Old Standbys

When I wrote about wine a few years ago, a friend asked me what my “daily drinker” was. I told him that I didn’t have one, but if I was to have one, I’d probably go with some sort of Zinfandel. But to be honest, I just don’t drink every day. For one, I don’t need the calories, and two, I just can’t afford it. 🙂

It gets a little complicated if I was asked the same question with respect to whiskey. This is simply because there are lots that I like, so almost invariably, I’ll always have a couple of different bottles of Scotch, one or two bottles of Irish whiskey, and a few bottles of bourbon and maybe one or two “other” whiskeys like Tin Cup Colorado Whiskey.

But that said, there are standbys that I like to have on hand; well, not necessarily all at once, but I’ll have one or two that I keep around.

Canadian Club ~ What? You mean that cheap-ass stuff? Tell you what: This makes a fantastic Manhattan. I got introduced to this by a dear friend, Gloria Marchi, who is 85 years young, and one of my biggest fans (I’m a part-time professional singer/musician). She occasionally buys me a Manhattan, and she was introduced to them way back in the 60’s. If I want a Manhattan, yes, I could use a more expensive spirit, but my taste for Manhattans is with Canadian Club.

Bulleit Bourbon / Rye ~ I always have a bottle of one of these. It’s not so much my favorite brand,  but when I can’t make up my mind, I’ll make an Old Fashioned with this stuff.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon ~ Yeah, this stuff is a bit on the sweet side, but if I don’t have any Bulleit, I’ll usually have a bottle of this stuff on hand.

Woodford Reserve Distillers Select ~ Got this for Fathers Day this year. I like it so much, I’m almost done with the bottle. This may very well replace Bulleit as my go-to.

Caol Ila 12 Year Scotch ~ This is a mid-level Scotch that I absolutely fell in love with through my friend, Shahin Pirooz. It is mildly peaty, and for me, it’s a great end-of-day, nightcap drinker. Writing about it now reminds me that I have to pick up a bottle. But I have to finish my Port Dundas and Talisker that I got as gifts. Both of those (which I’ll eventually write about) are fine, mid-level Scotches as well.

So there you have it. You might be thinking I must be a lush, but I’m not. It actually takes me awhile to finish these, and like I said, I usually only have a couple of each on hand at a time. Right now I’m out of Bulleit and Buffalo as I’m working on the Woodford. But that’s so smooth and drinkable in so many ways, that I may just stick with that as my fallback. Great stuff!




Noah’s Mill Bourbon

noahsmillBack in January, specifically, January 5 – my birthday – my wife surprised me with a bottle of bourbon at my birthday dinner; a bourbon of which I had never tasted let alone heard. And coming from my wife whom I love deeply, but views alcohol and alcoholic beverages in a binary fashion, I was a little skeptical about getting a bottle of bourbon from her. But I smiled in loving appreciation just the same because what does it tell me about my life partner when she gifted me with that which makes me so happy? Right. She knows me well, and she knows that simple things like this remind me of why I love her so much.

Yeah, I know… Just say it: Awww….. 🙂

After dinner, I, of course, had to sample this heretofore unknown spirit. But before I opened it, I examined the bottle to see that it was 114.3 proof! Holy Shit! I thought to myself, This is going to burn!

Nevertheless, I opened the bottle, and Glencairn glass in hand poured out a finger’s worth. I noticed immediately that the bourbon is a lot lighter in color than when it sits in the green wine bottle. Not an issue, because it’s all about aroma and taste to me.

What I Smell

With my first sniff, I noticed a subtle alcohol smell. That didn’t surprise me considering the proof of this bourbon. But that quickly dissipated and I was welcomed to a nice, sweet, cinnamon and spice bouquet followed by a subtle fresh floral scent. A slight swish of the glass revealed a bit of clove or allspice and a little burnt caramel.

What I Taste

What surprised me about tasting this was that it didn’t burn nearly the amount that I was expecting. It’s warm. No getting around that, but it’s super-flavorful, much like Dave’s Insanity or Dave’s Scorpion Pepper Sauce. Pretty hot stuff, but both pack a lot of chili pepper flavor.

With Noah’s Mill, you get more of that cinnamon and sweet spice up front. About mid-palate is where you started feeling a bit of heat, with a bit citrus, amazingly enough, and the short to medium finish reveals creme brulee and vanilla.

How I Like to Drink It

  1. Neat ~ If I drink it neat, I put in a small chip of ice to help tame the heat a bit. This doesn’t so much cool the alcohol as it provides just a tiny amount of water to help the aromas and flavors bloom a bit and it does take the edge off.
  2. Mixed ~ This might be sacrilege, but I actually enjoy making either Mint Julep or an Old Fashioned with this; especially a Mint Julep.
  3. Rocks ~ I will put this over an ice globe and add a few dashes of orange bitters. This brings out the citrus.

What I’ve Found Out About It

Noah’s Mill is bottled by Willett Distilling. Apparently, they source the bourbon from other distilleries, blend it, then age it in their own facilities. The blend is a mixture of bourbons ranging in age from 4 to 20 years.

This is interesting to me because it’s possible that the flavor profile could change from release to release, much like wine blends do; though I haven’t the faintest idea of how dramatic that change would be. I’d frankly have to do a vertical flight tasting. But truth be told, I’m not sure if I’d have the patience to hold onto bottles to do that. I like to drink my bourbon.

Final Thoughts

For some reason, I’m really taken by this bourbon. By no means is it something I’d drink every day. But this is a bourbon that I like to have around and since I got that first bottle from my wife in January, as soon as it ran out last month, I immediately replaced it. Maybe it’s nostalgia because the original bottle was a love gift. But I really enjoy this bourbon, and I keep it for when I want something that has a kick, and a 6-month life cycle isn’t so bad.

Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough

I wasn’t always a whiskey drinker. In fact, my first taste of whiskey was in the form of a nasty whiskey sour on my 21st birthday that sent me running to the bathroom to retch out all the alcohol my fraternity brothers practically pumped into my system, and I stayed away from it. But one day, a friend introduced me to Macallan 12 Scotch. I was hooked, and from there I resolved to explore this incredible spirit that comes in so many forms.

To be completely honest, you won’t find me talking too much about Scotch here. I have my favorites (which I’ll talk about), but they are few. However, I love Bourbon and to a slightly lesser degree, Rye, so please excuse me if I tend to focus on those.

I’m also not a purist where I have to drink my whiskey neat. I like it neat, on the rocks, or mixed in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. And I’m also not a snob about the spirits I drink. I’ll try expensive and cheap whiskeys up and down the board. Like drinking wine, drinking whiskey is an experience.