This special edition of the Scotch Noob is brought to you by Tom at Tom’s Foolery, who asked that I take another look at his bourbon (which I kinda panned), with two things in mind: First, that I make sure the bottle has been open to oxidize a little bit (it has, at 75% full for a few weeks), and second that I compare it to Wyoming Whisky.
This is the kind of dram that you show to your friends who think “whisky” means something you add to Coke. Then you tell them it’s only $30. A gentle introduction to the world of malted whisky, with a very welcoming profile and a gentle effect on the palate, all with a nice array of grains and sweets that showcase what good middle-of-the-road ex-bourbon Scotch malt whisky is like.
… So many distilleries and expressions to try, so much innovation yet to occur and innovative products yet to be released, and so many chances to re-learn how truly little I know about our favorite drink. Perhaps that’s what originally tempted me to the world of whisky, and what keeps me captivated still: The vast breadth and inexhaustible depth of the possibility space that is whisky. …
Tom’s Foolery is actually made by an Ohio man named Tom (take that, modern whisky marketing!). He does this on a pair of pot-stills and ages his bottled-in-bond Ohio Straight Bourbon in an honest-to-goodness US bonded warehouse for four years in new charred American oak barrels.
…now they’ve added a permanent port-finished NAS expression with the double-entendre of a name, “Port Ruighe”. … Suffice it to say this is NAS Talisker aged in a combination of casks including ex-bourbon, refill European oak, and casks with a “heavy char”. The whisky is then finished in port casks and bottled at Talisker’s standard 45.8% ABV.
Maker’s 46 is basically Maker’s Mark with an additional 10 weeks of aging with 10 “seared” French Oak barrel staves inserted into the casks, and bottled at an extra 2% ABV (at 47%). The process is done during the winter in the coolest parts of the warehouse, to minimize the movement of whiskey through the wood. This treatment (the 46th attempt, hence the name) is supposed to intensify the vanilla and caramel notes of the bourbon without adding additional bitterness from barrel tannin.
I think of Glenkinchie, one of the few remaining Lowland single malts, as “the lemon malt”, although its actual nickname is “The Edinburgh Malt” for its location some 15 miles from the capital of Scotland. Glenkinchie was relatively obscure (used mostly in blends) before it became one of the jewels in Diageo’s Classic Malts crown, representing the Lowlands.
Japanese whisky, to me, is all about art and subtlety. It’s aromatic, floral, subtle, and complex. … Japanese drinks giant Suntory has blended “selected” barrels from Hakushu and Yamazaki distilleries (both malts), and Chita distillery (heavy-type grain whisky). Unlike previous Suntory blends, this one relies on Hakushu as primary malt, not Yamazaki.
The line of Russell’s Reserve bourbons and ryes are crafted by (and named after) legendary master distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell. Aged a full 10 years (hear, hear for age statements!) and bottled in small batches (a meaningless term, these days, basically an excuse for batch variability), Russell’s Reserve is reportedly made from a mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. The barrels used in each batch are chosen by Jimmy and Eddie, and are from the center of the Wild Turkey rickhouses.
A straightforward but very well-executed malt. This is a quintessential ex-bourbon Highland malt, with primary characteristics of summer fruits, flowers, and honey. … In this way, with no peat or sherry or wine-cask influence, you can appreciate the elemental building blocks of single-malt.