Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Midwest Single Malt Appreciation Society and House of Glunz Host November Scotch Events

For those who suddenly come upon this site, House of Glunz hosts a not so well promoted single malt scotch tasting event at its store at 1206 N. Wells. Yes, there is public transportation back to Rogers Park for those that want it.

Christopher Donavan will host the event with a series of in-house selections according to this link.

The House has a historical relationship in the City of Chicago. The event will cost $35 dollars.

Macallan is having a series of Chicago tastings by invitation or registration at its website for the week starting November 16. I don't have much information, but check with its website sources for more information. It is unclear whether Macallan will have the typical selections. Hopefully, it will pull out something more extraordinary for those accustomed to the standard fare.

The Midwest Single Malt Appreciation Society Hosts its Bunnahaban Tasting on November 18, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at Binny's South in Chicago at South Jefferson and W. Roosevelt Roads. The cost of this event is $30.

Expect at least seven to nine bottles notable expressions of this golden nector, complete with the expertise of some of Chicago's Single Malt intelligencia, and Scottish ex-patriots, depending upon who shows up.

The group usually pits two similar expressions against each other until it picks a single malt of the night.

Does anyone know an Arbegeddon Ringleader? I have a few bottles worthy of such an event.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Of Distillery Show Bottles & Tast-able Collections

Those of who listen to Whiskycast, or follow single malt news appreciate the difference. For every Mr. Disposable Income, there are a thousand bars and distilleries ready to buy back a show piece.

For those who actually drink the show pieces, the results may prove just as good as the occasional brass ring. That is, the arguably affordable bottle under $100, but definitely $200 on an average day.

I have heard of the Laphroaig collections, among others, where a collector has a passion. This dedication should eventually take refuge in a distillery or museum, when the basement becomes full and uninhabitable. Perhaps, the bequest is appreciated when the last will and testament is read.

Whether in Denmark or Italy, Texas or Texarkana, those who horde have a goal. Sometimes, it is more for accomplishment or show, then the real desire to make a buck. I'd rather drink it with good acquaintances or friends who appreciate it.

Recent auctions of the recent Bowmore Whites and Blacks suggest that time has yet to reveal an appraisal even at face value. The bottles may have to sit on the top shelves of those special pubs with laser lights flashing for years. There may or may not be that one moment when the bells go off, the buttons get pressed, and the debit card goes snap!

There is also the possibility that the bottles will sit until the dust builds, the lights go out, and no one knows exactly what is in that cubby hole except for that crumugeon just trying to keep his or her cool until the bottle sells for $200 to someone who happens to just know better or finds out that they have just purchased a treasure later appraised on the antique roadshow.

Will Richard Patterson be the appraiser of the 50 year old Dalmore sold for a song to Jedidiah Jones of Timberforks, Tennessee? Call me Jed, not the Donald. I hope for the unknown Kate Hopkins types to get those tastes; the John Hansell's have enough of them. Those memories are not forgotten!

Thanks Jamie!

The Bowmore portion has increased to two 17 year olds, numerous single cask bottles, the Dusk, and a Provenance for at least six to ten in the collection. A little kindness is appreciated.

Now, if I can only get free tickets to The Whisky Show!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Single Malt Week in Chicago 10/5 - 10/8/09

This is a good week for trying out single malt. On Monday, the Midwest Malt Appreciation Society will host an Ardbeg Tasting with its Ambassador, Davinia Small, at Binny's South Loop at 7:00pm. Binny's is located at Roosevelt and South Jefferson. With the upcoming release of the new and improved Corryvrecken, expect some it to flow at this tasting. The cost for this event is $30 per person.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, Sam's Wine and Liquor will host a Dalmore tasting with its Distillery Master, Willie Tait. This will take place at its Clybourne store near Smith and Hawkens.

A number of new bottlings and perhaps a few unusual ones may flow, as well. Sam's Wine will charge $10 in advance, but $7.50 if you have a Sam's Card. This is a great opportunity to taste the range of Dalmore's without having to find a Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America Member for the next event (or join SMWSA for that matter). It is unclear if space is available, but you may want to call. If you ever get the chance to see Richard Patterson, Dalmore's blender and author of Goodness Nose, then go for it! I missed him, when he visited Chicago a few months ago.

Finally, the Annual Single Malt Extravaganza returns to Chicago this Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. Chicago will be the first city to kick off the Alan Shayne 2009-2010 Tasting Series on behalf of the Single Malt Whisky Society of America. These events are spectacular! With at least 100 different expressions (varieties/bottlings) from the distillers, you are likely to find a single malt whisky to become passionate over. A buffet dinner is also served, which you can feast on in the alternative. It is okay to spit and spill. You may want to take public transportation home or a designated driver.

The Extravaganza will once again take place at the Union League Club of Chicago near Dearborn and Jackson. Contact the SMSWA at the link for more information. There may be an after party at Delilahs, but this remains unclear.

Binny's will be finishing up its Sale. For those who were unaware, Binny's won the Icons of Whisky Award for the best U.S. Single Malt Retailer. It will complete its unbelievable sale soon unless it already did so on October 1, 2009. For more information contact Binny's. Most of Binny's Single Stock was in the South Loop Store, but there is quite a bit spread throughout this Chicago Spirits retail chain.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scotch Malt Whisky Society of American about to Throw Extravaganda in Chicago.

Yes, we are rapidly approaching the first of the major single malt whisky fests. Shayne's Shindig will be at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:30pm. For more information, refer to the above link.

Of course, in the interim, Signatory holds a tasting at Binny's in Willowbrook on 9/30 and tomorrow

Deageo will have a master class at Binny's South on Tuesday 9/22/09 at 6pm

It only takes the Red line to Roosevelt and the CTA #12 Bus west to Jefferson to get to Binny's south. For fifteen dollars with a Binny's card (which you can get at the store, why not take public transportation, rather than avoid the opportunity. Phone first!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spirit in the Machine? An audit/census of RP's Whisky

If anyone wishes to eventually chime in, I am curious what I am missing. It has been five years of SMWSA. Although I may think that I have a more developed hobby, there may be others in RP who have equal interest. I am glad that I still appreciate a reasonably priced bottle like Bowmore Legend, among others. However, I don't plan on going above $500 a bottle without another buyer. Ridiculous as it sounds, some hobbyists go to extremes; I hope that I will be the one imbibing rather than necessarily buying. I'd rather invest and store.

The collection has grown. I have also grown more accustom to taste, but my tastes vary depending upon my mood. I still enjoy what Murray in his Whisky Bible calls 'fisherman's friend,' but I will drink a few Arbelours, Dalmore, Glenrothes, the right Rosebank, single cask Macallan, or Balvenie. What is it that makes many single malt hobbyists eventually veer more for the more peaty and smoky single malts? Does peat and smoke from Islay really make single malt the unique drink that it is? Or is it aging, cask, location, and the luck of the draw?

I have tried to look to what is best. I have often found that distinct bottlings from G&M, Signatory, or Murray McPhail does the trick. Berry and Rudd may have a few, but some may be overly critical of B&R. Yet, I hope to find that one unique Whisky Doris Bottle that is lauded and take it home from Germany. Does anyone collect Whisky Doris in Chicago? The Midwest?

It has been a few years of on and off blogging on single malts. I will attend my sixth Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America Event in Chicago. I finally decided after years of aversion to attend John Hansell's Whisky Fest last April. It was worthy and Hansell got into that world at the right time. However, what do we have here in Rogers Park post Morse Theater? What ever happened to its stock?

What bars reasonably stock single malts, not just the blended J&B, Johnny Walker, Dewars, or Chivas Regal?

This is what I have found:

Liquor Stores -
1. Taste - (on Jarvis) - An Islay Signatory Select Cask, a few selected distillery bottlings.

2. North Shore (on N. Clark) - The best selection of single malts in RP; Springbank selections and a lock box of the more exotic bottlings in its stock.

3. Extra Value Liquors - 7300 N. Western - Correction, just as good as North Shore. Found an old 17 yr. Old Bowmore in Stock. What you need if you are in town, on the Northside and don't want to travel to Binny's in Skokie.

Note: Although I have walked into other liquor stores, the stock tends to cater to the Malt liquor or semi-exotic beer crowd with the typical brands nestled in.

Bars - Night Clubs


1. Lamp Post - Only blended scotch - No single malts (I fear Macallan will be the one, but hope for Talisker Distillers Edition or Bowmore Legend)

2. Candlelite - I have to take a closer look at its stock.

3. Heartland - It has been a while, but I saw a bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Its not scotch but for those who know Bourbon is a spirit and scotch is often, but not always, aged in either bourbon or sherry casks. BT and the Frankfort distillery that it comes from has gotten more credit in the last six years. What about Eagle Rare?

3. Morseland - Any comments?

4. The Ho - I'll have to walk home to check out the small haunt. I fear more Lamp Post on a smaller scale with less premium brands. Has anyone else walked in and bellied up to this bar that has any idea what single malts are? You don't have to be particular!

5. Common Ground - Glenfiddich, Balvenie, but note Death's Door. The reason for pointing this out is that DD is an unique Midwest made aged whiskey from Door County Wisconsin. Has anyone tried some of the more exotic local gins and vodkas, among other spirits? What are your favorites?

Yes, Death's Door cannot be considered Scotch since is not produced and aged in Scotland. It is also made from Red wheat rather than barley. DD has a unique taste, but I tend to favor others until DD comes up with a unique bottling, which I expect Mr. Ellison will do after ten years of aging. It costs a bit to store your stock, but it also takes some time in business.

Are there any other thoughts on spirits?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chicago Whisky Fest v. WOW-Binnys 3/31

If there are two Chicago Spring Whisky Events, Whisky Fest and Binny's World of Whisky are the ones to go to. John Hansell and Malt Advocates (MA) promote a few smaller Chicago Events prior to Whisky Fest, but these are the diamonds. Both have their adherents.

I just finished Malt Advocates Whisky Fest @ the Hyatt Regency. Once, again, John H has outdone himself. I entered VIP @ 5:30pm, which was worth it with the MA Member discount. The highlights of the evening, for me, were as follows:

1. MA Charity table - Buffalo Trace 17 yr old single cask one of two finished in a rum cask (unspecified which rum distillery), nosed & palated coconut with a silky smooth finish. I enjoyed the original and controversial Compassbox Spice Tree. (also, tried Glenmorangie Elegance, but prefer Astar and Signet). The Glenlivet 1969 never showed up. I wanted to try Balvenie Vintage Cask 1976, but there was too much. I hope to coax Sam "AKA Dr. Whisky to try the Glen Ord 40 year old from 1965 if he has an open 1976 around and is around in the future.

2. Diageo's Classic Malts Distillers Edition Seminar @ 7pm - Well done. It confirmed my preferences of the Talisker and Lagavulin DE.

3. G&M's Select Reserve 1976 Millburn, 27 yr old. (However, the Pulteney's were quite good at CSAH earlier in the week).

4. Great food. Pouched salmon with extras; mashed potato bar relaxed the palate; and chocolate desserts were divine.

WOW - Binny's 3/31

Another animal, but a bargain; pure whisky and no seminars. Great selections for the hard core single malt hobbyists. A malt freaks paradise. Buy what you drink on site with discount. Little to no food (cheese & crackers), so get your nutrition before you arrive. Hit Manny's Deli at 4pm


Too many.

1. The Balvenie 12 yr old Signature. MSR: $54.99

2. Tomatin 30 yr old (note: I tried the 40 year old; great for a 40 yr, but preferred the 30 yr)

3. Amhrut Fusion & Connemara Peated Irish (Best buy, non single malt scotch) MSR: $50 & $39.99

4. Death Door new make (Best American Whiskey surprise even if you can't buy it)

Note: the Distilleries and Bottlers that don't display at Whisky Fest have tables at Binny's South. Some may show up at next years Whisky Fest.

Missed opportunities: Table 24: Springbanks, The rares: Glencraig 30 yr; North Port 24 yr.

Small tables, more collectable and drinkable single malts.

A suggestion - encourage Manny's Deli across the street to cater and consider charging $15 more. If not the get manny's to stay open later.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, March 9, 2009

World of Whisky at Binny's South - Single Malt Op of the Year

Binny's, under the supervision of Brett Pontoni, will host the World of Whisky on March 31, 2009 at its South Loop Location on Jefferson just north of Roosevelt. At $50 with a Binny's card, this event is a sell out. It is also a cheap and easy opportunity to taste what is available in Single Malt Scotch. Recommendation: make a reservation now!

Some recommendations before, at and after event: eat first, drink water, and toss in the buckets what you think you don't like as much. Also, consider the CTA No. 12 Roosevelt Bus West/East to and from the Roosevelt Red line Stop, among other Public Transportation options. The Red line takes you directly to/from the Howard Terminal. For more info go to Consider Manny's Deli across the street from Binny's. Bring a friend and you get a $9.95 discount from Manny's if you have a WBEZ card.

The Malt Advocate Event may prove repetitious and double or triple the price.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How do you pronounce Islay?

Eye-luh. Not Iz-lay. This is an area of Scotland, which is significant region for its peaty, smoky, maritime style single malts. However, I tend to favor Talisker, even if I find the others quite exceptional depending upon the cask.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rogers Park Hosts Single Malt Tasting for The Balvenie March 7, 2009

The Century Public House at the Morse Theater on Morse in conjunction with Sam Simmons will host a Balvenie Tasting Single Malt Scotch Dinner on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. Sam is the Balvenie Ambassador for the United States. He has a wealth of knowledge not only on Balvenie, but many other distilleries. Those who live in Rogers Park should not miss out on this opportunity due to Sam's wealth of knowledge and the significant bourbon and single malt selections at CPH.
David Stewart serves as the malt master for over twenty years. He has helped The Balvenie develop a significant reputation among Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilleries.

I will add more information to this post as the information is released from Devin along with the cost. Those who are interested who know the distillery should be in for a surprise. Go to to directly contact Century Public House.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aberlour A'bunadh from Batch No. 18

A variety of the non-chill filtered Speyside single malt that is bottled at cask strength, which 59.7% acohol. Has a sweet and distinct finish. The first two swallows from the dram bring out the flavor, where you drink your malts neat (without water). The finish on the third and fourth sip are longer. However, I prefer Abunadh with some water.

Waltham's book on Single Malt Scotch categorizes the Aberlour Distillery, as a whole, in his Cluster B. This means that he finds Aberlour to be Medium-bodied, medium-sweet, with nutty, malty, floral, honey, and fruity notes). He also finds Aberlour more sherry like and tastes less peaty. I find a'bunadh to be a bit sweeter and fruitier to the tongue, but plan to compare what is available in Waltham's Cluster A (see page 33). Waltham clusters Abelour with Aberfeldy, Ben Nevis, Benrinnes, Benromach, Blair Athol, Cragganmore, Edradour, Glenfarclas, Glenturret, Knockando, Longmorn, Scapa, and Strathisia.

Malt Maniacs is another reliable online source, which you can click on for more information on Aberlour. The Maniacs have an annual competition each year and the winners of its tasting contests are posted in a variety of useful categories. Most distilleries tend to participate due to the diverse group of educated palates on its panels.

I don't recall much similarity to Glenfarclas, so I ran a taste taste. My 20 year old Glenfarclas is a bit longer and stronger on the finish with more of a sherry finish. The A'bunadh tastes noticeably better with a bit of water. The syrup-like sweet and fruity flavor becomes much more palatable and not as concentrated. Without water, the nose is like defrosting a can of frozen bing cherry juice concentrate. I don't recommend drinking the entire dram neat.

Binny's of Chicago is currently selling Batch 21, but Batch 18 is part of my collection. I have tasted both and there is consistency among the two batches. In the Spring of 2009, the Speyside Festival will feature a side by side tasting of every A'banadh Batch from one to perhaps 22 at that point. This event alone tempts me to fly over the pond, but for my pocket book. Perhaps, some other lifetime.