose starts off with barley, oats, pilsner. A little bit of lemon, raspberry candy and roses. It's all very polite, until a whiff of fermenting fruit rises up after 20 minutes. The palate leads off with tart & tangy berries, tobacco and a refreshing bitterness. Then some sort of cranberry-vanilla-almond custard. There's a quirky oak note that's like new American oak, but fruitier. Some oloroso appears after ~30 minutes. It's aromatic. Mysterious. Wait, no, ignore that last note as it is too Murray-esque. It finishes tangy and grassy with a hint of bitterness. Cherry brandy. Oloroso. It's mellow, but has a good distance.

This is the sixth Mackmyra single malt I've reviewed and, like the previous five, it's fascinating from start to finish. The nose is the quietest part, but remains grain- and fruit-forward throughout. It took a long time for me to unpack the palate. There's oak, but it's not OAK! Rather, oak? The tangy, bitter notes also push it further afield from Scottish or American whisky, and thankfully so. Though it's a different creature than their First Edition, it's of a similar quality.

At half the cost of their "Moment" whiskies, this 10 year old seems priced to get the bottles moving, so I hope it (or something like it) becomes permanently part of the Mackmyra core range.

Availability - Continental European retailers, many of the UK ones have sold through
Pricing - $65-$85 (ex VAT, before shipping)
Rating - 85

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Millstone 10 year old 2000 American Oak, Dutch Single Malt

Located just north of The Netherlands-Belgium border, Zuidam Distillers produces genever, gin, rum and liqueurs, in addition to its Millstone whisky brand. I've enjoyed their 8yo French oak single malt, and there's a bottle of 100 Rye on my shelf.

Their 10 year old single malts appear to be produced in pretty small batches, as I've yet to see a bottle number over 500. A number of their 10s, such as today's whisky, are older than 10 years; a curious and rare action taken in the current whisky market. The "American Oak" single malts use virgin oak, and the website says these are the "most robust" of their whiskies. I hope that doesn't mean it's an oak bomb. The Americans are the only ones who can seem to get that type right, though even they rarely do.

Distillery: Zuidam Distillers
Brand: Millstone
Region: The Netherlands (Baarle-Nassau)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 13 (not 10!) years - Feb 2000 to Nov 2013
Maturation: new American oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

Oak on the nose, but it seems more toasted than charred, reading as wood spice. Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, pine sap and pine needles. There's also orange pixy stix and vanilla cake. It all fades out after 20ish minutes. The palate is different than then nose. Lemon cake, orange zest and peach candy. Grand Marnier and lime popsicles. Vanilla and vanilla fudge. Hints of malt and dried oregano. If someone infused an orange creamsicle with cayenne pepper, that would be the finish's main note. It's lightly tart. A little malt, vanilla fudge and pixy stix.

The first thing one notices when trying a European single malt is that it is not scotch. Most Asian distilleries do a good approximation of Scotch single malt, if not actually better than most current Scottish distilleries. But whiskies from the Dutch, Danish, Germans, French, Swedish, Swiss, etc., are not trying to imitate Speyside or Islay. Maybe it has to do with terroir, or maybe it's distillers doing their own thing. Either way, I enjoy the change of pace.

This Millstone single malt isn't as sticky sweet as the tasting notes read. There are numerous fruit essences in different forms spinning around each other. The whisky could benefit from less vanilla, but otherwise the oak isn't abusive. While a scotch drinker wouldn't consider it "robust", the whisky has a decent richness to it, considering the low-ish ABV. I liked it overall, though not enough to buy a bottle. If Zuidam decides to use refill barrels for future 10s, then I'll give 'em another try.

Availability - A few dozen European retailers
Pricing - $55-$75 (ex VAT, before shipping)
Rating - 82

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Rum Dummy drinks Amrut Indian Whisky, Jamaican Rum Cask Finish (Blackadder)

I like rum. When Mr. Diving for Pearls sent this whisky to me, I reminded him I only review rum. Then I smelled it and understood.

I don't like whisky for two reasons:
1. Online whisky people. Scotch fans make bad financial decisions, then brag about it online. Bourbon fans are angry. Do happy people drink whisky?
2. Whisky is not rum.

This label says whisky:

This stuff was released by that company that sprinkles mustache stubble into every bottle.


Diving for Pearls sent me two samples. One said "61.2%abv", the other "Diluted to 45%abv".

The only thing I like less than whisky is an adjective, so this review makes me, er, nervous.

Nose - It's not whisky. It's Hampden. Olives, brown sugar, honey, orange oil and tire rubber. Vanilla.
Palate - Very sweet. Hot. Dunder and soot. Ginger. Wood, vanilla and jalapeños.
Finish - Very sweet. Lemons, olives, brown sugar and vanilla.

"Diluted to 45%abv"
Nose - Mt. Gay levels of sugar and caramel. Cinnamon bread, cardamom, orange oil and cloves. Disappears quickly.
Palate - Foursquare? Olives, molasses, vanilla, flowers and American oak.
Finish - Sweet, tingly, vanilla-infused rum.

This is good because this is rum.

This is not a complaint, but, um, Blackadder knows that the rum must be poured out of the barrel in order to call it an "ex Jamaican Rum cask", right?

If you like Hampden or Foursquare, then this w****y won't be the worst thing. But this cost $150. That's the worst thing.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Willett Week Two: 8 year old rye, barrel 1408

On Monday, there was a dazzling 6yo rye.
On Wednesday, there was a curious but very good 7yo rye.
Today, it's an 8 year old rye.

All three of these were tasted during one long evening...

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age8 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Barrel: 1408
Alcohol by Volume58.8%
(From a purchased sample)

Cocoa, tobacco and smoky toffee register loudest in the nose. Then cherry medicine, saline, apricot jam and mint. There's also a considerable phenolic/medicinal/bandage note floating around. The palate leads with toffee, citrus, pine sap and a crisp rye zing. The citrus and sweetness grow with time, but are kept in check by a burly pepperiness. The looooong finish is boldy tangy and earthy. Full of cloves and brown sugar.

This is a grand warm winter rye. Reading-by-the-fireplace stuff. Willett emptied this barrel right on time. At 8 years, the spirit has matured well, picking up depth and darkness (if I may be esoteric) without even a whisper of vanilla, butter or sawdust to be found. It's highly recommended, though I doubt a single bottle of this barrel remains on any primary market.

*  *  *  *  *

All three of these ryes are recommended, and they bested all three of last week's Willett bourbons. Because the American secondary market remains an illegal operation, I cannot publicly suggest you purchase these bottles secondhand. But as far as I can tell that's the only way to buy Willett single barrel MGP ryes, unless the distillery still puts them on their gift shop shelves. Good luck hunting one down!

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 89

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Willett Week Two: 7 year old rye, barrel 56

On Monday, I reviewed a powerful scrumptious MGP-distilled Willett rye. It was 6 years old. Today, it's a 7 year old. And, it's my bottle!

I brought it along to the recent whiskey tasting that I've referenced a few times on this blog. From what I gathered no one there had ever tried something like this before. It elicited lots of Whoas. No one hated it. But I gathered that it was more respected than loved.

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age7 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Barrel: 56
Alcohol by Volume57.2%
(From my bottle)

The nose has a layer of orange, cherry and lime hard candies. Some bubblegum too. But it also has a dirty, salty, candle wax layer which reminds me, oddly, of Clynelish. Some ham. After a while it flashes moments of cherry blossoms (I'm an asshole for that one). While those nose notes are often quite quiet, the palate is much louder. Tart citrus, mint and tart cherries. Mellower spirit action than in the 6yo. A mild bitterness. A medicinal note and seaweed saltiness. Citrus and cherries in the finish too, though it's never sweet. A little bitter and tart. More rye spirit. Grows saltier with time.

Fascinating. Its sniffer was silent for almost ten minutes, and didn't really open up for nearly a half hour. I wasn't worried about oxidation because I sealed off samples as soon as I'd opened the bottle. Meanwhile the palate was just as rockin' as any MGP rye. Then there are all the (good, but weird) coastal single malt Scotch notes. They're not the whole show, in fact they're sort of tertiary. But they're there. The finish was very solid and the palate never tumbles into sweetness or oakiness. It's very good overall, but no match for the 6yo.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86

Monday, December 18, 2017

Willett Week Two: 6 year old rye, barrel 124

Willett's MGP-distilled rye is my favorite American whiskey. The single barrels vary, but they always deliver a tremendous and nuanced experience. Last week, I did a whole schpiel about the crazy pricing of Willett's single barrel bourbons. I won't do the same for the ryes because I already covered that territory here and here. Needless to say, they ain't selling for $40 a pop anymore.

Because they're scarce and because they ain't $40, we no longer open two Willett ryes each year here. Maybe one every two years at this rate. But I was able to align three samples of the current era of WFE single barrels to compare and contrast in one sitting. And, hey, it's even a verticale this time!

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age6 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Barrel: 124
Alcohol by Volume58.7%
(From a purchased sample)

The nose begins with saline and candied fennel seed (which is a thing). Then black licorice and peach candy. It also has a dirtier side that moves to the forefront with time. It strikes of industrial grease and drywall dust. It's the most expressive nose of the three ryes. The happily not-hot palate is full of Luxardo cherries, clementines, smoked whole cloves (a thing?), mint leaves, brown sugar, and charred chiles. This runs along a bass rumble of rye power, a robust bundle of peppers and dry spices that almost reads smoky at times. It finishes with spicy cherries, chiles, molasses, salt and a burst of rye spirit. And it's so long...

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a burst of melancholy on the last sip. Of the three ryes, this one was most reminiscent of what once was.......those $40-$50 4-6yos we were much spoiled to have four years ago.

I'm going to set those romantic memories right over here, so I can continue this post.

This is an excellent rye. Each new characteristic, spun out by the grain, merges perfectly with every element that came before. The oak has done its subtle work without intruding. And then finish is right on pitch and unending. Damn.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90

Friday, December 15, 2017

Willett Week One: 11 year old bourbon, barrel 268

And here's the last of the three Willett Family Estate Single Barrel bourbons that we tried last weekend. The first bourbon (a 7yo for TPS) was fine, short on character but otherwise decent. The second (an 11yo for Wine & Cheese Place) was almost great. They were certainly different than each other. And this third bourbon follows suit, playing its own tune.

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age11 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in/by ???)
Barrel: 268
Exclusive to: whomever bought a bottle
Alcohol by Volume62.6%
(Thanks to Florin for the sample, again.)

Okay... So, it's 62.6%abv. Kristen says it's "light". I say it's "kinda dead". It needs more than 20 minutes to arise. Before the nose opens, is just faint apples and honey. But then comes the orange peel, pumpkin pie spices and lots of vanilla bean. There is zero burn. Though the palate does open up with time, all I find are vague things. It's tangy, briny, peppery and a little savory. Some brown sugar. Picks up some verve with time, getting tarter and louder. The finish is mostly brine and lemon pepper. Tannic. Plenty of barrel char.

While none of these three bourbons were crap, this bourbon was the least good. If you're an impatient drinker, you may find yourself bored with the whiskey. But if you give it some time, at least the nose grows nicely. The palate is fine, no better, no worse. It's in this bourbon's finish where the oak factor overwhelms, for the lone time among the three whiskies.

Of the three bourbons, this one had the most rye character to it, but was probably still from a low-rye mashbill. Not that high-rye is must for me, but having more of that particular grain in play may have helped the first and third bourbons. The second bourbon, the 11yo for Wine and Cheese Place, would have been smashing if not for the questionable finish. Are any of these worth hundreds of dollars? No. But that's one man's opinion.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - Big bucks
Rating - 79

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Willett Week One: 11 year old bourbon, barrel 2364 for Wine and Cheese Place

Since I spent two paragraphs musing on the secondary market prices of the Willett Family Estate single barrel bourbons on Monday, I shan't waste any words on it today. Instead, here are my notes on the second of the three WFE bourbons that my wife and I sampled this past weekend.

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 11 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in/by ???)
Barrel: 2364
Exclusive to: Wine and Cheese Place
Alcohol by Volume58.55%
(Thanks to Florin for the sample!)

The nose is plum gorgeous. It mixes tropical fruit and flower notes, with raspberry jam and wood smoke. After 20+ minutes comes the vanilla and toffee. This sets up an expectation of a rich dessert whiskey on the palate. But that doesn't turn out to be the case. While there are some sweet tropical and salted caramel notes, it has some nuts, wood smoke and sharp limey citrus (Kristen went with lemon). It's also the hottest of the three bourbons. The finish is a little odd, with a fizzy, salty, tart burn to it. There's some smoke and mint too.

It smells fabulous and the palate has more complexity than the 7yo I reviewed on Monday. The only thing that keeps me from raving about this is the strange sensation left behind by the finish. Kristen experienced this same thing and found it to be a bit hot overall. Still, it's the most enjoyable of this week's three bourbons and dishes out less oaky violence than other bourbons its age.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - Big bucks
Rating - 85 (lost a few points on the finish)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Willett Week One: 7 year old bourbon, barrel 255 for The Party Source

There comes a time when we heed a certain call,
When the blogger must review
Two weeks worth of Willetts.

This week, I'll report on three Family Estate Single Barrel bourbons. Next week, it'll be the ryes.

Though I may not like secondary market prices on bourbons, I usually understand where the valuation comes from. The Van Winkle collection is well known even outside of whiskey circles. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is perpetually in demand and often delivers high quality. Defunct distillery whiskies are part of history and in limited supply.

But I don't understand why the Willett single barrel bourbons are pulling astronomical asking prices. I'm not talking about the 20+ year old stuff. I'm referring to the 6-12 year old wax top bourbons that sell for Van Winkle prices. The Willett Family Estate Single Barrel brand isn't known outside of whiskey geek circles, and the majority of barrels are sourced from existing distilleries. So the naive sexy/lusty factor is lower than the whiskies named in the above paragraph. And it's not like there were just a few barrels laid out. There have been hundreds. So I'm stumped.

Musing complete. On to the review.

I sampled all three of this week's whiskies together — yes it was one of those nights — in order to get some proper perspective. As an added bonus, Kristen joined the Taste Off! First up is a 7 year old single barrel that was sold exclusively through The Party Source several years ago.

BottlerKentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett Distilling Company)
Brand: Willett
Range: Family Estate Single Barrel (WFE)
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age7 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in/by ???)
Barrel: 255
Bottle: 28 or 164
Exclusive to: The Party Source
Alcohol by Volume60.1%
(Thanks to Florin for the sample!)

This one has the most violent nose of the three, bringing heat and chlorine at first. But it opens up after 10-15 minutes, showing off cherry candy / marasca syrup, apricot jam, cocoa powder and flower blossoms. The heavy palate is full of sugar and salt, almond extract, and corn bread. There's a tiny bit of lemon zest and oranges. A complete lack of rye. The finish is sharper than the palate, with more barrel char and bitterness. But it also has a lightly sweet and aromatic layer beneath the noise.

Kristen immediately noticed the chlorine character too. But she also found more positive notes of vanilla and rosemary.

The first thing I noticed was how freaking heavy full-strength bourbon is when one has been drinking primarily "Japanese" whisky for a few weeks. So it took a while for my palate to adjust. Luckily, this one requires some time in the glass.

The nose is the highlight here. The palate is pretty straightforward, though I wish there had been more rye and/or fruit notes present. That goes for the finish as well. Overall, it probably has no major flaws, but it lacks the complexity of similarly aged WFE rye.

The next two bourbons are a little older...

As for this 7yo...

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - A lot. And if this had a wax top then it's a lot a lot allot.
Rating - 83

Friday, December 8, 2017

Royal Brackla 14 year old 1998 Gordon & MacPhail for Binny's

Two years ago, Bacardi released three age-stated (12, 16 and 21yo) official Royal Bracklas, which is good. They bottled them all at the legal minimum 40%abv, which is bad. Seriously, why would they do that, when they released the age-stated Aultmore series entirely at 46%abv during the previous year? That's a weird step backwards.

Previous to the official releases, one had to go to independent bottlers, like G&M, to explore Royal Brackla single malt. Today's G&M Brackla was bottled exclusively for the Binny's chain.

There are two things I really appreciate about reader Florin (a prince). That he'd blindly buy a Royal Brackla in the interest of experience and science and propping up Chicago's economy. And that he'd give to me this sample that was clearly intended for MAO. It's been four years now. I hope MAO can find it in his heart to forgive me for his drinking his whisky.

Distillery: Royal Brackla
Region: Highlands, just on the other side of the western Speyside border
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 1998 - 2012 (I think)
Maturation: probably American oak
Cask number58
Exclusively for: Binny's
Alcohol by Volume: 56.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

The nose is fun. Glue, lemongrass, ground mustard seed, green grapes and pineapple. Some late caramel and burnt wood. The hot palate starts on banana, vanilla and orange peel. Then it "develops" into unripe stone fruit, green woody bitterness, mild sweetness and a cayenne zing. Meanwhile, the finish spins off into a different orbit. Bitter char, vanilla, chlorophyll. Fake plastic sweetness.

Now, I'll dunk it down to the official bottlings' strength:

DILUTED TO ~40%abv
The nose still exists. Lemon, fried plantain and something phenolic (diesel?). Then grapefruit and grass clippings. Again, the palate seems to be from a very different whisky. Bitter melon rind, bitter oak. Vanilla, sugar, sour berries and a hint of soap. It has a nice texture, though. Its pencil lead finish is bitter, sour and acidic.

If whisky were only for smellin', I'd recommend this odd thing. The palate is challenging, but rarely in a fashion that leads to success. Too much bitter oak and indistinctive vanilla oak for me. But that's better than the finish proves to be a bit of a horror show, with or without water.

This seems like a cask that was nosed, rather than tasted, when it was offered by G&M, then chosen by Binny's. The Chicago retailer may have had more success with an earlier bottling, and I hope their current Brackla is better than this one too.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 71

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Strathmill 23 year old 1989 Blackadder Raw Cask

Where my Strathmill fans at?!

I've tried a grand total of two Strathmills, both of which were part of Signatory's budget "Vintage" range, but neither of which were any good. Yet, this site has a complete absence of Strathmill. So here's a review of the first cask strength Strathmill I've ever tried. It's from Blackadder's Raw Cask range has had more hits than misses for me, so I'm cautiously optimistic. Thank you to aaron197172 of Booze Dancing for gifting me this sample.

Distillery: Strathmill
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Blackadder (Raw Cask)
Region: Speyside (Moray)
Age: 23 years (October 1989 to June 2013)
Maturation: Refill Sherry Puncheon
Cask number10308
Bottle: 77 of 305
Alcohol by Volume: 53.3%

It has a light yellow gold color and Raw Cask Shmutz®. The mellow nose starts out with light beer, anise, rubber and plastic toys. Saline. Walnuts. Lots of barley throughout. The palate is very grassy and leafy. Fresh savory herbs, cocoa powder, a little bit of white fruit. Slightly drying. With time it picks up fennel seed and rye seed notes. The finish has a lot of roasted character, and an occasional burnt note. Dried herbs and a hint of cigar smoke. A copper/blood note. Barley.

The label recommends "a little added water". Sure, what the hell.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
The nose has become very herbal; think dried basil and sage. That's met with lemon and pineapple. A little dusty. Big on barley, still. The palate is a little sweeter and spicier. Dried leaves. Light bitterness. Wood spice. Armagnac-ish. The finish gets grassier. Mixes chile peppers and gummi bears. Cigar ash.

This one plays close to the barley and its lack of sexiness makes it feel slightly old school. At full strength, this Strathmill works better on the palate. Once water was added to the whisky, I preferred the nose. Its lean, low-oak style appeals to me, and I would have given it a higher score, but the finish is a little short and flat. Still, this was MUCH better than I'd expected.

Availability - Still at some European retailers four years later
Pricing - $150-$180 (ex-VAT, w/o shipping), and that's why it's still available
Rating - 82

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cocktail Recipe: Ginza in June

I've never liked whisky cocktails. No cocktail improved the drinking experience that the whisky itself offered. Sweet vermouth was one of the main culprits. Just two drops of sweet vermouth in a cocktail ruined everything. Its cloying nauseating flavor spread through the drink like a drop of ink a glass of water. (That's a metaphor I promise to overuse.) Then, one day last winter, I discovered a solution: Don't Use Cheap Sweet Vermouth.

I mean, the real solution was Carpano Antica Formula and Luxardo cherries. Since then, I've been drinking a lot of Manhattans. During some stretches, I'm drinking Manhattans more often than single malts. I finally found a use for American whiskey! 😬

Then, in October, as I was opening my current bottle of Nikka Whisky from the Barrel (NWFTB, not NKOTB), I had an idea. What if I created something along the lines of a Manhattan or Rob Roy with my beloved NWFTB? I'd go easy on the Carpano Antica in order to highlight the quality of the whisky.

And it worked on the first try. The Carpano Antica merged with the whisky, pushing the grain aside and moving the malt to the fore. Plenty of spice, not too much sweetness.

* * * * *

Because this drink is utterly bourgeois with its expensive Italian vermouth and cherries, and it includes the whisky I travelled with during both of my Japan trips, I chose to name it after the bougie-est corner of Tokyo I explored this year.

With its Rodeo Drive-inspired lineup of Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo, Dior, Fendi and on and on and on, Ginza is the epitome of rāga, one of the three forms of suffering (or poisons or fires) in Mahayana Buddhism, stemming from the desire for wealth and the ownership of physical, sensory things.

The gorgeous weather on June 14th made that corner of Chuo feel even more posh. So, inspired by the sugary romance of "Danke Schoen" ("I recall Central Park in Fall"), I named my cocktail, Ginza in June.

* * * * *

And now, the recipe.

1.5 fluid ounces (or 45mL) of Nikka Whisky from the Barrel
0.5 fluid ounces (or 15mL) of Carpano Antica Formula
2 generous dashes of Angostura bitters
2 drops of marasca syrup (from the Luxardo jar)
1 Luxardo Maraschino cherry

1. Fill a tall mixing glass with ice cubes (not crushed ice).
2. Pour the first four ingredients over the ice in the mixing glass.
3. Stir clockwise 24 times. (Lucky number hachi multiplied by my lucky number san)
4. Plop the cherry into the most faux-proletariat glass you own.
5. Strain the cocktail into your prole drinking glass.

— Feel free to up the whisky content to 60mL, but make sure the whisky-to-vermouth ratio remains 3-to-1. Also remember that NWFTB is 51.4%abv. So be cautious.
— For more zip add more bitters.
— I don't recommend adding more than 2 drops of the syrup because it will take over the drink.
— Feel free to apply less sweet vermouth. I don't recommend adding more if you want the whisky to fly high.
— If you don't have NWFTB on hand (and who does, really) I recommend high quality blended malts that have little or no peat. Compass Box (speaking of bougie) Spice Tree may do the trick.

Kanpai, my lambs.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Killing Whisky History, Episode 7 - Bell's Extra Special and Bell's Extra Special

Considering how emphatically my iPhone, iCloud and iMovie all shit the bed this week, I am surprised to have a Killing Whisky History episode up today. But here it is, a less-than-seven minute (woohoo!) chapter on a pair of Bell'ses: one bottled between 1980 and '82, the other between 1964 and '76. Thanks for watching!