Happy Repeal Day?!

Good day whisky lovers!!!

Last night was an incredible time at the legendary Jack Rose Dining Saloon in DC where the entire bar celebrated the repeal of prohibition a short 84 years ago! The entire ordeal of prohibition (and really the current secondary whisk(e)y market) is a great demonstration of the futility of laws against free will but that philosophical conversation should be saved for another time. 😉

Jack Rose was looking as incredible as ever even with a Christmas tree obstructing the bottle view. It only looks empty because being the NERD that I am, I love being first to events like this. Getting to soak the atmosphere in from pin drop quiet to across the table yelling about the effects of wood on the spirit of whiskey absolutely cracks me up inside.

Here is the motley crew that I was seated with tonight. Two friends and a handful of friends-of-friends that were all here to drink whiskey and learn new things. Lucky for us, the wealth of knowledge in JR surprises me EVERY TIME. I mean, yes, I carry around a lot of whiskey information in my head but holy moly do some people carry even more!

(Being a scotch lover, I couldn’t help but order a scotch egg appetizer. It wasn’t as good as haggis covered goodness I had at The Classroom in Nairn, but it wasn’t bad considering haggis is banned in the states.)

My buddy Sean really wanted to try a Willett flight so he could figure out which Willett he’d like to find and buy so I suggested that he talk to the owner, Bill Thomas, who is a rabid Willett fan. So we did!

Bill, who introduced himself as “just an employee” dropped giant knowledge bombs on us about the history of Willett, single barrel picks, and even some details about the preprohibition whiskey that he had acquired for the night. It was humbling to hang with another enthusiast who is just as excited about whiskey but with ten times the knowledge!

I had this boring flight above so I could answer the questions that I get all the time on instagram about the Basil Hayden Dark Rye and the Joseph Magnus Cigar Malt Blend. The Van Winkle 12 Lot B was on sale and ironically, I’d never tried it… so I got that too!

The Basil Hayden Dark Rye actually contains a portion of port wine in it and that seems to translate into a cough syrup-y thick mess of sweetness shrouded in a touch of rye. Some of the folks who’d never had whisky in this capacity loved it. It was just too sweet for my palate. It was like a speysider on sugar steroids even with the rye spice finish. The Van Winkle 12 Lot B was a pleasant noser but is so far from the 15 and 23 mark that it was hard to take it seriously. The fact that it fetches more than four times it’s SRP on the secondary is mind boggling.

Our Whiskey Somm made some great suggestions and did a great job of helping folks pick the directions of their flights. I was impressed with all of his suggestions but one… but it’s amazing that our palates were even that closely aligned when it came to picking whiskies for the noobs in the group. The best recommendation he made was the try the Monticello PreProhibition Maryland Rye…

I surprised a few of the friends at the table when I told them to look for the smell of cream when they nosed it… I wasn’t trying to autosuggest flavors but it was so rich in cream on the nose and the palate that I was blown away. Something about a hundred year old whiskey being so vibrant was so impossible and so amazing at the same time.

The exact notes I typed into my phone read: “Notes of cream on the nose. The rye is subtle and veiled behind strong caramel. The palate is incredibly soft. Holy soft vanilla hiding behind the lightest spices. It’s still creamy. The rye spices bring up the rear in a light and inoffensive way. A second sip and that candied sugar center is ridiculous. The finish lingers for dayyyyyys.”

The raw sugar and cream blend kept making me think of how awesome coffee would be if it could have its bitterness balanced by this incredible hooch. *drool*. At $40 a pour, it’s pricey but it’s worth it to try at least once in your life!

There was ONE more bottle that got brought to the table by Bill but we’ll save my feelings on it for another blog post. Let’s just say the current version of this companies offerings and their offerings from 30 years ago are miles apart. Which is great if you were alive to enjoy the better version 30 years ago…

So Slainte! Cheers! Kanpai!

Have a great day and remember… prohibition is bad, mmmmkay.

One Minute Whiskies, Random Thoughts, and Stranger Things 2

Happy Whisky Wednesday fellow scotch lovers!!

I have to admit, I didn’t expect to write this entry today but with so many small things happening all at once, I definitely feel compelled to type up some magic for you.

***** EDIT: ScotchNSniff glasses are NOW available on SIPDARK.com!!!!! *****

Right off the bat, I need you to know that ScotchNSniff finished recording 25 new videos for the youtube channel. Nineteen of them are One Minute Whiskies and the other six are typical ScotchNSniff videos but they’ll be hosted by myself and Tim and Brian from The Whisky Library DC. Hopefully you’ll find them all entertaining as we covered a gamut of topics and even had one wild rant video. Here’s the newest of the OMW videos:

For everyone who’s been following along, remember, the OMWs are lighter reviews meant to give you a quick overview of a whisky while you’re out and about. It’s not an in depth set of notes. 🙂

In terms of random thoughts, you guys might have noticed that the end of this year has been an absolute barrage of new whiskies from a number of distilleries everywhere around the world and though I hope I can review most of them, I know it’ll be super difficult so expect everything coming to be in the Scotch Versus Scotch type format.

The last thing I wanted to throw out there in this post are a few pictures that I’m excited about related to Stranger Things 2. Yes, these pictures include a set of toys from the show. No, I have no intention of doing what ScotchTrooper does. He’s a freight train when it comes to Star Wars toys pictures but these are just my own excitement for a TV show manifest in the form of some images. Enjoy!! Happy Whisky Wednesday!!

(Okay, I’ll add some other ones in there too!)

I might start selling prints of this one:

SVS : Glenfiddich 15 Distillery Edition VS Glenfiddich 14 Peated Handfill

Do you have any idea what it’s like to fly 3400 miles across the globe to hop into a car and drive 60 more miles to the middle of Speyside only to walk into your favorite distillery and find out that all hand-filled bottles are peated that day? Talk about irony if you’re not a fan of peat. lol.

Today we’ve got the Glenfiddich 15 Distillery Edition (DE) pitted against a 14 year old bottle I handfilled in the gift shop at Glenfiddich. Being there during the week known as the “Spirit of Speyside” means super special offerings from many of the local distilleries. Unfortunately for my palate, the special offering Glenfiddich does for each SoS week is a peated one. Let’s dig into it. 🙂

The 15 DE is a harvest gold color at 51% abv as opposed to the dark brown leather of the 59% abv 14 hand filled bottle (HFB).

The 15 DE’s nose is raw sugar and freshly halved apples drizzled in a simple syrupy mess. Is this heaven?! The 14 HFB is campfire smoke with tree fruit notes hinding behind it. Maybe someone started a bonfire in an apple orchard. This type of smokey peat reminds me much of the friendlier peats like that of Wolfburn and Highland Park. There is no iodine here!

The 15 DE is a bullet train to sweet city. The apples that you might be used to in Glenfiddich offerings have been transmuted into peaches. Soft and sweet at 51% is a nice departure from typical whiskies at this proof. The finish is warm with sprinkles of spices and not much else. It’s a simple dram but dram good. It really makes me want to pair it with peach slices dusted in granulated sugar. The 14 HFB is manageable at 59% but it’s definitely higher in peat content than Highland Park. A second and third sip are letting my palate know that Glenfiddich might have gone a bit far with the peat. Their sister distillery’s 17 Year Peated offering isn’t anywhere near this potent.

*sigh* That was a long way to travel to get a bottle of something that isn’t up my alley. It means I’ll definitely need to make another trip and get a custom bottle (which go for $350+ but you can pic the colors of your box and everything!!)

So there we have it. An excuse for me to head back to Scotland and get a real bottle of Glenfiddich handfilled. 😀

Scotch VS Scotch : Macallan Classic Cut VS Macallan Cask Strength (red label)

 

    • Two. Different. Boats.

A LOT of talk was happening on Instagram once the TTB released the label for the 2017 Classic Cut limited release from Macallan. Everyone was hoping the same thing I was hoping: “Please God, let this be a replacement for the Cask Strength and let it be awesome!” Well, the day finally came and the Classic Cut was finally released.

Below are the CNPF notes and my thoughts about these two bottles side by side 😉

COLOR: The cask strength (CS) is a rich, burned and caramelized sugar. The classic cut (CC) is a shade darker than gold.

NOSE: The CS smells of rich, dark, dried fruits. Raisins. Apricot. Brown sugar. Nosed side by side, the CC is almost a powdered sugar sweet over a bit of oak, actually. Bourbon vanilla.

PALATE: The CS is strong 60.1% and viscous dark espresso adventure. It’s overpowering and obviously aged in a majority of EU sherry casks without a barrage of sherry spices. It’s interesting how that’s even happened. It’s not spicy at all. It is a bit tannic at this ABV though. The CC isn’t just lighter in color and nose, but it’s lighter on the palate too. The packaging says vanilla and ginger are the two primary flavors but being a big fan of ginger, it tastes like it’s 90% ginger and 10% vanilla at best. The AM oak casks used really shine through in the form of that ginger. With water though, the CC seems to calm its ginger forward agenda just a bit and the vanilla really shines through the finish. A pleasant surprise. The CS with a touch of water loses some of its tannic heat and picks up some more raw sugar. Oh yes. The finish is still a bit drying but definitely enjoyable.

Final thoughts:
So there you have it. It’s just a totally different boat. And honestly, it reminds me of the same Macallan dichotomy that exists between the sherry aged bottles and the fine oak series. One is very sherry forward and the other is all about the oak. So which would I recommend you seek out? Well that depends on what you’re looking for in your whisky, flavorwise. If you love either sherry or vanilla ginger there’s a bottle for you. Too bad only one of them is easy to find.. For now.

Slainte.

SVS : Glendronach 12 vs anCnoc 12

It’s been a little while since we had a Scotch versus Scotch so today we’re going pit a couple of beginner friendly twelve year olds against each other and see who comes out on top.

We’ve got the PX & Oloroso sherry cask finished Glendronach 12 that wears a burnt orange hue next to the light yellow gold of the ex-bourbon cask anCnoc 12. Judging by the color alone, this will be a battle between Quercus Alba (American white oak) and Quercus Robur (European oak). One of the only indicators we can get from color is the type of wood that may have been used to age the distillate.

The Glendronach 12 brings sherry sweetness to your nose robed in a bit of spice and orange preserve vice the anCnoc 12 which reeks of lemon citrus and grassy notes. Side by side, they’re both exquisite but the nod goes to the Glendronach for having the richer nose. The fresh cut flowers in the anCnoc are also very enjoyable though.

anCnoc 12 is easy on the palate with a medium viscosity and fresh light herbal notes over oak spices and citrus peel notes. I has a smooth spice finish that lingers lightly. The Glendronach is lighter on the tongue than the anCnoc; almost like water versus oil. It’s full of melted chocolate ganache drizzled in vanilla with a bit of spice over over-ripened soft fruits. The Glendronach’s finish is spicy but enjoyable and again, richer than the anCnoc.

[anCnoc is made at Knockdhu but to not be confused with Knockando, they changed the name to anCnoc]

These two 12 year olds are so different that I can’t say one is better than the other. It’s really much more of a “what are you in the mood for” type battle. Maybe you’ve got a favorite? Go ahead and let me know which you prefer!

A few more OMWs…

Happy Whisky Wednesday fellow Whisky lovers!

New youtube videos are coming soon! And no, I don’t mean the One Minute Whisky videos (which I’ll post more of below). I mean real, hosted, Scotch N Sniff videos! I’m teaming up with Whiskey Library DC to help host a new slew of topics that should be entertaining and educational. (We’ll even cover how to buy your own barrel!)

I know I still need to finish the Scotland posts too, for those still following that lingering tale. I’ve had so many other pictures to edit recently that it’s taken a back burner but who wants to hear excuses? lol.

I’ll post the rest of the OMW videos below and a few pretty pictures for your entertainment and hopefully they’ll hold you over for a little while I create more content that’ll slake your thirst!

Oh! One more thing! I was also recently on another youtube show with the Scotch Test Dummies! I’ll link that below too!

Slainte!

Fun times with STD (scotch test dummies)

OMW The Macallan 12 Fine Oak

OMW Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel

OMW Eagle Rare

OMW Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

One Minute Whiskies?

One Minute Whiskies is a small side project that will fall under the ScotchNSniff umbrella of fun stuff 🙂 If you haven’t subscribed to the SNS youtube channel or follow the ScotchNSniff instagram, you might want to. The goal of One Minute Whiskies will be to provide quick whisk(e)y reviews to anyone who might be out and about looking for a new bottle to pick up. They won’t be super in depth and they won’t be as detailed as typical SNS videos but they will be useful. Over time, thanks to a few choice hash tags, they’ll also be easily searchable. For now, welcome to the beginning of something new and interesting. I’ll post the first four releases below and post future blog posts along with the YT releases so you won’t miss anything if you’re only following SNS here. Cheers!

OMW: Old Pulteney 21

OMW: Glenfiddich 14 Bourbon Barrel Reserve

OMW: The Macallan Edition No 2

OMW: Highland Park Dark Origins

Balvenie 50 year? Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

A few weeks ago I got an opportunity to indulge in some of the most expensive whiskies available from The Macallan. It was a dram come true for many a whisky lover. The No 6. The M. The dream. Just when I thought I had woken up, like the movie Inception, I must have been subject to a dream within a dream. Even with the first kick of leaving the Macallan event, just a few short weeks later, I found myself drinking one of the most expensive whiskies to have ever existed.


[The Balvenie 50 Year Cask 191.]

I don’t know what you’re thinking but I know what I was thinking… did it taste like $40,000?

Some would argue that no whisky is worth that price of admission but for something distilled in 1952 only to be disturbed again in 2002, it’s hard to say that the cost per bottle wouldn’t be astronomically high considering the years of storage, care, and the angel’s share.

The color was a dark red. So dark red that it looked black any time you were looking at the edges of the dram in direct light. It was impossible to see through the bottle.

The nose had hints of fruit sweetness and actually made me believe that the pour would be on the lighter side of the palate. I was expecting something more typical of Balvenie’s signature profile but I am so glad I was wrong.

Uncharacteristic of Balvenie, the palate was an explosion of flavor. It’s typical of older whiskies that they can lose a lot of vibrancy and life from so many years in the cask but this 50 year old was alive and kicking! David Stewart, MBE., continued to try and assure me of the sweetness that I was tasting but my palate disagreed quite a bit. Yes, about 25% of what I was tasting was similar to raw sugar but the other 75% of the palate was definitely filled with spices. It wasn’t over whelming but it was definitely in your face. Amazing.

The finish was soft and unassuming, not too short and not too long.

I’m not sure what my brain was expecting beyond the honeyed and softer notes we’ve come to expect from Balvenie as of late but I definitely didn’t mind being surprised. This was bold. This was borderline brash. This was brilliant.

I’m so thankful that I had an opportunity to try it. It was certainly once in a life time and lately I’ve felt like I’ve been living enough to last a few.

Without further ado, my video interview of David Stewart, MBE. is below along with pictures from the event.

Enjoy! Slainte!


[The setup for the interview]


[@TheScotchFather and @theScotchWhisperer talking]


[Aaron of @whisky.arch interviewing DCS MBE]


[David C. Stewart, MBE.]


[A little group picture action! (thanks Jason for snapping this)]


[Tracie from Glenfiddich (@glenfiddichtf) with DCS MBE]


[Tim of @Whiskey_Library_DC speaking with Jack Rose owner @Mashbill_Thomas]


[Eric of @ScotchAndTime being ridiculous :P]


[Signature Time!]


[Tim of @Whiskey_Library_DC with DCS MBE]


[Raising a toast to @theScotchFather]


[Tracie (@GlenfiddichTF) exchanging a glance with Jen H. of Momentum who handles the marketing for WMG&S in the DC area!]


[All eyes on David]

Whisky Blogger Summit 2017 (OR How to become a whisky thief)

Whisky lovers, let me explain.

I didn’t go to a Macallan tasting assuming I’d become a whisky thief but sometimes in life, you find yourself doing something crazy.


Casa Luca in DC
(Casa Luca is owned by Fabio Trabocchi who also owns Michelin star rated Fiola)

A month ago, I received an invite from The Macallan for a special tasting at Casa Luca in DC. Without hesitation, I accepted and RSVP’ed that I would be there. I knew it was coming. Brian and Tim from The Whiskey Library DC were setting up the second annual Whisky Blogger Summit and needed everyone’s addresses well in advance to mail out the invites.


Casa Luca’s Bar

As a blogger, I figured this was the event to end all events. The event where I’d get to try the Macallan M and be done tasting expensive whiskies forever (ha!). Sure enough, the pre-dinner flight we had started with the Rare Cask and ended with the M. What I didn’t realize is my own personal adventure of owning Macallan stopped one bottle shy of the one that would change my entire palate’s perspective on whisky.

(on to the pictures)


A little private room action!


Don’t I own two of these?


@WhiskeyIsEverything and @Scotch_Trooper


@WhiskyWithAView aka @Whisky_Nate talking with @MacallanNicolas


Hors d’oeuvres (Horse day Oovers lol)


Two of the gents from @Whisky.Arch laughing it up


A little selfie action because all whisky comes in mirrored boxes, right?


Heck of a spread!


@Whiskey_Library_DC and @Scotch_In_The_City


The Macallan 1824 Master Series


A glass water dropping pipette.


Macallan Nicolas walking us all through the series, eh. (he’s Canadian)


Hello darkness my old friend… (remember when I made an old fashioned out of this?)


So much nervousness!


The pièce de résistance. The M.


But THIS spoke to my palate and my SOUL.

Let’s stop with the pictures for a minute. I didn’t even take notes for this dram, that’s how excited I was about it. Also, it’s an absolute shame that I didn’t write my thoughts down but I remember thinking dried fruits including fig with sherried spices were perfectly balanced in a way that I had never had before. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Mindbending. I had fallen in love with whisky all over again.

Honestly. When you get to the point that you’ve tried a few hundred whiskies, your brain looks for easier ways to sort them all. I’ve literally created an immediate two pile separation of whiskies in my mind: Memorable and Unmemorable. Every once in a while a memorable whisky transcends reality and grows into a beast that haunts your dreams…. in a good way.

I still have favorites all over the cost spectrum from $27 to $1800 but now… now I have this $5k bottle in my hand contemplating the meaning of whisky itself. The problem is I have no desire to spend $5k on a single bottle of No 6. Let’s be serious, you could buy a used car for that price. That used car will provide you with the ability to drive great distances and travel to meet people you wouldn’t normally. All of those life experiences you could have for just $5k.

BUT. THIS. BOTTLE.

I don’t have it. But now I very seriously want it. What was the next logical step at a tasting where no one is allowed a second pour?

THEFT.
(G-d I hope no one from Macallan is reading this lol).

I brought some extra samples bottles with me originally thinking “Oh, I’ll grab some M to sample at home and do a legitimate review” but the No 6 changed my brain in ways I can’t explain. So I did it. I grabbed the bottle when everyone was pretty distracted and I poured a solid half an ounce into a clean glencairn before transferring it to my sample bottle at my camera bag. It was finished. I have the sample at home and I’m saving it for my birthday this year. YES. It was that good to me. *drool*

Back to the pictures of the rest of the event!!


The M’s topper is frosted only on the sides. It’s clear from the top. This is looking down at the triangular bottle.


The M


@Whisky_Nate helping @Scotch_Trooper with one of his IG famous shots


For pairing with dinner


Me playing with @Scotch_Trooper’s toys lol


A motley crew including the brand reps 🙂


MMM


“This is how we take all of the bottles…”


Oh and dinner was incredible 😉

So there you have it! Another adventure (and sample bottle) in the bag!

-Sniff

The SNS Trip to Scotland Pt.2

There are so many small details from Scotland that I can’t put into words but I’m going to try my best. As powerful as olfactory senses are, we haven’t figured out a way to transmit them over the internet so you’ll have to settle for descriptive words based on my experiences that might not match the same words you’d use based on your own experiences. Thanks to pictures and your imagination though, hopefully you’ll feel like you’re at the distillery having the time of your life. But in case these aren’t enough… just go to Scotland. It’ll be amazing, I promise. 🙂

The drive to Old Pulteney involved a two and a half hour drive up the coast to a city called Wick. The coastal landscape is littered with “Whin” [link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulex%5D bushes so you get this gorgeous yellow landscape contrasting with the gorgeous blue waters of the ocean against a white cloud sky. The ocean was dappled with random sunlight that made a magical ocean surface where you were sure scotch would rise from the depths and call to you. I’m not sure we have any coastal areas like this in the states considering how quickly people flock to waterfront property. You could see sporadic houses in the middle of nowhere on this drive. Many of them with roofs that had vegetation growing on top of them. The water in the air and the ground seemed to be on heck of a catalyst for plant growth.

Hopefully you have all of that pictured in your mind because I couldn’t take pictures while driving on the left side of the road. 🙂

We arrived in Wick and headed to the Distillery to meet up with Malcolm Waring, the distillery manager. Malcolm welcomed us and dove right into what would become information overload. There are so many aspects of crafting whisky that are the same at every distillery but there are so many details that make each distillery unique.

Walking out behind the visitor center, we can enter the actual distillery.

The first thing you’ll meet in the distillery is a Porteus mill. You’ll meet malt mills like this at every distillery and many are in fact, specifically, Porteus made. The company made a name for itself by building mills so well that it put itself out of business. Very few parts in the mill ever need to be serviced and upgraded which is amazing but it makes you wonder about the amount of engineer obsolescence we live with today.

Once we’ve milled the grain to retrieve the starch, it’s time to mash it! Generally three temperatures of water are applied to the grain to convert the starch to sugar.

Now that we have our sugar, it’s time to ferment it!

Old Pulteney uses stainless steel washbacks. (Some welder out there is pretty good at walking the cup!)

Let’s try a little wort!

Tons of draff (all of the leftover parts of the grain that aren’t used) can be mixed with pot ale (we’ll get to that later) to create feed for animals or biofuel for some larger distilleries looking to go greener. Nothing is wasted!

These stills aren’t small. One will accept the wort to create low wines (wash still, first distillation) and the other will accept low wines (spirit still, second distillation) and create new make spirit!

The wash still at Old Pulteney has a flat top O.O . The shape of the copper plays a large part in the flavor and viscosity of the spirit. We also learned here that the stills are originally created with 5mm thick copper but as the boiling spirits rage inside and the copper chains clean the pot ale, eventually the copper wears down. Still can actually collapse on themselves after a few decades of use so many times they’re repaired in sections.

Some distilleries still use worm tubs to condense the vapors of the spirit and many now use dedicated condensers to cool the vapors.

Ahhhh. spirit safes. This is where the spirit is rockin around 70% ABV depending on the distillery. This is also where the distiller picks out the head, heart, and tail or foreshots, heart, and feints. Malcolm also explained how the locks worked when each distillery had a tax man on site.

Malcolm’s retirement barrel! It might be a 2007 Cask #444 with Alligator char in an exMadeira cask 😉

A little tasting that included their new whisky liquer Stroma.

#BottleYourOwn!!

On a fun side note, Malcolm is a big fan of Whistle Pig and Stranahans!

Oh the day isn’t over?? You mean we saw a second distillery on the same day?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Balblair.

John MacDonald is the distillery manager at Balblair and he’s another wealth of knowledge. He was the best part about Balblair. He’s full of stories and history and he’s lived a life that many would envy BEFORE he ever became a distillery manager. That’s the richest part of this trip and the richest part of whisky, without a doubt. The people.

John showing us how a peat cutter works! He’s got a lot of horrible memories tied to them as a kid so let’s not linger!

Wooden washback being filled at Balblair.

Traditional dunnage. Notice the exposed ground 🙂

So there you go! Two gorgeous distilleries in Scotland and that was just day two!