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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

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Most Recent Whisky Review

Red River

This is a Texas bourbon finished in Pinot Noir red wine casks at the Western Son distillery in Pilot Point Texas.  If you haven't heard of Pilot Point, dont worry about it,  neither had I and I have lived and / or worked in Texas for over quarter of a century!  The nose has some red berry fruits and sweet port wine along with the usual suspects of corn and sawdust.  The taste is smooth on palate with some oak, brown sugar and cola.  The finish has white pepper, green oak and ends with drying wine notes.  It's good... but for me this 42.1% ABV expression misses the fruit from the nose in the taste and finish that would help balance out the bitter / oaky notes of the finish.

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  • Wednesday, 11 April 2012 01:40

    A Visit to Garrison Brothers Distillery

    Written by
    So Easter weekend I had my first opportunity to visit my "local" whiskey distilery.  In fact this visit had a lot of firsts for me.  It was my first bourbon distillery, my first US distillery and the first distillery where we were greeted by the founder and owner of the distillery, in this case Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers.  Pretty cool.  Located in Hye, this is Texas' first legal bourbon distillery since prohibition and is producing a very nice product.  They charge $10 for a tour but as this is one of the most interactive distillery tours I have ever been on and as they patiently waited for their whiskey to mature (resisting the temptation to sell white dog spirit or put an immature product on the market) I didn't mind paying.  My favorite aspect of this tour  was the fact we were able to try and taste at every stage of production.  We could taste the mash after the corn, wheat and malted barley had been cooked (it was bit like sweet breakfast oatmeal), then taste the distillers beer during fermentation (quite sour but with some fruit), white dog spirit off the still at 140 proof (hot and herbal) and finally (of course) the matured, Texas straight bourbon.   What are the main differences between a single malt and bourbon distillery? The first was the grain recipe.  Garrison Brothers use corn, wheat and malted barley (but no rye which is often found in bourbon recipes) while single malt distilleries of Scotland use only malted barley.  In Scotland the sugars are extracted by adding hot water to the grains, in bourbon making the process involves actually cooking the grains in water to extract the sugars.  The fermentation process in most malt distilleries produces a "beer" of around 8% ABV, Garrison Brothers beer was closer to 16% ABV.  Finally the distillation of the bourbon was done in a single still whereas single malt is always double distilled and sometimes triple distilled.   Garrison uses 500 gal of beer at 15%  ABV which is put into the steam heated stills and in turn produces about 150 gal of 140 proof (or 70% ABV) white dog spirit that is aged for at least 2 years in oak casks so that it can be called "straight" bourbon.  Garrison Brothers use a #4 char, also known as alligator char (and the "alligator" in the Ardbeg Alligator).

    They have no license to sell liquor so we couldn't actually buy a bottle at the distillery so I bought a T shirt instead, but there is a licensed store when you turn off the main road for Garrison Bros.  I believe if you are whiskey loving Texan you will love this place and being in the middle of Texas wine country (yes that really exists) there are plenty of other reasons to make the trip and visit the area as well.  If I had to complain it would be the price per bottle.  At almost $80 / bottle retail this is very expensive for a bourbon, but there are good reasons for that.  In it's defence it is not bad when compared to the price of many Scotch single malts in Texas and hopefully with some sustained success, time (and of course increased volumes) we will see the price point reduce. 

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    Random Whisky

    GlenDronach Allardice 18 year old

    The nose on this expression has orange peel, marmalade and the sherry cask influence is obvious.  The taste is smooth and creamy, with vanilla and other sweet treats like caramel and chocolate, however for me the dry spicy finish kicks in before many of those subtle flavors fully develop.  That is not to say the finish isn't good, it is really good, with an almost mouth puckering array of dry sherry and spice.  It is as if there is almost too much going on, and the finish just overpowers it all a little.  With water it gets even more spicy, dry and delicious.  Does it make sense to say I would drink this one for the finish?  When I visited the distillery in 2009 I tried the 12, 15 and 18 year old and bought the 15 year old.  I recently retasted them all for this web page and would probably choose the 15 again, but if you gave me the 18 year old I promise I wouldn't complain.