http://www.thirstysouth.com Thu, 30 Jul 2015 00:08:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/24/plantation-stiggins-fancy-pineapple-rum/ http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/24/plantation-stiggins-fancy-pineapple-rum/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:04:32 +0000 http://www.thirstysouth.com/?p=3592 Continue reading ]]> Plantation Rum Pineapple

What the what is David Wondrich up to? The celebrated drinks historian, punch enthusiast, and beard-grower has teamed up again with Alexandre Gabriel of Maison Ferrand (owner of Plantation Rum, and previous partner with Wondrich on Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac and Dry Curacao) to… well, to do something involving pineapple and rum. Before you read the rest of this, let’s take a quick multiple choice quiz. A pre-quiz, if you will.

Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum is:

a) A blend of Trinidad brown rums matured in young bourbon casks, infused with Queen Victoria pineapples for three months, and further mixed with a distillate of macerated pineapple rinds and white rum (“a bright pineapple essence to blend with the lushness of the infused rum”) before a final rest in the barrel

b) A drink inspired by the favorite tipple of one Reverend Stiggins, who was a character in Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers 

c) A “liquid thank you” to the members of the apprentice program at Tales of the Cocktail (an annual bar and spirits industry event held in New Orleans)

d) A throwback to original pineapple rum recipes found in the 1824 English Journal of Patent and Inventions, and the 1844 Journal of Agricultural Society

e) All of the above

If you guessed a), you are absolutely right, but I could say the same thing for every other choice. Yes, the true and astonishing answer is that Plantation 1824 Pineapple Rum is all of those crazy things. Thank you Messrs. Wondrich and Gabriel.

Plantation Rum PineappleThis stuff is crazy, and wonderful, and absurd, and absolutely worth seeking out. It was initially planned as a 1000 bottle limited run, focused on the insider crowds attending Tales of the Cocktail last year, but the reception has apparently stoked the flames to extend the run of Pineapple Rum. I was lucky enough to pick up a bottle at H&F Bottle Shop (though I paid $38, a good bit above what other national retailers like K&L carry it for) before it quickly left their premises.

The first thing you’ll notice if you get your hands on a bottle is that Wondrich, ever the writer/historian, has packed the label with all kinds of stories and background (in fact, the label was the source for the above quiz). A quick read will inform you that Dickens’ Reverend Stiggins, “preferred to take his ‘warm’ (i.e., with a splash of boiling water), with three lumps of sugar to the tumbler.”  This is where Reverend Stiggins and I part ways, as this Plantation Rum requires no water, nor sugar. Here are the notes…

Plantation Rum PineapplePlantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum
Artisanal Caribbean Rum Infused with Pineapple Barks, AKA Rich Plantation Original Dark Rum infused with Victorian Pineapple, Stiggins’ Fancy 1824 Recipe
80 Proof, Approx. $30-$40 Retail
Tasting Dates: July 21 – 23, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Excellent*

At first glance, this is clearly rum of the dark variety, in this case a lovely shade on the amber side of mahogany  – not that that tells you much, but we know it is both aged and infused (btw, a great name for a band or movie – “aged and infused”).

Taking it in neat, wow… there are the typical dark rum notes of molasses, toffee and deep honey on the nose, but a pineapple-petrol blast then pours forth, a little banana, a hint of clove, a graham cracker-like toasty note, a touch of vanilla from the barrel. Fascinating stuff, powerful without hitting you over the heard or being too blunt/obvious.

Sipping, lush is the word. Sweet tropical fruit (but again, there’s an elegance to it) that starts rich and ripe, then goes clean and crisp in the mid-palate, then shifts again to a long pleasantly warm, rich finish. The pineapple is there, but it’s also kind of hiding in plain sight behind the dark rum itself – once you know to look for it, it’s totally obvious, but if you had no idea what you were getting into, you might guess all sorts of tropical fruit were playing a part in this. It’s a fabulous sipper all by itself – don’t even bother with a cube of ice unless the summer heat suggests it.

And speaking of heat, I tried Reverend Stiggins’ preferred path of serving it warm, with a splash of boiling water (and then additional sugar). First, the hot water… if it’s winter time (or you’re in foggy London) and/or you’re nursing a cold or a sore throat, this is a lovely idea. The hot water smooths out the rum even further, turning it into a sweet, soothing elixir that is sure to cure any ills. But, please, leave out the additional sugar, which just as surely may lead to a rotten tooth or possibly even diabetes.

Beyond sipping neat, this stuff is made for adventurous cocktail exploration. I’ve seen a few interesting recipes passing around online – using it as the base for an Old Fashioned variation, or really using it anywhere a more tropical side of dark rum or even bourbon would make sense. Me? I have a hard time doing anything other than enjoying every single sip right from the bottle.

Click through the photos to read the stories on the labels: 
Plantation Rum PineapplePlantation Rum PineapplePlantation Rum Pineapple

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

]]>
http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/24/plantation-stiggins-fancy-pineapple-rum/feed/ 2
Pikesville Rye and Rittenhouse Rye: Review and Tasting Notes http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/20/pikesville-rittenhouse-rye-review/ http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/20/pikesville-rittenhouse-rye-review/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 14:25:24 +0000 http://www.thirstysouth.com/?p=3563 Continue reading ]]> Pikesville Rye Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey

Here’s the big news first – Heaven Hill has a new rye whiskey out that’s essentially an older, higher proof version of the beloved Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond. This new one is six years old (at least) and 110 proof, rather than four years old and 100 proof. Wow, what’s not to love about that? Heaven Hill has time and time again put their amazing bank of great, aged whiskey to excellent use, and there’s no reason to think this won’t be another home run along the lines of the their Elijah Craig barrel proof releases.

DSC_1129Where this gets a bit confusing, though, is with the label. This new rye is not a Rittenhouse – rather, it is called Pikesville. Pikesville is also the name used on a younger (three year), lower proof (80), regional rye brand from Heaven Hill. Both of these Pikesville whiskeys share roots going back to a Maryland brand that originated way back in the 1890’s and was acquired by Heaven Hill in 1982. Neither of these Pikesville whiskeys should have anything to do with Rittenhouse Rye. But they do. Got all that?

Heaven Hill is careful to make clear that they produce Pikesville in Kentucky. And remember how I said this was essentially an older, higher proof Rittenhouse? Sure enough, Heaven Hill has confirmed that Pikesville (a self-proclaimed Maryland-style rye) and Rittenhouse (a self-proclaimed Pennsylvania-style rye) are indeed the same mash bill (51% rye, 39% corn, 10% malted barley). So it goes… as long as they taste good, who am I to quibble with the distinctions between a Maryland-style and Pennsylvania-style when they’re both actually made in Kentucky and are essentially siblings of each other?

The new Pikesville rye has started rolling out in select markets, and will be seeing national distribution this fall. Rather than just taste it on its own, I decided to do a side by side with the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond. While Rittenhouse doesn’t carry an age statement, word is that it’s basically four year old whiskey, so the Pikesville has roughly two years of extra time in the barrel on it. Heaven Hill has also said that Pikesville’s barrels have been carefully chosen from a more specific section of the rick houses than what Rittenhouse is pulling from. So here we go – a four year old, Pennsylvania-style rye and six year old Maryland-style rye, both made in Kentucky – head to head.

DSC_1136Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
100 Proof, Approx. $24 Retail
Tasting Dates: June 15 – July 17, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Good Stuff 

First off, I want to point out that this is the Rittenhouse that was distilled by Heaven Hill (D.S.P. KY 1 for all you whiskey geeks) – not the older version that was distilled by Brown-Forman. Rittenhouse has long been a favorite for rye-based cocktails, especially when you can find one for $20 (it has crept up to the mid-$20s in most retailers).

On the nose, there’s some honey and butterscotch, but it’s buried beneath green wood, a cinnamon edge, a hint of vanilla. Neat, you get a rush of heat, then some dark brown sugar, a bit of rum raisin, dark cocoa powder, assertive rye spice, and a rich syrupy (but tingly) finish. This is no minty/super-herbal rye – it wears it’s hefty corn presence prominently and wears it well. A cube of ice rounds out the Rittenhouse nicely and helps balance the spicy edge and the dark, sweet core. But really, this rye is on the beast-end of the spectrum – it’s a bit too powerful for its own good when drinking neat, but works wonders when paired with lighter ingredients in cocktails like a Manhattan.

DSC_1131Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
110 Proof, Approx. $50 Retail
Tasting Dates: June 15 – July 17, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Excellent 

The color here vs. the Rittenhouse is quite similar, maybe a bit darker for the Pikesville, but both a pleasing copper hue. Dang, right away on the nose, you get a lot more nuance, a lot more character, a lot more… intrigue. Despite the higher proof, the nose comes across more integrated, less heat. There are waves of honey and brown sugar and vanilla – typical bourbon notes – but the rye presence keeps the sweetness in check, weaving in and out with subdued floral notes, warm cedar wood, dark cocoa-coated almonds (funny enough, I’ve gotten a similar note from the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof – is there something going on in those Heaven Hill barrels?).

Sipped neat, the Pikesville continues to show the benefits of those two years in the barrel. The spice level perks up – sharp jabs of nutmeg and clove and cinnamon, again the warm wood, and those cocoa-coated almonds playing out over a long warm finish. Over ice, even nicer, still sharp. A touch of water also helps bring out the depths of flavor. You do get the commonalities with the Rittenhouse (Maryland vs. Pennsylvania, be damned) – and, again, this is clearly not a rye of the heavy-mint/dill variety.

Verdict: So the extra few years and 10 points of proof on the Pikesville are indeed beneficial. I’m still more likely to use Pikesville for a Manhattan than to sip neat, which makes it a pricey option to amp up a drink, but whether in a cocktail or sipping over ice, Pikesville offers a solid upgrade over the already-very-solid Rittenhouse Rye. The Maryland vs. Pennsylvania semantics don’t bother me at all – they’re both good drinks, made by a good distiller, and competitively priced. I’m betting the Pikesville will not be an easy one to track down, so if you do see a bottle and you’re a rye fan, do give it a shot.

DSC_1124

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

Full Disclosure: Tasting sample of Pikesville provided by Heaven Hill.

DSC_1127

]]>
http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/07/20/pikesville-rittenhouse-rye-review/feed/ 0
Kikusui Funaguchi: Can Do Sake http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/18/kikusui-can-do-sake/ http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/18/kikusui-can-do-sake/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 08:57:02 +0000 http://www.thirstysouth.com/?p=3530 Continue reading ]]> IMG_1589

Ahhhh, sake. I’ll be honest – I know next to nothing about the stuff, other than the fact that I need to get to know it better. That said, one sake I’ve really been blown away by every time I’ve had over the past few years has been the canned sake from Japanese brewer Kikusui (interesting how the craft-sake-in-cans thing in Japan parallels the craft-beer-in-cans thing here in the states). Their most commonly found version – the yellow can – is the base Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo Nama-sake. It’s joined by a longer-aged and more “refined” version in red; plus a once-a-year, freshly-harvested version in green. They’re all pretty spectacular – with a common backbone of lush, floral, tropical fruit – but there are enough distinctions among the three to make a side by side tasting really interesting. If you’re lucky enough to come across a can(s), these Kikusuis are a great way to explore distinctive sake at a low tariff – they’re typically $6-$10 retail depending on the type, and each can (at 19% alcohol) makes a nice serving for two people.

Kikusui Funaguchi SakeKikusui dates back to 1881 in the sake business – which makes them a youngster among Japan’s many historic sake brewers. The name Funaguchi is, as far as I can tell,  a trademarked name meant to communicate “raw sake on tap”- reinforcing the fact that this is a nama-sake – unpasteurized. Honjozo is a term that specifies level of refinement – typically 30% of the rice polished away (whereas more refined ginjo has at least 40% polished away, and the daiginjo at least 50%). The fresh harvest green can gets the designation shinmai, and the red (aged one year) is actually a ginjo rather than a honjozo, but still a nama-sake. Got all that?

Actually, Kikusui has some good detail on their website that helps explain each of these three varieties. First, though, here’s what they have to say about what makes their sake special:

The KIKUSUI brewery is located in Shibata City towards the northern end of Niigata. One defining characteristic of this area is the abundance of groundwater sources carring the clear, pristine water from the melted snow. The snow that falls on the Iide mountain range, which rise over 2,000 meters above sea level becomes perfect soft water. One of the key ingredients for Sake brewing is water and here there is an abundance of pure soft water. We at KIKUSUI feel blessed to be in an area so ideally suited for Sake brewing.

Niigata Prefecture is one of Japan’s largest food producers. In particular, “Koshihikari”, a brand of premium rice grown in Niigata, has been Japan’s most popular brand of rice for many years. Each grain is round and plump and when cooked is sticky with a pleasant texture. It has a delicate sweetness and fragrance when freshly cooked and is well known for its pleasant flavor after it has cooled. The flavor of this rice, like Sake, stems from the abundance of pristine water from the mountain snowmelt.

Kikusui FunaguchiSounds good to me, and there’s no doubt that the water and rice Kikusui use come together to make a beautiful drink. Let’s start with yellow, which, according to Kikusui was “Japan’s first nama-sake over 40 years ago.” Like Kikusui’s notes say, the stuff is full bodied, lush in both taste and feel. There are notes of mango and papaya, and a general funkiness that hints at yeast and grain. Remarkable stuff. And at 19% alcohol (Kikusui calls it “un-diluted” as opposed to other sakes that typically clock in at 15%), this sake packs a punch. And, yes, be sure to serve it cold. I like it straight out of the can – which may be sacrilege, I have no idea – but it just feels right.

Kikusui Funaguchi SakeAs for the aged version, in the distinctive red can, you can tell right away when you open this up that there is something different going on. The nose is both more smoothed out but also more intense, and when you taste it, you get a similar blend of smoothness and depth. The fruit is a bit darker – more plum than papaya – with a musky, honey undertone. The grain, too, comes through more strongly, more toasty. It’s hard to know exactly what the aging contributes vs. the more refined rice, and the family resemblance to the yellow can is unmistakable, but the aged version definitely kicks things up a notch.

Kikusui Funaguchi Shinmai Sake Green CanIn the opposite direction, the shinmai “sake nouveau” (groan, did they actually just call it that?? kinda 1990’s, no?), also bears that family resemblance, though with more of a unique twist. It’s frankly a bit harsher at first, the alcohol less integrated. The fruit is crisper – think green apple and honeydew (is the green can subliminally putting those thoughts into my mind? I don’t think so… but maybe). You do get the grain and the yeast still, and the body is still full and fairly lush, but it’s more settled underneath the fresh, crisp fruit. The shinmai only comes out once a year, so it’s a bit harder to find. Here in Atlanta, it hit in spring, using the rice that was harvested last fall. Frankly, it’s my least favorite of the three given the more prominent alcohol notes, but it’s still a fascinating drink, especially side by side with the other Kikusui cans.

Luckily, Kikusui in general is not that hard to find. In Atlanta, I’ve found it at Hop City, Le Caveau, and Buford Highway Farmers Market, and it very well may be at several of the top liquor stores as well. Next time you see a can, pick one up – it’s sure to get you in the mood to learn more about sake.

IMG_1606 IMG_1600 IMG_1585

]]>
http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/18/kikusui-can-do-sake/feed/ 0
The Warhorse and all the coffee in Atlanta http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/04/the-warhorse-coffee-atlanta/ http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/04/the-warhorse-coffee-atlanta/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 14:05:11 +0000 http://www.thirstysouth.com/?p=3499 Continue reading ]]> The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

Inside the Warhorse

The Atlanta coffee scene is in hyperdrive, especially on the west side. There, in the course of roughly half a mile, you can already hit five dedicated coffee shops (Chattahoochee Coffee Company, Star Provisions, Octane, Urban Grind, and the Warhorse Coffee Joint), plus Amelie’s and  West Egg, who both pay careful attention to their coffee programs. A new Revelator Coffee will be opening right across from Star Provisions later this year (next to Cooks & Soldiers), as will Brash Coffee just over the footbridge. Hot damn, that’s a lot of coffee – nine spots in a half mile stretch? But maybe that’s a good thing – the more good coffee, the more good coffee drinkers?

The west side is not unique in this regard. Nearby, Atlantic Station is set to get a branch of Land of a Thousand Hills coffee. Buckhead now has an Octane outpost in the Atlanta Tech Village, and the new Corso in Buckhead Atlanta (after being a good-coffee desert for years). Ponce City Market, already blessed with Dancing Goats, is also set for a coffee counter from Hugh Acheson, dubbed Spiller Park. Even downtown is making waves, with a new Condesa Coffee outpost, Jittery Joe’s inside the Ritz Carlton, and the recently announced Western & Atlantic (a “members only” coffee shop that will be part of the Switchyards development, in partnership with the folks from Octane) soon to join Ébrìk Coffee Room as good-coffee destinations.

Can Atlanta actually support all these new coffee shops? I certainly hope so, but surely there’s a point where the saturation becomes too much and supply exceeds demand. Then again, maybe not, since Starbucks pioneered the idea of putting in so many locations that they actually increased demand by their mere presence. We shall see.

Meanwhile… on a recent Saturday, I managed to gulp down two coffees, a cortado, and an ice coffee over the course of a few caffeinated hours spanning several shops on the west side. My favorite of the day was the cold-brewed ice coffee. I’m hesitant to tell you this for two reasons. First, I really don’t want to tip off this very special place to the masses (not really a problem – since masses are not heading to Thirsty South to find out where to get their coffee). Second, when I found out where the beans came from to make the ice coffee, my eyes grew wide with surprise. The beans were sourced from a little boutique coffee seller named… Kroger. It wasn’t the source of the beans, though, that made the coffee great – it was the setting. (And, yes, the cold brewed Kroger ice coffee was also delicious).

To find that extra special  ice coffee, my wife and I had to wind our way through the old buildings and walkways of the Goat Farm to locate the Warhorse Coffee Joint. There, David Stewart greeted us kindly, then kept us company before we headed off to snap a few iPhone photos of the ever-picturesque Goat Farm surroundings. While the beans for the ice coffee were a supermarket special, most of the Warhorse’s coffee comes in green, then gets roasted in small batches. But like I said, it’s less about the specifics of the coffee (no espresso served) than it is the feel of the place. This is not a coffee business. This is not really a coffee shop. This is a place, a space, where people happen to meet, and coffee happens to be served, and all sorts of strange and unusual things just might happen. The Warhorse is not in competition with nearby Chattahoochee Coffee Company or Star Provisions – it’s not in any competition at all.

And back to the Warhorse’s setting… to say the Goat Farm Arts Center is special is an understatement. It is one of the driving forces behind Atlanta’s independent arts scene. And it’s just plain cool and soaked in history. As is the Warhorse. The feel of the place is a bit like that of the wondrous library of a crazy uncle – piano at the ready, books a plenty, strange artifacts and contraptions all around, intriguingly mis-matched vintage furniture.  The coffee and tea are on the house. Really. But you’ll gladly tip generously, I’m sure of it. The Warhorse is the kind of place that makes you want to sit and think, to linger, and linger on. Then wander, and wander on. It’s the kind of place that makes you happy to be in Atlanta.

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

The Goat Farm Warhorse Coffee

]]>
http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/05/04/the-warhorse-coffee-atlanta/feed/ 0
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey: Review and Tasting Notes http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/01/30/stranahans-colorado-whiskey-review/ http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/01/30/stranahans-colorado-whiskey-review/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:22:24 +0000 http://www.thirstysouth.com/?p=3461 Continue reading ]]> Stranahans Colorado Whiskey My bottle of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, like every other bottle of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, arrived with a tin cup over the cork on top. But unlike other bottles of Stranahan’s, my tin cup wouldn’t come off. It was stuck, and I wanted it off.

Stranahans Colorado WhiskeyI pulled, I pried, I yanked. I tried (gently) using knives and shivs and needle-nose pliers. And then I tried again (not-so-gently). Nothing worked. That cup was like a musclebound security guard protecting the treasure within the bottle. And I hated him for it. I wanted the good stuff inside.

Luckily, the folks at Stranahan’s were very kind – they sent me a replacement bottle and had me ship back the impenetrable one. They said, “We run into this issue from time to time, seems to be slight differences in the bottle/cap manufacturing.” Fair enough. As long as I finally got to open a bottle of Stranahan’s.

Stranahan’s is made in Colorado – you can visit them on South Kalamath Sreet in Denver. They started distilling back in 2004, and released their first bottles in 2006, eventually becoming one of the most well-known craft whiskies out there. In 2009, they won Whisky Advocate’s Artisan Whiskey of the Year award. Not bad, right? In 2010, they could be found in 38 states, but then made a sudden shift back to focus on supplying their home state of Colorado, plus letting supply (low) catch up to demand (high). They ramped down distribution, and ramped up production, and in late 2014, they went national again. I’m guessing those four years allowed them to build a bit of a whiskey cushion.

Stranahan’s describes their whiskey as such: “Born in the fires of George Stranahan’s old barn, our whiskey has always been hand-crafted exclusively with Colorado grains and Rocky Mountain spring water. Straight, rugged, and strong… double-distilled in small batches from our proprietary blend of four barleys, and then aged in virgin-charred American white-oak barrels.” (I can just picture the virgins charring that white American oak.) The important thing here, at least to me, is the four barleys (“primarily from locally sourced Colorado malted barley”). This is not bourbon – which is predominantly corn with barley and rye or wheat mixed in. And this is clearly not Scotch – which is, well, made in Scotland from malted barley and typically aged in used barrels. But Stranahan’s shares characteristics with each of those two great pillars of the whiskey world. The all-barley mash like a single malt Scotch, the new charred oak like an American bourbon. And it makes for an intriguing marriage.

As for the aging, on the bottle, Stranahan’s simply states a “distilled on” date, which does a bit of a disservice to the whiskey inside since it corresponds just to the youngest portion in the mix. I had heard it was a batch of different ages, but reached out to Stranahan’s to get a bit more detail. Head distiller Rob Dietrich shared that, indeed, “each batch is comprised of 2 year, 3 year, 4  year and 5 year old barrels for greater complexity and quality.” They use a #3 char on those white oak barrels then “cut the finished whiskey to 94 proof using local Eldorado Springs water, sourced from Rocky Mountain snowmelt in Eldorado Springs, Colorado.” Mmmmm, melted snow.

In any case, the combination of the malted barleys and the Colorado water and the American oak makes for a damn fine whiskey, one of the most simply enjoyable whiskies I’ve opened up in a long time. On to the notes…

Stranahans Colorado WhiskeyStranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
94 Proof
Approx. $55-$60 Retail
Tasting Dates: January 4 – 25, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Excellent*

Take off that tin cup cap, and pour some Stranahan’s in. Take a whiff. It’s kinda subtle, reminds me of… cereal. Ever have Quaker Brown Sugar Oat Squares? That’s what this is, with alcohol (no milk required). There’s a bit of warm wood, cedar even. But mostly sweet toasty grain.

Now have a sip from that tin cup cap. Slow burn. Smooth burn. Balanced burn. Red hot and a touch of honey, not too strong, not too sweet. There’s an austerity to it compared to most bourbon. That’s the barley (I presume). There’s also a fine dustiness – not the kind of woody sawdust that older bourbon gets, but something like the fine powder of sugar and grain at the bottom of a used-up cereal box. A few more sips and something nutty comes out – pine nuts? Almond paste? Pine nuts, I think. Nuts. It’s just intriguing and fleeting and flirting around.

A cube of ice brings out some port-like notes on the nose, plummy red wine. More clove-spiced fruit, apples and oranges on the tongue. It gets denser and deeper. But less…  Colorado. Less… out west and away from Kentucky.

All I can say is, damn, this is lovely stuff. Once I got that tin cup cap off, the whiskey practically flew out of the bottle. Faster and flightier than any bottle I’ve opened in recent memory. The 94 proof is right on, no need for water, no need for ice. Don’t mix this into cocktails. Really. Just enjoy. I wish it were a touch less than the $55 or so I see around town. But, then again, it’s worth it.

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:
Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck
Full Disclosure: Tasting sample provided by Stranahan’s.
]]>
http://www.thirstysouth.com/2015/01/30/stranahans-colorado-whiskey-review/feed/ 4