Showing posts with label experiment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experiment. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2022

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Tasters Releases 001 - 007 Reviews & Tasting Notes


 

Recently, friends of mine took a vacation to Tennessee and surprised me with some bottles from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. These weren’t ordinary bottles that you could just get anywhere. They’re an experimental series called Tennessee Tasters. At the time I’m writing this, there are seven whiskeys in the series.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Jack Daniel’s (is there anyone who hasn’t heard of it?), it was founded in 1866 as the first registered distillery in the United States. It started when Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel purchased a distillery for $25.00 from a preacher named Dan Call. One of Call’s slaves named Nearis Green (also known as Nathan “Nearest” Green) taught Jack how to distill whiskey.

 

Daniel used water from Cave Spring Hollow in Lynchburg. Realizing how vital it was to have a steady, reliable water source, he purchased it and the surrounding land. The rest, of course, is history, and Jack Daniel’s is the #1 selling whiskey in the United States and the fourth most popular in the world.

 

My friends brought me three bottles of the Tennessee Tasters. Another friend, David Levine, sent me samples of the remaining four so I could have a complete set and provide tasting notes for each.

 

Each whiskey has a different recipe and proof, but each 375ml bottle will set you back $39.99, and there are about 24,000 bottles of each available. With that being said, I’ll #DrinkCurious and tell you about each one. My usual format will be slightly different; I’ll give the specifications of each and then provide the tasting notes. Unless otherwise stated, each Taster is distilled from the Old No. 7 mashbill.

 

Release 001 – High Angel’s Share Barrels



  • Barrelled January 2013, Released Fall 2018
  • 53.5% ABV / 107°

 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this whiskey was the color of caramel. It formed a thick rim with fast, heavy legs.

 

Nose: Cinnamon, lemon zest, and oak joined with caramel and vanilla. When I pulled the aroma into my mouth, there was more caramel.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be oily and thick. I tasted English toffee, caramel, and raw honey on the front of my palate. The middle featured crème brûlée, and the back offered berries, cinnamon, and oak.

 

Finish:  Medium to long in duration, the finish was made of berries, English toffee, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I enjoyed this pour. It was perfectly proofed and full of flavor. It is difficult not to sip this one and smile. I’m happy to crown this one with a Bottle rating.

 

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Release 002 – Hickory Smoke



  • Finished with Charred Hickory Staves
  • Released Fall 2018
  • 50% ABV / 100° 

 

Appearance:   Chestnut in color, Release 002 formed a thin rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass and yielded thick, quick legs.

 

Nose:  As you might suspect, hickory smoke was dominating. Beneath it was vanilla and caramel. As I drew the air past my lips, vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  Thin and oily, the front of my palate experienced hickory smoke and oak. The middle consisted of vanilla and cream, while the back tasted of dark chocolate and berries.

 

Finish:  Perhaps the most interesting of this whiskey was the Blue Diamond Smoked Almonds, salt, and roasted coffee flavors that remained for a medium-to-long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Each tasting element should be exciting. In the base of Release 002, the only riveting component was the finish. That’s not to say this was a lousy whiskey; instead, just a few notes mostly seemed out of place. A Bar rating is well-deserved.

 

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Release 003 – Barrel Reunion #1



  • Finished in Red Wine Barrels for 288 days
  • Released Spring 2019
  • 45% ABV / 90°

 

Appearance: The orange-amber liquid issued a thin rim and weak legs in my Glencairn glass.

 

Nose: I smelled fruity notes of strawberry and plum, then sweet vanilla, and finally, oak. In my mouth, the vapor tasted of bananas.

 

Palate:  A silky texture greeted my tongue. Banana, plum, and cherry flavors completed the front, while vanilla encompassed the entire middle. Toasted oak and leather created the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish was cherry, vanilla, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate what Jack Daniel’s tried to do with Release 003. It is unique; it is also only a few notes, and this whiskey could have been so much more. My recommendation would be to try it at a Bar first.

 

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Release 004 – Barrel Proof Rye



  • Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey
  • 70% Rye, 18% Corn, 12% Malted Barley
  • Released Spring 2019
  • 63.8% ABV / 127.6°

  

Appearance:  This whiskey presented as caramel in color and formed an ultra-thin rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. What remained were sticky droplets that fought gravity.

 

Nose: Aromas of cherry and prune married brown sugar and caramel. Charred oak was also easy to discern. Through my mouth, banana teased my palate.

 

Palate:  So far, Release 004 has the oiliest texture. Banana bread, rye spice, and cinnamon made for an exciting start. The middle featured caramel, nutmeg, and anise. On the back, I tasted leather, allspice, and coffee.

 

Finish:  Long and lingering, this Rye had a spicy finish made of coffee, allspice, rye bread, and charred oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There was nothing not to enjoy with this Rye. Flavors meshed naturally. I loved how this went from sweet to spicy. Release 004 also drank under its stated proof. A Bottle rating for sure!

 

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 Release 005 – Barrel Reunion #2



  • Finished in Oatmeal Stout Barrels for at least 240 days
  • Released Fall 2019
  • 46% ABV / 92°

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the caramel color was enticing. A medium rim was formed, which released watery legs.

 

Nose:  Peanut butter!  I’m a peanut butter freak, and peanut butter just exploded out of the glass. While I couldn’t care less what other aromas were floating around, they were there and featured vanilla, toasted oak, and cherry pie filling. Drawing the vapor into my mouth, vanilla was evident.

 

Palate:  A creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel resulted in milk chocolate and oatmeal cookies on the front. Peanut butter and nougat formed the middle, while coffee, dark chocolate, and cherry summed up the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish was made of chocolate-covered peanuts, coffee, nougat, and cherry.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 005 was mind-blowing and easily a standout from anything else in the series. I would have loved a longer finish. As my favorite of the seven, this snags a Bottle rating.

 

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Release 006 – Jamaican Allspice 




  • Finished with Toasted Jamaican Allspice Wood for 180 Days
  • Released Spring 2020
  • 50% ABV / 100°

 

Appearance:  A reddish-amber hue grabbed my attention. In my Glencairn glass, it generated a medium rim with irregular, thick legs.

 

Nose:  As you’d imagine, a mesquite aroma blasted my face. Accompanied by honey barbeque, brown sugar, plum, and tobacco, the sweetness melded nicely with the liquid smoke. As I drew the air into my mouth, vanilla punched my tongue.

 

Palate:  Medium-bodied, caramel and cola were at the front of my palate. Flavors of honey and coffee formed the middle, while allspice, smoked oak, and tobacco were on the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish tasted of clove, tobacco leaf, smoked oak, and cola.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 006 was an easy sipper. I have had pimento wood/allspice finished whiskeys before, and usually, what dominates is the allspice. I believe the cola notes tamed it. There weren’t complicated notes, yet overall, it was delicious. I’m happy to convey my Bottle rating. 

 

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Batch 007 – 14E19 “Twin” Blend Whiskey



  • Straight Tennessee Whiskey (40%) blended with Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey (60%)
  • Barrelled May 2014, Released Fall 2020
  • 53.5% ABV / 107°

 

Appearance: Caramel in color, it formed a medium rim on the side of my Glencairn glass, then released thick, fast legs.

 

Nose:  An aroma of honey barbeque sauce blended with cinnamon and brown sugar. When I inhaled through my lips, vanilla and rye spice were noted.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily. At the front, I discerned caramel, vanilla, and citrus. The middle featured molasses and honey, while the back was cinnamon, more caramel, and barrel char.

 

Finish:  Long and spicy, the finish tasted of rye, charred oak, nutmeg, and caramel.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 007 was the least interesting of the series. I enjoy bouryes; this was just Plain Jane and didn’t do anything for me. I must stress it wasn’t bad. But, it does take a Bar rating.

 

Final Thoughts:  If Jack Daniel’s releases additional experimental whiskeys to the Tennessee Tasters series, I’ll review them separately. Thanks for wading through all of these notes. Cheers!

 

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.

 





Thursday, December 23, 2021

Live Tasting of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Tasters on The Whiskey Ring Podcast

 



Every so often, I wind up on a podcast. This time, I show up on The Whiskey Ring podcast. David and I chatted for a little over two hours and I had no idea he was going to trim so little of it, this one is a whopping two hours long!


The subject was the Tennessee Tasters Collection from Jack Daniel's. I'll put together my reviews in one, big shebang in the near future. 


"A crossover! On this week's episode, I'm joined by Jeff Schwartz, AKA Whiskeyfellow. He's been writing about whiskey for several years on his Blog and  Facebook page - both of which you should definitely like and follow (Instagram, too!). We're tasting the Tennessee Tasters, a 7-bottle series from Jack Daniel's that's all experimental (until they aren't, of course)." - David Levine


The episode can be found here. Give him a follow while you're at it. Cheers!



Monday, September 13, 2021

Knob Creek Quarter Oak Review & Tasting Notes





I love it when distillers get curious and want to do something different. It isn't as if there isn't enough choice in the Wonderful World of Whiskey, but I enjoy the whole experimentation aspect. I want to see (and taste) what outside-the-box ideas they can come up with.



When Knob Creek announced they were going to release a small barrel Bourbon, it piqued my curiosity. It involved taking their standard Knob Creek Bourbon, made from a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, but instead of aging it in a standard 53-gallon barrel, it used what's called a quarter cask, which is only 13 gallons, and let it rest for four years. The smaller barrel gives a greater contact surface area between whiskey and wood. It is one way to accelerate the aging process.



Instead of leaving it at that, Knob Creek then took that quarter cask and blended it with their standard Bourbon aged in a traditional barrel.  The end result is called Knob Creek Quarter Oak.  



Bottled at 100°, Quarter Oak carries no age statement. Suggested retail is $49.99 for a 750ml and this is a limited edition offering. But, does limited edition mean it is worth chasing down?  I'll be honest - while I've enjoyed Knob Creek's limited editions in the past, I've found them overpriced for what they are. That hit a crescendo with the 25th Anniversary Release, which was essentially nothing more than a good store pick of Knob Creek 120 at three times the price. 



While the bottle is a media sample, it was passed along by a fellow reviewer and I did not get it directly from Knob Creek. Time to #DrinkCurious and find out if it is anything special...


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Quarter Oak appeared as a dull, golden amber. It left a thin rim that created fat, slow legs to drop back to the pool.


Nose:  The first thing to hit my nostrils was rose perfume. It was a bit overwhelming. However, once I got past that, I found a blend of dried fruit and caramel. Underneath that, leather was evident. When I inhaled through my mouth, apple and pear caressed my palate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and coating. Thick, sweet vanilla and cream greeted the front of my palate. That led to dry oak and leather at my mid-palate. Then, on the back, it became black pepper and barrel char. 


Finish:  I found it long and building. It started with black pepper and finished with very dry oak.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I am a big fan of Knob Creek 120.  I've said a few times that it is one of the most underrated Bourbons around. While it is a single-barrel Bourbon, I use it as a bellwether for other Knob Creek releases. I found Quarter Oak to be very atypical of what I've found in Knob Creek 120s, especially concerning the sweetness level at the front, and it was enjoyable. While this is slightly more expensive than Knob Creek 120 and is only 100°, it isn't obnoxiously priced like the 25th Anniversary or the 2001 Series. In all, Knob Creek Quarter Oak comes in as a net positive and earns my coveted Bottle rating.  Cheers!




My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Port Charlotte OLC:01 2010 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


Experimental whiskies are something I find exciting. It really doesn't matter if it turns out good or bad, because I love it when a distiller does something outside the box. Obviously, my hope is that things would turn out good (or great). But I'll try any experimental whisky to see what was done.


The fun happens when a distillery is fully transparent about what it tried. That's something Bruichladdich is known for. If you visit its website, they'll tell you pretty much everything you'd want to know, to the point where even a whisky geek will, if you'll excuse the pun, geek out


Port Charlotte is Bruichladdich's heavily-peated brand (with Bruichladdich as its unpeated lineup, and Octomore as its super-peated brand).  I've reviewed some from each of the expressions, and for me to be truly transparent, I'm a fan of Port Charlotte. As such, when Bruichladdich sent me a sample of OLC:01 2010 to review, I was intrigued. I'd never heard of it, and had no idea what to expect.


What I learned is OLC:01 is part of Port Charlotte's Cask Exploration Series, which is an experimental line of single malt Scotches. It starts with a 2009 harvest of 100% Invernesshire malted barley. Once distilled, it was then aged from 2010 to 2018 in first- and second-fill ex-bourbon barrels, first-fill Vin Doux Naturel barrels, and second-fill Syrah wine barrels. Once that's done, it was then transferred to first-fill Fernando de Castilla Oloroso sherry hogsheads where it rested for another 18 months. 


"These Oloroso hogsheads are superb casks. They're smaller than your average butts. So they've quickly left a lasting impression on this complex single malt." - Adam Hannett, Master Distiller


It is non-chill-filtered, naturally colored, and has a 40ppm phenol rating, which is something you'd expect with Port Charlotte. Bottled at 55.1% ABV (110.2°), it carries a nine-year age statement and you can expect to pay around $124.99 for a 750ml.


The big question, of course, is, How did this experiment turn out? That's answered by a simple tasting, and I'd like to thank Bruichladdich for sending me the sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, OLC:01 presented as a soft mahogany color with an amber tinge. It formed a medium ring that created slow, medium-thick legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  This was an extremely fragrant Scotch. As I allowed it to breathe, the aroma of barbeque filled the room. When I went to nose it, I smelled peat, plum, cherry, apricot, apple, honey, and chocolate. Yes, it seemed like I was in an orchard with a bit of smoke in the air. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, I picked out honey and milk chocolate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and very oily. My first sip consisted of a peat bomb - more than anything I've had from either Port Charlotte or Octomore. Once I got past the palate shock, the second sip had amazingly muted the peat. Orange, apricot, and peach were at the front. The middle offered flavors of honey, date, and vanilla. On the back, I tasted tobacco leaf, clove, and citrus.


Finish:  A medium-long finish started with citrus, smoked salt, tobacco leaf, and black pepper. One thing to note is this Scotch drinks at its stated proof, and that was eye-opening.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I was happy when I smelled the typical Port Charlotte barbeque but it was missing from the palate. I was shocked with how heavy the punch of peat was and how quickly it dissipated. I expected fruit, yet not the entire orchard on the palate. Finally, this may have been the "hottest" Scotch I've ever had, and I've tried plenty of cask-strength offerings. All of this makes for a unique drinking experience, and I believe that makes OLC:01 well worth the price tag. Obviously, this one earns my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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



Friday, March 26, 2021

Yes, There Really Is A Difference in Glassware



Glassware is, believe it or not, a very polarizing subject. It ranges from people telling you it doesn't matter what glassware you use to people telling you someone with some authority says they'll only drink out of one type of glass.  In truth, just as the "best" whiskey is the one you like the most, the "best" whiskey glass is the one you enjoy using the most.


But, make no mistake about it, glassware matters.


The first time I wrote on this subject was back in 2016 for Bourbon & Banter. But I've been a proponent of using the right glassware for many years prior. I keep revisiting this subject because it is constantly changing. There have been Kickstarter campaigns to deliver "new and improved" glassware to the marketplace. And, whenever I find a new design, I am always excited to try it. You could say that I believe there is, somewhere out there, a holy grail to whiskey glassware. 


Today I'm working with nine different glass designs. This is the largest population I've ever conducted for this type of experiment. In an effort to be as fair as possible to all candidates, I used the same whiskey in each glass. I happen to love using Evan Williams Black Label when I experiment. It is available in every market and it is very affordable. I find it offers a nose of caramel, vanilla, and oak, a mouthing of caramel, fruit, and vanilla, and a palate of vanilla, caramel, toffee, corn, and oak.  A very basic, solid Bourbon, and almost perfect for experimentation.


My methodology was as fair as I could make it. There would have been no way for me to do this blind as I know their shape, feel, and weight, and handling them all was necessary. As such, I'm not going to come up with a "best" glass. 


I poured a measured half-ounce into each glass. I let each glass oxidize for the same amount of time. I set this up into four different categories:  Hand Feel, Nosing, Mouthing, and Palate. I changed the order of glasses in each category.  I also didn't want to bias my nose or palate. I reset my olfactory sense between each sample. I drank water between each sample tasted, and I spit everything (hence the affordability aspect) rather than swallow to avoid burning out my palate and not getting buzzed.


Let me get some necessary disclosure out of the way. When I compose reviews, I always use a Glencairn Whisky Glass unless I specify otherwise. I use a Glencairn for several reasons, but they're my reasons. Also, I have friends who have designed or represent different types and brands of glassware. Those friendships do not interfere with my ability to determine which glassware is best for me.


My purpose is not to prove to you why the Glencairn glass is my glassware of choice. Rather, it is to demonstrate how design affects the factors I consider to be important.  As such, let's get on with it.


Shot Glass


The first glass up is the basic shot glass. These are very affordable, only a buck or so in most cases. They are usually made of glass, but there are resin, stoneware and metal options. Its purpose is, understandably, to deliver a shot of whatever. Mine has measurement lines. While you can sip from it, many folks simply slam back a pour. 

Hand Feel:  This can be held with just two fingers without trouble. A glass version will have weight to it and can offer a satisfying thunk as you slam it back on the counter or table.

Nosing:  I can pick up alcohol fumes and a bit of oak, but even that is hidden beneath the alcohol. There was no real change trying various nosing zones.

Mouthing:  When I inhale through my mouth, I am able to pick out vanilla.

Palate:  There isn't a lot in terms of flavors. It is buried under alcohol burn. I was able to taste oak.


Rocks Glass

Next up is a standard rocks glass. These are uncomplicated and most of us have a set. They are priced from a buck to being pricey, depending on the material and thickness. It can easily accommodate rocks or a sphere. 

Hand Feel:  A rocks glass fits the hand well and a high-quality one can have some heft. 

Nosing:  It is easy to get my face up to it without a blast of alcohol fumes. I was able to pick out vanilla and oak. I did not find any variety with my various nosing zones. 

Mouthing:  Inhaling through my lips offered only oak.

Palate:  The whiskey was creamy and soft. It offered some alcohol burn but was not overwhelming. 


Glencairn Canadian Whisky Glass


The Glencairn Canadian Whisky Glass is specifically designed for Canadian Whisky. However, it is also versatile enough for other types. It has a bowl shape that tapers and then flares outward. It can accommodate rocks or smaller spheres. They run, on average, about $15.00.

Hand Feel:  These are crystal glasses but lack significant heft. I find them a bit on the large side for holding in my hand, and easier to grasp underneath in my palm.

Nosing:  I didn't experience any overwhelming fumes, the shape of the glass did assist in deflecting. I was able to pick up vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Mouthing:  Inhaling through my lips led me to heavy wood notes. There was no alcohol burn.

Palate:   I found there was an overall muting of flavors. There as no burn but I felt like aside from corn, everything else was missing. 


Norlan Whiskey Glass

The Norlan Whiskey Glass is one of those Kickstarter styles. It is a double-walled glass with fins at the bottom. The purpose of the fins is to assist in aeration, thus unlocking flavors. They're on the pricey side, usually about $24.00 (and are sold in pairs). 

Hand Feel:  The Norlan feels delicate, almost as if it would break in my hand if I held it too tight or let it hit the table too hard. In reality, it is far sturdier. It also fits my hand unnaturally, heightening my concern of breaking it.

Nosing:  The fins create an obvious difference, as everything smells sweet. I lost any semblance of oak, but vanilla and caramel aromas were heavy.  There was no alcohol burn.

Mouthing:  Caramel was thick and danced across my palate without alcohol fumes.

Palate:  The whiskey was soft and silky. It flowed easily across my tongue. I picked up caramel, vanilla, toffee, corn, and oak - everything I expect from Evan Williams. There was a hint of alcohol warmth, but not what I would describe as burn.


Glencairn Whisky Glass

The Glencairn Whiskey Glass was designed in 2001 and utilized a tulip shape. It directs the aromas to the nose and the liquid to the tip of the tongue. It is popular and used at distilleries around the world. You wouldn't want to use ice in this other than chips. Prices are all over the spectrum, but you can pick up a basic, unbranded one for under $10.00.

Hand Feel:  The Glencairn glass is weighted well. I find it very easy to pick up by its thick foot. Its shape helps me manipulate its direction while I'm nosing and has a natural feel when sipping. 

Nosing: It is easy to tilt and twist the glass to switch between each nostril. It sits properly at my chin, just below my lower lip and finally, my nose. As such, I experienced little effort in picking up caramel, vanilla, and oak. 

Mouthing:  Channeling aromas directly in my mouth is facilitated by its design. Vanilla, caramel, and fruit were obvious.

Palate:  I picked up caramel, vanilla, toffee, corn, and oak, and the narrow mouth helps aim the liquid across my palate versus everywhere in my mouth, allowing me to pick out the individual flavors.


Riedel Vinum Cognac Glass

Riedel is a well-known glassmaker, especially as it pertains to wine. It also makes a cognac glass, which performs well as a whiskey glass. It is tulip-shaped, but with a more flared mouth than the Glencairn. Retail is about $18.00. You wouldn't want to use anything more than chipped ice in it.

Hand Feel:  The stem makes it very easy to grasp, twist and manipulate. It is weighted well and while delicate looking, feels solid.

Nosing:  There is something lost in the nosing process. I can pick up oak and vanilla.  If I twist and turn the glass, I can also find the caramel. There were no unpleasant alcohol fumes.

Mouthing:  Caramel was easy to pick up, but it lacked anything else, including alcohol burn.

Palate:  The whiskey seemed creamier than it did in any other glass, and as it flowed across my palate, I had no trouble picking up vanilla, corn, and oak. However, missing was toffee and caramel.


Libbey Perfect Glass

The Libbey glass is a different take on the channeling design. Rather than a bowl of any kind, it offers hard angles at the bottom, then it starts narrowing as it goes up. These are sold in sets of four and can be had for about $9.00 each. Rocks can be used, but a sphere would not fit.

Hand Feel:  The Libbey Perfect is difficult to hold. It has some weight to it, but there is no natural place for your fingers or even the palm of your hand to grasp it. 

Nosing:  Despite a very different shape, it performed almost exactly like the Canadian Whisky glass.  I was able to pick up vanilla, caramel, and oak, and didn't find anything in terms of alcohol burn. 

Mouthing:  I found vanilla and oak, but strange as it sounds, both "tasted" stale. There was no alcohol burn to speak of.

Palate:  The flavors of corn, vanilla, and fruit were evident, however, they came across muted. There was a very small amount of alcohol burn.


NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass

The NEAT glass has gone through a few name changes over the years. It started off as the NEAT Experience. I've also seen it called a NEAT Judging Glass and NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass. Regardless of what it is called, NEAT is an acronym for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology. It looks like someone took a Canadian Whisky Glass and smooshed it down. The bowl is flatter, and the mouth is very flared. You can add rocks but, unlike the Canadian Whisky glass, you wouldn't get a sphere to fit. Retail is about $16.00.

Hand Feel:  The NEAT glass fits in my hand nicely, and much better than a Canadian Whisky Glass. It also feels less delicate.

Nosing:  I found the NEAT glass allowed sweeter notes to shine through, making vanilla and caramel easy to discern. Less easy was the oak, but it was there. I found no alcohol burn.

Mouthing:  I was absolutely shocked to find I pulled nothing at all while attempting to inhale through my mouth. I suspect it has to do with the very wide, flared rim.

Palate:  Drinking from the NEAT glass is challenging. You must lean your head back to get the liquid beyond the flare. However, it provided a softening of the mouthfeel. It also eliminated any alcohol fumes and burn. I was able to pick up all of the expected flavors of corn, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and oak.


Aged & Ore Duo Glass

The Aged & Ore Duo Glass is another one that started with a Kickstart campaign. Like the Norlan glass, it also features a double-walled design. This one has no fins. Instead, it has ribbed lines along the inside wall that serve both to measure and aerate. The glass is large enough to accommodate rocks or a sphere and costs about $24.00 each. 

Hand Feel:  This is very similar in feel and appearance as the Norlan glass, meaning it looks very delicate but isn't. While the lack of heft is the same, the shape is slightly different and I found it easier to hold than the Norlan.

Nosing:  There was no alcohol burn. I found aromas easy to detect and had no issues picking out the vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Mouthing: When inhaling through my mouth, all I could pick out was oak. There was also a lack of alcohol burn.

Palate:  I found the Duo Glass to be easier to sip from than the Norlan, but more difficult to identify flavors. It isn't to say I couldn't discern the vanilla, corn, and oak, but it took a good deal of effort and I missed out on the toffee and caramel. There was also a muted flash of alcohol heat.


Conclusion

My personal experience is that I get the best overall performance from a Glencairn Whisky Glass. But, it isn't the winner in each category. When comparing price, form, and function, it is simple for me to gravitate to it and I'm used to it. Keep in mind that the Norlan and NEAT glasses have huge fanbases as well.


The point of all this was to demonstrate how different glass shapes provide different results while pouring the same exact whiskey. Don't let anyone tell you the glass doesn't matter. It absolutely does.  Just find what works for you and enjoy your whiskey the way it makes you happy. Cheers! 




My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

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!