Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Clos de la Siete - A Malbec from Argentina

The following is from guest wine enthusiast Carlos de Sud.

He is quite fond of Spanish and Argentine wines and has introduced us to several varieties over the years.
“Since I have been down here in Argentina I have been learning about the local wines. I would like to recommend that you may be interested in an outstanding red wine called "Clos de la Siete" it is a Malbec and is grown in Mendoza Province, Argentina near the Andes Mountains. This wine is a mixture of wines from several bodegas (Wineries). It was started a French wine grower that is why the first name "Clos" which means "Closed of the Seven". Anyway the Malbec grape was imported to Argentina over 100 years ago from France and has begin to become very popular in the USA. It is not grown in France because of the blight that killed French Malbec. It is a bold wine that has very dark red color and is notable for its fruity delicious taste.”
You can find this wine on the Internet
So enjoy

Saludos Cordiales
Carlos de Sud

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Wine Muse!!

A big Flask and Cask happiest of birthdays to our very own

Wine Muse.!

Hope you enjoy this low calorie Castle Cake!

Many happy returns of the day and why not enjoy a good bottle of wine eh?

All the best!

The Whisky Warrior

Sometimes it all gets blurry

Sometimes it all gets blurry
We are now into our 4th month of article writing, product tasting, and decision making about whisky and wine. Please always remember we love whisky and wine we do not proclaim to be experts we just enjoy drinking them. There have been some really great surprises and I have learned things I never knew before. I also discovered that some products that I was just barely aware of are outstanding. The Barons de Rothschild 2005 red Bordeaux was just shockingly amazing and the Compass Box Hedonism blended scotch was so delightful I thought maybe I had died in the bar and had been transported to a more heavenly venue. (The story from the bar patron setting to my right that night explaining that he did not drink scotch because it made him angry and last time he drank it he threw his boss through the wall in the bar quickly made me realize I had not yet achieved heaven). At any rate, I might never have tried those except in pursuit of information on the subject so that I might share it with you. I look forward to many more undiscovered treasures but I do need your help so please write in and tell us what you like. It may point us toward something wonderful we just have not had a chance to try yet.
I have noticed that 3 or 4 of the blended whiskies I tried with a splash of water and a little ice all kind of tasted the same with very little to recommend one over the other. I have my own little 4 step method to trying a whisky. Step 1 is the nosing of the whisky, a good inviting aroma is important to the remaining steps (color is fun but not important to me as colors can be artificially modified). Step 2 is to try some of the whisky straight and here any individual differences in blends or single malts should stand out loud and clear. In the cooler months of the year Step 2 is my final step so from about November through March I pretty much drink only straight whisky. Step 3 is to add just a splash of spring water and this is (not surprisingly) where tastes start to blur but not completely. Strong differences still stand out but the more subtle ones sort of wash away. Actually on some of the really excellent whiskies a drop (just a drop) of water does open up the “bouquet” of the whisky even the experts will tell you that is ok. Step 4 is to add ice and as explained when it’s 90+ degrees here in Florida I do add ice April through October because you see 90 degrees is hot (50 for you Celsius folks). Ice drives away all the remaining subtle differences and leaves only the screaming taste of smoke or possibly the softer taste of the sherry barrel. I like it just about any way one can drink it but have not developed a taste for whisky based cocktails but perhaps I will try some later this year just to see if my tastes have changed. I don’t care for lemon in my tea or lime in my beer I just like things straight and find more personal joy in the experience of a more pure experience than from concoctions. Tea is tea and not lemonade and beer should not have fruit in it. That is just my personal feeling about it, I don’t care if you put a bushel of fruit in your tea or your beer as long as you enjoy it that way it’s all good. The whole lime in the beer thing started with bartenders cleaning the rusty steel residue off of the tops of the old Mexican beers with a lime which they had handy from the margarita makings nearby on the bar. In those days the caps rusted and some folks liked the lime taste and even started stuffing limes down in their beers. If that’s what you like it’s ok with me I am just saying it’s not for me. When I drink Beer I drink Guinness 90% of the time but I also like Newcastle Brown Ale (sometimes called the Brown Dog), Sam Adams, and a few others. I don’t care for light pilsners and most lightly brewed American beers although they are good and refreshing while doing yard work and light enough not to have much effect on you. I like a beer with a lot of body and a ton of taste. Hops, hops and more hops please.
I digress. I am getting really good at digressing. So my thought for writing this was to explain that many blended whiskies tend to taste a lot alike if you add water and ice. This is my somewhat scientific observation over the last three months. My taste of Old St. Andrews 8 Yr. and my taste of Dewar’s were really quite similar. That is not to say that is a bad thing rather quite a good thing I would think. Point being if you want to really taste a whisky drink it straight and use this as your decision point for which brands you like the best. Then add water and ice as you like. This is true for the blends as well as the single malts and for whisky as well as whiskey. I also tried the Old St. Andrews clubhouse and their 15 year old a couple of nights ago. Now I have said I don’t taste all those foo foo things that the experts talk about. I have an exception to report as the 15 year Old St. Andrews offered up an aroma and a taste of spun sugar. No it did not taste like exactly like cotton candy but there was something there, something I had never noticed before in a whisky. Neither the 8 nor the clubhouse versions had that same spun sugar taste. That is not to say it tasted super sweet, but damn it was really good and that spun sugar thing really added a nice twist to the experience, most enjoyable. Next up is Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker Red Label for me to try along with The Singleton. Kindly remember I do own stock in a distributor of Old St. Andrews albeit just a few hundred dollars worth but I am trying to sell that stock today which has nothing to do with the quality of the Scotch.
I have bottles of Pig Nose, The Singleton, and Tobermory all unopened and awaiting just the right time for sampling. Wish you were here to share it with me. Alas the Sheep Dip is no more (moment of silence).
Happy drinking and remember to try a little straight first before you pour on the water and ice. Enjoy
The Whisky Warrior

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rye Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Rye Whiskey I cry

Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry Rye whiskey, once the red-headed step child of the whiskey world has had a rebirth as of late and is enjoying a new found followership among whiskey fans. There used to be one or maybe if you were lucky two selections of rye whiskey at our local liquor stores. You could choose Jim Beam Rye or if you were fortunate the alternative selection was Old Overholt. Not that I like either one better than the other, but I do like choice and two selections are better than one. Every once in a while I would be in the mood for something different and I would usually get a bottle of Jim Beam Rye distinguishable (at least back then) by its yellow label which diminished any confusion between it and its big brother Jim Beam Bourbon. To me the rye is a good sipper and leaves a pleasant aftertaste that lingers a while. Its popularity has never been that of the other whiskeys (at least not in the 20th or 21st centuries) but it is rising up the whiskey world. Today you can find other brands or rye like Hudson Manhattan, Michters, Templeton Rye, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, and Wild Turkey Rye along with several other good ones too numerous to mention. I had a scotch tasting party a while ago and as something fun to do I had a “mystery whiskey” which was Jim Beam Rye. Everyone tried the secret whiskey and guesses ran from scotch to bourbon to Canadian with one whiskey fan finally guessing Rye and claiming the prize of a nice bar towel. Now most of these folks were not hard core whiskey drinkers which probably explains why only one of them actually guessed correctly. Rye was immortalized in the old cowboy movies with John Wayne, Hop-a-long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Gabby Hayes. As the good or bad guys came into the saloon they often said simply “whiskey!” or “Gimme a shot of Red-eye!” or “Bar keep, shot of Rye!” all of these usually followed by “and leave the bottle!” Most of us have heard the old song about rye. “Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry If I don’t get rye whiskey I surely will die If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck I’d swim to the bottom and never come up.” The question is simply this; is rye whiskey worth a try? The answer is a resounding yes! While rye is my change of pace whiskey and I probably only buy a bottle about every other year, many people are trying it today and judging from the increasing of volume of sales and the growing shelf space in liquor stores it is finally getting a foot in the door of the whiskey drinking world. Rye tastes just a little different and it might take a time or two to really be able to appreciate its unique taste (and to me its unique and quite enjoyable aftertaste). So give it a try and if you don’t want to buy a whole bottle just order it up next time you are at your favorite bar. If nothing else get a shot and pass it around the table to let your friends try it or see if you can find a miniature 50ml bottle. Who knows maybe one or more of you will like it and will become of the new rye drinkers. Be sure to let us know what you think and if rye is really for you or just something you would rather not do. Tell us what your favorite brand is as I would be particularly interested in knowing that to give me leads on what to try next! The Whisky Warrior

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This article is just for fun; First a Scottish story is built with as many names of brands of Whisky as we could fit in. Simply read the story and see how many brand names you can pick out. This is followed with some foolishness based very very loosley on Jeff Foxworthy's comedy routine.

A Scottish Story:

Local hero Johnny Walker was summoned to appear before the Haig to answer charges that he was caught performing Knockdhu with Ladyburn near her Littlemill home located in the very shadow of Ben Nevis. Fearing to fly, Mr. Walker booked passage aboard the Cutty Sark to be present at the trial. The trip was difficult as Captain Long John had difficulty steering the ship through rough seas off the Isle of Jura. The ship had to stop in Port Ellen and Port Charlotte before passing the Arran Islands. Fellow travelers Glen Keith and Glen Grant were seen heaving over the Hankey Bannister on the rough tip on several occasions as the ship’s Bells tolled the hour. It was a Longmorn for Mr. Walker as he was roughed up a bit on the trip and appeared to have a bad case of Monkey Shoulder which dimmed the normally jolly Dimple of his smile. He obtained legal council from William Grant & Sons to represent him in this matter and was seen at North Port withdrawing funds in Morriston Gold from the Rosebank near Highland Park. He could not use the Springbank as that bank had been closed by its owners McClelland and Fettercairn when they bought out the Strathmill on Speyburn and turned it into a golf course that they named the Gran Old Parr.
Mr. Walker was seen near the Church of St. Magdalene in his Black and White riding outfit carrying a Black Bottle of Bunnahabhain to Bell’s and Son’s where his long time friends Glen Moray and Dallas Dhu worked. The old sign read J&B just overhead as Mr. Walker entered the building owing to the building having once been occupied by Bailie Nicol Jarvie who was partnered with Mr. Buchanan’s son. Glen Flagler was tossing Linkwood on the Millburn and welcomed Mr. Walker warmly. They got caught up on such topics as the Old Inverness Teacher’s problems with Pittyvaich the green grocer and Stewart’s Cream of the Barley crop failing this last harvest season. Then they had a drink of The Macallan and toasted Mr. Walkers luck with the upcoming trial. Johnny jumped on William Lawson’s White Horse and rode down the coast to visit an Old Smuggler who supposedly had Something Special for him from the time of Queen Anne. It started to rain and since any port is good in a Pinch he rode into the abandoned Ballantines distillery where he stood near Vat 69 which was the only place the roof was not leaking. Finally the rain ended and Mr. Walker rode past Loch Lomond and Dufftown only to find that the Old Smuggler had not bothered to show up. Johnny yelled to his horse whose name was Old Pultney to giddy up and soon arrived at court for the trial. The Grand Macnish yelled for order in the Glenury Royal Imperial court and bade all present to give the Royal Salute to Lord Grants who was a Famous Grouse and complainer known throughout the land.
Glen Turner was the prosecutor and Ben Riach was up for the defense. Mr. Walker was asked to show his Passport the trial then went started. The case was soon thrown out of court as Judge Glenlochy ruled no evidence was presented to support the case.

With Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy

I have discussed at length how this is a snob-free site and we really try to keep it that way. I do admit that everyone has their own opinions on things especially when it comes to spirits and one’s personal likes and dislikes. So this is to cleanse my system from my personal stereotypes and prejudices and hopefully is a little fun even if you recognize yourself somewhere in here.
If you love dollar long-neck night at your local bar, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you just have to use the “e” when you spell Scotch whisky, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you believe single malt means that they made it with one scoop of ice cream, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think beer should be pale yellow and liquor should be clear, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you order a glass of Cutty Shark, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think Canadian Club is a fine scotch, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you drink your whisky with copious amounts of Coca-Cola, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think scotch is made by scotch people in Scotchland, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think that Pete gives some scotch its smoky taste, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you believe that William Grant & Sons is a law firm, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you believe that Speyburn is some kind of carpet burn, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think that The Famous Grouse is a Saturday morning cartoon character, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you believe that Highland Park is a horse racing track, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think that Glen Keith is someone you can’t quite place from high school, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think that Dufftown is where they make Homer Simpson’s beer, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you think that Johnny Walker is a portable toilet for hikers, you may not be a scotch drinker.
If you believe that Monkey Shoulder is a side effect of rheumatism, you may not be a scotch drinker.

We hope you enjoyed a wee bit of fun, we promise not to do this sort of thing too much.

The Whisky Warrior

Red Bordeaux

I want to preface this article by restating that I am not now and never have been and probably never will be a wine expert. I am a person that really loves a wine that tastes good to me. Price is not a consideration for two reasons. First I am not wealthy and cannot afford hundreds of dollars for a bottle of wine. Second if a $5.00 bottle of wine tastes good, then that’s fine with me. If you want a wine-snob’s opinion on wine then stop reading here and go find a wine snob blog or website, there are lots of them. This blog is more about what you like and when you tell me what you like I may find after trying it that I like it too. In addition, by me telling you what I like maybe you will try something new and find that you like it as well.
Some years ago my wife and I stumbled upon a White Bordeaux and it was very good, clean, crisp and not bitter or bitey at all. It was just a good wine and we enjoy it often. The brand was Barons De Rothschild [Lafite] and it sells in my local liquor store for anywhere from $8.00 to $13.00 a bottle which is within my budget. Last night my youngest daughter (over 30 in case you were thinking I was drinking with a minor) came over and wanted some wine so I pulled out a bottle I had bought a few months ago of Barons De Rothschild [Lafite] Red Bordeaux 2005 and served it.
I had a glass mostly just to be sociable but upon the first taste I was taken aback by its smooth delicious taste. No bite, no bitterness, none of the nastiness that sometimes accompanies various red wines. The only other red wines that I can even kind of compare it to for smoothness is a Red Zinfandel or the first bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau drank on the first day after it arrives in the USA. Not that Bordeaux tastes like either one of those exactly, that is not the case. The comparison I am making is on smoothness and the lack of bitterness or bite. The Red Bordeaux was so good it probably lasted all of 15 minutes with my daughter and me downing it in between sessions of heaping praise of upon it. We both really loved it.
This family of wineries produces some great wines and Bordeaux ages well with some of them costing many thousands of dollars a bottle dependent upon vintage, rarity, etc. I am very happy that there are at least some versions of this wine that are in my price category and I don’t pretend to understand what makes one vintage worth thousands and another $8.00 a bottle. I’m sure there is some business reason that I just don’t know. The bottom line is both the red and white Barons de Rothschild [Lafite] wine really tastes good and I cannot recommend it enough. You should be able to find some well under $20.00 and I feel sure the more expensive stuff is wonderful but I can’t afford much more than $20-30 for a bottle of wine with most of my wine purchases being under $15. If you go to their web site you can see all kinds of brands that they produce and in all sorts of price ranges. For fun sometime do a search on wine auctions and just see for yourself how much some of these wines can go for. The prices are astounding.
Try a Red Bordeaux soon, I think you will really enjoy it. In central Florida the ABC Liquor store chain carries the lower end ones and I usually buy them there. Note that while the bottle in the picture is from Barons de Rothschild it is not exactly the same one I tried but the closest picture I could find. The one I tried looks 90% like this one with only minor differences , just want to be upfront and honest with you.
I wish you a very enjoyable drinking experience.
The Whisky Warrior

Monday, May 3, 2010

Old Saint Andrews

Old Saint Andrews Scotch, and a new liquor store for the Space Coast:

I advised our readers that I would tell you when I owned stock in a company. I do have a very small position in the company that distributes Old Saint Andrews in America. So feel free to take this article with a truckload of salt if you wish. I got my Old Saint Andrews a few years ago at my local liquor store and I bought it because it came in nifty little miniatures that were packaged in tiny plastic scotch casks. They came three to a package with one simply called St. Andrews with no age, another with 8 years of age on the end of the tiny barrel, and finally one with 15 years of age on the end of the barrel. The mini is upside down inside the barrel with the twist off cap sticking out below the barrel (which is on a tiny stand) and you don’t have to open the barrel to open the scotch. So they sat as a decoration in my home office near the computer for the last three years or so and finally I figured I had to try it because I had seen the name in three or four places as I did research. One place was the information on my stock which was interesting at least to me. Then another in an article about independent bottlers, and finally just someone saying that they liked it. A few days ago I tried unsuccessfully to open the little cask to remove the mini but finally just opened it normally and poured it over some ice. Yes ice, I know…but it was 96 degrees and I do a lot of ice with my scotch this time of year. What was my impression? The 8 year old that I tried was not bad. I could easily see golfers enjoying this after a round of golf in their 19th hole bar at the club. Maybe I am too easily pleased or maybe I just like a lot of different types of scotch but this was good and if you like a blend I don’t think you would be disappointed. I have been to Scotland 4 times but never have laid eyes on St. Andrews the golf course mainly because I don’t go to Scotland to play golf. I am not a golfer but I have played for fun in the past. It is an expensive hobby and takes up a lot of time that I could be using to research or drink whisky so probably not going to be a golfer any time soon. One round of golf = One bottle of scotch, that is math I understand. In spite of my owning a dab of stock in the supply chain that brings this brand to your local liquor store I do recommend this scotch. If you try it please confirm or deny that this is pretty good by posting a comment or even a full article.
Speaking of Liquor stores; I must give a shout out to the whisky drinkers of the Space Coast of Florida as to the quality of a new little liquor store in Titusville Florida. It is an unassuming little place in a strip mall on the South-West side of Titusville where the Marshall’s and Petco are located. It is off to the North end of that shopping center. I suspect it is owned by one of our local successful Doctors or Lawyers (I have no ownership in the store nor have we received any funds or discounts for mentioning it) but all that aside they have a really nice selection of whisky. I was only there a minute and I purchased a bottle of “The Singleton” a Speyside blended scotch (About $35.00) that I have been looking for and had so far been unable to find. They had several varieties of Macallan, Balvenie, Glenlivet, and others. A really nice selection and many good blends as well as a nice lot of single barrel Bourbons and a lot of interesting Canadians. So check it out next time you are looking for whisky as the store is clean, neat, and has a fine selection. The name of the place on the building simply says “Liquor” so try it next time you are out and yeah they have everything else too. The prices were not out of line at all with other stores in my area.
The Whisky Warrior

You Don't Know Jack?

You don’t know Jack?
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey is probably the most famous whiskey in the world. It is celebrated in song and legend and has popped up in movies many times. Most everyone who ever drank whisky has tried Jack Daniels at some point. It is made in Lynchburg Tennessee and that is a dry county so although you can go there and take the tour you can’t buy alcohol in that county. Seems a real odd situation doesn’t it? It just is the way it is and people just have to get used to it. The distillery has been in operation since 1866 and every drop of Jack Daniel’s is slowly filtered through about 10 feet of charcoal that they make right there at the distillery. This tends to give it the smoothness of what folks like to call a good sipping whiskey. It is called sour mash whiskey because the mash tastes sour(The mash, not the whiskey). Well now that makes perfect sense. Of course starting with great tasting spring water doesn’t hurt. In addition they only use their charcoaled oaken casks one time and then ship the old casks off to Scotland to be used in the production of Scotch whisky.
You are just as liable to find folks enjoying Jack Daniel’s at a hunting lodge as you are in the board room on Wall Street. It appeals to hunters, stock traders, NASCAR fans, sports fans, and astronauts alike. Just about anyone who enjoys a good sour mash whiskey will have a bottle of Jack in their home bar or liquor cabinet. It is a universal whiskey enjoyed by millions.
I had not tried Jack Daniels old #7 (the standard black label Jack), in many years. I guess I have been too busy trying all the single malts and I am not done with that pleasant chore yet. In fairness to the product I thought I owed it to myself and the folks at Jack Daniel’s to try it again so I could fairly write about it. I did have some last night, straight out of the bottle and my first sip was pretty good and the rest was even better. It was very smooth, much smoother than I remembered and had almost a sweet taste to it, not sugary just nice. I tried it with a water chaser and also with a little cola. Both were good. I will be honest, I had not had Jack in many years and my recollection of it was that I did not like it. I was wrong. I really loved it and will drink it again soon. It really is a fantastic sipping whiskey. This revisiting of Jack turned into a pleasant surprise so now I guess I need to revisit all the whisky (ey) that I thought I did not care for in the past and give it another shot. Damn! Well it’s a tough job but as they say, someone has to do it and I’m up in the batter’s box. More reports in the near future.
The Whisky Warrior