Sunday, July 31, 2016

The 2016 Stranahan's Cask Thief Event and some Word Vomit on Craft Distilleries



For what it is worth(not much).....

I must start out by saying that I have not been a fan of Stranahan's Whiskey. In my un-professional and not very important opinion the Yellow label is muddled and boring while the Limited Edition Snowflakes that I've sampled have left me anything but impressed.

Most importantly, I'm not the biggest malted barley fan and well I think that's their jam...

Stranahan's seems to have a cult-following and some people(Coloradans Only) swear by Stranny bottles.

Also being said, I have never personally bought any Stranahan's bottle and/or possessed any Stranny's bottles in my own liquor cabinets. I have only had pours of Stranahan's products that I paid for from bars and restaurants, or was poured drams from fellow whiskey enthusiasts collections.

I am being extremely judgmental, ignorant, narrow-minded, vague, and whiskey profiling in my next statement, but to me most "Craft Distilleries" distillate comes out raw, underwhelming, under-proofed, and most importantly over-priced for what they are selling. Obviously whiskey takes time to develop and smaller craft distillers cannot just snap their fingers and viola, aged stocks!

But, that doesn't  mean we should give them a pass on bottles they try and peddle to the masses to build a brand while they wait for their distillate to get some sleep..

Obviously, many people will stick up for craft distilleries and say they are "unique". Unique my ass, I'll get you a $10 dollar Kentucky Straight Bourbon called Heaven Hill 6YR BIB and I bet that if tasted blind side by side it'll murder 80% of any craft distillate available today priced at $30 to $150 dollars.

It seems to me that "Craft Distilleries" rely more on the whole "local is always great aspect" to help build their brand rather than the actual quality of juice that they bottle and sell behind those "brands"...

Obviously it is much harder for the little guy to succeed in our current inflated and spendy whiskey industry but, I am more interested in less propaganda and more substance from these Craft Distillery Brands.

Especially once they are finally bought up buy huge liquor conglomerates, in which one would think turns into more spending power, and they can now try and go after much bigger markets because they just can't get away with brainwashing the locals anymore.....

Now after all that word vomit

I got a text from my buddy Cascade Lesage who is a local Colorado fellow bourbon enthusiast that I often geek out about whiskey with. He asked me if I wanted to attend a invite only event with him at Stranahan's for a evening of tasting through 6 unique Cask Strength barrels.

Being the "craft whiskey" hater and whiskey douche that I am, I could not pass up on such a great opportunity to taste Stranahan's in its natural unadulterated state.

While we walked up to the event we both were pretty surprised at the turn out. He said he's never seen more than 30 people at these Stranahan's events in the past and I am guessing at least 150 showed up to this Cask Thief Event.

We were definitely at the back of the line and waited at least 35 minutes to get in.

As we walked in we were each handed gift bags with a official etched Stranahan's Glencairn Whiskey Glass and a booklet briefing us on the evening and barrels we will be sampling with some space to write down our own personal tasting notes.

Once swagged up with or gift bags we made our way through the rackhouse towards the barrel sampling room. We were met by a crowd of people already sampling the barrels, some tunes from a live band, and the aromas of oak barrels accompanied by the engulfing aura of a pig roast catered by Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market in Boulder, CO.

Before my first glass was even poured I'm thinking to myself "Damn, the Stranny Crew really knows how to throw a gathering"!!!

When we finally got to the barrel room we checked the layout of whats going on. They had 6 barrels throughout the room with in which I am assuming would be distillers and/or other employees pulling samples straight from the barrel via a thief.


Call me a weirdo, but it is very romantic to watch your sample being pulled straight from the barrel and into the glass. True farm to table.


The 2016 Stranahan's Cask Thief Event
Here are some descriptions on the barrels sampled via Stranahan's and my own personal tasting notes that I wrote down while sampling


THE K-STREET OG 

130'ish proof. "6 years and 8 months, this was one of the first barrels filled when Stranahan's moved to the new and present distillery in 2009".

This was the first whiskey I sampled at the event and honestly the K-SOG was absolutely beautiful. It came out of the barrel at around 130 proof and was dark, damp, dank, syrupy, and luscious. 

Great viscosity and oily mouthful. Fresh-hot toasted peanuts, chewy caramel, warm maple syrup, rich malt, intense butterscotch, and buttered biscuits. 

Tons of toasted oak and sopping wet-musty-earthy wood.

For me, this was an obvious honey barrel. I could nose and chew on this particular whiskey all day and night all while questioning the fact that if Stranahan's has barrels like this in their wheelhouse why the hell don't they utilize it to there advantage and sell one-off, single barrel, cask strength bottling's instead of worrying about lame, local, fuddy-duddy, and muddled blends!?!?!?!

THE FORGOTTEN 

112'ish proof. "5 year mismarked and misplaced barrel. This cask deserved to be rediscovered"!

I was a fan of this barrel and it was Cas's favorite of the 6. Right away he said bananas as my palate was also already on its way to banana bread pudding, bananas foster, rich caramel and walnuts. 

I also noticed a slight vegetal thing that was reminiscent to green coffee beans. Thinner than the K-SOG but still warming, oily, and syrupy in its own right. Good Stuff!

THE 3 YEAR OLD 

113'ish proof. "2016 was our inaugural launch of the Stranahan's single barrel program. While selecting single barrel casks we discovered this 3 year old barrel whose taste was so spectacular that we just couldn't part with it. It is kept locked away and is only brought out for special events at the distillery".

This whiskey was my least favorite of the 6 barrel flight of the night but definitely better than any everyday Stranahan's yellow label bottle I have sampled. It was hot, raw, grainy, and green. Very herbaceous and vegetal. Green pea-pods and alcohol vapor danced and danced!!! Had some scotch-like smoke.

THE BUSTED BARREL 

113'ish proof. "A 3 year old cask of our original whiskey, the lower volume of this leaky barrel creates greater liquid-to-surface ration, creating darker, chewier version of our batch whiskey".

Some abuse did this barrel justice. It is a young 3 years but somehow half the bottle leaked out and the whiskey came out quite delicious. Strong-musty-charred-tannic-oak. Rich vanilla bean and butterscotch. Thick and oily, with tons of tree sap. 

THE OLOROSO

112'ish proof. "Our 40 year old, 500 liter used sherry Oloroso cask delivered to us from the coasts of Spain, filled with Stranahans whiskey, aged 3 years, and cask finished in this Oloroso barrel for 2 years; this is old world finishing at its finest!"

Personally, I am a sucker for anything sherry and cognac barrel  finished and in that notion I believe the very best wine cask finished whiskies are done at a minimum of 2 years in the secondary barrel. 

Some brands secondary cask finishes are only for a few months to a year and in my opinion that is just simply not a enough time to really get those enveloping elements of the secondary oak.

That being said, luckily this whiskey has been chilling for 2 years in a huge Oloroso barrel and it did the 3 year old original new world Stranahan's distillate a world of old world goodness! 

An absolute berry bomb. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, sip'n sherry, cook'n sherry, and chocolate all fight to be upfront. Thick and rich in which this pour would make for a great after dinner or desert dram. 

THE RUM BARREL

113'ish proof. "Why is the rum always gone!? - a famous fictional pirate once asked. And good for us that it is, because that empty rum barrel became the perfect home four our Stranahans Whiskey Pirate Cask".

This barrel was ok. I preferred it over THE 3 YEAR OLD but it fell in line behind the other 4 offerings. It came off a little raw, grainy, and green just like the 3 yr old with the addition of some sweetness. Small traces of raisins and figs that I really had to dig around for. 

Pretty yeasty which turned into a stale rum raisin bread topped with a schmear of hardened-cold butter for me. High levels of alcohol vapor wafting out of the glass.

IN CONCLUSSION

I had a great time at Stranahan's for the 2016 Cask Thief Event. They threw a great party that really showcased what they have going on behind closed doors. I had the chance to pick Patrick's brain for a bit whom I believe was one of the distillers and we managed to get a little FaceTime with Rob himself while our Uber driver impatiently waited for us in the parking lot.


We asked both guys what the destiny of these 6 barrels possibly would be and if and when we'll see these barrels and/or barrels like them brought to the public at single barrel-cask strength iterations in the future and in which it doesn't seem like that will be happening just yet!?!?!?!?!

It seemed like they were more interested in keeping these barrels at the distillery for themselves, family, friends, and top clients rather than sell some truly solid whiskey in its complete natural form to public.

I'd personally do the exact same thing if forced to be in that unpleasant and taxing situation and decision making process...

This party may or may have not been a replacement for the annual Fathers Day Snowflake release so maybe a small outside chance they may or may not be blended into a Snowflake bottling. If so, keep it cask strength Stranahan's,
please!

I would love to absolutely love Stranny's distillate after seeing the possibilities of what is resting in Stranahan's rackhouses.

I personally think they are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to promote current boring blended Stranahan's offerings and shelf turds to date because it seems like to me that they have a few absolute gems marinating off of the highway in downtown Denver!!!

Cheers, Alex

#greatEventStranahans #my #opinion #doesnt #matter #not #bashing #honest #constructive #criticism  #bottle #and #sell #the #good #stuff @ #cask #strength #barrelproof #single #barrel #like #everyone #else #does #pro #consumer #drinker #drunk #hoarder #collector #snob #douche







Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2014 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon




As I sit here stuffing my mouth with spoonfuls upon spoonfuls of the absolute wonderful Trader Joes Speculous Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Butter while being forced to watch the bachelorette #JOJO, I also happen to be having a pour from a mini sample bottle of the 2014 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.

I am really enjoying this cookie & cocoa butter and I'd love to go into further details about all the wonderful nuances that its bringing to my palate right now, but this isn't fat camp.

This is a bourbon blog...

Sooooooooo, I guess I must talk about bourbon.

2014 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 12 Years Old, 97 Proof:

At First Sight: A deepish-golden honey

On the Nose: Shellac-lacquer right off the bat followed up by some maraschino cherry juice, thick maple syrup, and heavy cinnamon. Settles at some toasted oak, but also reminds me of a bonfire.

Smells very dry, backboned by a very faint nuttiness.

On the Palate: Swedish fish!!! Candies galore: gummy bears, strawberry candies, and more swedish feaaaash!! After the gummy and red fruit candies subside I can find some dried banana chips, a decent amount of caramel, and some typical bourbon barrel spices and dark sugars..

Way sweeter on the sip than the nose would have lead me to believe. I also found a little bit of citrus and some tobacco leaf.

Overall: Very thin and light on the sip. This 2014 Birthday Bourbon is not a stage 12 clinger. It dissolves very-very quickly on my palate.

While I don't think this is worst of the Birthday Bourbon releases, it is also not my favorite.

It's long gone off of store shelves and the only way to be found is at secondary prices and/or trades. If you can get a deal on one or get it as a sweetener in a trade, GREAT!!!

However, don't go and trade the farm to acquire one...

Now back to my cookie butter and the bachelorette #JOJO!!!

Cheers, Alex @bourbonboomed

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

John E. Fitzgerald Larceny



I'm not much of a historian. I know a fair amount of "bourbon" history because of my passion and love for the brown juice and if you ever have the unfortunate circumstance of meeting me, I'll tell you everything I know about bourbon... 

So be prepared, it'll take a long time and a lot of whiskey, I am so sorry....

John E. Fitzgerald is a huge player in being a bourbon forefather, a bourbon God, a bourbon pioneer, a bourbon swindler, and somewhat of a bourbon thief in our beloved bourbon history. 

I am not here to tell you about Johnny Fitz, do a little digging if you're not in the know and you'll be able to figure it out.  The Old Fitz Brand started out at Stitzel Weller and has changed hands a few times and in which the brand is obviously now owned by Heaven Hill...

John E Fitzgerald Larceny, 92 Proof:

At First Sight: Beautiful dark-rich caramel.

On the Nose: For me, things get weird right off the bat. Alcohol vapor, alcohol vapor, and more alcohol vapor. Followed up by some hay, damp wood, and settles at some maraschino cherry juice with even more alcohol vapor. I get a ton of raw corn sweetness..

I really have to hunt through the corn and alcohol vapor to get a whiff of a little bit of cinnamon and a small amount of vanilla and caramel. I also get a gnarly lacquer-shellac thing that I am not about. One more thing, more alcohol vapor!!!!

On the Palate: For me, things don't get much better. Right off the bat, I just get corn sweetness. I thought this was a wheater?!?!? Wheres the citrus, spice, and dark red fruits?

After I sip and swirl in my mouth: more corn sweetness. A very sweet and savory thing. This pour kind of reminds me of a 14 yr Dickel I have tasted that I said reminded me of mac and cheese.

Kind of hot, even though its only 92 proof. A tad bit of cinnamon and other barrel spices in which I am more than ready and expecting since wheaters get more spicy than more sweet for my personal palate but this whiskey is pretty much cloyingly corn-heavy-sweet to me.

I don't get a lot of vanilla nor much caramel. I just got a ton of burnt butterscotch, some old BBQ sauce, and more corn sweetness. luckily, I get all that wonderful alcohol vapor that I raved about earlier(womp-womp)!!!

Overall: I am bummed. I really wanted to love larceny. I am a Heaven Hill #FANBOY through and through but Larceny doesn't do anything for me...

In the glass and in the bottle Larceny is gorgeous. A very inviting rich color. Larceny also has a great, rich, thick viscosity, and enveloping mouthfeel. However, the flavors just aren't there for me. Pretty boring bourbon. I expected a lot more...

Buffalo Trace Murders the Wheated Bourbon Game and Makers Mark is making some moves to try and catch up. 

Luckily, Heaven Hill does everything else well because so far there modern everyday wheater game is lacking!!

Hey Heaven Hill, bump the proof up above 100'ish and mellow out the ever alcohol vapor and you'd have a winner-winner chicken dinner in my honest opinion, not that it matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheers, Alex @bourbonboomed 






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Bourbon & Bacon Fest Denver and Stewards Solera



Recently, I attended the 2016 Bourbon and Bacon Fest in Denver at The Fillmore...

This was my first year attending this event and I am of the understanding its in the third or fourth year running. I heard about it later than I should have. I don't know how, but I found out about it two days before and the VIP tickets were long sold out... 

I reached out to as many people as possible that I knew in the beer, whiskey, wine, and hospitality industries in Boulder/Denver to scrounge up VIP access with zero success...

Regardless I was going, VIP or no VIP...

When I arrived at the Fillmore in my LYFT from Union Station since I public transit'd it from Boulder(maintaining a healthy global footprint aka Boulder) I was pretty surprised at the long line waiting to get it..

I thought to my self, "damn.. this many people are into Bourbon in the area and are they as obsessed about it as I am!?!?!"...

The answer is yes and yes!!!!

So I walked my happy ass to the back of the line and people watched for about 40 minutes while I waited for the line to start moving... 

I laughed to myself because I looked like such a loser in line all by myself. Everyone was coupled up, bro'd up, or family'd up. I prefer to go to these events alone so I can shake hands, kiss babies, and most importantly enjoy and break down some whiskey in the corner like a weirdo all by myself!!!

I must say #girlpower... A lot of woman were at the event slug'n bourbon, cheers to that!!!! While waiting in line I met a mother/daughter combo enjoying the event and we chatted about local whiskey and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail...

Tons of food offerings presented by local chefs, restaurant groups, and other food concepts with the obvious bourbon and bacon themes, it all smelled great, but I was there for the bourbon..

I don't know the exact amount of the bottles that were being poured, but definitely a good amount. 

Lines were long at first but eventually fizzled out as time went on. I waited 30 minutes for a pour of Weller 12 and 107, but my buddy Buzz from Hazels gave me the ticket and he was working the Buffalo Trace booth say I had to thank him and say whats up!!!

I pretty much sampled all of the mainstream bourbons in house, I also sampled most of the craft whiskeys but passed on a few because I just wasn't interested. I also ended up with 3 glasses, so that helped me knock out many birds with few stones, haha!!!

However, I saw a booth set up with a bourbon I've been somewhat intrigued with for the last few months and stared at it from afar when passing it on the store shelves..

That company and Bourbon is Stewards Solera 100 Proof Whiskey

I've perv'd it on the shelf for the last year or so and I've also read Josh's review at RW&B Stewards Solera countless times, and the credentials inside the bottle have theoretically always looked good. 

But, I've yet to pull the trigger.. So I walked up to the booth and got a pour. I wasn't expecting much, but as I let it breathe, I was like this is pretty solid...

Caramel, vanilla, spice, doesn't seem very young or old, lots of layers, kind of rough around the edges but balanced at the same time...

I was like WTF, I need to get another pour of this. So thats exactly what I did. Than I went into a corner and broke down the glass and decided I was a fan so far... After two pours I went back up to the Stewards Solera booth grabbed my third pour and struck up a conversation with Rich Anders. 

Rich and I chatted it up for about 20 minutes, he never broke his stride pouring samples for others, luckily they had two guys(I believe the other was Kevin, sorry if I am wrong) at the booth pouring samples and talking about the brand...

Rich talked about the 8 different whiskeys and where they came from that are all used in the blends. 

He chatted about the blends and programs they do now, and the type of the stuff they plan on doing in the near future... In-house distilling is a progression Rich talked about, but for now they're sourcing great barrels of bourbon direct from the distillers, we'd all be jumping through hoops to get, and Rich is pumping out some pretty awesome blends with those tasty, popular, sought after whiskeys...

I was also fortunate to chat with some local people that came up to me and said they read the blog, so that was cool, and I took them all over to the Stewards Solera booth and said it was my favorite at the event, not like that actually means anything though!!!

The one and only person to ever comment on a post of mine, Cascade LeSage and I met at the event and now we talk bourbon all the time together, Cheers brother!!!

Overall.... great event Denver, "I'll be back" - The Arnold 


Cheers, Alex @bourbonboomed






Wednesday, March 2, 2016

W.L. Weller 12 I love you



Before I even get into my tasting notes, I just want to say that I flat out L.O.V.E. Weller 12 bourbon..

It's one bottling I hope to never be without. For my money and my thought process, I could do no better. It has everything I look for in a bourbon. Oaky, sweet, spiced, fruity, creamy goodness.

I am sure by now, if you are into bourbon, you know Weller 12's juice is the same juice thats in the current bottling of Van Winkle 12 yr just the less "choice or premium barrels". However, those passed over barrels by the Van Winkles and Company still contain some absolute fantastic juice.

Obviously Buffalo Trace murders the wheated bourbon game, no contest!!!

W.L. Weller 12yr 90 Proof:

At First Sight: A beautiful rich caramel

On the Nose: A solid amount of oak. Very ripe orchard fruits, ripe red apples, carmel apples, fresh cantaloupe, honeydew melon, even more oak, dried cherries, a big amount of nuttiness that is reminiscent to almonds, and ridiculous amounts of vanilla..

I could nose this all day, a lot of good stuff going on here..

On the Palate: Chocolate covered espresso beans, ripe dark-red fruits, everything ripe apples, a slight citrus, extremely buttery, toasted almonds, pecans, peanut butter-chocolate candies, almond cookies, peanut butter cookies, and french vanilla cream...

Overall: Silky smooth. The finish is nice, nutty, and woody, with tons of vanilla, citrus, dark fruit, and a caramel bomb..

Most assume that "wheaters" are sweeter but personally "wheaters" tend to be drier to my palate..

Weller 12 is downright delicious anyway you look at it. Retail is such a good deal($30ish) if you can find it, but with scarcity and the secondary market price rising, grab em while you can. I always have at least a case of W12 in my bunker!!!

This is one bourbon where the nose, palate, mouthfeel, and finish are all extremely well balanced and aligned...Great bourbon!!!

P.S. Some of the best bottles of Weller 12 I've had over the years have been just as good as any current era Buffalo Trace Van Winkle 12. VW12 is just consistently more premium and choice, but not worth the secondary. I'd take Weller 12 all day!!!

Cheers, Alex @bourbonboomed