Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Barrell Whiskey, Batch 004

Ok, Batch 004 of the Barrell Whiskey is here, we have already talked about why it is not Barrell Bourbon. You already know that I love this company! You also know my affection for American Whiskey and how happy I am that BARRELL is releasing these limited editions to show how great American Whiskey can be. This offering is fantastic, but the details are kinda all over the place.
So here is a brief breakdown of what is going on in it from the website:

"Barrell Whiskey 004 was distilled in Indiana and Tennessee and aged for 11 years in used American oak barrels, then finished in rum casks and rye barrels and bottled in Kentucky at 120.6 proof. We selected barrels of a Tennessee whiskey and an Indiana whiskey for this batch. Separately, the two whiskeys were finished in either rum casks left over from Barrell Rum Batch 001 production, or rye barrels to add structure and spice. We made four combinations: Tennessee whiskey finished in rum casks, Tennessee whiskey finished in rye barrels, Indiana whiskey finished in rum casks, and Indiana whiskey finished in rye barrels. We then selected and blended a number of barrels of both whiskeys with both finishes to create something really special."

Did you get all that? Wow.

~~~BARRELL Whiskey Batch 004:
~ Cask strength American Whiskey
~ Distilled in Indiana and Tennessee
~ Crafted and bottled in Kentucky
~ First in previously used American Oak
~ Finished in rum casks and rye barrels
~ 11 years aging before finishing
~ 120.6 proof {uncut, un-colored, non-chill-filtered}
~ Mash bill is corn, rye & malted barley

Batch 004 shows roasted fruits, creamy spice, tropical air and exotic aromas dance with traditional flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, toasty grains with fabulous balance and grace. A fun, complex and lovely whiskey.

The aromas lead with wet wood, stewed yellow apple, hard peach, tropical & citrus fruits and vanilla cream dusted with spice and powdered sugar. It is sharp, crisp, sweet, balanced and inviting.

The flavors show wound up spices that unfurl to a brisk, vibrant mouthfeel and candied fruits resolving at toasty grains and woody tones.

The finish fades restating all the fun beginning with a bitter snap that quickly transitions into spices that slowly fade back into the fruits, lingering on in wood nuance with supple savory hints; overall a sumptuous experience that needed to be repeated.
*Barrell Whiskey (Bourbon and Rum) was founded by Joe Beatrice; they are committed to unique offerings with exceptional quality to connect each Batch offering. They tell their story on the website, check it out.

The website is fun. Check out reviews (or post your own) and there are details on every offering that they have released and how / where to find them: Here is the address: http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

Monday, March 6, 2017


From their website:

"Uncut, straight from the barrel without chill filtering, the nose, taste, and finish created by twelve years of aging are preserved in their simplest form. At full barrel proof, you can enjoy Elijah Craig much the same way our Master Distillers do when they sample straight from the barrel in our Kentucky rickhouses. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a bold and honest expression of what charred oak barrel aging can do for Bourbon, from the man who originated the process.

Reality: Varies by Release
Barrel Proof Batches

Each batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is an uncut Small Batch of 12-year-old Bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. The variance in proof from batch to batch presents a unique opportunity to explore the impact of the angel's share and the resulting proof in a small batch of barrels.

The first letter of the batch number indicates which of that year's releases the bottle was a part of starting with "A", while the second digit is a number that determines the month of the year the bottle was released. The third and fourth digits indicate the year".

Absolutely honest and direct.

Now, I am going to throw in my two cents. This is a fantastic deal on high-quality bourbon. I have had multiple Barrel Proof Elijah Craig and they were always great. I am glad that Heaven Hill moved to this concept and think you will be too.

Since they are all different (yet readily available), I am not going to post detailed tasting notes, but here are quick notes from the small sample I had.

So the ONE I am tasting is from Jan 2017---
N: High, tight fruit candy/hard candy.oak, dried flowers, and stone fruit

T: Follows the nose that with emphasizes vibrant, spices and round fruit

F: The finish carries on with the aroma and flavor structure with a touch of warming alcohol made even more vivacious against strong the wood tones.

Great bourbon for fans of higher proof. Be careful when adding water, it is really easy to put this bourbon to sleep. That being said, I am sure it would sing with a bit of ice or in a lovely cocktail.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stark Spirits!

So a couple of weeks ago, doing research for the Rum Rhum Club that is coming up on Sunday, 2/26/17 , I got to visit a distillery in Pasadena California, Stark Spirits.
They make Rum of course, but they also make Aquavit, Whiskey and an Orange Brandy called SUNSHINE (plus a few other things they are working on).
I'm going to talk, briefly, about the products that will be at RRC and squeeze a few pictures I took of the setup.
This is Gregory Stark the Master Distiller
The main still
 Since this was research for Rum Rhum Club we started on the rums and the most popular rum is probably 'Stark Spirits California Silver 151 Rum'. They call it "California style overproof rum" and actually that is really accurate. The quality of this high proof, double distilled rum still shines through and maintains clean, natural aroma and rum flavor. It is made from molasses and pure cane sugar. This rum will surprise you with its drinkability. it’s very dry, with crisp citrus zest and clean blossoms that carry along into the palate and not overtaken by the alcoholic strength.

The standard offering of 'Stark Spirits California Silver Rum' is also fantastic. it comes in at 86 proof and shows the excellent character of the rum at an easier, less flammable ABV. At this lower proof, more fruit tones come forward and it is very easy to see how this could be easily sipped or mixed with simple mixers (soda, tonic, ICE) or put in a variety of cocktails
Some of the barrels that are aging rum and whiskey
Greg enjoys crafting his 'California Rum', but I think he may be especially proud of the 'Stark Spirits California Gold Rum'. Easy to sip, with aromas vanilla, caramel, and a touch of earthy sugarcane and sweet flavor that follow and build to include cooking spice, chocolate, tropical fruit and articulated sugar. Very nice.

More barrels and the bottling machine
The next one I'll mention is so good. I grew up picking oranges off of the neighbor's trees and eating more oranges than anyone I know. 'Sunshine Orange Brandy' is totally unique! I have been talking to my distiller friends for years trying to get them to make an Eau de Vie de from Orange, it seems PERFECTLY California. Stark nails it. Not sweet, no sugar added, just a wonderful spirit of the orange. Sunshine Orange Brandy is made completely from oranges and their juice and nothing else. The oranges are locally grown Valencia oranges. The sweetness of oranges, with the bitter notes you find in the peel and mysterious hints of spicy clove and high-toned flowers add intrigue and excitement to the flavors. Every aspect of this is bright, fresh and zesty packed into a 100 proof 100% orange spirit that is perfectly named.
The last little treat we are showcasing at Rum Rhum Club is the 'Stark Traditional Aquavit'. This aquavit uses only caraway and grains of paradise to achieve its flavorful characteristics and aromas. It is perfect served frozen, neat with any kind of food. The smell is creamy caraway with flavors that follow, building to include notes of spicy grains, clean pepper and a lovely slight implication of sweetness.

To check more about Starks Spirits, go to http://starkspirits.com/

If you are in Los Angeles on Sunday, 2/26/17 join us for Rum Rhum Club .

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rum Fire, "Flavor on full"! or "Taste the Base!"

Rum Fire, to talk about it I'm going to go back a few years and tell you how I found it. Sitting on the patio outside of the Broken Shaker, I was sitting with a bunch of friends that were all in Miami for the Rum

Renaissance Festival and somebody pulled out a flask of Rum Fire and we all took a sip. Every one of us was impressed, amazed and intrigued. We wondered why this wasn't available in America and how beautiful Rum Fire was; it's huge Jamaican style rum, pungent aromatics. amazing structure, elegant depth and lovely warmth, or the best of everything you expect an excellent Jamaican overproof rum.

So that was a few years ago and every chance I've had since then, I've enjoyed Rum Fire. Usually neat, maybe with some ice, but that's how I am. Fortunately, I recently received a bottle from a friend and I was at home, so I made some cocktails and of course, Rum Fire held up brilliantly. Obviously, it blends perfectly with fruit juices because of the nature of it higher-proof, its intricate aromas, and its lovely full body; it stands up to sugar for the very same reasons. Because of how Rum Fire melds with juices and sugars it makes it an obvious addition to a variety of tiki drinks. Wild, fragrant, beautiful, ornate, elaborate drinks are no problem, Rum Fire will shine through.

Photo by Nicholas Feris

Jamaican Valet

1 oz. Rum Fire Overproof Rum
1 oz. Amargo-Vallet
1 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. simple, or gum syrup (optional/ adjust)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass, top with soda (or tonic)
Garnish with lime

The surprise was making 'traditional' style cocktails using rum a bitter modifier maybe a little sweetener or sweetening modifier, chilled and served in a classic glassware. I love those kinds of drinks, and my goodness I was floored immediately; I could see Rum Fire substituting for any huge gin immediately, I could see it marrying with vermouth's, amaro's, bitters, Sherry, or Port. All these things that are components to classically structured vintage cocktails--the kind of drinks not normally associated with an unaged, over-proof rum. Discussing this with my friend who gave me the bottle of Rum Fire, he coined the phrase "Taste the base".
Photo by Nicholas Feris

Heated Conversation

1 ½ oz. Rum Fire Overproof Rum
1 oz. Fino sherry
1 ½ oz. Amaro Montenegro

Stir with ice
strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with orange zest

That is -to me- the foundation of an elegantly structured classic cocktail; a cocktail that's built around a foundation spirit and augmented to amplifies the depth and breadth of the flavors without diminishing, or clashing with, the beauty of the base. Rum Fire is a perfect way to make these incredibly complex cocktails because of the immensity of the flavors in the foundation spirit. Anyways, here are a couple of cocktails that I came up with using fairly simple ratios that had fantastic results. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

While I was getting this ready to post, I noticed that Mixology Monday coming up and that this went perfectly with the subject that was presented by Stacy Markow at http://www.stacymarkow.com/.
Both of these drink utilize and could be utilized as a digestif
 Here is the link to the recap: http://www.stacymarkow.com/2016/12/27/mixology-monday-digestif-roundup/

Fantastic tour/history: http://www.therumcollective.com/2012/01/past-and-present-tour-of-hampden-estate.html
Their Website: http://www.h
Here is a great piece by my buddy Steve: https://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/2016/08/26/friday-happy-hour-the-tempestuous-trelawny-daiquiri/
Here another nice bit about the distillery that Rum Fire comes from http://rumconnection.com/hampden-estate/