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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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  • Friday, 06 July 2012 17:51

    And now the end is near, its time to face the final curtain

    Written by

    My project to taste all “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die” began and ended in the UK, so it was nicely bookended geographically.  It started with a tasting event hosted by Ian Buxton in Aberdeen in May 2011 and ended in June 2012 at my parent’s home in Devon sharing the last bottle with my father who introduced me to scotch in the first place.  Fittingly the last whisky was also perhaps the hardest to find in the book as you can’t buy it at any whisky shop or online retailer.  I had to join the Wine Society in the UK and order a society “members only” bottling.  The year also included some rather hefty bar bills in Singapore, San Antonio (very hefty as I bought a round of Balvenie 30 year old’s without checking the price first), London and Las Vegas, as well as bars closer to home like the excellent Reserve 101 in Houston.  Some big bills for sure but that was still a much more cost efficient way to sample them all than actually buying the 101 bottles.  I also owe the @masterofmalt website with its award winning Drinks by the Dram offering a debt of thanks as well. 

    I think there are some not bad pieces of writing (from someone who was accurately described by his English teacher in a 1982 school report as having a “tendency to make basic mistakes”) but that is not to say there isn’t plenty of banal, repetitive and other poor writing for which I apologize. 

    There was certainly some good whisky… some I knew about, some I didn’t and some that better be good for the price I had to pay.  There was also some that should have been a lot better for the price they charged.  I will write about particular favorites (and the disappointments) in a later blog.  I also learned a lot about value.  I learned there is some good, even great, whisky at low prices, and that paying a lot will almost always get you a very good whisky.  The problem for me usually lies in the middle, overpriced and over hyped brands and products.  People want to charge more than the whisky is really worth and try position their perfectly good whisky as premium product, often simply by putting the average whisky in fancy packaging and charging accordingly.

    It’s a cliché but people always ask so I will answer…. no I don’t have a favorite whisky so far.  This has always been a journey and an education so even the bad ones were good in that respect and therefore I answer the cliché question with a cliché answer, my favorite whisky is always “the next one”.

    Will I try to taste everything in Ian’s latest book, “101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die”?  The answer is I don’t know.  I want to look at the list, see how many I have already reviewed, and think about it what I would gain from that.  I will need to also try and determine how much it might cost and if I have the budget and my wife has the patience to continue this.   

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    Random Whisky

    Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

    Lets start with the basics on this "thing".  Made in Canada (shame on you) and bottled in Kentucky (pretty embarrassing) at a modest (and anti-whisky) 33% ABV.  Before I get onto the "tasting notes" let me just say that my major issue is that this is branded and marketed as whisky.. so everything I am about to say is relative to this as a whisky.  I don't have any problem with this drink per say or the people who like it.  I can see the appeal, really I can.  The thing for me is the horrible term "cinnamon whisky" plastered on the bottle / ads / Facebook page etc.    This is not whisky.  It is not even close.  I find it staggering that this type of misdirection and branding was not explicity listed as an abomination unto God in Leviticus.  This is a liqueur by every reasonable, and most unreasonable, definitions as it has clearly been sweetened, flavored and diluted to 33% and yet Canada (and the US) seems to have no issue with it being branded as whisky.  People should be in jail over this.  I will stop short of demanding that they also be forced to drink it twice daily as part of their punishment, as they might like it, but the idea did cross my mind.  If you like Fireball (and I guess a great many do) that is great, keep drinking it, it means more "proper" whisky for me.  If you want to make and sell something called Fireball, good luck but don't waste any more marketing dollars on me.  But if you call it whisky.... then a pox on you and your house.   If this was a small craft product I might have pulled my punches a little, I would never want anything on this site to come across as personal attack, but as it comes from Sazerac, a huge company with a great many real whisky (and whiskey) products I love, I feel OK about typing my mind.  The nose is cinnamon and sweet.  The taste reminded me of the cinnamon hot tamale candy. Has a cough syrup sweetness and gloopy mouthfeel, probably works better with ice. It's really not even that spicy hot.... at least make it hot of you are calling it Fireball!  The finish hangs around like gum on your shoe and is only slightly less desirable.