Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

Penderyn Welsh Whisky

Penderyn Aur Cymru Single Malt Welsh Whisky (March 09)
46% ABV/92 Proof
Around $65
Available in select markets

What the Distillery Says:
At premium strength (46%) Penderyn has an exceptionally balanced taste with an aroma of cream toffee and fleetingly of fresh new leather. Then, as the initial sensations fade, the finishing notes of tropical fruits, raisins and vanilla emerge strongly and are long lasting.

Like Welsh Gold (Aur Cymru) this malt whisky is rare and precious. Handcrafted and Madeira Finished.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Ripe fruits, floral sweetness, aged and polished wooden furniture, and well worn leather. Very brandy-like. Cognac in the 10 to 20 Year Old range more than anything else.
Palate: Macerated orchard fruit but not citrus. It’s more like peaches and apricot but not sweet at all. Vegetal under currents. A good bit of heat and spice that seems to be coming from the youth of the whisky and alcohol more than the inherent flavor profile.
Finish: It leaves the lips numb. More woody on the finish. Those vegetal notes show up more pronounced on the finish than the palate.
Comments: This is definitely an interesting whisky. The nose alone makes it stand out. I love the nose. The palate is pleasant and should develop with some more years on it.
Rating: Stands Out

What Matt Says:
Nose: At the back there is a distinct “whisky-ness” about it (an echo of smoke, caramel and crème brulee that reminds me of Springbank). The predominant scents are more akin to sour fruit candies. When I was in the UK, I got addicted to these Starburst Jellybeans. They were a lot better than the ones we get over here (actual fruit juice and different flavors). The two flavors that really grabbed me were the pink grapefruit and black currant flavors. This smells exactly like those tasted.
Palate: Cantaloupe, barley malt, green wood and sap. More oak than the nose suggests.
Finish: Slight burn with lingering oak.
Comments: This is a very nice dram. Its easy to drink. Its not all that complex, so you can drink a lot of it. It easily holds it’s own with other entry-level drams from the rest of the UK. However, for the price point, I want a little more complexity. I love Wales and there is nothing else like this out there, so I would buy a bottle of it for the novelty. I would drink it all and not necessarily buy another bottle based on this bottling. I’ve enjoyed past bottlings much more and look forward to future bottlings.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average

Supply, Demand, & Economics

I want to start off by apologizing for the recent slowdown in Whisk(e)y Apostle activity. Matt’s on hiatus and I had all these reviews lined up to do. Unfortunately, my beautiful little angel of a daughter brought home a cold and I haven’t been able to smell anything for the last week and a half. That makes whiskey tasting difficult. Hopefully I will be back up and running this weekend. We’ll have to wait and see.

The time has given me the chance to go through emails from readers both old and new. As I was going through a few it reminded me of an article I’ve been meaning to write for Whisk(e)y Apostle for quite some time. I get asked about availability more than any other topic by a wide margin. That’s really the main reason why my monthly new release summary is exclusively those items coming to the U.S. It’s very frustrating to hear about all the great new releases that we can’t get here.

Why do so many new releases never come to the U.S.?

And if they do come stateside, why can’t I find them near me?

There are three main reasons why you may not see the new release of Glenmorangie or Hibiki in a liquor store near you:
1. Supply
2. Demand
3. Economics

Richard, we just want our whiskey, not an economics lesson. Fair enough. I’ll keep it relevant and in layman’s terms. I promise.

Supply
There are some bottlings that are even made in the U.S. but don’t come to a store near you. It’s driven me nuts for years that I can’t get Buffalo Trace in Atlanta. If I can reasonably drive to Kentucky in a day and buy it, then you would think that they would sell it here right? Well, as the Buffalo Trace label has grown they have to make enough for everyone who wants it. It’s pretty darn good, especially at its price point so the supply has been a little strained. If a producer can only make so much or only have so much on hand then they have to be selective on where they distribute it. Usually, this means the major markets like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. will get it first. This leads right into the demand issue.

Demand
For whiskey that doesn’t see the distribution levels that Jack Daniels and Glenlivet do there has to be sufficient demand in your market for whiskey or the producer won’t bother allocating any to your area. This recently came up in regards to the new Hibiki 12 Year Old Japanese Blend. I’m dying to try the stuff and Matt’s seen it in New York but no hint of it in Georgia. One of our readers asked when we might see some. I spoke with several retailers and ultimately the distributor and importer before getting the disappointing news. Atlanta isn’t a “major whisky market” in the eyes of international whisk(e)y producers. We don’t have the festivals, sales, or interest in our area to warrant some new products bothering to make inroads into our market. If you live in Charleston, Oklahoma City, Wichita, or similar areas you may have the same issue. How do we combat this? As Apostles you have to be a driving force to see this kind of stuff in your area. If 10 local retailers each hear from 20 individuals and then let their distributor know that there’s a sizeable demand for a product in that area then the distributors may talk to the importers and say “Hey we really need to get some of this stuff to Wichita.”

Economics
However, some things will just never come to the U.S. The reason is that the cost for the producer to make it and send it here is more than they can make on the sales. Whiskey production is a business after all. The United States is one of the few countries that sell 750ml bottles instead of the 700ml international standard. (South Africa & Sweden are a couple of others) It’s also one of an even smaller list of countries that says that by law all full sized bottled spirits sold within its borders must be in bottles with a volume of at least 750ml. So if you’re making a very small amount of whiskey or it’s a vintage or single cask bottling and you know you can sell all 100 bottles that you’ll make at 700ml across the world then it doesn’t make sense to set up a whole new bottling line just send 10 750ml bottles to the U.S. The government justifies it as protecting the consumer. There are points on both sides of the argument but I still want more variety and I don’t care if I have to give up 50ml to get it.

I know this doesn’t take the sting out of missing out on the latest and greatest new thing but I hope it at least helped in understanding what’s going on. Keep pushing for more stuff in your area and you may be surprised by what you get.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Nikka Coming Stateside

Big news on the Japanese whisky front. An article in the Wall Street Journal concerning whisky from the land of the rising sun had this little scoop for us…Nikka is coming to the U.S. in 2010! As our regular readers know, I’m completely infatuated with Japanese whisky and Matt’s taken quite a shine to it too. Current distribution includes Yamazaki 12, 18, and vintage 1984 along with the Hibiki 12 year old blend. All these come from Suntory. With Nikka coming in our fortunes continue to improve. No details yet on the timetable, lineup or pricing. Stay tuned for more!

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Famous Straight Rye Whisky
40% ABV/80 Proof
$15 to $20
Widely Available

What the Distillery Says:
Produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or Monongahela rye whiskies, Rittenhouse is a much acclaimed rye now enjoying a renaissance in the major metro markets of the country. Rittenhouse is a tribute to the classic rye whiskies that were once the preeminent American whiskey style, kept alive through the many lean years by Heaven Hill and two other Kentucky distilleries.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Spicy and oily with hints of tobacco hide under the surface.
Palate: Sweeter than expected at first and then the sweetness continues to dance around the edges of the palate. The middle palate is oak with mild spice.
Finish: Smooth. Most likely from the low alcohol content rather than the character of the whiskey. The aftertaste is chewy with kind of a bitterness that isn’t unpleasant. It leaves you rubbing your tongue on the side of your mouth.
Comments: This particular whiskey comes in two expressions, the standard reviewed here and the bottled in bond version. It is almost universally accepted that the BIB version is superior. I don’t disagree but don’t dismiss the standard bottling out right. It’s a solid rye that can go down straight but makes excellent cocktails.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Nose: Cloves, orange zest and pipe tobacco (a rich, sweet blend).
Palate: That pipe tobacco is right there, along with some oak, anise and clove.
Finish: Smooth. The bitterness Richard alludes to reminds me of when pipe tobacco gets too moist and some of the juices back up into the stem (sharp and sweet).  However, what I get most is a minty taste and a menthol-like numbness that I associate with menthol or clove cigarettes.
Comments: Like Richard, I believe this one really shines at 100 proof.  The 80 proof version represented here is quite tasty and a good introduction into the world of rye whiskey, but the extra water really cuts out some of the complexity.  If you are looking for a gateway rye or a great mixer for old time cocktails, look no further.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average

Event Notice: Extravaganza Spring Tour 2010

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America announced their spring tour schedule for the 17th Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza. If you recall I attended the Atlanta event last year and had a wonderful time. For those in Atlanta, we have so few whisk(e)y related events that this really is something not to miss. Here’s the spring schedule:

Atlanta
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Intercontinental Hotel
3315 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30326

Houston
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Downtown Club at Houston Center
1100 Caroline Street
Houston, TX 77002

Dallas
Thursday, April 15, 2010
W Dallas Victory
2440 Victory Park Lane
Dallas, TX 75219

Denver
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th Street
Denver, CO 80202

New York
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Roosevelt Hotel
Madison At 45th Street
New York, NY 10017

Tickets can be purchased by calling (800) 990-1991, emailing info@smwsa.com, or online here. Registration begins at 6:30PM and all events are 6:30PM to 9:00PM. The regular ticket price for each event is $135 but the Society is again kind enough to extend their special society member pricing of $120 on the first two ticket purchased by each of our readers. Just mention the special Whisk(e)y Apostle pricing when you call and email or enter “whiskeyapostle” in the promotion code field if you order online. If you order more than two tickets then the additional tickets are still $135 each. You can check out the list of participating brands over here.

I will be at the Atlanta event and Matt will be at the New York event so hopefully we will see you there!