Saturday, December 30, 2017

My 2017 Whiskeys of the Year


As 2017 comes to an end, it is time to do the almost obligatory “Best Of” list. I’d like to start off by saying these lists are highly subjective. If you’re a long-time follower and my palate has led you in the right direction on a regular basis, then you’ll probably enjoy what’s on my list. If you have a different list, that’s okay. There’s a whole big, wide world of whiskey out there.

My list is made of categories you may not expect... 


There were two contenders for this category… Old Weller Antique and Noah’s Mill. The reason these are surprising is that for the last several years, I’ve been avoiding both. I hated them. Or, at least I thought I hated them. I drain and poured my first bottle of OWA. I hated Noah’s Mill so much I wouldn’t even buy a bottle. This year, however, I fell in love with both. The fact that some call Noah’s Mill the Frankenstein of Bourbon led me to choose it over OWA for the best surprise of the year. 


I say “best disappointment” because it is a truly delicious Bourbon. But, for the price tag, I was expecting more from Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Edition than what is basically a great private barrel of Knob Creek 120 at three times the price. 


This is a big, beautiful category and I love the ingenuity of the whiskey artists involved. High West is probably the best-known, and they’re absolutely consistently impressive. But, they also source Bourbons and Ryes and then make them their own by finishing them. I don’t badmouth sourcing at all, but, on the flip side, J. Henry & Sons grow their own corn, rye, and wheat to create their mash, they age everything in their own rickhouse, and then take their Bourbon and finish it in ex-VSOP cognac casks. As such, their Bellefontaine Reserve takes the award. 


William Faulker said, “There’s no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others.” Faulker may have been a talented writer, but if alive today, I’m sure even he would retract his statement. I’ve run a #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign for several years. I’m a big fan, and there are a lot of gems down there. Then, there’s Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey


And now, the item that everyone looks forward to from anyone, their whiskey of the year. I’m going to start off by saying that this isn’t the absolute best whiskey I’ve tried in 2017, and that’s why I’m not saying Best Whiskey of 2017. I’ve had some amazing allocated choices. But, naming an allocated bottle Whiskey of the Year does nothing but cause aggravation to those who will never be able to taste it. I also won’t include private barrels in this list, again, for the same reason.

In my opinion, Whiskey of the Year is something truly excellent that the average whiskey fan should be able to get their hands on and have a chance to enjoy.

While most of my reviews are Bourbon-centric, you might assume I’d name one as the winner. But, this year, I’m looking across the pond to Ireland.

I tasted many Irish whiskeys this year. Irish whiskey is enjoying a massive, well-deserved surge in popularity. I know that many Irish whiskey fans would look to Redbreast 12 as an obvious choice, but Prizefight is new to the market this year, came out of nowhere, and as such, earns the award. 


Thank you for all of your support this past year. As I stated earlier, I’ve tasted some amazing whiskeys this year and made a lot of new friends in this wonderful industry. There are things coming down the pike in 2018 that I am very excited about and look forward to sharing my experiences with you. Cheers!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Compass Box Hedonism Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I'm trying something new to me tonight, Compass Box Hedonism. I'm pretty excited about this, it is a blended grain Lowland Scotch aged in new American oak.

Appearance: In the glass, this whisky is a very bright straw color. Swirling it in the Glencairn leaves a thin rim that instantly creates thick, wavy legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose: There is an obvious toasted coconut, followed by oak. Inhaling through my mouth brings out a lovely melon and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: From the first sip, Hedonism is luxurious and creamy, but strangely thin, which is an unexpected combination.

Palate: The toasted coconut from the nose is up front, then followed by oak and honey. Way in the back is caramel that melts into vanilla.

Finish: At 86°, there's no burn but there is a buzzing left on the tip of the tongue. The vanilla rests in the back of the throat, and with each additional sip, the creaminess builds another level. There is a hint of pepper as well.

Bottle, Bar or Bust: I'm loving Hedonism. For a Lowland whisky, there's a lot going on and it isn't as soft as others I've tried. At about $89.00, this is a nicely priced Scotch and I would be happy to have a Bottle in my library. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Yellowstone 2017 Limited Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


This review was originally published at Bourbon & Banter, and you can read it in its entirety there. Cheers!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Prizefight Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


I’m a fan of Irish whiskey and have slowly been adding those I enjoy to my library. When this bottle arrived, I was cautiously excited. The presentation is wonderful, with a beautiful expensive looking label on the front and a backstory that made me curious as to what the quality would be inside the bottle. After all, there’s only a handful of working distilleries in Ireland, and Pugilist Spirits is not one of them. This was obviously an upstart...

You can read the review in its entirety over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#30DaysofBourbon Review


September sure flew by fast. We’re at the end of Bourbon Heritage Month and my #30DaysofBourbon challenge.

Honestly, when I invited folks to join in on the fun, I was completely unprepared for the participation rate. It was wonderful to see all of the #30DaysofBourbon hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I tried to visit and like as many of them as possible, but there are thousands of these posts. I hope between my fellow Bourbon & Banter contributors and me; we caught a majority of them...

You can read the remainder of this article at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

High West Bourye "Limited Sighting" (2017) Review & Tasting Notes


Bourye is a beautiful whiskey with a great dark amber color. With a slight twirl of the glass, it gives off some nice thick legs. Past renditions of this blend I have not enjoyed, however, I have been very happy with this “Limited Sighting,” as High West is calling it.

You can read this review in its entirety at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rowan's Creek Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Tonight I'm pouring Rowan's Creek Small Batch Bourbon. This is a sourced whiskey aged and bottled by Willett Distillery and bottled at 100.1°. My batch number is 15-54.

In the glass, Rowan's Creek has a deep golden appearance. A swirl in the glass leaves a very heavy rim that soon produces fat legs.

The aroma is a husky caramel mixed with a floral bouquet. Behind that is a hint of honey. Inhaling through my mouth features a stronger honey and light citrus.

The mouth feel is amazingly thick. It coats the tongue, but soon thins out. The palate is cinnamon, caramel, corn, nuts, cereal and honey. It is a bit complex and takes several sips to nail down the various flavors.

The finish is not as long as one would hope. There's a very enjoyable flavor that just disappears too quickly. Dry wood is left behind along with vanilla.

Rowan's Creek is fairly easy to locate and for the $30 and change this sets you back, it is well worth it. As usual, the folks at Willett are very skilled at sourcing and aging great whiskey. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maker's Mark Cask Strength Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

In honor of my friend Brent, tonight's pour is Maker's Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (Maker's uses no "e"). This is a completely different profile than your standard Maker's Mark. The standard is 90°, and Batch 15-02 Cask Strength is 111.6°. If you're not into high-proof whiskeys, this may be the pour that changes your mind.

The appearance is an inviting copper. Swirling it in the glass leaves a thin rim that generated a combination of thin and thick legs. The thin drop to the pool quickly, the thick take their time. That's an interesting, unique quality I've not seen before.

The nose is sweet and spicy with caramel, cinnamon and wheat, which if you enjoy Maker's Mark is expected, but is more pronounced. That's followed by orange peel and a gentle aroma of oak. Vanilla becomes a big deal when inhaling through my mouth.

Once this Bourbon hits the tongue and palate, the assumed "burn" never appears. There is warmth but no fire. The mouth feel is soft and thinner than expected. Caramel and cinnamon, sweet corn and vanilla is what's there. They are bold flavors and perfectly matched.

The finish disappoints if you're seeking that burn. It isn't the longest finish and is a reminder of everything enjoyed so far with an added flavor of dry oak.

Adding two drops of water blows up the caramel and vanilla on the nose, adds citrus to the palate, yet doesn't modify the mouth feel or finish. Honestly, I prefer this neat.

I'm very impressed with this Bourbon and hope this is a permanent offering from Maker's Mark. A 750ml runs about $65 and is worth every penny. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#30DaysofBourbon Challenge (2017)


Bourbon is America’s native spirit. September is Bourbon Heritage Month. Attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is high up on my bucket list. Every year, I say next year will be the year I make it happen. I’ve been saying that for several years now. One day, it will happen.

A few years ago, realizing that my trip was still out of reach, I wanted to do something to help celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month. I came up with a 30 Days of Bourbon challenge...

You can read the remainder of this article over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Teeling Brothers In Arms Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


It has been a while since I've sat out on the porch and enjoyed the relaxing qualities it offers. Part of that has been due to the summer humidity, part of that has been due to family needs. But, today is a gorgeous day weather-wise and, well, here I am.

I'm sipping on an Irish whiskey tonight. This beauty is from the Teeling brothers, Jack and Stephen. Yes, those Teeling brothers. It is called Brothers in Arms, a marriage of two single malts. It carries a 14-year age statement because that's the younger of the two, the older being 21 years. Brothers in Arms is sold exclusively by Vom Fass.

The appearance is bright gold. Swirling it around in the glass provides a thick rim of whiskey that sticks to the sides and develops thick legs.

The nose begins fruity, very much a crisp apple, which is followed by an abundance of malted barley. Inhaling through my lips brings honey and a tad of citrus.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but it also is only 84°, as such it is not unexpected. On the palate, flavors of toffee, nuts, chocolate, and honey shine through.

Finally, there's the finish. It is a little shocking to have the level of spice it has. It isn't what I'd classify as overwhelming but nonetheless is strong. It hangs at the top of my throat.

Overall, this is a very smooth drinker and is quite enjoyable. I'm happy to have it in my library. Cheers!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Today was my father-in-law’s celebration of life. It was an amazing day to honor a great man. From the 21-gun salute the American Legion presented to the outpouring of love, it was just humbling.

I wanted to pour something special, and this Knob Creek 25th Anniversary bottle has been waiting for an excuse to be opened.

The KC 25th is selected especially by Fred Noe, Jim Beam's Master Distiller. A few versions are floating around on store shelves; this particular one is bottled at 123.6° and was barreled on February 25, 2004, where it rested until 2017. It is unfiltered, and cask strength, with a caveat that it was "quality screened to remove any pieces of charred barrel wood from the liquid."

Appearance: In my glass, the appearance is an inviting, thick-looking, deep amber. Swirling it around in the Glencairn glass leaves a significant rim of whiskey that produces a limited number of legs that take their time dropping. In fact, they just kind of park there and never quite fall to the pool.

Nose: The nose is fruity, followed by caramelized sugar. Breathing the aroma through my lips brings almost a dry vanilla quality.

Palate: The first pass over my tongue proves the appearance. This has a very thick feel to it. Heavy vanilla and sweet fruit roll on the palate, leading to oak and a dash of pepper spice.

Finish: That pepper spice then begins to build on the finish. Like many KC 120s, this is very soft for a Bourbon of this proof. But, the finish also makes itself known and isn't lost in that softness.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Overall, this is an excellent Bourbon. However, so are many KC 120 store picks that can be had for a third of the cost. That isn't to say I'm disappointed, but it is hard to justify the $130 price tag on this one when you realize the aforementioned store picks.

If you're a massive fan of Knob Creek, this is undoubtedly a great addition to your collection. But I might spend that same money elsewhere for the average Bourbon fan. As such, it earns a Bar rating. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Store Pick 101: The Private Barrel


One of my favorite aspects of being a whiskey reviewer isn’t writing reviews. Oh, believe me, I love writing reviews. I try to compose one at least weekly. But what I enjoy best is helping folks new to the Wonderful World of Whiskey learn everything they can. I think that’s because I had great people guiding me when I was new to the scene.

Many of you have heard the terms Private Barrel or Store Pick. While these words are commonly used amongst experienced whiskey drinkers, they may not mean much to those who are not. I’m about to tell you everything you’ll ever want to know about the Private Barrel or Store Pick...

You can read the rest of this article at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

George Dickel No. 8 Classic Recipe Tennessee Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


I've never reviewed Tennessee Whisky before, mostly because I rarely drink it. I have been in a very #DrinkCurious mindset; lately, an opportunity has presented itself, and, well, here we are.

There is a lot of controversy as to whether or not Tennessee Whisky meets the standards of Bourbon. I remember asking Jim Rutledge of Four Roses what his thoughts were; he gave me a definitive "No," but he also had a huge smile when he said it.

I can tell that Tennessee Whisky meets every standard required to be labeled as Bourbon.

Today I'm pouring George Dickel No. 8 Classic Recipe. It has been a few years since I tasted anything Dickel. And now, it is time for the review.

Appearance: The appearance is dark amber. Swirling it around in my Glencairn glass leaves thin, watery legs that quickly drop back into the pool of whisky.

Nose: The aroma is heavy citrus that then becomes reminiscent of Old English furniture polish. It is pleasant at first but then causes me to wrinkle my nose. Behind that is some faint oak. Breathing through my open mouth yields many levels of unpleasantness.

And, I will do something I have never done before in a review because I want to be fair. I've already let this rest several minutes, and I'm letting this sit another ten minutes before continuing.

That extra resting period was what was needed. That up-front citrus remained, and behind that, apple or pear. The oak is not coming through. Inhaling through my mouth brought more apple or pear.

Palate: The first run on my palate gives crisp apple, honey, and mild wood. There's not much else. A second sip brings more wood that becomes very dry, and that apple is muted with mint in its place. The mouthfeel is creamy and amazingly smooth.

Finish: The finish is all front and consists of spice and dry wood. It lingers for several minutes. Some may think there is a lot of burn in that finish, but in my opinion, that's just dry.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At 80°, George Dickel No. 8 is easy to have in your mouth, it has a welcoming texture, but I'm not enjoying the flavor. As such, I can't recommend this, even with its attractive $20 price point. It 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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Laphroaig Select, 10-Year Cask Strength, Lore, 15-Year, Quarter Cask


I’m breaking new ground. I’m into that lately. Last night I attended a whisky-tasting event, and I’m ready to review six whiskies in one consolidated read.

If you’ve picked up on how I spelled whisky, you’ll notice I left off the “e.” That’s purposeful because last night I was drinking Scotch. The Scots typically leave out two things: aging whisky in new barrels and an “e” when spelling whisky.

I was at The Malt House in Madison. The Malt House does a lot of these tastings throughout the year. They have usually priced these events very attractively, in this case, $26 gets you a flight of six whiskies from Laphroaig. Laphroaig is a distillery in the Islay region with a rich history going back to 1815. If you’re unfamiliar with Islay, whiskies that come from the region are typically peaty. If the term peat is foreign to you, that’s a plant material that’s burned to dry malted barley. Peat usually gives a whisky a smoky or ashy flavor. The more peat used, the smokier the flavor in the whisky.

Peat is usually something folks need to grow into to enjoy. For example, when people tell me they don’t like whisky, they usually cite the smokiness or ash flavor as being one of the two main reasons.


Laphroaig Select Review

A decent starting point for those new to peated Scotches would be Laphroaig Select. This 80° Scotch is blended from whiskies aged in a variety of casks, including sherry, American white oak, quarter and ex-Bourbon.

The appearance is a very pale yellow. Swirling it in my Glencairn glass left extremely thin legs that quickly dropped. The nose offered peat up front. I also picked up barley and chocolate, along with a certain sweetness. Inhaling through my mouth didn’t reveal what the sweetness might be.

The mouthfeel was light, and first taste a bit shocking. I expected peat and while there was some, it was very faint. A second taste presented mint, a slight spiciness and behind that, chocolate.

The finish hangs around a bit, giving the spiciness and that slight peat that warms the throat.

Overall, Laphroaig Select is a pleasant pour. A bottle was available for $60. Considering how pricey Scotches typically are compared to American whiskeys, this is one you may want to try at a Bar before buying a bottle on your own.


Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Review

The next selection was Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength. Bottled at 111.4°, this one has a bit of a punch.

The appearance was a deep gold that produced thin legs in my glass when swirled. Despite being thin, the legs slowly dropped back into the liquid. The nose was very rich. I picked up caramel, wood, an astringent quality, iodine, and peat. The peat was not the dominant aroma but it did work its way through much of the others. When I inhaled through my mouth, I also picked up a grassy taste.

The mouthfeel was very creamy. My first taste was distracted by all that creaminess. The second pass gave way to thick caramel, pepper, chocolate and a sugary sweetness in the back. That’s not something that I find in a lot of Scotches.

The finish is long and warm, full of mint, wood, and a sweet smokiness. There was, behind all of that, something metallic that took away from my total appreciation of this Scotch. I still enjoyed it, but at $70 a bottle, it leaves something for consideration. As a big fan of cask-strength whiskies, I’m not completely convinced. It takes a Bar rating.


Laphroaig Lore Review

Laphroaig Lore is made up of whiskies aged in quarter casks, sherry casks and ex-peated casks. Bottled at 96°, it is presented as the richest offering and said to come from the distillery’s “most precious stock.” It comes bearing no age statement.

The appearance is a dark gold with very thick legs. Those legs take their time making it back down into the pool of whisky. The nose is saline, smoky, ashy and when inhaling through my mouth, I picked up leather.

The mouthfeel was on the oily side. But, the palate presented creamy vanilla, spice, and peat. Behind that was a certain sweetness along with a slightly salty quality. Think salted caramel.

The finish was most interesting. While concentrating on the salted caramel, there was a spice beginning to build, which then remained on the upper palate.

Lore comes with a $120 price tag. It certainly is complex and worth exploring. For the price, I’m going to suggest finding a good whisky Bar and sample for yourself.


Laphroaig 15 Review

Laphroaig 15 is an amazingly different choice. It reminded me a lot of a good Bunnahabhain. The peat on this is muted and at 86°, it allows you to explore other flavors.

The appearance of this whisky is bright gold. Swirling it in the glass left very light legs. You don’t even notice them dropping back into the pool. The nose has a saline quality, there’s no real peated flavor behind it. Also picked up was honey and vanilla. I picked up citrus when inhaling through my mouth.

The mouthfeel was soft and gentle. The first pass on the palate brought smoke, citrus zest, and a malty chocolate. Behind that was honey, a fruitiness that was difficult to identify (but not the citrus presented on the nose).

The finish was very mild, a mix of smoke, salt, and caramel. It faded quickly but encouraged me to take another sip.

At $85 a Bottle, I’d be very interested in adding this to my library.


Laphroaig Quarter Cask Review

Next up is the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. I’ve heard a lot about the Quarter Cask, but never had an opportunity to try it until this event. Bottled at 96°, this peated Scotch shocked me.

The appearance is more golden than any of the other previous selections. Swirling it in the Glencairn left very thick and short legs that never really seemed to descend back into the whisky. The nose was heavy on wood. Then, almost shoving that wood out of the way came a mixture of citrus and berries. Peat was also present which built up smoke each time I swirled the whisky around. Inhaling through my mouth brought more berry sweetness.

The mouthfeel was thin, but that’s nothing like the palate or finish. Sweetness takes over nearly everything on the palate. There’s a light amount of peat, the berry really pounds through and wants to take front stage. Behind that, the malt offers a cereal and nutty quality.

The finish doesn’t disappoint, either. There is a light smokiness that just hangs around, followed by a bit of a building spice. That sweetness doesn’t let go.

At $60 for the Bottle, this becomes a very exciting pour.


Laphroaig Triple Wood Review

Laphroaig Triple Wood was my favorite pour of the night. What is surprising about my saying that is that I tasted Triple Wood several years ago at Whisky Extravaganza in Miami… and I hated it. Thankfully, I try to keep an open mind and am usually willing to revisit things I don’t initially care for. The Triple Wood is bottled at 96°.

The appearance is a lovely darker amber, which reminds me of so many Bourbons. Swirling it around left thin legs that quickly worked their way back down the glass. The nose offered very heavy wood, light peat, vanilla and saline. I also picked up chocolate when I inhaled through my mouth.

The mouthfeel was beyond creamy. A first pass over the palate made it difficult to identify tastes beyond the cream. The second pass brings bright fruit and then what can only be described as rolling vanilla. It just rolls over the palate in waves with light smoke. I was shocked that, despite making a presence, the wood did not overtake the rest of the flavors.

The finish was incredibly mild. The cream just keeps coming and that light smoky woodiness hangs around.

At $70 for a bottle, this is almost a bargain. I would buy this with absolutely no regrets. It takes my Bottle rating.

Final Thoughts:  In the end, I had a lot of fun at The Malt House’s Laphroaig sampling. I was able to enjoy tasting these Scotches with many other fans. It was great to see Bill Rogers, the owner of The Malt House, and Fred, who is usually the one pouring for everyone again. It was a nice surprise to have Adam Clark of Beam-Suntory and Patrick Quinlan from Frank Liquor represent their brand in style.

I’ve had my eyes opened to Laphroaig. I’m paying attention. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rebel Yell 10-Year Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I’ve had this bottle of Rebel Yell 10 Single Barrel since February. I’ve delved into it several times, but I’ve not yet put together a review. That’s all about to change.

The Rebel Yell label is owned by Luxco, the same folks that bring us Ezra Brooks, David Nicholson, Blood Oath and Yellowstone. Rebel Yell is sourced and it is believed by several folks this Bourbon comes from Heaven Hill. My bottle is from Barrel # 4744352 and was distilled September 2005. From the name, it carries a 10-year age statement.

Rebel Yell is a wheat Bourbon, or wheater. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, wheater means instead of using rye as the second largest ingredient in the mash bill, the distiller uses wheat. Wheaters are typically softer and sweeter than traditional and high-rye Bourbons, as the wheat allows the corn sweetness to shine through. Some other well-known wheaters are Maker’s Mark, W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, and, of course, Pappy Van Winkle.

How does Rebel Yell 10 stack up?

The appearance is a pleasing orangish-amber. It doesn’t look “young” in the glass. Swirling it around leaves a very thin rim in my Glencairn that produces slow, almost non-moving legs.

Running it under my nose brings aromas of vanilla, caramel, and an orange candy. There’s a light oak that tries to work its way through. Inhaling through my open mouth brings out the oak and that orange candy really punches through.

The mouthfeel is extremely light, it almost is airy on my tongue. On first taste, the first thing to hit me is caramel, followed then by orange, and that by oak. That oak then starts to build and hangs out mid-palate. The second sip brings less caramel and more orange and then leather. To say this doesn’t have a complex palate would be extremely unfair.

At 100°, you’d expect some burn. If that’s what you crave, you’ll be disappointed. The finish is much lighter than I was prepared for, but it is long as it hangs out mid-palate. I feel nothing on the back palate and there’s no warming in my throat.

Rebel Yell 10 is priced at $49.99. As this is where many craft labels like to price themselves (I’m not considering Rebel Yell a craft whiskey by any means), that’s a crowded spot on the liquor store shelf. Should you buy it? Overall, I’m quite pleased with Rebel Yell 10 and would have no qualms pulling the trigger. It earned my Bottle rating.

Enjoy the rest of your evening. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Making the Case to #DrinkCurious


Do you like a whiskey because you’re expected to like it? Do you hate another because you’ve not heard anything good about it? Are you a fanboy of a certain distiller (or producer), and absolutely anything that comes from them gets a free pass? Have you had a bad glass of whatever, and you’ve judged the entire product line based on your bad experience?

I keep thinking back to Old Weller Antique. My wife was kind enough to buy me a bottle several years ago. She was in the business and told it was very decent. I tried it. I hated it. I mean, I really, really hated it, to the point where I poured the remainder down the drain several months later because we were moving and, well, I didn’t want to go cross country with something I couldn’t stand...

You can read this article in its entirety over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

KOVAL Millet Single Barrel Whiskey Review

This is the last review featuring this Glencairn glass. No, we aren't parting ways. I love writing for Bourbon & Banter, and my fellow bloggers are a fantastic bunch.

What I do have is a new glass that will debut with my next review. This one is going into retirement. 


The pour is KOVAL Single Barrel Millet Whiskey. KOVAL is a unique distillery based in Chicago. They really do their own distilling and are not bottling someone else's product. It should also be noted KOVAL is owned by and run by women. That's also somewhat unique in this typical male-dominated industry. 


Millet is an exciting choice. As an ancient grain, it is gluten-free. It is also a grain that few, if any, distilleries use at least as a primary part of the mash. In this case, KOVAL uses a 100% certified organic millet mash. 


The appearance of this whiskey has an attractive orangish copper color. I can't very well say I've seen that in others. Swirling it in the glass leaves a thick rim that produces wide legs. Those legs do descend quickly. 


The nose is grainy and floral. That's obviously the millet. There is some light wood that permeates through. Inhaling through my open lips doesn't change it up. It is clean but curious. Running it past my lips brings a light sweetness with caramel, allspice, and slight woodiness that reminds me of cedar. 


The finish is drier than expected. It hangs around mid-palate and offers a bit of smokiness to savor. 


At only 80°, this goes down very easily. Despite the dry and smoky part of the finish, there is no real burn. The fun thing about this is how unique it tastes; it entices you to keep sipping to figure out what is happening.


As far as a purchase recommendation, price becomes a serious consideration. Like many craft whiskeys, KOVAL shoots for that $50 price point. KOVAL Millet is so unique I recommend finding a good whiskey Bar and buying a pour, then deciding for yourself. I'm happy to have this as part of my library, but it can't be pigeonholed with anything else. Cheers!



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Tonight's pour is Maker's 46. If you're unfamiliar with it, the best explanation is it is the Maker's Mark you know and love that has been finished using French oak staves. It is also only finished during the Winter season.

I've reviewed Maker's 46 a few times. One of the reasons I love it is because of all the big flavor.

The appearance is a beautiful rich amber, and swirling it in my Glencairn forces the whiskey to cling to the sides. Interestingly enough, they don't really drop. They just hang there.

The nose is an amazing sweet fruit followed by vanilla. The fruit really presents itself and is domineering.

When I bring the glass to my lips and inhale, the fruitiness disappears and instead I pick up thick chocolate. That's totally unexpected!

The first taste is the sweet wheat you expect from Maker's Mark, and from there flavor changes to cherry. There's a little bit of chocolate for good measure, and then that French oak brings the spiciness that continues to build to an amazing finish. The combination can best be described as delightful.

At only 94° there is more tingle from the finish than you might have assumed.

For the $34 spent, Maker's 46 is something I'm proud to have and will definitely be a permanent part of my whiskey library.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Welcome to the Whiskeyfellow blog!

Hello and welcome!  I am Whiskeyfellow and I appreciate you joining me.  For those who have never read one of my whiskey reviews, I'm not new at this.  I'd like to provide you with a little background on who I am, what I do, and how I rate whiskeys.

For the most part, this blog will be a blog of my whiskey reviews. I will, at times, offer advice and news.  I'll also post links to my events.  I review all types of whiskeys and whiskey-related merchandise. I don't review anything else (well, that's not true, I do have a Yelp! account).

I host a Facebook page where nearly everything I've written has been cataloged. You can also purchase tickets for my whiskey workshops, tastings and Whiskeyfellow merchandise there.    You can also find me on Instagram, where you can find abbreviated reviews due to restrictions in the amount of text.

I am a Senior Contributor at Bourbon & Banter, a Top 10 whiskey website.  I love B&B, it gave me my first real exposure to a larger audience and introduced me to the online world.

There are a variety of ways folks can rate whiskeys. In my opinion, reviews and ratings should be simple and easy for readers to understand. You will never, ever see references to things you can't wrap your head around, such as whiskeys reminding someone of lilac from grandma's attic or having flavors of completely obtuse things that 99% of whiskey drinkers have never tried. My goal is for the reader to relate to my reviews and leave with as clear an understanding as possible.

Clarity doesn't end there. I have a very simple rating system that comes from Bourbon & Banter and that's the Bottle, Bar, or Bust system.  Bottle means buy it, this is a great whiskey and something you'll be happy to own. Bar means it is not something that may not be worth buying but should definitely be tried so you can judge for yourself. Bust means if you see it on the shelf, slowly set the bottle back on the shelf, turn around, and run away.  I've written more details on this rating system and why it is superior to other rating systems at Bourbon & Banter and you can access that here.

I enjoy whiskeys from all price points. For many years, I have run a very serious #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign. There are some amazing value whiskeys on that bottom shelf. At the same time, there are some whiskeys that absolutely belong there. On the flip side, I've had some completely awful, expensive whiskeys and some delicious ones. My best advice to anyone is to never buy a whiskey on hype or price. Know what you're getting into, otherwise, you'll find yourself spending a lot of money and suffering from a lot of buyer's remorse.

Finally, my reviews are honest. Many times, distilleries or representatives will send me whiskeys to review. Sending me free whiskey is awesome and I'm always excited when one shows up on my doorstep. But, I will not improve a rating because someone sent me a free sample. If a whiskey is a great whiskey, it will earn a positive rating. And, if a whiskey is mediocre or substandard, expect a rating to reflect that.

Thank you again for joining me.  If you have questions, by all means, please ask.  Cheers!