Tasteless Tastings (Take 4): Michter’s 10 Year Rye

Welcome to the fourth Tasteless Tastings installment, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

Yes, please!

What are we drinking today?Michter’s 10 Year Rye

What the hell is it?: It’s the 2017 release of Michter’s 10-year single barrel Kentucky straight rye whiskey.

Why do we care?: Not only are these 10-year releases usually incredible, but this whiskey marks the first 10-Year Rye release from Michter’s new master distiller, Pam Heilmann (whom I had a chance to interview a few months back).

Give me the nerdy numbers: The whiskey is 92.8 proof, and it retails for $150.

What do we think?: It’s no surprise this shit is delicious! It’s Michter’s, after all, and it’s 10-year-old whiskey! The panel I put together loved it as well, although they had trouble correctly pronouncing Michter’s — which is a combination of the founder’s children, Michael and Peter, and should be pronounced “Mickter’s.” Here’s how this whiskey blew their minds …

Erik: (Admiring the bottle) The mix of the bourbony color and green is always nice.
Britany: I like the shape of the bottle, the colors, but the A needs some kerning.
Cara: Smells fruity.
Britany: Look how much I got! You’re quite generous with your pours.
Cara: It tickles my nose.
Tracy: It smells divine. (Takes sip.) Oh my gosh … that’s sooo good.
Britany: I like that it doesn’t burn.
Erik: It’s got some spice but doesn’t have bite. It’s kinda buttery.
Cara: I’d like this in the winter, when it’s snowing outside.
Britany: It reminds me more of an Irish whiskey than a bourbon.
Tracy: I can see why she (Pam Heilmann) released this. It’s fantastic. I didn’t realize I liked rye!
Britany: I prefer rye.
Cara: I’m just gonna put one little ice cube right in the middle. … The ice definitely brings out more flavor.
Tracy: It’s good with the ice.
Britany: Wow, it brings out some flavor that wasn’t there before. It has a dessert flavor to it now.
Tracy: I taste butter.
Sara: It hits you in the back. I like it.

The group all agreed: Michter’s Rye is a winner!

Britany: This one is very buttery. The ice brings out the greasy-ness.
Tracy: It’s the perfect whiskey for when you’re just sitting around with friends … like now!
Cara: It’s like safe crack — or socially acceptable crack.
Tracy: It’s a nice piece of toast.
Erik: It’s like the tannins in wine, and I don’t even know what tannins are.
Tracy: Is this the first one we’ve all agreed on?
Sara: Yes, I believe it’s the first one we’ve all unanimously loved … now give me that bottle back!
Erik: It places high on the Michter’s Scale.

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Tasteless Tastings (Take 3): Best Damn Cream Soda & Best Damn Sweet Tea

Welcome to the third Tasteless Tastings installment, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

What are we drinking today?: Best Damn Cream Soda & Best Damn Sweet Tea beers brewed by Anheuser-Busch’s Best Damn Brewing Co. in St. Louis.

What the hell is it?: It’s beer … flavored beer, of course! The cream soda is an ale that is aged on real vanilla beans during the brewing process; the sweet tea is an ale aged with real black tea leaves. It’s fizzy, sweet and (I believe) delicious.

Why do we care?: Both products should be making their way to the Louisville market soon. If you’re tired of beer and the same-old, same-old, these might give your taste buds a quick pick-me-up.

Give me the nerdy numbers: Both products are 5.5% ABV, and there is no caloric content on the bottles, unfortunately. I’m guessing they have a lot of sugar, but we’re not worrying about that at the moment, are we?

What do we think?: I didn’t interject too much this time during the candid and lively discussion because I was too busy sipping and laughing. I think as an alternative to beer, these products are quite tasty, but I’m not sure I could have more than one in one sitting unless they were used as a mixer for a cocktail. Both were very sweet and made your spit thick — like when you eat a couple Starbursts or a handful of Skittles.

Here’s what the group thought …

Best Damn Cream Soda

Tracy: It’s not bad.
Britany: I like beer — I don’t want to count this as beer.
Tracy: It’s sugary.
Britany: Tastes like burnt sugar — like it has a caramelized kind of flavor to it, but it went too far.
Cara: Tastes like buttercream icing.
Sara: Tastes like Grandma?
Erik: I wouldn’t order it at a bar, but after two days of drinking, and it’s Sunday … Sometimes water just doesn’t cut it. This might work.
Britany: I’m over-salivating to try and make it go away.
Cara: I could drink this and not be upset.
Erik: If you could get some bourbon to mix with it, it might work.
Cara: It’d be good on ice cream.
Erik: A bourbon float!
Tracy: It’s making me burp a lot.
Britany: That’s your body rejecting it!

(We added Jack Fire to Britany and Cara’s samples.)

Cara: It’s not terrible … it balances it out nicely. It feels like I’m 18 and drinking for the first time.
Britany: It’s Big Red gum. I can taste the aluminum foil! Now Big Red gum has some relation to Big Red soda in my brain.
Tracy: I don’t think I could drink a whole one.
Cara: I think it would be good in a cockital, like a Best Damn Cream Soda Float.
Erik: Or with a cheeseburger.
Sara: I think there are people who would enjoy this, they’re just not in this room.
Cara: If I didn’t know what a good drink is, I would like this.

Best Damn Sweet Tea

Cara: It smells like roses!
Sara: I think it tastes a more like sun tea than sweet tea.
Tracy: Now this one I would drink on a Sunday. It’s less sweet.
Britany: Maybe at a baby shower that’s more like a brunch.
Sara: It’s like a Southern mimosa.
Cara: I’d like it to be a little less fizzy. (Puts an ice cube in her sample.)
Erik: It tastes like a holiday drink you left sitting around.
Cara: I don’t hate this one at all, and I don’t even like sweet tea.
Erik: I liked the Cream Soda one, but this one is a little better.
Cara: It makes me feel Southern … like I should be eating a finger sandwich and my colors are blush and bashful.
Erik: Her colors are pink and pink.
Britany: It might make a good Arnold Palmer if you added some lemonade.
Erik: Or Absoute Citron!
Cara: I bet the hangovers are horrible.
Erik: That’s just conjecture.

Next time, the Tasteless Tastings group tackles Michter’s 10-Year Rye Whiskey release. Stay tuned …

Tasteless Tastings (Take 2): Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

Welcome to the second Tasteless Tastings installment, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

Sagamore Spirit is from Baltimore.

What are we drinking today?: Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

What the hell is it?: Sagamore Spirit is a new Baltimore-based distillery that specializes in rye whiskeys. They’ve released a Rye American Whiskey at 83 proof and now the Cask Strength Rye Whiskey at anywhere from 111-113 proof. It is now available in Kentucky.

Why do we care?: Baltimore has a storied history in distilling, and Sagamore uses an interesting method to produce its whiskeys. According to the press release:

“Sagamore Spirit ages two different rye mash bills – a high rye and a low rye – and then blends them to make their proprietary recipe. A ladle of Sagamore Farm spring-fed water is added for a touch of smoothness. Sagamore drives this water 22 miles from the limestone spring at Sagamore Farm to their bottling facility at City Garage in Port Covington. 100 percent of both Sagamore’s 83-proof rye and Cask Strength Rye uses this distinct water.”

Give me the nerdy numbers: The regular Sagamore Rye is 83 proof, while the Cask Strength is 111-113 proof. The whiskey is aged at just under four years old, and the Cask Strength retails for $73.99 for a 750mL bottle.

What do we think?: First, let me start by saying what other people have thought about the whiskey. According to the press release, since hitting the market in May of this year, Sagamore has won five national awards and will continue to enter its products in competitions.

Cask is whack.

So what did my panel of primarily bourbon drinkers think of this Baltimore whiskey? It wasn’t good, but that’s not to say it’s bad. Remember: These people just came off a tasting of Woodford Reserve’s Master Collection and a couple other semi-sweet bourbons. It was probably my fault for placing the rye whiskey at the end of the session.

For lovers of high-rye bourbons and rye whiskeys, you must try Sagamore for its complex spiciness and peppery undertones. And the Cask Strength is strong. Very strong. So strong, some of my panelists were complaining of a sinus infection induced by whiskey consumption.

Here’s a snippet of the conversation:

Tracy: It’s smooth, but there’s an underlying metallic taste. Oh wait … here comes that warm afterglow.
Britany: Whoa! I feel like it’s doing something to my sinuses!
Me: It kinda tastes like Grandpa’s attic. Or how I imagine George Washington’s breath to smell like.
Erik: I don’t love this at all. It feels rushed.
Britany: My mouth won’t stop making saliva. Make it stop!
Tracy: It’s not bad, but I don’t think I’d buy it.
Britany: I don’t want this anymore. Goodbye!

Next time on Tasteless Tastings … we’ll tackle Michter’s new 10-Year Rye Whiskey and two products just hitting the Kentucky market called Best Damn Sweet Tea and Best Damn Cream Soda. That should be interesting. Stay tuned …

Tasteless Tastings (Take 1): Papa’s Pilar Rum

Welcome to the inaugural Tasteless Tastings, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

pilar_bottles_combo-x650xWhat are we drinking today?: Papa’s Pilar Artisan-Crafted Rum

What the hell is it?: It’s two different super-premium rums (Blonde and Dark) made in Key West and inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s spirit of adventure. Ernest’s nickname was “Papa.” The rum is hand-selected from the Caribbean, Central America and America, and then solera aged and blended using used bourbon, port wine and/or Spanish sherry barrels.

Why do we care?: Papa’s Pilar has recently made its way into the Kentucky market, and there is, indeed, a connection with the bourbon industry. The late, great Lincoln Henderson of Angel’s Envy served as an advisor on this rum’s early creation.

Give me the nerdy numbers: The Blonde is 84 proof, contains rums 3-7 years old, and finished in Spanish sherry casks. The Dark is 86 proof, contains rum up to 24 years old, and touches bourbon, port wine and sherry casks as well.

What do we think?: We had five panelists who each got a half-ounce pour (or more, if we had a larger quantity and the person liked it). As the host of the session, I tried to keep my tipsy tasters on task, covering the basics of a scientific spirits report: color, aroma, taste and finish. The panel included two artists (Britany B., Erik U.), a person who sells air (Tracy K.), an artsy museum nerd (Cara H.) and myself.

First up was the Blonde, because — well — we all know they have more fun, and we wanted to start out our first Tasteless Tasting having lots of that.

Me: Let’s all check out the Blonde!
BB: Looks like a white wine with no legs.
Me: Smell her.
EU: It smells like syrup. Alcoholic syrup. I want to put it on pancakes.
TK: I smell butterscotch. And vanilla.
CH: It’s like the Back Door — I feel like if I just continue to smell it, I’ll get drunk.
Me: Taste it.
EU: Ooooh, it’s sweet! It kinda tastes like Christmas — or those candles my mother has in her house.
BB: It tastes a little like high school.
TK: Butterscotch.
Me: I think it’s pretty smooth, and the finish is quite pleasant. It doesn’t linger like an awkward conversation.
BB: I would drink that again. It is more flavorful than I remember rum being.
TK: It would be good in pina coladas.
CH: It would get you lost in the rain.
BB: I think it’s caught in the rain.
CH: I get lost in the rain.
TK: If you’re not into yoga …

Our first session involved cheese ... and lots of it.

Our first session involved cheese … and lots of it.

Me: Alrighty then. Let’s go to the Dark side. This guy is a little higher in proof, so he might bite. And at one point he mingled with port wine casks.
BB: Did you say pork rinds?
Me: Port wine — not pork rind.
EU: It looks like bourbon but smells like regret.
BB: It’s the bourbon of rum.
TK: It smells the same as the other one — caramel, vanilla.
BB: The first sip is a doozy. It has much more bite.
CH: It feels like a terrible memory — like I’m going to make very bad decisions tonight.
EU: It feels like an apology.
BB: I would sip this one by itself, but probably mix the other in a cocktail — if I was near a beach.
CH: This makes me want to live near water and listen to Buffett.
Me: It’s got that spicy rum feel, but it’s quite sippable. The finish is long and warm, like I’m wrapping my tongue in velvet.
EU: Do girls like that?
Me: They don’t not like it.

Next time on Tasteless Tastings … the group tries the new Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection and Jefferson’s Reserve finished in rum casks, as well as rye whiskey from Baltimore called Sagamore Spirit.