Saturday, November 19, 2016

Big And Rich - Master's Keep Decades

Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades 
Just released and in time for Christmas is the new, improved, explosively rich Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades. This is another creation by Eddie Russell Master Distiller for Wild Turkey and only his second dedicated release to bare his name since his assertion to Master Distiller alongside his father Jimmy Russell.

Do not take this whisky for granted. It is neither just another Wild Turkey or even just a variation of the previous release Master’s Keep 17 Years Old. What we are examining here is a rare insight into how different a Wild Turkey can become given the combination of barrel management and aged spirit. Expect oak, expect spice, expect something different.

As the label suggest, ”Aged 10 to 20 years”, this is a combination of casks often already getting too old for regular Wild Turkey profiles right up to some true vintage casks. The casks are drawn only from a cross section of one warehouse. This warehouse, named the McBrayer Rickhouse, is reported to be situated in a lower elevation of the distilleries grounds adding a certain amount of stability in temperature. This stability in turn allows the barrels to age longer giving a much mellower character to the spirit. I have never been there so I really cannot say what these facts truly contribute in this case. What I do know is that the Wild Turkey grounds are rather immense leaving a lot of room for climate change from one end to the other.

master's Keep Outer packaging
Contained in a large solid double fold box the presentation is exceptional considering other whiskies around the same $200 AU price mark. The manner of opening is much to releasing a gated thoroughbred. Nestle tight in the moulded shroud it can take a little prying to release but once it is out there is little chance it will be retiring in without a good run. Top notch presentation for sure and it makes the whole experience something even more special.

The bottle itself is very different to any other Wild Turkey as the spirit is contained in heavy glass with an relief turkey spread across two sides. The entire design has been created to collect the light and highlight the spirit. I dare say once te bottle runs dry, many will become other spirit or water decanters for years to come.

As the name suggests Decades takes on couple of meanings. “Decades” clearly defines the age of various barrels barrels spreading across 2 decades of maturation. “Decades” is also in terms of Eddie Russell’s celebration of 35 years working with Wild Turkey. It is no secret Eddie likes an aged bourbon with a god whack of oak, so it is only appropriate the celebratory dram delivers just that.

Wild Turkey Masters Keep Decades Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distiller: Wild Turkey
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 52%
Age: 10 years to 20 years
Wood: New White American Oak

Nose: Wow this is a big juicy nose with rich caramel, woody sugaresque maple wood, red cherries. In fact if I was simply nosing I would swear this was a fruit strudel. More please!

Taste: Texture is immediate as a viscous oily feel moves across the lips and tongue before big pickup of month spice surfaces and is going nowhere soon. Again with fruit strudel as brown sugars, red fruits, maple oak dominate before the huge hit of mint spice.

Finish: Wait for it. Wait. Keep waiting. No I am still waiting. Hang on almost there. Nup this is still going on. Give this a few minutes and you might just get to the finish. This is massive in character as the spice lingers for an eternity as does the brown sugar and maple syrup. Ultimately it begins to dry but rest assured you will still be tasting this in 5 minutes time.

Overall this is a cracked bourbon giving a complicated rich balance of sweetness, spice and oak. There is true excitement to be enjoyed. If I was to give a dram then a rounded 6 out of 7. I am glad I have had a chance to try this whisky as it is very different to the previous Master’s Keep release.

Priced at $200 and just being released in the past few weeks putting this limit edition right on the money for a Christmas bourbon. Certainly if you are buying for gift for family or friend be sure to make yourself available for the opening. Alternatively nab one for yourself and a layout under the tree as a personal surprise. I have seen this already hating Dan Murphy's shelves for $200 and I am sure you will be seeing it at specialist stores soon also.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was supplied a sample for review. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

A cracking dram - Starward Wine Cask

Starward Wine Cask
Australia's progressive distillery Starward has been achieving higher and higher goals as the last few years have passed on. It is without question credit to the business that they have maintained quality and price in an Australia market where many average Australian whiskies have played on the back of other distilleries awards to raise their own prices in the name of great artisanal craftsmanship.
Starward is not only priced well but excels in the magic of youthful Australian spirits.

Now in its 3rd edition the Starward Wine Cask release saw release into the retail chain Dan Murphy's at a handsomely priced $75AU to $80AU a bottle. Aged at approx 3.5 years his whisky sees exclusive maturation in Australian ex-wine casks. Though the original release was almost totally ex-Shiraz casks the current release sees a combination of many wine cask styles from across Australia.

Can you expect typical Starward caramelised banana characteristics? Yes though these elements are much less in the forefront. A great compliment to the classic Starward Solera Apera cask but enough removed to enjoy in its own unique environment.

A great thing to know about the use of Australia wine casks and Starward is that they do not re-cooper the size of the red wine casks in anyway. Effectively they are used fresh and wet, straight off the vineyards. Where as the re-coopered Apera casks will cost around $600AU before filling, a fresh wine cask will only cost about $150AU. Not only does it deliver great economics to the distillery but it ensures they maintain a much more viable price point to keep their drams publicly accessible.

Starward Wine Cask Batch 3
Distillery: New World Whisky Distillery
Region: Melbourne, Australia
ABV: 41%
Age: 3.5+ Years (approx)
Wood: Australian Wine (primarily Shiraz)

Nose: Grapes, bananas, a freshly open packet of raisins, orange peel & malty cereals.

Taste: Mouth filling with an oily viscosity developing notes of dark chocolate, golden syrup & dry fruits.

Finish: Long, chalky & dry with continued hints of the golden syrup.

If I was to give a dram this gets a solid 6.5  out of 7 for just being so well made and so affordable. I love the styles wine cask whiskies deliver as malt characteristics appear much fresher and lighter. This may be down to the  potential of the sugar elements of grape matching so well with the malt or the fact the casks do not suffer so much assertion as is seen in sherry and bourbon casks. Who knows really and does it matter? If it drinks well and you can afford it then that is all that matters.

Well done Starward for another cracker dram.

The Baron

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I’ll take you to the candy shop - Gelnmorangie Milsean

Glenmorangie Milsean
Packaging can be a big seller. Often packaging does not live up to the hype of the product inside. In the case of the Glenmorangie Milsean your are guaranteed to get what you expect.

Yet another creation by the genius that is Dr Bill Lumsden the Glenmorangie Milsean (pronounced “meel-shawn”) is the seventh single malt release from the Glenmorangie Private Edition expressions. Built on the basis that is the Gelnmorangie Original aged in ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then extra maturation in ex-wine casks that have been re-toasted.

It has been designed to be sweet, candied, fruity, and vibrant. Expect perfumed aromas, green crushed sugar cane, sherbet, sprinkles of icing sugar and citrus. A true positive step outside the traditions of the Glenmorangie comfort zones.

Gelnmorangie Milsean Single Malt
Distillery: Glenmorangie Distillery
Region: Tain, Scotland
ABV: 46%
Age: 12.5 Years (Approx)
Wood: Ex-bourbon then retoasted wine cask finish for 2.5 years

Nose: Light grapes, minted boiled lollies, lemon sherbet, strawberries, apples and fairy floss, salted buttered toast.

Taste: Gentle and open delivering a light palate while not being as sweet as would be expected. Expressions of blackcurrant juice, rose water and toasted oak.

Finish: Quickly drying with sweet floral citrus sherbet, sherbet tingle on the tongue and cheeks.

Overall the combined sweeties, citrus, and dry sherberty finish has delivered a rather memorable dram. If I was to give a dram a good 6 out of 7 for price, quality and profile balance. This will take you to the candy shop and back again for sure.

I’d recommend you go try this if you are a Glenmorangie fan and or want experience something that is not always the treacle effects of heavy sherried whiskies.

The Baron

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sydney Pop-up - Glenmorangie 'After Hours'


When was the last time you enjoyed Glenmorangie Original? For me it is every other week because I really do enjoy it, but for others it may have been sometime. With so many amazing whiskies accessible now we can sometimes forget about those whiskies we were originally introduced too.

There is a Sydney whisky pop-up being launch here in the Sydney CBD titled Glenmorangie 'After Hours’. This complementary event aims to introduce consumers entering into the market while reacquainting established appreciators with the core expression Glenmorangie Original.

Registration is free and tickets can be found here.

Where: Parlour Lane, 49 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000.
When: Thursday 20 - Saturday 22 October. 6PM-12AM.
What: Glenmorangie cocktails and signature serves, paired with freshly shucked oysters, forage style grazing tables and accompaniments.
Cost: Complimentary entry.

For those that don't know, the core range of Glenmorangie whiskies are all based on the 10yo first before finishing aka extra maturation is completed to define obvious characteristic changes between them. If you have never had Glenmorangie before then this is the place to start!

The Baron

Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by EVHPR on behalf of Glenmorangie. This article original appeared on Dramnation.com

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brisbane Partner Bar - SMWS at the Gresham


On the 13th August 2016, my whisky-loving sister and I were lucky enough to be invited to the latest Scotch Malt Whisky Society launch at Brisbane’s The Gresham. This is a heritage listed bar, and I can’t think of a more suitable venue for whisky lovers. Upon arrival we were ushered to the back room, its cedar walls surrounding old leather club chairs and Chestermans. Two whiskies awaited each of us for nosing and tasting, with Matt and Stuart there to take us through the whiskies and the Society.

Being a novice at nosing whisky, I asked Matt Bailey, Scotch Malt Whisky Society National Brand Ambassador for a couple of tips. Besides taking one’s time, Matt recommended keeping the mouth open to aid the nosing process. Watering a little (if we must) can also help release different flavours of these cask strength whiskies, all of which led to a rousing aroma of leather and tobacco with whisky number 1. This was an 8yo Speyside whisky from Strathisla Distillery (58.16), which we toyed with for a few minutes. Whisky number 2 was from Isle of Arran Distillery (121.87), and a dash of water released smooth butterscotch and vanilla tones, making for repeated tasting just to be sure.


After the tasting, we headed back out to the main bar, with huge ceilings and original fixings reflecting its origin as an extravagantly-designed 1881 bank. With 16 Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottles on offer (at the time of launch), we are spoilt for choice. We moved to a Bourbon from Rock Town Distillery (B3.3), with the SMWS label noting “treacle buns in a sawmill”. A richly-coloured and smooth bourbon, I’ll definitely be back to indulge in this gem. Finishing with a light Highland whisky from Clynelish Distillery (26.115)—which was our pick of the day—we were left with that warm feeling that only a good whisky experience in a handsome bar can provide.

Get in the Gresham!

Becky

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Night With The Nail - Drambuie Brand Relaunches


This article originally appeared at Dramnation.com

We have all encountered it at some stage or for some it was their first sudo introduction into whisky. I know I was enjoying Drambuie before I was a dedicated whisky fiend back in the 90's with it popping up now and again since.

Wednesday 7th September 2016 saw a relaunch of the brand into Australia by holding a Drambuie-themed Jazz evening at The Swinging Cat here in Sydney. With a New Orleans vibe the evening saw Herb Armstrong, grandson to the legendary Louise Armstrong, belt out a set of swinging tunes as Dramduie cocktails were explored including the classic Rusty Nail.


The Rusty Nail is a pretty simply classic cocktail which saw great attention many years back. As cocktails got more complex and tastes more expressive so The Rusty Nail went on the back burner. Never forgotten but not often seen it pops its head up from time to time.

The Swinging Cat is a basement bar in Sydney CBD offering a throwback to the New Orleans French Quarter when jazz was thriving in the underground movement while exploding into the world scene. Located at 44 King Street opposite The Grace Hotel, you will find the bar via a downstairs access. You can find live music Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturday.


The Swinging Cat will continue Night With The Nail every Thursday from September 8th to December 1st 2016 hosting a celebration of the classic Drambuie Cocktail, The Rusty Nail. Live Jazz and cocktails will be the order of the night.

For a full compliment of shots from the evening head over to the Dramnation facebook page.

The Rusty Nail

1 part Drambuie to 2 parts whisky (Monkey Shoulder)
Build over a rock of ice in a tumbler/rocks glass then stir before garnishing with a twist of lemon.

The Baron

This article originally appeared at Dramnation.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Johnnie Walker House at Sea on Dream Cruises

Bottle image supplied

We only have some preliminary info at this stage but there is to be a Johnnie Walker House at Sea. Luxury cruising and whisky what is there not to like?! Below is an initial PR release quoted:

"We have just announced over the weekend that our brand new cruise line Dream Cruises will be the first cruise line to have the exclusive Johnnie Walker House at sea."

Artist impression supplied
"Built around the theme of ‘whisky conversations’, the JOHHNIE WALKER HOUSE serves as an exclusive embassy for luxury Scotch whisky and is a place for consumers to discover the rich heritage of Scotch whisky."

Artist impression supplied
I asked for more details and effectively this 18 deck ship, Genting Dream, part of the Dream Cruises fleet, is not complete yet and still being fitted out.

Attached images is all that is currently available to get an idea of what this is all about. Be sure we will be keeping a close on the outcome.

The Baron
Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by Star Cruises.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Before The Bottle Runs Dry - Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old

Old Rip Van Winkle
Chasing the bourbon monkey is a fun little adventure for myself as more and more quality bourbons start to enter the Australian market. In only a few short years access to brands often reserved for an international trip can now be picked up through many chains and independent retailers.

You have all of course heard of the Pappy Van Winkle fever that grips the buyers market the moment there is a sniff of a few bottles coming into the country. People are buying on hype then reserving the bottles for resell later. Well Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery does make more than just the Pappy so if you truly want to try something from this distillery (now distilled at Buffalo Trace) shoot a bit lower for the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. But don’t shoot too low because you hip pocket will still be slugged a hefty $400AU for this bottle.

A friend brought this bottle over during one of several bbq and bourbon lunches we have had and kindly left the remnants for yours truly to sample and review. Bourbon for me? Nicholas you are too kind! I thought I better get this reviewed before the bottle runs dry.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery / Buffalo Trace Distillery
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 53.5%
Wood: New American Oak
Age: 10 years

Colour: Coal fire orange.

Nose is of course typical sweet bourbon with a good whack of a wood workshops, touches of aniseed, spearmint, semi dried dates, golden syrup and furniture polish. There is even elements of citrus and mango making it mildly tropical in nature.

Taste displays some real finely balance elements of older oak, maple and or golden syrup, fresh wood shavings and lifts with spearmint spice. Exceptionally smooth with little to no heat in the mouth as the tastes buds are saturated.

Finish is long and spicy heating in the chest with a obvious prickle under the tongue. It does not dry out too much but certainly enough to command a follow up sip shortly after as sugary maple syrup appears again.

Overall this whiskey steps left of the density of vanilla so many bourbons aim for. Wood refinement is clear in this beast but do not confuse that with being heavily oaked. I enjoy this whisky for what it is and have found it needs time to be appreciated. Sip it once or twice then let it rest before returning. Take note of the subtle characteristics and see how they change with the intake of breath. Take it gentle and treat it with respect.

Bourbons have very narrow profiles with the flavours weaved exceptionally close to each other. This is certainly one that has a nice level of craftsmanship to it. If I was to give a dram then a clean 6 out of 7 but I am now going to remove 1.5 points because I cannot though justify the price of $400AU here in Australia. No that pricing is just wrong and a cruel joke. So that is an offical 4.5 out of 7. Is that too cruel a score? No I don't think so because it is actually a really good whisky. I do like to remain grounded though and spending that kind of money on a whisky has impacts elsewhere in life some simply cannot afford. So if you are a keen bourbon hound, want to try something very well refined, have the dollars to spend, and maybe a few mates to share the appreciation with, then go for it.  Enjoy it. But if you are someone that buys on price believing that it equates to guaranteed satisfaction then maybe duck out and buy a dram at a bar first instead.

The Baron

Friday, July 15, 2016

Taking The Cut - Jim Beam Devil's Cut

Jim Beam Devil's Cut

So of course we all know of the Angels Share but Jim Beam have created their own Devil’s Cut.

Released a few years ago now Jim Beam Devil's Cut is a contribution to the Jim Beam stables by current master distiller Fred Noe. I have met Fred a couple of times now and he tells the story like this about the creation of the idea. When he was a lad first working at the distillery (around 13 years old), he would be charged with jumping in the truck and dropping off recently emptied barrels of Jim Beam. Fred was told that “there is still whiskey in those barrels” and was let in on the secret on how to extract the spirit trapped in the wood through the combination of adding water and letting sit in the summer heat. This method is know as "sweating the barrel".

Effectively the method on how Jim Beam now extracts the whiskey from the wood is not much different though details are scarce. A couple of litres of water is added to the barrel, sealed, and then let sit in the hot temperatures. Over the course of a few days the liquid from the wood seeps back into the belly of the barrel. The final liquid is around 6 litres of so of including the original 2 litres of water initially added. This whiskey, clearly heavily oaked, is then blended with 6 year old bourbon to find the right balance of flavour that has become the signature profile of Devil’s Cut.  Proportionally speaking there is not a lot of Devil's Cut actually going into this bourbon but I think is enough to tell the difference. Either way it makes great story and a great bourbon.



Jim Beam Devil’s Cut
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 45%
Wood: New American Oak
Age: NAS, 6 years minimum

Nose: Herbal with a hot oak spice and a typical sweet bourbon corn body. The richness is profound but I find an older oak like distraction edging in constantly.

Taste: Quite smooth working well as a sipping whisky. The hot oaks from the nose appear very quickly while drying cocoa elements slip in. Though I am sure it is partly to do with the higher ABV I am sure but there is something different in how this whiskey performs with the taste buds as I find the sweet grain spirit dryness much more obvious.

Finish: Long and rich but also dry and high in the throat. Not too much warmth in the chest while it gets woody and herbal in the mouth the longer it lingers. Leave it a bit longer and dark chocolate starts to become very obvious.

Overall it is a great whiskey but its middle ground leaves me a bit wanting overall. Because the flavour is there I also expect to get that Kentucky chew happening which seems to just not be seen. Essentially the bags were packed and the ride has departed without the passenger. I am sure, if I was not a big fan of the small batch bourbons from JimBeam, then this would suffice rather well.

If you are familiar with the more premium Knob Creek and Bookers families then this falls somewhere between Jim Beam White and those. Priced well at aorund $43AU I would be more inclined to buy this over the Jim Beam White as you get considerable higher ABV at 43% and profile. If I was to give a dram 4.75 out of 7. I just want more I just want more that chew.

The Baron

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Touring Australia - Chris Fletcher of Jack Daniel's

Image from offical A Journey through 150 Years of Craft & Cocktail Culture registration site.

It’s Jack Daniel Distillery’s 150 year anniversary and Chris Fletcher is coming to Australia on his first tour. We maybe in the land down under but based on Australian sales it is almost Jack Daniel’s second home so what better place for Chris to come on his tour.

Born and bred in Lynchburg, Chris Fletcher has grown up a local lad and is now Assistant Master Distiller for Jack Daniel Distillery. Jack Daniel’s is in Chris’s blood with his grand father, Frank Bobo, having been the 5th in the line of Master Distillers. Like all distillers Chris is passionate about the whiskies he makes so when you get a chance to pick the brain and share a dram with someone like him you should not have to be asked twice.

Chris will be touring Australia in through July and August hosting a series of master classes to both the public and drinks industry. Titled ‘A Journey through 150 Years of Craft & Cocktail Culture’ these master classes will be educating about the distillery's signature whiskies and history while getting to experience the “signature cocktails from iconic eras”.

To set the mood of what this tour is about we will quote:
“For this one-of-a-kind tour like no other, prepare to step back in time to 1920s prohibition, encounter the suave style of Frank Sinatra before embracing the thrilling times of 70s, 80s and 90s rock ‘n’ roll. Culturally so much has changed all the while Jack has been making his famous whiskey in one way, in one place for 150 years.”



Cities to be visited will be Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. The locations for these public events are to remain a secret until closer to the date but you can be rest assured, like all things Jack, it will be as sweet as the liquor itself.

Direct listing information can be found below or by going directly to www.jackspromo.com.au/chrisfletchertour

Sydney 

Date: Thursday 28th July
Times: 6.30pm – 8.00pm, 8.00pm – 9.30pm
Address: Secret Sydney CBD location
Cost: Free
Tickets: http://www.jackspromo.com.au/chrisfletchertour

Date: Friday 29th July
Times: 6.30pm – 8.00pm, 7.15pm – 8.45pm, 8.00pm – 9.30pm
Address: Secret Sydney CBD location
Cost: Free
Tickets: http://www.jackspromo.com.au/chrisfletchertour

Perth

Date: Wednesday 3rd August
Times: 6.30pm – 8.00pm, 7.15pm – 8.45pm, 8.00pm – 9.30pm
Address: Secret Perth CBD Location
Cost: Free
Tickets: http://www.jackspromo.com.au/chrisfletchertour

Brisbane

Date: Friday 5th August
Times: 6.30pm – 8.00pm, 7.15pm – 8.45pm, 8.00pm – 9.30pm
Address: Secret Brisbane CBD Location
Cost: Free
Tickets: http://www.jackspromo.com.au/chrisfletchertour


Get on and register at one of the events and be part of the 150 year anniversary celebration of such an iconic distillery.

The Baron

Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by the Sound Campaign on behalf of Jack Daniel’s. This article originally appeared on Dramantion an affiliate website to DTWC.