Blind Black Bowmore

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 05:13 PM

Black Bowmore 1964 Bottled 1993

What happens when you put what's arguably the most legendary single malt into an otherwise unassuming, unhyped blind tasting?

Sherry Christmas 2013

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Santa claus looking at bottle of single malt scotch 
Sometimes we spend time working up a decent article for the site. Other times, it's a pain in the butt. This time it's the latter. In our typical holiday tradition, we opened up some great sherried malts malts for Christmas.

Prohibition: Medicinal Whiskey from a Bygone Era

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 01:24 PM



Imagine walking into a whiskey museum, finding their Prohibition exhibit... then taking the bottles from it and drinking them! Check out the detailed report on our Medicinal Whiskey Pints meeting.



VVOF OMFG: Very Old Fitzgerald Supervertical

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 09:45 PM

All age staments and various eras of the 12yo lined up. 
The Stitzel-Weller distillery and its association with the Van Winkle family is legendary. So much so that to discuss it here would be redundant for the experienced bourbon connoisseur, which of course you are, right? If not, now you know what you have to learn about!

The idea here was to taste the three different "eras" of Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yo. (1) Distilled and bottled entirely while Pappy Van Winkle was running the distillery, (2) distilled under Pappy's watch but bottled by his son Julian II, and (3) bottled in the mid-1980s with (theoretically) no Van Winkle involvement at all.

But of course, we couldn't stop there. We had to taste those in proper context! So we sandwiched that tasting inside a complete lineup of the Very Old Fitz brand.

Did these bourbons live up to the hype? Many did, and which ones were really the best depends on who you ask. What was incredibly clear was that bourbon is simply not made like this any more. At the end of the first run-through of the lineup, we attacked the LAWS bar to sample some of today's well-respected bourbons… and you know what? Most current(ish) bourbons that we otherwise loved were just plainer in comparison. Even watery. To the extent that we discussed how much, in the course of the tasting, we'd become acclimated to the more complex S-W profile. It's been said over and over again, and it's true: for whatever reason, they just don't make bourbon like they used to anymore. There definitely is just "something extra" in these premium Stitzel-Weller products.

What was especially obvious was the difference between production eras on the 12yo's. The 1980's-bottled one was universally considered the least delicious, and while it was still good bourbon, it just didn't come close to the magic in the VVOF's bottled in 1964 and 1968. The 1980's VVOF was lighter, with a nuttier character to it, and didn't taste particularly unusual compared to today's stuff. 

Between the 1964 and 1968, it was a matter of preference -- but the majority voted the 1964 the favorite of the night, with some members saying it might be the best bourbon they've ever tasted. Yep.

We also sampled the rarely-seen 10yo, 15yo, and 18yo, but since few people read down this far on the page, I'll let you click through the tasting notes above to get your own impression. And be sure to check out Sku's writeup on his personal blog.

Drink Whisky!

Balvenie Tun 1401 Deconstruction

Posted on Monday, Sep 2, 2013 at 07:43 PM

Bottle of Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch no. 6

Balvenie has been killing it lately with their "Tun 1401" releases. These are special (and delicious) combinations of casks dating as far back as the 1960s, vatted together in the aforementioned tun. If you've missed out, well… you've missed out!

If you're a fan of any of the Tun 1401 bottlings, you can't help but wonder, "What does each individual cask in here taste like?" Why "waste" them in a vatting like this?

To answer that question, LAWS sat down with Balvenie ambassador Lorne Cousin -- and cask samples of six constituent single malts in Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 6. Tasting notes and ratings on each cask would be somewhat pointless, since you can't go out and buy them anyway (or even really taste them), but here's the scoop:

Lorne Cousin, Balvenie brand ambassador, ladykiller pose in front of Balvenie Distillery.
The whole is better than the sum of its parts. It really is, and there was unanimous agreement on that. 

All of the single casks were interesting -- some were really fantastic -- while an under-proof one was pretty hard to love -- but none were as purely enjoyable as the vatted result. It really goes to show just how impressive David Stewart's skills are (Balvenie's master blender). We were thoroughly impressed.

What a great meeting! Great whiskeys and a great education. Thanks Lorne!
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