Monday, March 5, 2007

A Relaxing, Spendthrift Weekend

My weekend, as usual, revolved around my kid's activities. We were invited by our close family friends to their son's 2nd birthday party out in the park. The weather was glorious! It was a joy to see my little girl playing with other kids her age and enjoying the day to its fullest.

On the way home from the party, I stopped by a big box wine store in West L.A. (
Winehouse) to pick up the 2 cases of 2003 Bordeaux clarets that I purchased as futures about 2-3 years ago. They have been laying in Winehouse's cellar under my name all these while since they were released.

Inside the store, seeing all those bottles of wine lined up like rows of vine was extremely tempting to me. But first, the liquor aisle. I have run out of a good sipper at home.

Ever since I read a recent article – I forgot in which publication – about the growing trend of maturing Scotch whisky in barrels that were previously used to age different types of wine in (e.g. Sauternes, Sherry, Port, Madeira, Rum, Burgundy, etc.), I have wanted to try a good one that was aged in a sherry barrel. If I am not mistaken, Scotch whisky is traditionally matured in ex-barrels of Bourbon whiskey to give a certain oomph and finish. I love a good Scotch, but my knowledge of it is rather rusty.

While browsing around in the whisky aisle, a guy named Tim, a Market Manager of a liquor distribution company called Total Beverage Solution, chatted me up. He was visiting the store that day to push his company's product line and promote an upcoming tasting event at the Winehouse (click inset on the right). Upon his inquiry, I said that I was interested in trying a sherry barrel-matured Scotch. He was more than happy to point to a bottle that his company represents: 1996 Signatory Edradour Unchillfiltered Highland 10 years Scotch. He also said that ex-sherry casks cost extensively more at $3,000 per barrel as compared with an ex-bourbon barrel, which costs only $150 per. Is that true? I’m not sure.

From Tim’s description of the producer, Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland. Just by the salesman’s words alone, this bottling sounds more artisan to me than the widely available Glenmorangie and Macallan. I decided to give it a try. It set me back $66.

TN: 1996 Signatory Edradour Unchillfiltered, 10 years (46%)
Medium amber color. The nose is deeply sweet, like overripe yellow fruits, with some iodine and nuttiness. Spicy and woody. It's very silky...goes down smoothly like oil. Medium bodied. Finishes a touch acidic, fruity and caramel. This is an aperitif/digestif style. Enjoyed in a Riedel Vinum Cognac Hennessy tulip crystal with a spritz of mineral water added to 2oz of liquor.

On my way to the cashier, I tried to close my eyes as best I could to control the potential damage to my bank account. It didn’t work. At the check out I ended up with the following:

  • 2x 2005 Columbia Crest Merlot, Washington (a good, cheap merlot...goes well with burgers, pizza, marinara sauces)
  • 1x 2003 Swanson Merlot, Oakville, Napa (my go-to CA merlot producer)
  • 1x 2005 Dr. Loosen "L", Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Riesling, Qba
  • 1x 2005 Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten, Pfalz, Riesling, Kabinett (from a respected estate)
  • 1x 2004 Kurt Darting Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pflaz, Riesling, Kabinett (need to try it out)
  • 1x 2005 Joh Jos Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Riesling, Kabinett (one of my favorite Mosel estates)
  • 1x 2005 Gunderloch Jean Baptiste, Rheinhessen, Riesling, Kabinett (an excellent everyday white)
  • 1x Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Bourbon (I love it…raises the hair on your chest, if you have any)
  • 1x 1996 Signatory Edradour Highland 10 years Scotch (matured in Sherry casks…see TN above)

    And the Bordeaux futures I picked up:
  • 12x 2003 Ch. Gruaud Larose, Saint Julien (2nd Growth)
  • 12x 2003 Ch. Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (5th Growth)
  • 3x 2003 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes 375ml

    There goes my tea and wine allowance for many months…

  • What have you been buying to satiate your tea and/or wine obsession?


    Nikhil said...

    Wow Phyll, quite a shopping spree, huh? That Edradour sounds fascinating. You'll have to let us know what its like. I'm a bit of a scotch drinker myself, and I need to start venturing out beyond the usual suspects. If you're ever in Chicago, you have to visit a Scottish pub called "The Duke of Perth" - I think they have the most extensive scotch menu in Chicago. You've inspired me to go visit the Duke this weekend and take a scotch flight!

    MarshalN said...

    A safety of mine is Lagavulin. Very good.

    I tried the Glenmorangie sherry cask recently (I can't remember how many years). It was nice... definitely a different finish than your usual scotch. Do let us know how this one fares.

    ~ Phyll said...

    Nikhil - A Scotch flight...that sounds intoxicatingly nice! I will try this Edradour and let you and MarshalN know, though I am not experienced in the way of the whiskies.

    MarshalN - The sherry cask Glenmorangie and Macallan that I saw the other day were 12-year olds. I think that's the standard bottling for both producers. Yeah...Lagavulin is nice. I am surprised that you being a Lagavulin drinker prefer the subtleties of Yiwu when it comes to pu'er. You ought to be raving about those very smokey and robust pu'er (Banzhang?). :)

    ~ Phyll said...

    Nikhil & MarshalN - I popped open the bottle and I've added my TN within the post above.

    Steven Dodd said...

    I really like that label on the whisky bottle. You know exactly what you're getting: when it was made and which cask. Sounds like a delightful sippin' whisky.

    sjschen said...

    Maybe you've already reviewed it somewhere, but how is the 2003 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey?

    The only other Premier Cru I've had was a 2001 Ch. Guiraud and that was fantastic.

    ~ Phyll said...

    Hey SJS Chen, good to hear from you. I have not tried the Ch. L-P yet as I tend to open sticky wines only on rather special occasions. None has come up so far. However, here is what Steven Tanzer (of Int'l Wine Cellar) and the Wine Spectator have to say about it:

    2003 Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey Sauternes

    ST: Yellow-gold. Knockout nose combines apricot jam, peach, white plum and spicy, vanillin oak. Lush and fat with fruit; opulent and seamless. Wonderfully concentrated flavors of peach, nectarine and spices, with a whiff of menthol adding complexity. Fat and sweet but with lovely freshness and lift; in fact, this is showing more shape and thrust than it did from barrel a year ago. Finishes long and spicy, with very strong fruit. This is already delicious. (92 pts)

    WS: Very, very intense aromas of dried apricot and lemon. Honey, syrup and Golden Delicious. Full-bodied, viscous and very sweet. Pour it on pancakes. Love it. And drink it. Who can wait? Best after 2010. 6,250 cases made. (97 pts)

    Nikhil said...

    The Edradour sounds delicious. Thanks for posting. I'm curious about the nose - "Overripe yellow fruits" - did any particular fruit pop out?

    So you're a mineral-water-spritzin' kind of guy when it comes to scotch ;) I like mine straight up!

    ~ Phyll said...

    Sorry Nikhil, it was more like a medley of yellow fruits to me. Next time I'll have to try a sherry finish Speyside scotch.