Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whisky Live New York 4/11/12

My first Whisky Live. Sadly I had to work late and arrived, frazzled, after 8. I was immediately soothed. Even though I was barely able to cover 1/3 of the floor I had peak experiences, fascinating conversations and drank plenty of amazing and exciting whisky and cognac. Here are the highlights:
Killer Frapin Cognacs

Larry Neuringer of Palm Bay
Frapin Cognac. My first sight on walking into the room was Frapin Cognac. All my favorites were on display and then two high end offerings, the VIP XO, and the Extra Grand Champagne, that I had been dreaming of trying - but never would have dreamed would be there. The VIP XO amped up the strengths of the Chateau Fontpinot XO with an even more effusive floral nose, august noble midpalate bursting with crystalized bitter orange, jasmine blooms, leather and rancio, and a long killer finish with walnut skins, luxury oak and bliss. The Extra Grand Champagne (top of the line except for the crazy kilobuck crystal decanter job) has been a dream tasting of mine ever since Paul Pacult put it in the 2011 hall of fame - see #5 on the page: Well - blow me down, Larry Neuringer of Frapin's US distributer, Palm Bay International generously poured me one.  It was sublime - taking the VIP XO's flavor profile even further into the stratosphere.  I took a 3cl sample so I'll be doing a full review in the weeks to come.  5cl samples are going for $80 on Ebay, so this actually just about paid for the event cost right there in the first 10 minutes!  I was LOVING IT.

Bastille 1789 Cognac Malt Whisky
Palm Bay also distributes an exciting new barley malt and wheat whisky from Cognac called Bastille 1789.  Distilled in alembic stills in the Cognac fashion and then aged in casks made from French Limousine oak, cherry and acacia woods, the flavor profile is startling different.  The nose is spiced with South Asian notes of curry, paprika, maybe some ginger.  The entry is unexpectedly sweet, then followed by a lean and drying midpalate that is elegant and refined and an unexpected sweet and herbal effusion of woods on the finish.  I took a sample of this as well and am excited to write a full critical review of this as well in the weeks to come.

Al Young + Four Roses 2012 Single Cask
Four Roses' Al Young was there pouring the astonishing new Four Roses 2012 Single Cask.  This is the higher corn mashbill recipe OESK, 52.5% abv.  The nose was rich and huge and refined with a profusion of floral notes and big fruits.  The entry big and round and glorious.  The midpalate elegant, strong, refined and richly cognac-like with citrus and herbs.  Lovely drying tannins on the finish.  This is clearly one for the ages.  Jim Rutledge shows that Four Roses is still pushing the art form of Bourbon to new heights.  This is a bourbon that, tasted immediately after the Frapin Extra Grand Champagne shows that American Bourbon is a spirit that, at its highest levels, clearly rivals the very best of the world's spirits.  Hats off to Rutledge and the Four Roses crew.  I'm seriously buying this one.

Balcones' Chip Tate
Balcones - Having tasted and reviewed Balcones Brimstone I was intrigued by the clearly high level of crafting, but wasn't totally convinced.  Brimstone is bold and original - but it is out there as a flavor profile.  I wasted no time in parking myself in front of master distiller Chip Tate and tasting the whole line.  It was, literally, a conversion experience.  Chip poured and explained and guided me through the line.

Texas Whiskey - a malt whisky - had eucalyptus scents in the rich wooded nose; rich sweet malt honeyed entry and a lovely dusty oak finish with a feel of the Texas terroir.  I was, frankly wonderfully surprised and pleased by the refined and delicious presentation.  This is the best US craft malt whiskey I've yet tried.

Rumble  - a fascinating distilled product made from sugar and figs (so it's part rum and park eau de vie).  Blackberries, wine, and meade.  Lovely.

"Magical" Rumble Cask Reserve
Rumble cask reserve (cask strength).  OK - here is where the wheels of my resistance fell off.  This is an astounding product with the grace, refinement, and sheer deliciousness of the best rums I've tried - but it's not a rum.  This is one of those magical spirits that rival the top spirits in a range of categories - rum, cognac, eau de vie etc... I must get a sample for review.  (out of bottles)

Baby Blue and True Blue - blue corn 100% corn mashbill corn whiskeys.  Baby Blue is rich and sweet with a young vigor.  True Blue, the cask strength expression is another of those refined landmark products that rivals the great spirits of the world.  I took a sample of this for a full formal review in the next few weeks.  True Blue was astounding.  I begin to fall head over heels.  But Chip wasn't finished yet.  He poured me a parting shot of a rare limited edition of  Balcones Brimstone called Barrel 1200, or "the burned barrel".  It was huge.  The nose took Brimstone's sweet mequite brushfire notes to another level of high resolution fidelity and enormous terroir.  On the palate it was titanic, and yet elegant and refined.  Ultimately astounding.

There were other highlights too and many more drams: Old Pulteney, Glenfiddich.  I met David Allardice of William Grant & Sons.  We had a dram of Glenfiddich 15 Solera.  I took a sample for future review.  The healing continues and I'm beginning to understand and come to grips with the Glenfiddich floral honeysuckle honeydew melon Speyside flavor profile.  I had a wonderful interlude with Amrut, including tasting most of the line including Intermediate Sherry and the new release, Kadhambam - aged sequentially in bourbon, sherry, brandy, and rum casks.  Gal wrote a detailed review of it in Whisky Israel.

An important mention.  George Manska was evangelizing and selling The NEAT glass.  The Scotch Noob reviewed the NEAT glass last week.  I picked one up and plan to corroborate his work (and add the Reidel scotch glass into the mix) in a review in the near future.

My biggest regrets were that I missed the following tables because of short time:
Glenmorangie / Ardbeg
Smooth Ambler

All in all, a night to remember and treasure.  I can't wait for the next one.  I learned a lot.  Come early, stay light, carry lots of empties!  A magical room where everyone is happy and everyone you see is pouring for you!


  1. Crazy!! (in a good way)

    That's basically all I can say :-P

    1. Utterly over the top. What a blast.

  2. Yo Josh!

    Sorry to hear that you didn't make it to the event til after 8. I would have been seriously irritated. But it sounds like you made the best of your abbreviated visit and met some great people. Hopefully we'll get to hook up on Extravaganza day!


    1. Yes, I was very irritated getting there late. I definitely made the best of it. I will be back - and grow wiser every day. We will definitely meet on Extravaganza day!

    2. Excellent! Looking forward to it. Cross your fingers that nothing happens to screw up my plans.

  3. Great to finally see the REAL Palm Bay as opposed to that carbonated sewage sold in night clubs!

    Distinguished read, keep it up!

    1. Yes, Palm Bay has a very diverse portfolio with some stunningly highbrow and lowbrow booze options. Who am I to judge. I hope they make good money selling the good stuff! Thanks for dropping by. Love your extremely playful blog whiskyandwings (I'll have to try that pairing. I imagine bourbon goes best with wings?)

  4. Hey Josh!
    Great review! It was such an amazing night. Even though your time was cut short - it sounds like you spent it perfectly! You got to try some great finds and clearly had an awesome Cognac experience. Unfortunately, I didn't make it over to that table (so many spirits, so little time!).

    Were you able to try any of the Aberlour whiskies? I fell hard for their 12yr NCF (non chill filtered).

    Chip's Rumble Cask Reserve is ah-mazing! Cask-strength figs, honey, & sugar all fermented and distilled and aged together ... makes quite a complex dram! Surprisingly smooth at 52%-55%abv!

    Great review - really fun to read. So happy we had a chance to meet!


    1. Thanks for the kind words, WhiskyWoman! I didn't try the Aberlours there that night - but I had a bottle of the 12 a year or two ago. I've also tried the A'bunadh sherry bomb. Wonderful stuff.

      Yes, Chip's Rumble Cask Reserve is fantastic. What a revelation.

      Glad to meet you too. Looking forward to next time!

  5. I love your site. Keep up the good work, as I think that you have a blogging future ahead of you. You are great!