Thursday, December 16, 2021


Concluding our consumption of the Bourbon Advent Calendar....

Day Ten- Today's selection are both brands you are probably familiar with, but from some of their higher end selections. 

While I am quite familiar with Maker's Mark, I had never tried their "46" offering before, and liked it enough to want to at least try another shot again (you can't buy a bottle of everything, right?).

I may have had the Knob Creek 9 year before but it was before I started taking photos of the bottles. It did not disappoint.

Day Eleven-  Back to brands I am not familiar with-Legent is a Kentucky bourbon finished in wine and sherry casks and was quite good, as was the Uncle Nearest 1856, a Tennessee  blended whiskey.

Day Twelve- Today's selections were a familiar old friend and a stranger. Jack Daniels's was my first whiskey, and for years the bottle I had in the house. While it has been years, and I have never tried their single barrel release, I liked it, although the aftertaste was similar in strength to my memory of the basic Jack's bottle.

Contradiction Bourbon is from Smooth Ambler Spirits in WV, and is a blend of their own wheater bourbon and two ryes procured from Tennessee and Indiana. It makes for an interesting taste experience to finish off the bourbon calendar.

What you say? How can this be? 

You have completed the Advent calendar in twelve days?

If you recall, I had made my own calendar before Jeannie surprised me with this one.

We will review that calendar beginning with the next post-while many of the choices are more common fare (due to the nature of what was available in local shops), there are a couple of things you may not be familiar with.

Saturday, December 11, 2021


Continuing our enjoyment of the Bourbon Advent calendar.....

Day Four-I think I said this in the earlier post, but I am still new to rye whiskey-I'd had one from a local distillery in Seattle over the summer, and that was my first exposure and I did not like it a lot. 

During one of my sampling nights at a local whiskey bar (The Cabin in Glendale AZ) I was accidentally given a shot of rye when I'd ordered the same distillery's bourbon, and said "what the heck" and drank it-I liked that better.

This Cherrywood Rye was tasty, and not quite as spicy as the other ryes I have had. The Michter's was quite good-so far I have enjoyed every Michter's shot I have tasted.

A little off-topic, but there is an Irish whiskey called Dead Rabbit that I thought was quite like a rye and is worth a taste if you see it on the shelf.

Day Five-The pure Kentucky was quite good-a little strong on the aftertaste but that may have been the higher proof. I have read in some reviews of barrel strength whiskeys where people add water to them and I do not quite get the point of that, but to each their own. I don't like mixing my whiskey into cocktails, either, but my wife does and I'm sure as heck not going to tell her not to-I just ask her not to use the pricey stuff for that.

But onto my favorite of the calendar (so far)-when I told Jeannie that the shot was called "Burnt Ends" she made a face, but when I took a sip, I FREAKIN' LOVED IT! It had a strong barbeque flavor that complements the bourbon flavor, not quite as overpowering as the cinnamon in Fireball, but certainly more than just a  flavor from the finishing cask. 

I immediately went online to see where I could score a bottle, but so far I do not see it available in the US-from what I can tell this is a UK whiskey despite the spelling (usually the UK spells whiskey as 'whisky")

Day Six - Today, both selections were from Four Roses, a brand I am already familiar with. The bottle to the right seemed to be the same as a shot I had recently had on a night out at our local sports bar, and did not disappoint. 

The bottle on the left was a single barrel selection at 100 proof, and while the aftertaste was a little powerful (again, I assume from the higher proof) it was also quite nice, although I am not sure it would warrant a significant cash outlay over the basic offering.

Day Seven- Today the first selection went back to Illinois' Few Spirits distillery and their bourbon offering, which seemed to have a little of the spiciness of rye and was quite good. 

The Daddy Rack was also good although this brand seems to be hard to find.

Day Eight-today's selections were two bourbon whiskies that both went down well. I would be hard pressed to say which one I liked better, although it may have been the James Cree by a little bit. 

Both seem hard to come by if you want to purchase a bottle, which is the one frustration of the alcohol laws in the US-we should be allowed to buy bottles directly from distilleries and have them mailed to us. 

Tell your congressman (or congresswoman)!

Day Nine- I thought that based on the name, I was going to like 'Charcoal & Cornmeal & Rickhouses & a Decade' as much as the Burn Ends offering from Day 5. 

Now don't get me wrong-I liked it, and the flavor was quite interesting, interesting enough for me to see if I could score a bottle (I can't seem to find it) but so far that Burn Ends whiskey was the best-I'd buy another calendar if they would just stock it with the Burn Ends.

This was my first time sampling a Michter's Rye product, and the brand does not disappoint. I'd learned of  Michter's in a book '101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die' and so far everything I have tasted from that brand lives up to the book's hype.

More to come....

Saturday, December 4, 2021


 A couple of months ago (sometime in October), Jeannie made reference to an Advent calendar, something I had never heard of.

Growing up, my parents had an Advent wreath with four candles, but Jeannie talked about a calendar with little openings and little candies for each day from December 1 to December 24.

I thought-'there should be one for whiskey'-and googled it, and lo and behold there are, although they were all from companies based in the UK.

I found an empty Advent calendar box online an purchased it, only to find it had twelve openings, so while they called it an 'Advent' calendar it was really more suitable for the 12 days of Christmas.

Undeterred, I bought 24 shooters of various whiskies (one each for Jeannie and me), leading up to Blanton's on the final day. I had not decided whether we would do this during Advent and augment it with whiskey from the shelf, or do a 12 days of Christmas calendar.

Jeannie made the decision easy-she had ordered one of the calendars from the UK as a surprise, so I suggested we share that for the first 12 days of Advent and then finish the season with my homemade calendar.

I am sure that if Jesus had been born in Kentucky rather than Bethlehem, the Magii would have given bourbon as one of their gifts (probably 20 year Pappy Van Winkle)

Here are the first three days' selections from the UK calendar:

Day One-an Elijah Craig small batch bourbon and a ten-year Bulleit whiskey-both excellent

Day Two-Old Scout whiskey (good, but a little harsh) and a Whistlepig six-year rye. The rye was quite good, and I am still new to rye whiskey

Day Three-Gentleman Jack and Few Spirits rye. I have had Jack Daniels hundreds of times (it used to be my go-to) but had never before tried Gentleman Jack and thought it was quite smooth, much more so than I remember Jack being (it has been years). The Few Spirits rye was good, although I liked the Whistlepig from day 2 a lot better. 

More to come....

Monday, November 8, 2021


Jeannie and I have decided to limit our air travel this year, due to the perfect storm of COVID resurgences, airline overbookings and software glitches, among other things.

I had been doing some searches for local distilleries, and found a few in the Tucson and Flagstaff areas. One of the Flagstaff sites that popped up was actually a restaurant, with the distillery located in nearby Williams, Arizona and boasting a full bar and restaurant on site.

Their spirits seemed interesting, and the restaurant menu looked good to us (we lean towards the "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" types of establishments), and I thought this would be a nice dry run of a vacation that revolved around whiskey tasting. 

So one weekend in late August, we drove up to Williams on a Friday afternoon, checked into a hotel and took an Uber to the Grand Canyon Distillery (only a mile or so away, but since I was planning to sample whiskey, better safe than DUI).

The first thing that caught my eye was their selection of bourbons and whiskeys (and whiskies). I had assumed they would mostly carry their own product.

Since the purpose of the trip was to sample their in-house offerings, I started with a flight of  four of their spirits. I did not think to take a picture of the flight, and this was one of the first times I thought to capture pictures of the bottles.

I started with their bourbon, a wheated bourbon made with Arizona blue corn and aged 24 months.

Next up was Star Shine, a single malt whiskey that got a 91 rating from Whisky Advocate magazine.

For number three, I tried Bond Fire, another single malt finished in applewood-smoked casks. 

The fourth choice was difficult. The distillery offered a cinnamon whiskey, but I thought that would be too much like Fireball. They also offered whiskeys finished in IPA and Stout casks, but I thought that would be too much like the similar Jameson offerings.

So I landed on their Small Batch Cherry Vanilla Whiskey, which was quite nice-the flavor was subtle rather than in-your-face like many flavored spirits.

So after four generous pours, you may have thought I'd call it an early evening, but I decided to try a couple bottles off of their shelf.

I'd recently purchased an Amazon Kindle offering, '101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die.'

The advantage to the Kindle version is it is on my phone, so I had it with me in Williams. 

The disadvantage is that you can't check off what you have tried (or put in notes), which was what inspired me to start taking pictures of bottles.

Anyway, I tried a couple of the spirits on the list. First up was Michter's US1 Small Batch a Kentucky straight bourbon.

Some years ago, a friend of mine had given me some bourbon knowledge, and his take was that bourbon was so highly regulated that the only difference between the well and the top shelf was marketing.

In my mind that is only partially true-I have tasked enough high-end bourbon over the last few months that you can, quite often, see where the extra money is going, but an expensive bottle is not a guarantee of wonderful flavor, and terms like 'small batch' are not legally defined, and you run the risk that they may just be marketing fluff.

In this case, it was not fluff, the Michter's did not disappoint.

My last glass of the evening was Old Forester's-the book recommends what looks to be their basic bottle, and I tried their 1870 Original Batch, which was a bit of a step up, and tasted quite nice.

We also ate dinner sometime during all of this, and while I forget what we had, I know we both enjoyed it. 

Jeannie sampled a few of their beer offerings and liked them, so all in all we had a good night. and were glad to have made the trip.

If you ever pass through Williams, I highly recommend this place (although you should maybe plan to spend the night to enjoy their offerings safely).

Tuesday, October 5, 2021


Jeannie and I booked a trip last year (2020) to Ireland through an outfit called Great Value Vacations. We have used them for international trips in the past-they are amazingly affordable and the trips have all been great.

Unfortunately, COVID hit, and the Ireland trip was cancelled. GVV's policy was no refund, but you could use the credit on a future trip. We booked a "future" trip in late 2020, and to no one's surprise, that was cancelled.

I booked a trip in August 2021, but decided to make it a US-based trip (thinking COVID was still making travel very iffy), and where we landed was a bus tour that went from Seattle, through Oregon and Northern California's Redwood forest, and finished in San Francisco.

While I have never been a fan of the idea of a bus trip, and having done one, am not sure I would do it again (I like being able to set my own schedule), it worked out well for this trip, as on the way to the airport, what had been a nagging ache in my lower back seemed to get worse, and by the end of our first day in Seattle (Friday), turned into extreme pain.

Day two in Seattle, it was even worse, and my self-diagnosis was a pinched nerve based on a prior one I'd had a decade or so ago. A phone call to my sister (who is an MD) confirmed this was probably the case, and she recommended anti-inflammatory and lots and lots of stretching.

However, walking anything more than a half a block was a challenge, and I am sure driving would have been worse, so I was glad this was a bus tour, although the condition did cast a pall on the trip.

We had lunch Saturday at an Irish pub (The Blarney Stone) across the street from Pike Place Market. Nice atmosphere and a pretty good whiskey selection.

I had a shot of Midleton Very Rare-this is an expensive shot of Irish whiskey (especially right next to Pike Place Market), but your taste buds will tell you that the money is well spent (although when you look at the receipt later in the day you may have some buyer's remorse pangs). 

After lunch, I was hobbling my way down the street about a block from the Pike Place Market (Jeannie patiently keeping pace with me), and while passing a Target store, I saw this vision of beauty in the window.

I told Jeannie I was going to pursue a relationship with this vixen, and went in (turns out the liquor store was not a part of Target) and bought the bottle.

Here is my theory. For decades, I kept a bottle of Jack Daniels in the house in the event of a toothache. Experience had taught me that JD did not really cure the toothache, but after a couple of shots, it did not seem to bother me as much. That logic worked the same way with pinched nerve paid-it was bad, and mostly manifested itself in my knee, but after a couple of nips at the bottle, I felt much better about the agonizing pain. I did not find out until a week later that I should have been taking a much stronger dose of anti-inflammatory, and the other passengers on the bus probably thought I may have had a bit of a drinking problem, but I was on vacation, so what the heck?

For the record, this is a basic bottle of whiskey ($20) and is in line with a $20 Jameson's bottle, very enjoyable. While I would not tell you to kill yourself trying to find it, if you came across it, I'd say it is worth picking up as a change of pace.

The whole point of this post is whiskey, so I am going gloss over how we got to Newport, OR, and just tell you that we did arrive in Newport on Monday afternoon. 

At around 2:30, we had a choice to get on the bus and check into the hotel, then come back to town for dinner, or stay in town and kill a few hours until dinner.

Looking across the street, I saw a sign for the Rogue Bayfront Public House, and knew that Jeannie would enjoy trying their brews (our tour guide had mentioned their beer) so we opted to stay on the waterfront.

I had to hobble to the bar, stopping a few times on the two block walk (very humbling, this experience). Imagine my delight when we got inside and I learned that Rogue brewing also distilled spirits!

I had a flight with a sampling of four of their whiskies, and while I liked all four, I thought the Dead Guy  and Rolling Thunder Stouted whiskies were the best.  I had a full pour of each just to make sure-I want this blog to be accurate, you know.

While I say I could live in a pre-cell-phone world, it is handy to be able to do things like Google your hometown liquor store to see if they carry the whiskey you are drinking (they do), but I saw the bottle on display, and it looked cool, and I bought it just in case the bottles in the retail environment did not have the same cool topper/cork (if anyone knows the proper terminology, let me know).

So now I had two bottles of whiskey on the bus...but this was only Monday, and I had put quite a dent in the bottle of Hellcat Maggies since Saturday afternoon...

Well we made out way down the Oregon coast, through the Redwood forests, and into San Francisco.

Our hotel bar had Pappy Van Winkle, but it was pricey and I still had some of the Rogue bottle to finish (having completed my liaison with Hellcat Maggie sometime on Wednesday) so I did not partake. 

Somehow, by Friday night, I was able (with Jeannie's assistance) to finish the Rogue Dead Guy bottle, avoiding the issue of how to get a bottle of whiskey into luggage without it breaking.

Saturday morning, we flew back to Phoenix. It has taken a couple of months, but the pinched nerve seems to be getting under control, and I have more whiskey adventures to blog about.

More to come!

Sunday, September 12, 2021


For much of my forties, well into my fifties, I considered myself a bourbon man.

Then in April 2016, Jeannie (my then-lady friend and now wife) and I went to Ireland, and did a tour of the Jameson facility near Cork. 

We arrived for the tour early, and a gentleman of roughly my vintage offered me a complimentary shot of whiskey.

It was absolutely the best thing I’d ever tasted and I told him so. He told me it ought to be, the shot would normally cost thirty Euros. The whiskey was Midelton’s Very Rare Barry Crockett Reserve.

The same gentleman led the tour, and he was well-versed in the history of the Irish whiskey industry and the Irish distilling process. I wish I knew his name, because he introduced me to the pastime that would replace my music collecting addiction.

The tour finished up in a tasting room, and they gave us three small samplers- Jameson, scotch and bourbon (I forget the brands).

I LOVED the Irish whiskey. From that day forward I am an Irish whiskey man.

I bought a bottle of the Barry Crockett, and saved it for what would serve as my bachelor party (April 29, 2021)

On a later trip, I bought a bottle of 21 year Bushmills-that was saved for our wedding night (May 1, 2021)

It cracked me up when one of my cousins tried the Bushmill and slammed id down like it was a shot of Jack Daniels. I pointed to the bottle of Jameson’s and told him that was the slamming or mixing whiskey.

During the pandemic, I was not really spending much money on anything and started experimenting with more expensive whiskies. While I learned that you do not have to spend  a fortune for good whiskey, spending a little more pays dividends in taste.  

Ten years of aging also seems to be the sweet spot for taste, but is not a guarantee and that by no means is saying there is not good whiskey that is younger.

Now here is where I have to warn readers-I know what I like, but I am horrible at expressing why I do or do not like a whiskey. Since everyone’s tastes differ, my opinion should not drive your decision to try a whiskey.

I love the Barry Crocket bottle, for example, but the Bushmills was a bit of a disappointment to me-good, but not awesome (and it was pricey).

I tried Proper No. Twelve and did not like it as much as the basic Jameson bottle (sorry, Conor McGregor-I heard you beat up a critic of your label once...not sure if this will be enough to be on your hit list)

I found a brand called Kavanagh’s at the local Total Wine, and purchased a bottle of the 16 year (roughly $70) and so far it has been my all-time favorite (also, sadly, no longer available).

I am getting into whiskey late in life (pretty close to 60) and decided that going forward, I will try to only buy whiskey that I had not tasted before (unless, of course, I find another bottle of Kavanagh 16 year).

I have learned that it is far better to spend $25 on a shot rather than $200 on the bottle (especially if you find you do not like it). You can always buy a bottle if you love it, but there are far too many whiskies out there to have a bottle of each one.

I have also found that after three shots, if I want another, it is prudent to switch to the basic Jameson bottle because the more expensive stuff will be wasted on me at that point.

Often, I am quite content to enjoy just one shot, especially when I am doing the driving.

Of course, when it is my turn to pick our destination for an evening out, the depth of the bar's whiskey selection is a major factor.

I came across a book called ‘101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die’ and am using that as a bit of a guide, although I am not limiting myself to what is in that book.

Since this blog has been dormant for so long, and since whiskey has replaced my music hobby, I decided I would chronicle my whiskey adventures on this blog.