Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tasting: Evan Williams Single Barrel 2009

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2009
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Age: 8-10 years
Proof/ABV: 86.6
Mash Bill: 75% corn 13% rye 12% malted barley
Average US Price: $27
Release: Ongoing

88/100




Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon (EWSB) is a single barrel bourbon produced at Heaven Hill. Each bottle is bottled at 86.6 proof and is aged somewhere between 8-10 years. EWSB was first releases in 1996 with distillate from 1986. EWSB is a premium bourbon at a middle of the road price, at $27 a bottle it’s hard to find a better priced single barrel bourbon sporting a 8-10 year age statement. For me EWSB is one of the best value bourbons on the market.

Heaven Hills website has this to say about EWSB.
"Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon is a five-time Whiskey of the Year award winner. Each year our Master Distiller selects barrels that meet his exacting standards. It’s a bourbon that is vintage dated, meaning each bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak, along with the year it was bottled and the exact serial number of the single barrel that the Bourbon was drawn from. Careful handcrafting and many years in the barrel result in our most premium and decorated Bourbon."

On to the tasting.

Nose: Great nose on this bottle, there is a lot of sweet oak and leather at the front. Fallowed by sweet vanilla pudding, caramel, cherry pie, cinnamon spice, and candied pecans!

Palate: Full of flavor and well balanced. Honey, toffee and peanuts up front, followed by baked apples, orange zest, spicy rye, toasted oak, and pipe tobacco.

Finish: Medium finish. Mostly oak, caramel, and cinnamon!

Photo & Review By: Aaron Cave


The Adventures of Whisky Pete - Part #41


One of the biggest fans of Laphroaig and seeing it in a cocktail is always fun. 
Canard in Houston does it right. Enjoyed this to the end. This is called "Smoke Signals" Laphroaig... the best.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Crew member

We are excited to announce that Monty Whisenhunt have joined our regular writing crew.

Please give Monty a warm welcome




Monty Whisenhunt
As the "Newbie" over here at the Son of Winston Churchill, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Monty Whisenhunt.

Like many people, my affection for this lovely brown spirit called whisky was an evolutionary process. What started as a means to an end wound up being a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and complexity of what I was drinking.

I come from a working class family and as such, keep a light-hearted humor about me at all times. Struggling to make ends meet while raising four kids will introduce humor into the strangest situations and my parents danced that dance their whole lives. You learn to appreciate things a bit more when it's earned by your own sweat and labor.

My intent is to review whisky from the perspective of having it stand on its own merits, regardless of price or value considerations. Value isn't something that anyone can determine for someone else.

While my first love was and always will be, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, I enjoy and appreciate Whisky from all over the world, as well as the explosive craft and sourced whisky category.

That quiet moment, Sunday evening, when my wife and teenage daughter are asleep, you'll find me in my office listening to a vinyl record, amplified with vacuum tubes, voiced through Danish loudspeakers and getting intimate with a good whisky. That time belongs to me and my Dynaudios.

Cheers!

Monty is a sometimes whisky geek and always audio nerd living in Austin, Texas with his wife Jacky, daughter Miranda and cat Snowshoe.


Make sure to read Monty's first review of Teeling's Single Grain Irish Whiskey


Tasting: Teeling Single Grain



Teeling
Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Distillery: Sourced: Cooley
Age: 5 years
Proof/ABV: 46%
Average US Price: $50 USD
Release: Ongoing
Mashbill: 95% Corn 5% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-California Cabernet Wine Barrels
Non Chill-Filtered

Points: 88/100





The Teeling connection with Irish Whiskey dates back to 1782, when Walter Teeling began distilling in Dublin, Ireland. Industry consolidation and economic difficulties ultimately resulted in the sale to William Jameson & Co. and in 1923, the Teeling Distillery was closed.

The Teeling’s modern entry into distilling began in 1985, when John Teeling, a descendent of Walter Teeling, bought an old, potato alcohol plant in County Louth, Ireland and by 1987, transformed it into the Cooley Distillery, producing whiskies under the Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyconnell and Greenore labels.

In December of 2011, Cooley was purchased by Beam Inc., with an agreement that provided the Teeling family with some 16,000 casks of aged whiskey. No doubt, John Teeling wasn’t ready to leave the whiskey business and with two sons having worked with him at the Cooley Distillery, he had plans for those casks.

A short year after having sold the Cooley Distillery, John’s son Jack, launched Teeling Whiskey. Jack was later joined by his brother, Stephen and in 2015, Teeling Distillery opened its doors as the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years.

As I write this, it’s 94 degrees in the shade and summer is peeking around the corner. Perfect weather for a Single Grain Whiskey.


The subject of this review is Teeling’s Single Grain Irish Whiskey.


Color: Golden Amber
  
Nose: Sweet. Vanilla-Caramel-Toffee, Alfalfa Hay, Leather, Oak

Palate: Huge Vanilla-Caramel, Nice Viscosity, Wine Fruits, Grape Licorice, Banana, Butterscotch, Leather, Jalapeno Pepper

Finish: Long, Lingering Jalapeno Pepper, Molasses, Sugar Cane, Oak. Leaning to mild dryness.

The taste of this whiskey follows the nose quite predictably until the complexity of the wine barrels begin to develop on the palate. The more I sipped, the more I noticed. This is a sweet whiskey that enters softly and builds in complexity. It needs the complexity to balance the sweetness and I recommend chewing this one to draw it out. You’ll be rewarded with a swelling pepper, a distinct rum-like sweetness and a very welcome oakiness. Having the Jalapeno note firmly attached in my gums is the way I most enjoyed this one.

At only five years of age, this one really impressed me at how well the wine influences work. But, I think it dances a very thin line between being balanced and being too sweet. Chew it to keep it going in the right direction and get the long finish.


Additional Review Background:


Before reviewing this whiskey, I made note of the information contained on the bottle label that stated, in part, “Aged For 5 Years in Ex-Wine Casks.” In addition, the label also states, “This Small Batch Bottling Consists of Hand Selected Casks Which Are Given a Further 6 Months Maturation in Ex-Rum Barrels Imparting an Extra Sweet and Smooth Flavor…”.

Finding this whiskey to be indeed, very sweet, with a healthy dose of complexity,  I easily presumed the labeling to be correct. However, while my tasting notes refer to molasses and sugar sweet notes, I found it necessary to lightly edit, but never-the-less remove possible attribution to any rum finishing as a possible contributor. I made these notations within the review and included them at the bottom of this page. I think my letter to Teeling and their response will clarify why I found this necessary.

After  having written my review of this whiskey and after having submitted it to SOWC, I became increasingly curious as to why the Teeling website information on this whiskey failed to make note of the additional “rum finish” with the Single Grain while clearly mentioning it with the Small Batch offering. I asked SOWC to hold off publishing the review.

Uncomfortable with the notion of speculating as to whether or not this whiskey was actually finished in ex-rum casks, the decision was made to reach out to Teelinig for clarification. I have included my correspondence with Jack Teeling of Teeling Whiskey Co., as part of this review. I would also make note that Teeling responded to my enquiry very quickly.

Cheers!


Review & Photos By: Monty Whisenhunt

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Dear Teeling Whiskey Co.,

I’m in the process of reviewing your Single Grain Irish Whiskey for the Son of Winston Churchill Blog.

While researching this Whiskey, I note that your website doesn’t mention the “Rum Finishing” in reference to the Single Grain, but does make note of the rum finish in your Small Batch offering.

The Single Grain bottle states that it has been additionally finished in rum casks for 6 months and as my tasting coincides with rum notes on the finish, I believe that to be the case.

Would I be correct to assume that the Single Grain is considered to be part of your Small Batch offerings and that at some point in its evolution, Teeling transitioned from an exclusive wine cask maturation to include the additional 6 month maturation in rum casks for your Single Grain as well as your Small Batch offering?

Any clarification you could offer would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Monty Whisenhunt
Son of Winston Churchill Blog


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Monty,

Thank you for your email and you have gotten your hands on a rogue labelled bottle.

We had a batch of labels on some of our Single Grain (which by the way is 100% fully matured in ex-Californian Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels) that had some descriptive copy from our Small Batch produced by mistake by our label producer.

I apologise for the confusion that this may have caused but I can guarantee that the liquid is as it is clearly stated on the main items of the label where “Maturation” is indicated i.e. from the red wine casks.

 As the original mash bill used for this is made up of 95% corn/maize there is an underlying sweetness as a result thus I can see where the molasses style of influence of rum could be potentially picked up.

It is this combination of underlying natural sweetness and clean spirit which due to at least five years full maturation in the French oak ex-Californian wine casks that imparts a delicate red berry fruit flavour and French oak influenced spice along with the combined tannic influence that produces the unique sweet, fruit, spice taste and dry finish. Also by bottling it at 46% with no chill filtration allows you to capture all the true natural.

I hope you enjoyed our Single Grain and if there is anything else I can help you clarify on let me know?

Thanks again,

Jack Teeling
Teeling Whiskey Company

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tasting: Highland Park 18 Year



Highland Park 18 Year
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Natural Color

Distillery: Highland Park
Age: 18 years
Region: Island (Orkney)
ABV: 43%
US Price: $120
Release: Ongoing
Cask: Ex-sherry casks

Points: 92/100


The Highland Park 18 year is a well known favorite among many.  It easily holds a spot near the top of the list of 18 year old scotch – and how could it not?  A complex dram with multiple transitions on the palate to satisfy any whisky expert, yet subtle, easy to drink and beautifully balanced for any beginner to enjoy all at a price point on the lower end of the spectrum for most 18 year old scotches.

The Highland Park 18 year has received countless accolades across the industry and is praised by even some of the most well known whisky experts.  In 2005, it was named Best Spirit in the World by F. Paul Pacult, spirit expert and publisher/editor of Spirit Journal, and then again in 2009.  Since then, the list has been divided into sub-categories where it then won best Scotch whisky.  Now, I’m not sure that is a title I would be able to give, given the fact there is so much I haven't had, but it is certainly near the top of my list.

I also need to give this scotch credit as it was a huge stepping stone for me when getting into scotch.  At the time I started diving into this world of single malt scotch I had just a couple bottles in my cabinet, but I was reading and learning as much as I could.  I wasn’t buying anything over $50 but that quickly changed after trying the Highland Park 18 year for the first time when visiting my father.  From then on I was hooked and it wasn't long until I picked up my own bottle.  Even after tasting countless other whiskies over the years, the balance and complexity of this dram still amazes me and will always be a favorite.

Nose: Very fragrant. Floral with toffee and bursts of honey. Sweet, stewed fruits.

Taste: Much more herbal on the palate.  Savory, cooked vegetables.  Barley sugar and honey initially that transitions to spices and smoke.  More herbal notes come later in the development.

Finish: The herbal notes continue into the long finish followed by sweet bread, oak and smoke.

Photo & Review By: Cody Diefenderfer


The Adventures of Whisky Pete - Part #40


What's better than a horse race? A Blanton's Horse race... Meh, let's try that again... What do you call a flight of horses? 4 bottles of Blanton's ?... Cheers Whisky nation

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tasting: Blood Oath - Pact 3



Blood Oath Pact 3

Distillery: Luxco
Age: Blend of 12-year high-rye bourbon, 7-year high-rye bourbon plus a 7-year high-rye bourbon finished in cabernet sauvignon barrels
Proof: 98.6
Availability: Limited release
Price: $100 USD

87/100 points









Luxco’s Blood Oath Pact 3 is starting to hit stores around the U.S. now. If you’ve read anything about this release or the previous two expressions you might be wondering if you should pick up a bottle. Hopefully this review can help you in making that decision.

Like Diago’s Orphan Barrel series, the Blood Oath line has caught some flack, mostly that its gimmicky and nothing more than marketing. Okay, so maybe Blood Oath doesn’t have some of the crazy stories that the early Orphan Barrels had, but still. Either way, I’m never against trying something different and judging for myself regardless of the back-story or hype (or lack thereof). But maybe that has something to do with my marketing and design background. While I own Pact 1, I never got around to picking up Pact 2 but did try it. This year I was fortunate to have Luxco send me a sample of Pact 3 for this review.

With this release, John Rempe decided to hitch a ride on the finished whiskey wagon. He’s continuing with a blend of middle-to-older aged bourbons — opting for two different 7-year old high-ryes (one finished) and a 12-year old high-rye. Just as it has for the past two releases, the whiskey comes in a rectangular bottle (much like the Orphan Barrel bottles) with a well-designed label and an old-school cork.

Nose:

The nose contains nice floral aromas with plums, cherries and oak. There are some light brown sugar notes mixing nicely with vanilla and light caramel. The vanilla tends to lead the way here.

Palate:

I love the mouth feel on this whiskey. It’s really creamy with a nice blend of sweetness and spice. It has a really nice texture to it with rich dark chocolate, dark fruits and oak. Red and black pepper flavors provide the spice. The cab barrel finished high-rye isn’t over powering at all. I find it providing a good balance and a little extra complexity while allowing the bourbon flavors to lead the way.

Finish:

The finish is long. My mouth and tongue are completed coated. I get more of the cab flavors on the tail end of the finish than anywhere else. Like the taste, it’s rich and creamy with black pepper spice. Vanilla and dark fruits mix well with hints of sweeter pipe tobacco.

Overall this is my favorite of the three Blood Oath releases. Is it worth $100? I’ll say this, I’ve spent close to this amount for FAR superior bourbons. If you’re hesitant at all it’s at least worth a pour at a bar or restaurant. $100 whiskies are unfortunately becoming a normal thing though. So if the price doesn’t have any effect on your wallet and you aren’t frightened off by all of the banter in the whiskey world then go for it. After all, it’s ultimately your own palate you should worry about pleasing.

Cheers!

Photo & Review By: Seth Brown