Category Archives: Matt’s Blog

A Night With Char no.4

Among my circle of friends, it is clearly no secret that I love whiskey. So, it was not all that surprising when four separate people (all within the span of a week) told me that I needed to try out this new place in Brooklyn. The place is called Char no.4, a reference to the level of char that is burned into a bourbon cask imparting that smokiness for which bourbon is famous. The name sounded promising, but it was the lure of the extensive whiskey list that drew me to the far reaches of Brooklyn.

I’m quite familiar with the whiskey joints in the city (St. Andrews, Brandy Library, etc.). However, they primarily focus on Scotch. The real appeal of Char no.4 is the bourbon and other American whiskeys on the list. They also have a larger selection of Japanese and Irish whiskeys than is typical. Their single malt and blended Scotch selection is good, but pales in comparison to the more Scotch focused places (and is overpriced to boot).

I tried four bourbons, while I munched on a tasty beet salad and fried pork nuggets. I ordered four 1 oz. tasters. I sampled the Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel (Buffalo Trace), the Wathen’s Single Barrel (Charles Medley Distillery), Noah’s Mill (Kentucky Bourbon Distillers), and Prichard’s Double Barrel Bourbon (Prichard’s Distillery, Tennessee). Since my bill said Blanton’s instead of Wathen’s and I haven’t had the Blanton’s in a donkey’s age, I can’t say for sure that what I tasted was the Wathen’s (I guess I’ll have to go back). I enjoyed all four whiskeys. The real surprise for me was the Prichard’s.

Prichard’s Double Barrel Bourbon is aged twice in new, white oak barrels. This gives it a unique character that is a little woodier and a little smokier than traditional bourbon while remaining extremely drinkable. It is produced limited runs, so it costs a little more that it should, but that is the cost of exclusivity.

So, if you find yourself in Brooklyn, check out the bourbon list at Char no.4. One caveat though. Come prepared and do your research. A small portion of the drinks are grossly over-priced. Some of the pricing is done by rarity (to the NY market), some by novelty. In my opinion, it is criminal to charge $26 for a 2oz serving of whiskey that retails at $35. And if you are willing to pay $8 for a 2oz serving of Rebel Yell, you get what you deserve.

-Matt

Words, words, words. What about flavor?

I thought I would get things rolling by talking about the art of tasting. While tasting a new whiskey should be relaxing and enjoyable, it can also cause a lot of anxiety to those who want to describe and understand the complexities of the dram. Tasting notes on store shelves or bottles are often esoteric and confusing (even moreso than wine). I mean, who really wants to drink something that tastes like ‘aged leather’ or ‘damp earth?’ And what about peat? Who’s Pete? So here is my humble opinion on the subject.

Whiskey is incredibly diverse and complex. I am sure some people will argue with me, but I believe that you should start with something less complex to get your palate going. So pick out an Irish or a nice Speyside (preferably young and aged in bourbon casks). These whiskies will give you a good basis for what whiskey is supposed to taste like. Try to describe them using your experience. A Master Distiller might say that something has notes of black currant. If you’ve never tasted a black currant, that is not particularly helpful. As you develop your own vocabulary, start searching out the flavors that the Master Distillers talk about. If you like cask finishes, try the wine that was in the cask first. Find places where you can smell leather, iodine, and peat. Become more aware of your senses of taste and smell. Before you know it, you will be tasting like a pro. You’re vocabulary just may be a little different (i.e. ‘This takes like ‘Nilla wafers and fresh mown grass’).

Check out our FAQs for more info on the ritual of tasting.

-Matt

Begin At The Beguine

Well, this is my first post.  My good friend Richard and I have been discussing a whiskey blog for some time and now is the time.  We will be blogging about the wonders of all forms of whiskey with the occasional shout out to a revered spirit or beer that strikes our fancy.  I am coming to you from New York City, where I will be attending every whiskey event I can possibly attend, and Richard is holding it down for the Dirty South.  We are also working on a system for helping newbies and whiskey enthusiasts find their perfect dram.  So, give us read, give us a shout, and we hope that we will be able to help you in your quest for knowledge and the perfect dram.

-Matt