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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Spirits and Food

Glenmorangie’s Extremely Rare 18 year aged Single Malt Scotch Whisky

I was reading a fellow blogger’s notes on this product and it reminded me that I had yet to open the one I picked up this past November. I’m glad his comments spurred me to open it! While Glenmorangie is not a BIG scotch whisky it is a quality one.

Extremely Rare 18To me, the Glemorangie line falls into the “approachable” category for non-whisky types.

Light, fruity, almost a dainty touch of fragrant flowers flowing from the most beautiful waterfall in your dreams. That’s what “Glenmo” is to me. A far cry from the gritty, earthy, peat that is heaped upon fires in Islay on whisky such as Ardbeg, Laphroiag, Bowmore, etc….. So once in a while I let me “flowery” side run free for a dram or so and this 18-year-old Glenmo was perfect!

To me this is the perfect complement to a well made dessert or after dinner cheese plate. It just screams with flavors that a great Chef can work with. It’s a 43% ABV whisky that has an influence of Oloroso Sherry Cask that really does a great job. If a whisky can be described as pretty, this is it. Pretty as in Princess Kate pretty. Descriptive enough?

This is a whisky I will bring out sparingly, most likely to try with a special cheese I have found or due to me finding time to whip up a Crème brûlée! Glemorangie’s notes and accolades for this whisky can be found HERE.

Cheers Kate!

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Kate Middleton’s Biography.com profile picture. Doesn’t she look like “The Whisky Woman?”
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Prohibition Party at Jack Rose Dining Saloon 2012

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On December 5, 2012, hundreds of Washingtonians crowded the dark paneled walls of the best whisky bar in America, Jack Rose Dining Saloon, for a celebration of sensibility. Rare, these days are words like “sense” and “obvious” in the seat of American government these days (have you heard of the “cliff”?) but on December 5, 1933 the United States Constitution was amended with the Twenty-first Amendment also known as the Repeal of Prohibition. The repeal was of the Eighteenth Amendment which was passed due to the conventional wisdom, and considerable political and religious pressure, to ban the manufacture of whiskey in the U.S. in order to reduce crime, improve the health and mental wellness of the American citizenry, and reduce healthcare costs (that sounds familiar). What the 18th Amendment did was the exact opposite of this and to the dismay of Senator Rockefeller and all the groups who rejoiced over their victory they could not wait to “un-do” the bad law that they had created and stop the bleeding.

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So, it is only fitting that such a grand bar could throw a Prohibition party in the year 2012. Why? Because I think we need to reflect on what we have, as citizens, let government do in our lives. As altruistic as man can be, often, he/she does the wrong thing. And in the case of Government, it usually is not corrected without a revolution or take-over. Life is hard enough, to take away the few things that unites and provides enjoyment for a large segment of a society is detrimental. So raise a glass my fellow Americans and never forget!

Now, that I’m off of my pedestal, I’d like to talk about this Saloon called Jack Rose. At the heart of this bar is Bill Thomas, proprietor of Jack Rose Dining Saloon as well as Bourbon in Georgetown. On this night, Bill really wanted a celebration of this date and a true theme running through the night to give it a Prohibition era feel. It started with a wonderfully cooked three course meal that I wisely took my server’s advise on and chose the Prime Rib. I had a three course meal for $20 USD. You can see the picture, the Prime Rib was ridiculously huge! I told Bill, you can’t be making money on this! He smiled and said, I really don’t care. He wanted people to enjoy this day, it wasn’t just another excuse to open the doors and pour drink specials. Bill loves whiskey and enjoys the company of those who do also. So, when you can have an intimate party in a bar that has a ridiculous amount of whisk(e)y in it. Why Not!

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As usual,the meal was wonderful, the appetizers unique and special. But what came afterwards really trumped it all.

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When Bill opened the Dining Saloon there was a basement area that in most people’s minds would be a great cellar/storage area. What Bill saw was an intimate setting where whisky aficionados could sit in relative quiet away from the main crowd and truly enjoy some spirits. I joined Bill downstairs and the bar truly carries the “speakeasy” feel. The door to the bar is recessed into the wall, and slides. There is a back door, no sign on the outside, with a buzzer. You get the picture. In this area, one can assembly 40 people and it feels like you’re in a New York City bar on Saturday night, only with a Washington vibe, not a New York one. Tonight, Bill was personally pouring a few unique scotch and bourbon offerings.

20121215-090626.jpgThe room was alive and the setting was perfect. Bill had brought in some Pre-Prohibition era American whiskey that he has in his personal collection and displayed it in a case (I’ve placed a few in this post). For entertainment, two lovely young ladies provided us with a 1920’s flapper themed performance that even silenced, even mesmerized the contingent and even produced a few ghasts from the women folk. It was at that moment I knew that nowhere else in this city was anyone having this good of a time. My iPhone doesn’t do justice in the picture of one of the ladies, but trust me, it was a show.

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To finish off a near perfect night, Bill pulled out a pre-prohibition bottle of American whiskey. Though the label and history had worn off, Bill knew it was distilled somewhere between 1915 to 1930. The magic was not in its nosing or tasting, but in just knowing that  you were able to imbibe in a whiskey that old and surrounded by so much controversy. I really do thank Jack Rose for bringing attention to a historic date and doing its best to help reconnect our generations with those back then. I cannot wait til next year!

Cheers!

Cookology! A foodies delight in cooking

Last night my wife and I visited the store known as Cookology which is located in Dulles Mall. This mall is located in Northern Virginia, miles from Washington-Dulles International Airport and a few miles from the Nations Capitol. At this venue you will be led by an Executive Chef with multiple years of experience. On our visit we opted for the Steak options which entailed learning how to prepare a Filet Mignon (Wagu beef) with a delicious mashed potato combination of sinful ingredients preceded by a made from scratch blue cheese dressing that is so good  you would almost forget you had a main course.

We started as a group with all the necessary fresh ingredients neatly laid out in bowls before us. Methodically and without confusion or much thought we shuffled through the professional kitchen and used the induction cookers to boil potatoes in two minutes and subsequently sear filets in just minutes also. The mixture of egg, mayo, sugar, etc…. led to a blue cheese dressing to die for! This is the first time I have ever been able to play cook in a professional kitchen and I just loved it! It makes you realize the own limitations of your kitchen at home.

In the end, we dined on our steak, potato and blue cheese wedge salad. Topped off with a Cab Sav from California of course. I hesitate to call myself a foodie. But damn it, I love good food! And this place is just the kind of place where you can gain the appreciation for how really good food comes from really good ingredients.

If you find yourself in the Northern Virginia/DC area, you need to schedule a visit to this place. You will not regret it!

Cheers!

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.

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!

The Balvenie Roadshow tasting in DC at Poste

As October ushered itself into Washington D.C. so did the fall-esque weather complete with 50f temperatures and cool rain. It was only fitting to have a Scotch tasting that was originally planned for outdoors at the Poste restaurant in the heart of the city. After arriving soon enough to see the Morgan off-loaded from the truck and driven through the portal which takes you to Poste, I was in no way deterred by the mist and was genuinely happy to see this fine hand-made car take its place in the outdoor dining area that it would have to ultimately spend alone.

Though the weather was gloomy the crowd and especially the host of the evening Andrew Weir was not. Andrew has one of the best jobs in the world (excluding constant travel) and that is to be the Balvenie Ambassador for the Eastern Coast of the U.S. Unlike some reps that I have met in the whisky or cigar industry Andrew is genuinely welcoming and eager to share his knowledge of his product. I also appreciate Andrews’ unwillingness to talk bad about any competing product (which I’ve heard numerous times) and his attitude towards “you enjoy scotch how you like it, because you paid for it!”

Due to the rain the tasting was moved inside to what equates to a bar/entry to the restaurant. The noise from the main dining area was an incredibly unwelcome obstacle for any speaker but everyone there tolerated it and though Andrew merely fakes a Scottish accent we could at least understand some of what he said. Just kidding Andrew. The drams that were to be had were Balvenie’s current offerings of Doublewood 12 year, Single Barrel 15 year, and Portwood 21 year. They are three very different offerings but all very Balvenie. The Doublewood is the perfect scotch to start drinking when you are just starting your journey into scotch. I believe Andrew called it the “gateway” scotch into Balvenie. I would call it the gateway into seriously good scotch! Reportedly this is one of David Stewart’s favorite products which says a lot for a Master of 50 years. The Doublewood has spent most of its life in an American Bourbon barrel and finished up in an European Sherry cask. It is a delightful dram and one I would consider a “go-to” scotch.

The Single Cask 15 is a very different taste because it does carry the kick of a single cask. The ethanol alcohol level is a bit higher and if you like that you will like this offering. I really prefer this to the Doublewood because I do enjoy the kick. It is also different from Doublewood because it only matures in American Oak. No Sherry. So you are going to get more vanilla upfront whereas it is a bit hidden by the Sherry Oak in the Doublewood.

The Portwood 21 is good. Period. It has won several awards and in my mind is a first-rate contender with anything on the market in the premium category. It has spent time in rare Port casks that impart a deliciousness that comes across as honeyed raisins. This is the scotch you have with the Duck and Creme Brûlée. It is a bit pricey but you should experience this scotch, it can be found by the dram in your better bars.

The evening went well despite the din of the restaurant and aside from the whisky nerds (myself and one other gentleman) I believe some whisky novices were very pleased to have discovered this tasting.

As an aside, the appetizers from Poste were extremely well prepared and after the tasting I did enjoy a grass-fed cheeseburger that was actually cooked the way I ordered it, medium. It was delightful! I have found that if a nice restaurant can produce a great burger then you can be assured their other offerings are great as well. If you were wondering if you should try this restaurant out I would encourage you to do so. They also have a great selection and variety in scotch.

The evening was great and as Andrew was leaving he slipped me a gift. It really took me by surprise and was totally unexpected. Let’s just say it has something to do with a future offering and I will be tasting it this week. I have also embedded the video from Balvenie about the roadshow, it’s a great video and I hope you enjoy it, preferably with a Balvenie!

Cheers!

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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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The Edinburgh Malt – Glenkinchie 12 yr notes w/Diamond Crown Cigar

Edinburgh, one of those towns in Scotland that is on the must see list and now a must see distillery, Glenkinchie. Of all of the regions of scotch that I have tasted whisky from, the Lowlands, is the one I have the least amount of experience with. The lowlands do not produce the major stars in scotch whisky today, yet produce some lighter, sweeter whisky. In fact, there are only a couple of working distilleries (Auchenotoshan being the other) with some possibilities of a future operation. Rosebank is a collectible but no longer existing distillery of the Lowlands.

Not knowing what to expect of this whisky I approached it with high curiosity. After a few tastes I was intrigued and pleased. I really enjoy the fact that this whisky had a complete different side to it. I also noted some light tobacco coming through the finish which spurred me to go to the humidor and grab the lightest, smoothest cigar I had. I pulled out a Diamond Crown, Connecticuit wrapper. Hardly a cheap cigar. Yet I thought of what I had, it was the best match.

The Glenkinchie is light, grassy and soft, slightly rubbery on the palate. It has a noteable finish, staying on top of the tongue with some pep that is not annoying or heavy. There is no bitterness in it at all. I find a bit of saltiness on the finish after drinking it for awhile.

As far as being paired with the Diamond Crown, I wasn’t as pleased as I thought I would be. The DC did its job, smoked wonderfully and is one of my favorite cigars. It was not an adversarial meeting of the two, but there was no magic. The next day I tasted the Glenkinchie and did not have a cigar. I found this better. I think this makes a good sippin whisky. I would enjoy this whisky with some good dry cheese or fruit. Its a good dram. I might also recommend this with seafood, boiled shrimp especially.

Cheers!

Nestor Miranda Art Deco Cigar w/Dalmore 12 year pairing

So the bad thing about drinking various whisky’s and smoking various cigars is trying to record and then write intelligibly about them in a timely manner.

I decided tonight I need to “catch up” with notes, somewhat, and multi-task. So I grabbed a stick out of the humidor and proceeded to the garage to write, smoke, and drink. Sounds good in theory but takes some work.

I pulled out the Art Deco Gran Toro cigar I procured from Leesburg Cigar and Pipe and headed out to sit by my lovely Triumph Rocket III and type.

I also brought with me a generous dram of The Dalmore 12 year. I’m determined to find the perfect smoke with The Dalmore and thought this might work.

To the regular smoker as myself this appears as a large ring cigar that is slightly oily and dark.Since it has a large amount of Nicaraguan leaf in it I thought it would be nice. It appears to be loosely wrapped and has a very nice smell to it.

CAUTION: This cigar, when lit, really announces itself. The firing up of it is like firing up an old V8 from the 60’s (no smog control) and any non cigar enthusiast nearby might just make note of it in a less than approving manner. Once the cigar is a full burn it leans out though, like a good V8 should, and delivers a less than offensive burn. The taste is a bit woody, old wood, but very nice, pure tobacco, no sugary sweetness or hint of spice in this one. It’s all about business.

The ash really opened up and I thought I would ash early but it hung on to my surprise and I actually dumped the ash due to it hanging over my laptop.

As far as the Dalmore. I found that the dram and the cigar were like two heavy-weight boxers who were hanging out enjoying each other, but in the ring would be all business. But for now, the cigar and the dram complemented each other but each showed their own strengths.
This combo is not for the casual smoker or imbibers for that much. I believe you need to be serious about The Dalmore and the Art Deco cigar. I’d recommend this combination after a nice prime rib or a porterhouse dinner. This also makes an excellent “chewing” cigar for those who like to chew on cigars for a while before lighting or not.

Some marketing notes and a good place to buy this cigar from can be found at cigars international.

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