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It’s a Bourbon Stampede | Blog # 74

Bourbon is one of the rising stars of the whiskey world and the Alberta market is no exception. Bourbon as a category has exploded with shelf offerings going from a handful of well known names to dozens of smaller craft distilleries.

I have in the past touched on the odd Bourbon like Blog #14 where I reviewed the Hancock Reserve. Since that blog over a year ago where the selection in the US was massive by comparison, we can now find whiskies like the Hancock available in Alberta.

As Stampede fever once again grips Calgary I felt the need to reach for smooth sweet bourbany goodness. This time around I am teasing you all a little as this whiskey will not be available in Alberta until next year.

Whistling Andy is a small distillery in Big Fork Montana. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery years ago when they were just starting to age their whiskey. It was a fabulous trip and the hospitality put on my Mike, Dana, Lisa and Brian was outstanding. If you are planning a trip down across the border then you owe it to yourself to stop in and try everything. A warning though… their fabulous Cocktail bar will test your mettle if you try to get through them all. A great little drinking hole called the Raven is close by on the lake and boasts some fantastic local craft beer on tap and a delicious menu to pair with.

Cindy and I had a really good time in Big Fork and plan to go back on our next driving trip South.

It has been a long time coming for the release of the Whistling Andy Bourbon and when it happened it was the first ever by a Montana distillery.

So let’s delve into the whiskey shall we….

Whistling Andy hand crafted Straight Bourbon Whiskey distilled from 100% Montana grown grain. Aged in American white oak barrels with a mashbill that combines sweet Montana corn with barley, wheat and rye. Batch Number 7. Bottled at 40% ABV.

Tasted in a Samaroli Spiegelau Whisky Glass. This unique glass was custom made for the Samaroli Independent bottling company by Spiegelau and is designed to enhance the delicate and elegant side of whisky. While not especially designed for Bourbon I thought it might be an interesting glass to use on this occasion.

Colour:     Light polished copper

Nose: Cherry ripe chocolate bar, cinnamon sticks, Crunchie – (Aussie honeycomb chocolate bar) – might be what would be created with a Cherry Ripe, Crunchie combo 🙂 There is a lot going on here and the combo of wheat, rye, barley and 60% corn have done a great job in layering complexity with underlying honey sweetness – A big bowl of Honey Smacks (honey coated puffed wheat cereal available in Australia. The Samaroli glass is very easy on the nose with the wider rim and makes it fun to delve right in there. I came back around to the nose after tasting and was rewarded with custard tart which was one of my favorite small bakery treats growing up. Creamy custard in a sweet pie shell dusted with cinnamon.

Palate: Light and easy mouthfeel with definite honeycomb and vanilla fudge opening to salted caramel. The heavier rye and barley notes join in on the mid palate with a hint of cherry tart and just a wisp of sweet pipe tobacco. For a younger whiskey this already has a ton of complexity to enjoy. I can only imaging how interesting this will be with more time in cask.

Finish:  Decent length on the finish with a little more of the rye peeking in with flourishes of sweeter spices. I think that this will lengthen as their stocks spend more time aging.

Great start for Whistling Andy and a really interesting mash bill combination. The nose for me is the standout and I could spend a lot of time hovering the old schnoz in this glass.

Would love to see a 46% or better yet a cask strength version that I could play with.

If you are on the hunt for small batch craft distilled Bourbon then hold onto your white hats. This little whiskey will be visiting a store near you in 2016.

Cheers!

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