Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

Event Notice: SMWS Extravaganza 2009 Fall Tour

Hopefully you remember my review of the Single Malt Scotch Whisky Extravaganza put on by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Atlanta this spring. Well I just got a list of their fall tour for 2009. Here’s where you can find them:

Chicago: Thursday, October 8, 2009

Boston: Thursday, October 22, 2009

Washinton, DC: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Philadelphia: Friday, October 30, 2009

San Francisco: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Los Angeles: Friday, November 20, 2009

Fort Lauderdale: Thursday, December 3, 2009

For tickets you can call 800.990.1991 or email info@smwsa.com. For additional details and information you can find it on their website at www.singlemaltextravaganza.com.

But wait there’s more! I talked with one of the Society representatives and they graciously agreed to extend a $15 discount to our readers. When you order tickets just mention that you heard about it on Whisk(e)yApostle and the tickets will only be $115 for the first two tickets. Regular price is $130.

And you thought all you got here were reviews and the never ending blather from Matt and myself. See! Money back in your pocket. You can’t ask for too much more than that.

Whisky On The Hudson ‘09

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you already know that Thursday night was the Whisky Guild’s annual Whisky On The Hudson booze cruise.  You also know that I forgot my ticket and had to wrangle a new one (which makes this the most expensive tasting event I’ve ever attended.  Not the Guild’s fault, but there it is). Despite my ineptitude, Thursday turned out to be a really great night.  I schmoozed with industry insiders, helped turn other attendees on to new things, and most importantly I learned a lot.  I was even surprised a couple of times.

The boat was bigger this year, but the number of presenters was about the same, which made for a more comfortable socializing experience.  The down side was that things looked a little sparse for a while.  I decided to get the lay of the land first and to seek out some friends.  First I headed to a part of the boat where Glenmorangie had set up a little jazz club, where you could taste the whole line (including many Ardbeg’s) and relax a bit.  Of course, there was a mob around the Signet.  Even though I love Glenmorangie, I was on a mission (I grabbed some of the new Ardbeg Supernova on the way out though).  I didn’t want to be sidetracked.  However, I am easily sidetracked.

I found a boat map to help look for the William Grant & Sons tables.  I know I will find Dr. Whisky there.  On my way, I get turned around and end up talking Rick Wasmund of Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia.  Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky (hmm, he leaves out the ‘e’ even though it is an American Single Malt) is a pot stilled whisky that uses barley malted over apple and cherry wood.  I tried it last year and was not impressed, but a trusted source said that they have improved the product, so I was willing to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  You can taste the influence of the fruit woods, but it does not come off as overly fruity.  It’s bold, round and balanced.  To sweeten the deal, Rick was also pouring an aged rye (containing both rye and his proprietary malted barley) and white dog* of both whiskies.  I’ve tried a lot of white dog in the past couple of months (it seems to be the it whisk(e)y these days).  I have to say, these were my favorites.  The malting process really smoothes out the rough edges commonly associated with white whisky.  The most interesting thing Rick has to offer is a box set that contains two bottles of the white whisky and a miniature charred oak barrel.  You can age your own whisky!  He had a second fill barrel there with five month old whisky.  It was different from the bottled stuff.  The wood was really bold.  This is a must have for any whisky nerd (like myself).  Here’s the rub.  Wasmund’s is only available in the D.C. area right now.  They are working on getting New York distribution, but the rest of the country is still without fruit wood malted single malt.

Once again, I was off to find Dr. Whisky.  He’s always good for a laugh and some quality information.  In route, I caught a glimpse of a Jefferson’s Reserve bottle.  “I wonder if they brought the Presidential Select,” I think to myself.  It’s not on the table.  I ask and they deliver.  Trey Zoeller, V.P. of Bourbon Operations for Castle Brands, comes over and we start talking about this whisky from the now defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery.  This is one of Malt Advocate’s “Must Buy” bourbons (but you already knew that).  It’s every thing John Hansell says it is (we’ll have a formal review someday).  As Trey and I reminisce about dead distilleries (we agree that the Hirsch <Michter’s> 16yo is superior to the 20yo), he tells me that he has another batch of this Stitzel-Weller bourbon that he plans to release next year as Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18yo.  I can’t wait.

Finally, I make it back to the Balvenie table where I find a bearded(!) Dr. Whisky pouring the entire Balvenie line.  We have a chat and I try the new 17yo (Madeira cask).  This is a good one folks.  I was a little disappointed with the Rum cask 17yo from last year.  The palate did not deliver on what the nose promised.  The Madeira 17yo is just the opposite.  The nose is a little weak and uninteresting, but it really delivers on flavor.  Later, I came back and tried the 21yo.  A very fine dram indeed.

Much of the remainder of the night was a flurry of schmoozing and tasting (I even ran into Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast).  I reacquainted myself with the Glenlivet 15yo (aged in virgin charred Limousin oak).  Limousin oak is used in Cognac barrels and is tricky to work with but it makes a damn fine whisky.  The 15yo is the only Glenlivet to use Limousin oak casks.  This specialty oak gives the whisky a richness and boldness that round out and compliment the sharp, fruity qualities common to Glenlivet.  This is smoother and richer than the standard expression.

I had the opportunity to try the PC6 and PC7 (both distilled at Bruichladdich).  These are both good drams with a fair amount of peat.  I prefer the PC6.

Dave Conroy of International Beverage Company, Inc., took me through his whiskies from Mull and Islay.  I don’t remember ever trying Bunnahabhain before and I think I would remember an unpeated Islay.  I liked it at every age.  There is a sweetness and complexity that I associate more with the mainland.  This is very approachable whisky.  Dave also introduced me to Tobermory and Ledaig (both from the Isle of Mull).  Really good stuff, the Ledaig especially is a must try for any peat lovers out there.

Other things that stood out for me that night were the Knappogue Castle 1995 Irish whisky, the Hibiki 12yo Blended Japanese whisky, Deanston 30yo, and Tuthilltown’s New York Whiskey.  However, the topper had to be the tasting lab led by Master Ambassador for Laphroaig, Simon Brooking.  We tasted peated barley, he lit a peat brick on fire, and each dram was accompanied by a song (or a joke) and a toast.  Simon is a real showman.  We tasted Ardmore 30yo (loved it), Laphroaig 10yo, Quarter Cask, 15yo, 18yo, and 25yo.  I really like the Quarter Cask (and the 25yo of course).  The 18yo is a new addition that will be replacing the 15yo.  They are very different whiskies, so if you are a fan of the 15yo, stock up.  Personally, I prefer the 15yo, but I seem to be among the minority in the critics’ circles.  Maybe I’ll have to give it another go in a less overwhelming setting.

So, that was my Whisky on the Hudson experience.  I’m already looking forward to next year.  The Whisky Guild does several of these events around the country each year.  You should check it out.

* “White dog” is a common term for whisky straight from the still (non-matured, no water added).  I’m not sure if Wasmund’s non-matured whisky is unwatered or not, but it is pretty high proof.

Drink well.  Drink responsibly.

-Matt

New U.S. Releases – August ’09 Part 2

Well, when I posted the latest information I had on new releases announced in August a couple of weeks ago I had no idea that they month was just getting started. Here’s the lowdown on the rest of the new releases announced during the month of August:

Rittenhouse Rye Single Barrel 25 Year Old

Timeframe: November/December

ABV:50%

Price:$190

This comes from the same batch as the previously released 21 Yr and 23 Yr. It’s supposed to be the best so far.

The Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991

Timeframe: November

ABV: 48%

Price: $85

A new limited edition of The Glenlivet Nadurra made exclusively with Triumph barley. It should be interesting.

Jefferson’s Presidential Select (Batch #1), 1991 Vintage

Timeframe: Now

ABV: 47%

Price: $90

This is a wheated bourbon from one of the last production years of the old Stitzel-Weller distillery. It’s one of John Hansell’s top rated new products this year. If you can find it grab a bottle. Just don’t grab mine.

Bruichladdich Infinity 3

Timeframe: This fall

ABV: 50%

Price: ?

I haven’t had any of the Infinity releases so I can’t offer much commentary beyond saying that if it’s a Laddie it will definitely be interesting.

Old Forester 2009 Birthday Bourbon

Timeframe: now

ABV: 48.5%

Price: $39.99

It’s that time of year again for the new annual release from Old Forester.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Timeframe: September

ABV: 57.1%

Price: $85

This is the new release replacing the Airigh Nam Beist or “Beast” bottling. It is the same formulation, just one year older of last year’s Ardbeg Committee release of the same name.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2009

Timeframe: November

ABV: ?

Price: $89.99

This is the annual release from Woodford’s Master’s Collection. Past releases have run the gamut from spectacular (Four Grain) to not so spectacular. This year’s release is finished in casks that were made from wood allowed to dry and age naturally for several years before being toasted (not charred).

That’s it for the month of August. There are already a few more announcements for September from Buffalo Trace. I’ll get those posted soon.

– Richard

New U.S. Releases

It appears that we’ve been a little derelict in out duties on noting the release of new whiskeys to the United States.  So far this month there are five promising additions that were annouced.  And it’s only August 13th!

Suntory Yamazaki 1984 Single Malt Whisky 
Timeframe: October 2009
ABV: 48%
Price: $550 – $650
More of the wonderful whisky being made in Japan come here is never a bad thing.  In addition to the Hibiki we announced last month we seem to be making headway with Japanese distribution.  Sadly this ones out of most of our price ranges.

Four Roses 2009 Mariage Collection Bourbon
Timeframe: September (around the Kentucky Bourbon Festival)
ABV: 57% – 59%
Price: ?
I have yet to try the 2008 Mariage.  Apparently I need to get on that and quick!

Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Timeframe: Late 2009
ABV: ? But most likely 40%
Price: $39.99
More Irish single malt!  This will be a welcome addition to Tullamore’s portfoilo of standard, 10 Year, and 12 Year blends.

Laphroaig 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Timeframe: September
ABV: ?
Price: $84.99
This is the new release that will replace Laphroaig’s current 15 Year Old bottling in their standard portfolio.  It promises to be good but if you’re in love with the 15 Year, get it while you can!

Evan Williams Honey Reserve
Timeframe: Soon
ABV: 35%
Price: $14.99
It seems like everyone is coming out with flavored bourbon or whiskey liqueurs.  Here’s Evan Williams’s entry into the category.

Did You Know #1: More Than a Shelf Can Show

I thought it might be a good idea to post little nuggets of whiskey related advice, knowledge, or wisdom from time to time to help out our readers.   Some people may say that these are all “common sense” but in life, like whiskey I find that “common” sense is a little less common than we think.  A number of you may already know most or all the bits of information that we’ll share under the “Did You Know” banner but if we can enlighten just one reader then in my opinion the post was helpful.  So here goes…

Did You Know…that your local liquor stores have access to a lot more selection than you see on the shelves? 

Have you ever gone into your local purveyor of the water of life just to sigh as you see the same old bottlings again and again?  You may find yourself wondering why your local shop only carries the same 5 bourbons, 2 ryes, 2 Irish, and 4 scotches?  The answer?  Supply and demand.  I’m not going to give you an economics lesson but suffice it to say that if your local shop sells their selection just fine then why change?  However, if they see a growing demand for something else that they can get their hands on then they may start stocking that too.  Try talking to the local store manager/owner and see if they are willing to order specific whiskeys for you.  You may be surprised when they pull out the book they get from their local distributor and then ask you which of 50+ additional scotches on that list you are interested in. 

There are limits of course.  Some producers don’t sell in certain areas.  There are plenty of scotch bottlings that don’t make it stateside.  Japanese whisky is all but completely absent here.  Even a great brand like Buffalo Trace doesn’t send any of their standard bottling two states south to Georgia.  So don’t go in expecting to get  the most hard to find and esoteric whiskey imaginable.   On the other hand, see what they can get.  You may just be surprised.  If enough people start doing it then you may just see that standard selection increasing a bottling at a time.

One additional note about price – generally speaking the liquor store will probably charge you a little more for your special order bottle than if you bought it off the shelf.  Why?  Well, it’s either because they can (you obviously couldn’t get it elsewhere or you wouldn’t be coming in and special ordering it) or because what they pay for a single bottle is a good bit more than the per bottle price if they order a case/box of a regularly stocked item.   Either way, as long as they don’t completely screw you on the price then fair is fair.  They are getting a decent profit and you are getting the whiskey you’ve been looking for.  What’s not to like?

– Richard