Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Year's Resolutions:

I've never been into New Year's resolutions. I've always looked at them as cliché. Why would you make a list of things you want to change/accomplish only once a year? For the most part I have always felt that people write down a list to make themselves feel better, then forget about it until the next year, only to realize they didn't accomplish any of the resolutions they set their heart on achieving in the first place. And thus, the cycle continues, year after year. Resolutions have always appeared to me as words, never actions. Yet, I've grown up a bit. The older I become the harder it seems to focus on my life goals. With age comes more responsibilities and more distractions, both good and bad. Hence, the realization for constant reminders that inform my daily decisions and prompt me to push forward towards my goals have become more appealing. 

During Katie and my last trip to Europe in the summer of 2012, I used much of the time for contemplation and “list making.” Katie and I had just left our home in Portland, OR, to move back to California so we could be closer to our family. We knew that a life, once we arrived back from Europe, would change immensely – a new stage. So I wrote. I filled pages of my Moleskine with lists and goals for myself. I wanted to start fresh as it were. I made resolutions to work harder, avoid laziness, be a better husband, prepare to be a father, and lastly, I made a declaration to pursue life to its fullest. From goals of learning a new skill, reading particular books, setting weekly time aside for solitude, to learning how to cook new foods, the list has evolved. It's a constant and ever changing tide of hopes and dreams that keep my priorities grounded on the right foundation.

So here we are, January 2014, and I am making a New Year's Resolution. This is a much shorter version of my actual list, but maybe these few goals will encourage you to make your own declaration of change for the year to come. These resolutions are broadly written, but be specific with yourself. Set dates and times. Set real goals so you can make them happen. Make them varied, and practical.

1. Solitude: Solitude was much more easily obtained when I was in college. My lifestyle flowed in a way where I could actually find times of rest and peace each week away from the noise of the daily grind. This is something I need more than ever. Time away from work, blogging, and all distractions. Meditation.

2. Cooking: Since we have moved back to California cooking has not been a huge priority. Don't get me wrong, Katie and I cook almost every night. But up in Portland we really pushed ourselves to grow as cooks. I need to push myself to be more intentional about meal planning. Less “easy meals.”

3. Cycling: I want to ride more. I don't ride every day to work, but I want to make it more of a priority. It's good for me. I should make this happen.

4. Whiskey Education: Yes, this is a goal of mine. I am always learning, but I could push myself much harder in this area. Tasting needs to be a larger priority. This year has been a big one for me, but I need to step up my game and get to be a real expert.

5. Date Night: Katie and I talk about the importance of this a lot. One should never stop dating their spouse or partner. Even when times get busy, or going out becomes financially tougher, it should NEVER stop. With the baby on the way, this is of great importance. This is a reminder to always make time.

6. The Blog: I want this blog to succeed beyond a simple hobby. It's a complete joy to work on, but I'm not pursuing it for my leisure anymore. I want to create something genuinely useful and enjoyable. This year will be its success and its beginning. That said, I know the posts have been far and few between. I am working on some exciting improvements which shall be unveiled soon, so be ready for reviews, and more, in abundance.

To this next year! Try new things, work harder, and be safe!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Ardbeg 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review:

As reviewed first through my instagram: @lifeofawhiskeydrinker

Ardbeg 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review:

Price: Around $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: Iconic, with a craft presentation stating it is non-chill filtered.

Alcoholic Content: 46% abv, 92 proof.

Nose: The nose is a peat and iodine bomb. Winter notes of briny pepper, citrus, and vanilla. Reminds one of cold walks through the neighborhood when you can smell all the chimney smoke.

Palate: The palate is a blast of eucalyptus and peat. Wonderfully balanced. Salt and sea. Peppermint tea with lemon. A long finish with salted caramel and smoke.

Conclusion: For those winter days where you need the cold knocked out of you, this non-chill filtered Islay classic is the perfect choice.

Rating: Excellent/Highly Recommended

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hancock's President's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Review:

Out of the large single barrel production done by Buffalo Trace (Hancock, Eagle Rare, Blanton's, Rock Hill Farms, and Elmer T Lee.), Hancock's President's Reserve is possibly the least well known. There isn't any age statement on the label but word out on the street says it has about 8 years in the barrel. As we all know Buffalo Trace is known for its use of two mash bills (Mash Bill 1, Mash Bill 2), of which all its expression come forth. Where you get Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare from Mash Bill 1, you get the likes of Elmer T. Lee and Hancock Reserve from Mashbill 2. Mashbill 1 consist of a low rye percentage and around 80 percent corn. Mashbill 2 is a higher rye percentage, maybe a 60-70 percent corn bill. And this shows up in every bottle. What you get from Mashbill 1 expressions are more wood and corn sweetness, and less rye spice. Hancock is no different. With 8 years of age, you get a great balance of wood, yet the spice is there, more present than say an Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel.

Hancock's President's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Review:

Price: Around $45-50.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: Classy and unique western (if not 80-ish) decanter style bottle, yet I find nothing written about its connection to the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Not an unusual site by any means, however, I would be willing to bet that more would grab this up sooner if they only would have been let in on its connection to the great distillery.

Alcoholic Content: 44.45% abv, 88.9 proof.

Nose: Super sweet nose, dark fruit – berries. Honeysuckle, nutmeg, tobacco, oak.

Palate: Honeyed apricot and a wonderful spice front. Sweet, yet nothing overbearing like it was alluding to in the nose. Well balanced leather and drying barrel char on the back.

Conclusion: With a full bodied palate this bourbon has enough spice excitement and a nice sweet center to please even the most skeptical.

Rating: Excellent/Highly Recommended

Friday, September 27, 2013

Springbank 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review:

For the majority of us who are only relatively aware of our options out there when it comes to single malt whiskies, the malts from the Campbeltown region of Scotland are somewhat allusive. Holding more to legends than to real facts, the Campbeltowns could be compared to what the rye whiskey used to be in the western United States during the 1800s, everywhere and in abundance. From the 1800s up until the 1900s the distilleries of Campbeltown were the most prolific whisky producers in the country with a record breaking 28 facilities producing. But due to over investment in the pre-prohibition American whiskey trade, local depression during, and a reputation for poor product throughout, Campbeltowns former glory faded into the past like the ryes of the old west. Only Glen Scotia and Springbank remain. But thankfully they do, because the characteristic dry palate of smoke and salt from a good Campbeltown is part of what makes these malts so exciting.

Specifically, Springbank is a fantastic example of a small size and independent producer. Possibly because of their historical involvement with Campbeltown, Springbank has grown in a way that lies outside the scope of many of the larger producers, always centering towards practices that produce whisky in the “old fashioned” way and not changing how they do things for a larger consumer market. From malting their own barley to bottling their own whisky and employing a local workforce, Springbank offers lessons that all the larger producers can learn from.

As fair warning, I will say that if you have arrived at this review and you have never yourself tried Scotch, or you are still relatively new to the whisky scene, Springbank is not for you. It very well may be a bit difficult to get past. In this section I detail some scotch whiskies that could be very great starters. But by all means, never let me stop you... Shall we continue?

Springbank 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review:

Price: Around $45-52 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: A craft presented bottle where they explain in plain english that they do not use caramel coloring and there is no chill filtration. What we like to see!

Alcoholic Content: 46% abv, 92 proof.

Nose: There is a maturity of the nose, even at 10 years old. Brininess hits your senses first. Sweet butterscotch and cream. Chocolate covered cherries. Salt and pepper spice. Everything you receive in the nose is a real pleaser. A nice complexity that genuinely gets me excited for the tasting. Adding water really brings down the brininess and allows for the subtle fruits to show.

Palate: Large spice arrival. Oily and faint smokiness. Ginger spice, light vanilla and honey, peppers, oak, seaweed. With the non-chill filtration a little addition of water allows for the fruit and black liquorice sweetness on the backend to come to the foreground. Bit of a dry finish.

Conclusion: At 10 years old, I don't know what else I can say. This is a fantastic dram, one that thoroughly invigorates my senses. If this is a tiny inkling of what we are to see with the older Springbank's, it should really get one excited.

Rating: Excellent/Highly Recommended

Friday, September 6, 2013

High West Campfire Whiskey Review:

I know, I know! No reviews in almost a month. This isn't how I ever want things to go. I've been busy and a bit sick, so high proof alcohol hasn’t been treating my throat very nice. But alas, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are some genuinely exciting changes coming up for the Bourbon Intelligencer that will guarantee more reviews and whiskey content for the foreseeable future. But that is all I can say on that for now. You'll just have to wait for more news. Updates will be coming possibly within the next month or so.

Tonight we've got with us a truly revolutionary product from High West Distillery: Campfire. This thing breaks all the rules and does so with poise and courage – yes... courage. I feel that good whiskey calls for the assigning of virtuous nouns. Campfire is composed of three whiskies: a 5 and a half year old rye distilled at MGPI, a six year old bourbon also from MGPI, and finally an 8 year old peated Scotch. Where the peated Scotch is from, David Perkins at High West does not divulge, though we do know it is not from Islay or the Islands. Ultimately I am not too concerned with the origin – High West has up to this point always been straight forward with their practices and this thing is so damn delicious that we don't care too much to ask.

High West Campfire Whiskey Review:

Price: Around $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: Classic High West – the necessary information included.

Alcoholic Content: 46% abv, 92 proof.

Nose: More of a honeyed and fruit nose than I expected. Dried golden raisins, toffee, cinnamon, vanilla. Only on the back end do you find traces of scotch and rye. A hint of smoke that lingers on your jacket after a weekend of camping. Sweet green apples.

Palate: Quite unique indeed. The scotch does seem to play second fiddle to the American spirits here, but the balance of all three seems to work out wonderfully. The smooth and creamy dried fruit of the bourbon, with the spice and pepper of the rye, leads very nicely into the sweetness and peaty twist of the scotch, which allows itself to be ever so present throughout.

Conclusion: High West has really done something unparalleled again. And in many ways, the name fits even better after trying it. This is not necessarily a bold and overbearing whiskey in any sense of the word. It's calming and delightful. That's what I meant by poise and courage. This experiment could have been anything, but High West took the high road and has shown they are always taking their time, always honing their craft.

Rating: Excellent/Highly Recommended