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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Maker's Mark Private Select

This was picked by Mike Raymond of Houston's Reserve 101 as their 10th anniversary bottling. As the regular readers (both of them) know by now I love Maker's Mark, I love Houston, I love Reserve101 and I have very strong feelings for Mike.  But for some reason this one did not quite work for me, but give it a try as it might for you.   The nose is oaky with some fruity wine notes as well.  Sopem heat from the 55.65% ABV along with calssic vanilla, corn and cola notes.  The taste is hot and a little sharp at first with some black cherry, dark chocolate, jalepeno, burnt caramel and oak char.  The finish is pepper and even a little sour.  With water it gets creamier with some brown sugar and more vanilla. It definately needs a little water (or ice or time) to open it up.

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  • Friday, 02 March 2012 18:25

    Cowboy Whiskey… Gimme a Shot of Rye

    Written by
    It is Livestock Show and Rodeo time in Houston and that means it is "cowboy" time.  Seeing all the hats, boots, big belt buckles and slightly too tight jeans (which can be a good or bad or bad thing depending on the wearer) got me thinking about the link between cowboy culture and whiskey and that is of course specifically rye whiskey. 

    Many cowboy movies contain the iconic scene of cowboy walking through the saloon doors (often the music stops and the locals turn and stare at the stranger), striding up to bar with his spurs jangling and ordering a whiskey.  The timid and nervous looking barman (always in a bowtie for some reason) pulls a cork out of a bottle, pours a shot and the hero throws it back, stamps his foot, pulls a face then orders another or says " ...leave the bottle".  In many cases that same bottle is smashed over the head of Bad- Breath Pete (that's a good name for independent Islay bottling) later in the scene.   In the cowboy-comedy-cartoon version the drinker's hat flies off, steam comes out of his ears and the barman then makes a comment about it being "the good stuff".   You never see the cowboy comment to the barman about the nose and making some notes in his leather bound whiskey journal.   The overall impression you are left with is that rye whiskey is stuff to get down as quick as possible and is about getting drunk and quite often leads to a gun fight.  In the politically incorrect movies the local tribes were always keen to drink the white man's "fire water".  That name is not exactly positive either and would have the marketing guys today reaching for their six guns (or at least their iPhones).

    Then I tried Sazerac Rye and that all changed.  The standard Sazerac rye is good.  It is cotton picking, rooting tooting good.    I have also now tasted and reviewed the Sazerac 18 year old, Thomas H Handy and Pappy Van Winkle rye whiskies and find they are also as complex, rich and rewarding as any single malt.  I can't recommend them enough (other than the fact they are hard to find and not cheap) and as yet since I started drinking ryes I have not been involved in single gun fight and considering I live in Houston, Texas that is not something you can actually rule out.  So my advice is if you also have the image of rye whisky as the cowboy whiskey, you need to go to your local store or favorite online retailer and order a bottle of Sazerac.  You can thank me later pardner or to paraphrase John Wayne... "Get off your horse and drink your whiskey".

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    Random Whisky

    Old Crow Reserve

    This was one of the first whiskies I bought just because it was in Ian Buxton's 101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die.   I have in general been very impressed with "value" bourbons like this and was hopeful this would be another gem, a diamond in the rough for under $20.  It turns out it was just some $20 rough.  Not a bad thing but better deals and whiskies (certainly in the USA) can be had this price.  Jim Beam Black, Very Old Barton and W L Weller are examples.  The nose is mild, some corn syrup, vaniilla, a little woody and the acetone note I get in many bourbons.  The taste is sweet, think candy corn, and brown sugar and then the finish has a very nice rye note (I would guess a high rye content in this mashbill) and some oaky bite.   Ian suggested adding ice to calm down sweetness and bite and he, as usual, has a point.  Good one for a hot Texas summer day... you can ice it down (and not feel guilty due to price) and it has enough "oomph" to still be able to taste something.