Jun 30, 2014

Single Cask Nation Catoctin Creek 2yo...

Single Cask Nation Catoctin Creek 2yo (61.55%): It's been a while since I reviewed a new release from Single Cask Nation. They have exciting new bottlings this year and this one is for sure a curious one. It's only two years old to begin with, distilled by Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in Loudoun County, Purcellville which is quite an odd ball in the middle of Virginia's wine country. The whiskey is made of 100% rye mash, first matured in refill bourbon barrels for 15 months and then transferred to Sonoma Cuonty Chardonnay casks for another 16 months sourced from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The cask is numbered as #102 which yielded 265 bottles. Color: Very dark amber. Like a glass of Pedro Ximenez or spiced rum. Nose: Pretty sour nose with strong grape molasses aromas. It noses a little like a young Marc de Bourgogne. Wine vinegar, spruce needles and Simple Green. Walking in a dairy barn on a hot summer morning, bread and butter pickles and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Water adds some sweetness: Sweet and sour now, like a nice aged dry Caribbean rum. I also get the smell of a heavy woolen scarf when you pull it for the first time after summer from the deeps of your closet. Palate: So different than what the nose suggested. Didn't get too much of the sourness I was expecting. I get salty and sweet notes instead. Spearmint gum, quinine drops and green olive brine. Incredibly (and also dangerously) drinkable at this abv., I almost forgot to add water... After adding quite a bit water the whiskey nicely starts to show different layers: White pepper dusting and a slice of dense, warm German rye bread with butter melting on. Almost chewy mouthfeel... Dry vermouth, Metaxa, Ocean Spray white cranberry juice and dusty, dry, clay soil. Finish: Long with tongue tingling fine black pepper, strong tannins, lots of oak and Werther's Original caramel candies. Overall: Like I expected it is a very interesting whiskey. It would definitely pair amazingly well with Turkish coffee and might replace my beloved Metaxa there. I also can see that it would go well with mellow, not so spicy cigars for a long after dinner conversation or with eggy desserts like Mexican flan or creme caramel. It is a whisky you don't want to rush for sure. It's thick, bold, full of flavors and needs your attention and time... Looks like this bottle will keep company to me quite a long time. By the way remember that this whiskey is only two years old. Kind of mind blowing if you think about it...

Jun 15, 2014

Blend Project #17 Campbeltown Loch...

Campbeltown Loch (40.0%): I am trapped in Holiday Inn at Glasgow Airport today while I am waiting for my flight back to Boston leaving early tomorrow morning and has absolutely nothing to do till I hit the bar at the lobby to watch the first World Cup game of the day... Fortunately I have some minis in my bag I brought from Campbeltown. I am quite excited about this wee bottle since it looked like a perfect candidate for my ongoing, never-ending blend project to me when I spotted it on the shelf in Cadenhead's Whisky Shop. It is one of not so widely distributed brands blended by Springbank and also their cheapest one as far I am aware of. Especially after tasting Edinburgh International Festival blends in earlier years I am pretty amped about it. Color: As light as it gets as a whisky. Barely visible hay color. Nose: Like entering the still house at the end of your distillery tour: Beautifully fruity and floral new make malt spirit aromas. Let it air a minute. Now I am getting unripe bananas, fine grated lemon zest and firm, green Concorde pears. Orange blossom honey and also a little garden turf towards the end. Palate: Again new make spirit but smooth and sweet. These young notes did not bother me a bit... Subtle but nice peat, Granny Smith apples, baby bananas and artificial vanilla extract. Sweet eucalyptus, chamomile tea and brown sugar. Finish: Pretty much of a steep downward slope in terms of flavors with hints of caramel drops leaving the young grain alcohol burn the sides of your tongue a little longer. Overall: If this blend was available in US I would make sure that I have a bottle at home all the time... As soon as you put your glass down you want to have another sip. This bottle is an amazing bargain under £20 and carries all the characteristics of the Springbank whisky as its backbone. Loved it...

Edit: My friend Brad Jarvis let me know that actually it is available in US... So, definitely worth to look for it then...

Jun 14, 2014

Kilkerran "The Tasting Room" Bottle...

before...
Kilkerran "The Tasting Room" Bottle (60.2%): This is the bottle we chose with other Springbank Whisky School participants to sip together when we came back from the distillery back to our lovely B&B every day and waited for Angela to prepare the dinner for us. It is bottled from a cask in the Cadenhead's Whisky Shop in Campbeltown. The cask has an odd story... I don't know how accurate it is to call it a "solera" cask like on its label but it is based on a similar idea. They started to fill the cask in 2004 and never allowed it to go lower than half. Every time when they needed to fill it up they used whisky from an ex-bourbon cask maturing in the warehouses filled in 2004. So, instead of a single cask 10 yo ex-bourbon barrel Kilkerran what we have here is again a 10 yo ex-bourbon barrel Kilkerran but coming from different barrels and from different years. Are you still with me? Let me try to give you the quick explanation: The barrel in the tasting room is not an active cask and therefore is not maturing the whisky like a cask in good shape in a warehouse. Because of that the young whiskies put in there in earlier stages of the process never had a chance to mature like the ones in the warehouses. So, we should have a much vibrant and aggressive whisky here. Believe me, it took two days and six whisky geeks to decipher the label... A big hurrah to Jens, Wim, Kohei and Freddy for their contributions in the tasting notes..! Color: Pale yellow. Unoaked Chardonnay, lemon chiffon. Nose: I am afraid first whiff carved my nostrils... Very hot and bitter: Fresh squeezed lemon juice, fresh cut pineapple and paper glue. Adding water works like a magic though. It is still very citrusy but sweet and aromatic now. Yellow gummy bears, kumquats and bergamot zest jam. I am also getting some dry turf and clay dust. Palate: Without water it is very muted. Lemon peel, hard lemonade and coconut flakes. After a generous amount of water the layers show up. Sweet pink grapefruit and diner style lemon meringue pie. Grass decaying under summer sun after being cut the day before and left on the lawn. Finish: Pretty long. White pepper, lemon zest and Ricola lemon-mint cough drops. Overall: Although it tasted like a very young whisky the whole time I really enjoyed the ride. Also for a price tag in low thirties (£) I have to say this bottle was a bargain. Especially if you knew how much water we had to use to open it up you would agree with me. We almost doubled its volume at the end.

after...