Glenfarclas 24, 1990 (for K&L)

Glenfarclas 24, 1990
I thought this was going to be a return to my untimely reviewing ways but in checking out the details on this whisky after tasting it I was surprised to discover that K&L (whose distillery exclusive this is) seem to still have a large amount of it left. I guess there’s only so many whiskies even David Driscoll can convince every breathless whisky geek in the US to shell out for. Or maybe it’s because this isn’t a single cask and we tend to get—for no good reason—more excited about single casks. It’s also possible that people got spooked by K&L’s description of the acquisition of the casks, which suggests that they were casks the distillery was unwilling to release as (more expensive) singles. As per Sku, the source of this sample, this was a vatting of two casks. K&L’s own copy suggests more than two casks: they refer to it as a “multi-cask” vatting “from a sequential lot of first fill Oloroso sherry butts”. But I’m sure Sku’s information is from the horse’s mouth (or whichever wind-spewing orifice you think is more appropriate in this case).
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Chengdu Taste (Los Angeles, July 2015)

Chengdu Taste: Boiled Fish with Green Pepper Sauce
It’s been more than a month since I got back from Los Angeles but I still have a number of meal reports to go. After a string of sushi reports here now is a brief account of our return to Chengdu Taste in late July. Our lunch there was one of the highlights of our trip last summer; despite noting in the write-up of that meal that we’d be back on each trip, we unaccountably failed to go in December. Well, there was going to be no such error on this trip. Once again we escaped the long lines by going for lunch on a weekday, not too long after they opened. We still had to wait but not for very long. And this time we had our table to ourselves. While the restaurant was full throughout, it does appear that the opening of the new branches in Rosemead and Rowland Heights have eased the pressure somewhat (our meal was again at the original Alhambra location). Though I’m sure weekend lunches still draw the lines.

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Laphroaig 15, 200th Anniversary Edition

Laphroaig 15, 200th Anniversary
The old Laphroaig 15, much beloved of many peat-loving whisky geeks, was discontinued in favour of the 18 yo a few years ago. I’ve marveled before at this circumstance, which seems unimaginable in our current whisky world: a major distillery discontinuing a 15 yo whisky in their core range in favour of one that’s three years older and at a higher strength (without the price moving very much—not in MN anyway). Now, of course, there are rumours that the 18 yo is on the way out too. I don’t know if these are true but I doubt very much that we’d get a regular issue and affordable 21 yo out of it. Anyway, as part of their 200th anniversary celebrations this year, Laphroaig brought back a special release of the 15 yo. Opinions have been mixed but there was little chance, frankly, given my love of Laphroaig that I would pass on a bottle. And this is the bottle I did not pass on. Let’s get to it.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

August was the first month since I published it that my post on Glendronach’s single cask shenanigans was not near the top of the most read posts list. It’s usually either the most read or in the top three. In August it seemed like it would be outside the top ten until someone linked to it at the end of the month and it made its way back in. While the post has had a very long afterlife, this might be an indication that awareness of the issue is now very widespread—it doesn’t seem to have had much actual effect though and the distillery has never felt the need/pressure to clarify its practices.

My most read post in August was my review of the Laphroaig Cairdeas, 2015. I guess a lot of people prefer when I review actually available whiskies. There were a number of those in August but that was largely accidental. The second most read post was a restaurant review: of Travail. This might have been the first time as well that one of my restaurant reviews was read so often. As for recipes, it’s quite clear that very few of you care about my jams, you bastards.  Continue reading

Caperdonich 17, 1996 (Malts of Scotland for van Zuylen)

Caperdonich 17, 1996, Dunes An Oir
Caperdonich was shuttered in 2002 and demolished in 2010. It is about as dead as a distillery can be. There’s still a fair bit of its malt from the years before closure floating around though and I hope some of it is being allowed to mature to a far greater age. As most whisky geeks know, old Caperdonichs from the 1960s and 1970s can be some of the most delightful and complexly fruity whiskies of them all. While this doubtless has a lot to do with older production regimes and barley varieties and so on, it would be interesting to find out how similar or different whisky distilled there in in later decades might be if allowed to reach similarly ripe old ages.

That said, I’ve enjoyed a number of teenaged Caprdonichs from the 1990s (see this 18 yo, for example). If this one, bottled by Malts of Scotland for the Dutch retailer, van Zuylen, is as good as those I’ll be happy enough.  Continue reading

Raspberry-Peach Jam

Raspberry-Peach Jam
I mentioned in a comment last week that I would be making another batch of peach-ginger-bourbon jam and some straight-up peach jam this week. I did make the second batch of the peach-ginger-bourbon but ended up making a raspberry-peach jam with the rest of the peaches. This because our CSA’s limit on raspberries this week was one quart, which is not enough to be worth the jam-making effort for a raspberry-only jam, and for unappetizing reasons that I’ll go into later, we weren’t going to be eating the berries as is. So, another combo jam it was. But I did manage to keep myself from adding booze to it.

I’ve only ever put raspberries in multiple berry jams before (I’ll have my “Red, Black and Blue” jam up soon) and I’d imagined that what I might end up with was a mostly golden peach jam with raspberries suspended in them. No such thing happened. Despite there being twice as much peach in there as raspberry, the raspberry dominated, both in terms of colour and flavour and of course they disintegrated completely. It’s tasty though.  Continue reading

Chichibu 2009-2013, Chibidaru Cask

Chichibu 2009, Chibidaru
After two 20 yo Yoichis let’s close out this mini-run of Japanese malts with this very young whisky from the relatively new Chichibu distillery. Founded in 2008 by Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of the now shuttered Hanyu distillery, and the man whose name is on the famous “Ichiro’s Malts” series, Chichibu has already become a bit of a sensation in its young life—somewhat predictable given the founder’s pedigree and the general excitement these days about Japanese whisky of any kind. It is a small distillery and so far they’ve released a number of small batch malts in a number of different styles (peated, unpeated, different cask types)—most of which have been very well received. (The prices, it should be noted, are very high for the age.) The one I am reviewing today is from chibidaru or smaller quarter casks. It is I believe a vintage, small batch release, not a single cask. Well, let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading

Shrimp Curry with Cauliflower and Potatoes

Shrimp Curry with Cauliflower and Potatoes
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an Indian recipe. And the one I have today may please those, like my friend the bean king, who complain that my recipes call for too many esoteric ingredients that most non-Indian cooks don’t have lying around the kitchen. This is a very simple recipe that produces quite delicious results. And it’s healthy to boot, packed as it is with veg. I guess it’s a Bengali’ish recipe. It’s in the style of a general way of making shrimp/fish dishes that my mother and a couple of my aunts follow: lots of potatoes and veg and only ginger, turmeric, red chilli powder, green chillies and whole garam masala to flavour the sauce/curry. Following my mother, I use a lot of tomatoes and some garlic too, and this is not very traditionally Bengali. But traditions, you know, are always on the move. At any rate, this is simple enough to make, and you might give it a go. Continue reading

Yoichi 20, Genshu Single Cask 100126

Yoichi 20, Genshu Single Cask
On Monday I reviewed the (now discontinued) Yoichi 20, which used to be part of the distillery’s core range. Here now is another Yoichi 20, this a so-called Genshu single cask, a series that, as I understand its, used to be/is only available at the distillery and at select bars in Japan. I’ve previously reviewed a 10 yo single cask, and also a 15 yo, in this series and have a sample of a 5 yo waiting in the wings as well. Well, let’s see how this one compares to the regular 20 yo.

Yoichi 20, Genshu Single Cask 100126 (60%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Quite a bit peatier than the regular 20 yo: phenolic notes waft up through the sherry. The sherry is much richer and fruiter too (apricot, orange peel); some leather and brine and cured ham below that along with some pencil lead and just a hint of savoury gunpowder. Far less oak than in the other. After a couple of minutes there’s some toffee and a bit of maple syrup. Water knocks back the smoke and pulls out more toffee and fruit (some plum now with the apricot); some slightly dusty oak too now. Not much change with the added drops of water.

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Sushi Fix (Wayzata, MN)

Sushi Fix: Ika
Every time we come back from Los Angeles in the summer I go through sushi withdrawal and begin to think hopefully about sushi in the Twin Cities. I’ve described my prejudices before, in my review of Origami, which, unfortunately, also seemed to see those prejudices confirmed. That experience seemed at the time enough to ward off thoughts of sushi in Minnesota for another 10 years. However, predictably enough, at the conclusion of this summer’s trip I once again began to think about eating sushi here.
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Yoichi 20

Yoichi 20
The Yoichi 20 used to be the oldest malt in the distillery’s core range. I say “used to be” because it has been discontinued (and it never made it to the US). As you are probably aware, there is a tremendous shortage of aged Japanese whisky. Between declining stocks and sharply rising prices, quality aged Japanese whisky is more and more out of the reach of regular drinkers. Which is not to say that the Yoichi 20 was ever affordable. Even four years ago it was well north of $200 for a bottle. Keep in mind that at that time you could still find the Yamazaki 18 in the neighbourhood of $100. This is probably due to the fact that in 2008 a 1987 vintage edition of the Yoichi 20 won a major award, right around the time that Japanese whisky began to become hot. Pretty much every release since has received rave reviews, though it’s not always easy to tell non-vintage releases apart*. Anyway, I’ve long wanted to try it and am glad to be able to through a sample swap. Continue reading

Spiced Peach Jam with Bourbon

Spiced Peach Jam with Bourbon
Did you really think you were going to make it out of the week without another jam recipe? Suckers! Yes, WordPress’s statistics tell me that my regular readership’s interest in my jam-making is inversely proportional to my desire to make jam and describe my jam-making. The only time any of my jam recipes gets any views is if a food site links to them. This one’s got bourbon in it though, so maybe it counts as a whisky post?

I make peach jam and chutney every year. Normally I make a straight up peach jam and a peach jam with ginger. This year I decided to spice and booze it up a bit. Herewith the quite successful (in my view) results. (I’ll likely have a peach-ginger-habanero chutney recipe too for you to ignore in a few weeks—I’m waiting for the fruit on my habanero plant to ripen.)

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