On the advice from a friend I picked up a liter bottle of Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon Aged 7 Years from Costco in Myrtle Beach, SC. The bottle was marked Batch T-1796 and was 51.5% ABV or 103 Proof. The bottle gave no indication of the distillery other than to note Tennessee Distilling in Columbia, TN. I typically steer clear of any Bourbon which does not originate from KY or Indiana (MWGP), but the friend who suggested this bottle is one I trust so I snagged one for $27 best I can remember. The neck label indicated the Beverage Tasting Institute rated it 93 points. The aroma had hints of brown sugar and leather with hints of pepper alcohol spice. The flavor was filled with brown sugar, molasses, citrus fruits, and a nice complex caramel presence. When you boil it all down the price point suggested a Bourbon which could command a higher price point. The prickly alcohol and spice attributes which stay on the palate post consumption let you know this one has a bit of a kick. My suggestion is if you find this one to pick it up. Heck, go ahead and pick up two!
When it went on sale at a sub twenty dollar price I snagged a bottle of Wild Turkey Rye and decided to take it for a spin. Unfortunately it doesn’t have much in the way of character and consuming it straight just doesn’t keep your interest for more than a few seconds. Luckily you can mix it with ginger and it begins to show off some spicy rye notes one would expect. At 81 proof it was never hot or offensive, if I spot it at 101 proof I might give it a try to see if it has more to offer. Otherwise the 81 is a pass for me as there are better and more interesting rye whiskeys on the market.
Some time back while perusing a Costco liquor store I spotted a small display of Kirkland Signature 27 Year Blended Scotch Whiskey Bourbon Cask Matured and snagged a bottle. I seem to recall it being around $55 and so I figured why not. When I got to the counter the clerk indicated several people had purchased a single bottle and then returned the next day after sampling to purchase several more. All they had was what was left and they did not expect to receive anymore. I figured it was a good choice so I stuck it in the queue and recently it found a space with the other open bottle selections in the bar.
As with other Alexander Murray releases there is no actual indication of origin. At 40% ABV I expected the Scotch to be smooth and easy to consume, but the alcohol was slightly off-putting. It wasn’t hot or fusel, but there was something in the alcohol which didn’t make me want to drain the bottle. The flavors seemed muted and almost musty. There was oak, leather, apple, brown sugar, and a myriad of other characteristics, but they just didn’t quite play well together. While I had high hopes for this Scotch, the truth is I found it just a bit difficult to love. Had it been half the price I’d think I’ll still find it just a bit hot and a long in the tooth. If you see it, give it a whirl for the notoriety, but otherwise I’d suggest you find something more interesting and spend your money on that instead.
When it went on sale at NCABC I grabbed a bottle of The Macallan Double Cask which is 12 years old and 43% ABV. I’m not sure of the exact price point, but around 63 beans or less is what I seem to recall. The name comes from the time the Scotch spent in Sherry barrels made of both American and European Oak. The flavor has a sublime mix of oak, chocolate, leather, citrus, and caramel which leads to a slightly sweet finish tempered by peppery alcohol and a nice alcohol warmth. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this, but I noticed the bottle did not hang out long once opened and while it was not mind blowing, it also was drained in short order. If you find this at the right price buy one and give it a whirl, heck, if you find it at the right price, buy two!
Haven’t posted in awhile, will try to do better in the future. News broke last week about the lawsuit filed by Left Hand against White Labs claiming contaminated yeast. Specifically that yeast was contaminated with diastaticus. Now I gotta admit I don’t know as much about yeast and yeast variants as I should, but my understanding is diastaticus will chew up sugars other yeasts leave behind and Left Hand has a very popular Milk Stout which undoubtedly contains lactose which is widely accepted as largely unfermentable by most yeast. Add in a yeast which chews up anything which is thrown at it and you have a recipe for disaster. Left Hand contends they had to dispose of over $2 million in beer and White Labs didn’t even send a condolence card.
At first you might be thinking what I am thinking how do you prove this is the source of the contamination? If you perform a web search you will find many instances in both the Pro and Homebrew arenas where people complain about contaminated batches of beer and the commonality was White Labs yeast. For me a single instance or brewery is not enough proof as anyone can have an off batch if they are not careful with cleaning and sanitation, but when you begin to add all of them together there could be some merit in the claim. I read somewhere diastaticus takes a week to incubate and most breweries don’t have time for that, but you would think a yeast company should be running long term QC checks.
At any rate, this one should be interesting. Does it move forward in the court system, settle outside of courts, or ultimately go to trial. I know I’m grabbing the popcorn and you should as well.
As yet another bottle of whisky bites the dust it is time to pen some notes on the dearly departed. Ardbeg Ten Years Old is an Islay Single Malt which rings in at 46% ABV, but doesn’t kill you with alcohol as much as it slays you with peat smoke. Once you get past the ashy nature you’ll find some nice complexity with vanilla, leather, and fruity notes coupled to peat smoke. Nuts and sherry lurk not far behind, especially in the nose. Somehow honey presents and in the end instead of sitting around with a mouth full of ashes you have an impression similar to the smoke character which excites the palate after some wonderful smoky barbecue. I had a difficult time getting past the smoke in the first few glasses I tried, but eventually came to love this for what it is, a very nice Islay Scotch. I think it was 50 beans or something in that world and at that price is not a difficult decision for a nicely complex and smoky whisky. If you don’t like the smoke, steer clear, but if you do, this is a nice glass.
As I drain the bottle of Tullamore Dew it seems appropriate to pen a few words about this Irish Whiskey. At 40% abv the whiskey never was hot or bothersome, but retained a honey sweet character throughout to provide balance. The flavor was complex with hints of leather and tobacco coupled to a very light pepper spice attribute. It had a light floral note with an apple-like nose. While not the most complex alcohol on the planet at a sub $30 price point it did not disappoint although I might gravitate to something else if the price crept any higher. I see some sites with it listed closer to a $20 price point and if that was the case I would keep a bottle around all the time. So if you find it at a great price dive in headfirst, if it’s higher than $30 I would suggest to look for something in a similar price point which might be more complex.
I purchased The Macallan Fine Oak 10 Years Old when it went on sale at NCABC for about $45 which seemed to be a bargain for any single malt from The Macallan. The 40% ABV whisky was perfect neat without any hot or higher alcohol flavors. The aroma was filled with honey and fruit with hints of leather, oak, and earth. The flavor showcased honey up front followed by fruit with a finish of leather and oak. While a touch sweet at first the flavor mellowed into the aftertaste as the sweet notes faded into oblivion. The issue with this scotch, if there is one, is it needs to be consumed with a clean palate because this nuances of this whisky which are complex and interesting could be trounced by a strong flavor before or with this scotch. So if you find this one at an affordable price give it a whirl, you really do have nothing to lose.
Sometime last year I spotted the 16 Year Old Kirkland Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky for $49 at a Costco liquor store. I passed on the opportunity for a purchase on a few occasions, but finally succumbed to curiosity during a recent visit to a Costco liquor location. Reviews had been mixed and the price point was very good for a 16 year old scotch. At 80 proof the Scotch was never hot and worked quite well neat in a glass. The Scotch was aged in Bourbon casks, but most of that character IMO was contained in the alcohol presence which was not overwhelming. The flavors which came to mind were chocolate, honey, leather, tobacco, vanilla, and a bit of oak. The aroma was floral, with chocolate, caramel, honey, and leather. While it was a quite enjoyable glass, it really didn’t seem complex enough to command the 50 bean price point. The sweetness was enough to balance the alcohol and perhaps just a tad bit high. I liked the whisky, but cannot see purchasing another bottle when a handle of 12 year old blended is better more than double the volume and a $38 price of admission. Give it a try if you are the type of whisky aficionado who has to try everything, otherwise I’d suggest you find something more interesting and spend your money on that.
It appears the murderer who terrorized concertgoers injuring over 500 and killing 59 utilized bump fire stocks to carry out his mayhem. I can recall taking a look at them as a novelty which might be fun for a trip or two to the range several years ago, but when you couple the cost of the stock with the cost of ammunition they just don’t make sense. You can approximate automatic fire with them, but at the cost of accuracy. Unfortunately the gunman in Las Vegas didn’t need to be very accurate as he had 22,000 targets in the crowd.
Let’s circle back to the topic of the post. Bump fire stocks were declared legal by the ATF and are only considered a firearm part, like any other stock. The reason is they are not a firearm and accept no ammunition. On this point I have to agree with the ATF. It’s what they do which is suspect. They allow a semi-automatic rifle to approximate the firing rate of a machine gun. While one half of my brain hates governmental intervention in our daily lives, the other thinks we as a society decided machine guns needs to be regulated. I think owning a machine gun would be interesting and fun, but I still think they need to be tightly regulated. Can you imagine the death toll in Chicago if every gang banger had a functioning machine gun? If we need to regulate machine guns then by the same token a device design to circumvent normal operation and approximate automatic fire should similarly be regulated.
I don’t believe for an instant the shooter in Las Vegas would have been stopped if he didn’t have bump fire stocks, but I do believe he would have fired less rounds during his assault and may have injured less people. How many less is unknown, but even if the numbers were cut in half it would be better. With the even still fresh in my mind, my position is we don’t need devices designed to create the rapid fire characteristics of regulated weapons unless the devices are regulated. Thoughts?