AFGL: Breitbart, The Knot & Fantasy Baseball

March 2, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Drinks, Sports · Comment 

A Few Good Links for this week covers the shocking and sad news that Andrew Breitbart is dead at 43, The Knot Irish something-or-another liquor and how I wound up on a fantasy baseball league.

1. Andrew Breitbart was at the tip of the spear of the conservative movement, especially where pop culture and the Tea Party are concerned. Whenever I saw him on a show I would stop and watch it because he was such an interesting personality. He made me laugh, think, get mad and then laugh again.

Here is a link to some remembrances.

2. If you happen to find yourself in your local liquor store in the Irish Whiskey section and you see a bottle named The Knot don’t buy it. It’s not really whiskey, it doesn’t say so on the bottle, but I, like a moron, bought a bottle. It had to be one of the most unnaturally sweet things I have tasted in a long time. Literally sickening.

Until I write a review on it take a look at this one.

3. I was reading a baseball blog the other night and found myself looking at a post about how they were accepting applicants for their fantasy league; all you had to do was leave a comment that convinced the league’s commissioner (manager?) that you had what it takes to stand your ground in this league of crazy baseball nuts. That and the fiscal solvency to pay the $100 entrance fee.

Mildly amused and feeling larkish, I decided to write some bull about how I haven’t played fantasy baseball in a couple of years (actually longer than that) but I can bring that nostalgic, smoke filled, back room feel to their draft. Evidently, that worked. I received an email last night telling me that I had been selected. This is pretty much how I felt (jump to 1:13 to see what I mean):

Booker’s Bourbon

February 19, 2012 · Posted in Drinks · 1 Comment 

I’m not as big of a bourbon geek as I am a cigar geek (is that even a thing?) but I knew about Booker’s long before I ever drank it. My first exposure to Booker’s was in a Mint Julep and I loved it in that setting. The sweetness of the mint and the boldness of the bourbon was a wonderful combination.

But then, for whatever reason, I forgot about it for a couple of years. Fortunately, I saw some Booker’s at a local liquor store (one of those big chains and not some podunk place around the corner with hooch) and had to give this bourbon a try without the addition of mint.

Before I start, here’s a little introduction from Sour Mash Manifesto:

Booker Noe was Jim Beam’s grandson. He was also the master distiller at his grandfather’s namesake operation for 40+ years until his death in 2004. In 1987, Booker introduced what is now one of Jim Beam’s flagship products, Booker’s Bourbon. Named after the man himself, this massive bourbon is aged on the 5th and 6th floors of a nine-story aging warehouse, which is the “heart” of the facility. It’s an uncut, unfiltered, barrel proof bourbon. This means the barrels are hand selected, batched, and then bottled with no additional water or chill filtration, allowing all of the flavor carriers in the bourbon to remain. Booker Noe wanted this bourbon to be pretty darn pure and unadulterated. Mission accomplished.

This particular bottle I’m drinking out of is 128.6 proof (64.3% ABV). The smell (which is my inarticulate way of saying “nose”) of this bourbon is fruity with spice. It smells like there is a ton of stuff going on in that golden amber liquid.

Going in the Booker’s has some fleeting fruity sweetness but that is soon subsumed by pepper and woody notes. There is a lot more going on with this bourbon than I can adequately describe but I can tell you what my personal impression of this cigar is: It’s awesome. And it’s strong – duh.

Strength is, I think, what draws some people to this bourbon and scares others away. But don’t let that blind you to what may be one of the best bourbons you will ever drink. To me, the strength isn’t overpowering and the flavors are extremely bold and they last forever.

Now the question about what cigar would work well with this bourbon. I’d go with a very good, equally strong cigar with amazing flavors. Immediately, the Fausto Avion 11 comes to mind. It’s very strong but what’s really great about this cigar is that the flavors are extremely robust and tend towards the spicy. An amazing cigar for an amazing bourbon makes an ideal pairing.

That is pretty much it. I apologize for not being able to go deeper into the intricacies of this wonderful bourbon but I can tell you one thing: You have to try this bourbon.

Baker’s Bourbon

February 4, 2012 · Posted in Drinks · Comment 

Aged seven years and bottled at 107 proof this bourbon is a creation of some distant relative of Jim Beam. Fortunately for this distant relative, grand nephew (new one on me too) Baker (cool name) Beam (structural name), he has made something that is better, much better really, than his grand uncle’s namesake whiskey. But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Baker’s is honey colored with a strong, sweet bourbon scent to it. Belying the fact that it’s 107 proof the first couple gulps are very smooth and the only way you can tell that this is a high proofed bourbon is by the gentle tingling sensation washing through your esophagus.

The flavors are surprisingly mild but that isn’t to say that they aren’t good. I think nuanced may be a better phrase to use than “mild” in this situation. I don’t get the vanilla notes that are mentioned on their site but I do get this buttered bread type of flavor mixed with some honey or mild fruit flavors. They have also described this as being a “silky” drink and I think that makes sense.

Before I started drinking the Baker’s I lit up a 601 La Bomba; you know, the one with that two inch long pig tale at the end and the aggressive flavor profile. It’s a good match for this bourbon. Being a strong-ish cigar with some very admirable qualities it can stand up to the Baker’s without a problem. I do think it’s a good idea to smoke a stronger cigar with Baker’s and this is especially the case when you’re drinking Baker’s bigger, better brother: Booker’s (I’m guessing that’s named after the great-grand step nephew of Jim Beam – or something like that).

Perhaps the best thing about reviewing liquor, besides the actual process of drinking, is that I don’t have to go through the whole “this third, that third” rigamarole when describing it. You can fairly quickly figure out whether or not you like a particular drink and this is one of those whiskeys that I like.

This is a good drink for a number of reasons. First, it has some good flavors to it. It’s smooth enough for my liking but also has a high enough proof to give it a little edge. And it’s a good sipping bourbon, something I like with my cigars. But it’s strong so that precludes lesser cigars as a pairing, which isn’t really a bad thing because who really likes smoking lesser cigars?

Overall, Baker’s is not one of my all-time favorites but it’s definitely a worthwhile drink. However, at this price, somewhat short of $50 a bottle, it won’t be something I go to very often.

Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

January 29, 2012 · Posted in Drinks · Comment 

Full Disclosure: I received this as a sample from a marketing firm attached to the manufacturer. All my reviews are my own.

I had just finished watching Red Riding Hood and turned it to regular television to see the very end of Blades of Glory when I realized that I needed a drink. I don’t know whether it was the awful movies that pushed me to the bottle or just that it was the right time of night to be drinking but here I am. A couple of weeks ago I received this 100mL sample of Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve and have been wanting to try it for a while.

And now I have tried it. I took a sip and I wasn’t impressed. First, there was a distinct alcohol smell to it and there was also this fruity smell to it as well. My first sip was one of those “ho-hum” type of moments. Fruity flavors are evident and I would categorize this as being a sweet drink. The aftertaste isn’t that good either; a little harsh.

I’m not a big Scotch drinker but most of the other Scotches I have tried I liked more. In fact, I have this bottle of The Macallan 12 Year staring at me with a sly little smirk on its face as if to say “See what happens when you drink other Scotches?” Whereas The Macallan is smooth with warm flavors the Dalmore is harsh with light, piercing flavors.

After a few sips I light a Padilla Miami (not the one I’m linking to), great cigar. Fortunately the drink isn’t affecting my enjoyment of it but, actually, enhancing it. The flavors in this Dalmore are light with a bit of sweetness and the Dalmore is refreshing my palate. Didn’t expect that to happen.

I’m not a big fan of Scotch but this is an okay drink. After drinking it a little my senses have dulled enough to make the Dalmore smoother and the flavors aren’t bad.

Now that I have finished drinking and have had some time to reflect on my experience I’m left with the conclusion that this is a drink I can do without. Even though the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve did enhance the flavors of the cigar I do not think that’s enough to overcome my negative feelings towards this cigar.

Four Roses Single Barrel

January 15, 2012 · Posted in Drinks · Comment 

Full Disclosure: I got this as a sample from the company. All reviews, however bad they may turn out to be, are my own.

The first time that I had Four Roses bourbon was a year or two ago at a cigar dinner in Fullerton, CA. Most of the time most of the attendees are happy with their food and drink; this time was no different. In fact, this is one of the few alcoholic beverages that I really remember from any of those cigar dinners that I attended and the general consensus was that Four Roses offerings were some of the best we’d ever had.

First off, here’s what Four Roses has to say about their bourbon:

A premium Single Barrel Bourbon with a taste you’ll want to savor again and again. Complex, full bodied and surprisingly smooth with a delicate long finish that’s unbelievably mellow. Contains hints of ripe plum and cherry tastes with fruity, spicy aromas including maple syrup and cocoa. Drink straight up or on the rocks. 100 proof.

Before I launch into this review in earnest I just want to make one thing clear: I’m not going to be able to pick out all the nuances that I am sure are contained in my glass, which, incidentally enough, is a Four Roses glass that I’ve had for a long while. What I can tell you is how much I liked it and I can give you my idea of what kind of cigar would go well with this drink.

The cigar that I am smoking with this drink is the CAO Lx2, which I really like. But that’s not the point of this review, now, is it? No, the bourbon is and I am liking it.

Four Roses Single Barrel is 100 proof so it isn’t much of a surprise when I feel the fire slowly descend past my esophagus towards my stomach. What is surprising to me is that it is a very smooth drink.

Another sip of this bourbon, which I’ve poured straight, and I can easily pick up the sweetness in it. It’s not overpowering but is obviously there. The CAO Lx2, which is a stronger cigar with spice and leather, is working well with the Four Roses Single Barrel; good counterbalance.

I get the maple flavors that they talk about in their description but not the fruity flavors. What I most like about this bourbon is that the flavors are strong and fresh. It’s a good bourbon.

Furthermore, it is holding up well against this full bodied cigar. That is something worth expounding upon because I don’t think this bourbon would do well with a milder cigar. The Four Roses Single Barrel is just bold enough to require a cigar with strong flavors. Maybe the cigar doesn’t need to be full bodied but it needs to be good enough to stand on its own.

As I drink more of this 100ml sample I start to get those spicy notes more than the sweet ones. This is a bourbon that I am truly enjoying.

Now, take that for all it’s worth. I have never tried to review a drink before and even though I was not able to pick up on all those little nuances that others can what I can say is that I really liked this bourbon. It has strength behind it and some really good flavors. This Four Roses Single Barrel also has enough to stand up to some good cigars, making it a good pairing with a good cigar. For about $35.00 a bottle it is definitely worth a try.

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