Monday, August 26, 2013

Old Whisky Ad - Celebrity Endorsement Edition #1

Sean Connery for Jim Beam Bourbon

Johnnie Walker's newest releases?

The Ron Burgundy Signature Edition "Brown Label".

Tapping into the Zombie Craze, the "Red/Dead Label", arriving just in time for Halloween. 

Lastly, the Star Wars "Dark Side" edition of the classic "Black Label".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Maker's Mark (Red Seal)

Whisky Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, American Whiskey

Bottle Size: 750ml

Alcohol by Volume: 45%

Notes: Maker's Mark distillery is less than a hour drive south of Louisville Kentucky. Of the distilleries on the "Kentucky Bourbon Trail", it is a little out of the way, but well worth a visit. The distillery is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and it's park like grounds and Victorian era buildings make quite a positive impression on first time visitors! Taking the tour, you will find the guides are friendly, knowledgeable and humorous, making for a fun and informative time. One of the highlights of the tour is towards the end, where you get to hand dip a bottle of whisky into that now famous red wax!

Maker's Mark is one of the few distilleries to rotate their barrels to maintain consistency, which is understandable for a distillery that only makes two products. This review is on the standard bottling, also known as "Maker's Mark Red Seal". Maker's Mark is a Bourbon that uses wheat in place of the usual rye in it's mash bill, using a recipe developed by Pappy Van Winkle (of Buffalo Trace fame), of 70% corn, 16% wheat and 14% malted barley!

Nose: Vanilla, citrus, and some light floral notes..

Taste: Caramel, vanilla, and hints of cracked pepper and smoke.

Finish: Medium length, where the smoke and citrus linger.

My Personal Ranking 1-100: 83/100

Special Note: It's been asked more than once, do Bourbon Whisk(e)y reviews belong in a Malt-centric blog like this? My answer is Yes! Why? A small part of the mash bills of these classic American whiskeys, includes malted barley! That being said, this blog will primarily focus on whiskies with a higher malt content. This review, and another planned review on Buffalo Trace, the result of a recent trip through Kentucky's Bourbon Country, are exceptions to the rule, not a trend away from Malt Whisky reviews. 

Maker's Mark Distillery Tour pictures

The Maker's Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark.

Maker's Mark Distillery's park like grounds.

Maker's Mark Distillery's oldest warehouse.

Maker's Mark Distillery's creek (or "crik" as they say in Kentucky).

Maker's Mark Still House.

Stunning brass and copper Still Safes.

Beautiful craftsmanship.

Mash Tub #2.

One of several wooden fermentation tanks.

Maker's Mark Fermentation Room.

Exiting the Still House.

Victorian style architectural details.

The Labeling Room.

Pedestrian bridge across creek.

Old delivery wagon.

Malt Research Institute staff member (me) during the tour. 

Maker's Mark Tasting Room

A flight of Maker's Mark. Unaged, Red Wax Seal, and Maker's Mark 46.

Some of the Maker's Mark barrels, with Ambassador's plates. 
You can have your own name put on a barrel, by clicking the link to the Maker's Mark site and joining their "Embassy" for free, and becoming a Distillery Ambassador;

The Author's barrel plate. Scheduled to be bottled in 2018.

My daughter Caitlin, dipping her own 1/2 size bottle of Maker's Mark. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Buffalo Trace Peated Malt?

This was taken during a recent visit to Buffalo Trace Distillery, at the end of a tour of their facility. As you can see, the barrel is marked "Experimental", and it was only filled last year, so it might be years, if ever, before we see a peated malt whiskey from Buffalo Trace, but it is a curious sight!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The future of Whisk(e)y? Part 2 - Browncoat Whiskey

Firefly/Serenity fans will get the "Browncoat" reference. Everyone else is missing out on one of the best cult science fiction shows ever made!

Firefly The TV Series
Serenity The Film

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Edradour 10 Year Old

Whisky Type/Region: Single Malt Scotch Whisky/Highland

Bottle Size: 750ml

Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Notes: What can you say about Edradour that hasn't already been said in any other review? Compare it's limited production to the massive output of the bigger distilleries? Been done! Talk about how it's one of the smallest, yet most picturesque distilleries in Scotland? Well, based on that information and the many photos I've seen of this little farm distillery, that does put it at the top of my "distilleries to visit" list, but it's information that has been covered many times in almost every other review.  

I want to talk about something else. I've noticed that many independent bottler's are buying up some of the smaller, less well known distilleries, and I think this is a good thing! With the global demand for whisky going through the roof, it's getting harder and harder for independent bottler's to find available casks from other distilleries. Many of these smaller blending houses and indie bottler's are buying their own distilleries, to insure that they have something to trade, and something to fall back on as it gets harder and harder to buy casks from other distillers. The benefit to us, is these new owners are often increasing output, improving the quality of the casks and cask management, and are usually offering a wider range of product from these distilleries than the previous ownership did. They also tend to release their whisky at higher than the industry minimum of 40ABV, and without added coloring. 

Edradour is now owned by Signatory, a well known and respected independent bottler, and Edradour's production, while small, has become quite diverse. This review covers the standard 10 year old. This is the whisky that helped me to decide to focus my reviews on full bottles of whisky, not on small samples! I noticed over the course of several weeks, as I worked my way through the bottle, that my opinion of this whisky changed quite a bit. At first I was somewhat underwhelmed by this Single Malt. It seemed pretty one dimensional and had a slight dairy flavor I didn't particularly like. When I mentioned this to someone over at Whisky Connosr, one of the wise whisky veterans advised me to give it a couple of weeks. He said, that despite all of the concern over oxidation, in some cases a little oxidation is just what a whisky needs to open up, and he claimed Edradour was one of those. Taking his advice, I tried again, and he was right! The off putting dairy note had now become a mouth coating buttery flavor, and the complexity was better too. On my first impression, I would have given this whisky an 80 score at best. By the time the bottle was empty, I would have scored it much higher. My final score averages the overall experience. 

Nose: Apricots, vanilla, carmel, and a hint of peat. 

Taste: Almonds, some honey, lemon/lime citrus, spice, and that wonderful creamy butter.

Finish: Surprisingly long and sweet, with hints of spice and peat that linger. 

My Personal Ranking: 83/100

Special Note: Most of my reviews will cover standard bottle sizes 700-750ML. On occasion I have acquired smaller half size bottles (350ML) and and a beautiful boxed sampler set (each bottle 50ML) from Compass Box, that I plan to review. On those rare occasions, I will note the size of the bottle being reviewed. That being said, I will never write a review based on a sip at a tasting event, or from a travel sized (airline size) bottle!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Angels' Share (2012) - Official Trailer [HD]

Finally a movie like "Bottle Shock" or Sideways" for whisky lovers! The US release of "The Angels Share" on Blueray and DVD will be on August 13th, according to two different sites. If you haven't seen this great little gem, check it out!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry

Whisky Type/Region: Single Malt Scotch Whisky/Speyside

Bottle Size: 750ml

Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Notes: Macallan is one of the bigger whisky distillers in Scotland. It is a Speyside distillery, and is among the world's top three best selling single malt whiskies, behind Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. For many years Macallan was known for maturing all of their whisky exclusively in Sherry casks. However, in 2004, Macallan introduced their "Fine Oak" range of whisky aged in American Bourbon oak casks to market along side their "Sherry Oak" range. 

The 12 year old Sherry, is the youngest offering from Macallan in the US market, along with another 12 year old from the "Fine Oak" range. In other markets the 10 year old is the standard entry level offering. 

Nose: A hint of smoke at first, then toffee and baked apple. 

Taste: The toffee flavor follows the nose, while the smoke gives way to cinnamon spice and apple, and a hint of cherry. This is a very well balanced single malt. 

Finish: After the sherry fruit flavors fade, the toffee remains, ending on a slight note of smoke.

My Personal Ranking: 84/100