Thursday, December 30, 2021

Octomore 12.3 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Transparency is important. If there’s a possible conflict of interest, you need to know about it. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a group of influencers selected to launch Octomore to the US market. Last year, it was series 11, this year, series 12. Bruichladdich compensated me to write content for the release of each. It also provided me with samples of 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Bruichladdich tasked me with putting together tasting notes for 12.2. That left me with samples of 12.1 and 12.3 to review above and beyond my now-completed assignment. You can read my review of 12.1 here, and today I’m sipping 12.3, and this is my final review of 2021.


If you’re curious about the numbering system, that’s pretty easy to explain. The first number refers to the series release number. In this case, it is 12, meaning the 12th release of Octomore. The other numbers are slightly less indicative:  x.1, x.2, x.3, and x.4. What do they mean?


  • The first is the standard for the release, the core whisky, if you will. It always starts with 100% Scottish barley and is typically aged in first-fill Bourbon casks.
  • The next, x.2, follows the same base as x.1 but is aged in some variation of European oak.
  • The third, x.3, is a single vintage, single field, single malt expression. It is 100% Islay malted barley grown on the Octomore farm. They’re typically aged in a combination of American and European oak.   
  • The last, x.4, is released every other year and matures in virgin oak or a combination of virgin and vintage oak. When x.4 is off-year, it is replaced by Octomore 10-Year.

For the 12th edition, 12.3 starts with a 2014 harvested crop of concerto barley from Church Field on Octomore farm, which was distilled in 2015. The PPM of phenol is 118.1. The distillate aged in first-fill Bourbon casks (75%) and first-fill Pedro Ximenez sherry butts.


Those sherry butts are essential. In this case, they came from the Fernando de Castilla bodega in Juarez. These are retired from its solera system, so you’re getting a real sherry influence versus a sherry seasoned one.




While 12.3 carries no age statement, it rested in its cooperage for five years. Once dumped, the only thing added was a quick splash of Octomore spring water. Nothing that would have even a negligible impact on proof. Octomore is naturally-colored and non-chill filtered. Bottled at 62.1% ABV (124.2°), you can expect to pay about $289.00 for a 750ml package. That is if you can find it.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch appeared as brilliant gold. It formed a medium rim that created thick, speedy legs.


Nose:  I let this whisky sit in the glass for about 15 minutes before I approached it. At that time, the air in my whiskey library filled with sweet barbeque smoke. When I brought the glass to my face, I smelled brine, lemon and orange peel, pineapple, apricot, and malt. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, it was like a vanilla bomb exploded.


Palate:  You’ve heard of Big Oil, right? Well, that pretty much describes the mouthfeel. It was full-bodied for sure! The front of the palate featured citrus, pineapple, honey barbeque sauce, and dry smoke. Following were brine, caramel, and malt. The back offered flavors of English toffee, apple, pear, vanilla, and oak.


Finish: Here’s where things really got interesting. The finish was dry and very long. Barbeque smoke, pimento wood, honey, citrus, caramel, and brine remained.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I say the finish was interesting because there were a lot of bold qualities competing with one another, yet none overpowered. Instead, they were complimentary. Look, I’ve been fascinated with the Octomore line, and 12.3 doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this one is my favorite between 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Is it worth the price? If you’re a fan of peat and of Octomore, this is a slam-dunk Bottle. However, this may be too big of a whisky at too high of a price for the casual drinker. 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, December 29, 2021

The GlenDronach Original Aged 12 Years Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There is something to be said about whisky from one of the oldest-licensed distilleries in Scotland. It is difficult to suggest it doesn't know what it is doing. There is something to be said about a distillery specializing in one niche of cooperage since 1826. Again, it isn't easy to say it wouldn't have some expertise in the matter. 

That distillery is The GlenDronach. In 1868, it was the largest duty-paying distillery in the Scottish Highlands. It operated continuously until 1996, when it was mothballed, only to be resurrected six years later. It was one of the last distilleries to utilize coal-fed fire to heat its stills. In 2005, it converted to steam-heat.

"We are renowned as the masters of sherry cask maturation, and our Highland whiskies are recognised for their deep colour and rich flavour profiles, which range from sweet fruity flavours, from the Pedro Ximenez casks we select, to the dry and nutty notes, from superb Oloroso casks. Our well-kept secrets have been guarded for nearly 200 years by a parliament of rooks who love The GlenDronach so much they try to nest in the warehouses. The distillery folk believe as long as the rooks remain at the distillery, it will be good for the whisky." - The GlenDronach

Its Master Blender is Dr. Rachel Barrie. She also serves as Master Blender at The BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. 

The GlenDronach's basic, core Scotch is called Original Aged 12 Years. It is a single-malt that's been aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. There is no artificial coloring added. Bottled at 43% ABV (that's 86°), the suggested retail is $62.99.

The GlenDronach is an unpeated Scotch, so this could be appealing if smoky isn't your jam. 

I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing a sample of The Original Aged 12 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and discover if this core whisky is worth picking up.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch offered the color of deep gold with a slight red tinge. A medium rim formed, which led to an exciting marriage of thick, fast legs and sticky droplets.

Nose:  As soon as I poured it into my glass, the air filled with fruity aromas. I could nail down raisin, plum, apple, and pear, but an unmistakable fragrance of honey mingled with the fruit. When I drew the vapor into my lips, more fruit, this time apricot, waltzed across my tongue. 

Palate:  As the whisky rolled past my lips, my mouth was greeted by an oily mouthfeel with a medium-weighted body. Ginger stood in tandem with green grape and orange peel on the front. The middle was simple, consisting of malt and dark chocolate. Flavors of leather, sweet tobacco, and oak were on the back.

Finish:  A medium-long, peppery finish added raisin, leather, and oak, which seemed to compliment the palate.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Overall, I've been impressed with The GlenDronach's whiskeys. This was my first experience with its base product. I loved the nose, the palate, and the finish. There was a complete absence of anything remotely astringent (Band-aid taste), and that's a net positive for me. Frankly, for $62.99, I believe Original Aged 12 Years is a bargain and definitely earns 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 that you do so responsibly.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Dry Fly Single Barrel 100% Triticale Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Triticale is special. It is a grain developed back in the 19th century by the Scots and Germans, a hybrid of rye and wheat. The goal was to create a grain that benefited from wheat, which was a high-yield crop, and rye, which was disease-resistant and highly tolerant of environmental conditions.  The result, at least at the time, was to feed livestock. And, as an interesting side-note, if you’re a Star Trek fan, guess what grain the Tribbles got into?


Almost two years ago, I reviewed a 100% Straight Triticale Whiskey from Dry Fly Distilling. It was a three-year, 90° whiskey that I enjoyed, and it earned a Bottle rating.  You can read about it here.


I have to admit, I’ve not thought much about Dry Fly since that review, not because it is unimportant; rather, I’ve just not stumbled on anything else since (for the record, I also reviewed the Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey, which also took a Bottle rating. So, imagine my pleasant surprise when a friend provided me a sample of a single barrel release of its Triticale Whiskey.


It is the same 100% Triticale mashbill, using the same 53-gallon Independent Stave Company new, American oak barrels, except instead of being aged three years, this barrel was aged eight. It also weighs in at an Haz-Mat 147.36°!  I couldn’t find a price for this whiskey, so my rating will not take the price into account.  For the record, this sample comes from Barrel 131.


Without further ado, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this aged, high-proof whiskey is all about.


Appearance:  Tasted neat in my Glencairn glass, this whiskey offered a deep, caramel color. With the limited amount of water left in the barrel, there wasn’t much to the rim. Everything just ran back down the wall and into the pool.


Nose:  The aroma began with berry and cherry, and underneath those, I smelled vanilla mint. When I took the air into my mouth, I could only pull oak. It is important to note there was absolutely no alcohol punch despite the intense proof.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was medium-bodied with a slightly oily texture. Almond and vanilla were on the front, berry and mint on the middle, and black pepper, clove, and cinnamon on the back.


Finish:  There was no astringent quality. There was, however, a long, heavy oak influence. Hints of berry and nutmeg were there, but they were overpowered by freshly-cracked black pepper and cinnamon Red-Hots.


I enjoyed the 3-year more than this single barrel. One of the reasons was the 3-year came across as similar to a Lowland Scotch. This single barrel was more of a traditional wheat whiskey with plenty of spice. However, I decided to go an extra step and see what two drops of distilled water would do considering the proof was so high.


Nose:  Things were heavily muted, but I was able to smell thick caramel and roasted almonds. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, there was more vanilla.


Palate:  The weirdest thing happened as I took my sip. It started with vanilla and then became the absolute hottest, spiciest cinnamon I’ve ever tasted. Red Hots is a candy that is intensely cinnamon. I can eat Red Hots and smile. This did not make me smile at all. In fact…


Finish:  I have never, ever had a whiskey make me cry before. Today, that changed. I felt like I took a swig of napalm. Tears came from my eyes, and I had to grab a fistful of animal crackers to put out that fire.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I stated earlier, I’m not sure what this whiskey retails for, and conveniently enough, it doesn’t matter. Neat, this takes a Bar rating. If you enjoy munching on ghost peppers like anyone else would eat popcorn, this one is going to be for you. I don’t know anyone who does that. As such, with water, it is an easy Bust


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, December 24, 2021

Winchester Extra Smooth Rye Review & Tasting Notes


Every so often, I let my excitement over finding something new get in the way of my better senses. When perusing the aisle of a Total Wine & Liquor in Minneapolis, I found a 50ml taster of Winchester Extra Smooth Rye.  I believe it was $1.99, so what did I have to lose?


When I got back to my whiskey library and updated my inventory, my heart sank. I saw that the distillery was TerrePURE.  What’s TerrePURE?  Well, it has created a method using sound waves to hyper-age whiskey. I’ve been down this road with them before, once with their OZ Tyler Bourbon, and again with the OZ Tyler Rye. Here are my two ratings:


As it turns out, TerrePURE moved operations to North Charleston, South Carolina, so perhaps OZ Tyler recognized its brand was being ruined and kicked them out. Or, it could have been something else.


Here I sit, glass in hand, trying to remind myself that I have a #DrinkCurious lifestyle and everyone deserves a second (or third) chance.


Winchester Rye is aged six months in new oak. It doesn’t say “charred,” although you can assume as much to hit the rules with the TTB. It is bottled at 90°, and a 750ml can be acquired for $24.99 at Total Wine. The brand wants to let you know that in 2015, it won a silver medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.


Does that win translate for the hope that there was some improvement? I can divulge that I lived through the experience because you’re reading the review.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Winchester Rye presented as the color of gold. It formed a thick rim that made a curtain to fall back to the pool.


Nose:  I had to double-check the bottle to ensure that it didn’t say Listerine on it somewhere. A giant blast of menthol and mint struck me in the face. Dill and green oak followed after many attempts to get past it. Nervously, I took the air into my mouth, and the menthol and mint permeated all over.


Palate:  At this point, Mrs. Whiskeyfellow was humming to herself. I asked what was up (to delay the inevitable), and she indicated she enjoyed the show and the sounds I was making and pointed out that I hadn’t even tasted it yet. Well, that only wasted a few additional seconds. I sucked it up and took a taste. The mouthfeel was thin, and the palate was painfully young with mint and citrus. I sipped it again, hoping this was simply palate shock, and I was incorrect.


Finish:  Miracles do happen. The finish was about as short as I’ve ever experienced. There was a hint of caramel, then more mint and citrus.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The TerrePURE process is still horrific as this godawful Rye proves. Usually, I suggest what may improve things on a whiskey I don't like. There's no salvaging this. Long story short, Winchester Extra Smooth Rye is the worst thing I’ve tasted in 2021 and is a Bust.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Live Tasting of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Tasters on The Whiskey Ring Podcast


Every so often, I wind up on a podcast. This time, I show up on The Whiskey Ring podcast. David and I chatted for a little over two hours and I had no idea he was going to trim so little of it, this one is a whopping two hours long!

The subject was the Tennessee Tasters Collection from Jack Daniel's. I'll put together my reviews in one, big shebang in the near future. 

"A crossover! On this week's episode, I'm joined by Jeff Schwartz, AKA Whiskeyfellow. He's been writing about whiskey for several years on his Blog and  Facebook page - both of which you should definitely like and follow (Instagram, too!). We're tasting the Tennessee Tasters, a 7-bottle series from Jack Daniel's that's all experimental (until they aren't, of course)." - David Levine

The episode can be found here. Give him a follow while you're at it. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Abraham Bowman Rum Cask Finish Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The A. Smith Bowman Distillery is Virginia's oldest, tracing its roots before Prohibition. Initially distilled in Sunset Hills on the family dairy farm and granary, the Bowmans used their excess grain to distill spirits. In 1934, the Bowmans built a state-of-the-art distillery at Sunset Hills Farm. Then, in 1988, a new distillery was constructed near Fredericksburg, about 60 miles away.


A. Smith Bowman doesn't do large-scale distilling. If you visit the campus, you'd consider it a micro-distillery more than anything else. Owned by Sazerac (Buffalo Trace and Barton), Bowman uses the relationship to craft its art.


This month, A. Smith Bowman has released a brand new, limited edition Bourbon called Abraham Bowman Rum Finished Bourbon, named for the commander of the 8th Virginia Regiment in the Revolutionary War. Abraham Bowman is considered the experimental line for the distillery, and in this case, it is one heck of an experiment.


It starts with a nine-year Bourbon aged in American white oak. That’s transferred to rum casks, where it is aged another six, bringing the total to 15 years, which, according to the distillery, might be the oldest rum-cask finished Bourbon ever brought to market.


“Our Abraham Bowman series allows the flexibility to experiment and discover unique new expressions, permitting us to gain new insights along the way. The age on this rum-finished release is unparalleled and resulted in one of our favorite finishes to date.”Brian Prewitt, Master Distiller


Packaged at 50% ABV (100°), you can expect to pay $69.99 for a  750ml. The trick is, you have to hit up the distillery gift shop or win a draw on the Virginia ABC Board lottery to acquire one.


Before I get to the whole #DrinkCurious thing, I’d like to thank A. Smith Bowman for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  I poured this Bourbon neat in my Glencairn glass. The color was an enchanting, deep, reddish-orange. I purposefully chose enchanting because I became lost just staring at it. When I was able to break my gaze, I noticed a medium-thick rim yielded fat, sticky tears.


Nose: Molasses, spiced vanilla, caramel, and candied orange peel formed an enticing aroma. It sounds almost like a cheat, but rum-soaked fruitcake rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate:  Engage the US Coast Guard because there was a massive oil spill in my mouth! English toffee, leather, and pipe tobacco on the front gave way to vanilla, orange zest, and brown sugar at the middle. Charred oak, white pepper, and toasted coconut formed the back.


Finish:  An exaggerated finish of dry leather, pipe tobacco, vanilla, brown sugar, char, and white pepper parked on my tongue and hard palate. It warmed my throat and kept my attention.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is only a $69.00 Bourbon? Yes, you’re probably looking at secondary just to obtain a bottle. I disapprove of the black market, but I can tell you that I’d buy this at retail all day long and never look back. A Bottle rating for sure, 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, December 19, 2021

Homegrown Boone's Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Oh, gosh. There is so much going on here that I don’t know where to start. So, I’ll start from the beginning.


There is a distillery I’ve never heard of called Striped Pig Distillery.  It was the first legal South Carolina distillery since the end of Prohibition and is located in Charleston.


There is a musician named Tyler Boone, who I’ve also never heard of. That’s not saying much because I don’t follow celebrities and don’t listen to Americana or Blues Alt Rock. Boone is also from Charleston.


Speaking of celebrities, there’s a thing about celebrity whiskey. It tends to be sub-par (and I’m being nice). That’s not to say that there aren’t good ones, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.


There are some dirty little secrets that most folks don’t know about most spirits competitions – one of which is anything that is entered automatically wins at least a Bronze medal unless it is so godawful it can’t be done with a straight face. But, in 2020, the New York International Spirits Competition named Hometown Boone’s Bourbon one of the six best in the world.


“NYISC differentiates itself from standard competitions in that the tasting panel is comprised entirely of professional buyers. This includes restaurant beverage directors, bartenders, bottleshop owners, etc. Furthermore, the liquids aren’t just judged by category, but price is also taken into consideration. And so there you’ll find some liquids that perhaps wouldn’t have a chance in other forums because you have a modest $20 bottle sized up against a $2000 showstopper. When cost is a factor, you end up with a fairer spectrum of finalists.” Forbes, August 28, 2020


The second secret is that anyone can be a judge at a spirits competition. You have respected people who do it, and you have people who you’ve never heard of. The only thing that matters is whether your palate and preferences align with theirs. This is why I don’t put stock in awards (except my own, which come out at the end of the year and just published last week). The third secret is most competitions are money-making opportunities for those who run the shows and marketing opportunities for those who enter.


Would I judge a whiskey competition? Indeed, and I’d be excited to do so. But, by giving up those secrets, I’ll likely never be invited to be a judge. It’s okay.


So, back to Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon. This is one of those things I saw when I dug through the 50ml bins at some random liquor store. But, you can get a 750ml for about $38.00. What’s in it?


It comes from 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It was then aged for a minimum of six months in American white oak chared barrels. That’s not my misspelling; it is Striped Pig’s. What size cooperage is used? I have no idea. There’s just so little information about one of the “top six” Bourbons in the world; it’s mind-blowing. The last fact is that it is bottled at 117°.

Finally, this comes from the same venue that utilizes the TerrePURE aging system. Does that mean this went through it? Who knows?

So, I’ve taken many potshots here at this still-untasted whiskey, and I need to remember to keep an open mind and #DrinkCurious. Maybe it is fantastic. Let’s see.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon presented as the color of golden straw. It formed a thin rim with sticky droplets that didn’t go anywhere.


Nose:  I was shocked as I pulled this young Bourbon to my face and didn’t get punched in the nose by ethanol. Instead, I took in corn, vanilla, and cinnamon sugar aromas. As I took the vapor into my mouth, more corn, albeit light, hit my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was interesting. It was thin but creamy at the same time. And, you know that ethanol punch that was missing on the nose? It was hiding on the palate. Caramel was on the front. The middle consisted of granny smith apple and barrel char. The back offered black pepper, clove, and cinnamon.


Finish:  The finish lasted many minutes. It also left my hard palate sizzling. Cinnamon spice, rye spice, black pepper, and charred oak were left behind, along with something decidedly sour.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This Bourbon needs to spend much more time in wood. It also proves the point that proof isn't everything. Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon is a perfect example of why spirits competitions are irrelevant. I’d hate to see what this whiskey was up against because this is absolutely not one of the six best Bourbons in the world. It is the consummate poster child for what celebrity whiskeys are and absolutely earned my Bust rating.

Addendum:  On Friday, January 7, 2022, Tyler Boone contacted me about this review:

"People love it, the brand is blowing up. It’s a labor of love, started it on credit cards & still invest all my money into it, one of the hardest things to do is start a brand, people do not know that. It’s a father & son business, gave half the company to my dad to help him out, it’s so much more than just a whiskey."

I did respond to Tyler that these are my honest tasting notes and that I did use a 50ml taster. I indicated that if he would provide a sample, I would be happy to give it a second chance. To date, there has been no response to my offer.


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, December 15, 2021

The 2021 Whiskeyfellow Awards Show

It didn’t seem like too long ago when I published my 2020 Best Whiskey Awards. And yet, here we are in December. This year went by so fast! It is already time to review my 2021 awards.


I know, I know, if you’re only recently enjoying my reviews, you’re likely rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, Oh… joy. Another list of whiskeys that I’ll never be able to taste. As the greatest clown/philosophizer said many times, Homey don’t play that!


What differentiates my “Best Of” list from most others is that mine is for the average whiskey drinker. What’s that mean? To begin with, for any whiskey to qualify for one of these awards, it must meet the following four requirements:


1.  It must have been something I’ve both tasted and reviewed this year. I don’t have a team of tasters who whittle something down for me to review. It is my palate that you put your trust in. And, as wonderful as something is, if I wrote about last year and am still drinking this year, that wouldn’t qualify for this year’s list.


2.  It must be fairly reasonable to get your hands on. I’m not suggesting that you can walk into any liquor store to find it – the three-tier distribution system makes that impossible. But, it also won’t be something you’d have to sell your soul to see in person, let alone acquire.


3.  It must be reasonably affordable. I tend to put a ceiling of $150.00 for my awarded whiskeys.


4.  It cannot be a store pick. While these are a fantastic way to taste truly unique whiskeys, the average whiskey drinker outside of the store’s or club’s locale typically can’t get their hands on a bottle.

In my opinion, the bottom line is that
for “a “Best” Of” list to have any value, it must contain whiskeys you can actually drink. Otherwise, what’s the point?


Something else I’ve never understood is how reviewers can name a Best Whisky/Whiskey of the Year way before the year is close to over (some publish theirs in September! That's why I wait until mid-December to hand out awards. I can safely say I've found my top whiskeys while still giving you some time to buy presents if you're so inclined.


I also occasionally tweak the categories. Last year, I added a Please Santa? Category. It allowed me to point out something genuinely outstanding that was either extraordinarily difficult to find or way above the average whiskey drinker’s bankroll. I added a Runner Up to each category (except Please Santa?) to highlight another excellent option this year. I'll not include links in an attempt to circumvent social media claiming my annual list is (yet again) clickbait. However, you are welcome to use the search function of my Blog to locate reviews that interest you.

This year, I reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 whiskeys. While that may seem like a lot, I've not tasted whiskeys from every available niche. If you don't see something in the category you're interested in, it means I either didn’t drink anything in that category, or if I did, I didn't find anything worthy of “a “Best” Of” award. Finally, all I care about is the liquid inside the bottle. It matters not if it is sourced or a brand's own distillate.


And now, let's get to it! Here’s the best of my #DrinkCurious journey for 2021:


Winner:  Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass

  • Date reviewed: March 24, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

This is probably the most unusual whiskey I’ve tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.  

If you’re adventurous and want to really #DrinkCurious, I’m here to tell you this will stimulate the heck out of you. Of course, I’m in that camp, which means Seagrass grabs my coveted Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Cat’s Eye Distillery Nassif Family Reserve

  • Date reviewed: January 29, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99

Nassif Family Reserve is touted as something approachable for beginners yet nuanced enough for more experienced sippers. Overall, I’d have to agree, although I’m left wondering if the 107° is a tad too aggressive for newbies. Regardless, I appreciated the nice balance between sweet and spice. The price offers no real barrier to entry. Do the math, and this one winds up snagging a Bottle rating.



Winner:  Boulder Spirits American Single Malt - Peated

  • Date reviewed: August 25, 2021
  • Price:  $55.00

This is a peated American Single Malt. There are so few of these out there that they’re special just by existing. But, this one is also delightful. It is lightly smoked. It is sweet. It has flavors that naturally transition from one to another. Even if you don’t like peat, this one is something you can work with. While the cost of a bottle is about average, there’s nothing average about this whiskey. If you see it, buy it. American Single Malt - Peated is a slam-dunk Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Cedar Ridge The Quintessential American Single Malt

  • Date reviewed: June 25, 2021
  • Price:  $59.99


The QuintEssential is a stand-out. I wish more American distilleries tinkered with peat. This American Single Malt is an excellent introduction because the peat is understated compared to the rest of this whiskey. I loved the fruitiness, I enjoyed the complexity, and I wish I could find something to complain about, but I can’t. Even the price is attractive. This is what American Single Malt should be and a super-easy Bottle rating.



Winner:  Stellum Rye

  • Date reviewed: April 14, 2021
  • Price:  $54.99

I’m not a fan of anise - at all. And, yet, Stellum managed to make anise work for whatever reason. This rye is a spice bomb. If you’ve never had American Rye before but have a preconceived notion of what it would taste like, Stellum Rye fits that bill almost perfectly. 

All the various spices mingled as if they were meant to be together (even the anise). The $54.99 price is more than fair, especially when you consider this is barrel-proof. I’m happy to convey my coveted Bottle rating for it.

Runner up:  Coalition Whiskey Margaux Barriques

  • Date reviewed: January 27, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

Coalition Margaux Barriques was, simply put, elegant. I’ve had several wine-finished whiskeys, and this one is a stand-out. The whiskey is a quality base, and the wine barrels were top-notch before the two even interacted. There was absolutely nothing not to like from nose to finish. Even the mouthfeel was luxurious. The fancy decanter was unnecessary - this could be packaged in a mason jar, and I would still not have any problem dropping $90.00 on it. Obviously, this grabs my coveted Bottle rating.



Winner:  Remus Repeal Reserve V

  • Date reviewed: July 19, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99


Everything about this Bourbon was delicious. But strange as this may sound, the luxurious mouthfeel eclipsed all that. This was easily the best batch of Remus Repeal Reserve I’ve had, the price is right, and I love the fact it is pretty easy to get your hands on. This is a slam-dunk Bottle rating. If I had, say, a Case rating, this would take that.


Runner up: Blood Oath Pact 7

  • Date reviewed: April 26, 2021
  • Price:  $99.99

All the Blood Oath Pacts are unique from one another, and of the (now) four I’ve reviewed, I’ve yet to find a cadaver. While Rempe won’t ever pony up his recipes, he knows what he’s doing. The more I sip this one, the more I enjoy it. I give props to Lux Row for keeping the price the same over the years and am happy to have this one in my library. Pick up a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed.



Winner: Paul John Christmas Edition 2021

  • Date reviewed: November 5, 2021
  • Price:  $84.99 

This is everything Christmas should be. It is sweet, smoky, and savory, and the flavors blend stupendously with one another. The fact that I only had a 50ml is heartbreaking because this whisky is stunning. The good news is that in my area Paul John Christmas Editions aren’t too difficult to come by, and I’ll track a Bottle down to earn a coveted place in my whiskey library.

Runner up:  M&H Elements Peated

  • Date reviewed: January 22, 2021
  • Price:  $65.00

The Elements Peated did an admirable job of reminding me of an Islay Scotch while still offering something a bit different. While not as heavily peated, if you told me that Ardbeg was the distiller, I’d accept it as gospel and wouldn’t balk at the price at all. The fact that it isn’t Ardbeg makes it even more intriguing, and as far as a rating goes, I’m sold!  M&H Elements Peated takes a no-brainer Bottle rating. 


 Winner:  Blue Spot

  • Date reviewed: October 8, 2021
  • Price:  $100.00

This is one dangerous whiskey. At no point did I recognize the proof. But, it sure recognized me. It came at me like a wave; I could feel the flush in my head. Despite that, I enjoyed every iota of Blue Spot. Is it worth $100.00? Yeah, it is. It also earned my Bottle rating, and if there were something higher, it would take that, too.

Runner up:  Jameson Black Barrel

  • Date reviewed: December 1, 2021
  • Price:  $34.99

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



Winner: Ardbeg Wee Beastie

  • Date reviewed: April 28, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99

It is difficult to see a bottle of Ardbeg at this price and ignore it, youthful or not. Some distillers have that sort of magical power, and I’m not talking hype. Wee Beastie doesn’t disappoint with its smoky punch, character, and distinct mouthfeel. Not only do I think this was a good purchase, but I believe it is a steal. Wee Beastie is an absolute Bottle rating.

Runner up:  Kilchoman Sanaig

  • Date reviewed:  December 6, 2021
  • Price:  $70.00

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



Winner:  Paul John Mithuna

  • Date reviewed: April 2, 2021
  • Price:  $300.00

I gave this away already, but I’m confident in my Bottle rating. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow gave this a sip and was blown away. Frankly, so was I. I cannot understand how aging something in virgin oak and ex-Bourbon casks equals a nuclear sherry explosion in every aspect of the whisky. If you want a complex nose, Mithuna has it. If you desire a crazy-good palate, Mithuna will deliver. If you seek an Energizer Bunny finish, Mithuna will satisfy that desire. If you’ve got $300.00 to invest in a beautiful pour, this should be what you spend it on.



And that, my friends, leaves one final order of business to conduct. Which of those named best in their respective classes is my Whiskey of the Year? Everything that I've listed was unique. However, only one can be king, and the crown goes to the King of Bootleggers, Remus Repeal Reserve V.


Congratulations to the distillers who made this year's cream of the crop. Cheers! 


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