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An Aussie and a Jew walk into a bar… | Blog # 124

This week while on the road in Chicago with none other than Single Cask Nation founder and all round awesome guy, Joshua Hatton, we decided to do a joint blog on a couple of interesting whiskies. Having never done this before we ask that you please bear with us as we hope that it all makes sense.

“We are breaking this down into two parts firstly to taste a unique American Whiskey and then in part two a Single Cask Scotch Whisky.”

After wandering the aisles at Binny’s for a considerable amount of time Joshua and I settled on a compilation whiskey from 4 different distilleries called Four Kings. Pretty much exclusive to Binny’s it really fit the bill as something unusual that neither of us had tried before or knew much if anything about.

So the two of us went into tasting this bottle with no pre-conceived notion of quality or otherwise apart from the good reputation of the distilleries in question. After eyeing off various hotel vessels like coffee cups and even sanitary plastic wrapped water cups Joshua had the brilliant idea of asking for wine glasses. So with wine glass in hand and parked in the hotel lobby lounge of the Hampton Inn near the Chicago O-Hare Airport we cracked the bottle.
Here is my take on it and for comparison and to see the whole event from Joshua’s perspective then you can read his blog here…

Four Kings 2015 Craft Whisky Collaboration Corsair Distillery, FEW Spirits, Journeyman Distillery, Mississippi Distillery

Numbered bottle 364 of 800 – Rye Whiskey 40% ABV
30 Gallons of whiskey from each distillery for this blend. Celebrating Chicago whisky week 2015. Interesting to find out who made the final decision on the makeup of the blend or if it is just four equal parts  from the four distilleries which would be rolling the dice a little if they were looking for a great balance of their differing styles.

Four Kings Whiskey Four Kings Whiskey

Colour: Some deep reddish hues from this combination of 4 different Rye’s. The only age indicator on the bottle is on the back label stating that it is over 1 year old. Rusty Amber would be the closest I can get.

Nose: Instantly distinctive softer rye spice with a herbaceous greenish note and a flourish of flora but not in a bad way. Like lying in sweet fresh grass in the summer time with the heady scent of mum’s flower garden wafting in and out on the breeze. Might be the unique glass but seems a touch hotter on the nose than it should be for 40%. I really like this softer rye nose and could easily call it a “pretty” whiskey at this point.

Palate: Wow … was expecting more a bit more punch on the spice side but it’s very muted to almost non existent up front. I really wish I could be tasting this at 46% as it seems to be missing some of the full character I was hoping for at 40%. Angostura bitters in the background and a very palate drying delivery. Feels like there is a fair amount of corn involved in at least a few of the mash bills as there is a light floral sweetness permeating the palate that reminds me of a hand full of tiny hard candies that I had as a child. They were pastelle colours and really all tasted the same regardless of what colour they were but were delicious, not overly sweet and just a touch chalky.

Finish: Fairly short when compared with a lot of American Rye I have had in the past. I would have liked these guys to be a bit more bold like a lot of their whiskies are in isolation. This collaboration is however an easy ride that is a unique rye experience and very pleasant.

“I would say that the nose is the real winner on this whiskey. I would definitely love to try some of their other collaborations as I hear that the blended malt is really interesting.”

Joshua and I indeed had different takes on the Four Kings which is a good thing as everyone comes to the table with a different palate and mindset. With the American side of the equation safely negotiated we delve into something Scottish next week.

Until then, le’chaim!


Chicago Whisky Jewbilee Festival Bottling | Blog #86

As promised last week here is my review on the very exclusive Chicago Jewbilee Festival bottling.

To say that these guys think ahead would be an understatement. Everything from the ongoing story told by the labels to the tie-in of barrels being re-used. In this case, the whiskey was firstly aged for 8 years in new American Oak and then transferred into a barrel that was initially used to age a 6 year old Midwest Grain Products Rye (bottled for a previous Jewbilee) and then used again to age a special edition Schmaltz Hop Manna IPA which was bottled in celebration of the New York Jewbilee festival earlier this year.

The amount of time in the beer soaked Rye barrel is not disclosed so lets get into some numbers that we do know.

Whisky Jewbilee American Light Whiskey – 8 Years Old Finished in a beer barrel.

Bottled at Cask Strength 65.1% and only 255 bottles produced tasted in a crystal rock glass (Glenglassaugh).

Colour:     Has that nice classic IPA Amber look to it but with a touch of reddish tinge that I can’t figure out. Could be the back of the label reflecting the light as the red does not really transfer to the glass.

Nose:     Good thing I am sitting down as my knees were feeling a little weak upon smelling this unique and ridiculously interesting nose. Like smelling a freshly baked Hungarian Chimney cake (yes I have had this experience and in Budapest, albeit almost 30 years ago, amazing how smell and memory are so strongly linked) with sweet orange popsicle topping. There is something so unique about this……. Perhaps it is just knowing that this spent time in a beer barrel but as I slowly inch my nose closer I find myself searching for beery elements and thinking that the extra sweet nature of this nose could be partly related to the previous inhabitant. IPA’s are normally quite citrus dominated and even though I never got to try the Jewish Whisky Company Beer I bet is was a big Citrusy, Hoppy IPA that I would have loved. This is also the first whiskey ever, that I have heard of being aged in a barrel used to age beer. It’s messing with my nose and head in the most fabulous way possible.

Palate:     The 65.1 percent does make itself known so a wee sip is a good start. Real fruit Orange and Tangerine pastilles. I used to sometimes get some super soft high end pastilles in Australia that came in a really nice box and far surpassed the quality of the everyday brands. This takes me right back with a dusting of fine sugar. As it develops the tiniest hint of Rye spice comes through and a touch of vanilla essence. When I close my eyes and really concentrate on letting the flavor roll I can get a nice soft hop influence in amongst the citrus.

Finish:     Tingly 65% goodness that makes itself felt all the way down and keeps the gums and tongue dancing. Citrus is certainly the dominant characteristic of this whiskey and the finish is no exception and that lovely sweetness just keeps on coming. Orange Sherbet stands out especially with that zingy tingle going on. What a whiskey.

I have never had a whiskey like this….ever.  Great job on this Jewbilee special. I’m sure that in years to come this will be just as rare and sought after as the other editions. My humble opinion, maybe more so as this is one unique dram.

Rush out and join the Nation and see if you can get hold of this bottle somehow.

My passion for how amazing whisk(e)y is and how diverse it can be just gets underlined when trying funky bottlings like this one.

Next week I will be going even more obscure with a whisky that is another first and will fall into the weird and wonderful category.

Until then feed your thirst with awesome whiskey!