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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2019

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That’s two years in a row with no major injuries – woo!

Whiskies of the World 2019 is in the books, at least its San Francisco installment, and that means another spring evening of Scotch, bourbon, and fettuccine alfredo has come to a close. My American whiskey love affair of WotW 2018 reversed itself for 2019, where I found myself generally finding more enjoyment in the Scotch category, particularly the table of That Boutique-y Whisky Company, an indie bottler whom we’ve encountered a few times over the years but whom I’ve never seen at any whiskey show.

That’s not to say I didn’t sample plenty of products from both east and west of the Atlantic (and Pacific) — with my favorite sip of the night coming from none other than Jack Daniel’s. Who’d a thunk?

Limited thoughts on all products tasted follow.

Scotch

Compass Box Juveniles – Fresh, gentle, and super-light (as the name would imply), but it feels almost perfect for the impending summer. A-
Compass Box Stranger & Stranger
– Bold and chewy, butterscotch and brioche notes. B+
Glenmorangie Signet
– Huge chocolate notes, coffee bean, lightly bitter; smoldering caramel finish. A-
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Mortlach 20 Years Old
– A huge and aggressive whisky, a little smoke, plenty of fruit, dusty on the finish. A-
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Springbank 21 Years Old
– Floral and spicy, bready; chewy. A-
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Highland Park 18 Years Old
– Hot, with cocoa and nougat notes; lingering brioche and butterscotch. B+
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blend 50 Years Old
– A blend of a couple of mystery casks these guys uncovered; extremely heavy on the sherry, it’s grassy and toasty — old but not yet forgotten. B+
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Three Ships 6 Years Old – Single malt from South Africa; a first for me. This one’s a sherry bomb with a huge body and a slight maritime note. Light mushroom on the back. B+

American

Stark Spirits Rum – “West coast style” rum, aged in new American oak instead of bourbon casks. Bold and toasty, it’s an odd combination of rum and whiskey styles that deserves further inspection. B+
Stark Spirits Single Malt – Notes of dried fruits; engaging, worthwhile. B+
Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold – A huge surprise. This unique expression of JD is double-filtered and finished in maple wood barrels, giving it a mild, sweet, and fruity texture. A bit like Gentleman Jack. Hard not to like. Full review up shortly. A
The Splinter Group Straight Edge Bourbon – From the makers of Whip Saw Rye. Big butterscotch notes, kind of a funky finish, leathery and mushroomy. B
The Splinter Group Slaughter House – Whiskey from a four grain mash; 85% corn. Nutty, cashew-heavy note. Lingering spice. B-
The Splinter Group Straight Edge 13 Years Old “Killer Swan” – This was a pre-release taste of Splinter’s first age-statemented whiskey, an older version of Straight Edge. Strong wine notes endure, with bold chocolate on the finish. Aggressive and rich. A
Mosswood Espresso Barrel – Bold, lots of lovely espresso character, pungent at times. B+
Sagamore Spirit Port Finish Rye
– Nice sweetness, with notes of raisin; lingering cereal note. B+
Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey
– Full of youth but also promise; toasty and tons of char. B
Boldt Cereal Killer Rye
– Craft rye, slightly weedy, undercooked. B-
Moylan’s American Single Malt
– Bizarre cannabis note, very herbal, with lingering barrel char notes. B
Seven Stills of San Francisco Patience
– Irish-style pot still whiskey, punchy and grassy, with lots of spice and tobacco notes on the back end. B
Seven Stills of San Francisco Honeydew Harvest – One of my favorites of the show, a whiskey infused with honeydew fruit. Really refreshing, with tons of melon notes though never overblown. Bright and sunny. A-
Widow Jane 10 Years Old
– Solid, old bourbon showing plenty of age and barrel influence. Still working well. A-

Japanese(ish)

Ohishi Tokubetsu Reserve – Fresh and nutty. Banana notes endure. A-
Kurayoshi 18 Years Old
– This is actually Scotch that is finished in Japan, so not really Japanese whisky. Anyway: Big with cereal notes, it’s also lightly smoky. Bold and engaging enough, though not typical of Japan (and not as well-rounded as an 18 year old should be). B+

Other Stuff

Gouden Carolus Belgian Whiskey – The first whisky from Belgium that I’ve ever encountered, and probably you too. This single malt is hugely sweet, with butterscotch and biscotti notes. Full review in the works. B+
Paul John Christmas Edition 2018
– The holiday bottling from this Indian producer, single malt aged 7 years in bourbon casks and 1 1/2 years in oloroso sherry casks. Fruitcake notes, lots of spice; a gentle peatiness. Well-balanced. A-

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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