Monday, July 27, 2015

Whiskey Review: Powers John's Lane 12 Year

This is one of very few Irish whiskey reviews on this blog, so let's hope it doesn't suck.

Whiskey is spelled with the "e" when it's from Ireland, for reasons that may or may not be attributable to drunkenness by those developing naming conventions. This is single pot still whiskey, also known as pure pot still whiskey, which means it was fermented from a mash of a combination of malted and unmalted barley and then triple-distilled in copper pot stills. It's a process unique to Ireland that is making a comeback: there were only two brands (Redbreast and Green Spot) that, until a few years ago, bore the single pot still distinction, but now you can find ten or more different bottlings in this style.

This particular whiskey is 12 years old, matured primarily in bourbon casks with a little maturation in sherry casks (percentages/durations undisclosed). It's supposed to be reminiscent of how the whiskey from the original John's Lane distillery tasted, which the people making this whiskey apparently think the average consumer cares about.

Powers John's Lane 12 Year, 46% ABV
Single pot still Irish whiskey (Ireland)
Price range, 750 mL: $55-70

Nose: Honey and a floral fruitiness with some woody spices.

Palate: A nice, ripe fruit palate backed by a good dollop of alcoholic heat. Smooth mouthfeel.

Finish: More ripe fruit and a good amount of heat as it fades away. The aftertaste turns a little flat after a while.

Rating (of 100): 84. Fairly one-dimensional for a whiskey in this price range. Not sure what all the hype was about in the reviews when this came out. I'd rather have gotten two bottles of Glenmorangie 10 and saved a few bucks to boot.

Irish whiskey has yet to win my heart over scotch.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

It's been almost five years since I reviewed a stablemate of this whisky, the Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or, a whisky I still hold in high regard. I'll spare you the details about Glenmorangie, since you can go read them in that post, and you probably don't really care anyway.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, 46% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Highlands)
Price range, 750 mL: $45-55

Nose: Blood orange, baking spices, old wood.

Palate: Plums, blood orange, more spices. Pretty much just like the nose, with a super soft mouthfeel.

Finish: Much more of the baking spices coming through here. Very nice, long finish with those spices lingering. Eventually, you can taste the flavors of the Glenmorangie 10 Original coming through - soft stone fruits and a maltiness enveloping it all.

Rating (of 100): 91. This whisky is sweet but not cloying at all; I feel like some whiskies with fortified wine influence are not ones I would care to drink all night but this is definitely an exception to that group. A sophisticated dram at a peasant's price.

Dalmore and Jura Single Malt Scotch Seminar Review

This was yet another outstanding and free whisky tasting at Gordon's in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The presenter was a gentleman named Ralph, who seemed pretty new at the whole brand ambassador gig and kept pronouncing "Islay" as "eye-lay" instead of the correct "eye-luh." So that was annoying.

Both Dalmore and Jura are owned by the same company, Whyte & Mackay, which explains why one dude was representing two brands. Dalmore is a Highland distillery, known for their rich, sherried whiskies, as well as their ridiculously expensive luxury line extensions. Jura Distillery is on the Isle of Jura, an island off the southwest coast of Scotland, between the mainland and Islay.

Here are my brief tasting notes from the event:

Dalmore 15 Year (40% ABV, 12 years in bourbon casks and 3 years in sherry casks): Nose is nice sherry. Palate is ripe fruit, old wood. Water makes it even woodier. Overall rating: 88.

Dalmore Cigar Malt (44% ABV, 12 years in bourbon casks, 2.5 years in sherry casks and 1.5 years in cabernet sauvignon casks): Nose is plump, juicy fruits, like plum. Palate is nice, typical sherry spice. Overall rating: 89.

Dalmore 18 Year (43% ABV, 14 years in bourbon casks, 4 years in sherry): Nose is full, silky, sexy sherry, with deep, ripe fruit. Palate is again some sexy sherry that continues into the finish. Overall rating: 93.

Dalmore Daniel Boulud (44% ABV, up to 23 years in bourbon casks and then married with whiskies aged in muscatel, madeira, and port wine casks): Nose is lighter fruit, palate is bourbon with late sherry. The finish is bourbon plus sherry. Not really a fan...mostly tastes like bourbon for some reason. Overall rating: 82.

Jura 10 Year (43% ABV, bourbon casks): Oak, honey, young fruit, a bit fiery. Hint of peat on the finish. Overall rating: 85.

Jura 16 Year (43% ABV, 14 years in bourbon casks and 2 years in sherry casks): Nose is super juicy fruits. Really nice leather and tobacco on the palate. It feels like I'm drinking suede. Bit of peat in there too. Reminds me of a Highland Park 12 but with less peat. Overall rating: 92.

Jura Superstition (43% ABV, 12 years in bourbon casks, 1-2 years in sherry casks, peated at 30-35 ppm): The nose is tar. On the palate, gritty peat. This reminds me a bit of the Springbank 15. The finish is nice deep, dark peat. It has a leathery but soft, lingering finish. Overall rating: 88.

Jura Prophecy (46% ABV, 14-18 years in bourbon casks, 2-3 years in sherry casks, non-chillfiltered, peated at 45 ppm): Nose is band-aids. The palate has nice peat, with a lighter feeling and better harmony than the Superstition. Reminds me of the Ardbeg Uigeadail. The finish is sweet peat. A little too much of a brute for my palate. Overall rating: 87.

Jura Brooklyn (42% ABV, up to 16 years in bourbon and sherry casks, then 1.5 years in pinot noir casks): Nose is very nice fruit and smoke. The palate is smooth fruit and soot with a lingering finish. Overall rating: 90.

While I enjoyed the Dalmore 18 the most, my favorite discovery of the night was the Jura 16.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Clueless Marketing of Alcohol

Story time...

I went to a local liquor store today to buy some brews and a few wines for an event tomorrow. There was a lady pouring La Marca prosecco and she asked if I'd like to try a sample - of course I obliged :) She asked if I was familiar with prosecco and I said I knew it was a sparkling wine from Italy, but that's about it. She said, "Yes, well, this one is made in Italy." That was my first clue that something was amiss.

Then she said it was a more balanced prosecco than a lot of others, which tend to be sweeter. So I decided to probe a bit and asked her why it was balanced as compared to sweet. She stumbled on her words a bit and ended up coming out with "It's due to the different kinds of fruit they add to the wine." Ok, now the game is afoot. "What kinds of fruits do they add to this one?" "Oh, well, they don't really tell you, but the bottle says it's fruity."

So I knew I had her at this point. I decided to give her a hand. "It might have something to do with how long they let the fermentation go." Her reply: "Oh, yeah, there are a lot of things that go into it."

I asked her if she was from a marketing company and she replied in the affirmative. Then I said I had some friends who worked at MKTG and wondered if she might know them. She hadn't heard of MKTG so I said it's the company that markets Diageo's products. "What's Diageo?"

After letting her know it's the largest spirits company in the world, she disclosed that she does this marketing only for money and that she actually doesn't drink alcohol at all! Then she asked me for the name of "that marketing company" again (MKTG) so she could inquire about a position there.

This was kind of a sad event. This liquor store has, to me at least, a great reputation for putting on high-quality events with staff who know their liquors inside and out. So having this absolutely clueless woman try to make up nonsense on the spot was kind of like running into a pile of dog poop on an otherwise-pristine white carpet.