Saturday, March 30, 2013

03/28 - Whisky and... yeanling


You've to take the chance when they come in... so I took the chance for another excellent dinner together with a bunch of whisky lovers at the Restaurant Gemsle in Dornbirn... again Manfred treated us with some fine food... yeanling prepared in three different ways.

16 people followed the invitation for this event and a nice range of whiskys was put on the table (everybody brings a bottle of which he thinks it'll go well with the food)...

  • Laphroaig 13 yo., High Spritis
  • Laphroaig 6 yo. SSMC
  • Lagavulin 16 yo.
  • Lagavulin Distiller's Edition 1995
  • Elijah Craig 12 yo. (not my glass of whisky)
  • Redbreast 15 yo. (not too bad but not among my favorites)
  • Auchentoshan Valinch (surpringly good)
  • Aberlour 15 yo., SSMC
  • Benriach 30 yo. --> great stuff!
  • Amrut 100
  • etc.

We'd some really fantastic whiskys, but the Benriach 30yo. that Moses brought was definitely one of the highlights... 30 yo. and a very dark color from the Oloroso sherry cask... a liquid dessert... awesome!!

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It´s all prepared

A good starter


Wow... what a fantastic dram!

After we enjoyed our first whiskys the dinner was served... Manfred made it in three different ways (from right to left in the picture below):
  • ragout style
  • a burger (filled with some goat cheese)
  • roasted leg
Three completely different styles but all absolutely delicious...

The side dishes were great too but who needs them when you get such a tasty meat (I made no pic of the kohlrabi)....

Homemade spaetzle

Yeanling prepared in 3 different ways

One of the after dinner drams, a Lagavulin Distiller's Edition 1995 which went well with the Custom Rolled cigar - Robusto Extra sized - from Urs Portmann that he gave me a while back...

Later we also had some cheese, the regular stuff as last time... added by a goat cheese with a pumpkin coating... a flavor bomb! 

A great evening filled with very delightful components.... to be repeated... thx to Moses (www.moses-kost-bar.at) for the whisky (the Benriach rocked!) and Manfred (www.gemsle.at) for the excellent food... it's a pleasure!

Lagavulin, Distiller's Edition 1995

Whisky and cigar

Goat cheese with a pumpkin coating

The dessert looks tasty

Manfred Leitner, the chef of the Gemsle

Monday, March 25, 2013

03/22 - Something completely different


We'd some really high quality tastings in the past... this time we'd something completely different... some down-to-earth whiskys... but nobody knew what is was... I made it as a blind tasting!

6 whiskys.... some regular stuff, some extraordinary... a good mix. Here's what came out...

This time I made a limit of 10 people, finally we ended up with 12... luckily I'd just enough of each whisky to fill each glass.

Again Urs brought some cigars, this time a box of El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme, to go with the drinks. The cigar was great and a good match.

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It's all prepared

El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme



It's smoking very well...


Drinking...

Smoking...

Thinking...

Guessing...


Trying the cocktail of leftovers.... hahaha


The first whisky, a simple standard... Macallan 12 yo. Fine Oak... better than expected and a good way to start this evening...


The first surprise was the second one, Bunnahabhain Darach Ur. Bunnahabhain is generally a very light peated whisky, but in this case you didn't taste any peat. They used fresh oak casks to mature it, so the influence of the wood was very significant. An unusal Islay whisky....


Grassy and a lot of citrus... oh well, it's really a Glenmorangie, the Traditional 100 Proof to be precisely... the favorite of the evening for some of the participants...


Glenlossie... 24 yo. bottled by the Scotch Single Malt Circle... a great sherry bomb with a lot of complexity... you could feel that the people really liked that whisky... great stuff! Definitely one of the highlights... together with the next one.


A 35 yo. Macduff... what a treat... and a great smile on the faces of the participants... a great whisky and all agreed that it seems to be old stuff...


The last one was a cheap trick of mine... an American Single Malt... the Leviathan I from Lost Spirits. It's confirmed by all that this whisky needs a while in the glass to open up... anyhow: this one is extreme! It's not a whisky for every day and time... but there are good occasions where it'll be the perfect one.


It was a different tasting than the other ones before, but it was again a great evening with a lot of interesting conversation and fun... You all should keep your eyes open for the anniversary tasting in October... the 10th tasting... which means 5 years...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A great flavor experience


BBQ means for me to try new things... it's a long journey with a lot of experiments. My latest experiments ended up in a new rub called Apple Kiss.

Due to the fact that I've allergic reactions to raw apples I always look for possibilites to treat them because I really like to eat them... but I prefer it to have no issues later. So I did some tests with dried apples, which worked fine... those dried apple rings brought the idea to my mind that they could be ground now... and then you can make a rub with that powder... that's what I did and after a few steps this new rub was born.

I was sure that it would go perfectly with babyback ribs (you also use apple juice as a mopping liquid) and so all the tests were done with ribs to bring it to its final composition. To intensivate the flavor experience I additionally made a glaze which's based on apple juice...

Sounds like a lot of apple... but the result is awesome... it's a thing which's more on the sweet side but it's absolutely delicious...

I also made another test run with pig cheeks... two with Cherry Kiss rub and a cherry glaze, two with Apple Kiss rub and an apple glaze... both came out fantastic with the apple one being a bit more on the sweet side...

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Dried apple rings

Apple Kiss

Rubbed ribs

What a nice shine on them...

A nice smoke ring

Pig cheeks with two different flavors (left: Cherry Kiss, right: Apple Kiss)

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's all about humidity


Recently we'd an interesting discussion on Instagram about the preference of cigars with a bigger or a smaller RG... this discussion led to the point where we talked about storage conditions and stuff like that.

This discussion caused me to make a little write-up because it seems that things that I thought that they're common knownledge seem not to be known to everybody.

Ok... let's start with some facts... it's definitely a fact that recently there's a tendency to cigars with a bigger RG (I call them jawbreakers which means for me all those 50+ sizes).

I prefer cigars with a small RG (42 and smaller) but there are also some exceptions... as there are exceptions to any rule... but what's the reason that many people dislike those thin cigars... Why do people always complain about them? Problems like plugging, or getting bitter or too hot... that's the things you can hear very often...

Let's start with the last issue... the cigar gets too hot... simple reason: people smoke too fast (you cannot smoke a thin cigar as fast as a fattie). It gets hot... of course... and in the end it also gets bitter due to the burning process... the only solution is: smoke slower and pay attention to your cigar! It's said easier than done... but that's the reason why I prefer bigger RGs when I smoke at a herf... and big means for me RG 50 which's a Robusto size... they need less attention and forgive it when you smoke them a bit faster than you are used to do...

La Corona Coronas from 1992

I know people who smoked a Montecristo A in less than 1 hour... that's absolutely crazy... when I smoke an A-size it normally takes me more than 3 hours... so: take your time! And if you don't have the time, choose a smaller cigar.

Now we get to the point where we initially started... the discussion about humidification. Let's simplify it a little bit: the wetter a cigar is, the higher is the tendency for plugging.

For me 72 % rH, which's the standard humidification level of many cigar smokers and shops is too wet imho. But that's a personal preference. For long term storage I use a humidity of app. 63 to 65 %, the cigars I smoke are stored at 65 to 67 % which's perfect for me. I never had any problems with plugged cigars... Storing more on the dry side means that you've less moisture in the cigar itself which leads to less condensate that can plug your stick! Conclusion: a wet (stored at 72 %) stick will have more condensate inside than a dry (stored at 65 %) stick, so the tendency for plugging is much higher in the wet one.

Maybe you've heard the term "dry-boxing" in the past... dry-boxing reduces the humidity in a stick and helps to make it smokable... and guess what: it works in many cases. And guess why: less moisture content, less condensate...

On the other hand people are very sensitive when it comes the humidification of their humidors. I'm relaxed about this... I'm a process engineer, I learned a lot about wet and dry air, humidification and all the measuring. And believe me: cigars, which are stored in closed boxes are less sensitive regarding the humidity than most people think.

You think that you really have a rH of 72 % when it is shown on the hygrometer of your humidor? I'm sorry to say but I can't take those instruments for serious... even if you spent more money on them they maybe cost you USD 100... you think that´s expensive? If you really want to make a serious measurement of the humidity you need a dew point monitor... which is about USD 40´000. That's the only instrument which'll give you an exact result... all the rest shows you values which can vary +/- 5 ... 10 %!

Do you trust that value?

The crucial thing about "relative Humidity" can be found in the word itself! It´s RELATIVE! This means it depends on the temperature. So... if you talk about rH you also should mention the referring temperature. In terms of cigar storage people speak about 72 % rH at a temperature of 20 °C / 68 F. To have an absolute value at those conditions you should talk about the water content of the air... at this point it's 12.46 g/m³ (the maximum capacity at this point is 17.31 g/m³). If the temperature is 15 °C the water content at 72 % would be 9.82 g/m³ (22 % less), if the temperature would be 25 °C the water content at 72 % would be 16.61 g/m³ (33 % more).

This means that you need the absolute water content if you want to be sure to keep your cigars at constant conditions which refer to 72 % rH @ 20 °C. Maybe this graph helps you with that.

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Theoretically you should increase your humidity if you get lower than 20 °C and lower it if you get higher than 20 °C... but if you want to be exactly like this you need a good measuring device... which brings you back to a point that I mentioned earlier. On the other hand... this graph shows you that the humidity would be close to 100 % if stored at 15 °C (considering that you wanna have the same conditions as at 20 °C)... but honestly: that makes no sense!

So the best indication for the correct humidity in your humidor is your personal feeling... the cigars should feel not dry and just wet enough to be smokeable. You'll get this feeling after a while when you're into this "cigar thing"...

If you want another interesting point of view about storing cigars you should check out the following link. My friend from www.feltedhat.com also wrote some lines about this topic: http://www.feltedhat.com/?p=682

Sunday, March 10, 2013

03/06 - Whisky and... mussels


Mussels and whisky go together very well, especially if you take the right whisky. But what is the right choice?

We met at the Restaurant Gemsle a few days ago to enjoy some fresh mussels prepared in two different ways:
  • The first course was prepared "au gratin" with a variation of a Sauce Hollandaise
  • The second course was cooked in a pot with wine, onions, garlic and some herbs

Everybody brought a bottle of whisky which should go well with the food in his opinion which ended up in a nice range of different Single Malts.

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Bruichladdich XVII

Arran "The Devil´s Punch Bowl"

Compass Box The Peat Monster

Deanston from the SSMC

For me the Arran "The Devil's Punch Bowl" and the Bruichladdich XVII where the perfect combo with both types of mussels... the Peat Monster was some kinda disappointment: very peaty in the nose, but a bit lightweighted in the mouth... I expected more of it... definitely no monster... maybe a toothless monster.


Nosing

Mussels au gratin

Slurping some whisky outta the shell

A pot full of mussels


That´s it... all gone.

One more word about the Bruichladdich: this one has an interesting fruitiness reminding of Laddies which have been bottled in the late 70s and 80s, just a hint of peat and a decent saltiness...

Some cheese for dessert



It was another great evening with fantastic food and great whiskys to match with it. I'm looking forward for the next event...


Monday, March 04, 2013

The blind tasting line-up


It's about time to do the pre-tasting for our 9th whisky tasting that will happen in the Griffins Business Lounge soon... due to the fact that it'll be a blind tasting I won't show the bottles here before... but I'll publish my impressions of the different whiskys that I tried...

Let's start with the first... no information about chill-filtering and coloring.

Nose: Malt and cereals, ripe apples, well balanced

Taste: sweet, malty, some caramell, marshmallows?, hints of liquorice and toast

Aftertaste: Short with some malt and roasted nuts

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No. 2 is as follows.. non-chillfiltered and no coloring.

Nose: Fresh oak, spice

Taste: Citrus fruit, spicy, vanilla, walnut, cinnamon

Aftertaste: Mouthdrying ginger



Candidate No. 3... also non-chillfiltered and no coloring.

Nose: grassy and farmy notes, hints of peat, some bloomy notes, caramel

Taste: caramel, cold tea, malt, cooked apple, hints of citrus

Aftertaste: citrus and caramel



It's halftime... do you have a rough guess what type of casks those whiskys are? Any guess about the distilleries due to my descriptions?

Anyhow... no. 4 is queued up... again: non-chillfiltered and no coloring...

Nose: Notes of roasted coffee, some licorice, dried fruits

Taste: spicy.. wow..... rum raisins, bitter chocolate, sweetness of the Sherry.... you don't feel the high alcohol content, well embedded.... amazing...

Aftertaste: A hint of peat on a sweet base flavor...



No. 5, again non-chillfiltered and no coloring...

Nose: A lot of wood hits the nose.... some white pepper, caramell... hints of orange peel and tobacco.

Taste: Dried fruits, some tar, a lot of herbs... very fat in the mouth, more orange peel, liquorice.

Aftertaste: Very, very long... you think you can chew it... dried fruits and a slight saltiness.



No. 6, the last one... non-chillfiltered and no coloring...

Nose: Wine, some sweetness in the background (marple syrup?), a hint of peat

Taste: Decent bitterness and wood, wine, ashes, burnt rubber

Aftertaste: bitterness and sweetness in a pleasant interaction



It's definitely a nice range of 6 completely different whiskys... I'm curious how the people will like this selection...