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







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.  


Amazing:
 
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!

g.
 
 
 
 
 
 


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 vapors...no 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!!! 

OVERALL:
 
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.
 
-G

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. 
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Catskill Distilling Company - One & Only Buckwheat - Most Righteous Bourbon

Hey everyone, 

I'm back at it this week, taking a look at a few interesting things that have crossed my path and on to my bar cart!  
Side By Side Fun

Not so long ago, I went to a small shindig at Whisky Joe's place while his wife and daughter were out of town.
 
Knowing whisky would certainly be a part of the night, the emails swirled, the golf was organized and a bunch of us were set up for a good time!
 
Leading up to that event, I had stumbled across a bottle of something called One and Only Buckwheat.  I had heard of it, but the price was a bit steep for my liking. 
 
However, I when I spotted it in the 'bargain bin' section of the AMAZING store Little Brothers in New Jersey, I took the bait.  I have a taste for some oddball stuff at times and with the shindig approaching, I figured I'd pick it up.  I did a little research, and this juice is produced by the Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, NY, they also make one of my favorite local bourbons, Most Righteous, which we'll discuss in a few.  The mashbill for The One and Only is 80% Buckwheat and 20% small grains, it comes in at 42.5% ABV and it has a very nice rich caramel almost fall leaf red hue to the eye.  On first sniff the nose has deep caramel and vanilla tones with a grainish hint behind.  I'm ready to sip this sucker!  

Tasting Notes:
 
Big Caramel and Vanilla come through first and foremost think like one of those kraft caramels in the clear wrapper you'd get on Halloween.  Also, like a Bernheim's it also has this grassy quality that just comes through and blends well with the overall sweetness of the whisky. Honestly I really enjoyed my first glass and it's definitely worth the 15 dollar investment so far!  Let's add a few drops of water...
 

A little more Caramel and Vanilla with the water both on the nose and the palate, overall, I don't think my tasting notes will change too much

So a little surprise on a Wednesday night, Solid B+.  I'll definitely enjoy this bottle!

Part 2 of our Catskill Distilling Company tour is Most Righteous Bourbon!  

I've had this on my bar cart since March, and I'm a fan.  No big story here, found it at Bottle King one night in Glen Ridge, NJ it was on sale for $20 and I said why not!  

The color is a deep reddish amber, a tad darker than the Buckwheat.
The nose is inundated with fruits, dried apple covered in caramel 
The palate is syrupy sweet, deep molasses and vanilla with a finish reminiscent of dark chocolate followed by rye spice.

I added a few drops of water and the 70% corn comes out a bit deeper on the nose, some cinnamon appears as well, but I still get a big fall juicy apply hint.

The palate tastes a bit like corn pops cereal to me, all in all the big molasses and vanilla notes pull through again.  I'm giving this one a nice solid B+ almost an A- 

So that was my tour of the Catskills for the evening!  Very enjoyable with out all the wilderness!

Have a great one!

Gerard

Friday, July 18, 2014

E.H. Taylor Single Barrel


 

Quick intro, as Joe had alluded to, a few friends will be taking over sharing the love of whiskey here at whiskyjoe.com and I'm the sacrificial lamb!!!  

So Joe and I have been close friends for over 20 years, even spending one year as roommates, where I probably still owe him many rounds of dishwashing.  Needless to say, I share a love of whiskey the same as Joe.  My tastes are more Bourbon and Rye, rather than Scotch so much but I'll do my best to share some of my reviews of the bottles that I buy (or should say that my wife lets me buy) on this awesome blog.  

Just a little more background on me, much like Joe was, I'm a dude with a full time gig doing things that aren't whiskey related.  I've been married 4 years this October to a lovely Canadian girl who loves to help me with my tasting notes, most of the time she just says I taste/smell vanilla.  But I love her and I have to thank her for humoring me writing a blog about whiskey.  
 

One other key note going forward, I will be using a letter grading system.  After discussing it with Joe and whatnot, we both came to the conclusion that it is becoming increasingly difficult to pin down a numerical grade on these amazing whiskeys.  I hope to have a ‘Grading System’ tab updated on here in the near future to help clarify the difference between an A and a B in my eyes, but figure it will mimic what Joe has up here now, just with letters in lieu of the numbers.

So on to my first ‘official’ review!

I find myself in Phoenix, Arizona this week for work.  My company has a bunch of buildings out here in Arizona and I get lucky enough to stay at the beautiful JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge.  I've been here a few times, so I know there's a little bar where I can eat a slightly over priced burger and get a drink.  As I was walking up to the bar I spied a few bottles of Pappy (the 10 and the 12) and some of the other usual fair like Bookers, Blanton's, Basil Hayden, and a few Knob Creeks

So I ordered a big water, a burger with fries (which while overpriced, was actually really good but I won't foodie out on you) and told the bartender that I'll have a few whiskeys after I eat.  So I checked out the whiskey menu and spotted a few things I really wanted to try.  

The bar (Twenty6) had a signature Knob Creek, coming in at a whopping 120 proof and had been selected by the General Manger...but it was back ordered...bummer #1

Then I said let me get a Copper City, a local juice out of Tempe, AZ.  The bartender suggested I try it first, prior to getting a full pour which I of course agreed to!  Well, it was light, young and corny so I skipped it, bummer #2.

On the menu I saw an E.H. Taylor Single Barrel for $20 bucks for the glass.  

I knew the single barrel was a good drink so I said let me get one of those. 

Of course, they didn't have the single barrel, but they did have the barrel strength!!!  I have been looking for this bottle for a few months now and I still haven't found it...so tonight is my lucky night!

So I got a beautiful pour, the bourbon looked like a nicely brewed ice tea, brown yet golden, let's sip this sucker.  This bourbon comes out of the bottle at 67.7% alcohol or 135.4 proof....wait what?  135.4, Proof!!! I think Doc Brown used this to power the DeLorean in Back to the Future 3!!!
 

Tasting Notes (Neat):

Nose:  Egg Nog, like straight out of the carton. Which also explains the nutmeg and clove-like spices I'm getting.  But even though it's 100 degrees out side, one sniff of this bourbon brings me to a week before Christmas and my dad drinking some pale yellow nog.  
 
Taste:  Kettle corn and some charred oak.  It's a sweet bourbon, even at 135.4

Finish:  Rye spicy, not a long linger but just delish in the mouth.
 
 
Tasting Notes (I added 1 large ice cube and revisited after the juice had time to mellow):

Nose:  Still Egg Nog, no other way to describe it

Taste:  A saltiness has appeared, but still sweet, the char was more apparent on the finish.  Damn good.

So I need to tell my wife, I need to find a bottle of this...wish me luck.

I give it an solid A- 

Talk to you all soon, 

g.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shifting Gears

Hello fantastic readers!

Due to some changes going on in my life, there will be a bit of a change coming up with this website.

For starters, I will likely not be writing as much, if at all.

In lieu of that, I will likely be turning this site over to some trusted friends, so they can share their voices here as well.

Fear not though, I will still be deeply immersed in the whisky world, perhaps even more so than now.  Except it will be more offline than online.  I hope to see many of you in person!

We appreciate your patience as we shift gears here...

Cheers,

Whisky Joe

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whisky Live NY 2014 Bonus Photos


!BONUS PHOTOS!

I had some email requests for additional tax stamp and label photos from Joe Hyman’s Table at Whisky Live NY 2014.
 
Especially the shots of the ‘Little Touch’ with the top in tact…and the mystery Islay Bottle at the Brandy Library table.
 
Check out the FULL recap here.
 
Without further ado, please enjoy:



1943...WOW!
Cleopatra Stamp



1942 Seagram's

Crown Royal Detail



Old Grouse

Quite Old Johnnie Walker
Mystery Islay from Brandy Library


Friday, April 11, 2014

Whisky Live New York 2014 Recap

One of the best things about having a birthday in late March is that it falls close to Whisky Live in NY.  

I am very fortunate to have a person or two that still insists on getting me a birthday gift even at my advanced age.  This year, I basically put it out there that I was hoping to pool together whatever I may get to help fund a night in the city for Whisky Live.

As luck would have it, the stars aligned, people were kind, and come April 9th I was on the Weehawken Ferry blazing a path to some whisky glory!

Last year, when I did my write up on WhiskyFest NYC 2013, I broke it down into three parts, The People, The Surprises, The Favorites.

For this Whisky Live NYC 2014 write up, I am going to squeeze it all together.  That’s right folks, we are pulling this train into Consolidation Station, and making this a one stop shop.

The People

Again, I have to start with the people.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m here for whisky too, but without people there would be no whisky.  Besides, I’ve always been a social butterfly, so let’s flap those wings:

I love this man.


I first met Chip Tate of Balcones a couple of years ago on the Whisky on the Hudson cruise put on by the Whisky Guild.  The moment I sampled his whiskies I knew they were something special.  Furthermore, the more I spoke with him I knew that he was something special.  Sometimes whiskies embody their creators, and that is no truer than with Balcones.  Both the man and his juice are worth getting to know.

The Whisky Woman & Whisky Joe
Ironically, at that same event a couple of years ago, AllisonPatel was behind the table with Balcones and had her own plans in the works.  Fast forward to the present time, and her brand Brenne has been exploding on the scene and gathering some fantastic reviews.  Rightfully so, it is not only unique for unique’s sake, it is truly different.  Allison herself seems to work tirelessly and still manages to light up the room with ease.  She gives anyone that stops by her booth her full attention.  Her success is earned & I couldn’t be happier for her.

The most charming accent in the room award goes to Stephen Teeling of The Teeling Whiskey Company.  Having heard a bit about Teeling, I had yet to try it, so it was great to have him walk me through what he had.  Pleasantly surprised at how nicely they tasted…borderline refreshing.

Proving my theory that the most unassuming booths are the best at these events, Joe Hyman from Bonham’s was there.  This was the booth of the night for me.  Nothing more than a man, a laptop, and a wide array of historical whiskies…yet this was worth the price of admission.  He patiently answered all of my questions and had a way about him that I found magnetic.  I was blown away & didn’t want to leave!

It was great to get a chance to pick the brain of Daric Schlesselman of Van Brunt Stillhouse.  While his whiskies may not have been the oldest in the room, they had a charm all their own.  Clearly knowledgeable and passionate, it was fun to watch his face light up as poured me a little bit of Lot #1 of his Rye.

Always nice to see such whisky greats like Dave Pickerell, few folks can wear a big hat and a big smile the way he can. Speaking of some cool people in the world of whisky, one of my favorites is Heather Greene.  Currently at the Flatiron Room, I found her nestled in one of the most aesthetically appealing booths of the night.  Housed inside walls of burgundy drapes, with an upright bassist playing, she was educating folks on various pours.  Smart and cool, it was great to meet her in person.
 
When it comes to whisky Heather is as wise as an Owl

Other Noteworthy People Moments:

Sampling The General (Compass Box) with Robin Robinson was easily one for the memory banks.  Bernie Lubbers was as fantastic as the Heaven Hill items in front of him.  Chris Riesbeck of Gordon & MacPhail had some highlight reel drams, and it is always great to see him.  I had a great chat with John Foster of SmoothAmbler as well.  There was more than one bottle on that Smooth Ambler table that was worth revisiting…good juice.  There is an almost comforting feeling seeing Mark Gillespie circling the room for WhiskyCast.  If you have never listened to his show, put it on your to-do list.  The best part of the Ardbeg booth was meeting  JenniferWren, she was up to the task when I playfully asked her to tell me more about wrens. (the birds)  Victoria Cave & Gisela Dezillio had some interesting samples at the Brandy Library table as well.

Room For Improvement:

I need to start reading the nametags of people at these things!  I am flat out embarrassed that I met and had a brief chat with both Raj Sabharwal & Susanna Skiver Barton, but I never got to shower them with praise.  I’m big fans of both, but failed to realize who I was speaking with!  Sometimes drawing the parallel between Twitter/Social Media friends and reality can be tricky waters to navigate.  Shame on me.

Another spot to improve would have been spending more time with Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot.  We touched base briefly at both the beginning and end of the show, so in a way it was cool that he played the role of bookend for my night.  In fact, it was great to meet Steve Zeller of the The Smoky Beast in person.  While it was brief, I can tell by the way no one could wipe the smile off of either of our faces he has the potential to be a whisky friend.

The Favorites/Surprises:

I’m going to again pull this train into Consolidation Station.  I have the tendency to be too verbose, and I feel the need to rein it in a bit.  Let’s get to it:

Beam Cleopatra Decanter

The Entire Bonhams Table

Joe Hyman had such stunners as a 1962 Jim Beam Cleopatra decanter (1956-1962 BIB stamps), Cutty Sark circa 1970’s, a 1980’s Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice Linkwood 15YR, a very old Johnnie Walker, and more.

In addition to that, I was able to think back to the CanadianTwitter Tasting I did late last year & Davin's Fantastic Book.  I immediately thought of Davin & Johanne when I noticed a purple cap on the Crown Royal…must be old.  Plus a couple other Canadian beauties such as a Seagram’s VO from 1942, and my favorite Canadian pour of the night…1943 Corby’s Little Touch, now that is some really-really good Rye.
Purple cap = Cool!
Joe had the whole world in his hand

 









Balcones

The greatest craft distiller in America right now is Chip Tate. 
Chip's bag of tricks is actually a steel case
Period.  I am willing to have a lengthy argument with anyone that says otherwise.  (actually, it wouldn’t even be an argument, I’d simply pour any Balcones expression & smile in victory)  Down to Earth, and always willing to bring something special to the show, I hit this booth early & often.  Lots of great whiskies to pick from here, but I will focus on three finishes of
their outstanding Single Malt expression…I was honored to try their Single Malt Rumble Cask Finish, Single Malt Resurrection Cask, and the Single Malt French Oak finish.  All three just left me breathless.



Heaven Hill

Bernie Lubbers had a cool bottling of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof that was 66.6% ABV.   Whether you find that devilishly creepy or super cool, there is no denying how outstanding it was.  Bing Cherry Vanilla & an Oaky BBQ festival in the mouth.  There were a few others at the table that were yummy but that one stood out.

Brandy Library

This table was a pleasant surprise.  Most people that know me are aware that I hold the Elijah Craig 18YR in high regard, so when I saw a Private Barrel pick that they had, I was all over it. (Back label stats: Barreled 3-13-91, Barrel # 3646 )  They also had a very nice, though unnamed, Islay
expression (tasted a bit like Bowmore to me), and a nice Mackillop’s Choice Imperial 1990 19YR Old that was tasty.

Gordon & MacPhail

The Glen Scotia 21YR Sherry Cask was just beautiful.  Really left an impression on me, and had excellent balance.  They also had this year’s Caol Ila Cask Strength.  It was spotless and heathered, without losing that sticky sweet note that marries so well with the peat.

Raj’s Table

In addition to some of the Amrut selections, I was drawn to the English Whisky Company expressions which were much better than I expected.  To be frank, I wasn’t expecting much, so when the Classic Malt tickled my tastebuds, and the Chapter 11 Heavily Peated had a backbone, I was impressed.
Tasmanian Treats

On top of that, Raj (of Purple Valley Imports) had Sullivan’s Cove.  I had been jonesing to try this.  I had heard about Tasmanian whisky for a while but never got to try it.  Now I understand what the fuss is about.  Both the Double Cask and the American Oak expressions had complexities that were garnering much attention all night. 

Quick Hitters:

-2014 Michter’s 10 Year Rye was GREAT! ‘Nuff said.
-2014 Four Roses Limted Edition Single Barrel (60% ABV, 11YR, OESF Recipe), big time Corn & Nutmeg
Best smile of the night
-Glen Grant has some pretty whiskies.  The Five Decades was lovely and balanced.
-The Black Dirt Distillery in nearby Hudson Valley is underrated.  While they only poured their unique and tasty Apple Jack tonight, their Bourbon is solid & hard to come by.  I’ve toured their facility (they have a super cool & super tall still) and plan on doing a blog post soon.

Conclusion:

While there may have been some grumblings amongst the crowd about various things, I had a great time.  There were some mentions about the lack of extremely obscure or high end whiskies. But there was still plenty to enjoy if you looked hard enough. (They must have missed Joe’s table)  Some were also disappointed that the food was wrapped up fairly early and that there wasn’t a lot of swag.  Frankly, if you are there for the swag, you may be there for the wrong reason. 

Quality people & quality whisky are what drew me, and plenty of both were on display at Whisky Live 2014.



Special Notes:

-Thank you to Brandon for being my partner in crime for the night, taking the photos of me with some friends, and being patient with me while I was behind the camera & asking super whisky geek questions to anyone willing to answer


-To my wife, you said I can’t seem to do an event summary post under 1,500 words…you were right.  (what else is new)