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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Spirits and Cigars

Some Drams at Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Recently I met up with a couple of Whiskey enthusiasts at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington D.C. and as usual, tried a few single malt scotch whisky’s that I haven’t had before. Before I forget, the food, as usual was awesome! I had the Duck Breast, awesome, and a delicious appetizer the Chef whipped up for me special, many thanks!!

So, the first dram was a Glen Garioch 21 year that was very reminiscent of the 12 year I have in my cabinet yet smoother and more refined. I thought the Garioch would go great with Duck and I proved this out to my liking. The most surprising aspect of this dram was that at 43% ABV it still had a nice little initial alcohol burn on the nosing. It of course went away as I kept my nose firmly implanted in it. A very nice fruity dram.

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Second up was the Prime Malt bottling I spied that turned out to be an aged Macallan which always interests me. As a rule, scotch that I can find almost anywhere on God’s green earth tends to not please me but The Macallan has yet to disappoint. This dram was no exception and the 30 years of aging proved in-line with other aged Macallan’s I have had. It’s just a hard offering  to beat, regardless of the bottler!

imageAt the urging of the bartender I tried his favorite single malt, which is saying A LOT, when you are at Jack Rose! So the Rosebank is famous and unfortunately rare since the distillery was closed in 1993. Chieftain’s offering from them was a 20-year-old (aged) and I can’t say it is my favorite dram at JR’s but it offers a very interesting experience. The flavors impact you first at the tip of the tongue and on the finish the flavors rush to the rear of your palate. Quite different, and I have experienced this before but it is not typical in my experience. I quite enjoyed it and it was probably the best dram of the three that night.

So if you are reading this and find yourself in the Washington D.C. area, you also can find these fine drams (though drams like this are limited!) so get down there and imbibe!

Cheers!

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P.S.! If you were not aware, Jack Rose has a VERY nice humidor from Draper’s cigars and it is filled with Premium Cigars! All for $10! And between you and me, some are worth a LOT more than that! Smoking is allowed upstairs.

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New Section Added to theScotchlife.com! Events!

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

Cheers!

Crillio Trio, so what gives about a Crillio Cigar?

Alec Bradley Tempus Terra Novo Natural (5 x 50)
Kristoff Criollo Robusto Natural (5 1/2 x 54)
Perdomo 10th Criollo Robusto Natural (5 x 54)

So recently I was perusing a catalog for an on-line retailer and noticed a sampler pack for a Crillio cigars. I knew I had smoked some with the title but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. A quick Google search revealed that it was a type of tobacco leaf originally used in Cuba, surprise, and has evolved into a mold resistant leaf. You can find some good information on-line about the leaf but the important thing is it delivers a slightly different flavor than other leafs.

So being intrigued, I bought a sampler, the sampler had two of each of the above cigars so I smoked the first set after letting them sit in the humidor for a couple of weeks. This told me enough, taste wise, that I do like this leaf and combination of fillers that each manufacturer had used though two of them are better than the other.

I have smoked Tempus before and noted somewhere that I really enjoyed it. The Kristoff cigar I had discovered a couple of years ago and really enjoyed their product and presentation so I was excited about trying their crillio cigar. As far as Perdomo, I have had some that I liked and some that i wasn’t so crazy about, that holds true in this selection.

The Kristoff was excellent, though I don’t have any notes jotted down about it, i do remember it being a smooth, tasty cigar that I thoroughly enjoyed, which has been most of my experience with Kristoff cigars. The Tempus I smoked while backstage at a concert with my oldest friend Shawn Mullins after he opened for Judy Collins at Wolftrap Amphitheater in Vienna, VA. Being I do not get to see Shawn often these days it was a special time and for me and the Tempus delivered.

And then, the Perdomo….. The Perdomo starts with a wonderful spice right off the light, then mellows, and then somewhere near the middle, gets, nasty…. well, not entirely nasty but not agreeable to my taste. Then, after your trying to figure out, what the hell does it mean, it mellows out and becomes a very enjoyable smoke. Confused, me too! But it happened with both cigars which leads me to wonder what happened. Was it a transition of leafs? I have no idea, and hopefully one day I will understand what it all means.

So as far as recommending, I would unhesitatingly recommend the Kristoff and Alec Bradley Tempus, but be aware of the Perdomo as having a “spot” of confusion. Maybe a different sized such as a Toro or Churchill would have a better result? Not sure if I will spend my dollars to figure it out.

And as a side, these are cigars I could recommend having a dram of scotch with. They are not overpowering and as long as you are sipping a highland, speyside, or lighter scotch you should be fine. I would be careful around a peaty scotch because I think the taste of the cigar would not overcome the peat.

Cheers!

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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The Double Headed Monster video review

The Dalmore 12 year and Alec Bradley Harvest Habano

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The other night I grabbed a healthy dram of Dalmore 12yr as opposed to the Gran Reserva (Cigar Malt) that I usually drink and headed downstairs with a Cohiba Puro Dominicana to spend some time talking to a neighbor. I have spent so much of my Dalmore focus on the Gran Reserva that I have not thought about the 12 year as much. While having a great conversation I started to realize how very polished and good the 12 year is and how well it was pairing with this Cohiba.

Tonight I poured another dram or two of the 12yr and headed downstairs with an Alec Bradley Harvest Habano to enjoy. The Dalmore 12 yr offering is so refined and a bit more elegant than the Gran Reserva in color and palate. The jammy fruit of the Gran Reserva is a bit more reserved in the 12 year and doesn’t linger or demand as much of your attention. The 12yr is a really good sipping whisky and I truly do consider it on equal footing as the Gran Reserva and probably a bit more crowd pleasing. Again, I do drink whisky neat unless it is overly high in ABV and then cut it with pure water.

The cigar, AB’s Harvest Habano really scored with me tonight. This cigar impressed me unlike others have in awhile. Its like a fine peace of leather that you want more of. It has a balanced and pleasant smell and the smoke is not offensive. The flavors are subtle but pleasing and it is definitely a cigar that I smoked down to the nub. This is a cigar I will smoke again, because I do have another one, and would jump at a box if given a good deal. You won’t be disappointed.

Jura Origin 10 year whisky notes

Around the world there are small islands and areas where tourists love to go. Most of these areas are simply visited for their beaches or isolation, Jura is most visited for its whisky. In the packaging of the Jura you start to get the picture of a small (200 people) town that is isolated and as a result shrouded in myth and mystery,which of course carries into the whisky. Words like nestled, slumbering, and bewitching attempt to describe the island and the Jura whisky. It’s very well done and paints a picture very strongly, strongly enough that the whisky has a lot to live up to.

I, like a lot of people, think that most whisky is good somewhere around the 12 year mark and gets better with time, so a 10 year offering interested me. In short, it did not disappoint. The nose and the taste are complex and vivid. There is a certain excitement in the whisky which I think may owe to its youth. Whatever it is, it works quite well and is a very solid, well-built whisky. There are lots of interesting tastes and tinges in this whisky, the mouth never gets dulled with it and you will find yourself pouring a few drams of this one. The last whisky I remembering having this sort of mouth feel and warmth was The Glenrothes Select Reserve.

I have paired this with a couple of cigars that are medium to medium-full and it was very complimentary. This is an agreeable whisky that does not have a lot of peat in it that makes smoking a cigar somewhat challenging if it is not a full bodies cigar.

So do give this one a try, It may be the best 10 year whisky you have ever tried.

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.

La Flor Dominicana Ligero L500 notes #cigars

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Smoked a LFD L500 last night and was left begging for more. It is a ligero leaf series cigar and is in the Cabinet collection.  The L500 is a large oily cigar that has a wonderfully complex and rounded taste. I seriously enjoyed this cigar with some Famous Grouse whisky and thought that if I could make a cigar this is very close to what I would strive for! I am very surprised to find many who do not think this cigar is exceptional. It will become a permanent resident of my humidor and join favorite status which has been extended to the Cain F and the  Cortez of late.

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