Monday, December 6, 2021

Kilchoman Sanaig Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

In July, I had the opportunity to review Machir Bay from Kilchoman. I was shocked as to how good and different it was. As such, when I was given a chance to review Sanaig, I jumped at the opportunity.

If you're not familiar with Kilchoman, it is one of the nine working distilleries on the small island of Islay. It calls itself Islay's Farm Distillery. The barley is grown on-premises, and this is an actual grain-to-glass operation. 

"Our stills, the smallest on Islay and amongst the smallest in Scotland, create unmatched purity of spirit. Their unique size and shape produce unparalleled levels of copper contact, allowing for the marriage of earthy, maritime peat smoke and light floral citrus which characterises Kilchoman single malt.

Kilchoman is matured in an array of casks, sourced directly from the finest producers around the world. Each oak cask adds its own distinct colour and flavour to the maturing whisky, balancing the character of that particular cask with Kilchoman's classic peat smoke and floral sweetness." - Kilchoman 

Unlike Machir Bay, Sanaig is mostly former sherry casks and a small portion of former Bourbon barrels. The peat level is 50ppm, it is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement, although rumors indicated it is between five and seven years. Bottled at 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml package. Sanaig should be reasonably easy to find as it is one of the core expressions from this distillery.

Before I get to the tasting notes and rating, I'd like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Sanaig showed off a dark, amber color. Likely, that deep color comes from the sherry cask influence. A medium ring formed, giving way to thick, watery legs that fell back to the pool.

Nose:  Peat and sherry notes hit me while my glass was still resting about three feet from my face. As I placed it at my chin, the smoky peat was more defined. Beneath it was raisin, peach, apple, and orange citrus. Nutmeg popped out, along with plum and cherry. It was like I was stuck in an orchard to fend for myself. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, peach rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was like an oil slick. It coated and stuck to the roof of my mouth. Prune and dark cherry started the journey along with the smoky peat. At mid-palate, I discovered brown sugar, mesquite, caramel, and English toffee. Dark chocolate, French oak, barrel char, clove, and orange zest warmed my mouth on the back.

Finish: Black pepper and clove carried through the entire finish, which I found pretty long in duration. The rest consisted of raisin, prune, brown sugar, French oak, clove, and smoky peat. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Sanaig was one of those mind-blowing whiskies. The nose and palate were amazingly complicated but managed to also complement one another. I loved the nosing to finish and everything in between. In my opinion, Sanaig blows Machir Bay out of the water, and I enjoyed Machir Bay tremendously. There was a total lack of anything remotely astringent, which is another plus. Tie all that up with the very affordable investment, and that's a perfect recipe for a Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Appreciating Whiskey


A local bar owner asked me if I've ever written a short guide about how to approach whiskey. He wanted to use it for a flight he was setting up for new whiskey drinkers. As incredibly useful as that sounded, I was stunned that I hadn't ever put one together. I walk people through this all the time in the whiskey events I host, but it never struck my mind to write it up!

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Appreciating Whiskey


So, you’re new (or newish) to the Wonderful World of Whiskey, and you want to do things correctly. How do you go about that? The most important thing is not letting anyone tell you you’re drinking it wrong. There is no right way to drink whiskey, except for how you enjoy drinking it.

Sipping whiskey begins with the bottle in front of you. Grab a glass. Pour a small amount of whiskey into the glass and leave it alone. Let it breathe for anywhere from five to ten minutes. While it is sitting there, take a moment and observe the color. Give the glass a bit of a swirl and look at the legs (or tears) it creates. Are they slow or fast, thick or thin?


Once it has sufficiently rested, it is time to enjoy the aroma. Don’t shove your nose in the glass; instead, bring it to about chin level or your bottom lip. Open your mouth slightly, and then sniff like a dog or rabbit with short, quick repetitions. Your mouth will enhance your sense of smell. Try to identify what you’re picking up.


Now it is time for the tasting. The first sip is a shock to your palate. Anything overwhelming will hit in that initial try. Never judge a whiskey on it! Hold the whiskey in your mouth for a few seconds, let it fill everywhere. Your palate is now prepared to pick out flavors with the second sip. Some may be fruity, sweet, spicy, and smoky. Don’t worry if you cannot identify them; that’s something that takes experience.


The last part is the finish, or what remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. Is it short or long? Is it sweet, spicy, or smoky? Most importantly, did you enjoy it?


In the end, you should savor your whiskey, and in my experience, it is always better to share with friends. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Lost Lantern Fall 2021 Single Cask #2 (Watershed Distillery) Review & Tasting Notes


In Columbus, Ohio, there exists a micro-distillery called Watershed Distillery. Initially thought up by partners Greg Lehman and Dave Rigo, they translated that plan into a working distillery in 2015. They started with a small still, then joined by a larger one from Headframe Spirits in Montana.


Watershed was the second post-Prohibition legal distillery in the state, and it maintains a restaurant on-premises. The distillery utilizes locally-grown ingredients, and some are unusual.


“We founded Watershed Distillery on the principles of community in 2010. We wanted to live in, work in and contribute to the community in which we grew up. We aimed to create spirits that stood apart in quality and character. Along the way, we set out to form a community of our own. One that could gather together to savor, celebrate and enjoy good spirits and company.” – Watershed Distillery 


That brings us to Lost Lantern, an independent bottler of American whiskeys. I’ve reviewed a handful of its releases, most of which earned Bottle ratings. Lost Lantern just released its Fall 2021 Cask program, and one of those casks is from Watershed.


Named Fall 2001: Single Cask #2, it is a five-grain Bourbon distilled from a mash of corn, rye, spelt, malted barley, and wheat. I’ve had whiskeys made from unusual grains, but I can say with confidence spelt isn’t one of them. Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat, rye, and barley. The newmake aged five years in 53-gallon new, charred oak barrels coopered at Independent Stave Company. Non-chill filtered and naturally colored, Lost Lantern packaged it at barrel proof of 118.8°.  Only 160 bottles exist, and a 750ml will set you back $100.00.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I’d like to take a moment and thank Lost Lantern for providing a sample on Single Cask #2 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this cask strength Bourbon appeared as the color of dark chestnut. It formed a thinner rim that created thick, slow legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  Aromas of corn, nutmeg, caramel, toasted oak, and leather filled the air. As I drew that into my mouth, menthol caressed my tongue.


Palate:  I discovered an oily mouthfeel with a medium body. The front of my palate found caramel, corn, and candied orange slices. The middle featured vanilla, baked apple, walnut, and leather. Then, on the back, I tasted tobacco leaf, black pepper, and toasted oak.


Finish:  Medium to long in duration, caramel, candied orange slices, old leather, walnut, oak, and black pepper held out for a sweet and spicy finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Watershed Distillery’s Bourbon drank far beneath its stated proof. There is no way in the world you would convince me it was 118.8°, as it was such an easy sipper! While I wasn’t a fan of the menthol note from the nosing, that’s such a small part of the experience it is easily dismissed. Everything meshed as you’d want, and I’m not sure if that’s due to the unusual ingredient of spelt. Whatever it is, it works, and I’m happy to convey my Bottle rating for it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Peanut Butter Whiskey Showdown: Whose is the Best?


The earliest food I can remember ever enjoying was peanut butter. I used to drive Mom crazy. She’d make me various sandwiches and I’d sometimes come home with them uneaten. Egg salad, bologna, turkey, whatever… but peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a guaranteed hit and, in my opinion, da bomb.

I've reviewed peanut butter whiskeys before, but never tried a head-to-head challenge... until now. The results have been published at The Next Taste in its 2021 Holiday Edition. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


When you think of Jameson, the first thing that comes to mind may be their flagship release. Some folks look at higher-tier expressions, some of which can get quite pricy. 

I have to admit, I'm not a regular drinker of the flagship expression. I have no problems with low-end Irish; I find several of them enjoyable. But, when I saw a 200ml of Jameson Black Barrel in the clearance section of a random liquor store for $7.00, grabbing it to do a review was a no-brainer. I had no preconceived notions. I simply said to myself, Good or bad, I won't miss the outlay. So, I put it in my cart along with everything else I found.

Jameson Black Barrel is distilled at the Bow St. Distillery in Dublin. It is a blend of primarily single pot still and a portion of "rare and sweet" grain whiskey that's not found in any other Jameson expression. It is aged in former first-fill Bourbon barrels that have been double-charred, meaning originally charred like any Bourbon would be, and then, once emptied, the barrel was charred a second time, hence the Black Barrel in the name. Jameson also utilizes some toasted sherry barrels.

Now, you likely won't find this for $7.00, but you can find a 750ml for about $34.99.  It is packaged at 40% ABV (80°) and not difficult to find. 

Enough of the background; let's see how well I spent my money and #DrinkCurious

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Black Barrel was the color of bronze. It formed a medium rim that released very fat, quick legs that crashed back into the pool. 

Nose:  The air was very fruity before I even brought the glass to my face. What I found was genuinely tropical with pineapple, coconut, and banana. Loads of banana. Apple and malt were easily discernable as well. When I brought the aroma into my mouth, it came across as malted milk.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was incredibly smooth (I know some folks hate that term) and silky. It filled everywhere in my mouth but wasn't weighty. The front featured caramel, coconut, and allspice. Stewed peaches and vanilla cream were in the middle, and the back gave flavors of cinnamon, nuts, and char.

Finish:  Medium-to-long in duration, the finish offered pineapple, apricot, banana bread, milk chocolate, char, and sweet tobacco. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is very likely the best $7.00 I've spent on a bottle of whiskey. I have no idea why this was on the store's clearance rack, but I'm thankful for the opportunity. I loved everything about Jameson Black Barrel except for one thing. I really adored the finish and wanted it to last longer. Now, as far as a $34.99 bottle goes, I'd still rank it a Bottle all day long. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Kavalan Whisky Distillery Select Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


When we think of all the whisky-making regions in the world, places such as the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland come to mind. If we look to Asia, Japan and India ring some bells. But, unless you’re a fan, you probably know the name Kavalan but would still struggle to cite Taiwan as a whisky-making country.


Taiwan is a subtropical island nation off the coast of China. It is whisky-friendly for sure. That heat and humidity lead to a shorter maturation process than many of its counterparts. On average, it experiences between 7% and 15% of angel’s share each year!


The King Car Kavalan Distillery was established in 2005 by King Car Food Industrial Co., Ltd. Yeah that sounds like a mouthful and boring to boot. I can tell you from a visit to China several years ago, those boring names are typical (side note:  I’ve mentioned China and I’ve mentioned Taiwan – I’m here to review whiskies, not opine on diplomatic disagreements.).

It only took nine months before the distillery was up-and-running and producing its first newmake in March 2016. Kavalan sources its water from springs from Snow Mountain and the Central Mountains. King Car is involved in several things, including the production of coffee for several decades, and brought that milling process to Kavalan. It double-distills its malted barley and ages its whisky in two five-story warehouses.


I’m sipping on Kavalan Distillery Select, which is made exclusively for the American market. It is a single malt whisky that is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Kavalan suggests it is aged in malt-neutral casks. That’s a fancy way of saying the wood has been used enough times that there isn’t much of anything left to take from it as far as flavor is concerned. It carries no age statement, which means that to follow Taiwanese regulations, it must be at least two years old. Remember, due to the subtropical climate, that’s not a short period. It is bottled at 43% ABV (86°) and has a suggested retail price of $59.99. For the record, I snagged my bottle for $39.99 on a Black Friday sale.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I did learn that this particular whisky is made for mixing, although you’d have to get through the marketing speak on the box to figure it out:


“Versatile and super smooth, enjoyed in cocktails or neat, this whisky is a hugely satisfying experience to savor again and again.”


The only reason I was able to translate that is, as I conducted my background research, it was mentioned several times that it is meant to go in cocktails. I ask you to remember that as I talk about the tasting experience. Now, let’s get to it.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared a deep, dark caramel color.  It took a few swirls to form any sort of rim – once it did it remained thin. But, thick, long legs fell from it and dropped back to the pool.


Nose:  I smelled milk chocolate first. A second sniff showed me berries, honey, and apple. A third disclosed malt and leather. When I drew the air into my mouth, a soft kiss of vanilla danced on my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and airy at the same time. I know, I know, those descriptors should not happen but in this case, that’s what happened. At the front, butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel gave a sweet introduction. The middle offered toffee and cocoa powder. Then, on the back, flavors of nutmeg, allspice, and oak were followed by a blast of mocha.


Finish: It’ll fool you – it did me. It started short. A second sip doubled the length. The third made it last several minutes. Malt started the journey, followed by clove, toffee, and oak. Then it ended, except it didn’t. While pondering what the elements were, dark chocolate parked on my hard palate and after its monologue, faded away.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  A few things here… first of all, I don’t care what Kavalan says. Sure, use this for cocktails. If I didn’t know in advance that this was made for mixing, I’d not have been the wiser. I enjoyed every little bit of this single malt. There was nothing not to like, from the nose to the mouthfeel, the palate, and finish. For the price I paid, this is a stupidly-great whisky. Even at full price, I’d not even blink. The definitive Bottle rating if there ever was one. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Bourbon 30 Blue and Black Label Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you’ve been around the world of American whiskey for the last several years, you’ve likely heard the name Jeff Mattingly. Mattingly is a Georgetown, KY-based blender, and a respected one at that.


“Master Crafter Jeff Mattingly and his five brothers and sisters grew up farming 600 acres of Western Kentucky in a tiny, unincorporated community not-so-coincidentally called Mattingly. Mattingly’s father, holding the position of mayor for many years, was a fourth-generation farmer, and an Early Times drinker, something that was also a Mattingly tradition.

‘Bourbon 30. It’s that time,’ was the all-clear signal that Mayor Mattingly was occupied, thus making it a perfect opportunity for the boys to dip into dad’s stash in the cooler tied to the bed of the pickup truck. Whether Mayor Mattingly ever knew is still up for debate, but the brothers enjoyed the mischief and still enjoy the laughs over a glass of Bourbon 30 spirits.”Bourbon 30


Founded in 2010, Mattingly indicates he distills, ages, and crafts his whiskeys from Three Boys Farms Distillery out of Graefenburg, Kentucky. He also offers visitors a rather unique opportunity to choose their own barrels and create their own blends without having to purchase an entire barrel – it is sold a bottle at a time.

Today I’m reviewing two of his “core” offerings:  the 90° Blue Label and 100° Black Label. The mashbills and cooperages are undisclosed and both suggest they are “Barrel Crafted” which I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re simply a blend of barrels (but I’m willing to be wrong). I'd like to thank the Wisconsin distributor for providing me samples of both in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


As I normally recommend people sample whiskeys low-proof to high, I’ll start with the Blue Label. It is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon that is “Proof Aged” and retails for $40.00.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Blue Label was gold in color. A medium-thick rim was formed that left sticky droplets on the wall. After some time, they started to fall back into the pool.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was corn. I also picked out honey, apple, pear, very light, toasted oak, and nutmeg. When I drew the air into my mouth, corn and vanilla rolled across my palate.


Palate: The mouthfeel was thin but coating. Vanilla and corn were highlighted on the front of my palate. The middle was also corn. On the back, things became more flavorful with caramel, toasted oak, and white pepper.


Finish:  Medium in length, it began with the caramel and orange peel before the white pepper took over, and then, boom, the whole thing fell off.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve heard about Mattingly’s amazing skills and have had a few of his special blends and they were pretty awesome. I wish I could say the same for the Blue Label, but it almost matches my opinion of Johnnie Walker Blue Label – it is nice but completely unremarkable. If you want a simple Bourbon, then Blue Label will work for you. But, for $40.00, there’s a lot on the shelf that will give you a much better bang for the buck. I’ll throw a Bar rating at it, it wasn’t bad, but it was boring.


Next is Black Label, which is listed as a Small Batch. The suggested retail is $60.00.



Appearance:  This, too, was poured neat in a Glencairn glass. It had a slightly darker gold color than the Blue Label with an added hint of amber. It created a thin rim that yielded medium-weighted legs that slowly worked their way back down the wall.


Nose:  Again, corn was the first aroma to hit me. This time, it seemed dustier than the Blue Label. Vanilla wafted from the glass, which was accompanied by baking spice. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, corn was the only thing I discerned.


Palate:  The mouthfeel on Black Label was nice and oily. It, too, coated my entire mouth. Honey, corn, and black pepper were on the front. The middle had more corn and cinnamon spice. The back was orange peel, a touch of dark fruit, clove, and charred oak.


Finish:  A blend of char, white pepper, and clove gave Black Label a long, intensifying finish that wouldn’t quit. As it began to fade, the char stuck around until the very end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Black Label had more dimensions to it than the Blue. The nose was lacking, but my experience also tells unimpressive noses often lead to a good palate. Black Label stuck to the rule of thumb. I found the finish enticed me to keep sipping, and that’s a signal of a great pour. I’ll give Black Label a Bottle rating, this can compete with other similarly-priced bottles on the shelf. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Crown Royal DeLuxe Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

I have been a man on a mission for the last year. I’m determined to find a Canadian whisky that I could enjoy and recommend. So far I’ve come up empty, but I have a number of them in my whiskey library just waiting to be sampled.

I know there are a lot of fans of Canadian whisky, and in particular, Crown Royal. I’m prepared to take some flak with this review, as even my friend Lew Bryson, who I deeply respect, said earlier this week, that he enjoys Crown Royal with his Thanksgiving meal, and then tossed a friendly barb at anyone who hated it. His statement was the driver for me to taste and compose this review in time for Thanksgiving.


What is Crown Royal? Aside from being the standard-bearer of what Canadian whisky should be, it was established in 1939 as a means to commemorate the arrival of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I, the first British monarchs to visit Canada. The blenders at Seagram's Waterloo distillery sampled some 600 different whiskies in an attempt to create the perfect representation. They managed to whittle it down to 50, and it is aged in a variety of cooperages, including new charred oak, vintage charred oak, and French oak.  


A fun fact is that from 1939 until 1964, you could not purchase Crown Royal outside of Canada. The final result has remained mostly unchanged by design. It was originally owned by Seagram’s and then sold off to Diageo in 2001. 


Some of the blends are single grain whiskies, some of it is a mix of grains. Regardless, all of the grains are sourced from Manitoba and surrounding provinces. It changes in a quest to keep consistency year-to-year, as grains change slightly each growing season. The whiskies are aged at least three years to comply with Canadian regulations. One of the components could qualify as Bourbon if it was made in the United States! Once matured and blended, it is packaged at 40% ABV (80°).  You can expect to pay about $32.99 for a 750ml bottle.


I’ve tried Crown Royal before, and I wasn’t a fan. However, it has also been several years since I’ve tried it. As many of us know, our palates tend to change over time, so I’m willing to #DrinkCurious and give Crown Royal another chance.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared as the color of golden straw. I have no idea if e150a has been added for coloring, but I’d suspect that’s not the case considering how light it is. It formed a medium rim which released a huge, wavy curtain that dropped back to the pool.


Nose:  Corn was the first thing I smelled, which was joined by caramel, barrel char, floral perfume, and acetone. Yeah, I remembered that acetone from the last time I tried it. When I drew the air into my mouth, a soft vanilla flavor rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be silky with a medium weight. The front of my palate picked out corn and vanilla cream. Next up was a blend of brown sugar and rye spice. The back featured oak, nutmeg, and milk chocolate.


Finish:  Medium-long in length, what rounded out this whisky were pepper, dry oak, caramel, and milk chocolate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The nose was not something I relished. If the acetone wasn’t there, it might have been decent. The palate was okay, as was the finish. The best part of Crown Royal is the mouthfeel. That’s not enough to garner a Bottle rating from me. In this instance, my coronation is a Bar.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, November 22, 2021

Bird Dog 10 Year Very Small Batch Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Bird Dog Whiskey. I'm sure you've seen their dozen or so flavored whiskeys on the shelf and wondered if they're any good. But, did you know they have a 10-Year Bourbon available?  I've seen it around, I've tasted it in the past, but each time I did, it was at Distill America and always toward the end of the night, which meant my palate was shot and couldn't be relied upon.

Bird Dog is owned by Western Spirits out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Western Spirits owns three other whiskey brands:  Calumet Farm, Sam Houston, and Lexington. I have no information on who did their distilling prior to 2017, but that year they entered a joint venture (or contract distilling) agreement with Bardstown Bourbon Company.  Assuming 2017 is when Bardstown Bourbon Company started distilling, that's four years ago, which would mean that this ten-year expression was distilled by someone else.

I couldn't find any information regarding the mashbill, the cooperage, or even the distillery. That information is held close to Western Spirits' vest.  While I prefer transparency, I get it when some distillers hold back on any real information. But, the interesting thing is Bird Dog 10 appears nowhere on its website. I checked out Western Spirits as well. Nada. This could mean it has been discontinued, and for the number of shops that show it "Out of Stock," that's likely the case. 

"We craft our award-winning Kentucky bourbon, using the traditional process, with extreme care for quality and consistency. Our bourbon is barrel-aged in small batches - the way bourbon is supposed to be. These Kentucky straight bourbons stand on their own as a premium spirit and provide an irresistibly smooth finish with a depth and complexity perfectly suited for easy sippin’." - Bird Dog Whiskey

So, here's what we do know. It is from somewhere in Kentucky and aged at least ten years in someone's rickhouse before being hand-selected for quality and then blended in an extremely small batch, whatever that means (there is no legal definition of small batch, and an extremely small batch could be one barrel or a few hundred or more). It is packaged at 90° and it will set you back about $56.99.

I picked up a 50ml taster during my recent travels and had a chance to #DrinkCurious. Here we go...

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Bird Dog 10 was orange-amber in color. It formed a thick rim and slow, fat legs that crawled to the pool of whiskey.

Nose:  My schnozz picked up oak, sawdust, mint, field corn, and vanilla. When I inhaled through my open mouth, I experienced a strangely bitter lemon zest. Lemon isn't supposed to be bitter. Somehow, this was, and that was off-putting.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and thin. Despite sitting for about 30 minutes before I went to sip it, I was treated to an ethanol blast on the front, married with cinnamon and oak. The middle was musty corn. The back offered flavors of rye spice, cinnamon Red Hots, and dry oak.

Finish: Thankfully, it was short. That's about the nicest thing I can say about it. Cinnamon, cocoa powder and very dry oak sucked whatever moisture might have been in my mouth.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I try very hard not to be cruel. However, at some point, there is a need to stress just how bad something is. While the goal may have been to curate the creme-de-la-creme of Kentucky Bourbon barrels, I can't help but wonder if Western Spirits was shopping the clearance section of the distiller's warehouse. I have nothing positive to say about Bird Dog 10 Year. Lord knows I tried.  Simply put, this was just offensive. If there was ever anything worthy of a Bust rating, Bird Dog 10 would be the poster child.

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Backbone Bourbon "Sweet Dreams" Speakeasy_WI Review & Tasting Notes


I take part in most of the barrel picks for The Speakeasy_WI, a club I’m a member of. In the case of the one I’m writing about today, I was not on the selection committee due to a whiskey tasting I was hosting.  I did, however, have an opportunity to taste the winning barrel after it was selected, and it has recently dropped at Neil’s Liquors in Middleton, Wisconsin.  It was selected this past August and is priced at $59.99.


I’m talking about a Backbone Bourbon pick called Sweet Dreams. If you’re unfamiliar with Backbone, it tends to pull some incredible MGP-sourced barrels of Bourbon and Rye. The Ryes are branded as Bone Snapper.


Sweet Dreams was distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. That, in turn, was barreled on March 5, 2015, and aged six-and-a-half years in #3 charred oak barrels.  Dumped in October, it weighs in at a healthy 110.6°.



How did the selection crew do?  Let’s #DrinkCurious and find out!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Sweet Dreams took the stage of deep, dark mahogany. It created a thin rim and very fat, slow legs that crawled back down to the pool.


Nose:  The first aroma to hit my nostrils was cherry pie filling. It was joined by toasted oak, a hint of vanilla, and plum. As I inhaled through my mouth, I tasted cinnamon and plum.


Palate:  Sweet Dreams had the consistency of an out-of-control oil slick. It was shockingly not warm considering the proof:  If I didn’t know what it was upfront, I would have guessed this was somewhere around 94° or 96°. The front featured cherry and plum, while the middle offered rye spice and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted thick mocha and oak.


Finish:  I found this finish did numb my hard palate, but sneakily because it was so luxurious it lulled you into a daydream. Toasted oak, cherry, plum, cinnamon, and chocolate stuck just meshed perfectly while it all hung around for a medium finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  When I first tasted Sweet Dreams, my initial thoughts revolved around how stunning this whiskey was. When I take into account it is only $59.99, I believe you’d have to be insane to pass this one up. Bottle for sure, all day long. Good job, crew! Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.