Monday, January 30, 2012

Pre-tasting 184 years of Whisky


Due to our upcoming Glen Grant Masterclass Tasting with following line-up I did another pre-tasting to take some notes:
  • Glen Grant 19 yo., 1991 - 2011, 54.9 %, bottled by The Whisky Chamber
  • Glen Grant 36 yo., 1973 -2010, 53.6 %, bottled by The Whisky Agency
  • Glen Grant 37 yo, 1973 - 2010, 46.0 %, bottled by THOSOP Belgium
  • Glen Grant 38 yo., 1972 -2010, 44.7 %, bottled by Duncan Taylor
  • Glen Grant, 54 yo., 1957 - 2011, 40.0 %, bottled by Gordon & McPhail

Definetely an interesting line-up... let's start this pre-tasting with the youngest, a 19 yo. from The Whisky Chamber.

Nose: Vanilla, refreshing fruitiness, almond

Taste: Bourbon sweetness, vanilla, Crème brûlée, charred oak, hints of smoke

Aftertaste: Long and creamy, fruits

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Now it's getting older, we jump to the year 1973... oh, my year of birth. 2 bottles from this year: a 36 yo. and a 37 yo.

First of them will be the 36 yo. bottled by The Whisky Agency.

Nose: Honey, rum raisins, liquorice

Taste: Dried fruits, a mix of herbs and spices, hints of cinnamon, some liquorice, oak, some fruitiness (after a while in the glass) of overripe apples

Aftertaste: Medium long, seems a bit "rough" (even though it's 36 yo.), spices



The second one, 37 yo. bottled by THOSOP, Belgium.

Nose: Overripe fruits, wax, honey, liquorice

Taste: Dried fruits, creamy, almond, nutmeg, mix of spices, polished wood

Aftertaste: Long with some spices, oak



The next one, 38 yo. and bottled by Duncan Taylor... let´s pour it in the glass.

Nose: Dried fruits, decent oak notes, bloomy

Taste: White pepper, oak, nutmeg, rum raisins, spices, plum, dark chocolate

Aftertaste: Perfect balance between spices and sweetness, very, very long....



And now... the highlight of the tasting range: a 54 yo, bottled in 2011 by Gordon & McPhail.

Nose: Dried fruits, fresh ground black pepper, buckeye

Taste: Interaction of sweet- and bitterness, oak, rum raisins and plum in the background, very decent smoky aromas, spices?

Aftertaste: Long and warming, wood, hints of smoke


A very interesting range of 5 fantastic whiskys, I'm really looking forward how the participants of this event will like them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

01/25 - Turning older again


Another year passed by... time's running faster and faster... so I decided to take this day off from work and slow down a bit... to enjoy this day.

I thought a while about what to smoke today and I decided to take a special cigar that my friend Koen from Belgium gifted me a few months back. It's a Partagas Palmas Grandes from the late 60s or early 70s... the really great thing is that I still have a partial box of the same cigar from the early 80s, so I can do a vertical tasting and compare those two. That´s my plan and that´s what I did.

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front:  late 60s or early 70s ; back: early 80s

front:  60s or late 70s ; back: early 80s

I started with the older one, the cigar which's older than I am... it's always a big joy to find or get those kinda treasures.

A fantastic smoke

The smell... you don't believe it, but the smell of this app. 40 yo. cigar is simply amazing. Close your eyes and take a sniff... and see yourself standing again in the old library... it reminds of my visit in the world-famous Monastery Library in St. Gallen. The smell of the old and polished wood, the old papers...  Opening the eyes brings me back to my office and made me firing it up.

The first puffs... AMAZING... again: I don't have the right words to describe this incredible flavor... it's vintage flavor. People who know that taste and like it as I do know what I'm talking about. It's joined by some light aromas of wood, some beany flavors... what a creamy smoke... it's wheedling the palate...

I thought of opening a bottle of Champagne to combine it with this cigar but I decided to have it just with water. I don't wanna influence the taste, I can have the bubbly later. It would be a sin to destroy those fine flavors.

Still in the first third... the vintage flavor is in the background, some kinda basic aroma... herbs are coming up, sautéed mushrooms....

The second third... it's getting more Partagas style now... some earthiness... old vintage leather... a bit more wood.... black, fresh-milled pepper... it's a very complex profile, no aroma is dominating, all is well balanced...

It was a good choice to smoke it today

The last third is showing now the true character of a Partagas... an old school Partagas. No more fine flavors.. now it's getting powerful. Leather, wood, earth. A fist in the face. Hints of white pepper while nose-exhaling, but still definitely not unpleasent. It´s pure power until the very end, really hard to put this cigar away to the ashtray for its final rest.

The smoking time was 125 minutes with an always perfect draw, I enjoyed every single minute of it. I'm sure this´ll be one of the best smokes of this year... it'll be hard to outgun that great stick. Thx again, Koen...

Partagas Palmas Grandes, late 60s or early 70s

The second smoke of the day was the same cigar, but from the 80s. Here are my impressions...

The cigar itself is colorado colored and seems to be hard rolled, the wrapper is matt, no oil. The smell reminds me of a visit in the zoo and standing in front of the lion cage.... it's something like the smell of a wild animal, very decent, but that's what came to my mind...

I roasted it over the soft flame of my Dupont and when I had the glowing ring I clipped of the head and took the first puff...

Wood - not hard and straight but very creamy and soft, covering the whole palate. Joined by a very intensive herbal aroma. No slow starter... it enters the stage and it's directly in the spotlight. The first third is a very nice interaction between those two dominating flavors... sometimes there are some other impressions... moss and mushrooms....

The second third still has the herbal (vintage) flavor in the background, the basis on which all other flavor build on.... it's getting rougher... leather, some peaty notes, strong tobacco and milled black pepper.... a complex mixture of flavors.... Wow!

During the last third the herbs become more intensive again... tar and char coal, also hints of dry oak wood and sawdust.... all very well balanced and still creamy on the palate. The cigar gets strong... I'd say it can still rest for a few years period... but I guess I cannot resist to smoke it before....

The draw was perfect, even if I'd some doubts in the beginning, over the smoking time of 90 minutes.

Partagas Palmas Grandes, early 80s

Ok, that's enough about reviews... only one more info about cigars: after those two great sticks I finished the day in the evening with an awesome Partagas Series D No. 4 Reserva... during the day I smoked another Ramon Allones EL 2011 which's a great cigar too in my opinion.

The rest of the day was really relaxed... having some tasty Blackforest cake in the afternoon and excellent beef at an Argentinian restaurant in the evening... followed by some bubbly at home with a handful of friends...

Birthday cake


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fire-roasted BBQ sauce


Many times people use BBQ sauce when having something grilled... but to be honest all of them that I had are all too sweet for my liking, I hate those red-colored liquid sugar! Due to this I decided to make some on my own, so I can have an influence on the taste...

So I took my cedar wood plankbox and filled it with the following ingredients which have been mixed before with some spices, balsamico vinegar and olive oil:
  • Tomatos
  • Red peppers
  • Green chilis
  • Onions
  • Garlic

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Vegetable in the plankbox

Plankbox on the grill

I roasted it on the grill for about 3/4 of an hour to give some smoky aromas to the vegetables, the let it cool down and cut all in small pieces. Then I put all into a large cooking pot where I already had a mixture of
  • Tomato purée
  • Beer
  • Cider vinegar
  • Left-over marinade of the vegetables
brought it to a boil and let it simmer for another 45 minutes. Then I used a immersion blender to comminute the mixture and put it through a colander to remove the remaining tomato and pepper skin, cores etc. Adding some fresh ground salt and black pepper... that´s it.

In the cooking pot

A small part of it is flavored with some Laphroaig Quarter Cask, this'll be my personal sauce... because I'm the one who likes the peaty whisky... and it gives a very special flavor to this sauce.

Laphroaig BBQ sauce

One part I left untouched without any more spices, the second of the big bottles got some extra smoky spices and some extra fresh ground dry chilli. Smoky´n´spicy....

The result: 2 liters of BBQ sauce - regular, smoky´n´spicy, Laphroaig-flavored

It's some work to do but the taste of it shows me that it's worth the effort. Less sweet than the stuff I know and it tastes great... and it´s homemade: fresh ingredients, no additives or stuff like that... maybe I'll let it simmer a bit longer to make it a bit thicker.

P.S.: I added some liquid smoke today (01/24/2012)... oh man, now it's really awesome!!


Monday, January 16, 2012

01/14 - Dogsledding event in Splügen


Eventful days are behind me, due to this there's now another report. This time about the dogsledding event which took place at the weekend in Splügen, a bit more than one hour away from our home.

I found the infos about this event by chance a few days earlier while cruising through the worldwide web... and thought it should be interesting to watch it.

So I left for Splügen on Saturday morning and when I arrived there the whole village and the area around were not reached by the sun, which meant temperatures where about -15 °C / 5 F. About 1.5 hours later the sun warmed it up a little bit but it was still cold.

The race itself took place in several categories: 1 dog, 2, 4, 6 and 8 dogs, additional differences for the rating will be made due to the different races of the dogs...

The atmosphere was really great, you could hear the echoes of the barking and howling of the dogs in the air, you could feel that they're eager for the race, to pull the sledge... and in the end: to have fun!

I really enjoyed watching this event, the first time for me and definetely interesting enough to come back next year.

I hope you like the pix I made, some of those action shots are not too bad I think...

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Friday, January 13, 2012

01/13 - The good, the bad, the ugly


January 13th is the traditional New Year acc. to the Julian Calender. It was replaced in the year 1582 by the so called Gregorian Calender, with the date for New Year's Eve being December 31.

In a few villages of a part here in Switzerland where the people are protestants, there is still the tradition to start the New Year on January 13, villages like Urnäsch, Hundwil or Waldstatt. Another part of this tradition is that groups of masked guys wander through the village, ring their bells in front of the door of the houses to make the people come out and wish the people a happy new year.

They ring their bells which makes a sounds you can hear from far away and perform a typical kind of song, a special kind of yodel.

There are three different types of those dresses: the nice ones, the ugly ones (unfortunately I didn't see those) and the ones which look like forest and nature.

It's great that a few villages in this area still keep to this old tradition....

First there are some pix of the natur guys.... as you can see there are all ages, from kids to adults...

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The youngest...

The youngest...

The teenagers...

The teenagers...

The adults...

Artistical masks

Artistical masks

Artistically masks

The second group that I can show you, are the nice ones... they're wearing masks which look like a real face... all hand-made stuff... they have different kinds of bells and a big headdress which often shows typical scenes from everdays life...

After the good wishes for the new year to the house owner the guys get something to drink, in many cases something with alcohol for the adults, and then they move on to the next house...

Moving to the next house

The so called "Rollenweib" (one at the top and one at the end of the group)

Schellenchlaus

Schellenchlaus

Schellenchlaus

Schellenchlaus

Ringing the bells

Let´s make some noise

Yodeling


Something to drink

Everydayscenes on the hats

Everydayscenes on the hats

Everydayscenes on the hats

Everydayscenes on the hats