Tasting Video #21

Jun 18, 2024 |

In this tasting video with special guest Bill Ricker we pitted my tiny evaporated bottle of Bell’s Extra Special blended Scotch up against a similar 1970s era full-size bottle that had fallen into Bill’s hands. See how they compared!

Prefer to read than watch? Check out the transcript under the video.



Bill: Several decades ago I had a chance meeting at a urinal with the original Scotch blogger.

After Opening Credits

Tammy: Hello and welcome to My Tiny Bottles, the project where I’m exploring my grandmother’s legacy of miniature liquor bottles, one tiny bottle at a time. I’m your host, Tammy Coxen, and today I’m joined by Bill Ricker.

Tammy: And Bill, you’ve been kind of my Scotch guru whispering things about the bottles into my ear on Facebook Messenger, which I greatly appreciate. How do you know so much about Scotch?

Bill: Well, several decades ago I had a chance meeting at a urinal with the original Scotch blogger. Before the ARPANET turned into the internet or Sir Tim added the web.

Tammy: The dawn of internet time.

Bill: Exactly.

Bill: He was logging his scotch explorations by email.

Tammy: Oh my goodness.

Bill: And your text dollars at work, on the way back from NATO software conferences he’d stop in Abbeymore to visit the library in Scotland to taste whatever was on tap.

Tammy: All right!

Tammy: Well, you reached out to me in my reveal video about Bottle 43: Bell’s Extra Special. My beautiful little bell-shaped bottle. So, you reached out to me to mention that you had a very similar vintage bottle. So, I think (indicating tiny bottle) this is late 1970s probably and you think yours (indicating full size bottle) is from around the same time. So how did you come by this bottle?

Bill: Oh, we have a secret tasting group that meets at various conventions that sort of run on the stone soup system.

Tammy: Yes.

Bill: And we havespecial classes of donations for bottle amnesties. Cleaning out cupboards, undesired gifts and the like. And this came from somebody’s cupboard or somebody’s father’s cupboard where it had been ignored for close to 50 years, having had a few fingers poured off it and then rescrewed closed and put away.

Tammy: That’s part of what makes this bottle so exciting to me, is because you know this one (indicating tiny bottle) is sealed but half empty so it’s I assume not really going to taste a lot like it tasted 50 years ago.

Tammy: Whereas this one (indicating full size bottle), as you say, it had a little bit out of it, but we’re assuming that it’s been drunk. This looks like a more reliable seal than my little plastic thing.

Bill: Oh yes, the metal screw caps are probably the best closure the spirits industry has ever had.  Those who know anything really regret the wine merchants forcing us to use half a cork with a knob, which is a bad seal.

Tammy: Oh, is that who we have to blame for that?

Bill: Yeah, it’s the wine merchants that’s say cork is good. Well, it’s good for them.

Tammy: Right.

Bill: It’s not good for our product.

Tammy: No. (indicating cap on tiny bottle) This isn’t even cork. It’s just plastic. As we’ve learned a lot on my tiny bottles, plastic is not good for keeping liquids inside them.

Tammy: Usually we start with my tiny bottle and then we compare it to a new version or something like that. But I would actually like to start with yours. A couple of reasons. One, I want to taste it maybe a little bit more like we think it might have tasted originally. And two I just had some coffee and that’s kind of all I can taste right now. You have more liquid for me to cleanse my palette on!

Tammy: Do you want to pour it?

Bill: Go right ahead.

Tammy (picking up full bottle to pour): This is the big bottle. We’ll put it in the big glasses.

Bill: Good mnemonic.

Tammy: That’s, you gotta have a way of remembering these things. Alright.

They clink glasses and start smelling them.

Tammy: It’s got really light aroma.

Bill: Yes. Which was sort of the… a style.

Tammy: Yeah, I mean it’s a list is a blended scotch so it’s you know going to be a mix of grain whiskey and some single malt, but I don’t smell a lot of peat here.

Bill: No, this would have been peated only when that was a necessity.

They taste.

Bill: It’s better than I remembered it.

Tammy: Oh, that’s good. I was gonna say it’s perfectly drinkable. And you know, I would absolutely, if somebody handed this to me at a party, I’d be much happier than when they hand me the Caol Isla. Or other really peaty ones. I’m like, ugh, give me a minute, I have to get ready for that. This is really approachable. Excellent palate cleanser, cut through the coffee right away.

Tammy: A little caramely notes.

Bill: Yeah, I would expect caramel, probably a good bit of caramel color there.

Tammy: Right? And that’s what I’m wondering about (points to tiny bottle)

Bill: That’s about all you’ve got left in there.

Tammy: Yeah. Do you have a sense for bottles like this that have evaporated? Is it the alcohol that evaporates off?

Bill: Alcohol. Alcohol preferentially.

Tammy: Okay.

Bill: I mean, alcohol and water will evaporate together but the alcohol will go off first.

Tammy: So more alcohol than water.

Bill: So you’re probably looking at zero alcohol content in that bottle.

Tammy: You think zero?!

Bill: Quite possible.

Tammy: Wow, okay. I tasted another half empty bottle of of tequila and it really was very caramel forward, but I don’t know that it didn’t have any alcohol. But I guess you could be right. Like (indicating tiny bottle) if this is 40% alcohol by volume when it started and we have about 60% of the liquid left.

Bill: So there might be 5% alcohol?

Tammy: Interesting.

Bill: There’s less alcohol in that than in kids coughs syrup.

Tammy (opening tiny bottle): Well, you can absolutely see why this leaked because opening this was way too easy. (Hands cap to Bill to look at.) It’s a little kind of gross on the inside.

Bill: Yeah, that’s a failed seal, all right?

Tammy: Yeah, it didn’t have any kind of a crack. It didn’t, you know, there was no, “you are opening something that should be sealed.”

Bill: That’s nasty. Yeah, it doesn’t look great.

Tammy pours and they start to swirl and sniff.

Tammy: Alright. It’s got more body! Concentrated caramel coloring. Very little nose.

Bill: Well, the aromatics will go off even quicker than the alcohol.

Tammy: Right all those volatiles really blow off.

Tammy: I’ve also found with this with the tiny bottles, maybe just because they’ve been closed so long they just take a little while, right? And you need to give them some air. This one had plenty of air in its little bottle.

Tammy (still smelling): Got nothing.

Bill tastes.

Tammy: It taste like anything?

Bill: Not really.

Tammy tastes.

Tammy: Oh yeah. There’s a little bite there. I can’t say there’s no alcohol here because I definitely get a bite-iness.

Bill: But I’ve had stronger beer.

Tammy: Okay, you think so?

Bill: I think that’s below 20%.

Tammy: Okay, but I get the bite! Even more so in a way than I got the bite on the full bottle.

Bill: The alcohol from them big bottle will have activated the tongue.

Tammy: Yeah. Is that good or bad?

Bill: Well, if you’re tasting something with interesting flavors second, that could be good.

Tammy: Yeah, it’s really kind of interesting. It starts off just like this is an old bottle of something. And then… it disappears for a minute. And I kind of get this hint of Scotch, sort of generic blended scotch towards the end. I don’t know, like, what that flavor of generic blended scotch is?

Bill: McCormick butterscotch flavor.

Tammy: Is it?

Bill: But with the little alcohol left, the legs on it are fantastic.

Tammy: Of course, right? It’s all sugar.

Bill: Yeah. Well, caramel. E 1 50.

Tammy: Yeah, butterscotch flavor is definitely kind of that lingering note.

Tammy (picking up glass with the sample from the full size bottle): I am really glad I got to taste this one.

Tammy: So in the bottle video for the tiny bottle, I talked about how this brand was really advertised as made for mixing. And that’s the thing that accelerated it and made it one of the most popular Scotches in the world. It was like something like, 90% of the market in Britain at the time in the UK. Huge in the moment. And I was lamenting that I wouldn’t have enough here to mix it with anything, but now I think I’m just going to mix some of yours later, right? Because we get to drink more of this bottle if we want to?

Bill: Yes. And in the stash in the other room there’s a sample bottle that says for Tammy’s use.

Tammy: Oh, very good. I got my own sample bottle. Thank you so much, Bill, for bringing this along and for sharing it with me.

Bill: Definitely try it with like the tonic water over there or something. That’s what it’s for.

Tammy: Yeah, exactly. I think they would have been mixing it with ginger ale back in the day.

Tammy: Where can people find you online? Is there a place?

Bill: I’ll give you the link to where I’ve put, Uncle Mike’s original tasting notes.

Tammy: All right, and I will drop that into the show notes so you can find that. And meanwhile, if you want to find me or learn more about the tiny bottles, you can find that at mytinybottles.com. You can also of course follow me on Instagram, Facebook, all your social medias.

Tammy: Do you have an old model that matches one of my own bottles? Let me know. I would love to have some good comparisons. Cheers!


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