Friday, March 31, 2023

Buchanan's DeLuxe 12-Year Blended Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

There are a lot of whiskies on the market that are just there. They receive little fanfare, even less advertising, yet, for whatever reason, you know the name. You just never grab a bottle.

 

Buchanan’s DeLuxe 12-year is a blended Scotch whisky. That in and upon itself puts a bad taste in the mouth of some. Like anything else, there are good and bad blends, and, unfortunately, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of toads to find the prince.

 

In the case of Buchanan’s, it came about in 1884 when James Buchanan (not the US president), a London merchant and entrepreneur, created his blend for the British whisky drinker. Today, 40 different whiskies are used, of which most are single malts, and of those single malts, the most significant portion comes from the Highland distillery Dalwhinnie.  Diageo owns the brand itself, and it has plenty of distilleries from which to source.  Both column and pot stills were used, as were former Bourbon and sherry casks in the aging process. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°).


"Buchanan’s is named after the late James Buchanan, a driven whisky entrepreneur who crafted a Scotch that redefined greatness. Instead of creating a Scotch to be revered, he created a uniquely smooth blend that could be shared and enjoyed by all. In fact, the original Buchanan’s bottle design was inspired by the selfless act of sharing water canteens between British soldiers during times of conflict." – Buchanan’s
 

I picked up a 200ml bottle at a random liquor store for $9.99. You can also procure a 375 for $21.99 or a 750ml for $29.99. The price is certainly attractive, but how’s the whisky? You know how this goes; we have to #DrinkCurious to find out!

 

Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, this Scotch whisky presented as dull gold. A medium-weighted rim formed, which released quick legs.

 

Nose: I was shocked at how complicated the aroma was. It started with fruity pear, apricot, and citrus notes, then vanilla, and ended with oak and marine peat. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, vanilla traipsed across my tongue.

 

Palate:  The texture was a tad airy, and subsequent sips provided a medium body. Peat was the first thing I tasted, with vanilla and nutmeg on the front. The middle featured orange peel, toffee, and cocoa powder, while cinnamon, ginger root, and oak sewed things up on the back.

 

Finish:  Short-to-medium in duration, the finish consisted of peat, pear, apple, ginger, clove, and vanilla cream.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Buchanan’s DeLuxe 12-Year surprised the heck out of me. I have nothing against blends and love the challenge of finding a hidden gem, and I’d throw this Scotch into that category. It may have been the peated notes that pushed me over the fence, but regardless, it takes 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.

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


When your distillery number is DSP-KY-10, you are registered as the 10th oldest distillery in Kentucky. That license was granted to J.W. McCulloch in 1885 to found and operate the Green River Distilling Company in Owensboro. McCulloch was one of the most prominent advocates of the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897. He was also a former revenuer. He testified before Congress in favor of the law’s passage. His distillery was one of the country's largest producers of bonded spirits under the J.W. McCulloch, Mountain Dew, and Green River brands.

 

Green River’s whiskeys won prestigious awards such as the Medal of Excellence at the 1893 World’s Fair, the First Prize and Gold Medal in Paris in 1900, the Grand Prize Over All Competitors at the 1904 Word’s Fair, and, in 1905, the Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle de Liege. There were plenty of other awards earned during McCulloch’s tenure.

 

And then disaster struck.

 

Sadly, at the height of Green River’s popularity, a fire broke out on the distillery grounds. In just three hours, most of the buildings and whiskey barrels were reduced to rubble. The distillery was rebuilt, but Prohibition was passed and J.W. McCulloch wouldn’t live to restore Green River to glory. In the following decades, the distillery passed hands on several occasions. The Medley Distilling Company was the most well known to operate on the grounds.” – Green River Distilling Company

 

The distillery fell into disrepair and was abandoned until it was acquired in 2014 by the Terressentia Corp. of South Carolina and named it O.Z. Tyler Distillery. Two years later, the distillery was producing its first whiskeys. Then, in 2019, Terressentia purchased the rights to the Green River name, and in 2020, O.Z. Tyler once again became the Green River Distilling Company. Green River was purchased by Bardstown Bourbon Company last year.

 

Today I’m reviewing Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This whiskey starts with a mash of 70% corn, 21% Winter rye, and 9% malted two-and eight-row barleys. It carries no age statement, making it at least four years old. The char level is undisclosed. It is packaged at 45% ABV (90°), and you can expect a 750ml bottle to run about $35.00.

 

Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I must thank Green River Distilling Company for providing me with a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. It presented as bright and coppery. A medium-thin rim allowed wide, wavy tears to fall.

 

Nose: What I smelled reminded me of a 3 Musketeers candy bar with plenty of nougat and a bit of milk chocolate. But, there were also fruity notes which included plum and peach. Exploring even deeper, I encountered a whiff of mint and leather. As I drew the air into my mouth, I found dry oak and raw almond.

 

Palate: Vanilla, cocoa powder, and mint were on the front of my palate, followed by almond, peanut, and caramel at the middle. Flavors of cinnamon, tobacco, and oak commanded the back. The mouthfeel was light and airy.

 

Finish: I tasted leather, milk chocolate, mint, oak, and brown sugar on the finish, which didn’t stick around long.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At 90°, you’ll find Green River’s Bourbon satisfying. It is an easy sipper with plenty of flavors to keep your attention. When you factor in the $35.00 investment, it provides a rate of return you’ll embrace. All of this factors into my 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.

 


 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Virginia Distillery Co.'s Courage & Conviction Series and VHW Series Whisky Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


Virginia Distillery Company was founded in 2011 by Dr. George G. Moore. Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States and, after running several successful Irish- and US-based businesses, he established this brand in Lovingston, Virginia. Sadly, George passed away in May 2013 before he could see his dream come to fruition. The first whiskies were released in 2015.

 

His wife, Angela, became its Chairwoman, and his son, Gareth, was named CEO. Gareth’s wife, Maggie, is the Chief Experience Officer.

 

“‘Have the courage of your convictions’ was a saying George often repeated to friends and family. His credo became our core principle and the name of our newest American Single Malt whisky line, Courage & Conviction.” – Virginia Distillery Co.

 

Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a tasting panel hosted by Amanda Beckwith, the distillery’s Lead Blender. It was a chance to sample six of Virginia Distillery Co.’s expressions.

 

Today isn’t the first or second time I’ve encountered Virginia Distillery Co. In 2020, when I was reviewing for Bourbon & Banter, I had a chance to write about Prelude: Courage & Conviction and what was then called Virginia-Highland Whisky Port Cask. Interestingly, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) forced the name change, citing that consumers might mistake the Virginia whisky for being Scotch.

 

Virginia Distilling Co. sources only two-row barley for its distillate. Barrel entry is 125° for its whiskies; the smallest barrels used are 53 gallons.

 

I was sent all six whiskies when I participated in the tasting panel. I took detailed notes intending to compose a review for each. The results of that #DrinkCurious adventure follow.

 

The one commonality was each whisky was poured neat into a Glencairn glass. Now, the differences can be revealed. 

 


 

The first expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky. This is the distillery’s flagship expression. It carries no age statement, but it is between five and six years, per Amanda. It is comprised of a distillate of malted barley, which was aged in former Bourbon barrels (50%), Cuvée casks (25%), and sherry butts (25%). A 750ml package is about $65.00 and bottled at 46% ABV (92°).

 

Appearance: The liquid was golden and produced a thick rim. Slow, wavy tears flowed from it.

 

Nose: The aroma was fruity with smells of green apple, apricot, and pineapple, which was joined by a dollop of vanilla. When I drew the air through my lips, I found butterscotch.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel had a silky texture. Pineapple, butterscotch, and vanilla formed the front, with apple, pear, and honey at the midway point. On the back, it tasted of rum-soaked fruitcake and oak.

 

Finish: A bit of oak remained, but butterscotch burst through like the Kool Aid™ Man, and it didn’t want to let go. As he ran away, the rum-soaked fruitcake closed the show for a long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The flagship whisky made one heck of an introduction. Flavors melded and shifted beautifully, and even the proofing was correct. I fell in love with the finish. A winner for sure; it is well worth the investment and takes my Bottle rating.



 

The second expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Bourbon Cask. It carries no age statement and is made of a distillate of malted barley aged in undeconstructed former Kentucky Bourbon barrels. A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).

 

Appearance: This whisky appears as bright, liquid gold. A medium rim released a wavy curtain of tears.

 

Nose: A complicated aroma of green apple, floral, lemon citrus, cookies, and cedar teased my olfactory sense. Pulling the air through my lips enhanced the vanilla.

 

Palate: This whisky had a buttery mouthfeel. The front of my palate discovered vanilla, apple, and pear. The middle tasted banana, while the back featured charred oak, clove, and ginger beer.

 

Finish: Charred oak, black pepper, and clove were tamed by vanilla and banana flavors. In all, it was a long-lasting finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I found Bourbon Cask to be much different than the flagship expression. However, it was still good, just not great. As it commands a $10.00 premium over the flagship, I rate this a Bar.  

 


 

The third expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Cuvée Cask. It carries no age statement; however, Amanda indicated it was at least five years. The distillate comes from malted barley, aged in cooperages that formerly held Spanish and Portuguese wines. Those barrels were deconstructed and underwent an STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) process.  A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).

 

Appearance: Bronze in color, Cuvée Cask fabricated a massive rim and wide tears.

 

Nose: The nose was complex with smells of raspberry, pineapple, banana pudding, orange peel, vanilla bean, and baked goods. My mouth found the air to be heavy with vanilla.

 

Palate: Cuvée Cask’s texture was rich and thick. Thoughts of a dreamsicle crossed my mind as the liquid hit the front of my palate. The middle offered sweet tobacco leaf and leather; at the back, I tasted coffee, almond, and chocolate.

 

Finish: The medium-long finish left me with vanilla, leather, clove, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Considering how much I savored the flagship. Cuvée Cask blew it entirely out of the water. An audible “Wow” escaped my lips. Everything about this American Single Malt screamed luxury. It is worth $75.00, perhaps more. Obviously, this snagged my Bottle rating.

 


 

The fourth expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Sherry Cask. It carries no age statement and is made of a distillate of malted barley, aged in Fino, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximénez sherry butts. A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). The world-renowned and highly respected Nancy Fraley was involved in its blending.

 

Appearance: This whisky presented as a dull gold with a thick rim. Long, crooked legs worked their way back to the pool.

 

Nose: As I brought this glass to my nose, it was as if I entered an orchard with blueberry, strawberry, plum, and cherry.  The fruit was then drizzled with chocolate. As it worked through my lips, chocolate-covered raspberries were rather seductive.

 

Palate: A buttery mouthfeel led to plum, cherry, and stewed apricot on the front. The middle of my palate encountered raspberry, almond, and chocolate, while the back tasted of tobacco, oak, and white pepper.

 

Finish: The white pepper I just tasted turned black, accompanied by oak, raspberry, and chocolate. It was a medium duration.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The fruity notes were expected but far more complex than I had prepared for. I found the mild-to-sharp spice transition at the end fascinating. I usually love sherry-influenced whiskies, and Sherry Cask did not disappoint. I’d be thrilled to have this in my whisky library, so a Bottle rating is well-earned.


From here, we go to the fifth and sixth expressions. These are produced under the VHW Series banner. The difference from the Courage & Conviction series is that VHW uses Virginia Distilling’s distillate and a portion of Single Malt Scotch from the Highland region.




The fifth pour is VHW Cider Cask Finished Whisky. The 100% malted barley-aged whisky was finished in barrels sourced from Virginia cideries, notably Potter’s Craft Cider and Buskey Cider. The finishing cycle was between eight and 20 months. A 750ml package costs about $40.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). Nancy Fraley was involved in its creation.

 

Appearance: This whisky was the color of pale straw. A microthin rim had to be formed several times before I could even find it, as thick, wide tears fell immediately.

 

Nose: The aroma was raw honey, apple, vanilla, and raisin. Drawing it through my lips gave me the sensation of apple crisps.

 

Palate: A thin and airy consistency rolled through my mouth. The front of my palate tasted apple, citrus, and honey. The middle offered graham crackers and walnut. Flavors of cinnamon, dry oak, and leather pulled up the rear.

 

Finish: A brief finish featured honey, citrus, dry oak, clove, and cinnamon.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’m a fan of hard ciders. Aside from a cocktail, it is the only other adult beverage I drink with any regularity. Cider Cask was meh. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t impressive. At $40.00, you may want to try this one first before committing to a bottle. That makes my rating a Bar.

 


 

Finally, we get to VHW Port Cask Finished Whisky. The 100% malted barley-aged whisky was then finished for a year in 70% of barrels sourced from Portuguese bodegas that held both tawny and ruby port wines and 30% Virginia port-style wine. A 750ml package costs about $40.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). This expression also involved Nancy Fraley. There is no age statement, but it is about seven years, per Amanda.

 

Today is the second time I’ve visited the Port Cask Finished Whisky. Spoiler alert: Three years ago, it earned my Bottle rating. Let’s see how it fared this time.

 

Appearance: This whisky presented as an orange amber as it formed a thin rim that collapsed into a wavy curtain.

 

Nose: Dark chocolate attempted to envelop strawberries, cherries, and plums. Those plums held onto the air as I pulled it into my mouth.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was oily yet dry. I know that’s hard to fathom, but it is what I experienced. At the front, the whisky tasted of plum, raisin, and strawberry, while at mid-palate, tobacco and cocoa flavors dried things out. The back offered leather, coffee, and oak.

 

Finish: A long, dry, tingly finish left me with dark chocolate, saltines, French oak, and a kiss of smoke.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: After I tasted the Port Cask and took my notes, I reread my review from 2020 to see if I found the experience similar. There were a few differences here and there, but for the most part, my palate remained true. My conclusion is the same; it deserves every bit of that Bottle rating.

 

Final Thoughts: Between the six, I’d rate them in the following order:  Cuvée Cask, Port Cask, Flagship, Sherry Cask, Bourbon Cask, and Cider Cask. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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

 

Whiskyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whisky as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Friday, March 24, 2023

Two Souls Spirits New York Wheated Bourbon (Finger Lakes Distilling) Review & Tasting Notes

 


Wheated Bourbons, or wheaters, have a cult following. Don’t get me wrong; traditional Bourbons have their massive fan base, but there’s something about wheaters that drive some folks wild. Wheated Bourbons are less spicy due to a lack of rye grain. And, since distilled wheat has no natural flavor, it magnifies the flavors of other grains and wood. It also rounds out the mouthfeel, giving what many describe as a smooth sensation.

 

Two Souls Spirits is an American independent bottler. I’ve talked about independent bottling and how it differs from simply sourcing whiskey. But, in a nutshell, independent bottlers procure unusual barrels and package them with their brand in combination with the distiller’s brand. Transparency is a given part of the operation.

 

Today, I’m exploring Two Souls Spirits New York Wheated Bourbon, which came out of Finger Lakes Distilling. Finger Lakes Distilling was founded in 2007 by Brian McKenzie in New York’s wine country in Burdett. Finger Lakes is a New York State Farm Distillery, which means its liquor-making license is dependent on producing products from fruits, grains, etc., grown primarily on New York farmland.

 

This one is for the old-school wheater fans out there. Dusty and funky in the best way, this whiskey packs a big punch of classic Bourbon notes (toffee, vanilla) balanced perfectly by thick layers of oak and barrel spice. An extremely rare cask strength wheated Bourbon from Finger Lakes Distilling, this is a true one-of-a-kind barrel from a preeminent US craft distillery. The only downside? Nearly 9-years [sic] in a barrel gave the angels plenty of time to take their share.” – Two Souls Spirits

 

Barrel 1563 was distilled from a mash of 70% white corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malted barley. It was filled on February 6, 2014, and dumped on November 17, 2022, giving it an eight-year age statement. Entry proof was 100°, and the barrel was subjected to a #4 char level. Only 113 bottles at 52.83% ABV (105.66°) were made available and priced at $129.99, which can be purchased directly from the Two Souls Spirits shopping page.

 

Finally, I must thank Two Souls Spirits for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: I sipped this Bourbon neat from my Glencairn glass. Inside, the liquid looked like copper and formed a thicker rim on the wall. Sticky droplets remained below the rim, releasing syrupy legs.

 

Nose: Strangely, the first thing I smelled was mint. I was taken aback because that’s a smell associated with rye. The lack thereof left me puzzled. The aroma included cherry, corn, and caramel. I tasted cherry and vanilla when I drew the air through my lips.

 

Palate: An oily texture filled every crevice of my mouth and introduced my palate to caramel, vanilla, and cherry. As it moved to the middle, I encountered toffee and mocha. Flavors of tobacco, black pepper, and clove were featured on the back of my palate.

 

Finish: The finish offered black pepper, clove, tobacco, and mocha in a crescendo of spicy heat.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Was this a one-of-a-kind wheater as described by Two Souls Spirits? Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. It is unlike any other wheated Bourbon I’ve sampled. But it isn’t all that different from traditional, high-proof Bourbons I’ve tasted, and that’s what grabbed my attention. This is a good whiskey, yet I can’t picture myself spending $130 on it without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re looking for something like Maker’s Mark, Weller, Pappy, or Old Fitzgerald, you’ll have to keep looking. Due to all of these reasons, I’m giving New York Wheated Bourbon my Bar 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.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you're unfamiliar with Glenmorangie (a/k/a Glenmo), it is a Highland Scotch whisky distillery founded in 1843 and located in Tain, Ross-shire. Mothballed twice, first from 1931 to 1936 and then again from 1941 to 1944, Glenmo has the tallest stills in Scotland, nicknamed giraffes. Hard water, high in mineral content sourced from the local Tarlogie Springs, is used in distillation. The giraffe concept is so crucial to Glenmo that it pioneered a partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to save these animals from becoming further endangered.


In 2021, I published my review of The Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old. Its timing was nice because that excellent discontinued expression was still readily available. It was replaced by The Quinta Ruban 14 Years Old, and that single malt is what I’m reviewing today.


Dr. Bill, our Director of Whisky Creation, was born with a taste for adventure. And with this single malt, he sought to create a whisky as unpredictable as his travels.


Quinta Ruban is a whisky journey into the wild – a dark and delectable forest where the wind whistles with gusts of peppermint and dark swirls of chocolate can happen at any moment.” – Glenmorangie


Quinta Ruban starts its life as the flagship Glenmorangie Original 10 Years Old, which slept a decade in former Jack Daniel’s Bourbon (or Tennessee Whisky if you want to get technical) barrels. The magic happens because, from there, it spent an additional four years in former Ruby Port pipes. Port pipes are tapered wood casks. The ones Glenmorangie sourced came from the Quintas of Portugal. Quintas is Portuguese for wine estates. Ruban is the Gaelic term for ruby. Hence the name Quinta Ruban.



The Quinta Ruban 14 Years is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 46% ABV (92°). You can expect a 750ml bottle to cost around $55.00, and it enjoys wide availability. Glenmorangie also sells a four-pack taster set which is how I acquired my bottle.



Now, let’s #DrinkCurious and explore this Scotch in detail.



Appearance: I poured this whisky neat in my Glencairn glass. It was a clear, bright orange liquid that generated a medium rim. Slow, sticky droplets crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.



Nose: Smells of dark stone fruits, including cherries and plums, were evident before I picked up the glass. A bit of orange zest, apricot, dark chocolate, and malt were also released. When I inhaled through my lips, orange citrus rolled across my tongue.



Palate: The first sip greeted my mouth with a soft, silky texture. Leather, plum, and black cherry flavors were on the front. The middle featured dark chocolate, almond, and maple syrup, while the back tasted of tobacco leaf, oak, and orange citrus.



Finish: Cocoa powder, orange zest, oak, leather, and almond stuck around for a medium-to-long finish.



Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I still have a bottle of Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old and felt it would be pertinent to try it side-by-side. That had a brighter, sweeter nose and palate, but the 14 Years Old was more profound and complex. They seemed related, but the two years definitely added character. While both are delicious, I would pick the 14 Years Old as superior. At $55.00 or so, I believe it is one hell of a bargain, and it has no problem walking away with 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.

 


Monday, March 20, 2023

BHAKTA Spirits 2013 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you don’t recognize his name, you are probably familiar with the whiskey brand he founded in 2008: WhistlePig. Raj Bhakta sold it in 2019; since then, he’s created BHAKTA Spirits.

 

BHAKTA Spirits is built on a simple, optimistic premise: the world abounds with treasures. We seek these treasures - forgotten spirits, decrepit properties - with an eye for overlooked quality and latent potential. Our search spans continents and centuries. Our foundation rests on Four Pillars: we seek the Rare and the Exquisite, in the service of Value and Purpose.” – BHAKTA Spirits

 

Amazingly, Raj has curated spirits from every year between 2023 and 1868! These include whiskeys and brandies. And today, I have an opportunity to taste BHATKA 2013 Bourbon.

 

True to its name, this Bourbon was distilled in 2013 by MGP from a mash of 99% corn and 1% malted barley and spent nine years and five months in American oak. The Bourbon was then finished for a handful of months in wet French oak that previously held 50-year-old Armagnac. It is bottled at its cask strength, but this is where things are confusing. My sample bottle shows 60% ABV (120°), whereas BHATKA’s website states 50.3% ABV (110.6°). I’ll find out what it likely is once I start sipping it.

 

BHATKA 2013 Bourbon has a suggested retail price of $149.00, and if you order from its website, it will start shipping to 41 eligible states on March 27th. However, 2000 cases have been distributed in a dozen states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, and Tennessee.

 

BHAKTA Spirits provided me with a sample of Bourbon 2013 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. However, it also included a sample of its 50-year-old Armagnac, which I’m admittedly excited about. I thank BHAKTA Spirits for sending both; let’s #DrinkCurious and explore this whiskey.

 

Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass and drank it neat. The orange-amber liquid left a thin, fragile rim on the wall, releasing tiny, sticky droplets.

 

Nose: This is one of those whiskeys you can smell from across the room. It burst with chocolate, vanilla, plum, red berries, nutmeg, and oak smells. I encountered plum and nutmeg as I pulled the aroma through my lips.

 

Palate: A silky mouthfeel introduced me to plums, berries, and baked apple flavors. As it moved to my mid-palate, I tasted a combination of Nutella and butterscotch. The back offered French oak, dry leather, and sweet tobacco.   

 

Finish: The plum flavor carried the entirety of this Bourbon—Butterscotch and baked apples mingled with dry leather and tobacco. But, before all was said and done, my throat stumbled upon hazelnut. All in all, the finish was long and warm.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I get squirrelly at $150.00 Bourbons younger than a decade. The sample bottle’s printed proof is likely mislabeled, and the website’s stated 100.6° is accurate. It was warming but not enough to make me think the proof was higher.

 

I’ve sipped Armagnac-finished Bourbons before but never finished in a wet barrel, and let me tell you: these are two different animals entirely. There was significant fruitiness and dryness of good French brandy, yet the Bourbon notes were not lost in the process.

 

This Bourbon had a richness to it that must be experienced to appreciate, and while an awesome whiskey bar may have a bottle available, that will be a rare event. My recommendation? If you see this on your store’s shelf (or in its locked case), grab a Bottle. You won’t regret it. Cheers!

 

Oh Yeah, The Armagnac: I’m not penning a review on the brandy, but I did pour some to discover what smells and tastes it possessed. And, because this was a half-century old, I grabbed myself a clean glass (I’m not an animal).

 

It is 48.2% ABV (97.4°), and the label states it comes from Barrel 23. BHAKTA Spirits has its 1972 vintage Armagnac listed on its website for $419.00. I smelled plenty of dried fruits, including raisins and cranberries. Conversely, it tasted of old leather and cigars. But I also found flavors of raisins, dates, and figs. Cocoa powder had the last words. It was a dry brandy and vaporized any moisture in my mouth, leaving plenty of what I call pucker power, meaning I was left smacking my tongue and lips.

 

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.