Quick Tastings

Not all that many, but a couple I want to mark in my brain:

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil – the dark beer that I thought was the base of the Ola Dubh, but after a taste of this at the Vintage Ale tasting I’m not so sure. It’s a thick dark beer with loads of chocolate malt and not a lot that could be described as sweet. Dry and dark, it’s rather good but not as much like Ola Dubh as I was expecting.

Gales Prize Old Ale 2007Gales Prize Old Ale 2007 – another I tried at the Vintage tasting, but one I picked up at Whisky Live this year. It’s a worrying thing but I picked up significantly more beer than whisky, with a bottle of this and a brace of Fuller’s Brewers Reserve coming home with me. It looks like a typically flat and dark old ale, but is rather surprising to smell and taste. My tasting companions were rather split, with its smell of dry cider dividing lovers from loathers and leaving me on the lovers side. It reminds me a lot of the various Flemish red ales that I’ve tried recently (although not quite as scary as  Duchesse de Bourgogne) – thick, sour and fruity with cherries along with an unexpected bitter old ale aftertaste. It’s a bit of the flemish and a bit of the english old ale – I’ll be grabbing some more as soon as I find it.

Blanton’s Gold Edition – after an evening at Bob Bob Ricard (they’re rather good even when they’re not treating you to a vodka tasting, even if they didn’t have the zakuski or vodka I liked best on their normal menu) me and occasional drinking buddy Kosh stopped into Graphic on Golden Square for an evening ender. While I didn’t like the bar (and thought their regular cocktails looked a bit rubbish) they had not only a couple of interesting looking bottles of bourbon on the shelf but also a bartender who knew a chunk about Blanton’s and sorted us out with some of their Gold Edition. I don’t remember much other than that it was definitely the best Blanton’s whiskey I’ve tasted – typically dryer than most of the bourbons I’ve tried and with a nice rich body, with hints of grain, caramel and fruit. Annoyingly I was drunk and don’t remember all that much, but I may have to go back and try some more.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old – a bottle given to me after doing a focus group about whisky branding. I’ve always thought of Glenlivet as the old dusty bottle that sits next to the Glenfiddich (a whisky that I’m not a fan of) and was rather surprised by this one. On the nose it has apples, linseed oil and caramel, with an overarching theme of the woodland. To taste it lightly sweet, with a hint of woodiness and a bit of richness fading to a bitter finish. There’s a hint of the oil and apple from the nose, and it’s remarkably refreshing for something that is still quite full bodied. A drop of water brings out some a fruity sweetness and lets the oily wood flavour develop at the same time as removing some of the prickliness and burn. It’s not going to go on my must have list, but it’s a perfectly decent dram.

5 Replies to “Quick Tastings”

  1. My former roommate should certainly give Blanton’s a closer look. During prohibition, Blanton’s distillery was one of four distilleries given special permission by the federal government to continue manufacturing their bourbon.

    Other good bourbons that you should try include:

    Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, 20 yr; which is absolutely superb

    Eagle Rare, 17 yr; another good one that kind of tastes like toffee with some spicyness

    Old Pogue Master Select; a decent bourbon that is easy to drink a hint of spiced vanilla

    Other notables include: Basil Haydens, 8 yr; W.L. Weller, 19 yr.

    The Weller is superb, but it will be difficult to find. I imagine especially difficult to find in the U.K.

    By the way, nice blog!

    1. Hello Mr J.

      Me and Blanton’s have some history, with a bottle of it having already passed through my hands a few years back when I started getting into whisky, and it popping up in the interesting bars that I’ve been trying to find recently – it’s on my “try” list whenever I see it.

      I’m more of a fan of the Van Winkle 15 (especially the random bottlings that seem to appear at whisky shows) but haven’t tried the others on your list yet. However, I have a whisky mule flying in next week who has asked me to make him a list…thanks for making a list for me 🙂

  2. If you like the Van Winkle 15, then you’d probably like all of the Van Winkles. The 20 yr is definitely the best on my list, but it will set you back about $130-$150 (USD) for a bottle. They have a 23 yr, and I hear it is even better. But, that one will set you back $300+.

    Some people don’t like the Old Pogue, because it has too much Rye.

    Generally, I keep around a Basil Haydens and/or a bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel Original. The Eagle Rare-17 and the Pappy Van Winkle-20 are a nice treat, when I am feeling wealthy.

  3. I’ve tried most the Van Winkle range and the reserve rye and 15 are generally my two favourites. However, I’ve never done much of a comparison tasting, so that’s just the normal ‘at that time this was my favourite’ style of thing. Having an excuse to try more Van Winkle whiskey (again) is a good thing 🙂

    I tried some Eagle Rare last night, and it was predictably very nice. It’s not particularly difficult to find over here, if you know where you’re looking, and we are getting much better imports of US whiskey into the specialist shops these days.

    I rather like rye, so I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Old Pogue.

    I had a look around online and it looks the the Weller is all gone – tail end maturing whiskey from a closed distillery, and all that jazz…

    However, I shall see what the whiskey mule (hello whiskey mule if you are reading) brings over.

  4. I actually found one bottle of the Weller yesterday at my local beverage shop. It is a rare find, so I suspected that it was in some way discontinued. Instead of getting the Weller, I opted for a small batch whiskey called Noah’s Mill. I hear it has “a rye edge.” It is a dark copper-brown, which generally means the bourbon has an above average rye in its mixture.

    I’ve never tried it. I promised that I’d save it to celebrate my Ph.D. final defense in late June.

    This is possibly another that the mule would have to bring to you, because I’m told it is a fairly local distribution.

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