Jack Rose Trip Part 1: JPS Rye 25yr

I made my way down to Jack Rose recently with some friends and had the great opportunity to meet with Bill Thomas.  If you haven’t been to Jack Rose, please do yourself a favor and get down there and get drunk.  It’s a wonderful place for those who love whiskey, especially Bourbon.  With almost 3,000 open bottles, it’s the place to try all those unicorns you can’t find or afford to get a bottle on your own.  Over the next few weeks I will be posting quick reviews of all the bourbons I tried… enjoy!

First up…. Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25yr Rye batch 1 86 proof: Initial impressions are that it looks far too light to be 25yrs old. Nice candy nose, but doesn’t smell 25yrs old, a touch of candy corn and rock candy.  The taste also is very hard to believe this is 25yrs old, has a spicy fresh taste to it like a much younger rye.  Upon further review of the bottle, I now know why this doesn’t feel/look/smell or taste like a 25 year old rye… because it’s Canadian!  It says “North American Rye” which you would never say, unless it’s Canada.  I bet this is Alberta Distillery, but I don’t know for sure.  I will say this, this is way better than CC20 or any of the other old ones I’ve had from Canada.  25yrs old, and not over oaked because of the used barrels; very nice and enjoyable.  93/100

 

 

WhiskyLive 2017

I went with some friends last week to WhiskyLive 2017 in NYC.  I didn’t use my “press credentials” to get in, rather I bought VIP tickets (at a discount 6 months ago). VIP basically was supposed to get you entry 30 minutes early, access to a special lounge and a higher end crystal glass.  Well, the line got all screwed up and even though I got there early, I didn’t get in until almost 6pm. The glass was weird and I think I’d rather have the normal glass. And to top it off the VIP lounge didn’t have anything special in it–literally they were serving Evan Williams 2008 Single Barrel, a $22 Bourbon and some awful Widow Jane swill.

However, enough complaining and venting… but seriously, next year, the line situation needs to be fixed and they need to get a few more epic bottles in the VIP lounge.

I am very glad that I went for three reasons though. First and most importantly, Four Roses brought Brent Elliott up for the event and I got to meet the man himself. He is awesome and I plan on having an interview with him in the coming weeks: stay tuned!  They also were pouring FRSBLE2016, and while I do have several bottles of it at home, it was really nice to see a special pour.  Very few producers did that, so a real special thanks to Four Roses for stepping up and bringing their best.

The second reason I was glad to go was to see the upcoming releases from Barrell Bourbon. Joe Beatrice was there pouring Whiskey 003 and the new Bourbon 009, 010 and even 011. They also had some New Years Bourbon which they were nice enough to give double pours when I asked nicely–thanks guys!!!  (The New Years Bourbon should have been in the VIP lounge as it was better than pretty much every other one there)  I can’t say enough good things about the Barrell guys, they bought tons of bottles so everyone could try as much as they wanted, no severely limiting the pours like some other people did…

The third reason I am glad I went was to try to new Michters 10yr Rye.  It was good. But it wasn’t great. If I find any this season I will be trading it for something else because I wasn’t overly impressed. I tried it three times. It was enjoyable but the finish just wasn’t enough to make me need it. It’s probably a 90 +/- but certainly not a top 10.  They also were really stingy with the pouts: yes, I’m talking about you Kenny Ng!!!!! (exceptionally stingy pours matter in this situation, and I doubt they ran out because it was still there 2 hours into the event).

Anyway, WhiskyLive was a fun event, but not as well done as WhiskyFest was in the Fall.  I am glad I went for the reasons above and it was amazing to meet Brent and great to see Joe and try both of their whiskeys. But to be honest, the rest of the booths just didn’t do it for me: too many low end whiskeys and bad craft distillers or generic Scotches that I’ve already had. I hate to be “that guy” but if people are expected to return, they need to have something unique and new each time–I’m not sure I will be going back for 2018 unless they really step up their game. And of course… they really need to figure out the entrance better… at least the weather was nice, but it could have been below zero with all of us waiting outside.

Thanks everyone for reading my venting!

BCBS 2016 Happy Black Friday!!

Happy Black Friday!!  BCBS 2016 clocks in at 13.8% abv. Thanks Goose Island.

Aromas are amazing: bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, espresso, licorice jelly beans… Deep and dark flavors. Amazing nose.

Thick mouthfeel, not quite syrupy, but deep and complex and crazy tasty.  The finish is incredible, tons of caramel and vanilla sweetness lingering on and on.

Bourbon County Brand Stout is my favorite part of Black Friday. I hope everyone was able to get some–absolutely worth it. I think 2015 was a touch better for what it’s worth. 96/100.

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Go Visit Garrison Brothers & Single Barrel Amazing

Last weekend was my annual boys weekend with my closest friends from high school. We grew up together and were inseparable, but as we grew up, got married and had kids, and some moved away, it’s increasingly difficult to get together, which is why the annual weekend is such a wonderful thing to do. This year’s destination was Austin, TX, not too far away from Hye, TX, so we decided to take the tour at Garrison Brothers.

I highly recommend the tour, especially if Dan Garrison is going to be there. The tour was informative, a lot of fun and you got to try their white dog, a single barrel, and as much of the flagship you can drink. It was the most fun and laid back tours I’ve ever been on; I can’t encourage people enough to take the trip out there.

We got the opportunity to try one of the single barrels and I was lucky they had extra to buy. This one was barrel number 3824, and was bottle number 2 of only 12 that were left in the cask. I love the lower yielding barrels, while clearly less profitable for the producer, I find they hold unique characteristics and are often more pronounced flavors. Garrison Brothers dips their bottles in wax, and we got to do that for our bottles. Very different than the Makers experience, it takes about four minutes to compete the dipping and drying, not very efficient, but given how small they are, they don’t need to go as fast as Makers does it.

The bourbon is dark, like really dark.  Pretty amazing color for only three years in wood.  Probably has something to do with the yield of only 12 bottles as well.  The nose is rich, but not hot at all.  Liquid caramel, dark french toast brioche, egg nog, all spice, licorice and some pine needles.  On the second sniff, you get a hint of nazelnut coffee, pencil shavings and graphite.  You can tell there is some decent amount of wood in this, but it doesn’t appear that it will be overpowering on the palate.

The taste is awesome.  All the complexity on the nose is coming through on the mouth, in a very balanced way.  The wood tannins integrated very well with the other flavors producing a bourbon that has a very long, warm and enjoyable finish.  If there was one complaint, I would say that this would have been much better if it was barreled at cask strength.  A common complaint I have, which is why I prefer their Cowboy release.

A very unique offering from Garrison Brothers, only one of 12 bottles in existence, and by the time you are reading this, mine will probably be all gone.  Definitely worth taking the trip out there to go visiting them yourself and be sure to see Dan when you are there.  96/100

Shame! Shame! NYC Central Cellars Wine & Spirits Shame!

One of my big peeves is egregiously overcharging for whiskey (defined by significantly over secondary prices).  It’s just so annoying and I avoid those stores.  Today’s example is the new store that just opened in New York City in Grand Central Terminal: Central Cellars Wine & Spirits.  The old place, which also was a rip off, closed a few months ago and they have been working on refurbishing this new store and it just opened this week.

A picture tells a thousand words:

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Yes, Pikesville Rye is a great whiskey, but it’s also available and not a limited release.  I was able to pick up a six pack for $52 a bottle, but if someone wants to charge, $60 or even $75, I don’t think that’s a problem.  But at $125, it will not sell and will just be  a constant reminder of what a rip off the store is.

The rent is probably very high, but if you don’t sell anything, you won’t make any money.  I don’t see these guys lasting either and I don’t think we should support them.  Shame on your Central Cellars Wine & Spirits!

Here is my original Pikesville review:  https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/

24 Hours in DC: Indian Whiskey / Jack Rose / BTAC / Offensive Retailers… all in one blog

So… I went to DC Sunday night through Monday for business, but I managed to fit in a little bit of whiskey fun while I was there…

First up I had a client dinner at an Indian retaurant… the client was late so I figured I would order up some Indian Whiskey and do a casual review:

Indian Whiskeys…. When in Rasika in DC, why not?

Amrut Fusion has a young nose, hint of pettiness, very scotch like, straw and hay and a quick smooth finish. Nice burn, but unlike what Jim Murray says, this one doesn’t blow me away. 86/100

However, the Amrut Single Malt Cask strength has an incredible mouthfeel, so much so that you want to hold it in your mouth for a long long time. Candied apple, passion fruit and bananas on the nose. This is an awesome whiskey. Definitely not chill filtered on this one as the oils really work well into the mouth and has a very long finish.  I would buy this one for my cabinet if I saw it at a good price at my home store.  93/100

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I was not drunk at this point of the evening, and the client was REALLY late, so I had a good amount of time to think about these…

However the rest of the night I was unable to give either quantitative or qualitative reviews due to my level of intoxication.

I then decided to go to Jack Rose to continue the evening.  I was willing to give the bar another shot after my last experience which was extremely poor.  It was a Sunday night and extremely slow for them, and I will say, the service that night was excellent.  They were attentive, knowledgeable and polite.  Very different from last time… maybe they just need to increase their staffing during their busy time?  I don’t know… but I will tell you I had an awesome time.  My first order:

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BOOM! Go big or go home.  An ounce of each… $25 a pour, which is basically below the secondary market prices, so go for it!  I am unable to give a grade on these outside of: YUUUMMMMY!  One day I will do better than that, and actually dissect them appropriately, but until then, I can just say they were awesome.  The Weller was my favorite and one of the best whiskeys I’ve ever had, Saz was second and ER17 came in third.

And of course, no night at Jack Rose is complete without some sort of Pappy… so we went for the Old Rip.  I also ordered a Scotch Egg, which was delicious 🙂

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The night was awesome.  Monday was full of meetings and all sort of professional stuff with which  I will not bore any of you.

Before I caught an Uber to the airport, I thought I’d do a little hunting in some local liquor stores, and I thought I hit the jackpot when I walked by a store called Barmy Wines & Liquor.  In the window I saw a unicorn… EH Taylor Tornado Survivor!  Two of them!  And then a Jefferson’s Presidential 25, and then a George T. Stagg, no, 4 of them, and a Weller, and a Pappy 20… holy shit!  Then I asked the prices… insane.  Stagg was $800, Tornado was $1k, Jefferson 25 was $500, Pappy 20 was 3k… All well above Bottle-Spot or Craigslist prices.  Annoying… so I went to their regular selection.  This is where I took some serious offense: Elmer T Lee @ $99.99, Stagg Jr @ $149.99, Barrell Bourbon @ $99.99… come on!  Elmer @ $100!!!  These guys were fully stocked and for good reason: no one would ever pay these prices.  Anyway, if you are in DC, boycottt this store.  I came up completely empty on my 20 minute hunt, but if anyone has any suggestions on places to hunt next time, let me know.

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Old Grand-Dad 114: Rugged Must Own Bourbon (Better Than Crown)

The word smooth has been considered a lazy word to use when describing a whiskey. “Ooooohhh that’s so smooth” gets passed around quite a bit and I’m just as guilty as the next. Smooth has become a cliche compliment to a well made and properly aged whiskey, the opposite of all the shots of garbage we threw back in college: “uuugggggg the burn.”  So it comes a time when the word smooth is to be challenged as the prerequisite hurdle of a well made whiskey. I think I have found the perfect example in OGD114.

Old Grand-Dad 114 is 57% abv Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey made from a high rye mash bill in Claremont, KY by Beam Suntory.

Medium amber slightly dulled.

The nose is extremely spicy with cracked pepper, raisin bran and fresh ginger snap cookies. The high mash bill really shows up in the nose in a very enjoyable way.

The spice from the rye really kicks in up front while ginger and peanut butter cup coat the rest of the palate. This is an aggressive and sharp and jagged bourbon that is so enjoyable.  The rough edges of spiciness is what makes this bourbon takes so good. The mouthfeel is thick and big and the higher proof really keeps the finish going.

Old Grand-Dad 114 is one of those bourbons that if you can find for $25 like I did, you should buy two and feel lucky–I did. Finding a barrel proof bourbon that tastes this good under $30 is almost impossible to find these days and OGD has been doing it for a long time. It gets an extra couple points for the price, but I’m sure they would still sell out if they charged $40-$50.  This is a must own.  94/100

I will be rating the Crown Royal soon… I’ve opened it and am working through the review.. but… spoiler alert… if you want a $30 or less high rye whiskey… this is a better choice!

 

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