About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thoughts on Vodka

I have one post about vodka.

In that post I say:

"I'm not a big vodka drinker. It's not because I have anything against vodka per se but I do not like what vodka has become to most people in this country. Vodka is not supposed to be the clean and flavorless spirit it is marketed as in the U.S.  It's not a blank palette on which one can throw any number of flavoring agents... [i]t can be distilled from anything that can ferment... [e]ach base product creates a different tasting vodka. Some are distilled many times, others are filtered but the idea that the true essence of that base product can be captured in a final distillate."

I still stand by most of this statement but I have to revisit one item, namely the "distilled many times" point.

According to the U.S Code of Federal Regulations, vodka is a neutral spirit distilled to 190 proof (95% ethanol) that is "treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color." You'll also notice that most items follow that "190 proof" guideline. Here, the alcohol distillers have won a battle to create their economies of scope - one grain neutral spirit is the base for all sorts of different spirits. So for all of you caught in the "moonshine" craze that is hitting this country, I'm sorry to inform you that it's just unfiltered vodka.

Anyway, here's the funny thing about that proof: subsequent distillations will not purify the ethanol much more (only to 191.2 proof - 95.6% ethanol). So whenever you see a label claiming a vodka has been distilled "x" number of times, it doesn't matter. It was distilled to the minimum 190 proof, and you can't get much purer than that.

Furthermore most vodkas are column distilled, which is a continuous process, so there is no such thing as "x" times distilled.

So is filtration the key to making vodkas so different from one another? Probably.

Charcoal filtering removes certain volatile organic compounds, leaving other molecules behind. Further "filtration" through precious metals adds new molecules to create different "mouth-feels."

Further thinking: when people complain about hangovers on "cheap" vodka, they are probably more likely to mix "cheap" vodka with sugary sweet mixers and drink to excess. These things are more likely the causes of your hangover rather than the quality of the vodka.

Also, vodka is naturally gluten-free even if it's distilled from grains like wheat or barley. Gluten is a protein, which is too "heavy" to be distilled. Unless you drink a sweetened/flavored vodka, there is no gluten.

So when you buy vodka, stay away from flavored vodka and find ones filtered an acceptable number of times (for your own sake) if you're looking for a "clean" vodka.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pure Kentucky XO

How can you spell the name of your own state wrong?

You may remember my previous post about KBD bourbons and my interest in trying a few. Pure Kentucky XO was on that short list so I opted for this one this time around.

In the small print on the back label, you can see it's aged for at least 12 years before it is blended and bottled. Since it's called "XO" then it's probably aged for at least ten years, because XO brandies are aged at least ten years. You may also notice the spelling error just above it. If you didn't, I graciously underlined it in the picture above.

However, make sure to read the back label of this bourbon if you decide to buy it! Some of the other bottles had a different label, missing both the spelling error and "age statement."

First thing to note about this bourbon is its proof: 107. Water this one down before drinking otherwise it's too hot and the alcohol is overwhelming on both the nose and palate. This must be a high-rye bourbon because it's very peppery, with a hint of citrus. It also has aromas of sugar-sweetened nuts, reminiscent of a pecan praline.

Initially, I wasn't very impressed, but that's before I watered it down (probably around 90 proof). With my second tasting tonight, I'm getting to know this bourbon a bit more. Is it the best one I've had? No, but it's still pretty good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quadruple Scotch Tasting

So many scotches, so little time
In September, my friend's mother traveled to Scotland and promised to bring back a bottle of scotch for me. She couldn't decide what to bring back, so she brought back four different bottles for me.

This was one of the greatest gifts I ever received.

As one can see in the picture, the four are Auchentoshan 12YR, Tomintoul 14YR, Edradour 10YR, and Bowmore 18YR. Here are my reviews of these four whiskies:

Auchentoshan 12YR - A very light-bodied, dry, lightly-peated scotch. Not a lot of character but easily drinkable.

Tomintoul 14YR - honey, biscuits, and floral notes on the nose. Same on the palate entry, with a slightly herbal and smoky end. Those years of aging over their 10YR really make a difference.

Edradour 10YR - the most impressive of the bunch. Toffee and pepper on the nose and slightly herbal/vegetal. Has a wonderful nutty, salty caramel flavor with medicinal notes and a long, herbal finish. An excellent scotch!

Bowmore 18YR - pretty dark, and "sticky" sweet - caramel coloring? Pepper, brine, iodine, leather, and honey on the nose. Opening is sweet, "nose" in the center, wood smoke on the end.

It was a nice range of scotches to try. All from different regions and each one pretty representative of its regional style, too.

Also, if you find the Edradour 10YR, get it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Johnny Drum Private Stock

Find this. Drink this.
I've been wanting to try a whiskey from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) for awhile now. I had the Michter's "US*1 Sour Mash" Whiskey awhile back, but I already had a few other whiskies in me by the time I tried it so I don't remember much about it. KBD makes a bunch of different whiskies (mostly bourbons) but sell them under various names: Michter's, Willet, Rowan's Creek (to name a few). If you find a bourbon and you are unsure about who produces it, read the label and if it was distilled in Bardstown, KY and has this image somewhere on the bottle (usually just the pencil drawing of the still without mention of the company name):
You've got a KBD whiskey.

Of the handful of bourbon distilleries left in Kentucky, I've had something from all of them - except KBD. No real reason, except they have so many different bottlings I wasn't too sure where to start. Especially if you read the copy on the bottles they all basically say the same thing:

1. Distilled using traditional methods or passed down through four (sometimes five) generations
2. Something about "Sour Mash"
3. Produced in small quantities
4. Aged for a long period of time to ensure quality

If you know anything about bourbon already, none of this information is useful. These are either too vague to be helpful (3 & 4), standard practice within the industry (2), or inconsequential (1).

So why did I finally decide on Johnny Drum Private Stock?

The internet told me to do so.

Of the reviews I read for the four I narrowed down my KBD choice to (Old Bardstown, Kentucky XO, Kentucky Vintage, and Johnny Drum Private Stock) this one had the most convincing ones. The others sound good (I'll try some of those next) but at the proof (101) and the price (< $30) Johnny Drum Private Stock seemed like the best decision.

And it was.

The nose is like some sort of nutty, chocolate-covered caramel. There are hints of spice, smoke, and oak, too. The earthier notes are stronger than the candied aromas on the palate, but it has a long, dark-chocolate finish. Furthermore, I barely noticed that it is 101 proof. It is one of the best whiskies I've ever had for under $30. Hands down. Highly recommended.

The quality of this bourbon has convinced me to try other things from KBD - although Johnny Drum Private Stock might be hard to follow up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scotch Quandry: Peaty vs. Smoky

This is Peat. Say "Hi, Peat."
Scotch isn't for everyone. There generally isn't a middle ground either: you either love scotch, or you hate it.

For those that love it, there are a few categories that one may fall into. Some love the sherried-sweetness of Speysides. Others may love the brinier island styles (Orkney, Arran, Skye etc.). Then there are the "Peat Heads" - the lovers of Islay (excluding Bunnahabhain).

Lagavulin is the "nectar of the gods" to some. Others swear by Laphroaig's juice of the barley. Whether it be from Ardbeg or Bruichladdich, Islays are known for their heavily-peated whiskies. I've had at least one release from all of the above: all fine scotches.

But what makes a scotch "peaty"?

Personally, my favorite Islay malt is Caol Ila. It has a very iodine-rich flavor, but somewhat lacking in smoke. I was surprised, however, to hear that it's not as heavily peated as the others mentioned above: I associate that iodine flavor with peat. Furthermore I was speaking with a customer recently about his favorite Islays and he claimed Caol Ila was the worst because it wasn't peaty enough for him, same with Ardbeg and Bruichladdich, but Lagavulin's 12YR "Cask Strength" was his favorite (more so than the "normal" Lagavulin 16YR) because it was "smokier." I got a little lost in his use of "peaty" and "smokey." I couldn't tell if it was just semantics or if he meant different flavors. This got me thinking about how "Islays" are classfied as the peatiest of the single-malts and what "peaty" meant.

Before I go any further, I have to warn you that things are about to get kind of nerdy. There will be some chemistry. However, as a nerd, I also feel it is my duty to say my education of chemistry is limited to whatever was taught to me at the NYS Regents level back in 1997-98. While I try to be as diligent as I can in finding the correct information online (mostly through Wikipedia), I admit I am not adequately educated in chemistry to fully understand or explain the molecules and their properties mentioned below.

Yet, this is what makes alcohol so interesting to a nerd like me: there is always something to learn and to share with you.

Back to peat.

My initial online research brought me to this PDF I found from The Whisky News: it's very informative. It begins with an explanation of what peat is (i.e. wet, rotting vegetative matter) and its historical connection to the scotch whisky industry. The most interesting part (to me) is the penultimate section entitled "Phenols and ppm." Phenols are, in a sense, aromatic molecules. In the scotch whisky industry, the amount of phenols are measured in PPM (Parts Per Million). So when Bruichladdich's Octomore claims to have 167 ppm of phenols, one can assume that this is a heavily-peated whisky. However, as this Whisky News article points out, that is the concentration before milling and mashing and these may cut that ppm in half in the final distillate. Furthermore, aging actually decreases phenol concentrations over time, too. This makes some sense why that customer mentioned above preferred Lagavulin's 12YR to their 16YR. Yet phenols are a large group of aromatic molecules, each molecule having different aromatic qualities.

More research required.

If the research methods classes I had as an undergrad and graduate student taught me anything, it was to check the citations - so I did. This article from Vol 107, No. 5, 2001 in The Journal of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling entitled "Origins of Flavour in Whiskies and a Revised Flavour Wheel: a Review" (pp 287-313) does a good job of classifying the peated characteristics into "[q]uantitatively important" phenols: phenol, cresols, guaiacol (295). Each represents a different attribute of "peatiness." Phenol, normally extracted from coal tar, imparts that almost "asphalt-like" flavor. Cresol is similar to phenol. Guaiacol is smoky too, but more like a campfire, or wood-based smokiness. Plus there eugenol, a guaiacol associated with the more medicinal qualities of peat (usually extracted from essential oils). Temperature affects the level of all molecules during the kilning process: increasing the temperature from 400 to 750 degrees Celsius during kilning increased phenol and cresol levels, but reduces guaiacol levels. Yet cresols are more abundant than phenols in the final spirit than in the barley malt (prior to milling and mashing). Furthermore phenols can be introduced through un-peated kilning, too.

It would seem that describing something as "peaty" is just not enough.

Another citation brought me to this other article from The Journal of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling entitled "Measurement of Thresholds for Reference Compounds for Sensory Profiling of Scotch Whisky" (Vol. 106, No. 5, 2000, pp 287-294). While phenol, cresol, and eugenol are not mentioned, this research looks at the detection and recognition levels in ppm of certain aromatic molecules - guaiacol being one in particular. The detection threshold for guaiacol was between .03 and .09 ppm, while the recognition threshold is between .7 and 3 ppm. While this research doesn't look at the point at which ppm hits an apex, (as in beyond a certain ppm, there is no distinguishable difference), I find it a little absurd that we have such heavily peated whiskies (i.e. Octomore) if one phenolic compound (i.e. guaiacol) is recognizable at a much lower level?

So what do we have in the end here? In my opinion, we have to be a bit more specific when we talk about our "peaty" scotches. Do we want something smoky, that has been aged longer or been in a barrel with a deep char? Or something that was kilned at a very high temperature and reeks of tar? Or do we want a medicinal or "vegetal" whisky? All very important things to consider when you are looking for your next scotch - especially an Islay.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rhum J.M. Agricole Blanc

OK, I bought another rum despite my claims that I would not do it for awhile.

But summer is approaching and rum seemed like the thing to buy.

Since I don't like molasses-based rums (as a general rule) I noticed this particular sugarcane-based rum and thought "What the hell? It will be less than $30 for a one liter bottle, why not give it a shot?"

The nose has scents of Mr. Sketch Lime-scented markers, basil, and hints of thyme and rosemary. Furthermore, there is plenty of ash and smoke too.

The terroir of the sugarcane used to make this rhum (the French spelling) has volcanic influences: the soil is "volcanic" and "volcanic mineral water" is used to dilute the distillate (as claimed by the producer's website). The strong "ash and smoke" scents make sense with this information.

The flavors match the scents pretty closely. However there is also a buttery quality to it, and has a long, dry finish too.

Initially, the smokiness of this rum threw me off. Not in a bad way but in a very unexpected way. I thought the smokiness was imparted during the harvest (since the sugarcane fields are burned before harvest - to remove the sharp leaves). This prompted some research on my part, where I found this volcanic terroir information, and it provided a satisfactory answer. As a result, I've come to appreciate the unique influence of the terroir on the final product.

Would this rum be a proper choice for everyone? No. Maybe scotch or mezcal drinkers would like to give this rum a try. Or it might go well in a Cubanita (a Bloody Mary made with rum). Or use it to make a Basil Mojito.

Or drink it straight - that's what I'll keep doing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gordon & Macphail's Tamdhu 8-Year

Distilleries don't die, they just fade away
Tamdhu - mothballed in 2010.

Apparently it's been purchased, with plans to begin production again, but it may be sometime before we see something new out of Tamdhu. Although, we didn't see much out of Tamdhu as it was used mostly in blends (Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse, etc.).

Tamdhu was (is?) a Speyside malt.  Speysides tend to be the most approachable of the single malts: lighter, sweeter, less peaty.

I like Speysides, as a foil (of sorts) to the peat heads. Like the hop heads of the beer world, who are always looking for the hoppiest beer, peat heads want the peatiest scotches. This creates an absurd hop/peat competition among the producers to make the hoppiest beer or peatiest scotch. A lot of these aren't even good, but the fervor in the market for these extreme products creates a hop/peat bubble. Consequently, Islays are now absurdly over-priced and there are too many subpar, heavily-peated blends.

All the while, Speysides just chug along. Sure, there are over-priced examples (i.e. Macallan) but for the most part, no one is looking for the "sweetest, sherriest scotch" so take advantage of this opportunity.

This particular bottling of Tamdhu is another independent bottling. The label doesn't say much, except that it comes from Tamdhu, is 86 proof, and it was aged for 8 years in "oak casks." However, I assume it is not chill filtered nor is caramel coloring added.

Like other Speysides, the nose has plenty of spice, honey, and dried fruit, but also floral notes, oak, and tarragon. It has an oily mouth-feel with flavors of oak, vanillin, fig, leather, menthol and a long, peaty finish (which is surprising, for a Speyside).  Downside: it's got a lot of heat.

For $35, it's a good buy for a single malt scotch. Would I spend much more than that? Probably not.  However, in our over-priced scotch market, you get a surprisingly complex scotch for a reasonable price.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Drouin Pommeau de Normandie

This is probably one of the best things I've ever had. I'm not exaggerating.

Pommeau de Normandie is a blend of fresh-pressed cider and Calvados that is aged for about two-and-a-half months in oak barrels after it's blended.

The description reminded me of a port (or sherry) so I figured I'd give this a shot

I am really glad I did.

As I expected, it is very port-like. The deep amber color and aromas of candied apples, toffee, honey, tea, nutmeg, and cinnamon are very inviting. It is sweet (but not cloyingly so) and has a rich oily mouthfeel, with flavors of vanillin, mulling spices and dried fruits (mostly apple and raisin). It has an astringent apple-skin finish (due to the tannins), with a bit of maple too: it's excellent.

I hope to try another Pommeau de Normandie (or de Bretagne) someday soon - just so I can compare.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blackbird Buffalo Bluegrass Kentucky Barrel Aged Cider

Every time some says "cider" to me, I think of this classic Simpsons exchange:

Principal Skinner: "They're very slowly getting away!"
Moe: "They're headed to the Old Mill!"
Homer: "No we're not!"
Moe: "Let's go to the Old Mill anyway and get some cider!"

I should've mentioned this in my cider post from 2011.

Hard ciders as a segment of the "beer" market have been growing these last few years: a 49% growth in sales last year alone. Fortunately here in New York State, the legislation hasn't really caught up with the appearance of this new market so ciders are available in both grocery and liquor stores. But this really depends on the distributors and what brands they own so you may not be able to buy Woodchuck Hard Cider (the most popular cider) at a liquor store since it is "owned" by a beer distributor.

Blackbird Cidery officially opened in Barker, NY in 2011. I first visited their cidery and orchard in 2013. Through both open/wild fermentation or use of specific yeast strains they make all styles: dry to sweet, and still to sparkling.

This Buffalo Bluegrass Kentucky Barrel Aged Cider is a limited-edition release so I picked up two bottles when it first became available at my liquor store. Initially, it was not what I was expecting. The oak from the barrel was a bit overpowering and it was considerably drier than I thought it would be. Yet this may be because my previous barrel-aged beer experience influenced my expectations of this cider. In barrel-aged stouts the vanillin and oak compliment the malty sweetness of the beer. With a cider, it has more in common with a lighter, drier sparkling grape wine. Therefore with a change in perspective, the more sips I took the more this cider grew on me. The barrel-aging offers notes of smoke, vanillin, and oak while the "open fermentation" gives the cider wild floral and yeasty notes. It paired extremely well with salmon and a bunch of earthier vegetables - all flavored with fresh dill.

It reminded me of Blackbird's Orchardist's Reserve Cider (my favorite of their ciders), although this Kentucky Bluegrass cider is much drier. If you are expecting a sweet hard cider, like many other available on the market, then you'll be disappointed. However, open yourself to new experiences and give this (and other dry ciders) a try - you may be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tapatio Reposado Tequila

Yes, I'm finally writing about tequila.

Not by popular demand, as this blog is not very popular, but due to my own curiosity.

I've largely avoided tequilas as most of my tequila exposure has been to mixtos. Mixtos are tequilas but they are legally defined as a mix of at least 51% blue-agave based spirit and some grain alcohol. Therefore, these are usually the tequilas one orders when doing shots at a bar. The habit of using salt and chasing with a lime is to cover the less-than pleasant flavors of these mixtos. These less-than pleasant flavors are also usually due to the grain alcohol, the main cause of the less-than pleasant feeling after many of shots.

However, 100% blue agave tequilas are pleasant.

Agave is a succulent plant. Strip away its leaves and you have a pumpkin-sized core filled with a sweet juice.  Ferment this sweet juice and you've got the beginnings of a fine tequila. Mezcal, another Mexican spirit, is also made from an agave plant but tequila has to be made from blue agave plants.

Sound confusing? Well bourbon (for example) has to be aged in new white American Oak barrels. If I were making a whiskey and aged it in new Limousin oak (from France) it would not be a bourbon even though I aged it in a new oak barrel: different oaks. So similarly, mezcal and tequila are from different agaves. 

There are plenty more intricacies in the tequila world.  For example, like scotch there are highland and lowland tequilas which have different distillation methods.  However, I don't want to lead too far from my review of this tequila by getting caught up in these intricacies (which I'm still learning).

I bought this bottle because it was pretty cheap. Is that my only reason? No. I read a few reviews online and it received pretty high-praise. It seemed worth checking out - especially since I didn't have much 100%-agave tequila experience and have been more spend-thrifty these days. Plus the bottle is embossed reminding me of a fancy Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine.

I guess Tapatio was not available in the U.S. until recently but a had a "cult like" following. As I know little about tequila I cannot refute this claim (although makes for an interesting selling point, I suppose).

It has a pale straw color and has thin legs in the glass. The nose has aromas of pine, ash (not the tree), cola, honey, thyme, and pepper. Flavors of smoke and cedar are followed by plenty of herbs, minerals and floral notes too.

As I mentioned above, I haven't had much tequila experience so I cannot compare this one to any other 100% blue-agave tequilas I've had. Yet, this is quite enjoyable on its own. As a reposado, it would've only spent 6 months to a year in a barrel; I don't think there would be much influence on the spirit from the barrel (besides the smokiness), yet it does have plenty of interesting subtleties to it. Perhaps it's only interesting as it is a new experience for me? Nevertheless I am enjoying it beyond that novelty.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kirk and Sweeney 12YR Rum

I've said it before: I'm not a fan of rum. It may have to do with the molasses-base of most rums: it reminds me of many bad (i.e vomit-inducing) rum experiences. Yet, sugar-cane juice based rums I find a bit more agreeable.

I finished a bottle of cachaҫa recently and the "freshness" of this sugar-cane rum made me consider shopping around for rum. I looked around a bit and I settled on Kirk and Sweeney 12YR, imported by 35 Maple Street from the Dominican Republic. As the Dominican Republic is not a French-speaking, half-of-an-island in the Caribbean I assumed it didn't use sugar cane as the basis of its rum - but I made an ASS(out of)U(and)ME. The text on the bottle claims it is "sugar cane" rum, and as sugar cane may have been brought to the island of Hispañola with Colón (Columbus) I had to believe that this is a sugar cane based rum.

Feeling confident it was distilled from sugar cane (and not from molasses) and since it was only $31 for a 12-year rum, it seemed like a really good buy.

The initial nosing of the glass was really nice - but it gave me some concerns. This rum is rich in notes of toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, port (raisin and chocolate) and... molasses! Perhaps it's the extended aging in charred-white oak barrels (i.e. bourbon barrels) that give this rum that burnt sugar (i.e. molasses) aroma. I chose to look beyond this and proceed on.

The flavors of toasted marshmallow and vanilla are initially prevalent but earthier notes of oak and black tea are most prominent on the finish. Hints of pineapple and lime give this rum that sugar-cane-based freshness that I like.

While I enjoyed this rum, it has an "annoying" sweetness to it. This annoyance is based on my own dislike of sweet booze. It's not that I don't like sweet, or that this rum violates my minimalist attitude towards alcohol but as this is a sugar based spirit aged in charred barrels (and charring caramelizes the saps in the wood) there is a bit too much sweetness for my tastes.

Yes there are some non-sweet aspects of this spirit but if you look at the list of aromas and flavors I list above, most scream out "sweet."

Nevertheless, for its price this was a great buy. While I may not buy another rum anytime soon, I can suggest that if you are a rum drinker you'd probably really like this.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic Whiskey

"Schlemeel, Schlemazel, Hasenpfeffer incorporated..."

I want to move to Milwaukee.

I swung through Milwaukee a few years ago.  I was on my way to a wedding in Madison, WI so I flew into Milwaukee, WI where a few friends picked me up before we drove on to Madison.  I don't like flying so I had few drinks during my excursion so when I was picked up at the airport, my wild weekend of wedding fun was well under way!

We decided to check out a bit of Milwaukee's nightlife before heading to Madison, so we went to the Old German Beer Hall.  In true Bavarian style, I proceeded to have a liter of beer (despite my not needing it), a lot of brats, and a giant pretzel.  We then walked around a bit, checked out the river, and headed off to Madison.  Come to think of it, I didn't see much of Milwaukee.  Sure it's the most segregated city in the United States (which is not cool), but it's a city on the Great Lakes and has a beer-themed baseball team.

And now I've discovered another great thing about Milwaukee - they have a distillery that blends a great whiskey.
Bernie says "Milwaukee is awesome - now we have whiskey! Go Brewers!"

Great Lakes Distillery's Kinnickinnic Whiskey is an unfiltered blend of a bourbon (produced in Kentucky, not by Great Lakes Distillery) and rye and malt whiskies made "in house."  On the nose it has notes of candied orange peel, leather, pepper, grass, and opens up with some banana and peanut butter with a bit of aeration.  Yet the nose is a bit misleading, as far as the flavors are concerned, as the earthier flavors are much more prevalent when one sips this whiskey.  Tobacco, leather, pepper, oak hit your tongue first fading into notes of orange peel and banana in a long, dry finish.

It also goes well paired with these cookies!

For its price point (>$40 US for a 750ml bottle) it is definitively worth the price.  Yeah it's pricier than some other American whiskies, especially some blends, but it is really great.  I'd definitely purchase this whiskey again.

Maybe directly from the distillery - when I move to Milwaukee.

I'm going to do it my way, yes, my way... making my dreams come true, for me and you!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rough Rider Bourbon - Batch #3

While I don't believe there to be any real connection between Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders and DMX's "Ruff Ryders Anthem" I'm willing to be wrong.

For the last couple of days I've been deciding between two bourbons.  No, it's not for my annual whiskey gift to myself (of which I already have one in mind) but just for every day drinking.  The two bourbons inspired two different songs in my mind.  I'm sure the reader can tell from the title of this blog that one of the bourbons was Long Island Spirits' Rough Rider Bourbon - Batch #3.  Also, one can easily determine the "winner" from the title as well (as I only write about things I've purchased). Yet if you are wondering what the other bourbon was, it was the John B. Stetson Bourbon.

I opened this post referencing DMX's song because both bourbons evoked memories of different songs, which ultimately helped in my decision to choose Rough Rider over Stetson.  While never a fan of DMX, Stetson reminds me of this cologne commerical.  I do prefer the Stetson song to The Ruff Ryders Anthem but I think of "cologne" when I see or hear the name "Stetson."  It's kind of dumb, I admit, and I know the bourbon won't taste like cologne, but that wasn't the only reason Rough Rider Bourbon won.

Here's the list of reasons why:

1. Rough Rider Bourbon also comes from my home state of New York, while Stetson come from Kentucky: support as locally as possible!

2. In support of the craft spirit movement, I am trying to change my buying habits to focus on these smaller distilleries.  Stetson's distiller is not named, but since it comes from Kentucky, I'm willing to bet it's not a craft distiller (although, I'm willing to be wrong on this too).

3. The Rough Rider bourbon was finished in wine casks.  I really enjoyed the Bordeaux-finished Cragganmore so I figured this might be equally interesting and delicious.

4. Theodore Roosevelt is one of my favorite figures in American history (due mostly to his Progressive policies and his love of, and interest in, the natural world.)

The nose has notes of caramel, honey, orange, vanilla cola, and freshly-cut grass. Initially it's light but develops a tongue-coating, oily texture (which I love).  The first sips open up with pepper and some floral notes while flavors of orange, vanilla, and toasted marshmallow follow.  The wine-finish is there, but you have to search for it.  It's also surprisingly smooth for its age.

All-in-all, a good whiskey.  It's an enjoyable sipping whiskey and I don't think I over-paid for it (around $35).  However there are a lot of other "craft" whiskies on the market (for roughly the same price).  For example, this Rough Rider Bourbon didn't impress me as much as the High West OMG Rye did, which has the exact same price-point and I've purchased that again: I don't think I'll buy Rough Rider again (at least any time soon). Therefore it doesn't quite stand out as being one of the best "new" whiskies. 

Try it yourself though - I can guarantee that at least you won't be disappointed.