Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

More Japanese Whisky Coming Stateside

I was reading through my daily dose of whiskey industry news this more and I came across a note in John Hansell’s blog about a Japanese blend coming to the US.  Suntory is releasing the 12 year old Hibiki blend to the U.S.  on October 1st.  You can get additional details on the whisky here.

For those who haven’t had a chance to try any of the great spirits coming from the land of the Rising Sun then you are missing out.  But given the few bottlings that make it here who can blame you.  Right now you can find Yamazaki 12 and 18 year old and that’s about it unless you have an exceptional specialist retailer near you.  I tried these first at WhiskyFest NY back in 2007 and I was really amazed.  Especially with the 18 year old.  So it is with a good bit of excitement that I’m awaiting the new Hibiki release from Suntory.  Hopefully some will make it down to Atlanta but if not I’ll have to have Matt score me a bottle.

Summer Whiskey?

As June draws to an end we find ourselves in the midst of summer.  At least in Atlanta anyway.   I don’t think there’s been a high below 90 in the last two to three weeks.  With the change in climate has your whiskey drink of choice changed?  Now if you’re like me you have more than one bottle or favorite in the local bar so it’s not like you have to be exclusive to just one.  What I’m really asking is, does your desired beverage profile change in the warmer months?  Do you gravitate away from peaty Islay malts in favor of  whiskey sours? 

Personally, I tend to be a mood drinker.  I drink whatever strikes my fancy at the particular moment.  That said, I’ve noticed lately that I do tend to gravitate toward or away from certain whiskeys depending on the time of year.  Peaty scotches just seem to go with cold weather for me.  Maybe I secretly picture myself blasted by cold scottish winds on the coast of Islay.  Who knows?  Fiery bourbons also seem to fit well.  I guess I’m keeping out the cold from the inside out.

When it’s warmer I’m still not much of a cocktail drinker but my tastes do change.  Sweeter bourbons, Irish whiskeys,  and lighter Scotch tend to be the drams I reach for more often than not.  But again, all this is more of a general trend.  There are plenty of whiskeys of all types that I’d be more than happy to drink anytime of the year.  What about you?

– Richard

Atlanta whiskey tastings?

Just so we’re clear, I want everyone who visits our site to know that I really hate Matt.  Yes, of course we’re friends and all that but I still hate him.  Why?  Because New York is soooooooooo much more of whiskey town than Atlanta.  More bars, better selections, more niche liquor stores, need I go on?  And now the S.O.B. is doing wonderfully successful whiskey tastings to boot!

So in an effort to liven up the Atlanta whiskey scene and help me hate Matt a little less I’m putting a question/invitation out there.  Is there interest in whiskey tastings in the metro Atlanta area?  If so then shoot me an email.  Bourbon, Scotch, Rye, Irish, or whatever you fancy, it doesn’t matter.  Let’s work to bring more whiskey to the ATL.

– Richard

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey
40% ABV, 80 Proof
Around $40, Available in 30 States

What The Distillery Says:
Honoring unique rogues whose spirit lingers long past their mortal existence.  Dead Guy Whiskey is distilled from the sweet wort of Rogue’s award-winning Dead Guy Ale.  Distiller’s yeast is added and the sweet wort is fermented for 7 days then double distilled in a 150 gallon copper whiskey still and ocean aged in oak.  5 Ingredients:  Munich, C-15, and 2-Row malts, distiller’s yeast, free range coastal water.

What Matt Says:
Nose: Sea foam, vegetal, almost like an Islay or a coastal Single Malt from Scotland
Palate: Viscous, briny (think Jura or Old Pulteney), spice w/ a slight burn.  Warming.
Finish: Vegetal w/ a slight burn.
Comments: Dead Guy Ale is very malty with lots of dark berry notes to my nose & palate.  My appreciation of the beer gave me high expectations for this whiskey.  Unfortunately, I am having difficulty finding any of the “award-winning” qualities from the Ale in the Whiskey.  Served at room temperature, Dead Guy Ale is really nice, with a great balance of fruit and malt (it loses a lot if it gets too cold).  The whiskey is a little heavy on the brine which mutes the cereal and fruit in the wort.  There is not a lot of depth here.  Maybe they should go the Charbay route and throw in some hops.  That being said, Rogue may have created one of the best boiler makers on the planet.  When paired, the Dead Guys really shine.  It’s like one of those perfect terroir tastings where things just come together and create an experience greater than the sum of its parts.  Was that the intent?  You will have to ask the guys at Rogue for that answer.
Rating:  Slightly Below Average unless paired with a Dead Guy Ale.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Musty like old mildewing clothes with notes of vegetable matter and rancid grapes.  It is not very appealing.
Palate: It tastes better than it smells.  It has coastal notes similar to a roughened Jura or Old Pulteney.  This isn’t terrible but it just doesn’t make me want to drink it straight.
Finish: This finishes a little rough around the edges but that isn’t surprising given the youth of the whiskey.  The lingering notes are unfortunately a much more unpleasant version of the palate.
Comments: I didn’t get to try this with their beer to compare but I wouldn’t buy this myself.  I applaud the effort of innovative micro distillers but definitely needs more work.
Rating: Probably Pass.

Overall Rating: Probably Pass.

A Cache of Rye

This past weekend, I made my first attempt at organized proselytizing.  I hosted a small American Rye Whiskey tasting at my apartment.  Five students were present while I spoke the Word about malted rye.  Most were familiar with bourbon, Irish, and Scottish whisk(e)ys.  However, rye remained a mystery.  We talked about the history of rye and why it gets a bad rap.  After all, rye is the first truly American spirit and was once the base for most American whiskey cocktails.  Why is it so feared and reviled?

Rye’s dubious past began with Prohibition.  While bourbon was still being produced as “medicinal whiskey,” inferior ryes were being produced in bathtubs or imported from Canada.  This helped bourbon gain a strangle hold on the American whiskey scene.  Another reason rye gets a bad rap is also the reason bourbon gets a bad rap and that is the ubiquitous availability of crappy, harsh, fiery whiskeys.  Rye is thought of as something guys will drink on a dare or “to put hair on [their] chests.”

To combat previously held prejudices and fears, I hand picked six ryes that I thought sure to enthrall the harshest skeptic.  Our tasting menu contained (in order of tasting):  Michter’s US-1 Rye Whiskey, Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, Sazerac 6yo Rye, Rittenhouse Bottled In Bond Rye, Russell’s Reserve 6yo Rye, and Old Potrero 19th Century Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey.  I chose these six whiskeys based on heritage, current producer, and mash bill as well as more subjective criteria revolving around my concept of “good” whiskey (my chest is hairy enough thank you very much).  Eventually, Richard and I will post formal reviews of all of these but I’m just going to give you the highlights of the night.

The Sazerac was the standout favorite of these six.  Smooth and very drinkable when neat, Sazerac held up well to the addition of water and we concluded that it would hold its own in a cocktail (I know the truth of that from experience).  Sazerac also went well with the blue cheese on the cheese plate and the brownies served after the formal tasting.  Furthermore, a bottle of Sazerac 6 yo will only set you back about $25.  This is the one everyone went to for seconds.

The Old Potrero (the only 100% rye on the menu) gained accolades for uniqueness, but we determined that it was an occasional dram, not as accessible as the Sazerac.

Old Overholt surprised us all with its flavor and nose, but fell completely flat with the addition of water.  If you want something cheap to drink neat any day of the week, here’s your dram.  However, this will not hold up in a cocktail.

For a rich cocktail experience at a very low price, the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Rye is surely the way to go.  100 proof, 4 years old, tasty and under $20.  Who can ask for more?

We all liked the Michter’s, but it didn’t earn as much appreciation as the other drams.  I feel like the 10 yo Michter’s would have gone over better with this crowd.

Lastly, we were all a little disappointed with the Russell’s Reserve.  While this is a HUGE step up from the stock standard Wild Turkey Rye, it did not have the strength of character to tussle with the rest of the tasting menu.

There were a  few folks in the group who had bad rye experiences and a few who had never tried rye.  All were surprised by the complexity and approachability that these six Rye whiskeys offered. I think we may have some converts to the wider world of whiskey experience.

If you would like my notes from our tasting (which include a short history of rye and of each dram along with tasting notes), just drop me a line.

Drink well, drink responsibly.

-Matt