As we have been in Las Vegas a lot more these days I sought out all kinds of food and drinking establishments. Through my “research” I found the global Drammers club founded by Charlie Prince and their newly established Las Vegas Chapter run by Bob Brown. Eddie and I attended our first meeting at a strip location where we had more than enough brown and clear spirits to warrant a second meeting. Below is the second invitation to join the club, with liquor descriptions by Prince, shared with his permission and in italics are my notes:
We wanted to make sure everyone had seen that our next Drammers Las Vegas tasting will be Sunday, September 26th at 6:30pm. We’re coming hot off visits to both Scotland/Europe and to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, so we’ve got a bunch of fun bottles in tow that you’re unlikely to get another chance to try! Drumroll please…
- Very Old St Nick – Curia – Kentucky Bourbon Fest Exclusive. We’ll be coming to Seattle straight from the Kentucky Bourbon Fest, and we’ve got some fun bottles in tow to share. The team at Preservation (behind Very Old St Nick and Rare Perfection) released this bottle exclusively at the fest. It’s a bourbon bottled at 47.6% abv, and since it was released under the Very Olde St. Nick line, you know it’s not a young whiskey. I’ll try to find out more before we get there, but this is definitely a one-off-shot to pick this up. This was the first whiskey we tasted and was an immediate favorite for many of us. Charlie, along with his notes above, shared that this distiller was making wood-heavy bourbons before vodka took over in the U.S. The flavor was very popular in Japan before becoming well-liked again in the U.S. Aromas included sweet roasted and buttered corn, suede and no burn on the palate. Flavors like suede, toffee, corn nuts, creamy and smooth. Charlie said it had cherry cordial flavor and another bourbon lover noted fig.
- Bardstown Bourbon Co. – Distillery Collection – Triple Stave Finish. Released to coincide with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, this special release was only available at the distillery when we picked it up a few days ago and is almost certainly now sold out. It is a blend of straight whiskies finished with oak staves. 54.% abv. I asked Charlie about this bourbon, as I knew one of my favorite Napa wineries – Phifer Pavitt – collaborated on a bourbon with them. He said they do a lot of collaborations, using a barrel that held Phifer Pavitt Napa Cabernet Sauvignon being one of them. He hadn’t had the Phifer Pavitt collaboration but he had plenty of others, and that the distillery is “huge…well financed…(and) shockingly big like an Olympic swimming pool.” The one we tasted wasn’t a collaboration but instead they had incorporated a “Triple Stave Finish” instead. On the nose there was that cream, white pepper and a lot of vanilla bean and toasted oak. A new friend said she noted maple syrup and waffles, that we all had to agree with. That same maple syrup over waffles was also apparent in the taste with some burn, vanilla, walnut and Charlie noted sweet marmalade.
- 2 Expressions of Buzzard’s Roost Rye. Bourbon Bistro was arguably the first major whiskey bar in Louisville, a game changer that was way ahead of its time, and today it is rightly celebrated as one of the powerhouse drivers of bourbon culture in Kentucky. So it was particularly exciting to learn on our recent trip that they have launched their own line of whiskies – Buzzard’s Roost! We’ll be trying two of them this evening — a straight rye in a peated barrel (!), bottled at a delicious 52.5% abv (batch 1), and a barrel strength, also bottled at 52.5% abv (batch 2). These releases were limited to 800 and 1100 bottles respectively. We’ve tasted them, and we’re really excited about them. Charlie told a story about the Bourbon Bistro – a game-changing bar in Louisville with a secret menu of prohibition era whisky. Of course he got his hands on that menu, and spent about $1,000 that night enjoying drams from it. These ryes are a launch of their own whisky line. First came the barrel strength. My new whisky pal immediately noted that it was almost like a tawny port, I agreed. Aromas reminded me of sweet frozen vanilla custard, hazelnuts, a wood sauna; with flavors of sweet Kettle corn, caramel corn and a hint of banana. Next we sampled the rye finished in a peated smoked barrel – something none of us had heard of before. Peat bogs were not used, instead the rye was aged in a peated smoked barrel, giving it a more subtle peat flavor. Reminded me a bit of the Ardbeg An Oa. I noted salted nuts and smooth white chocolate on the nose; with a drop of water it became a very easy sipper, maybe a gateway for those new to peated whisky, lots of nuts and others noted flavors of gingerbread and that the peat in the nose came out after tasting it.
- Mlody Ziemniak 2020 and The Barell Spirits Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask at 59.9$ abv, a Drammers Club pick. Whisky enthusiasts tend to be respectful of all other spirits categories except one — vodka. But these bottles might change your mind. The logic goes that by definition, the spirit needs to be tasteless and odorless, so what’s there to be proud of? The culprit here is that vodka is by definition distilled up to at least 96% alcohol, thereby eliminating a lot of the potential flavors. But what if you took the same distillate, and only distilled it once, stopping at 60% abv? And what if Poland’s most prestigious craft vodka distillery made a point to do it in a special limited edition series to highlight flavor differences among potato varietals? That’s exactly what Chopin did, and we were so blown away by the results, we flew to the distillery in Poland to do an event live with the founder, where our US members tried samples and voted to pick an exclusive batch for our club. That batch hasn’t arrived yet, but in the meantime, we’ve secured the very limited 2019 and 2020 special editions (From Eve: The 2019 was unavailable for this tasting) released under their “Mlody Ziemniak” (or “young potato”) line. These bottles can only be found in Poland currently, and in our opinion, they’re a game changer. Very anxious to cleanse my palate with a vodka, one where we could possibly taste the base potato spirit. Most of us didn’t care for this one much. On the Barell Spirits Whiskey Pear finish Charlie said that they make about 100 different weird finishes and this unaged version was finished in a pear brandy cask. Aromas reminded Eddie of bubble gum, while I noted dried berries, a boxload of Harry and David pears, flamed orange peel and fruitcake; with flavors of Triscuit crackers, hay, spam, Umami, and another person noted distinct “burnt popcorn”. This was not a favorite of the group.
- Glenkinchie Distillery-Only Cask Strength Handfill. Diageo put a lot of money into revamping the visitor center at this Lowlands distillery just outside Edinburgh, and it opened in the middle of Covid, so that so far, they haven’t been able to welcome many visitors. If you haven’t heard of this distillery, it’s no surprise — over 90% of what they distill goes into the Johnnie Walker blends, so very little has been released under the “Glenkinchie” brand in the US, and of that virtually none of it is at cask strength, making this distillery only handfill bottle a particularly rare treat. Distilled in 2009, bottled in 2021, so approximately 11 years matured. I tried a small sip at the distillery, which was amazing, but otherwise haven’t really had a chance to try this yet. 55.2% Charlie said this was possibly 12 years old, hard to find, he picked up about 30 bottles just for his clubs. This was not the favorite in the line-up, but nothing wrong with it. While Charlie got notes of red apple cider, I noted toast, both sweet and spice notes, and a softness on the palate after adding some water.
- Lagavulin Feis Ile Bottling 2020. About 10 of us had made plans to attend Feis Ile in 2020, and but for Covid, we just might have done it. If we had, the only way we would have had a shot at getting this bottle would have been if we’d camped out overnight at the distillery for Lagavulin’s big day. Instead, with the fest taking place virtually, we were able to pick up a bottle in their gift shop a couple weeks ago for us to taste! Bottle 1,924 of 6,000 bottles, it’s a vatting of 20yo refill and PX/Oloroso seasoned hogsheads personally selected by (then) distillery manager Colin Gordon and bottled at cask strength. Charlie said that before Covid maybe up to 3,000 people could score two bottles each of this whisky. This is a 13 year old. Found cream, grass, mushroom and umami notes on the nose, others also noted an earthy quality. The taste reminded me of olive brine and white pepper, another drammer noted Spanish olives.
That’s our lineup! And you never know with us, we might show up with a bonus surprise or two. We hope you can join us.
We’ll also provide yummy pizza as usual. A huge thank you to our Las Vegas chapter head Bob Brown for organizing!
Of course, we’re only getting started here in Las Vegas, and looking to continue to grow our chapter, so if you know anyone you think might be a good fit for the club, please feel free to invite them to join us…
President, Drammers Club
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.