Monday, August 8, 2022

Bushmills "The Original" White Label Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


What can you say about a brand's flagship whiskey?  Come on, I'm a reviewer... I can say plenty! Today I'm sipping Bushmills "The Original" White Label Irish Whiskey.  I've reviewed Bushmills before, it was Red Bush, and you can peruse that review if you're interested.

Old Bushmills Distillery has been distilling since 1608, making it the oldest licensed distillery worldwide. It hasn't been a continuous run - it was shuttered and reopened a few times, and back in 1885, the distillery was pretty much destroyed by fire. But they rebuilt and resumed operations and even survived Prohibition, a feat most other Irish distilleries failed to overcome.

Bushmills has also changed hands several times. Founded by an Irish adventurer named Thomas Phillips, it didn't officially become Bushmills until 1784, when it was purchased by Hugh Anderson. It changed hands a few times, and then, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, the holding company that controlled all Irish whiskey production. Then, in 1988, Pernod-Ricard took possession, sold it to Diageo in 2005, and traded it off to Jose Cuervo, its current owner, in 2014.

Bushmills White is triple distilled, like most Irish whiskey, and is a blend of malts and grains.  This is one where the age statement keeps changing.  In recent years, it carried no age statement, then the one I'm reviewing is three years, and according to its website, that's now been bumped up to five, which may explain why I snagged my bottle at the rock-bottom price of $16.00 (it retails typically about $25.00).  It weighs in at 40% ABV (or 80° for those of us who, like me, are stuck in an empirical world). For the record, Bushmill's White is one of the best-selling Irish whiskeys on the planet.

That last statement doesn't mean much to me. The best-selling American whiskey in the world is one I'm not a fan of. Same with the best-selling Scotch. There's a vast chasm between "best-selling" and "best tasting." I care about the latter.

So, how does The Original hold up? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  Let's get to it.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Irish whiskey presents as a bright gold. It left a medium-thick rim on the wall, and fat droplets fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose: There was a blast of pineapple that almost overwhelmed my nostrils. I enjoy pineapple, so that was cool. Also in attendance was a strong malt fragrance with honey and green apple. When I inhaled through my lips, I tasted green apple and vanilla.

Palate:  The mouthfeel started off thin, but subsequent sips became more the viscosity of water. Green apple kicked things off, followed by pineapple and malt.  Yeah, I know, that is darned close to the nose. Come mid-palate, a blend of honey and vanilla rounded out all the aromas.  It wasn't until the back, when I tasted ethanol and black pepper, that something new appeared.

Finish:  A medium finish of oak and barrel char was all that I found. Well, that and some unexpected alcohol burn. But there wasn't much else to savor at the end.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $25.00 bottle.  You don't expect much from that, and Bushmills delivers on that expectation. This is a disappointing Irish whiskey that should be pretty hard to screw up in theory. When I went on the Bushmills website, even the distillery suggests it is a mixer.  

With a recipe that dates back before Prohibition, there is no better whiskey for making a classic, pre-Prohibition cocktail than Bushmills Original. Combining our pure single malt whiskey and a lighter grain whiskey, you’ll notice its rich, smooth, warming taste almost instantly, just as generations have done before.

I don't buy whiskeys to be mixers; I drink them all neat. As much as I hate to do it, I will toss a Bust rating at this. If I had $25.00 to spend and I wanted an Irish whiskey, check out my review of Slane, which costs the same yet I believe is superior.  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, August 5, 2022

Cluny Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

When Dad passed away in June, I was charged with going through some boxes in his office. There were boxes and boxes of old photos, books, client files, financial statements, etc. But, there were also three boxes tucked away in the back. I opened them, and lo and behold; they contained booze. Much of what was there was wine, but there were a few bottles of gin and a few of whisky.


Dad was not a whisky drinker. He was into gin, wine, and beer. I tried for several years to talk to him about whisky, which he found interesting, but had no desire to drink it. I think it is safe to assume the whisky I found was for friends who may have wanted a pour. It is funny, though, that he never offered me one. Of course, his dementia may not have allowed him to remember he had any on hand in the last several years.


One of the bottles I came across was Cluny. It was interesting because it was a fairly nondescript label, and I’d never heard of it. I knew it couldn’t have been too old; it had a UPC label on the necker and a laser code on the bottom that suggested it may have been bottled in January 2007.


I spent some time researching this whisky and became even more curious. I saw this statement repeatedly, obviously written by marketers:


“Cluny Scotch Whisky is one of America's top-selling domestically bottled blended Scotches, made up of a marriage of over 30 malt whiskies from all regions of Scotland and the finest aged grain whiskies. Cluny's high malt whisky content gives it a richer flavor and superior taste to like-priced competitors, making it one of the best overall values in the Scotch category today.”


Cluny has been around since 1857, or roughly 165 years. And according to the quote above, it is one of America’s top-selling blended Scotches. So, why am I finding little-to-no information online about it?


I can verify that Cluny is still in production, as a variety of websites offer it for sale for around $11.99 for a 1000mL bottle. I confirmed with a friend who owns one of Wisconsin’s largest liquor stores that while he’s never heard of Cluny (I’m asking this a second time:  Isn’t this supposed to be one of the top-selling blended Scotches in the country?), he can order it.


The brand is owned exclusively by John E. McPherson & Sons; however, in their most recent filing with UK authorities, it had assets of 1 GBP. The label stated it was imported and bottled by Premium Imports out of Bardstown. That’s a subsidiary of Heaven Hill, but Cluny is not listed as one of its brands. Liquor brands are bought, sold, and traded all the time, so someone else may have it.


The one thing that left me dumbfounded, however, was the lack of reviews. That forces me to inquire a third time: Isn’t this supposed to be one of the top-selling blended Scotches in the country? Indeed, if it is that high-profile, there would be many reviews, right?


“Legend has it that the wild cat was the totem of tribes who settled the north of Scotland from Europe. These ‘cat people’ later became the Clan Macpherson, whose crest shows a seated wild cat, its claws extended. The motto ‘Touch Not The Cat Bot A Glove’ means do not touch an ungloved cat, an apt slogan for a fearless clan.


A Scotch worthy of its heritage, Cluny epitomizes the proud Scottish tradition of high quality and distinctive taste. Artfully distilled, aged for thirty-six months, and blended skillfully of the highest-caliber malts and grains.” – Cluny Scotch (from the back label)


I do love a good mystery, and this one has me stymied. The only things left to tell you are it is packaged at 40% ABV (80°), and, per the label, in 1895 and 1899, it won gold medals in some competitions that my old eyes can’t make out. I’m not sure those medals are something I’d brag about, but let’s get this #DrinkCurious thing done and hammer out a review.


Appearance: As a neat pour, this Scotch presented as brassy. I’m assuming there is e150A involved in enhancing its color. A bold rim formed on the wall, releasing fat, wavy tears that fell back into the pool.


Nose:  A sweet aroma escaped the neck of the glass, smelling of honey, apple, and nutmeg. Taking the air into my mouth, I experienced vanilla.


Palate:  A watery texture greeted my tongue. There was a blend of dried apricot and golden raisin on the front, with vanilla controlling the middle. The back tasted of honey and nutmeg.


Finish:  Cinnamon and toasted oak remained in my mouth, with something medicinal (not astringent) as the other two flavors faded.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cluny is an unremarkable whisky, which probably helps explain its longevity. It isn’t bad, but there’s also nothing memorable about it. I can’t say I’ve had a better $12.00 Scotch, but I also can’t say that, until now, I’ve ever had a $12.00 Scotch. I could see this being an attractive rail pour at a Bar, which is what I’ve rated 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.



Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Singleton Game of Thrones House Tully Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


If you’re into Scotch and you’re into Game of Thrones, then you’re probably aware of the Diageo and HBO collaboration to produce a line of whiskies to celebrate the show. And, if you’re not, well, there are eight single malts plus two blends from Johnnie Walker. They were released two years ago, but you can still find them every so often on store shelves.  There are, of course, folks who collect them to have the whole set.


One of the single malts came from Glendullan under its exclusive brand, The Singleton.  Glendullan is located in the Speyside region and was founded in 1897 by William Williams & Son. In 1972, a second distillery was built immediately adjacent, operations were moved shortly after that, and the original shuttered. The distillery has changed hands many times before finding itself under the Diageo umbrella. And, while you’ve likely not heard of Glendullan, it is the second-largest Scotch distillery in the colossal corporation! Similar to many big distilleries, Glendullan is a workhorse whose majority distillate is used for blends.


As stated earlier, The Singleton is the only brand, and all of the single malt releases are destined for North American markets. The whiskies are aged exclusively in former Bourbon barrels. Any single malts are aged on-premises, and any barrels used for blends are shipped elsewhere for aging. It is an interesting way to do things, but it works for Diageo.


The Singleton’s edition of the GOT collection is called House Tully. It carries no age statement; it is chill-filtered, contains e150a caramel coloring, and then bottled at 40% ABV (80°). It is pretty affordable at between $30.00 and $35.00. I picked mine up for just under $30.00 at a liquor store in Minnesota.


Did I do well with my purchase? The only way to find out is to crack the bottle and #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, House Tully was a deep bronze, which is irrelevant due to the e150a caramel coloring. It formed a medium-to-heavy rim that lent to fat, watery legs.


Nose:  The aroma of malt was aggressive. Once I was able to get past that, I smelled banana, honey, apple, and nutmeg. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, it seemed grassy.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was relatively thin and never gained weight, remaining watery throughout the tasting experience. Grass, green apple, and apricot started things off, then moved to banana pudding and citrus (an unusual combination), with honey, caramel, and char on the back.  


Finish:  The duration was short and medium and consisted of charred oak, banana, and clove. There was no astringent quality.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  House Tully turns out to be an unremarkable whisky. Granted, it is only a $30.00 to $35.00 bottle, but I’ve also had some wonderful Scotches at that price. It isn’t bad; it is just forgettable. Is it proofed down too much? Probably. Did it need more time in oak? Again, probably.


I catch a lot of flak whenever I say this about a whisky, but this would be a good beginner’s single malt. There’s nothing in it that would be a turn-off. And, due to the price, the fear of buying something overpowering or rough makes it an easy choice.


Saying all of that, it is still somewhat boring, and I’m not a novice. I would not repurchase this one, but I don’t believe it deserves a Bust.  As such, my rating is a Bar. Try this one first, especially if you’re new to Scotch. It is a good starting point.  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, August 1, 2022

Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Some people are not fans of peated whiskies. I’ve been there myself. It took me years to wander into the land of smoke after I was introduced far too early to Lagavulin 16 as an entry point. But, once I was ready, I did things slowly – the right way – and fell in love with smoky peat.


I’m at the point where I see a peated whisky I’ve never tried, and it cuts to the front of the line of everything else I’ve queued. One such whisky is Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang single malt Scotch.


Tomintoul calls itself The Gentle Dram. It is a Speyside distillery founded in 1964 and is located on The Ballantruan Spring which runs through the Glenlivet Estate. The name comes from the highest village of the Scottish Highlands. Like most Speyside distilleries, Tomintoul is known for unpeated whisky. However, twice a year, it uses peated malt. It is owned by Angus Dundee.


“Pure ingredients and the natural environment add to smooth and mellow character of our award-winning Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, “the gentle dram”.

Tomintoul “With A Peaty Tang” has been made with peated malt barley to give it a deep smoky flavour. This makes “Peaty Tang” very unusual, most distilleries in the Speyside region do not use peat.” – Tomintoul Distillery


With a Peaty Tang is a marriage of peated whisky that’s been aged between four and five years with unpeated whisky aged eight. Ex-Bourbon casks were used for both. This is a fairly new whisky for this young distillery – it was introduced in 2017.


Despite knowing the ages, it carries no age statement. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can expect to pay about $41.99 for a 750ml package. I found a 50ml taster for a couple of bucks.


How’s this one fare? The only way to find out, of course, is to #DrinkCurious. Let’s do this!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch looked the color of light gold. A thicker rim created slow, sticky droplets. I couldn’t really call them legs.


Nose:  I could smell the peat the second I cracked the bottle. I let this one sit for almost 20 minutes as campfire smoke filled the room. Once I determined it rested enough, I brought the glass to my face, which usually results in an ability to get through the peat (because at that point I’m used to it). Nope. Campfire smoke was still dominating. Eventually, my olfactory sense cut through it and found citrus, apple, honey, and caramel. I then inhaled through my lips and smoky vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and airy and, despite the alcohol content, warming. The front featured heavy peat, brine, and malted barley. The middle became earthy and fruity with mushroom, pear, and vanilla. The back got super spicy with clove, black pepper and a big blast of burnt oak.


Finish:  Medium and dry, barrel char, clove, dry oak, and vanilla stayed for the encore. And then, without warning, a wave of astringent.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang was similar to a low-end Islay, except with less complexity. I can usually find something nice in those Islay whiskies, I struggled with this Speyside. I initially didn’t find the Band-Aid flavor until after my fourth sip, then couldn’t get it out of my mouth. Some astringent is fine. Bold astringent is not (but it does have its fans). There was nothing gentle about this dram. I am willing to try other things from Tomintoul. I would never drink its With a Peaty Tang again. This takes a Bust. 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.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Do you like Buffalo Trace?  How about George T. StaggEH Taylor?  If you're a fan of all of those, they're made from the Buffalo Trace #1 mash bill. Well, guess what? McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8 is made from the lineage.

Benchmark's history is fascinating. It began with Seagram's in the 1960s as a luxury Bourbon brand. It was distilled and aged at Four Roses back when Seagram's owned it. Before Four Roses was sold off, Benchmark was acquired by Sazerac (the parent company of Buffalo Trace) in 1992. Sazerac also tacked on McAfee's to the branding to pay homage to the McAfee brothers.  

"Named after the McAfee brothers who surveyed a site just north of Frankfort in the late 1700s, this rye recipe bourbon is yet another label that honors the storied history of the Distillery and the land it sits on." - Sazerac

This is a dirt-cheap whiskey that carries a 3-year age statement. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and if you want a 750ml or even a 1L, you can expect to pay around $15.00 for it.

I picked up a shooter on one of my various liquor store runs for about $0.99. I couldn't even get a soda for that price, so I considered it a wise investment no matter the outcome. Plus, I'm always on the prowl for something that makes me #RespectTheBottomShelf. Let's see if that happens while I #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Benchmark was the color of golden straw. It formed a medium rim that gave way to fat, medium-weight droplets that fell back into the pool. 

Nose:  The nose was lovely with candied green apple, candy corn, and vanilla sugar wafers. Those were joined by a tad of tartness with lemon zest. As I pulled the air into my mouth, I discovered more candied green apples. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was extremely thin. The front featured corn and vanilla. The middle was almond and light caramel. Feint oak and bubblegum were on the back. 

Finish:  Short-to-medium in length, the finish consisted of corn, nuts, allspice, and bubblegum.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a tough one. There's nothing remotely offensive about Benchmark, but at the same time, there's nothing memorable, either. Was I to introduce someone to the world of Bourbon, and they feared burning or being too strong, this would be a perfect toe-dipping opportunity. 

I hear all the time from folks that something they're not a big fan of would be a "good mixer." I don't believe in good mixers. Oh, I know they exist, and sometimes you're stuck staving off buyer's remorse that way, but I don't recommend whiskey thinking of its mixing potential. Every whiskey I try is poured neat and perhaps a drop or two of water if I'm curious what that may do. They're all judged on that basis.

You could use Benchmark Old No. 8 as a mixer. It could also be a Bourbon to drink on a hot summer's day when you want something light. And, if that's your goal, this would be a Bottle rating. However, for me, this is far too muted. This isn't a Bust by any means, but unless you can find a 50ml sample bottle at the store, you'll want to try it at a Bar first.  That's my 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.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico Review & Tasting Notes

It is always exciting for me to explore a new-to-me whiskey region. When that happens, I’m going in completely blind because, well, it is uncharted territory.


When I say Mexican Whisky, I’m guessing you’ve giggled while replying, Yeah, tequila!  Not so fast!  I’m talking about real, down-to-earth, 100% ancestral corn whisky. What’s ancestral corn?


Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico is crafted and distilled from 100% Mexican Cacahuazintle (kaka • wha • SINT • lay) corn, which has been cultivated and passed down for more than 200 generations by local farmers for its distinct, extraordinary flavor.”Distileria y Bodega Abasolo


If you’re like me, you’re doing math in your head and thinking how many centuries 200 generations might encompass. Forget it. You’re talking about 4000 years!  Corn has its birthplace in Mexico, and people have been harvesting and cooking it for longer than that. As you can imagine, the corn from back then was much different from today’s crop.  


The Cacahuazintle variety is non-GMO and has large, bulky kernels. It is grown at an elevation of at least 7000 feet. That corn is then divided into two lots – a small one that malts the corn and the second that isn’t. Then, both lots of the corn are cooked.


The technique used to make Abasolo is called nixtamalization.  Basically, the corn is treated with lime, cooked, dried, and pulverized to make flour – the same flour you would use to make tortillas.

Distileria Abasolo then allows a 120-hour fermentation cycle, followed by a double-distillation process using copper pot stills. From there, it is placed in both new and vintage toasted oak casks for an undisclosed period. The final result is a whisky that is bottled at 43% ABV (86°). You can expect to pay $40.00 for a 750ml package. I found a 50ml bottle at some random liquor store for a few bucks.


Are you ready to embark on this adventure with me? Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover what it is all about.


Appearance:  A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a liquid the color of golden straw. A medium rim created a mix of watery tears and sticky globs that remained on the wall.


Nose: I would have assumed corn would be the first aroma to hit my nostrils, but it wasn’t. Instead, it was lime and marshmallow. That was undoubtedly a different combination, that’s for sure! Then the corn hit, but it wasn’t typical corn. It was more like if you grilled the corn over a campfire. Beyond that, I sampled fried plantains. When I drew the air through my lips, I could taste that grilled corn.


Palate:  As this whisky rolled across my tongue, it had a light, oily texture. On the front, I tasted lime and fried plantains.  The middle featured roasted corn with a punch of what I could swear was Tequila Blanco (it had that agave and white pepper quality). The back offered toasted oak, fresh leather, and sweetcorn.


Finish:  The long-lasting finish consisted of white pepper, oak, and leather, with the leather becoming almost chewy.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I don’t like tequila. That’s why I’m not Tequilafellow. However, the notes of tequila mid-palate were mild and, for whatever reason, just fit with the rest of this whisky. Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico is definitely off the beaten path. It captivated my attention, plus it is affordable. That’s a 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.



Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The GlenAllachie 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

The GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a relatively new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its short 55 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company.


The GDC completely revamped things with a plan to release whiskies bottled at no less than 46% ABV and are both naturally colored and non-chill filtered. It also allows 160 hours of fermentation time, claiming it gives them additional time to study what's in the tank. The campus is home to 16 warehouses holding 50,000 barrels of whisky!


Today I’m pouring GlenAllachie 12-Year, a single malt Scotch aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, along with first- and second-fill Bourbon barrels and virgin American oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), the average retail price for a 750ml bottle is $65.00. 


“[W]e would like to introduce the most important release in the history of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company; GlenAllachie 12-year-old, the heart of our range, a landmark bottling. Our best casks selected and bottled under the careful eye of our Master Distiller Billy Walker.” – The GlenAllachie


Before I get to my tasting notes, I’d like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 12-Year appeared as dark mahogany. It created a thicker rim which formed fat, sticky legs.


Nose: From across the room, I could smell the sherry notes.  Raisin, green grape, fig, cherry, and dried apricot were accompanied by dark chocolate and oak. When I pulled the air past my lips, it was a big blast of banana pudding.


Palate:  The texture of molasses crawled across my tongue and didn’t go away. Dark chocolate, fig, and green grape were on the front, with raisin, clove, and leather on the middle. I found ginger, oak, and French vanilla on the back.


Finish:  The medium-to-long finish consisted of Mole Coloradito, ginger, clove, tobacco leaf, and oak.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is certainly reasonably priced for a 46% ABV 12-year Scotch. The nose was beautiful, the palate flavorful, and the finish; well, if I go to a Mexican restaurant and there’s a mole sauce option, I’m all over it. The GlenAllachie 12 is just lovely all around and deserves my coveted 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, July 25, 2022

Broadleaf Whiskey's Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon and Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes


One thing that isn’t unusual these days is the birth of a new whiskey brand. They seem to pop up all over, and many come with a lofty hit on the wallet. How can you, as a consumer, tell if it is worth taking a risk on a bottle?


Thankfully, we have these people called whiskey reviewers. And, lucky for you, I happen to be one! I do that #DrinkCurious thing for you and help eliminate that risk.


Today I’m introducing you to two whiskeys from Broadleaf Whiskey, one is a Bourbon and the other an American Rye, and they are called Brothers of the Leaf. What’s with all the leafiness?


“Brothers of the Leaf is a term often used to describe the bond between fellow cigar smokers and their passion for the cigar culture. Brothers of the Leaf Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks and Brothers of the Leaf Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks have been crafted to pay homage to those cigar enthusiasts and the joy of smoking their favorite cigar while sipping on a special whiskey.”Brian Gelfo, Co-Founder, Broadleaf Whiskey


In full disclosure, I am a friend of Brian’s. I’ve known him for several years (although we’ve never met in person). He and I are both members of The Bourbon Mafia, as is Co-Founder J. Paul Tucker, the owner of Oxmoor Smoke Shop in Louisville.


I always promise you that no matter my relationship with any brand or its owners, there is always a no-strings-attached, honest review whenever I’ve been provided a sample.

Here’s what I am not: a cigar enthusiast. I’m not even a beginner. I don’t smoke cigars and have no desire to do so, but I appreciate good cigar blends.


These two whiskeys have some things in common. First, they’re sourced from Ross and Squibb Distillery (formerly MGP). Second, they’re both finished in barrels from Kelvin Cooperage. Third, they’ll be available in late August at select Kentucky retailers and, and each 750ml bottle will run $89.99. Neither carries an age statement.


I’m getting ready to taste the Bourbon first, but before I do that, I must thank Broadleaf Whiskey for providing me with both of these samples.


Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
  • 57.7% ABV (115.4°)

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the bronze liquid formed a thick rim. Many heavy tears fell back to the pool but left behind sticky droplets.


Nose:  Caramel and tobacco (I swear this wasn’t subliminal) rose from the neck of the glass, followed by toasted oak and plum. A waft of tobacco leaf hit my tongue as I pulled the air past my lips.


Palate:  A heavy, oily texture coated my mouth. French oak and tobacco exploded in my mouth, making me think of the cigars my Dad used to smoke. The middle tasted of bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel, while barrel char, smoked meats, and clove rounded things out.  


Finish: A long, dry, almost dusty finish of caramel, French oak, cocoa, smoked meats, and clove, which kept my attention.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Not being a cigar smoker (I said that, didn’t I?), I don’t know what kind of whiskey would pair well, but I can say that this Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon was very cigar-like. And, as someone who enjoys cigar blends, it honestly reminded me quite a lot of Jos. A. Magnus, which I enjoyed and was about $20.00 more than Brothers of the Leaf. I’m happy to offer a Bottle rating on it.




Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • 59.6% ABV (119.2°)


Appearance:  A neat pour of reddish amber filled my Glencairn glass. A heavy rim collapsed under its weight and dropped a curtain of tears.


Nose: Toasted oak, cherry, plum, and floral rye teased my olfactory sense. Minty vanilla tickled my tongue as I inhaled the vapor.


Palate: A creamy, medium-weighted texture led to thick vanilla, caramel, and leather on the front of my palate. The middle was more straightforward with rye spice and mint, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon, smoked oak, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Long and lingering, the finish comprised tobacco, smoked oak, rye spice, and old, dry leather.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  To suggest that Brothers of the Leaf is a typical MGP rye would be disingenuous. Perhaps the toasted white oak is the differentiator, but you could have told me this Rye had aged in a bota bag, and I wouldn’t have blinked. Regardless, I savored the leather notes and believe you would, too, whether or not you planned to pair it with a cigar. That means it has earned 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.