Most of the time, if I’m writing about something on here, I don’t hate it. Today is an exception.
Remember all the fun we had with the Military Special Bourbon? Yeah, that was a good time. You know what’s not a good time? The Military Special Canadian Whiskey.
It is, to put it mildly, bad. It’s got a harsh nose, one single overly sweet note, and it burns like hell. The sweetness is off-putting, like someone at wherever this is made squeezed some Aunt Jemima syrup in at some point in the process because you know – Canada! Syrup! Dudley Do-Right! The label’s got a Mountie skiing – and that is the best part of this experience.
Even the kind soul that gave this to me said “this is bad.”
I’m not going to throw it out, but I’m also not going to finish it.
You know what I am going to finish? TRIATHLON-A-THON 2: THE FUNDRAISENING! Seriously, go donate, and make a difference in the lives of people who sometimes need a little help. Do it, and I’ll send you a shirt, and a koozie, AND you can come party with us on September 9th where there will be fabulous trophies.
Triathlon-a-Thon 2: The Fundraisening will be coming to Chapel Hill at the end of the summer. Last year we bounced around Raleigh, had a great time, a great turnout, a great pizza sponsorship from realty expert Matt Szalecki (for all your triangle related real estate needs, check out the links below), and most importantly made a tangible contribution to supporting independent lifestyles of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For those just tuning check out the full breakdown on the page link to the left, same great cause, awesome new events. More details on specifics to be posted here soon.
So what are we gonna do?! In response to suggestions from last year, this year’s event will be fully walkable and will include: FOOSBALL, SKEEBALL, and PINBALL. Like last year, there will be fabulous prizes in each category, and participants will receive tremendous gifts for their donations in the amount of $20 or more! Details to follow soon, but mark your calendars now for Saturday, September 9 2017! If you want to donate, but can’t make the event, that’s cool too! We will be using Crowdrise again to ensure RSI receives all donations directly, and sending out the thank you gifts to all donors of $20 or more, not just attendees.
Thanks for reading, let’s do some good and have some fun!
A month or so ago I was off on a walk down a rural route, and noticed an overgrown but accessible gravel driveway into what was once obviously a bustling center of country commerce. The driveway was overgrown enough that there was no way anyone driving by would notice, and it was far enough from any houses/neighborhoods, that no one really would have any business stumbling upon it. If it had been a week or two later when the trees were in full bloom, I might not even have noticed it. I love old country stores, gas stations, and eateries, so this well preserved discovery felt like I had uncovered Atlantis.
There was a general store, a service garage, a house where I assume the proprietors once lived, and a barn. The buildings were arranged in such a way that if you were pulling in off of the road the service buildings were all on the left, and the house was on the right. After listening for signs of life, I took to kicking some rocks around loudly to announce my presence to any creatures that might lurking inside before beginning my entry into the compound. I’ve played enough Resident Evil, read enough horror stories, and seen probably too many slasher films to be comfortable walking in alone to not pause for a couple minutes. The house was NOT getting explored alone, and the barn and garage were mostly empty, but the general store had an open, almost welcoming doorway.
Inside I found a dusty, dirty, but surprisingly preserved store, and the first thing I noticed was that there was no vandalism. There were odds and ends, an old homework assignment, some Halloween masks…wait what?!
That’s right, those old costumes with the detailed masks, and what were basically trash bags with a logo printed on them were here! I remember wearing one of these in the late 80’s before I was told Halloween was evil, and I was no longer allowed to participate. I was a “karate-man” that year, and it was siiiiick. That is until I hyper-ventilated in my mask while waiting in line for a haunted house in our neighborhood. An older kid in front of us in line had a REALLY good zombie getup, complete with blood capsules in his mouth. My dad was chatting with him, and as he showed the fake blood off, I freaked out. I was 6 or 7, and that was the last time I went trick or treating. Dammit young Charlie, why couldn’t you hang?! It was basically Stan from South Park throwing up when nervous – but real life! Maybe that’s the REAL reason I wasn’t allowed to go again…but I digress, trash-bag costumes were a part of the American Halloween experience for decades, and right here in front of me was a tiger, and a princess! So cool. I respectfully returned them to their boxes and left them to rest (rot) where I had found them.
Whilst poking about, I also found some old liquor and beer cases (empty), including some Old Crow Bourbon boxes! What a perfect segue way into talking about whiskey! Old Crow (or Dr. James Crow’s Old Crow if you want to get proper about it) is a storied, and significant member of the bourbon family tree. Billed as “the original sour mash”, it is recognized as one of Kentucky’s earliest bourbons, developed by Scottish immigrant James C. Crow. These days it is owned by Beam-Suntory, and shares the same mash bill and yeast as Jim Beam white label. The difference between the two comes from the aging and blending processes. It was favored by Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, WWII flying ace Bud Anderson, Mark Twain, Hunter S. Thompson (he loved WT, but wrote a lot about Old Crow too), Fat Mike of NOFX, the Beastie Boys, and the band Old Crow Medicine Show obviously owes their name to this venerable liquid. So knowing now that this budget bourbon is so obviously storied and revered, how is it?
Well, it’s got the color of a Werther’s Original (sp?), and it’s got a really sweet but alchololic, strong nose (seriously, this stuff smells quite loud). It’s loud and brash corn and sweetness up front, with an an afterburn worthy of its spot on the shelf. It comes in a little plastic bottle labeled as “lightweight traveler” which is a bit of a bummer, I do think it deserves the full glass bottle treatment on its history alone, but I guess that helps keep the cost down. There is also a “reserve” variety that I’d like to try at some point to see how it tastes when aged a bit longer.
So back to the store. I saw a little coffee tin, and immediately recognized the brand as something my grandparents kept around. Between the masks, and the coffee tin, I’d be willing to wager this place had sat since the late 80s. It was like a strange wormhole in time, like a museum of things you’d forgotten about from 1988. So, I’m looking around the floor, not wanting to accidentally step on anything, and spot a weird little metal bowl that’s discolored and forlorn, and decide its coming home as a souvenir. I get it home, and with a little Bar Keepers Friend and some elbow grease, it comes back to life! It now takes up a place on a bookshelf to hold knick-knacks.
So there you have it, another adventure, and another whiskey.
Til next time biscuiteers!
PS – Plans are beginning to take shape for this year’s Triathlon-A-Thon, Triathlon-A-Thon 2: The Fundraisening. In light of that, expect more content than usual to distract you at work through the summer.
Military Special is a brand found exclusively on US military bases, providing troops with bargain basement priced liquor. Since it’s produced for the government, the contracts obviously go to the lowest bidder, and predictably the quality is generally accepted as less than what we’ll call “refined”. The different bottles have different awesome little pictures of military regalia to inspire its customers to greatness, and are made of a thin, safe plastic. I say safe because I imagine the decision to go with plastic serves two purposes:
-Its cheap. Like, I’ve had bottled water with sturdier plastic.
-When PFC Ding-dong whips the empty bottle across the room in his on-base housing upon hearing what Jodie’s been up to with his lady, it will cause less damage where it lands than a heavy glass bottle would.
I was first introduced to this brand in San Antonio when I saw MS Rum at Lackland AF base while visiting a friend. While perusing the booze aisle for fuel for the night’s impending shenanigans, I noticed the rum’s familiar location of origin and immediately pegged it as rebranded Port Royal (a heinous and painful poison). I was fascinated that all of these bar staple liquors were available in bottles with pictures of canons, eagles, flags, and fighter jets. That trip was a lot of fun, I saw the Alamo, goofed off, ate some great bbq, and was searched before getting back on my plane AFTER I had cleared TSA (must’ve looked shady).
Fast forward a few years, and this same friend procured me the MS bourbon, assuring me that it was a poorly kept secret that Heaven Hill made it, and sold it on the cheap to the government. To say I was excited would be an understatement, this was a rare and special gift for a civilian like myself.
MS bourbon has a color similar to the “severely dehydrated” end of the spectrum on a “what should my pee look like” chart. It smells like burning, and tastes like the first whiskey you remember trying. It’s loud, dirty, burns, and is all oak flavor.
Truth be told, I kind of like it in a cocktail. It makes the bourbon flavor cut through any blend. I’ve been doing a splash of bitters, a cherry, and MS bourbon on the rocks for about half the bottle now, and I gotta say it has really grown on me.
Pappy Van Winkle is considered by some to be the holy grail of bourbon. It is dispensed in single servings at absurdly priced tastings, sold by the bottle at auction at even higher prices, and is generally unobtainable unless you are comfortable lavishing extravagance upon ones self. Recently, for the second time in my life, I was presented the opportunity to try it. St. Anthony of Catonsville, patron saint of bourbon blogs happens to be a biscuiteer that possesses a bottle of the 20 year variety. Acquired six years ago at retail (before the sky rocketing prices), the living legend uncorked his bottle that I may write this extra special entry and start 2017 off in a stellar fashion.
The first time I tasted the Pappy it was of this 20 year variety from 6 years prior, and I wasn’t thinking about capturing its essence in the written word, but I knew it was special. Fast forward a few years, and now its an exciting chance to revisit.
It’s really REALLY smooth, not a bit of harshness, great nose (subtle wood, with vanilla hints) , and wonderful warm (not hot) finish – with the perfect amount of sweetness. It’s easily the best bourbon I’ve ever tasted.
It’s great bourbon, and if you’ve got the resources to blow over a grand on a bottle of bourbon good for you, but really…you’re a ding dong if you spend that kind of loot on whiskey. It’s like those really expensive Yeti coolers, yeah they’re great, but if you spend hundreds of dollars on a cooler, chances are good that you’re at least 1/10th asshole.
Things have been pretty hectic in the real world, so I haven’t had a lot of time to effectively contemplate the eponymous staples of the blog. Let us change that this instant, with a discussion of the seasonally appropriate (in name) Wild Turkey.
Wild Turkey is one of those long-standing brands with lots of history, and a process that their master distiller says is “the best way to make bourbon”. It’s also one of those brands that has had a lot of media tie-ins over the years.
It also has an equal number of detractors that recall the havoc it has brought upon them. I am not one of them, but the most recent recollection of such a soul, is one that stuck with me so hard that I haven’t had WT again until now. A year or so ago, I was taking a quick one hour flight and had the good fortune of possessing not one, but two free drink coupons for the ride. My plan was this: ask for a Coke, and two of whatever bourbon mini-bottles they had, then stash the booze in my bag for later. Well, it didn’t go that way. I got my two mini-bottles, and the flight attendants kept the tops! I asked for them and was told they don’t do that. BUT THEY DO, DO THAT…sometimes…I will now wait for you to stop snickering because you just said “doo-doo” in your head…grow up, you.
I guess I’ve just had laissez-faire attendants in the past, but I swear I’ve been handed sealed bottles before. Moving on. I now have about 30 minutes left in my flight, two bourbons, and a Coke. I looked at the guy next to me, and thought he might be game for one. Wouldn’t you know it, he was a recovering alcoholic on his way back from his wife’s funeral. I was officially the devil on his shoulder.
I felt horrible. I drank those little guys as fast as I could to remove the temptation from this poor man’s pilgrimage. While doing this, I heard about his late wife, and the last time he had Wild Turkey some 18 years prior. I heard about where he was coming from, where he was going, and we became fast friends. He was sad I was getting off on the next stop and not continuing on. It was a bummer. Then I walked off the plane to meet my dad and thought “I wonder if I smell like booze?” I probably did. This was not the way I envisioned arriving for a visit.
Prior to that event occurring, had you asked me about Wild Turkey, the first thing out of my mouth would have been “Dirty Pilgrims!” The Dirty Pilgrim is drink concocted in Dover Delaware by Biscuiteer Kevin (previously credited with adventure biscuits – click HERE to read that tale). It is equal parts Wild Turkey, and turkey gravy – and must be consumed from a ladle. The ladle is really what makes it special, really opens up the flavor. This is not some gross dreamed up shot that no one’s actually done either, this was a pillar of a particularly raucous evening one night in 2007, and continues to live in infamy, having been repeated and spoken of only in hushed reverent tones since its inception.
Moving onward, interestingly enough, there is a Wild Turkey lounge at a restaurant I can not afford (The Angus Barn) in Raleigh, NC. It’s an upscale joint, ranked one of the best “business bars” in the US. Full of power players, sitting in rich leather chairs, getting up to peruse the humidor, it’s the kind of place one goes to conduct top level business, with top level businessmen. Thing is, I’m a business man, not a businessman…or however that Jay-Z lyric goes. I should check it out one day, but not today, and tomorrow’s not looking too promising either.
SO – Wild Turkey. How is it? It’s pretty good.
Sweet up front, peppery finish with pronounced oak notes, and some vanilla in between. There’s a reason it’s a staple, and it deserves respect.
With that, I will wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and will see you soon!
Henry McKenna Bourbon is a brand with a lovely origin story. It goes something like this: Henry McKenna immigrated to the US from Ireland with his families whiskey recipe that had been passed down for generations. After settling in Kentucky, Mr. McKenna realized that Bourbon is awesome, but thought “hey, I can incorporate elements of my family recipe, and make it even better!” A big part of his innovation was the insistence on the use of oak barrels exclusively.
As many readers know, for a whiskey to be called Bourbon, it has to meet certain standards. What can be confusing is that there is another set of standards beyond the regular ones for Bourbon to be considered “bottled in bond”. The rules break down as follows:
-the liquor has to be the product of a single distillation season, from a single distillery
-it must be stored in a Federally bonded warehouse under US Govt. supervision for AT LEAST four years
-it must be bottled at 100 proof.
Today’s whiskey adventure brings us to the Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 year bottled in bond small batch Kentucky Bourbon. This bottle was from barrel 2181, and barreld on 10/6/2005.
Deep amber in hue, it’s got a big oaky nose, is loud, spicy, and full of flavor if consumed neat. I say drop an ice cube, or a little water into it, at which point it opens up. There’s some awesome dark fruit notes to it, some oak, and you can taste the rye a bit more with the spicy finish remaining in tact.
THIS IS AWESOME BOURBON. Big flavors – but clean, mature but not super pricey, I picked this up randomly, and immediately realized I might have a new top fiver for bourbon.
I highly recommend checking it out. I also recommend checking out our charity drive by clicking on the link below:
Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey is one of my favorite bourbons in what I consider to be middle-shelf. It’s got a dark reddish-brown appearance, and has a really good smell to it. The taste is balanced, and once it’s opened up a little, you can taste a hint of vanilla and toffee. Dollar for dollar, I think its one of the most complex bourbons you can pick up without breaking the bank. The finish is dangerously smooth, and I find you can easily get caught thinking “well that was downright pleasant, think I’ll have myself another…and then another”. It’s actually the first whiskey I ever stopped to contemplate when a few years ago I decided that I wanted to actually “get into” whiskey and understand it…you know, having grown out of doing shots as a reckless youth.
The bourbon world is kind of funny to me in that there are really only few variants in mash bills out there, and an equally small number of actual distilleries making the stuff (most bourbons are made per the owners specs at a limited number of distilleries). What makes it interesting is how despite these limited variations and points of origin, there really unique markers across brands with regards to taste and quality. To that end, while there has never been a Bulleit distillery proper, it is definitely a unique blend.
Fun bit of trivia before we go, you can spot the distinctive Bulleit bottle/label in the HBO series Deadwood. It’s early in the series (season 1?) in the background of the bar where Ron Swanson-er, I mean-whatever Nick Offerman’s character is named hangs out.
Up next time I will take time out of my day to visit a spot once visited by Man vs. Food, hooray!
What can I say about Scotch? It’s revered around world, its production is rife with rules regarding may and may not be considered Scotch, its unit of measure is known as a dram, and I almost never buy it for myself. It isn’t that I dislike it, just that I feel it requires a level of appreciation I’ve yet to develop. I drink Scotch at weddings, I drink it at my mom’s house, I’ve gratefully received it as a gift, yet there is just something about the fact that people form such strong opinions around what is and is not good Scotch that makes it difficult to approach. So when my boss graciously got me a Glenmorangie sampler box as a gift, I was really excited. This represented a chance to try multiple variants of Scotch and not break the bank picking up multiple bottles. I cautiously held on to this box until a visit from the aforementioned Scotch fan, my mom, so that I could share it with her. Here’s what we came up with.
Aged 10 years, this staple offering is warm and lovely. A wonderful single malt with an herbal nose, not light, not heavy…which I guess would make it medium bodied. I’m not sure if that’s the correct way to describe it, but Ive had some Scotches that are way too peaty and overly smoky, this is not that. The finish is spicy/peppery in nature. I like it.
Aged 12 years, this one is surprisingly sweet up front, extra spicy, and has a longer finish. It’s warmer overall, but for me just a little bit too spicy compared to the original.
Aged 12 years, tastes like the 10 year but with fruit. Interesting but unremarkable, I wouldn’t go get a full sized bottle.
Aged 12 years, this one has a vanilla nose, rich coffee flavors, with a familiar spicy finish from the 10 year. This one is amazing. It’s complex, and brings something new without stepping on what makes the 10 year so great. This one I would buy a larger bottle of.