Saturday, February 14, 2015

Whisky review: Pure Pot Spirit

This is "barley spirit straight from the pot still at Tullibardine," according to the label on the bottle. I bought this on a trip to Scotland back in 2010 and have been slowly chipping away at it.

Tullibardine, a Highland distillery slightly north of Glasgow and Edinburgh, was mothballed in 1995 and then revived when it was purchased by an independent company in 2003.

Pure Pot Spirit, 69% ABV
New-make spirit
Price range, 500 mL: £30 when I bought it in Scotland in 2010; not very available now

Nose: Buttery green apples, grass or hay.

Palate: A bit prickly, probably due to the high alcohol content. Super bright young fruit - again with the green apples, plus light malt.
Finish: Clean and fruity, turning to a darker earthiness after a while.

Rating (of 100): 83. I had the Wasmund's new-make right before this and I think I like this one slightly better, due to the cleanliness of this spirit. A few drams of this one at 69% and you'll be feeling pretty good whether you actually enjoy drinking it or not!

Whisky review: Wasmund's Single Malt Spirit

Wasmund's is made by a distillery called Copper Fox, located in Sperryville, Virginia. The distillery was started and is owned by Rick Wasmund, who started the distillery back in 2002 to try making whiskies using fruit wood for the malting (and some of the maturation).

This spirit is essentially new-make, being less than 30 days old when put into the bottle. It's made from 100% hand-malted barley, where the malting was done with light smoke from 60% apple wood and 40% cherry wood.

I frequently give this as the last sample at tasting events, so folks can see what a new-make spirit tastes like. It really gives you an appreciation for how much of a whisky's character comes from the wood!

Wasmund's Single Malt Spirit, 62% ABV
Essentially new-make spirit
Price range, 750 mL: $27-32

Nose: Honeydew melon and a malty toastiness.

Palate: This is pretty cool. I think the smoke comes out a lot more on the palate than on the nose, and the fruitiness plays a secondary role.

Finish: Subtle smoke with an undesirable mustiness settling into the back of my mouth after a while.

Rating (of 100): 81. For being a new-make at 62% ABV, this is pretty tasty and not harsh. The finish was the part that brought the score down for me; could have been in the mid-80s without the mustiness.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Who really cares how it looks???

As I'm re-entering the world of whisky from a three-year hiatus in Arizona, I've come to the realization that the appearance notes made by many bloggers (including me!) and tasting reviews are pretty much worthless. I won't be making them from now on.

If you're skeptical, let me know if the color description of a whisky has ever swayed your decision about whether to buy it, or about whether you enjoyed it or not. I can say that I have never had this experience.

Here's an example of one very famous whisky personality explaining how to taste whisky, and why you should care about the appearance. Instead of guessing about the maturation and age of the whisky based on its appearance, I'd rather just look at the bottle or search online for the actual facts. What if it's a blind tasting? You should be able to tell much more accurately how old it is and what its maturation was from the nose and the palate.

I'd also think that, as whisky nerds, most of us would understand that scotch whiskies can legally have caramel coloring added to them. So the color could have been manipulated anyway.

So stop looking at it and start drinking it. Can I get a hell yeah?