Practical Whisky?
Practical (prak-ti-kuhl) Adjective: Having the virtue of being realistic and useful, a decision based in pragmatism.

Whisky (hwis-kee) Noun: A liquor distilled from a fermented mash of grain (barley, rye, or corn) containing at least 40% ethyl alcohol. Also: Whiskey, Rye, Scotch, Bourbon. From: Uisge Beatha, Aqua Vitae, Eau de Vie.
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There are dozens of excellent web sites out there that extol the virtues of fantastic whisky. Fantastic in taste, fantastic in character and sadly, often fantastic in price. I have no lack of respect for the whisky aficionados who can dedicate the time, energy and money to tasting all the whiskies that I can't afford, and I salute them with glass held high. That salute will just have to employ a dram of practical whisky.

Practical Whisky, this site, contains my reviews of whiskies that I've sampled, from Scotches , Irishes and Canadians to Single Malts, Bourbons and Blends and how “practical” I think they are. I make recommendations like those found in the Random Dram widget to the left, check the lower review for whiskies that score well in both the taste and cost departments. There will also be news and updates on the goings on in the practical whisky market as I become aware of them. Look for new whiskies every Monday plus whatever else I can squeeze in on Fridays. Be sure and come back and see what's new.

I hope the site is entertaining and useful, or at least one of the two.

Salude!
-- Brian --



Recent Updates (last 30 days)     RSS feed
Review Link» Damnation 1 of 6: The House24-NOV-2014
Damnation Alley distillery is jumping into the Massachusetts distilling revival. With the state allowing small distilleries to make and sell spirits, I've seen a host of new whiskies from the state including Bully Boy and Berkshire. Now, I have the chance to review 6 whiskies (or nearly whiskies due to age) from Damnation Alley.
#626  Damnation Alley House Whiskey NAS Blended American
This cost is what I found the likely shelf price for a 750ml bottle to be, based on an average of costs throughout the USA. Your price may differ significantly. This is not an advertisement of sale, this bottle is likely empty by now anyway Cost$7500Bottle Image. Image is © Practical Whisky. Bottle, logo and other trademarked imagery are © their respective owners.
00-09:Horrid
10-19:Awful
20-29:Unpleasant
30-39:Poor
40-49:Below Average
50-59:Average
60-69:Recommendable
70-79:Very Good
80-89:Excellent
90-99:Fantastic
Taste Score
            62         
The whisky's score as weighed against the cost of a bottle. Adj. Score
       39              
ABV41%
Misc:Batch 17 Bottle 36
AwardsNo Medals Awarded
Tasting # 705
1st
Impression
The bottles are simple and straightforward, which is fine with me.
SmellSweet corn and corn meal. Corn forward, in other words. There's a base below that, but what I get is singularly grainy and young. Not as much alcohol burn as I expected.
TasteMalty and leaving most of that corn in the nose. Thin and dry start, finds a lot of grain and a slightly musky malt top. Short fade and finish that are full of barley and hay, ends with some dry corn notes. Interesting and enjoyable for what it is, limited by age I imagine.
Tasting Score62


Review Link» Brought to you by the founder herself.17-NOV-2014
SIA whisky is a storied bottle: kickstarter campaign by a woman with a dream, finding her passion and sharing it with the world. SIA has taken a modern, 21st century approach to Scotch, avoiding the typical marketing hype and make believe historicity that has often left me cynical and tired. Will this be a breath of fresh air in my glass?
#625  SIA NAS Blended Scotch
This cost is what I found the likely shelf price for a 750ml bottle to be, based on an average of costs throughout the USA. Your price may differ significantly. This is not an advertisement of sale, this bottle is likely empty by now anyway Cost$5000Bottle Image. Image is © Practical Whisky. Bottle, logo and other trademarked imagery are © their respective owners.
00-09:Horrid
10-19:Awful
20-29:Unpleasant
30-39:Poor
40-49:Below Average
50-59:Average
60-69:Recommendable
70-79:Very Good
80-89:Excellent
90-99:Fantastic
Taste Score
                80     
The whisky's score as weighed against the cost of a bottle. Adj. Score
              74       
ABV43%
AwardsTaste Award: SilverTop Buy Award: +70 points at $50
Tasting # 704
1st
Impression
The bottle looks quite nice, very modern.
SmellWheat flour and lavender, has a very grainy note. Bit of a bite and some tiny peat and butterscotch.
TasteOpens quite sweet, vanilla ice cream and oatmeal, nearly oatmeal cookies. Warm, toasty grain and almond milk. Finds more dessert sweetness in the top plus smoke, a touch of peat and a bit of bite. Loses the smoke and keeps the cereal and sweetness, becoming more sherry and butter. Decent finish, some growl and quite a few young grain notes appear late in an otherwise tasty finale. SIA is a tad sweeter than I prefer, but there is a lot here to like.

A chorus of satisfying flavors at a very practical price, pleasantly sweet with grain and smoke complimenting and adding structure. A very recommendable glass.
Tasting Score80


Review Link» I love beer, beer beer beer.10-NOV-2014
I love Sam Adams. In some alternate universe I have a practical beer dot net review site because I never fell into anything incredible like a Springbank or Ardbeg that blew my mind and trumps my love for beer. And on that list of loved beer is the Boston Beer Company, which happens to sit somewhere in relatively close distance to my most amazing whisky patron Joe. There are amazing local brews that I love as much or more, but Sam Adams has been a fave for longer than I can remember. This, amazingly, is an awesome intersection between the two. May the whisky gods bless you well, Mr. Jim Koch. Odd aside, I almost forgot I had this in stock and had to hold back from killing the bottle very recently. Today, I fix all that... and hopefully recover from my most recent (cough) unpleasantness.
#624  Berkshire Mountain Sam Adams NAS Bourbon American
This cost is what I found the likely shelf price for a 750ml bottle to be, based on an average of costs throughout the USA. Your price may differ significantly. This is not an advertisement of sale, this bottle is likely empty by now anyway Cost$6000Bottle Image. Image is © Practical Whisky. Bottle, logo and other trademarked imagery are © their respective owners.
00-09:Horrid
10-19:Awful
20-29:Unpleasant
30-39:Poor
40-49:Below Average
50-59:Average
60-69:Recommendable
70-79:Very Good
80-89:Excellent
90-99:Fantastic
Taste Score
                 88    
The whisky's score as weighed against the cost of a bottle. Adj. Score
                82     
ABV40%
AwardsTaste Award: SilverPractical Award: Silver
Tasting # 703
1st
Impression
BMD has nice bottles, simple yet effective. And the fact that it is an American Small Batch, which we have far too few of, simply adds to it.
SmellNot sure how beer barrels will manage to stand out against normal bourbon notes, but here we go: Ooh, subtle. I like it. Woody. Malty. Sweet. The normal bourbon top sweetness are there but are muted somehow, rounded, full of brown sugar and sweet cream. Oh yeah.
TasteOh my. Oh... wow. This is delicious in all sorts of ways. Opens with a sweetness that approaches raw or brown sugar but doesn't reach a typical sugary bite, round and mellow, soft and beautifully clean, builds softly to a faint oak into some raw vanilla. Some tiny pangs of sharp bitterness here, however leading to fruity sweetness at the top. The fade is a fig newton joy that begins a slow slide into toffee bliss. The finish is wonderful, typical bourbon love cut with confectioners sugar and wood. By the whisky gods I love this and never have I been less happy that my brother brought me the last bits instead of a full bottle. 88. Seriously, its an 88 point whisky for sixty dollars. Practical doesn't even start to describe it. If you're from Berkshire or Sam Adams, here's your quote: this is the face of the future of the American Bourbon movement: creative ideas producing truly delicious spirits. 88 (excellent).
Tasting Score88


» Fixes and more fixes10-NOV-2014
Not sure how I broke the database (again? Good grief Brian!) but it's fixed. Normal reviews will resume and the missed reviews are now up and running.

Review Link» And here ends the streak...03-NOV-2014
Three months of great whisky. Three. Were you paying attention? Three solid months and only 2 were below 70! Add to that a slew of 80s and even a few 90s and this has been a streak! But streaks end. Spoiler alert, Hochstadter R&R is not for the weak of heart or weak of sweet tooth. It is a beast, and not in the good flavor department. This was a birthday gift from my brothers, who picked it up hoping it would be awful or awesome. Mission accomplished.

Review Link» Halloween Dreams of Japanese Peat27-OCT-2014
A donation from the key sponsor of PW, my brother Joe. Japanese whiskies are making noise on the international scene, winning accolades and awards over Scotch rivals. How will Hakushu stand up? Stay tuned! or ... y'know, read on.



Site Layout
  • Index: The page you are on. Right now. Presently even.
  • Reviews: The raison d'etre of the site where the reviews go to congregate and establish pecking orders. This is important, get moving
  • » Brand Listing: A breakdown of brands for ease of location or general interest
  • » Events: A subsection of reviews, with a ranked list of whiskies for each taste event.
  • About
  • » About Whisky: Start your education here.
  • » About PW: Info about how this site works and what some things mean.
  • » Stats: Lies, damn lies and statistics.
  • Tops: The top (and bottom) 5% of the list and the tops of each style. If you want to know the best of the best, go here.
  • History: Will eventually contain everything I've ever done. Ever. For now it's just the history of this site. Sanitized for your protection.
  • My 2¢: Rants and raves about ... well, whisky related topics mostly. Gripping stuff.
  • Links: Places to go when you're tired of being here. I refuse to make this one a link because I don't want you to leave. See how much I care?


Whisky Cred
  • Member of the Ardbeg Committee
    One of the finest Islays, and the 10YO is legendary.
  • Ambassador of Maker's Mark
    Don't be put off by the hype as I was. MM is a fine bourbon and a perfectly Practical Whisky.
  • Companion of Aberlour
    Speysiders that will warm your heart without draining your wallet.
  • Balvenie Club Member
    One of my first, and I've yet to find a Balvenie I haven't liked.
  • Compass Box Hedonists Society
    Master mixers and Lords of variety. Expand your horizons here.
  • Striding Man Society
    If all you know is the Red Label, you don't know Johnnie.
  • Glenmorangie Kindred Spirits
    They once made the perfect 10YO, I still love them despite changing her.
  • Member of the Springbank Society
    My first true Scotch and the bar by which all others have been measured.
  • Jim Beam Brotherhood of Bourbon
    Beam Black is nearly the definition of Practical Whisky in Bourbon.
  • Glenfarclas Friend of the Family
    Glenfarclas is a wonder and impossible to find locally outside the 10 and 12. Luckily a buddy loves the 21 and so I get a taste reminder once in a while.


Boring Notices
  • This site is not offering anything for sale. Should I ever decide to offer anything for sale it will not include anything produced or trademarked by a whisky company.
  • I receive no compensation for doing reviews, linking to manufacturers web sites or for doing anything else in relation to this page.
  • The images on this site are eiter:
    • Original works created by me
    • Photographs of bottles taken by me for purposes of review
    • Images taken from official sources for identification under Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act for purposes of Review and Criticism.
  • The links on the links page and distillery data pages lead to the companies that produce the whiskies and are provided explicitly without agreeing to any "Linking Policy" presented by the company in question. The proliferation of these unenforceable policies is ridiculous and I refuse to be a party to it. The company web pages are public information, I am presenting them clearly as addresses to be visited for further information, I am linking only to the top level entry page of the site with no framing and I offer no option to deep link. Should the company in question complain, I'll just add a link to a Google search for their name and let Google's lawyers fight it out. The content of those pages is outside of my control, such links do not represent any endorsement by myself or the linked company and should you choose to follow those links, I am no longer in control of your internet destiny.
  • The images of bottles clearly include copyrighted works, and are presented under the Fair Use Statute of the Copyright Act for purposes of review and criticism. All trademarks and copyrights are held by the companies represented.
  • It sucks that I should have to even consider posting this legaleese here, but that's the world we live in.
  • Isn't this text TINY! Man, you could get a migrane reading this.