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.

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.

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.

Kirkland Signature Pale Ale – Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, earthy

The other day, I tried Kirkland Signature Pale Ale. It tasted as earthy but smooth.  Mark rated it as 6. No Sierra or anchor steam.  It was a good attempt at classic pale ale.

This is a classic, American-Style pale ale that displays all of the complex bitterness and aroma from the hops of the Yakima Valley in Washington State. By using a top-fermenting ale yeas strain we bring out the floral and herbal flavor profiles. A clean, malty body is developed from the pale and light caramel malt. ABV 5.4% Bitterness 35 IBU. Contract brewed for Costco by the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company under the brewer name Hopfen Und Malz (for the west coast market) and since mid 2009 by Matt Brewing as “New Yorker Brewing Co.” (for the east coast market. (Source:

Dan and Dean opened the first Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Palo Alto in 1988. Since then, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants have opened across the United States and world to include locations from California to Florida and even Taiwan. In 1997, Gordon Biersch opened a state-of-the-art brewery and bottling facility in San Jose, CA in order to begin bottling and distributing its famed, German-style beers. Today, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company is a brewing industry leader with 22 years of experience and counting. The microbrew trend continues to grow, and the company is actively expanding its distribution nationwide. Since 1998, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company has more than doubled its production, increasing its capacity to 3.1 million gallons of beer annually, making Gordon Biersch Brewing Company the largest brewery in the San Francisco Bay Area (Source:, 2012)

Kirkland Signature Pale Ale pours a deep amber with quite a bit of white head which is retained for longer than most pale ales. The beer has some malt to it and quite a bit of hops. The flavor is a little on the thin side – almost like a paler version of an American Pale Ale.

Royal Stag – Pernod Ricard, a generic whiskey

The other day, Joey and Ravi tried Royal Stag Whiskey from India. Joey felt that it was drinkable and mixable. Ravi thought it was a solid whiskey that is drinkable but wasn’t anything special.  In short, it was the essence of a generic whiskey.

Royal Stag was created in 1995 from a blend of Indian spirits and imported Scottish malt. The first brand in India without artificial flavoring, it has become a key whisky and a benchmark among the country’s power brands. In 2011, Royal Stag sold 12.4 million cases and continues to grow. It is usually served on ice or with water. It is available in 1L, 75cl, 37.5cl, 18cl, 9cl and 6cl formats. The launch of super-premium Royal Stag Barrel Select in December 2011 added to the brand range. (Source:

Royal Stag have an exceptional smoothness, taste and malty-flavor. This is one of the very few blended Indian whiskey in this category that can be taken on the rocks. Its consistent smoothness and flavor uplifted its status in the market.

Seagram is now part of Pernod Ricard due to worldwide takeover. Pernod Ricard produces and distributes many prestigious brands in many categories of alcoholic beverage. Some of world famous brands of this group are: Ricard, Seagram’s Gin, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute, Larios, Clan Campbell, Havana Club, Jameson, Martell, Ramazzotti, Wyborowa, Wild Turkey, Jacob’s Creek and Wyndham Estate. These brands are either global leader or one of the top selling brands of a select market. Pernod Ricard group is marketing more than 100 famous brands around the globe. Royal Stag is one such brand being marketed in India and Nepal as per requirement of these markets. (Source:


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




Ardbeg Corryvreckan wins Best in Show at LA Cocktail Classic

The LA Cocktail Classic was held recently at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles, and it was Christmas for whiskey lovers.

The brands are too numerous to list (actually, you can see the brands here on Drink Eat Play’s website) and definitely too numerous to drink them all, so I had to choose wisely.  Imagine the above space, plus an equally beautiful outside area, full of whiskeys, cognacs, and cocktails made by some of LA’s best mixologists.  Many of the spirits being sampled cost several hundred dollars per bottle.  Bowmore had a really neat booth where they paired their scotch with oysters in an oyster shooter.

However, one brand stood out as soon as I saw them.  As someone who likes smokey whiskeys, Ardbeg and Laguvulin are my 2 recent favorites, and to celebrate my daughter’s birth, I bought a bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I appreciated the opportunity to try some of Ardbeg’s other whiskeys and the award for the best whiskey at the LA Cocktail classic goes to: Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan wins The VeniceWhiskey Best in Show at LA Cocktail Classic

Smokey, complex, and all around delicious!  It’s got the tastiness of a Rye with the smokiness that is classic Ardbeg.  Definitely a bottle I’m going to buy for my next special occassion as the Uigedail is nice, but the Corryvreckan was noticeably (I tried all the Ardbegs side by side) better.  Congrats Ardbeg on a whiskey well done!

- Ravi Iyer



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