What do you think of artificial aging?

 Credit: twicepix

Credit: twicepix

I read an article in Wired today titled “This Guy Says He Can Make 20-Year-Old Rum in 6 Days.” The article is very detailed (and thus long) but it tells the story of how Bryan Davis started Lost Spirits and developed a way to artificially age spirits through chemistry.

Aging is chemistry. The spirit reacts with the burned wood barrel and that, over time, imparts different flavors. The longer you age, the more time chemistry has to work. Davis has figured out how to force the issue.

Personally, I think this is awesome.

I think that if he’s successful and he is able to create a 50-year old whisky in a very short period of time, I’ll one day be able to taste a close facsimile of a 50-year old whisky. I don’t think that you can replicate it completely (heck, by definition one 50-year old barrel’s contents will be different than one right next to it in storage!) but that doesn’t matter.

It’s close enough.

And it’ll be affordable enough, which is key.

And it won’t take anything away from existing 50-year old whiskies either. Part of the enjoyment of whisky is the story and there’s nothing super-romantic about “we chemistrified this frankenmalt to make it taste like it was aged 50 years.” It’s cool, but it’s not steeped in anything except science.

What do you think?

Posted in General | 4 Comments

Why I Enjoy My Whisky Neat

Credit: fronx

Credit: fronx

When I first started drinking whisky, I’d pour it into a glass with some ice.

(for those who gasped, it wasn’t scotch at least!)

I’d always seen it enjoyed that way in the movies so that’s how I did it.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how much I was missing by putting it in a glass with ice.

You see, not only was the water diluting the spirit but by changing the temperature of the whisky, I was affecting how my taste buds were perceiving them. A study back in 2005 revealed that temperature affects our taste buds.

The science of it might be difficult to follow but basically the colder something is, the less sweet, umami and bitter tasting it will be. Warm it up and any existing flavor will seem magnified, since the cold isn’t affecting our taste buds. That’s why melted ice cream tastes so sweet.

By adding ice, you are reducing how sweet your whisky might actually taste! (in addition to diluting it!)

What if it’s too strong? In the beginning, when you first drink whisky, it’ll be strong. The alcohol vapor will singe your nose hairs, the alcohol will burn your throat, and you’ll consider it an awful experience. It’s a rite of passage, especially since the first whisky you’ll have better be a terrible one. :)

In the beginning, drop a little water in it.

Water will lower the percentage of alcohol and quiet the “noise.” It’ll let you taste the more delicate flavors. It’ll “open” up, to use a fancy term.

I don’t ever recommend ice, it’s simply too much.

Eventually, you’ll want your whisky neat and sometimes it just takes a little training to get there.

Posted in Tasting | 13 Comments

Teeling Whiskey Single Grain Tasting Notes

teeling-whiskey-single-grainTeeling Whiskey Single Grain is, as you’d expect, a single grain whiskey fully matured in Cabernet Sauvignon casks from California.

Single grain means that it’s, in part, made with grains other than malted barley (in this case, corn). By comparison, Scotch is, by law, only malted barley. So this is a bit of a departure from me already, but my friend Rick gave this to me as a Christmas gift because he knew I was adventurous and this was something I’d have a hard time finding locally (he’s right, of course).

So we already have a different mash bill, then Teeling matures the whiskey in California Cabernet Sauvignon casks. It’s not as crazy as their Single Malt, which is matured in five different wine casks (Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon), but it’s still a departure from the what’s I’m used to (ex-Bourbon barrels).

What did I think? It’s tasty!

I don’t have a lot of experience with Irish Whiskey, or single grain whiskey, so I really have no frame of reference. It’s light, has some bite because it’s bottled at 46% abv, and is easy to drink. The lightness is something I’ve come to appreciate about Irish whiskies, despite how much of a novice I am, and none of the flavors really punch you in the face. It’s corn based but it’s not overly sweet, like some bourbons can be, and the Cabernet Sauvignon maturation really adds a lot of fruity and floral characteristics, in addition to the oak.

  • Nose: Fruity sweet, like a dried Red Delicious apple, and a hint of floral, some grape and a citrusy freshness and lightness I can’t place.
  • Palate: Sweet and light like the nose, and buttery. A bit of the tannic bitterness too.
  • Finish: Has some heat, being 46% and single grain, and dryness at the end.

Teeling Single Grain was awarded the World’s Best Grain by the World Whiskies Awards in 2014, and it’s really interesting to read the notes by the judges. Does anyone know what orange fondant syrup is? :)

Posted in Tasting Notes | Tagged , | 3 Comments

What’s a Whisky Wedge?

corckcicle-whiskey-wedgeI thought I’d seen it all when it came to “whisky chilling technology.”

You have whisky stones, made of soap stones. You have massive ice cubes and ice balls.

Now, you have the “whiskey wedge.”

It’s essentially ice frozen into a wedge shape on the side of a glass.

Personally, I still enjoy my whisky neat. For those times I want to add a little water, I prefer to do it by the drop, rather than by the cube.

That said, the logic behind the whiskey wedge is the same as the massive ice cubes and balls. The larger the mass of ice, the slower it melts. I’m not sure I buy it since the greater surface area means there’s more in contact with the whisky, so there’s more dilution involved. That said, the wedge shape maximizes size while minimizing surface area in contact with the whisky, so you mitigate the surface area issues somewhat.

How’s it work? About as easy as you’d expect. When you buy the wedge “kit” from Corkcicle, it comes with an old fashioned tumbler and a silicone mold. You fill it with water, stick in the mold to make the wedge, and then freeze. Presumably the silicone expands as the ice freezes, and you create this wedge.

I don’t have one nor do I see myself getting one (I have whisky stones and I use those more for chilling my wife’s wine than anything else!), so I have no first hand experience.

What do you think of it? Gimmick or something you’d actually use?

Posted in Barware | 10 Comments

[VIDEO] Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Video Review by Swami Suave

We’re testing a new little feature here and it’s a video review by fellow Scotch Addict Facebook member Swami Suave – this five minute video takes a look at Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Review.

Balvenie 14 is finished in Jamaican rum casks, after spending most of its life in new American bourbon casks. Suave goes into a little bit of the history of Balvenie, his personal history with Balvenie, and then dives into the tasting by way of a Glencairn glass without water (neat).

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Toffee, white wine, light spiced rum, vanilla
  • Taste: Burnt sugar, raisins
  • Finish: Light nutty tasty

If you don’t get a chance to watch the video, Suave had one word of advice – don’t add water. It drowns out the complexity of the dram.

For the novices out there, one thing you’ll notice Suave do is open his mouth when he is nosing the glass. If you tend to nose with your mouth closed, try it with it open, it really helps because it opens up a “backdraft.” Give it a try next time.

What did you think of the video?

Posted in Tasting Notes, Video | Tagged , | 5 Comments