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Central Liquors in DC

8 Aug
So there I am, making a specific journey to Central Liquors in DC, when I see their old-timey neon sign poking from the side of their old-timey building.

What a cool place to swing through on my way to a friend’s I-just-quit-work happy hour at Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle. Their single-malt selection is fabled among some scotch whisky colleagues so I journeyed in to find their rightfully noted amazing selection (check it out here).
They have everything. Crazy amounts of Bowmore, an unheard of three different bottles of Ardbeg, four different Glenmorangie bottlings, every Laphroaig bottle I have ever coveted, several nifty Gordon and McPhail bottlings, etc. I was impressed to say the least.

Oh no, please don’t let their be a downside. There is a downside. But their should not be! But there is.

I have no idea why the prices were what they were, but every bottle was marked up nearly $20 above every price I have seen elsewhere! Say it ain’t so, Central Liquors! Your selection is so amazing–several limited edition bottles just sitting on the shelf for me to ogle!

Ah yes, but it is true.

A bottle of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban was listed for $70+! This bottle can be purchased at a Virginia ABC store for $49.99! What the heck, Central Liquors?

To the proprietors of Central Liquors: are you buying bottles from the Virginia ABC and then marking them up? Pearson’s Wine and Spirits is destroying you in the price factor. I love your selection, but your prices are ridiculously high and I have to rate you very low on my list.
…And with that, I go to bed. Sad and disappointed in a local retailer.
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The Tale of Old Pulteney – 21-Year

31 Jul
Once upon a time, Scotch Finder received an e-mail from his trusty partner in crime regarding an excellent article she ran across while reading local newspapers online (see the article).

This magical article sparked interest in Scotch Finder and the Associate. The Associate decided that he MUST acquire all five single-malt scotch whiskies in the article (as described in the article by Garret M. Graff for The Washingtonian):

  1. Lagavulin 16-year-old—From Islay, it’s delicious, smoky, and full of peat. It pairs particularly well with cigars because of its strength.
  2. Highland Park 18-year-old—Rich and smooth with a deep amber color, full of honey with some caramel and salt.
  3. Glenmorangie Sherry Finish (aka “Lasanta”)—Hints of maple, toffee, and nuts fill this 12-year-old. Perfect for a lingering after-dinner sipping session with dessert or cheese.
  4. Old Pulteney 21-year-old—Hints of fruits and vanilla and just a touch of the sea in the finish of this Scotch from the old herring port of Wick.
  5. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail—So thick and flavorful, it’s almost chewy. This Islay whisky, its fans say, has an aftertaste measured in nuclear half-lifes. Add a few drops of water to open it up.

Let’s be honest, after reading such gushing reviews, what scotch whisky fan wouldn’t crave the experience? Plus, look how pretty the bottles are!

One little call across the river to Pearson’s Wine and Spirits in Washington, D.C. and a couple hundreds of dollars later, four of the five were obtained by my Associate without incident. Which of the four was unavailable? You guessed it…

…the elusive Old Pulteney 21-year! Dum dum dummmmm.

I make call after call and stop after stop at local Virginia ABCs, Pearson’s, and other random places I walk by that sells single-malts. Nothing. I ask each one if they could obtain this random spirit. All respond with “doesn’t look like it” or “I don’t even see that in any of my lists” or “never heard of that one. Nope not here.”

So a trip to Ohio for a wedding proves oddly lucky. A stop at an Ohio state-run Hyde Park Wine and Spirit near some friends of mine in Norwood, Ohio, resulted in the usual my becoming friends with the manager. (SIDE NOTE: I tend to stalk single-malt sections in stores and bars resulting in my becoming oddly close with proprietors, bartenders, and store managers.) After a few minutes of my inquiring about a few bottles–one being the Old Pulteney–she invites me into her office to check her computer’s stock list. Nothing shows up on the computer. “Have you tried The Party Source in Kentucky?”

1 minute later, she’s on the phone with The Party Source on my behalf. They have one last bottle in stock! They put it aside for me, I thank the HPW&S manager greatfully and head to Kentucky.

On the way down, I call my Associate and ask “Do you have $117 to blow?”

“On what?” he replies.

“The Old Pulteney 21-year.”

Without so much as a second to take a breath or thought of consideration, “Ohhhh yes.”

Fast forward to a few weeks later, we finally sit down and open the bottle for a little taste. We were expecting classic saltiness and a wonderfully complex whisky. Hard work to pay off…

*Sip sip*

We both look at each other in confusion. There were no whisky fireworks going off. There was no magical experience blowing any one’s mind. It sort of tasted like an old book.

The moral of this overblown and drawn out story is that you can search your rear off for a desirable whisky, obtain it under seemingly magical domino effect situations. But ultimately, one man’s whisky heaven can be a slap on the tongue with an old wet book for another.

Find your flavor. Once you do, your trusty buddy won’t let you down.

My Current Stock 7/29/2009 & The Rusty Nail

29 Jul

You can never have too many single-malts in your bar (says the person who writes for a blog called “Scotch Finder)!” Here is a picture of my current stash:

Ardbeg – 10-year
Ardbeg – Uigeadail
Balvenie – Single Barrel – 15-year
Bowmore – Legend
Caol Ila – 18-year
Dalwhinnie – 15-year
Glenkinchie – 12-year
Glenmorangie – Extra Rare – 18-year
Highland Park – 18-year
Isle of Jura – Superstition
Lagavulin – 16-year
Springbank – 15-year
Talisker – 10-year

Yum! Yum! Yum!

I have a few blended scotches (not pictured) that I keep on hand for mixed drinks right beside my trusty bottle of Drambuie. My favorite scotch mixed drink is a Rusty Nail:

1 1/2 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Drambuie
Garnish with citrus wedge or twist

The flavor is extremely sweet and tastes quite similar to a scotch/Yeager/triple sec mix. Make sure you put it on lots of ice.

Rusty Nails are a very classic drink and not for the faint of heart–you will notice by the recipe that the drink is basically straight liquor. More than once I have been accused of drinking an “old man” drink when I make it. I recommend using a low-end blend (Dewars or Black/Red Johnnie Walker) and not damaging the integrity of a fine single-malt. I compare putting a fine single-malt in a cocktail like putting rare tequila into a margarita…

…what’s the point?