Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wild Turkey 101

Bird is the Word
Nose: Full, rich corn and rye notes. The alcohol and rye merge together to make a acetone-anise note that really stands out. Dark cherries, bitter citrus rind, and earthy spices on the periphery. Borderline sweet, but a great phenolic note that really stands out.

Taste: Two stages of the taste in this product. Stage one is a pleasant, simple blend of not harsh ethanol and oak. Light, grainy feeder corn notes and a watery mouthfeel conclude stage one. Stage two begins immediately afterwards in a building warmth to burn and a spicy licorice candy rye note. Some nonspecific bitters work their way into the profile. Some late corn flavor comes in.

Finish: Stays long and warm. A little bit of distilled corn funk kicks in way at the end but it took me a fair amount of sippin and thinkin to get to it.

Balance: Another Kentucky distillery offers another strong flagship bottling. WT101 is a solid, 20-25 dollar product that should be able to be picked up at just about any liquor store. The Wild Turkey house style is a little harder to explain than the yeasty beam or the musty oak of Heaven Hill. I guess if I had to summarize it as concisely as possible I’d say corny spice.

Stupid Letter Grade: B/B+

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Alberta Premium 40%

Alberta Premium 40% (100% rye)

Nose: Only rye. A lightly spiced profile that is strongly reminiscent of unsweetened, flat coke. Crisp, limited alcohol burn. Limited wood influence.

Taste: Only rye. Again a flavor like flat coke. Bitter licorice and a little light cinnamon. Some other baking spices -- allspice and clove jump in at the rear of the flavor profile. Limited wood influence.

Finish: No real off flavors enter in at the back of the flavor profile. Lingering cinnamon spice notes linger but that’s about it.

Balance: Totally executes a rye only expression. This product is good and is a good learning experience about exactly what rye contributes to whisky. My favorite rye product. Offers so much more than all the straight rye whiskeys coming out of LDI (MDP) and everywhere else.

Stupid letter grade: A-

Would I buy again: Yes. Every time someone I know goes to Canada I beg for them to pick me up a bottle.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Old Pulteney 21

8/12/13 Old Pulteney 21. One of my last sample bottles from the early 2012 purchase.

Nose: Very sweet, bakery grain (stolen from other amateur reviews) notes, limited oak. Well directed at the superb barley profile. Clean, almost grain like. I can remember commenting on the salinity of the nose in the past, but in this particular tasting on this day I am not getting that impression.

Taste: Not to surprise the sweetness follows. From there a big introduction to brine and iodine. Huge oceanic notes that really compliment the sweetness of the product. A great combination of influences. Keeping this in what I would speculate is a reused exbourbon barrel was a great decision. Big mouthfeel that comes with a well aged scotch; oily and fully coating.

Finish: Some bitterness and some more brine kick in at the end. Also, I’m encountering a weird barley finish that is reminiscent of a beer. That’s a first for me in whisky tasting. Nothing negative to note.

Balance: Quality product from start to finish. Scotland’s northern most (non island) distillery puts out a quality peatless product that can go (and in most cases exceed) toe to toe with other highland distilleries. Great oceanic influences, good age influences, minimal barrel influences. Fun product. It’s one of those good whiskies that are hard to write about.

Stupid letter grade: A-/A Reaches the limit of what I have found in a standard bottling. Flagship product for the 150 dollar price point.

Me vs experts: This was Murray’s 2012 whisky of the year. No ralfy notes for 21 (17 is a 91)

Would I buy again: I stumbled across this at an unbeatable deal, couldn't pass it up. There's also a local store with an independent bottling that will probably be sold the day before I decide I'm going to buy it. So yes, I would.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Glenlivet Nadurra, 15, 18 Vertical

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year Batch 0312S

What’s the product about: A lot of Scottish releases lately have some sort of whacky, often Gaelic, name instead of, you know, an age statement. Glenlivet throws its hat in the ring with BOTH wacky name AND age statement. Good for them.

Nose: Wonderful blend of distilled aromatics and white oak. That highland-like volatile, almost petroleum, nose mixes seamlessly into an appropriately matched white oak profile. Like Glenmorangie, I would speculate the aromatic nose is the result of a tall still. Fairly easy to nose at bottle (cask) strength and the age of the spirit shines through with all the notes being matured.

Taste: Rich, almost oaty barley dominates this product. The non-chill filtered touch is excellent. This product contributes a rich, oily, thick mouthfeel that really ties into the character of the malt. Hints of oak spice -- vanilla, cinnamon, maybe a hint of pepper. All these secondary elements should, and do, play second fiddle to the barley.

Finish: Oily. lingering non-specific bitterness and warmth on the back of the palate. Some floral white oak notes kick in at the end that I really didn’t notice in the initial tasting of the product. No weird notes enter at the end, I’d attribute that to the age of the product.

Balance: There’s nothing bad I can really say about this product. Glenlivet released a super cool non-chill filtered, cask strength product and kept the age on the label. The price point seems appropriate, almost cheap. I guess that can be attributed to the economies of scale Glenlivet can afford.

Stupid letter grade:  B+

Would I buy it again: It would be on the short list of repurchases, but unfortunately there’s just too many other interesting whiskies out there to justify allocating precious dollars and liver enzymes to. As a gift, maybe.

Me vs Experts: I only checked one source for this one after the initial review. Murray gives this product a 95 in the 2013 WB. I’d say that’s on par with my thoughts, but I might have gone a little higher on my review if I wasn’t deep into bourbon country right now.

Glenlivet 15  French Oak Reserve 40% 50 CL Bottle

Nose: Simple. French Oak, Barley, and a drop of Mineral water. Honey sweetness. Hay field grass. Gravelly must. Maybe a tad better than the Nadurra nose.

Taste: See notes on Nadurra. The product, being one year younger, shares the same the same distillery house style. Instead of going over the base flavors of Glenlivet, let’s focus on the difference. First this product is robbed by serving at 40%. All the flavors found in the Nadurra are just a little bit off. On its own I’d speculate this is a good product, but I can tell you my personal preference leans strongly to the Nadurra.

Finish: Again, just a little off what the Nadurra is offering. Finish is considerably softer on this product. Pleasant. Dry wine.

Balance: Decent product, just not as enticing as the Nadurra. I will tell you that based on my current bourbon obsession, I may be getting acclimated to 45%ABV products so my bias towards the Nadurra may simply reflect that. I wouldn’t shun this product or anything like that, but I would have to lean towards Nadurra unless this product was considerably cheaper. Just checking K&L Wines, the 15 French Oak Reserve is 12 dollars cheaper. Tough call.

Stupid Letter Grade: B

Me vs Experts: Other online blogs put it in this range.

Would I buy again: Most likely not

Glenlivet 18 43% 50 CL Bottle

Nose: Again, that Glenlivet terroir. Unsurprisingly the french oak is gone. The resulting nose is a little less sweet. The scent found is a little drier and the sweetness is more herbal/spice based. The nose does smell a little older. More fruit notes here.

Taste: Again, a drier oak profile that accompanies subtle spice and mellowed, matured grain. It has that fall apart in your mouth aged Scotch mouthfeel. Herbal fruits and minute spices. Nice product.

Finish: Highlight of the product, faint bitterness and dryness lasts for a considerable amount of time. No heavy wood notes. Faint, delicate, very nice.

Balance: Plays up to Scotch strengths. Well matured, mellow, and light. The product doesn’t take a lot of risks and frankly it doesn’t need to.

Stupid letter grade: B/B+

MVE: Not a lot of Glenlivet 18 reviews readily available from blogs I frequent. Murray gives it a 91, a few marks below the Nadurra. Seems reasonable.

Would I buy again. Not for a full priced full sized bottle. But I bought a five dollar miniature and yes I would buy again at that price/size.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Batch 51

9/1/13 Stranahan’s Batch 51 Distilled 11/7/07 47%

Nose: Barley and raisins. Acetone. Youthful spirit. Hints of a sweet oak char. More acetone. Faint straw and grass.  A fairly simple nose, but not particularly good.

Taste: Warm, spicy barley on the the tip of the tongue. Organic solvents. Hints of bitter dark chocolate. Synthetic black cherry flavor. Unripe pears. Immature mouthfeel; the spirit sticks together. The oily, matured feel of single malts are not found in this product. The wood profile has a maple flavor to it. Some hints of pepper, but it’s not fully developed.

Finish: Some maple-oak and peppery notes continue and fade into an alcohol warmth. A little bit of oak tongue coating but nothing to really be concerned about.

Balance: Unique, young barley only American whiskey but subject to batch-by-batch variation. I have seen this product rated higher (and this particular batch I have seen rated lower). This is a novel spirit but not fully developed. Illustrates my caution for small distilleries. This was purchased as a campy offering for some visitors from Colorado.

Stupid Letter Grade: C

Would I buy again: IF IF IF I found a well-documented, professionally reviewed batch, yes. But that’s a big if.

Me vs Experts: Hard to find a review for this particular batch. Murray gave this batch an 82 which is pretty poor for JM.