Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 20.48.34Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle
Age: 20 years old
ABV: 45.2%
Cask: Charred New American Oak
More Info: WhiskyBase

Ah, Pappy. You can’t talk about rare Bourbons without Old Rip Van Winkle’s Pappy coming up in the conversation. This stuff is legendary.

Produced by Sazerac at the Buffalo Trace distillery in very limited quantities, this whiskey is unusual in its use of wheat instead of rye in the mashbill (in addition to corn and malted barley).

Typically auction fodder, I was very surprised to see it for sale by the glass in one of my favourite Manchester bars. Given it’s as rare as hen’s teeth, I knew it’d be daft to pass it up.

Nose: Fragrant sandalwood, cola cubes, butterscotch, hay, rolling tobacco, cider apples, gumballs, milk chocolate and dairy ice cream.

Palate: Spicy, mouthcoating and rich. Cherry menthol, lime and grapefruit. Capsicum, black pepper, cinnamon and clove. Spices die down to reveal soft raspberry ripple ice cream and sweet tobacco.

Finish: Black pepper and oak. Long and creamy. Very smooth.

Very creamy, fruity, and oaky with tons of barrel spices. Easy sipping, elegant and complex. Just what I was hoping for – this is just so smooth, balanced, and utterly delicious. Try it if you get a chance, it’ll put a smile on your face.

Sonoma County Rye

ABV: 48%
Cask: Charred New American Oak
More Info: WhiskyBase

Time for something a little different tonight!

After the wildly wonderful Balcones tasting earlier this month (after which I was, admittedly, grinning and stumbling about the house*) it occurred that great American whiskey needn’t be Bourbon and it needn’t be from Kentucky.

With that in mind, I was recommended Sonoma County whiskey (from California, dontchaknow) and I grabbed a sample of their rye bottling. I haven’t tasted a whole lot of rye but I do enjoy the spicy and savoury flavours that typify the genre.

Nose: Grape skin, planed wood, dry grass, and white pepper. Tinned peaches and salty sour dough.

Palate: Sweet, sour and spicy. Cloves, menthol, cinnamon, burnt sugar, ginger cake and liquorice root.

Finish: Long with lingering liquorice, dry tobacco, and blackcurrant throat sweets.

Oooh, interesting. I feel like this is a pretty young expression but it’s definitely got a lot going for it. Since I mostly drink Scotch, the nose felt a little shallow but the palate and finish are excellent. Smooth, spicy and lip smacking with a great long finish.

It’s always nice to drink an unfiltered, low-tech, traditional whiskey. With direct fired pot stills and no filtration, Sonoma County Distillery have done very well here.

Here’s to Californian whiskey!

You can pick up a bottle for £55.95 on The Whisky Exchange.

* Give me a break – most of the samples were above 60%ABV!