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Month: June 2014

Whistling Andy Montana Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Written by Special Guest Blogger Joshua Hatton

State of Montana – 40% ABV – you can find this whiskey at these locations.

Just the name alone, Whistling Andy, brings back memories of watching Andy Griffith reruns when I was just a wee boy.  Remember the whistling theme song?

Now that I’ve put that in your head, it’ll be stuck with you for the next 2-5 days.

You’re welcome.

Ok, ok.  If you want that out of your head, try some Zappa on for size…

The chance to sample this bourbon came to me out of the blue.  The brand, Whistling Andy, was new to me and therefore, I was excited to give it a try.  Not much is known about this whiskey or detailed on their website. Here’s what we do know:

  • The bottle is from Batch 1.
  • It’s labeled as a “Straight Bourbon” yet has not age statement on the label so, according to the law as I read it, this bourbon should be 4 years of age or older and was, of course, aged in new charred or toasted barrels.
    • (Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period.[6] Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.[7] The exception is straight bourbon, which has a minimum aging requirement of two years. In addition, any straight bourbon aged less than 4 years must state the age of the spirit on the bottle.[8])   
  • The mash bill is at least 51% corn but the bottle label also states that there is Rye, Wheat and Barley.
  • The grain is 100% Montana grown grain (I dig the state pride!).
  • It’s bottled at 40% ABV (chill-filtered, too? not sure)

Let’s nose/taste/swallow (we’re not spitters here at the jewmalt.com HQ)

On the nose –  From the get-go there is a cinnamon gum note and scent of freshly ground grains/cereals.

Apple Porridge and creamed corn.  It’s not overly sweet.

Wait, baked pears are popping up with a side of Wasa crackers.  An interesting melange of notes.

On the mouth — Feels hot for 40% ABV (80 proof for my American readers).  It’s also much lighter and fruitier in taste than the nose lead on about.

Lots of chewy red candies and, get this, Honey Comb cereal.  The heat goes away after the first sip but some of that cinnamon from the nose remains.

 

 

 

The mouthfeel is a little thin (maybe a higher-ABV could have helped that?).  Black and green ground pepper corns bring us to the finish…

Finish — Drying and grassy with some good length to it!

In sum — Overall, it was a pretty good experience.  The nose to mouth experience was a little off-balance but I did enjoy the surprise of it.  You can’t judge all whisk(e)ys by their noses.  While I did enjoy this (and plan to share with others), I’d *love* to see a cask strength version of this whiskey.  I’ve found few whisk(e)ys that didn’t benefit from being experienced at cask strength!

Special thanks to Lisa and all at the Whistling Andy Distillery for the ample sample!

– Jewmalt

jewmalt.com

A Stampede Rendezvous | Blog #17

It’s the second day of Summer and my first opportunity to sit out on the deck and relax over a nice pipe and whiskey. What a great setting to put pen to paper for this weeks Blog.

With Stampede, Canada’s Premier Outdoor event starting in just over a week everyone starts donning those old cowboy boots and getting into the swing of all things Western.

Indeed my attention has been very Stampede focused of late with the launch of a new range of wines for PVI. Silver Buckle from Rutherford Wines in California has great upscale Cowboy appeal and is going to be featured by the glass at all the Stampede on-site restaurants. So grab a glass when you are down getting your Stampede on.

As a lover of whisky, I am also very partial to good wine and beer – call me an equal opportunity drinker. Perhaps in the future I might deviate from non-stop whisky to throw in the odd wine or fabulous pint. Especially over the Summer where my daily dram often makes way for a mixed drink, frothy pint or chilled Rose.

Today my attention is drawn to a very Stampedesque Whisky that hails from the good old US of A.

Rendezvous Rye made by High West Distillery in Park City Utah has an absolute litany of awards including:

*94 points Wine Advocate
*95 points Malt Advocate Magazine
*Double Gold Medal San Francisco International Spirits Competition

“Rendezvous” was an annual Summer gathering for exchanging goods of all kinds including whiskey for Utah’s mountain men from 1825 to 1840.

Made from a combination of Malted and unmalted Rye and by combining two Straight Rye Whiskies one 6 years old with an extremely high Rye Mashbill of 95% Rye and 5% Barley. The second a 16 year old Rye with 80% Rye, 10% corn and 10% barley.

Tasted in a Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler.

46% non chill filtered – Lovely deep amber colour with reddish hues.

Nose:
Competing with the fresh air of the backyard and blossoming Lilac tree Rendezvous was still offering up layers of spice and sweet vanilla. Rye is such a distinctive whiskey. I love the spice and am even more pleased to find an expression such as this that throws in such a hefty percentage. I can get undertones of almost smokey sweetness like a pan of sweet BBQ ribs just thrown onto the grill.

Palate:
Rich spice and a lovely tingle that dances over the palate and gets the buds well into Stampede party mode. For such a high rye content the whisky is still adept at reigning in the runnaway spice and drinks much like the image on the label with the Cowboy balanced in the saddle making his way across the range in no particular hurry.

The finish: Long and continues to insert tiny explosions of lingering spice with loads of complexity.

This is a delicious drink and would be equally at home in an outstanding Manhattan or splashed with something like Fentiman’s Ginger Beer for a slightly different Dark and Stormy.

Ever since skiing down to the High West Distillery, removing my ski’s and parking myself in their award winning restaurant for the remainder of the day, I have been somewhat smitten with how well they do things in Park City.

David Perkins makes some really fun drink and I highly recommend that if you are ever close to Park City that you owe it to yourself to check out the full High West experience.

For those interested my pipe is a Lorenzetti with some lovely Brigham Ripley Avenue Anniversary Blend. Brown and Black Cavendish with a touch of bright Virginias. Smells like Christmas cake and the sweet spice complements the whiskey extremely well. Picked up from my good friend Alex at Golden Leaf Cigars in Crowfoot, Calgary.

Write in and let me know what you will be doing this Stampede if you are in Calgary. If not let me know what your Summer dram of choice is. I look forward to hearing from you.

Next week, we have a special guest blogger that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He’s both insightful and full of whisky knowledge through many many years of tasting and reviewing whisky.

Until then get your cowboy on and join in on the Stampede fun.

Yippee ki-yay!

Jonathan

Oh Canada, my home and native land… | Blog #16

Well an epic week for me after living in the Great White North for over 12 years, I finally sealed the deal and became Canadian.

Swearing the Oath to the Queen and becoming official on the 12th of June 2014 at  9:30am. So now I have a split personality part Australian and part Canadian, or Aus-adian!

Really the perfect segue into a blog on Canadian Single Malt whisky. There has been, for the past two decades, only one choice for patriotic Canadian’s wanting a home grown Single malt. Glen Breton from the Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia has been the benchmark Canadian Single Malt Whisky producer. Their “Canada’s Only Single Malt” label I noticed just changed recently with their new releases to “Canada’s First Single Malt”. No doubt they have been keeping tabs on developments in the industry and knew it was just a matter of time before someone else joined the party.

It amazes me that they had it all to themselves for so long.

There are now a number of distilleries working up to Single Malt releases. Keep a look out for Shelter Point on Vancouver Island, Okanagan Spirits in Kelowna and Urban Distillery in Kelowna.

Still Waters Distillery in Ontario released their Single Malt last year and have already received great acclaim. Recently picking up the Best Single Cask award in Whisky Magazine, Still Waters have made a definite market impact already on the Canadian micro distillery scene.

To be up front with everyone I have been working with the Barry’s now from their early days as Independent bottlers. Their early entry into the market was frustrated by crazy outdated laws that forced them to have 2% Canadian content in their single casks of Single Malt Scotch. This meant that they had to create a whole new whisky category that consumers could not understand. It was certainly a tough way to start a business. However their passion for whisky never faltered and soon after their still was installed and running.

Most new distilleries on their path to releasing whisky invariably distill something faster to take to market and bring in much needed capital. Still Waters was no exception releasing their Single Malt Vodka under two different labels.

The vodka, while smooth and delicious with a hint of sweet barley on the nose, entered into a tough category that is driven by big marketing budgets and fancy packaging. Vodka is a very lucrative market and is the volume piece of the spirits puzzle. Gaining market share in a crowded sector with a product that is basically shades of grey when comparing quality and flavor is certainly a challenge. I encourage any whisky drinker that wants a vodka for any mixed beverages to check out the Still Waters Single Malt Vodka. Remember that you are directly helping the micro whisky industry drinking small batch spirits. You should, if you are in BC, be buying anything from Shelter point right now to help them get over the line with their Whisky.

Sorry for that slight deviation from topic. I do tend to have a passion for small hand crafted product over the mass produced brands and try to get anyone who will listen to think about supporting the small guys.

So, onto the whisky.

I am going to look at two Single Malts today from Still Waters and do a comparison between single casks and also at cask strength vs 46%.

First up is Cask number 2 bottle number 156 bottled at 61.3%

Tasted in a Reidel whisky glass – my favored glass for Cask Strength and I have a gentle dishwasher.

Nose: Sweet vanilla bean with hints of Seville orange marmalade – just that nice hint of bitter rind. Really inviting nose and very soft in the Reidel. Would no doubt be potentially overpowering in a Glencairn.

Palate: Instantly palate filling with plenty of tingle as it spreads over the tongue with creamy sweet spice laden cinnamon and nutmeg. The 61.3 certainly gives it a dryer edge but is remarkably balanced for such a young malt. With just a drop of water the alcohol really fades away with more of a hay bail and fresh grass tinge underlining the spices. For this whisky I think my preference is at cask strength as it drinks with lovely balance and the alcohol does not inhibit the bulk of the flavor from coming to the foreground.

Finish: long and lasting the sweetness fades away leaving strong barley notes and more of that earthy straw and grass component.

This is a great whisky and has some unique character that barley (Canadian 2 row) and climate (Ontario – Summer heavy humidity courtesy of Lake Ontario and cold persistent winter snow) provide. I can only imagine how good these whiskies will be as time works its magic over the next decade.

Second up is the only 46% cask bottled so far thanks to the Liquor Depot group that purchased the majority of the barrel and requested the lower strength to make it a little more consumer friendly. Cask number 4 bottle number 37.

Tasted in a Glencairn glass which is the best for nosing and is great for understrength whiskies.

Nose: Much more barley up front than its cask strength sister and even at 46% the Glencairn fires the alcohol to the nose enough for some nostril burn if you get too close. As with the cask strength when watered, there is a lot more of that hay bail grassy note. Still perceptible is the vanilla cream but none of the marmalade that I can detect.

Palate: Softer as expected on the palate with very subtle spices and persistence of sweet hay and malt with background vanilla. Almost reminiscent of a scratch and sniff vanilla malted milkshake (throw back to the 80’s).

Finish:  Shorter than the cask strength but still lingering and delicious with continuing sweet barley and vanilla.

For the price, the 46% version is well worth it and will also help new whisky drinkers appreciate a fantastic Canadian made Single Malt. For a deeper and more complex experience, paying the extra for a cask strength version will have its rewards.

There are no cask strength bottles available in the Western Canadian market as yet, but will be coming this fall for the Christmas season.

Both these whiskies are an exceptional expression of fantastic hand crafted Canadian micro distilling. Both the Barry’s should be applauded for taking the financial risks associated with a start up distillery and keeping true to their mantra of not cutting corners and being patient to release a truly great whisky.

As a new Canadian I am proud to be drinking and representing such a great distillery.

I would love to hear your experiences with Canadian whiskies and Single Malts in particular (not a lot to choose from but there are a number of expressions out there).

Next week I’m going to get my Stampede on and look at some Cowboy inspired whiskies from the US and Scotland.

Yahoo!!!!

Jonathan

Secret Whisky Shopper Part 4 | Blog #15

Now down to the final whisky.

My heart really wanted to grab both of the sold out bottles of Rye from Willet and Angels Envy but alas it was not meant to be.

So to counterbalance my bourbon purchase I decided that it would have to be Scotch.

There was only one clear winner in my mind, again suggested by Chris. The Shieldaig 18 year old Single Malt sounded like just the ticket for a dram on the patio later that evening overlooking the pool. I do love Speyside malts and there are definitely lots of reasons why it is the most heavily populated whisky region in Scotland.

Undisclosed distillery of course, but Chris did have his thoughts on what the culprit might be. I can’t print those secrets here however otherwise he would have to kill me.

Bottled at 40% so most likely chill filtered. The Shieldaig Speyside has a lovely colour that is at once a combination of deep amber with just a hint of red-ish tinge. Looks like, baring caramel, that there would definitely be some potential Sherry Cask element to the combination of casks combined to put this Single Malt together.

Nicely presented in a gift box with a window to the whisky bottle within. “A true reflection of Scotland” is the tag line. This would sit happily on anyone’s shelf and not look out of place with much more expensive packaging alongside.

Nose: Comes across very soft and even without knowing its only 40% would seem like it could be no more than that. A little caremelised citrus with some creamed honey on toast. I had to get out the Glencairn on this one as it really helps to focus the nose which was very subtle.

Palate: Zero alcohol prickle still with the Glencairn glass tells me instantly that this whisky was designed to please the masses. Completely unobtrusive the softness continues and it takes multiple sips to begin to pick out the character. The sweetness is still there but very muted and the citrus fades to something akin to the fading aftermath of a lemon drop the last suck of which was completed two hours before. A little hint of creamy white chocolate makes a mark.

The finish: with some concentration the finish can be detected for quite a while but again is still very suibtle.

I was right on with this being perfect for vacation time in Florida. Not one to really enjoy a hearty peated dram in 30+ degree weather this is perfect for those warm days when you want something light. Any watering would render the subtle complexities non existant I expect so let me give it a go and see what happens……… insert watered dram drinking here.

Yep do not splash this one or throw it on the rocks or its all over. There was funnily enough however a little more persistent nose. With a little water this bottle could be knocked back really fast as it became so light and airy that you would be forgiven for thinking that you are not drinking whisky anymore.

The 18 years has certainly softened the whisky as age tends to do and the combination of casks and the 40% alcohol have done the rest. For most this will be a super smooth dram that is almost velvet in its lack of impact on the palate.

Delicious and well worth the $ 39.99 price tag. This was a worthwhile suggestion from Chris and I can see why for the price that Total Wine wanted this as an exclusive.

This is an awesome introductory whisky for any newcomers and there is more than enough there for $ 40 for the experienced imbiber.

No doubt there were potentially better whiskies on the wall in both categories but given time constraints and my constant questions I have to hand it to both Tony and Chris for making some very sound suggestions that did not disappoint for the price and would keep me coming back to ask their opinion again in the future.

We normally head down to Florida on a fairly regular basis and I am looking forward to taking both Chris and Tony out for a pint (or a dram) as a thank you for spending so much time with Cindy and I and caring about our customer experience.

Hats off to Total Wine and their excellent staff for an awesome secret shopper excursion.

I will definitely do this again as it was a blast

Cheers Tony and Slainte Chris you guys were awesome – well done Total Wine.

Next week I blog as a Canadian and we’ll celebrate with a great new Canadian Single Malt.

Until then eh!

Keep dramming …

Cheers!

Jonathan

Secret Whisky Shopper Part 3 | Blog #14

So after some really quality time with Tony and Chris I had to make up my mind on the purchases.

The first whisky on the list to be removed from the store in my possession was the Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. With the balmy 35 degrees Celsius in Florida on a daily basis I was thinking that a nice smooth bourbon on the deck would be a treat. As you have read in my previous blog this was recommended to me by Chris (Total Wine) who did an awesome job and spent a lot of time answering my questions and offering me some fine choices.

44.45% a weird ABV to conjure up so I’m thinking potentially a cask strength barrel.

Deep amber in colour and a decent package with a unique bottle and hefty cork.

Nose: Instantly bourbon with sweet light spices, a touch of cinnamon and traces of the tropics with some papaya lifting through. Despite the overproof ABV the nose is not boozy and is light and fresh. I was instantly happy about this choice as the weather, the vacation and the deck were demanding something along these lines.

I drank this with 2 cubes which I would normally not do for the purposes of writing a tasting note. This time however given the setting and me being on vacation you are going to have to forgive me. Atmosphere is an important part of any whiskey experience and I wanted this to all come together. At the same time I was thirsty and hot and wanted something cooling and refreshing.

I can hear the gnashing of teeth and renting of clothes by many whiskey bloggers and experts. Sometimes though having fun and enjoying the moment can be more important than nailing every nuance.

Palate: Dishes out more sweetness with wild flower honey supported with undertones of rich spice. A touch of cardamom and clove. Very mouth filling and even with some watering from ice melt remained rich and creamy. Balanced.

The finish: Lingers with just an undertone of bitters. I think this would be great in a Manhattan and will have to try just that in the near future.

Thanks Chris for suggesting this. Good choice by the Total Wine buyers to pick this cask as an exclusive. Amazing value for $38.99.

I would recommend this Bourbon for any fan of this genre of whiskey. 89 points in Wine Enthusiast is a good recommendation and the whiskey certainly delivers on the promises made by Chris. Balanced and delicious.

The other bottle that had caught my eye was the Willet Pot Still Reserve Bourbon. I have been a fan of the Willet line for a while but have not had the pleasure of trying this as it is not available in Canada.

90 points malt advocate and only 1 dollar more than the Hancock’s. If I was wandering the store alone this is probably the whiskey that I would have walked out with. I will grab a bottle next time I am in the US and a tasting note will be forthcoming. I like many consumers are also impressed by awesome packaging. The Willet Bourbon is in a bottle shaped like a pot still to denote their pot still range. Very cool marketing and instantly stands out on the shelf.

So next week the last installment and the second whisky purchase. Write in and tell me about your favorite Bourbon.

Until then,

Keep dramming!

Cheers,

Jonathan