Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kamuela Liquor Store - a trip to the Big Island

One of the fun thing when travelling in the US, is that you can stumble upon shop exclusives you had no idea existed.

A true shop exclusive is a single barrels that are selected by and sold only in the shop selecting it. Sometimes the shop is part of chain, like Binny's in Chicago or The Liquor Outlet in Las Vegas. This seems to be a lit more common in the US and for bourbons, but it's also seen with single malts and in Europe. When a shop like whiskybase, who has a strong online presence, have a shop exclusive like their recent Glendronach, it's often sold out within a day or so.

On a recent holiday trip to the Big Island, Hawaii, my mind was more set on tasting local beer than searching for whisky. Usually (always) when I travel I use the map function on to look for interesting places to try some new beers. As brewpubs very often have food well above average they are an excellent choice for lunch stops. Especially for someone like me :-)

This day I tried to drive up the peaks of Hawai'i, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. As normal rental cars wasn't allowed above the visitor centre on Kea, I was returning early. I had allready planned to have lunch at the Big Island Brewhaus in Weimea, but being early I decided to look for a liquor store on my GPS-navigator and something called Kamuela Liquor Store showed up. Just a few hundred meters from the brewpub, so there was no reason not to drive by and have a look. The place was rather anonymous, and initially I simply just drove by the shed-a-like looking liquor store. As my navigator is about 5 years old I simply thought the place didn't exist anymore and turned the car around and drove back. On the way back I noticed the place, so I turned around again and managed to enter the right parking lot, which was actually just a pebbled space next to what I now knew was the liquor store. Not very impressive looking from the outside, I expected this to be just another small store with a couple of standard bottlings like Crown Royal, Glenlivet, Maker's Mark and Jack D. Inside the shop was more classy from what I expected from the outside. And bigger. It looked like a nice selection of wine (I wouldn't know). It for sure had a nice selection of beers (I do know) and also a fine selection of whisky. Nosing around for a couple of minutes I discovered this Shop Exclusive Four Roses

The bottle wes selected by the shopowners on a recent Kentucky trip.


E means this is the 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Barley mashbill and the K is the yeast type used for this whiskey (Four Roses uses 5 different yeast types, visit their website for more info)

The rye is very present on the nose, and blind I would have guessed this to be the 35% Rye mashbill. There is a nice delicate minty sweet nose on this and leaving the bourbon in the glass for some minutes evolves the nose into something really wonderful

The palate is quite powerful on the alcohol, and also quite woody compared to other Four Roses single barrels I have tried. The woodyness gives this whisky a dry feeling but it is also very oily and creamy. Still very minty At ll times, as the flavours roll from alcoholic, to woody then creamy and fianlly minty the experience is quite intense. Adding water didn't benefit for me as it made the whisky taste bitter, but at least the creamy finish improved

Score 87/100 

As I left Kamuela Liqour Store I learned that just two days later they would put up another single barrel, A 9yo Knob Creek 120 proof. I could probably have talked them into selling me one, and I did want one, but as I had to dump things from my suitcase just to fit in the Four Roses, I let it go .-(

Going back into Waimea I went to the Big Island Brewhaus. And that was another very pleasant surprise. The food was excellent, brewpub food with an Hawai'ian touch, the beers were very good as in awesome, super fresh beer which is actually quite rare to come by. Basically one of the best brewpubs I have ever been to

Big Island Brewhaus

The Overboard IPA was so fresh, so delicious

Two days later I rented a 4-wheel-drive with a couple of friends and went up to the top of Mauna Kea. 4200m and a newly opened  Four Roses