Archive | October, 2010

Your Impressive Office Bottle – Part II (of II)

21 Oct

Let me start off by saying that this is a very hard post for me to write. I normally have a glass of scotch next to me while I tippety type away, but since I am probably growing bronchitis in my chest, I decided that maybe a drink tonight wasn’t the answer. *single tear*

So let’s get to it. You want to seriously IMPRESS the pants off of someone with a fancy schmancy bottle of scotch whisky. In this post, we are going to completely ignore all that is great about scotch for a moment–color, nose, body, taste, and finish–and completely empty your wallet on expensive-it-doesn’t-matter-how-it-tastes-because-you-empty-your-child’s-college-savings-fund-on-a-bottle-of-hooch.

Ardbeg Double-Barrel
Literally comes in
a gun case

The Ardbeg Double-Barrell$20,000 (BEFORE tax). I have no idea about this one. I know that it came from one of my favorite distilleries, but other than that, all you are getting out of me is the price, which is EXPENSIVE. It was bottled in 1974 according to the vintage amount on the Park Avenue Liquor Store’s website. You also get a few glasses with it in a crazy decorative case. Check it out.

If you want to impress me, you’ll have this on display when I come over to your house. You will also have one of the two bottles you get opened for me to taste. I will then give you a hug and tell you how awesome you obviously are. Then I will begin to question why in the world you decided to blow $20,000 on liquor. No liquor can possibly be worth that much money. Unless it was a historic stash from someone historic’s liquor chest buried at sea. That may logically drive up the price.

Black Bowmore

Next on the ridick list is the now infamous Black Bowmore. I have actually seen articles about this one and it is supposed to be amazing… even to drink. From what research I can find, it seems to be 31 years of age and super tasty. It also costs about $7,500. That is one hell of a write-off if you are buying for business purposes!

You can also see that it has a really interesting vintage look to it as well. The box looks like someone had their serf run back to the village and put together a proper vessel for which to transport such a fine spirit! I’m not going to lie… this one is one that I would probably be willing to spend $200 on one glass of just to try it.

The Macallan Lalique

Last, but most definitely not LEAST, is The Macallan Lalique. I had not even heard of this one until I started looking up insanely priced scotch whisky for this posting. Evidently, this one comes in a few different ages and bottles. They seem to be around 50 years of age and literally perfect. They better be for a price of $19,000 or more. I somehow doubt that you would ever drink it. Maybe if I was a hip-hop star, I would buy a bottle to pour out in front of a crowd of on-lookers who would have to do a web search to find out what I was pouring out. Oh, but would they be impressed!

The Macallan Lalique
Box and Satin Casing

I have to say, the bottle is quite elegant. The box/satin touch to the already eccentric bottle is quite breath taking. This bottle would also be a marriage taker if I were to ever bring one home. Especially now that I’ve announced to the world how expensive it is. Calm down, honey, I won’t drop 20 Gs on a liquor… Is she not looking? GRAB IT! YOINK!

The Macallan Lalique
You can’t even afford to insure it.

Have you made your decision yet?

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Your Impressive Bottle for the Office – Part I (of II)

8 Oct

So you are an important person. You have people to impress. The Japanese CEO of the company that you are about to purchase is coming to your office next week and you need to have a nice bottle on hand to show this CEO who is sophisticated and someone not to second guess. This is a very common scenario, so not to worry, I have some advice to impress.

First, let me ask you this question: did Johnnie Walker Blue pop into your mind yet?

If it did, you need this post more than you think. Poser.


Age matters
Let’s face it. Age is a revered number value on a bottle of single malt scotch whisky. Age drives up the price of bottles. If you want to impress with age, then you should choose something over the age of 18 years.

A 25 year bottle will do nicely, but anything over the age of 30 years is going to be a large taste risk. Aging whisky for long periods of time can create an unwanted change in taste and flavor. If you go over the age of 40, it does not even matter what you are drinking and it will not matter what it tastes like. You will just be considered the man. Remember, a bottle of Glenmorangie 10-year-old that sits on your shelf for five years before you open it does not make it a Glenmorangie 15-year-old… it is now just a 15-year-old Glenmorangie 10-year-old. Mull that over for a moment, Lucas.

My budget recommendations:


Highland Park 25-Year $250-$300 range

Highland Park 25-Year-Old
(Current label style)

Pretty woody from the age, a little lighter on the smoke and peat, but a full body gentleness that is quite soothing. Not tremendously better than the 18-year version, but definitely a giant step up on the impress-me scale.

Talisker 25-Year$190-$250 range

Talisker 25-Year
(Current label style)
This thing is yummy. I would love to have one around just to impress myself with how cool I am. A little woody fullness, a high volume of alcohol that you probably would not notice if you did not see the alcohol volume on the bottle label. It has a gentle pepper with a sherry touch delight. You’ll pull all sorts of dried fruits from the palate.
What would you recommend for a budget impressive bottle?
NEXT UP: My No-Budget Recommendations

Bassin’s and a Stash of Great Scotch Finds!!!

6 Oct

Hey everyone! I thought I would post a red alert to the fact that Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Beverages on MacArthur Boulevard in Washington, DC has a few amazing bottles that I have never seen here in town, especially here in DC! All unreasonably priced…. too low! It pained me to walk out of there with zero of these unbelievable gems.

Actual photo @ 7:10pm 10/5/2010

In order of rarity and amazing deal:

  1. PC6 $113. Two bottles in stock.
  2. Octomore 2nd Edition$126. Two bottles in stock.
  3. PC7 – $91. One bottle in stock. I paid $150 for this one and had to have it shipped through New York City. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked/pissed/dumbfounded!
  4. Ardbeg Corryvreckan – I can see a few bottles on the shelf. I’m sure it is under $100 if I know Bassin’s. This one pops its head up locally now and then, but it usually is not on the same shelf for very long.
  5. Ardbeg Supernova 2010 Edition – Several bottles. They have been rotating their stock really well since my friends and I wiped out their entire stock a couple of months ago! If my experience has taught me anything, I feel that this one is going to be a new mainstay for the foreseeable future in the Ardbeg line-up along with…
  6. Ardbeg Uigeadail – Several bottles. Last time I saw a price on this one, it was $69.99. That is the most sick price I’ve ever seen for this bottle which you normally can’t be found for less than $90. I believe that this one will also be around for years to come, but you won’t find this one at your local VABC or Montgomery County liquor store! And definitely not at this price.
I recommend that you give them a call, give them your credit card number and pick one of these awesome bottles up while you can. These bottles are ALL killer bottles and would make great gifts.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=addy+bassins&sll=38.834885,-77.092934&sspn=0.007104,0.01472&ie=UTF8&hq=addy+bassins&hnear=&ll=38.91766,-77.096495&spn=0.056751,0.11776&z=13&iwloc=A&cid=7167423570352720943&output=embed
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Yeah, I know. Those last few sentences sounded like an advertisement. I assure you that I am only looking out for your scotch well-being. I get no commission for this one.

UPDATE 10/6/2010 1:55PM
The one PC7 and one of the PC6s in stock are now gone.

Master Blenders

5 Oct

A very nice profile of a master blender is out there on the Wired website. A master blender is a title that is given to someone who has been deemed by a distillery as someone who is worthy of designing their whiskies.

Wired profiles Richard Paterson
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/10/whisky-master-blender/

Richard Paterson. This nose KNOWS.

Richard Paterson–from what I can find online–is known as “The Nose.” Scotch runs in the man’s family. His father was a scotch whisky freak.

Back to what a master blender actually does.

Whisky, by nature, is very unpredictable. You are extracting alcohol from a beer-like substance, putting into some kind of wood barrel, leaving it somewhere to age, aging it a certain number of years, etc. So as you can imagine, even though you may have technically created barrels of whisky from the same source, the end product in each barrel is probably going to taste a little different than another barrel from the same batch of whisky.

So this is where the master blender comes in. He (or she, but I am not privy to master blender women out there) chooses the barrels. He chooses the age. He chooses which barrels are worthy and which are not. He designs a certain flavor using different-tasting barrels of different ages into a unique flavor. The master blender chose exactly what you are tasting in that dram you are holding right now.

If you are drinking a single-malt, it is most likely not a whisky that came from one barrel of one batch of whisky production. Single malts from single barrels will be labeled as such–Single Cask. Since single malts are usually blends of other whiskies from the same distillery, someone has to be able to design and reproduce large batches for bottlings so that people may purchase something consistent. Can you imagine how pissed off someone would be if they bought a bottle of The Macallan 12-year and it tasted like Edradour? It would be quite noticeable, indeed!

So the master blender puts his nose, mouth, and whatever he uses to decide and design the flavor of each style of whisky bottling. He chooses the right casks to put together to make the flavor that you may already be used to. Someone actually has to put together that Macallan 12-year each year so that if you buy a replacement bottle down the road, it is going to taste so similar to your last bottle that you may be familiar with. Chances are, a master blender would be able to tell the difference. Hence the word “master” in there.

Jim McEwan putting his schnoz in a seemingly young dram.

Another amazing blender that I know of, and hope to meet some day, is Jim McEwan.

This guy is my personal hero from his design of the PC series (see my post about the PC7 here). I have a bottle of PC7 and PC6 and I cherish them so much that barely ever break them out. He is not only made two of my most beloved bottles, he also is credited for bringing new life to the once scuttled Bruichladdich distillery.

Bruichladdich was shut down in 1995 and then reopened in 2001 with Mr. McEwan at the helm. From the articles I have read from him, he does not have any qualms about speaking his mind no matter what the cost. Politics may not be his thing, but creating amazing whiskies most definitely is. I do not think that master blenders go on tour, but I would love to go to a tasting if he were to present somewhere.

Whisky Stones. Good idea?

1 Oct
When I heard about the Whisky Stones, I thought it was awesome even if I do not like my whisky even remotely cold. Have you seen these things?

Are those ROCKS in your glass, dude?!

You got it. You put them in the freezer and get them nice a cold. RIDICULOUSLY cold even. I mean, leave those suckers in the freezer in their cute little velvet carrying pouch for days or even months and let them get as cold as possible.

Now put them in your drink. Don’t they look awesome? You bet they do! You just put soapstone rocks into your straight liquor! Even if you are a woman, you seriously just took a terribly manly step by drinking straight booze with ROCKS in the glass. Bad. Ass.

Cool velvet pouch storage
But there is a catch. They DO NOT WORK.
Repeat.
THEY DO NOT MAKE YOUR LIQUOR COLD.
One of the stones slid down the glass and was a little chilly, but that lasted a good minute or two. The liquor warmed up the stones in no time and did almost nothing in the meantime. I think that the picture below is a better use for them, actually:

The extent of my arts and crafts capabilities.

“Hey Bret. Cool stack of rocks.”

Thanks. Since I was a small child I’ve dreamt of having small gray stones stacked like kiddie letter blocks displayed as a sweet tchotchke on the living room coffee table.
“Um. Sweet.”
Avoid these things unless you are trying to impress someone. The utility for these suckers just are not worth the $20-30 they cost. Amazing thought (make your drink cold without watering it down!!!). Bad execution. They need to figure something else out. They must have spent a fortune on PR because the reviews out there rant and rave about how awesome these things are! I had a room full of people that all tried my liquor with these freezing cold stones in it and no one could tell a difference beyond a “I think it’s a little bit colder. Maybe?” These stones were in my friend’s freezer for a long time.
They didn’t do a damn thing but look cool.
10/1/2010 UPDATE: The following is a response from “Andrew” at Teroforma

Andrew here from Teroforma – we make the Whisky Stones and always appreciate hearing our customers’ reactions – good, bad or indifferent. On the few occasions that we have heard this type of feedback, it is invariably because of unrealistic expectations, all due respect. The stones work perfectly every time (simple physics) if they are used as intended – 3 stones chilled in the freezer for 4 hours to 2-3 ounces of liquid, leave 5 minutes swirling occasionally will reduce the temp from 73F (average room temp) to the mid- to lower 50s. This type of complaint arises if the expectation is that the stones will mimic ice which takes pretty much any liquid to near freezing. I am a firm believer that if you buy the booze, you can drink it however you want, but most whisky aficionados agree that a temp near freezing closes down all the flavors in the oils from the cask in which the whisky was aged. Not to mention, the ice eventually melts, returning a muddled drink back to room temp with time. The Whisky Stones offer a different – and we think better – way to enjoy your favorite dram for all the reasons I’ve said. And while we would hope you think so too, at the very least it’s our responsibility to help clear up any inaccuracies or misunderstandings. Anyway, hope that helps a bit – and please do keep the comments coming.

MY RESPONSE:




Mr. Andrew,
I sincerely appreciate the response and have taken these exact thoughts into mind when I tested them! I would absolutely not want to a frosty cold scotch whisky in my dram no matter what, but a slightly chilled dram would have at least shown that the rocks were doing something.
Alcohol (aka ethanol, the drinkable alcohol) freezes at a temperature of -114 Celcius (-173.2 Fahrenheit). Using a 0 degrees Farenheit freezer as a measure for the common home freezer, I am not sure how the stones are supposed to noticeably reduce the alcohol temperature. It could affect the other portions of the whisky (water and other), but a high-concentrated alcohol such as whisky, is something else. Common ice melts and becomes a chilling factor of cool water in your dram, which also undesirably dilutes the drink.
Anyone who has stored their favorite (ahem) bottle of vodka in the freezer knows that even then is the alcohol mildly cooler than usual and warms to room temperature within a few minutes of sitting out.
Let’s face it, I’m not physicist (and I’d love to have a third-party someone with more experience with actual physics than I have take a swing at this argument with actual supporting data). I pulled the rocks from my glass approximately 5 minutes after putting them in and they were room temperature already.
I am honestly not knocking the concept of which I find brilliant! I would just want them to do what they are put out there to do: chill high alcohol concentrated beverages.
Thank you again for contributing to the conversation!
Best regards,
Bret C. aka Scotch Finder