Thursday, December 31, 2015

A trip to Fishpaw's Marketplace

I just want those who could have told me about Fishpaw's Marketplace, but didn't, to know that I forgive you.

Some people go skiing between Christmas and New Year's, some go to Disney World. And some people go somewhere fun.

Whoever it was who left a comment I read on some blog post, stating that Fishpaw's -- in Arnold, Maryland --  is a good place for private selection whiskey,  thank you.

What I didn't realize, as I used part of a vacation day to drive the forty miles to Arnold, is that they would have four different single barrel whiskeys, all of which were available to taste. If I had, I would have brought a designated driver. And maybe left my credit card at home.

The lunch menu. (Photo stolen from their website.)

I was particularly interested in the Eagle Rare, since I'd had a private selection ER at Dry 85 in Annapolis that was probably my favorite bourbon of the year. Then I saw the Four Roses, and realized I was facing a quandary. The single barrel Crown Royal Coffey Rye was also eye catching. And what could be wrong with a single barrel Knob Creek?

The tasting bar serves 1/2 ounce and full ounce pours. When you're forty miles from home and you need to pick up your wife, who didn't get the week off work, in a few hours, you don't order full ounce pours. I'd have preferred 1/4 ounce each, which would be enough to make a purchasing decision, but I can adapt.

I started with Four Roses and Eagle Rare. The Four Roses was an OBSV.(as their non-limited edition single barrels are), 115 proof, and a lot more interesting and complex than is appropriate for standing at a tasting bar next to a wine distributor trying to make a sale to the owner. I would have liked a bottle, but in the end I wasn't ready to pay the premium for this bottle over the regular 4R SB.

The Eagle Rare disappointed me. Maybe it was because it came on the heels of a barrel proof Four Roses, but it came off as muddled and not pleasant to drink. Especially disappointing, since it was on sale for $35. (Yes, yes, I should have bought two bottles and waited for my palate to improve.)

An ounce of cask proof whiskey on an empty stomach was enough, so I took a break from booze shopping to get some lunch. (I picked up a bottle of Laphroaig Cask Strength Batch 006 and a bottle of Fiore Sweet Cranberry Maryland Moonshine, which earned me a, "So you're buying moonshine instead [of 4R SB]?" at the cash register.) Just up Route 2 is Cafe Mezzanotte, which has a $15 lunch special and delicious cream of crab soup. (The crab soup isn't quite worth the trip alone, but I will definitely try to time my next visit to Fishpaw's around mealtime.)

Worth a taste, but maybe not the best whiskey of 2015.
Refreshed and with a reset palate, I came back to Fishpaw's ready to try the Crown Royal and Knob Creek. (The owner asked the server if I'd tried the Four Roses. She said, "Yes, but he bought Laphroaig instead." I said, "You keep saying 'instead.'")

The Crown Royal is a single barrel Coffey rye, a flavoring whiskey distilled on a Coffey still that's a main component of CR. It's quite an interesting drink, sweet and creamy, but there's something a bit off (soapy?) right at the beginning of each sip. It's definitely worth tasting, especially at a discounted $3 per 1/2 ounce, but alas, it's not the discount barrel strength Whistlepig I was kind of hoping for.

The Knob Creek -- following the complex, muddled, and unusual whiskeys I'd already tried -- was just a tasty bourbon that brought a smile to my face. The bottle was sold before I finished my first sip. I'll have more to say about it after I've had a chance to drink it under controlled laboratory conditions at home.

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