Whiskey Fact: Not one barrel is the same.

whiskeybarrelsMalt whiskey is made exclusively from malted barley which is still prepared and distilled using traditional methods, but on a very large scale. Variations such as the climate or type of the barrel’s oak that the whiskey is aged in, can influence the character of the whiskey.

Due to the many factors that influences a whiskey’s character, nearly all the bottles that you see in the market are made from mixing different whiskies together to achieve that one consistent taste.

It is impossible to get a barrel that will fit the brand’s flavor right away because no two individual barrels will ever be the same. To achieve a brand’s taste, it requires a blend of whiskies from many different barrels and this is where a master blender comes in.

A master blender is a person at the distillery who will taste the whiskies from the barrels, before proceeding to mix them to create a taste consistent with the brand’s flavor profile. This is why your favorite whiskey brand tastes the same from bottle to bottle!

Whiskey Fact: A single malt whiskey is NOT a product of a single barrel.

20120209singlemaltvsblendwhisky-thumb-625xauto-217393Single and blended – We see these two words on bottles so often that it leads us to having the misconception that a single malt whiskey, is a whiskey made from a single barrel and a blended whiskey, is a blend of many other whiskies. In fact, a single malt whiskey is actually a blend of other whiskies.

So if both are blends, then what is the difference?

A single malt whiskey is the end product with blended whiskies from a SINGLE distillery, whereas a blended whiskey is a blend of malt and grain whiskies from MULTIPLE distilleries.

For example, a bottle of Glenlivet 12 Year Old single malt Scotch whiskey is a mixture of whiskies made from one distillery. On the other hand, a bottle of Dewar’s 12 Year Old Blended Scotch whiskey can contain a mixture of different whiskies from thirty different distilleries.

Stay tuned for more whiskey facts!

Rowan’s Creek

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Rowan’s Creek

Overall Rating: 8/10

Taste: Solid; Not Too Sweet

 

On my way to Jack Frys in Louisville, I had to get myself a bourbon and I wanted something unique. I popped by a bar and the bartender recommended a glass of Rowan’s Creek, as it was not too sweet nor boozy because I had a drive ahead of me.

I’m not sure whether it was the bourbon itself, or the fact that I was drinking it in Louisville instead of LA, it was really good! It tasted quite solid and wasn’t too sweet although I felt that it lacked a bit of character, but I really enjoyed it!

1792 Old Town Bourbon

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1792 Old Town Bourbon

Overall Rating: 7/10

Taste: Solid; Well Balanced; Sweet

 

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I passed through Louisville with the idea of getting to Kentucky to try bourbons that were only available there. I picked out the 1792 Old Town Bourbon which can only be found in a particular liquor store in that area.

This bottle of 1792 Old Town Bourbon, has won many accolades and medals from spirit competitions throughout the years. I shared a glass with my wife’s uncle and he found that it doesn’t taste as smoky as most whiskeys do, not overwhelming and also quite well balanced.

I found the whiskey rather solid, a little boring but easy to drink and also a bit too sweet for my taste buds.

Macallan 18

Macallan 18Macallan 18

Overall Rating: 6/10

 Taste: Cherry; Sweet; Charred oak

photoThe Macallan website refers to the 18 as “the iconic Macallan. Although the Macallan 18 isn’t really my style, it’s really smooth and I finally understood why some professional tasters like it.

I shared a glass with Joey and Darius. Joey appreciates the quality of the whisky but felt that the price is too high and wouldn’t pay more than a hundred dollars for the bottle. Darius felt the same  way about the price and thought that the 1792 Barton Reserve is better than this bottle of Macallan.

Estrella Damm Inedit

estrella-ineditEstrella Damm Inedit

Overall Rating: 5/10

Taste: Lightly carbonated; Fruity; Weak finish

 

 

 

“Inedit means “Never been done before”. In cooperation with the brew masters of Estrella Damm, Inedit was crafted by the globally acclaimed chef Ferran Adria, Juli Soler and sommeliers Ferran Centelles and David Seijas from ElBulli Restaurant.

The Estrella Damn Inedit is a carefully brewed blend of lager and wheat beer styles. It contains a brew combination of barley malt, wheat, hops, coriander, orange peel, yeast and water.

It is recommended that this bottle be enjoyed in a wine glass and kept cold after serving.

 

EstrellaHere are our thoughts after sampling a bottle:

Matt: “It has a great nose hit but it has a thin and weak finish. I’m not a fan.”

Mike: “I like light beers so this helps me go longer and stronger. It’s a good beer but I wouldn’t pay so much for it especially when a specially brewed beer, should have a special finishing at the end.”

Ravi: “Nice and fruity but it could be better. Reminds me of a summer beer garden drink which you will mix with lemonade, like a summer shandy.”

 

We re-read the labels on the bottle and realized that this beer was recommended to be drunk together while eating some food. However, the conclusion between us was if you want a lighter beer, this is for you. But if you’re looking for a beer to be drunk own its own, this wouldn’t be your drink.

Austrian Beer Test: Gösser vs. Stieglitz

So Timo, Lucy and I did a blind taste test on 3 different Austrian beers. On the picture you can see Lucy in action.

Our Reviews:

Lucy

Beer no. 1- According to Lucy it was nice, stronger compared to American brands with honey.

Beer no. 2- Lucy thought it had a very similar taste.

Beer no. 3- Grosser but lighter.

Lucy liked beer no.1 best among the 3.

 

Ravi

Beer no. 1 and 2 are smoother than Beer no. 3. I found all 3 brands good but like Beer no. 3 best as it was the tastiest. I liked beer no. 2 better than beer no. 1 as it had a nicer taste maybe because it was a different brand.

 

Timo

Timo found beer no. 2 sweet tasting, but beer no.3 was bitter and beer no. 1 was in between. He liked all 3 brands but liked number 2 best.

Brands we tested were:

Beer No. 1- Stieglitz Gold

Beer No. 2- Gösser, the main brand of Göss brewery which is one of the largest and most popular breweries in Austria.

and Beer No. 3- Stieglitz Pils

 

 

Lagavulin 16 vs. Laphroaig 10 Year Cask Strength – Thanksgiving Day 2013 Blind Tasting

There were two smokey whiskeys that Joey, Arwin, Ravi and Anne were blind tested at thanksgiving.  Lagavulin 16 was my standard favorite smokey whiskey but the Laphroaig surprised me when I tried it on it’s own as to it’s nice smokiness. Joey thought #1 was a tad bit darker.  Arwin and Ravi thought they were the same in color. Ravi thought #1 was a nice up front taste but doesn’t lingered enough. It was  nice and smokey but wished it lasted longer. He also thought #2 lasted longer and was less intense.  He preferred #2 and thought #2 was Lagavulin and #1 was Laphroaig. But he was  hedging as he tried it more and the differences seem to went away when you tried them together. Joey thought #1 was in moderate smokiness, tasty but agreed that it doesn’t lingered enough.  It had a sweeter smell. Arwin liked #1 better and #2 hurts at the end. Joey would liked to drink #1 after a good steak but #2 at a fire. When eating, he wanted up-front flavor.  He thought #2 was Laphroaig and #1 was Lagavulin. Anne thought #2 was stronger. In the end, #1 was Lagavulin 16 year and #2 was Laphroaig 10 year cask strength.

This peaty Single Malt dates back to 1816, when John Johnston and Archibald Campbell each constructed a distillery on what today is the Lagavulin site. After Johnston died, Campbell consolidated the two, before selling it to malt merchant Alexander Graham. Today it continues to uphold the traditions of its past, using meticulous preparation to create powerful whisky. Their signature 16 year old malt has a strong peat, smoke and seaweed nose that is followed by a nutty complexity and light fruitiness. In the mouth characters of Charcoal, dry woodiness and iodine followed by chilli chocolate and a hint of toffee. (Source: http://danmurphys.com.au/product/DM_41788/)

The original Laphroaig is distilled the same way today as when Ian Hunter invented it over 75 years ago. In making Laphroaig, malted barley is dried over a peat fire. The smoke from this peat, found only on Islay, gives Laphroaig its particularly rich flavour. Those enjoying the 10 Year Old will first notice the bold, smoky taste, followed by a hint of seaweed and a surprising sweetness. This full-bodied variant is the foundation of all Laphroaig expressions and comes with a long finish. (Source: http://www.laphroaig.com/whiskies/10yo.aspx)

Tequila Revolucion: Reposado, Anejo, Blanco

I tried different varieties of tequilas recommended by a bartender at Mayaheul on Adams Street in Normal Heights, San Diego. First was the Revolution Reposado. It was good and perhaps a poor mans whiskey.  Maybe I’m doing it wrong to try to recreate smokiness in a tequila.  So next, I asked for something interesting and got the Orgullo Anejo which has lots of tastes in it and layers. There were changes with each sip.  It was definitely interesting and an experience. Still, I had the idea that I’m not experiencing intrinsic goodness of tequila and I asked the bartender. I was told that true tequila drinkers drink Blancos.  He gave me a sample of Fortaleza and I can see the rawness and appreciated it,  just like I like neat scotches. Maybe I need to order Blanco tequilas to taste the plant better.

Tequila Revolucion prides themselves in selecting 7-9 year Blue Weber Agave and baking the pinas in traditional brick ovens. The resulting liquid is fermented and then given a double-distillation process. The bottle has two interesting features: first, an engraving of two pistols; second, 45ml markers on the bottle so that pouring can be precisely measured. (This latter is a bit baffling to us–how do you use the markers while pouring?) According to the write-up in The Tasting Panel Magazine (May 2012), the brand was founded by Juan Carlos Arav Fortique in 1995 based upon the “best raw ingredients” for a product that would “rebel against the ordinary.” (Source: http://www.proof66.com/tequila/revolucion-reposado-tequila.html)

Tequila Revolucion Repsoado is rested (or “reposado”) in oak for 10 months prior to bottling, imparting a light color and flavor to the normally clear spirit. 10 months is a bit longer than the standard 6-month aging for most reposado tequilas. In another unusual move, the barrels are selected only from those that have previously held tequila (where many oak barrels will be ex-bourbon barrels). They suggest looking for a hint of butterscotch with the more familiar tequila flavor notes of vanilla, honey, and oak. (Source: http://www.proof66.com/tequila/revolucion-reposado-tequila.html)

Tequila Revolucion Anejo aged for 18 months in oak which they are careful to ensure previously held tequila (many tequilas are aged in ex-bourbon barrels or similar). This is also a bit longer than the standard 12-month aging process required for the anejo designation. They describe their anejo as “rich and complex” and recommend it for sipping neat in a snifter. (Source: http://www.proof66.com/tequila/revolucion-anejo-tequila.html)

The Blanco has a mild nose of citrus, herbs and raw agave that reminds of Siete Leguas blanco but dialed down. Once in the mouth, it’s a bit watery. The taste is relatively unoffensive, but what you remember is a strange astringency at the back of your throat and top palate that lingers unpleasantly. Unfortunately, this is carried through the line and is particularly strong in the reposado. (Source: http://tastetequila.com/2011/you-say-your-want-a-revolucion-too-bad-this-tequila-isnt-worth-fighting-for/)


 

Belching Beaver Brewery, truly great beer

I was visiting San Diego recently and decided to try some beers at the Belching Beaver Brewery.  I sampled a number of beers. First was blushing IPA. It was just ok, drinkable and rated as 6. Next was Hop highway IPA and was rated as 7 for having nice hops. Rabid rye IPA was the last and it was very good and had a subtle rye, good for an 8 rate.

Belching Beaver does not brew good beer. We brew truly great beer. Currently, we are crafting 7 distinct beers year-round that range from pale ale to stout, which are sure to please anyone’s tastes. Our first priority is using quality ingredients to create the beer recipes at our microbrewery. (Source: http://belchinbeaver.com/our-beers/)

If you’re a beer advocate, and love small intimate tasting rooms with good beers this is the place to go. Their small tasters are awesome. Good beer at a reasonable price. Open, clean, well lit with simple design. Although their beers are limited only to their own, they have a huge variety of styles, different treatments and you can choose between flights, half pours and pints depending on your mood. Plus their pints have killer prices.


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