Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jefferson's Presidential Select 17 year

Pappy Van Winkle was my gateway to bourbon.  I found out about the craze when it had already reached a fever pitch, but had never been too impressed with American Whiskey before (not that I'd had any worth being impressed by).  The Pappy hunt commenced and I tasted Pappy 20.  It is deep and sophisticated with rich caramel and sweetness.  How heart breaking it was to also find out that the distillery it all came from closed years ago and there is hardly any left.  Stitzel Weller, I wish we had met sooner.  It always feels like I find these items subject to a growing wave of popularity near the end of their run.  I have a mountain of baseball cards from 1989 to prove it.

Hardly any is not none.  You can Ebay for some Pappy for 2 or more times retail, or you can go for something easier.  That brings me to Jefferson's Presidential Select 17 year old.  Wheated bourbon just like Pappy 15 and 20, from old Stitzel Weller stock just like Pappy, hand selected by members of the Van Winkle lineage just like....  no, wait.  OK, no Van Winkles were present for this bottling, and hence some have said that the batches can be a bit variable in quality.  On the plus side, even though the stock is also limited, you still have a decent chance of finding it in a store with a little searching, likely for around the retail price.  (Or you can find the Jefferson PS 18, the same juice one year older).

These notes are from my bottle, which is from batch 4.

This pours a fairly dark amber.  The nose has heavy butterscotch candy and caramel notes with one other strong note floating above that.  I was thinking honeycrisp apple until I passed the glass to Mrs. Drinksstuff, and she said flower petals.  She's right, it's clear as day, there is a floral, almost baby powderish note on the nose.  It sounds weird but it works with all the candy sweetness it's surrounded by.

When drinking the flavors are swimming in burnt sugar syrup, with the butterscotch present as well.  Let it lay on your tongue and you get a hint of bubblegum.  There's not too much burn since it's a modest 94 proof, but I tend to prefer a muted alcohol presence in my older whiskeys.  It really lets the aged character of the whiskey shine, and personally, I love the old stuff.  This will really coat your mouth and leave you with that nice long finish.  

It's been 6 months at least since I had any Pappy.  I have a few bottles stowed away waiting their turn.  ThisThe Jefferson's PS does capture the character as I remember it, and it will only cost you your arm.  Therefor you will still have both legs to chase the Bevmo delivery truck all over town when the Pappy shipments are scheduled to arrive.  Yes, I've done that.  Regardless of the lineage, Jefferson's PS is fine bourbon that has a welcome spot on my top shelf.

Rating:  Presidential

Monday, March 5, 2012

From the Bar: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye

This bottle has been just about impossible to find in Socal.  More elusive than Pappy himself!  I was very happy to get the last two pours of a bottle with a friend on our Sunday afternoon drinking sojourn.  Our eyes lit up when we saw it sitting on the back of the bar.  I don't think it was supposed to be out and I could kind of sense the bartender thinking ooooops...

It tastes old.  It's supposed to be a 13 year but it's easy to tell it's older.  The info I've seen pegs it at about 18.  What struck me was the lack of spice.  I'm used to much younger ryes, and they all have a much more distinct rye flavor.  This was subdued and rich.  For something that wasn't distilled at the old Stitzel Weller distillery, it really shares of lot of its character with the SW wheaters like Pappy 20.  That's not what I was expecting, but it is very very good.  I would love to get my hands on a bottle.

Rating: More!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dessert Wine. Late Harvest Viognier

Dessert wines concentrate everything I like about normal wines.  They are sweet, syrupy, and dense with flavor.  While I love the fortified wines like port and mediera for their added boozyness, tonight I'm drinking a 2005 late harvest viognier from Epiphany in Los Olivos that rings in at 14.9% abv.
I love the nose on this bottle.  There's a rich apricot and a floral note to go along with sweet honey.  The taste follows the nose with more sweet apricot nectar.  It's thick and concentrated and leaves a nice coating in the mouth.  Minerality is a word I always chuckled at in taste descriptions, but I finally 'got it' drinking a bottle of Reisling recently.  I notice it as a refreshing quality in the drink that makes me think of summer, similar to (high mineral content) mountain spring water. Very fine minerality to this viognier.

Rating: sweet nectar