Sunday, December 28, 2008
I don’t know the details of the Whiskey Rebellion, nor will I take the time to Google it. What I think of when I hear that phrase is a quiet but principled revolution started by dignified whiskey brewmasters against their own industry, with the intention of staunching the production of cheap, mass-produced bottles of alcoholic piss. Ultimately they lost (for which I am partially grateful because it’s not fun to blog about good-tasting whiskey), thanks in part to one of the generic, waterlogged motherfuckers I just consumed: Ten High Whiskey.
The only credit I can give it is that it’s not the worst thing I ever drank (for that, see“Old Smuggler,” that smarmy bastard of the high seas). However, saying that on this blog is like going to a slaughterhouse and saying those aren’t the grossest entrails you’ve ever seen.
These are the grossest entrails you’ve ever seen.
Also, the name. Ten High? What the fuck is that? Did somebody just hold their hands above their head and count their fingers? Though the bottle insists it has a rich transnational history (it claims distilleries in two bumfuck towns in Kentucky and one in Los Angeles, because LA’s known for making a mean Kentucky sour mash), it sounds like something produced in India and Tuesday was “Ten High label” day. Chances are you’ll see a bottle with Wednesday’s label on here eventually by somebody else, and the review will be glowing. Such is subjectivity.
For some asinine reason, Ten High lends itself well to sours, yet does not seem to mix very well with Coke. My guess is that the sugar in the coke and the poison in Ten High were fighting and the match ended in a carbonated, caramel-colored stalemate, with both ingredients spent. Shots are tolerable, but far from tasty. This isn’t something you’d buy unless you hate yourself, or if you feel thirsty for a Los Angeles-style “Kentucky straight sour mash bourbon whiskey.”
Counter-revolutionary whiskey that’s horribly generic. $9.99/fifth
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I must give props to Gavin Smith’s agent, who saw an opportunity to strike it rich via right-in-your-face product placement on a whisky bottle. While certain liquors, like Sailor Jerry Rum, which has a similar display of product placement—the tag looped around the bottle’s neck actually has recipes and information relevant to the product—Black Velvet’s marketing ploy is nothing but a shill for the poker-crazed-and-thus-youthful demographic; the same demographic that thinks an individual can make millions of dollars exploiting a strategy already in existence by multiple professionals can net them a fortune. I can only imagine how useful these “poker tips” actually are—Black Velvet is fairly ubiquitous in liquor stores. Maybe they saw Gavin Smith and said something to the effect of, “now there’s a guy who can bring a level of class to our inexpensive whisky; by invoking his name we can surround our bottles with an aura of erudition.”
Boom! Whatever subtle connotations of sophistication the name Black Velvet conjures up are now ruined by this balding, obnoxious jerk-off who dresses like a six-year-old.
Ridicule of the demographic-exploiting/kitschy marketing campaign aside, Black Velvet is actually a fairly tasty whisky, and has an aftertaste that (somehow) smacks of vermouth. Damn it, this stuff is downright palatable. Personal research shows that it seems to mix best with your preferred cola (read: by cola, I don’t mean Dr. Pepper), thus it lends itself well to being used in mass quantities. To those in fraternities, this ought to be a no-brainer for you—buy a fifth of this and a two-liter of generic cola and you’ve got yourself a drink that will attract the coveted underclassmen, while simultaneously being economical (for your parents).
Surprisingly decent Canadian whisky that nearly breaks the “enjoyable” barrier. Slight indistinguishable wine-like aftertaste.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
*Post-post disclaimer: This post is a deviation from the style I had intended the site to have, but I have decided to sacrifice humor for relevancy; awkward high school reunions are anathema. *
The first thing one will notice about this rum is that the bottle is particularly attractive; it has a rustic sort of style about it. The second thing one will notice is that it is 92 proof—that’s a bit more alcohol than your average, run-of-the-mill rum. But unique is the game that Sailor Jerry plays. Maybe it was the atmosphere and situation in which this liquor was consumed, but it was social sustenance within a cheap steel flask. So what the hell does this delicious rum have to do with thanksgiving break? Thanksgiving is a time when college students across the country flock back to their hometowns for a dinner with the family and reunions with friends that are always better when imagined. For the sake of this review, the latter scenario will be the focus.
Like the trance-inducing Malabar caves of Forster’s A Passage to India, “catch-up talk” in a hometown bar has a way of wearing on your consciousness so that you develop an increasing numbness to it as the night goes on, while simultaneously becoming more and more benignly annoyed with everything. Despite any steps you might have taken to alienate yourself from the people who had left a bad taste in your mouth—people you’ve either spent only minimal time with or people you’ve spent countless hours with—you’ve placed yourself in a situation that commands such satisfying isolation to stop, if for only a couple of hours.
Listening to the past three years of high school acquaintance #23’s life can deaden your senses and make you realize that your role in such a conversation can be performed just as effectively by a robot that nods its head and says “oh cool,” “right,” “ah, nice,” and “I see” every 8 seconds. “Still living in the city, huh?” “Moved back in with your parents, right?” “Got a job at the mail room? That’s cool.” “Oh, you’re married now? Awesome.” Condescending, unsolicited critiques of fashion, aggressive declarative statements about what band currently sucks the most, semi-obscure pop-culture references injected awkwardly into a conversation nobody really wants to be a part of; all of it is annoying just as much as it is inconsequential. Quality conversations you attempt to strike up with people you willingly call on the phone every couple of weeks cannot stand up against the voluminous barrage of chatty bullshit that seems to permeate your personal space from all angles. You’re reminded of the reasons why don’t keep in touch anymore.
You’ve been subjected to the puerile drivel that exhausts from the mouths of people who love the sound of their own voice long enough. Annoyed at being an audience member in someone’s four-hour monologue, you excuse yourself and make your way through the drowsy, dingy dining area into the bathroom. There, you unscrew the cold cap of your flask and take a slow swig—the frustrations of all-but-forced socialization with people you see only a handful of times a year but still that’s too much collect in your throat and are washed away with this rum. A slight taste of vanilla echoes in the chasm of your mouth, and you realize this is one of the few pleasant experiences you’ve had since you stepped into the bar. The aftertaste is sweet, lingering just long enough for you to savor it, then disappears quietly, like fog in the sunlight.
The soft sting of the alcohol swirling into your stomach takes your attention away from the dull mental anguish that introduced itself within the past hour just long enough to make you forget to recall it, and thus gives you a new bout of energy to listen to the explication of things irrelevant. You walk back, trying not to listen to the stentorian clacking jaws of the chattering cattle around you, and once you’ve sat, you’ve found you’ve developed a mental barrier that dampens the banter (when it cannot deflect it entirely).
Sonic pollution hangs in the air, the by-product of a person who speaks more than they think. Your role tonight is that of a perpetual listener, and nobody has any intention of making conversation a cooperative effort. You relegate your careful, quietly constructed insights and opinions to your own head; it’s clear input is not wanted here. Eventually, your windowpane of serenity shatters under the hail of small talk, and you’ll find that you have to refresh yourself in order to endure, in order to put up with things you thought you graduated from.
The thought of coming back in two weeks for yet another holiday break is something that will require more than two weeks to prepare for.
Social anesthetic. $16.99/fifth.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
1.) The ugly, creepy looking bird (duh)
2.) The obnoxiously catchy music of Sheryl Crow (she’s also old, so it works double for her)
3.) Last, and probably least as well, the movie “the Crow”
Now, I don’t know about you, but none of these mental pictures leave me feeling particularly warm and tingly inside. It was with this motive that I decided to buy a bottle of Old Crow on my last excursion to the local Wine & Spirits Shoppe. I figured “What better way to begin my whiskey blogging career than with something God-awful?” After all, no review is more fun to write than a bad one. So with that in mind, I figured this should be a real gem.
After all of that forethought, I must say I was a bit disappointed when I mixed my first drink with some Up-Rite Lemon-Lime Soda. It wasn’t bad. Not to be deterred, I reasoned that maybe this soda was just a very strong mixer. “Enough of this girly, under-pantsy shit!” I exclaimed, and proceeded to pour a generous glass on the rocks. Again, I was disappointed. Not only was it tolerable, but it was downright good. Not only that, but the next morning, the hangover didn’t even make me feel something a crow would be picking at!
My final thoughts: If you’re going to name your beverage after a foul scavenger with wings, at least have the decency to make the liquid inside equally as foul as the namesake.
1.75 Liter : $15.99
Sunday, November 16, 2008
There have been few certainties during my time in school. Job prospects, girls, and heat are all things that managed to me eluded at times, for well…far longer then I’m willing to admit. One week you’ve got a freezer full of hot dogs and your roommate just bought Halo 3, the world is truly your oyster! And then the next week you’ve got no heat and your girlfriend is banging some d-bag with a moustache and a Joy Division shirt. For the many ups and downs of the twenty-somethings you need someone that is versatile and reliable even when you aren’t. Seagram’s 7 Crown is that friend.
The moderately priced fifth is tasty on the rocks or in a cola. It’s as smooth as you need it to be. For the money the fifth is ideal for any date, job interview or family function. “Hey there Mr. Glassbottle, look who’s got a mid-range whiskey and sophisticated taste in post-modern literature!” That’s right, I’m confident and smart! And is this a blazer I’m wearing?! Hot damn, Seagram’s I never could have pulled this off without you!
You can’t live the fantasy of $12.99 liters forever though. Sooner or later the party’s over, there’s rent to pay and for Christ sake we’re in the midst of a financial crisis! “Oh fuck, I knew I should have gone to business school!” No worries, Seagram’s 7 Crown 1.75L is a steal $19.99. There are few things more dependable handle of Seagram’s 7 Crown. This handle is the Titanic of plastic handles. Upon embarking on the epic voyage you know soon you’re going to sink into the icy brown abyss, but you’re doing so with style!
Travolta didn’t get a 7 & 7 in “Saturday Night Fever” for nothing and neither did you for shelling out this extra buck. Things can get grim, but a bottle Seagram’s 7 Crown will fill you with enough “Hope and Change” to forget why it was you had to buy Seagram’s in the first place.
Verdict: Semi-classy bargain.
Heaven Hill isn’t really evocative of too much—yeah, it’s a place, but it’s a hill. Big deal, it’s probably like 50 feet above sea-level; This is America, we do things big here—I’ll hold out for Heaven Mountain. That’s what i’m talking about. Snow capped peaks and shit. Real majestic.
But Heaven Hill’s name does have something going for it—I can’t think about it without getting “the Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” by the totally underrated post-punk band Husker Du stuck in my head. And that’s why it’s my absolute favorite cheap whiskey.
If you’re considering a bottle of Heaven Hill, you probably have a decent idea of what you’re getting into—it’s right there on the shelf, sitting next to all the other those plastic jugs filled with questionable brown liquor, with maybe a 1 dollar price difference between them all. But if you look around the shelf a bit, you’ll notice something odd—A one-liter bottle of Heaven Hill. A one-liter glass bottle. And that’s all the reassurance I require.
As far as taste goes, I wouldn’t throw it in my flask unless I was really desperate, and I’d probably only drink it on the rocks with a little bit of water added. And shots? Only if you’re a glutton for punishment. But mixing is where Heaven Hill really shines—if you’re planning on a night of whiskey and cokes or whiskey sours, there’s no reason to spring for anything else. If your drink tastes bad, don’t blame the bottle—blame your pouring hand.
Good for mixing on a budget
I say all of this because out of all the lameness and self-righteousness of those days came a solitary silver lining: the legendary D.C. punk band Minor Threat, who despite ostensibly hating most of my (current) favorite hobbies, knew how to rock the fuck out. Now, it may seem odd to spend so many words discussing a straight edge punk band on a whiskey blogb, but one of Minor Threats more rockin’ songs deals very closely with the whiskey i’m about to introduce you to. The song is “Bottled Violence” and so is Old Grandad 100 Proof.
When you make the decision to purchase Old Grandad 100 Proof Bourbon whiskey, whether you know it or not, you are making the decision to punch somebody in the face. Probably a bunch of times. And you’re probably going to take some hits yourself.
Whiskey has always had a violent reputation, harkening back to cowboys throwing down in an old west saloon, or red-headed Irish stereotypes duking it out in a potato field or the back of a Lucky Charms box. But it never made me violent. Not Jack, not Jim, not Wild Turkey 101. From aged Scotch to the cheapest plastic jug rotgut, all whiskey has ever done for me is put a smile on my face.
Grandad is a whole different story. Taste-wise, it’s pretty solid. It’s got that high-acohol bite you’d expect from a 100 proof liquor, but maintains the right levels of sweetness and smoothness that make it a perfectly acceptable choice to drink straight up—preferably out of a flask. On the rocks or mixed with cola (I’m partial to Diet Coke—laugh it up, asshole), it’s really quite pleasant to drink. The “pleasant” part ends there, though. Once you’ve had a couple, get ready to rumble.
It doesn’t matter how good of friends you are, what the topic of conversation is or who else is around. You think Spiderman could beat Superman in a fight? Put ‘em up—let’s do this. I don’t care if Grandma’s standing right there. You’re going down, motherfucker.
Tasty Bottled Violence
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This is about as generic a whiskey as you can get. It tastes like it was fermented in dishwater, but a kind of dishwater that’s not entirely dirty. I wasn’t even aware the humanity-despising Banker’s had dipped their foul-smelling fingers of mediocrity into whiskey vats until I saw this bastard of a bottle. Its saving grace is that it mixes well, but if you enjoy a stiff drink you will be confronted with an acrid taste that lingers and seems to throw a rope ladder down to acid reflux.
Like all shitty whiskeys (“shiskeys” if you will), shots aren’t recommended but will get the job done. Chances are that if you’re buying this regularly, you don’t have the money to buy a mixer anyway. Or, you could just be someone lacking tastebuds, with a metal pipe for an esophagus.
Definitive shiskey. $8.99/Liter
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Despite its seemingly benign smell, it’s a fucking punch in the throat. It tastes like, to quote a friend, “oil and herpes.” This scotch whisky slides down your throat and molests the hell out of your tastebuds. Mixing this with coke won’t save you from the awful flavor, so your best bet is to take shots. Actually, you should probably just get drunk first on other, less offensive alcohol in anticipation for this throat destroyer.
I’ve tried more methods of salvaging unpalatable alcohol than are reasonable; mixing with various colas, doing an ice-cold shot, mixing it with a big-gulp cup of holy water (thanks for nothing Our Lady of Divine Suffering), you name it. If you can find a mixer that neutralizes whatever demon lives inside this bottle, tell a priest.
Never again. $11/liter.