Robert Ford Approved

When it is all haze and 16oz cans, it is sometimes good to see a reliable brewery, like The Bruery, lean into their barrel strength and when they use whiskey barrels with a quad instead of stout. I perk up and start reading the label closely. Probably won’t see this one other than at Bruery locations so a trip to Orange County might be in order.


Whisky and beer are connected but sometimes that connection becomes ever firmer when distillers see the maximizing effect of putting the initials I-P-A on a bottle.

But I would certainly try the latest Experimental Series variant from Glenfiddich because they have gone all in to make a hoppy whisky. They collaborated with a brewer to first create an IPA that they thought would impart hops into the oak casks. Hard work choosing from amongst the beers but the 2nd recipe won out and they then had to figure out how long it needed to season the cask that had formerly held Glenfiddich.

All before putting the whisky in and aging it. The distillery claims that they created a whisky with “unique zesty citrus notes of ripe green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complimented by the subtle tang of fresh hops followed by a long lasting sweetness.”

Bring the Thunder

Barrel-Aged can mean different things. A beer can be in contact with an over used barrel or the barrel’s history might be obscured. Some breweries have barrel experts and others don’t. But if you buy Rolling Thunder from Rogue Ales, you will know that the chain of custody was one entity, Rogue.

Now I don’t get excited by the Voodoo Doughnut beers or Beard Beers but I like the fact that this barrel beer is completely executed by Rogue alone.

Check out the timeline:

From Barrel
“Rogue acquired vintage French WW II era coopering equipment before knowing where to put it and who was going to make the barrels. Longtime employee Nate Lindquist volunteered to be Rogue’s first cooper and spent a year as an apprentice learning the ancient art form of barrel making. Using Oregon White Oak, Nate assembles, raises, toasts, chars, hoops, heads, hoops again, cauterizes, sands and brands each barrel, one at a time all by hand. At full capacity, he makes one barrel a day.”

To Distillery
“The barrels are soaked first with Dead Guy Whiskey, which is distilled from Dead Guy Ale. During a year of aging, the Dead Guy Whiskey imparts its flavor into the oak, getting the barrels ready for the next step in the journey.”

To Brewery
“Eight different types of grains, including oats and Rogue Farms barley are brewed with Rogue Farms hops, brown sugar, sweet dark cherries, vanilla and chocolate to create a bold character that is perfect for aging. The Rolling Thunder barrels that once held Dead Guy Whiskey are filled with Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout and aged in the rich, salty air of Yaquina Bay on the Oregon Coast. After six months in the barrels, the beer is ready for the final step.”

To Bottle
“To complete the journey of barrel to bottle, the imperial stout is poured into 1-liter bottles to be bottle conditioned for another few weeks before being released. Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout can be enjoyed immediately or can be cellared for years to come.”

Experiments in Whiskey

Craft beer isn’t the only alcoholic beverage that is breaking rules left and right. This quick slide show showcases some real cool whiskey experiments. Who is influencing who can be debated but the fact that Buffalo Trace has a Single Oak Project that looks to understand how the wood of each barrel imparts different flavors is really exciting to see.

Because, you know brewers will be getting their hands on the barrels eventually.


Flaviar is an odd duck of a website and spirits idea that I am not sold on quite yet. The website doesn’t seem geared to people who are picky, more to those who want monthly gift boxes.
Much like Amazon, you can shop for individual spirits without buying a membership, which they also refer to as prime.You can choose auto-selected boxes of whiskey, gin, rum and others or you can self-select what you desire. It arrives to you in science-y looking beakers for tasting.

I appreciate the idea as a tool for exploration but without knowing what it would cost to buy the full bottle, I feel like I could get told any price for one of the tasters. The selection looks strong and unique and different from the mini-bar bottles you could normally buy but at a liquor store you can compare prices.

Filing this under, website to monitor and maybe purchase from later.

Beer to Whiskey in Petaluma

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Looks like another brewery is into the spirits world as (new to me) Stillwater Spirits has just released it’s third iteration of Moylan’s American Whisky, (no “e”).

It is actually two whiskies:

1. 117.4 proof Double-Barrel Cask Strength Single-Malt Whisky.

2. 86 proof American Single-Malt Whisky.

Here is the description from the brewery/distillery: “Moylan’s Double-Barrel Cask Strength Single-Malt Whisky is aged for at least 4 years in new and used American White Oak barrels and finished in French Oak and Orange Brandy barrels which helps to coax out the rich, sweet luscious character of this amazing whisky. The American Single-Malt Whisky is the same blend of 5 different barrels from our collection of whisky casks. The resulting whiskies have been described as “just simply works of art.”

Which Abyss?

Better stay on the “Nice” list this year because Deschutes Brewing has three different versions of the Abyss maturing for the cellar geeks in the crowd. There will be the usual Imperial Stout version but this year flanking it will be a Rye Whiskey barrel aged version on one side and a Cognac barrel aged version on the other.

Drinking Buddies at Angel City

Angel City Brewing and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey threw quite the shindig on Tuesday night. I’m still recovering from it. The theme of the event was Drinking Buddies and it was a beer release party mixed with whiskey and cocktails plus the back-story on the different blends that went into the final barrel-aged Imperial Irish Ale.
My drinking buddy Richard and I sampled the three beers that made up the blend of choice and though we may have liked different components of the beers. I personally thought the dryness and woody-ness of the sherry barrel version was the most intriguing, the Jameson’s came through loud and clear in the end.
Jon Carpenter, the brewmaster gave the rundown on the process and the flavors that each component added after we got a little whiskey lesson from the Jameson rep. It was kinda surreal to see a vey Irish Whiskey juxtaposed against the gritty graffiti and urban L.A. vibe of the brewery but this was a serious party. Plates and glasses whisked away quickly. Plenty of food and gelato and more than plenty of whiskey.

4 Whiskies (part 2)


For part two of my whiskey education, I focused in on Kentucky since I favored the Bulleit last time but to keep things fresh, I added the Red Label of Johnnie Walker and it’s Scottishness to the proceedings.  And this time, instead of club soda, I used regular ol’ Sparkletts water to mellow the affair out.

Here are my rankings for round 2:

Bulleit – Wooden and oaken with a pleasing slide into a smooth finish with a hint of caramel and spice.  The alcohol is there but it is part of the play and not the star.

Woodford Reserve – Wasn’t a fan the first time around but in this company, the balance of the heat and vanilla and smoothness slots it in at second even though it is blander in most respects to the others.

Evan Williams – Lighter upfront with an aroma of coconut.  Quite perfumey.  Some vanilla here too along with cut wood.  Harsh on the palate though.  Falls into the category of love the smell, not a fan of the taste.

Johnnie Walker Red – A light peat aroma greets the nose here.  Much harsher upfront.  Very campfire smokey to me.

Bulleit Bourbon was an even easier winner this time around.  At this point, it will take something different for me to be a fan of the Scottish and Irish style.  Too much smoke that my palate can’t handle.  But there is such a difference when it comes to the Kentucky “style”.  I was so hopeful for the Evan Williams but boy was it sharp on the tongue after a dazzling smell.



Hop that Whiskey


One of the coolest items that caught my eye while reading Tasting Whiskey was this photo.  Yup, whiskey with hops in them.  Now they aren’t part of the regular whiskey line-up from Corsair Distillery but if you can find these rare bottles or their new whiskey, Rasputin that is made from the base of a Russian Imperial Stout then I suggest giving it a try.  It really shows how much beer is a part of whiskey.