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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Stories, Legends, and Lessons: The Duke, a smoky German, and Wild Turkey's Master's Keep Rye

I can't keep up the level of the Little Book extravaganza every post. I do have more fun ones coming, but there are a LOT more of these straight-up reviews; mostly whiskey, but some beer as well, and maybe a tequila or cognac as they come over the transom.

Without further ado, then.

Duke Kentucky Straight bourbon - Duke Spirits. Since "Duke" is John Wayne, you know there's going to be a story here. Stripped to its essentials, Wayne liked bourbon, and his son Ethan recently found a collection of all his old scripts and old bourbon bottles. He took the bottles to someone who knows whiskey, and apparently asked them if they could figure out what Duke liked, and blend up a bourbon like that. This is the result: a 5 year old Kentucky straight bourbon at 44%.

Well, you know. Interesting story, and even an interesting idea to recreate what bourbon John Wayne liked by blending up something from the evidence of his drinking. But to then call that an "original recipe" dating from 1962 is more than a stretch. It's a story, little better than the "grampa's family recipe" stories that the marketplace is littered with in these times.

In this case, the whiskey should have been where they put the emphasis, because it's not bad at all. There's a nose full of spicy old-timey hard candies and hard oak. It lands well with a good firm mouthfeel, and a mouthful of blueberry cobbler, cough drops and brown sugar. A bit thin on the finish, but I almost feel like I'm searching for a problem. That's pretty good for a 5 year old bourbon. Lean on that.

Palatinatus Single Malt - Destillerie Thomas Sippel, Pfalz, Germany. Aged in American oak, peated malt, distilled in 2014
This time the story is mine. I got an email from an old high school friend, Don Hershey. He'd been to Germany on vacation, and they decided to take in a distillery tour. While doing the tour, he saw a copy of Tasting Whiskey, and mentioned to the tour guide that he knew the author. One thing led to another, and they asked him to please take me this bottle to taste.

Don agreed, and met me for a (perfectly conditioned) glass of bitter at Bulls Head pub in Lititz, PA. He told me the story and gave me the bottle, we got caught up, and I went home to try this German malt whiskey. 

45%. It pours a pale gold. The nose is a fruity smoke, with hints of menthol and leaf smoke. Light and youthful, but not green. Sweet and light on the palate, with bacony smoke up front that backs off to allow a clean maltiness to come through and again, the fruitiness. This is light and pleasant at 5 years, and I'm curious where aging will take it. It could use more integration, and that's exactly what time should bring. The Germans are doing a lot of whiskey-making, and they certainly know their malt. Keep your eyes on them.

Wild Turkey Master's Keep Cornerstone Rye
 -- Wild Turkey Master's Keep collection. If this is the one you opened the blog post for, well, I'll be honest: me too. I've been a Turkey fan for years (though I've called them out when they take a wrong turn), and this just sounded like a killer. "...a backbone of 9 year old barrels married with a selection of very rare 11 year old barrels."

This is Eddie Russell's selection, his whiskey, and proof that he's learned what I believe is his father's best lesson: old whiskey is just old whiskey. Some folks seem to think rye is just getting started at 9 and 11 years old. Hogwash, and this stuff gives them the lie. Don't buy into that narrative. Taste and see for yourself.

54.5%. Hello, nose. Baked goods (vanilla, honey, nuts, baklava?), fruit pie crust, bit of anise. Open up: I'm tasting spicy hard candy, more honey, hot but not breathless heat, some of that pastry - well-baked and browned - and dry peppermint pastilles. Oak is present but doesn't intrude. Finishes long, with dried fruit, oak, and spices. At 52% rye, this almost drinks more like a high-rye bourbon, but the dryness of the rye makes it different, and delicious.

A great addition to this Master's Keep collection.

Just to keep you interested. While I was tasting whiskeys, Pippin was tasting rawhide. He found this 4 month old American beef hide quite tasty.

1 comment:

Rob Frost said...

Enjoyed this Post. Keep them coming!