Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rock-Rock-Rockaway Beach Tasting! Parker's Heritage 27-Year, Brora Jewels of Scotland, Hirsch Canadian Rye, Vintage 17 Bourbon


"Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum 
The sun is out and I want some
It's not hard, not far to reach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach..."


Sometimes living in the city you forget how far a quick car ride can take you.  This weekend we remembered that New York City is actually a beach town!  The weather was absolutely stunning and we motored out to Far Rockaway at the invitation of friends Reuven & Ilana Weinstein (who's taste in all things whiskey is hard to beat).  Cruising through outer Brooklyn, the old clunking ferris wheel and parachute rides of Coney Island could have been right out of the 1920's.



The tasting lineup was easy on the eyes as well...




Jewels of Scotland - Brora - Distilled 1982, Bottled 2004


This is the first Brora we've reviewed on SmokyBeast.  Brora is arguably the most collectible single malt in the world.  It was a distillery in the Scottish Highlands that was closed down in 1983.  Since then many have ranked Brora as the best Highland malt ever made.  It's lightly peated (they did make highly peated scotch for blends in the early 1970's, but the majority of single malts released were lightly peated, highland style).

We made sure to taste this beauty early in the night before the palate was overwhelmed with different tastes.  While the bottle specifically mentions peat, there was hardly any peat detectable (we also didn't get "peppery" or "mustard" as it says on the bottle...).  What we did get was a rich balance of honey, leather, musk, grass, and oak.  Very lovely, just sort of dancing on the tongue.  This is a very delicate lady, certainly not a smoky beast, but an immaculately crafted malt that balances spirit, oak, aromatics and sweetness into a real masterpiece.  If you get the chance to try Brora and you like Highland malt, it will likely be a memorable experience.

Parker's Heritage Collection Second Release, 27-Year Bourbon


When we saw this gem on the table there were wicked grins all around.  The second release from the Parker's Heritable Collection is a legendary bourbon, some of the most sought-after sauce Heaven Hill has ever put in a bottle.

It was one of those glasses that we wanted to jump into and swim around for a few hours.  We spent a good half hour nosing it and taking tiny sips to try and savor the glory.  It's right up there with the best bourbons we've ever tasted - Stitzel Weller Pappy Van Winkle, Four Roses Limited Edition, you name it.  Deep rich vanilla, cocoa, molasses, bbq spices, brown butter, huge wood char and spice.  (high amount of rye in the recipe?  it's got that awesome rye boldness!)  The palate is amazingly not over-oaked considering its venerable age, and the finish is uber-smooth.  Just a pure gem, if we did numbers, this would be a 96!  It's like drinking butter with huge explosions of sweet and spice.  Totally warm, no burn, everything bourbon should be.  Wish we'd been savvy enough to buy a case of this when it came out in 2008...

Vintage Bourbon 17 Year


Vintage Bourbon was a brand put out by Willett / Kentucky Bourbon Distillers at the height of the "bourbon glut" when there was an overflow of well aged bourbon and very little demand in the market.  There were several different Vintage bottlings - 17 and 21-year Vintage Bourbon as well as 21 and 23-Year Vintage Rye.  These bottles were dirt cheap when they came out, starting at around $60 retail.  Nowadays they're many hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.

Honestly given the ultra-rare status of this bottle, we weren't blown away.  It's a quality bourbon but there wasn't anything that left us crying ourselves to sleep since we don't have any in our collection.  Maybe it's just because we drank this right after the face melting awesomeness of the Parker's.  Anyway since we love everything Willett, we were psyched to get to try this one and it was a straight-ahead enjoyable bourbon.

Hirsch 12-Year Canadian Rye Whiskey


This one got many double-takes from the whiskey crowd.  Hirsch of course is known for the AH Hirsch selection from the original Pennsylvania Michter's / Pennco distillery.  But this is a completely unrelated bottle and one that we had no idea even existed.

We wouldn't have thought it was a rye, certainly not a Kentucky rye.  The Canadian angle makes more sense.  It was very light, delicate, utterly smooth with little hints of spice, olive oil, florals, and some perfume.  Maybe some malted barley in the mix here?  It's almost got a lowland single malt quality to it.

We Stopped Taking Notes After a While...

There were some others - an old Stitzel-Weller Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year and a Lot B 12 Year, some Smooth Ambler private barrels, some old Michter's rye, a beauteous old Highland Park.  Many of these we've reviewed in the past, but you get the idea... Absolute whiskey debauchery!

So, yeah it was quite a night.  It didn't hurt that the bbq brisket, jalapeno cole slaw, homemade bbq sauce, and banana cake were absolutely no joke.  Cigars, bourbon, and barbecue on the deck out in the Rockaways is old school New York goodness!

Cheers and thanks again to the Weinsteins for a great night!  /SB