Scotchy Scotch Scotch

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.

Look at these little guys! So cool!
Look at these little guys! So cool!

The Original

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.

Sherry Casked

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.

Port Casked

Aged 12 years, tastes like the 10 year but with fruit. Interesting but unremarkable, I wouldn’t go get a full sized bottle.

Sauternes

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.

So there you go, I talked about Scotch.

The packaging was cool too.
The packaging was cool too.

Until next time,

Charlie Mewshaw

A Tale of Two Irish Whiskeys

Discovering a new favorite Irish whiskey.

I was recently gifted a bottle of The Quiet Man traditional Irish Whiskey (http://thequietmanirishwhiskey.com/) by Mike of White Stag Trading Co. (http://www.whitestagtrading.com/). The majority of my Irish whiskey experience can be traced back to younger days, enjoying Jameson primarily as a shot, not really giving much thought to what subtleties might present within. I decided this would be a good time to revisit the classic (to establish a baseline), before exploring the newcomer to my world.

What can be said about Jameson? How many times had I over imbibed to the point of regret on this nectar in my early to mid-twenties before allowing it to slip from my regularly scheduled programming, only coming back as a part of a Hot Toddy when needed? I used to really like it, and then it slowly disappeared. It was a bit more yellow in color than I remembered, almost radiant. Light nose, light taste, almost grassy, with sweet end notes, and a familiar burn at the end. It’s a solid drink choice, widely available, and familiar to millions. Not being blown away, but having established a solid baseline, it was time to move on.

I hope you didn't need picture to visualize this. I didn't want to get more than airplane bottle...that should tell you where this is headed.
I hope you didn’t need picture to visualize this. I didn’t want to get more than airplane bottle…that should tell you where this is headed.
This is amazing, and it is my opinion that if you like whiskey, you need it in your life.
This is amazing, and it is my opinion that if you like whiskey, you need it in your life.

The Quiet Man has a nice story on the side of its bottle about the distiller’s father being a bartender in Belfast, and where its name originates from. I always find little touches like this as having a way about them that can endear me to a product. I know it sounds silly, but I like to know a little bit about where what I’m getting myself into is coming from…unless its light beer, then I don’t care, then I just want light beer. So having poured a glass, the first thing I noted was that it still had that yellow tinge, but was paler than Jameson. It had a floral nose, but what struck me was how rich the flavor was. It had a bit of the grassiness from Jameson but was dominated by more malts, and a big almost buttery finish that possessed a subtle but welcome sweetness. I’m in love. This is wonderful Irish whiskey, and I feel spoiled for future encounters with lesser varieties.

So thanks Mike, you may have brought me back into the world of Irish whiskeys with this one.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Boh-Shine

Today I will be combining both whiskey and beer, in a discussion built surrounding the venerable National Bohemian.

Natty-Boh is something of a cultural phenomenon in the mid-Atlantic, specifically Baltimore. With a long and storied past that has been covered at great length elsewhere on the web, this once brewed in Baltimore beer was at a time distributed nationally. After falling out of national favor, it lingered as a budget beer in Maryland for decades, eventually ceasing local production after the brand was sold, moving out of state, at some point spawning the awful “boh-ice”, and generally being relegated to a place alongside Narragansett and Lone star as a local oddity/novelty brand. After a resurgence of interest in the brand starting in the late 90’s into the early 2000’s, its iconic imagery spread throughout the city (great old marketing campaign posters, and a snappy cartoon mascot helped), and the brand relaunched in full – though it is still made out of state. Now it has become un-escapable, with expanding distribution, and availability on draught after a number of down years of existing bottles and cans only. I’m pretty sure that in some parts of Maryland they’re even tattooing children with Mr. Boh’s face at this point.  It’s an inevitability that they’ll get one someday themselves anyways.

An example of the modern can design.
An example of the modern can design.
This beer was so bad...I never met anyone who actually liked it.
This beer was so bad…I never met anyone who actually liked it.

Speaking of children, I have a coming-of-age tale brought to you by Natty Boh that seems appropriate to tell at this point in our examination. It was the late 90’s, I was 15 years old, approaching 16, and needed to log some forgotten number of hours driving with an adult to qualify for a driver’s license. My father, being a generous man came to me one afternoon and said “drive me to the liquor store, and I’ll sign off on an hour.” You must understand, this was a 10-minute trip, so his offer of getting a full hour signed off on was a sweet deal, and of course I agreed. So we got into the car, drove to the store, and while in line he gestured at the cooler next to the register filled with single loose cans of Natty Boh “why don’t you get one for yourself”, feeling like a total badass I said “ok!” and handed one to him to purchase for my own. While on the brief drive home, windows down, summer sun shining, he handed me my single beer while rifling through his own bag of freshly acquired brews and said “here ya go.” I was floored, I had made it, I was all grown up! I could do whatever I wanted! I cracked it open, took a sip and ::SLAP:: beer gone, dad now has it, and is saying “pull over.” I did, confused, as he informed me “you were just drinking and driving dumbass.” I drove home thinking it was a dirty trick, but it worked to enforce the notion that just because someone says to do something doesn’t make it a good idea…this magic moment was brought to you by Natty Boh.

This is the Boh can I recall from my misspent youth.
This is the Boh can I recall from my misspent youth.

Boh comes in bottles, cans, tallboys, 40’s, and draught, and will consistently, without fail, give you a hangover that will make you wish for death if overly consumed. It will also give you the absolute rankest farts this side of rotten eggs. With a flavor ranging from corn when ice-cold, to yeasty when less than ice cold, one thing that can’t be said about this lager is that its lacking in flavor. It’s unique (although Trader Joe’s “Simpler Times” Lager tastes very close), and not without charm, but there’s better cheap beer options. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I might have one here or there, but after however many gallons consumed over the years, the affair is over and it’s no longer a staple in my fridge but rather a throw back enjoyed with friends before moving on to some other drink.

Tastes alarmingly similar to Boh.
Tastes alarmingly similar to Boh.

At this point if you’re still with me, you’ve got to be wondering, where does the whiskey come in to play here? Well, I was recently privy to sample some home distilled National Bohemian whiskey (which is totally illegal and I do not officially condone in any capacity as the proprietor of www.biscuitswhiskeyandbeer.com). What’s that? Liquor made from triple distilled Natty Boh, oak aged for mellowing and flavor? That doesn’t even make sense! You’re right, it doesn’t, and that’s why I get such a huge kick out of the secretive TBM Distiller’s Boh-Shine. It’s technically a whiskey based on the ingredients used to make the beer from which it is distilled….don’t argue this, I looked it up. Coming in at 45-50% ABV (I’ve been told the bottling is less than an exact science…TBM being bootleggers and all), if you take a whiff out of the bottle, there’s a slight familiar smell, with oaky-char overtones. This is a loud, brash shine. It’s got a very slight beer taste, but is surprisingly sweet, mostly oak in flavor (must’ve been a heavy char on the barrel), and while stiff, not un-enjoyable for sipping over ice. For a novelty item of dubious legality, this was a fun one. I’m sure it took a TON of crappy beer to make one little bottle of this stuff, but I think it’s better that way, a true labor of love, and a gesture towards an old familiar friend, Mr. Boh.

The best parts of Boh, with all the worst parts distilled out and bottled at 45-50% ABV? Sign me up!
The best parts of Boh, with all the worst parts distilled out and bottled at 45-50% ABV? Sign me up!

Here’s to you Mr. Boh, we’ll meet again…and again, and again.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Provocation of my Ire

Dear Biscuiteers,

I must address a recent occurrence that has underscored some notions previously held quietly between my ears. I can’t stand snarky, know-it-all hipster types. Recently I traveled with a small group of three to a local watering hole known for its “hip” atmosphere, and fancy high-end cocktails and liquors. It’s the kind of place you take out of town guests for one drink before moving on with your evening (which is exactly what we were doing). I have visited it about half a dozen times, and had mixed experiences, but nothing like what has just transpired. I will not name this establishment, but instead describe the experience on this particular evening.

Upon entering and perusing their list, our party ordered at the bar. What other’s ordered on this tab is of no consequence, what is of consequence is that I ordered a single pour of Hudson Manhattan Rye on the rocks. The pour was lean, but it always is at this place when ordering anything other than a cocktail, so I took my tiny drink and sipped it for probably half an hour until we decided to be on our way. Prior to leaving, I excused myself to the gentlemen’s room. Upon emerging, I found that the Mrs had graciously picked up the bill, and we were on our way.

Once we had left the establishment and were well on our way home, I was asked if I knew I had been ordering such an expensive drink. I replied with “huh?” What occurred next highlighted the ineptitude of the staff member that was working solo that evening in an otherwise empty bar. He charged $26 for a lean pour of a very good, but not exceptionally rare whiskey.

This was some serious elitist hipster nonsense. You would think that for $26 I would be receiving his most cherished sacrament: the artisinally distilled tears of Lena Dunham, filtered through a finely waxed beard, poured over ice imported from Mt. Kilimanjaro (which cost the lives of dozens of indigenous peoples btw), and presented in a genuine prohibition era crystal high-ball glass.

I flew into a rage, demanding we go back, I was denied. Instead we tried to call, there was no answer of the telephone at this empty bar. A polite message outlining the current MSRP on a single pour of the product in question was sent discretely to the establishment’s management. There were no accusations, merely an inquiry as to whether the charge in question was in fact their list price. If so, ok cool – fool me once, but if not…wtf man. Management responded and confirmed that we had in fact been charged more than double what it should have been. It was further explained that the bottle was old, from an original distillation of the label, and that it was slightly higher than MSRP for the current bottlings of the brand. Ok, cool, expensive rare drink, but not double their asking price, vindication! An arrangement was had, and recompense made. This is why I will not name the establishment, however, this is where it takes a turn.

I was to pick up the object of restitution the following evening (a gift certificate, avoiding any weird credit card cancellations). After work I dropped in, approached the bar, and explained I was to be picking up an envelope. The jackass bartender rolls his eyes and says “oh you must be the rye people, you know that it’s a special bottle…” and I replied “yeah, I get that, but we were still overcharged” to which he said “well…yes and no.” This is where I almost lost it. Instead, I upped my volume, shifted in tone and replied “NO. The email we got confirmed that it was not priced correctly. Look it up. $26 is an ABSURD price for a single pour of that liquor. I’m not going to argue, please give me refund that is waiting for me in the office.”

This is where the sniveling, know-it-all, douchebag, looking like an extra from the set of Portlandia, put his hands up in the air like I was going to assault him, and his with voice escalating in pitch whimpered “ok ok ok”. Seriously, that guy can go to hell, now I feel like I’ve been insulted twice. I’m sure that he’ll describe me as the biggest prick in the world to his boss, but the truth is, his boss knows that what went down wasn’t right, and that they have a serious problem with a few of their bartenders being jerks (its actually a problem in their online reviews).

Anyone who starts a sentence with “aaaaactually” or “well…yes and no” deserves to get hit by a train. Say what you mean, be able to back it up, and if you do happen to disagree with someone and have facts on your side, assert yourself. Don’t be a snively ass-hat. Especially if you look like a clown. If you CAN’T back it up…then don’t say anything!

Next post won’t be as angry, and will extol the virtues of finding a balance. You don’t owe it to anyone to like everything and everyone, but chances are, if you take a minute to understand your fellow man, you’ll find some common ground. The same goes for biscuits, whiskey, and beer…dig a little, and you’ll find something you like.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

George Dickle Barrel Select

This very special edition of BWB is brought to you from Georgia by way of Tennessee. I was introduced to George Dickel Barrel Select by dear friends Jesse, and his lady-friend/partner in excellence Amy. They toured the Dickel distillery, and thinking of me and my better half, procured as a wedding gift, a bottle of this magic potion autographed by the distiller. How awesome is that?! The process of selection for this high quality sour mash is something like this: aged 10-12 years in a small handful barrels selected as “ideal” by the master distiller, and coming out an amazing amber color like the fossil rocks in the original Jurassic Park. Bottled at 86 proof, it’s got a great nose, with an initial sweetness that doesn’t overpower, followed a great pepper finish. I think a single ice cube opens it up a bit, but it’s fantastic neat as well.

IMG_8267

The first time I had this treat was actually with Jesse from a bottle of his own, on an evening that ran quite late with discussions ranging from vintage country music, to contemporary punk bands, action figures and bobbleheads, and in to who knows what else. You know, real deep stuff. Seeing as how he was an amazing host that evening, shared his special bottle of top shelf, and later got me my own, I thought it only appropriate to bring the man in on this discussion. So in sharing the last of my own bottle with him on a fine Georgia evening, here’s a recap of his thoughts regarding a fantastic Tennessee whisky:

“It’s a real mellow sipper with a nice peppery finish that should always be present in a sour mash, makes the lips tingle. I don’t think I’d ever drink this any other way but neat. No ice, and certainly never with a mixer. It’s so good that it’s really easy to let it get away from you.”

-Jesse “J-Mo” Morgan, gentleman, scholar, drinker of fine things

So there you have it, a top shelf overview of a top shelf whisky. Thanks again J-Mo, you expanded my horizons on this one.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw

Better Budget Bourbon

GREEN VS BLACK EVAN WILLIAMS

Two years ago I walked into a bar and declared, “I’m going to learn to understand whiskey better!” I should pause and mention that my experiences with whiskey at this point in my life were Jameson, whatever manner of Scotch got served at weddings, and random shots of rail selections at questionable bars. Since then I’ve become no expert, but I do have a better grasp on what I like within the incredibly popular Bourbon branch of the whiskey family tree. Top shelf, I’m into Blanton’s, and I like the 10 year Bulleit a lot. I also enjoy Bulleit’s standard offering (which what started me on quest for understanding), and Buffalo Trace is pretty good as far as upper mid-level selections. Wild turkey isn’t bad, but Jim Beam is a better replacement in what I consider standard class, and then there are some guilty pleasure bottom tier guys like Rebel Yell (it comes with a free paracord bracelet…prizes and trinkets!).

One brand that I have yet to mention is Evan Williams. I really like Evan Williams for a lower-middle of the road choice. It’s good over ice, it has big flavors that cut through if used in cocktails, and it carries a low price tag. Thing is, there’s a few different kinds of Evan Williams, and before this writing I had only sampled the black label variety. Now, mind you, I had witnessed the green bottle variety used at bars and stocked alongside a white label “bottled in bond” variety (which for the sake of this discussion will be overlooked), but always picked up the black label when making my own selections. Well not today, not today. Today I grabbed a green label bottle AND a black label bottle, so that I may compare and contrast in the name of nonessential whiskey blogging. So let’s get to it.

IMG_8110

Right away you’ll note the ABV is different with black label coming in at 43%, and green at 40%. It’s also interesting to note that the wording on the labels is the same, with the lone exception being that the neck of the black variety says “Extra Aged”, while the green omits this designation. This type of vague description makes we wonder just how much “extra” actually is. Upon pouring some out side by side, it’s evident that the green variety is lighter in color, which would make sense since its aged less than the black. It also has less of the oaky smell that the black variety has, which again, makes sense (the black label variety also burns the nose a bit, while the green does not). Sipping black label you get corn and oak flavors, a little vanilla and caramel, with an itty-bitty rye aftertaste and not subtle, but not overwhelming bite, basically it’s a strong, no-frills bourbon. The green label on the other hand is like its little brother. Milder up front, almost sweet, with undercurrents of what it may have been if left in the barrel a while longer (its got a little oak flavor, not overpowering in any way), and minimal if any bite. Now, not being privy to the differences in mash bill between the two (if any), I’d be so bold as to say that the recipe is probably about the same, with the main difference being age. I’m aware that I could probably look up the mash bills, but aren’t some things better left to mystery?

Black
Black
Green
Green

So where then are we left? What to make of the green label? Well, you probably know someone somewhere who makes questionable whiskey decisions – like drinking all manner of weird “flavored” whiskey varieties (honey, cinnamon, mint? blah blah blah). Tell them to stop it, and jump on board the bourbon with training wheels, Evan Williams green label. It’s not bad, and it’s a great mild introductory point to the world of bourbons at a low price point (it’s a buck less than black label at my store, which is already a stellar deal). On top of all that, your questionable friend will no longer appear to have the drinking disposition of a college freshman. Me, I’ll be sticking with the black label.

I’ll be back on Wed. to spin a yarn about a biscuit familiar to millions.

Your host,

Charlie Mewshaw