Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ten High Bourbon Whiskey

Horribly uncreative name—thank god that’s the least of their problems.

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

- Mike

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

The only reason I bought this bottle, aside from its irresistible price, is because of the fact that it comes with a miniature CD of “Gavin Smith’s Poker Tips.” This is an oddity, to be sure. Imagine you’re walking down the “Canadian whisky/American whiskey” section of your local liquor store and the only goddamn product that sticks out at you is one that has a CD attached to its fucking neck. If you’re like me, you’re enamored with the novelty. Whisky is timeless, but what brand would be so shameless as to ride a trend that is practically already beaten to death via late-night TV and cable? That brand, my friends, is Black Velvet.
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.

$8.49/fifth/80 proof.

- Mike

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Inver House Green Plaid Very Rare Scotch Whisky

This whisky is sold, despite the "very rare" on its label, in just about every single liquor store in Pennsylvania. The label must only apply to it's status in Scotland, whose shelves are apparently blissfully unaware of the nightmare inside this glass bottle. I'm guessing the anonymous Scot that 'distilled' it woke up one day, realized he was Scottish, and just said "Fuck it. I'm Scottish, right? I'm making some whisky." He was really reaching for the stars, that guy. Afterwards, he took one swill, spouted some Scottish colloquialism that probably boiled down to "shite!", vomited, and shipped that shit as far away as he could......which for some reason was Pennsylvania. Who knew?

Forget the glass bottle pedigree. This whisky shatters that concept completely, just like Inver House shatters everything remotely related to tasting, smelling, or feeling that your body is capable of doing. Hearing and sight? Fuck it, take them too. What about a sixth sense? You can talk to ghosts, you say? Nope, not anymore. It's bad........really damn bad. A shot of it is equivilant to being curb stomped, but mixing it is akin to being curb stomped by someone wearing a pink fuzzy slipper. It dulls it a bit, but it'll still ruin your fucking day. And if you have a flask you value at all, don't let this shit within 30 feet of it unless you're inside a catholic church, or happen to be drinking with one of those edgy priest stereotypes who used to box back in the day and sneaks a nip every now and then from under his cassock. Anything less than holy water might never get the taste of it out of the metal.

Bottom line, it tastes horrible. But for all you just read, that fact might actually be might not even make it to your lips. If you've had enough to drink, one whiff of this shit might actually be enough to bring it all back up. That's hardly what I ask my whiskeys (or whiskys, for that matter) to do though, and why pay $8.49 for something that your finger could do for free?

See it in the whiskey aisle? Keep right on going.......with your pace quickening to an eventual sprint in the opposite direction .


- Matt

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving Break Special Feature: Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum

*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.

- Mike.