Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Gods grant me strength...or give me whiskey

Me watching election coverage these days

I used to have a much stronger stomach for political craziness. I eagerly followed the craziness of the 2000 election, hanging chads and all. I watched in amazement at the "Yes, we can" victory of 2008. Gods, I was strong then ! The 2020 U.S. election promised to be one for the ages but it was just too wild and unpredictable, so on election night, I sampled some big, bold American whiskeys to calm my nerves. I got to choose what I wanted though, no electoral colleges needed, thank The Father.

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition (57.5% abv)


Old Forester is a Brown-Forman brand. The bourbon is distilled at the Brown-Forman Shively Distillery. No age statement is given and the mashbill consists of 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley. It was available for a brief period at the LCBO for about $75 per bottle. I didn't buy a bottle, but was fortunate enough to get a sample from a friend.

Neat from a Glencairn


  • Nose: vanilla, caramel, barrel char, cherries, brown sugar, a bit of wood varnish
  • Palate: rich arrival, a bit hot, barrel char, black pepper, brown sugar, some banana, a touch of cherries
  • Finish: long, lingering, creamy, but not overly sweet, caramel corn, vanilla, a touch of smoke
  • Thoughts: interesting stuff. I don’t often get smoke from bourbons, but there’s definitely a little smoke on the finish here. I'm not sure if I'd pay $75 for a full bottle of this, but I wouldn't rule it out altogether.
  • Score: 6/10

Jack Daniel's Barrel Proof Single Barrel (67.95% abv)



Jack Daniel's is an interesting case study. Just about everyone has a Jack & Coke (aka a "Lemmy") story. Jack Daniel's is the world's best selling whiskey brand. HOWEVER, many "experts", some of whom have been drinking whiskey quite seriously for many weeks while doing their research at Google University, have decided that Jack Daniel's isn't worthy of their refined palates. Lucky for me, I'm neither a professional, a connoisseur, or an expert. I just like whiskey. I like the standard Old No.7 just fine and I was also happy to get a sample of this Barrel Proof Single Barrel from my friend Tony. Now for some specifics: the bottle whence came this sample was from SAQ (Quebec) profile #2, Barrel 18-9850 from L-1, Rick #9. To my knowledge Jack Daniel's uses the same mashbill for all their Tennessee Whiskey; 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye. 

Neat from a Glencairn

  • Nose: classic JD banana and toffee, a bit of wood varnish, walnuts, vanilla, brown sugar
  • Palate: big bold arrival, walnut oil, banana, oaky, vanilla
  • Finish: long and lingering, slightly pulling oak tannins, more walnut and banana
  • Thoughts: this is JD on steroids and I’m really digging it. It’s not the most complex whiskey I’ve ever had but I really enjoy it. Adding water actually tones down the banana a bit and allows the walnut and vanilla to come forward. This is much nuttier than most other JD offerings and I really like that about this whiskey.
  • Score: 7/10

WhistlePig 10 Year Straight Rye (50% abv)



According to their website WhistlePig began with the purchase of a farm in 2007. After a few years of "deep consideration and personal reflection we committed ourselves to crafting the world’s finest and most interesting Rye Whiskeys." No, I'm not going to rant on marketing stories here. WhistlePig should be commended for not referring to any "great-great grandpappy's secret recipe", but rather being transparent about their process. WhistlePig teamed up with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell, bought rye whisky from Alberta that "was being profoundly misused". This 10 Year Straight Rye is a 100% rye whiskey which was sourced from Alberta Distillers and then re-casked and aged in Vermont. It is first aged in new American oak and finished in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels.

Thanks to my friend Hal for the sample

Neat from a Glencairn

  • Nose: surprisingly soft, vanilla, gentle baking spices (cloves, allspice, cinnamon), oak, a bit of ginger, caramel. With time in the glass, the floral vanilla notes dominate.
  • Palate: slightly hot arrival, green and vegetal initially, with some black pepper, cinnamon, and a bit of caramel
  • Finish: medium length, the green and vegetal note refuses to go away, there's some cinnamon and black pepper with a bit more oak and vanilla.
  • Thoughts: a decent whiskey to be sure, but nothing that moves my spirit. The “green” notes are a bit odd. To be completely honest I find them a little off-putting. I'm glad I waited for a sample before dropping $100 on a full bottle. I might grab a bottle if it were $50, you know, to keep around as an oddity but at $100 it's a hard no from me. I can see how this bottle might appeal to some, but it's not really my preferred style of rye whiskey. I like my ryes to be spicy with a little bit of toffee sweetness.
  • Score: 5/10

SCORING BREAKDOWN

  • 1/10 – Really bad. "Drain pour" bad. I've only tasted two whiskies this bad.
  • 2/10 – I hope to avoid ever drinking this again. I'd use this for shots if I had to drink it.
  • 3/10 – This is either not great or astonishingly dull. Either way, I won't buy a bottle. I might accept a free glass if you offered me one. Maybe.
  • 4/10 – Sub-par. Not awful, but more bad (or disappointing) than good.
  • 5/10 – Average. Certainly not a bad whisky, but not one I want to stock all the time. 
  • 6/10 – Above average. Worth a glass now and then, maybe worth buying if the price is right.
  • 7/10 – Very good. Worth stocking regularly if the price is below $100
  • 8/10 – Excellent. Something I never want to be without. If it’s under $100 you shouldn’t think twice.
  • 9/10 – Exceptional stuff. The missing mark is probably because I'm shallow and pedantic.
  • 10/10 – Mind-bending, life-changing stuff. Whisky has no business being this good. An absolute must-taste. To expect more would be soulless and churlish.

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