Sunday, February 10, 2013

Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year: Flatter than My Bottom

I just want to say that I feel very bad for a giving a low score for this product because I'm a big Balvenie fan. I love the 12 Year Double Wood...I think the Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 6 is stunning, etc...and I respect the master distiller, David Stewart, a lot. From my understanding, he was the guy who basically invented cask finishes and has been in the whisky business for over 50 years. So hats off to him for being a badass-and-a- half and inspiring other companies to experiment with cask finishes as well. I must add that I respect Balvenie as a whole because it is still family owned, and they don't need financial backing from a corporation to sell their products. So, yes, I respect them a lot!!!
When Balvenie first launched, David indicated that the company wanted to make scotch to gear towards women. As a result, Balvenie has the tendency to be light and on the sweet side.
The first time I took a sip of this, which was last month, I thought it was flat. I thought, "Hmm...Maybe it's because I sipped the Balvenie 30 Year first...and that was very flavorful. So, it's just bad to go from something robust to a lighter drink...It's like eating a chocolate cake and then biting into a strawberry. The strawberry just tastes super sour as a result of eating the chocolate cake."
Anyway, I sipped the Balvenie 17 Year again the other day and I had the same reaction. I was reminded of my sister laughing at me and saying, "You're like Mom--just so flat chested!" and all I could think was, "Aw dammit! I can't believe a slightly chubby 12-year-old boy has bigger boobs than me!" Then, I think of this drink and I think it's actually flatter than me. I know, this is probably a very offensive sorry for that...but I had high hopes for this product because it's 17 years of age and it's roughly $100.
It's like going on a blind date and seeing someone really hot in front of you and then learning that after 2 seconds that this hot person is vapid and I'd actually have a more interesting dialogue between Siri from my i-Phone than the hot guy in front of me. That's what this drink is. It has nothing to offer and it's one-sided. The aroma is subtle, and the flavour doesn't go anywhere. It's just very light and bland. If I wanted something light, I'd douse vodka with water and call it a night. I tried to add a few drops of water to see if it would change, and it just tasted worst; it was just bitter with subtle hints of tropical fruit. I couldn't revive it in any way.
So, yuh....for it's price point, I don't think it's worth it. I'd buy it if it were $20. :/ Sorrrrry for that!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Problem of Being A Sales Rep for Alcohol

So, I've been hesitant for a few months about telling people here that I'm now a sales rep for some whiskies.  I guess I fear that people will start thinking that I'm going to lie and say that all of the my products that I carry is the best thing next to Jesus or Buddha.   So, truth be told, there are some products that I super duper love and some that I think, "Hmm sometimes I love you and sometimes I hate you so hard!!"

At any rate, some people think my job is easy because I'm lugging my booze in my car and slinging them inside my WinkiPinki Suitcase inside bars and restaurants.  I get to meet bartenders and have them sip my whiskies.  They think it's equivalent to partying with some Hollywood socialite, but it's actually really hard to be in my position.   Some say, "Well, it's unexpected that you're selling whisky because you're an Asian female, so that can be an advantage.  It's a novelty! They'll remember you over any guy!"   I tell them that I feel like, because I don't look like a typical whisky drinker, I have to study the products like crazy to prove to people that I really care about the subject.  Of course, that's partly true, but the key thing that I still need to work on is delivering my speech.  You don't necessarily have to know everything, but there's a certain way to sell a damn product.  It's about building your confidence and being straight with people, which I still need to work on. When I approach people I'm pretty laid back.  I don't tell them, "Buy my bottles, bitch!" on a first meeting.  Instead, I introduce myself, show them my whisky doodles and talk about the products.  After they taste the stuff, I say, "Hey!  I hope to see you soon!"  There's no, "So, how many bottles do you want to buy?"  

You have to get used to being rejected non stop.  My boss tells me that on average a bar manager will say, "No," to a sales representative about 8 times before he considers buying something from you.   Bar managers don't call you back or email you.  I feel like I'm some sort of a stalker girlfriend who is incessantly calling and saying, "Hey!  I haven't heard from you! So, are we going to hang out soon? I see you!! You're inside your bar, dammit!  Answer me!!!"  In other cases, the bartenders smile and say, "Oh yeah! I love your product, but I don't know how we can put it on the shelf."  That run around answer is frustrating.  It's like having a dude that I'm interested in and he's stringing me along, saying, "Hey, you're a really sweet girl...definitely're going to make someone so happy, but I don't know what I want right now.  Let's just continue to hang out.  Keep it casual." This makes me want to read that book, He's Not That Into You...and I want to show that bar manager, "See!  This is what you're doing here, you son of a bitch! Dammit!  Give me a straight answer.  If you like my product, place a facking order!!"  I guess that's all part of the game in the selling booze world.

But maybe the bar managers aren't doing that on purpose (as in stringing me along).  Maybe it's because they see so many sales reps each week that they feel like people like me are waisting their time.  One of my bartender pals tells me it's frustrating to see so many sales reps who don't care enough about learning their products.  A lot of sales reps, apparently, aren't interested in their products, let alone drink.  They read straight from the pamphlet and they don't know when the distillery was established, the number of distillation, the type of stills, the mashbill ratio, etc.  So, my bartender friends feel frustrated about that.  I asked a bar manager what he found to be frustrating and he said, "You know, sales reps don't even show up here.  I only have 2 sales reps that show up about once a month and they just say, 'Hi,' but I want someone to say, 'Hey, how are you?  Do you need anything? Can I help you? I want to feel supported by having them show up once a week.  No one shows up here.'"

 So, I faaacking am trying to prove to that bar manager by saying, "Hey, I'll write out your tasting notes and history of the distillery on your whole, current whisky portfolio."  He wanted me to train his staff about spirits and I was going to do it, but I have to take a step back and be a little bit cut throat.  I came back and told him, "Hey! Here are the notes that I promised you.  I know I sound cut throat for saying this, but if you want me to train your staff you have to buy a bottle from me. For now, I will show up once a week to prove to you that I'm here to support you."

So, I'm trying to use my social work background by emailing the bartenders, "Hey!  I'm really into whisky and I care deeply about the products.  I went to Scotland by myself to check out some distilleries.  That's how much I love whisky!   At any rate, some of my bartender friends have expressed their frustrations with sales reps.  I'd like to know what your ideal sales rep would be, so I can be accommodating to you. Do you want me to show up once a week?  What would you like from me?" I don't know if I'm unloading to them too quickly or too soon, but I guess I need to just test this approach for a bit to see if it works.

We'll see how all of this goes.  It's hard, but I want to do well.  I really do.  I'm really happy with my portfolio and I want to be a well-respected person in this industry!!!!  I suppose at the end of the day it's all about being persistent and establishing relationships with people.  The product can speak for itself, but it's about me delivering myself to them and showing them that I can be great at this job.  So, I'll keep on trying and trying.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meet Fons from Connosr! :D

Part of the reason why I wanted to interview you was for superficial reasons. I know that sounds terrible, but your screen picture is the best profile one can ever own. It's a picture of you with your dirty blonde (not dirt but the color "dirty blonde" just for's not an insult..that's an actual color to describe the color of hair) bangs twirling towards the center of your forehead, and you're in a legit superman costume, pouring a scotch at a diner. At least that's what it looks like. Based on your comment on Connosr you  indicated that you "wore blue tights because it brought out the blue in your eyes," and I figured you were a really cool, relaxed kind of guy--someone who owns a crap load of whiskies, but would never judge someone or think of someone being "pedestrian" for mixing whisky with chocolate syrup, etc!

So...yup...that's it. I think the world would enjoy reading about you...and I think it would be super awesome if you emailed me a super large picture of that photo so I can post it on my interview blog ! :D But, of course, that's not mandatory. You can choose to ignore any questions you wish to not answer.

1. Please tell us about yourself. Anything interesting that you would like to share (i.e. hobbies, where you live, do you grease your hair every day to look like Clark Kent..I guess i'm obsessed with that Superman attire! I'm so creepy).

1. I live in Antwerp, Belgium, generally considered as the greatest
city in the world since Atlantis. I don't grease my hair, but I do
have exactly the same glasses as Clark Kent. Dude stole my style. My
hobbies, apart from whisk(ey) (obviously), are watching (and
discussing) movies (everything from german expressionist films to
Kurosawa to italian eighties zombie flicks), the Royal Antwerp
Football Club (oldest club in Belgium and one of the oldest outside of
England, from 1880) and music. Both passively, I don't believe in
exercising actively and I have no musical talent. At all. My taste in
music is as eclectic as in movies, the only genre I am not fond of, is
jazz, which makes me nervous. But apart from that, you can throw
anything at me from classical music to breakcore and everything in
between. I could do without movies, without my favourite football team
and even without whisk(e)y (blasphemy!), but not music. The first
thing I hear waking up, and the last thing I hear before I go to
sleep, is music. I go to lots of concerts every year and I buy way too
much cd's (yes, people still do that). And there's no better
combination than a good whisk(e)y with some great music.

2. What got you interested in whisky and what is your favourite style of whisky?

2. I've studied history (never finished it, but that's another
story), and I've always been a sucker for the history of things. It
partly explains why my favourite club is my favourite and it partly
explains why I spend so much time (and money) on the uisge beatha. The
other part is, well, it's so damn tasty. You can spend literally hours
with one glass, smelling it, putting it down again, picking it up
again,... before actually finishing it. As with many others, my first
encounters with whisk(e)y weren't that great. Drinking too much of
bottom shelf stuff like J&B (still dislike its taste to this day). But
a couple of years ago, I bought a bottle of Lagavulin 16 for my dad's
birthday. He enjoys anything from gin/jenever to cognac/armagnac to
calvados to rum to whisky, but he'd never spend much money on a bottle
himself. So I thought he'd like a single malt and, knowing little to
nothing, I picked up the Lagavulin, since it is readily available and
not too expensive either. Turns out peat was not really his thing
(although he didn't hate it either) and I liked it more than he did.
And that was the starting point. I wanted to know as much as possible
about this great spirit with its long history. As to a favourite
style, I don't really have one. Different styles for different moods.
I do tend to like the more bold types of whisk(ey) though. Cask
Strengh, Sherry bombs, Peat Monsters, Oomph! I guess I'm still too
much of a beginner to be able to appreciate the subtleties of really
delicate whiskies.

3. Hard question but what's your all time favourite whisky or the current one that you like?

3. That is a hard question. I luuve Aberlour A'bunadh, Pappy Van
Winkle 15, George T. Stagg or Thomas H Handy, but if I'd have to name
one, it would be a 46 year old Girvan. A single grain scotch
whisk(e)y. The first time I tasted it, I felt like a kid on christmas
morning. It was, ehm... bliss. My day could not go wrong anymore.
Single grain whiskies are sadly overlooked.

4. You have such a huge collection of whiskies (205 bottles). Have you opened all of them or are there some that you haven't opened? And if you haven't cracked open the bottles, what the FAK? When are you going to crack open the fancy bottles?? Where do you buy your whiskies?

4. I have not opened them all, YET. I stress the yet, because I do
plan to open them all at some point. I don't buy whiskies for
collecting, or even worse, as an investment. If I could afford a
whiskey from the 1920s or a 50 year old Macallan, I'd open it because
I want to know what it actually would taste like. I have very little
bottles open at one time (max 10), but that is only due to limited
space to decently store open bottles. I'd love to have a collection of
100+ open bottles as Victor, but I don't see it happening anytime
soon. I do like to keep some bottles for special occasions and to open
them and enjoy them with my grandfather or my father. Where do I buy
them? Mostly in a local shop in Antwerp, called Anverness (great name
too), which was voted best whisky shop in Belgium in 2011. Support
your local business! The choice is immense, but for the odd thing I
don't find there, I go online.

5. Explain to me about your drinking process. Do you sit down and analyze the drink? Do you have it without any water first and then add water?

5. I do sit down and analyze my dram, but don't take any notes or
anything. Besides, I'm afraid putting my tasting notes on connosr
would not bring much added value. And that's no false modesty. I do
like to get as much out of it as possibe, smell- and tastewise, but in
an easygoing kind of way. I guess it's somewhat between really
analyzing and just enjoying it. I usually don't add water to it, I
tend to think it's bottled at the strength the distiller wants you to
experience it. Even with a monster like the George T Stagg, I'm very
apprehensive of adding water.

6. What's your ideal setting for sipping your whisky? Do you like sipping alone or with people?

6. I'd love to sit together with some friends and spend time with
nothing more than a couple of drams and each other (and maybe some
music), but almost none of my friends are into whisk(e)y and/or
enjoying, instead of drinking spirits. But that's ok, I got all the
company I need in Tom Waits, Eels, Shane MacGowan or Phosphorescent.

7. Have you visited any distilleries?

7. I haven't, since I always go on holidays with friends, I'm not one
to travel alone. That's a bit strange, because I am actually a person
who enjoys being on his own, but it doesn't work that way with
holidays. Going somewhere without anyone to share it with, just isn't
the same to me. And since my friends aren't into whisk(e)y... But I
don't consider that a big lack really, because there are still so many
other great places to visit. And the rest of Scotland doesn't really
attract me, since I'm not into hiking in nature or things like that,
which is what most people do who visit Scotland. I'm more into
visiting cities, again, because of the history of them, and the
culture. I also have this fear many distileries would be disappointing
to visit, that they would feel as a tourist trap. If there's one
exception, it would be japanese distilleries. I have always been
fascinated by Japan and many parts of it's culture. That's one holiday
I can see myself doing on my own and if was there, I would definitely
want to visit one or more distilleries.

8. What's the best thing about Connosr?

8.  The community. The fact that I can learn so much from all the
knowledge gathered there is the reason why I joined, but the people on
connosr is the reason why I stay. That sounds ridiculously corny, I
know and I'm sorry for that, but I mean it. I got to know so many
great people, like yourself (it's true), or Markjedi1, or SquidgyAsh,
or Victor, and many more. Funny people, intelligent people. The people
on connosr aren't judgmental at all, as one might expect. They don't
look down on people for not having had old or expensive or rare
whiskies and for enjoying basic blends. Or for not speaking (writing)
English that well. They're helpful and there's no trolling. Mind you,
trolling can be funny , but that's not what I'm on connosr for.

9. How's the drinking culture in Belgium? MarkJedi from Connosr indicated that the you Belgians are very knowledgable about your whiskies, though overall most people drink beer and vodka.

9.  I don't know if people in Belgium are any more or less
knowledgable about whisk(e)y, than somwhere else. In most bars you
only have the basic choices when it comes to whisk(e)y, and most
people only know and buy the basic stuff. But (and I'm only speaking
for Antwerp here, since I know it the best) there are some bars and
restaurants that do have a great and wide selection of whiskies. it's
definitely getting bigger. There are more specialized shops coming and
more tastings to go to. So we're getting there. What is true is that
we have an excellent bar/beer culture in Belgium. When I'm on
holidays, I never see as much bars, and as diverse as in Belgium. I
think that's because of our beer culture. We have so many bars with so
much choice, because we have so many kinds of beer in Belgium. We're
not a chauvinistic people at all, but if there's one thing we're proud
of, it's our beer. As for other spirits, most people don't drink
spirits in a bar, certainly not shots or anything, but when you go out
to party, yous ee a lot of basic vodka or rum cocktails.

10. What's your opinion of Taiwanese whisky. I haven't had it before, and it looks like you have a bit there in your collection.

10. I haven't tried it yet I'm afraid. And since I don't think it
will be easy (or cheap) to find another bottle, I think I will save it
for a special occasion. But it looks amazing, especially the Solist
sherry and since I have read nothing but positive things about it, I
had to have it to be able to try it some day.

11. Do you think there's a region of whisky that kicks major ass?

11.  That's like asking parents which is their favourite child! But I
think I'd go with the US as a whole, because there is so much going on
right now, so much experimentation, so much innovation. I feel like
Scotland is hindered by it's traditions and it's rules by the SWA,
much like the guilds did in medieval Bruges. (Sorry for talking about
history again)

12. What's your kryptonite. I'm terrible. I know my questions are pretty weak because I know nothing about you except that you are pretty studly (it's bad. i know)
12. Death. It's my only weakness.

13. What's your favourite drinking story adventure that you can share with us?
13. I'd like to share one, but I seem to keep forgetting them.

14. Have you ever had a whisky in bad company that it made you hate the drink forever or vice versa?
14. I normally don't drink whisk(e)y in a bar and I only go to a
restaurant in good company, so no bad experiences there. But a
mediocre whisk(e)y can become better when drunk in good company, in
someones backyard on a bbq in the sun, but that's because of the
setting. Unfortenately, when I revisit a similar bottle later, the
princess has turned into a frog again.

15. Anything else you would like to share with us?

15.  Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Malt Nuts: Learning About the Jewish (Orthodox) Men, Their Scotches, Work and Way of Life

Yesterday, it was a fun-filled event with whisky adventures.  After attending an event at Seven Grand Whiskey's Society in Down Town LA, I drove straight to West Los Angeles to hang out with my other favourite whisky drinkers, Malt Nuts.  They're a special group to me because I've never been exposed to doctors, lawyers, account executives, business entrepreneurs, etc.   All of them are Jewish, most of whom are Jewish Orthodox, and then there's Mark and me.  Mark is a dentist from South Africa and I'm the only gal there!   So, it's fun for me to learn about them because they're outlook on life is different from mine.  There's a certain way of life and mentality that they possess that I admire so greatly from each of these men.  I think these fine gentlemen can easily be condescening because they're rich and belong to the upper crest of the social later, but they're very friendly and down to earth; just a group of men who are dedicated to their wives and kids who so happen to drink single malts (drink tons of single malts to be exact).

When I attend these events, it's as though I'm in heaven.  It sounds silly, but there's no other way to put it.  These guys aren't f#cking around with their scotches, man!  Often times, the scotches are divided into 3 sections.  The first 5 scotches are typically standard expressions that are fairly young juices, ranging from 12-18 years of age.  The second portion gets a little more fun; they're bottled at cask strength.  By that point, our mouths are pretty shot with alcohol, so we take an intermission to eat and just chat amongst ourselves.  The last set of scotches is the finale--all composed of rare, hard-to-find bottles.  Barry, the one who hosts these events, always proudly says something along the lines of, "I got the last 2 bottles and they only made 180 bottles for this particular line!" By the way, I had a Blackadder Raw Cask that was bottled at 118.2 Proof that was AMAZING!  By the end of the night, we're kicking with 16 different scotches.  Everyone's mouth is pretty shot at this point, and no one wants to drink another scotch for the remaining week.  Cigars are flown around in the backyard and there's kosher food on the table.  It's always held at someone's backyard and an ambassador or sales representative is there to talk about their line.  In this case, Travis Tidwell was there to present Tobermory and Ledaig, which I shall discuss in another post later.  

I befriended a man named Robert that night.  Robert kindly introduced himself to me and said, "We haven't met. I'm Robert."  I said, "I remember you!  You've worked for films like The Hunt for Red October, and every year you travel to Scotland and go on a distillery tour, right?"   He seemed impressed by the fact that I remembered him from a tasting held 4 months ago, and he spent the remaining last hour of the event talking with me.

Robert works in the film industry doing "sounds."  Now, I don't really know what that means exactly, but he explained to me that he always had a good ear for music.  In his  younger days, he'd play the piano and guitar.  So, it was a natural fit for his personality to be in a creative field, but more importantly it allowed him to be behind the scenes.  He's worked for such films as The Hunt for the Red October and The Body Guard.  Since he's been in the film industries for quite awhile, he's now taken the career path of being more in the music field and is working less in the film industries.

Robert indicated that he has a friend who is an earl in Scotland, so every year he goes on a  fishing, golfing and whisky tour with his friend.  He also belongs to the Single Malt Whiskey Society as well.  He said there's a little dock in Edinburgh where the SMWS  tastings are held, and this building has about 100 different rare types of bottles from different distillery.  He says, "You let me know when you go back to Scotland, so I can introduce you to the right people and set you up with the right tour."  Times like this, I think, "Oh! Gee!  It must be nice to be in the upper crust of society and spending time with earls!  You must have lots of opportunities to take chances in life and go to great colleges, etc."

I just feel that these men are built differently.  They're positive outliers.  They just have a way about them that says, "Hey, I don't need to be an asshole.  I've already proven to the world that I kick ass in society.  Yeah, I'm rich, but who gives a shit?"   When I talk to each of them, I'm always actively trying to remember what they're saying, so I can apply it into my life.  I look at their stance, the way they dress, how they talk to others...and it's a little bit different from what I'm used to.  For example, I hear Mortachai talking about picking up golf because he finds that it's easier to make business negotiations with clients over a game of golf with them. I guess it's a way of identifying with your client.   In another instance when I talked with Seth, I said, "You know, if I graduated from Harvard, I would be the most condescending person ever!"  Seth replied, "Oh yeah.  I definitely felt that way in the beginning, but that only lasted for a week.  You quickly learn that there are other smart people out there, too, who went to other institutes like Cal States who are just as good and just as qualified."

Robert told me that there are a lot of Jewish people who are Buddhists.  He said, "You know, Buddhists and Jews are very similar because we are always trying to search for 'The Truth' or an answer.  We question things and set on quests to find answers.  He continued, "The way of life, our's quite similar."  I replied, "You know.  That's funny.  Ever since I started drinking whisky, I find that I can quip with Jewish people really well, even when I don't know that they're Jewish initially."

I'm learning that these men also revel in their own sense of pride.   Getting the best deal or getting something free is like getting a badge of honor.  (So, when I tell them about all of my free whisky adventures they say, "Woman, you sure know how to hustle.  It's unbelievable.").  There's a sense of determination they possess to find the best deal out there, and they're not afraid to ask!  Barry is just a down-right ballsy guy, which suits him right because he's a lawyer.  When Hurricane Sandy destroyed some of the warehouses that held some high-end scotches, he went ahead and contacted several people in the east coast and asked if he could purchase these scotches at a great deal, since the labels were destroyed.  No one replied to him, but he's proud of his own determination.  He chuckled, "Is it so wrong that I asked?  It doesn't hurt to ask, right?"

 I like that about Barry a lot because I feel as though I'm such a passive person.  Ever since I started being the whisky field, I feel as though I'm too laid back.  I need to close sales with people and be more assertive like these guys--like Barry.  Their outlook on life makes me want to get "ballsy" with people.  Every time when I talk with these guys, I get to learn how it's like to be in their shoes.  These guys are built differently and that's what I need to be exposed to, so I can be more successful in life.   They're assertive, they're not afraid to hound someone for something, and they're great negotiators.  I can read all the books in the world about "being more successful," but I get to learn from them hands on, which is GREAT!  So, I've asked a few of them to go on field with me when I'm working on business deals.  One said, "Sure!  As long as I get a free drink!"  No problem!  Anything will do.  I'm excited that my scotch friends are here to help me out and they like my company.  I'll be looking forward to  having a drink with them at a bar to discuss business.   They'll teach me the ropes of being assertive, etc! :D

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Auld Dubliner in Tustin

Come check out Auld Dubliner in Tustin.  The staff here are super duper funny and great!  Yes, it's a pub, so don't expect this place to be fancy, but they do care Midleton Very Rare, which is a delicious Irish Whiskey!!!  The have Karaoke Nights on Tuesdays and Enrique Iglesias Nights on Mondays. Yes, it's quite random, but it's fun!
Irish Pub in the The District

Will and "Handsome Party"

Karaoke Tuesday Night Just Got Sessy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stitzel Weller Tasting 1 at Far Bar with Southern California Whiskey Club

Just this past Sunday, I attended the first meeting held by the Southern California Whiskey Club at Far Bar, a place that has delicious food and a huge selection of whiskies that range from Prichard's Double Chocolate Bourbon to High West Whiskies.  I'm very surprised that this isn't a crowded bar because of their grand selection of whiskies, but I can only guess that this bar is kind of hidden on the outskirts of Little Tokyo by Down Town Los Angeles, so people aren't aware that this place exists. Well, dammit.  I'm here to blog about it.  So, please take the time to support this bar and make a visit!  And, of course, remember to tip the bartenders well! :D
Look at the impressive selection at Far Bar!!! 

At any rate, the event was held on the second floor of the bar and we had the opportunity to try various wheated bourbons.  The concept was very cool because it allowed us to compare the same brand of bottle that was released in 2012 with older products.  It took Chris 3 years to compile all of these bottles, so it was a very special engagement in that aspect.  In addition, Michael Dreis, the other dude who created this event, took a lot of work creating an official California Whiskey Club Website. The site looks great!   He's very nice and down-to-earth.  He was telling me that he hopes that this club will have events for other spirits like gin or mezcal.   So, we'll see how this group will develop!  I'm looking forward to it!

The second floor of this bar was packed, and I had the chance to sit with my two pals, Mai-An and Siao.  It was fun hearing people's reactions about the whiskeys.  For example Mai-An indicated that she felt distracted by her own personal bias about certain bottles, assuming that the older editions were much better than the 2012 releases and, as a result, she struggled trying to be objective.  Although it was fun hearing my friends' point of view about each dram,  I would have liked to hear an in-depth discussion regarding the products from the presenters.  For example, it would be fun to hear about the mashbill ratio.  Did the mashbill ratio change over the years?  Why does each bottle taste differently even though they're the same brand that was released at a different year?  I just like learning about products, so I hope that they will have presenters talking about products on a nerdy level in the future.  It was their first event and the crowd was so big, so I think maybe it was hard to have nerdy discussions and speak over 40 people.  I'm not sure, but maybe the head directors wanted everyone to have a good time and make new friends by chatting with the strangers next to us for the first event.  :D   All in all, I had a very positive experience at this event!

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that both of my friends took the time to invest in me by talking about my dreams being the whisky field for an hour.  Usually, I would feel a bit awkward and even self-centered if the conversation would center around me, but they were very encouraging.  Both of them indicated that they were excited about my book and they were hoping for me to publish something soon and create a new, professional website.  Mai-An paused at one point and said, "You know what I see will happen in the future?  I can totally see you being the next Jim Murray."  I looked at her, shocked and shy, stating, "What? No way!"  She nodded her head and said, "I can just feel it.  Something big is going to happen to you one day in this field."   I still feel that I have a long ways to go in being more confident, but I'm determined and hungry to learn.  I don't want to be good.  I want to be excellent in the whisky field one day.  At the same time, I know I'm not a stellar writer, but I just need to practice every day.  So, I'm just working on that day by day.  
Some awesome staff at Far Bar, and that's my buddy Humperdink who works at Fu-Ga in the far right!

Both of my friends are so great! Mai-An is a total sweetheart.  She belongs to the Seven Grand Whiskey Society, and the both of us found a passion for whisky through the tasting events there.  As a result, the both of us left our jobs to pursue our dreams of being in the whisky field.  We found out in November in 2012 that we were hired to work for a distributing company.  Mai-An represents fantastic cognacs and a whiskey called Leviathan through a company called Bock Spirits.   Siao is inspirational to me because he is always looking for an opportunity to grow and expand in his personal life and professional life.  He's always reminding me and giving me tips about "marketing" myself and giving me encouragement.  I think the beauty about being interested in whisky is that I've met lots of nice people and they've consistently brought positivity into my life, so I am very thankful for that.  

As far as the tasting event, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening.  I think this is a fun group because there's a mixture of whisky enthusiasts and people in the spirits industry, so it gives all of us an opportunity to learn from each other.  I'm definitely looking forward to my future tasting adventures with this group. 

My Brief Tasting Notes

1. Cabin Still 1989:
Nose: Secondary notes of tequila with some sweetness and a light dose of caramel
Flavour: Spice and simple syrup.  Wet quality.

1a. Cabin Still 2012
Nose: Banana and vanilla
Flavour: spice, heat, vanilla and banana
Finish: Just a short, vanilla syrup quality.

Overall: I thought the Cabin Still 2012 was better than the 1989

2. Old Fitzgerald BIB DSP-KY16:
Nose: French toast.  Maple syrup
Flavour:  Wheat and grass on the back end.  Spice and heat are the dominant flavour with a hint of  cinnamon.  Oak and nuts.
Finish: Walnuts, then orange zests

2a. Old Fitzgerald BIB DSP- KY 2012:
Nose: Burning.  Sour fruit.  Petrol
Flavour: Sweet grass
Finish: Sugar cane

Overall: The older collection tasted better than the 2012.  I thought there was more complexity to the first one. The 2012 edition was petrol at its best.  There was nothing pleasing about it.

3. Very Special Old Fitzgerald BHC Louisville 1994:
Nose: Butter pecan pie, brown sugar
Flavour: coffee, nail polish, acetone.  Frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed the aroma of it much more than the taste.
Finish: Plastic and oak.

3a.  Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 Year 2012 Release
Nose: Grass, secondary burnt sugar.  The nose on the other one is better.
Flavour: Bean sprout quality.  However, it tastes much better than the other one.  It has a fusion of bean sprouts and artichoke.
Finish: Short.  Simple syrup.  Vegetables.

Overall:  I didn't care for any of the two, though I thought the 2012 release of the Very Special Old Fitzgerald was better than the 1994 bottle.

4.  Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year 2010 Release
Nose: Glue and Banh Khoc, a Vietnamese dish that has shrimp, coconut, mung bean and fish sauce
Flavour: Numbs my lips  It's spicy on my gums.  Tropical fruit.  Plastic/petrol profile 2/3rds into the sip that leads to a creme brulee infused with orange.

4.a Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year 2012 Release
Nose: No notes here
Flavour: Wet finish.  Oak forward.  Wheat grass, hay and grapefruit.

Overall: This was one of those things were I thought, "Wow.  I can't believe people waited in line for this! I didn't care for any of the Pappy Van Winkles and am shocked that people are buying them for $600.  Golly.  I feel like a jerk for saying this, but I'm definitely open to trying them again in the future. I have to say, on a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the finish from the Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year 2010 Release.

5. W.I. Wellser 7 Year 1995
Nose: Butternut squash.  Undertone of corn.
Flavour: Heat and corn syrup.  I actually like this one and it was my second favourite sip out during the evening.

5a. W.I Weller Centennial 10 Year BHC Louisville 1994:
Nose: Butter Pecan
Flavour: Oak forward

Overall:  The 1995 released appeared more complex and tasted better than the 1994 bottle.

6.  Rebel Yell 90 Proof Bourbon 1982 Tax Stamp
Nose: Meaty, salted pecans-like they've been wrapped in bacon.  Lemon grass and coconut based in mussels
Flavour:  This was my favourite for the evening because it was the closest thing to scotch.  There was an air of sweetness to it, like a warm brioche with toasted almonds quality.

Overall Tasting Opinions:  I learned tonight that I'm not a wheated bourbon drinker.  I didn't really care for any of them except for the Rebell Yell.  The only wheated bourbon that I love is the Maker's Mark 46, and I think the Rebel Yell is great because it tastes like a single malt scotch. I kind of dislike the idea that I have such a narrow scope in terms of preference for whiskies, but at the end of the day I prefer single malts.  Maybe that will change later in the future, but for now I'm not crazy for wheated bourbons. On a positive note, I am very open to trying these bottles again.  I don't like the idea of judging something negatively if I've only tried it once.  Luckily, there are people who are way into these products, so I'm very happy that people love these bourbons.  I like that there's a market out there for everyone, and I just hope that all companies will continue to thrive and be successful, including all of these products that I tasted for this particular night.

Bartenders have made the argument that wheated bourbons are known to have a more mellow flavour than a typical bourbon that has rye, corn and grains in the mashbill.   I find the wheated bourbons tend to be more on the oak-forward, grassy side, so I'm indifferent to it.  I'd like to interview some people to see why they love these products so much.  Hopefully, I'll flag someone down to get their point of views.  I struggle saying negative things about products, so I definitely feel bad for not really liking these wheated bourbons, but I'm looking forward to tasting them again and seeing if my perspective will change.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Southern California Whisky Club

The Southern California Whiskey Club has formed!  I went to my first whisky event with this group tonight at Far Bar in Little Tokyo, but I'll document that later.   Here's the information about the group below.

This was the email that I got about the club if you're interested to join!

Here is a little about the club-
I designed this club so that people that love Whiskey could try Whiskey and potentially other spirits that we might not be able to try otherwise. Most of us cannot afford to build a massive collection of auction bottles nor do we have the time to hunt them down. By combining resources, we can all enjoy spirits together. The club is open to anyone who wants to participate, whether they are a whiskey expert or are just starting to enjoy the beverage.

Here are the rules of the club:
1.     Have fun and allow others to have fun!
2.     No telling others how they should drink their whisky! (If you want to drink your whisky over fruity pebbles cereal, that is fine) It is yours to enjoy.
3.     Please be respectful of the places of business that allow us to have our meetings at their location.
4.     No Mean drunks
5.     If you are a mean drunk, please remember rule #1.

I am personally very excited to have fellow whiskey drinkers get together to share some special stuff, I have several more cool events planned which I will ask for your feedback on at the meeting.