Author: Sam "Knash" Green
Disembarking the Metro 16 bus at 6th and Broadway, I confusedly walked up and down broadway trying to orient myself, and thrice had to turn around because I was going the wrong direction (or so I thought). I finally found my destination after about 10 minutes of trying to figure out where the heck it was, Kai Japanese Roots a fairly new sushi and japanese restaurant located in the Spring Arcade Building. This evening, in addition to our Nikka Japanese Whisky tasting, there was a tap takeover for Angel City Brewery; slight side note a tap takeover is when all of a bar’s taps for draught beer are changed out to different beers from a single brewery. As I was early, I decided to indulge in a beer whilst waiting to speak to our presenter for the evening, Mr. Jonathan Kleinbart.
Shortly after I made my introduction, our tasting began. The evening’s lineup was stellar and included almost their entire commercially available range. The Coffey grain, Coffey malt, Miyagikyo, Pure Malt aka Nikka Taketsuru named after Maketsaka Taketsuru the founder of Nikka Whisky and formerly one of the men behind Whisky at Suntory, and the Nikka Yoichi. Each whisky was excellently paired with dish from Kai’s kitchen. Ben and his team did an excellent job of balancing the flavours!
Arriving at just about half past six for a 7:00pm Gin tasting and Martini Master Class, I eagerly stepped off the Metro bus in the heart of the Beverly Hills Shopping District and promptly made my way to the beautiful Montage Hotel to begin the first phase in this Junipery Journey. Upon arriving, I promptly found a seat and introduced myself around. Our hosts for the evening were Sebastian “Seb” Mudge, the Plymouth Global Ambassador, and Ken Baranda who was still a recent addition to the Plymouth at that point in time.
A Gin Rickey was promptly served to all, along with some light bites including a sort of pasta, burger sliders, and delicious crab cake ball things. At about 7:30 the tasting got underway. We learned about the history of the word “Proof”, and how Plymouth Gin used to be of appellation origin. Plymouth makes three variations of their Gin: Navy Strength, Sloe and Original. We tasted only the Original and used it to mix Martini’s, of which the 2:1 was probably my favourite (two parts gin, one part vermouth).
Now before we get to the main part of this write up, I’d like to mention that this piece will be slightly different in that I’ll be writing about cocktails and liqueurs, and not just the base spirit.
Plymouth Gin Original: The gin that started it all, as in their first. I’ve not had many gins but Plymouth is a top brand for a reason; they’re a fairly nice and even gin.
- Nose: As you would expect with a Gin the nose is Juniper forward and has some citrus notes, but not much else to it. Pretty standard fare for a gin, nothing to write home about.
- Flavour: Also juniper forward, but with a sweetness, followed by what tasted like sugar.
Plymouth Gin Original Part Deux (Or after Water): After adding about a shot of water to the gin, it opened up a little more, allowing us to get a few more flavours and aromas.
- Nose: After water the nose opened up to reveal a more mellow juniper aroma with some pepper notes (possibly green pepper). We weren’t entirely certain on this one.
- Flavour: After adding water, the flavour changed to warmer and more subtle sweet juniper notes.
So now that we’ve discussed the base spirit, let’s move on to the vermouth.
Martini & Rossi: Up first, an oldie but a goodie. Martini & Rossi is a sweet vermouth that dates back to sometime before I care to look up, and is a fairly well known name, and I’d imagine common place behind a cocktail bar.
- Nose: As you would expect in a sweet vermouth the nose was very much that, but once I got past that upfront aroma of sweetness there were notes of tanginess and grape.
- Flavour: It was a sweet, but dry flavour with a hint of grape and slightly bready.
Dolin Dry Vermouth: My favourite vermouth of the evening, followed closely by Lillet Blanc.
- Nose: Very sweet on the nose, with notes of fruit jelly and a tanginess that, while subtle, was prevalent.
- Flavour: Very dry, but still sweet and warm.
Lillet Blanc: The modern day version of Kina Lillet which was discontinued years ago. Many feel it doesn’t taste the same, but I honestly don’t know as I never had its predecessor. Of the Vermouth’s we tasted, this was one of my favourites, with the Dolin taking the lead.
- Nose: It had a very strong and sweet grape nose.
- Flavour: Prominent notes of sweet grape, followed by a slight tang and capped off with a very “wet” texture.
Now we move on to the cocktails! I’ve never written about a cocktail in this much depth before, so bare with me!
Bone Dry: This is a martini that has just had vermouth used to rinse the shaker, there is none in the cocktail, which meant it was mostly your choice of Gin shaken or stirred and then
- Nose: Juniper. That’s it, pure Juniper.
- Flavour: There was at least some subtlety of flavour here. It was dry, bitter, and then finished off with more juniper.
10:1: If memory serves, this was 10 parts gin to one part vermouth. But that’s not really that scary when you realize it’s not 10 shots of Gin, that would seriously mess up the balance.
- Nose: Pure Juniper, but this time it was a lot more mellow, much to my surprise.
- Flavour: Juniper forward with some subtle spice and a more dormant sweetness.
5:1: Like it’s 10:1 counter-part this is five parts gin to one part vermouth.
- Nose: I hate to restate the obvious but the nose on this cocktail was Juniper forward (surprise, I know…) with some notes of citrus and sugar.
- Flavour: Nothing special here, juniper, citrus and an extremely mellow sweet/sugary flavour made up this cocktail.
Margerite: Not to be confused with a margarita, this is a gin cocktail that is essentially a 2:1, which, if you haven’t already guessed, is two parts gin to one part vermouth.
- Nose: The nose was, as per expectations, juniper forward with a very subdued citrus aroma.
- Flavour: It tastes like whatever vermouth they used to mix it. Seb said it was Lillet Blanc. It’s sweet with a light bitterness on the back end.
And there you have it folks, my first experience with Plymouth Gin and learning how to make Martini’s. Thanks Seb, Ken, and the entire Plymouth team for having me not once, not twice, but three times to get these notes right! Cheers y’all.
It’s not common that I get to taste a product before it hits retail shelves, but every once in a blue moon I get lucky. The first time was Glenfiddich’s Project XX, the second release in their experimental series. This time I had the pleasure of trying Clase Azul’s 20th Anniversary Reposado bottling. I’m not sure how many other bloggers have had a chance to try this yet, but I think I’m one of the first, and for that I’m very honoured.
If you notice, most of my other posts start with “I arrived at this event” but this one does not. That’s simply because this wasn’t poured for me at an event. Rather, the gentleman representing Clase Azul specifically poured a sample that went to me because my coworkers at my day job (I work at a liquor store by day) knew that I was a spirits writer and wanted to make sure I got some of this new product to try. So a big thank you to Gus, Chamba, and Frank for securing this for me.
It’s not every day that the attic of one of LA’s oldest public houses gets converted into a members only bar, but that’s exactly what has happened at Tom Bergin’s! What once was storage and attic is now “The Vestry” LA’s newest members only bar.
Arriving at 7:00 for a 7:30 tasting and education with Glenmorangie and Travis Tidwell, I stepped out of my Uber to walk into the restaurant Wood & Vine. This was my first time visiting but I’d heard of it before, as it was conveniently located just down the street from my favourite bar Lost Property.
Tonight was no ordinary tasting event, however, as it was a mini launch party of Glenmorangie 1990 Grand Vintage, which we will talk about a little further down the page. Leading up the 1990 Vintage, we tasted Glenmorangie the Original Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, Nectar D’Or, Bacalta, and 18 Year. Now this particular night my nose was a little stuffed up, so some of the aromas were harder to get. I’d met Travis briefly once before at Seven Grand for their 10 year anniversary, but it was such a crazy night that I didn’t get to talk much with him.
After a very long day of learning about Tequila, its origins, the process in how it’s made and more from the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, we were led in a Patrón tasting by David Alan, their industry education specialist. Aside from a brief taste of Casa Noble to make sure I didn’t absolutely HATE Tequila, this was my first time having the Agave spirit.
Now I know most people don’t like Patrón, they think it’s low quality tequila, and while I cannot speak to that I can speak to the flavour and deliciousness of the six Patrón expressions that we tasted through; Gran Patrón Platinum, Roca Patrón Silver, Roca Patrón Reposado, Roca Patrón Añejo, Gran Patrón Burdeos, and Gran Patrón Piedra.
I eagerly arrived in an Uber at about 1:30 for a 2:00pm tasting at what has quickly become my favorite Hollywood bar, nay favorite bar PERIOD, Lost Property located in Hollywood, on Hollywood and Vine, but unless you knew what you are looking for good luck finding it from the street! There is minimal signage and that helps to keep the lounge/speakeasy feel alive. I’ve been to several events at Lost Property and the team there is amazing. So let me just take this moment to give a shoutout to my friends Jeremy and Rhino who own Lost Property! You two are awesome, and thank you for running such a great and welcoming space.
It’s not every day that one gets to attend a tasting for WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, one of the most well known rye whiskies in the country. For me, doing so so early in my drinking “career” I was very excited for this! But being that it was early on for me, please pardon the minimal notes. I’d had their 10 year once before and was quite pleased with it, and we got to try the elusive Boss Hogg. This wonderful evening was led by Mr. Daniel Khan and Ms. Shelley Buck.
WhistlePig 10 Year: This is their base-line whiskey, nothing fancy here. It’s aged in new American oak with rye whiskey from Canada. Kahn said “It’s got a finish so long it needs its own zipcode!”
Nose: It has a slight astringency on those nose with hints of orange and spice followed by vanilla.
Flavour: Spicy and warm with a sweetness on the back of the palette. Overall, a fairly simple flavour profile.
WhistlePig 12 Year(Old World): Aged in a Madera cask, which we were told was identified as the best barrel for a bourbon whiskey, it’s finished for 6 weeks in 3 casks, Madera, Sauternes (french), and lastly port casks. They are then married to make the 12 year Rye.
Nose: Complex spices, with subtle orange notes.
Flavour: Malty and sweet, with a slight creaminess to its flavor. Overall, it had a powerful yet still subtle flavour.
WhistlePig 15 Year: Oh man, this one gave me a lot of trouble! It’s a good expression, but I had a tough time discerning flavours and aromas.
Nose: The nose on the 15 year is typical of most other Bourbon’s or Rye’s, yet at the same time it was essentially impossible for me to discern any individual aromatic notes.
Flavour: The flavour on the 15 year was nice, and not too overpowering. It is creamy yet slightly bitter at the same time, all the while also having notes of white pepper on the back of the tongue.
The Boss Hog: Oh boy, easily the most anticipated pour of the evening was the legendary “The Boss Hog”. First released in 2013, there has been a release almost every year since, but stock is limited. In 2014 they introduced gorgeous heavy pewter corks with a cool design. Skipping 2015, the most recent release was in 2016 and was a 14 year old. “The Boss Hog” is aged in Scotch barrels giving it a unique flavor and aroma!
Nose: Sometimes less is more, that’s not the case here. The only thing I was able to discern aroma wise was scotch, and while I love a good glass of scotch as much as the next guy, I need my Rye whiskey to have more aromas than just that.
Flavour: By and large the most flavourful expression of the evening, “The Boss Hog” did not disappoint! It was scotchy and smoky, but smooth. It was malty and had some sweet notes all the while there was a creamy to it as well.
In all, I think WhistlePig is doing a great job and I look forward to their next release, and to hopefully getting my grubby little Nerd paws on a bottle of The Boss Hog, but that’s neither here nor there now is it?
Arriving at 6:45 for a 7:00 Macallan tasting my Uber dropped me off just out front, or out back depending on how you look at it, of Alley Lounge which as it’s name suggests is behind FIN in Culver City and you literally enter through the alley off Grandview. It’s an unassuming building but that just adds to the charm as, once inside, it’s gorgeous!
I eagerly walked up to the doorman and he checked my name off the list. I was early I had my pick of seating, so naturally I chose the seat that ended up being closest to our host for the evening, the excellent Mr. Brendan Reynolds, Los Angeles Specialist for The Macallan. The evening’s line up included Macallan 12 yr, Macallan 12yr Double Cask, Macallan Rare Cask and the most awaited pour of the evening Macallan Edition No. 2!
– Macallan 12 year: I’ve had 12 year on a few occasions before, it’s a solid expression and is on the younger side of what Macallan sells, but it’s good. The nose consists of subtle caramel aromas, as well as sweetness and creaminess. Flavor wise is really nothing special. It’s a sherry cask expression (like most of their lineup) with a subtle sweetness to it, and it’s smooth and has a peppery flavor consistent with most scotch.
– Double Cask: The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask is my favorite of Macallan’s lineup, at least of what I’ve had so far. It’s very dry on the nose, while still remaining sweet and creamy with subtle sherry and oak notes. The flavor is smooth and subtle with a slight wateriness to it.
– Edition No. 2: This was, for me, the most anticipated pour of the evening. For most people I’d venture a guess that it would be Rare Cask but seeing as I’ve had that particular expression about 7 times now, I don’t really care as much anymore. The nose was definitely different. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. It had spices, a subdued sweetness, and some oak notes. Then there were also some light fruit aromas, perhaps apple, though I’m not entirely certain. Following that were notes of sherry, some very subtle malt, and a pinch of cinnamon. The flavor didn’t quite live up to the nose, but was still a solid pour. It’s sweet and heavy, with warming spices.
– Rare Cask: The infamous Macallan Rare Cask! $300 for a bottle of this beauty, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it’s no longer the best thing in their lineup (in my humble opinion). It has a strong and sherry forward nose, with a slight creamy aroma that is followed up a slight scent of hops. Yes, hops, like in beer (no, I had not had “too much to drink” at this point). It was finished by some malt. The flavor profile for this expression is sherry forward, with some subtle spices, and it’s very warm.
In all, it was a phenomenal tasting led by Mr. Reynolds, and Alley Lounge was kind enough to provide snacks while we enjoyed our Scotch. If you ever go to this venue make sure to get their bacon jam, it’s SOOO good! Chris H.M., who runs Alley with his team, put on a great event, and had excellent Macallan cocktails to order. I am very excited to go back there for another tasting event!
*As always allow me to add this disclaimer. I am still new to the world of Scotch, Whiskey and Spirits. Therefore my palette is still developing. As with Scotch and other Whiskeys, where there are usually some tasting notes from the distillery, more often than not, people find their own flavors.
It’s not every day that I get to taste a scotch that isn’t even on shelves in Southern California yet, but that’s exactly what happened when I went to this little “secret soiree”. I had been looking forward to this night with immense anticipation for several days; I mean the company I was to experience this tasting adventure with included members of some of LA’s prestigious whisk(e)y clubs along with several members of the spirits trade. The last time I attended anything as exclusively comparable was when I got to go to a private event hosted at the Blizzard Entertainment campus for the actors and their friends/family for StarCraft 2.
Traffic is a mean co-conspirator and being more of a pain than usual I was a bit nervous; that is until I realized it was due to the premiere of Kong: Skull Island happening just a few miles down the road. I excitedly walked into Lost Property, armed with my trusty “Log of Spirits”(which coincidentally enough, is a Glenfiddich vinyl notebook) plus my trusty pen and met the host for the evening’s festivities Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich, West, Mrs. Jennifer Wren.