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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Glenfiddich Fire and Cane

This release is part of the Glenfiddich Experimental series and bottled at 43% ABV (which is quite unusual from Glenfiddich).   It is a peated malt that is finished in rum casks, hence the Fire and Cane (as in sugarcane)  name.  The nose is smokey, but more camp fire rather than strong peat.  Fire before the Cane.  The taste is spicy and nutty, chocolate, pepper, brown sugar and some honey and a hint of the phenol from peat.  The finish is a little hot, like eating burnt cake batter off a wooden spoon.  Water brings up more brown sugar and some lemon peel.  Very nicely done but not sure I would pair peat and rum casks, personnally I prefer peat and sherry casks.

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  • Friday, 02 March 2012 18:25

    Cowboy Whiskey… Gimme a Shot of Rye

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    It is Livestock Show and Rodeo time in Houston and that means it is "cowboy" time.  Seeing all the hats, boots, big belt buckles and slightly too tight jeans (which can be a good or bad or bad thing depending on the wearer) got me thinking about the link between cowboy culture and whiskey and that is of course specifically rye whiskey. 

    Many cowboy movies contain the iconic scene of cowboy walking through the saloon doors (often the music stops and the locals turn and stare at the stranger), striding up to bar with his spurs jangling and ordering a whiskey.  The timid and nervous looking barman (always in a bowtie for some reason) pulls a cork out of a bottle, pours a shot and the hero throws it back, stamps his foot, pulls a face then orders another or says " ...leave the bottle".  In many cases that same bottle is smashed over the head of Bad- Breath Pete (that's a good name for independent Islay bottling) later in the scene.   In the cowboy-comedy-cartoon version the drinker's hat flies off, steam comes out of his ears and the barman then makes a comment about it being "the good stuff".   You never see the cowboy comment to the barman about the nose and making some notes in his leather bound whiskey journal.   The overall impression you are left with is that rye whiskey is stuff to get down as quick as possible and is about getting drunk and quite often leads to a gun fight.  In the politically incorrect movies the local tribes were always keen to drink the white man's "fire water".  That name is not exactly positive either and would have the marketing guys today reaching for their six guns (or at least their iPhones).

    Then I tried Sazerac Rye and that all changed.  The standard Sazerac rye is good.  It is cotton picking, rooting tooting good.    I have also now tasted and reviewed the Sazerac 18 year old, Thomas H Handy and Pappy Van Winkle rye whiskies and find they are also as complex, rich and rewarding as any single malt.  I can't recommend them enough (other than the fact they are hard to find and not cheap) and as yet since I started drinking ryes I have not been involved in single gun fight and considering I live in Houston, Texas that is not something you can actually rule out.  So my advice is if you also have the image of rye whisky as the cowboy whiskey, you need to go to your local store or favorite online retailer and order a bottle of Sazerac.  You can thank me later pardner or to paraphrase John Wayne... "Get off your horse and drink your whiskey".

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    Random Whisky

    Bakery Hill Peated Malt Cask Strength

    This was the second of two samples, both cask strength at 60% ABV, sent to me (via a colleague in Melbourne) from David at the distillery.  I had high hopes after enjoying the classic malt and was not disappointed.  The nose has grassy notes, vanilla, milk chocolate and of course some peat.  Balanced and not overwhelming even at 60% ABV.  The taste was spicy, dark chocolate, black fruits and the malty sweetness from the Classic.  The peat returns in the finish along with charred oak and toffee.  Exceptional example of how to use peat as a build or enhancement to an existing taste profile.  I had to go to some lengths to get these samples as Baker Hill is not available in USA.  That is a real pity and the worst thing to happen to US Australian relations since the Battle of Brisbane in 1942.