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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

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Most Recent Whisky Review

Grangestone Sherry Cask Finish

The third expression in this series is, like the other two, bottled at 40% ABV.  The nose has lots of dried fruits, prunes, raisins, digestive biscuits and a slight farmyuard, vegatal funkiness.   The taste is more dried fruit, prunes, bitter dark chocolate and citrus peel.  The mouthfeel is quite creamy, chewy and even oily.  The finish is spicy with fresh cut jalepenos and black pepper.  Not massively complex... consider if Macallan had an off day.  However Macallan's bad days are still better than many distilleries good days.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    This was my fourth Virtual Distillery Tour (VDT#4) and my first ever Japanese distillery tour of any kind. The Kyoto Distillery makes a unique, or so they claim, Japanese Dry Gin I have never seen or tried called Ki No Bi (insert you own Star Wars joke here….).

    I found the virtual technology a little confusing and clunky but in effect it allows you guide yourself through the laboratory, bottling room and distillery and will share some basic info if you click on certain points like still size and water source…. but nothing super-geeky. On the website there is also a series of videos, mostly product promotions, but a 3:15 min Youtube video that tells you a little more about the name Ki No Bi, shows distillery construction, shares some facts about the locally sourced botanicals used and even shows some production. All in all, when you take the combination of virtual tour and the video, you end up with probably the most informative VDT so far and as an added bonus there a few Distillery Bingo words like "locally sourced", "famed fushimi water" and “artisinal” thrown in the video as well.  Overall I would say it is like the Tokyo Metro system, very good but tricky to navigate.

    https://kyotodistillery.jp/en-GB/virtualdistillerytour/

    What is this:  https://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/894-distillery-tours-from-my-couch-1

    Sunday, 05 April 2020 17:50

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #50

    Location: Home, Houston, TX

    Date: April 2020

    Price: Free

    Recipe: Wild Turkey Forgiven, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Luxardo, Orange Bitters

    Garnish: Burnt lemon peel

    Served: Rocks

    Comments: Really good, very happy with my progress at  the halfway point...

    What is this about? Check out  http://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/749-the-manhattan-project-ii

    Sunday, 05 April 2020 17:32

    The Manhattan Project II - Update

    My original idea for this blog project was to try 101 Manhattans (any similarity to 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die is purely coincidental) from the various hotels, bars and restaurants around the world that my work took me too. The basic idea was that #101 would be the Manhattan finest I could make after all that research. Confined to home in April 2020 I thought I would make Experiment #50 my “best so far” and I have to say it was very good. The recipe I used was as follows:

    As I can’t seem to decide if I prefer Rye or Bourbon I went with Wild Turley Forgiven (which is a Bourbon / Rye blend), 1.5 oz and has enough alcohol at 45% ABV to push through the sweetness. Next were a couple of classic of ingredients, 1 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth and a good dash of Angostura bitters. The now not-so-secret ingredient, courtesy of Mike Raymond at Reserve 101, is Luxardo Cherry liqueur (1 oz) which adds the classic cherry note and that lets me experiment with the garnish. I went with bitter note from a strip of lemon peel (that I scorched with cigar lighter to release the oils – a trick I saw at the Oak Room in Buenos Aires) to bring balance to the sweet liqueur. Shaken together and served on the rocks it was pretty good even if I say so myself.

    Manhattan 101 is going to be even better…

    What is this about? Check out  http://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/749-the-manhattan-project-ii

    Friday, 03 April 2020 21:54

    Kew Orangery

    Not to be confused with Compass Box Orangerie, a product I remember having very mixed feelings about. I have never been able to get fully onboard the Compass Box bandwagon for reasons that elude me, but I think that products like Orangerie contributed too. In my review at the time (https://www.somanywhiskies.com/reviews/item/381-compass-box-orangerie) I called it a “franken-whisky” and said “this feels to me like a whisky drink aimed at people who don't like whisky” which is genre I am personally not a fan of… (hello Skrewball and Fireball). However I digress and this is in fact an organic Triple Sec produced by The London Distillery Company under their Kew brand license and bottled at 29.9% abv.  

    The nose is pure orange oil, juicy and sweet. The mouth feel is creamy and thick while the taste is little washed out and faded; what is there is sweet, satsuma more than orange and some oily and bitter pith notes as well. Not much to say really but no-one is really drinking this stuff, it is being used in cocktails.

    Friday, 03 April 2020 18:06

    Four Roses (Virtual Tour), Kentucky, USA

    This was my third Virtual Distillery Tour (VDT#3) and the first where I have also been to the distillery, and my notes from that show I really enjoyed that trip. https://www.somanywhiskies.com/distilleries/item/329-four-roses-kentucky-usa. An interesting twist is that they do not store or bottle Four Roses at the distillery, this is done at a facility in Cox’s Creek Kentucky, but as this was a virtual tour I was able to see some pictures of the unusual (for Kentucky) single storey warehouses and short video 20 second video clip of the bottling line.

    At the end of the day this is not a very interesting “virtual tour”. It is in reality a website blog entry with some pictures, text and “fun facts” and you simply scrolled through like any website or blog entry, obviously put together quickly while the site was closed for visitors during the COVID crisis (and that’s OK). The fun facts were consistent with the key messages on the physical tour, emphasizing the focus Four Roses has on different yeast and mash bills and their high Rye content recipes and some geeky insights into the distillation process that were missing from the previous two virtual tours.

    You should continue to drink their excellent products and if you get a chance visit in person, but from a “technology” perspective this VDT was not up to standard of Hacienda Patron or Sipsmith.

    https://fourrosesbourbon.com/blog/virtual-tour/

    What is this:  https://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/894-distillery-tours-from-my-couch-1

    Friday, 03 April 2020 13:15

    Patron Silver

    I don’t usually do tequila tasting notes but as I just did the Hacienda Patron virtual tour (https://www.somanywhiskies.com/distilleries/item/897-hacienda-patron-jalisco-mexico) I felt I needed to do a Patron tasting as well.   As shown in the virtual tour each bottle is hand labelled with a unique number and the 100% agave tequila is bottled at 40% abv. The colour is clear with some green tinge. The nose is very fresh with a fruity note that I assume is Agave and some lime. The taste is very smooth, sweet at first and then some citrus oil notes like lemon peel start to push through. The finish has an alcohol spirit note and as it dries out on the tongue it leaves some peppery spice notes on the palate. As this expression is not aged in a cask (as some Tequilas are) it is not very complex but it is very smooth, fresh and clean tasting. I liked it a lot.

    For my second “virtual distillery tour” (or VDT#2) I decided to check out Sipsmith because I was, until recently, a Director and shareholder in The London Distillery Company that was also producing Gin so Sipsmwith were the "competition". That is a story for another day and another blog. I really like the 3:31 minute video posted on Youtube and the technology that allowed you to scroll around while the video was running. Very cool and I liked it even more than Hacienda Patron (VDT#1). The content also has a little more for the geeks with an introduction to stills and capacities etc although light on the actual gin process other than a mention of ten botanicals. You also get to meet the Master Distiller Jared which is always nice on Distillery Tour. Unfortunately I don’t have any Sipsmith product to taste, but I do have a cupboard full of TLDC products (the one true benefit of my recent dalliance in Distillery ownership) so I will drink one of those instead. Cheers!

    Check out Sipsmith yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aszDOcG_gDI

    What is this:  https://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/894-distillery-tours-from-my-couch-1

     

     

    As this is my first “virtual distillery tour” (or VDT) I decided to check out Hacienda Patron as I actually had some in the house so I could raise a glass at the end for my official “tasting” as well. The price is right at “free” and it seems that this was a good choice for VDT#1. The link below takes you to a virtual 2.41 minute immersive tour that starts in Agave fields and ends in the Hacienda bar. The video is short, 2:41 minutes, shot with a drone and is based on a “bees eye” view (the bee being the symbol of Patron) as it flies through the hacienda. It is very smooth (like Patron) and allows you to view in full 360 and pause and look around. The tour technology and platform is very impressive and a high bar for the other virtual tours I will be taking. There is also a short video you can watch on the making of the tour so a behind the scene look at the behind the scenes. Very meta (although I am not 100% sure what meta means but I think it is the correct usage and I have been dying to use it on the blog).

    While it was very slick it was not very insightful or technical regarding the actual making of Tequila, the process or types of tequila produced, aging times or other geeky stuff that I like to write down in my notebook and never look at again on my physical tours. I did notice the very small pot stills (compared to typical Scotch whisky stills) but this is definitely not one for “anorak and notebook brigade”. There were some aspects of the physical tours still present, namely the distillery Bingo words that came up in just 2:41 included “handcrafted” and “labor of love”. I will post my Patron tasting notes as well and you can take the tour yourself at: https://www.patrontequila.com/en-gb/our-story/oculus.html

    Es Bueno. Gracias.

    What is this:  https://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/894-distillery-tours-from-my-couch-1

    Wednesday, 01 April 2020 16:25

    Russell's Reserve 10 year old

    My notes for the nose were “sugar coated sawdust and rose petals” which sums it up very well. The taste at first was very smooth with a delicious burst of sweet caramel popcorn but then started to turn into diet cola and with time oak, showing the signs of 10 years in cask. The finish had some nice rye notes of peppermint but again the age started show with tannins and spices pushing through. Some water revealed some more milk chocolate and chilli notes but some of the sweetness I liked was lost.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2020 15:48

    Devils River Barrel Strength

    The nose reflects the 58.5% ABV; at first the immediate sharp prick of alcohol and then with a little time (and caution) in second place there are a few traditional bourbon notes. The mouth feel is sharp and spiky as well, with sweet notes, then orange peel, vanilla toffee and some tobacco. The finish is spicy with chilli and burnt sugar. Water helps smooth feel but also brings some the bitter oaky notes as well as bringing out more spices like cinnamon and pepper. Not a bourbon for beginners.  As is often the case with barrel and cask strength whiskies, it is too much, it is like bringng a gun to a knife fight.

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    Random Whisky

    The Macallan 12 year old Sherry Oak

    This is the standard MacallanSherry Oak expression outside of UK.... where it is the 10 year old.   I found the nose had dark fruits, orange, and some sherry and hint of rubber.  Overall the nose was quite muted.  The taste was very soft and smooth, creamy with water, with chocolate and dry and slightly stringent finish as the sherry took hold and balanced some subtle oak wood notes.  Complex and rich... a great product.