Rock Creek Rye

Rock Creek Rye, named after one of the first federally managed parks, was created by DC’s very own One Eight Distillery. It is the very first grain to glass whisky, distilled, aged and bottled in the district since prohibition. Distilled in copper pot stills, aged in new oak and then bottled at 47% abv, this should prove to be a delicious, local staple.

rock-creek-in-hand

C: It’s a nice russet color, not sure if colorant is added but it looks nice.
N: Vanilla and salt water taffy are the first things that pop into my mind with the initial nosing. Sticking my nose further into the glass brings forth a raw rye characteristic. A very light half sour pickle pushes out from the glass. If you’ve ever made rye bread from scratch, you know that the dough is very sticky and elastic. That feeling carries through the nose, bringing sweet stickiness and an almost gummy nose. The licorice qualities of caraway seed and more raw rye bread dough wrap up this nosing.
P: Initial taste, the alcohol is well managed and not hot feeling or full of burn at all. The spice is initially very light, almost non-existent until the alcohol seems to awaken it on your tongue. It doesn’t taste as young as it is, which is a good thing, but it doesn’t taste like a conventional rye, which is not such a good thing. Second sip has a little more “burn” associated with it but similar spice characteristics. Light dusty cocoa, stale McCormick cinnamon (aka pencil shavings). My mouth has a sticky feeling and the need for loxs and cream cheese to accompany this rye bagel in my mouth.
F: The finish is very light, after the burn of the alcohol assuages. Actual rye bread flavors are left coating the inside of my mouth, but the spices have all but faded.

rock-creek-rye

If you’re looking for a traditional rye with warming spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and other baking spices, this is not your bottle. This is definitely a different whiskey. Almost as smooth as a vodka but artificially flavored as a rye, like rye flavored vodka. I’m not huge fan, but every whisk(e)y has it’s place. I feel like this rye is for the bartender mixing a drink for someone, trying to convince them they like rye. My go to rye out of all ryes, for now, is still Michters barrel strength rye. KAPOW!
Scotch. Out.

Black Maple Hill Bourbon

The current Black Maple Hill is produced from a company called the Stein Distillery out of Joseph, Oregon. It’s a craft whisky aged a minimum of 4 years with some older varieties mixed in. Does it live up to the standard of the Kentucky made variety of bourbon? We’re not sure, but we’re looking to source some bottles to compare. But until then, on with the review!

bmh-bourbon

C: A reddish chocolate brown color almost exactly the same as the Black Maple Hill Rye. Coincidence? Colorant?
N: There’s a very aggressive oak char on the nose, veiled in a tea house aroma, like pouring earl grey for hundreds. Dr. Pepper notes comes through as fresh ground pepper as well as generic cola syrup. There’s a medicinal note that calls to memory the often many trips to
the emergency room as a rambunctious kid. The nose isn’t pleasant, plain and simple. it’s not a bourbon that I want to continue to smell. Let’s see if the palate isn’t any better.
P: The palate is rich with oak and spice but nothing that easily calls itself out. There’s a lack of vanilla, caramel and honestly deliciousness in the palate. My mouth is full of dusty spices that aren’t soothed with a caramel sweetness that you often find in more delicious bourbons. This feels like Icy Hot, without the Icy. Peanut butter and Jelly, without the Jelly. Ice cream, without the sunday. Ok, I think you get the point.

bmh-purple-back
F: The Finish is full of spice, tongue tingling spice. Like opening your spice cabinet and pouring a few dry spices on your tongue, then rubbing your tongue on the roof of your mouth and wishing you hadn’t done so. You had a chance to back out, but you were already committed, you weren’t ready, he wasn’t readyyyyy. The oak and spice continue for a rather long time.

If you read my review about the Black Maple Hill Rye, this one also seems to be a good supporting actor. If your cocktail needs spice and oak, add this, you’ll get those notes. But make sure to add it to an equally fruity cocktail to match it’s equally oaky spice. I don’t think I have to say it, but there are a variety of other bourbons out there that need your attention.
Scotch. Out.

Glenfiddih IPA Experimental Cask

I’m pretty sure beer is gross. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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!

COLOR
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.

NOSE
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. πŸ™‚

PALATE
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.

FINISH
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…

FINAL THOUGHTS
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!