Rock & Rye

A Drink On The Rocks…..

Spirit Review: Nikka Taketsuru 21yr


While most people equate single malt or single barrel whisky with being the cream of the crop, blended whisky is actually the most common as well as most consumed whisky in the world. And to taste some of the finest in blended malt whisky, look no further than the Japanese whisky distillers. Today were taking a look at the 21yr bottling.

The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co is one of the premier distillers in Japan and has a superb line of blended malts named after the founder Masataka Taketsuru. The Taketsuru blends come from distillates from both the Yoichi Distillery (located on the northern island of Hokkaido), and the Miyagikyo Distillery (located in the north of the main island Honshu).

Nose: Plenty of oak influence with notes of prunes, dates and apricots. Definitely some sweetness, anise,

Palate: Spices, black pepper, bitter orange, loads of tangy sherry. Gives way to some ginger, honey, and hints of marmalade.

Finish: Long, oak and spice, balanced with a hint of peat.

[rating: 4/5]

Spirit Review: Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr

vanwinkle10yr107 If you are a diehard bourbon fan, no doubt you are familiar with the Van Winkle name. Probably some of the hardest to find bourbons on the market today, the Van Winkle distillery (owned by the Sazerac Company) releases their products only once a year, and has bourbons labeled at 10yr, 12yr, 15yr, 20yr and 23yr, as well as a rye whiskey.

The Van Winkle line of bourbons with the exception of the 23yr features a high wheat mashbill produced by Buffalo Trace, similiar to (or exactly the same) as the W.L. Weller line of bourbons. So how do the legendary van winkle bourbons actually stand up to the hype? Well, I will say that they are delicious. Whether or not they are worth seeking out and paying through the nose for is a matter of personal taste, but they are excellent bourbons. Here we are going to be tasting the Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr iteration.

Nose: The nose of Old Rip is strong. It has a great sweet smell, like some vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce on top, banana pudding, and some oaky spice. Definitely strong hit of alcohol.

Palate: Silk and Velvet intertwine with butterscotch, dry cinnamon spice, oak and vanilla custard.

Finish: The wheat in the mashbill is really highlighted in the finish, where spice are met oak, toffee, creamy vanilla and a slight bitter char from the barrel. The finish is long and smooth.

Overall a very solid bourbon. If compared on its own, without the hype of the name, I would recommend it based upon its price point and quality. Would I stand in line for hours waiting for a bottle, or pay for it on the second hand market, probably not.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Spirit Review: Hakushu Heavily Peated Whisky


If the question is “What do the Japanese not do well?”, the answer is for sure not whisky. Every single malt spirit that I have tried from this country has been unique and of the utmost quality. One of the newest releases out there is the Hakushu Heavily Peated Whisky (2013 bottling), which hails from the Hakushu Distillery, located deep in the forests of the Southern Japanese Alps, where it seeks to take advantage of the clear air and cool, humid climate of Hakushu’s vast forests.

Nose: Gentle smokiness, a slight brininess mixed with pepper and sweet lemon.

Palate: An understated but bold hit of wood smoke, with a brown-sugar sweetness. Salt and pepper, sweet grain and roasted pear. Really clean and dry flavors.

Finish: Salted barley with just a really gently smoked flavor that is super subtle and expertly balanced.

Limited to just 3000 bottles, this is a whisky worth seeking out for fans of Japanese Whisky, as well as scotch lovers.

[rating: 4.5/5]

Spirit Review: Angels Envy Rye

Angels_Envy_Rye If you don’t know who Lincoln Henderson was, you’re soon going to find out. Formerly the Master Distiller for Brown-Forman and responsible for the creation of the Jack Daniels Single Barrel, Gentleman Jack, and Woodford Reserve Bourbons, Mr Henderson retired from the profession in 2004, only to reemerge in 2010 with Angels Envy Bourbon.

Now, with the release of the Angels Envy Rye, Mr Henderson has created an altogether unique spirit out of something otherwise ordinary. Starting out with a MGP sourced 95% rye whiskey, (Bulleit Rye, Dickel Rye, Templeton, High West, James E. Pepper, etc) Angels Envy manages to create something altogether delicious by finishing their rye whiskey in small-batch French cognac barrels formerly used to finish Plantation XO Rum. This uncommon finishing process yields a whiskey that has huge notes of maple, vanilla, caramel and spice.

Unfortunately Lincoln Henderson passed away this past fall, but his legacy will be remembered through his contributions to the distilling world, and the unique products that he envisioned and brought to life.

Nose: Huge nose of sweet vanilla, brown sugar, deep caramel, caribbean spices, honey.

Palate: Nice and creamy mouthfeel with clove spiced honey, raisins, cinnamon. The intensely sweet opening notes fade to a really rich and warming flavor with notes of pepper, allspice and cloves.

Finish: The finish is long, drawn out with hints of coconut, grapefruit, and a lingering dry spice that is really pleasant.

All in all, if you can find it, and bite the bullet on the higher price tag ($75-$85) you will not be sorry to invest in a great whiskey to sip neat and enjoy in the company of friends. Cheers!

[rating: 5/5]

Spirit Review: William Larue Weller

Hailing from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, this unfiltered, barrel proof, wheated whiskey clocks in at an amazing 68.1% ABV. And while Buffalo Trace produces a whole lineup of Weller branded wheated bourbons, this once a year release is widely considered to be the best of them all.

Nose: Sweet, complex, and almost subdued. Caramel sweetness mingled with scents of toffee, tobacco and cinnamon. Despite the ridiculous strength of this whiskey, it is remarkably gentle on the nose.

Palate: Taken with just two drops of water, there are nice oak and leather flavors balanced out by vanilla and notes of figs and dates. A slight hint of pepper, with a really pleasant burn. Not harsh or medicinal in any way, but a nice rich grassy flavor.

Finish: Long, warm and dry, with just a hint of lingering burn. Very pleasant.

Due to the limited production of this bourbon, it may be little harder to find, but it is worth snatching up if you come across it.

[rating: 5/5]

Spirit Review: Green Spot Irish Whiskey

green-spot-irish-whiskey Green Spot Irish Whiskey is produced by Irish Distillers Limited for famed wine merchants Mitchell & Son or Dublin, Ireland.  It is one of just a few remaining bonded irish whiskeys, as well as one of the few pure pot still whiskeys produced in Ireland, and is limited to just 500 cases per annum.

Originally produced at the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street, sometime after Mitchell & Son began selling whiskey in 1887, ‘Green Spot’ refers to the tradition of marking barrels of whiskey with a spot of paint to indicate their age.  Mitchell & Son had a full lineup of whiskies, including Green, Yellow, Red and Blue Spot.

Today, only Green and Yellow Spot remain in production, although their formulations and age have changed since production moved to the Middleton Distillery.  Green Spot is bottled at 40% ABV after being aged in 75% American oak ex-bourbon barrels and 25% in sherry casks for 8-9 years, (although there is no official age statement on the bottle). At the moment, distribution is limited primarily to Ireland with the exception of some online specialty retailers, although IDL aquired the rights to distribute outside of Ireland in 2011. No word on whether this will be sold here in the USA as of yet.

Nose: Orange peel, candied ginger, and honey with a slight herbal quality. Green pears and faint sherry notes.

Palate: Very viscous feel. Spicy ginger and cider with very minimal burn. Very clean flavors. The sherry casks seem to disguise some of the heavier oily flavors often present in pot distilled spirits.

Finish: Medium length, with some hints of hazelnuts. Clean and refreshing, while leaving you wanting another sip.

[rating: 4.5/5]


Ninkasi Beer Cocktails

Last night at the Oyster Bar we hosted a beer cocktail night featuring Ninkasi beers and Oola spirits.

Pairing beer and spirits is a timeless tradition going back to 1695 and the beginning of the mixed drink, so it was fun to put our modern twist on it. We were lucky enough to have several rare Ninkasi beers on tap to use in our cocktails, so we took full advantage the diverse lineup to create some unique cocktails. To give credit, a couple of the drinks are variations of those posted up on the Beer Mixology site, while the rest are my creations.
So the next time you are up for some experimenting, grab that bottle of beer, a bottle of booze, and let the good times roll. Cheers!


The End of an Era…

For the past 2 years I have been proud to call the Oyster Bar at Bayou on Bay my home. All that will be changing soon, as the current location of the Oyster Bar will be closing in the Spring, and we will be reopening in a larger space with a little bit larger of a concept. I’ll share more in a bit, but for now here are some pictures of the new location. The space is still in the very early stages of construction, and much needs to be done, but this will give you a little idea of what’s to come.

IMG_1871 Looking from the bar area towards the entrance

IMG_1867Looking at the bar towards the future patio

IMG_1870Looking at the back bar and future wall of booze

Vow of Silence

It seems that certain combination of spirits always results in endless variations of a similar cocktail. Which is not bad, as it allows you to gain an understanding of the small nuances between recipes, as well as helps you refine your palette as you look for those differing qualities.

This cocktail is just that, a play on the timeless pairing of gin, chartreuse and rosemary. Many cocktails have been made using these three ingredients, as they work so well together. Taking these flavors and adding modifiers or playing with ratios, results in cocktails with similar, and at the same time, differing qualities. This particular cocktail is currently on my menu at the Oyster Bar at Bayou on Bay and has been very popular in the last couple of months.

Vow of Silence
1 1/2 oz Rosemary Infused Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse

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