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.

Costco’s Speyburn 10 Year beats Trader Joe’s Speyburn Bradan Orach in blind taste test

Recently, I bought at bottle of Speyburn Bradan Orach at Trader Joe’s for $15, while Joey bought at 1.5 Liter bottle (!!!) of Speyburn 10 year at Costco.  Naturally, the thing to do would be to conduct a blind taste test as to which is better.


Speyburn Whiskey - Trader Joes vs Costco

The verdict:

Costco’s Speyburn 10 year won handily.  According to Joey, the Bradan Orach was  light and fruity.  The 10 year had more of a smell and was smokier and much fuller.    I agreed.  The 10 year was much better and fuller with a more complex taste.  The Bradan Orach had a poor finish.

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

Wild Turkey Straight Rye – Sweet & Tasty Kentuckiness

I have had great luck with rye whiskeys of late.  They just seem to have more taste than equivalent non-rye versions. Beverage warehouse has a couple of rye whiskeys for under $20 (Wild Turkey, Jim Bean, and Old Overholt). I’ve had Jim Bean and Old Overholt before, and so I decided to try Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Rye.

Fresh in my mind was Grant’s, which I’d tried the day before and the Wild Turkey Rye had the same long tasty finish, but it also had a really fun sweetness to it at the beginning.  It still doesn’t have the smokiness that I love in a Whiskey, but it’s a great blend of flavors and definitely better than the Grant’s, which wasn’t bad and which I gave 50 points to, so I’m going to give this one 65 points on my 100 point scale.  I look forward to a battle of the rye whiskeys soon!

- Ravi

Jameson’s vs. Grant’s Scotch Whisky

I love whiskey and therefore most everything I drink will likely be considered ‘good’, but there are levels of good, and there are certainly times when I like some things more than others.  As I learn to discern these differences at a more conscious level, I thought it would be useful to have something to compare against.  I’d recently bought a 1 liter bottle of Grant’s Whiskey from Trader Joe’s ($10!) and had a regular bottle of Jameson’s that I’d picked up at the airport a few months ago ($21, I believe).  Perhaps tasting them side by side would help me figure out a) what level of good to ascribe to these fine beverages and b) what actual differences in taste there might be.


My layman’s thought:

Jameson’s, the best selling Irish whiskey in the world, is a smooth, easy to drink whiskey, that is pleasant and doesn’t linger long on my palate.  It probably mixes well in a cocktail and is a fine flexible drink to have around.  If I’m making up a rating scale, I’d probably have to give it a 30/100, simply because I know that while it’s a great drink, there are many many better whiskeys out there.

Grant’s is a far more complex drink, even at $10/liter at Trader Joe’s.  It has a lot more taste to it that will likely turn off the non-whiskey drinker, but if you welcome the taste and go with it, it’s really quite good (especially for the price).  Grant’s makes Glenfiddich and Balvenie as well and has a far more sophisticated website than it’s $10 price might lead you to believe.  Grant’s definitely wins this round.  It doesn’t have quite the smokiness that I prefer in a whiskey, so I might give it a 50/100, reserving the upper reaches of my personal scale for the Ardbeg’s of the world….but it’s a great deal for the price.

- Ravi Iyer

Canadian Club Whiskey Factory Tours near Detroit (Windsor)

In December of 2009, I visited the Canadian Club Heritage Center in Windsor, Ontaria, just across the river from Detroit, Michigan where my father lives.  As someone who has visited Detroit often, I was quite surprised to find such a wonderful exhibit so under-promoted in the Detroit area.  I half expected the place to be closed, but when we arrived there, we were one of a handful of people to take the tour.

The highlight was the history of prohibition, as Detroit was one of the primary places where liquor was smuggled across from Canada (where liquor was still legal) and then brought to Chicago by the mob.  As such, there was a lot of colorful history of that time, like this woman, who had a convenient hiding place for her liquor.

Of course, we also saw their various brands of whiskey.  Apparently, they are very popular in Japan.  And I hadn’t drawn the connection between the popular “CC & Coke” (though not quite as popular as a Jack and Coke) and Canadian Club, the brand.

Our $5 tour price included a tasting of 3 whiskeys.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember them now, but for the purposes of this blog post, I bought a bottle (also to thank them for the hospitality) and here are my brief notes on the below bottle…

[ to be added...must by bottle! :) ]

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