Here's what we're drinking, and you should too.
Here's what we're drinking, and you should too.
With Chicago WhiskyFest this weekend, I realized I never posted about some of the giveaways from the 2010 WhiskyFest. Last WhiskyFest, I posted about all the SWAG (stuff we all get) I got in 2009. And there was a LOT of really great stuff to be had. Obviously these festivals are more about the whiskies (which I do think took the highlight this year), but it still doesn’t hurt to give away some stuff to establish a brand connection with your consumer. For this year’s WhiskyFest, I aimed to collect SWAG again, but really wanted to do it in more of a laid back way (I do believe I drank too early and drank too often back at the 2009 event - it made me anything but laid back). So, this year I actually got less SWAG. Is it a sign of companies cutting back? Or maybe it’s just a sign that I probably made a big fool of myself back in 2009. Either way, the take from the evening is below, using the same categories from last year’s post.
The 2010 SF WhiskyFest Awards are - 1)The Most Creative Swag, 2)The Most Useful Swag and last but not least, the highly sought after 3)The Best Swag of WhiskyFest 2010. Now without further ado…
The Most Creative Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010 Award Goes To…
Dalmore / Whyte and MacKay for their Fake Nose/Eyeglasses.
So, though this is a pretty useless piece of SWAG, it’s dead on with message. Whyte and Mackay have been doing some great things lately (see Shackleton’s whisky, the Dalmore MacKenzie) and their brand at this point revolves around the charismatic Richard Paterson, or “The Nose”. Their master blender is a force with which to be reckoned in the whisky world, and drawing attention to it while providing some levity is quite creative. Congratulations to you on your award for The Most Creative Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010. The other item pictured here is the tote bag from Malt Advocate magazine that come with entrance to the festival.
The Most Useful Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010 Goes To…
Dewar’s for their Cigar Case, Cigar Cutter, and branded Zippo lighter.
Apparently Dewar’s wants to be known as a cigar malt. They really want you to smoke cigars while you drink their malt. Maybe it’s me, but I think that represents a bit of the old guard mentality as to who is actually enjoying and drinking whisky. However, giving this out as SWAG at a festival is pretty awesome. A real zippo lighter as a giveaway (and not even a sign your name for some marketing type giveaway) is quite generous. I don’t even smoke and I’m psyched to have this - it went right into my camping gear bag (with, obviously some lighter fluid and extra flint). Congratulations to you on your award for The Most Useful Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010.
The Runner-Up for The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010 Goes To…
Malt Advocate for giving every registered user a Glencairn glass from which to drink (2 Years Running Award Winner)
When you’re running around trying to appreciate different whiskies, it really makes a big difference to have something appropriate from which to drink. MaltAdvocate giving every attendee a respectable glass from which to drink really draws a stark differentiation between it and other festivals. It’s fun that I now have a glass that says WhiskyFest 2009 and one that says WhiskyFest 2010. I feel it helps me remember my time there and shows that the festival appreciates my attendance as much as I appreciate the festival. MaltAdvocate should continue to be recognized for taking this step at their festivals, and that is why they are the Runner-Up to the Best Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010.
And The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010 Goes To…
Ardbeg, for Providing Everyone Attending their Free Masterclass with Ardbeg New Make.
Should whisky really be considered SWAG at a Whisky Festival? Well, when Ardbeg brings the goods like they did, then I would say yes. At their workshop, they let everyone try a single cask from 1974, and some Ardbeg New Make. New Make?!? 68.7 percent New Make right off the still?!?!? When else would we ever be able to try something like that in America? The fact that they freely gave it out, along with tastings of a single cask offering from 1974 really stands out. Most other companies just taste you through their standard lineup. Ardbeg changed it up in a very unique and generous way for the American market. For this, they win the Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010.
There were other SWAG items (pictures below) including pens and keychains (worthy repeats from the Glenrothes and newcomer Amrut), but overall less SWAG than last year. One has to think that companies are putting their money into making better whisky, or I covered a lot more ground and got a lot more stuff when I had more to drink.
I look forward to the next one in October. Thanks to all the whisky companies and Malt Advocate for providing such a great event.
One of the bars in San Francisco that knows how to make a cocktail is Bourbon and Branch. They invented the Laphroaig Project there, and the bar is actually housed in what used to be a speakeasy. There’s a back “library” that houses a second bar that you need to enter through a fake bookcase. You need to make a reservation and know a password to get in, the bartenders and staff are all dressed up old-fashioned like, and the quality of their drinks is only matched by the prices they charge.
Recently they expanded. Next door houses “Wilson and Wilson Private Detective Agency”. It’s a bar that is supposed to give you a higher level of service and ostensibly it does. It’s another speakeasy type thing, and you can read a good review and the backstory here from The Tender. I didn’t have an awesome time there (the seats are REALLY uncomfortable and our waitress was pretty awful), but the drinks were good.
The reason I write this post is that they have some extremely interesting whisk(e)y drinks. The menu is arranged by apertifs, main courses, and digestifs (they have a prix fixe menu where you get three drinks for the price of two and a half, or really the price of a decent meal anywhere else).
The three drinks are:
Clove infused cognac, Glenrothes Alba Reserve, Cocchi Aperitivo, Lemon Juice, Cacao and Vanilla Syrup, Orange Bitters
Highland Park 12, Amaro Nonino, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup, Sasparilla Aromatic Bitters, Licorice Root Tincture
Knob Creek Bourbon, Coffee Syrup, Cranberry Infused Angostura Orange Bitters, Tobacco Bourbon Tincture
I had the Truth Serum and really enjoyed it. It wound up being way smokier than I expected from HP 12, and was really delicious. The flavors were balanced and I even got some of the sarsparilla. Not sure it was worth the cost, but definitely an experience.Comments
Back in October, I was fortunate enough to attend WhiskyFest 2009 in San Francisco. I went for fun - and most of the notes I took from that night demonstrate the almost too much fun I had (I believe that writing “real good”, “really good" and "really quite good”, for some Highland Parks late in the night constitute the best tasting notes I have ever written). There were some things I really enjoyed at WhiskyFest (obviously, whisky was one of them), and some I didn’t (the price and the lack of several “VIP whiskies" that had been advertised), but everyone has to love stuff we all get (S.W.A.G.).
After living with the swag of WhiskyFest 2009 for about 3 months, I have decided to post what I have for everyone to see (mind you - this is not a complete list), and dole out 3 awards. The 2009 SF WhiskyFest Awards are - 1)The Most Creative Swag, 2)The Most Useful Swag and last but not least, the highly sought after 3)The Best Swag of WhiskyFest 2009. Now without further ado…
The Most Creative Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2009 Award Goes To…
Glenfiddich, for their branded eyedropper.
I was a little blown away when I received this eyedropper. It’s a cool gift for someone who loves whisky and wants to regulate the ABV percentage of their favorite scotch (perhaps with the help of ScotchHobbyist’s App). It’s doubly cool because I don’t usually associate Glenfiddich with whiskies that might be really hot (i.e., I usually think of them as non-cask strength).
The representatives from the Valley of the Deer knew their game about whisky, and poured some very nice drams for yours truly. I congratulate you on your award for The Most Creative Swag of 2009 SF Whiskyfest. Other items pictured here are the tote bag from Malt Advocate magazine and my ticket.
The Most Useful Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2009 Goes To…
Knob Creek, for their fleece hat, ridiculously soft long-sleeved shirt, and flask (pictured below).
I know. Knob Creek is bourbon. It’s not ‘“whisky” but rather “whiskey”. Deal with it. They were there. They brought their A-game. And it is a useful A-game!
David Mays, Knob Creek’s whiskey professor, pulled these two little doozies out of his roller suitcase at the end of WhiskyFest, realizing that for some reason they weren’t given out during the festivities. The shirt, an anvil brand, rivals American Apparel and Alternative Apparel in softness (and looks pretty darn cool with the embroidered design). I wear it. Often. It keeps me warm. The fleece hat is now my running hat, and serves its purpose well. It keeps my head warm. The knob creek flask? Well, it holds whisky quite well and that does a darn good job of keeping me warm, too. Long-sleeve shirt, fleece hat, flask - what else does a San Francisco native need? Put that in your pipe and smoke it, fake Mark Twain (ed note. Mark Twain is often incorrectly thought of as the witty individual who said that “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco”. Unfortunately, whomever did say it, the bastard was right.)
The Runner-Up for The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009 Goes To…
Malt Advocate for giving every registered user a Glencairn glass from which to drink.
This was a great thing to have as we tasted whiskies during the festival. This branded “San Francisco WhiskyFest 2009” glass is a really useful, valuable, and special keepsake. It was also a great way to help people at the festival learn about nosing whisky and the different experiences you can get from a single dram. Interestingly, neither Malt Advocate or any of the sponsors are also engraved on the glass.
And The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009 Goes To…
The Glenrothes, for their wooden, laser engraved pen and V.I.P. hour only extremely heavy mini-The Glenrothes bottle keychain.
Yeah. I used to collect keychains as a kid. I got over it because I realized that collecting keychains serves no purpose. Then I got older and got keys. Ah, there’s the purpose. The Glenrothes laser engraved mini-bottle keychain is really heavy, really nice and in my expert, used-to-be-a-collector opinion, seems to be very high quality. It even came in that nice suede-like pouch pictured there. What’s even cooler, is that it was V.I.P. only, making you feel a bit better for spending so much extra moolah on the ticket. It’s also my everyday keychain, so The Glenrothes almost took down Most Useful Swag. The pencil is also really nice and combined with the generous both in size and variety of drams poured by The Glenrothes representatives, helped them win the Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009.
Wow. That was exciting. Other swag present at the event which is nice to have were hats from Laphroaig and Ardmore (which, though the swag itself isn’t totally memorable, the experience that their representatives provided was and a whole lot more).
Thanks to all the whisky-related companies for providing such a fun environment. And thanks for Malt Advocate for making it happen. If you see someone running in San Francisco with a Knob Creek hat on, give a shout.
Hello again everyone. I am back from my travels and plan to be posting regularly again. As the WhiskyParty writers are fortunate (or unfortunate in some circumstances) to travel a bit, we decided we would post as much as we can about whisky around the world. So, expect some postings about whisky from Dubai, Ireland, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand from me in the near future.
First, I wanted to post my impressions of the tasting I went to with WhiskyParty at Heights Chateau in Brooklyn back on June 9th, 2009. All in all it was a very fun night that ended with me buying WhiskyParty an expensive wedding present and myself an expensive “I drank too much and didn’t leave my credit card at home” present.
Notes we learned on The Speyside distillery :
Notes we learned what not to do at a tasting :
Now for the tasting notes. I did my best, but the tastings went pretty quickly so I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I’d like on them, and obviously tasting 13 scotches in one sitting is going to make your notes slightly jumbled.
N: varnish, clean
P: grapes, berries
F: long, dry
O: Actually tasty. Not like a blend, which is my problem with many of these cheaper scotches (they taste like Dewars to me). This one was more unique. Very drinkable, but not my favorite as there was not much peat smoke, vanilla or toffee. 8.5/10
King’s Crest 25 Year Old Blend
C: Orange Yellow
L: Small, slow
N: Vanilla, toffee, berries
P: Cherries, vanilla, no bite on tongue, smooth
F: Bright, a bit too sweet, explodes long with some fruit again.
O: Not bad, but coming in over 2 bills is way too expensive. 8.4/10
Now all the following drams are Scott’s Selections
Auchentoshan 1983, 21 years old, 105 Proof
C: light yellow
L: small, quick
N: Toffee, vanilla, grass, a little fruit with water
P: bitter, rubber, even brighter with water
F: nutty, sweet pistachios that turns slightly bitter with water.
O: Eh. 8.1/10
Glenlivet 1977, 27 years old, 106.2 proof
C: a pale yellow like chamomile tea
L: small, quick
N: Floral, and a touch of vanilla
P: fruits, toffee. With water, the sherry really comes forward and somehow vanilla is right with it.
F: Caramel, long fruit. With water, sweetness overpowers and becomes a bit sickly.
O: At this point, I’m a little worried about the tasting. This is once again okay, but hasn’t blown my mind or reached any of the right notes. 8.5/10
Macallan 1989, 18 years old, 106.2 proof, bourbon casks not sherry.
C: Pale yellow
L: quick, large
N: toffee cream
P: too bright to really get anything. Remains bright with water added.
F: sweet, with a sprinkling of brown sugar that becomes a bit too much like caramel with water.
O: I know I like Islays, and the national sales manager Brian doesn’t, but I’m still waiting for a great scotch worthy of the price tags next to the bottles. 8.3/10
The Glenrothes 1980, 25 years old, 111.6 proof.
O: 8.1/10. I’m a big The Glenrothes fan and this just disappointed me. It tasted like the three above it. Sort of this muddled jumble of all the notes it should have, without the right mix (sometimes Vanilla overpowers, sometimes it gets too sweet, sometimes it just tastes like someone poured me some Dewars that’s been sitting around in plastic for a few years.
Aberlour 1989, 18 years old, 105.6 proof
N: Cherries, chocolate
P: Cinnamon and sugar
F: Peppery and short
O: This was decent (unfortunately I didn’t record a grade) but still only marginally better than the ones above it. It hit some interesting notes, but seemed incomplete. Probably one of the better ones yet, though. At least because of that cinnamon taste that I had never had with scotch.
Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, 36 years old, 104.4 proof, Bourbon first fill
N: candied yams, vanilla cream and some green notes
P: a bit too bright without water, but a satisfying sweetness with a few drops added
F: medium length swell across the tongue that accentuates but doesn’t overpower.
O: Alright. This was pretty good. The age mellowed the sickly sweet I was getting from the previous drams and this scotch hit the right notes without overpowering. No smoke, obviously, but real tasty. 9.0/10
Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Cask, 36 years old, 106.2 proof, very rare as the liquid was filled into the wrong barrells
O: I got a bit of toffee with a lot of pine cabin on a hot day. Lots of forest and wood that was interesting to taste, but not necessarily tasty.
Highland Park 1986, 21 years old, 108.2 proof, bourbon barrel.
C: pale yellow
L: Small, quick
N: alcohol burn and brine. Salted fire with a bit of water.
P: Brine. seaweed in a poppy fire with water.
F: salty sweet with a clean fire to finish.
O: not bad, but not great. Pretty enjoyable to get that much brine out of a Highland, though. 8.8/10
Bruichladich 1990, 14 years old, 116.2 proof
C: almost clear
L: though this isn’t very helpful, I have either really slow, or really fst (I saw lines but no legs drop, and we were moving too quickly to investigate further)
N : fruits and flowers
P: light and grassy, with water becomes fruit forward with a tinge of smoke trying to peak through
F: sweet and clean with a bit of bitterness on the after.
O: Once again, an alright dram, but nothing that I’m writing home about.
Bunnahabhain 1988, 16 years old, 107.6 proof
N: cotton candy, delicious. like The Glenrothes 1990 but without vanilla
P: Oily sea, a little fruit. With water smoke comes forward (oily, of course), with the sweet fruit sitting behind it almost imperceptibly
F: briny without smoke, a good burn that is long and lasting
O: This was way interesting. Totally sweet on the nose and totally salty and smoky on the tongue. My mind was confused completely by the juxtaposition within the same dram. This was one of the ones I tried again at the end of the night and enjoyed it. 8.9/10
Caol Ila 1984, 22 years old, 105.4 proof
N: Fire, raging forest fire, with candied coating
P: Salty sweet smoke.
F: Pork crackling, salty, overdose of campfire.
O: A great Caol Ila (though I’m not sure the price was justified). 8.9/10
Once again this was a great night. I thank The Speyside for doing it as I learned a lot, and got to taste some great whisky (and they even got a decent amount of cash off of me). I think my big hangup on the event was that some of the scotches tasted way too similar without there being anything really unique about them and that the price tags next to the bottles just weren’t justified as there was similar tasting and maybe even better stuff out there for cheaper. My recommendations on the whole night would be the Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, the Bunnahabhain 1988, and a toss up between the Caol Ila 1984 and the Glenlivet Sherry Cask 1971.
I recently was able to try some nice whiskys at a poker night, and I was even more fortunate that friends entertained my weird notions of saving me a couple of drams of the bottles so I could do a controlled tasting. I have been a fan of The Glenrothes after tasting some of the 1991 at a poker night a couple of years ago. Some interesting information I learned from a cigar forum (note, I do not advocate drinking scotch AND smoking cigars at the same time, but there is sometimes good information on the site) is that The Glenrothes distillery was in part founded by the owner of Macallan-Glenlivet in 1878 but the company went bankrupt during construction. A £600 loan from the United Presbyterian Church in Knockando, a village nearby, saved the distillery, which then burnt down in 1922. The distillery was rebuilt but then closed again not long after because of the war. Stills were increased from 4 to 6 in 1963 and then to 10 in 1980. Their output goes into Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse brands among others and around 2% of their 5.6 million liters they produce goes to single malts.
I am tasting the Select Reserve first, followed by the 1991. Both whiskys were drank out of a Glencairn glass with a watchglass that rested on top for about five minutes to allow me to nose better.
The Glenrothes Select Reserve
Age : (though this lacks an age statement, it’s believed to come from whiskies that are 4-8 years old)
Maturation : Bourbon Oak casks
Paid : $46.99
Color: a true transparent gold. No red or yellow here.
Legs: small, really quick beads. at first, I couldn’t even discern them as it just looked like a coating of whisky on the glass
Nose: Vanilla, a tinge of vinegar (maybe sulfur?), overripe oranges that have started to turn, and some spice I can’t put my finger on but almost smells like the sugar butter that is a start to many cookie batters. Almost no alcohol burn, even if I stick my proboscus right in the glass and breathe deep.
Palette: sweet fruit, a little butter, a little of the vanilla, and some pepper. i want to taste more, but it goes really quickly into the finish without giving me much more. Strangely though, this isn’t bothersome - it seems like a balanced scotch, I just can’t taste more to it.
Finish: a long finish that’s a little one note. it has the usual whisky pucker on the tongue, but fails to develop into anything more, even as it lingers for longer than I expect. If anything, there’s a bit of pepper.
Overall: I like this bottle as an enjoyable, affordable speyside when for one reason or another, I don’t want the smoke of the Islays I usually crave. I don’t think that it’s spectacular, however. For what it’s worth though, I think The Glenrothes bottles are some of the more beautiful bottles out there. I think the cardboard packaging around them could use some work, but the bottles themselves are quite a nice statement on a whisky shelf. This whisky won gold at San Francisco in 2006, and a Scotch Whisky Master at the 2008 Scotch Whisky Masters.
SLC score: 8.7/10
DD score: 7.9/10
Age: Distilled in 1991, bottled in 2008 (this makes it a 17 year old)
Maturation: Sherry and Bourbon Oak Casks
Color: this is an amber colored spirit, that still shines golden
Legs: medium, pretty slow beads
Nose: natural vanilla (like the specks from Bryer’s), werther’s originals candy, cherries or some type of berry I can’t identify
Palette: strong fruit, vanilla liqueur, there’s a pepper overtone but underneath that sweet flavor still holds strong.
Finish: medium long finish, peppery and sweet, the pepper dances on the tongue at the end and the sweetness returns though this time more fruity and less candy. There’s even a bit of a Highland Park smoke to this, but maybe it’s just the pepper dancing.
Overall: Man is this good. $80 is a lot for a bottle, but this is worth it to me. It’s just so enjoyable to drink. It’s not as lemon-y as other speysides, but I think it is more complex. And the sweetness of the nose that then comes through in the palette AND the finish - just really exceptional. I wish there was way more left in the bottle.
SLC score: 9.5/10
DD score: 8.6/10
Other stuff - Inebrio has a pretty sweet interview with the head of The Glenrothes hereComments