Glenfiddih IPA Experimental Cask

I’m pretty sure beer is gross. 🙂

Yes, it’s [Sniff] here and though [Scotch] is a big fan of hearty beers, I personally have enjoyed less than half a dozen in my lifetime. I was born for whisky! So before I jumped into a review of the Glenfiddich IPA experimental cask, I tried one. I tried the “Goose Island IPA” and you know what? I actually liked it! [Scotch] says the bitter units in it are low for an IPA but I can’t tell the difference lol.

Lacking any bitterness at all, it’s odd that Glenfiddich would decide to age some of its distillate in IPA barrels. Well, whisky barrels that they threw the locally sourced IPA into before they poured out the IPA and filled more properly with whisky! (What happened to that IPA?) It seems Brian Kinsman’s goal was to add some citrusy-hopsy flavors to the mix of Glenfiddich’s typical tree fruit house of flavor.

On to the review!

The Color
Can we just call this beer brown tainted gold?

The Nose
A mash up of tart apple and a few twists of citrus zest, it’s a nose that any whisky lover could love.

The Palate
On the palate the whisky is light and quite spicy to start, like the sherry spice of Glenfarclas without the sherry flavors. Instead the flavors are replaced by, get this… zesty citrus and enjoyable hops! It’s almost like Glenfiddich wrote the story of this whisky AFTER the experiment was done! 🙂 On a less snarky sounding note, the apple and pear notes you may be accustomed to enjoying from the triangle shaped bottle maker are a bit more subdued to make way for this new meld of flavors. A few of the flavors are a bit doughy, also. This is definitely unique and an instantly recognizable whisky.

The Finish
Not being a regular beer drinker, I know that holding beer in your mouth for half a minute causes it to fizz up like a mouthful of bubble-bath bubbles. The finish on this IPA concoction reminds me a lot of that fizz without any actual fizz which is very interesting. Almost like the flavors of that fizz (hops, is that you?!) are very present here too. But not in a typical off-putting beer type of way.

Final Thoughts
Admittedly not being a beer drinker, this bottle of whisky got me to drink three bottles of Goose Island IPA. Now THAT is saying something. I guess I just needed a familiar format to deliver the taste of beer. So if you’re not a beer drinker and you’re looking for your “in” into beer, you may have found your bridge. And if you’re a beer drinker and you’re looking for a whisky to love, you’re welcome. 🙂

Lost Ark Distillery Visit

It takes a village to make some whiskey!

There’s a new local distillery in Maryland that’s now open to the public! Introducing Lost Ark Distillery in Montgomery county! Who’s not excited about a new source for local hooch??

Lost Ark was started by and is run by Brad and Andy. They’re two local guys who work in IT that got the crazy idea in their head to start a distillery. To get started they took a class offered by a small distillery in Idaho that walks you through the process of creating whiskey from grain to bottle. Thank goodness Brad’s mother-in-law works for a major airline and was able to get them tickets to fly out there for free! One business plan and loan later and voila, here we are.

I showed up at their release party for the Lady Anne white rum that they’ve created and had fun with their mini-tour and Q&A. They also had bottles for sale and samples of the rum on site but no cocktails as a different type of alcohol related license is required for that, they said. I asked them about their future offerings plan and they hope to have some spiced rum out before Christmas, a one year bourbon, and a two year straight bourbon.

Another interesting tidbit is their drive to source their ingredients locally. From the corn and wheat they’ve purchased from local farms to the sugar that they purchased from Domino sugar up the road, they’re trying their best to keep it craft. They’re running all of these ingredients through their single four plate column still making batches one thousand gallons at a time. Thanks to the small size of these batches, it should be interesting to see what they churn out.

All of that said, I still haven’t written up a formal review on the bottle of Lady Ann white rum that I purchased. I’m not sure if it was aged in plain oak casks or their stainless tanks but it had those “young” distillate notes along with a bit of that molasses they sourced from Domino sugar. I think it’d be fine for mixing but I imagine it’ll be better with age in a charred barrel. I guess we’ll soon see.

We’ll try to keep on top of the local distilleries and their offerings!

SVS : Highland Park Fire 15 versus Highland Park Ice 17

Fire versus Ice!

I purchased the HP Ice because my local spot called me and told me I needed to buy this “whisky in a really cool bottle”. The HP fire on the other hand, came in the mail via sample bottle from the Edrington group. Being the impartial reviewers that we are, I immediately called my local shop and asked them to order a bottle of fire for me. Sam (the owner) let me know it’d be two weeks before he got it in his hands. Awesome! Time to review these two beauties with no “bias guilt”!

UPDATE: I got my bottle of HP Fire 15 before publishing this review so no bias AND beautiful pictures for you!

Right out of the bottles, it’s easy to see that the HP fire is a tone of dark gold versus the light (and almost clear) yellow appearance of the Ice. This makes perfect sense considering the Ice was aged primarily in exBourbon casks and the fire was aged “exclusively in refill port barrels” says the insert. The paper insert also says this is a first for HP, aging their distillate exclusively in port casks that is.

Yessssss!!! My favorite noses are the ones that are so dissimilar that the differences jump at you like a wild cougar on a camping trip gone horribly wrong! The Ice is so heavy in the vanilla department when nosed next to the sweet nose of the port! If you’ve never had port (or Sherry for that matter, fortified wines unite!), go to your local store and pick up some delicious caramel oozing, toffee drenched, affordably priced port. Thank me later for introducing the two of you. 🙂

That’s what I’m talking about. The fire’s palate is no contradiction to its name. It starts a little soft sugary sweet and quickly evolves into cinnamon fire before it smooths into that familiar HP touch of peat and smokey note. It’s a challenge getting over the viscosity of the fire. I know it’s not motor oil but it’s coats the mouth like the best tasting motor oil I’ve ever ingested! With water though, the cinnamon spices break through that sweet port nose and snuff out the sugary goodness that makes the glass inviting. The palate though is the exact opposite. This is a nifty little glass! Water reverses the entire experience. From sweet nose and fire tongue to fire nose and sweet tongue. That’s very, very interesting.

The ice reads like our previous review versus the Glenfarclas minus the blast of spice that surfaces when I forget to cleanse the palate before switching glasses! Wowsers! I’ll be back after some water… There we goooooo. Much, much sweeter and enjoyable. Mixing these two glasses would be an overpowering manifestation of way too many spices trying to drown themselves in vanilla.

They’re both HP finishes. Smokey and light on peat but balanced so the peat doesn’t make you contemplate long walks off of short piers. The fire is enjoyable, for sure, and doubly so with water. The Ice is a bit more peat heavy and thanks to my anti-peat palate, it’s just as enjoyable as it was the last time I reviewed it…

I must say, the fire’s party trick is worth the bottle price alone (as long as the price is in the $200 range). Yes, it’s definitely expensive but compared to the $300 of the Ice, I think the fire is definitely more worth it. If my local spot tells me it’s $300, I’ll still be glad because of its rarity but I’m never glad shelling out more than $100 for a bottle unless it’s spectacular. This fire is pretty good though…

What do you think? Have you tried them both? Let us know your thoughts!

Requested Bottle Review: Compass Box The Peat Monster

[Sniff] : (hands dad a pour without telling him what it is)
Dad : …
Dad : It’s like biting into the bottom of a mushroom. Freshly picked.
[Sniff] : Ew.
Dad : Exactly!

It smells like shame. Sweat, bad decisions, and shame. It tastes like more of the same with just a splash of sugar, almost as if a “thank you very much” is all that needs to be said to the builders of the Great Wall of china. Something tells me that even if I poured a cup of sugar into this glass, nothing would help this medicine to go down.

The nose will instantly take you to Ardbeg-land when you crack the cork. For the peat lovers, this is what heaven smells like. To the rest of us with working palates, this is what deli meat on the verge of turning and “stanky peat” smell like.

On the palate, the first thing you taste is peat. It’s impossible to miss. Like that monster standing behind you as you read this review. The brine salt is the next wave to splash the tongue and for just a microsecond, something sweet tries to peek above the peaty waves. But it’s a hopeless act of desperation. A valiant effort wasted in vain as the tsunami of peat winds up to destroy all tastebuds in its path.

The finish is not unlike the ending of The Notebook. If you’re a peat lover, you’re probably the typical woman weeping in joy over the love she’s just witnessed. If you’re an anti-aficionado of the peat, you’re probably feeling more like a guy who hates rom-coms. You’re also crying but those are real tears of shame and sadness.

So how can I bring a positive light to this dram?

Well, honesty it doesn’t hold a candle to the few peated offerings that I do enjoy. Laphroaig Triple Wood and Ardbeg Dark Cove have less peat and are 673,284 times more enjoyable. They actually suffer from a wonderful issue called “balance”. lol. If you fancy the typical Speysider, you’ll enjoy those two offerings. Even the Lagavulin 16 lacks what destructive force this bottle contains.

Which makes sense.

They didn’t name it “The Peat Monster” for nothing.

Enjoy it at your own risk.