Monday, August 30, 2021

My Video Guide for the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge




Unfortunately, Blogger won't allow me to post a video that's quite this large, it is only six minutes, but it is well worth watching, especially since it explains in great detail what's expected for this year's #30DaysofBourbon Challenge


However, you can head over to Facebook, the direct link to this video is here


Please comment if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them. Thank you for participating. Cheers!

Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


Back in the 1860s, Charles Nelson was distilling whiskey. Good whiskey. Perhaps one of the most popular whiskeys in Tennessee. It started with his contract distilling for his grocery store. He then purchased the distillery. Shortly thereafter, in 1885, it was distilling a then-unheard-of 380,000 gallons of whiskey each year! His whiskey was so in-demand, it was selling not just all over the united states, but Europe and Asia as well. Then, in 1891, Charles passed away, and his wife, Louisa, took over. Louisa was one of only a handful of women who ran a distillery at the time.


And then, Prohibition hit. But, before it hit the United States as a whole, Tennessee went dry, and it ended distillation for the Nelsons. The great distillery was soon forgotten.


In 2006, two brothers, Andy and Charles, arrived in Greenbrier with their father to visit a butcher. They came across the land once owned by the family and the warehouses built by their ancestors. When they sought more information at the Greenbrier Historical Society, they discovered there were, amongst other relics, two sealed bottles of Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey


From there, the Nelsons' fates were sealed. They were determined to resurrect the distillery. In 2014, the job was complete and the distillery was back in production.




About a month ago, I had an opportunity to meet Charles at an event at Buck & Honey's in Sun Prairie. Charles addressed the crowd, gave the family story, and then mingled with the guests. I took advantage of the opportunity and discussed things in more detail. He offered to send me a bottle of his Tennessee Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.




Before I get to the tasting notes, there's some background you should have. According to Charles, what's in the bottle is the same recipe from about 110 years ago. Obviously, I have no way to confirm it but I'll take what he said at face value. But, unlike the Belle Meade product line that comes from MGP, Nelson's Green Brier is its own distillate, aged between two and five years. The bottle carries a two-year age statement because, legally, it must. The Nelsons utilize the Lincoln County Process (LCP) of charcoal mellowing before being bottled and, according to everything I could learn, this meets the legal, accepted definition of Bourbon. The suggested retail price is about $29.99.


And, now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Nelson's Green Brier presented as something much darker than I'd expect from a younger whiskey. It was a deep amber. On the wall of my glass, it formed a thinner rim, and the legs were long and wavy.


Nose:  Aromas of corn, vanilla, and raisin bread permeated my nostrils. When I inhaled through my mouth, I tasted spearmint. 


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be "mellow" and full-bodied.  On the front, I first tasted coffee, then corn and caramel. It was an interesting combination. The middle featured nuts and toasted oak. Then, on the back, flavors of clove, tobacco leaf, and dark chocolate got things moving to the spicy side.


Finish:  My first sip showed me a shorter finish. However, as I continued to sip, that finish got longer and longer, lasting several minutes before fading away. Dried cherry was the first quality I picked out, and it was joined by toasted oak, nuts, dark chocolate, and clove. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:   There was no mistaking the proof. It was warm enough to stay interesting yet soft enough to allow for casual sipping. The more I drank, the more I enjoyed it, and that's not the alcohol influence talking. Rather, it kept opening up further. Nelson's Green Brier is one I'd serve to folks who are beyond their whiskey initiation stage all the way to experienced drinkers. And, at only $29.99, this isn't breaking the bank and provides real value in the craft whiskey world. The math adds up to a Bottle rating. You'll like this one. 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, August 29, 2021

The #30DaysofBourbon Challenge is back... are you ready?

 


You've waited patiently for a year. You've prepped. You've taken many of my recommendations. You've hoarded your Bourbon. And, starting Wednesday, it is time to break into those bottles. 

That's right, my #30DaysofBourbon Challenge is back!  This is the original, the one that launched copycats over the years.

2020 was a hell of a year. 2021 started with much hope, but we seem to be on a backslide. If you’re ready to turn things around for September, Bourbon & Banter has the means to help you concentrate on something fun.


You see, if it is September, it must be Bourbon Heritage Month. That must mean it is time for the seventh annual 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge!

Wait, what’s that? You’ve never heard of the 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge?

No problem, I’ll tell you all about it...

Everything you need to know is over at Bourbon & Banter.  Cheers!







Saturday, August 28, 2021

SN Pike's Magnolia Bottled in Bond Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


It is always exciting to see an old, defunct brand resurrected. Back in 1849, Sam Pike was a Cincinnati-based whiskey merchant who procured what he deemed to be the very best whiskeys and sold them throughout the United States and Europe. Much of what he sold was shipped to clients down the Ohio River and into the Deep South. His brand was called Magnolia Spirits


Sam was an interesting fellow, shrouded in secrecy. He claimed on a passport application that he was a native-born American, however, a biographer claimed he was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and his last name was Hecht. If you translated that from German to English, you'd wind up with pike. As such, it seemed obvious he would take that on as his surname.


Sam became enchanted with a traveling singer named Jenny Lind. If that name sounds a little bit familiar, she was the opera singer P.T. Barnum sponsored to tour the country. Sam was hopeful Jenny would come to Cincinnati, but as there was no opera house, it couldn't be done. Sam promised he would build one in Cincinnati, and a few years later, he fulfilled it with Pike's Opera House. A fire broke out in 1866 and the building was completely destroyed. He had it completely rebuilt a year later. For the record, that building was also decimated by fire in 1903.


After Sam died, Magnolia was sold to Fleischmann Distillers. The above story was provided by Jack Sullivan in January 2018, and I thank him for his dedicated research.


Fast-forward to today and Ed Carey, a retired real-estate developer and self-described Bourbon fan, brought Magnolia back to life. 


"Our goal in recreating the Magnolia Spirits brand is to act in the Samuel Pike tradition by seeking out and blending special quality bourbon and whiskey. I think the secret to the smooth taste is we import Kentucky Springwater and do a very slow multi-day trickle-proofing." - Ed Carey


Today I'm reviewing Magnolia Bottled-in-Bond Whiskey. Distilled by MGP utilizing its 95/5 rye mash, the whiskey is aged in #4 charred American oak barrels. Why not call it Bottled-in-Bond Rye? If you reread the type of cooperage, you'll see one distinct word missing: new. That suggests Magnolia utilizes vintage barrels. It carries a four-year age statement and, as it is bonded, it is packaged at 100°.  


Batch 1 was limited to 5800 bottles, and you can expect to drop about $54.00 for a 750ml package. Bottling is handled by Noble Cut Distillery of Gahanna, Ohio. Distribution is all over Ohio, and you can buy online from BarrelStation.com.


I'd like to thank Magnolia for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and taste what this is all about.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Magnolia was the color of a lighter orange amber. It created a medium ring and widely-spaced, long, slow legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  The floral notes were easy to pick out. Additional sniffs were required to discover nutmeg, caramel, and berry. When I breathed the aroma into my mouth, vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  A silky, full-bodied mouthfeel greeted my palate. On the front, I tasted vanilla, cinnamon, and pecan. As it moved to the middle, flavors of vanilla and the softest of stone fruits were discernable. The back offered clove, rye spice, and smoked oak.


Finish:  Medium in length, the finish featured smoked oak, caramel, cinnamon, and the longest-lasting element, clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I've had MGP's 95/5 rye mash aged in vintage cooperage before, and I've been a big fan. Dancing Goat does it with French oak and a solera system. Magnolia is not the same cooperage, that much is obvious, but that soft, easy-drinking aspect is still there, and I love it.  Is $54.00 pricy?  You're getting 4-year MGP 100° rye that is different in a good way, so no, it isn't. Magnolia has earned my Bottle rating and I'm thrilled to have this in my whiskey library. 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 27, 2021

La Crosse Distilling High Hawk & Robber's Straight Rye Whiskeys Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


Two-and-a-half years ago, I was introduced to La Crosse Distilling Company with its High Rye Light Whiskey. It was interesting but left me somewhere between a Bar and Bottle rating. When that happens, I defer to the lower rating.


A few weeks ago, La Crosse Distilling reached out to me curious if I'd be interested in reviewing some of their straight rye whiskey. Of course, I was interested! As it turned out, there were multiple options. Part of those options came from then-defunct Death's Door Spirits, which has since been resurrected by Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge, Wisconsin.  La Crosse picked up some barrels from inventory, brought them back to its own warehouse, and allowed them to age.


The result created two new labels:  High Hawk and Robber's Straight Ryes. Both are three years old, both are barrel proof. Both run about $39.99 for 750ml bottles. What's the difference? I'll get to that in a moment. But, I'd like to thank La Crosse Distilling for providing me samples in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Up first is High Hawk, only because it of 100° which is slightly lower than the Robber's. High Hawk is a single-barrel whiskey, meant to celebrate the inaugural album of a band called, you guessed it, High Hawk




Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, High Hawk was the color of copper. It formed a medium rim that generated thick legs that raced back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: Nuts, toasted oak, vanilla, and muted fruits took some effort to pull out, which was surprising considering the stated proof. When I inhaled through my open lips, I picked out vanilla.


Palate:  A warm, oily mouthfeel greeted me as I took my first sip. The front tasted like caramel and old leather. On the middle, mint and rye spice morphed to tobacco leaf and lightly-toasted oak on the back.


Finish:  Medium in length, mint dominated. Hidden underneath were caramel, tobacco, and coffee.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I would have preferred less muted flavors on the palate. This was a very soft whiskey, my guess is wheat was involved, and perhaps more significant than 5%. La Crosse says this is high-rye, and potentially anything over 51% rye would be "high rye" since there's no legal definition. But, this certainly didn't act like a "high rye" whiskey. The price is nice, the proof could be higher, but as this is barrel-proof, that's not possible. Like the Light Whiskey, I'm a bit on the fence here, and that means it takes a Bar rating.


*************************************



The next whiskey was Robber's. It is a blend of four barrels of Maryland-style Rye made by Death's Door and weighs in at 101°. The backstory on this one is what you'd expect from many labels:


"Years ago we caught wind that a bunch of Wisconsin-made rye whiskey was being loaded onto a train and shipped out of state to age somewhere unknown for reasons too painful to share. We couldn't let that happen. We set out to find that train and recuse as many barrels of rye whiskey as we could. We devised a disguise and waited for the right moment to make our move. We can't tell you much more than that..."


And hence, you have the name Robber's.





Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Robber's was slightly lighter in color - very slightly. I held them up side-by-side and rotated sides to be sure. An ultra-thin rim was created, the legs were husky but slowly crawled down the wall.


Nose:  The nose was lighter than I'd expect, especially considering the proof. But I did pick out toasted oak, caramel, and sawdust. This made me wonder if smaller barrels were used. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, rye spice was obvious.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel oily with a medium body. Toasted oak and vanilla bean were on the front. The middle presented tobacco leaf and clove. On the back, I tasted rye spice, thick caramel, and cinnamon.


Finish:  Medium-long in length, the finish gave my hard palate a tingle. Toasted oak came through, along with black pepper and rye spice. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There's value here, especially considering the proof and price. Sure, it is only three years old, but Rye matures faster than Bourbon. This was flavorful and I enjoyed it. All of that adds up to a Bottle rating. 


Final Thoughts: When I do multiple reviews in one post, I generally like to compare the two and see which one I like better. If I was interested in something light and easy to sip, I'd choose the High Hawk.  If, on the other hand, I desired something closer to traditional rye, Robber's would be the winner. For me, I found Robber's more appealing. 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 25, 2021

Boulder Spirits Peated American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Located in Colorado just a mere 5,430 feet above sea level at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is a city called Boulder. I'm sure you've heard of it. Maybe what you didn't know is that in 1907, Boulder passed an anti-saloon ordinance predating Colorado's own 1917 ban on alcohol. Boulder didn't see another drop until the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933.


Fast forward a few years to, say, 2007, and you've got Vapor Spirits, also known as Boulder Spirits, founded by a Scottish-born guy who was voted off the island during Survivor: Panama. His name is Alastair Brogan. Before becoming a distiller, before becoming a reality-tv star, he was a Royal Air Force veteran and the vice president of his family's company. He always wanted to make whiskey in his homeland, but for yet another lifetime adventure, he relocated to Boulder, and the rest is history.


"We take traditions from Al’s homeland, along with American ingenuity to find a balance that creates award-winning whiskeys: distillers malted barley, a Scottish pot still, #3 char American White Oak barrels, aged in an arid, high elevation climate, and cut with the celebrated Eldorado Springs water. This is our American Single Malt." - Boulder Spirits


In July 2020, I had the opportunity to try (and review) some whiskeys from Boulder Spirits:  a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, a single malt, and a Bottled-in-Bond single malt. The fact is I enjoyed them - all three took Bottle ratings. 


When I planned my return trip to Colorado earlier this month, one of the places I wanted to visit was Boulder Spirits. When I arrived, I learned that I had met Alastair a few years ago in Chicago at the Independent Spirits Expo. I didn't remember that, but Alastair sure did. I apologized, I was tipsy that day and nearly lost my life (I'm joking) drinking Malört


Boulder Spirits uses a 1300-gallon Forsyth copper pot still to distill its whiskeys. On a side note, that's currently the largest pot still in Colorado. 


During my tour, Alastair poured me some of his American Single Malt - Peated. As someone who generally enjoys peated whiskeys, and (again) someone who was impressed with the few peated American whiskeys I tried, this definitely caught my attention. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow was with me, she dislikes peat, and she was a bit enchanted by the smell. I tasted it, I savored it, and Alastair gave me a sample bottle to take home for a review - mostly because I tried several others that afternoon.


The mash, which is 100% malted barley, is blended with the Eldorado Springs water. It is then placed into 53-gallon, virgin #3 charred American oak barrels for three years. Bottled at 46% ABV (because that's how the Scots measure alcohol content, but that's 92° to you and me), you can expect to pay about $55.00 for a 750ml package.  Boulder Spirits is in several states and is expanding into others.


Before I get to my review, I'd like to thank Alastair for both the sample and his hospitality. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this American Single Malt was an absolute orange-amber in color. It presented a heavy rim that yielded wide, fat legs that crashed back into the pool.


Nose:  The peat was unmistakable, but it wasn't overwhelming. Light smoke was married with plum, strawberry, malt, and toasted oak. When I took the vapor into my mouth, the malt rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and full-bodied. I assumed my palate would be greeted with fruits based upon the aromas. Boy was I wrong. Instead, the front featured dark chocolate, pear, and, of course, the lightly-smoked peat. The middle offered coffee, cocoa, and thick, sweet caramel. Then, on the back, it became earthy with oak and clove.


Finish:  Long but not eternal, the finish exhibited smoke, coffee, dark chocolate, slightly dry oak, and caramel. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  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. It reminded me of something out of the Talisker Distillery in Scotland, of which I've yet to taste something less than wonderful. 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. 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 23, 2021

Golden Moon Triple American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Did you know that Colorado makes a lot of American Single Malts? It seems like nearly every Colorado distillery offers one. In my opinion, Colorado is the American Single Malt capital of the world.


That begs a big question:  Whose single malt is worth drinking?  That's not such an easy one to answer. I've tried several, some are excellent, others are mediocre at best (and some of those big names fall under that latter description). 


About a week ago, I visited the Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, Colorado. Golden Moon is a small, artisan operation. Founded in 2008 by Stephen Gould and Dr. Karen Knight, you're not going to find massive stills or a lot of fancy equipment - unless you call reclaimed equipment found at salvage yards fancy. This isn't junk by any means. Stephen has done an amazing job restoring and retrofitting equipment.  Old equipment.  Equipment used by distillers from, pardon the pun, many moons ago. And, that's how he likes to do things.


"The heart of Golden Moon Distillery is Mr. Gould’s world-class research library containing hundreds of rare books on distillation and related products and processes, some dating back to the 1500s. Most of the collection dates from the late 1700s to the early 1900s, though there are a few titles that are much older, or newer." - Golden Moon Distillery

Stephen uses a variety of cooperages from various countries and sizes, and he loves to experiment. He also sources ingredients from local farms, including two-row Moravian barley grown in Colorado and surrounding states, packaging, etc. And, in turn, he provides his solid waste to local farmers and gardeners to use for feed and compost.





A side-note on the barley:  This was brought to the United States specifically for Coors Brewing way back in 1947. That barley is then married with a proprietary yeast strain. 


Golden Moon has received many awards in its relatively short existence, including being named ADI's Distillery of the Year in 2019, and taking Double Gold for a single malt this year.


There are two lines of whiskeys.  Anything under the Gunfighter brand is sourced and always packaged at 100°. All in-house distilled whiskey goes under the Golden Moon brand and is always bottled at 92°.


Today I'm reviewing Golden Moon Triple. Since that's under the Golden Moon brand, this is all their own product from mashing to bottling and everything in between.  One of the things that make Golden Moon Triple different is instead of being made in a traditional Scottish method, Stephen does it in a traditional Irish one. 


As described above, it starts with locally-grown malted barley. It is fermented for between 5.5 to seven days, which is longer than the average distillery utilizes. That's mostly due to the proprietary yeast strain. Irish tradition dictates the mash is run through the pot still three times before being aged in #3 charred American oak casks... for a minimum of four months.


Now, I know what you're thinking. Four months? How can anything aged only four months be decent, let alone good? Wait. It gets better. There were a total of 500 750ml bottles made of Batch 1, of which I tasted, and each retails for about $59.99.


Stop. Don't dismiss this yet. Yes, $59.99 for a four-month bottle of whiskey sounds absolutely insane on the surface. Keep reading.  Remember how I said one of his single malts took Double Gold this year at the San Francisco World Spirits competition? Golden Moon Triple was that single malt. 


Before I get to the part where I #DrinkCurious, I'd like to thank Stephen for his hospitality, time, and providing me a sample of Triple in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Golden Moon Triple was a definitive chestnut color. It created a fat rim with thick, watery legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Absolutely malt-forward, the other aromas consisted of apple and pear. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, honey and apple caressed my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was both oily and warming. Initial flavors of malt and honey led to a fruity middle of apple and pear. The back was nutty with a good punch of milk chocolate.


Finish:  Long and building in warmth, the finish featured toasted oak, white pepper, and cocoa powder.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There aren't a lot of notes, but what's there is delightful and I really didn't want to stop at one pour. So, I didn't. The result was the same, I sipped it slowly and relished it. Golden Moon Triple is correctly proofed and there's really not a darned thing to complain about. When you look back at the four-month age statement, it seems low but it works well. That leaves us with that $59.99 price tag - I'd pay it. If you tasted this blind there would be no way in the world you'd suspect its young age, and I'm willing to bet you'd smile from ear to ear. Golden Moon Triple snags a Bottle rating from me. 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 20, 2021

GlenAllachie 10 Year Batch 3 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


This year, I'm discovering distilleries that I've known about, but not yet had a chance to peruse. For me, this is always exciting, and somehow much more so than new releases from distilleries I'm already a fan of. I think part of it is because I may find something that drags me in an entirely new direction in my whisky journey. 


GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a fairly new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its 54 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold off in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, run by Billy Walker, Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson. Walker is its current Master Blender.


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 greater time to study what's in the tank.


Today I'm reviewing GlenAllachie 10 Year, Batch 3.  Because I can do basic math, I'm able to tell you that The GDC didn't distill this whisky, this is one of those leftover barrels from the Pernod-Ricard/Chivas ownership. This is a single malt that's been aged for at least a decade in Olorosso sherry, PX sherry, and virgin oak casks. Weighing in at an impressive 58.2% ABV (116.4°), there were 3500 cases released in 2019. You can expect to pay around $81.99 for the bottle.


Before I get to the review, I'd like to thank Impex Beverage for providing me a sample of this Scotch in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, allow me to #DrinkCurious and tell you all about it.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 10 presented as the color of deep, dark mahogany. It formed a paper-thin rim and thick, heavy tears that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Aromas of gingerbread, milk chocolate, raisin, fig, and date made me smile. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, brown sugar and molasses crawled over my tongue.


Palate:  Full-bodied with a syrupy texture, the front of my palate tasted caramel, fig, and cinnamon. The middle offered raisin, buttercream, and cocoa powder. Then, on the back, freshly-cracked peppercorn, dry oak, and tobacco leaf.


Finish: The finish was medium-long in length and bone dry. Were I to guess, that would indicate there were more Olorosso sherry casks and virgin oak used than PX sherry casks. Brown sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon spice blended together and when they fell off, raisin was left behind.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I'm stuck somewhere between a Bottle and Bar rating. The aroma was absolutely enticing. The palate was good, but not what I would describe as great. I would have preferred more of the PX sherry influence to come through versus the Olorosso, but that's not the end of the world. The price isn't obnoxious, there are just so many 10-year Scotches out there for a lot less. When I'm stuck between ratings, I always opt for the lower, and that means this one takes a Bar.  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 18, 2021

Six & Twenty Old Money Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


There exists a distillery in Powdersville, South Carolina called Six & Twenty named for a local love story.


"In the 1700s, there was this Choctaw maiden named Issaqueena who fell in love with an English trader, Alan Francis. Shortly after Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokee, she learned of a plan to raid, massacre and loot Francis' trading post.


Wanting to warn him, Issaqueena escapes. On a swift pony she takes off down what we now know of as the Issaqueena Trail. Along the way, she names landmarks that we still use today based on the distance from the village. This is why we have the town of Six Mile, Mile Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, Three and Twenty River, Six and Twenty Creek. She does this for nearly 96 miles in order to warn her lover and so names the town of Ninety Six." - Six & Twenty Distillery

Founded in 2011 by David Raad, this microdistillery is a grain-to-glass operation that utilizes only local, organic grains and does everything on-site in a 6000 square foot former milk packaging facility. It offers what it calls a Core of FourOld Money Whiskey, 5-Grain Bourbon, Carolina Cream, and Heirloom Rye Vodka.  Six & Twenty has the occasional limited-run offering. But, today, I'm reviewing Old Money Whiskey. 


Old Money is a wheat whiskey. Raad's goal was to create a whiskey that his wife would enjoy sipping. It starts with soft winter wheat and barley, but the percentages are undisclosed. It is then distilled and aged in new, charred oak barrels for three years. Once dumped, Old Money is packaged at 80°. You can expect to spend about $37.99 of your new money on a 750ml bottle.


I'd like to thank a friend for providing me a sample of Old Money to review. And so, with that, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Old Money presented as a dull gold color. There was an amazingly fat rim that generated husky, wavy legs that dropped back to the pool.


Nose:  The first aroma I picked out was melba toast. Beyond that, I discovered wheat, light citrus, sawdust, and a floral quality. When I took the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and banana rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and warm, which isn't so unusual for a wheat whiskey but is for something at 80°. The palate was uncomplicated with dark chocolate and oak on the front and maple at the middle. The back offered white pepper and oak.


Finish:  Long, long, long.  Like old money itself, this finish stuck around. Raisin, oak, and white pepper were evident. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Wheat whiskeys are a funky bunch with me. I don't dislike them, yet I also don't gravitate to them, either. I was admittedly surprised by the warm mouthfeel, especially for this low of a proof. Old Money was an easy sipper and something I could see myself enjoying on a hot summer's day. That by itself makes this a winner, and when you add in the price, that's just the cherry on top. Old Money takes a Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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

Monday, August 16, 2021

Barrell Whiskey Private Release Blend CH21 Review & Tasting Notes

 


Some months ago, I wrote about the Barrell Private Release program and had a chance to sample several options. They were very different from one another, but this was a much different experience compared to picking a barrel of whiskey.


I've just returned from a trip to Colorado. One of the stops I made was to Daveco, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest liquor store in the world! I walked in there and it was just mind-blowingly vast. 



I visit Denver at least once a year. Shortly after the last time I was there, Daveco's manager, Luke, invited me to swing by his store. I remember telling him I was just there, but that I'd be back. That was about a year ago, and when I scheduled my return trip, I was sure to touch base with Luke. For the record, he's an amazingly nice guy and easy to talk to. We chatted a bit while he stocked one of the whiskey aisles.


Luke told me he had a whiskey he picked from Barrell Craft Spirits that he would like me to try (and review). This was Blend CH21.  


"CH21 is a blend of Kentucky Whiskeys, the largest component being 18-year-old Kentucky whiskey, finished in an Indiana Rye cask." - Barrell Craft Spirits


What can we take away from that? Well, we know that Barrell sources its Indiana whiskeys from MGP, so that would take care of the finishing cask. We don't know much else, we don't even know what kind of whiskeys were used other than the fact they're all from Kentucky. It could be a blend of Bourbon, Rye, Light Whiskey, Single Malt, new cooperage, old, whatever. It might involve two whiskeys, it could be twenty. And, you know what? It matters not. What matters is what the end product tastes like. It is packaged at 112.8°. For the unofficial record, I've been told by more than one person this is from Jim Beam. 


CH21 is available exclusively from Daveco (you can get the direct link here) for $99.99.  Before you order one for yourself, allow me to #DrinkCurious and tell you all about it. And, before I do that, I want to thank Luke for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, CH21 presents as bright gold. It created a medium rim that released very slow droplets that eventually found their way back to the pool.


Nose:  Caramel was the first scent to hit my nose. That was followed by cinnamon powder, plum, cherry, and orange blossom. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, a duo of raw honey and cherry rolled across my tongue. 


Palate:  Oily and medium-bodied, CH21 starts with vanilla and cinnamon on the front. That cinnamon builds and carries through the entire experience, including the finish. The middle featured orange peel and butterscotch, while the back brought in rye spice and charred oak. One thing I did notice was the longer I allowed CH21 to oxidize, the stronger and longer the butterscotch notes came through.


Finish:   The charred oak and rye spice didn't let up. It was joined by butterscotch, clove, and black pepper. It was long in length and then it just slammed on the brakes. There was a Wait... What? moment for me the first and second sips. But, then I got used to it. My hard palate did experience a slight tingle, but nothing that I'd describe as numbing.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Luke warned me that CH21 was polarizing, and I guess I can understand why. Not knowing what kind of whiskeys are used in the blend can be a frowning point for some. For me, that's just a blind tasting in a real-world setting. I didn't taste anything in terms of malted barley, so it is safe to assume a Single Malt is not a component (or if it is a minute one). I also didn't sense anything remotely close to a Wheat whiskey used - nothing about this was soft. Beyond that, the composition is anyone's guess. As previously stated, the only thing that really matters, in the end, is how it tasted and I must say that I enjoyed the hell out of CH21. This snags a Bottle rating for me, and if you tend to agree with my palate, you're going to find it fascinating, too. 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.



Thursday, August 12, 2021

Talisker 10 Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


Peated Scotch is most associated with Islay. However, peat is used to heat malted barley in each of Scotland's five regions. That statement, of course, leads to much discussion - does Scotland have five or six regions?  Officially, there are five, according to the Scotch Whisky Regulations. Those are Speyside, Highland, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown. The sixth is unofficial, called Islands, which includes every Scottish island sans Islay.


One of those islands is called the Isle of Skye. Until very recently, there was one and only one distillery on Skye, and that is Talisker. But, there's a newer one called Isle of Skye Distillery, but it currently produces gin.  Talisker was founded in 1830, it remained productive until 1960 when a fire destroyed it. The owners quickly rebuilt, going as far as to duplicate the original stills, and then resumed production. It is currently part of the Diageo portfolio.


"From the rugged western shores of the Isle of Skye comes a richly flavored, maritime malt, with a warming afterglow. So easy to enjoy, yet like Skye itself, so hard to leave." - Talisker

Talisker's whiskeys are non-chill-filtered and naturally-colored. Today, I'm pouring Talisker 10, which is conveniently named as it is aged ten years in Bourbon hogsheads. It is a single malt, meaning that it utilizes a single grain from a single distillery. That grain is typically barley.  Talisker 10 is packaged at 45.8% ABV (that's 91.6°), and you can expect to pay about $65.99 for a 750ml bottle. Talisker 10 is fairly easy to get your hands on.


What's this whisky all about? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Talisker 10 presented as brassy in color. It created a medium rim, but heavy, thick legs that crashed back into the pool.


Nose:  While I allowed the whisky to rest, its sweet, peaty aroma left the glass. When I brought it to my face, the peat was joined with seaweed, brine, a faint astringent, raisin, citrus, nutmeg, and vanilla. Yes, that's a lot of smells going on! As I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, it was malty. 


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and medium-bodied. On the front, the sweet peat married honey, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Come mid-palate, things got fruity with apple, pear, and green grape. That was joined by malt.  The back consisted of charred oak, clove, and saline.


Finish:  The long finish featured clove, black pepper, smoke, brine, and vanilla. There was no burning sensation to speak of, making it easy to pick out the notes.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There is so much variety from the unofficial Islands region, and, yet, Talisker 10 provides a good representation of its peated whiskies. The peat is definitely there, but it isn't overwhelming, weighing in somewhere between 10-14ppm. That makes it a good entry point for someone who is wary of smoky Scotches. There is no astringent (Band-Aid) quality to it, which some drinkers can find off-putting. When you consider the age and proof along with all of the flavor, this ranks up as a very easy Bottle. 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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Sazerac Straight Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 


Let's get something out of the way. Sazerac has the best marketing team in the Wonderful World of Whiskey, hands down. Nobody does a better job of creating excitement and hype than they do. People will pay 10x (and higher) retail on some of their offerings (Antique Collection, anything Van Winkle, Blanton's, etc.). Even their flagship offerings (Buffalo Trace) seem to fly off the shelves like it is something truly special.


Mind you, I'm not badmouthing Sazerac at all. I enjoy much of what Buffalo Trace and 1792 Barton put out there. I'm simply saying there are several where I'm left scratching my head wondering what folks are doing for average whiskeys and there's no other answer than they want to like it because of the hype. 


Today's review is Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey, lovingly called Baby Saz by its fans. They call it Baby Saz because part of the Antique Collection is Sazerac Rye, which I guess is Big Daddy Saz. It starts with Buffalo Trace's low-rye rye mashbill, rumored to be barely legal (meaning, at or about 51% rye content). As a straight whiskey, it is at least two years old. As a non-age-stated whiskey, it must be at least four years old. In the not too distant past, it carried a six-year age statement. Packaged at 90°, you can expect to pay about $29.00 for a 750ml bottle of Baby Saz unless you live in an area where it becomes more difficult to find. Then things, like anything else Buffalo Trace, get crazy.


I sampled a pour of Baby Saz at a local watering hole here called The Malt House. Time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this is all about.


Appearance:   Poured neat in my Glencairn glass (yes, I brought my own as The Malt House serves in rocks glasses), Baby Saz presented as a brassy amber. It created a medium rim that formed fast legs.


Nose:  Citrus and berries started things off, followed by aromas of oak, clove, and black pepper. When I inhaled through my lips, vanilla took a stroll across my palate.


Palate:  A thin, oily mouthfeel led to flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel on the front. Mid-palate featured plum, raisin, and anise. Mint, oak, and clove closed things up on the back.


Finish:  Medium in length, the finish offered black pepper, cinnamon, and rye spice before moving to vanilla, oak, and anise. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Baby Saz is decent, but it isn't the end-all-and-be-all of ryes. It is a pretty good value for $29.00 but I'd not pay more than that. It is absolutely over-hyped and frankly, it could get lost amongst other barely legal ryes such as Old Forester and Rittenhouse, both at higher proof and much easier to get your hands on. I'll give it a Bar rating if you find this above retail, but if you've got a bottle sitting on a store shelf for under $30, go ahead and grab 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.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Deerhammer Rough & Tumble Hickory Smoked Corn Whiskey ABV Network Pick Review & Tasting Notes

 


It isn't often that I have to pony up full disclosure so soon in a review, but you need to absolutely know where I'm coming from on this one. A website I write regularly for is Bourbon & Banter. B&B does it all - reviews of every alcoholic beverage you can think of, advice, gear reviews, a podcast, and even my annual #30DaysofBourbon Challenge (hint, hint, be on the lookout at the end of August).


Today I'm reviewing a private bottling of Deerhammer Rough & Tumble Corn Whiskey, picked by the folks at ABV Network, and specifically Steve Akley, owner of ABV Network.


I do not write for, nor have I ever written for ABV Network. Oh, I've been on one or two of Stephanie McNew Burton's podcast episodes, but I have no real relationship with it otherwise.  In fact, ABV Network is a competitor, at least from a Bourbon & Banter perspective. My point is, I have no incentive to be nice or complimentary in this review. If I wanted to be a jerk, I could easily sandbag it. 


Fortunately, that's not what Whiskeyfellow is about. This is a place for no-strings-attached, honest reviews, no matter whose juice it is or who is behind it. If I've panned a whiskey in the past, I'm happy to take on another whiskey from the same distillery (or producer). Every whiskey is a new opportunity and each stands on its own.


Frankly, I had no idea ABV Network did private bottlings. It certainly makes sense they would, as Bourbon & Banter does barrel picks, too. Someone asked me if I've had a chance to try ABV's Rough & Tumble pick, and as the whiskey world is smaller than you'd ever guess, I reached out to Steve and asked if he'd be willing to send me a sample. He was amiable and, well, here we are.


What's Deerhammer? You've never heard of it?  Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. It is a microdistillery located in Buena Vista, Colorado. I had lived in Colorado for over twenty years, I'm very familiar with "Be-You-Nee" as the locals call it. That's the capital of white water river rafting. I had no clue this tiny town housed a distillery! Founded in 2010 by Amy and Lenny Eckstein, Deerhammer is a grain-to-glass operation. Interestingly enough, Lenny built the distillery himself using old dairy equipment and repurposed machinery. He then had a Scottish-style direct-fire 140-gallon pot still that was built in Arkansas. Coincidentally, Buena Vista is on the Arkansas River, although I'll assume one has nothing to do with the other.


Rough & Tumble is a hickory-smoked corn whiskey distilled from a mash of 100% Colorado-grown corn sourced from the Four Corners area. It is initially exposed for one day to a cold-smoking process, then, using a sour mash, spends four days in an open fermentation tank before being sent through that pot still... twice. 


ABV Network chose Batch 12, finished in ex-Bourbon barrels, and weighed in at 98.76°.  A 750ml bottle will set you back $45.00. But, is this (or any) hickory-smoked whiskey worth the investment? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Rough & Tumble presented as the color of brass. It formed a medium ring that generated long, wavy legs that fell back to the pool. 


Nose:  As you'd suspect, the first thing that hit my nose was hickory smoke. There was also something floral about it. I found corn, mineral oil, and marshmallow fluff. When I brought the aroma into my mouth, hickory was joined with vanilla.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oilier than I expected. The palate was uncomplicated, with vanilla and marshmallow on the front, corn and hickory smoke on the middle, and oak, hickory smoke, and clove on the back. 


Finish:  I timed just over six minutes on this finish!  It was almost chewy with hickory-smoked meat and oak. There was nothing difficult about it, however, for being only slightly under 99°, this had my hard palate tingling.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is one unusual whiskey, and if you've followed me for any length of time, you know that's an attention-getter for me. I don't know that I'd purposefully seek out a hickory-smoked whiskey, it is far, far different from something that's peated. But, to be fair, prior to this, I've never even heard of a hickory-smoked whiskey. While drinking this, I felt like I was out with friends, hanging by the fire ring, munching on smoked brisket while sipping whiskey. Yeah, it was a good time despite the fact I was only drinking with my dog. This experience is worth a $45 admission fee, and I'm slapping a Bottle rating on 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.