Archive for August, 2008

Review: Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon (2nd Edition)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Parker’s Heritage Collection, 27 year old, 48%, $200
Very well balanced and mellow on the nose and palate.  Sweet notes of mature dark rum, toffee, nougat and candy corn dovetail with dried apricot, golden raisin, hot cinnamon, soft mint tea, and vanilla. Polished leather and tobacco leaves on a long, contemplative finish. This is what an ultra-mature bourbon should taste like: all the depth and complexity that comes with this much aging without all the excessive oak. The wood is there, but it never crosses the line. The next closest Heaven Hill bourbon in age is the Evan Williams 23 year old for the export market. There’s no comparison. This PHC has it easily beat. The EW 23 is way past its prime. In fact, this PHC shows less oak and lethargy on the finish than the 129.6 proof expression of last year’s inaugural 1996 vintage PHC, a whiskey less than half its age. (There were three different expressions, and I thought the other two were outstanding.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 96

(Parker Beam chose these whiskeys from the third floor of Warehouse U. Given that the whiskeys were low in the warehouse, the average summer high temperatures were 6-10 degrees cooler than the top floor, helping to slow the aging process, along with the oak influence).

Image and thoughts on the new (ri)1 rye whiskey

Monday, August 11th, 2008


Here’s the bottle shot of the rye whiskey I blogged about on Friday. As you can see, it looks like it is designed to make rye  look a little more “hip” than existing rye brands. It’s bottled at 46% ABV with no age statement.

I want to be clear that, while it IS a new offering from Beam Global Spirits and Wines, I am told that this is NOT going to be in the Jim Beam portfolio. It will be its own new entity.

I am being asked to hold off providing any additional factual information on the whisky until the product is released in October, and I will honor this.

I was, however, sent a sample of the whiskey, and I just had a taste. I like it. It’s  crisp and vibrantly spicy, but with a rich, silky, sweetness that marries very well with the rye. It is exactly what I think it was designed to be: a mature enough rye whiskey that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, but with plenty of youth and vitality to zing in a cocktail.

(Incidentally, in case you are wondering, I tried it next to a couple of the other “entry level” straight rye whiskeys to make sure this isn’t all just fancy packaging, and it is indeed a superior product. No, it’s not one of those ultra-aged rye whiskeys on the market, but it wasn’t meant to be either.)

Owners of BenRiach buying Glendronach

Monday, August 11th, 2008

They were on the short list of companies rumored to be in talks to buy the Glendronach distillery from Pernod Ricard. The Scotsman reports this morning that they are indeed the one buying the distillery, for about $30 million.

A spokesman for Pernod is quoted saying the they expect the sale to be final by September.

Jim Beam introducing new rye: (ri)1

Friday, August 8th, 2008

About a year or two ago, the “think tank” department of Jim Beam picked my brain on rye whiskey.  I hope it helped, because I found out today that they are coming out with a new rye whiskey around October. I’m told that the product will be called: (ri)1

I’m heading out the door for the weekend, but I wanted to let you know. I will have more details on Monday. Check back to my blog then. Have a great weekend everyone.

Parker’s Heritage Collection for 2008

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

I just spoke with my source from Heaven Hill and got the scoop on the new Parker’s Heritage Collection, which will be released in the fall. The information I have is official, not speculation. It’s going to be a 27 year old bourbon, bottled at 96 proof. (This is not barrel proof.)

Yes, that makes it one of the oldest bourbons on the market. (Coincidentally, Preiss Imports is about to release 25 and 28 year old bourbons under the Hirsch label.)  I was told that the intent is not to push the envelope on age, but rather that Parker Beam chose this over a short list of other ages based on the quality of the whiskey. (Apparently a group of 15 year old bourbons came in a close second.)

This will be the only bottling of Parker’s Heritage Collection for 2008. (You might recall that last year’s debut release actually was three different bottlings at three different proofs.) For the new release, the whiskey comes from a little more than 100 barrels on the third floor of Warehouse U, yielding about 6,600 bottles. This is slightly more than last year’s release. The price? About $200.

Beginning in 2009, the Parker’s Heritage Collection will consist of two different releases, one bourbon, and one which will be a different style of American whiskey (corn, wheat, rye, etc.).

I’m getting an advance sample of this whiskey to review, which I should have by early next week. I’ll let you know what I think.

Review: Mackmyra, First Edition

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Mackmyra, First Edition, 46.1%, $85
The first “big” release from this Swedish distillery. I’m very impressed. It’s youthful, but not immature. Very intriguing too. Bright notes of ripe orchard fruit and soothing vanilla cream on the nose and palate, along with more subtle bramble, silky honey and caramel, toasted coconut, marshmallow, bread dough and grist. Teasing smoke emerges occasionally, adding to this whisky’s delight. Clean, toasted oak finish. I particularly enjoy the complex interplay between the fruit and sweetness. A fun whisky with a playful personality. More please! (Note: this whisky is not yet available in the U.S.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90

Review: Eades “Double Malt” Scotch whiskies

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Eades “Double malts”
The three Eades “Double Malts” below are interesting, lively, fun-hearted whiskies, each marrying whiskies from two different distilleries and aged in two different types of casks. There’s good variety between the three. My only wish: that they tasted a bit more mature.

Eades Highland “Double Malt”, 46%, $70
A marriage of Ben Nevis (85%) and Clynelish (15%). A weighty whisky. Not as nimble as the Speyside expression below, but with flavors that linger. Rummy toffee notes, roasted nuts, earthy moss, jammy fruit, teasingly subtle black strap molasses and clove.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 83

Eades Speyside “Double Malt”, 46%, $70
An equal marriage of Longmorn and Glen Moray whiskies. Quite a fruity adventure, with zingy notes of, bramble, strawberry, rhubarb, sultana, nectarine and plum. All this fruit sits on a bed of creamy, mouth-coating, vanilla malt (the Longmorn influence is quite evident) that coats the palate long after the finish.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 82

Eades Islay “Double Malt”, 46%, $70
Consists of 60% Bowmore and 40% Caol Ila. Bold, youthful, and somewhat medicinal (as would be expected), with peat smoke, tar, pebbles on a beach, and boat docks. Additional smoked olives, exotic pepper, add intrigue, while honeyed malt notes sooths the palate and provides balance.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 82

High West Rendezvous Rye, Part II

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

I know that some of you might already know about this fabulous whiskey, so I’ll tell you a few more things that you might not know. David Perkins of High West has two more whiskeys slated for release, which he tells me should be in about two months (pending the usual govt. approvals). He sent me samples along with the Rendezvous Rye.

The first one is a 16 year old straight rye, made from an 80% rye mash bill. I have to tell you. This is one of the most intensely ryed, rye whiskeys I have ever tasted. I think it ate through the top layer of enamel on my teeth!

The second one is a 21 year old rye whiskey with a 53% rye mashbill. It was aged in once-used barrels, not virgin oak.  I like the nose on this one, but the oak’s influence big on the palate, even with the once-used barrels.

According to David, both will be bottled at 92 proof and under the “Rocky Mountain Rye Reserve” label. Of the three (the original and these two), I still like the flagship Rendezvous Rye the best.

And finally, for all of you who wonder where he’s sourcing these whiskeys, I can’t tell you. (Sorry.) I will say this, though. Many people who have theorized where these whiskeys have come from (including some well-known whiskey “experts”) have got it wrong.  I’ll leave it at that.

New Diageo Scotch whiskies

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

While in New York City this past Monday, I strolled over to the Diageo offices and got the scoop from the U.S. brand manager on the new single malt releases coming our way. Here’s what he told me.

This fall, in the U.S., we will be seeing the following new whiskies:

A brand new Oban 18 year old limited edition. This will only be available at distillery’s visitor’s center and the United States

A new expression of Talisker 30 year old.

A Port Ellen 29 year old will be replacing last year’s Port Ellen 28 year old

A new Brora 25 year old will be replacing last year’s 30 year old.

All these whiskies sound exciting. I’ll provide more information as I get it. I know that a sample of the Oban 18 is already on its way to me. It should be interesting to see how different (or similar) it is when compared to the standard Oban 14.

Why send a new Oban whisky to the U.S.? Because it’s Diageo’s biggest selling single malt in the U.S.

Review: High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey

Friday, August 1st, 2008

High West Rendezvous Rye, Batch No. 10, 46%, $45
A blend of two rye whiskies, a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye. These are very high percentages of rye, even for a straight rye whisky which only needs to contain 51% rye to meet the definition. It was very clever to marry the vibrancy of a younger whiskey with the depth of a mature whisky. Thanks to the high rye content, this whisky is very spicy, with cinnamon, crisp mint and fennel. Underlying sweet notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, macaroon, cocoa, and candied fruit provide a calming effect and enhance the whiskey’s complexity. But, in the end, the rye is the victor, emerging with a vengeance and giving the whisky a bold, warming spice finish. Great price, compared to other premium rye whiskeys.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 95