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

Gateway Series #7: Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV, 80 Proof
Around $30, Available Everywhere

What The Distillery Says:

The long-celebrated Dewar’s White Label was created by John Dewar & Sons first master blender AJ Cameron in 1899 and has been the company’s leading blend for over 100 years. Only the Dewar’s Master Blender can unlock the secrets of this closely guarded recipe, which has been passed down from Master Blender to Master Blender and continues to produce a smooth, perfectly balanced taste that never varies.

A blend of up to 40 single malt and grain Scotch whiskies, White Label’s distinctive heather and honey notes evoke the rich heritage of the Scottish Highlands, thanks to the fine Aberfeldy single malt at its heart.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Citrus (navel oranges?) and wood chips. Water opens up the wood, hides the citrus, and adds a medicinal tinge.
Palate: I know this is going to sound cliche but Dewar’s tastes like Scotch. By that, I mean it tastes like the stereotypical Scotch. You get oak notes, peppery spice, a hint of iodine, and that’s about it. It’s delicate on the front and back of the palate but it zings you with pepper in the middle. Nothing too special about the flavor profile.
Finish: Very smooth. The Dewar’s leaves peppered oak behind and not much else.
Comments: Dewar’s White Label isn’t bad, it’s just not special in any way. I’ve tasted a lot of the newer things that Dewar’s has been developing recently and they are all pretty good. The Signature is exceptional (review to come). However, their standard expression isn’t much to write home about. It’s like the Budweiser of Scotch. I would probably put it down in cocktails, over ice, or with soda.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Matt Says:
Nose: When I first poured this dram, I got a lot of caramel and a little vanilla. However, once the whisky had a chance to settle, there was nothing but nail polish remover. Perhaps pouring this through a wine aerator would open up the nose a little more. A little water brings a bit of peat to the party, but all other notes are muted to obscurity.
Palate: The dominant flavor here is tobacco; there is a subtle sweetness that brings to mind sweet cream. Again, water brings out a little peat. It also helps tone down the tobacco. Unfortunately, the sweeter notes lack the punch to shine through and hang out at the back. Some burn with this one (water helps).
Finish: Long finish of cigar butts and a slight burn at the sides of the tongue.
Comments: Not a bad intro into blended Scotch (partly because of its availability). I cannot recommend that you sip this though. White Label is better enjoyed on the rocks or with club soda. Dewar’s is an especially good intro into whisky for smokers and chics with daddy issues.
Rating: Probably Pass

Overall Rating:  Probably Pass (unless it’s the only thing around and you have some extra soda to get rid of)

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.

Gateway Series #6: Jameson Irish Whiskey

In the last Gateway Series review, we published our review of Bushmills. This time around, Jameson is on the bill. We actually did the tasting side by side, but we agreed so the story is not all that interesting. We both came down solidly on the side of Jameson. An anticlimactic end to a somewhat epic rivalry with political, social, and religious overtones…

Jameson Irish Whiskey

What The Distillery Says:
World famous for distinctive flavor and smooth characteristics. Triple distilled from the finest Irish barley and pure spring water; then matured in oak casks. Carries hallmark of quality which has made it the best selling Irish whiskey around the world.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Creamy on the nose with subtle notes of honey.
Palate: Creamy mouth feel, much more so than Bushmills but the flavor is equally mellow and muted. There are not many pronounced flavors.
Finish: The finish rivals Jack Daniels in smoothness. This lightest oak notes linger for the briefest moment.
Comments: What the best thing about Jameson? You can get it almost anywhere. There’s a reason I singled it out as part of the “4J” bar. Over time I’ve actually reversed course in the Jameson versus Bushmills debate. I find that I prefer Jameson more now than I used to. It’s creamier and offers a little more flavor. Not much mind you but some. Not enough for me to stock this at home, but I’ll have a dram if you’re buying.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Nose: Richer than Bushmills. There are notes of honeysuckle and something floral I can’t quite place (heather?).
Palate: Sweet and smooth. Caramel cream candies.
Finish: Smooth and fleeting.
Comments: Unlike Richard I have always preferred Jameson to Bushmills (and Black Bush to either). There is just a touch more to it. And, yes, you can get it anywhere. Not always a bad thing in my book.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average (a slight step up from Bushmills Original)

Two More Reasons To Love Buffalo Trace

Here at Whisk(e)y Apostle, it is no secret that we love Buffalo Trace.  Not only do they make some really excellent whiskies (Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, and Sazerac Rye to name a few), but they approach whiskey making with an almost religious fervor and a sense of experimentation rarely seen in such a large scale operation.  This week, the folks at Buffalo Trace announced two more reasons to get excited.  Here’s the press release:

What’s next? After more than twenty years of experimentation, Buffalo Trace Distillery is rolling out the latest release of the prized Experimental Collection. This round of tinkering was conducted to find out how barrels with different wood grains affect bourbon aging. In particular, what impact do barrels made from fast-growth oak trees with coarse grain patterns have on bourbon aging, versus barrels made with slow-growth trees with fine grain?

Here are some answers to that question:

1. FINE GRAIN OAK: These barrels were filled July13, 1994 and bottled May 7, 2009. Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 was used and the product entered the barrel at 125 proof. After more than 14 years of aging, the slow-growth of fine grain wood concentrated the sugars and imparted extra doses of caramel and vanilla.  The bourbon is rich and exceedingly sweet with an almost syrupy character.  It also has a nice balance of flavors and complexity.

2. COARSE GRAIN OAK: The filling and aging time on these barrels is the same as with the fine grain. After nearly 15 years in the barrel, this whiskey is dry with a balance of smokiness and wood with herbal qualities. The finish is quick and woody and it is slightly heavy with a powerful complexity.

“We continue to learn new and interesting information from these experiments. We never know how they are going to turn out,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “It’s also great to see the excitement that surrounds these releases. The customer feedback is great.”

There are more than 1,500 experimental barrels of whiskey now aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace. Each of the barrels has unique characteristics making it different from all others. Some examples of these experiments include unique mash bills, types of wood and barrel toasts.  In order to further increase the scope, flexibility and range of the experimental program an entire micro distillery complete with cookers, fermenting tanks and a state of the art micro still has been constructed within the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The Experimental Collection will be packaged in 375ml bottles. Each label will include all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskies will be released in late May of 2009 and retail for approximately $46.35 each. Each experiment is rare and very limited. For more information on the Experimental Collection or the other products of Buffalo Trace Distillery,