Before I get to the usual long list of potential whisky reviews for the month let me first thank all those who responded to my poll about relative interest in the whisky and food content on the blog. With more than 125 responses in a week, I received far more feedback than I thought I would (perhaps even achieving statistical significance given the number of unique visitors each day). In fact, I must admit that when I first set up the poll I did not set it to display the actual number of votes cast (in total or for each option) as I had thought that number might be embarrassingly low (that fear, embarrassing in itself, was proven unfounded within a few hours). While this was not in any way a goal of the poll, it has had the unexpected effect of indicating that I do in fact have a readership beyond the few who comment from time to time. And this is is nice to know.
Now that my number of open bottles is down below 40 I’ve begun to finally open a bunch of not particularly exciting bottles that I purchased some years ago in my great hoarding period and put away for no good reason. This Mortlach from Signatory’s UCF line was one of those. I opened it a few months ago for one of my local group’s tastings and while it did not set anyone’s hair on fire, almost everyone liked it. I’ve been drinking it regularly since then and here now are some formal notes.
Mortlach 19, 1991 (46%; Signatory Unchilfiltered Collection; sherry butt 7710; from my own bottle)
Nose: A little metallic; raisins, a bit of orange peel and a bit of dusty wood. Not a whole lot of interest. A little more expressive with a few drops of water but still not particularly interesting.
I ate at Isaan Station twice on our last trip to Los Angeles. On neither occasion was I accompanied by the missus and kids and I was thus resolved that we would go back together on this trip (it also helps that Isaan Station is in Koreatown and not Thai Town). While they do not have the dish that the boys are guaranteed to eat (chicken/pork satays) I knew they (and the missus) would love their wondrous grilled chicken and/or any of the other grilled meats; and that the missus would, at a minimum, also love whichever earthy, spicy soup we got. So it proved to be.
I purchased this cask strength Highland Park 19, 1990 from Signatory a long while ago with the express purpose of comparing it with this marvelous OB 19 distilled four years previous. I finally opened it last year but I still haven’t gotten around to the head to head comparison. This is because I only just remembered that that was why I’d purchased it. Isn’t getting older so much fun?
That’s all I have by way of introduction, I’m afraid.
Highland Park 19, 1990 (56.5%; Signatory; sherry butt 15696; from my own bottle)
Nose: It’s a bit tight but with my nose deep in the glass there are dark sherry notes to be found: raisins, orange peel, toffee edging into fudge territory. Some leathery oak as well. Something farmy/leafy too (and is that a whiff of peat?). Water should open it up nicely. With more time the sweeter notes mix with savoury and there’s a mild inkiness too. The apricot that emerges late on the palate shows up on the nose too along with some maple syrup. With a few drops of water the sweeter fruit are emphasized and there’s a light dusting of cocoa powder. Continue reading
China Red is a relatively recent addition to the top-end of the dim sum scene in the San Gabriel Valley—which is, of course, the best, from top to bottom, in the United States. It opened less than two years ago and gained a strong reputation very strongly. And, unlike another recent opening, Shi Hai, it has managed to hold on to that reputation. We didn’t eat there on our last few trips because a) I am always a little leery about new, hyped places; b) it’s in Arcadia, which is on the far end of the San Gabriel Valley from our home base in Koreatown; and c) relatedly, it’s hard to justify driving out that far when Sea Harbour, Elite, Lunasia and King Hua are all so much closer. It’s for this reason that we didn’t end up eating dim sum on this trip with Sku and his family as originally planned (we ended up at a different place with them, on which more later)—he was loth to drive the extra 10-15 minutes to Arcadia. We, however, were already going to be in the SGV in the middle of the week, last week, and so decided to cut across to Arcadia and finally check China Red out. Continue reading
For the benefit of those who know even less about bourbon than I do: Russell’s Reserve is a Wild Turkey product, named for their master distiller, Jimmy Russell. The series was first launched in 1999, I believe. I call it a series because there have been and are a number of different releases from Wild Turkey with the Russell’s Reserve name on them. In addition to this 10 yo bourbon, there’s a 6 yo rye available now, for instance; and there has also been a single barrel release of the bourbon (plus store exclusive versions). And, I believe there have been other bottle and label designs as well (and possibly other strengths as well). Those who know more about the ins and outs of the series/name should kindly write in below.
Anyway, as always, please take this bourbon review with an extra pinch of salt. Bourbon is a side-interest for me; while I do enjoy it, I very much approach it with the biases and filters of a single malt drinker.
A request for my regular readers: if you would take a moment of your time to select the option below that best describes your feelings about the split whisky/food focus of the blog, I’d highly appreciate it. To be clear, I’m not looking to change what I do on the blog on the basis of this feedback. I’m just curious about whether, and/or to what extent, I have separate readerships for the whisky and food posts; and to what extent, if at all, either readership also enjoys, is indifferent to, or wishes there was less of the other content.
Thanks very much!
And do feel free to leave comments below if you like.
I began the week with a very old Tomintoul. Let’s close it out as well with a very old whisky, albeit not quite as old. Like Tomintoul, Teaninich is not a storied distillery, which explains why this one was also quite reasonably priced on release. Of course, since this was bottled by the boutique Malts of Scotland it cost almost as much at 39 years old as that 45 year old from the far less-heralded Chester Whisky. It’s not just the marketers at the corporations that own distilleries that indulge in premiumization, you see.
Teaninich is a Diageo distillery. It’s not seen much official output: a few releases in the Rare Malts series, one Manager’s Choice and Manager’s Dram outing each and one Flora & Fauna and that’s it (as per Whiskybase anyway). Most of its output apparently goes into Johnnie Walker, and given how thirsty that blend monster is, not a whole lot of it even appears from the indies. Well, let’s see what this one is like. Continue reading
One of my very first Los Angeles meal reports on the blog was of a dinner at Shanghai #1 Seafood Village, a then relatively recently opened and somewhat snazzy restaurant. I noted there that the strong reviews it had received particularly made me want to eat there as there are no Shanghai restaurants in Minnesota. This is still true (as far as I know); but, of course, it is not true that Shanghai #1 was in any way a Shanghai cuisine innovator in the San Gabriel Valley. My report today is of a meal at one of the mainstays of the Shanghai scene in the area, the very far from snazzy Mei Long Village. Continue reading
I’ve had this sample of Port Ellen from a single sherry cask sitting around for a couple of years now—I’ve no idea why I haven’t reviewed it yet. The Whisky Exchange bottled it in 2011 to commemorate the marriage of Beyonce and Jay-Z. It’s a little odd that they did this three years after the fact but maybe they were waiting to see if the marriage would stick. It is an odd choice of distillery to commemorate a wedding though—you’d think they’d pick one that’s still a going concern, not one that had to be shut down. Maybe Sukhinder Singh is more of a Nas fan?
Port Ellens from the last couple of years of the distillery’s life don’t have quite as high a reputation as those distilled in the 1970s but I quite liked the one I previously reviewed (this one from Old Bothwell). Let’s see if this one is as good and if it does the royal couple proud; and if it makes me regret not purchasing a bottle when it was released—I’m not sure how much they asked for it back in 2011 but doubtless it was a fraction of the current going prices for Port Ellens of any quality.
Tsujita, the famous Los Angeles ramen and noodle specialists, opened four years or so ago, taking the city by storm just as the ramen craze was beginning to crest in the US. A branch of an apparently well-respected Tokyo restaurant, it has set the standard for ramen in Los Angeles (and its own branch, Tsujita Annex, opened down the street on Sawtelle not too long after). And it’s not just American ramen enthusiasts who raved about it: a few years ago when we asked Satoshi Kiyokawa (of the eponymous Kiyokawa) where he likes to eat Japanese food when he’s not in his own restaurant, he said unhesitatingly that Tsujita was the place for him. Continue reading
This is the oldest single malt whisky I’ve ever had, or am about to have (I’ve had an older grain whisky). Of course, this does not mean that this will be the best whisky I’ve ever had. Still, it’s hard to resist the experience—especially when European retailers sell 60 ml samples for such reasonable prices. By the way, there has been a fair amount of Tomintoul of this general age/vintage around in the last few years. I guess some broker found or came into an old parcel of casks that were surplus to blending requirements. As Tomintoul is not one of the most storied distilleries in Scotland, prices for these casks have been relatively reasonable. (In fact, the last two Tomintouls I reviewed were also very ancient ones, though one was overpriced.)
And as Tomintoul makes a light, fruity spirit its malt also seems theoretically well-suited for overlong maturation—though as alluded to above, the odds of whisky being good tend to reduce once they get past the 40 yo mark; after a point, unless a cask goes dead, odds are high that the oak will overpower the whisky or that it will just go “flat”. Well, let’s see how this cask fared. It certainly hasn’t dropped as close to the minimum allowed 40% abv as you might imagine it would have by this point. Continue reading