Author: Bobby

Hello. My name's Bobby, and I'm no whiskey expert. I'm here to share my thoughts as a novice whiskey enthusiast. So, when I try new whiskies (mostly bourbons), I'll tell you about them here.

A Glenfiddich Night for the Ages

Sometimes I’m in the right place at the right time.

Or I’m just lucky.

I recently attended a Glenfiddich tasting at the Bourbon House in New Orleans. Glenfiddich ambassadors Dave Paradice and Struan Grant Ralph led the tasting of four Glenfiddich expressions that heavily feature ex-bourbon barrel-maturation. Just before the tasting started, I met up with the two brand ambassadors to say hi.

Jorge Lauriano, the William Grant & Sons Division Manager for Louisiana, came over to greet me. Then he lowered his voice and asked what my plans were for the rest of the night. It’s that moment he told me he, Paradice, and Ralph were going to host a very private tasting with two local single malt fanatics after the Bourbon House tasting.

“I just dropped off 27 different bottles of whisky (at a local restaurant). Do you want to join us?” Lauriano asked, knowing I couldn’t turn down his invitation.

My answer was a resounding yes. I knew at that moment it was going to be an epic whisky night.

But first, the Glenfiddich tasting at the Bourbon House. Four expressions: Glenfiddich 12-year-old, 14-year-old, 19-year-old Age of Discovery bourbon cask, and a preview of an upcoming 23-year-old expression. The last two were especially delicious. Paradice was on-point with his presentation, with Ralph occasionally fielding questions from the small but sometimes rowdy crowd.

If this wonderful tasting was the supporting act, what followed was the headliner.

We made our way to the restaurant where the six of us began lining up bottles of whisky, mostly Glenfiddich, on a long table. Twenty seven bottles in total. So many that we couldn’t line up the bottles neatly down the longside of the table. With some appetizers served, we began. We did a round robin, of sorts, allowing every person to choose the next pour. As we nosed and tasted, the two brand ambassadors casually presented background on every pour.

Nose, taste, dump, repeat. That was the motto of the night.

I didn’t take tasting notes, but did somehow manage to jot down what we tasted. Here’s what we tasted, with some thoughts on select pours:

  • 15-year-old
  • Reserve Cask (travel exclusive)
  • Cask of Dreams 2011 – love the ex-bourbon cask influence here
  • 18-year-old
  • Rich Oak
  • 14-year-old
  • Malt Master – one of the group favorites
  • Fire & Cane – Smoky with rum-sweetness. Yes please!
  • Vintage Cask – slightly peated and utilizes American oak casks
  • William Grant & Sons Ghosted 26-year-old – very light; paired well with our salad
  • Age of Discovery 19-year-old bourbon casks
  • 40-year-old – decadent, resinous, dark, with a finish that lasts for days
  • Winter Storm – a dessert dram if there ever was one
  • The Original 1963
  • Vintage Cask – Select Barrel
  • 26-year-old
  • Kinnivie 23-year-old
  • 30-year-old – Rich, lively, and without the heavy rancio notes found in the 40yr
  • Vintage Cask 36-year-old (1978) – one of the top pours of the night
  • Project XX – nicely balances the different cask types used

One thing that struck me was the balance of flavors through all the expressions we sampled. Nothing was ever one-sided. Those sherry notes were never overpowering. That Glenfiddich signature vanilla and orchard fruit character always remained at the core.

We didn’t make it through all 27 bottles. Twenty seemed to be our limit. No matter – this Herculean tasting was one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ events, and one I’ll remember for a very long time.

Thanks to everyone for allowing me to take part in a such special tasting and for sharing your whisky knowledge. Especially Jorge. He’s an extremely generous guy who loves nothing more than sharing a great drink (and a dirty joke or two) with people. Thanks for an unforgettable whisky night. Slainte!

Review: Copper & Kings “A Song For You” American Brandy

Five years ago two things came into existence. One is the often-rambling, somewhat meandering whiskey blog you’re currently reading. The second, and much more important, is a small brandy distillery that had the balls to open in the heart of bourbon country, Copper & Kings.

To celebrate this anniversary, the distillery released ‘A Song For You,’ a limited edition American brandy finished in ex-bourbon barrels.

“This is a celebration of survival as much as anything,” said Joe Heron, Copper & Kings founder. The limited edition release is a “thank you to anyone who ever bought a bottle of Copper & Kings American brandy.”

Bottled at 100 proof, ‘A Song For You’ features a blend of eaux de vie aged 8 to 18 years. This blend is the part of the originally sourced stock that kicked off the distillery’s offerings five years ago, made mostly from Muscat de Alexandrie, Chenin Blanc, and French Colombard. It’s been resting in ex-bourbon barrels for the past half decade. Brandy by way of bourbon, indeed.

I’ve got to say, this brandy is fantastic. Aromatic on the nose, it features hints of spiced cherries, slightly burnt caramel, spice, and floral top notes. Taste-wise, the fruity grapes hit the palate first, but are quickly followed by a wave of dark berries, dried figs, and spice. Bittersweet cocoa leads to a long, fruity, and somewhat dry finish.

‘A Song For You’ feels like a Copper & Kings release. It’s big, bold, rich, and flavorful. It’s pleasing to casually sip with friends and yet complex enough to be studied in a Glencairn glass or brandy snifter. This release hints at what the distillery can do as its stocks further mature, and that’s a road I’d like to travel. Highly recommended. 8.5/10

Copperandkings.com

Thanks to Copper & Kings for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Heaven’s Door lineup

Bob Dylan… bourbon… rye whiskey… all American icons. So when the musician/artist teamed up to release American whiskies, it was simply a match made in… well, you know.

The Heaven’s Door brand has several whiskies under its core lineup – a Tennessee straight bourbon whiskey, a straight rye finished in Vosges oak barrels, and a double barrel whiskey. Additionally, a limited edition 10-year-old Tennessee straight bourbon whiskey is available in its second (and final) release.

The design on the tall bottles feature Dylan’s welded iron gates from his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio. They beautifully showcase the color of the whiskey and look great on the shelf. The production of the whiskey inside was overseen by Heaven’s Door Master Blender Ryan Perry.

TENNESSEE BOURBON

This 7-year-old straight bourbon whiskey is made from a high-rye mash bill and has NOT undergone the Lincoln County Process of maple charcoal filtering. The bourbon is bottled at 90 proof and available for a suggested retail price of $49.99.

The nose features hints of caramel-covered popcorn, lemon-honey tea, vanilla, and a touch of oak. The smooth entry starts with hints of fresh honeybuns followed by a small burst of cinnamon. Aged grain and slight mineral notes appear in the mid-palate, followed by toasted oak. The medium-long finish leaves lingering hints of buttered rum and oak spice.

Heaven’s Door Tennessee bourbon is an enjoyable sipping whiskey. It’s buttery richness is complemented by the spiciness of the rye from its high-rye mash bill. Bottom line – this is good whiskey. 8.5/10

STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY

Heaven’s Door straight rye whiskey features a unique finishing process. The 7-year-old straight rye is finished in toasted (not charred) French oak cigar barrels from Vosges, France. Cigar barrels are named after their elongated shape. I don’t know of an American whiskey, or any other whisky for that matter, finished in this type of barrel.

Bottled at 92 proof and priced at $79.99, the rye is big and vibrant on the nose, with hints of toasted rye bread, ginger, lemon peel, and black peppercorn. With a little airtime, dried orchard fruit and an interesting floral note appear. Taste-wise, this rye splits its character between the rye grain and fruitiness. Like its bourbon sibling, this expression starts out gentle, allowing the spice to build. Caramel develops into candied ginger and black pepper. Stewed pear and apricot provide some sweetness and a slight herbal quality. Oak spice leads to a long finish.

Not too shabby. Though it’s slightly off-balance with its peppery nature, Heaven’s Door rye whiskey is very close to being a classic, well-structured rye whiskey. It’s a nice sipper, but makes for a wonderfully spicy Old Fashioned. 8/10

DOUBLE BARREL WHISKEY

A hybrid whiskey comprised of two Tennessee bourbons and a straight rye whiskey. All whiskies are aged separately for six years in new oak and freshly dumped bourbon barrels. They are then blended together and aged another year in new, charred American oak barrels. Before aging, the whiskey undergoes the Lincoln County Process, which filters the whiskey though sugar maple charcoal. The resulting 7-year-old whiskey is bottled at 100 proof and available for $49.99.

On the nose, Heaven’s Door Double Barrel whiskey features hints of toffee, sweet corn, and slight minerality. A bit of orange essence pops up in the background. The palate is very reminiscent of an Old Fashioned, with caramel and spice followed by orange peel and dried fruit. The back palate sees some herbs and more oak spice, which is slightly amplified thanks to the higher proof. The finish is long and a touch dry, with hints of spiced caramel followed by slightly astringent oak.

This blend is generally pleasant to sip thanks to its big flavors and higher proof. The combination of flavors works well together, though the oak astringency on the finish makes this a good whiskey, not a great one. Still worth checking out. 7.5/10

10-YEAR-OLD BOURBON

Image courtesy of Heaven’s Door

The limited edition Heaven’s Door 10-year-old Tennessee straight bourbon whiskey comes from only two barrel lots. The new make spirit undergoes the Lincoln County Process before aging in two completely different parts of a rack house.

After a decade of maturation, this bourbon is bottled at 100 proof. The packaging is more upscale than the brand’s core lineup, with a gold-plated adornment on the bottle and inclusion of a printing of Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in a commemorative box.

How’s the whiskey inside?

Very nice, actually. The bold nose features hints of grilled pineapple, candied corn, flint, and a sprinkling of baking spices. Compared to the standard bourbon, this offering is a bit heavy-handed with tropical fruit. On the palate, the bourbon is creamy and full-bodied. Brown sugar and vanilla creme brûlée serve as a foundation rich with fruit cocktail. Cinnamon and allspice enter mid-palate, as does tobacco leaf and minerals. The long finish features bittersweet oak, dried fruit, and spice.

I’m glad to say that, for its $130 asking price, Heaven’s Door 10-year-old bourbon is rich, complex, and most important – delicious. To my palate, it’s the most pleasing of the four whiskies reviewed here. Highly recommended. 9/10

Heavensdoor.com

Thanks to Heaven’s Door for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.