A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to my buddy Sam that there was going to be a Macallan dinner at New York Prime in Atlanta. I read him the menu, whisky pairings, and cigars included in this event. His response to me was that it “sounded like sin” and he was game if I was. This little event also coincided with Father’s Day and I just happen to be the relatively new father of a beautiful 10 month old little girl. So we decided to go and Sam’s lovely wife Sandra was even kind enough to drive us as she was having dinner out with friends last night too. This is one of those moments where the stars all kind of aligned.
Neither Sam or I had ever been to New York Prime before. I do love and appreciate good steak and I’ve killed a cow or two at most of the steakhouses in Atlanta but for some reason I’d never been to New York Prime. I’ll be honest and say that when we arrived I was not expecting too much. There was a line out the door and it was not moving very fast. There was no direction about what to do if you were there for the event or just dinner. We arrived promptly at 7:00PM and didn’t get up to the front of the line until almost 7:30 PM. By then I was already seeing salads coming out and thought that we might have missed the the first two courses. I was also a little taken aback that they were just sitting people around the restaurant and bar instead of a separate room. However, when we were guided to our seats everything changed for the better.
Despite everyone sitting down at different times your “clock” didn’t start until you sat down. That meant that even though others were getting their steak already Sam and I were greeted by our outstanding server and brought two perfectly cut Ashton cigars and a nice measure of Macallan Fine Oak 15 (a personal favorite). She told us to just let her know when we wanted to move on to salad and that would tell them when to start our steaks. The event was very crowded and (in my opinion) overbooked but our server was great every step of the way. One great scotch and food course led to another one. All the scotches were great but I’d peg the Macallan 18 as my favorite of the bunch and Sam concurred.
From the cigars and scotch to the 22 ounce rib steak and biggest effing piece of cheesecake I’ve ever seen this night was all about decadence and indulgence. This is a “manly” event in the old sense of the word. There were women there but it was mostly men eating big steaks with big scotch in a room full of cigar smoking. This is dinner Sinatra style. This was living!
Out of curiousity, Sam and I did a rough estimate of what the food, scotch, and cigars would run you retail and it was well over $150. That made the $59.99 price tag almost criminally low. Kudos to New York Prime for these great events. That said, there were a few things off putting. I think they really needed make the event smaller. Given the space constraints it was way too crowded. Going hand-in-hand with that they need to work check in and seating better. This is also not a led tasting of scotches. The atmosphere and cigar smoke make that very difficult. It’s more a great dinner event with scotch. There is a brand ambassador there who comes around but given the size of the event it was difficult to really spend much time talking to him. There were also a number of very pretty young ladies in very tight and very very short black dresses talking to everyone. I’m not sure if they were employeed by the restaurant or Macallan but they didn’t seem to serve any purpose other than eye candy. They weren’t even Pour Bunnies.
I’ll also say that New York Prime is not a quiet dinner for two kind of place. It’s loud, boistrous, and very heavy on cigar smoke. Basically, the ultimate place for a serious guys night out. All in all, we had a terrific time and I’ll be anxiously awaiting their next dinner. I started the day with a wonderful Father’s Day gift of two great bottles of whisk(e)y and finished with this great evening. I must be living right. I hope to see some of you at the next one.
Drink wisely my friends,
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
45.2% ABV/90.4 Proof
$25 to $30
What the distillery says:
It all comes down to a small team guided by one man – our Master Distiller. Applying years of experience and knowledge, he selects only barrels whose whiskey shows superior maturation qualities. These barrels are set aside, then moved to the 100-year-old stone warehouses at The Woodford Reserve Distillery to finish their maturation.
The heat of summer and the cold of the Kentucky winter are key when you want a fine whiskey to mature properly. That’s why our barrels see every season. When the whiskey in these special barrels reaches its peak, it becomes Woodford Reserve
What Richard Says:
Nose: Buttery with hints of oak. A good bit of citrusy sweetness and the slightest hint of nuttiness. Water mutes the butter and wood and then smacks you in the face with citrus.
Palate: Very sweet initially. As you move it around the mouth the sweetness takes a back seat to ripe fruit and mild oakiness.
Finish: The finish is actually sweet and mildly oaky but very hot. This one leaves the lips and back of the throat tingling. A little waters dowses the fire and give you a finish that plays well between sweetness and wood with flowery under notes.
Comments: I’m always a little conflicted on single whiskey distillers. I don’t mean to insinuate that more expressions means better product but I respect the continuing strive for innovation and self improvement. The recent special releases have been varied in quality but always respected for the willingness to think outside the norm. I fear however, that they are overshadowing the standard expression a little. It is really a stand out bourbon at a reasonable price point. I’m glad I got reaquainted. Keep up the good work guys!
Rating: Stands Out.
What Matt Says:
Matt has not had a chance to review this whiskey.
I’ve been sitting on this review for a while going back to our Gateway Series of reviews. I was waiting to see if Matt would try this one too but he’s on vacation so I’m going to publish it anyway.
In all seriousness, it was a post on Chuck Cowdery’s Blog about American Blended Whiskey that reminded of this old review so here it goes…
Seagram’s 7 Crown American Whiskey
40% ABV/80 Proof
$10 to $15
What the Distillery Says:
I actually couldn’t find anything.
What Richard Says:
Nose: Honey and ripe fruit. Oranges and nuts. Not an altogether unpleasant nose.
Palate: Candied rubber? Very antiseptic and spicy. Not something to drink neat.
Finish: Very hot and rough finish. Not smooth in the least.
Comments: Okay, Seagram’s isn’t exactly suggesting this be drunk straight like a fine bourbon. It’s a cheap mixer and tastes as such. It’s a very odd bastard child of something bourbon-like and something Canadian.
Rating: I’ll Pass (so bad that I’m adding another rating to our system)
What Matt Says:
Matt has not had a chance to review this whiskey yet.
Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Available in Asia, Europe, & USA
What The Distillery Says:
A worldwide favorite, especially when creating mixed drinks with a sophisticated, contemporary flair. Hints of pear and apple compliment floral aromas and mix with a taste of honey and spice. Smooth and mellow with a unique, long and soft finish.
What Richard Says:
Nose: Vanilla caramel sweetness overlaying rich oak.
Palate: Less sweet on the palate but very mellow. There’s a slight kick at the end of the palate. Hints of orchard fruit and oak dominate the flavor profile.
Finish: Very smooth and short. A little spice is left at the tongue and middle warmth fills the stomach.
Comments: It’s not Buffalo Trace but it’s a solid inexpensive bourbon. Versatile enough to work well in cocktails but I could still drink it neat.
Rating: Average (or slightly above)
What Matt Says:
Nose: Honeysuckle, orange shellac, dry grain and cherry lollipops
Palate: Cherry caramels and toasted oak, round and full bodied without being oily
Finish: Very smooth with just a slight burn that hits the tip of the tongue like a love bite. Leaves the tongue with a taste of cherry lollipops and an oaky fuzziness.
Comments: The palate of this reminds me of Cheerwine, a cherry flavored cola sold in the Deep South. I’m glad they started selling Four Roses in the US again. I have several friends who cut their teeth on this while growing up in Europe. Yellow Label is a solid entry level bourbon that will give you a much better taste profile than say, Old Crow, Rebel Yell, or Jim Beam. Richard and I agree that Buffalo Trace is a bit better. Still, there are places where you can only get one or the other. Either way, you’ll have any enjoyable and affordable dram.
Overall Rating: Average
In the grand scheme of all bourbon, Yellow Label falls squarely in the “average” range. If you just put it up against other whiskeys in this price range, it surely stands out.
In case you may not know it…whiskey is popular. People like it. A lot of people like it. It’s even kind of hip and cool again…for the time being. As a very popular item it is subject to the inundation of gimmicks. I like gimmicks. I don’t personally buy into most of them but I find them amusing. I tend to have a cheeky sense of humor about things like that. Usually, I have my chuckle and then put them out of mind.
However, one thing that just keeps coming up like a bad penny are rocks. Whiskey on the rocks? Yes…literally. If you Google “whisky stones” you’ll get about 782,000 results. Throw in an “e” and it jumps to 989,000 (apparently us Yanks and the Irish think this is a somewhat better idea). What are they you ask? Little soapstone cubes that you can freeze and then throw in your whiskey. Not to sink the whiskey to the bottom of a lake but rather to keep it cold without watering it down. And it makes your drink look so appealing.
Mmmm…doesn’t that look good? I first saw these babies about a year or two ago. A friend of mine asked me about them. Just so you know, I’m kind of a whiskey guy. As such, most of my friends know me to be a whiskey guy and I’ve kind of become their go-to whiskey guy. (Except Matt, the SOB dares to have his own opinions about whiskey separate from mine. The nerve!) As their go-to, my friends send me all sorts of things whiskey related to opine on. When whiskey stones were first brought to my attention I found them kind of funny. I didn’t really take them too seriously but they keep coming up. Another friend of mine asked me about them last week because they were in a magazine that he reads.
I find the whiskey stone thing to be a little silly but some people think it’s a pretty good idea. I get what they are driving at. It’s the same kind of thing The Macallan has been talking about with their ice ball serve. But even that I find a little silly. Basically they are all saying that people want their whiskey cold instead of watered down. Why? The general answer I get when I ask people is that it’s a flavor thing. Really? You actually lose a lot more flavor characteristics chilling whiskey than you do adding a little water. Don’t believe me? Try it at home. Take your favor dram and pour three glasses. Drink one straight, drink one with no ice but chilled in the freezer, and drink the last with a splash or two of water.
If you like the cold because it mellows out flavor that you don’t like then you might want to get a different bottle of whiskey. If however, you just like your whiskey over ice then I’m all for it. I believe that you should drink it how you like. The question isn’t about that. It’s about paying $20 so you can throw rocks in your glass. I think that’s just silly but I guess that’s an easier sell than $20 bottles of special “whiskey water”.
Drink wisely my friends,