The annual tasting of an Angel’s Envy Cask Strength bourbon (2017), which is as close to an annual tradition as we get around here. This time, I’m able to do a side-by-side comparison against the 2016 edition. Wait until you see the price increase over 2015, however…
Here we have something new. Whisky is (sort of) distilled beer, right? And most (almost all) beer contains hops to some degree. So why not age whisky in casks that previously held heavily-hopped India Pale Ale style beer? … a specially-brewed IPA ale using Challenger hops was aged for 4 weeks in used Glenfiddich American Oak barrels, and then emptied and used to finish Glenfiddich single malt for 12 weeks.
…a Hiram Walker brand previously known as Wiser’s Very Old. It is a blended Canadian whisky, meaning a blend of grain whiskies (rye optional). The components are mashed, distilled, and aged separately, and then blended together in batches for bottling. The 18 is bottled at an anemic 40% ABV.
The Distillers Editions from Diageo typically take the big-budget action heroes of the Diageo lineup and then proceed to drown them in sweet wine. Sometimes this works. Sometimes not so much. Here, they take the standard Talisker (aged in ex-bourbon barrels) and finish it in amoroso sherry casks for somewhere around a year. My bottle was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013…
Dad’s Hat is a craft Pennsylvania rye made by Mountain Laurel Spirits, LLC, at the Grundy Mill Distillery in Bristol, PA. A locally-sourced mashbill of 80% rye, 15% malted barley, and 5% malted rye is distilled and aged for six months in new, charred oak quarter casks. … Dad’s Hat uses a combination of malted and unmalted rye, which is one of the traditions that marked the Monongahela rye style.
Green Label, unlike all of the other Walkers, is actually a blended malt composed of (unsubstantiated) 27 different single malts, all at least 15 years (or, more likely, exactly 15 years) of age. ,,, The blended (or “vatted”) malt is bottled at 43% ABV and retails for around $45 to $55. My bottle was purchased in 2017, after the renaissance of the label.
What makes this unique is that the unmalted Canadian rye (about 80% of the mashbill) and unmalted Canadian wheat (the distillery is working towards sourcing local grains) is distilled with a portion of malted barley from Wyoming that has been smoked with California cherry wood. This is a concerted effort by the distiller to create the effect of a barrel-aged Manhattan without using any additives (wine, bitters, etc.). The distillery uses alembic copper pot stills, and double-distills its whiskies.
Now, the new ownership is celebrating the “re-awakening” of the distillery by releasing this 13 year-old limited edition run of 6000 bottles, 3000 for the US market. This is comprised of whisky run from the stills in 2003 after the distillery sale, following a brief 3-year period of non-operation.
Produced by the same bottler (NOT distiller) who sells The Irishman blend, Walsh Whiskey Distillery Ltd., Writers’ Tears is a novel vatting of 40% triple-distilled Irish single-malt whiskey “probably” from Cooley (but the source is unknown), and 60% triple-distilled Irish single pot-still whiskey from Midleton, the only distiller of mature single pot-still whiskey — for now!. The vatting is aged for an undisclosed amount of time in ex-bourbon American oak casks and bottled without chill-filtration at 40% ABV.
The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve is an oddball vatting of what appears to be the leftover casks from the last public vintage releases plus a bunch of younger barrels that have not (yet) seen release: 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Of those years, the 1998 vintage makes up (according to marketing) 25% or more of the volume.