03-22-2019, 08:10 PM
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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As with many other retail products, it is really difficult to discuss whisky/whiskey any more without an awareness of the outside market forces.  And, as with other retail products, the market forces march to the beat of a different drummer than purists of the craft do.  

Back in the day, when Michael Jackson (No, not that Michael Jackson; the real Michael Jackson) provided a lodestone of sorts, you could be confident that any major Scotch would live up to its reputation, good or bad.  These days, any recommendation of a whisky or whiskey must be read as if it carries an asterisk.  Most of the major brands have changed ownership several times over the past few years {viz. Suntory’s acquisition of the “Old --” portfolio a few years back, including many of the Beam brands); and even the trademarks that have identified brands that have remained under the same ownership may have represented several changes of formulas so that a whiskey that was a favorite in, say, 1980 may be an entirely different beast than one that is sold inder the same label today.  I have long since lost track of the ever-changing ownership of the Old Fitzgerald brand, the legendary “whiskey of Presidents,” which you may be able to buy today, but if not, surely will appear, produced by a different distiller than before, real soon now.  A good place to keep current about what is going on as sources and brands change places is The Chuck Cowdery Blog, http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/.

My own personal whiskey journey went from mainstream bourbon (college days) to Scotch, where it stayed for quite a while.   My first choice for three decades or so was Sandeman, a whisky aged in sherry casks, until the brand went under the waves.  Every year, I used to revert during eggnog season to a bottle or two of J.W. Dant bourbon, but, as I used it only to enhance bottled dairy eggnog, which dominated the whiskey, the brand was not really that important, and yearly I returned to Scotch after the holidays.  Before I switched away from Scotch, my favorite brand was Dalwhinnie, and I still tip a glass or two of Dalwhinnie on special occasions.

More or less by accident a few years ago, I rediscovered Rye, and by that, I do not mean either Canadian Whiskey, with which rye’s reputation in the mind of the general public became conflated after World War II, or cheap subpar North American whiskey blends, like Four Roses, that failed to meet the Taft (former President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) criteria for bourbon, which blends were what got poured when one asked for rye in an average bar.  Real rye is a real whiskey, and a good straight rye that meets the Taft rules can be very special.  

In my personal opinion. the standard against which all rye whiskey must be judged is Rittenhouse Rye, Bottled in Bond, which, unfortunately for those of us who reside in Oregon, is “on allocation”; that is, it appears on shelves in the state where I reside for only a few days a couple of times a year, during which it quickly sells out, and is not seen again on store shelves for four to six months, when, again it appears briefly.  The cognocenti rapidly snap it up when it appears, and then it is gone.  

Not wanting to tie my money up in stashes of whiskey, I usually buy only three or four bottles of Rittenhouse during its brief availability, and ration myself to drinking it on special occasions only for the next six months or so until another shipment arrives.  In the meantime, I have discovered a pretty good consolation prize that does o.k. until I can get more Rittenhouse:  Ezra Brooks Rye (90 proof).  As a gateway drug to the wonders of rye, I commend Ezra Brooks, as a worthy precursor to an ultimate graduation to Rittenhouse Rye.

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 04-06-2019, 01:00 AM
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[Image: a0ba52915996c3304608a8ee84330c2e.jpg]

Running out of Bowmore, I opened the Signet these days.
Not bad.
Full bodied, very rich, very smooth.
Almost too much.

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