Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The St. George Single Malt Whiskey [Lot 10] (200 ml apothe-carry-it-with-you bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     Wow, there’s a singular smell on the nose.  A suggestion of locker room, a whisper of artificial lemon, and the unmistakable appurtenances of white-chocolate covered Funyuns™.  We also get the wooden stick of a caramel apple turned into a pistol by the imagination of a bullied seven-year-old.  The apple notes on this dram make us think of little, 5 oz. juice boxes filled with whiskey so that you can take them along on play dates and picnics.  (Look, if you can find great beer in cans, why not wonderful whiskey in cartoony juice boxes?  Oh, and with flexible Glencairn straws glued to the back!)  Such might account for the aggression of that pistol-waving boy but as I look again, I see that I was wrong.  He’s conducting an orchestra.  He wants more from the apples sautéed in butter, or so it appears from the upward-arcing sweep of both arms.  And now his gestures are gentler.  He’s telling the flames to get lower, lower, lower; he wants the thinnest of thin blue lines to be barely visible under the cast iron pan.  Yes, he’s happy now as he straightens himself and uses the stick baton to signal the entry of mulling spices.  First cardamom and then allspice.  Now cinnamon in greater numbers, but with room for orange peel and cloves.  They are all in harmony as the restless flames are brought back up.  Our maestro beams with exultation as the blue flame fingers rise up, up, up until they are tipped with fiery-yellow nail polish blurred by shimmering waves of heat--
     --just how many of these little juice boxes have I had?  Or did the good people at St. George drop in a little of their absinthe into this batch to tart it up

in mind-bending ways?  On the mouth it’s incredible.  I’ve got a Poprocks feeling around my tongue, enough to remind me of the urban legend that Life® cereal’s Mikey died from too many poprocks (autopoprocksasphyxiation?).  This rêverie unfolds with more nostalgia, this time for early adulthood.  It’s like watching Field of Dreams with a soon to be ex-girlfriend.  The finish—of the whiskey and the relationship—recalls nothing if not ionized butterscotch in a steel mess kit (long story).  But then the whiskey changes.  Candied fruit in a silver tray.  Hard tack dipped in molasses.  How can they get such complexity in this whiskey?  I think they’re dropping freeze-dried single malt cubes into the bottles.  Each cube--which look like black tar heroin, if you must know--presses signature upon signature into the dram, like those on an LCD pad at the checkout counter, a veritable 21st Century palimpsest for future textual scholars to decipher.


  
  

Rating:
--On the scale of awesome "10"s--
The St. George Single Malt Whiskey Lot 10 is Bo Derek--Not as classic or as apparently universally applicable as The Ten Commandments (but also not nearly so dated), Bo was nonetheless smoking.  Plus, she helped popularize cornrows and slo-mo beach cinematography.
  
   
  
 
                                                                             --John

  
 


--Our thanks to Ellie and Lance Winters at St. George Spirits for the sample!
   


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Classic Cask 1992 Glen Moray (50 ml Zim the Great* potion bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The Glen Moray 1992 opens light and flowery, with tiny drips of honey suckle.  I cooly appraise it, and not taken in, reply with salty hibiscus crisps folded up in aluminum packets.  The Glen Moray 1992 takes my measure, and ups the ante with tarragon-infused olive oil, and then manages to pull the oil back off the table while leaving the tarragon infusion. "Neat trick," I mutter, nervously fingering my cherished chert tankard artfully carved with tasteful tableaux of caber-tossing Scots.  I raise the stakes, without pulling up stakes, with pale meringue whipped up by a dengue-fever-infected merengue-dancing ingenue (who looked like a young Catherine Deneuve).  Then the Glen Moray 1992 braces, for evidently nothing will hold back the sprinkling, like the running of the bulls, of the flecks of black licorice.  I permit myself a smile.  The Glen Moray 1992, not batting an eyelash (well, I guess it doesn't have any eyelashes), unleashes a small, precise flash of heat; a veritable mini-anti-tastebud device fashioned by an impish forest elf.  In response, I throw the book of the Jenever conventions at the Glen Moray 1992, and say, drily, "Gin."  But there are no juniper berries to be found (nor any other berries, either), only the ripply pineapple Life Savers™ we are using as chips.  I rake 'em in like an all-star, sniffing my fingertips and the green velvet tablecloth.
  
  
 

Rating:
--On the scale of events improbably called "sporting" that are watched by millions of people--
The Classic Cask 1992 Glen Moray is the World Series of Poker--We all dream of getting rich by our wits and inscrutability combined with Lady Luck, but we're all happy to lose our shirts to an opponent like the Glen Moray 1992 (even though I won, because even I know that the Glen Moray 1992 isn't alive).
  
  
  
 
                                                                                     --Bill
    
  


*--Our thanks to Jerry Zimmerman (and Aron Silverman and the good folks at The Classic Cask) for passing on this sample to us.  In our book, that makes him Great.  Slàinte, Jerry!
 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The High West Double Rye (200 ml disposable glass flask)

Tasting notes:
      The nose on this rye whiskey is somewhere between the smell of a mostly empty microwave popcorn bag that's been recently abused by high school dropouts trying to huff 100% organic glue through it and that of feet pulled from a pair of World War I boots after weeks in the trenches and then promptly drizzled with caramelized sugar cane.  This singular juxtaposition led us to wonder aloud:  "What makes it a 'double' rye?".  An initial answer came from the latter end of that spectrum:  "They put their feet in it?"  Now, while that answer is funny, we knew it couldn't be right (and wasn't exactly descriptive of this dram).  We should note that we never read up on such things ahead of time, mostly out of fear that doing so might undermine our status as impostors, but this flavor profile on the nose had us looking it up.  While Bill tapped away at his google machine, we moved on to the mouth and found another surprising juxtaposition of flavors present:  green or unripened rye grain on the one hand and cough syrup for cows stored in elmwood barrels on the other.  And the finish is simultaneously sweet and spicy:  a cheap lemon sucker from the bank dropped in the corner of an Indian spice market (so what if I don't have any kids?  I can still get a sucker from the bank teller...).  As it turns out, the source of these juxtapositions is the pairing of a 2 year-old whiskey sporting a mash of 95% rye with a 16 year old whiskey with 53% rye, 37% corn, and 10% feet something else.   

      But don't take all of this to mean that the flavor profiles here are overwhelming, because they are not:  the preceding represents our findings after focusing our   surgically and pharmaceutically enhanced malt senses on this dram.  Kinda like an art critic being able to pick up the sense of foreboding in the patternless drips of a Jackson Pollock or the deep rumble of the echoes of eternity represented in the fields of color in a Rothko.  What's that?  You say what art critics do is b.s. and that that stuff isn't in there?  Suit yourself.  We hope you enjoy your shallow and meaningless existence.  But to return to the whiskey, let's be clear:  if you look closely, there's a lot going on here, and not all of it will be to everyone's liking (if by "everyone", you mean "Bill").  But if you don't try to do the equivalent of hearing the distant rumbling in a Rothko, you'll find that this rye whiskey is pretty damn solid and quite drinkable:  Don Draper would chug this stuff and would love it, even if it were his 10:30am hair-of-the-dog first drink of the day.

  
  

Rating:
--On the scale of unlikely pairings/juxtapositions--
The High West Double Rye is Reed College's infamous 1980's S&M/heroin subculture--Two great tastes that, as it turns out, taste great together, but who would've ever guessed that one in advance?
  
  
 

                                                                                     --Stephen
   
   
 

*--Our thanks to Troy Karnes and the great people at High West for the sample!
 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Springbank CV (100 ml alchemist's mini)

Tasting notes: 
What does this “CV” mean?  Does it indicate 105 proof in Roman numerals?  No, it’s a standard 46% ABV.  Is it “Cape Verde”?  No, this is a Campbeltown whisky.  Is it “choking victim”?  Certainly not, though I will come back to this momentarily.  Perhaps it’s “Chikungunya virus”?  Oh, who am I kidding?  No distiller would release a spirit named for a mosquito-born virus.  It turns out that the CV stands for “curriculum vitae,” which is more pretentious than anything I could have imagined.  Well, now that the committee is convened, let us subject this candidate to an oral defense.  The front matter of the thesis is all there, along with a distinctive introduction and literature review: lemony, reedy, light smoke and oils.  Think grapefruit and pear sour patch kids darkened by Zamboni exhaust.  As I take in the body of the work, it’s really amazing.  Forget awarding the Ph.D. degree, I shall have to recommend this expression for tenure!  Peppery parmesan biscuits eaten with omega-3 fish oil capsules lining the gums.  Eel ceviche in small shot glasses left too long in the sun.  Lest you think the author of this marvelous thesis is hopeless in the classroom, the reviews on Ratemymalt.com are glowing.  What’s more, at least two students give it a chili pepper to indicate that they are hot for teacher.  (In case you’re wondering, it’s a Peter pepper pressed in parchment paper perspiring pinpricks of waxy oil with enough scovillicious bite that you’ll remember it in the morning.)  As we turn to the conclusion, appendices, and back matter, our enthusiasm deepens.  Clearly, our candidate can do anything, even reproduce the feeling of a cactus being pulled down your throat by a vengeful homunculus.

  
  


Rating:
--On the scale of improbable titles of academic works--
The Springbank CV is Better Never to have Been: the Harm of Coming into Existence--It's certainly better (though arguably less improbable) than Is the Rectum a Grave?:  And Other Essays.  But don't get me wrong:  I'm not saying that the Springbank CV shouldn't exist.  On the contrary, I hold that its degree of excellence is comparable to the degree of improbability of a book-length argument in favor of non-existence.  The splendid U. of Springbank has many wonderful drams in its faculty and this up-and-comer is right at home among them. 
  
  


                                                                             --John
  
  



--Thanks to Andrew Shand and Preiss Imports for the sample!  Slàinte! 
  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The McGibbon's Provenance 1990 Macallan (50 ml Zim the Great* potion bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The McGibbon's Provenance 1990 Macallan is a curious dram.  At first, one senses no nose, much as the retro-famous fractal-precursor mathematician Gaston Julia lost his nose in World War I and wore a leather mask for the rest of his life.  Yes, the Macallan 1990 came long after WWI, and although the image looks photoshopped, I am unaware of a digital aroma-rizing application for cropping odors.
     Breaking with good malt protocol by wedging the neck of the 50ml tamponetic vial into my nose resulted in two important things.  First, it guaranteed that neither Stephen nor John would want any more of the dram after my "nosing" was a fait accompli.  Second, it revealed a refined, buttery, milkweed wisp, like a lucky dragonfly licking Pippa Middleton's cheek.  If, that is, her cheek and that lucky little bastard of a dragonfly were coated with clarified butter and stuck in my nose.  Not making much sense, am I?
     Sliding the vial up the other nostril like a coke-mad disco-era record producer cramming a rolled Benjamin up his nose in Studio 54 felt a lot like an ENT insinuating a strange pair of pliers made out of forged pig iron into my sinuses in an intubation gone awry.  After that sort of surgery, showers of phlox and hand-washed silken undergarments on parade.  In my nose.  Sort of.  Odd.
     After wiping the bottle neck clean, and relying on the 46% abv to kill any unwanted bacteria, I finally tasted it.  Explosively incredible; an origami swan turned into a 1:200 scale reproduction of the Schwarzwald.  A kaleidoscope of grapefruits, kiwis, and guavas juggled with dried roses saved from a wedding by an utlra-limber contortionist during a 4th of July parade.  Majestic, like being clocked upside the head by Mike Tyson in his prime.
     Trumpets with mutes and saxophones with Icebreaker wool socks stuffed into the bell herald the finish, which mysteriously jilted me, and left me like Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood, or Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, or teakwood deck furniture purchased from a gasohol-powered van parked in a shady suburban neighborhood.  That is to say, unfinished except for the clanging as juice cans clatter down the gentle rise.
    
   
  


Rating:
--On the scale of wonderful things that bulge in the middle and tail off at both ends--
The McGibbon's Provenance 1990 Macallan is the Gaussian distribution bell curve--That is to say, it's fundamental to the study of...most everything, and if you're lucky, you'll be one of the 6σ-people who get to drink the dram.
  
   
  
 
 
                                                                                     --Bill
  
  
 

*--Our thanks to Jerry Zimmerman (and Aron Silverman and the good folks at The Classic Cask) for passing on this sample to us.  In our book, that makes him Great.  Slàinte, Jerry!
  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Spring 2012 Schedule


Our long-time readers know that we're HUGE fans of the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganzas, and we make a point of attending any and all of them we can.  Details of past events can be found here and here and here (among others).  This spring's schedule is below.

But for you newer readers, here's the basic 411:
The Extravaganza features rare and exceptional single malt, Scotch and unique whiskies from around the world.  There's a boss dinner buffet included, and they even kick in a pair of cigars to enjoy after the show.  The brand representatives on hand are top notch, and the attendees are among the finest of folks (we mentioned we attend often, right?).  All events are from 7:00pm-9:00pm, and registration begins at 7:00pm.  Attire is business casual, with jackets preferred on the gentlemen--and all the other males.  No denim, fleece, sweats, tear away basketball pants, cheese head hats, or any other athletic wear.  Oh, and there are special rates available for groups of 8 or more, so put that party together now!

Tickets to the Extravaganza are $135 each for Members and $150 each for Non-member guests.  If you are not a member, don't fret:  use the promotional code “TMI2012” (that's an acronym for The Malt Impostor, rather than Too Much Information) and you will receive your first two tickets at the Member price ($135 each).  Purchase tickets directly online:

https://www.amerisurf.com/singlemaltextravaganza/form_tickets.html

or by calling (800) 990-1991.  Once again, use the special Malt Impostor promotional code “TMI2012” to receive your first two tickets at the Member rate.  Cheers!



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Sons of Liberty Uprising American Whiskey (750 ml barrel-chested bottle with decorative metal strap)

Tasting notes: 
      The Uprising is the first release from the new Sons of Liberty Distillery (the only whiskey distillery in Rhode Island at present).  The Uprising, so called because "every revolution begins with an uprising," is a more or less unaged whiskey that's made from a stout beer. I say more or less unaged because this is not a white dog, even if it's technically quite close to one:  this white dog is just "kissed" with oak, or in oak barrels for a very, very short time.  The result is a nose that is cereal-y, but also bright and fruity:  there are strong notes of gin or maybe even tequila on the nose, but also pomegranate and green pear...no wait, make that green apples.  Slices of green apples.  In a panda's armpit.  You're getting that, too, right?  You're not?  Keep working on it--it's in there.
     The mouth offers a different and less complex flavor profile.  It's a bit like drinking a really smooth Long Island Iced Tea, only with hints of orange cotton candy, pine cones, and maybe an old hardwood rocking chair.  There are faint hints of smoke and sweetness, as if someone put out her cigarette in a saucer full of Goldwasser liqueur--in the back of the closet in the next room.  This dram is very smooth in the mouth, so smooth in fact that if I came across it in a blind taste test of white dogs, I'd be taking out adoption papers.  Goooooood doggie.
     The finish is peppery and lingers beautifully, especially for a whiskey that's spent so little time in wood.  It's gentle, but fiery:  it's a baby wipe used to clean up the last thimble full of habañero extract.  The finish is long and fiery, but not otherwise terribly complex or flashy.  Nonetheless, it gets the job done, and satisfyingly so:  it's the tortoise finally winning the race while the hare sleeps with everyone he can get his paws on.
     There's some good stuff here, but this whiskey feels almost like a promissory note for even better things to come.  If this whiskey is simply kissed with oak, just think what it'll be like when it makes it to second base.
 
 


Rating:
--On the scale of groundbreaking jazz albums--
The Sons of Liberty Uprising is Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come--It's no A Love Supreme, but as one critic said (and I'm paraphrasing), it throws down a gauntlet others might not pick up for a while.
   
   
 
 

                                                                                     --Stephen
  

  


*--Our thanks to Mike Reppucci and Sons of Liberty Spirits for the sample!
 

Monday, February 6, 2012

The High West 21 Year Old Rocky Mountain Rye (200 ml disposable glass flask)

Tasting notes: 
Thankfully, this whiskey is not, as its name suggests, actually the testicles of something from the Rockies, disguised so as to vaguely resemble a rye, at least until the bartender reveals the secret to you.  But this is no standard rye, either: the nose of this whiskey is at first curious, then becomes curiouser and curiouser.  Pencil erasers, a marzipan saguaro cactus, tennis balls fresh from the tube, poppy flowers pressed between sandpaper sheets.  And there is fieriness there, too.  On the mouth there’s more tennis balls, cinnamon and allspice, and caramel reduced to the point that it could safely hold tiles to the underbelly of the space shuttle.  Snow drops walked on by cowboy boots.  To be more precise, they're gila monster skin boots with ostrich uppers.  It’s like I’m sucking on a lozenge created by a crack team of Swiss scientists to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.  On the finish, there’s some mentholated eucalyptus that borders on Kid Kam's Cajun-style Eucalyptus.  Perhaps you heard of him?  The koala bear dropped off in Baton Rouge that eventually went native?  He now operates the only restaurant in the world that exclusively offers blackened eucalyptus, for his previous attempts at eucalyptus “from the barbie” excited not even
murmurs from the local newspapers and food critics.  All of this is to say that there is a va-rye-ity of flavors to enjoy here, and more flavors than we thought a rye could offer.
 
  
 

Rating:
--On the scale of awesome names for 5th Century Armenian commentators on Aristotle--
The High West 21 Year Old Rocky Mountain Rye is David the Invincible--So awesome is this name, and so fitting a tribute to this fine High West expression, we choose to ignore the worries that the author was active in 6th C., not the 5th; that he was not Armenian; and that he wasn’t named David. 
   
  
 

                                                                                     --John
  
  
 

*--Our thanks to Troy Karnes and the great people at High West for the sample!
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The 35 Year Old Rare Classic Cask Whisky (50 ml Zim the Great* potion bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The 35 Year Old Rare Classic Cask Whisky immediately invites the question: How on earth did they fit a cherry ice cream sundae served in a mahogany bowl agleam with Kiwi shoe polish into my glass? How did they get a Tupelo honey Q-tip to swab out my olfactory sensors? How did they manage to bind my face in a butter-drenched cinnamon caramel Fuji apple swaddling of bandages? I feel like a snorkeler in a warm sea of lightly spiced butterscotch. It's tempting to abandon my tube to the atmosphere, swim to the bottom, and await the opening of Davy Jones' locker.
     Instead, I drink. Thick, full, vibrant. Raspberry jam, angel wings, the essence of Scarlett Johanssen's best lips-parted smolder, port-marinated currants, Orpheus' lyre, S'mores made with Scharffen Berger 62% cacao chocolate bars and marshmallows made from maple sugar and quail egg-whites, dragon tears, and burnt hazelnut crème brûlée made with goat's milk from Pan's personal flock. My tongue swells to the roof of my mouth as if I licked Ming Tsai's steel wok at an inopportune moment.
     Pickled peaches, pear nectar, vibrating pizzicato-plucked strings on Paganini's violin: a resonant finish redolent with sunshine lighting meadow-dew dappled huckleberries and snowdrop petals.

 

Rating:
--On the scale of combinations of melted sand and ground minerals--
The 35 Year Old Rare Classic Cask Whisky is the National Cathedral West Rose Stained Glass Window--My gosh! Kaleidoscopes of color, dizzying symmetries, dazzling craftsmanship ...medieval mandala madness in a non-secular modern masterpiece: It's a higher path.
   
   
 

                                                                                     --Bill
  
  
  

*--Our thanks to Jerry Zimmerman (and Aron Silverman and the good folks at The Classic Cask) for passing on this sample to us.  In our book, that makes him Great.  Slàinte, Jerry!
 

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