Howard County Historical Society’s Great Gatsby Event

Don't we look fine and fancy???

Don’t we look fine and fancy???

A week or so ago, I attended a local county (Howard County) historical society event called the Great Gatsby Summer Soiree – it was a chance to get dressed up in 1920s garb, drink some adult beverages, smoke some cigars, and take in the beautiful sights of western Howard County. The event took place at a wonderful estate called Oakdale Manor (also known as Governor Warfield Mansion) and we had a great time enjoying games of chance, costume contests, and of course the adult beverages!

One of the fun events was a whisky tasting, hosted by Whiskey America, and we had a chance to sample four Maryland whiskies:Maryland Whiskies on Display

  • White Tiger Whisky
  • Fiore Distillery Straight Rye
  • Twin Valley 1794 Four Grain Rye
  • Lyon Distilling Co – Free State Rye

The most interesting one of the batch was White Tiger Whisky – it’s made with 100% rice. It nose reminded me a lot of the grain alcohols my grandfather and dad used to drink, a very strong alcoholic profile with a touch of sweetness unlike anything in bourbon or other whiskies. It was a lot of fun to sample because you got a bit of the oak maturation character mixed in with an alcohol from a totally different product.

The owner/founders of White Tiger Distillery (Itsara Ounnarath) and Lyon Distilling Co (Ben Lyon) were both present, though I only had a chance to chat with Itsara.

Of the other three, there wasn’t anything that jumped out of me with one exception — Lyon Distillery. Maybe it was because it was last, maybe it’s because one of the founders was present, but I really enjoyed the story behind the company (bootstrapped, he’s a tinkerer and experimenter, and a big focus on quality and craft). The whisky itself was delicious, nice balance of rye and corn and was a nice way to round out the evening’s tasting.

The evening was a great time, it was wonderful to support a great cause (the Howard County Historical Society), and we even managed to win the costume contest! ๐Ÿ™‚

Glen Moray 16yo Tasting Notes

glen-moray-16-year-old-whiskyGlen Moray is a Speyside distillery located in Laich Oโ€™Moray (The Laich of Moray), an agricultural coastal plain located in Moray. Laich means low lying land and Moray is a local council area of Scotland, located in the north-east and along the coast. Based on its location, which happens to be near Elgin (the capital town of the Speyside region), it experiences milder weather and the protection of nearby mountains.

Until my first sip of Glen Moray 16yo, I’d never had any Glen Moray before. I’m a big fan of Speysides, more of the fruity spirits versus the floral ones, and so I knew that I’d become fast friends with Glen Moray. It’s finished in ex bourbon casks from the United States.

It probably doesn’t get as much press and media since it’s owned by La Martiniquaise, France’s 2nd largest spirits group, and not one of the massive conglomerates.

What caught my eye was the tin canister – most whiskies here are in boxes – and when I opened it, I liked the design of the bottle. It was reminiscent of whisky stills.

What’s fun about this whisky is that it’s a marriage of whisky matured in ex Bourbon and ex Sherry casks. They literally take one batch and age the new make in ex Bourbon casks for sixteen years, take another batch and age it in ex Sherry, then put them together.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: Sweet and dry fruity like raisins, tiny hints of vanilla, no floral or peat.
  • Palate: Sweet with a firm body, some tannins but not much, a bit of caramel and barley richness
  • Finish: Medium finish with a sweet aftertaste

It’s a classic fruity Speyside that’s light, easy to enjoy neat, and smooth. ABV 40% and comes in a nice decorative tin if you’re thinking about gifting it.

Facebook Shutting Down Whisky Selling & Trading Groups?

Some whisky groups have disappeared off Facebook, likely because they facilitated buying and selling.When I was a kid, I used to collect comic books, baseball cards, and all the other fun toys kids my age collected. I told my mom that they would be worth a lot one day!

Fast forward to today and you can replace comic books and baseball cards with whisky and you can replace my mom with my wife!

Now I am hardly the collector, there are many in our Facebook group, with massive and very impressive collections.

With the advent of Facebook groups, it’s far easier to find other collectors like yourself and build your collection for those rare bottles you’ve always been looking for. One day I’ll pick up something distilled and bottled in 1980, the year I was born, but I probably shouldn’t wait too long… the price will only go up!

The interesting thing is that anyone who sells alcohol without a license is breaking both state and federal law. The Facebook groups that facilitated the transactions weren’t breaking the law but the people doing the selling were.

Two big groups on Facebook, Bourbon Exchange and Strong Water Trading were shut down recently. They were probably the most prominent of the groups where buying, selling, and trading were happening and overnight they disappeared. Many other less prominent ones were also deleted, most without warning, and the survivors are clamoring to change their names as to avoid detection. I first learned about it from one of our own Facebook group members, Allen, because he posted that we don’t buy, sell, or trade on the group. (and we don’t, never will and never have)

I kept it that way not because I was cognizant of the law but because I didn’t want anyone to get scammed through the group! By keeping it to enthusiasts only, we could share ideas, thoughts, and experiences without having to wade through the usually offers of this rare thing and that.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around too. The disappearance of whisky groups coincides with the disappearance of popular cigar trading groups and gun groups, so some speculate ATF is involved. Just a couple weeks ago there was a NY Times article about Facebook groups and guns, which strike me as a far more serious issue, but could’ve brought the bright light of the law into the darker parts of Facebook.

If your favorite group has been deleted without warning, it’s probably because Facebook thought there was buying and selling. We don’t do either and welcome you with open arms!

Ol’ Major Smokey Bacon Bourbon Review

bacon-bourbon-ol-major-slide-1-1391x653My first thought, before I even saw the bottle, was that this was gimmicky. It’s the whole “oh bacon is awesome, great with everything, blah blah.”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy bacon. I don’t go crazy when I smell it but my wood of choice when smoking anything (ribs, chicken, brisket) is usually hickory… because, well, it’s fantastic.

So when a company emailed me about a “bacon infused bourbon” my first thought was — GIMMICK. But, I was intrigued. I’d never buy this if I saw it in a store. But, if I saw a little airplane sized bottle, I would get it just to try it.

So I receive the bottle and take a look. It’s nicely done, with a screw top and a woody label, and I crack it open. I sneak a sniff of the bottle and I’m surprised because it’s not in-your-face BACON. It’s the sweetness of the hickory with that richness you get when you chew on the meaty part of bacon. I get sweet rich porky flavor, a shade of that, that’s what really comes out when I give it a good sniff.

I pour myself a dram and sniff it from a Glencairn. Right before I get into it, I think that this might not be meant to be enjoyed neat. It’s only 35% abv and the bacon flavors makes me think it’s like a liqueur. Or something that needs to be put into a drink, like those stories of bacon infused bourbons making fantastic cocktails.

After writing this, I just realized I was at a bar someplace (one of those fancy cocktail places where the bartenders are all in suits with vests) when I had a drink that had a slice of bacon in it! I’m pretty sure it a Bacon Manhattan and it was absolutely delicious. The bacon wasn’t super strong in the drink itself but having the hard slice of bacon to chew on really sold it as a delicious cocktail.

But before I get the thought fully through my head, I take a whiff. I get the smokiness of hickory smoke, not the iodiny medicinal islay smoke, and it’s unmistakably bacon. As for the look, it’s a little cloudy. I take a sip… and it’s way too sweet. Almost “yuck” level sweet. It’s almost so sweet that the bacon doesn’t come through.

My thoughts go back to it being used in a cocktail and I go online to look them up. It might not surprised you know that there are about a million different cocktails that are made with bacon infused bourbon – which is exactly what this is!

Most “bacon-infused bourbon” recipes are pretty simple… take a 750ml bottle of bourbon, pour out a quarter cup, and then pour in a quarter cup of bacon grease. Mix and wait a week. Put in freezer, strain out the fat. Boom – bacon infused bourbon. I’m not sure how Ol’ Major Smokey Bacon Bourbon is made but I doubt it’s as crude as that recipe! (the recipe actually sounds awful)

I didn’t want to go the traditional route of a tasting note since I wasn’t enjoying this neat, but I will tell you that here’s a recipe I tried and it turned out pretty good. I went with my brother-in-law’s Old Fashioned recipe (it helps that I had everything on hand) and used the bacon bourbon instead of the rye whiskey.

It was pretty good! The bacon flavor wasn’t overpowering, there was a subtle richness to it that isn’t usually there. I think the orange peel and the bitters help balance it out. Next time I try this I want to fry up a piece of bacon and stick it in, just to see if it helps.

I like the idea. I like the idea of this more than I like the idea of pouring grease into a bottle of bourbon… and my cocktail experiment turned out pretty good!

Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve Tasting Notes

glen-garioch-founders-reserveThe Highland region is massive. It’s basically all of northern Scotland with a little chunk removed, named Speyside, and is home to many well known distilleries like Glengoyne, Glenmorangie, Edradour, Dalmore, Macallan, Oban… the list goes on and on. Funny enough, it doesn’t actually include Highland Park, which is located in Orkney which is part of the Northern Isles.

Glen Garioch, pronounced Glen Geery, was founded in 1797 and is located near Aberdeenshire – famous for producing the best barley in Scotland. It would make sense that a distillery call it home! If you’re into trivia, it is the easternmost distillery. The distillery has had a wild ride, having been shut down and restarted a few times, most recently closed temporarily between 1995-1997, but is now in full production after renovation in 2009.

I’ve never been there before but they’re one of several distilleries that allow you to bottle your own at the visitor’s center, always a nice little treat.

Glen Garioch is currently operated by Morrison Bowmore Distillers, which is owned by Suntory.

But enough about the background, you’re not here for a history lesson.

How’s Glen Garioch’s Founder’s Reserve? This 48% abv spirit was made to celebrate the 200 year anniversary. Matured in bourbon and sherry casks.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Very subtle scents, took me a minute to pick them out. There’s some vanilla, caramel and a bit of apple or some other kind of fresh fruit on the nose.
  • Palate: It packs a punch, owing to the 48% abv, but you get a creaminess and vanilla coming through, a very slight hint of apple but not sweet at all.
  • Finish: Medium finish, soft, vanilla, dries out

I remember linking up this tasting note for Glen Garioch 15yo (not what this tasting note is about, but same distiller) from a while back… different strokes for different folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

A tasty dram, a nice high ABV that still has subtle flavors. It really opens up with water, which I needed because of its higher ABV, and the vanilla and caramels shine.