Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire.

I confess that I put off sampling this offering for quite a while. A little honey in my whiskey? Sure! But cinnamon? That gave me pause. However, of late I have been trying a number of flavored whiskeys for review here and I finally got around to this one.

I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it. There is a real nose of cinnamon, but the flavor is just slightly sweet (you can definitely taste the brown sugar). Because of its sweetness, I was hesitant to experiment with any mixers (and it stands just fine when served neat), but I was already planning a batch of bourbon slushees,1 so…

I have to warn you that this is a weak drink, measuring a mere 70 proof (35% ABV)–practically soda pop! And you’ll need to rally be in the mood for something sweet to properly enjoy it.2 That said, I have the remains of a fifth chilling now so I can sip it this afternoon while I float in the pool.

You can pick up a fifth for around $20 (a bit more for my friends in the UK).

Here is a review from The Whiskey Exchange.

1 Technically I made sour mash slushees and they were a big hit (I used apple juice concentrate, black tea, and JD’s Tennessee Fire in my recipe). It goes well with hot cider, too.

2 Yes, I am generally in such a mood. It goes with being a drunk.

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.1

Jameson’s Whiskey is one damned fine sipping whiskey, comes to us from the Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard in Cork, Ireland, and is easily the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey. I myself have been enjoying the occasional bottle since…oh, around ’92 or ’93.2

Jameson’s was first distilled back in 1810 by a Scottish immigrant to Dublin named John Jameson, and had been continually making the world a better place ever since.3

This is one of those whiskeys that I simply refuse to pollute with a mixer. Best taken neat or on the rocks, Jameson’s is triple-distilled to remove impurities and offers a nice, clean flavor. Jameson’s has both a mild scent of honey and undertones of honey and citrus. At a mere 80 proof (40% ABV) Jameson’s packs a little less kick than my beloved Jack Daniels. You can usually pick up a bottle for ~$25 (as always, my UK friends’ price may vary).

Here’s a review from the good folks at The Whiskey Jug.

And, in celebration of my ancestry, here’s a little tune to drink by. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

1 Because of course it is. This is St. Patrick’s Day, one of America’s annual ethnic drinking holidays (together with Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, and Oktoberfest; who says America doesn’t embrace diversity?4)

Do I need to remind you good folks that I’m a drunk, rather than an alcoholic?

3 You know me Irish ancestors invented whiskey (or uisce beatha in the original Gaelic and means “Water of Life”). Whether you believe that God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from conquering the world or to give us all a respite from the insanity of politics, any drinker whose ever tasted a glass must credit that it’s magic.

I have to admit it–I pretty well stole that line from @jimgeraghty.

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Kessler Blended American whiskey.

Kessler advertises itself as an especially smooth whiskey, and they aren’t lying. Unfortunately, that may be all it has going for it.

Coming in at only 80 proof (40% ABV), Kessler has little burn and almost no kick. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it tastes…watered down. In all honesty, I cannot recommend this either as a sipping’ whiskey or a good mixer. That said, it is far from the worst drink I’ve ever had.1

Kessler is currently rated as the #2 best selling blended whiskey in America, so a lot of people must like it, but when I set it against JD2 it just doesn’t stack up.

Currently owned by Suntory Holdings (the same outfit that owns Jim Beam), Kessler is blended in Colorado. I usually try to add a little history to these posts, so here you go: Julius Kessler, a Hungarian immigrant, first distilled his brew in the 1888s and he made a go of selling it to various saloons throughout the Old West. (That’s right, this is an authentic Western Classic.)3 Thoughout its history, the Kessler brand has been owned by the Seagram Company (purchased in 1935), and was eventually bought out by Beam, Inc.

Here is a review from The Whiskey Jug.

Not recommended. That said, if you have a choice between this and, say, Seagram’s 7 go with this one.

1 I’m not even talking about tequila–just other whiskey’s.

Regular readers are well aware of the special place that John Daniels holds in my heart. What’s that? It’s “Jack” Daniels you say? Brother, if you knew JD as well as I do, you’d be calling him by his first name, too.

3 Unfortunately, like most “classics,” this one has more sentiment than quality.

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is a twofer: Bird Dog Peach Whiskey and Bird Dog Apple Whiskey.

               

While I was initially a little skeptical of the Peach (it just isn’t one of my favorite flavors), I knew I just had to try the Apple as soon as I saw it.

“Wait a minute, old man!” you say. “I know you’re a drunk,1 but why would you sample the Peach if you were skeptical?”

Good question. Bird Dog Peach was suggested to me via Twitter,2 and as I’m always up for sampling a new kind of booze,3 I thought “What the hell?” and grabbed a bottle. And when I was out looking for it I spotted the Apple. (So, in keeping with what has turned out to be a series of twofers this week, you get two whiskeys to consider.)

So, having now liberally sampled both of these elixirs, here are my observations:

The Peach. The first thing I noticed when I cracked open the bottle was the strong aroma; it reminded me of peach brandy, in fact.

Now as to how it tastes: This whiskey is very sweet. Even cloyingly sweet. That said, I liked the taste. Sweet as it was, the hint of peach flavored the bourbon nicely. If you find it to be too sugary, cutting it with just a little water (about one part in ten) will reduce the sweetness without overly reducing the alcohol content. (Bird Dog flavored whiskeys are a mere 80 proof, 40% ABV.) The Peach is smooth and provides a nice mellow burn as it works its way down your throat. Taking into account its sweetness (either because you get used to it or that’s your preference), it is a fine sipping whiskey.

I wouldn’t mix it with anything, but if you have to I’d suggest 7-up or Sprite rather than Coke. If you have a preference for it, straight soda water might be a good mixer–but I caution against adding too much, lest you dilute its kick. One might even consider cranberry juice, were one in the mood for a morning cocktail…

The bottom line is that I’d recommend it with ice cream before I would with steak. I enjoyed several snifters throughout the week while I was working the rough draft for “Voyage Beyond Fear,”4 and repeatedly found my glass unexpectedly empty.

(“Several snifters” = near empty bottle over the course of three evenings. What can I say? It grew on me.)

The Apple. The aroma is not as strong as with the peach, but you’ll definitely smell apples when you uncork it,

I found that the apple was nowhere near as sweet as the peach, while still being much sweeter than Jim Beam Apple. It had more of a “candy” flavor than I was expecting (which many others have said about Jim Beam’s variant). Like the peach, it was smooth and had a nice burn. My only real objection to the apple was that I’ve had better. (Grandma’s Apple Pie moonshine being the best in show as far as I’m concerned).

As with the peach, I would generally recommend against mixing it. That said…I did try adding a generous splash of cranberry juice to it, and it made for a decent breakfast drink (see note no.1).

Here are a couple reviews from other folks. Bird Dog Peach via The Whiskey Reviewer; Bird Dog Apple via Distiller.

You can pick up a bottle of either at your local liquor outlet for around $20 (prices likely to vary for my British friends).

Bird Dog Peach Whiskey: recommended.

Bird Dog Apple Whiskey: recommended (with the caveat that there are better apple whiskeys available).

In either case, be prepared for a heavy dose of sugar. As I’ve remarked several times, both of these are very sweet.

1 drunk, remember, not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings.

2 Hat tip to James (@itsjames_1)

3 Except tequila. Sorry tequila fans, but it all tastes like medicine to me. And vodka is only good for concoctions like Margaritas.

4 Coming this summer! Yes, another shameless plug. You do get that I’m a writer, right?

 

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Evan Williams Bourbon.

Evan Williams is a straight Kentucky bourbon whiskey from the Heavan’s Hill distillery in Louisville and bottled in Bardstown, KY.

Advertised as “something cheap that doesn’t taste bad,”1 Evan Williams is, in my opinion, better as a mixer than a sipping whiskey. However, does it taste good enough to have it either neat or on the rocks if that’s your preference..

According to the distillery’s (likely apocryphal) telling, Evan Williams was the first distiller in Kentucky, initially offering his bourbon in 1783. Whatever the true origin, EW is an 86 proof whiskey with a fairly mild taste.

You can pick up a bottle for around $12 (~£19.90 in the UK).

Recommended (with caveats).

1 The Whiskey Jug review.

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Jim Beam Apple.

Let me start by saying that I have never been much of a Jim Beam fan. However, being something of a drunk,1 I am always willing to try something new and decided to give this a shot. It was on the shelf near the Crown Royale Regal Apple and I almost grabbed that, but decided to go with this Jim concoction instead.2

On the whole I have no regrets. Jim Beam Apple is a mix of straight Kentucky bourbon and an apple liqueur which I expected to be much less satisfying than it is. The first thing you notice when you pour a glass is a strong smell of green apples. The whiskey tastes of sour apple, is very sweet, and could become obnoxiously so in short order (one review I read compared it to a green Jolly Rancher), but would be perfect with a dish of ice cream–or mixed with hot cider.

This being winter, with temperatures in Las Vegas plummeting down into the 30s,3 you can make a fair guess at how I used half the bottle while preparing this post.

Ordinarily I prefer my whiskey straight or mixed with Coke (although I have previously recommended Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey), but there is no denying that flavored whiskeys are booming right now. I am no snob, and care only about taste, quality, and alcohol by volume (and price! Let’s not forget price). I abandoned those pretensions when I broke down and tried my first honey whiskey.

I’m going to start sampling a few more, but I expect most will fall in the same “good with desert” category as this one. If you know someone who is interested in trying strong drink but hasn’t been able to develop a taste for either straight bourbon (or my much favored Tennessee sour mash), Jim Beam Apple may be the gateway he or she is looking for.

Here is a humorous review from Bourbon Banter.

You can pick up a fifth for ~$16 at your local store.

This may not be the right drink to pair with the Cigar of the Week and the Book of the Week, but might suit you if you want to add some kick to your cider this weekend.

1But not an alcoholic! ‘Cause those folks go to meetings.

2Because I am a cheap drunk.

3 Parka weather!

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Old Forrester Straight Kentucky Bourbon.

Old Forester is a sweet bourbon whiskey manufactured by Brown-Forman Distillers, and is the oldest bourbon whiskey available on the market (approximately 146 years as of 2017). Originally made by George Garvin Brown, his descendants still manage the company. (Now that is a family pride!) Interesting historical note: Old Forester was the first American whiskey sold in sealed bottles.

Old Forester Signature–the sample I used for this post–is 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). There are both 86, 95 and 115 proof versions available (the last being their new 1920 Prohibition Style), but I have yet to try them.

There is a pretty solid review of this bourbon here. It won’t replace my favorite sour mash anytime soon, but it’s well worth investing a in a bottle for sipping’ purposes.

Old Forester Signature sells for ~$23 per fifth.

Highly recommended.

 

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Grandma’s Apple Pie Moonshine.

This ‘shine has a sweet and crisp apple flavor that’ll burn on the way down in just the right way, and then suffuse you with a gentle warmth. You’ll discover hints of cinnamon as you sit and sip. Most importantly, Grandma’s Apple Pie is one of those beverages that you’ll never want to dilute with ice, water, or any other mixer. It’s perfect as is.

Grandma’s Apple Pie is manufactured by the Las Vegas Distillery and should be available through your local retail liquor outlet for ~$30. I know that that’s a bit on the high side but, believe me, it’ll be worth every penny.

I’ll confess that I’m partial to the LV Distillery due to them being a local outfit, but don’t let yourself think that my sentiment has swayed my judgement here. I only bring the very best elixirs to your attention.

As one of the finest sipping’ whiskeys I’ve ever had the pleasure to try, Grandma’s Apple Pie moonshine receives my highest recommendation.

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Tullamore Dew Original.

Tullamore Dew is a triple-distilled, triple-blend Irish whiskey that is available in seven varieties (Original, Single Malt, Special Reserve, D.E.W. Phoenix, Trilogy, Bonded Warehouse Release, and Cider cask Finish). This elixir’s origins are traced back to Tullamore, Ireland in 1829, where it was first crafted by the famed distiller Michael Molloy.  One professional reviewer has referred to TD as “liquid gold” in a glass. Small wonder that this is the second-best selling Irish whiskey on the market.

I received a fifth of TD Original as a gift a while back, and have been slowly sipping at it since.

(Well, I say slowly sipping, but since I happened across a recipe for “Bad Apple D.E.W.” the bottle has depleted rapidly.)*

A fifth of TD Original will run you around $25 in most liquor outlets.

Tullamore Dew Original is a great sipping whiskey, especially when suffering through foul weather (on days like today, for instance) and, of course, makes for some great cocktails.

And hey, a man cannot live by sour mash alone, right?**

I really want to blame the elves for this. I noticed a lot of my booze vanishing over the holidays. Yes, my memories are a bit fuzzy. Why do you ask?

** Remember-I’m a drunk, not an alcoholic. “Alcoholics” go to meetings! (And I am nowhere near that sociable.)

 

Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week* is Gentlemen Jack.

Regular readers are well aware that I am…let’s say partial to the products of the good folks in Lynchburg Tennessee. But that partiality is due entirely to the quality of their products.

Gentlemen Jack is one of the very best sipping’ whiskeys you will ever get a chance to try. One of Gentlemen Jack’s distinctions is that it is twice filtered through charcoal to give it an exceptional smoothness. Many reviewers discuss GJ’s blend of fruit and spices, but all of them compliment it’s rich, warm taste.

(Master Distiller Jeff Arnett speaking on Gentlemen Jack.)

My single complaint concerning GJ is a cosmetic one: I do miss the old octagonal bottles.

You can purchase a fifth for ~$24 most places (local taxes may drive up the price).

Go ahead and grab yourself a bottle this weekend. By now your cigars should have arrived and you can settle in with the Book of the Week for a pleasant evening or two.

Good whiskey, good cigars, and a great book–isn’t that what the weekends are for?

 

*Beginning today, the whiskey of the week will be posted on Fridays.