Bruichladdich 3D3

Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle – $55 | £40

Another great Bruichladdich came my way.  This time in the form of a sample from my friend “O.K.”  Bruichladdich is one of these lesser known whiskies here in the states – especially when going to a bar (unless it’s a really good one like The Daily Pint that I just went to with a new friend – a post on that later with details of a new reader challenge issued to yours truly!).

A run of the mill bar in the US just does not carry a good selection of Scotch whiskies (or American whiskeys for that matter).  Most bars have the token Jameson, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker Red & Black label, Chivas Regal 12yr and maybe a 12yr Glenlivet or Glenfiddich.  I’m not knocking these whiskies – they’re all nice and very drinkable.  But, nothing super special.

I would love to start seeing some (at the very least) entry level Highland Park, Bruichladdich, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, Balblair, Cragganmore… the list can go on and on.  I’ve been trying to edu-m’cate my local watering holes but, I can’t do it everywhere I go.  Your average red-blooded American does not have access to the finer Scotch whiskies and it’s a damn shame.

Let me get on to my review of the whisky at hand: Bruichladdich 3D3!

On the nose — Sweet peat, honey, green apples, something a bit bitter (can’t quite place it), baby vomit, latex gloves, cheddar cheese (or more like salty cheese crackers, think Gold Fish) – came back for another nosing and found some nice flowery notes popped up and slight grassiness – perhaps lemongrass – Loving this nose – very complex!

On the mouthNice peat attach right up front – quite good, I like this at 46%, briny and a little like cocktail sauce (or the lemons from it),

Nice chewy mouth feel, celery salt.  This is really done well – Kudos ‘laddies!

FinishLong, peaty, smoke, honey and rubber.  The peat has violated every part of my mouth (wow, that sounds a little…dirty) – a Bruichladdich done quite right!

In sumThere are so many great Bruichladdich expressions and while all of them (at least the ones I tried) are quite different from one another, you know you’re going to go on a great ride with these malts.  This being said, you can, for the most part, always count on a delicious fruitiness to be your driver through the Bruichladdich journey.  While I normally go for the peatier stuff during the cold seasons, I would have no problem reaching for this at any time of year.

For those confused by the “Baby vomit” descriptor, check out Guid Scotch Drink’s “Say What!?” post to better understand what I’m really smelling when I say “Baby Vomit”

Also, check out Whisky Israel’s post of the Bruichladdich 3D3, Gal has gone to great lengths to fill you in on who this malt was made for (or is in honor of): Norrie Campbell

Bowmore 1992 Bordeaux Finish

Islay region – 53.5%ABV – 700ml bottle – Limited Edition, 1,800 bottles – £60 | €68

This is going to be a quick post.  I’ve got to get up at 2:30 tomorrow morning.  I’m flying out to Anaheim for a trade show (one of the things I truly love about my job).  While I’m out there I’m getting a chance to meet with one of my regular readers – we’re going to taste us some fine whiskies!  Ok, to the Bowmore:

I’ve got to be honest, my first experience with Bowmore was nearly my last.  It was their 12yr old expression and I had it during an Islay tasting.  We tasted the following whiskies that night: Bowmore 12yr, Bruichladdich “Rocks”, Laphroaig 15yr & Ardbeg 10yr.

Looking back, I guess The Bowmore did not stand a chance against the other three Islay expressions.  To add insult to injury, we broke out a little Lagavulin 16yr (which, in my opinion kicks the a$$ of most of the standard expressions out there, be they Islay or no).

Ok, enough crap-talking because I made the very-very smart decision to revisit The Bowmore.  First, I tried out the Master of Malt 26yr single cask exclusive (you can read my review here, and you can buy it here).

Then, I received a nice sample from my friend “O.K.” of The Bowmore 1992 Bordeaux Finish 53.5%.  I tried this Bordeaux finished Bowmore right after the 26yr Master of Malt expression – a world of difference (can you say understatement?).

Here we go:

On the Nose Quite musky (think 70’s hippy oil meets mafioso cologne bath.

This is a strong nose!), quite smokey (but not like campfire smoke, this is very sophisticated smoke), fruity & winey, quite drying, cured meats, oily

On the mouth Perfect strength at 53.5%, very tannic/drying mouth feel, Italian sausages and glycerin soap, slightly smokey, onions and kale

Finish Very vegetal and the drying continues, more meats and a slight effervescence – Oh, some of those fruits from the nose came back.

In sumI’m happy I made a return to The Bowmore.  It’s obvious that they’ve got some very interesting whiskies.  I’m looking forward to more Bowmore!  I’m going to make a point of trying the Bowmore 12yr again.  Alone this time to see how it stands up by itself.  That post will come within the next few months.

Master of Malt 26yr Bowmore Single Cask

Islay region – 53.4%ABV – 700ml bottle – Master of Malt exclusive bottling, only 195 bottles – £100

My day… actually, the past few days for me have be rough.  For this reason to that one, just a lot going on and not enough room in my head to think about it all.  This is not a diary blog for me.  This is a whisk(e)y blog so I’m not going to pour my heart out because, you probably don’t give a rat’s ass.  What you do care about is whisk(e)y and I can dig that.  Shall I move on then?  Yes.

Sitting at home, I have an arsenal of 16 whisky samples – it’s like heaven to me.  Check it:

With so much to choose from, I just did not know where to start.  I think I stood in front of my sample stash for about 25 minutes before I made my decision.  My decision to choose the Master of Malt 26yr Bowmore was partially based on the fact that the only Bowmore I’ve ever had was their 12yr expression and I just did not like it (that review to come – sorry Bowmore folks).  I wanted to try something else by Bowmore and I **LOVE** the Master of Malt 19yr Tomatin (that review can be found here).  The other reason is that I’ve got a serious case of spring fever (like you would not believe) and the reviews I’ve read on this expression reminded me of spring or the flavors I’d like to taste in a spring-time malt.

On the nose You’d never know this was 53.4% Alcohol By Volume.  It’s very easy to nose, and what a strange nose it is!  Soapy and quite flowery, perfect for this time of year.  Very much like Spider Mums (near exact).  Powdered sugar cookies and nail polish.  Really tough getting past that flowery smell though, quite lovely.  Reading the review of this whisky in Guid Scotch Drink, Jason described a Parma Violets candy smell.  Being that the Parma Violets are a candy found in the UK, not the US, I have no idea what they are but, Jason does, click here to find out what they are.  Hint of smoke floating way in the back.

On the mouth Pure sugary candies!!  Holy $hit!  No need to add water at all – it’s at the perfect strength.  Pez, Cherry Pez, more soap (kids no-tear fruity soap). Fun Dip and Pixie Stix.  Is this whisky?  Yes?  Really??  If R.J. Reynolds came out with this product, they’d be in court in no time flat as people would say it’s too candy-like, “you MUST be marketing to kids”.  Thin mouth feel but coating somehow – like the fluid itself is sugar based.  Powdered sugar.

FinishLong and fruity, like Beech-Nut gum (fruity like the gum, not the length of flavor as Beech-Nut gums lose their flavor right quick!)

In sumI read review after review about how fruity this stuff was and I just did not expect it to really be as fruity as it was, and, so amazingly like kids candies it really was.  This is not an every day dram for sure.  For me, I can have this once per year or so…  It’s unique, it’s super cool and complex.  The balance is great and I love the flowery nose.  I just couldn’t see myself reaching for this all the time.

A BIG thank you to JJY for the sample!

Field Trip to Tuthilltown Distillery plus two Hudson Whiskey tastings

Tuthilltown Distillery, Gardiner NY – Tour, store & tasting room

Tutilltown Distillery sits quite nicely in the woody woods in beautiful upstate New York.  Tuthilltown, makers of “Hudson Real American Whiskeys”, is a small place with a dirt driveway and parking lot, port-o-potty bathroom sitting outside the tasting room (quite far away mind you) and has two cats and a dog wandering the property.  Don’t let this description scare you away – pulling up, you sort of feel like your at a home away from home.  There’s an inviting feel to it somehow.

Then, as you walk into the store/tasting room, you get the sweet smell of maturing bourbon and a really, really nice view of their barrel stock:

After getting-a-lo to all of these beautiful barrels (most of which were quite small, some at only 3 gallons!) I met with a very nice woman by the name of Luz.  She’s in charge of the store and provided some great conversation as I waited for the tour guide to arrive.

When the guide was ready, Luz walked me over to the actual distilling building where I then met with a tall hipster-type dude by the name of Liam.  Before I go on, I will tell you that this is the first distillery tour I have ever been on and I did not know what to expect.  I can tell you, throughout the whole experienced I was a wide eyed boy in a candy store!  Actually, it felt more like I was Charlie visiting Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (sans the Oompa-Loopmas, Gene Wilder and Slugworth).

Liam took me through the entire distilling process, room through room (which is nearly the same for their bourbons, rye, single malt & vodkas).  I will not go into tremendous detail here but I will say what surprised me the most was how very hands-on the whole process is.  Liam (and the other distillers) have their fancy-fingers on everything and you can tell that it is a true labor of love for them and, as you’ll see in my tasting notes below, this love and care shines through to the end product.

I was quite wowed by their two stills (at least one of which was imported from Germany and was originally used for making Lambic beers).

Also, as you’ll notice below on their cute little 375ml bottles, they have a very thick coating of wax keeping the cork in place.  Before I got to the distillery, I pictured a long conveyor belt with robotic arms grabbing bottles, 8 at a time, robotically corking and dipping the bottles to then place on another conveyor belt to bring the hot-waxy bottles to a cooling area, etc…

Instead, this is what I saw:

All four bottles are placed, by hand, onto the dipping posts (I totally made up that term, dipping posts – Tuthilltown folks, feel free to used that nomenclature for this dipping apparatus) then dipped, again by hand, into the wax.  The bottles are then labeled (you guessed, by hand – using a hand-cranked labeler).

Liam – thank you for your tour!  Very informative, very cool.

Ok, onto my tasting during the tour:

I met with a guy, I’m guessing about my age, by the name of Gable.  His father is one of the fine, smart, folks who opened this distillery.  Which, by the way, is the first legally operated distillery in New York State since Prohibition!!  Also, their bourbon is the first bourbon to *ever* be produced legally in New York State.  Like I said, smart folks – very innovative!

Gable is one of these super-charming and disarming type guys.  A charismatic dude who knows his business quite well.  Gable went on to provide a tasting of their current line (at least the ones they could legally taste/sell in their tasting room/store):  Hudson New York Corn Whiskey, Hudson Baby Bourbon, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Heart of the Hudson Apple Vodka (twice distilled), Spirit of the Hudson Apple Vodka (thrice distilled).

Their Vodkas, by the way, are Kosher for Passover as they are distilled from apples, not grain — Cheers on that!!

While I wont be giving notes on all the spirits tasted, I can provide notes for the two bourbons I went home with (what, you thought I could leave empty handed??  I had to buy me some booze!).

Before I go on with the notes allow me to say that these whiskeys only come in 375ml bottles and cost $41 per bottle.  This being said, the fluid contained within the bottles are worth their weight in whiskey!  This is hand-crafted artisan American Whiskey.  Quite unique and very special stuff.

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

On the nose One thing I truly love about the Tuthilltown/Hudson Whiskeys is that the smells and tastes are very direct.  When I say I smell “Corn”, it’s like it’s fresh off the cob.  Just under the corn is the very clear smell of fresh dirt/earth (as if someone was holding a handful directly under my nose).  I’m also smelling burnt sugar and honeysuckle, blueberry (very subtle, the only subtle smell here) and vanilla.  Gobs of vanilla.

On the mouth Oh sweet fancy Moses!  The flavors basically started a mosh-pit in my mouth (it’s like there’s a Dead Kennedys show, circa 1984, right on my tongue). The attack is great, fierce yet quite welcome.  This is a strong, burly bourbon which is filled with a mouth puckering sweetness a la sweet corn, cinnamon, Orange Tang Powder, the taste of the smell of clove cigarettes, oak and quite some vanilla again.

Finish Long, peppery and biting.  I want more (why do these only come in 375ml bottles!?).  More corn.  Candied corn (NOT Candy-Corn if you catch my meaning) actually; that and some nice citrus, then finally more fresh dirt/earth.

Hudson Baby Bourbon

On the nose Movie popcorn with butter, vanilla & burnt sugar (again), no fresh earth smell here, rather, it’s replaced by a slightly soap citrus notes, Red Wax Lips.

On the mouth Fresh & warmed buttered corn on the cob.  Again, Tuthilltown delivers with their very direct flavors – yum!  I feel like I am on a picnic right now.  Banana peel & vanilla cream, the citrus returns.

Finish During my tasting with Gable I noticed an odd note in the palate of their Manhattan Rye expression.  A note that I detected in the finish of this Baby Bourbon – Jujubes!

Specifically the orange ones before Heide Candies changed their recipe (back in the late 90’s early 2000’s) – quite soapy and very orangey.

Love it!!  That’s the final note on the finish.  Before I got that I noted some warming caramel, vanilla and oak.

In sum This was a great introduction to the whole process.  While I spent the last three years educating myself in the tasting of whisk(e)y, I just now got a nice crash-course in the whisk(e)y creation process.  One I will never forget.  If I were you, I would seek out Tuthilltown’s Hudson Whiskeys.  A true American Treat.

If you ever find yourself in New York State, seek this distillery out .  They provide tours on weekends and their store is open from 11am – 5pm.  For more information on Tuthilltown and their whiskeys, check it here.

Mortlach Sherry butt – a meat lovers whisky

Speyside Region – 58%ABV – 70cl bottle – €85 (could not find a UK source and at 70cl rather than 750ml, you’ll never find this in the US)

First off, a special thank you to OK for this sample!

About 21 years ago, at the ripe old age of 15, I started really getting into a band from England called the Smiths.

Morrissey, the amazingly flamboyant front man of the group, had a strong effect on me as well as my other friends around the time.  It was quite amazing really.  During a Smiths concert (or Morrissey concert, when he went solo), men and women, girls and boys would throw flowers onto the stage, run up there and hug and kiss Morrissey – like he was a modern-day gay Jesus or something.  While I never threw flowers or jumped on stage to hug and kiss him I did listen to his lyrics quite attentively.  They really stuck in and made an impact on me – Come on I was an impressionable 15yr kid!!

Well, it was the 1985 album, and the title track from it, “Meat is Murder“, which started me on my vegetarian kick.

I’ve been a vegetarian ever since.  While I’m not preaching my beliefs anymore, I still keep the lifestyle and feel quite healthy for it; 21 years later.

Tasting this next whisky really brought back memories for me!  You see, before I became an herbivore, I was quite the omnivore with serious, SERIOUS carnivorous leanings.  Steak, tongue, pastrami, fish, corned beef, chicken, turkey, venison… You name it, if it was made of meat, I would eat!

As mentioned in a previous post, I am only 3 years into tasting whiskies.  This one, the Mortlach Sherry butt (tee-hee) from the C&S Dram Collection, is quite new to me.  Not just this expression or brand of whisky but more the style.  As my friend Oli from Whisky Ratings calls it, it’s the Oxtail soup style of whisky.  Perfect for a vege-ma-tarian, right??  Let’s taste!

On the nose Grandma Betty’s Passover Brisket, Beef Gravy, Fried Onions and potatoes (think home-fries at a Greek diner), daisies, dates & figs and turpentine – very drying nose

PalateTannic beyond belief! With water, french onion soup and a lot of what I got on the nosing.  A bit grassy and earthy (with the water only)

FinishLong & meaty, still drying and then, after sometime (maybe a minute or so) I get a little bit of marzipan.

John Holmes

In sum While I am amazed at what true artisans can accomplish with water, barley, a sherry butt and time, this puppy is not up my alley.  The flavors are all there.  They are just flavors I prefer not to drink.  Not because it’s so meaty and I’m a vegetarian.  I loved and miss the taste of meats I just would never drink my meat.