Review: Atwater Winter Bock

Maker: Atwater Block Brewery (Detroit, Michigan)

Style: Bock

ABV: 7.5%

Color: dark chocolate brown

Nose: malty, sweet, barley

Palate: Malty, sweet, a hint of bitterness, lowfat milk, a bit of spice

Finish: long, slightly bitter, malty sweetness

Parting words: This one lives up to its billing.  It’s thick and rich and the sweetnes and ceareal notes were constantly taking me back to childhood breakfast tables.  For obvious reasons, it reminded me a bit of Founder’s Breakfast Stout.  A really excellent beer.  I think I’ll be getting me another six pack very soon.

Head to Head: Buffaloed

More private bottlings, this time, Buffalo Trace.  These two are from Binny’s beverage depot in Chicago, and Kahn’s Fine Wines in Indianapolis respectively.  Both do numerous private bottlings.  Binny’s are almost always excellent.  Kahn’s are frequently very good but some are pretty indistinguishable from the standard offering.  But without further ado…

1)      Kahn’s

2)      Binny’s (purchased mid October 2010)


1)      Light copper

2)      Slighly Darker.  More like a dark amber


1)      Assertive alcohol, wood, char

2)      Slightly more mellow, creamy caramel, bit of clove

On the palate

1)      Sweet caramel, toasted marshmallows, bit of oak

2)      Silky, sweet, much less char, sophisticated


1)      Lingering marshmallow, a bit of barrel char, low, long burn

2)      Dark caramel, sweetness, tiny hint of that marshmallow, very long, sensual finish

Parting words

I was surprised at the outcome of this tasting.  In the end, I think I preferred the Kahn’s bottle.  It was a great balance of sweetness and spice.  The Binny’s bottle was too dry.  According to my pal at Binny’s, they created their own Buffalo Trace small batch with barrels they selected from BT themselves.  It’s yummy, don’t get me wrong, I just think some of those barrels were too old and dry.

Review: Warre’s Warrior Porto Wine Reserve

Warre’s Warrior

Style: Ruby Port

Producer: Warre’s (Symington Family, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)

ABV: 20%

For those who don’t know, ports are wines from portugal that are “fortified”.  They are allowed to ferment for a short time, then when the wine still has much of its sugar, brandy is added to kill the yeast and end fermentation.  This allows for a wine that is both high in alcohol and sweet.

Color: deep burgundy

Nose: blackberry jam, alcohol, black truffle

Palate: strawberries macerated in brandy, medium-heavy body, wild mushrooms

Finish: earthy, slow, with the slight gamy tang of wild blackberries

Parting words: The last port I bought was Graham’s Six Grapes which was quite tasty, but this is another beast entirely.  Warrior is an apt name.  Its earthy complexity makes it a force to be reckoned with.

Review: Signatory Vintage, Ledaig 1993

Signatory Vintage: Ledaig 1993

Age: 15

Cask: 401

ABV: 43%

Distillery: Tobermory (Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides)

This is an independent bottling of the peated version of the Tobermory single malt.

Appearance: Very light straw

Nose: Rich, malty, brown butter, hint of lemon

Palate: sweet lemon tea, malty sweetness.

Finish: long burn plus a little hit of peat at the end.

Parting words: I was hoping to make hot toddys using this Scotch, but the I realized that would be redundant, since it already is a toddy in a bottle.  Tobermory has a bit of a bad reputation as a single malt distillery, but the peat here really pulls everything together.  Still, nothing earth-shattering but a nice afternoon, after work, single malt at a reasonable price.

Review: Short’s Autumn Ale

Short’s Autumn Ale

Brewery: Short’s (Bellaire, Michigan)

Style: ESB

ABV: ???

Color:  hazy copper

Nose:  toasted grain with a bit of sourness, like onions past their sell-by date.

Body: Medium

Taste: Bitter, toasty, with a wee tiny bit of sourness.  Bitter, but not excessively hoppy.

Finish: long dry, bitter

Parting Words: Nothing particularly Autumnal about this to me, but it’s a decent ale.  The rotten onion note was a off-putting though.  Not a bad choice, but Short’s makes much better beers than this.

Head to Head: Oh Weller

On trips to Chicago, Binny’s Beverage Depot is always on my itinerary.  Not only do have a friend who works at the South Loop Store, and the store have a great selection, but they always have some great private barrel selections, be they bourbon, Scotch or something else.

Binny’s barrels of Weller 12 y/o (a wheat bourbon made at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, KY) are always very, very good, so I always pick up a bottle for myself and usually one for somebody else too.  A few weeks ago I picked up a bottle of the latest edition and since I happened to have a little bit left from my previous visit, I seized the opportunity and did a head to head.

Binny’s Weller 12 head to head

1)      Binny’s Weller 12, purchased 3/2009

2)      Binny’s Weller 12, purchased 10/2010


1)      Copper

2)      Same color, but maybe slightly darker


1)      Granny Smith apple, lavender, a bit of alcohol.

2)      Peanut Butter, fresh roasted peanuts, wood.

On the Palate

1)      Silky, tart, a touch floral

2)      Same silkiness, but woodier and drier.  Much drier.


1)      Tangy, fills the cheeks, then some slow burn and slight sweetness

2)      Raspberry jam, then fading and slightly sweet and woody.

Parting Words:

I was surprised at the difference between these two bourbons.  Most suprising were the floral aromas and flavors, particularly lavender in the 2009 edition.  This is a characteristic that is most closely associated with high-rye bourbons like Four Roses Single Barrel, not wheat bourbons (which contain no rye at all) which are usually dominated by vanilla and sweet caramel flavors. 

The powers that be at Binny’s have done an excellent job in selecting barrels with distictive profiles that bring out different aspects of this rich and complex (and affordable) bourbon.