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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

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, 21 November 2012 21:49

    What am I? I drink therefore I am a….

    Written by

    I was asked a rather innocuous question in a survey following my recent attendance at World of Whiskies in Austin. I was asked to describe myself in relation to whiskey; ie was I a novice, a connoisseur, in the trade etc. That question got me thinking, what am I?

    Let’s start with what I am not. I am not a connoisseur. Aside from the unavoidable snobby and pretentious aspect of calling myself that I simply don’t have the palate or experience to make that claim. I have described my palate, on a good day, as not awful, but comparing my notes to some others I admire and aspire to, I still have a long way to go before I regularly taste kumquat notes in my whisky. To be honest I rarely find kumquat notes in a kumquat. I also refuse to call myself an “aficionado”. I would give up whisky before I imposed that title on myself. However I can also hardly call myself a novice. While I know my depth of knowledge does not begin to compare to so many others I have had the pleasure of meeting since entering the global whisky club it would be rather silly for someone who maintains a blog dedicated to the subject, has reviewed over 300 whiskies, taken family vacations around distillery visits, completed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, marries whiskies he has blended himself in a tiny oak barrel at his home and personally invested in a new distillery in London to call himself a novice. So novice doesn’t work but I doubt my 1% interest in a tiny craft distillery counts as “trade” either. Finally I am not a collector. I do not collect whisky. I drink it. My goal is that I force down my last dram on my deathbed and turn the empty glass upside on my head and make a note on the finish before expiring. Leaving anything behind will mean I lost. My will contains the explicit instruction that if I die suddenly all the bottles I have must be vatted together (in a Michael Jackson-esque fashion) and drunk at my wake. No-one can leave until it is all gone.

    By the way, if you just read the last paragraph and don’t understand the reference to an eighties pop idol this probably isn’t the blog for you and I suggest you hit the “Back” button on your browser. Do it. Now.

    So what am I? I thought of whisky fan, but I find that name too non-participatory. I think of a football fans as someone who watches a game but does not play it. A whisky fan to me feels like someone who stands around cheering me on drinking whisky. A great idea now I think of it and something I will suggest to my wife. What about whisky lover? I find that slightly odd on many levels. I don’t love whisky (I really don’t). I am fascinated by it but to put in same context as my family and friends is overstating its importance to me.   It also sounds to me if you to me you “love whisky” I suspect you also have also deep feelings for vodka and will occasionally make out with rum.   Another phrase I occasionally see is whisky geek, or the closely related whisky nerd. I do have some affinity for these titles and have, occasionally, on a distillery tour asked one too many questions about fermentation time or yeast strains, but in general the minutia is not what I am about and when it gets into the rare and hard to find bottling type “geekiness” I tune out altogether. Why get excited about a rare bottling that I will never find, probably can’t afford and possibly isn’t that good anyway or they would have made more of it, because sometimes the reason something is rare is it is rubbish.   So what am I? A whisky blogger or perhaps an enthusiast (ironically a name I am not enthusiastic about). Both of those options leave me, like the UK standard 25 ml measure in pubs, a little unsatisfied. So I will throw this open and ask what are you? Perhaps we are the same thing.

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    Random Whisky

    Highland Park St Magnus Second Edition

    A 55% ABV expression that I purchased when I visited the distillery in September 2012.  The nose is sweet, heather honey and some fruit notes.  The taste is mouth coating and rich, more honey, floral notes, chocolate, salt, caramel and even coffee.  The finish has dry sherry, a wisp of smoke, and more perfume and floral notes.  Lack of oak bite (and no age statement) suggests a younger whisky but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  With water the sherry really comes to the fore, and taste gets dry and fruity.  I drank this with my father on his 74th birthday along with dark chocolate, a really good combination.

    In Ian Buxton's second book, 101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die nominates "all of them!" for his Highland Park selection.  I am going to count this one in my conutdown.