Is ME! Technically there are two winners and I somehow found favor by the Whisky gods! I’ve been keeping this under my hat for months now but next week I will literally be going on the trip of a lifetime.
It was a dreary December morning when I woke up to an email from Morrison Bowmore to congratulate me, it was a bit surreal. I’m a firm believer in the adage of “too good to be true” and it has taken me awhile to accept this amazing gift.
I will be putting out as much data as possible about this trip in this blog in a couple of weeks. There will likely be extensive photography, including a lot of nature shots.
As a bonus, I will be stopping in on Auchentoshan in Glasgow also and I look forward to the opportunity. I wish you all could come with me but I’m going to have to pack quite a lot of outdoor gear so there may not be enough room to put you in my luggage.
Anyhow, just wanted to put it out there because many people entered this contest and a special thanks to all the bloggers who promoted the event because that is how I found out.
I track news of whisky, especially scotch whisky on-line through Google. I have quite a bit of information dump into my inbox on a daily basis about the industry. What I am noticing, or thinking, is that the Whisk(e)y industry world-wide is at a tipping point. That is, it is gaining amazing potential. While this is a good sign for them, I think they should all (from Balvenie to Beam) be aware that there is an awful lot of people paying attention to the products hitting the shelf.
I do not think that the ‘ol US of A is merely content with any random whisk(e)y anymore. It must be good, no, it must have something special to offer! Do not just throw out some old stock with some clever marketing campaign! It better be right, or it better not hit the shelves.
I do feel strongly about this. This morning I saw that a whiskey from Waco, Texas beat out Balvenie and others in a tasting competition in London recently. This is being compared, whether it should or not, with California’s wine beating out Bordeaux (which I love) in 1976.
In the end, I think that the consumer of dark whisk(e)y is about to be in the driver seat, and the distiller chasing their loyalties. In the end, it’s a win for all of us.
My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey:
Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you
For every day.
Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever
One grand, sweet song.
Charles Kingsley – A Farewell
The news of Johnny Walker Green Label being discontinued shouldn’t upset too many people but I think it’s a little sad to lose the only label in the JW line that I recommended people try. Where else can you get a blended scotch of high quality (all Malt, no grain) scotch? I’m sure there are several but I’m not a blend guy, mainly single malts. When you drink a dram of Green Label you are drinking Talisker, Linkwood, Craganmore, and Caol Ila products at once. Quite an affordable blend and unique experience.
Efficiency and product trimming has evidently hit the JW line and the Green Label must be the weak link. If I had my way, I’d discontinue Blue….. So Diageo probably knows their market and this must seem like a good move on paper. They are evidently sponsoring a final “official” tasting that you can apply to be at on their Facebook page.
The first time I ever bought the Green Label was a few years back while in St. Thomas. The costs were supposedly lower, not sure about that, so I bought a bottle there. I think it’s a very drinkable dram, nothing extremely special but a good everyday or with guests that you don’t want to pull out the “good” stuff for. For myself, it’s just a bit of nostalgia that the brand is going away, so I may stock up for no good reason but to have a “rare” product one day.
If you are a regular Black label drinker and have not tried the Green, I would encourage you to try this one. Unlike your Black label, this one does not have any grain whisky in it. On top of that I’d say its finish is nicer and more complex. If you only drink Red label, please switch to Black!, and you too will notice a large difference in quality.
Cheers to you Green Label! And Farewell!
On Columbus day while the masses of people lucky enough to “celebrate” a holiday that marketing has yet to figure out how to make money on, I made my way to a cigar event that was a blast. The Cigar Town shop in Reston’s Town Center was the event site and what a great store and evening it was. I was a bit early I guess so I purchased a Don Pepin “blue label” and settled into the private smoking lounge and watched ESPN. Soon the event kicked off and people flooded in! There was deals to be had with box discounts and free shirts, plus a freshly rolled cigar by Rene, Pepin’s personal master roller who is a treat to watch work.
The crowd was quite lively and you could tell there were Pepin enthusiasts amongst the crowd. The boxes of Pepin cigars were quickly disappearing to men with big grins on their faces who hadn’t yet realized they’d dropped a few hundred dollars. But when you like Premium Cigars, that is just the cost! Pepin graciously signed each person’s box purchase, posed for pictures and shared some knowledge with those who were interested in the whole cigar industry and more specifically what it takes to make a premium cigar. Although my spanish is poor at best, he is just a very genuine gentleman and does not have any hint of celebrity or arrogance to him. This is a guy you would want to hang out with!
So I too couldn’t resist the discount, free Pepin shirt and freshly rolled cigar by Rene and walked out with a box of my Pepin favorites that I refer to as “Blue Label” because that is the color of the band. I’m sophisticated like that. I met some really interesting people there, compared cigar likes with a few and genuinely enjoyed myself. Of course, no great event is complete without a beautiful young lady, so this event was no exception! I joked with her that only a place like this would an old man distract a crowd of men away from her! So if you haven’t tried Don Pepin Garcia cigars you are missing out. The My Father line is highly revered and the man simply knows how to blend tobacco leafs! He has only been out of Cuba’s factories for about eleven years and is making waves all over the industry. Do yourself a favor and pick one up today.
I have added a new section or page to theScotchlife blog. Notice the tab up top labeled Cigar and Whisky events. I will be adding the events that I intend on going to as well as ones I learn about that I think you would enjoy. The events will be primarily events held in the USA for now. Also, most of the local events will be located in Washington DC/Virginia area as that is where I live.
If you have any events please let me know. There is such a large community of Cigar and Whisky lovers and it would be a shame to not know of great events happening in your own backyard!
Please notice the 2012 Nth event. This is upcoming in March in Las Vegas, NV and is the single greatest scotch tasting event in the States available, not to mention it’s in our favorite city! The same organizers of this are having several city events and you will be able to taste scotch that is ONLY available through these events!
Also, make sure you are subscribed to my twitter feed which will also alert you to things going on. @theScotchlife
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.
RT @JohnHansell: New whiskies heading to the U.S. http://f.ast.ly/gqrjc
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