Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Bruichladdich Waves (50 ml airline bottle)

[This oldie but goodie is still out there in limited quantities if you look for it, but alas, it has been discontinued...] 

Tasting notes: 
     This 7 year-old whisky offers a subtle nose, replete with light peat and the most delicate of shrinking violets.  There's also the smell o' the sea, or maybe o' an inland saltwater pond, present alongside hints of fresh-cut hay, dried out honeycomb, and a spoonful of what at first came across as uncut coke but turned out to be brown sugar.  All of these notes are carefully and improbably restrained, like a Victorian woman corsetted sixteen ways to Sunday.  On the mouth, the peat comes through, but it's not run-of-the-mill peat: it's beautifully fermented peat (If this sounds off-putting, it's not: one must be open to the improbably lovely possibilities of fermentation.  This seems to be something that whisky fans, kombucha brewers, and sourdough purveyors eventually come to understand.).  But it seems that something has attenuated the power of the peat smoke here: imagine a jet taking off and sweeping away the fumes and spreading them very thin, leaving some acrid wisps and, improbably enough, cloved apples behind.  It's as if the Laddie team filtered out the nasty bits of Islay--were there such a thing!--with screens before bottling it.  Most interesting, though, is how different the mouth is from the nose: imagine a reserved and slightly geeky engineer who turns out to be a super flyweight champion.  The finish is slightly briny and citrusy and peaty and lovely and long but light.  Its restraint or constraint, whichever the case may be, along with its flavors, are reminiscent of the nose and quickly takes leave of the much punchier mouth, not unlike Robin Givens from Mike Tyson back in the day.

--On the scale of songs incorporating disparate images into a beautiful, melodic whole--
The Bruichladdich Waves is Lyle Lovett's "If I Had A Boat"--And if I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean/ And if I had a pony, I'd ride him on my boat/ And we could all together go out on the ocean/ I said me upon my pony on my boat...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

For you High Rollers: High-End Rare Vintage Scotch Tasting Dinners

 The folks who brought you the unbridled luxury and decadence of the Ultimate Whisky Experience Nth Show in Las Vegas were apparently not satisfied with merely dazzling and stupefying patrons with one weekend of epicurean excess per year.  Now, they've decided to take a more portable and manageable, but no less voluptuary, show on the road and to a city near you.  The sybaritic splendor of these events promises to be...well...splendiferous.

Of course, the whiskies on offer at these events--the highest end Dalmore whiskies you could ask for, alongside independent bottler Sirius' premium offerings--are the stars of the show.  And as Stephen can attest after trying expressions from each set of offerings at the 2012 Nth Show in Las Vegas, these whiskies come by their star status honestly--impressive stuff, indeed.

You can find tickets for all of the events and more here:


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Classic Cask 1981 Aultmore (50 ml Zim the Great* potion bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The nose of this dram is pure Bananas Foster, but I’ll wager that I’ll have to say a bit more to clarify what I’m trying to convey.  You see, Bananas Foster is the professional name of a Proboscis Monkey whom you could still hope to see at Fire Island drag shows until relatively recently.  Dressed in an impeccable tuxedo, he carried on as an English valet, always ready to help the performers with their zippers and pasties, to light their Virginia Slims cigarettes with his antique French lighter (a rather curious affectation, that lighter, now that I think of it), or fetch a cocktail.  He always walked carefully, never letting his tail drag on the ground, sherry or cognac glasses clinking on a tray, and with a sweeping bow would step back to the edge of the stage almost disappear into the curtain.  Everyone loved him.  He was, however, the sort of fixture you could take for granted.  How like one’s own youth in this regard!  And yet it wasn’t until his appearances became less frequent that you could reflect on his importance over the years.
     Forgive me, I’m just chattering away at old memories, aren’t I?  Well, the popularity of Downton Abbey has, as you would imagine, sent nearby television journalists to inquire after him.  Always seek the local angle, right?  Well, Bananas, I’m happy to say, is doing quite well.  Older, yes; and perhaps it is true that his eyes are clouded with both glaucoma and grief.  (I will not mention the car accident that took the life of Formica Dinette except to say that Bananas warned us—with a decorum and restraint that we simply failed to heed—of the folly of relying on a chimpanzee to act as a chauffeur that night).  But in spite of it all, there is an inner light that still radiates through those knowing, brown eyes.  And it is, ultimately, to that wisdom and above all to the gentility that I refer when I say that the nose of the Classic Cask Aultmore 1981 reminds me of Bananas Foster.  And as I drink it, I am forced to say that the comparison is not only sustained but deepened.  For it is as difficult to describe the goodness of this dram as it is to tell those who didn’t know him how fine a Proboscis Monkey dressed as an English valet Bananas—our Bananas—was.  Think of what the very best grass in all the world would taste like to a sheep.  Have you words for that?  Can your concepts denote it?  Or imagine synthetic motor oil poured through sandlewood-perfumed muslin into a freshly restored Ferrari.  Does this even begin to convey the utter fittingness of what is good?  Does it account for the fundamental pull of what is right and true, and how such power overcomes all else?  What I’m saying, then, is that the Aultmore 1981 is a Habanero-quince chutney, line-dried linen sheets folded by emphysemic soldiers, a scallop reduction that hardens to a dull waxy mass in the corner of a risotto pan.  What’s I’m saying is, simply, this: that it is Bananas Foster.

--On the scale of epitaphs in which bananas are featured--
The Classic Cask Aultmore 1981 is “Here lies the body of our Anna / Done to death by a banana / It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low / But the skin of the thing that made her go.

*--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!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Black Bottle Blended Whisky (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     The Black Bottle gives rise to a classic variation of the Cartesian mind/body schism. The body just wants to drink the damn stuff, enjoy it, and quiver like a bing cherry Jello™ mold being pawed by an inquisitive kitten's paw. (And just think what a cute YouTube video that would make!) However, the mind--restless, questing, insatiable--needs to analyze and agglutinate words. Otherwise, of course, no review. The nose is like a ninja blow administered by Angelina Jolie, method acting in a martial arts expert role. Blood trickles out your nose, dripping into your mouth: salty, coppery, and undercut with an herbal emollient. She oversteps the directorial vision, and grabs your tongue in a vise-like GI Joe™ kung fu death grip. She rubs soy sauce drenched nori on it while you helplessly flail. After leading you around like a drooling basset hound come the other courses: Peruvian pink salt pie, buttered salt bagel, salted rock fish, pure halite........salt is just the greatest effin' rock around!
     A tannin-like Brillo™ pad flenses your tongue, then brings the salt and pepper, quickly balming it with iris nectar. She pours a cask of Amontillado down a clean titanium shotgun barrel, then lights a spicy fresh Romeo y Julieta™ cigar, and blows the smoke down the barrel into your mouth (while still clutching your tongue). Giddy? Yes. Oddly sexualized? I'm afraid so. The fig-heavy fruit salad vanishes, and leaves behind............longing. The body is the body, and the mind is Angelina Jolie? I'll take a Cartesian paradox, thank you very much.

--On the scale of dolls--
The Black Bottle is the American Girls™ series--It's ubiquitous in a covert sort of way, beloved, and known only to parents of six-year old girls. The Black Bottle strikes me like that; I tried to convince a few yuppies to buy it instead of a more expensive bottle of something that tastes inferior, but Barbie and Ken were convinced that they had to get Skipper a "name" bottle. Fools.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon (750 ml mondo mini)

Tasting notes: 
     This beautiful bourbon is so named after the distillers' claims of barrel thievery.  The back of the bottle confesses, "We went deep into the rickhouses of Kentucky's most venerable bourbon distilleries and selected our favorite barrels, then brought them back to our distillery to blend into something greater than the sum of their parts."  What's unclear from the literature the company provides is whether or not there's any spirit distilled at St. George in there.  If not, perhaps it had something to do with not wanting to associate a saint with theft.  Oh, wait.  But once you get your nose on this one, you realize the answer is irrelevant because you don't care.  You realize that it would've been worth it, would've served the greater good here if they'd gone further and stolen the marmalade present on the nose from a Mediterranean monastery filled with tonsured octagenarians who've taken a vow of silence and whose only source of joy is the orange spread they produce on toast with butter each morning.  Well, that and the two hours of the Oprah Winfrey Network they pick up on the monastery's satellite system thanks to a botched cell phone hacking attempt one of the younger Murdochs attempted on the CEO of Canal+ years before the merger with News Corp.  But there are other surreptitious layers here on the nose if you wait for them:  cloved banana stored in a baseball mitt (just wanted to see if Junior would notice that I'd replaced his favorite ball with it) alongside hints of imitation maple syrup being drizzled over German tangerine pancakes (the mix for which was shoplifted from Pänküchen, the most exclusive Deutsche flapjack store on the Upper East Side).  If you give the nose a minute here, it moves deftly from velvety to pancakey to slightly industrial to smooth to super smooth.  
     Then the mouth furtively picks up where the nose leaves off:  it's like they smuggled the barrels out of Kentucky in sandpaper trucks, and then, once back at St. George, poured the liquid through a 500-grit sandpaper tube into a 1000-grit sandpaper coffee filter poised atop each bottle to fill it.  The mouth also features hints of the lubrication from a well-oiled set of lockpicks, but only after it's been flambéed in chocolate liqueur...and then in chocolate.  The finish steals away quickly, but before it does, there are notes of sweet grain--not corn, perhaps wheat or rye--and spice and the faintest whiff of bitterness, bitterness we suspect traces back to the victims of this exceptionally smooth case of B&E back in Kentucky, who now find little solace in the spirit that was left behind.

--On the scale of sneaky good stuff,
The St. George Breaking and Entering Bourbon is Stalking Cat--If you don't pay close attention, this one will end up right on top of you.  Not like that's a bad thing, though.  Not in the least.


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

blogger templates | Make Money Online