Now Drinking

Shandy/Alster/Panaché Drink.

Type: Beer Drink

Recipe: 50% Lemonade/50% Lager (Blonde Ale)

Featured: Keweenaw Pick Axe Blonde Ale

Like many of these old-timey drinks, there is a bit of confusion  as to what actually constitutes a shandy.  According to online sources, in the U.S. a shandy is usually a mix of lager and ginger ale or ginger beer.  In the U.K., it is usually lemon soda with lager.

The German and French equivalents Alster (short for Alsterwasser, after the Alster river that flows through Hamburg) Panaché respectively, are both lagers with lemonade.  Being without ginger ale, but with lemonade, I decided on the continental version tonight.  Also lacking a lager, I used the lager-like blonde ale from Keweenaw Brewing company in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan.

The result was very refreshing.  As I am the only drinker in the house at the moment I had two.  No sense in wasting a perfectly good half can of beer!  At these proportions, the lemonade take the lead, but a pleasant bitterness pokes through at the end.  The beer also gives it a full body and keeps the sweetness of the lemonade from subjecting my teeth to that grinding, aching sweetness they get from drinks like lemonade.  It really hit the spot after a day of planting and coughing.

Now Drinking

Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (KSBW)

Age: No age statement (NAS), ca. 10 y/o

Proof: 100 (50% ABV)

Maker: Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, KY (Kirin)

Barrel: CS 36-2C

OK, I was actually drinking this last night.

When most whiskeys are made, a number of barrels from various locations and of various ages are mingled together to produce the desired taste profile.  Single Barrel whiskeys only contain whiskey from one barrel.  Barrels in different warehouses or different areas of the same warehouse will age differently and as a result will differently.  So most every barrel, even if made from the same recipe by the same distiller will taste differently.

Four Roses takes it a step further, though.  Partly as a holdover from when the distillery was making blended whiskey and partly as just pure brilliance, Four Roses actually makes 10 different bourbons.  They use two different recipes with five different yeast strains to accomplish this.  OBSV is the code for the recipe used for the Four Roses Single Barrel.  The standard yellow label version uses all ten recipes, at various ages.

The nose is intense, it is 100 proof after all, but it smells like the blossoms on my dwarf lemon tree.  It’s not a citrus smell, it’s somewhere between lilac and Bazooka Joe bubble gum.  The taste is definately sweet, but it quickly fades into a dry spiciness.  Not a lot of wood is to be found in spite of the whiskey being around ten years old.  But it does seem to be playing a backround role that can be hard to disentangle from the rest of the whiskey, sort of like the violas in an orchestra.  If they weren’t there, you’d notice, but they’re hard to pick out on their own.  Just when you think you have, you realize it was actually the second violins afterall.

Four Roses Single Barrel is, aside from any annual releases or special offerings, my favorite bourbon on the planet.  To me it’s like a Mozart symphony.  It is at once beautiful and elegant, even a little whimsical, but still powerful.  You come away wanting more, but not always sure that you want to do it all over again, because you wouldn’t want to cheapen the experience.

Now Drinking

Big Dick’s Olde Ale

Brewer: Arcadia, Kalamazoo, MI

Style: Old Ale

ABV: 9%

Big Dick’s Olde Ale was named in tribute to Richard Cœur de Lion (1157-1199), king of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquataine, Count of Anjou, etc.  I doubt the man ever drank any, since it is an English style ale and the man spoke very little English and spent very short amounts of time in England, spending most of his life in France.

At any rate, the first rease(s?) of the ale were a part of the Big Beer series, which included Arcardia’s Shipwreck Porter and Cereal Killer Barleywine.  Now they are being released in normal sized 12 oz bottles in packs of four.

The color of the beer is a beautiful auburn color.  The nose is nice and malty, or should I say big and malty.  It tastes like one expects a big malty ale to taste but then it takes a turn.  It’s as if the road I was on ended suddenly and I found my car driving through a blackberry patch.  No thorns, but a surprising hit of sweetness and tartness.  I liked this the first time I drank it and a like it still.

The bottles have “2009 vintage” written on them, and given that they are at 9% ABV,  I’m assuming these are suitable for aging.  I think I’ll let these sit for a little while longer and come back to them in a few months.

Now Drinking

Old Charter Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Age: 10 yrs.

Proof: 86 (43% ABV)

Maker: Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac, Inc.)

Glass: Small Buffalo Trace glass.

Old Charter is a pretty old brand.  A Mr. Chapeze founded the brand in the 19th century.  His house in Bardstown, KY is available for your next party or corporate event.  Anyway, the whiskey’s previous home was in Louisville at the old Belmont and current Bernheim distilleries (Bernheim replaced Belmont).  It was a sister of sorts to I.W. Harper, which is now only sold overseas, I believe.  They were both dumped when UDV (now known as Diageo) shut down both of their bourbon distilleries in Louisville back in the 1990s.  The brand was sold to whoever owned Buffalo Trace at the time.  While they didn’t keep the same mashbill (recipe), they did use a similar high-corn formula for it.

Old Charter 10 was one of the first bourbons I sought out when I first stated to explore the world of bourbon.  It was an early favorite of mine, but frankly it hasn’t faired as well as some of my other early favorites like Very Old Baron or Old Forester which I still love.  It’s affordable, which is a plus, and is 86 proof, which gives it some ooumph that other bourbons in its price range lacks.  But it just seems a bit dull to me now.

The nose has a bit of heat, that nose-clearing sensation one gets from liquor.  There’s a bit of sweetness, too, but like a stray cat it scampers off into the shrubbery almost as soon as you approach.  A corny sweetness like a praise chorus, but more pleasant,  greats the tongue as it enters the mouth, less elusive than the nose, but it eventually does scamper sooner than it should.  A bit of butterscotch is detectable as it fades into a middling, slightly woody finish.  A tiny tingle on the tongue is all that remains after a minute or so.  Could it be better?  Certainly.  Is it a bad pour for a lazy summer afternoon?  No.  It’s unassuming, even unengaging, but a pleasant, relaxing sip.

Three expressions are currently produced, an 8 y/o, this 10 y/o and something called Charter 101.  The 10 y/o is by far the best of the three.  At one time there was also a 12 y/o, 90 proof black label version called “The Classic”, and an upper shelf 13 y/o called Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve (OCPR).  They can both still be found loitering on store shelves many places.  The Louisville version of the OCPR with the sharply sloped shoulders is highly sought after, but the Frankfort version is very good too.  As is “The Classic”.  A 7 y/o old was also made in the Louisville era.  Those years of Old Charter had a strong butterscotch smell that has its cult following but frankly makes me nauseous.

Welcome to Sipology

Welcome to Sipology, my new drinks blog.  Here I’ll be posting my musings on alcoholic beverages and associated topics.  I have fairly broad tastes, whiskey, tequila, rum, cocktails, beer, wine, mead and cider all regularly find their way down my throat.

As for the photo, that’s me with my game face on at last year’s Blind Tasting Contest at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.  I didn’t come in last.