I’ve been in contact with Wes for the past few months, tracking the progress of Angel’s Envy. Initially, Angel’s Envy was to be released on October 10, 2010 (10.10.10). I’m sure many dollars were spent on marketing which included this cool and unusual release date. However, the whiskey was not released on time. Was this because balls were dropped or because deadlines were missed sourcing bottles, corks, etc…? No. And actually, they didn’t miss the deadline – they passed on it. As Wes explained to me, Lincoln Henderson (Wesley’s dad and creator of this whiskey) felt the whiskey was just not ready to be bottled.
This is not just a whiskey expression, this is an expression of Lincoln Henderson. If he’s says the whiskey isn’t ready, it’s not ready.
Well, earlier this week I received a finalized sample from Wes (thanks again!). Let’s see if this whiskey is ready for mass bottling and mass consumption…
On the nose – Noses quite different than your standard bourbon. What I’m initially grabbed by is the softness to this whisky.
If I could compare smelling this to a feel, I’d say it’s like squeezing a marshmallow (with your nostrils).
Is it the lower ABV or the port finish?
Let’s go back to it – raisin scented wax candles, paraffin smooth.
Orange brandy or, brandy soaked oranges.
Cinnamon Drakes brand coffee cakes!!
A joy to nose, very elegant.
Perhaps a little dark chocolate, too?
On the mouth – Wow, interesting mouth feel – juicy yet a bit thin.
Spicy raisin notes.
More dark chocolate – more pronounced here as compared to the nose.
Getting some golden delicious apple notes (albeit with a good amount of cinnamon and perhaps slightly baked).
Finish – Medium in length filled with spiced berried (you name it, red & blue, they’re in there).
In sum – A really well designed expression. All of the parts fit quite nicely. Well balanced and with every sip I sort of felt like I was treating myself to something special. Like I said – decedent.
Quite the celebratory whiskey but, at the price point, you can treat yourself perhaps more often than you should.
Thankfully, I have another dram’s worth of this nectar which I will enjoy tonight for Shabbat, and will then wait patiently until I can buy a bottle from my local bottle shop.
Compass Box is currently celebrating 10 years in business — 10 years of creating fantastically innovative Scotch whisky blends.
This particular blend is a mixture of grain whiskies – no malt. Most blended Scotch whiskies are a mixture of malt whisky (whisky from a barley) and grain whisky (other grains, corn, etc…). This, as mentioned, is a blend of 100% grain whiskies. An interesting animal indeed.
So, how does this blend rate? Right good if you ask me:
On the nose – The color tells me it’s Scotch whisky (very light in color, perhaps a light gold like the water in a pot after boiling corn).
The initial whiff gives it away – it’s a grain whisky.
She noses like a bourbon – sweet gingerbread notes. Nutmeg is here to.
I’m getting, now, some interesting notes of pineapple.
Oak was there from the get go but it just hit me now.
Coconut cream and vanilla bean.
On the mouth – Buttery smooth mouth feel with hints of creamy milk chocolate and flaky pastries.
More gingerbread, less nutmeg.
Light nuttiness to this (almond perhaps?).
Finish – Very pleasing burn on the back of the tongue and back to some of those bourbon type notes I got on the nose.
However, there are some great melted caramel & toffee notes that appear as well. Yum!
In sum – One for the bourbon drinkers out there for sure (perhaps it’ll help turn them on to Scotch whisky). I’ve had some single grain Scotch whiskies, this is my first blended Scotch grain whisky and I have to say, this is quite the nice whisky! I’d reach for this in the dead of summer and, hold onto your seats, may even enjoy this over some ice! I imagine this would help make an amazing julep!
Special thanks goes out to Robin Robinson for the sample!
Being that the Jewish New Year began last night (L’Shanah Tovah to all of my Jewish readers — health and happiness to all of my readers), I figured I’d begin a new limited series focusing on kosher certified whiskies.
Loch Chaim whiskies are Single Malt, Single Cask whiskies (not cask strength, all taken down to 43% ABV) specifically bottled for kosher keeping Jews (but happen to be completely delicious for anyone who loves good whisky).
Being single cask, you can imagine that the availability of these whiskies is limited. You can find this line throughout New York, New Jersey and in pockets of Washington DC & Los Angeles. You know, the Little Israels of the US. 🙂
All of these single cask expressions are matured in ex-bourbon (or, at least non-wine influenced) barrels.
I’ve got five different Loch Chaim whiskies and I thought it’d be good to start with the 13 year old Isle of Arran:
On the nose – Big bourbon fresh nose!
Salted green tomatoes.
Browning lemons (perhaps the largest component here) and pear notes.
Light and inviting.
Not the most complex nose but…nice.
Something slightly earthy about this nose too…
On the mouth – Very peppery.
Barbecue sauce and sweet ketchup (where in the blue F did this come from!?).
Fruit jams comprised of slightly more bitter fruits.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of cardamom.
Finish – The pepperiness continues.
There’s a decent length here.
In sum – So while I was trying to figure this one out (what with the strangeness from the bourbon light fresh nose to the family barbecue pallet), I realized what’s happening here. This is, after all, a 13yr old whisky AND a kosher whisky.
What happens to Jewish boys & girls at age 13?? You guessed it, the become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This whisky became an adult! It became a Bar Mitzvah in my mouth. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound right…
A couple of weeks ago, Gal Granov of Whisky Israel and I shared in a “Mystery Dram” joint posting. What is that you may ask? I sent him an unmarked sample of whisky and he did the same. The purpose? To see if we could figure out what in the “H.E. Double Hockey Sticks” we sent to one another.
With the Whisky Israel/Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society swap, the rules for sample type were easy: it had to be Scotch whisky and it had to be a sample that we thought the other person never had. When trying to decode the “mystery dram”, each of us could use nothing more than our eyes, nose and tongue – a true blind tasting with NO HINTS.
Interestingly enough, right around this time I came in contact with a regular JMSWS blog reader who challenged me in a similar way. Rick initially responded to a general request I sent out for a sample swap of different version of the Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist. After sharing in a few emails with Rick I found out that he lives near to where I go on occasion for business purposes. I suggested we meet for a dram and swap some whisky. Rick agreed. What started off as a simple whisk(e)y swap turned into me meeting a very cool guy with a passion for wines, motorcycles, the NASA space program, bourbon and philanthropy.
Before we met, Rick suggested that perhaps his samples could simply be numbered (1 – 11) and I would have to guess what they were. I could then see if I were able to figure out what it was and then post about it. I’m always up to a challenge so I, of course, said yes. What makes this Mystery Dram series different (and this is my assumption here) is that most of Rick’s samples are Bourbons/American whiskey which is newer territory for me.
I suggested to Rick that I taste and review the dram on Mondays, let people chime in via the comments on this blog with what they thought the stuff was and on Friday of that same week, Rick would then comment to let everyone know exactly was the drink was.
Sounds fun right? I think so.
So, here’s sample number 1 (of 10) – note: sample #6 was the Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist I mentioned above so while you may see bottle numbers going up to 11, only 10 of them are a mystery to me:
I know nothing about this or the other 9 blind samples. They could be bourbon, rye, scotch, who knows what else. Rick gave me basically no clues. The only thing I know is that he is a big bourbon fan so I can only expect that many of these are American whiskey – this is nothing more than an assumption and, you know what you get when you assume…
So, I begin now with what I feel will be a truly fun experience and I want to thank Rick for his loyal readership and for this cool and very fun challenge:
Color — Deep mahogany (a color like this I’d usually associate with a bourbon or rye)
On the nose — Oh yeah, this is an American whiskey alright! Strong nose, tickling the hairs a bit, woody (again with the pencil shavings I find in American Whiskeys), some blueberry jam and very spicy (some rye influence but this can’t a full rye whiskey; just part of the mashbill for sure).
A touch if cinnamon, some plastic bags and fresh baked bread (very subtle bread notes) and peanut brittle.
On the mouth — Oh man, this is a hot one! It’s got to be a high ABV/Cask Strength whiskey. Vanilla pudding, too-hot-blueberry-pie, Sweet-sweet corn and some nice spicy notes. I feel like a dog that was just given a spoonful of peanut butter (not because of the flavor, but because I can’t stop licking my chops).
Finish — Long spicy and full of burn. The vanilla notes come raging back as does something like a sugar daddy.
In sum — The balance is awesome, well done. This whiskey demands your attention! It’s not an easy sippin’ type whiskey. It’s an “I won my first golf tournament” type bourbon. Celebrate with this. For the Scotch devotees out there, you may have a tough time getting past the sweetness (as I’ve heard many Scotchees say). I too am “getting over” the sweetness but am so happy to be doing so!
OK people. Can you guess what it is? My input: It’s a cask strength bourbon with some good rye influence (spice and blueberry notes), corn influence, for sure, and a fair amount of vanilla. You have until Thursday night (May 27, 2010) to cast your vote. Heck, if you get enough of these right, there may be a prize in it for you!!