Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jim Beam Jacob's Ghost White Whiskey Review:

I won’t go on another rant about the litigious category of white whiskey for I’ve already done that. But with Jim Beam’s, still fairly new, release of Jacob’s Ghost, I believe we are finally starting to see some sort of defining categorization, or at least a product which will drive the category in a foreseeable direction. Aptly called a white whiskey, Jacob’s Ghost is a whiskey in the real sense. Using the very same mash bill as Jim Beam’s White Label, Jacob’s Ghost has at least one year of aging with an added filtration process to remove any of the color gained from the barrel. The very target groups of this label, I believe, are mixologist. With the initial youngness transformed by a little age, Jacob’s Ghost proves to be a capable mixer, enough to take the place of a simple vodka cocktail.

Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey:

Price: Around $21.99 for a 750ml bottle. A don’t understand why they are charging more than the white label which takes years more to mature, but that’s a whole other issue. At least they didn’t do what Jack Daniels did by charging a fortune for their white dog.

Packaging/Labeling: Just ok. The “ghost of Jacob” sticker on the front is very cheap and tacky.  

Alcoholic Content: 40% abv, 80 proof. I would have expected more at the price point.

Nose: The nose impressed me much more than I anticipated. An inviting, light, clean and sweet first impression. This is no white dog. It has a vanilla and grainy sweetness. An oaky-ness does come through as well as some pure malt – not unlike some white malt whiskies I have nosed, yet more refined.

Palate:  A viscous palate with lightly oaked vanilla, cereals and a spicy, very dry finish. It literally sweeps up all the moister in your mouth, leaving you a bit thirsty. It’s calling for a mixer, and with the lack of barrel sweetness I think I could really get into it by mixing it with ginger ale.

Conclusion: Pleasantly surprised by this. It’s a very solid entry into the category. I can’t find many negative points, beside the dryness. Hence, it doesn't do very well as a simple nightcap, unless you have some ice in it. Geoff Kleinman of made a very good point by stating that “in some ways Jacob’s Ghost is the flip side of the coin from Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut. Rather than pumping up the oak, Jacob’s Ghost reduces the impact of the barrel on the whiskey and creates a spirit that is light, dry, and easy to drink, especially with soda.” Hopefully this all means that Jim Beam will be breaking into more experimentation, like Buffalo Trace has been doing for quite some time. Is it something I would tell you to go out and purchase right now? No. But if you need something for a party and want to change things up, you should try Jacob’s Ghost.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ardmore Traditional Scotch Whisky Review: Another Meaty Malt

Some whiskies are made to be consumed as they are – a pure unadulterated piece of craftsmanship. Others are produced with the intention of being blended with other whiskies – to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet every so often the latter kinds of whiskies are produced in such a way that they break free from their sole use as a blending devise. Every so often during the early stages of a distilleries conception, the producers discover that they are creating something which can hold its own among other single malts, while at other times it takes years for a label to break free of blender status. It was such with Ardmore, taking almost a century from its beginnings to finally being released as a single malt. Founded by the Teacher’s Family in the late 1800s, the Ardmore Distillery was originally produced to be used as a fundamental malt for the Teacher’s blends. As was traditional back in the day with most Speysider and Highland malts, Ardmore was peated around 12-14ppm (for reference Talisker on Skye is currently around 18-20pm). That being said, the times of peaty Speysiders is long gone, leaving Ardmore as a bit of an exception.

Today we are looking at the core “Traditional” expression. Non-chill filtered and peated with no age statement, but made of mostly ex-bourbon cask from around six to thirteen years old. Once the malt has been vatted, the whisky is then filled into quarter cask for one more year of maturing and finishing. 

Ardmore Traditional Scotch Whisky Review:

Price: Around $41.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: Nothing to write home about, but the bottle is informational, clean and modern, which means I can’t complain.

Alcoholic Content: 46% abv, 92 proof – not bad!

Nose: A creamy and full nose. Peat and smoked fish. Well balanced and tight with strawberry malt flavors. The meatiness and the more softer notes blend very well together.

Palate: The nose is quite indicative of what’s to come. A buttery palate coats the tongue where it releases all its sweet and savory juiciness. There is a nice little spicy vanilla kick on entry, ending on the back with peaty sweetness. I do feel that some of the younger cask come through on the end palate allowing, in my mind, a bit too much green-ness.

Conclusion: Unintentionally this is another unusual whiskey for where it is located. This is not nearly as fantastic as the Mortlach but it is a unique and solid single malt that can easily be found in the US, unlike the former. If you are looking for some similar single malts look either at Bowmore (with a higher ppm of around 25), or across the way in Ireland, at Connemara Peated 12 Year Old. Ultimately really enjoyed this expression of Ardmore and you won’t be let down with a purchase of it yourself I’m sure.