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Rhythm and Booze Project #1

I gave up the saxophone after grade school, and piano lessons in college are the extent of my musical accolades. Still, my own failures at music have never stopped me from enjoying it. One of my favorite questions to ask people is what their first concert was; for me I’m always proud to say it was B. B. King (unless the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live in concert when I was 10 counts).

I have been a lover of the blues long before I discovered my love for brown water. You can park me in a blues bar and I could be happy for the whole night. The blues has a communal vibe to it that you can sometimes find in the whiskey community. Too often I encounter people who can’t wait to tell you how big of a deal they are when it comes to whiskey.

Then there are those who don’t say it. You can tell they know their way around a decanter and they love to share their whiskey rather than talk about it. In the blues you might get that person who can’t wait to tell you who they’ve seen, how many times as well as when and where each occurrence happened. Or you get those people that just “shut up and listen.” They are as golden as those who just “shut up and drink.” So, now, I shut up and write.

A recent trip to Memphis and a lifelong love of the blues made me more than tickled to try this new concept. Rhythm and Booze (R&B; get it?!)

Rhythm and Booze Project #1 is a 13 year old blended malt matured in a single Sherry Butt. However, the unique story does not begin or end at the liquid inside my sample bottle. It is hard to know where to start. So, I decided to start by scanning the QR code on the sample provided.

A gritty guitar drives the initial track as you nose their whiskey. As I take a sip a seasoned voice takes over a fine rendition of “Boom Boom.”

Did I mention that the project is the (claimed) world’s first combination of record label and independent bottler? Felipe Schrieberg and Paul Archibald are performers as well as whiskey hounds. I will not try to describe the music nor pretend to be a music critic, but as a Chicagoan and lover of music I can tell you they sound like they could easily fit into any blues room. Whiskey and music go together for sure, and this is as fine an attempt at combining the two genres as I have ever seen (and heard).

As the playlist dives into “I Put a Spell On You” my toe taps. That guitar continues to weave a spell, indeed. It drifts back and forth as much as the whiskey does between tobacco, leather, tangerine, and pomegranate notes. The sherry mentioned in the description never overpowers the 13-year-old malt but compliments it perfectly. It is quite like the musical duo I’m listening to.

Truly, the whiskey shows a soft touch in its use of sherry, but it comes as no surprise as I read more about the bottler’s background. Not only is Felipe a bottler and musician, but he is a whiskey writer. Quite the trifecta. I really must improve on my own life accomplishments as he is not only a writer, but now a whiskey bottler and musician with an EP.

“Walking Blues” starts with plucky guitar strings as I snap back from my self-degradation. Perhaps I should be harsher on this whiskey than I should? Just kidding.

I find out that the plucky guitar strings are being picked by Felipe and the drummer is Paul Archibald. From their bio, I learn that Felipe actually wrote his Master’s degree thesis on sustainable distillation on Islay. On top of that he has also written two books: “London Cocktails: Over 100 Recipes” & “Drink Like a Local London: A Field Guide.” You can also add a 2022 Icons of Whisky Communicator of the year award to his CV. Oh, and don’t forget that he is a Keeper of the Quaich. The man knows whiskey.

“Little Red Rooster” has a slow thumping to it. The drummer sets the tone on this one. That would be Paul Archibald. He has co-written articles with Felipe for Whisky Magazine and completed a PhD in the history of jazz drumming and the drum kit in New Orleans. His rattles on “Spoonful” keep me nodding my head as I nose the whiskey trying to take apart its notes. His solo just past the two-minute mark has me wanting to join a New Orleans wedding march or take another swig… another swig it is.

They have been playing together for 14 years. Of course, they are combining their passion for music and whiskey by doing live sessions that are not only tastings but listening sessions as well.

To this point, I still can’t tell who is laying down the vocals, but I think it’s a bit like when we ask too many questions about the Whisky we are drinking. At the end of the day, is it good? To both the whisky and music I say, “Yes”.

Rhythm and Booze Project #1 – Review

13 year old blended malt matured in sherry. 100 proof (50% ABV). £54.17

Color: Water and Honey… hold the tea.

On the nose: Tobacco ushers in a strong malt note wrapped in a faint orange peel and berry compote. If you are looking for the sherry influence it is nuanced and pleasant in the berry compote previously mentioned.

In the mouth: Leather and wood up front, as notes of tangerine dance with the 13-year-old malt. The sherry appears towards the latter end as a deep pomegranate drink. It’s not entirely tart but not deep enough that you can dive in. It is a lovely accent as the finish wanes and wafts into a pinecone finish. The 100 proof is perfect as it delights and asks you if you would like some more. I do.

Conclusions:

In a world of people that promise to cross genres, these two have done it exquisitely. A wonderful combo; malt and sherry is as good as the guitar and drums of Felipe and Paul. Well done.

Score: 7/10

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