Caol Ila 18 Review – An Approachable Islay

Caol Ila 18

Located on the eastern coast of the Islay region in Scotland just across the straight from Jura, Caol Ila can trace its roots back to 1846.  However, the current large-production distillery, sitting on the site of the original distillery, was completed just over 40 years ago.   Expansion was warranted as Coal Ila positioned itself to a supplier for outside blenders.   Not surprisingly,  it is now owned by Diageo.

Caol Ila is often known as one of the more approachable Islay whiskies, which are known for their extreme smoked peat character.  Caol Ila’s offerings, however, often soften the harsh smoke with floral, peppery and fruity notes.  Because of this softer approach to smoke and peat, much of Caol Ila’s production is used by Diageo in other branded blends (like Johnnie Walker) or sold to outside blended scotch producers.

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Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Experience

Knob Creek Single Barrel

Mash bill. Barrel char level. Which rickhouse floor. There are many variables that contribute to what makes each bourbon brand unique. But, even within a particular brand, a slight variation to any particular variable also yields notable differing characteristics. What if you could isolate a few variables within a particular brand to compare the results?

Scott Hill and I were fortunate enough to engage in this exercise. Thanks to R&J Discount Liquor‘s willingness to share, we were able to test three samples of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. The store received the samples to select which barrel they will used for their own store pick Knob Creek Single Barrel selection.

[Click here to see R&J’s final selection and where to purchase a bottle!] 

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Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond

Old Fitzgerald

For about a year, I’ve worked to develop relationships and connections with many of the reputable liquor stores in Wichita. Whenever work takes me outside the office, I will try to stop into at least one store to take a peek at what is on the shelves and chat with the store manager. When work takes me out of town, I generally try to do the same.

On a recent work trip to Arkansas City, I stopped by a local store before making my return trip. A bottle on the bottom shelf, sitting by itself and priced at $19.95, caught my eye.

There are many modern expressions of Old Fitzgerald – Old Fitzgerald Prime, Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond, Old Fitzgerald’s 1879, and Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12-year. I’ve never tried any of them, until now.

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The 2017 Best Rye Whiskeys

Jim Murray Whiskey Bible

Last year, I purchased my first copy of Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.  Many of you know it was a controversial year for Murray (more below).  Notwithstanding and not limited to this controversy, I learned quickly that it is an interesting resource, but a “Bible” it is not.  While there is some objectivity in the review of whiskey, the scale weighs heavy on subjectivity.  So to Jim Murray, some of your beliefs I concur, some I do not, but to your insight, opinion and research I value.

This past weekend I sat down with friends to enjoy our first sips out of our newly acquired Booker’s Rye.  Jim Murray calls it the “Whiskey of the Year,” and the best Rye Whiskey aged 11 years or over.  To make this sampling even more interesting, we decided to break out a few other complementary bottles.  It is no mere coincidence that those bottles selected just happen to be some of Jim Murray’s highest rated Rye whiskeys over the past two years!

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