- Tullibardine 25 Oloroso Sherry Butt Finish
- Glenfarclas 25 years
- Talisker 18 years
- Aberfeldy 21
- Notch Whisky 12 years American Single Malt
- Deanston 18 Bourbon Finish
- Makers Select – limited Whisky Magazine special selection
- Evan Williams Single Barrel – limited Whisky Magazine private barrel selection
- Four Roses Single Barrel – limited Whisky Magazine special bottling
- Michter’s –premium selection
- Breckenridge Dark Arts Malt Whiskey
- Johnnie Walker Blue
- Woodford Reserve – limited Whisky Magazine special bottling
- Bushmills 21
Imagine, if you will, a liquor company that is able to source a single barrel of whisky at a time. In an age where liquor companies are trying to produce more and more of their product to slake the thirsts of thousands of thirsty drinkers- there is one company that is decidedly set on satisfying only a couple of hundred- it that!
Enter the Blackadder. You many remember the BBC Television show by the same name. If you do, you’re half way there. The Blackadder was a dark comedy on British television and in many ways the philosophy of this television show is evident in every sip of the Blackadder!
There is stuff in every bottle of Blackadder. This stuff is from the inside of the casks! Blackadder is not filtered or blended. It is bottled at Cask Strength.
The Blackadder is a one of the most unique single malt Scotch whiskies that I’ve ever tasted. My friend Raj facilitated this tasting by sending me four hand numbered bottles.
- Lochranza Distillery- 2011- Raw Cask- label reads that it contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as all the natural oils and fats. Mmmm, that’s what I like to hear. The Lochranza is bottled at 104.8 proof. At the bottom of the informative label it reads Sherry Puncheon. I suppose this means that the Scotch was aced (finished) in used sherry casks. Bottle 82 of 548, Bottled 14th of October 1996
- Mannochmore Distillery-1999-Raw Cask- label reads that is also contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as the natural Oils and Fats. Label reads Speyside malt whisky- one of only 304 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a single oak cask no.5400 bottled by Blackadder in November 2011. 121.2 Proof 12 years old
- Blair Athol Distillery- 1999- 1st September 1999. Reads: This Highland malt whisky is one of only 462 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a SINGLE REFILL SHERRY BUTT, marked bottle 66 out of 462. 114.6 proof 12 years old
- Blackadder Smoking Islay- The Spirit of Legend-11 year old Islay Malt Scotch Whisky Raw Cask- 118.8 proof- Distilled 12th April 2000, bottled August 2011.
All the whiskies read that they are bottled from carefully selected casks. They do not chill filter or otherwise filter their whiskies through small filter pads to remove sediment. No two casks of Whisky are ever exactly alike because of the type of oak used and the conditions under which it is stored.
Like fine wines, these naturally bottled whiskies may throw a little sediment. Now we’re talking!
I love wines with stuff in them. Why not whisky? Why not!?
Tasting Notes: I did all the tastings in front of a blazing wood fire after eating a rib steak sandwich with Swiss cheese and grainy French mustard on Pechter’s Rye bread. I used a tiny bit of spring water to open up the Whiskies. No ice. A Maine tumbled granite sea-stone (frozen overnight) provided a bit of chill- to cellar temp. Truth is this tasting is highly un-scientific. You will never read scores from me. I find them incongruous.
- Lochranza Distillery- I’ve woken up in a honey bee nest. My skin is covered in honey and the bees are giving me little tiny nips with their stingers. Not enough to hurt, just enough to know they are there. Pure smoke lingers on the periphery. It’s the beekeeper- smoking out the bees. It tastes of peat and smoke-honey and dark stone fruits. Luscious stuff- the finish just goes on and on.
- Smoking Islay- the fire in the fireplace is giving off that tell-tale smoky scent of wet wood. There is the scent of wet-dog and wet clothing and wet leather. Spanish leather at that. What does Spanish leather taste like? Come off your horse in the pouring rain, the last thing you remember before you bury your face in the mud is licking your saddle on the way down. That’s what Spanish leather tastes like. Candy sugar on the tongue and deep inside my throat gives way to sweet honey and freshly cut grasses. There is some citrus in there too. Almost a wine like nose- if the wine was a very well aged Muscadet that is. I love this stuff.
- Blair Athol Distillery- There is wind blowing through my hair- tinged salt water and more wildflower honey, a farmhouse comes into view and there is a fire in the chimney- yet the residents are not aware of the pending disaster. Approaching the house I realize there is no fire in the chimney, it is coming from a peat fire in the backyard. But no matter- there is fire and salt and smoke. Honey gummy bears on the tongue with little bursts of sweet rock candy in the finish. This is awfully sophisticated. Thick perhaps. Creamy.
- Mannochmore- What can I say about perfection. With a splash of cool spring water I am transported to a foreign country without grasp of the language. This Speyside whisky is frightening in its depth and grip. I taste more honey and salt- smoke and smoked salmon- yes Scottish smoked salmon in the finish. Salty. Salty Salty. Golden honey in color- there is stuff in the bottle. Scotch is not usually my go-to on spirits but with bottles of whisky as sensual and delicious as these in my cabinet, the frosty winter winds may blow- causing me no immediate harm. Thank you Raj for being so generous with gifts of perhaps the best whisky you can find.
May 6, 2016 Book signing with Warren Bobrow at Malaprop’s
Asheville’s own Malaprop’s Bookstore will host a reading and signing at 5:30 PM on May 6th with this well-known cocktail author. Bobrow, known as the “Cocktail Whisperer” among being a notable writer featured in Saveur and many other publications, is the author of three books:Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (2013), Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks (2014) and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs (2015).http://cocktailwhisperer.com
Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the forthcoming book, Cannabis Cocktails. This book which takes the tack of healing over being just another stoner book is certain to make some waves in the formerly stoic liquor world.
Warren is a published food writer as well as a mixologist. A long strange trip it’s been. He writes for the “Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys” as their cocktail writer. (Klaus, The Soused Gnome)Warren has recently written for Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Eater.com, Distiller Magazine, Edible East End, Total Food Service, Tabletop Journal, Beverage Media Group, Leite’s Culinaria and Foodista.
Well to be perfectly honest with you, so did I. I wasn’t aware that there are Craft Spirits in Kentucky. I know that some are working on getting the laws changed to permit Craft distilling, but I’m really not sure who they are, or if they’ve been successful.
But without that tainting my impression of the Craft Spirits industry and who makes what and where, I’d like to introduce you to Barrell Bourbon.
Barrell Bourbon is a true luxury product that you can get.
Sitting in front of me are two bottles .
Batch #001 and Batch #002.
I’ll try to be kind to you and your thirst. This isn’t going to be easy.
Writing about and tasting fine liquid is like describing Grand Cru wine. Most people cannot even fathom spending hundreds of dollars on a bottle of wine, much less ever given the chance to taste it.
Although Barrell Bourbon is not inexpensive, it’s not over 100 dollars per bottle either!
When a company sends me a bottle and it just isn’t available to the public, all I can do it hope that it makes you thirsty. I do my best to guide you and help you find a bottle.
I actually had someone reach out to me the other day, who read my review on Pappy 20 Year, assuming that I had a secret in with the company to get a bottle (or more) of this highly allocated liquid.
But Barrell Bourbon is available. Extremely limited, but you can find it.
It’s not even noon and I’ve just taken a healthy slurp of Barrel #001. This is Cask Strength my friends. Rolling in at 121.6 Proof, it is straight out of the barrel. They don’t fine pad filter this whiskey. They only use a light mesh screen to keep the larger chunks from inside the barrel out of your glass. That’s not to say that this bourbon is crystal clear, far from, there is stuff in there. I love spirits with a soul and Barrell Bourbon has it!
The bottle – no you don’t taste the bottle, but bear with me… is made of fine perfume grade glass. It’s gorgeous to the touch. Sumptuous and smooth. The cap is wood and real cork. A nice touch in the world of plastic almost everything. The label on each batch is very similar, with the only differences in the writing.
My bottle of Batch #001 reads Craft Distilled Barrel Stength.
Batch # 001, Bottle # 2384.
It goes on to read 121.6 Proof, 60.8 Alc/Vol.
Batch #002 reads Bottle # 429, 117.8 Proof, 58.9% Alc/Vol.
Batch #001 is made from a Mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye and 5% malted barley. It’s distilled in Tennessee and aged in Kentucky for five years in freshly charred American oak barrels. It’s bottled at full barrel strength without any artificial colors or additives.
Flavors of Earl Grey Tea reveal themselves along with sweet vanilla, dark stone fruits, salted caramels and quince-slow cooked ones at that. The heat is ever present. You cannot escape it, even with a few drops of Branch Water sprinkled over the top to release the flavors and inner soul of this passionate product. The alcohol tingles on the tongue and wraps around your brain. This is serious stuff, worthy of your finest crystal glass. But don’t put anything other than water into it. This would be a waste of fine liquor!
Peanut brittle expands across my tongue along with long cooked apricots and white raisins. Pine nuts reveal themselves, enrobed in dark chocolate. The finish is tannic and dry. It goes on and on. Impressive and worthy of your hard earned money.
Batch # 002 is also made from a Mash bill of: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley. The first thing you perceive is the flavor of a grilled Reuben Sandwich on Rye bread. Toasted rye has a very specific flavor and this is no exception. There is a sharp cinnamon bitterness, almost like a red hot candy that pokes a hole right in the middle of your memory. This is exceptionably memorable bourbon. There really is nothing like it on the market. Stone fruits and caramelized nuts reveal themselves after a few seconds along with deep flavors of Spanish Saddle leather and wet stones. But not wet from a fresh water stream, they are slicked with the flavors of the ocean.
The slightly less alcohol *117.8- is a welcome relief after the hit of nearly 122% alcohol in Batch #001.
Both versions are memorable. Orange marmalade and lemon curd fill your mind along with toasted rye bread and slabs of freshly smoked meats. There are bursts of fleur de sel (sea salt) and more chocolate, but not the sweet kind, I’m talking 75% bitter.
Take little sips and bite your Reuben Sandwich, let me know what you think!
This is bourbon on steroids! Definitely not for everyone! No fooling!
Warren Bobrow,is the widely published author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.
His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 2014. Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.
Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.
Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food. He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802. He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.
Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up. J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck. Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* – to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he’s finally become.
Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Is the world’s oldest distillery in Scotland? If you said yes, then you are incorrect. The oldest operating distillery is in Ireland.
I’m quite fond of Irish Whiskey. You may note that Irish Whiskey is not spelled Whisky like in Scotland. Irish Whiskey has the addition of the E at the end in a fashion similar to the way Whiskey is spelled in the United States.
Why? I believe through my research that the extra E is meant to discuss a higher quality spirit that those without the E. This was a historic reasoning that had something to do with quality of a specific spirit. I don’t care to discuss the personal history, you can do that yourself. This history pit country against country. It was certainly not inclusive.
Oh, they spell Whisky without the E in Scotland. Whatever. I think that the exclusion or inclusion of the letter E is confusing to the consumer. But like any interesting puzzle the historical reasoning is out there on the web.
Back in the late 80’s I had chance to travel to Ireland for the first time. This lush country, with gorgeous,1000 shades of deep green vistas set against limitless skies. This is where passionate crafts-people, embrace the ancient methods of distillation. The distillation arts in Ireland harkens back to a time when living off the land actually meant something.
I was fortunate to stay in Dublin- a young, raucous city filled with vivid splashes of color and light set against dark skies and brooding classical architecture. It’s a magical place- well geared to intellectuals and also thirsty entrepreneurs. There are authors and artists from all over the world that make their way to Dublin to study, to drink and to make history. You can go into dozens of bars, listen to traditional music and meet poets, dreamers and best of all, drinkers.
The pubs are filled with lads and lassies who come to seek solace in a fine pint of dark and a glass of uisce beatha or water of life. The pubs of Dublin and her denizens make this city go round and round.
I tasted Irish Whiskey for the first time at the historic horseshoe bar at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. I was immediately hooked on the friendly, yet potent sweet water.
Ireland has amazing farmland well suited for growing grain. The soil in Ireland is rich in many of the nutrients necessary to grow grains. Grain just happens to make excellent many alcoholic finished products.
You have a thirsty country, much rain- generally miserable weather in the winter… Made even more lovely with a finished product made from fermented grain.
With grain comes distillation- and with distillation comes Whiskey. Irish Whiskey, is a unique product. It tastes like no other Whiskey in my opinion and it helps me dream. Dream you say? Drinking Irish Whiskey for me- unlocks a liquid history of searching for round-towers and seeking lovely wool sweaters woven in specific ways to identify the wearer. Irish Whiskey is part of the deeper social thread but is easily enjoyable in a lovely Irish Coffee.
I have the ingredients, but it’s just 8:53 in the morning. Not a good time to start drinking when a man has writing to do!
Ireland is no stranger to the craft of distillation as witnessed by Kilbeggan. Their handsome bottle reads 1757. No, this is not a misprint. 1757 is when the distillery was established. And 1757 means that this spirit is from the world’s oldest operating distillery. Not surprising to me. Kilbeggan is a new brand to the United States although by the bottle not so new to the world! Kilbeggan uses a 180 year old pot still. I believe a pot still gives great character to a spirit. There has to be something said to the distillation vessel. It must contain memories of some sort. It’s not just cold metal. It has a soul.
But does this make the spirit within the handsome bottle good? I think so. Please let me tell you about my thoughts.
Open the tall narrow bottle, classically finished in dark lettering over a pale yellow label. There is a hint of maroon and gold highlighting some important facts about the distillery. Several places on the bottle the numbers 1757 appear. The distillery is quite proud of their lineage and heritage.
Open the top and pour a healthy portion into a glass that resonates with you. From very moment that the magical liquid hits the glass I can smell the aroma of honey and hand-scythed grains. There is a bit of smoke way off in the finish, but nothing like drinking Scotch.
The beginning of the mouth-feel is peppery fire from the 80 proof spirit. The aroma of Kilbeggan is haunting and centering in the room. I want to have a taste. It’s soft, creamy in the mouth and quite beguiling on the top of my palate. Flavors of toasted nuts, fleur de sel, caramel and Irish Soda Bread (with extra raisins) predominate.
Add to this a healthy slathering of creamy yellow Irish butter, still warm over the toasted Soda Bread. This tiny slurp of Ireland just goes on and on with a multi-minute finish.
This is very sophisticated stuff. I’m especially enjoying the aroma in the room. Bacon fat, maple syrup and hot tea. Yum!
As a food writer I love to give the literary connections to flavors I’ve tasted in my childhood. This directional ability seems to translate well to the world of spirits writing.
As a cook, I find it interesting, to identify many of the flavor profiles that are available in spirits. Sure they all have brooding alcohol, that’s the point! People drink for pleasure. It tastes good and some even have a kick!
Flavor has everything to do with it.
Irish Whiskey is Irish history in every sip. For me to taste creamy butter melting over a thick slice of freshly toasted Soda Bread is to encourage you to find a bottle of Kilbeggan.
Two Cocktails For Kilbeggan
1. The Sheep in the Road cocktail- meaning that group of sheep don’t appear to be getting out of the road!
Makes two rather lovely cocktails
6 Oz. Irish Breakfast Tea- chilled
4 Shots Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
Local Honey Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio of Honey to water, heat, then cool. refrigerate)
To a cocktail shaker add the Kilbeggan and the Irish Breakfast Tea
Add 4 Tablespoons of the Honey Simple Syrup
Garnish with a lemon round and a sprig of mint
2. The Cow in the Road Cocktail- meaning, there is a cow in the road up there, watch out!
Makes two cocktails of bewildering strength from the use of warming liquids, you won’t taste the alcohol, so please be careful.
Freshly Whipped Cream flavored with Kilbeggan
Hot Chocolate (your choice)
4 Shots of Kilbeggan
Sugar to taste
Make your hot chocolate and add to pre-heated mugs
Add the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
Sip and when the cow jumps over that wall, know that there is a pub just up the way. Someone will come to the pub and tell you to move your car!
2 Shots of Kilbeggan
Glass (preferably clean)
a bit of cool water
Preparation… Moisten your brow with the water, drink the Whiskey and have another
WARREN BOBROW is the On Whiskey columnist for OKRA. He grew up on a biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a reluctant cocktail/wine writer and former trained chef/saucier.
A quick, yet highly focused tasting of the Macallan Single Malt Scotch vs. 2 offerings of Tennessee “Sipping” Whiskey
My old friend Becky once told me that she’d “rue the day” that I called Tennessee “sipping” whiskey bourbon. She said that only a “damned Yankee” would be confused enough to call Jack Daniel’s bourbon.
Tennessee “sipping” whiskey is not bourbon. The char, smoke, and charcoal filtering make Jack Daniel’s unique in the dichotomy of whiskey. There is the rub. The smoke, the char, and the power.
Macallan, on the other hand, is an extremely fine Scotch whisky. The most immediate difference between Tennessee whiskey and Scotch whisky is not that one is spelled with an e, and the other without- but the terroir, or taste of the place. Scotch just tastes different.
I recently received a bottle of Macallan whisky and set to comparing this benchmark 12 year old single malt whiskey against the very American slurp of whiskey. What I discovered is quite profound. The Tennessee whiskey is every bit as sumptuous and delicious as the kindred cousins from across the pond.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select
Notes of fire-toasted pecans give way to a smoky, peat-laden mid-palate. Flavors of sweet cream and sweet vanilla gelato enrobe your palate with sharper notes of scorched toffee and treacle pudding. This is a very sophisticated slurp of liquid American History. The finish goes on and on and right into the robust 94 proof finish. The price is usually about forty-five dollars and is worth every sip.
Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
Lighter in color than the Single Barrel Select, this whiskey is more akin to a blended Tennessee whiskey. The high price is from a double application of the “Lincoln Country Process.” In other words, filtering the spirit through charcoal- twice for a more mellow taste. The barrels are charred and often make their way to Scotland at the end of the aging process. Like what you taste? It rests in the cask for about four years. Be prepared to fork over about twenty- five dollars for the pleasure.
Macallan Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (12 year aged in Sherry Oak Casks from Jerez, Spain)
Pure lust is the first thing I taste when I drink Macallan Sherry Cask Scotch Whisky. The nose is smoke, peat and wet wool shorn from sheep accustomed to living outdoors. There is a fire burning in the fireplace in the cottage and it is a slow burning peat fire – smoldering and giving off little bursts of wet soil; charred wood; more wet wool; sweet toffee; and a lingering, charming, dried fruit finish. The Sherry nose is immediately apparent through the attack of sweet/spicy and the sophisticated elegance is long lasting in your glass. There is no doubt that this is Scotch whisky (spelled without an e) The taste of the place – oily, salty, and dripping with history – will stay on your palate for minutes, leading to hours to the eventual finish. Twelve years in the barrel only means one thing- a classic single malt passion. I wouldn’t say that I prefer the Scotch whisky to the Tennessee sipping whiskey. What I will say is that they are very similar in nose, follow, and finish. You can expect to pay about fifty dollars for the pleasure.
Which one is better? I’ll leave that to you.
I will say that the Single Barrel from Jack Daniel’s is world class in every way.