Rowan’s Creek


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


1792 Old Town Bourbon

Overall Rating: 7/10

Taste: Solid; Well Balanced; Sweet



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.

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:

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:

Brennivin, a nice summer drink

Darius, Donnie, Dad, Joey and Arwin tried Brennivin. Darius thought that he wouldn’t drink by himself because he doesn’t like licorice. Donnie felt it was ambivalent and just okay. For Dad, it was not his cup of tea. Joey tasted it as mild licorice with some other subtle spices. He thought it as not a single malt scotch  and it was better than vodka. It has its place for the right occasion, thus, it is a nice summer drink. Arwin thought of it as not a lot of flavor and he preferred fernet branca.

Brennivín is an Icelandic schnapps, considered the country’s signature alcoholic beverage. Having a national beverage seems to bede rigeur for small countries who want to  maintain their cultural identity. Iceland is no exception. It is made from fermented potato pulp, and flavoured with caraway seeds. It is sometimes called svarti dauði (“black death”). (Source:

At times it is drunk as a “chaser” after sampling “hákarl”, which consists of putrefied shark meat, to mask the meat’s taste. The word brennivín literally translates into English as ‘burning wine’, and comes from the same root as brandy, namely brandewijn which has its roots in the Dutch language. (Source:

Despite its unofficial status as national beverage and a traditional drink for the mid-winter feast of Þorrablót, many Icelanders do not regularly drink it. The drink has a strong taste and high alcohol content and carries an equivocal reputation despite the fact that Iceland lives huge taxes on most alcoholic beverages, brennivín is actually one of the moderately priced liquors available in the national alcohol store.

Brennivin today is mostly enjoyed as a patriotic drink, most notably on St. Thorlac’s Day (December 23), a holiday that honors the patron saint of Iceland. It’s a popular souvenir sampled then brought home by Iceland’s growing number of tourists.


The Laddie Ten – Bruichladdich, smooth

The other day, Joey, Dad and I tried The Laddie Ten. Joey said it has a sweet smell with some peat and hint of vanilla. Dad thought it was not his cup of tea. I said it was like an oban, smooth and not boring.

The very first 10 year old whisky to be wholly distilled, aged and bottled following Bruichladdich’s resurrection in 2001. In many ways this marks the beginning of the new era and this will be snapped up by connoisseurs and collectors. A true milestone bottling.

At Bruichladdich, we believe the whisky industry has been stifled by industrialization and self-interest – huge organisations have developed that require a stable status quo to ensure that their industrial processes can run to maximum efficiency, producing the maximum “product” with the minimum input and variation, all to the lowest unit price. We reject this. We believe that whisky should have character; an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and the philosophies of those who distil it – a sense of place, of terroir that speaks of the land, of the raw ingredients from which it was made. (Source:

The Laddie Ten, this whisky, this spirit, malted from only Scottish barley for authenticity, slow-fermented for purity, trickle-distilled for creamy texture and cask-filled at 70% for extra flavour, has been quietly slumbering in our loch-side warehouses for the last 10 years, and we are immensely proud to offer this landmark dram to you now.The true beginning of a new era. (Source:

This 10 years old ‘Laddie Ten’ has been praised by a lot of people as a high-quality, low-cost whisky. It’s unchill-filtered and not coloured, as all bottlings should be these days.

Lagavulin 16 vs. Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Tonight, Joey and I tried two of our favorite whiskeys in the most consequential battle of whiskeys ever to grace the pages of  Indeed, Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan had won “Best in Show” at the LA Cocktail classic and so I bought a full bottle for my birthday.  Laguvulin 16 is an old favorite that has recently gone on sale at Costco, so I have a couple bottles in reserve.  Who would win this battle royale?
























First, we tried the Arbeg.  Joey felt that it was a bit sweeter than he remembered from our tasting at the LA Cocktail Classic.  I would agree with that.  It’s smoky, but the complexity of it isn’t what I remembered.  Joey felt there was a flash of smoke that goes away and he felt that it was more complex when he tried it before.  The sweetness overpowered the smokiness such that if you want a complex smoke flavor, it didn’t quite deliver.  He felt like the smell was sweet and almost cloying, though he doesn’t quite know what cloying means.  We both still feel that it is among our favorite whiskeys, but it didn’t live up to our memory.  Joey would say that the Ardbeg is certainly in the top 10% of whiskeys, meaning that it gets 91 points on the wine scale.  I feel that it is still very good, as all Ardbeg whiskeys are, but it doesn’t seem to have the complexity that I love in a whiskey.  Perhaps my previous tasting was biased by the setting.

Next we tried the Lagavulin 16.  Joey felt like it had more of a gasoline smoke smell.  It had a smooth start with a blossoming of smoke that lingers.  Definitely lingers more than the Ardbeg.  Joey would give the Laguvulin 93 points on our scale.  I feel like it gets better as you drink it, with more complexity coming forth.  Joey felt like Laguvulin had a good smoke flavor with a far greater length of time that the taste persisted, far more than the Ardbeg.  There was a quality difference that is hard to verbalize.  I have to agree as I’ve definitely been enjoying Laguvulin more of late, in a household with both the Ardbeg and Laguvulin available.   This is made especially attractive lately as Costco has been selling it for $55 a bottle (in Culver City, CA).

The winner: Laguvulin 16 by a comfortable margin.

- Ravi Iyer




Fog’s End Monterey Rye tastes like a Rum

Joey and I tried this new “Monterey Rye” from Fog’s End from Beverage Warehouse, which always has interesting rye whiskeys.  Interestingly, I actually went there to pick up a bottle of Wild Turkey Rye, but they were sold out as apparently there is a rye whiskey shortage.  I better stock up!


Somewhere between a Whiskey and a Rum

The verdict?  Both Joey and I were a bit surprised by this one.  It hits you up front and it doesn’t have the long tasty finish that we expect from a Rye.  Joey felt that it had a lot of vanilla and it was a bit sweet for me.  I don’t think either of us would have chosen it as our favorite whiskey.

However, upon inspecting the bottle more, it was apparent that the whiskey is made only partly from rye and is partly made from sugar.  As a result, it might be more appropriate to call it a monterey rye whiskey/rum blend and when put in that context it makes much more sense.  Our initial distaste was largely because we thought it would be more whiskey-like and if I think of it like a Zacapa, a rum I like to sip, but with a rye taste as well, then it’s a really interesting idea.  It’s got aRum-like sweetness to it, but a whiskey-like strength.  I still wish the finish was longer, but I’m definitely glad I picked up a bottle and would recommend it to others for it’s uniqueness.  It’s only ~$25 a bottle too and maybe some day we can visit their distillery in Salinas.

Laguvulin 16 Review

My friends Mike & Kelly were kind enough to buy me a bottle of Laguvulin 16 year old scotch for helping him move and while I tried to explain how helping them was it’s own reward, I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so I accepted the bottle.   Thanks Mike & Kelly!

As whiskeys go, Laguvulin 16 is right up there with our favorites.  I just had a few glasses with Joey and we both agreed that it is in the highest class of whiskeys that we drink, right up there with Ardbeg and Oban (Joey’s favorites).  While it isn’t as classically smokey as Ardbeg, it has a classic complexity that is immediately appreciable.  Joey remarked that it has a “leather/wood taste that ends in a campfire” which might not sound tasty, unless you know Joey and realize that statement for the compliment it is.  The “je ne sais quoi” of the yumminess is admirable and keeps you wanting more, if only to figure out the “quoi” after all.  It’s a great drink.  I’d give it an 85/100, which is the top rating I’ve given out so far.  It’s a $60 bottle of whiskey, but well worth it.

Irish Whiskey Comparison – Tyrconnell, Feckin, Kilbeggan, Clontarf, Jamesons, & Bushmills

Who wants to go to be packed into an Irish bar when you have plenty of Irish whiskey in your cabinet?  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to buy a number of basic Irish whiskeys and see which one we liked best.  Below are our tasting notes and at the end are our recommendations.


First up was Tyrconnell, a single malt which came with it’s own cool indented glasses.

Joey:  …sweet start.  Leather taste. Lacks a complex finish.  A Burn
without flavor.  Smoke leather taste.

Ravi:  Decent start, but I don’t like the finish,…too smooth for me.  I’d give it a 35 on my scale, similar to Jamesons

Arwin: I don’t like it.  It makes me sick to my stomach. (Note: Arwin doesn’t like whiskey in general and might have a similar comment to make about any whiskey :)).

Mark: “The tyrconnell”..anything with a ‘the’  in the name is good. (except people who say “the” Ohio State University).  I like single malts.  different level of complexity.  It feels like it has a little bit of everything,  A hint of smokiness.  A really nice bold…a medium of everything.  A tinge smokey.

Next up was Feckin.

MM:  ”Nostril inflamatory”…  pleasant taste and then burns my mouth, which is good.  Looks clear, very light.  It was stimulating my teeth.

Joey:  Vanilla in my mouth at start.  Definitely better than Tyrconnel.
More complexity.

Ravi:  Bolder start.  Not smokey like I like it, but decent.  I’d give it a 58….don’t like it as much in subsequent sips as I get used to it and it loses its

Arwin:  good smell, bad taste

Mark: I like the name and crooked label.  Nothing smooth about it. About as smooth as a shotgun blast, which is fine.  Likes it because of the name…freaking cool to look at and think about.


Ravi: Smooth start.  Finish ok.  Not bad.  Not great.  Not enough
taste to be a prime choice of mine….48/100.

Joey: On the smoother side.  Agrees with Ravi.  Some
oak….confirmed by label that says “gently matured in oak casks”…cherry

Mark:  Unusual ot find something that is sweet and smoky at the same
time.  Best intro whiskey for non-whiskey drinkers.

Arwin (a non-whiskey drinker, responding to Mark’s comment): It’s the best one yet.  Not bitter, but it has a sharp…flavor.  more mild than the other two I tried, but it still burns going down.


Ravi: Bolder Start.  Not much finish.  2nd favorite to Feckin as it’s  bolder, but not quite as bold a finish. 53/100

Arwin and Jane smell Butterscotch.  Joey agrees.

Mark:  another crooked label..  The youngest.  1998.  but they claim they
use things from the 10th century. definitely not sweet.  Quick taste.  Dissapears in your mouth like a pop rock.  Interesting whiskey..very

Dharma the cat: meow..tries to snatch from Mark.


MM – slightly stronger than the feckin  Likes it better than the Feckin as a result.

Ravi – smooth..I can see why it’s popular, but I prefer something with
fuller taste.


Mark – distinctive smell…doesn’t smell good…It has an “I don’t give a damn”
smell.  Hits every bit of your mouth that you might expect.  A little bit of sweetness…full…smooth.  doesn’t blow the back of your head off.  Best of the night.  Solid whiskey taste.

Ravi likes the full taste.  An old favorite. 55/100.

MM: smells more severe…more savage.

Arwin: the most normal taste.

The winner for each of us?

Jen sharp – I liked the Feckin…it was smoother and richer.  It felt like smooth and rich and very well rounded.
Ravi voted Feckin, but Bushmills was close.  May be biased by the name.  I’ll probably keep Bushmills around as my stock Irish Whiskey especially since it’s so cheap at CVS usually.  In general, I learned that I prefer Scotch to Irish Whiskey.
Joey Feckin and Bushmills tied for lead.

Redemption Rye Compared to Wild Turkey Rye


I had some friends over the other night and we tasted 2 rye whiskeys: Wild Turkey Rye and Redemption Rye (~$27 at Beverage Warehouse in the Marina).  Which one did people like more?

Mark P: The Wild Turkey blows up in your mouth.  I’m biased against the sweetness, as I like the rye better than normal Wild Turkey, which is too sweet.  I like them both, but for completely different reasons.  Wild turkey is like jalapeno peppers…I’m kinda sensitive to spice, so I prefer the smoother finish of Redemption.

Joey: I would rate them the same.  Redemption is a bit more of a typical rye and more complex, but I’d drink both for different occasions.  I’m still on the hunt for a top rye.

Mike:  Wild Turkey is sweet, but nowhere near American Honey (his favorite, and one of the sweetest whiskeys I’ve ever had.  It has some harshness… I need more context.

Ravi: I suppose it does depend on what you’re in the mood for or what your taste buds like.  I’d agree with Joey that they are about the same, but good for different reasons.  They both have that full rye taste.  The sweetness of Wild Turkey is an interesting contrast in a rye, but Redemption is perhaps the more adult taste.  I’ll give Redemption 65/100 points, the same as I gave Wild Turkey.  They’re both solid whiskeys.

- Ravi

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