husband, father, lover of many whiskeys, brand ambassador for a few, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society

an average Joe on a whisky journey...all views are my own

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whisky On The Hudson Cruise 2014

Yes, that is my glass on the bottom right...
My wife loves when I go Whisky Guild events.  She loves it because usually by the end of the night I've drank enough whiskey to drunk dial her and profess my undying love.  I kid you not, she waits for that call.  I'm good with the guys from the NJ Whisky Society busting my chops for making the call, but it's all true, and she should know how lucky I am.  

So this year the when the tickets to the NYC Whiskey Guild's Manhattan cruise was announced, I got 2 tickets...1 for me and 1 for the wife.  

My thinking here is twofold.  If I drink too much whiskey, and I profess my love, I may get to make out with my hot wife on a boat and she'll probably drive home.  

So let's take you back to September 18th, 6 PM, The weather is a perfect 75 degrees, clear skies all you can ask for in a night for a cruise.  

I met the wife at Chelsea Piers and explained...There's this VIP hour, we need to hit a few things hard and fast and then we can relax, she agreed and we got on board and I was overwhelmed!!!

I grabbed 2 bottles of water and we were off!!!

I have to explain to you the view is somewhat chaotic and crazy when you first get on the boat.  You walk into the main level of the boat and the vendor's tables are in a horse shoe shape and there are a lot of people here.  So I got into a bit of a panic mode, and needed to find Whiskey ASAP!!! 

Based on the pour list, I had a few initial targets:

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Brandy-finished, Cask Strength 
Michter’s 10yr Bourbon 
Michter’s 10yr Straight Rye 
Tullibardine 25YO
Oban 18YR – Limited Edition

So I’m going to break the night into two buckets, amazing and really good.  

We worked our way around to the Catoctin Creek booth where I had to try their Cask Strength Rye.  They are a 4 year old distillery located in Virginia they had 3 great rye offerings.  All three were very strong ryes, I preferred the Cask Strength.  It was sweet and caramely and I would look for a bottle.

One of the Good Guys...Whisky Joe working Classic Malts
Next up on our journey around the Hudson, was one of the top two booths from the evening, the Oban/Talisker booth.  The booth was set up extremely well with educational tools, and that Oban 18 was absolutely arresting.  Of course the X-Factor in making this table one of the best of the night was also seeing my good buddy Joe Gratkowski.  I've known him forever and he's always been engaging and kind...he's one of the good guys.  I also got to try some Talisker Storm another great dram and I even got a special pour of the new Mortlach!  Bravo on all of your single malt options tonight.

Catskills Distilling - I recently reviewed their bourbon and Buckwheat whiskies, I got to taste their wheater and Rye...Both I will be keeping an eye out for highly recommended.

Bayway Barrel Selections - Bayway is a huge liquor store in Elizabeth, NJ.  Pat and his team have great palates and he hand chose a delicious Angel's Envy, Knob Creek and what I considered their best Woodford Reserve Double Barrel done especially for them.
Journeyman Distillery - their Buggywhip Wheat is one of my favorite wheaters, they have a great rye and bourbon and if you like a big American Whisky, their Silver Cross is really good as well. I did get to try their single malt
which they source from New Zealand, which was really unique and very tasty.  Journeyman also had my wife's two favorite drinks (and one of mine) of the night, Snaggletooth Coffee Liqueur and The OCG (old country goodness) which honestly may have been my favorite beverage all night. It was an apple cider/liqueur served ice cold that could have been served warmed over the stove just as well.

Journeyman...worth checking out!
Lost Distilleries - I'm going to do a whole write up.  The story is really unique and it needs its own post.

Really Good:

Michter's seemed like a perfect spot to start, really nice sweet Rye and Bourbon but no...
This is the first and only disappointment I had all night.  Michter's didn't bring the 10yr old's with them; they did have a new release bourbon which I nosed, sipped and thought it was rather woody for a younger bourbon, but overall very tasty.

After that, The Tullibardine 25YO did nothing for me, I think it was a case of old not necessarily equaling tasting good.

Long Island Spirits - The Rye, Bourbon and the single malt all very good all unique in their taste.

Whistling Andy - Neat story, out of Montana, using all local ingredients, I tried the bourbon and the American whiskey as well as a neat Coconut Hibiscus Rum.

The Big Peat Blends - To steal a line from Dennis Green, They are what we thought they were...Big Peat.  Definitely a peat blast for peat lovers everywhere.

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu the First, Japanese Single Malt Whisky - Really neat stuff, very tasty the only Japanese whiskey on the ship!

So that's it guys, it was a great evening, great weather, and great whisky.  

I really hope no one on top deck of the boat cared that my wife and I made out!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mosswood Threesome

This past June my wife, myself and our friend Mark took a trip to visit the beautiful city of San Francisco.  

My wife had 3 to-do lists, things to see, things to eat and things to drink.  We did some awesome stuff, we went to AT&T park and saw the Mets, who blew the game in typical Mets fashion. We did Muir woods, Haight & Ashbury, Alcatraz and actually everything on my wife's comprehensive to do list other than ride a cable car.  

As a typical male, I had only a few things on my to do list, see a Giants game, see an A's game, do what ever my wife had on her to do and find some whisky that is not available back east.  

Which lead us to the great San Fran Whiskey store search, one Google search and one recommendation later I located a store called Cask located on Market St.  
I asked very nicely if it would be ok if we stopped by quickly prior to us embarking on our day, and damn am I glad I did.  

Cask specializes in Whisky, the staff is fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable and as soon as I asked what is something that I can't get back east they brought me to Mosswood.  

So what is Mosswood?  

Mosswood is a "distillery" located on Treasure Island (which is in between San Fran and Oakland, and has nothing to do with this.

Mosswood sources whisky and then ages it in a process they call ACE'd (additional cask enhanced)

This is how they describe it on their page:
"Our whiskeys are sourced from other distilleries, brought back to our facility to be aged and blended in order to create new and unique flavor profiles. The first releases offer a six year-old Bourbon from Tennessee--though not charcoal mellowed--with a higher rye content than your typical bourbon mashbill, adding a subtle spice to the spirit. Our current releases offer a seven year-old Light Whiskey, with a mashbill high in corn, distilled at a higher proof. We are excited for the roundness in flavor the Light Whiskey lends to our barrel finishes. The Additional Cask Enhanced (ACE'd) spirits implore subtle nuances with every sip."
But, I really like the way Sku sums them up too:

"This company is planning to release MosswoodWhiskey, a whiskey distilled in Tennessee and finished in a variety of barrels, Mosswood Light Whiskey, distilled at MGP and Mosswood Irish American Whiskey, a blend of Irish Whiskey from Cooley and light whiskey from MGP. "

So what did I pick up?

Purchase #1 was the Tennessee Bourbon Apple Brandy ACE'd

Purchase #2 was the Indiana Light Whiskey Apple Brandy ACE'd

Purchase #3 was the Indian Light Whiskey Espresso ACE'd (done via the phone, great staff, great coordination, great group of guys) 

On to the review:

Tennessee Bourbon, Apple Brandy ACE'd:
(I heard from Cask this is likely George Dickel juice)
Appearance:  Light amber,  -2 lighter than your normal iced tea.  Light sediment floating

Nose:  Warmed apple pie ala mode with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream

Taste: Exactly how I hoped after I smelled, Warmed apple pie ala mode with a big ol scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Hints of caramel and brown sugar flow as well.

This is honestly a treat, it's such wonderful pairing of the beautiful Dickel Bourbon and a apple brandy cask.  The apples accentuate and mingle so well with the vanillas and sugars of the bourbon.
Bravo Mosswood, this is a A-.

Indiana Light Whisky, Espresso Barrel ACE'd

Appearance:  Very light amber, very watery, a little bit darker than a miller light.

Nose:  Lots of Alcohol Vapors, hints of leather and sweet corn, but overwhelming smell of old coffee, like the old paper filter that's been in the maker for a day.

Taste:  Iced coffee from the bottle or can, not fresh, corn sweetness, but the coffee over powers and doesn't enhance the whiskey the way the apple brandy did.  There's a very hot finish even a burn at the back too...

With water:

Here's the disappointment, nothing changes.  Still a muddled flavor,  with a not so pleasant coffee overtone

Overall:  C-, I honestly don't know what to do with this bottle.  I may have to gift it away...look out!

Indiana Light Whisky, Apple Brandy ACE'd

Appearance:  Very similar to the Espresso Mosswood, very light tan, no reddish hue that the Tennessee bourbon had.  Extremely watery on the pour as well..

Nose:  Alcohol distinguishable notes of apple or whisky...mild woodiness 

Taste:  What did these guys do????  The switch to light whisky has completely changed this once delicious dram!  Apple...gone, vanilla...gone, caramel...gone.  This is a bland tan liquid that has mild sweetness.  

Honestly I'm not adding water, it won't help.

Overall:  D... I'm speechless...Mosswood, please go back to the bourbon!!! 

Mosswood may wind up being like the old Washington Redskins running back Timmy Smith, in one game you can put up 204 yards, but it may be the only meaningful thing you do in your career...but I can hope they get back to their early glory as they certainly did not 'ACE' this test.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Barrell Bourbon Batch # 2

Sometimes in life the sequel doesn't live up to the original.  

Outdated by over a decade?  Really??

Movies like Blues Brothers 2000, or Predator 2 should remind you of some cinematic sequel disasters.  But sometimes, you get movies like Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather Part 2, where the sequel equals or exceeds the original, and that my friends, brings us to Barrell Bourbon Batch 2...

The folks over at Barrell Bourbon recently released their second batch which much like Back to the Future 2, has a lot of the same elements as the original...
Spoiler Alert:  Blues Brothers 2000 was horrible

-  Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley
-  Distilled in Tennessee
-  Bottled at 117.8 proof
-  Aged for 5 years in charred white oak barrels

Luckily enough, Barrell Bourbon's kid did not turn out to be a-holes, much like Marty McFly's.

Here we go!

Tasting Notes:

Appearance– Amber minus 1, looks like a finely brewed iced tea, pours syrupy and has very impressive legs that hug the glass.

Nose neat – Impressive and inviting overtones of Oak and Leather, hints of vanilla bean follow and linger wonderfully.

Palate neat – Toasted Oak drizzled over notes of vanilla and rye. You also can feel the heat, with a toasty rye spice on the finish.

With water:

Appearance – Same
Nose – Same woodiness and leather, vanilla, notes of baking spices come through
Palate – Powerful notes of charring and vanilla bean come out to play, more distinct notes of white pepper, and baking spices enhance the warm rye finish.
Overall, I'd grade this a solid B+. Extremely bold and engaging bourbon, beautiful rich notes of oak, leather and vanilla throughout the tasting.