Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Macallan 15 year Fine Oak Scotch Review

To me, The Macallan is one of the great scotch distilleries in the world, and in order to get to know the Macallan you really need to delve into their traditional sherry aged offerings.  I actually enjoy the Fine Oak series that is far easier to find around these parts, but they need a bit of time as the ten is very one-dimensional.  The 15 year is, to me, a great expression of the creamy style that Macallan built their reputation on, despite being aged in three separate barrel varieties.  The nose is new oak, sherry, dried fruit, brown sugar.  In the mouth I get that creamy flavor that everyone talks about, and the finish is really long and enjoyable.  This whisky manages to be ultra-smooth yet lasting and warming.  I love it.  If you're in SLC, you can also snag a dram of The Macallan 15 Fine Oak at The Wild Grape for a steal!  Score: 85

Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA Beer Review

Tried this "white IPA" tonight and have a couple of thoughts:

  • It really isn't an IPA in the usual sense - I found Chainbreaker to be a white ale in the style of Allagash or any number of spring brews, but with some extra hops. 
  • It isn't really all that hoppy - my hop-hating wife liked it. 
  • The pilsner malt really comes out.  Think half wit beer and half pilsner and then add four varieties of hops and you're starting to get it. 
All in, this isn't my favorite style but its perfect for the right occasion, or for the dedicated hophead trying to branch out into something more appropriate for the spring season. Drink this with some fish tacos in your backyard when the weather is just barely warm enough to be enjoyable. It's a great spring beer. Score: 68.

Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18 Scotch Review

It is great when you have the opportunity to taste an entire range of age expressions from the same malt, all at once.  I don't often get this opportunity, but I attended an event hosted by Glenfiddich recently and took down some notes.  My conclusions are not exactly what I expected from this flight!

First the 12.  This dram gets a bad rap as it is a touch cheaper than the ubiquitous 12 year offering from The Glenlivet, but I think it has some characteristics that merit experiencing.  The nose is light and floral.  On the palate, I get pears and green apple. This whisky finishes crisp but does not linger.  Overall, I'd happily pour a dram for the new Scotch drinker as it is utterly unintimidating.  Score: 70.

The 15 is my favorite in this group, particularly given the value.  Glenfiddich uses the Solera vatting system to marry this Scotch - everything gets married in a large vat that never goes below half full.  So while the youngest whisky in the 15 year bottle is indeed 15 years old, I like to think I'm tasting a few notes, however diluted, from the additions made before my grandfather was born.  On the nose I get figs, brown sugar and dried fruit.  The palate is white chocolate, caramel and golden raisins.  The finish on this one is long and lingering - probably my favorite part!  Score: 83.

While the 15 takes the 12 to a very unique destination, 3 more years of age brings the Glenfiddich 18 back to a very standard 18 year old spry side expression. I still get dark fruit on the nose, but the 18 adds pepper into the palate and some more heat in the finish. It is no doubt a good whisky but for the substantial price bump I stick with the 15. Score: 78.

Elijah Craig 12 year Bourbon Review

I sampled this whiskey for the first time tonight and took down some notes. First, despite the relative strength at 94 proof, Elijah Wood is all about the... wood. Oak dominates the nose, the palate and the finish. That isn't a bad thing, just leaves a bit of a single dimensioned impression. I'm guessing that the mash bill has a lot of rye as well because this whiskey lacks the corn sweetness that I find in many other bargain priced bourbons and trades it for spices rye notes in the palate. I would place this right in the middle of the pack amongst $25ish bourbons - not as good as Eagle Rare and better than Bulliet.  The best thing about Elijah Wood is that it is distinctive. I would be happy to have a bottle as my mixer or for sipping straight, and the rye-forward flavor would likely make for some cool bourbonized Sazeracs, Manhattans or Juleps. Score: 64.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Purpose and Grading System

I'm creating this blog as an offshoot from Wasatch Food to fulfill my own desire to write about the drinks I try.  My goal is not to provide definitive tasting notes as I don't have the nose to compete with the established drink bloggers.  I just want to tell you what I've tried, what I like, and why.  I would assume that my tastes will change too.  I'll fall in love with briney scotch for a few months and then leave it behind for a month of sipping tequila.  My primary interests are whisky and beer but I'm hopeful to throw in a little bit of everything.  In that vein, here's my grading system that can apply to spirits, wine or beer.

Here's the system:

  • I'm grading relative to peers - so I'm sipping a $15 bottle of whisky that stacks up well to $60 bottles, that is factored heavily into my scoring.
  • Anything above a 50 could very well have a place in my cabinet - it's all about the right drink for the occasion.  Sometimes you just need a cheap mixer.

100: I can't imagine ever giving out this grade - but it would mean perfection
93-99: This is the terrain of ultra-special sips - don't expect to see it often
88-92: This is where most of my very favorites live - but it's still a score reserved for the exceptional
82-87: Still special, but I'd be more inclined to drink than save beverages in this range
72-81: Now we are in the range of great daily drams, good wine and tasty beer
60-71: The terrain for stuff I like to drink but would probably not pick given other options
50-59: Mixers, party beer and wine, whisky for the ski lift - not bad but ordinary
Sub 50: I see serious deficiencies and would not buy again