Review: Old Grandad 114

Being the holidays, the time of year which we associate with family cheer, I feel finally obliged to write an article I have long put off.  Any devout readers I may have will likely have forgotten that I went to Phoenix, Arizona in November to visit my father’s family, including my grandfather.  While there I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Old Grandad 114 that is the basis for this article in a large liquor store at a very affordable price.  I love Old Grandad.  Perhaps I will take another article to rant about this love, but suffice it to say I think it is a wonderful and well-articulated bourbon for below vodka prices.  I often drink Old Grandad 100, and I’ve heard many a bourbon devotee say that Old Grandad is a standby to them too.  So needless to say I was excited to find this rather rare senior centenarian of the clan.  For my week in Arizona it provided my main libation, and fulfilled many duties as the main social lubricant and stress reliever of travel and, admittedly, sometime friction with relatives.  That also meant that Old Grandad was often in my glass during the fondest moments of the trip, the bonding moments.  The times where we sorted through box after box of forgotten photographs trying to identify people fading from memory, and the time we discussed my grandfather’s days as a young hell raiser modifying and racing cars, and, much like myself, drinking too much beer and playing music with buddies.  It’s strange to learn that long before your time your grampie had the same passions you had now, that once he had played steel guitar  in a band called the New Readville Wranglers (I play slide guitar) and had played weekly with his buddies for a Nashua, New Hampshire radio station (I was once a DJ myself).   One night when I broke out my guitar I played him a Hank Williams song, and he sang along.  It’s these moments that people cherish about the holidays, and often libations are present at such moments, a part of that warm feeling.  Which brings me to a public service announcement: don’t drink neat OG 114 at a holiday party.  You’ll get drunk off your ass and perhaps mess or ruin those tender moments.  But in my case it wasn’t so much the holidays, and the word play of drinking Old Grandad with my (non-drinking) grandfather and the unforeseen parallels of our youths have left me with a very fond memory.  I also have a rather fond memory of that Old Grandad 114.  I took some notes while it knocked me on my ass, so let me give the people what they want, my impressions of the whiskey.  If you wanted to skip nostalgic bullshit, this is where you should stop reading.

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The Readville Wranglers, now preserved in posterity on the interwebs

Fortunately I had the foresight when taking these notes to realize that most people don’t have the stomach, throat or desire to drink 57% alcohol whiskey neat.  So I have tasting with and without ice for you and instead of my normal descriptions and metaphors and puffy language, I’ve decided to give you a direct image of my notes, so you can see my thoughts at their rawest.  Below the photograph is a transcript, because my handwriting is rawer than my thoughts.

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Tasting Notes-

 

OG 114 w/ ice

 

T: Mollasses(sic), Cocoa, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, sweet (soft?) heat

N: Nail Acetone, Vanilla, caramel?, sweet

Straight

Fin: Light sweetness, vanilla,

Entry? – refreshing cool evaporative

Neat.

-N Crème Broulee (sic) + heat

-T Burn back throat, vanilla, toffee, caramel

-F Drunkeness-Sweet Brown Sugar

So there you have it, the results of taking tasting notes on 114 proof whiskey after several beers and several whiskies is chaos.  This booze writing thing may be fun, but it isn’t always easy.  Also, perhaps I should tell you in case my notes weren’t clear—I loved this.  I loved it neat and straight.  I loved the price, the unpretentiousness, the cajones of it. Perhaps it was a bit of brand favoritism, perhaps it was the surrounding, the warm nostalgia—perhaps I was slightly hammered, but I was enamored by Old Grandad 114 and I recommend it to anyone wanting a bold whiskey, and if it seems somehow below your normal price considerations just buy several bottles and send me one.

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Let that Boy Boogie Woogie: Muddy Waters’ At New Port 1960

Here’s a blog for y’ll to keep an ear on, for the musically inclined

Excessive Volume

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In early July 1960, Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island played host to the seventh Newport Jazz Festival.  In retrospect, the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival was a harbinger of the decade to come—fraught with conflict and controversy.  The first conflict was between some musicians and the festival itself, as jazz legends Max Roach and Charles Mingus started their own Newport Festival in protest to the low wages paid to the less mainstream musicians.  The biggest problem faced by the festival, however, was a chaotic police intervention into a drunk and rowdy crowd outside of the festival, some of whom had been unable to get into the sold-out event.  Eventually the riot would reach full pitch with the use of crowd dispersing fire hoses and tear gas and, finally, the arrival of the Rhode Island National Guard—a scene that would continue to repeat itself throughout the decade.

If the troubles of…

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Ladies and genteman, Hot Tuna playing Hesitation Blues. For those who enjoy ignorance Hot Tuna is comprised of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and, I suspect, the ghost of Blind Willie McTell. I give you this raggedy ragtime jivin’ blues because I myself am hesitating to write a real post. You see I started a new job, the kind that could even be said to be in the careerist realm, and I’m a dollar and a dime short on inspiration and layin’ low on the libation–poor formula for writing. I don’t apologize, you can deal without boozy ramblings for a little while–maybe you could even drink some booze and write your own blues.

Review: 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey

Ahh, there’s nothing like drinking a bit of whiskey on the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  The warm feeling is enhanced by the feeling of history.  I’m currently watching Ken Burn’s documentary “Prohibition” in honor of the occasion, and, as the title of the article suggests, drinking 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey.  The whiskey is probably why you’re at this site. Now I could go into the marketing concept of the whiskey, how it presents itself as an outsider in the market started by two fire haired and passionate Irish women. That ground has been trodden.  Honestly, most of what I write has been trodden, but here you are.  So I may as well indulge your curiosities by telling you what you want to know: should I buy this whiskey?  Well that’s up to you now, isn’t it?

I’ll preface my note on this review before I even get into it.  I’m starting to get the feeling that the Irish whiskey market is perhaps a bit more subjective than many of the bourbons I usually indulge myself with.  You see, there doesn’t seem an Irish whiskey that is clearly rotgut.  I’ve drank rotgut American whiskies. I’ve drank whiskies knowing that they were of such low quality that I was going to get a hangover from the first sip on.  There are swill scotches, swill bourbons, Canadian whiskies.  I haven’t really seen that with Irish whiskey, I’ve seen that the is a massive spread in the category, and some are more complex, more enjoyable–but I’ve never felt that drinking this Irish whiskey was possibly a bad idea.  What I’m trying to say is, given all these presuppositions, I think it’s possible I’m bad at judging Irish whiskey.  But I must soldier on, drinking and (poorly) writing myself into martyrdom for your taste buds.

The reason I made all those excuses is because I’m not sure what to think of 2 Gingers.  The color is an almost electric yellow, to my eye, which is neither here nor there.  The nose is soft and fruity with soft pear like notes.  Once in the mouth it seems 2 Gingers is best compared on the spectrum of the standards.  In this sense, 2 Gingers is on that grainier side of Irish whiskey, veering away from the “smooth” sweetness of King Jameson toward the more hearty Bushmills.  2 Gingers in particular seems characterized by robust barley, green apple notes, and an acidic citrus towards the back of the palate.  This isn’t my favorite Irish whiskey, the acidity is a bit cutting—but I won’t say I’m not enjoying it.  I am.

The way I see things, with many so Irish whiskies in the same price range, none of which are at face unpleasant, you have to taste around.  You have to explore Irish whiskey with a keener eye, and perhaps a bit more sensitivity to that certain something in your gut, because when it comes down to it, we won’t all have the same favorite.  That’s why there are so many of them.  When it comes down to it, even a whiskey that isn’t your favorite is a glorious luxury that sinks warm into your stomach and squeegees the day from your head to your toes leaving the tenseness behind. 80 years and a day ago (two by the time I put this up) that feeling was illegal.

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Review: Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Sunday, December 01, 2013.  I awoke at the bitter crack of 11 am, aware that a day of toil and hardship lay ahead of me.  The early morning had left a thin layer of slick snow that increased the possible perils of the day.  Today was tree felling day.  While deep within me I enjoy laboring at the chainsaw and ax, the spiteful New Hampshire weather, along with a tendency toward weekend sluggishness, made my morning groans ever louder with grim dread.  In spite of the thick moisture hanging heavy in the overcast sky, the day proved warm enough to tolerate, and pleasant enough with sweaty work. The afternoon’s work found me on the chainsaw orchestrating the destruction of five superfluous trees and, at least for now, the muscles of my lower back.  All in all, it was satisfying working ‘til my hands trembled with the ghost vibrations of the saw and the day’s targets lay heaped at my feet.  My work done I soaked my stiff back, and drank some hot dark coffee.  Later, I prepared dinner—two heaping burgers of moose meat seared in the cast iron on the stove to avoid the cold rain soaking the grill.  This little vignette may seem unnecessary and perhaps a tad self-indulgent.  It probably is, but this is the course of events which, when led to the fridge for my evening’s imbibing, steered me towards Great Divide’s Espresso Oak Aged Yeti.

The Yetis, legendary beasts of the Colorado Brewery, are imperial stouts of the highest order.  The Espresso Oak Aged Yeti is the alpha beast, as far as I’m concerned.  This monster is a hairy 9.5% ABV, which, as its name has implied, has feasted on a diet of oak chips and “Pablo’s” espresso.  The result is dark as an Arctic Winter, with a thin and heavy head with hues of rich mahogany. The nose is expectedly dominated by dark and earthy coffee with overtones of soft vanilla, foreboding of the cacophony of flavors to come.  The Yeti’s flavors are dark as his exterior, with the bitterness of the espresso tangling with a strong stab of hops and the suggestion of cocoa nibs from the dark roasted malts.  Each sip leaves a lingering, though not embittering espresso, and brings a bit more warmth to your stomach—more ease to my sore back.  On a day such as mine, nothing could be more fitting than to sip this beer by the warmth of the woodstove.  Chainsaws, moose burgers and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, I can only see this as “La Vie en Flannel.”

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