Friday, December 23, 2016

Old Bardstown Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Change is in the air, that is expected with Spring. Today, I’m pouring Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Willett had been sourcing Old Bardstown before, and when their own distillate was ready for bottling, they changed up the bottle and label to differentiate two versions. That can be a dangerous undertaking, because when radical change happens, you risk turning folks off from the brand.

There are two “new” Old Bardstown versions: A small batch and a Bottled in Bond. This pour is the former and comes in at 90°. As there is no age statement, the Bourbon inside is at least four years old.

I’ve reviewed Old Bardstown before when the bottle was freshly opened. I’ve allowed it to oxidize quite a bit and am ready to revisit it.

In the glass, the appearance is a bright amber. Swirling it around produces a medium rim that creates thick, fat legs that slowly drop into the pool.

At chin level, aromas of vanilla and floral rye prevail. When I lift it to my lips, that changes to caramel and a light cinnamon. Bringing it just under my nose amplifies the rye and a tinge of oak. Inhaling through my mouth brings an almost berries and cream flavor.

The initial mouthfeel is thick and coats the tongue well. The palate highlights the vanilla and caramel, and underneath that brings oak and rye spice.

The finish is creamy and spicy. The Bourbon coats everything and lets you enjoy the flavor for several minutes between sips.

Oxidization has been very kind to this whiskey. I found the nose changed significantly and the palate was more flavorful. The finish became much more creamy than when the bottle was first opened.

Bottle, Bar or Bust: For about $18, this is really an enjoyable pour and provides such little risk that it is easy to recommend buying a Bottle. Check it out on the bottom shelf, cheers!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams (2013) Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


It has been awhile since I've explored deliciousness from across the pond, so instead of Bourbon or American Rye, tonight's pour is Scotch whisky: Specifically Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams from 2012.


As a single malt, a Scotch must be distilled in a pot still, and it must be produced at a single distillery.


Glenfiddich is a Speyside whisky. The Speyside region is the largest in all of Scotland. The water used in the distillation process comes from the River Spey. Speyside whiskies typically are the most complex, with elegant flavors and aromas.


Nosing this Whisky brings vanilla and fruits, with a background of oakiness. Swirling it again brings fresh, fruity waves to the nostrils. When the glass is brought to my mouth, I'm inhaling sweet vanilla.


Tilting the glass brings the liquid to my tongue and fruitiness and spices, along with that oaky flavor.


The finish is lingering and very pleasant with the oak and spice. The finish lingers pleasantly.

This bottle was allocated for the USA market only. There is a different Cask of Dreams for at least the Canadian market as well. I'm unsure of the differences, but the American version has been finished in American white oak.

Bottled at 97.6°, this is a warmer Scotch that offers some great flavor. Cheers and SlĂ inte!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Tonight I'm pouring something so many go crazy for: Elmer T Lee. But, this isn't any normal Elmer T Lee, this is the special Commemorative Edition!

You may wonder if this is just a fancy bottle, or if there is truly something special about the Commemorative Edition. This is 93°, whereas the standard expression is 90°. Both are Single Barrel Bourbons.

ETL is made from Buffalo Trace Mashbill #2, which is the higher Rye recipe. Other labels born from this mash are Blanton's, Rock Hill Farms, Ancient Age and Hancock's Reserve. I'm a big fan of Blanton's and Rock Hill Farms. I've never had the other two.

Mashbill isn't everything, it is merely the beginning. Other factors are the barrel itself, aging, and even where in the rickhouse the barrel rests. Single Barrel differs from barrel to barrel. Small Batch gives more consistency.

Elmer T Lee is one of those high-demand, hard to find whiskeys. You're lucky to see it in the wild.

When poured into a glass, the color is a beautiful gold amber. Swirl it around, and it leaves long, inviting legs. My nose picks up caramel, vanilla, toffee and butterscotch. In fact, the butterscotch can best be described as heavy.

When I bring the glass to my lips and inhale, I'm bringing in that vanilla and butterscotch. That makes my mouth water. Once it hits my tongue and palate, there is honey, light fruit and oak. It would have been great to have that butterscotch, but, alas, it was not meant to be. The finish is light, warm and smooth, with a bit of spice at the end that lingers a bit.

I don't understand the huge appeal of ETL. When I mention this, people look at me like I am nuts. This is not a bad whiskey. In fact, it is a decent pour. What I am saying is there is no "wow" factor for me, nothing that would cause me to hit every liquor store possible to locate a bottle. If I had $37 burning a hole in my pocket, I could find several other comparable or even superior Bourbons. $35 - $40 is a great sweet spot for Bourbon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ezra B Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


This is Ezra B Single Barrel. It is aged 12 years and bottled at 99°. This particular bottle is from Barrel 603 and was dumped on June 2015.

While the label suggests this is bottled by the Ezra Brooks Distilling Company out of St. Louis, this label is owned by Luxco, who, incidentally, is building a brand new distillery in Kentucky.

The nose presents sweet hardwood and vanilla, and even a hint of citrus. The appearance is a golden orange. Swirling in my Glencairn glass shows me thin legs that do hold.

When I bring the glass to my lips, the barrel's char comes to the forefront. The mash is a high Rye content, which is my preferred mash profile, and offers a certain spiciness. There is a smidge of an oiliness to it as well. I wish I could say this had a complex flavor, but it doesn't, and my bottle has been oxidizing about nine months.

The finish sits on my tongue long after the swallow, and it is the wood and spice that hangs on, with that oily texture on the top of my tongue.

There are some who suggest this is Elijah Craig 12 in a single barrel release. I find that very difficult to believe. I have various incarnations of Elijah Craig 12, with a couple Barrel Proof releases as well as the small batch. Yes, Luxco sources this. Yes, every single barrel has its own uniqueness. But, a profile should be similar and this isn't.

I find this an interesting pour, but not one I would run out to buy again. For the $36 investment, I can do better.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Talisker Distillers Edition (2012) Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Today is Fat Tuesday, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and then Lent starts. If I was Catholic, this would all have some meaning for me on a personal level. For me, it is more a curiosity.

However, nothing stops me from toasting my Catholic family and friends on this important time of year, and for them, I'm using one of my favorite Scotch whiskies to do it.

This is Talisker Distiller's Edition from 2012. This single malt is double matured in Amoroso casks, and comes from the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. Some consider the Islands a region of its own, others will tell you it is part of the Highland region.

Pouring it into the glass caused the air to be filled with a peaty smokiness. It is just beautiful that I don't even need to bring it to my nose to enjoy it. When I bring the glass close so I can nose it, vanilla, fruit and honey permeate the peat. It is so inviting.

A gentle swirl brings initially thin legs that soon begin to drop... And then they hang, almost as if they are glued in place. While the color is enticing, unlike with Bourbon, Scotch distillers can add caramel coloring and not get in trouble with the laws governing Scotch whisky.

As I bring the glass to my lips and let the whisky flow over my tongue, I get the gentle thickness of butter. It completely coats my tongue. Smoke follows, and then the peat is behind that. The fruitiness you expect from a Highland then hangs around for the long finish.

What some people don't care in whisky (or whiskey) is the burn. With this Talisker, that's not an issue because there is none. The smokiness does stick around on the roof of your hard palate, but it is merely a warming sensation. There is zero alcohol burn to offend.

This 91.6° Scotch is one of my favorites. It is hard to go wrong with anything from Talisker, it is an easy pleaser.

For my Catholic family and friends, I wish you a good Lent season. May you keep your promise. For everyone else, Cheers!

Monday, July 4, 2016

High West Yippee Ki Yay Rye (Batch 3) Review & Tasting Notes


Happy Independence Day, America! Today is a quintessential American holiday, which suggests we should be celebrating with something uniquely American. Bourbon, American Rye, Moonshine... those fit the bill.

Today I will be enjoying High West's Yippee Ki-Yay, which is an incredible blend of Straight Rye Whiskeys. This particular bottle is from Batch 3 and is bottled at 92°. Yippee Ki-Yay is a younger blend of whiskeys than A Midwinter Nights Dram, but it can keep up with it quite well at a lower price point. The Ryes have been finished in Vermouth and Syrah barrels.

I called Midwinter Nights Dram "Christmas in a Bottle" (to be fair, a friend first described it to me that way), so perhaps Yippee Ki-Yay can be described as 4th of July fireworks in a bottle.

First of all, the color is a deep ruby red. That's from the Syrah barrel. Very unique and enticing, because you just don't see that in Bourbon or Rye.

Next, fruity, spicy, vanilla, wood and caramel lights up your nostrils and is quite the attention getter.

The palate then explodes with candied fruit, vanilla, nuts, cereal, wine (from the Syrah barrel) and wood.

The ooh-ahh is the finish. The sweetness of wine and honey, wood and nuts just hangs and lingers.

I've seen this priced anywhere from $58 to $75 a bottle. This is definitely worth the lower end of the spectrum and takes my Bottle rating. 

Have a wonderful time tonight watching fireworks. I'll be sipping mine. Cheers!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project #153 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Nobody does whiskey experiments quite like Buffalo Trace. Sure, many distilleries do their own experiments, but how many market them successfully? Buffalo Trace seems to have a corner on the market.

This is Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project. My bottle comes from Barrel 153, which was part of Release 10, dumped in August 2013. It is noted at 90°. The story behind the Single Oak Project is to choose a single white oak tree and create a barrel from one section of it. One barrel is made from the bottom half of the tree, one from the top. The Bourbon was then aged for about a decade before being dumped and bottled. The result is 192 different Bourbons were created.

I find Barrel 153 to be, at best, boring. The nose is wood and wood. The palate is flat and just wood. There is just little to appreciate, which explains why this little 375ml bottle is still half full.

As much as I love Buffalo Trace as an innovative and high-quality distillery, even they produce some mediocre whiskeys.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Stagg Jr. - Batch 2 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

The first bottle from my 2016 Great Bourbon Hunt is now part of my collection. This Stagg Jr is from 2014 and is Batch 2.

Bottled at 128.7°, I've heard this is very comparable to Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. It certainly is comparable in color: a dark, deep amber in the glass.

The nose is very strong, that's expected in a high proof whiskey. After the fumes disperse, thick caramel, vanilla and oak delight the senses.

Next, it is time for the mouth. "Syrupy" is a good way to describe the liquid. It coats the tongue and palate and just stays there. Like Elijah Craig, the oak is obvious, with plenty of spice and pepper Between the two, the finish on the Stagg Jr is longer. By the second sip, my gums are slightly numb, which is a unique sensation that I don't recall any whiskey ever doing.

Call me crazy, but I enjoy these hazmat whiskeys. Have a wonderful weekend, cheers!