Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Highland Park Dark Origins (750 ml ghost stories by the fire bottle)

Tasting notes:
      The bottle glass is black, effectively cloaking the whisky. I’d like to believe it’s that way so you can give a friend—but not a close friend—a bottle with at least 50ml poured out, hoping the deficit won’t be noticed. As such, we paid careful attention to the color in the glass, a thing that we sometimes remark and often overlook. I thought it was antiqued amber set on copper-saturated sand dune at sunset. Poetic, right?

     The nose is truly off at the end of the Highland Park spectrum. It’s uninviting at first, like being a novice monk trying to throw a rave at the monastery and having the Abbott look at you in way that curdles your cheese. (Maybe you shouldn’t have invited him?) You pray, then go get therapy when it’s clear that no one is listening to your beseeching whinges. You come back, and find an abalone wet suit at the gate of the monastery—a miracle?—then find the former wearer wrapped up in your best merino cowl in your cell, outfasting you. There’s soused peat in the corner; too drunk to remember to catch fire, so it’s a funky earthy chthonic smell, fortunately invoking neither Asmodeus nor Cthulhu. Light comes to your cell in the miraculous form of glowing godly oranges surfacing out the floor; really, though, it’s just the surface, pre-zesting that emerges. The barely detectable traces of pawprints from the Sacristan’s gunsteel cat chasing a moth through your cell. Carved roods and the charcoal edge of stenciled vows on the walls. The nose opens as slowly and unmistakably as your cell door as you ponder running away to the circus.
     The mouth is as unexpected as that last step can be, sending you nearly flying, save for your well-timed wholly instinctive wild arm-flapping. It’s like hearing the entire spectrum of AM talk radio at once, tempered by the low frequency sonorous calls of blue whales. HP-osity explodes like a Mount Etna lava lamp at the rave you couldn’t hold nor go to: It’s really dry, salty, with low cream and sherry bass notes, as if Frankie Valli no longer sang like a castrato, but rather like a basso profundo. It owns your tastebuds like the communally owned property in the monastery. Not only is your mouth no longer your own, you’re not sure that it’s holy, either. It’s pepper and coriander genuflecting to Cherry red sumac
     The finish comes on late and strong, like the finishing kick of the pre-broken-wristed Manx Missle, Mark Cavendish, blowing past the opposition for stage wins at the Tour de France. You bring him, as a mark of respect, Anadama bread you baked earlier with the prior.
     Adding water invokes scourging peat, like a parade of Hogwarts Professors of the Dark Arts conjuring various minor demons, and yet—and yet: it smooths out, leading the Abbott to say that the rave is on and the nuns need be invited. Nothing is real; everything is permitted!



Rating:
--On the scale of Disneyland amusements--
The Highland Park Dark Origins is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride--It’s crazy, you surge with a rush of adrenaline, you fear for your life (on a little kid’s ride) and it take you to the dark places in your psyche—and you’re glad of the trip, when it’s over. You don’t hesitate, either: You get right back in line, because now you need more.
   
   
  

   
  
                                                                      --Bill
   
   
    
     
    
   --Our thanks to Steph Ridgway and Highland Park for the sample! 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Bowmore 12 Year 2001 (116.8 proof) from The Exclusive Malts (30 ml large and in charge mini)

Tasting notes:
      We got a set of
contrasting notes on the nose. Bill declared it a "light Islay" from the get-go, but John found notes of a tank rolling over a beef stew with a hiccup of diesel fuel. Both agreed that there are also notes of oysters laid carefully in a gravel pit once used to store spent motor oil. I found a distinct Bourbon note on the nose, but that of a smoky, unctuous Bourbon, a Bourbon drunk from the metal cup/top to an insulated Thermos™ previously and precariously perched atop an oil-rag draped headlight next to a yawning open hood bearing a Ford 438, newly installed and ready for inspection.
     On the mouth, it's like using a Black Snake firework as a cough drop, only tastier. Dr. Two Strokes Patented Smoke Lozenges™: They'll Smoke Out What Ails Ye. But it's also bright and hot and…well…smoky. There's some nice spice on the mouth as well, but you have to work past the peat to get a good read on it. In that way, it's not unlike licking a pan just used for Blackened Redfish in an attempt to taste the oregano. Still, the difference between the nose and mouth is large--and in charge.
     The finish is really nice, presenting with notes of elderberries, only younger. Imagine seaweed used to filter an oil spill when BP got really lazy. Or imagine seaweed and elderberries making babies in the pan--unless you're against interspecies copulation which is really just hybridization, in which case you have to ask yourself whether you can really extend your sexual mores to the realm of the asexual (reproduction). The finish really goes on and goes on beautifully smoothly. It's a Meb Keflezighi finish.

  
  
Rating:
--On the scale of fun facts about Eritrea--
The Bowmore 12 Year 2001 (116.8 proof) from The Exclusive Malts is it's right next to Djibouti--Scoot over! I just told you that it's right next to Djibouti! You don't want to sit on it, do you?!? [Sorry, but you just can't pass up the opportunity to do a Djibouti joke when it comes along.]

   
   
   
   
    

   
                                                                      --Stephen
    
    
     
      
     
   
--Our thanks to Sam Filmus and ImpEx for the sample!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Auchentoshan American Oak (750 ml de Tocqueville mini)

Tasting notes: 
     Resinous lemon wood cut into long, double-barreled flutes for satyrs.  A perfume for elven maidens who ride fawns in the deep forest dells.  Moldy oranges stuffed into Polish cannon and shot over housetops.  A mink coat, but made with living minks by a short-lived separatist sect of PETA.
     The mouth is contra dancing at the Grand Ole Opry. [Stephen: As am I. Just vote NO! ...to dancing at the Grand Ole Opry.] Perfume again, but little girl perfume used by little girls (which is to say liberally, to put it conservatively).  Floor wax congealed into poker chips and used as shims to keep a window open.  It looks out over fields of marigolds that catch the sun just so.  Refreshing.  A good whisky for after mowing the lawn. 
     The finish is as spicy as being stuck in an escalator with your paramour.  [Bill: John, you mean elevator, right?]  Shoe polish for officer candidate school.   Enough wood to would spoil chardonnay, but which here seems to hit the Goldilocks level of just rightness.  American Oak, I see on the label.  My tastebuds start up a chant of USA!  USA!
  
   
 

Rating:
--On the scale of works by Alexis de Tocqueville--
The Auchentoshan American Oak is Memoir on Pauperism--This critique of welfare in England was written between the two volumes of his better-known Democracy in America.  At first blush, you might be misled into thinking it's a pro-Pauperism piece, but the Pro-Pauper Party pooped out two decades prior to publication. The take-away here? This dram is no party pauper.
   
  
   
   
   
  

                                                                      --John
   
    
    
     
     
--Our thanks to Iain McCallum and Auchentoshan for the sample!


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Arran 17 (30 ml firefly abdomen bottle)

The blurriness isn't a sign you've had too much Arran...*
Tasting notes:
 
PAUL: “Well, she was just sixteen, if you know what I mean, and she was responsible way beyond compare…”

JOHN: That doesn’t really scan right, does it?

PAUL: (peeved at being interrupted) What do you mean?

JOHN: I mean, “sixteen” doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t pass the smell test, if you know what I mean.

PAUL: I don’t know if I want to know.

JOHN: Look, maybe she was dancing a veritable Nutcracker Suite of different honey-scented watermelon flowers bedaubed with lilac perfumes; maybe she was balanced and choreographed like she was gamboling on carved marble skates on a ten-foot thick butterscotch rink; maybe clouds of heaven parted to allow another soul to ascend…but “sixteen” feels too young. Maybe even pervy? And what was she responsible for, anyways?

PAUL: Well, she’s responsible. The oldest! No older siblings, so she always took care of things for her mum. And she had a beautiful mouth—undulating pleasure—ululating pressure—like furled sheets on a freshly made bed!

JOHN: You did not kiss her! Tell me you didn’t kiss her!

PAUL: Of course I didn’t! I drank her in. It was like setting up camp in the middle of my palate, like exploding out of fractal nothingness into the foam on Hiroshige’s woodblock print The Great Wave.

JOHN: Paul, it’s 1963. The word “fractal" won’t be coined until 1975!

PAUL: (still miffed, starts singing) “She was just sixteen, you know what I mean, and the way she drank was way beyond compare…So how can I drink down another, oh when I smelled her standing there?”

JOHN: (sardonic) That’s better, Paul, but there’s still the scanning issue to finish off. “Sixteen” just isn’t right.

PAUL: I can finish this; the finish will be long and gorgeous. It’ll make my heart go boom. It’ll be like a Roman mosaic depicting Dionysius made of carefully plucked and arranged flower petals. It’s Zeno’s bottle! There’s always another half to halve! Er, to have and to hold. It just keeps on going.

GEORGE: Sixteen’s too young.

RINGO: It needs to be older or gaol will be colder.

JOHN: It will scan better. Actually, it’ll be better in every way.

PAUL: (resigned) “Well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean, and the way she looked was way beyond compare. So, how could I drink down another, Oh, the bottle’s standing there!”

  
  
 

Rating:
--On the scale of Beatles songs--
The Arran 17 isn’t "I Saw Her Standing There," because that early hit is too fast and not deep enough. The Arran 17 is "A Day in the Life."--It goes long, it goes deep, it’s lively and lovely at the beginning, enigmatic and arioso in the middle, and the end…the end…when the pianos (four of them) hit the ending chord and it slowly fades away leaving only joy at the experience and sorrow at the end? That’s the Arran 17.
   
   
  

   
  
                                                                      --Bill
   
   
    
    
    
--Our thanks to Sam Filmus and ImpEx for the sample!

 


*--...rather, it's a sign you haven't had enough.
  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Arran Premium Sherry Cask 1997, #217 (30 ml rocking in the free sample bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The way the nose of this dram opens, it's like I'm eating a mushroom omelette stuffed with cedar shake shingles, and I'm not even worried about the effects this highly fibrous breakfast will have on me later. Sniff further, though, and there are notes of a well-blessed vestment made from corn silk hung in the ramp gallery of the Guggenheim. Adorned with raisins and raised by Adorno--to a new level. [Bill: That's the best he can do with Adorno?] [John: Well, it's ten times better than any of his Habermas jokes.] Give it time, and the nose diversifies as it opens up, like a mutual fund whose manager turns more cautious with each additional investor he gets. [Bill: Nothing says diversification like following an Adorno joke with a mutual fund one.]
     The mouth presents floral and fruity notes, as if you chanced upon a tiny greenhouse full of African Violets in which a child spilled grape juice three years ago (and that no one ever cleaned up). Still, it's a sherry bomb. No, it's a daisy cutter of a sherry bomb. It's powerful and impressive, and by that, I mean it leaves an impression, not unlike a paella with a little too much saffron on it. But you're eating it in the shade of the Bilbao Guggenheim, so it's a wholly positive experience, on balance. 
     The finish is subtle, dipping below the senses for a moment, only to emerge later like a bubble-feeding whale. But there are hunting lodge notes we didn't get before the finish: lacquered deer antlers, wolverine pheromones, and the burnished wooden handle of a Gurkha knife. We reach for glasses of water to refortify our palettes. The finish keeps getting stronger and stronger, and doesn’t fade away, like Neil Young. Old man, look at my life, I drink a lot more great whisky than you do...
  


Rating:
--On the scale of all things Guggenheim-y--
The Arran Premium Sherry Cask 1997, #217 is the Guggenheim Fellowship--Less well known than it should be, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship has supported the work of such luminaries as B.F. Skinner, Martha Nussbaum, Margaret Atwood, Shelby Foote, Linus Pauling, and e.e. cummings. The art museums may rock, but the fellowship has a helluva history of flat rolling.  
   


   
  
   
 

                                                                      --Stephen
   
    
    
    
     
  
--Our thanks to Sam Filmus and ImpEx for the sample!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Clynelish 14 (750 ml ringing-my-bell bottle)

Tasting notes:
      Bamboo sugarcane hybrid.  Shoots up into your sinus at six inches an hour.  Hot and waxy.  Perhaps even cardboardy.  But this is the back of Perry Mason’s legal pad kept in a desk drawer on the sound stage during a writer’s strike.  Apricot fruit leather used when folding dried pineapple burritos at a birthday party for dwarf hamsters.

     Wow, this really coats the tongue.  I am falling in love with the mouth.  An angry papaya declares war against a cadre of mellow mangos.  It is a massacre, just like what you’d expect if three Vitamixes were ordered to destroy a bucket of margarine left on the pavement.  I’m getting almost synesthetic reactions now: glinty titanium ball bearings roll on a silver platter, the low rumblings of the balls stimulates a high, clear, bell-like ringing of the platter.   You should see the audio waves that the sound engineer has captured.
     The finish is no less wonderful.  Coriander on the mouth.  Acorn soufflĂ©.  Corn pudding.  Lava lamp reimagined—with real lava pouring from a genie’s lamp.  I have fallen through a trap door into the Land of Yum.  Quickly I take the battery out of my phone.  I do not wish to be rescued.
  


  
 
 

Rating:
--On the scale of people who disappear forever--
The Clynelish 14 is Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt--The famed Prussian naturalist disappeared in the Austrialian outback more than 160 years ago never to be found again.  There were signs that he lived for a while after his disappearance—a brass nameplate from the butt of his rifle, aboriginal cave art depicting a white man herding animals—but I prefer to think that he fell into the Land of Yum and raided its liquor cabinet of all the Clynelish he could drink.
   

   
   
  
    

                                                                      --John
   
    
  
   

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Angel's Envy celebrates National Bourbon Heritage Month with "Toast The Trees" Initiative - #AE4THETREES

National Arbor Day is April 24th, 2015. It’s a day that all too often we fail to observe, given that it’s the last Friday of April and there’s not a big feast associated with it. But it’s an important day, because where we would be without trees? (thinking) On a tundra? The Siberian Steppes? The Saharan desert? The ocean! The moon! I guess there are a lot of places we could be without trees.

More to the point, then: Where would the whisk(e)y industry be without trees? That one’s easier to answer. We’d all be swilling “premium” vodka distilled from potatoes that spent a day or so in an aseptic steel tank. So let us worship the dryads  the nymphs of oak trees, for without them, our whisk(e)y would be not even white dog. It’d be moonshine or invisible dog.

Given that Arbor Day is almost 9 months away, what led us to conceive of this post? Easy enough to answer again! Angel’s Envy is teaming up with the Arbor Day Foundation to “Toast the Trees”  (BTW, nice pun, Angel’s Envy) this month, which also happens to be National Bourbon Heritage Month.
Throughout September, for every Angel’s Envy drink you order or make up for yourself at home—neat, on-the-rocks, or cocktail—Angel's Envy would like you to take a picture of it. Post it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #AE4THETREES and they’ll plant a white oak tree for every hashtag (up to $10,000 worth of trees--or until the squirrels cry "Uncle!"). It’s a chance to be responsible for the growth of nymphs you can call your own, and while they’re beautiful, almost unattainably so, remember that Greek myths are full of tales of foolish mortals who get involved with nymphs. If that doesn’t put you off on the, shall we say, “R-rated angle” of the acorns, maybe you should watch Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, vols. I and II. [Stephen: Dear God, don't do that!]
 


So get your mobile devices ready, order or make yourself a drink and post it to social media with the hashtag #AE4THETREES so that some day your great grandchildren will have plenty of oak on which to use their froes, drawknives, jointers, sideaxes, and adzes to carve, then toast all the barrels they can figure out how to use. (Aren’t you proud of your hypothetical great grandchildren and their DIY moxie? I sure am!)

And keep an eye out for our first Instagram pic ever, coming out soon on social media with the hashtag #AE4THETREES. You should do the same. Multiple times, if necessary. We're looking to spend all of AE's budget on this. [John: IT'S FOR THE TREES! DO IT FOR THE TREES!]
 

Well done, Angel’s Envy: there still is plenty of time to plant the acorns of change in time to have a sapling for Arbor Day. Just add water and toast responsibly.
  


  
   

                                                                      --Bill



  
  
 

For more information, visit Angel's Envy at www.angelsenvy.com or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/AngelsEnvyBourbon and twitter https://twitter.com/Angels_Envy (@angels_envy).
 

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