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Brophy’s Barrel

A couple big updates on Brophy’s Barrel.

 

First, I pulled the Founder’s Curmudgeon out and tasted it side by side with fresh Curmudgeon on tap at the South Loop Tasting Room.

 

Fresh off the tap, the Curmudgeon is great stuff. Full of bready malts on the nose, sweet cereal grains on the palate balanced by a nice bitterness. After spending a week and a half in barrel, the beer has gained a slightly ruby hue. On the nose it’s a little rubbery, with hints of burnt sugar. There is a faint suggestion of rum on the palate, flavors the barrel passed on from the Lemon Hart 151 that was in the barrel before – more burnt sugar than true rum flavor. It seems to have lost some body.

 

Overall, I think this barrel may be heading into retirement. It’s been through about six aging cycles, and seems to be more of a “neutral oak” vessel than anything else right now. But before I set it out to pasture forever, I’m going to test this theory by filling it with vodka. If it really is neutral, it shouldn’t affect the vodka more than some flavors from the Curmudgeon. We’ll see soon!

 

Bonus Barrel after the jump…
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Brophy’s Barrel

It’s been a while since our last update, but Brophy’s Barrel is still going strong. Actually, things got busy around here shortly after we took out the Lemon Hart 151. We didn’t put anything into the wood, so it sat dry for a few weeks. These miniature barrels do have a limited lifespan – just like real barrels – and we’re starting to worry that ours is nearing its end. How many different beverages have been in this barrel? We’re losing track.

 

So what do we do? Give up? That’s not like us at all. Barrel triage – we rehydrated the barrel by submerging it in water over a weekend. Here’s the newly refreshed barrel right out of the water:

 

20 points to anybody who can tell us where this pic was taken.

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The Wording of Whisky

Scotch is scotch, right?

 

   Yes and no. How Scotch whisky is labeled and how we refer to said whisky on the label has been a contentious debate for as long as we have had whisky. Scotch whisky? Scotch malt whisky? Scotch grain whisky? Blended Scotch whisky? Single-malt whisky? Single-grain whisky? Pure malt whisky? Vatted malt whisky?

 

   And then when we add definers such as Fine Old, Rare Old, Choice Old, Extra Special, Special Reserve, Aged, Finest, Oldest Matured; none of which actually define the age or quality of the whisky! It’s enough to make your head spin.

 

There are several laws currently defining how we label the water of life. Scotch whisky is whisky if:

 

 

A. The whisky has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only the whole grains of other cereals have been added) all of which have been:
1) processed at that distillery into a mash
2) converted to a fermentable substrate only by natural enzyme systems
3) fermented only by the addition of yeast

B. It has been distilled no higher than 94.8 proof so that it retains aromas and tastes of the production and ingredients used.

C. It has been matured for no less than 3 years in barrels no larger than 700 liters.

D. No substance other than water or caramel coloring has been added.

 

 

So how do those of us who just want to enjoy a dram sort it all out?

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Brophy’s Barrel + Bonus Barrel Bonanza!

LEMON HART 151

 

It has now been two weeks since we filled our 1-liter barrel with Lemon Hart 151, plenty of time for the overproof rum to soak up influences from the barrel and the tequila that last filled it. Joe Maloney and I tasted the aged Lemon Hart together. What’s really interesting is that this rum has a lot of character on its own, so we’re guessing that more time in the wood can only settle it down a little.

 

On the nose, the brown sugar that absolutely dominates Lemon Hart has toned way down. There’s a lot more spice, anise and fruit. Joe yelled out “Holy Pepper Pat Man!” So I guess he gets lots of peppery notes. On the palate, the fat sweetness is still there, now underlined with layers of smoke and cooked asparagus. The heavy molasses remains, but this vegetal, peppery quality has joined it.

 

I like the added dimensiosn the Lemon Hart gained. Joe does not. Lemon Hart is all about the Demerara sugar and heat as is. The addition of subtle smoke is nice. I don’t find the vegetal asparagus note from the tequila to be too much. At any rate, it was a cool experiment.

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Brophy’s Bonus Barrel Bonanza

   We’ve been experimenting with aging spirits in a one-liter barrel for a couple of months now and hope you’ve been following along. We recently got our hands on a second little wooden barrel for our experiments, and we decided to do something drastic. Something we don’t do often and something we aren’t very good at. We decided to follow the instructions.

   That barrel you see there on the right is from the Cedar Ridge Age Your Own Whiskey Kit – a great gift idea that comes with a barrel, bottle of Cedar Ridge Unaged Whiskey, and instructions that tell you how to age the whiskey on your own. We figured this was our chance to get back to basics and age some white whiskey as the kit was intended. 

   We tasted fresh Cedar Ridge Unaged Whiskey before putting it into the barrel, and we have to say that this is some of the best … well … least offensive white whiskey we’ve tasted. The nose has the familiar herbal notes common in unaged whiskey, but the Cedar Ridge is cleaner, lighter. Peppery on the palate, spicy, but the alcohol is in check. It might help that this is 100 proof; new make usually has more alcohol. Overall, this is a light, spicy and fresh spirit. 

   We’ll open up the barrel and taste it from time to time to watch its evolution. Check back to see Brophy’s Barrel soon. We’re really looking forward to seeing where this goes!

Binny’s Mailbag: Getting into Scotch

We answer a lot of questions from The Binny’s Mailbag, and it seems like a common theme is getting one’s foot in the door to the world of Scotch. For example:

 

Binny’s,

   I have always enjoyed bourbon but have recently been intrigued by single malt scotch. Admittedly I don’t have much knowledge about scotch. That being said I am hoping that you could give some background knowledge on scotch and give me a few ideas as where to start (i.e. what is a good beginner scotch and possibly some other single malts to start).

Thanks a lot,

M

 

Hi M,

   We always recommend starting a voyage through single malts with some whiskies from Speyside or the Highlands. You’ll find a great amount of variety in the flavor and profile of single malts depending on the region of Scotland that they come from. Generally malts from these regions won’t be peaty or smokey and will focus more on fruity, floral, and caramel/toffee flavors.

   Age matters with Scotch, but not as much as some people insist. You can find some great introductions to the style in Glenlivet 12 year, Glenfiddich 12 year, and Glenmorangie 10 year. Glenlivet is soft and floral, Glenfiddich is slightly fuller and finishes with some spice, and Glenmorangie is sweet and smooth.

   When you’re tasting whisky, try to take note of the specific flavors or characteristics you like, and those you don’t. Being aware of this will help you narrow down what you really like and guide you when you pick out your next bottle.

   Let us know how it goes! Cheers!

 – Binny’s Mailbag

Brophy’s Barrel 12/16/11

   Good news! Brophy’s barrel is back in business. After considering all of your suggestions for spirits to put into the barrel, we decided to go in a completely different direction. On Tuesday we filled the barrel with none other than Lemon Hart 151 proof Demerara Rum.

   This is hands down the best smelling overproof rum we’ve ever had. The combination of the amazing aromatic profile and the high alcohol content makes Lemon Hart the absolute best rum for making perfect tiki drinks – think the classic hurricaine and mai tai – as well as the best dark & stormy you’ve ever tasted.

   We tasted some before putting in into the barrel, and it’s all about the nose. Delicious molasses and brown sugar completely dominate with a thickness that almost pushes into the raisiny fruit category. You would never know this is an overproof rum – there’s no alcohol to be found on the nose. Nothing subtle about it. Heavy duty on the palate too, with an overwhelming taste of molasses just starting to burn in a pan on a stove. It’s going to be really cool to see how the Lemon Hart is effected by time in the barrel. Remember that the last two things we had in there were a Scotch and then a tequila. We’ll taste it in a week, see where it’s at, and decide where to go from there.

   By the way, we have more exciting Brophy’s Barrel news coming soon. Keep an eye on the Binny’s Blog for more.

Binny’s Mailbag: Top Ten “Smooth Sweet” Scotches

We’ve been opening up the Binny’s Mailbag for a while now – giving you the chance to see the kinds of mail that we get all the time. Its surprising how often these questions are super topical, or how they give us the opportunity to rant. This is one of those questions:

 

What are the best sweet, smooth single malt scotches that you recommend (top 10)?   Thanks!

- B.B.

 

Hi B.B.

   What a loaded question! Tops 10’s are hard because inevitably some great whiskies get left out. That said, here is our current top 10, in no particular order and in no particular price range. 

 

Glenmorangie 18 Year Old – Very light, lots of honey and ripe fruits. VERY smooth.

Dalmore 18 Year Old – Full bodied and incredibly heavily sherry aged. Sweet dark fruits abound with a long, clinging finish. 

Balvenie 21 Year Old Portwood – This one is port cask finished, and very sweet, and very smooth. 

Samaroli Glenburgie 21 Year Old – Fairly sweet, but has a slight, coastal-salt balance. Samaroli is an amazing independent bottler.

Signatory Glenlossie 18 Year Old – A hand-picked Binny’s cask. Gently sweet and very light. Smooth even at cask strength. 

Glenrothes 1985 Vintage – Glenrothes is medium bodied and particularly creamy. A sweet butter cream is the leading flavor. 

BenRiach 20 Year Old – Creamy and honey with a balance of citrus fruits. Very gentle and clean. 

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or – This is the light, sweet and smooth 10 year Glenmorangie that sees an additional 2 years in Sauternes casks. ‘Nuff said. 

Cragganmore Distiller’s Edition – Cragganmore is one of the real sleepers in the crowded Speyside category. Fuller bodied than most, and sweeter with less spice. This Cragganmore is finished in port casks, and is incredibly smooth with a rich, raisin-y depth in flavor. 

Blackadder Lochranza 11 Year Old – Don’t be fooled by the island origin of this scotch (distilled at Arran). This is very sweet stuff. Light on the palate and dangerously smooth even at cask strength.  

 

Hope this gives some guidance. Plenty to choose from! Thanks for thinking Binny’s!

Cheers,

- Binny’s Mailbag

Binny’s Mailbag: Bourbon Gift Idea

Let’s take a look and see what’s in the Binny’s Mailbag.

 

Hi!

   I am looking to get my boyfriend a package of an assortment of his favorite whiskeys for Christmas. I have a few in mind (Jack Single BarrelGentleman JackBookersGeorge Dickle No 8 or No 12 — just to name a few) but was curious what are the size bottles you sell, since I’m getting a few i was wondering if you have smaller size bottles than the normal ones?

   Also, do you have any suggestions as another good one based on the list I gave above that he hasn’t had as a new one to offer him?

Thanks!

- J.B.

 

Hi J.B.,

   We carry the whiskies you list in just the 750mL (fifth) size, plus 1.75L in the case of Gentleman Jack.

   Since he likes these sweeter, fuller-bodies Tennessee whiskies, we would also recommend that he try some sweeter bourbons. Eagle Rare, a 10 year old single barrel, is a fantastic value and has a really rich vanilla and caramel flavor to it. Buffalo Trace would be a good one as well. It tends to be a little sweet, with a lot of oak and caramel in the profile. Both of these are available in 375 mL (pint) bottles at most Binny’s.

   A “wheated” bourbon would also be a good pick, these tend to be fatter on the palate, and a bit buttery in taste. Old Fitzgerald and Weller would be my recommendations for those.

   All these are less than $30 for the standard bottles, and less for the pints. 

   Sounds like he’s going to have an awesome Christmas! Thanks for thinking Binny’s,

- Binny’s Mailbag

Binny’s Mailbag: The Next Step

   Ever wonder about the mail we receive here at Binny’s? We get tons of questions at beer, spirits, and cellarmaster@binnys.com. Now we’re opening it for you with the Binny’s Mailbag.

 

Binny’s – 

   Im fairly new to the scotch world, having tried and really liked Glenmorangie and Glenrothes which I believe are considered lighter scotches. Ive read quite a bit about Highland Park so  Im eager to try that next but Im wondering if that may be too strong for my taste just yet? Would I be better off sticking with something lighter or is there anything else you could recommend as a next step?

Thank you

J.P.

 

Hi J.P.,

   You’re right on track with Highland Park. Their whiskies would be a good step forward. You’ll find that the HP’s are slightly fuller bodied, and in our opinion pack quite an impressive depth of flavor. Highland Park is lightly peated, so it doesn’t come off so much as smoke, but more of a spiciness on the finish of the whisky. In the case of the Highland Park 12 year old, it is 90% sherry aged, 10% bourbon, so there is a great dark-fruit flavor balancing the baking spice character and the very gentle seaside/island profile.

   Along the same lines of fuller, richer flavored whiskies, we would also recommend checking out Aberlour, a sherry finished highland malt, and also Old Pulteney. Pulteney is from the northeast corner of Scotland. The Old Pulteney 12 year old has a gentle “maritime” profile, and is a great value at under $40.

   Hope this helps. Any others questions, let us know.

Cheers,

- Binny’s Mailbag

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