Remember the Pepsi Challenge, back in the 80s? When people would be offered a blind taste test to see which they liked better between Pepsi and Coke? We just had the opportunity to do one that was way, way better than soft drinks. The folks at Chivas sent us a bottle each of their Chivas Regal 18-year-old and Johnnie Walker Blue, daring us to try both and see which we liked better.
We, of course, were up for the challenge, so we got out our tasting glasses and set to it after asking an intern to pour so we didn't know what was in each glass. We did the tastings blind, and then once we were finished we paired up our notes with the proper whisky. In the verdict below, we give more info about our thoughts before we knew which was which.
Chivas Regal 18 Year Old
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: About $60
The Look: Squat, clear bottle that's different than a lot of the scotch brands we've seen. In the glass, it's light amber, looking a bit like honey. The Nose: We smelled very little peatiness, with the major notes being caramel, toffee, and spices. The Taste: Still very little smoke or peat until we added a drop of water, and then we got a hint. There were more caramel notes, with citrus peels and the dryness of oak. Big oaky finish, long and complex.
Johnnie Walker Blue
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: About $150 at the lower end
The Look: Signature Walker bottle, in green glass. The whiskey looks like honey in the glass. The Nose: We smelled a bit of caramel, with hints of smoke, peat, and the sea, with some dried fruit in the mix as well. The Taste: Big and round, with a lot of smoke once we added a drop of water. Continues the peat and sea theme, with almost no sweetness. Notes of malt and spices.
Overall Verdict: Both of these are fine whiskies, and ones we wouldn't hesitate to order for ourselves or recommend for the blended scotch lovers in our lives. The Johnny Walker had the big smokiness and bold flavors we want sometimes, but at triple the price tag. We were impressed with the Chivas, with its nice soft notes and delicate sweetness, and we felt it held its own against the Blue.
Never having had either, we would have been hard-pressed to say one scotch was better than the other in our blind taste test. We tend to like a smokey whisky, so we liked the Blue, but there is definitely something to be said for the fruity mellowness of the Chivas Regal (and being Scotsmen ourselves, we're extremely interested in that significantly smaller price tag).
We're going to go on the record and say we're not exactly sure why you would need a mitten with a koozie in it. We're pretty sure the mitten itself keeps your hand warm against the chilliness of your drink (and the elements) and the cold air that necessitates the mittens would keep your drink cold enough that you don't need to worry about it.
We've always thought of the mitten as nature's McDLT, keeping the cool side cool and the hot side hot, without all that planet-choking styrofoam. However, if you can see a reason why a koozie mitten would be necessary, such a thing exists and it is made by Burton. Thanks, Burton! (And thanks for the tip, JoJo)
It's time once again, ladies and gentlemen, for the holiday tradition that is the Liquor Snob Holiday Gift guide. If you're wondering what to buy for the boozer, sot, or lush of your life, fret no more, because we're gonna hook you up.
This year we're changing the format a bit to include some hot deals and gift guides we've noticed (which will be updated as we find more) and the Top 11 items people have bought through us at Amazon in the last year (which pretty much translates to "things we want for Christmas"). To top it all off, we've also rounded up a bunch of other cool stuff we covered this year too.
Holiday Deals and Gift Guides
We plan to update these deals and guides as the holiday season moves forward, but these are the things that have hit our inbox so far. If you hear about any great deals or stumble across a cool booze-related holiday item, just let us know and we'll add it to the list.
The Jim Beam Holiday Gift Guide - we thought this was worth a read, with its plethora of tips for how to save money, gift ideas to avoid, and some hot-off-the-presses cocktail recipe ideas for when you need them...and you will.
Cocktail Vibe Black Friday Sale - get 45% off everything on the Cocktail Vibe site during their Black Friday sale, and they've got some really nice stuff...we love ours. Just use the code CVBLACKFRIDAY at checkout.
Internet Wines & Spirits has a nice selection of unique bottles that are pretty danged gift-worthy...we know we were pumped when our bottle of Crystal Head vodka showed up from there.
Also, this isn't necessarily liquor-related, but if you're not following BFAds.net for Black Friday discounts and deals, do yourself a favor and sign up
25% off all orders at Sailor Jerry between 12/15 and 12/17 - use code SJGIFT. [Updated 12/14]
For the Beirut enthusiast on your Christmas list, check out Go Pong - most portable beer pong tables you'll find are over $100, but these are less than sixty bucks. We haven't played on them, but you can't go wrong for the price. Customizable too! Get the skinny at GoPong.com. [Added 12/3]
Top 11 Booze Gifts of 2008/2009
We don't make a secret of the fact we have an affiliate partnership with Amazon - in fact, generous folks like you shopping there through our site help keep this website afloat. So, we took a look at all the items that were bought over the last year, from November 1 2008 through today, to show you what the booze hounds gentle readers of our site saw fit to buy. Who knows? Maybe it'll get your creative juices flowing, but if you don't like them don't blame us. There's no accounting for taste.
If you're still bankrupt for ideas, we've included a whole mess of products we've covered in the past year for your perusing pleasure, and you can also check out our gift guides from previous years (2006, 2007, 2008) for more ideas.
We've spent significantly more time searching for one than the other, but this book is right up your alley if you're interested in either, or just a fascinating history. Don't be afraid to take this bad boy to your local and pull up a stool...you may end up discussing the book with your fellow patrons more than reading it, but hey...that's what going to a bar is for.
Some one sent us this video thinking we might be interested in it, probably because the question "What do you think about organic vodka?" is asked during the proceedings. We can't, however, figure out what it has to do with organic vodka. We can't figure out what it has to do with being entertaining, for that matter.
Maybe you, our brilliant readers, can tell us what the hell is going on in this video and why we should care?
Triple-distilled organic super-premium vodka
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Review Sample Supplied By: Avkinta Vodka
Typical Price: About $40
Available in: New York, New Jersey, California
The Look: The Akvinta bottle is pretty striking, shot through with crimson and gold on the label and a cool little bronze button on the side. In the glass, Akvinta looks like, well, vodka.
The Nose: Lemon and other citrus peels.
The Taste: Citrusy with some pepper and an herbal bite. Very dry mouth feel, almost astringent, which we liked. Once we chilled it some of the sharper edges went away, and we were left with a very smooth, drinkable vodka.
The Verdict: We thought this was a tasty vodka - hell, maybe they're onto something with their crazy "Quintuple Filtration" idea. They run this stuff through birch charcoal, marble, silver, gold, and platinum, which may sound like overkill but it seems to work. We liked it chilled and on the rocks with a twist of lemon, and it would be a darned good fit for any citrusy cocktail if you ask us, as long as you can foot the super-premium price tag.
They include some pretty fancy Akvinta cocktail recipes on their site, and we're dying to try the Croatian Breakfast, so it looks like we're going to have to round up some orange marmalade and egg whites.
It's fall, and apparently that means we've more reviews to do. While we're (finally) digging through our backlog of tastings and reviews to write up, the FedEx men have been busy the last few days bringing us all sorts of goodies. Below is what we've gotten lately, most of which we've already tasted and ramping up to write the reviews:
Pernod Absinthe Superior
It's been a while since Pernod has included the word "absinthe" on its label instead of the more innocuous "liqueur," and we're looking forward to trying it out. We'll taste it as an absinthe, and in comparison to some of the Pernod liqueur we bought before the absinthe ban was lifted. Looking forward to checking it out; if you're unfamiliar with it we couldn't find a permanent product page for it, but check out last year's press release about it.
Kahlua Coffee Cream
"I like my coffee like I like my women - creamy, sugary, and tasting a little bit like coffee." That's a quote from a friend of ours from years ago, and it came to mind when the Kahlua Coffee Cream arrived. We've been feeling very non-dude lately, and we think making some Kahlua Cream Caucasians is just what we need to get right. Wake up and smell the coffee (cream) at Kahlua.com.
Hiram Walker Spiced Liqueurs
We're ready to get seasonal with two liqueurs from Hiram Walker - Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice. We're thinking these two could add a nice seasonal flair to our cocktails, and we're looking forward to experimenting. We've been thinking about creating some signature drinks for Thanksgiving, and since no one makes a turkey liqueur yet, these will do nicely. Check out the Hiram Walker Seasonals page for more details.
The Look: The bottle is tall and slender with black and gold labeling, getting away from an island party vibe to something a little more classic. In the glass, the rum is a smooth brown color reminiscent of whiskey...not too dark, not too light.
The Nose: The nose was full of caramel and brown sugar and molasses, and there was a hint of nuttiness there too. No huge alcohol burn, but not too sweet either.
The Taste: This rum is on the dryer side, not too sweet, with nice sweet flavors in the mix that don't overpower. There was maple and spice, nutmeg and vanilla, and the faintest hint of dried fruits on the back end. Very nice at bottle strength, but we liked it even more once we added a splash of water.
The Verdict: This is a good rum, period. It's not too spendy at around thirty bucks, and we were really impressed with the effects of blending various rums of various ages into a single cask and aging them another year. Don't step on this one with cola - this one's a sipper for after meals, and would make some excellent cocktails as well.
Many thanks to the Cruzan Rum folks for sending us our review bottle.
Brand/Name: Canadian Club Classic 12 Blended Whisky
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Review Bottle Source: Supplied by Canadian Club
Typical Price: Around $25
Available online at Internet Wines & Spirits
The Look: A squat and flat-shouldered bottle; the black and white accents on the label give it a classic look.
The Nose: Whiffs of caramel, honey, brown sugar - very reminiscent of a well-aged rum at first whiff. Doesn't jump out of the glass and bite you on the nose - has the reserved quality we associate with aging. There's fruit in there too, adding an interesting sour tang on the back end, but it doesn't overpower the sweet.
The Taste: Starts off sweet, with a burn like raw ginger. Gets a bit more bitter toward the finish, but not in a bad way...like the bitterness of the charred oak it was aged in. Some fruit to go along with the nose, finishes quickly, leaving a vanilla taste in the mouth.
The Verdict: We liked the Classic 12 just fine on the rocks, and a little water went a long way to smooth whatever edges were left on it. We were impressed with it in cocktails we usually make with bourbon as well...right on down to our standby drinks, the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, where we thought it added a nice je ne sais quois. A must-try for folks who like the regular Canadian Club expression, and bourbon lovers who're looking to broaden their horizons without straying too far from what they like.
We have a little game we play with a certain set of long distance friends called Dial-A-Shot. Everyone is at a bar, though in separate cities. A phone call is made, and synchronized drink shooting is performed. Usually it's straight booze, but sometimes we like to mix it up. That's where the iShot Machine iPhone app looks like it'll come in handy.
Randomness plus drunkenness? It's like your cocktail recipe book humped a slot machine, and this is the baby they made. Also, if your bartender doesn't know how to make the drink that comes up, the recipe's right there, plain and simple. There are over 3000 shots on this bad boy, and you can download it for free. So what're you waiting for? Oh, some more features? Here you go:
Those of you who read the website with any regularity probably noticed that Liquor Snob refrained from any kind of Halloween shenanigans this year. We should probably come clean - we hate Halloween. Not covering it probably cost us some traffic, in terms of things like halloween cocktail searchers and whatnot, but guess what? We don't care.
As much as we like the integration of "slutty" into pretty much every costume, we don't want anything to do with a holiday that expects us to put on a costume that could interfere with our drinking or make us look like the guy pictured above (via Monster Land). So there.
That said, welcome to November, the home of Wild Turkey Day! Check out what we did end up writing about after the jump.