Sep 1, 2015

Four Roses Small Batch...

Four Roses Small Batch (45.0%): Today is the first day of National Bourbon Heritage Month and I have a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch on my desk... After Jim Rutledge, the legendary master blender of Four Roses announced his retirement July 1st I will be looking for a good time to post a Four Roses review anyway and simply couldn't find a better day for it. Four Roses has a pretty solid fan base among whisky lovers all over the world. I am a fan by myself as well but never could achieve the level of fans who can decipher the different recipes simply by glimpsing the four letter distillery codes. Most of the time I have to cheat by checking their website. The famous letter coded recipe reference system of Four Roses can be reached simply by clicking the "our process" tag on the distillery's website. They use two different mash bills and five different kinds of yeasts to create ten unique recipes. Small Batch bottlings use barrels of four specific recipes: OBSO, OBSK, OESO and OESK. Every year batches might show subtle differences but sticking to the same recipes keep the releases pretty consistent. Color: Medium amber, orange blossom honey with thick legs. Nose: Spicy, almost like a high rye rye whiskey. Cinnamon to begin with, burnt sugar and scraped vanilla seeds. Christmas cake, toasted dark rye bread and buckwheat honey. Diner style cherry pie and boiled corn on the cob. Adding water pushes the nose to the sweeter side of the spectrum: Caramel popcorn and ground ginger. Palate: Good balance of sweet corn and spicy rye. Thick and creamy texture. Nutmeg, ground clove and toasted oak. Hardwood vintage furniture and polished leather dash board of a 70s car. Vanilla and cinnamon are pretty dominant throughout the whole time. With water: chestnut honey, molasses, dried dates and brown sugar. Finish: Long and piney with resin gum and black pepper. Overall: Great price/value bourbon with a price tag just over $30. It doesn't have an adventurous taste profile and doesn't necessarily pull you into different directions but it is very solid on its own path. And if you like that direction where this bourbon is heading to and like to taste a bolder Four Roses expression your next step should be the single barrels of the line-up. A very good bourbon with a distinct rye profile and it also handles a few ice cubes very well which is a very good feature these days. Just tested by myself... Cheers to 49 glorious years, Jim..! 

Aug 30, 2015

The Whisky Extravaganza...

To be honest I have no idea now how autumn will look like here in SoCal... I've been living for 13 years on the East Coast and I am pretty sure it won't feel anything like that. It will be the first autumn where probably I won't see leaves falling, temperature dropping to 40s or people unpacking blankets and sweaters. Well, at least the days will start to get shorter, that's something and guess what? The Whisky Extravaganza Fall Chapter..! Done... The Scotch Malt Whisky Society will be bringing 22nd Annual Whisky Extravaganza to Los Angeles on November 19th.

It will be another hell of an evening like every year of unlimited whisky tastings, extraordinary dinner buffet and friends from all over the world. It's definitely an unmissable chance to sample the newest releases of participating distilleries, blenders and independent bottlers, to meet the brand ambassadors and whisky enthusiasts. The event will be held at Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles. Believe me you don't want to miss this evening, especially with the discount note I will be giving right now... Take your pens and note this: The code "EXTD2015" will bring a 10% discount to all tire-bouchon readers for any The Whisky Extravaganza event when you order your ticket. You can purchase your ticket directly from this link, by visiting The Whisky Extravaganza's website or simply by calling the number (800) 990 1991. 

All events start at 6:30pm and end at 9:00pm. Don't be late for registration not to miss any minute of the night since it starts at 6:30pm. Put your kilts on if you are seeking extra attention, always a winner... Remember it's on Thursday, November 19th. Make sure to find me there to chat and/or to share a dram..! Slainte..!

Aug 26, 2015

Blend Project: Standings...

The Druid, Cambridge MA
In two years I tasted 20 blended Scotch whiskies under the Blend Project tag on this blog. The search is not completed without a doubt... There are many more candidates out there and I will keep tasting. Let me remind you what my goal was to begin with though: I wanted to find the best price/value bottom shelf blended Scotch to keep you company and your favorite ale when having a good time at your local bar or pub... I had two rules: It should be priced less than $30 a bottle and it shouldn't be an exclusive release. If I did include a few bottles bending those rules I made sure that they lost extra points against a cheaper and/or higher volume release to keep the ranking fair.

Actually the more important reason I wanted to go through an experience like this is, that I always respected well done budget blends... I think to blend a whisky to be sold in five continents over 100 countries with the same consistency for decades and decades and still to manage to keep its price tag under 30 bucks a bottle is way much harder than bottling a few hundred bottles of a 40 year old single cask single malt whisky and selling it for thousands of dollars in a few duty free shops. And I truly respect that...

So, after more than two years and twenty bottles current standings are below. You might disagree with it and its all ok. Like I said before I will continue tasting and will keep updating the list. Let's check the list again after 10 more entries...

The Old Duke, Bristol England
1. Highland Fusilier
2. Campbeltown Loch
3. Slaintheva 12yo
4. Scottish Leader
5. Bell's

6. Springbank Edinburgh International Festival Blended Scotch Whisky 2013
7. White Horse
8. Johnnie Walker Black Label
9. Chivas Regal 12yo
10. Grant's The Family Reserve

11. Black Bottle (old edition)
12. Dew of Ben Nevis Special Reserve
13. Frasers Supreme
14. The Famous Grouse
15. Grant's Distillery Edition

16. House of Lords
17. Dewar's White Label
18. White & Mackay Special
19. Johnnie Walker Red Label
20. Goldlys Owner's Reserve

Needless to say it is all based on my own personal scorings... Please let me know what you think. Drop me a message, leave a comment below or send me a sample if you want to see your favorite blend in the list.

The Ardview Inn, Port Ellen Scotland