Now Drinking

Rock Stream Dry Cayuga White

Maker: Rock Stream Vineyards, Rock Stream, New York

Grape: Cayuga (hybrid)

ABV: 11%

Region: Seneca Lake AVA (Finger Lakes)

Vintage: 2008

Picked this wine up on our trip to the Finger Lakes in the summer of 2009.  I don’t really remember much about this particular winery.  It was one of the last ones we visited.  If I recall correctly they had a number of pretty good dessert wines.  We purchased a late harvest Traminette, that was pretty good.

Color: Very light.  Very pale gold.  A bit lively, too.

Nose: Dry but fruity.  Melon, pear.

On the Palate: Dry but tart and crisp.  Grapefruit, Pineapple.

Finish: Tart.  Lingers in the cheeks for a long time. 

Parting Words: I don’t remember how much this wine cost, but it comes off as kind of a poor man’s NZ Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s pretty good, really, but not anything that is going to change my life.  It would go well with seafood or herbal chicken dishes, I think.  Nice table wine.

Now Drinking

Having done a head to head with this one, I thought it was time to give it its own review.

The Macallan 12  y/o

ABV: 43%

Maker: Macallan, Craigellachie, Banffshire (The Edrington Group)

Color: Dark amber, suspiciously so.  If I had to guess, I would say that caramel coloring was probably added

Nose: Malty, sweet, alcohol, creamy toffee

Palate: A note-for-note remake of the nose..  Malty, sweet, toffee, a little bit of wood.  A little bit of licorice on the tail end.

Finish: Sweet, with a bit of wood, and heirloom apple.  Yes, there is a difference.  It fades into a gentle sweetness with a touch of wood.

Parting Words:  The Macallan is a  fine, stately whisky.  It’s easy to drink, but it has enough going on to keep things interesting, at least for a while.  It’s lightweight for my taste, but makes a nice pre-dinner sip.

Review in Brief

Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi-Dry Riesling 2007

Region: Finger Lakes, New York (Keuka Lake).

ABV:  11.5% ABV

Color: butter

Nose:  pear, peach, perfumed

Palate: Mandarin Orange, peaches, sweet, medium body

Finish: very peach then fading to Bartlett pear, then light and sweet

Parting Words: What a great wine!  this is what Riesling should be.

Head to Head #3: Oh Deer: Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich (actual font) is the best selling single malt Scotch in the world.  Along with Balvenie, Mortlach, and several others, Glenfiddich is located in Dufftown in Moray, Scotland.  Its name means “valley of the deer” literally, but a river called Fiddich (a tributary of the Spey) runs through Dufftown as well.  At any rate, this whole range is easy to find and popular.  So, making use of a set of three minis, here are my notes on Glenfiddich at 12, 15, and 18 years of age.

1)      12

2)      15

3)      18


1)      Light, middle-aged Chardonnay

2)      Slightly darker, new copper penny

3)      Slightly darker than that, but barely


1)      Malt, lemonade, alcohol

2)      Caramel, lemon curd

3)      Lemon meringue, caramel, wood

On the Palate

1)      Lemonheads, burn

2)      Rich, caramel sweetness

3)      Lemon Poppy seed muffins, thick, rich caramel


1)      Lightly sweet, then surprisingly spicy

2)      Thick and sweet, caramel, then long, slow burn

3)      Creamy, sweet, soft

Parting Words

1)      Pleasant summer pour.  Will work at the bar in a pinch.

2)      More depth, but the distillery character still comes through.

3)      Almost indistinguishable from the 15, but with slightly more depth and sweetness.  Not sure if it would be worth the extra money to jump up to the 18.

I gotta say, I prefered the Balvenie line overall and I would rank any of those over any of these.  Still, my issue with Glenfiddich is a matter of taste, not quality.  It’s just not my cup of tea.

Head to Head Tasting #2: Bals Out

Having done a horizontal tasting of 12 y/o Speyside (and one Japanese) malts a couple days ago, today I’m doing a vertical one.  The distillery today is Balvenie, and I will be sampling three of their expressions.  These head to head tasting are, by their nature, quick and impressionistic, but I find that rattling off impressions keeps me from overthinking.

1)      Doublewood (12 y/o)

2)      Single Barrel (15 y/o)

3)      Portwood (21 y/o)


1)      Light amber

2)      Shiny Copper

3)      Slightly darker, copper penny


1)      Fresh, malty, buttermilk, crème brulee, vanilla

2)      Rich caramel, toffee

3)      Strawberry, Valencia orange, fruit punch


1)      Sweet, bourbon, hint of spice, heavy cream

2)      Saltwater taffy, spice, toffee, bigger bourbon influence, butter cream icing

3)      Strawberry shortcake


1)      Light, wood, sweet, vanilla bean, then burn

2)      Rich, wood, vanilla, long and slow, clings to the tongue

3)      Very long, woody and slightly fruity finish.

Parting Words

1)      Comparatively dry, but still rich, and creamy.  The vanilla and bourbon influences are balanced with a stately sweetness

2)      Rich, sweet and carmely.  Big, bold after dinner malt

3)      Bigger, bolder after dinner malt.  Practically a dessert drink, like the former occupant of its cask.  The port and wood overwhelm the malt.  The dry fruit, coming through strongly as strawberry right now, is interesting, but could get old pretty quick.  Still, in moderation, a very enjoyable dram.

Head to Head Tasting #1: Kyoto-on-Spey

Having recently acquired two three-bottle sets of mini-bottles from Balvenie and Glenfiddich respectively, and a half-bottle of The Macallan 12, I’m going to sqeeze as many tastings out of these Speyside puppies as I can.  I also recently acquired a bottle of Suntory’s Yamazaki 12 y/o from a friend who was having a clear-out.  So without further ado…

1)      The Macalllan 12

2)      Glenfiddich 12

3)      The Balvenie Double Wood (12 y/o)

4)      Yamazaki 12


1)      Malt, sherry, a bit of wood

2)      Big malt, sharp, pear, bit of wood

3)      Robust, honey, cream, bit of sherry

4)      Dark caramel, bourbon, alcohol

On the Palate:

1)      Honey, butterscotch, wood, bit of burn

2)      Light, sweet, tiny bit of wood, granny smith apple

3)      Thick, sweet, rich, light caramel, ripe peach

4)      Rich caramel, wood


1)      Creamy sherry, burn, long and slow

2)      Sharp, burn, tiny tiny bit of wood, surprisingly long

3)      Woody, burn, fairly long, a bit of creamy sherry

4)      Sweet, dry, wood, fades fairly fast

Parting words:

1)      Solid, well crafted, enjoyable

2)      Bright, tart, but not shallow

3)      Beefy, but subtle with hidden depths

4)      Nice everyday sipper, but nothing too life-changing