Old whisky, new mezcal, and other unexpected spirits

Photo: Kevin R. Kosar

A few months back, a friend came to town from Tennessee. His schedule was jammed as was mine, but I was eager to see him. He works in insurance and I inevitably learn a lot when he explains  the various fallouts of Obamacare and Trump’s subsequent war against it.

“I have something from George Dickel to bring you for review,” he added. That was that. Logistics be damned, we were going to meet.

He came by my office and pulled from his bag a small of gold from Tullahoma—George Dickel Reserve 17-Year Old Tennessee Whisky (43.5% ABV; 87 proof). There is a whole cockamamie story about how this whisky was a happy accident; some barrels got mis-inventoried or somesuch. I love the folks at Dickel but I am not sure I buy it. That, however, is neither here nor there. This is the longest aged Tennessee whiskey to be found, and you can sip it straight with ease. The deep copper liquor offers notes of corn, white pepper, caramel, apple, and toffee. Wow.

George Dickel 17-Year is not cheap. A half-sized bottle (375 ml) runs around $75. But for the American whiskey fan, or for friends enjoying a rare meet-up, it is more than worth it.


Being a drinks writer has its perks. One never knows when a courier will arrive with an unexpected delivery. On occasion I have shrank back in horror when I opened a box to find dill pickle vodka or a similarly evil concoction. Typically, though, I receive good drinks.

So it was that I met the acquaintance of La Luna Mezcal, a new entrant to the American market. The bottle I received is numero 307 from Lot 7, and weighs in at a whopping 49.56% ABV (99.12 proof). Continue reading “Old whisky, new mezcal, and other unexpected spirits”


Great Drinks for Dad On Father’s Day

El BuhoMan does not live by bread alone. And a father, well, he needs even more, what with the middle of the night wake-ups, the tantrums, and the exploded filthy diapers. I have four children. Under the age of 10. Just this evening, my four-year old got out of bed 7 or 8 times with assorted excuses, including “My eye hurts.”

Yes, my needs are many.

Come father’s day, my hope is that I can slip out at the sunrise and head to the river. There I’ll rent a rowboat, and make my way onto the water still turbid from today’s rain. Cormorants and other birds will lead me to a promising spot. I’ll pitch my anchor, bait treble hook rigs, and let the heavy line from two rods sink in the Potomac. With any luck, the catfish will hit, and I’ll return to dock midday feeling like a master caster.

That’s how I want to start my day.

And I will conclude Dad Day sitting outside with a glass in hand. A special day justifies a special drink, one I know and love. The possibilities are many, but any of these would do quite nicely:

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: I really like this whiskey. It comes in a bulbous, perfume-like bottle that shows its deep amber color. Sometimes I can handle this 90 proof drink straight up; but usually I prefer it with a single ice cube, which softens it so I can better enjoy its rich flavors. It is worth every penny of the $30 to $35 a bottle my local retailer charges. Continue reading “Great Drinks for Dad On Father’s Day”


Cragganmore 21-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Cragganmore 21 Year Old 2010

This rare malt was distilled in 1989, slept in American oak casks, and bottled in 2010. Not much of it is left, certainly. Only 5,856 bottles were taken to market. This Speyside whisky is 112 proof (56% ABV).

The Scotch Noob has a nuanced review of this Cragganmore 21-year that is nuanced, but ultimately disapproving. We’re a bit less jaundiced on this one. It is a light, dry whisky, showing light notes of orange marmalade and heather, along with a hefty dose of grain and barrel. If there is peat in it, one must strain to taste it. This malt is a bit humdrum for such a rare bird. (Rating: Good)

Read more about Cragganmore at http://www.discovering-distilleries.com/cragganmore/.  To source a bottle, try InternetWines.com and Wine-Searcher.


Glenkinchie 20-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Glenkinchie 20-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Whoa—this incarnation of Glenkinchie, a fine but too little known whisky, is 55.1% alcohol (110.2 proof). Nevertheless, this Lowland Scotch is easy sipping, offering notes of grain, cream, mint, cocoa powder, and honey. It is lightly peated and quite lovely. (Rating: Excellent.)

Read more about Glenkinchie at http://www.discovering-distilleries.com/glenkinchie/.  To source a bottle, try InternetWines.com and Wine-Searcher.