Friday, July 29, 2016

New Whiskey Labels: Parker's Heritage, Willett and More

This week's most interesting new labels from the federal TTB database:

Heaven Hill cleared a label for the 2016 Parker's Heritage Collection, a 24 year old bottled in bond bourbon distilled at the old, pre-fire Heaven Hill Distillery. There are two different back labels, likely indicating two batches, one says the bourbon has been aging since Fall 1990 and the other since Spring 1991.

Jefferson's cleared three labels for Cabernet finished Jefferson's bourbons: a Chappellet Cabernet, a Napa Valley Cabernet, and a Pritchard Hill Cabernet. Since Chappellet is a Napa Valley winery that makes Pritchard Hill Cabernet, it looks like this is one bottling that they are not yet sure how to label.

A.D. Rattray's popular budget blend Bank Note looks like it will have peated expression. Like the original, it's five years old.

Last week, Willett cleared a label for an Old Bardstown bourbon which they had distilled in-house. This week, they cleared a BIB version of the bourbon.

Belmont Farms, a Virginia craft distillery, cleared a label for a 25 year old corn whiskey.

And now for the latest in flavored whiskey: Dr. Stoner's Smoky Herb Flavored Whiskey, made from his "special stash."

And if the only thing you like more than Jefferson's Ocean is reality TV tie-ins, Storm Tossed Rye is for you! It's a rye whiskey blend aged on board the fishing boat of Captain Sig from Deadliest Catch.

Note:  The fact that a label appears on the TTB database does not necessarily mean it will be produced.  In addition, some details on the label, such as proof, can change in the final product.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Go Goa: Paul John Single Malts

Paul John Single Malts are made by John Distilleries Ltd. in Goa, India. John Distilleries has been around for years producing bulk whiskey for the Indian market, including the controversial sugar-based whiskeys. They began producing single malts in 2007, first releasing them in 2012. They are now planning a launch in the U.S. so I thought I'd give them a try.

Paul John Classic Select Cask, bottled 2013, 55.2% abv

This has a nice, malty nose. The palate has malt, then some acid and some berry notes and it closes with a strong, malty finish. This is a very nice, bold malt with lots of pure malt flavors. It's well executed and flavorful.  Good stuff! 

Paul John Peated, Cask 739, bottled 2015, 57% abv

This was bottled for Dutch importer Bresser & Timmer.

The nose has a light char, like next day campfire. The palate is smoky with a touch of sweetness. The smoke intensifies toward the end and builds into a massive, smoky finish. This one is a legit peat monster.

Both of these were very impressive and worth hunting down. I'll definitely be paying attention to future Paul John releases, and I look forward to them showing up on our shelves..

Thanks to My Annoying Opinions for the samples, and also see his reviews of the Paul John Classic Select Cask and Paul John Peated.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lous Pibous Armagnac from L'Encantada

L'Encantada is a fairly new Armagnac bottler that is bottling Armagnacs from six estates in the Bas Armagnac Region. Like Darroze, L'Encantada mostly bottles single casks and includes the name of the producer on the label. They are unfiltered and bottled at cask strength.

This one comes from Domaine Lous Pibous. It is made from Folle Blanche grapes and aged in new oak.

Domaine Lous Pibous 1994, L'Encantada, 53.7%

The nose has caramel, coffee and lots of earthy notes. The palate opens with notes of an old bourbon, like one of those huge, oaky 17 or 18 year old Bernheim wheaters that Willett put out a few years ago. After that initial bourbon blast, there are some more traditional spicy notes and earthy notes that careen into a spicy finish.

This is a fantastic, monster of a brandy. Whereas most Armagnacs are more rye-like in their spiciness, this one tastes like a big, oaky bourbon, the kind you don't really get anymore.

Sadly, these aren't available in the U.S., but you can get a bottle in France for around 90€ (500 ml bottle).

Thanks to Paul Schurman for helping me acquire this bottle.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Whiskey Labels: Bowmore, Laphroaig, Willett and More

This week's most interesting new labels from the federal TTB database:

Beam Suntory cleared a label for a new no age statement Bowmore: Vault Edition First Release, because, you know, there aren't enough NAS limited releases out there.

Last week, Beam Suntory cleared a label for a cask strength Laphroaig 30; this week, they cleared a similar 25 year old (aged in Oloroso and American casks).

A label cleared for Dalmore 35 year old.

Willett cleared a new label for Old Bardstown, a long-time sourced whiskey, which now says it is "Distilled and Bottled by the Willett Distillery."  Thus, it appears that Willett will be bottling some of its own bourbon under the Old Bardstown label. The label doesn't include an age statement which means the bourbon must be at least four years old, which works out since Willett opened its distillery in 2012.

Note:  The fact that a label appears on the TTB database does not necessarily mean it will be produced.  In addition, some details on the label, such as proof, can change in the final product.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Good Impressions of Szechuan Impression

Farm Chicken in Chili Oil
Szechuan Impression serves some of the best food in LA. This won't be news to a lot of people, but I was slow to get there.  I had a mourning period after Chung King closed and then settled into Chengdu Taste. I had heard great things about Szechuan Impression, but just hadn't made it there. I was lucky that My Annoying Opinions was in town and suggested we meet there.

My Annoying Opinions is a whiskey blogger who visits LA twice per year. We usually meet up in the San Gabriel Valley for a meal, to exchange whiskey samples and so that he can get material to make fun of me for the next six months.

Almost everything we ordered at Sichuan Impression, and we ordered a lot, was outstanding. The traditional Sichuan dishes that I'd also tried at Chengdu Taste were better at Szechuan Impression with more spice and brighter flavors.  Here are the highlights:

  • Farm Chicken in Chili Oil, cold chicken bits and peanuts in a stupendous chili oil.  This is all about the sauce, which I would have been happy to slurp from the bowl if I didn't think it would spill and permanently turn my shirt bright red. It's hard to explain in words how good this stuff is, which is I guess why I stopped food blogging in the first place, but it's really good.
  • Lamb on Toothpicks, pretty much the same as the popular dish at Chengdu Taste with intensely cumin flavored lamb buried under a mound of cilantro. 
  • Boiled Fish with Rattan Pepper. This is probably the best Sichuan boiled fish I've had. It's fairly similar to other versions with pickled peppers and lots of peppercorns, but the flavor is sharper with a bit more acid. It's really wonderful.
  • Leg Crossingly Yum Beef Soup. Is there a better name for a dish anywhere in the world? This is similar to the Korean bone broth seolleongtang with its cloudy beef broth and thin strips of brisket. This one also had radish and some chili powder for topping. 
  • Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar. For dessert, this is crispy fried rice cake served in a pond of deep, black sauce which tastes like molasses. Another dessert on the menu, Cinderellas Pumpkin Rides were tasty fried pumpkin fritters, though I preferred the rice cakes.  
So check out Szechuan Impression, and also see My Annoying Opinion's review which has photos of every dish hastily taken in the few seconds he could hold me off before I jammed my chopsticks into the bowl.

Szechuan Impression
1900 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 283-4622 


Monday, July 18, 2016

Dream a Dream of BBQ

Dream Korean BBQ, at the corner of First and Western (in the spot that used to be Suhrabal), is one of my favorite of the all you can eat (AYCE) Korean BBQ spots. They have three distinct menus that offer different BBQ choices:  Four items for $10.99 per person; 15 items for $18.99 per person and topping out at a choice of 22 items for $24.99 for person.  All of them come free with a salad bar buffet, except that it's an extra $3.99 if you order the $10.99 at dinner (it's free at lunch with that menu too).

I always get the $10.99 menu.  The salad bar is a mix of banchan, traditional salad fixings, fruit and other assorted appetizers like California rolls and a really good tempura fried squid.  The noodle dishes, japche and spicy vermicelli, are particularly good.

For the $10.99 BBQ  menu, you can get brisket, bulgogi, pork belly and/or chicken bulgogi. The brisket is my favorite, paper-thin, lusciously fatty and good quality for the price.  Pork belly is also good, bulgogi is okay, and I've never made it to the chicken bulgogi. My MO is to just keep ordering brisket until I'm full.

They also do a very nice gyeran jjim (steamed egg). Often a throw-away dish, the Dream steamed egg, which arrives mid-way through the meal, has succulent flavors of pork and sesame oil with a perfect light, fluffy, souffle-like texture. They must cook it with pork broth. This may be one of my favorite egg dishes in town, and it's a perfect contrast to some good, plentiful grilled meat.

Dream Korean BBQ
100 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(213) 388-7668

Friday, July 15, 2016

New Whiskey Labels: Old Scotch, New Booker's and More

This week's most interesting new labels from the federal TTB database:

Duncan Taylor continues to clear labels for a series of very old Scotch, including Highland Park 1968, Glenlivet 1968Bunnahabhain 1968 and 1969, Glenrothes 1970 and Glen Grant 1972.

Beam Suntory released a label for a Laphroaig 30 year old bottled at cask strength.

Beam Suntory released two sets of new batch labels for Booker's Bourbon, mostly for release in 2017.

William Grant cleared new labels for Chapter 2 of its high roller Balvenie DCS series. These included  vintages from 1972, two 1990s (one of which appears to be sherry cask aged), 1997 and 2001.

Copper & Kings cleared a label for a new expression of apple brandy: Floodwall.

And California bottler Frank-Lin cleared a label for a no age statement Canadian rye, which wouldn't be worth notice except that they are using their "Historic Stitzel Distilling Company" label (which they have already used for a bourbon) and the word "Canada" is in very small print on the back label.

Note:  The fact that a label appears on the TTB database does not necessarily mean it will be produced.  In addition, some details on the label, such as proof, can change in the final product.