Russell’s Reserve 10 Year old Bourbon

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Tonight I wanted to do two things, write a post and eat a cookie. I like these coconut/walnut ones I get at Harris Teeter. They smell wonderful and taste quite good. When I went to the cabinet I remembered that I had picked up a new bourbon a couple of weeks back and I really enjoyed it.

I typically drink scotch whisky but every now and then I need a little bourbon. Typically I go for Woodford’s Reserve, it never fails! So how did I end up with this one? I was actually picking up some scotch for Christmas time, like I needed an excuse, and happened to spy this shapely little bottle of Russell’s Reserve parked next to the Woodford on the top shelf. I’ll admit it, I’m a fool for good packaging and graphic design, and this one hit me just right. I think it cost around $30 USD so going with the principle that the price often dictates quality, I bought it.

So this product is out of the good folks who produce Wild Turkey bourbon in Lawrenceburg, KY where James Russell is the Master Distiller there. This product is a special offering from them that they have had since early 2000′s but it has seen some variation in packaging over the past decade. I’d like to say they nailed it on this one!

It is 90 proof or 45%ABV and is classified as a “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.” I poured it neat, per usual and dove in. The color of it is beautiful and rich. The nose is very candied with vanilla and caramel coming forth and this is why I pulled it out tonight with this cookie!

The first time I tasted this (prior to tonight) I was really impressed with the flavor, mouth-feel and finish. It is wonderfully refined and what you smell is what delivers on the palate. I don’t drink a lot of bourbon but if I did I’d be running through this stuff with no abandon! The finish is refined, gentle, and stays with you. I have to admit, this is a damn fine whiskey! And it goes really well with cookies!

Cheers!

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Well the first tasting/writing of the new year is a Bourbon, not a Scotch. Occasionally I like to try a bourbon. I don’t usually buy bourbon but when I do I buy Woodford Reserve, so I rely on the mini sized ones at the liqour store which limits my choices. Somehow I caught the attention of Four Roses’ marketing company in NYC and was offered a sample of the single barrel, so I took it! I have to say, receiving a 100ml sample is a hell of a lot nicer than the small stuff you get at the store. It’s really enough to have two separate tastings. I like this option because sometimes, you’re “just not feeling it” when trying a product for the first time and I like to have a solid opinion about something before I write about it. Not because I have some massive readership, which I don’t, but I think it’s the responsible thing to do.

First Tasting – I decided to nose this against Markers Mark, a very popular bourbon, for some comparison. The nose on the two are very different! The MM has that distinctive traditional bourbon smell but with a lot of sweet, syrupy vanilla smell. The Four Roses has a much deeper and complex nose. I like the nose better right off.

I’m tasting this neat, no ice, water, etc….. Wow! Such a nice mouth feel and wonderful tangy spice. Not overly vanilla, more balanced and complex. I really like this! I don’t need to taste this twice to know I like this bourbon!

On the second sip I get more of the traditional bourbon flavors, but they are still subdued and more complex. This would make a great sipping whisky. I don’t think I’d waste this on a mixed drink, its made to be enjoyed “as is” in my opinion.

Well, there you go, I officially “like” Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon and think serious malt folks would enjoy this also! Such a nice way to kick off the new year!

Cheers!

The below came with the press kit:

Four Roses Single Barrel (100 proof)
A premium Single Barrel Bourbon with a taste that begs to be savored again and again. Its
taste is complex, full bodied and surprisingly smooth with a delicate long finish that is
unbelievably mellow. Contains hints of ripe plum and cherry tastes with fruity, spicy
aromas including maple syrup and cocoa. Drink straight up or on the rocks.
Nose: Fruity, spicy, floral, cocoa, maple syrup, moderately woody.
Palate: Hints of ripe plum & cherries, robust, full body, mellow.
Finish: Smooth & delicately long.
Size: 750ml
SRP: $35.99- $39.99

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Jack Rose Dining Saloon visit

You’ve heard it all before, “this is the best bar ever!” Well, I kept hearing hype from friends via Facebook that there was an incredible new bar opening in Washington DC. The funny thing is that they live in Chicago. Now if this was two old drinking buddies or acquaintances from a miserable trade show I would have discounted it but they are not that. They are well-known scotch aficionados and their words were well counted.

I came to Jack Rose on a mission of sorts, to find out if this place “lived up to the hype.” I picked a Friday afternoon to venture down Connecticut Avenue and hit a liquor store that had the last remaining (and only) bottle of 21 year Fine Oak Macallan. This was already a good start, if you can call dropping $200 on a bottle of scotch bliss. So Jack Rose had to deliver.

When you walk into the aged structure it just feels like a place you belong. Unpretentious yet structured and cleanly laid out. And then it happens, your eye gaze is taken up into a dizzying array of over 1000 bottles of whiskey. What was most complexing and almost unbelievable was the true amount of scotch. No, not airplane scotch or scotch you had at the bar last night. Rare scotch, unknown scotch and if you are a connoisseur of the single malt a smile fights its way up to erase the thought that you have walked into “another bar” that will disappoint. And yes, there is a heaping variety of Bourbon also and very fine select micro-brews on tap. Truth is, this place is growing daily in spirits. I believe they have surpassed the 1400 bottle mark.

I was quickly helped at the bar by polite and polished servers. I walked up and down the walls two, three times before I settled on a 17 year Bowmore. It was incredibly good. Fact is, I have found a bar that I could go to constantly and always get something new to drink. How many places are there like that? I’ve never seen one.

The food menu is well done also. I ended up there for quite a while talking with the owner and other scotch enthusiasts and ordered pretty much the whole “starter” menu. It was all outstanding.

If the downstairs isn’t enough, there is a wonderful upper level that has another bar and a grill that will serve you freshly cooked bar foods while you watch and mingle. This level also is going to sport a cigar humidor and because it is open air even the DC government will allow it. My conversation with the owner Bill Thomas was long and entertaining. Bill showed me the place and the “private” bar that will be used for those who want some privacy to drink their favorite drams while the rest of the place is caught up in the din of a busy night of revelry. Bill was kind enough to share several rare drams with me and a few others and we spent a substantial amount of time with his good friend Harvey Fry who is nothing less than a sage of scotch. I do think this man has forgotten more, if that is possible, about scotch that I will probably ever know.

So really, for me, it’s hard to get excited about a bar anymore. Jack Rose has changed that, permanently. I have to say, this is the best bar ever! And you will find me there on occasion, you can count on it.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon
2007 18th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., District of Columbia 20009 (202) 588-7388 ‎

 

Here are a few of the whisky’s I had.

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fighting cock

WARLOCK Cigar and Fighting Cock Bourbon – More about good craftsmanship than angst.

Tonight, on the day the world celebrated the demise of the world’s most hated man since Hitler, I tried out a cigar and a bourbon with very masculine and brash names. The Cigar was a sample that I had received months ago at the Cigar Africinado smoke event in New York, Warlock. The bourbon was a miniature of Heaven Hill’s Fighting Cock.

I do admire good marketing, to me this is a bit over the top but it defintitely gets your attention. Now tasting a whiskey that refers to an angry rooster is reason enough for me to think that this product may be a bit rough. I was surprised. Not only is this a pretty nice bourbon but I think its more dignified than the name. It delivers a classic bourbon palate that almost, especially with a bit of water added, becomes creamy. I have to admit, this may find a place in my cabinet one day and would not hesitate to recommend it. Bottom line, if you find the marketing a bit silly, I understand, but it is a good bourbon.

I kind of wonder if Charlie smokes Warlock cigars? He obviously is a cigarette smoker but I think he would be much more dignified smoking a Warlock cigar. And like the fighting cock, the bourbon not Charlie, this also was a silly named cigar that turned out to be very nice. I was surprised at how smooth and tasty this cigar was. It was very smooth to me and delivered a consistent taste and burn. The blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican leafs to me are a winning combination and the Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper is a perfect wrap. The draw was a bit restrictive but not annoying. I recently had a cigar, memory blank right now, that was lauded as a great cigar but its overly restrictive draw turned me completely off.

So I don’t know what’s up with the overly machismo marketing but don’t let it turn you off of these two products, I think I’d classify them both as smooth and more docile than angry.

Edradour Natural Cask Strength, Bourbon Cask, a challenging dram

In coming up with some tasting notes and thoughts on this single malt that was bottled at full strength I found myself struggling. My struggle was two parts, first I paid extra for an unknown whisky to be shipped to me from the UK so I expected it to be interesting. Secondly, I found this whisky to be very challenging to categorize. I like to be able to taste a whisky and say, this is what I would do with this whisky (drink with meat, seafood, and I’d smoke it with this or that cigar or type of cigar). After tasting this single malt that was aged solely in a bourbon cask from Kentucky I’m not sure that what I tasted lived up to what I thought it would taste like.
Having tasted a Bushmills Malt 10 that was aged in some Kentucky bourbon casks I probably had more of that feel in mind and what I actually got from the Edradour was not even close. Nosing the whisky is a bit familiar, soft vanilla notes etc… I did not pick up any Highland notes and thought that most of the nose was coming from Kentucky.
I previously said I ordered this product hoping it would be interesting, well, when I tasted it I got what I paid for, only the interesting led to some confusion. This was not a product my palate found familiar. I was actually at a loss, the best I can say is that it has a lot of heat (alcohol burn) and a bourbon mixed with scotch sort of finish. Not what you’d call stellar notes! Like other whiskies or cigars that have left me confused I thought I’d wait, try it again and see what happens.
Well, tonight I poured myself another generous dram and nosed, sipped, same reaction, then it occurred to me, the ABV(alcohol by volume) is fairly high, I might put some water in it. So I did, and then thought, maybe just a little more (I don’t think I’ve ever done this). Bingo. All of a sudden with the alcohol content knocked down I could really start to see the flavors. It all made sense to me and I found myself pleasantly pleased that I had found a fix for this whisky.
By the way, the whisky is a bit viscous or oily. I think this would be a great whisky with pork. I did rather enjoy this alongside a CAO La Traviata maduro and think that it would mate well with full-bodied cigars at the full strength. To me, and I’m not sure I will ever say this again, but I’d knock down the alcohol content with some fresh water and enjoy it with a variety of foods and even some medium bodied cigars. That is, if you are in the UK. I don’t think you will find this one washing up on American soil any day soon.

Knob CreekI’ve had this 50ml bottle of Knob Creek sitting on my desk for some time.

Knob Creek

I’ve had this 50ml bottle of Knob Creek sitting on my desk for some time. I believe I purchased it to take to a leadership course that had an “adventure” planned for the great outdoors. Well, being that the temperatures were hovering around freezing, I thought I might need a little something by the campfire that night, hence the small bottle (travels easy).

As far as tasting notes, I do love bourbon, and this is a worthy contender in the “above-average” group of bourbons from Kentucky. It is aged 9 years which is on the high side of good bourbons. Many good bourbons can be brought to market after seven evidently. I particularly like the packaging also. I’m not usually a fan of more than two fonts on anything but somehow it works on this “aged” paper.

As far as color, its a nice medium amber. As far as the nose goes, I picked up vanilla and a slight sweetness that reminded me of a charcoal barrel. After adding a touch of water, the sweeter smells moved to the rear so I didn’t waste anymore time on that. As far as the taste, a very nice honey taste with vanilla notes. Maybe toffee, I’ve got to have some toffee again to be sure.

In short, I did like this bourbon and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

Yes Virginia! You are getting a new distillery!

Award-Winning Eades Double Malt Whisky 

Enters New ‘Tasting’ Program at Virginia ABC Stores

Virginians Can Now Sample a Taste of Scotland

Lovingston, VA July 1, 2010 – Do you know the difference in taste between a single-malt and a double-malt whisky? The Virginia Distillery Company, based in Nelson County, is poised to educate Virginians about premium malt whisky, with free samples from its award-winning vatted malt Eades series. The Virginia Distillery Company will be one of the first to participate in the new tasting program sponsored by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. New legislation passed earlier this year allows for in-store tastings of alcoholic beverages for the first time in Virginia.

“This program is particularly important for company’s with high end products like our Eades Double Malt Whisky. It gives enthusiasts a chance to experience before they buy,” said Pat Jones, the company’s Executive Vice President of Marketing. “We know that when malt whisky enthusiast taste our product, they tend to purchase it.”

According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, customers can now sample a half-ounce each of up to three different drinks for a total of 1.5 ounces. In order to participate in the program, companies must sign up for time slots with the ABC in advance and receive approval of the store manager. The spirits featured in the tasting must be purchased at one of the stores where the tastings are held.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), the bill modernized an outdated law that had only allowed for beer and wine tastings “In today’s economy it’s more important than ever to give customers the tools to make better purchasing decisions,” said DISCUS Vice President David Wojnar, “Repealing the ban on spirits tastings is a great, modern convenience for Virginians that ultimately helps Virginia’s bottom line.”

For a full schedule of the Virginia Distillery Company’s Double Malt tastings of its Islay, Speyside and Highland whiskies, click here.

About Virginia Distillery Company (VDC)

The Virginia Distillery Company (VDC) is at the heart of the craft distilling movement in America. It is committed to producing the highest quality Single Malt Whisky by employing traditional distilling techniques, including an authentic copper pot still from Scotland and proper aging of its whiskies. VDC will begin production its Single Malt Whisky at its Nelson County distillery in 2011.

While VDC’s Single Malt Whisky ages, the company is making, importing and selling Eades Double Malt whisky. The component malts in the 2nd edition of Eades vatted whisky are each at least 10 years old and can be as old as 18, ensuring that each – Islay, Speyside and Highland – offer the deep flavors that characterize mature malts. Eades Double Malts (2nd edition) have received multiple gold awards from industry tasting panels and favorable reviews from publications such as The Malt Advocate.

More information at http://www.vadistillery.com

Woodford Reserve & Bushmills Malt 10yr., how a Kentucky Bourbon produces an Irish Whiskey

If you read my account of going to the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky then you know where this story gets its influence. Our tour guide told us of a recent vacation he took to Ireland. I believe he also toured Scotland but he imparted a story about seeing his familiar Woodford Reserve barrels being re-purposed at the Old Bushmills Distillery. He knew that the barrels that Woodford emptied were resold to Ireland and Scotland distilleries to mature whiskies and now he had seen with his own eyes! Well his experience stuck in my head, and I thought, why not try some Bushmills product that is aged in bourbon casks and see if I can taste some similarities. The Bushmills Malt 10yr. is a product of two barrels, first a sherry cask and then most of the time is spent in a previously used cask from a bourbon distillery.

Ok, so after shoveling down some Sushi I picked up at Harris Teeter I set out my tasting table. Into two glasses went about an ounce of each whiskey, one of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and one of Bushmills Malt 10yr. At the onset you can see that Woodford has a deep amber appearance and the Bushmills has a much lighter amber appearance. I then nosed the Woodford and my nose exploded with flavors! I wrote down vanilla, leather, and butterscotch. Then I wrote down Yummy!!! Yes I realize that yummy is not something a professional reviewer would write down in a review but then I have the luxury of not holding that title. But seriously, the aroma alone of Woodford is something special! Then I nosed the Bushmills, and then again, and again, come on!! Unlike the Woodford, I had to seriously NOSE this glass. It was almost like it didn’t want to play. The best I could get out of it was some hints of liquorice. Which confused me.

Before tasting I added a very small amount of amount of VOSS water to each one and nosed them again. I was beginning to think this was going to be a failed experiment, but then it happened. The stubborn Bushmills came alive with the introduction of water and suddenly the same butterscotch I smelled in the Woodford was present in the Bushmills along with some honey. The Woodford on the other hand dropped a couple of aromas after the water was introduced but some wood flavor came through. All of a sudden I was taken back to the moment I walked into the warehouse at Woodford Reserve. That, as I wrote earlier, was an amazing olfactory event.

Now I have tasted Woodford many times before but I tried to pay closer attention to this tasting. The flavors were incredibly complex, and wonderful. I wrote down, full butterscotch! I could not help but write, “this is a gentleman’s drink.”

I looked at the Bushmills and said, you got a lot to live up to! Knowing that the Bushmills would not approach the Woodford I lowered my expectations. Fortunately I was very pleased to have the same butterscotch, though somewhat reduced, come across my palette. I found this ten year malt to be very well mannered and smooth. You could almost call the ten year malt, Woodford “light.”

Alas! I have found what I was looking for! These two whiskies have amazing similarities thanks to a very well fashioned and prepared barrel from Woodford Reserve Distillery.

But this story doesn’t end, well for now it does. I tasted another Bushmills product after these two called “Black Bush.” Would it taste different?

Cheers!