Archive for October, 2009

New Release: Kilbeggan Distillery Spirit

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Just got this in and am heading for the airport but wanted to post this up before I left.

Spirit of Kilbeggan 3x6cl PackThe Spirit of Kilbeggan
The limited release of Spirit from the refurbished pot stills in the Old Kilbeggan Distillery

Cooley Distillery, Ireland’s only independent whiskey distillery, has released a limited bottling of the new Spirit distilled by the 19th century refurbished still in operation in the Old Kilbeggan Distillery in County Westmeath.

The Old Kilbeggan Distillery is the oldest distillery in the world and to mark its 250th anniversary, a pot still from the 19th century was refurbished and distilling recommenced on the 19th of March 2007. This is the oldest pot still in use in the world and will revive a traditional age old style of distillation not seen in Ireland for many years. Earlier this year a second pot still, handcrafted by Forsyth’s Copper Smiths of Scotland to match the original still, was commissioned. The full distillation process is now on show to the public in the Old Kilbeggan Distillery.

There is significant consumer interest in the distillery and in the nature of the new Spirit produced by the ancient pot still. To satisfy this interest and whet the appetite for the launch of mature whiskey in mid 2010, Cooley has released this limited bottling of aged Spirit distilled in Kilbeggan. Cooley has bottled 3,000 small six centilitre bottles of Spirit, each matured for one month as well as another limited bottling of 1,000 packs of three by six centilitre bottles containing Spirit aged for one month, one year and two years, which will enable consumers to sample the maturing Spirit.

Jack Teeling, Sales & Marketing Director for Cooley Distillery commented, “For over 50 years the pot stills in Kilbeggan were cold until distilling recommenced in 2007. Since then there has been keen interest and intrigue in what style of whiskey the ancient pot still will produce. This limited release of the Spirit of Kilbeggan offers consumers a chance to anticipate the outcome.”

This limited edition bottling is exclusively available through the Visitor Centre Whiskey Shop in Kilbeggan and the Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street, Dublin 2 (www.celticwhiskeyshop.com).

New Wild Turkey “Tradition” 14 yr. old

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Jimmy Russell's new Wild Turkey 14 yr. old. at WFSFI received this press release and have been waiting on an image to post up with it, but then I realized that Jimmy Russell was showing it off last Friday at WhiskyFest San Francisco. I snapped a picture of him holding the bottle with my Blackberry (which is why it is blurry). It gives you an idea how the bottle looks. Very nice packaging–wooden box and all. When I get a formal picture, I’ll post it up. And my review of this whiskey (which I have in hand) will follow shortly.

Wild Turkey® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Releases Limited Edition
Wild Turkey “Tradition” Bourbon

Only 14,000 Bottles of Master Distiller Selection Available in U.S.

LAWRENCEBURG, KY (September 30, 2009)—Wild Turkey® Bourbon, The Real Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, announces the release of Wild Turkey “Tradition,” a limited edition, 14-year-old, 101 proof bourbon. This Master Distiller Selection, only the third in this series of special selections, celebrates the history of the Wild Turkey Distillery and the traditions held dear by the people of Kentucky. Only 30,000 bottles are available worldwide and just 14,000 have been allocated to the U.S. Suggested retail price for a 750ml bottle is $100.

Wild Turkey Tradition has been aged for 14 years in new, white oak barrels with the heaviest (and most expensive) level of char. After aging in the “sweet spot” or what’s sometimes called the “center cut” of our oldest warehouses, the liquid was bottled at 101 proof in order to retain the true bourbon flavor as has always been done at the Wild Turkey Distillery.  The unique packaging combines a traditional metallic base and metal cap with cork stopper with a clean contemporary glass bottle design. It is presented in a special wooden box with an insert describing the rich story behind the product.

“When you’re blessed with a talented father and son team of distillers like Jimmy and Eddie Russell, you want to celebrate their talented touch, and that’s what we’ve done with Tradition,” said Joe Uranga, Vice President of Marketing for Wild Turkey. “With such a limited number of bottles produced, we could easily ask more than $100 for this ultra-premium bottling, but that’s not what Wild Turkey is about. We don’t want to see Tradition become a mythical bottle, but instead we want it to be enjoyed by consumers who truly appreciate a fine, hand-crafted bourbon of such impeccable quality.”

As expected Wild Turkey Bourbon Tradition is a classic. The nose includes warming notes of molasses, raisins and mellowed oak married with the fresh essence of peeled oranges, sweet corn, honeydew melon and luscious vanilla. The taste is bold and crisp, filling the mouth with hints of rye, white pepper and orange zest. This bourbon builds on the warming notes in the nose and develops flavors of toffee and vanilla. The finish is very long with toffee and caramel lingering along with subtle undertones of oak and dried tobacco.
 
Previous limited editions from master and associate distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell are Wild Turkey Bourbon Tribute (2004) and Wild Turkey Bourbon American Spirit (2007). The release of Wild Turkey Bourbon Tradition coincides with Bourbon Heritage Month.

Special weekend with Heaven Hill coming up

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Friday night I’ll be attending a party celebrating Master Distiller Parker Beam’s 50 years in the bourbon industry. (So will Jim Murray, Paul Pacult, Gary Regan, Lew Bryson, Mark Gillespie and a few other whiskey press, in addition to several bourbon Master Distillers.)

Saturday night, I’ll be attending the unveiling of the newest Evan Williams Single Barrel.  That should be fun too!

If you’re following me on Twitter (http://twitter.com), you’ll get some live tweets from me during the events. If you’re not, that’s okay. I’ll post up anything worthy here on WDJK when I return.

Review: High West Bourye, Batch #1

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Bourye_Front1-194x300High West Bourye, Batch #1, 46%, $60
This is a blend of straight bourbon and two straight rye whiskeys (thus the name, which combines parts of both). Very interesting indeed. But how does it taste? It’s clean, crisp and quite vibrant (especially on the nose). The rye note is evident throughout. It starts out more like a high rye-content bourbon, with the molasses, caramel, coconut cream, sweet corn and honey-kissed fruit marrying nicely with the dried spice (vanilla, cinnamon, brisk mint). But then on the latter half of the palate, the rye really kicks in. The whiskey gets bold, the rye becomes intense (almost piercing), with a dried spice finish.  Some whiskeys are even keeled throughout. This one is more of an adventure. Not complex enough for “classic status” (>95), but a very distinctive, enjoyable whiskey.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 9o

Celebrate Parker Beam’s 50 years in the bourbon business

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Parker BeamParker Beam, Master Distiller at Heaven Hill Distilleries, is celebrating 50 years of working in the bourbon industry.

Heaven Hill has already released a whiskey in his honor. It’s Parker’s Heritage Collection “Golden Anniversary,” and it’s a fantastic bourbon. You can check out my review here.

This Friday Heaven Hill is having a Golden Anniversary party for Parker down in Kentucky, and I’ve been invited. The man is a living legend in the bourbon industry, responsible for many great whiskeys (Evan Williams, Rittenhouse rye, Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald, etc.). On top of that, he’s a really nice guy and good friend.

Maybe you can’t be there, but you CAN wish him well. Add a comment below, and I’ll see that he gets it on Friday night. If you have ever enjoyed any of his whiskeys, please take a moment and share your thoughts.

 (I’ll need your comments by 9 AM, Friday morning, Eastern Time.)

Review: Sheep Dip “Old Hebridean”, 1990 Vintage

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This was one of the pleasant surprises of WhiskyFest San Francisco. The specifics (not included below): 19 year old Dalmore, 21 year old Fettercairn, and 25 year old Ardbeg.  I first wrote about it here back in April. The name was changed but it’s the same whisky.

SPENCERFIELD VINTAGE1LOW (2)Sheep Dip “Old Hebridean”, 1990 vintage, 40%, $70
A marriage of Dalmore, Fettercairn and Ardbeg, and their personalities certainly show. The whisky was blended and then aged for an additional 15 years—very atypical. The marriage of the three really works very well, combining a rich sweetness (honeyed malt, toffee), with spice (brine, vanilla, bitter chocolate), charcoal, espresso, tobacco, cigar ash, subtle marmalade, and firm—but not dominating—leafy peat smoke. Thick, nicely texture body too. Lingering brine and smoke on the finish. Delicious as it is, I can only imagine what it would be like bottled at 46% and not chill-filtered. (I probably would be bumping it up a few points.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

Is it acceptable to “enhance” a whisky to make it more appealing?

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Or is it improper to do something like this?

Let’s say you buy a bottle of whisky, take it home, open it up, taste it and…well…it’s not exactly what you hoped it would be. Maybe it’s too woody, too sherried, too one dimensional, etc.

Is it okay to add a whisky (or whiskies) to it to make it more to your liking? Or is it in bad taste (no pun intended) to alter the way a veteran whiskymaker intended the whisky to be?

Here’s what I think. If it’s your whisky and you paid for it, you have the right to do whatever you want to the whisky to make it more appealing to you. After all, isn’t a pleasurable drinking experience the ultimate goal? And since everyone’s preferences are different, it’s impossible for a whiskymaker to make a whisky that is perfect for everyone. One size doesn’t fit all.

Still, not everyone agrees with me. Dr. Whisky reviews the Bernheim Wheat Whiskey here, noting that he finds the whiskey “boring and inconsequential.” I suggest that, since it is a wheat whiskey, that he might consider adding a bit of rye whiskey to it the next time he drinks it to give it more personality, depth and complexity.

Hey says this might be a bit presumptuous, noting:

Who am I to judge professional whisk(e)y makers with 45 years of nosing experience, 3 generations of blending in their families, 10 year apprenticeship training, etc.?

Do you bring a paintbrush to an art gallery in case you find Renoir missed a spot? Do you add salt, Tabasco sauce, and ketchup when dining at a friend’s house?

I have the most respect for the master distillers and blenders who make whisky. But, I find it difficult equating a unique painting of Renoir to a whisky that has a bottling run in the thousands. You can experiment with one bottle and still have the rest of that bottle–and thousands more just like it. The Renoir is unique. There’s only one.

I like Dr. Whisky–and I really enjoy reading his reviews–but I must disagree with him here. (Perhaps his full time gig as a brand ambassador for a leading Scotch whisky brand is showing some bias?)

Maybe I’m the one who has it wrong here? I mix a lot of things in my life. I blend beers together. I mix cereal brands together in the morning. I mix ice cream together. I blend my teas together. I even mix my metaphors sometimes. Maybe my brain is mixed up too?

How do you feel about this?

WhiskyFest San Francisco: the day after

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Dalmore1951Decanter-LOWA great time last night at WhiskyFest. There were many whiskies: new ones, special ones, “work in progress” samples. Some of the ones I stumbled onto included:

1) A new Wild Turkey 14 year old 101 proof limited edition

2) Next year’s “work in progress” release of Springbank 18 yr. old (in sherry casks)

3) A “work in progress” Ardmore “Triple Wood”, aged in bourbon casks, quarter casks, and PX sherry casks.

Willie's Special bottle4) Six unique whiskies at our charity table (picture at bottom), including the Dalmore 1951 in the globe decanter (picture at top), including Willie Tait’s Jura special bottle of Fortunach (see left).

 

 

 

 

Glaser at WhiskyFest5) John Glaser with the new Compass Box Spice Tree (left).

6) An incredible new Sheep Dip: a 1990 vatting of a 19 year old Dalmore, 21 year old Fettercairn, and a 25 year old Ardbeg that has been maturing in bourbon barrels as a finished whisky for the past 15 years. (Picture below with brand owner Alex Nicol.)

 

 

Alex NicholBut there were many more too, that I wasn’t keeping track of. For those of you who were at the event, feel free to comment on interesting whiskies you tasted.

 

 

 

 

 

Unique whiskies at WhiskyFest SFYou never know what’s going to show up at a WhiskyFest!

WhiskyFest San Francisco is tonight: report to follow

Friday, October 16th, 2009

We’ll be hosting WhiskyFest San Francisco tonight. The show is sold-out, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ll be reporting on the event two ways:

1) live tweets during the event

2) a follow-up blog posting in a couple days here on WDJK.

I know some other WDJK readers are also coming to the event, so be sure to track me down and say “hello.”

Is one whisk(e)y category better (or worse) than the others?

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Greetings from San Francisco. One more day until WhiskyFest! We’re having fun attending all the events in the city leading up to Whiskyfest (and visiting a few of my favorite beer joints too). Lots of fun!

Someone made a comment on WDJK a while back that they thought that I give higher ratings to bourbons than to Scotch whiskies. (I disagree, BTW. And if this has been the case recently, it’s merely a coincidence.)

But this got me thinking. Is one whisk(e)y category better (or worse)  in overall quality than other categories, or do you think they’re all about the same? By “category” I mean: single malt Scotch whisky, blended Scotch whisky, bourbon, Irish whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, rye whiskey, Canadian whisky, Japanese whisky, etc.

What do you think? (You really need to have experience drinking whisk(e)y from various categories before you can comment.)