EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Review: Oloroso Gran Barquero

Oloroso Gran Barquero is fermented and aged, by Pérez Barquero S.A. in Montilla, Spain and bottled at 19% ABV.

Price: $30

Earlier this Spring Wayne Curtis wrote an article on the effect of sherry on the flavor profile of Scotch Whisky and the somewhat symbiotic relationship they have had for the past 100 years or so. After reading his piece I realized that while I have had sherry in the past, I did not know the flavor profiles well enough to pick out their contribution to the flavor profile of Scotch or any other spirit. I decided to reach out to David Driscol of K&L Wines to ask him for recommendations for an Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez style Sherries since these are two of the more common sherry finishes you find in whiskey. One of his recommendations was for Oloroso Gran Barquero from Pérez Barquero.

Pérez Barquero has been making fortified wines in the Montilla-Moriles region of Spain since 1905. While their oloroso is very similar to an oloroso sherry, it cannot be called sherry because it was not made in the Denominación de Origen region of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. This fortified wine starts off with 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes and once the wine has fermented Pérez Barquero uses an solera aging system with three layers of criaderas or nurseries and the final solera.

Quickly, the solera uses a system of fractional blending where barrels of younger wine are stacked on top of barrels with older wine. When the wine in the bottom barrels is fully mature Pérez Barquero will remove a fraction of the wine from the solea for bottling. They then top up the solera barrels with wine from the criadera level above. This process is repeated at each level where younger wine is mixed with slightly older wine and left to mature. Now Pérez Barquero says that through this system the oloroso is allowed to age for 15 years before bottling but it is not clear if that 15 years is  the time it takes for new wine to move through the system before bottling or if it is some average age of young wine mixed with "old" wine in the solera. 

Tasting Notes

Noes:  The aromas is amazing. It smells of dried fruit, baking spices and vanilla. The nose is similar to fruit cake or a rum raisins cake.

Palate:  On the palate the oloroso is bright, semi-dry and has a medium body. The flavors are completely different from the aromas; the oloroso tastes nutty like a mix of walnuts, and hazelnuts. There is also a fresh fruit quality to the flavors that remind me of sweet grapefruit and white grape juice.

Finish : The finish is medium long and has a very nutty and slightly doughy character almost like marzipan with the faintest hint raisins and baking spices at the end.

Conclusion:  This oloroso is fascinating. The nose and the palate are complex and so drastically different that it makes the drinking experience a little confusing. For this reason I don't know that Oloroso Great Barquero will become a regular staple in my home but it had peaked my interest to try a few other sherries in this style.

Review: Macallan Batch 7 Single Malt Scotch Aged 30 Years

Macallan Batch 7 Single Malt Scotch Whisky was distilled at the Macallan Distillery, aged for 30 years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 46.5% ABV

Price: $642.50 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is very complex and layered with notes of fresh summer berries, zinfandel, milk chocolate and a touch of nuttiness. 

Palate: The palate is viscus and round on the front with a well balanced sweetness. The flavor has notes of sherry, malt and roasted nuts. 

Finish: The finish is slightly hot and dry with a woody flavor and notes of cured tobacco. Lastly there is a subtle bitterness from the oak tannins. 

Conclusion: At 30 years old, this Macallan has taken on an incredibly dark color like stained mahogany that is almost completely opaque from the side. The finish is slightly bitter however, after spending 30 years in a barrel it is quite a feat that the whisky isn't completely dominated by oak. The fact that the whisky is still showing well is a testament to the quality of the barrels and the mild climate in which the spirit was aged. 

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.

Review: Carsebridge Batch 1 Single Grain Scotch Aged 52 Years

Carsebridge Batch 1 Single Grain Scotch Whisky was distilled at the Carsebridge Distillery, aged for 52 Years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 40.5% ABV

Price: $250.91 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world. Their Carsebridge Batch 1 comes from the famed and long closed Carsebridge Distillery in Alloa, Scotland.  Located in the Scottish Lowlands, Carsebridge was originally founded by John Bald as a malt distillery in 1799. Apparently Mr. Bald's sons who took over its management, switched the distillery over to making grain whisky in 1851 as the popularity of Blended Scotch began to rise. In 1877, Carsebridge and six other distillers joined together to from the Distillers Company Ltd. and about 90 years later became part of the Scottish Grain Distillers. Finally in 1983, amidst the world decline in whisky popularity, Carsebridge closed its doors and in 1992, the distillery was demolished. Thankfully, there are a few barrels of this amazing whisky still around. That Boutique-y Whiskey Company were able to find 52 year old barrels of their single grain whisky and bottle it at 40.5% ABV. Here single refers to the fact that the whisky in the bottle comes from one "single" distillery. In Scotland grain whisky is made from a mash malted barley, and any other malted or unmalted cereals, which often means corn, wheat, or rye. The regulations for grain whisky do not require the use of a pot still like with malt whisky, so as a result, grain whiskies are usually produced with column stills.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is vibrant a touch of alcohol intermingled with notes of maraschino cherry and a touch of vanilla. A light aroma of oak belies its age. 

Palate: Is incredibly smooth, initially the whisky shows notes of vanilla, rum cake and a touch of oak without any bitterness. However, as the whisky slides over the tongue the flavors transform into a cornucopia of tropical fruit. Notes of passion fruit and guava that is reminiscent of fine aged rum. 

Finish: The finish is dry and very long with subtle notes of passion fruit, guava and fresh green grapes reaching out to the horizon. 

Conclusion: This is an amazing whisky that is a delight to drink neat. I am awe struck that the oak flavors have not totally dominated the spirit but instead is acting as a support for the wonderful fruit flavors that have developed over the last half century. I am not usually one to think of spending hundreds of dollars on one bottle of whisky however, if I was in the market for a truly once in a lifetime bottle that has the quality to match the price this would be at the top of my list. 

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.

Review: Blended Whisky #1 Batch 5 Blended Scotch Aged 50 Years

Blended Whisky #1 Batch 5 Blended Scotch Whisky Aged 50 Years, blended by That Boutique-y Whisky Company and bottled at 46.6% ABV

Price: $160.04 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world. Their Blended Whisky #1 was designed to highlight older malt and grain whiskies from Scotland that when blended creates a smooth and well balanced drinking experience. Batch 5 was released in 2017 and the youngest whisky in the blend is 50 years old.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Nose is full of rich aroma of vanilla, cinnamon and rum raisins. Underlying that is a vibrant note of oak and a slightly hint of smoke carried up on the alcohol. 

Palate: The whisky is very smooth for 46.6% ABV and is full bodied. The flavor starts sweet and fruity on the palate and as the whisky warms on the tongue it shows more of its oak character.

Finish: The finish is long and  slightly sweet with notes of plum and dark cherries. As the finish lingers the smoke comes through and mingles nicely with the residual fruitiness. 

Conclusion: This is a very complex blended Scotch that is vastly superior to some of the other very old blended Scotches on the market. This demonstrates that blended Scotch is not an inferior spirit to single malts but a different animal with the capacity for greatness and newance. 

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.

Review: Blended Whisky #1 Batch 3 Blended Scotch Aged 35 Years

Blended Whisky #1 Batch 3 Blended Scotch Whisky Aged 35 Years, blended by That Boutique-y Whisky Company and bottled at 46.5% ABV

Price: $129.76 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world. Their Blended Whisky #1 was designed to highlight older malt and grain whiskies from Scotland that when blended creates a smooth and well balanced drinking experience. Batch 3 was released in 2016 and the youngest whisky in the blend was 35 years old.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Initially the nose has a strong alcohol bite but after it has a little time to breath, a very strong and fragrant aroma fills your nose. At first there are notes that remind me of Islay peat with its distinctive combination of smoke, iodine and sea air. And, underneath this first layer of aromas are notes of chocolate, fresh apple, and caramel. 

Palate: The palate is smooth with a light touch of heat from the alcohol and medium bodied. The whisky is pleasantly sweet on the tongue with a flavor that is not immediately obvious but reminds me of sweet corn bread. As the whisky warms in your mouth the flavor begins to reveal some of the smoke character followed by briny sea air.

Finish: The finish is mostly dominated by smoke with underlying notes of malt and a slight nuttiness.  

Conclusion: This is a very complex and flavorful blended Scotch that is easy to drink neat and will likely to appeal to those who prefer a touch more smokiness and peat in their whisky.

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.