1970s Cabin Still – Group Review – Part II

Yesterday we brought you Part I of a very fun group review of some 1970s dusties, organized by Josh from The Whiskey Jug. Together with Josh of the Coopered Tot, Steve (Sku) of Sku’s Recent Eats,  Aaron of It’s Just The Booze Dancing, and Patrick (a.k.a “Pops”) of Bourbon and Banter, we started with a side-by-side of current the Old Crow, made by Jim Beam, and a 1970s National Distillers’ bottling.

Today, we’re on to…

Part II – Cabin, Still?

In the 1960s, (Old) Cabin Still was a respected brand of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery, brought into the fold by Pappy Van Winkle. But in 1972, as Josh Feldman tells in a great Coopered Tot post, tragedy struck:

Then a huge corporation, Norton Simon, that had been clumsily dabbling in bourbon, found themselves in a jam with a bunch of bad whiskey they couldn’t sell, so they bought Stitzel-Weller so they could gradually dump the boondoggle failure whiskey into their bottom of the line Old Cabin Still brand.  This ruined the whiskey – effectively murdering the brand.

Continue reading 1970s Cabin Still – Group Review – Part II

White Oak Akashi Single Malt Review

Distiller: White Oak. 46% ABV. No age statement. Price: $90.

The Akashi NAS single malt (not to be confused with the Akashi Blended Whisky) is a lovely, Speyside-y malt that combines the White Oak distillery’s 7, 5, and 4 year old malts.

Founded in 1919 by Eigashina Shuz–which makes it Japan’s oldest distillery, beating out Yamazaki by four years–the White Oak distillery is in operation for only one month a year, which leads to their combining various vintages to produce bottlings like this one.

Would that more no-age-statement whiskies were this good. The nose leads with honey and orchard fruit, followed by a palate that has more honey, then oak, pear, and ginger. The finish is spicier than I would have expected for a young NAS, and longer.

Unlike the Askashi Blended Whisky, which is both underpowered and underflavored at 40% ABV, the Akashi Single Malt is solid and satisfying. All in all, a damn fine drink. Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy Akashi Japanese whisky online at Mash + Grape

Caribou Crossing Canadian Whisky Review

Producer: Sazerac/Buffalo Trace. Distiller: undisclosed. ABV: 40%. Age: NAS. Mashbill: undisclosed (blend). Price: $45-50.

A salute to our friends up North tonight with the Caribou Crossing — billed as Canada’s first single-barrel whisky since the 19th century.

I jumped on this when it popped up at K&L Wines Hollywood a few months back as a way to start expanding my palate for Canadian whisky. Until then, I’d had little, and only truly enjoyed the Lot 40 Rye. (I know some of you will say Green Apple Jolly Ranchers, but I love it.) The Caribou Crossing came recommended by Canadian Whisky guru Davin de Kergommeaux, and got a respectful writeup from Mark Bylok in his fine book The Whisky Cabinet. Good start.

How is it? A very light but enjoyable dram — though not the revelation the Lot 40 was. Nose: Rye, plum, fruitcake, malted milk. Marzipan. Maybe a touch of jasmine. Plus a whiff of neutral grain spirit for the first few drams — uh oh — though this faded with a week or two and 1/3 of the bottle gone. Palate: orange marmalade, with alternating stewed fruits and preserves. Mouthfeel is where it falls down. At 40% ABV, it’s awfully light. The Lot 40 is 40% too, but a flavor bomb. The Caribou Crossing is much shyer. Finish: very little to speak of, just a hint of almond oil and pencil shavings.

As a Sazerac/Buffalo Trace product meant to raise Canadian whisky’s profile in the US — hand-picked from 200,000+ barrels of Canadian juice that Saz/BT has laid up — why play into the American prejudices about Canadian whisky by releasing it at such a low proof?

I’d be quite curious to try a more potent future release along these lines. As for the Caribou Crossing, I’m glad I tried it. But I’m getting another Lot 40 next. – BO

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley ‘Classic Laddie’ Review

Distiller: Bruichladdich. 50% ABV. No age statement. Region: Islay. Price: $50-60.

Couldn’t have more respect for Bruichladdich, but the Scottish Barley “Classic Laddie” does not show the distillery at its best.

The name recalls the much-loved Laddie 10 it replaced–a modern classic if there ever was one, and an amazing deal while it lasted–but the comparison does the current offering no favors.

Very dry nose, with barley and wet hay. The palate is medicinal, with iodine and band aid notes that mimic the entry of certain heavily peated Islays such as Laphroaig or Bruichladdich’s own Octomore, but the Classic Laddie is unpeated, leaving you with just enough of a reminder of the familiar Bruichladdich malt to leave you yearning for their better offerings. Long sourish finish. Water and time do little to sweeten the deal.

Sad to say, but my advice is to give this one a miss. Incidentally, if you’re anywhere near Greece, I’ve heard rumors the Laddie 10 is still on the shelves there. Maybe time to plan a trip? – BO

Buy Bruichladdich whisky online at Mash + Grape

Amrut Fusion Single Malt Review

Distiller: Amrut. 50% ABV. Age: NAS. Price: $65-70.

Been hearing good things about the Amrut Fusion for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. This no-age-statement mix of separately distilled batches of unpeated Indian malt (75%) and peated Scottish malt (25%) exploded on the global scene when Jim Murray gave it a 97 in 2010, calling it the 3rd best whisky in the world. Whisky Advocate magazine (then called Malt Advocate) followed that by naming the Fusion World Whisky of the Year in 2011.

Amrut is based — and ages its whiskies — in Bangalore, India, which has an average temperature of 91 degrees F, and loses up to 15% a year to the angels. Once blended, the Fusion spends its last 6-9 months before bottling in bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and/or Jack Daniels.

So how’s the juice? Fabulous. Papaya, sweet malt, and grape juice winey-ness on the nose. The slightest enigmatic hint of peat turns everything else up a notch. The palate: spice bazaar! Coffee, toasted almond, dry vanilla bean, very gentle peat. Nice oily body. Doesn’t need a drop of water, but try it just for fun. Keeps yielding more. Medium-long, spicy finish with a funky vegetal note I love — maybe overripe banana, but drier.

Brilliant work from Bangalore! Don’t hesitate to try it, and let us know what you think. – BO

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