Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

X By Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


Scotch made for mixing. Scotch made for mixing? Oh no, is this going to be one of those awful things that need something else to make it tolerable?


I've had Scotch made for mixing before, and frankly, I enjoyed it neat.  A little over two years ago, I reviewed Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" and it earned a Bottle rating. In fact, I said, "I'd buy this bottle all day long."  It was $49.99 and I didn't even bother using it as a mixer.


Today I'm pouring X by Glenmorangie, which is a Highland Single Malt made for mixing. Glenmorangie wants this description to be unmissed. It is on the bottle. It is on the hangtag. There is even a QR code on the reverse label so you can get mixing recipes. Full disclosure time:  I'm a big fan of Glenmorangie and I can't recall anything that was just meh out of this distillery. Dr. Bill Lumsden knows his stuff and he doesn't release whisky for the sake of releasing whisky. There is a ton of thought and consideration put into each bottling and if it doesn't meet his standards, it doesn't make it to market. 


As I stated, this is a single malt, which means that the whisky came from a single distillery and hasn't been blended with other whiskies. It aged in the normal ex-Bourbon barrels as the original Glenmorangie. However, another portion was aged in virgin, charred oak casks. It is bottled at a basic 40% ABV (80°) and a 750ml bottle will set you back about $25.00 or so. It carries no age statement. Wait! Don't roll your eyes. Read on, I beg you.


"Crafted with top bartenders, this is our single malt made for mixing. Pair its sweeter and richer taste with your favourite mixer to create delicious drinks." - Glenmorangie

 

Interestingly enough, that's pretty much the same story from Auchentoshan


I'd like to thank Glenmorangie for providing me a sample of X in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. But, before I do that, I want to talk about the presentation. Most distilleries send a bottle between 50ml and 750ml and maybe some printed material. A select few pour a lot of effort into what's sent out. Glenmorangie went above and beyond.





The box was huge. My Glencairn glass is there for perspective. When I pulled off the outer box, inside were five bottles:  X by Glenmorangie, Topo Chico Twist of Grapefruit, Fever-Tree Club Soda, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa. It also contained suggested cocktail recipes. One of which I'm going to make (after I taste the X neat) is called X Ginger:

  • 1.5oz X by Glenmorangie
  • Ginger Ale

Fill a glass with cubed ice. Add X by Glenmorangie then top with ginger ale. Gently stir and garnish with an orange wedge.


Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass (because X is made for mixing and I judge all whiskeys, at the very least, neat), this Scotch presented as deep gold in color. I observed a fat rim that formed a thick, wavy curtain that slowly crashed back to the pool.


Nose:  The aromas of orange citrus and honeysuckle were unmistakable. It bordered on almost overwhelming. But, beneath those were pear, butterscotch, and something floral. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, I could swear I was eating a macaroon. 


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and viscous. In fact, the more I sipped, the huskier it became.  The front featured raw honey, malt, and almond. Flavors of orange peel and crème brulée were next, and on the back, it was simply char and toasted oak. 


Finish:  My hard palate tingled despite the minimal proof. Virgin oak was evident and was joined by char, almond, and maple syrup. Like the mouthfeel, the finish was initially short, and subsequent sips elongated it to what I would describe as medium in length.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Is Glenmorangie X made for mixing? Well, sure, because Glenmorangie says so. Is it made for drinking neat? You betcha. This was a sweet but simple Scotch that provided a pleasant experience. When you compare Glenmorangie X to many other $25.00 Scotches, this not only deserves a Bottle rating but also provides an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf


Afterword:  For whatever it is worth, I made the X Ginger cocktail sans the orange simply because I didn't have one on hand. It did tame the ginger beer and give it a sweetness that complimented the expected spiciness.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Distill America XII was awesome, what did you miss?




Distill America XII is history. This is the fifth time I've attended Distill America and, without a doubt, it gets better and more interesting year after year. As usual, it was held at The Edgewater in downtown Madison and hosted by the Madison Malt Society.


For me, whiskey tasting events are less about drinking and more about knowledge and meeting with friends. 





My imbibing at an event is so secondary that, by the time the evening is over, I've maybe had four ounces of whiskey total. And, if you think that's crazy, let's talk this through. Your palate can only handle so much alcohol before any semblance of notes from anything is lost. Proof of this is seated in the fact that over the years, I've tasted whiskeys I thought were truly delicious at an event only to discover at a later date that it was some of the worst stuff to ever pass my lips. Or, conversely, I taste something, I get nothing from it that night (because my palate is dead) and I write it off, only to discover how great it is down the road.



Distill America celebrates exactly what its name implies:  American distilled spirits. You won't find anything being poured at the main event that wasn't distilled in the United States. But, it isn't limited to whiskey - there's gin, vodka, rum and a host of other spirits - all 100% American.


One of the major aspects of Distill America is knowledge. As such, my goals and theirs are cohesive. The knowledge aspect begins with the ticket level you purchase. If you choose VIP+, it includes a special educational tasting event before the floor is even open. This was the third year of the VIP+ program and the first where whiskey was not in the spotlight. Instead, this year's special topic was tequila and was presented by Jorge Raptis, Diageo's National Latin Spirits Educator.



It was an intimate class, giving everyone a chance to ask questions without being overwhelmed or feeling rushed.





I found the discussion fascinating, and as many of you know already, I hate tequila. Jorge not only gave a history of tequila and explained how it was made but also detailed how Don Julio, a then 17-year old kid who, in 1942, convinced a businessman to lend him the money to start the La Primavera Distillery (later to be renamed after its founder). We also discovered how Don Julio changed the way agave was planted and harvested. We also learned about agave itself, and how it is much closer to hemp in its many uses than I would have ever imagined. 



The tasting portion included samples of Don Julio Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, 1942, 70th, and finally, Reposado Double Cask Finished in Lagavulin Casks.





From there, VIP+ guests went down to the main floor for the festivities and were joined by those holding VIP tickets. The benefit of the VIP ticket was to get through the doors an hour early before General Admission, as well as taking advantage of some VIP-only special pours, such as Four Roses 2019 Small Batch Limited Edition, Twisted Path's Barrel Proof Bourbon, J. Henry & Sons 10th Anniversary Bourbon, MGP's Volstead Reserve, Michter's 10-Year Bourbon, and others. 





Sampling some of these limited-release whiskeys was a real treat and an opportunity not many people are exposed to. However, there was still learning to be done! Once the doors were open for everyone and folks had a chance to mosey around, a Blending Whiskey seminar hosted by David Carpenter, the Master Blender of Redemption commenced. 





I have never been on a distillery tour or in a whiskey seminar where I didn't walk away with some new knowledge, and I've been keen on this industry for many years. To say that I learned something would be an understatement. I found the class fascinating and I gleaned several things I never knew (or if I did, I forgot). And then, to cap it off, we were able to try two different Redemption Barrel Selects that are not yet available in Wisconsin. 





Another learning opportunity was Gin Deconstruction, hosted by Lindy Wyss of Aviation, Jamie Duffy of St. GeorgeChris Byles of Death's Door (now part of Dancing Goat Distillery), John Mlezica of State Line, and Guy Rehorst of Great Lakes. While I didn't attend this seminar, they took the opportunity to share what makes gins different from one another, from the botanicals to how they're used in cocktails and everything in between. 


In all, there were 90 different booths featuring hundreds of different spirits, including my 2019 Whiskey of the Year: Blaum Bros. Straight Rye.




Each year, there are "rookies" that are new to the event, this year included BalconesBlue Ice Vodka of Idaho, Carbliss Hard Seltzer of Wisconsin, Doundrins Distilling of Wisconsin, Drink Wisconsinbly, Joseph A. Magnus & Co., Kentucky Owl, Ledge Rock Distillery of Wisconsin, Old Elk Distillery of Colorado, Rockhouse Beverage of New York, The Dampfwerk Distillery of Minnesota, and Uncle Nearest





In all, it was an amazing evening. I thank all the vendors and ambassadors that came to share their spirits, skills, and expertise. 


If you missed out on Distill America, make it a point to attend Distill America 13 in February 2021. Tickets normally go on sale in October.  Cheers!














Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative Review


I don't even have to say anything. I already know what some of you are thinking after just seeing the photo:  This Whiskeyfellow character is off his rocker! or Who the heck cares about a whiskey alternative?  For that matter, What is a whiskey alternative?




The very short answer to the final question is it is a non-alcoholic beverage meant to mimic whiskey. There's a rhyme to the reason of my reviewing a synthetic whiskey. First of all, there's the whole #DrinkCurious lifestyle. Second of all, some of us partake in Dry Januarys or Dry Weeks. Or, maybe we're on some medication and can't drink, or we're a designated driver but we want to enjoy a "drink" without impairment. Or, if the horrible thing happens, something comes up where we have to give up alcohol. Egad, that last thought just gave me the heebie-jeebies!





Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative is what I'm working with today, and this review is going to be different than others. I've already been warned by Ritual that a whiskey connoisseur won't be fooled into thinking it was real whiskey. If you look at the label, it also states Ritual Zero Proof is meant to be mixed in cocktails. The packaging even suggests cocktail recipes. And, that's exactly what I'm going to do - make one of their suggested cocktails - after I do a small neat pour.





But, I won't end the trial there. I'm going to put that cocktail up head-to-head with the exact same recipe, just substituting real whiskey for the whiskey alternative.





Before I get started, I need to provide you with some background on the Ritual whiskey alternative. It is made with some pretty simple ingredients:  filtered water, invert sugar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate. That's it. A 1.5oz pour costs you an entire ten calories. It is also gluten-free. One caveat is that once opened, you have six months to finish the bottle or it needs to be disposed of. Retail is about $25 and you can even buy it off Amazon. Finally, there's no math to do when figuring things out. Ritual suggests a 1:1 swap-out on the real thing.





I'd like to thank Ritual for providing me with a sample of the Zero Alcohol Whiskey Alternative in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review.





For the first part of this review, I'm going the standard route and will sip this from my trusty Glencairn glass.



In my glass, Ritual Zero Proof appears as a cloudy amber, almost like a common beer. It didn't leave any sort of rim on the wall but did leave behind some globby droplets on the side of the glass. 




Barrel char and wintergreen fragrances smacked me in the face. There was also a definitive medicinal aroma along with green pepper. When I inhaled through my lips, it was all green pepper. 





It had a very watery mouthfeel. I'm going to stop this right now for a segway. I do not like green peppers. I pick them out of anything I ever find them in. Well, if green peppers are your thing, you're going to be in absolute heaven. Once I got past the palate shock, I was able to discern other things. I found green peppercorn (not to be confused with green peppers), and then a sour flavor I couldn't nail down.





The finish was long-lasting green peppercorn and char. By long-lasting, I mean it just sat there, it didn't build, it didn't fade, but it went on for many minutes.





For the next part, I'm going to make two Old Fashioneds:  One with Ritual whiskey alternative and the other with JW Dant Bottled in Bond Bourbon. They will be otherwise identical in every way, including using the same kind and design of glass. To make this simple Old Fashioned with Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters, Stirrings Simple Syrup, and Traverse City Whiskey Company's Premium Cocktail Cherries. On a side note, those cherries happen to be the best of any cocktail cherries I've ever had. Ever.




The recipe is easy:  2oz Ritual whiskey alternative, 1oz simple syrup, 2 dashes orange bitters, and garnish with a cherry. I may modify this with several cherries - they're so fantastic.




Because I do not want to give an unfair advantage to either cocktail, I'm even using identical cocktail glasses. I went as far as to use the same cocktail stirrers, one in each, so as to not contaminate one with the other.




So, how did these Old Fashioneds taste?  I could absolutely tell the difference between the two. But, in all honesty, that was expected. The Ritual wasn't bad at all and was, in fact, completely drinkable. I would have guessed it to be an Old Fashioned made with something from a bar's well draw.  I've had similar in my life many times over.





Bottle, Bar or Bust:  As a whiskey drinker expecting whiskey, this is an easy Bust. Drinking it neat, again, an easy Bust. However, this isn't whiskey and it wasn't meant to be drunk neat, this is supposed to give some semblance of whiskey for folks who aren't drinking whiskey. For my Pseudo-Old Fashioned, I think this passes the test. In a highly unusual move, I'm giving it a Bottle rating for performing as advertised. Cheers!


Monday, January 20, 2020

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey Review


What's the deal with Whiskeyfellow and flavored whiskeys?  Has he gone over the edge?  No, I've not. I've just had an opportunity to try several of these and rather than just passing them off, I believe it is best to share my thoughts with you so those of you who are interested in flavored whiskeys can make an educated decision, just like with any other whiskey I review.


Today's whiskey is Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey.  This one, like when Fireball was introduced, has taken the market by storm. It isn't a cheap whiskey, a bottle will set you back about $29.99.  


Skrewball was invented by Steven and Brittany Yeng, owners of O.B. Noodlehouse and Bar 1502 in Ocean Beach, California. This was something they served to their patrons, who have been described as "misfits, black sheep, and screwballs" of the community. Brittany got the brand up and going, and the rest is history.


Made from whiskey, natural flavors, and caramel coloring, Skrewball is bottled at 70°.  It carries no age statement, but being a liqueur, you can't assume anything from that.  The distiller of the whiskey itself is undisclosed. Caramel coloring is caramel coloring. But, what catches the eye on the back of the bottle is a warning label:


So, yes, apparently the natural flavoring is from real peanuts!  While I would assume there isn't an issue simply opening the bottle in the venue of someone with a peanut allergy, I'd certainly recommend being careful around them so as to not accidentally cause any issues.


My first opportunity to taste Skrewball was at a family birthday party.  Someone started passing along a bottle, it came to me and I tried it.  SPOILER:  I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it so much I went out and got a bottle.  Why?  I'll give you the details...


In my Glencairn glass, Skrewball appears as caramel color. Again, being artificially colored, it means nothing. However, it left a medium-thick rim that generated a huge, wavy curtain and medium legs that slowly crawled back to the pool of whiskey.


The aroma?  Let's get real.  This is a peanut-butter flavored whiskey.  I smelled peanut butter. Not just peanuts, but processed peanut butter. When I inhaled through my lips, it was peanut butter and a hint of vanilla. Anything else was indiscernible.


Skrewball has an amazingly thick and rich mouthfeel, even a bit sticky - just like peanut butter. The stickiness is typical of many liqueurs and wasn't completely unexpected. On the palate, it wasn't just peanut butter. There was also vanilla and then, my mind figured out this was honey roasted peanuts. 


The finish gave some warmth to remind you it is made from whiskey and not just a kiddie drink. But that thick peanut butter remained for a long finish.


For kicks and giggles, I made myself a cocktail of Skrewball and Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur. If you've ever had a Reeses white chocolate peanut butter cup, this was a darned good copy of it, even down to the creamy texture. No ice needed.


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Well, the spoiler earlier makes this rating moot, but I want consistency in my reviews. Spend the $30 and get yourself a Bottle. Skrewball is a flavored whiskey worth having around. Cheers!


Postscript:  In all the years I've been writing reviews, I've never felt the need to add a postscript until today. This review has been "live" for about 48 hours and the social media response has been amazing, to say the least. Essentially, people either love Skewball or they have found it disgusting. There have been 250+ comments and not a single one suggests it is just okay or decent. The polarization is unbelievable. Cheers!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Rainmaker Superior Bourbon Whiskey with Strongly Charged Coffee Liqueur Review & Tasting Notes


My experience with flavored whiskeys tends to be negative. That isn't to say I've not had some tasty flavored whiskeys, rather, they're just hard to come by. Usually, they are overly flavored, often not even doing a good job with that, and then can be sickly sweet. I find the producers are trying to hide a bad whiskey under all of that flavoring. So, when a friend came over and poured me "Legendary" Rainmaker Superior Bourbon Whiskey with Strongly Charged Coffee Liqueur, you can understand that I came at it very skeptical.  But, then there's that whole #DrinkCurious lifestyle thing.


There isn't any information online that I could find about Rainmaker. I do know that it is produced by World Wide Distillers Company out of Philadelphia. When I visited the company website, they mention several sourced items but, curiously, not Rainmaker.  What I do know is what I could get from the label. It is 37.5% ABV (75°), it has added caramel coloring, and the back label simply tells you what a rainmaker is while providing four recipes.  That's not very encouraging for something that is supposed to be "superior bourbon whiskey." I can also tell you that Rainmaker retails for about $23.99. 



So, without any background, without knowing anything about the company or the whiskey they have sourced (because it says produced on the bottle, not distilled), I can only give my tasting notes and recommendation. Without further ado, here we go...


In my glass, Rainmaker presents as deep and dark.  Of course, with the artificial coloring, that really means nothing except that it looks good in a glass. It did leave an ultra-thin rim that created super-fast legs on the wall of my Glencairn.


The nose was a very enticing mix of coffee ice cream and coconut. While I'm not a coffee drinker, I do appreciate the flavor in other things, and I'm a big fan of coffee ice cream, Kahlua, White Russians, etc. And, the coconut gave it an additional level of interest.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was absolutely pure coffee. 


Rainmaker had a very thick mouthfeel, again, reminding me of the aforementioned Kahlua. The palate was a combination of espresso and rich caramel and offered a finish of chocolate-covered cherries that was, thankfully, not short-lasting. 


As much as I tried, I didn't pick up any whiskey notes.  Again, it makes it difficult to tell you whose Bourbon this might have been, but if they used a superior Bourbon, it was completely wasted. My guess is that it was much less than superior, only because it would have been stupid to do otherwise.


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Here's the weird thing. This stuff is absolutely delicious. I could drink this neat all day.  It would probably be excellent as the base of a White Russian. Yes, that's right, you're reading me giving a flavored whiskey liqueur that coveted Bottle rating. Finally, if you can find any background on this, please let me know. Cheers!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Happy Repeal Day!



December 5th is just an ordinary day unless freedom is meaningful to you, in which case it is a landmark day. You see, today is Repeal Day, the day in 1933 that Utah cast the 36th vote at 5:32pm (Eastern) to pass the 21st Amendment. The 21st repealed the 18th Amendment and ended that horrific experiment called Prohibition.


For several years, I've been sipping on High West Distillery's The 36th Vote to celebrate Repeal Day. It really is the only time I ever get into the bottle. The 36th Vote is a barreled Manhattan, and while I'm generally not a fan of pre-mixed cocktails, High West does a good job with theirs.


What will be in your glass to celebrate the passage of the 21st Amendment?  


Happy Repeal Day!  Cheers!



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Root Out Root Beer Flavored Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



Sometimes, as a whiskey reviewer, I run into some outstanding whiskeys.   Then, there are the ones that are okay. Occasionally, something bad that earns a Bust rating.  Then, there are things that are so bad they become more of a Public Service Announcement rather than a review.

My review of Root Out Root Beer Flavored Whisky can be found at Bourbon & Banter.

Cheers!



Monday, October 14, 2019

Alacrán Tequila Blanco Review and Tasting Notes


Wait a sec... why is Whiskeyfellow writing a review on Tequila?  I've done it before, and it was fairly worthless because I readily admit I don't like it and I can't pick up anything but, well, tequila.

But (and this is a big one), my wife, Michelle, the woman I refer to as Mrs. Whiskeyfellow, happens to be a tequila sommelier, and while I did the wordsmithing, she is the true author of this review of Alacrán Tequila Blanco.


And the cool thing is, the review is up on Bourbon & Banter!

Cheers!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Head to Head Match-Up: Stolen X v. Hochstadter's Slow & Low




As much as I love whiskey, my experience with whiskey cocktails is fairly limited. I like a good Old Fashioned.  I've enjoyed Manhattans.  There's been a few more, but for the most part, I just prefer my whiskey neat.


Recently, I had the opportunity to try Rock & Rye.  If you're not familiar with it, in short, it is a mixture of Rye whiskey and rock candy.  There can be other ingredients as well, but those two are the main ingredients.


I've had a can of Hochstadter's Slow & Low in my liquor cabinet for quite a while.  My wife picked it up and it has just been sitting there.  I've not had any real desire to open it up.  However, the folks at Stolen Spirits were kind enough to send me a sample of Stolen X for a no-holds-barred, honest review. Considering the fact I've never had Rock & Rye before, I felt a review would be baseless without something to compare. I remembered that lonely can of Slow & Low and decided a head-to-head tasting would be the fairest approach. 


And, to be consistent, I used the same Norlan Rauk heavy tumbler with both on two different days. 






First up was Stolen X.  Stolen X is made of American Rye aged "over two years," fresh orange peel and organic raw honey.  There is no mention of rock candy in it at all, which is interesting.  It is bottled at 80°. Stolen X is available in 100ml cans, and 750ml and 1-liter bottles. A 750ml on average runs about $23.00.


The appearance was an orangish-amber and was somewhat cloudy. Aromas of orange and honey were evident, and after several minutes, I could pick up a slightly floral note, perhaps from the rye itself.  When I inhaled through my mouth, there was a definitive orange peel.


Flavors of orange citrus, orange peel (yes, these are two different flavors) and sweet honey coated my tongue. The finish was long and very, very sweet, with some citric acid left on the tongue. I could not find any "evidence" of whiskey during my trial. I don't mean to imply there is no whiskey in it, rather, there just wasn't any whiskey flavor. However, the sweetness left me grabbing a barrel proof Bourbon to end the sensation.





The second tasting was Hochstadter's Slow & Low.  It is made from Straight Rye, raw honey, naval oranges, rock candy, and bitters.  The recipe has been used since 1884, and it is 84°.  Slow & Low is available of 100ml cans and 750ml bottles.  A bottle retails for about $19.99.


The appearance is a deep, dark amber that was clear.  The aroma of orange citrus was very heavy with a hint of maraschino cherries. There was also a candy quality on the nose.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was all thick honey.


The mouthfeel was light and airy. Flavors of orange bitters hit my palate hard.  Behind that was honey and white sugar.  Candied orange slices left a long, very sweet finish.  There was also mild alcohol burn, but it was not overwhelming. Then, the sweetness turned bitter which rolled on and on.  The best way I could describe the experience is the beginning of an Old Fashioned, but not in a good way.


The Verdict:  Normally I would do a Bottle, Bar or Bust recommendation. I decided to go a different way because, to be perfectly frank, after tasting both the Stolen X and Slow & Low, I enjoyed neither. But, rather than stating these were bad versions of Rock & Rye, I am assuming I just don't care for Rock & Rye in general.


Saying all of that, these are two absolutely different expressions of the classic cocktail.  As a whiskey drinker, the Slow & Low offered me minor evidence of Rye on the palate. And, to be fair, there is a four-point difference in proof between the two. The Slow & Low was also more complex than the Stolen X.


When I drink a cocktail, I want the character of the main ingredient, in this case, whiskey, to shine through. Only one had some whiskey character and as such, the winner became easy:  Slow & Low. 


Cheers!