orld Whisky Day is today, so I figured I might as well sort out my plans within the confines of a post because I think it could give you some great ideas for hosting your own whiskey tasting any day of the year. If you’re thinking, “Didn’t we just have a global celebration of whiskey?”, then you’d be correct. March 27 was International Whisk(e)y Day, a day which is celebrated in honor of whiskey writer, Michael Jackson, and encourages participants to donate to any charity of their choice. Most commonly these are Parkinson’s Disease charities since Jackson suffered from the disease. All that to say, today is World Whisky Day, and it’s about enjoying the spirit amongst friends.
I suggest hosting a potluck style gathering where everyone brings a bottle and you provide some appetizers along with your favorite whiskey. With a little planning you can assemble some great whiskey flights. Themes can be based on distillery location, mash bill, ABV, age, finishing methods, or even price. All of these, especially price comparisons, are better when tasted blindly. The last time I did a blind flight was when I discovered Elijah Craig 12 Year, one of my favorite value bottles ($18). There are several flights you can put together with these combinations, and if you choose a few strategic bottles you can use them for multiple categories.
- Colorado Flight
- Breckenridge ($33)
- Tin Cup ($28)
- Stranahan’s ($56)
These three whiskeys are a great flight. They’re all from Colorado, and I’m convinced the Rocky Mountain water makes a difference in flavor. Breckenridge is technically a bourbon and is a smooth sip. Tin Cup is good with its high rye content, but not my favorite. Stranahan’s is a great American single malt (4 types of barley), and currently one of my favorite drams. It’s clean and citrusy – unlike anything I’ve had before.
- Barley Flight Flight (Mash Bill Isolation)
- Stranahan’s ($56)
- Defiant ($45)
- Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2013 – Straight Malt ($100)
All three of these are made with only barley, and it’s incredible to see the difference between them. I’ve mentioned my soft spot for Stranahan’s, and it remains even in this lineup.Defiant is a whiskey out of North Carolina from Blue Ridge Distillery. The team behind it actually used to be (perhaps still are) deep sea salvage divers. They use spiral cut white oak to “age” the whiskey faster.Woodford Reserve will always be special to me, as it was the first bourbon I enjoyed. Every year their master distiller, Chris Morris, releases a Master’s Collection bottle. At $100, it’s something I like to treat myself to, and I still have at least half a bottle of every one that I’ve purchased. In 2013 there were two bottles released, each with slightly different aging methods. This Straight Malt was aged in new American White Oak and has heavy grass and hay on the nose and palate. When I first tasted this I was so thrown off, and felt like someone had shoved my face into a pile of barnyard hay. That said, it’s grown on me, but it’s not by any means my favorite.
- Special Wood Finishes and Unique Methods Flights
- Standard Woodford Reserve ($33) vs. Standard Woodford Double Oaked ($50)
- Auchentoshan Three Wood ($55) vs. Laphroaig Triple Wood ($70)
- Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2014 – Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish ($100)
These last few are more suited to side by side comparisons of each. The Woodfords are a great side by side to see the effects of aging in two barrels. The Double Oaked is finished in a second lightly charred barrel.The two Scotches are unique because of their finishing methods which involves casks that have previously aged other spirits. Auchentoshan Three Wood is aged in American bourbon, Spanish Oloroso Sherry, and then Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, while the Laphroaig Triple Wood is aged in former bourbon barrels, quarter casks, and then is finished in European oak casks. The Laphroaig is still peaty, but not as strong as the standard Laphroaig. The Auchentoshan is much sweeter and has enjoyable sherry notes.The final item in this lineup is Woodford’s 2014 Master’s Collection, the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish. It has a beautiful red tint from the used pinot barrels it is finished in. This release has the barley taste of the 2013 release, but it’s not over the top. The pinot barrels impart a nice sweetness and fruit note on the finish. Happy World Whisky Day. Cheers. – Andrew
Oh, that wood etching is from Pop Chart Lab. They have the etched and a print version. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, but you can find it here.