Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bourbon and BBQ

This Saturday was what I can only describe as a beautiful day. The sun was shining, Hull City got a much needed win and I attended my first whisky event. As the sun presents itself more the last traces of snow disappear from the ground and it becomes easier to enjoy the great outdoors. Hull City facing a difficult relegation battle beat Crystal Palace and if they can maintain that form they may avoid the drop. As I announced last post I would be attending my first whisky event, a bourbon and BBQ.

The event presented 17 whiskies (16 bourbons and 1 Tennessee whisky). It also showcased the barbecue sauce of several local eateries. David Michiels of Willow Park in Calgary was on hand to answer any questions that participants had. Of the 17 bottles on offer I tried 9 of the bourbons, as I was already well acquainted with the other selections. Here are the tasting notes for my favourites:

Michter's Small Batch:

This was the first sample I tried and overwhelmingly my favourite. I bought a bottle before I had even finished the sample. It was that good.

Nose: Floral, citrus, menthol, honey, pine and cotton candy.
Palate: Cherry, tobacco, maple and pepper.
Finish: Smooth and long.

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old:

Nose: Pine, wintergreen, ozone, wood and blood orange
Palate: cinnamon (not hot), nuts, molasses,
Finish: a slightly bitter edge smooths out and this becomes quite pleasant and very long.

Buck 8 Year Old:

I found this one to be unique and so the tasting notes are equally so.

Nose: How I would imagine the Gingerbread mans saddle would smell after a mad dash through a cedar forest.
Palate: A marshmallow that has been skewered on a cedar stick roasted over a cedar fire, then served on a tortilla with a touch of hot tamale sauce.
Finish: smooth, long and tasty.

Blanton's Special Green Label:

Nose: Honey comb, wood, vanilla, baking spices, orange rind
Palate: Full mouth feel delivers notes of peaches, charred wood, coal, chillies and red licorice.
Finish: Smooth long and wonderful.

Although the tasting in itself was a wonderful opportunity to try some new products, one of the most exciting things for me was the announcement that this was the first in a series of tastings. I have long looked at tasting events that are occurring in other parts of the country and dreamt of being able to travel to them. Now I realize I don't have to go far at all, and I like that.  


Monday, 13 April 2015

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

In my last post I had stated that April is Bourbon month and alluded to some sort of reveal. So it was not some sort of ruse (clever or otherwise) nor empty words that I forgot. I just didn't want to state something without confirmation of its existence. I had heard rumour that a whisky festival of sorts was set to take place here in Whitehorse. The festival was announced later last week, although not in any massive way. What I know is that the event is to take place on April 25 and is to be specific to bourbon whisky. Actually the event is a bourbon and barbecue tasting event. It is likely not going to be as big as: Spirit of Toronto, Whisky live, the Victoria whisky festival or any of the other big ones that take place all over the world. After all, we are only a town of about 23,000. It is however going to be very exciting for me and several other locals. Besides the fact that there will be several new products available at the local store, this is set to be my first whisky show. I have been to several wine and beer festivals, but never a whisky event. Hence April is bourbon month.

To celebrate this news I will taste the Buffalo Trace - Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, and pair it with Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gold and Platinum.

Buffalo Trace is well known for their experimental whiskies, and have won many awards. They produce several whiskies under various brands, including the Blanton's that I tasted in my last post. According to the label Buffalo Trace is one of the oldest distilleries in North America.

I have been a big fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd since my early teens. They are a great combination of country, blues and good old rock and roll. Southern Rock at it's finest. They were also a fairly large band. In their peak they had at least seven members, including three guitarists. This gave them a very full sound. I am hoping this full sound will compliment the whisky well.

Nose: bright, sweet and tart honeyed orange on first pass. Then there is red licorice and an oily nuttiness aroma as well as some creamy vanilla. Every whiff brings new characteristics. I start to get chocolate and cherries.

Palate:  There is a smoky quality to this whisky. Notes of vanilla and clove grow while that oily nut character reveals itself as well.I even get the slightest hint of mint.

Finish: Although fairly long and quite smooth going down it leaves a brief fire on the tongue after the fist sip. This cools off on subsequent tastes. Flavours that remain are the licorice and that nuttiness.  

Overall a really decent bourbon. I look forward to trying more of this distillery's products. With this particular bourbon I find that it can pack a punch if the sip is too big, and this works well with the music. When the softer, slower songs play the sips are smaller. The harder rocking songs allowed for bigger sips. This was added fun for "Free bird" as the song starts out slower and then gets rocking.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Blanton's Original Single Barrel Bourbon

For reasons that will become apparent in the coming weeks April is bourbon month. Spring has sprung or if you live in the Yukon like I do it's still springing. Although bourbon is something I often associate with summer, barbecues and the occasional dusty duel at high noon, I can easily associate it with spring as my personal interest in the spirit is blooming. There are so many fantastic bourbons out there that I find myself wanting to learn and experience more and more. For this tasting I will try one of my personal favourites - Blanton's Original Single Barrel Bourbon. I will pair this whiskey with Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever.    

Blanton's claims to be the first Single Barrel whiskey and comes in a really nice looking bottle with a cool stopper. It is produce at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, selected from barrels matured in the middle of warehouse 'H', where apparently Colonel Blanton's preferred stock came from.

I chose Tom Petty for musical accompaniment not because he is awesome (which he is) but because I couldn't think of a more American rocker. I felt that that was important. Tom Petty has written an incredible amount of great songs. Songs that I often don't think of for years yet when I throw the album on I find that I still remember all of the lyrics and can't help but sing along. Full Moon Fever is an entire album of those songs. I will stop singing just long enough to complete this tasting.

Nose:   I get cherries then some mint, a bit of red licorice, oak and vanilla. I also detect some spicy notes and a touch of smoke. As I nose this whisky I giggle to myself as I try to picture some cowboy in a saloon sniffing his bourbon.

Palate: The mouth feel is amazing. There is a creaminess about it. I get notes of vanilla, chocolate and nuts with warm caramel. There are also some really nice spices that develop.

Finish: The finish is really smooth and long. The spices carry on while a juicy sweetness makes its presence known.

As I said at the beginning, this is one of my favorites. Blanton's is absolutely delicious, and that nose just keeps you going back for more. It of course works perfectly with the album. The music drifts to the back of my thoughts and back to the front at varying moments which lets the whiskey shine at alternating moments. In essence the two shared the stage that is my senses well.