...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Blind Tastings! Five American whiskies? Five American whiskies.

Here's a quick spoiler. I guessed these five mystery samples were American whiskies. And I was right. BOOM. Thank you very much to Matt O for sending these samples, waiting for ten months and then having kept a list of the five whiskies the whole time.

I don't have much confidence in my ability to sort out contemporary American whiskies. At best I can sort out how much oak and rye are involved, and I can often spot a dusty. But that's it. So this tasting was quite the challenge.

Nose - Mild char, cocoa and cherries. Roasted almonds, orange zest and mustard. Hints of sherry-ish raisins and a meaty note.
Palate - This is a rich, almost winey bourbon with berry jams. Plenty of cherries and black pepper, along with a savory hint.
Finish - Savory and sweet with bits of curry and chiles. A slight nuttiness as well

My guess (per my email to Matt O) - "A rich bourbon, almost winey on the palate. I'm gonna go with Four Roses OESO. It's not hella tannic, so I'd guess it's less than 10 years old."

The reveal!!!

Belle Meade Sherry Cask (#3258), a Corkdorks pick, 55%abv, between 8 and 10 years old, and likely a high-rye MGP fluid.

My consumption of too much sherried scotch served me well here. Matt O also mentioned he found the whiskey to be sulfurous, and with its savory and aggressive peppery notes I can certainly detect some of that stuff. I'm not sure I've had a sherry cask bourbon before, but I did like the fruitiness the cask brought along.

Nose - At first there's lots of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch pudding, then it switches to barrel char and a pretty floral note.
Palate - Hotter than sample A. It's sweet and a little bit tart. Cherries, lime candy, hints of bananas and lots of oak.
Finish - Acidic and tart. Lots of tannins. It's mildly sweet at first, then becomes more candied with time.

My guess (per my email to Matt O) - "I'm reading more oak on this one. Going by my somewhat readable notes, I'm going to say Four Roses OBSQ 10+ years old. My second guess is a Heaven Hill bourbon with some serious age on it, but I don't know HH much beyond Elijah Craig."

The reveal!!!

William Heavenhill 14-year, 57.5%abv

Whoa, I'm already faring much better than I did with this week's scotch tastings. That secondary guess was just a gut feeling. Maybe I should expand my gut.

Nose - Dusty and briny. Nutty and earthy. Almond extract, dried apricot and vanilla bean.
Palate - A very good mouthfeel. Its fruitiness grows with time. Lemon, berries and mint in a musty basement.
Finish - Tangy and sweet blackberries and plenty of musty oak..

My guess (per my email to Matt O) - "This has got to be a dusty thingy, and if not then someone out there has mastered dustiness. So my guess is a '70s or '80s bourbon that is neither National Distillers nor S-W, and was bottled at 100 proof or less."

The reveal!!!

Wild Turkey 8 year old 101 proof, bottled in 1984.

Firstly, yum. Love this stuff. Secondly, I'm getting creeped out by how much better I'm doing with the Americans here.

Nose - Nuts and seeds, specifically cashews, sunflower seeds and roasted pumpkin seeds. Also a dab of raspberry jam.
Palate - Those toasted seed notes again. Roses and in-season raspberries.
Finish - Brief but still seedy and nutty. Honey and berries.

My guess (per my email to Matt O) - "This is fascinating. I have no idea what this is. It's all nuts and seeds. I'm going to guess this is some young stuff, craft distillery-ish but good. I'm even going to say there's an alternate grain involved. (Please don't say this is Hudson Four Grain Bourbon.)"

The reveal!!!

George Dickel 13-year BIB!?!?!?!? The Fedora's Love Child!!!

I um what. Yeah. The whisky is so unique that I'm considering buying a bottle of it. Dickel is much more interesting than some of its Kentucky cousins.

Nose - Buttery and papery, with golden raisins and caramel sauce. A slight dustiness too.
Palate - Quirky, jammy. Butter, caramel, raisins. It gets sweeter with time, but also rawer.
Finish - Fruity, sweet and buttery.

My guess (per my email to Matt O) - "This is also a young one, though a little closer to classic bourbon notes. But it's also a style I'm not entirely familiar with. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a youthful Old Forester, a bourbon I'm not entirely familiar with."

The reveal!!!

MB Roland Single Barrel, a Cork N' Bottle pick, 52.9%abv, possibly 4-5 years old

I've never had MB Roland juice (in bold for the juice haterz), and I'd be interested in trying something else from their distillery. Though I could do with less butter, the fruits and sweets were nice. Matt O was very generous in his estimation of my guess. It's clear though I didn't know what I was starting to slump by the time I got to this one.


I'm here to announce that Diving for Pearls content will be 100% blind bourbon reviews going forward.

Just kidding. That was about as nerve-wracking as a blind tasting can get. I didn't know what I was doing (more so than usual), and though I was doing only 0.5oz at a time my palate was starting to abandon analysis mode and enter Drink mode.

Thanks again to my generous whisk(e)y friends! Regular biased reviews return on Monday.