2019.09.22Jefferson's Ocean, Voyage 17

Logo of The Botanist Islay Gin. Image credit: thebotanist.com

About a year in, I think we've largely settled on the whiskey brands we enjoy. We have a few we enjoy "on the regular," but we're still up for taking a chance on something new. Our latest "something new" is Jefferson's Ocean, Voyage 17.

The standout thing about Jefferson's Ocean is that it's a small batch blend of straight bourbons that is actually aged aboard a vessel out at sea, which makes this precious cargo subject to temparature variations, constant rocking, and even some exposure to salt air1 The information included with the bottle included a synopsis of the actual voyage.

The website further explains that each voyage "typically crosses the equator four times, visits five continents and over 30 ports." It's a very well traveled bourbon.

I'm enjoying sipping it and chasing with ice water.

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2019.06.15Though Not a Whiskey, The Botanist 22 is a Gin I Can Live With

Logo of The Botanist Islay Gin. Image credit: thebotanist.com

Taking a small departure from whiskeys for this post.

Since my wife and I started exploring spirits, we've come to know various whiskeys and bourbons fairly well -- at least, well enough to know what we like.

Ever the adventurous one, my wife, at the behest of a friend who is big into gin, got her (well, got us to try a few different gins. Among them: a German gin from Black Forest Distillers called Monkey 47; Aviation American Gin from Oregon. Those were the first two -- I can't really recall the rest...

...EXCEPT for The Botanist Dry Gin.

The Botanist was very different. It was light; it was very, very botanical; we were fast friends right from the start.

I'm not a gin guy. I know gin is coming back into style; it's "a thing" again. To me, gin is the drink of my grandfather... and, considering I'm a fairly newly minted pentagenarian, that ought to tell you something. I'm not knocking those who are big into gin now; it's just not my thing.

But The Botanist is really lovely, for what it's worth from a not-a-gin-guy.

P.S. - Bonus points for the latin on the bottle. Does anyone know what it says?


UPDATE: I know what the print on the bottle means. I sent a note to the distillery. They report the lettering on the bottle is the names of the 22 Islay botanicals the distillery uses!

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2019.02.27Hochstadter's Slow & Low Rock and Rye Whiskey

Logotype from the Slow and Low Website. Image credit: The Cooper Spirits Co.

Oh is this GOOD.

Pour a little into a Glencairn glass. Smell that honey. (Even *I* could smell the honey.) Now pour a little onto your tongue. Taste the orange and feel how thick this rye whiskey is. Hold it on your tongue and add a touch of ice cold water to open the nose. It goes down so smoothly... and you're left with notes of rock candy, believe it or not.

This is a sipper to savor. I wouldn't dream of mixing this with anything.

And I even love the fonts. To me they go well with American Traditional tattoos.

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2019.01.29Bulleit 95 Rye Frontier Whiskey

Image of a bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye. Image credit: GIS

Laurel has been hearing a lot about Bulleit whiskey, so she picked up a bottle of the rye.

It's almost gone. I'm pretty sure we haven't had it for even a week.

Personally, I don't find it as smooth as I'd prefer. I think Laurel is mostly mixing it into Old Fashioneds and Kentucky Mules... the distiller's tasting notes characterize it as "Russet in color, with rich oaky aromas. The taste is exceptionally smooth, with hints of vanilla, honey, and spice."

And, again, the bottle is nearly empty.

Bulleit 95 Rye is a straight rye whiskey, meaning it has been stored in new oak barrels for a minimum of two years before bottling.

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2019.01.26Whiskey Class

Image of whiskey in a Glencairn whiskey glass. Image credit: GIS

Laurel signed us up to attend a class on whiskey at a Total Wine store in a nearby town. I thought the class was fantastic. Roughly two hours long, they took us through several varietals: Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye, Tennessee Whiskey, Scotch, and Japanese Whisky.

The lecturer also explained various terms we often see, like "straight", "blended", "barrel proof," and "single barrel."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the class was when they took us through various Scotches from four different regions of Scotland: the Highlands, Speyside, Islay and the Islands, and the Lowlands. Throughout the evening they told us about how important the environment can be on the finished whiskey; McCallan 12 yr. Double Cask, Glenlivet 12 yr. First Fill, and Shieldaig Speyside 12 yr. Single Malt were all amazing examples of exactly that. Most notably, Shieldaig, of the Speyside region, was horrible.

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2019.01.11Angels' Envy Finished Rye Whiskey

Image of a bottle of Angels' Envy Finished Rye. Image credit: Angels' Envy Distillery

My wife and I returned to Whiskey Cake for dinner the other night, and I was itching to try a whiskey called Angels' Envy that I'd heard a bit about.

It was a gorgeous sip (neat). Angels' Envy Rye is finished in rum barrels, giving it a lovely gingerbread/maple nose. I can't wait to add it to our cabinet.

By the way, the company has a neat-- excuse me, nice -- explanation of the difference between rye and bourbon on their website.

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2019.01.01Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr

Image of the label of a bottle of Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year bourbon. Image credit: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery

I was lucky enough to ring in the new year with Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr at a restaurant in Las Colinas, TX.

It has the same buttery smoothness as Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yr. I sipped it neat, and it paired beautifully with a bone-in ribeye.

Completely worth it.

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2018.12.25Old Rip Van Winkle

Hello World!

This is my new page, dedicated to my relatively new adventure into whiskeys and bourbons.

So, for my inaugural post, I thought I'd start with the bourbon I received today: Old Rip Van Winkle.

I first heard about the Old Rip Van Winkle series of bourbons a couple of years ago from a friend who was learning about whiskey: a fabled small-batch distillery whose product is legendarily difficult to come by -- only a handful of distributors have access to it.

Not too long afterwards I found it at a bar in Las Vegas. A glass of it on the rocks was quite expensive (I thought).

My wife and I are learning about whiskey together. She has a friend who happens to live in Kentucky, and reached out to her about Old Rip Van Winkle. She confirmed the bourbon was only available for purchase from the distillery through a lottery, and enlisted the help of a friend to get us into the lottery.

Laurel was thrilled to later learn that she'd won the opportunity to buy a bottle of the 10-year, and immediately took advantage.

We have an old library card catalog in our office, which we have decided to put to good use as a liquor cabinet. Old Rip Van Winkle is laying at rest in the cabinet for a special occasion!

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2018.12.25Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve

Now I figured I'd tell you about my brush with greatness.

As you saw from the previous post, I'm excited about my bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr -- because I know how good the REALLY good stuff is: Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yr.

I've already told you about how I learned about the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, and how scarce their product is.

Set your wayback machine for late May of this year. We were house hunting in Dallas, and staying at a hotel in Las Colinas, which is a small city in orbit around the metroplex.

After a long day of looking at houses, we went up to the bar and I happened to spot this bottle set back a ways behind the bar. I couldn't believe what I was seeing:

-- A bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve.

I couldn't believe my luck --- and the bartender gave me a very generous pour. I am convinced she had no idea what she had back there -- like maybe they'd had the bottle forever and just wanted to finally be rid of it.

Of course I obliged.

Bourbon heaven is an amber syrup in a low-ball glass. And I know I'll likely never taste it again, but I'm so thrilled to say that I did for one weekend.

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2018.12.25Jack Daniels' Sinatra Select

This is my "on the regular" whiskey.

Sinatra Select and I were introduced a few years ago at Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant in Las Vegas. Historically, I hadn't been a fan of the Jack Daniels' brand. But the Sinatra Select amazes.

-- and you should taste what it does for a pecan pie.

My wife bought our first bottle around the holidays last year. Kept under lock and key at the liquor store, it is held in a black box bearing a simple orange ribbon and an orange image of a trilby -- the style of hat Frank Sinatra wore.

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