Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel #922 pick for Warehouse Liquors in Chicago

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsRegion – Kentucky  – Special pick by Gene at Warehouse Liquors – Single Barrel # 922 Rick House “N” – Floor 5-3-3, 55% ABV (multiply ABV x 2 to get “proof” – I really prefer the use of ABV, less multiplication, and more direct – come on America!!!).

Number of bottles ??  Cost: $55

I bought this bottle on the suggestion of Warehouse Liquors store proprietor, Gene.  If you’re ever in Chicago, Warehouse Liquors is a sight for sore whisk(e)y eyes. Like Binny’s, Kenwood, Antioch (and many others… the list could go on, really), Warehouse Liquors is a whisk(e)y destination that helps put Chicago on the map.  Beyond the store itself (300+ ‘Murrican whiskeys, and 650+ single malt whiskies, Scotch and otherwise), it is Gene himself that puts Warehouse liquors on the map. A fountain of knowledge, that one.

Ok, so, the whiskey…  I have never, ever, been a fan of the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels.  Most people love these releases but it tends to not fit my flavor profile.  Each to their own, right?

However, Gene is one of those in the whisky industry that I trust.  His knowledge, his taste, etc… He’s been able to gauge my palate pretty well, and he’s done so in a fairly quick fashion. So, when he suggested I buy this RR SB that he picked, I said no (the first time).  Did I mention that I just don’t like RR SBs?

Then I came back to Chicago this week, and he pressed me again. Who am I to say no to someone a second time?  Sometimes you just gotta say…

So, against my better judgement based on the releases I prefer to stay aware from, but in favor of my judgement on Gene, his selections, and suggestions based on his knowledge of my palate, I pressed ahead and got a bottle.

My thoughts?  Funny you should ask…

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsOn the nose — The first note is big, and it is buttered popcorn (and not a bowl of cherries, as I assume to be smacked with when it comes to the RR SBs).  

The nose is a little hot, which is to be expected (potentially) given the 55 ABV%.  After a couple minutes in the glass, the heat goes away (far away), and I detect cooked tangerine skins, citrus pith, crushed vanilla pods and soft oak.  

Surprisingly, given that this is a #4 char (which is a heavy char, by the way), I’m not smacked in the face with oak. This makes me happy as the grains are fully present here, as are bourbon soaked cherries (subtle note, and yum!).

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsThere’s a cologne note here, too.  Elegant.  Not Axe, not old spice, something old worldy.  

Wow, now there’s a note of turkish delights, too (rose water, pistachio and powdered sugar). Call me happy so far!

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsIn the Mouth — *Easy* entry, oily mouthfeel.  Slightly herbaceous but balanced by candied orange peel and stewed fruits.  

I can not stress this enough – the mouthfeel is fantastically unctuous.

Because this is not smacking you with oak, this whiskey demands that you focus on the grains.  So, let’s do that, shall we?  

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsThere’s a corn sweetness here that makes me pine for autumn.  Subtle rye spice, hints of caraway.  Maraschino cherries (real homemade ones, not that jarred stuff you find everywhere).

Finish — Hints of citrus, spice and soft oak. Slightly tannic, and medium in length.

In sum — Either I’m starting to dig RR SBs or I’ve found two this year that I like (the other being from Gordon’s Fine Wines out of MA – review to follow shortly-ish).  

What I really enjoyed about this one was that it wasn’t all wood and cherries.  This is complex, and a fine pick that brings you out of your bourbon-comfort zone, and challenges you.  Not that bourbons aren’t challenging.  Rather, the oak tends to make flavors dense.  And with this one, it’s all about the grain with oak as a component instead of a dictator.  This one is a drinker and worth the $$ paid, no doot aboot it.

Thanks for pushing me, Gene.  You were right.  Great barrel selection!

1995 Imperial single cask # 50145, bottled by Signatory

 

Region – Speyside – 46% ABV – still available here and there for around $80-85

Imperial cask 50145 SignatoryImperial distillery – dismantled then destroyed, and now, in 2015, resurrected as the Dalmunach distillery.

Sadly, they’re not trying to replicate what Imperial produced at this new distillery.  Still, it’ll be exciting to see what Dalmunach produces.

While not my favorite whisky producer in the world, when I’m out and about looking for indy bottlings of whisky, Imperial is the number one distillery I seek out.  Like Springbank, Imperial has a style that is all its own, and completely unmistakable: Mineral-like, flinty, sometimes a bit chalky, and nearly always rich (be it ex-bourbon matured, ex-sherry matured or otherwise).

What does this one taste like?  Funny you should ask…

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145On the nose — Marzipan soaking in salted water.  Lemongrass  infused honey. All these things are sitting in the center of a dry granite quarry with dust in the wind.

Pocket change, and somehow the smell of the taste of a copper penny in your mouth.

Sugar-free apple sauce.

On the mouth  Wait, I shall now begin calling this category “In the mouth” because A) you put whisky IN your mouth, not ON it, and B) those that dig innuendos can think of this line as a sophomoric dick joke.

In the mouth (teehee) —  Man, this does not disappoint.  It’s that rich, meets minerality, meets chalkiness I described above.

Elderflower liquor minus the added sweetness.

(“Minus the added.” I like that. Consider it ™’d.)

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145A rich, oily mouthfeel is complimented by notes of cream soda (a slight fizziness on the tongue helps support this note) and melting Bit-O-Honey™.

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145Finish — Medium-ish.  There’s a nice peppery-spice left on the back of the tongue and the granite dust slowly fades away, forcing you to take another sip.

In sum — This is a cracking little Imperial, to be sure.  Even at 46%, it’s got great life to it and is satisfying. I still think indy bottlers should bottle always bottle at full cask strength, giving the consumer the choice to dilute.

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145Still, one of the brands my company imports (Chieftain’s Range) releases some whisky at 46% so…throwing first stones and all… (was it Jesus or Billy Joel who said that)?

It’s a fine Imperial. I’d personally buy another bottle if I saw it on the shelf…

Exclusive Malts 28yo Longmorn, 1985, 51.6%

 

Region – Speyside – 51.6% ABV – $200-285 (if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle)

Exclusive Malts Longmorn 1985 28 year oldOk. Full disclosure. By day I work for the US importer of The Exclusive Malts line of independently bottled whisky, ImpEx Beverages.

Full disclosure pt.2. This whisky is no longer available, and was actually imported well before I started my position with ImpEx.

Being that I don’t actually score whisky but instead just present tasting notes and general impressions (and occasional dick jokes), I figured it’s kosher for me give you said tasting notes and general impressions on this release.

What is “Exclusive Malts?” It’s a line of single cask whiskies bottled by David Stirk of Creative Whisky Company.  The line is fairly new to the US market.

So, there you go.  Truthfulness. Information. And below? Tasting notes:

Longmorn Exclusive Malts 1985 28 years oldOn the nose — Honey, honey honey smoked honey! Caramels covered by orange oil rubbed cigar wrappers.

There’s a flinty minerality to this whisky that seems to enter my nose in the form of light peat (perhaps wood effect?).  Crushed chardonnay grapes sans the sweetness.

Aged (read: an oaky presence)  with a good bit of life to it (read: not a tired old 28yo but a whisky that has life, and vibrance).  There’s a waxy texture to the nose, and a hint of the powder you’d find on a bubblegum cigar.

On the mouth — Given the waxy mouth feel, some would confuse this with an old Clynelish or Brora. Given the fizzy quality that floats on the waxiness, some would doubt this was a 28yo whisky.  It’s a bit of a contradiction in the mouth, but a welcome one, to be sure!

Cacao nibs

There’s all sorts of soft spice and light tobacco notes mixed in with chili infused milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, and macca root.

 

 

Longmorn Exclusive Malts 1985 28 years oldThe pears, they are baked with whole anise star, and cinnamon’d walnut oil.

There’s an elegance to this whisky that is very much a Longmorn quality.

Finish – Beautifully floral yet grassy, mineral-y yet sweet, and quite looooooonnnnnggg…

In sum – This is a great example of Longmorn.  Perhaps the best Longmorn I’ve had to date. This is a treat to any whisky fan or whisky novice.  A celebratory whisky, if you will.

Springbank 15yo — visiting what has become one of my favorite whiskies.

 

Springbank 15 year old single malt scotch whiskyRegion — Campbeltown — 46% ABV

Springbank 15yo is a whisky that I find myself revisiting over and over and over again.  I think it’s perhaps one of my favorite whiskies, like… ever.

While I may revisit it many times over, I’ve not revisited it from a let-me-disect-it-and-post-it-on-my-blog point of view.  I just spend a lot of time enjoying it.  Isn’t that what whisky is all about anyway? Enjoyment?

The last time I reviewed Springbank 15yo was June 17, 2011

So, here we are almost 4 years later.  Let’s see what the 2015 version is like.

On the nose — Lots of lime and orange marmalade (mostly orange) at first but it’s got a veil of peat it’s hiding behind.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyBlue slate wet with rain water and a stick of hard and powdered chewing gum you found from that package of Topps baseball cards released in 1980-something.

A hint of mint but a good dose of coastal breeze and dying beach grass.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyOn the mouth — Chewy and thick with bold notes of Duerr’s coarse cut orange marmalade.

A touch of peat is present but so is some now-cold potpouri.

There’s a touch of oak to let you know you’re dealing with a 15yo whisky but the oak’s true impression upon the juice is that of dark fruits, spiced citrus drops and still more marmalade.

Oh, and burning sticks as we reach the now drying finish.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyFinish — Drying and pleasant with a good deal of orange spice with the tiniest hint of clove.

In sum — What’s difficult to explain about this whisky — about all Springbank whiskies — it’s how unique the spirit itself is.  Yes, there are lots of notes here that you’ll find in other whiskies but you’ll never taste a more unique spirit than Springbank.  It’s too difficult to put it into words, sorry.  If you’ve never had Springbank before, it’s worth seeking out.

If I could, I would likely drink the $(*& out of this whisky every single day.  It’s that good.

Leave the fools behind – April 2nd at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica will be great!

 

…I only wish I could be there!  

Here’s the skinny on a great whisky event with Louisa Young of Isle of Arran and James Wills of Kilchoman distilleries, happening on April 2nd, at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica, CA:

This is something special! 

 Arran-+-Kilchoman-Info2

KILCHOMAN & ARRAN Educational Party
Thursday April 2nd, 2015 @ 7pm – 10pm
The Daily Pint in Santa Monica

Southern California Whisky Club will be having not ONE but TWO representatives from TWO different distilleries in Scotland hanging out with us on Thursday April 2, 2015. We will be welcoming James Wills from Kilchoman Distillery and Louisa Young from Arran Distillery for a get together at the Daily Pint.

This is not a formal tasting, but a casual event where the goal is maximize the one-on-one time that our members get to spend with both James and Louisa.

Included in the event will be a flight of 6 whiskies as well as 2 different scotch cocktails: A Kil-Roy (barrel aged Rob Roy made with Kilchoman) and an Arran Punch.

Let’s loosen the collars, hang out as a club and welcome these two into sunny California.

Pre registration is $20 (includes tip) or $30 at the door (doesn’t include tip).

Get your tickets HERE!

I drink booze, and sometimes I talk about it.