husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

average Joes on a whisky journey...all views are our own

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Talisker 2012 Distiller's Edition

My buddy Pete has been enjoying a bottle of this, and was kind enough to share it at our New Jersey Whiskey Society meeting a while back!
Excited as we all were to get together and enjoy whisky in the first place, the selection of this fine dram was bonus and delight.

Those that have met me in person know that I generally rave about the way Peat interacts with Sherry Casks…long ago the Lagavulin DE 1995 taught me that.  Something magical happens there.  Although, perhaps I am a sucker…I enjoy Peated whiskies immensely, I enjoy Sherried ones as well, so how could it go wrong?
Although, there is evidence in society that proves otherwise.  I remember back in 2006 Chevy thought they had a great marketing idea.   We have loyal fans of our cars, we have some cool photos of our cars…let’s put them together online and let our customers make some ads for us!  Well, while I’m sure they got some good feedback, the ones that went viral looked like the ones pictured below on the right.

Nevertheless, this does not apply to Sherry & Peat.  They are undeniably delicious, a marriage for the ages.  A match made in heaven.  Each one reigns in the other.  The peat helps keep the sherry from making everything too sticky sweet, and the sherry helps soften the peaty power.

This fine dram is no exception…already a lover of the Talisker 10, I was interested in the effects that the Amoroso sherry casks would have…

Tasting Notes:
Appearance:  Dark and rich, pretty thick in the glass

Nose:  Classic peppery peat of Talisker, overtones of the seashore, with a pleasant sweetness trying to fight through. (a couple drops of water bring out the ocean and sherry a bit more, but is not really needed)

Palate:  The tango begins.  Briny smoke like a campfire at the shore, fruity plum-like sweetness on the back end of the spectrum, pepper and slightly creamy
Finish:  Smoke and Cherries now!  Lovely and medium-long finish.

This whisky is another piece of mounting evidence of the magical harmony of Sherry and Peat.  I could drink this all night without thinking about it.  This could be another ‘multi-season’ dram, meaning it could both quench my sweet desires in the warm summer, but still supply me with some inner heat in the frigid winter.  It is pretty hard not to enjoy this one, especially if you are already a Talisker fan.  Many members of the Society went in for seconds on this one…a testament to both its complexity, and its success! 

Score:  89

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Caol Ila 12

As I sit here, the rain outside my home is pounding.
Just before opening it...
Pounding the roof, pounding the windows, just banging like a banished child that wants to be let in to their home.

It seems like whenever it rains like this, my mind turns to Islay.  That region just seems to produce whiskeys that truly take me to their environment.  It makes me crave a salty ocean, sea spray, and the rugged nature of the terroir of the land it comes from.  Tonight is one of those nights.  I want to hunker down like a cask dangling over the precipice of the ocean, quietly waiting and listening, with the waves of Islay pounding my senses.
Rather than plunge face first into a peat bog (which I sometimes crave) this evening I want something that takes me there, but doesn’t fully abuse me.  I want to go gentle into this good night.  Therefore, I reach for the Caol Ila 12.  It can quench my peat desires, but still stay light and balanced enough to entertain other areas of my tongue and palate.

Tasting Notes:
Appearance:  Light straw and Medium bodied

Nose:  Ocean, Grass, Peat, just lovely
Palate:  Oily yet sweet, the smoke blends in with everything seamlessly…shockingly fruity despite the seaweed & brine-like peat flavors that ebb and flow throughout

Finish:  Clean smoke (not too ashy), sweetness

What a great way to ease someone into the Islay region.  This has a ‘clean smoke’ in it, as opposed to some of the stronger and denser peat-smokes that come from the Ardbegs of the world.  This is one of those drams that takes me to a few different places.  Of course, it achieves what I believe should be the goal of most whiskeys, which is to take the imbiber to the distillery/region of origin via the senses.  It certainly achieves that by giving me a sample of Islay.  However, this one goes a step further and fully takes me to something specific that I get to enjoy by living in New Jersey:  a seashore campfire.  That sea spray and smoke just combine to be a lovely night on the shore…with pounding rain of course.
Score: 89

Monday, May 6, 2013

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey

“Wow.  What a nose!”

This is what delicious looks like
When I first came across this heavenly Rye Whiskey I almost missed it.  As I passed by the table, I was slightly distracted and then at the last moment I noticed this smiling pig with a top hat.  I had heard good things,but wanted to form my own opinion.
Boy, I am glad I stopped.

“Wow.  What a nose!”

I write this phrase more than once, because I said it more than once.

I want to make this into a scented candle! 

I want it as my car freshener!

One of the main men behind WhistlePig is former Makers Mark master distiller David Pickerell.  He is well respected in the whiskey world after his 14 years there, and WhistlePig is yet another feather in his cap.  I love that this whiskey is not just a Rye…it is 100% Rye.  That is pretty significant considering how tricky Rye can be to work with, and how most Rye whiskeys are actually only partially Rye to meet the 51% requirement…not 100%!
Something else I like?  The proof.  Going at 50% ABV makes me a happy whiskey guy.  I love being able to dictate the water content in my whiskey (which this needs nothing by the way).

Tasting Notes:

Appearance:  Light, Straw

Nose:  Absolutely amazing.  Trying to catch it all.  So floral, beautiful wood notes, vanilla & caramel, slight fruitiness (orange peels?)
Palate:  Cinnamon sticks in vanilla ice cream, full bodied and spicy, butterscotch

Finish:  Even creamier as this goes on, with a slight hint of chocolate and oranges.

This one is a stunner.  To this date, I must say that it is one of the best Rye Whiskeys I have had.  Worth noting that this juice is made in Canada and only bottled in Vermont.  One of the joys of having Canadian friends that enjoy whisky is that you quickly figure out that Canada makes some of the best Rye whiskeys in world.  It must be the extra years of aging and some magical Canadian yeast strains that help tame the pine cone characteristics that I tend to get in ryes.  If I were a cocktail guy, I imagine this would make a great Manhattan, but alas, I will keep it nice and neat.  Paired with nothing other than a glass.  Man, that nose is absolutely fantastic.  From a comparison perspective, the only other Rye that comes close to this nose , so far in my journey, is the High West Double Rye (also a high rye content option) but this one takes the aroma award.  Once the sweetness fades a little and the cinnamon rye spicy kick pops in, I am in some type of nutmeg heaven.  Worth seeking out.

Score:  91