Jim Beam Black Review

jim beam black

Jim Beam Black Review

Distillery:  Jim Beam
Expression: Jim Beam Black
Category: Bourbon
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 43%

The Jim Beam Black is a nice little step up from Jim Beam White.

It’s a gateway dram into the world of good bourbons.

You’re still a fair bit away from the universe populated by Woodford Reserve and Four Roses (Single Barrel or Small Batch) and light years from the Larue Weller but with Jim Beam Black we do have takeoff. 


Jim Beam Black Tasting Notes

Color: Dark Amber
Nose: Orange peel, Brown sugar
Palate: Brown Sugar, Spice, Vanilla
Finish: Spicy toasted oak. Sweetness continues until the end.  Medium-length, charred finish

Score 78 / 100

All Malt Nikka

all-malt-nikka-whisky
All Malt Nikka Whisky

Distillery: Nikka
Expression: All Malt
Category: Blended Whisky
ABV: 40%

The All Malt is unique whisky in the sense that this “blend” doesn’t contain any grain whisky at all.

It’s similar to a vatted (blended) malt with one exception: some of the malt is distilled in column stills instead of the usual pot still procedure.

What that means?

It’s 100% malt time baby.

(Perhaps that’s why they call it All Malt … duh)

Unlike many of the blended scotches at this price point you get an oily-full mouth-feel instead of some light-weight grain-y wussiness that isn’t sure what it wants to be when it grows up.

The All Malt has a lot going on and it’s a bit of a shape-shifter.

I had several “tasting sessions” before the bottle was empty and each time I was able to pick out something new.

Perhaps the neatest thing about the All Malt is that it feels like the bastard child of an Irish pot-still whiskey and a quality Scottish blend.

It begins with a mysterious nose which leads to a tobacco-smoke cloud wafting over a sea of malty waves on the palate.

There’s also musty oak flavor as if it had been aged in wood barrels crafted from the hull of an old pirate ship.

A really nostalgic whisky, reminds me of cleaning out my grandparent’s attic.

So go pour yourself a long dram and reminisce

Nikka All Malt Tasting Notes

Color: Brownish Copper
Nose: cinnamon, d0rk fruits (plum-y raisin), floral, a hint of Baileys Irish Cream
Palate:  Lovely balance. sweetness, smoke, and oak all nicely represented.
Finish:  A bit too short. An oak overdose up front before it smooths out.

Score 78 / 100

Final Results: Taiwan 200 ml Midnight Whisky Run

Taipei Whisky Selection from 7-11

200 ml Whisky Selection at a Taiwanese 7-11

Truth be told, I went into this 200 ml Whisky Challenge a bit skeptical, expecting the worst.

Cheap blends really aren’t my bag baby.

But I came out of the whole shebang a believer in the power of cheap blends.

I discovered that for under NT$200, you can have yourself a pretty darn enjoyable blended-whisky-hullabaloo of an evening.

But when the rubber meets the road and you can only select one, which whisky do you choose?

Here’s a quick roundup of the competition:

McAdams Rye Whisky

McAdams Rye Whisky

Jim Murray called McAdams Rye Whisky “delicious stuff” when he reviewed it in his Whisky Bible.

I find a lot of his reviews to be spot on but the McAdams was pretty unremarkable and bland to my taste buds.

At NT$160 it’s overpriced in this talented field.

At NT$135, the price would be just about right.

Jim Beam (White Label) Bourbon

jim-beam-1l-435910

My rational on this one is pretty simple.
If you’re in the mood for a decent bourbon, pick up the Jim Beam.
You’ve got no other choice.

While I’m never overjoyed to spend a whole evening with Jim Beam (White) it certainly doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it has in some snobbish whisky circles.

Johnny Walker Red

Johnnie Walker Red Label

To be fair, Diageo states pretty clearly that they only recommend using this beast as a mixer, so it’s no surprise that Johnnie Red didn’t perform so well in this contest.

That being said, even if you’re making cocktails for the evening, at NT$159 Johnnie Walker Red is a bit overpriced.

You’re better off going with the Famous Grouse or one of the Suntory twins as a mixer.

Famous Grouse

A bottle of the Famous Grouse

Since the 1980s, Famous Grouse has been the #1 selling blended whisky in Scotland.
I’ve heard wonderful things about The Finest Grouse, The Black Grouse, and the 30-year expression but I don’t see the regular ole’ Grouse making it into the Jerk’s regular rotation of blended whiskies any time soon.

It’s charming for a grainy-blend but like the bird itself the Grouse has some trouble getting off the ground.

Johnnie Walker Black

johnnie-walker-black-review

I quite like Johnnie Walker Black but at this price you gotta be fucking kidding me.

JW black  can compete with the top dogs in this field but it’s nearly twice as expensive.

If you’re a die-hard Johnnie Black fan, go ahead and experiment with the Old Matisse or splurge for a full bottle of Johnnie Walker Black for a much better value.

Suntory Black Kakubin

Suntory-Kakubin-BlackLabel-suntory-43

It’s stronger than its yellow sibling but it lacks the finesse and flavor.

If these two laced em’ up and met in the squared circle, Suntory Black would be Foreman and Suntory Yellow would be as Ali.

Whether you’re mixing or sipping, spend the extra NT$5 (16 cents) and upgrade to the Suntory Yellow.

The Medal Round

Finally we get down to the nitty gritty and we have three horses running neck and neck down the home stretch.

In third place, the bronze medal winner is ….

Prime Blue

A bottle of Prime Blue Malt Blended Scotch Whisky

A lovely little vatted whisky that’s readily available in Taiwan (and throughout Asia) but it’s a little harder to come by in Europe, Canada, or the States.

Overall, it’s a nicely-balanced blend that is definitely worth a try.

And in second place, the silver medal goes to …..

Suntory Yellow Kakubin

 

Suntory-Kakubin-Yellow-review

Really enjoyable, nice introduction to Japanese blended whisky.

It’s got some hints of Irish pot-still goodness while still retaining its own character.

Which means …. the gold medal winner and NEW champion of convenience store whisky in Taiwan is

Old Matisse

A 200 ml bottle of Old Matisse whisky

Don’t let the conservative refined and classy marketing fool you.
This one’s got some funky stuff going on underneath the hood.
Like a chocolate-tier, chewier version of Johnnie Walker Black available at just a fraction of the price.

Dare I say I spotted a 700 ml bottle at the local Welcome Supermarket the other day for under NT$500.

How’s that for value?

Conclusion

So, in the end Old Matisse takes it in a photo finish.

But that’s just our opinion.

What do you think the best convenience store whisky is in Taiwan?

Let us know in the comments below.

Johnnie Walker Black Review

johnnie-walker-black-review

 Johnnie Walker Black Review

Distillery:  Johnnie Walker & Sons
Expression: Johnnie Walker Black
Category: Blended Scotch
ABV: 40%

Let’s get real.

Despite being a perennial bestseller, Johnnie Walker Black isn’t one of the greatest whiskies out there.

Sure, it was reportedly Winston Churchill’s favorite whisky.

But at that time he was so hellbent on beating back the Krauts that it was unlikely he wasted much brainpower into this whisky selections.

Nonetheless, the Whisky Jerk will admit that he too has a certain fondness for JW Black deep down there somewhere in his blackened corazón. 

It’s the Swiss utility knife of whiskys.

Something you can turn to in almost any situation.

Scenario 1:

You’re at a wedding with limited whisky offerings.

Furthermore, the bartender can mix a drink worth a lick and it’s clear he can’t tell his arse from his Ardbeg.

Whaddaya do?

Order some a double of Johnnie Walker Black and you’re on your way.

 

Scenario 2:

You lost your job.

Sipping drams of 18-year old Highland Park on Tuesday evenings doesn’t feel right considering its putting a massive dent in your savings.

Who’s got your back?

Take a break from single malt and let old JW Black keep a roof over your head.

 

Scenario 3:

Your friends send you to the liquor store on a late-night run.

It’s closed, so you head to the nearest convenience store.

There’s ton of cheap shit you can move for mixing, but only JW Black can double as a mixing / sipping whisky.

Booyaka!

Easy choice.

*******************************************************************

So, don’t be a Johnnie B hater.

Johnnie Walker Black have some interesting nuances to it that come out over time and make it a bottle worth checking back with occasionally.

(When you can’t get your hands on some really good shit)

Johnnie Walker Black Tasting Notes

Color: Dark Amber
Nose: Pepper, Maple Syrup, Malt, Raisin, Ripe Fruit
Palate: Slight Oil, Buttery feel, Caramel, Toffee
Finish: Big lasting smoke, light sherry, well balanced


Score 84 / 100

What’s your take on Johnnie Walker Black?
Is it something you can enjoy neat or do you use it as mixer?
Let us know in the comments below.

Johnnie Walker Red Review

 

Johnnie Walker Red Label


Johnnie Walker Red Label Review

Distillery:  Johnnie Walker & Sons
Expression: Johnnie Walker Red
Category: Blended Scotch
ABV: 40%

Picture yourself in the late 1970s. 

Disco is dead.

While walking home after a long night on the town, you round’ the corner and spot an angry mob of red-headed youths heading your way.

Most of these lads have Mohawks and they reek of cheap alcohol.

This isn’t going to be pretty.

They immediately spot weakness in your palate and go on the attack.

You’re whacked in the gob with a malty mallet of  rotten grain.

While you’re squirming around on the pavement, each member of the gang puts generic-brand cigarettes out on your tongue.

Mercifully, it ends quickly but the incident leaves you jaded with a bitter taste in your mouth.

The moral of this story?

If you’re drinking Johnnie Walker Red neat, do yourself a favor.

  • Put it on ice.
  • Add some Coke.
  • Have a nice night.


Johnnie Walker Red Label 
Tasting Notes

Color: Amber
Nose: Heavy whiff of alcohol and young grains
Palate:  Harsh malt, confectionate sugar, and smoke
Finish:  Hot and dry ending that putters across the finish line.


Score 66 / 100

Matisse Old Whisky Review

A 200 ml bottle of Old Matisse whisky

Matisse Old Whisky Review

Distillery:  Matisse (Independent Bottler)
Expression: Matisse Old
Category: Blended Scotch
ABV: 40%

Hey sexy, you’re quite complex for a convenience store scotch.

Do I know you from somewhere?

You may think I say that to every malt on the shelf (and I do) but in this case it’s not just a pickup line.

The Old Matisse is quite similar in taste to Johnnie Walker Black with some subtle, but important differences.

It’s less oily and peppery than JW Black, but the malt is crisp, the chocolate overtones are chewy, and the smoke is there throughout.

It’s a tad more expensive than some of the other offerings we reviewed but this funky-ass blend is worth the extra NT$30.

You dig?

Matisse Old Whisky Tasting Notes

Color: Honey Gold
Nose:  Oak, Plums, Floral, Orange
Palate:  Chocolate Fudge, Smoke, Dried malt
Finish:  Nutty and Refined

Score 82 / 100

Jim Beam White Label Review

jim-beam-1l-435910

Jim Beam (White Label)

Distillery: Jim Beam
Expression: White Label (No Age)
Category: Bourbon
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 40%

Over the years I’ve heard Jim Beam described in a lot of ways.

“That stuffs nasty!”

“It’s like drinking turpentine.”

“I feel like I’m drinking paint thinner.”

But does it deserve this sullied reputation?

While Jim Beam isn’t the spitting image of silky smooth by any means, it DOES NOT have any wicked bite or terrible aftertaste.

It’s certainly not bursting with flavor, but what are you really expecting at price point?

It’s become cool to favor single malts above all else and scoff at bourbons and blended whiskies.

Dissin’ Jim Beam is a way for novices to sound sophisticated about whiskey by parroting something they overheard at a dinner party.

Since Jim Beam is a bourbon in the lower price range with lots of marketing behind it got caught in the cross-hairs.

But at the end of the day, JB White  works great as a mixer and it can even function as sipping whiskey as well.

In fact I would probably take it over a lot of the younger blended scotches and a even a few single malts as well.

Along with Johnnie Walker Black (Scotch) and Jameson (Irish) it fills out that holy trinity of whiskeys that you are certain to find everywhere – from a seedy dive bar to a house party to a 5-star hotel.

Although it’s no Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, or William Larue Weller it’s an old reliable pal you can turn to when the bartender seems a bit off his game and you’ve got an itch for bourbon that needs to be scratched.

Jim Beam White Label Tasting Notes

Nose: Wood dust, Floral, Marzipan
Palate: Strong Oak, Honey, White Pepper
Finish: Very light but surprisingly sweet and balanced. Some vanilla tones.

Score 71 / 100

Prime Blue Pure Malt Review

A bottle of Prime Blue Malt Blended Scotch Whisky

Prime Blue Pure Malt Review

Distillery:  Morrison Bowmore (owned by Suntory Group)
Expression: Matisse Old
Category: Blended Scotch
ABV: 40%

Prime Blue is one of the most widely available whisky brands in Taiwan, selling over one million bottles per year.

Apparently it’s somewhat hard to come by outside of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Prime Blue is a vatted malt that’s distilled and bottled in Scotland by Morrison Bowmore and is owned by Japan’s Suntory Group.

With two Suntory Kakubin brands (Black and Yellow) also available, Suntory seems to have this 200 ml Taiwanese market down on lock.

If Prime Blue had a bit more marketing dollars behind it and was more readily available in Europe and North America, I think it would stack up nicely against Johnny Walker Black and Chivas 12.

Overall it’s a quality sipping whiskey for the price.

Prime Blue Tasting Notes

Color: Light Straw
Nose: Floral, spices, citrus fruits, caramel
Palate:  Toffee, Oak, Malty
Finish:  Hints of oak. Overall quite balanced, warming, and smooth.

Score 78 / 100

The Famous Grouse Review

A bottle of the Famous Grouse

Famous Grouse Review

Distillery:  Famous Grouse
Expression: Famous Grouse
Category: Blended Scotch
Region: Perth, Scotland
ABV
: 40%

The Famous Grouse is the top selling blended whisky in Scotland.

It’s a lighter-flavored grain whisky that’s available a low price point.

Truth be told it certainly didn’t knock my socks off at first.

After a couple of drams the initial harshness seems a bit smoother and it kinda wins you over in the end as a drinkable blend.

It doesn’t really stack up that well against the Matisse, Suntory, or Prime Blue blends available at the same price point in Taiwan.

But if you find a mini-bottle lying around your place, go ahead and give it a swig.

It ain’t that bad.

Famous Grouse Tasting Notes

Color:  Burnished
Nose: Alcohol, Grain, orange, honey
Palate:  Pepper, Malt, barley, hint of chocolate
Finish: Dry and bitter feint caramel tad harsh

Score 72 / 100

Suntory Kakubin Yellow Label

 

Suntory-Kakubin-Yellow-review

Suntory Kakubin Yellow Label Review

Distillery: Suntory
Expresion: Kakubin Yellow Label
Region: Japan
Category: Blended Whisky
Age: N/A
ABV: 40%
Price: NT$150 for a 180 ml bottle (About US$5.00)

This is the third whisky featured on our Mission Impossible: Taiwan Midnight Whisky Run series.

In the last post, I mentioned how I was kinda disappointed by the Suntory Black Label (Suntory 43)

Well … The Yellow Label provided some redemption for Suntory.

It’s a smooth sipper that has a tinge of that ‘Irish pot-still goodness’ that the Whisky Jerk so very adores.

For a budget whiskey its got some interesting notes to feast on and it avoids the grainy death toll that often afflicts these cheaper whiskies.

At essentially the same price as the Suntory Kakubin Black Label, this is a far superior whisky.

If you’re making it a Suntory evening at 7-11 definitely spend a few measly extra NT$ and go for the Yellow Label instead of the Black.

 

Suntory Kakubin Yellow Label Tasting Notes

Nose: Floral, brown sugar rice pudding, grapefruit zest, dried coconut
Palate: Custard, malt, almonds
Finish: Smooth and medium-length.

Score 77 / 100

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