Why my Bottles are (Almost) Never Full

Scotch CollectionIf you peruse through my reviews (that sounded cool, right?) you’ll notice that a lot of my images show bottles that are opened; sometimes with one drink vacant, sometimes completely vacant except for one drink.  There are reasons for that.

First and foremost, I like my blog photos to be real.  Oftentimes when I’m searching through other whiskey review blogs (and yes, I do that quite often), I’ll notice that the reviewer just took the bottle shot straight from the distiller’s website or good old Google images.  Certainly not an arrestable offense, but it gets me thinking.  It brings up the question of authenticity.  Did the reviewer even buy a bottle of the whiskey in question, or did he have a sip at the bar and decide to write the review?  This is a wild allegation I’m sure, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind.

Now, let’s pretend that the blogger in question did in fact pick up a bottle.  Why didn’t they take a picture?  I think that having your own picture of the whiskey you are reviewing makes it a little more your own rather that just some words on a website.

Okay, so clearly I like pretty pictures.  Aside from that, why are my bottles (almost) never full?  The best answer that I can come up with is because I drink them.  Plain and simple.  Whiskey is meant to be drunk, and anybody showcasing a picture of an unopened bottle is showing me that they are collecting – which is fine; to each their own.  Just not my thing.

As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into my personal obsession with whiskey, I have come to learn that it is a living thing.  It is intended to be analyzed and spoken about but most importantly it is meant to be enjoyed.  Anybody who “collects” whiskey is missing out on the most fundamental part of its existence.

So bloggers – take pictures of your bottles.  Make sure you crack it open and let it breathe with you.  Your whiskey is getting lonely without you.



Glenmorangie Lasanta Scotch – Review

Glenmorangie LaSanta 12 Year Old ScotchGlenmorangie Lasanta 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

92 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Glenmorangie Distillery



I bought my bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta as one of six bottles I picked up for my wife for Christmas.  I know, I know, that sounds a bit ridiculous.  Who needs six brand new bottles of Scotch?  Well, I used the holidays as an excuse to splurge on some bottles I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.  Lasanta is an expression I had yet to try, and I enjoy other sherried whiskies, so why not?



Surprisingly, the nose on this isn’t typical of whisky.  It’s much more identifiable as red wine.  Although matured for ten years in ex-bourbon casks, Lasanta spends two whole years in Oloroso sherry casks, as compared to several months like the Balvenie.

I really enjoy the taste of Lasanta.  Although I’m not a wine drinker in any way, it’s great to have a change of pace from the typical flavors of Scotch.  The sherry is the star of the show here.

For a 92 proof whisky, there’s a little bit of a burn on the back-end of Lasanta.  It really feels like the aftertaste of a red wine, which to me is really interesting.


Rating & Recommendations

Glenmorangie Lasanta is really interesting whisky, and by far the most sherried Scotch I have ever tasted, earning itself a rating of 87 out of 100.

Enjoy this stuff neat – you’ll want the full flavor of the sherry.

Sometimes you take a gamble on a whisky at the store, and it pays off.  I think I made out pretty good with my choice of Glenmorangie Lasanta.



How to Make Bourbon Chicken

Bourbon Chicken IngredientsFirst and foremost – I’m not a chef.  In fact, I know very little about cooking and what separates a good dish from a bad dish, aside from my own personal tastes of course.  But, I do enjoy grilling, and in turn I like experimenting on the grill.

My wife and I had my sister over about a week ago, and I was tasked with preparing the food while they chit-chatted.  I had some chicken thawing, but no real plans on how to prepare it.  My sister actually suggested preparing bourbon chicken, and who am I to turn her down?

I started off by taking a 100 ML miniature of Benchmark (one of my favorites) and poured it into a bowl.  Next, I broke out my bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce, and started squirting some into the bowl.  I happen to prefer SBourbon Chicken Mixingweet Baby Ray’s as an all-around barbeque sauce, but I have no idea if other brands would blend better with bourbon.

Mixing the sauce and booze was probably the most difficult part, as the alcohol kept wanting to separate.  It look a little elbow grease, but I eventually got it to blend nicely.

I put the cuts of chicken onto the grill and let them heat up a little bit.  Once they were good and hot, I took a spoon and began globbing (that’s the best verb I can come up with to describe it) the sauce onto the chicken.  Next, I took a grill brush and evened out the sauce across the pieces of chicken.  The bourbon did thin-out the sauce substantially, so I had to take special care not to lose too much of the sauce to the grill.

I noticed that just like regular barbeque sauce, bourbon sauce gets absorbed into the chicken pretty quickly while on the grill.  I ended up using nearly all of the sauce on three good-sized pieces of chicken, which was fine but somewhat unexpected.Bourbon Chicken Applying

I panicked a little bit when I sampled some of the sauce by itself.  It was far too “high proof” and really didn’t taste all that good.  I was nervous that I had ruined the chicken!

Luckily, when I took the chicken off the grill and served it, everything turned out great!  The chicken was moist because of all the sauce that it had absorbed over its time on the grill.  There was a little bite to the chicken, and the bourbon was definitely noticeable.  Bourbon Chicken DeliciousWith a little bit of extra Sweet Baby Ray’s on the side, this was a perfect piece of chicken!

My curiosity is piqued now about the combination between whiskey and food.  I am inspired to experiment more with various bourbons and various sauces.  If I could blindly chance upon a good recipe, who knows what I can do when I have a plan of attack?







Glenfarclas 12 Year Old Scotch – Review

Glenfarclas 12 Year Old ScotchGlenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years

86 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Glenfarclas Distillery



A couple months back, I wrote a review of Ardbeg 10 Year Old, and shared my first experiences with a Scotch flight.  I was immediately turned off by the more intimidating whiskies, like Bunnahabhain or Talisker.  Out of my dad’s collection, I quickly identified with the Glenfarclas line, a series of Highland single malts that are just as flavorful as they are easy to drink.

I haven’t revisited the 12 Year Old all that much since my first introduction, but as my palate has changed, it still holds up as a good one.



The nose is nice on this one.  Full of oak – almost buttery.  There’s a slight sherry aroma, with a little bit of fruit.

Glenfarclas 12 Year Old has a nice taste, but I have to say I like the nose better.  There’s a slight hint of peat, but not enough to make it too interesting.

The finish is medium to long, re-establishing the flavors mentioned previously.


Rating & Recommendations

Overall, Glenfarclas 12 Year Old is a decent Scotch, earning a score of 79 out of 100.

A drop or two of water can really open this stuff up, but it’s just as enjoyable neat to me.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be reviewing the older brothers to this expression; Glenfarclas 17 and 21 Year Old.



World Whiskey – Book Review

World Whiskey BookEditor-in-Chief: Charles MacLean

Written by: Dave Broom, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, Ian Buxton, Charles MacLean, Peter Mulryan, Hans Offringa, Gavin D. Smith

Retail Price: $25.00

Published: October 2009


Here’s a little deviation from the usual Wednesday post – a book review!

Typically I’m forced by my day job in marketing to spend much of my time reading business books.  While I do enjoy learning the skills of my trade, they’re often rather dull and very few of them have pretty pictures to accompany the text.

Being (relatively) new to whiskey, I decided to pick up World Whiskey, a “nation-by-nation guide to the best”.

World Whiskey ConnemaraThe first thing I will tell you is this is not a book of reviews.  If you’re looking to gain some insight into the quality of your favorite whiskey, or want to learn what an expert thinks of the highest rated whiskey in the world, go out and buy a copy of Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.  This book differs in that it is more of a historical record of distilleries, brands, and the art of distillation.  There are reviews alongside the 700+ whiskeys within, but they are brief and objective with no scores attached.

The book begins by introducing the world of whiskey in plain English for both the novice and the connoisseur.  Next, it focuses on the various countries of origin, beginning appropriately with Scotland.  This section takes up roughly half the book, and rightly so since the overwhelming majority of the world’s greatest drink comes from Scotland.  Along with brand profiles are whiskey tour guidelines for the various regions of Scotland, as well as featured distilleries, including Laphroaig, Macallan, and Talisker.

World Whiskey LaphroaigNext, the book ventures on to Ireland, then the United States, Canada, Japan, and a section aptly named “Rest of the World”.  Other featured distilleries are Bushmills, Midleton, Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark, and Yamazaki.  There’s also a Kentucky tour reference guide which I am more and more thinking about using in the not-so-distant future.

What I have really enjoyed about this book thus far is the objective statement of facts across the board.  In an industry that is highly opinionated (you are reading a whiskey review blog, by the way), it’s nice to see a publisher sit back and present the facts without worrying about their own, or the reader’s, opinion.

To me, this book has become vital as a reference when I chance upon a new whiskey and want to learn a little more about the history behind it.  I would strongly suggest purchasing this to anyone who enjoys learning more about aqua vitae.



Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye – Review

Sazerac 18 Year Old RyeSazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – 2009 Release

90 Proof

Price Point: $55 – $65 for 750 ML

Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery



We’ve made it.  You’ve seen my reviews on George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old, Thomas H. Handy, and William Larue Weller, and now it’s time to round out my reviews of Sazerac’s Antique Collection with its most coveted; Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye.

This stuff is good.  I mean really good.  People like myself who aren’t typically keen on rye whiskeys can set their preferences aside and enjoy this stuff.  In each year’s release, this whiskey is consistently rated highest among all whiskeys, usually in the mid-to-high 90s.



I can’t say enough good things about the nose on this whiskey.  It’s very heavy on oak, with hints of cherries and caramel.  Truly a wonderful experience for your nose.

Once you taste this whiskey, even more is revealed to your palate.  The rye really shines here, in a good way (again, even for those who don’t consider themselves rye enthusiasts).

The finish is dry, spicy, and very warming.


Rating & Recommendations

Sazerac 18 Year Old is a unique rye whiskey, fitting perfectly into the Antique Collection portfolio.  Next to Stagg, this is my favorite of the bunch, earning a rating of  92 out of 100.

Unlike most of the other Antique Collection whiskeys, which are cask strength, this one is bottled at a much more manageable 90 proof.  Therefore, I would recommend getting the entire flavor experience out of this whiskey and drink it neat.

This concludes the Antique Collection reviews.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!



Scotch Lesson #4: Age Statements

Jura 10 Year Old Scotch DetailAh yes, the benchmark by which we measure “good” whiskey; age.  When we see a 10, 12, 15, 18, or 21 year old, we immediately assume an ascending level of quality.  At least that’s what we’ve been conditioned to think.

Age statements can tell a story, and certainly aging whiskey is important – but it’s not always the definition of the whiskey’s quality.

A variety of processes prior to aging can affect the whiskey that you drink, but the time spent in the cask is what gives it its color and much of its taste.  Letting a whiskey age in a barrel for an extended period allows the wood of the cask to impart more of its characteristics into the liquid.  It’s generally accepted that this is a good thing, but aging something for too long (especially in a barrel that doesn’t marry well with the whiskey) won’t always produce a desirable end-product.

You should also take into consideration the price, and cost, of the longer-aged whiskey.  Clearly while browsing your local liquor store, you’ll notice that older whiskeys are typically more expensive.  But why is that?  As any business-person could tell you, keeping inventory in your warehouse is expensive.  Now multiply the average shelf time of an average stocked good (let’s say one year) and multiply it by the age of the whiskey.  That’s a pretty considerable investment!

In addition to the cost of holding the inventory, there is also an inevitable loss of liquid during the maturation process – this is known as the “angel’s share”.  I have an old bottle of Glenlivet 18 Year Old that has an interesting anecdote on the back label.  “From time to time a cask is tasted and considered so special that it is left in its dark cellar to rest a little longer.  Its time will come, say the distillers.  This superb whisky was drawn from such casks, after more than eighteen long years.  In this time more than a third of the contents have evaporated – ‘gone to the angels’, say the Scots.”  Not only do those casks remain in the warehouse for eighteen years, but they lose one third of the whiskey without any payment!

I really enjoy Glenlivet 18 Year Old, and to me it is surely a step above the 12 Year Old, but not all whiskey is created equal.  Some young whiskeys will defy the odds and achieve a superior quality despite their youth.  Take Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey for example.

The main point is, aging is an important part of understanding good whiskey, but not the only factor.  You should determine your preferences based on the taste of what’s in your glass, not the label on the bottle.

Class dismissed!



William Larue Weller Bourbon – Review

William Larue Weller BourbonWilliam Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 2009 Release

134.8 Proof

Price Point: $55 – $65 for 750 ML

Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery



If you’re keeping up with my blog, you’ll notice that the past three weeks’ reviews have been from Sazerac’s Antique Collection.  I have reviewed George T. Stagg, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old, and Thomas H. Handy.  Today I’m reviewing William Larue Weller, an uncut/unfiltered bourbon named for a pioneer of bourbon distillation (replacing wheat for rye in the mash bill).

Admittedly I’m a sucker for wheated whiskeys, with some of my favorites being Bernheim Original (which is not a bourbon) and Maker’s MarkWeller is definitely in a league of its own both because of its proof and its flavor.



The nose is smooth, bold, and captivating.  Cinnamon and maple syrup are probably the most discernible.

The first sip is shocking!  When you’re nosing this whiskey, it seems very inviting.  When you sip this whiskey, it pushes you back a little bit and reminds you that it’s 67.4% alcohol!  Once you become accustomed to the burn, you’ll pick up a sugar-filled flavor which is absolutely influenced by the presence of wheat in the ingredients mix.

The aftertaste is long and spicy.


Rating & Recommendations

William Larue Weller is a wonderful whiskey; a wheated bourbon with plenty of character and flavor earning a score of 87 out of 100.

Do yourself a favor and add a splash of water to this stuff.  No need to drink it neat, but don’t freeze it by putting ice in it.

Next week will be my final Antique Collection review; Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye.



Learning About Whiskey

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year Old Scotch DetailWhen it comes to whiskey, I am an amateur.

Sure, I run a blog about whiskey, I’ve sampled a good amount of them, and I have a higher level of whiskey knowledge than the average Joe.  But, when I step back and think about everything out there that I do not know, it’s pretty humbling.

Recently, I’ve been compiling a list of the whiskeys I have tried.  At the moment, my number is 125.  To some that seems like a lot (and it is!).  But to me, it’s just scratching the surface.  When you compare that number to the number of whiskeys available worldwide, I doubt I’ve even touched 1%.  On one hand, it’s terrifying to think that the research that I do accounts for a microcosm of whiskey culture as a whole.  On the other hand, it’s really encouraging to know that there’s so much more out there, and I have the rest of my life to soak up that information – and the whiskey itself, I suppose.

Have you ever written a list of the whiskeys you have sampled?  Better yet, have you made your “bucket list” of whiskeys that you would like to sample?  Let me know in the comments!



Thomas H. Handy Rye – Review

Thomas H. Handy RyeThomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey – 2009 Release

129 Proof

Price Point: $55 – $65 for 750 ML

Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery



The past two weeks, I have posted reviews from Sazerac’s Antique Collection.  In case you missed it, I reviewed George T. Stagg first and Eagle Rare 17 Year Old second.  Both are bourbons and very good bourbons at that.

Thomas H. Handy differs greatly.  This is one of two rye whiskeys in the Antique Collection, with the other being the unmistakable Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye.  This rye, however, is different than your average rye.  Clearly the proof is a little intimidating, at 129 (64.5%).  But, that doesn’t mean you only taste the alcohol.  It actually packs that much more flavor, creating a nose, taste, and finish unlike any other.



Taking a whiff of Handy is overwhelming.  It’s packed with all kinds of dessert scents; candy corn, apple pie, and cake frosting.  Truly a nose for your sweet-tooth.

The taste is big, bold, and sweet!  My dad has described this whiskey as “a taste of Christmas”.  And by that, he means that, as the nose suggests, it’s full of holiday treats.  I’m not a huge fan of rye whiskey, but this one doesn’t highlight the rye like many of its peers do.

The burn will stay with you for a bit, but fade along with the sweetness of the taste.


Rating & Recommendations

Thomas H. Handy is a great whiskey, but far too intense (in both proof and flavor) to be enjoyed more than a couple times a year.  I give this rye whiskey an 82 out of 100.

It’s pretty tough drinking this stuff neat, but I think ice would freeze the flavor a bit.  A splash of water cools the burn while keeping the flavors intact.

Stay tuned next week for my review of William Larue Weller Bourbon.