Hello Gang. Long time no blog. I was drinking a whisky I never had before, and had the urge to blog about it. No promises that blogging will resume on any regular basis, but I just can't quite let Urban Grain die, even though, at this point, I primarily use it to store my beer list. Speaking of my beer list, I just added 78 beers, which brings the grand total to 1,032. What a benchmark. I know beer geeks seek to get to 10,000, which is a rare club. But I have no desire to get there. For one thing, I enjoy whisky too much to focus on beer pursuits. For another, I like to rotate in new beers, but more often than not, I find myself reaching for old favorites. For example, is there a better IPA than Bells Two Hearted? I find that some of the early craft brews I tried are still the best, i.e., Chimay.
If there is a better standard release IPA than Two Hearted, it may be Jai Alai, from Cigar City, rated the 4th best brewery in the world in 2013 by Rate Beer. Jai Alai is just so juicy and goes great with all kinds of food. I am in Tampa right now, and recently got to taste a bunch of their stuff at the brewery. They have a beer aged in cigar boxes, Tony Jannus, that was super interesting. And we arrived just in time for the 2015 release of Oak Aged Jai Alai, which I grab a couple of 4 packs of. Special stuff. Other noteable beers I tried this year were Thai Chile Wahoo Wheat from Ballast Point, Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014, and a bunch of good stuff from Indiana during a recent visit. Neshaminy Creek has made a run at the Philly scene, their cream ale is so simple but good, and their can art is fun, too. At beer week, friends and I got to drink Kentucky Breakfast Stout, as well as Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale 17, fantastic beer. But one of my favorites from this year was a new release from Yards, Lazy Hammock (Belgian IPA), it's brewed for Spruce Street Harbor park. It's such a simple and delightful beer that pairs perfectly with the vibe over there, and it's not bad for washing down a Federal Donuts fried chicken sammy, either.
Anyhow, the other day I checked out a local liquor store here in Tampa. I'm always on the hunt for what bourbons are available in other markets, and the last time I was here, I was able to get a bottle of Weller 12 for under 30 bucks at this same local chain, so I was hopeful. No such luck on the 12 year, but I did get a handle of Weller Reserve which is no longer available in PA. And also took a chance on a bourbon called Tom Sims 6 year. Not a lot of information about it online, though there are some rumors that it is Weller juice. Not likely. The fact that it says Bardstown on the label, in addition to the vague branding, scream Heaven Hill. So what about the juice? Good stuff. You can't beat 12 bucks a bottle for 86 proof, 2 years older than Beam white, nice for sipping juice that also makes a decent old fashioned, too. They sell a 4 year for a couple bucks cheaper but I doubt I'll try it when this one is such a steal. Six years is not super old but it's nice to see an age statement of any kind these days. Which brings me to the reason for posting. Taking things for granted. I would guess that Tom Sims is a staple for the bourbon community in Florida, but they could lose it at any time. The distillery could funnel the product to other, more lucrative labels. They could strip the age statement, send it to a different market, or stop producing it altogether. I would guess that bourbon drinkers, as a group, prefer constancy over change. But time marches on, and when you have been a bourbon drinker for a few years, you start to see label changes. Jim Beam Black used to be in my regular rotation. But I have been resisting buying it since they changed it from "Double Aged, 8 year" to "Extra Aged." I understand the logic that Beam has a bunch of 5-7 year old whisky on hand, since they don't really sell products in that age range. And they will probably keep the taste profile the same. But I still feel slighted. I like to picture the bourbon resting the in barrels, "asleep many years in the wood," as some of the Van Winkle bourbons say. Van Winkle is an example of something I took for granted when I first purchased a bottle of the 15 year for $55 OFF OF THE SHELF. Elijah Craig recently moved it's 12 year statement to the back of the bottle, will that be the next one to change? Old heads post about the proofing change of Eagle Rare, disappearance of Stitzel-Weller, Wild Turkey 101 dropping its age statement, and so on. So my question is, what in the drinks world are you taking for granted, and would be sad to see disappear?
Fortunately for all of us, there is plenty of good stuff out there, we just need slightly open minds, and palates.