Monthly Archives: August 2011

Balvenie Double Wood 12 yo

Date: 21st August 2011

Alcohol: 43%

Volume: 1000mL

Price: $???

Manufactured: Speyside, Scotland (Highlands)

I know it’s childish but every time I see the name of this whisky I giggle like a school boy.  I mean, what sort of moron would name their whisky after some B grade porn movie.  In fact it may well be the sequel to a B grade porn movie. OK enough said ….

Balvenie is somewhat unique (as the bottle bumf informs me) it is one of the only remaining distilleries that grows and malts its own barley.  I am not sure if this makes a difference to the quality of the product but I like the idea that they have control of the whole process from seed to bottle.
So why double wood (hehehe), well the spirit spends time in both classic bourbon casks before being transferred to sherry casks for finish. The only other point to note is the bottle I purchased a few months back ‘duty free’ in Sydney is bottled at 43% alcohol.  Why this is unusual is that all the other reviews I have seen note that they are bottled at 40%.  I am nearly sure there will be a tax/ duty reason for this but does it make a flavour difference?  Don’t know, nor will I likely ever get an opportunity to compare.  Anyway, on with the notes.

Appearance (4/5)

The Whisky displays a bright burnished amber colour that makes you feel warm just looking at it.

Nose (4/5)

The nose on this dram is not intense but worth investigating.  The most notable aroma is the deep caramel with a subtle vanilla oak backbone.  Cutting through the warm caramel is a light citrus highlight. This Whisky is subtle in nose but still quite layered.

Flavour (4.5/5)

I could tell before the spirit hit my mouth that it was going to have the slightly oily mouth feel.  It was growing legs and trying to climb out of the tumbler while I was taking notes.  The first flavours to hit me were sultanas, caramel and sweet (burnt) toffee.  These warm flavours were highlighted by a spicy pepperiness that tingled the tongue.  At first I thought this was just the alcohol but I believe it is a real flavour note. Very enjoyable.

Finish (4/5)

If this was a wine (red) I would use the descriptor ‘ a little flabby’ to describe the finish.  It clearly spent time in sherry casks that gave it a porty/ sherry ending on the tongue.  The flabbiness comes from a slight out of balance nature of the sherry.  The positive of this is the real richness that comes from the fruity caramel flavours.  The length is also excellent and with a long lingering warmth from the alcohol.

Rating: (16.5/20)

Of late I have been all over the big peat monsters like Ardbeg and it has been a great change to try one of the Speyside whiskies like Balvenie.  Looking at this score I think it probably deserves another half point (at least).  Either way, don’t be put off.  If you like a smoother spirit with a little spice this one will be right up your alley.  Enjoy.


Posted by on 23rd August 2011 in Scotch Whisky


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How to make me angry ……..

If there is one thing that gets me angry that’s a stingy pour of booze in my drink. Looking at this jigger I though to myself, ‘there is no way that is a shot (30mL)’.











Go figure ………..





Posted by on 17th August 2011 in General

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Chimay Blue

Date: 16th August 2011

Alcohol: 9.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

This is a beer that I have been trying to review for some time.  As you may have noticed I have reviewed the other two beers in the series (red and white) which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I have enjoyed this beer in a social situation sometime back and had some great recollections of its flavour and power.

Appearance (3.5/5)

I must say that this is not the prettiest beer around in the glass.  Similar to the other two beers in the series it has a very high level of sedimentation. The colour is dark (muddy) brown with a slight amber hue.  The head pours large from the bottle but fairly quickly settles to a thin but persistent creamy yellow layer on the glass.  The bubbles are fine forming a nice foam for the length of the drink.

Nose (4/5)

The beer does not have a strong nose but still contains some detail.  I notice sweet Belgium yeast, vanilla and candied sugar scents. Very nice but not overwhelming.

Flavour (5/5)

If the nose is slightly restrained this is made up in full by the flavour which is powerful and complex.  It starts out with sweet dark brown sugar and candy flavour that is mellow and warming.  The word rich keeps coming to mind.  There are deep dark black fruits in there like blackberries and plums that build to a Christmas cake and booze hit.  The mouth feel is amazing; verging on liqueur but still has delicateness achieved by the light carbonation.

Finish (5/5)

Dark cherries that remind me of Christmas at the back of the pallet remain long after the beer has been consumed.  I have finished the beer and yet still now tasting cherries and plums.  There is warmth that is undoubtedly due to the large alcohol hit and a nice light hoppy bitter finish.

Rating: (17.5/20)

This is an awesome beer that I would strongly recommend to all.  Due to the rich flavours and big alcohol hit it is more of a drink to be had in small measure.  If you would like a change with your Christmas pudding this year, try a Chimay Blue.  I reckon the beer and pud’ would be a sensational match.  The only drawback with this beer is the appearance and I have a sneaking suspicion that the ‘Grande Reserve’ 750mL bottle would sort out some of those sediment issues nicely.

Go out, buy some, drink and if you are so inclined enjoy with a good cigar.  You won’t be disappointed.


Posted by on 16th August 2011 in Beer


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The Ultimate Dry Martini

Date: 7th August 2011

I’ve got to say up front that I am not a cocktail kinda guy, never have been.  Growing up in rural NSW a cocktail was considered to be something like a bourbon and coke and came out of a UDL can (I see some of you nodding out there).  So I’ve moved on since these days? … well kinda.  Still the idea of putting fruit (lemon) in my beer makes me want to punch someone and start talking about motor racing but some things have changed.

I was once served up a dry martini and it was one of those aha moments.  I got it; strong on the booze, complex flavours and a thousand variants in a simple dry drink.  The Engineer in me decided that I needed to find the ‘Ultimate Dry Martini’.  A man of experimentation, I have tried dozens of combinations and this is the outcome of those years of sacrifice and tireless work. wink.

This is The Ultimate Dry Martini and I believe the Ultimate Mixed Drink. Enjoy.


2 parts Bombay Safire Gin (chilled)

1 part Grey Goose Vodka (chilled)

0.5 part Noilly Prat Vermouth

Generous fresh lemon twist

Secret Ingredient (see below)

All liquid ingredients poured shaken into an ice filled skaker.  Shake like there is no tomorrow for 10-20 seconds and pour into a chilled glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist or two.

Tasting Notes

With a drink like this (and most others in fact), the temperature of consumption has a dramatic effect on the flavours experienced.  I believe that you can always let a drink warm up if it is too cold but chilling it back down is always difficult.  I like to consume these just as the ice is starting to melt off the side of the glass and there certainly shouldn’t be any ice shards left in the drink itself.

Up front you get the unmistakable botanicals of the Bombay Safire Gin.  This gin has quality aromatics that you don’t find in all premium gins charging well beyond this price tag.  I have probably tried half a dozen different gins and this is a classic. A traditional dry martini is all gin but I found that by adding 1 part Grey Goose vodka added a different character that quite honestly I cannot explain.  Try both and you will get it.

Noilly Pratt is what makes the dry martini ‘dry’.  Don’t skimp and buy the Martini brand as the sweet nose (yes I know ironic) you get from Noilly is just down right better.  If the lemon you use for the twist is ‘off the tree fresh’ you will get a lot more fragrant citrus oils in the glass and the entire kitchen for that matter.

So the secret ingredient.  I once read that the secret ingredient to a great martini is water and it is absolutely true.  The real tip is how you get the water.  For me, I fill the shaker with ice, add the ingredients and shake the hell out of it for 10 to 20 seconds.  This will displace ice/ water into the drink slightly reducing the strength of the alcohol.  I see this a little like adding water to whisky to let the flavours and aromas out.  This is why a shaken martini IS better than one stirred.  The shaken martini has added water that improves the whole drink.

Acceptable Variants

The above is in my mind the ultimate but other variants you could consider at a pinch.

  1. 2 parts vodka to 1 part gin.  Although a completely different drink, worth a try when the BS stocks are running low.
  2. A lemon twist can be replaced with a couple of pimento stuffed olives.  Get some decent olives from the deli not that muck from a bottle.

Posted by on 7th August 2011 in Gin, Vodka


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Cohiba Robusto

I have enjoyed a few Cohiba Robustos over the years and the only complaint I have ever had is something like ‘this one is not as good as the last one’.  They are known to be one of the favourite vitolas of the most popular CC line around so you are usually in for an entertaining stick.

Today I tasted this CoRo with a double espresso of di Gabriel coffee and a big glass of San Peligrino.  This is a great combo’ which I highly recommend for a sunny afternoon smoke.

Review Date: 6th August 2011

Box code: ??? 2010 (a gift)

Ring Gauge: 50

Length: 12.4 cm

Vitolas: Robusto


This particular stick was average to firm down the length with no soft spots to be found.  The only notable imperfection on the wrapper was one small green blemish.  You may be able to see from some of the photos that the tan wrapper had a lovely fine leaf pattern. As you would expect it was adorned with a quality triple cap.


This stick has been sitting in the humidor for some time now.  Being a single it sits on the top shelf of my humidor and within easy reach for the occasional ‘fiddle and sniff’.  I am therefore familiar with the aroma at cold; cedar and sweet tobacco with vanilla and most characteristically straw (or hay). Really beautiful.


On firing up I get my first waft of smoke off the burn that is pure Cohiba.  It instantly reminds me of sitting in Café Paris in Havana.  Funny how aromas more than anything else can bring back memories in a moment.

The smoke starts out medium to light.  I get soft toasty flavours with dry peanuts and almonds.  I also get splashes of espresso but my beverage may be responsible to some part.  The first third is light on fruit but come the second third I start to get light dabs of dried apricots and peaches. The grassiness that you would expect with Cohiba was definitely there from start but much more notable in the second third onwards.

The burn is slightly uneven but nothing that requires a correction.  I roll the cigar over and things start to improve.

The further I got into this cigar the more I enjoyed it.  The body picked up to medium and I continued to get the toast, nuts and fruit.


This was definitely a finger burner of a smoke.  It didn’t get put to rest till things became awkward in the hand.  I highly recommend picking these up when budget allows.  I will definitely be putting a box into storage for a couple of years to see how things turn out.  The only question is how long they will last.

Rating: 92 points

Coffee Notes

For the Aussies out there that love a coffee I thought I would add a note about di Gabriel coffee.  I have recently started filling my grinder at home with di Gabriel espresso 101 blend.  It makes an awesome espresso with crema that stays complete for ages.  All bags come with a date stamp indicating when they were roasted.  We usually stop by the factory where you can pick up beans that will fit with the time period that you are likely to consume the coffee.

Do yourself a favour and either pick up a bag or drop by one of the cafes that use di Gabriel as a house blend.


Posted by on 6th August 2011 in Cigars, Cuban Cigars


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