Tasting Notes – the Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year

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I’ve enjoyed basic the Balvenie at bars in the past. I hope this isn’t too peaty however.

Nose –  Not too strong, just faint hints of wood.

Taste  – The first taste is very smooth, almost sweet, faint hints of caramel.

Finish –  The first finish comes on fast for a 17year, it is very woody. As the dram empties it softens, leaving a warming sensation on the center of the tongue and back of throat. Just a hint of charcoal in the aftertaste.

I do enjoy this, but the 1st sip was pretty strong. For others this may be an acquired taste.

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Tasting Notes – Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select

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I’m not a huge Jack fan. Like many people I started with Jack and Cokes, but then promptly dumped them when I discovered Maker’s Mark. But a friend got me this bottle and it looked good.

Nose – Just really smells like Jack Daniels. Maybe some fresh-cut grass hints?

Taste – Smooth at first, then woody.

Finish – Goes to the throat fast. More wood taste, a quick burn. I want to say cinnamon like, but I always say that.  The initial finish is actually very quick, but toward the end of the dram the finish gets very unpleasant.

This is much too rough neat for my tastes. I think it would be very good on the rocks. Or it would make a fancy Jack and Coke and probably a very good one.

Coffee Showdown- Holiday Blends

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It’s time for another coffee showdown. For the Holiday season – Holiday blends. I picked up both the Peet’s and Starbucks offerings, so let’s see which one wins!

Peet’s Coffee

I like strong coffee, but this was just bitter. This was quite a disappointment as I usually prefer Peet’s Coffee over other store-bought brands.

Starbucks

Not as bitter Peet’s. A nutty flavor, but it also wasn’t as tasty as I hoped.

Starbucks is the clear winner here, but I’m a little let down by both. Hopefully, their Christmas blends will be better.

Whiskey for Wassail

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My wife made Wassail for a recent Holiday party and we tried a few different whiskies with it.

Cinnamon Fireball 

The most obvious choice. Made a nice, spicy, wassail.

Maker’s Mark 

I’m always coming back to Makers or Jameson as as a defacto whiskey to blend. I the Maker’s,  it paired perfectly with the wassail.

Eagle Rare

A little more distincitive, I thought could taste the boubron coming through a bit more. But it was my 4th cup.

My overall winner is Makers Mark. The perfect blend.

Tasting Notes – Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Triple Grain American Oak

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So, if you been following my blog you know I love all things Johnnie Walker. When special editions come out, I always try to grab them. I picked this up last year.

Nose- Slight hints of Lemon, grass, and honey

Taste  – Smooth and clear and almost butterscotch like.

Finish – Comes on fast. Wood and cinnamon linger on center of tongue.

I like the taste a lot. The finish comes on to strong, but I drank it straight. Next time I’ll try it with some ice and think it will be very enjoyable.

Tasting Notes – Crown Royal XR

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I’m a fan of Crown Royal, and many people know it; so I often get bottles as gifts. I’m aware of the whole shady price history, but nowadays that’s not really a thing anymore.

This XR I received as a gift however, seems like the fanciest Crown Royal I’ve ever had. But how does it compare taste-wise?

Nose – Faint, slight hints of butterscotch.

Taste –  Very crisp and clean, woody.

Finish – A little bit of cinnamon in the burn. Sort of like a red-hot candy.

I really enjoy this Crown Royal. It goes down smooth, and has a great aftertaste.

Tasting Notes – Bombay Sapphire Gin

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Adding to my Gin collection, let’s see how Bombay Sapphire stacks up!

Nose –  Familiar Gin smell, slight hints of wood

Taste –  I can’t describe it really.  It’s nothing, then like a sweet hard candy, and then almost like the simple syrup in a soda machine.

Finish – Comes on fast and strong. More peppery than medicine like.

I find the  taste really intriguing but I find the Finish very at odds with it. Turning it into a gin and tonic makes a very pleasant, if mild, mixed drink

So how does this compare to the other 3 gins I previously taste tested? Well, I definitely put it above the Tanqueray, but I don’t think it’s going to push out the Beefeater or Hendrick’s any time soon.

Tasting Notes – Jack Daniels Sinatra Select

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It might not surprise to find out that I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan, but not much of a Jack Daniels fan. When Sinatra Select was announced as a new Jack Daniels offering, I knew this would be the first I actively sought out. So, is Sinatra Select worth it?

Nose – Not much, faint Jack Daniels.

Taste – A lot of water. Goes down very smooth, because all of the water.

Finish- Just a little bit of wood and cinnamon.

I think I put in too much water in the first time. I tried to follow the way Frank drank Jack Daniels. But he was watering down original Jack Daniels, and this bottle is much smoother.

I’ve had this a few times since the initial taste test, each time using only ice cubes – no water. Much better experience. Easy to drink, but not too watery. This still taste like Jack Daniels yes, but a much smoother and pleasant experience.

Tasting Notes – Suntory Whisky Toki

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As I may have mentioned before, Japanese whisky is incredibly hard to find where I live. So anytime I get see some in the wild, I purchase it. This is how I came by Toki. Let’s see how I like it.

suntory-toki

Nose – Strong smell of lemon. Slight hints of pine and grass.

Taste –  A crisp citrus-y taste that doesn’t last long.

Finish – A spicy, peppery aftertaste appears fast. It’s pleasant, cinnamon-like when it lingers on the center and side of my tongue.

Not my favorite Japanese whisky. The initial  finish comes on far too quickly. You can’t even enjoy the taste. Which is shame, because it’s a good taste. I put a drop of water in. That made it go down easier, but totally destroyed the taste.

Naked Armor Solomon Straight Razor Review

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I’ve always been intrigued by straight razor shaving, so when I Naked Armor reached out to me about trying one of their straight razors I was definitely interested. They shipped me one of their Solomon Straight Razors in Black Wood to test.

Throughout this blog, I’ve been testing various shave products and techniques and this is my current setup.

Double- Edge Razor: Merkur Classic Safety Razor, Straight
Cartridge Razor: GilletteFusion ProGlide Power
Shaving Soap: Williams Mug Shaving Soap
Aftershave: Gillette Cool Wave

 

You may recall I previously tested a “shavette” and did not like it all. We’ll see if this works out better.

 

Day 1
So, an additional item was needed – a razor strop. I ordered one from from Amazon, looking for a cheap, but  well-reviewed one. I happened to come up with one from Naked Armor which appears to be their “Blue Eel”.

 

A lot of the “How to Shave with a Straight Razor” guides also recommend a pre-shave oil. Again, looking for cheap and well-reviewed product on Amazon, I purchased  Lather & Wood’s Sandalwood pre-shave oil. However, that hasn’t yet come in the mail.

 

So, after watching a lot of videos on stropping and and shaving with  straight razor, I got all my shaving items together. Both the strop and razor came in a nice, almost fabric like box.

 

The strop was a little smaller than expected. It’s only 2.5 inches wide, which to be fair is in the product description on Amazon.

 

As I opened the razor, a powdery residue came out. Not sure what that was, but it wiped out pretty easily.

 

 

Tentatively, I stropped the razor on the canvas side to warm it up. Not as hard as I feared. Then I switched to the canvas side and commencing the “actual” stropping.  Again not as I hard as I thought it would be, I was paranoid I would ruin the blade after watching all those YouTube videos. Because it was a smaller strop I did have to use the “Z-technique” of moving the blade to the side slightly between up and down passes to strop the entire blade. I only had one mishap when my had slipped, the blade fell off the strop, and I may have nicked it.

 

Then I lathered up. Since I didn’t have my pre-shave oil yet, I lathered up once, washed it off and lathered up again.  I started my shave, very cautiously. I used the technique of my right hand on the left side of my face and the left hand on the right side. I had trouble getting the 30 degree angle exactly right. I would be too flat and not cut anything and then I would overcompensate and get too much angle. I had to take my glasses off so I could get the top of my checks and near my sideburns, and then of course, I couldn’t see as well. I was also paranoid I was going to cut my ear  off shaving with my left hand with no glasses on.

 

The straight razor technique is new to me- taking smaller strokes and stretching your face more. It feels different as well, thought it’s hard to describe. It feels like it maybe it pulls more than a double-edge? No, that’s not right. It feels more like cutting grass? I don’t know if that’s a good description either.

 

The first pass was ok, this was definitely better than the shavette. I think I was applying too much pressure the first pass, not letting the blade do the work so to say. I cut myself a few times on the first pass.

 

The second pass, I tried to let the blade do more of the work and experimented with the angles more. I need to find  the angles right to get the right shave. After two passes, I decided I need to continue using a third pass with the Gillette Fusion, otherwise my beard would look too uneven.

 

So after the first night, I’m bleeding in multiple places -over my lip, under my chin, and a few places on my neck. My neck has razorburn and razorbumps.

 

Right now it seem like the juice may not be worth the squeeze. But we’lll see, it took my over a month to stop cutting myself the Feather double edge blades, and it used to take me over 20 minutes to shave with a double edge now I’m can do three passes in five minutes without any cuts.

 

The reviews of the upcoming night’s shaves will be much shorter, don’t worry.

 

Day 2

 

I was a little worried about the blade not being sharp enough last night, so tonight I stropped a full 50 times on the canvas side.

 

Also, my pre-shave oil came today! After I popped out of the shower, I massaged the pre-shave concoction into my whiskers. Whether it was the blade sharpness, the pre-shave oil, or my angle the he shave seemed to go a lot better today.

 

The thing I like msot about the straight razor is you can really feel he hair being cut; it’s very satisfying. I did one downward pass with the straight razor and did a clean up pass with the Fusion.

 

Not nearly as bad today, but I still have a quite a big cut over my lip and a few smaller nicks in my chin area. Some afterburn, but just a little.

 

Though the shave is satisfying I don’t know if I’m dexterous enough to do this. The majority of the time I wear a goatee or a Lincoln beard. I”m still not good enough with a double-edge to not need that third pass with the cartridge razor. With the straight razor I’m getting much better depletion on some parts of my upper lip, but I’m not really getting my cheeks near my sideburns and my neck is just a mess.

 

Day 3

 

Good News and Bad News.

 

Good News – I think I’m starting to figure out what they mean when all those tutorials say “short even strokes”. I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it.  After one pass with the Solomon and one pass with the Fusion this may be the closest shave I’ve ever given myself.

 

Bad News – My face is looking the worse for wear.  I didn’t nick myself at all tonight but re-opened old cuts on my neck. I’m starting to break out right below my chin and in my mustache area. And my whole face is starting to get a red, windburn sort of look.

 

I think the Pre-Shave Oil is really helping grease the gears so to speak, but I also have a suspicion it’s breaking me out. My skin is very sensitive to any sort of fragrances so anything that contains them usually irritates it. I’m going to drop this pre-shave oil going forward.

 

I think I may also take a day off from the Straight Razor and let my skin heal.

 

Day 4
My skin needs a break. No shaving today.

 

Day 5
I got sick! So no shaving today either.

 

Week 2, Days 1- 3
I was on vacation so I’m not bothering with shaving.

 

Week 2, Day 4
Back to work, back to shaving. I have about a week of growth to shave. I’m also going to start growing my goatee again, so we’ll see how I do with the straight razor with less ground to cover.

 

I do two passes with the straight razor and one with the Fusion. Good reduction on my cheeks with the straight razor, but I didn’t do very well on my moustache area, my neck, or  the edges where m face and neck meet. All of the shaving in those areas was thanks to the Fusion.

 

I didnt’ cut myself and my cheeks are very smooth. But my neck is a little red and rougher than my usual shave.

 

A side note, while I was prepping my razor tonight, my youngest son wandered away from bedtime and into the bathroom. Which gave me more of scare than I would get if I was prepping a DE shave rather than a straight razor shave.

 

Week 2, Day 5
I think I’m starting to get the prep down as well. Stropping is starting to come more natural to me.

 

Since it’s the final shave before the weekend I did two passes with the Solomon and one pass with the Fusion again.

 

I just don’t think I have the dexterity to get the best shave with the straight razor. I’m not cutting myself, but I’m not really even shaving all of my face. I have to take my glasses off to get the top of my cheeks and underneath my sideburns. Then I’m nervous I’m going to cut my ear off because I can’t see. I can’t really get a good angle to shave all of the area above my upper lip. And one portion of my neck I just cannot flatten to give the razor a clear path to cut. I could be more aggressive with my angles, but I’d rather be on the safe side, especially around my lips, eyes, ears, and neck. You know my general face area.

 

I think I’m going to try this out for one more week but I don’t think straight razor shaving is for me. My neck is redder tonight and I’m starting to get razorburn. Am I not manly enough to master the straight razor? I don’t have a problem admitting, no I’m not.

 

Will there be a follow-up next week? I can’t say either way as I need to make some medication changes and may or not be able to shave next week.

 

In terms of the overall quality of the Naked Armor Solomon compared to other straight razors? I haven’t tested the other shaving community favorites, so I can’t really compare. I can say, that it was a much better shave than I got with the MD Dragon Straight Razor Fusion “shavette”. With the exception of the perhaps my first day of incorrect stropping, it was easy to keep the blade nice and sharp. And the both the blade and handle feel nice and solid in your hand.