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Posts Tagged ‘American Whiskey’

Time Immemorial

September 26, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Howdy Free Rangers,

First, there is soon to be a new Secret Whiskey List going out. This is our separate mailing list for (first come, first served) unpublished whiskey sales, and generally represents our lowest price of the year on the whiskeys on said list. If you have never received one of these, please click here and enter your preferred info (even if you think you signed up in the shop), and we’ll make sure you don’t miss out. Please feel free to share that link with other worthy whiskey nerds.

They say time is on our side. At least the Stones thought so, but that was a long time ago (they were young and high); another era, burned out and long forgotten, from this foul year of our lord, Two Thousand and Twenty. But that’s not the case. Time is not on our side. It has a singular agenda, and is otherwise unimpressionable. While it seems to still be a linear measure, so far as I can tell, our perception of it continues to grow more elastic as it moves along. Is it just me, or does every impending tomorrow seem like a never-ending yesterday (like Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray, and it’s not funny at all)? Time out of Mind indeed. I’ve been re-reading Beaudrillard, so probably best that I leave you with just the tip of this particular iceberg, and move on to our discounted rarity of the week.

As many of you know, my favorite American whiskey (and probably in the world) is St. George Single Malt. It’s released once a year, as a vintage batch, and while it is always excellent, it varies from year to year fairly significantly. St. George Spirits is the original micro-distiller in America, and has been distilling in Alameda, CA since the early ‘80s. Besides their rare and magical whiskeys, they bottle some of the best gin, vodka, brandies, and liqueurs in the world. Their anniversary single malt releases are a profound (and profoundly rare) story for another time, but when the 40th is released, it’ll be harder to come by than front row Radiohead tickets (in the before time, when concerts were still a thing). Regardless of these variations, we get a max of 6 bottles per year (no retailer in the state gets more), and as such, it is rather expensive.

A few years back St. George introduced The Baller, a different, lighter single malt whiskey, whose name is a play on ‘highball’, and whose bottle wears one of the coolest labels in the industry. While this one does also vary from batch to batch, the quality is consistently high, and it’s a fresh, lighter style (un-peated) Single Malt. If you are into the classic Highball Cocktail, it’ll work out perfectly, but most I know tend to sip it straight. For the first several years of its existence, this release didn’t leave California, and demand has always exceeded supply. Since becoming available in our market, we can usually get a 6-pack two or three times per year. But with the recent shake-up at one of the two major distributors, 160 cases appeared in open inventory (though wholesale price did go up a bit). As you can imagine, we snapped up a good few of those. Hence the below lowest price we’ve ever offered on a truly unique and (usually) very limited American whiskey.

Click on the link below to add a bottle w/ coupon code to your cart!

St. George Single Malt The Baller            sale: $75            retail: $129

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

BourbonGeist – Elijah Craig 12 year, End of an Era

June 21, 2016 Leave a comment

1 Elijah Craig 12 6-2016Well, I’ve just cleaned out a local discount shop of the last of the 12 year, so I can relay the secret, my personal stash secured.

Elijah Craig 12 year small batch bourbon is one of the very best values in American whiskey. Quality and barrel year per dollar, with an age statement of 12 years, it is (was!) almost always available for under $30 per bottle. These are unheard of numbers in the new American whiskey market, and they’ve finally buckled under its weight.

Elijah Craig SB 12 6-2016Last year, when the visually prominent ‘12’ was removed from the Elijah Craig 12 Year label, it seemed they’d eventually be dropping the age statement, as so many have, due to the Boom. Until the most recent batch, the 12 year age statement was still in the very first line on the back of the bottle. The trend in the whiskey world is toward removed aged statements and increasingly mysterious blends. It’s the simplest way to increase production and keep up with demand. Regardless of all technological advancement, it’s still impossible to up production of a twelve year old product tomorrow.

As a nerd and a collector, I would’ve preferred the price of the 12 year increase and a less expensive 8 year be released (or even a 6 and a 9 year, or a 6 and 9 year, or an If 6 was 9 year!). I get why that would be less practical, but it would’ve been much cooler.

Now, the tasting. It’s easy to assume the worst, and at this point the age unknown small batch blend likely contains barrels of 6-12 year old bourbon, but with no statement, it can literally be any age combination. It will likely get younger and younger over time as Heaven Hill struggles to keep up with world thirst. As of today, the 94 proof Elijah Craig Small Batch is a little lighter in color than the last of the 94 proof 12 year, a little less red, slightly more golden, visually. The difference in nose is similar, but a less measurable contrast, the small batch comes off as a little brighter, the 12 year a little deeper, more overt wood, and a ghost of faded smoke.

Flavor-wise, the difference between the two is subtle, but noticeable, though it’s hard to say that my beloved 12 year is empirically better. It’s deeper, darker, more complex, greater overt wood affectation- and all the little secondary and tertiary flavors that go along with that. The small batch is comparatively lighter, sweeter, prettier, livelier, but not hotter. One man’s ‘lighter’ is another man’s ‘flatter’. I’m sure many will prefer one over the other, but I don’t think in a blind panel collective preference would necessarily skew toward the elder.

In short, the quality per dollar is still high in the new NAS (no age statement) Elijah Craig Small Batch; this is not just a cheap imitation of the original. That being said, for your own future enjoyment and edification, you may want to check out your nearest retailer, flip the Elijah Craig bottle(s), and if the back label says ’12 year’, maybe squirrel a couple away. Nobody ever said, “What am I going to do with all this nice 12 year bourbon?”