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Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Savory New French Oak

January 8, 2012 Drink No Comments

I’ve spent the past week or so appreciating Ardbeg Corryvreckan, named after the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world. And though Uigeadail is my favorite from the distillery, Corryvreckan is a great dram nonetheless. It has won numerous awards and is considered a “Le Snob Essential.” Being an Islay malt, it’s tarry, smoky and peaty in profile, of course. In addition, because it’s partially aged in new French oak barrels, it’s got a spicy kick to it, making it more of a savory whisky. It’s super complex and mystical. Bottled at 57.1% ABV, I wouldn’t dare drink this everyday.

Still, sipping it evokes memories of boat rides not far off the coast, like that time I went whale watching in elementary school.

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Aberlour A’bunadh – a great Speysider aged in Sherry casks

January 1, 2012 Drink No Comments

Aberlour A’bunadh (pronounced ah-boon-uh) is an amazingly sweet scotch, and dare I say, my favorite from Speyside. This particular batch (37) is bottled at cask strength, or 59.6% ABV. It’s non-chill filtered, giving it a full body and great mouth feel. It’s also got a nice amber color from being aged in Spanish Olorsoro Sherry butts. It smells and tastes like toffee, pralines, and dark chocolate. Because of the high alcohol content, its finish is seductively long. I pour myself a double and can easily spend an hour appreciating it.

According to its wikipedia page…

Rumour has it that when the second pair of stills were put in in 1975, a time capsule was discovered behind the name plate, containing an 1898 newspaper about the distillery fire wrapped around an 1898 bottle of Aberlour. The workmen who discovered the bottle polished off four fifths of the bottle during their lunch break, but the remains of the bottle went off to the laboratories in Keith, and were analysed. A’bunadh is an attempt to recreate this single malt.

In any case, I really like it.

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Courvoisier XO Imperial – Holiday Edition

December 25, 2011 Drink No Comments

Other than the fact that I’m drinking this on Christmas, it’s really the same expression of Courvoisier XO (extra old) Imperial cognac one could get pretty much anywhere. I picked this one up for a really great price at Costco. It’s a blend of spirits between 20 to 35 years old.

This particular bottle came with this additional multifaceted glass orb stopper; I like it better than the ubiquitous heavy gold UFO-looking cork top.

Cheers!

Link: Courvoisier

Dear 2011 Santa….

December 17, 2011 Drink, Living, Read, Style No Comments

… I’ve been pretty good this year….more or less…..so, how about it?..

Top Row:

  • Hedi Slimane: Anthology of a Decade. This coffee table book set captures a bunch of Hedi’s photographs. I’m particularly intrigued by the FR (for France) book, which shows some of his couture work at Yves Saint Laurent and Dior.
  • Double Breasted Velvet Blazer by Yves Saint Laurent. This is an amazing piece I need for the current party season. I wear a 36, but can take the 38 and have my tailor take it in. =)
  • Ardbeg Supernova. I have yet to try this particular expression of Ardbeg. However, the reviews of it have been pretty good – a lot of peaty and smoky notes; exactly how I like my scotch. Malt Advocate gave it a respectable 90 point score.

Middle Row:

  • Cannondale Supersix Ultegra DI2. It’s a road bike with heritage, race-winning pedigree, and many more features than I need, but it looks pretty badass.
  • Santiago Gonzalez Card Case made from a Colombian crocodile in a rich, navy blue. When it comes to personal accessories, I prefer to have something classic, and not so mainstream.

Bottom Row:

  • Mr. Hare Jopling Patent Leather Shoes. I need these, especially with the raised cube toe.
  • Garmin FR 70. It’s a heart rate monitor watch with ANT+ technology, which allows it to sync with the monitor on my gym’s stationary bike. I need this to better gauge the number of calories I burn.
  • Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is much, much more than a cookbook, and even though I don’t really cook, I still appreciate the craft and skills involved in it. And this six volume set seems like a good place to understand all of the techniques involved in many of the restaurants I’ve been fortunate enough to frequent.
  • Lanvin Flower Lapel Pin. I like accessories.
  • Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Illustrated is a bottle of the 20 year old, but really, I’d take a 15 year old also. Currently, there is a lot of hype about this spirit. The reviews have been stellar, and admittedly, I am very curious.

Big Peat – I could drink this everyday.

December 17, 2011 Drink No Comments

I’ve been enjoying this vatted, or blended, malt whisky for the past two weeks, and came to the conclusion that Douglas Laing’s Big Peat makes for a delicious daily dram. It is a blended, or vatted or pure, malt made from single malts distilled at Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore, and now-defunct Port Ellen, all of which are/were located on the Scottish island Islay. The snob in me likes the fact that there are no grain whiskies in the mix, and the whole thing is non chill fltered.

Nevertheless, at 46% ABV, nosing it is easy. It’s smoky, briny, fruity, and a bit floral. On the tongue, it is sweet and full-bodied. I really like the lingering finish. The only thing that I’d quibble over is the label. It’s contemporary but not really appealing to my aesthetics. If I didn’t almost already finish the bottle, I’d definitely decant this in a crystal container.

I picked up a bottle for about $60 at K&L Wines in Hollywood. Now, I’m hoping they get the holiday cask strength variety, which features the same character on the label but in a Santa outfit.

Link: Big Peat

Scotch Malt Whisky Society – A Very Curious Society

December 10, 2011 Drink 1 Comment

I recently became a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, taking my connoisseurship/snobbery to the next level. =] Their motto is “TO LEAVE NO NOSE UPTURNED” - how could I not join? hahahaha.

Upon paying my membership dues, they sent me this elegant box as part of the welcome package….

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Ardbeg Uigeadail – Cask Strength and Non Chill-Filtered

December 1, 2011 Drink No Comments

According to the distillery, this scotch is a special vatting of different styles of Ardbeg, marrying together its traditional deep, smoky notes with the luscious, sweet, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks… In 2009, Jim Murray called it World Whisky of the Year.

What I really appreciate from this whisky, is that it is at cask strength and is non-chill filtered, which allows one to taste the maximum flavors. It really has great balance, and is one I’d proudly pour a dram for my friends. Definitely, one of my favorite scotches. I picked up this bottle from the Hollywood outlet of K&L Wines, which had it for $59 (MSRP $73), a great price! I’ll have to go back and stock pile on more.

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Kirkland Signature’s Macallan-distilled Single Malt Whisky Aged 20 years

November 29, 2011 Drink 1 Comment

Back in October 2011, while doing my grocery shopping at Costco, I came across and bought a couple of bottles of this curious spirit, a Costco-branded The Macallan at about $90 each. Familiar with the venerable The Macallan distillery, this seemed like a great deal.

Originally starting life as high-quality Golden Promise Barley, like other The Macallan products, this whisky went through the same small copper stills and also benefited from the fresh spring water from the river Spey. It was only after The Macallan realized, back in the 1990s, they had a surplus of new make spirit that they sold off some of their barrels to independent bottlers, like Alexander Murray and Company. As the label indicates, this particular bottle was distilled when I was 10 or 11 years old, in 1991.

Though not an official The Macallan bottling, Alexander Murray and Company, for Costco’s Kirkland Signature label, did a fine job developing the new make spirit.

Previously enjoying this with a couple of friends, we found this single malt scotch an absolute pleasure, and best enjoyed neat. Rich in amber color, swirling it about revealed skinny legs (the streak marks making its way down the glass). The standard 40% ABV level made nosing the dry, fruity essence easy. Tasting it was just as effortless; its prolonged time in oak barrels smoothed its bite, while its 6 month encounter with sherry casks imparted its character citrus-fruity and toffee sweetness. Its finish was short. If I could improve on the experience, I’d only have the finish linger longer.

Now sold out, I wished I had stocked up on more! It’s a great whisky that will appeal to many different tastes.

Links:
Alexander Murray and Company
The Macallan
Costco

Laphroaig 10 Year Cask Strength: Batch 002 (12/2010); 56.3% ABV

November 24, 2011 Drink No Comments

It wasn’t until friends introduced me to the standard, flagship 10 year Laphroaig (43% ABV) that I began to really appreciate Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It was strong and polarizing. Nevertheless, I welcomed the smoky aftertaste that drink offered. Sipping it encouraged introspection and focus on the moment….not unlike listening to Morrissey or Radiohead.

Through education (books and tastings), I found that smoky characteristic to be ever present in the spirits distilled on the Scottish Island of Islay; it has much to do with the way their unique peat interacts with the geography, and how they prepare their barley (Laphroaig employs barley floor malting). For more information, I’ve embedded a fascinating YouTube clip of the TV show, Modern Marvels - Distilleries that describes the process.

Now, as great as the flagship Laphroaig 10 year is, I am much more enamored by the Cask Strength variety. The color is a deep gold from being aged in American oak barrels. The nose is predictably more pungent. It has a lot of the same tasting notes (peat/smoke, seaweed, medicinal/iodine, vanilla sweet) as the standard expression.

What I think sets the Cask Strength apart, then, is the finish. It is much longer. The higher alcohol content allows it to linger and linger in the mouth, enhancing the spicy and medicinal characteristics. The heat refuses to be contained in the caverns of the mouth and does escape out the nose. I particularly like that chewing (yes, chewing) the whisky brings out the sweetness. Sipping it, I know I’m consuming something woodsy and potent. Exhaling, I feel like I’m blowing fire. I really like this stuff. It’s a bottle that will be mainstay in my bar.

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Smathers & Branson – Needlepoint Jolly Rogers Flask

November 20, 2011 Drink No Comments

Charmed by the quality needlepoint and the preppy aura it exudes.

If you’re wondering, the skull and crossbones motif is the same on the other side.

Link: Smathers and Branson

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