Ransom – Rye, Barley, Wheat

Rye, Barley, Wheat
Ransom Spirits

Proof: 93.4
ABV: 46.7%
Style: Rye
State: OR
Price: $$

Peggy Noe Stevens – 8.4 

Nose: Cinnamon hiding around edges. Coffee with some dark fruits of plum and blackberry. Chocolate covered marshmallow and dates.

Palate: Cherry overlaid with suggestions of warm clove and coffee cake. Considerable smoke-tinged sorghum with a crisp bone dryness that eventually overshadows the fruit.

Finish: Long and spicy with oak and brown sugar. Dense and earthy.

Comment: The dry earthy flavors evolve and dance on the palate for an enjoyable sip.

Susan Reigler – 8.3

Nose: Strong rye grass and seeds with some caramel, white pepper, and a tiny bit of allspice and dried fruit. 

Palate: Dried apples and pears with caramel, some rye pepper spice and roasted nuts. A little drop of water really changes the fruit to raisins and dates. 

Finish: Long and spicy finish with plenty of peppery tannins. The oak sweetens as it lingers in the mouth and throat. 

Comment: Drink this whiskey with a single ice cube to appreciate how it will open and change. 


New year, new me?

The joys of trying to keep up a resolution 

So here we are again, New Year and all those New Me promises. By the time you read this 2019 will be getting into full swing.

Do you make any resolutions each year? Mostly I try, but we all know where good intentions end up. So this year I decided on achievable ones as there is so much instability out there in the public arena, I feel the private should be more of an even keel this year. The ability to navigate and ride out whatever the year brings might outweigh the need to be bigger and more sparkly than before.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great if you can put a change in place and stick to it, but for me I need this to be achievable, much better to do something simple and get it done well than fail. Even better is to make it something you love, then if you do fail no one can say anything; you were trying to reach for something you love to do and gave it your all. That for me, is the essence of a resolution.

With this in mind, during the festive period I become more aware of a whole series of television adverts and billboards that claimed to have the answer to over indulging during the party season.

This is the seeming ‘cure-all’ for the hangover. It sounds like the alchemists of old trying to create gold from tin. Pills or potions allowing you to go and enjoy yourself without repercussions – I am afraid that it doesn’t work that way and we all know it.

Honestly, the person who truly perfects this will walk among us as a god, and probably a rich one at that. But given drinkers centuries over have searched for this and haven’t found it, I doubt that even our advancing knowledge will get there.

Just a quick look at what has come before tells you that it’s not meant to be; from the Prairie Oyster to the Hair of the Dog; the only true cure for the hangover is self discipline and not drinking; I would accept that possibly a large fried breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausages could work, of course, but they are not too effective either.

“Take a fun risk, close your eyes and pick a state at random”

 Also I wonder about the message some of these modern cures are sending.

In one I have seen it appears you take a pill before you go drinking, a pill while drinking and one before bed and bingo, no hangover. Surely this (if it works, which I am doubtful about) is a licence to over-consume.

Another advert extols its virtues as being more effective the day after. 

Drink it in the morning, and again, no hangover. No good can come of this I am fairly sure. 

The hangover is the body’s way of letting you know you overdid it and need to recover. Also, it’s a reminder that alcohol should be treated with deference and a little respect.

With this in mind, perhaps that should be our New Year’s pledge to ourselves – to look after ourselves a little bit better than we did last year.

There’s plenty of whiskeys out there to explore, let’s add that to our list of resolutions as well – occasionally drink outside of our comfort zones.

I would love this year to mark a step in your journey through American whiskey; never tried a rye before? Well now is the time. Similarly never tried a whiskey from California, or let’s say Texas? Or take a fun risk, close your eyes and pick a state at random, explore and try something different. Who knows what you might find, and even if what you do find is not to your liking, at least you are expanding your palate and horizons.

Equally you could immerse yourself in the building blocks of flavour, understand more about why the liquid in your glass smells and tastes the way it does. Nothing wrong with becoming a geek.

So welcome to January, the month were we all feel the struggle and strains, the blues post festive season. Let’s take a little hope that Spring and a new beginning is on the way, and it will be here sooner than we know.

I have said it before, and I will keep saying it, let’s embrace better drinking folks. May your year be full of the most extraordinary and thrilling drams, no matter their cost or age, those drams that move the heart and soul are the ones I am talking about. Let’s drink with curious minds, clear eyes and in the company of those we love and respect. 

Woodford Reserve – Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve
Double Oaked 

Proof: 90.4
ABV: 45.2%
Style: Bourbon
State: KY 
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 9.1

Nose: Sweet up front. Candied almonds, coated in hard sugar, caramel toffee chews, Dutch honey syrup wafer and milky coffee.Oak takes hold with tannins and spices.

Palate: More fruit, overpowering the oak. Apples, poached pears and runny honey. Tarte tatin – that caramalized sugar edge. Nutmeg and cinnamon.

Finish: Rich with vanilla cream and spice. Morish.

Comments: A liquid apple pie, just ask for more.

Sam Coyne – 8.4

Nose: Swing back a few months, untangle the lights and put that Christmas tree back up. Sweet, spices; nutmeg, cinnamon and oak. Vanilla, caramel and a touch of honey.

Palate: Stewed raisins and sultanas with honey up-front. Oak spice grabs you by the shoulders and shakes. 

Finish: Rich, the festive spices return.

Comments: Good, straight forward Bourbon, that surprises more than a little. Is there anything not to like about this one?

William Larue Weller – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof

William Larue Weller 
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof 

Proof: 128.2
ABV: 64.1%
Style: Bourbon
State: KY
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 8.5

Nose: A huge yet gentle nose centering on caramel chews, fresh baked cookies and spiced honey cashew nuts. Butterscotch fondant and wood.

Palate: Gentle and smooth. Plenty of  sweet caramel notes. Dried orange and vanilla ice cream. Hints of fresh figs and cherries too.

Finish: A little short but full of sweetness and a little saline minerality in there too.

Comments: A great, enjoyable Bourbon. To be sipped and savored with friends.

Sam Coyne – 8.0

Nose: Really sweet. Toffee, fudge and milk chocolate cookies. Earthy cereal notes and finally a little oak spice at the end.

Palate: More of the caramel, but this time it covers plum fruits and figs. There’s a biscuity edge too and hints of peppered rye-like spice. 

Finish: Middling, but sweet before ending up with earthy cereals. 

Comments: Very nice, but quite reserved and nothing too punchy. A rounded number that has its place on everyone’s shelf. 

Stonecutter Spirits – Heritage Cake Whiskey

Stonecutter Spirits
Heritage Cask Whiskey 
Stonecutter Spirits

Proof: 90
ABV: 45.0%
Style: Single Malt
State: VT
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 8.4

Nose: Gentle but all these tropical fruits emerge, papaya, mango and dried pineapple. Grain comes through, malt and raisin bread.

Palate: Huge sweetness and then those fruits come through. Gentle and delicate. A wood grip, coconut ice cream and caramel sauce.

Finish: All that fruit – nice and long, Coconut ice cream and gentle spicy notes at the end.

Comments: A delicate and gentle whiskey, one to savour. Takes its time to reveal its delights, but well worth it.

Sam Coyne – 7.8

Nose: Vanilla up-front, before lashings of flambé fruit. A little acetone and those fruit-salad chews. Apricots and cherries. Yum.

Palate: Big ol’ spices welcome you in, we’re talking cinnamon and nutmeg especially. More of those sweeties in the background and a slightly tannic hint. A slightly oily mouthfeel.

Finish: More and more of the chews, but becomes cleansing with a herbal, menthol finish.

Comments: A little surprising, but might not appeal to the purists.