Monday, October 18, 2021

J. Henry & Sons La Flamme Reserve Review & Tasting Notes



I’m going to start with some disclosures right out of the gate. When J. Henry & Sons Wisconsin Straight Bourbon hit the market, I was the first reviewer to write about it (that I’m aware of).  The Henry Farm, located in Dane, is about a half-hour drive from me. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow and I have become friends with the Henry clan, and we’ve been cheerleaders for them over the years. I helped pick a private barrel of Patton Road Reserve a few years ago. I’ve even been a pour bunny for the Henrys when they needed someone to run a table at a public show.


My point is, with the Henrys, I have my biases. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t write about their whiskey, give you some background, and tell you what the tasting notes are of its newest release, La Flamme Reserve. And, as you’ve seen in previous reviews, I’ve panned friends’ whiskeys before when they don’t meet my standards. Honest reviews are just that. My distiller friends expect and understand that they are neither immune nor given a pass.


The Henrys contract-distill with 45th Parallel Distillery up in New Richmond, Wisconsin. All 45th does is the distilling. The mashbill of their four-grain Bourbon is 60% corn, 14% rye, 14% wheat, and 12% malted barley. The Henrys grow their own, proprietary red heirloom corn, which was a 1930’s strain resurrected by the University of Wisconsin and grown by patriarch Joe Henry. Joe also grows the rye and wheat used in the mash. Only the barley is sourced, and 45th doesn’t use the Henry’s grains in any other products.


The cask strength whiskey is called Patton Road Reserve, named for the street the farm is located on. A few years ago, the Henrys released Bellefontaine Reserve, which was its Patton Road Reserve finished in ex-VSOP cognac casks.


La Flamme Reserve is Patton Road Reserve finished in ex-Armagnac casks. It was aged five years in the farm’s former dairy-barn-turned-rickhouse and subjected to our brutal winters and hot, humid summers. The Henrys team up with Nancy “The Nose” Fraley to make sure things are just right.


“Every autumn in Gascony, France local farmers observe the successful grape harvest and the start of the Armagnac distilling season with ‘La Flamme de l’Armanac’ celebration. La Flamme Reserve honors traditional French blending techniques and marries the flavors of the Armagnac region of France to our Wisconsin Straight Bourbon.” – Joe Henry


Batch 01-Oct21 is bottled at its cask strength of 115.14°, and retail is in the $90.00s.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, La Flamme Reserve was a fiery orange-reddish amber. A thin rim led to husky, heavy legs that crashed back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I let this whiskey sit for several minutes before bringing it to my face. Thick caramel was the first aroma I found, which was joined by raisin, plum, roasted nuts, and toasted oak. When I brought the air into my mouth, it was dry with pear and oak.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was hot!  The mistake would be to stop here and give up due to the palate shock (and that goes with any whiskey – never judge on the first sip). It made my lips tingle. It made my throat warm. The second sip was oily and full-bodied. The fire went away. Flavors of caramel, plum, raisin, and brown sugar were on the front of the palate, just like the nose. The middle offered more dark fruit and maple syrup, and the back gave up leather, clove, roasted nuts, and old oak.


Finish: Very warm, long, dry, and unending, the finish featured notes of sticky caramel, dark fruits, roasted nuts, and the old oak from the palate became damned ancient. There was a recurring clove flavor that would fall off and come back. And, while the clove was cycling out, dark chocolate would tango with it. That was unique. It left my hard palate sizzling but didn’t have the same effect on my pharynx. I tried timing it, but that in-and-out clove kept throwing me off.


With Water:  I promised Joe Jr. (one-half of the & Sons) that I would review this one both neat and with a couple of drops of distilled water. Who am I to renege? I do get pretty Type-A about adding water – I always use an eyedropper and measure out two drops. That should be enough to change things up without over-diluting the whiskey.


  • Nose:  The caramel and raisin notes became more pronounced, and the oak and nuts fell flat. Slightly spicy vanilla hid beneath the caramel and raisin. As I took the aroma into my mouth, it was thick, rich caramel that coated my tongue.

  • Palate:  The mouthfeel was far tamer heat-wise, and the oiliness remained and, contrary to what makes sense, became more so. My lips still tingled, but my hard palate did not. I tasted raisin, brown sugar, leather, and clove.

  • Finish: The cycle of clove and dark chocolate was gone. I enjoyed that aspect and it was notably missing. It also was significantly shortened. The rest of the notes remained.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I disclosed my bias at the start. I’ll tell you that I loved La Flamme Reserve. I’ll tell you that despite the “fiery” mouthfeel, the proof on this sneaks up on you and batters you across the chin with a 2x4 (you’ll want a designated driver if you’re not at home). I’ll tell you that I bought a Bottle for my whiskey library after sampling this at the J. Henry & Sons tasting room. And, that’s my rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Dog and Shrub Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I love small, local, off-the-radar distilleries. First of all, the discovery is cool all by itself. Second of all, imagine, if you will, the opportunity to try something before anyone else you know has had the chance. And, there you are, sipping something potentially amazing, and you get to tell your buddies all about it.


Lake Mills, Wisconsin, is a stone’s throw from the Whiskeyfellow World Headquarters, and the ground was broken a few years ago for Dog and Shrub Distillery. It is a family-owned craft distillery located in a business park.

“Dog and Shrub Distillery is named after our love of dogs and cocktails. 

Dog is reference to all of the long-haired dachshunds in our life including Pippin, Mabou, and Digby. Also, unaged whiskey is often referred to as white dog.

Shrub is reference to fruit-based sugar/vinegar syrups used in some of our cocktails, offering a sweet/tart balance to the drink. Shrubs were used as a way of preserving fruits and vegetables prior to refrigeration and capture their essence at its peak.” – Dog and Shrub Distillery


Rob “Doc” Campbell and his wife, Kim, are both chemists.  Doc was a high-school chemistry teacher, Kim worked for biochemical start-up companies. Together, they opened Dog and Shrug in 2020.


Rob and Kim have been distilling vodka and gin, and make pretty spectacular cocktails in the tasting room. And, a little over a week ago, they released their first Bourbon. The Campbells partnered start-to-finish with Dancing Goat Distillery out of nearby Cambridge.  It is a mash of 60% corn, 25% rye, and 15% malted barley, which then rested for 34 months in new, #3 charred oak 53-gallon barrels. The tasting room sells this for $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.  I purchased my bottle on release day, and it came from Barrel 002.


How does Dog and Shrub Bourbon taste? The only way to find out for sure is to #DrinkCurious, so off we go! 


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Dog and Shrub Bourbon presented as the color of caramel. It made a medium rim that formed husky, fast legs that crashed back into the pool.


Nose: The fragrance of cooked peaches danced around me while I was allowing it to breathe. As I brought the glass to my face, I smelled corn, cereal, cedar, and more cooked peaches (the alliteration was accidental). When I took the aroma into my mouth, butterscotch jumped out.


Palate:  A buttery mouthfeel started things off. My palate first tasted sweet corn, vanilla, and Bit O’ Honey candy. As the liquid moved to the middle, that became caramel, which was joined by clove. The back offered flavors of toasted pecan, cashew, cinnamon, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Medium-to-long in duration, the finish featured toasted pecan, toasted oak, rye spice, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  One of the things I found pleasing was how easy this Bourbon went down. There was nothing harsh that can be a telltale of a young whiskey. That’s likely due to the higher malt content. The more I sipped, the more I wanted to continue doing so. Dog and Shrub is a true craft distillery, and their $50.00 price tag for a nearly three-year Bourbon isn’t out of line. But here’s where the pedal hits the metal:  Would I go back and buy another?  Yes, and that makes this 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, October 15, 2021

Elvis "Tiger Man" Straight Tennessee Whiskey and "The King" Straight Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes


Celebrity whiskeys. They’re all the rage now. It doesn’t matter if they’re athletes, actors, singers, or whatever. Dead or alive, these famous names are making headway in the industry.


You would think that with all the fame, fortune, and fondness fans have with celebrities, what they’d attach their names to would be excellent. More often than not, that’s an exception to the rule. Many are mediocre. Some are just awful. And, every one that comes to mind includes a celebrity price tag to boot.


When Elvis Presley Enterprises, representing the brand of the King of Rock and Roll, does something, you’d hope it would do right by him.  And, today, we’re going to put that to the test. In partnership with Grain & Barrel Spirits (the producer of Chicken Cock and Virgil Kane whiskeys) Elvis Presley Enterprises brings us (you guessed it), Elvis Whiskey.


There is more transparency with Elvis Whiskey than I’d have guessed. Some of it is purposeful, some of it may be accidental. Regardless, pieces of the puzzle were easy to put together, and I’m highly appreciative and applaud brands that do this, particularly when they’re not doing any actual distilling.


The introductory whiskeys are a Straight Tennessee Whiskey and a Straight Rye. First, I’m tackling the Straight Tennessee Whiskey.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m going to tell you to just shush.  This is not sourced from George Dickel. Instead, it comes from DSP-TN-21029, which belongs to Tennessee Distilling Company. Who is that? It distills for Heaven’s Door, Kirkland (Costco), and other partners, including Grain & Barrel Spirits.


Elvis Whiskey calls this release Tiger Man. Tiger Man was the record with songs from his second comeback concert in 1968 and included such titles as Heartbreak Hotel, That’s All Right, Blue Suede Shoes, and Tiger Man. It begins with a mash of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. It then rested two years before being bottled at 90°. The cooperage is undisclosed, and you can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml package.


The big question, of course, is Is this whiskey fit to be named for a king? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Tiger Man looked the color of polished brass. It created a thicker rim on the wall which released husky legs that slid back to the pool.


Nose: There was a gentle bouquet of sweet corn, vanilla cream, baked apple, nutmeg, and toasted oak. When I took the air into my mouth, I picked out candy corn.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was buttery. The front of my palate immediately honed in on maple syrup, which was accompanied by vanilla and crème fresh. The middle offered pear, green apple, and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted more caramel, toasted oak, nutmeg, and orange peel.


Finish:  Long and pretty much unending, notes of vanilla, maple syrup, dry oak, and candied orange peel kept things interesting. Even the oak, however, while dry, wasn’t spicy.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I was half-hoping that I’d pick up notes of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. That didn’t happen. This is one of the sweeter Tennessee Whiskeys I’ve encountered. There was no Dickel “Flintstone’s vitamin” quality, which pleased me. In fact, pleasing is an excellent descriptor.  Tiger Man was a very easy sipper, with enough flavor to keep things interesting, and a finish that wouldn’t quit. Thankfully, this is one of the better celebrity whiskeys on the market and I’m happy to crown it with my Bottle rating.



Up next is the Rye, The King. It is named for, obviously, the King of Rock and Roll. This one is a 95% rye/5% malted barley straight out of MGP. It, too, aged two years in new, charred oak, and is bottled at 90°. As with Tiger Man, you can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml package.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, The King was, again, the color of polished brass. It created a medium rim on the wall yielded sticky droplets that crawled back to the pool.


Nose: Strangely enough, the first note I experienced was… corn? There is no corn in the mashbill! That was followed by grass, floral rye, mint, and orange peel. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, I found mint.


Palate:  A medium-weight, silky mouthfeel greeted my tongue. Rye bread and caramel started things off. The middle suggested cocoa powder and toffee. The back is when things became interesting and more rye-like – I tasted dry oak, clove, rye spice, and sweet tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Here’s the crazy thing. The finish was like a Plummet ride. It built up and immediately dropped. Cocoa, rye spice, clove, and old leather flavors meshed well together, it just took several sips to catch what was there.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  No peanut butter and banana sandwich here, either. Selecting 90° on this was an interesting choice. I’ve become so used to cask-strength MGP rye that I’ve missed what a proofed-down one tasted like. In this case, I believe Elvis Whiskey may have been a little heavy-handed with the water. The front and middle parts of the palate were simplistic. The back is where the hip-gyrations came into play. Just like Fountain of Love, The King gets lost among other whiskeys. As such, this one takes my Bar rating.


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, October 13, 2021

Speyburn 10 and 15 Year Single Malt Scotch Reviews & Tasting Notes

My Scotch journey started in Speyside malts. That's a common toe-dipping region for many reasons, most of which revolve around the fruity, easy-sipping qualities of many offerings. And, while I absolutely adore the Speyside region, most of my attention gravitates to Islay and the Highlands. I've found I've often ignored what first attracted me to Scotch.

The Speyburn Distillery is a storied one from that region (I bet you could figure that out from the name). 

"1897 saw Queen Victoria celebrating the 60th year of her reign and John Hopkins, never one to let a good celebration go to waste, set himself a big challenge. He said he would build a distillery and craft a whisky in time to toast the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. No one believed it was possible, but that didn't matter to John Hopkins - his instincts told him otherwise." - The Speyburn Distillery

Speyburn is unique in the sense that it sources its water from Granty Burn, and by unique, I mean it is the only distillery to do so. It utilizes both stainless steel and Douglas fir fermentation tanks and ages its newmake in both former Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks. It is currently owned by International Beverage Holdings, Ltd., which also has Old Pulteney, anCnoc, and Balblair brands in its portfolio.

Today I'm pouring two Scotches:  Speyburn 10 and Speyburn 15Before I get started on my reviews, I'd like to thank International Beverage for providing me these samples in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and explore what these are all about.

Speyburn 10 Years

Aged for a decade in American oak, ex-Bourbon, and ex-sherry casks, Speyburn 10 is the flagship single malt whiskey for this distillery. I'm not sure what the difference is between "American oak" and "ex-Bourbon" but Speyburn does differentiate between the two. Of course, American oak could be nearly anything, including virgin oak. All the cooperage is air-dried. Bottled at 43% ABV (86°) a 750ml package is affordable at $34.99.

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Speyburn 10 appeared as the color of straw. It formed a medium-thick rim with heavy, watery legs that fell back into the pool.

Nose:  The first aroma to hit my olfactory sense was lemon. Not just the peel, but the fruit inside. Not to be ignored was pine and malt. If you've ever visited a malting floor, it has a certain, unique smell. As I brought the rim to my mouth and inhaled, lemon oil danced across my palate.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was different. It was oily... no, it was thin... no, it had a medium body... no, it was syrupy. The palate was a bit easier to nail down. It started with honey and graham crackers. The middle offered English toffee and cinnamon. The back completed the transition from sweet to spicy with nutmeg and toasted oak, then to acidic with lemon zest.

Finish:  Smoked oak, very mild peat, clove, lemon, nutmeg, and toffee remained for a medium-long finish.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  To find a 10-year single malt for $34.99 isn't overly difficult. A good one is more challenging. I had fun trying to figure out the mouthfeel. I felt the palate was interesting, especially the back where it took that zig-zag. It is unusual to find peat with a Speyside. That's not to scare folks away from it, as I stated above, it was mild. This has a lot of character, it will keep you guessing, and for me, that translates to a Bottle rating.


Speyburn 15 Years

Aged for 15 years in both Bourbon and Spanish casks (Speyburn doesn't come out and say the Spanish casks are former sherry butts, but when you taste it, that becomes obvious). This is a single malt, which means they're not blending malted barleys from other distilleries. All the cooperage is air-dried, the whisky is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Speyburn 15 is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and you can expect to pay around $70.00 for a 750ml bottle. Worldwide, there are only 3500 cases made each year. 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Speyburn 15 presented as the color of deep, dark chestnut. The ring that formed was medium in thickness, and the legs were fat but sticky, slowly crawling their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  This was a raisin bomb out of the gate. That's the first clue that the Spanish casks formally held sherry. Dark chocolate, apricot, and citrus joined the raisin. When I took the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and oak rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and full-bodied. It started with dark chocolate, raisin bread, and orange citrus. The middle featured vanilla, apricot, and fig. Then, the back offered leather, dry oak, vanilla, and malt.

Finish:  French oak and what I could swear was port pipes were at the forefront of the finish. Flavors of raisin, leather, orange citrus, tobacco, and black pepper rounded things out. Lengthwise, it was shorter than I'd have preferred, ranging somewhere in the short-middle range.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I really enjoyed this. I've seen some reviews that casually tossed this whisky aside and I couldn't disagree more. There were several things going on with the palate that made this one interesting. I also loved that finish, especially as it pertained to the cooperage. Bring price into the equation, and for a 15-year Single Malt Scotch, I believe it is priced fairly. Pick one up, because this 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, October 11, 2021

Balcones True Blue Straight Corn Barrel Proof Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes (2021)


Texas whiskey. It is about as polarizing a whiskey category as it gets. I can tell you that until a year ago, I wasn't a fan at all of it. I found it hot, one-or-two notes (oak and corn or corn and oak), and pricey, especially for the return on investment.

As I was saying, a year ago I found one that changed my mind and allowed me to #DrinkCurious with less fear. I still find fault in many Texas offerings, but I'm keeping the door open to discover hidden gems. If you're interested, it was The Musician from Still Austin.

One of the reasons Texas whiskey is, well, unappealing is everything ages there so quickly due to the heat. It can, as we saw this past February, get pretty darned cold there, too. But, mostly it is hot. And, many distilleries choose to age in smaller barrels, making the corn and oak, oak and corn dominance even stronger.

Today I'm sipping on another Texas whiskey. This time, it is from Balcones Distilling out of Waco. Balcones is a grain-to-glass distillery, using blue corn from New Mexico and barley from Texas. Founded in 2008 in an old welding shop, operations were up and running a year later. It utilizes copper pot stills. Then, in 2016, it opened a new distillery in a former storage building which was many more times the size of the original. Jared Himstedt, Balcones' Head Distiller, was a homebrewer before joining the team at Balcones from its inception.

"At barrel proof, True Blue Cask Strength preserves the bold flavors and aromas straight from our premium barrels. Select casks yield a power expression of our blue corn whisky that opens with deep notes of brown sugar, roasted nuts and buttered toast, while lingering honeysuckle and citrus accents usher in a long finish with hints of cinnamon. Crafted from scratch at Balcones, and held to the highest standards of quality, this whisky can be enjoyed “as is” or with as much water as you prefer." - Balcones Distilling

The cask strength True Blue Straight Corn Whiskey is a once-a-year, single-barrel product made from roasted blue corn, and aged 41 months in vintage, American cooperage. The barrel size and source are undisclosed. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored.  The 2021 version is a whopping 65.8% ABV (or 131.6°), and if you can find it, you'll pay about $64.99.

A local distributor provided me with a sample of True Blue in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I won't make him wait any further.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, True Blue may be the reddest mahogany color I've seen, and I include whiskeys that have been aged in red wine casks. It formed a medium-width rim that made a slow curtain collapse back to the pool.

Nose:  Plain and simple, this starts as a caramel bomb. Additional aromas included banana pudding, vanilla, cinnamon, and toasted oak. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, sweet corn raced across my tongue.

Palate:  Warm and oily, the mouthfeel told me this whiskey was not fooling around. Praline pecan and vanilla cream greeted the front of my palate. That changed to heavy maple syrup on the middle. The back was an interesting blend of cinnamon, clove, and butterscotch.

Finish: Texas is big, and so is True Blue's finish. It started sweet with honey and maple syrup, then moved to spicy with cinnamon, coffee, and clove. 

Bottle, Bar, or BustWhile the mouthfeel told me it was very serious, True Blue didn't drink at its stated proof. Look 130° and more is going to get your attention. It will always do so. But, there are some that are like drinking napalm and others that are shockingly smooth (yeah, I know, that's a frowned-upon term in the whiskey world). True Blue may also be the best Texas whiskey I've had to date. The wow factor was surprising. There was nothing about it that I disliked, and I would absolutely buy a Bottle at $64.99. You should, 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.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Blue Spot Cask Strength Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


In 1803, William Mitchell declared that all of the firstborn Mitchell sons would be named Robert to honor the memory of his close friend, Robert Emmet. Many generations later, that demand has been honored to the present day. His bakery, Mitchell & Son, slowly expanded into other fields, such as importing wines from mainland Europe. Then, in 1887, it delved into bonding whiskeys. With a plethora of wine casks on hand, Mitchell & Son gained a reputation for taking Jameson distillate and aging it in fortified wine casks. It referred to this product as Spot Whiskey. His warehouse was a cellar, located beneath the streets of Dublin.

"When their fortified wine casks were filled exclusively with Jameson spirit from the old Bow St. Distillery, they were marked with a daub or ‘spot’ of paint which identified how long the barrels would be matured for. Blue for 7 years, Green for 10 years, Yellow for 12 years and Red for 15 years—hence the name Spot Whiskey." - Spot Whiskey

Blue Spot is the only one bottled at cask strength. It is a Single Pot Still Whiskey which means the mash is made from both malted and unmalted barley. To get into even more detail, any Single Pot Still Whiskey must contain both a minimum of 30% malted and 30% unmalted barley. Then, up to 5% of other cereal grains can be used. It must be distilled in a pot still, and Blue Spot was triple-distilled, which is the most common means of distilling Irish whiskey (the other option is double-distilled).  The single part of the category means that all the malt comes from a single distillery. 

The distillate was then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, ex-sherry butts, and ex-Portuguese Madiera casks. Spot Whiskeys are non-chill filtered. Blue Spot weighs in at a hefty 58.7% ABV (117.4°) and was distilled at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork. You can expect to pay right around $100.00, I picked mine up for $105.00. One last note, 2021 is the first time since 1964 that Blue Spot has been available for mass consumption. 

I've given you a lot of background, but now it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Blue Spot was the color of brass. It left a medium rim on the wall and fast, medium legs that crashed back into the pool. 

Nose: The smell of fruits was simply delicious. Blueberry is my favorite fruit. Guess what? The explosion of blueberries into my olfactory sense was welcomed. Pineapple, banana, and citrus shined through. I also experienced a thick maltiness. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, I got more fruit - this time, apple. 

Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and oily. It coated every nook and cranny of my mouth. Nutmeg, almond, cinnamon, and dark chocolate started things off. The middle offered orange, vanilla, raisin, and honey. On the back, I tasted caramel, oak, black pepper, and red wine.

Finish:  Thick, rich, caramel flavor dominated. Dark chocolate and leather were next, and the end was spicy with clove and black pepper. It was long-lasting and warming, but not anything that could be described as burn.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: 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 was something higher, it would take that, 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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

X By Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Scotch made for mixing. Scotch made for mixing? Oh no, is this going to be one of those awful things that need something else to make it tolerable?

I've had Scotch made for mixing before, and frankly, I enjoyed it neat.  A little over two years ago, I reviewed Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" and it earned a Bottle rating. In fact, I said, "I'd buy this bottle all day long."  It was $49.99 and I didn't even bother using it as a mixer.

Today I'm pouring X by Glenmorangie, which is a Highland Single Malt made for mixing. Glenmorangie wants this description to be unmissed. It is on the bottle. It is on the hangtag. There is even a QR code on the reverse label so you can get mixing recipes. Full disclosure time:  I'm a big fan of Glenmorangie and I can't recall anything that was just meh out of this distillery. Dr. Bill Lumsden knows his stuff and he doesn't release whisky for the sake of releasing whisky. There is a ton of thought and consideration put into each bottling and if it doesn't meet his standards, it doesn't make it to market. 

As I stated, this is a single malt, which means that the whisky came from a single distillery and hasn't been blended with other whiskies. It aged in the normal ex-Bourbon barrels as the original Glenmorangie. However, another portion was aged in virgin, charred oak casks. It is bottled at a basic 40% ABV (80°) and a 750ml bottle will set you back about $25.00 or so. It carries no age statement. Wait! Don't roll your eyes. Read on, I beg you.

"Crafted with top bartenders, this is our single malt made for mixing. Pair its sweeter and richer taste with your favourite mixer to create delicious drinks." - Glenmorangie


Interestingly enough, that's pretty much the same story from Auchentoshan

I'd like to thank Glenmorangie for providing me a sample of X in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. But, before I do that, I want to talk about the presentation. Most distilleries send a bottle between 50ml and 750ml and maybe some printed material. A select few pour a lot of effort into what's sent out. Glenmorangie went above and beyond.

The box was huge. My Glencairn glass is there for perspective. When I pulled off the outer box, inside were five bottles:  X by Glenmorangie, Topo Chico Twist of Grapefruit, Fever-Tree Club Soda, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa. It also contained suggested cocktail recipes. One of which I'm going to make (after I taste the X neat) is called X Ginger:

  • 1.5oz X by Glenmorangie
  • Ginger Ale

Fill a glass with cubed ice. Add X by Glenmorangie then top with ginger ale. Gently stir and garnish with an orange wedge.

Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass (because X is made for mixing and I judge all whiskeys, at the very least, neat), this Scotch presented as deep gold in color. I observed a fat rim that formed a thick, wavy curtain that slowly crashed back to the pool.

Nose:  The aromas of orange citrus and honeysuckle were unmistakable. It bordered on almost overwhelming. But, beneath those were pear, butterscotch, and something floral. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, I could swear I was eating a macaroon. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and viscous. In fact, the more I sipped, the huskier it became.  The front featured raw honey, malt, and almond. Flavors of orange peel and crème brulée were next, and on the back, it was simply char and toasted oak. 

Finish:  My hard palate tingled despite the minimal proof. Virgin oak was evident and was joined by char, almond, and maple syrup. Like the mouthfeel, the finish was initially short, and subsequent sips elongated it to what I would describe as medium in length.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Is Glenmorangie X made for mixing? Well, sure, because Glenmorangie says so. Is it made for drinking neat? You betcha. This was a sweet but simple Scotch that provided a pleasant experience. When you compare Glenmorangie X to many other $25.00 Scotches, this not only deserves a Bottle rating but also provides an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf

Afterword:  For whatever it is worth, I made the X Ginger cocktail sans the orange simply because I didn't have one on hand. It did tame the ginger beer and give it a sweetness that complimented the expected spiciness.

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, October 4, 2021

Hooten Young 12-Year Barrel Proof American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Earlier this summer, I had a chance to review a 12-year American Whiskey from Hooten Young. It was sourced from MGP, made from a mash of 99% corn and 1% malted barley, then aged in second-fill vintage cooperage for that 12-year period.  The backstory of Hooten Young can be found in the above-cited review.


Today I am sipping on the barrel-proof version of this light whiskey (it is considered a light whiskey due to the use of used cooperage and the proof to which it was distilled). It is the same mash and age statement, distilled to 189° and then barreled at 140°. 


“The uniqueness of our barrel-proof American Whiskey can be attributed to the 12 years of aging, as well as the second fill barrels instead of using the first fill. Our barrel-proof American Whiskey is a direct and flavorful experience. The spirit at this strength will most certainly command your attention. Beyond its power, there is also a mellowness and richness not often found in barrel proof spirits.”George Miliotes, Master Sommelier


I wound up rating the 92° version a Bar. I found it interesting and different from other light whiskeys I’ve had (despite most coming from MGP), I just thought it was pricy for what it was. But, every whiskey is held up to the same standard, and a different proof becomes a new experience to be judged with a clean slate.


There were 3000 bottles of Hooten Young Barrel Proof made available at a retail price of $109.99. Distribution is currently in Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, and Kansas, plus you can buy it online from Hooten Young’s website.


Before I get to the tasting notes and rating, I’d like to thank Hooten Young for providing me a sample of its whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Hooten Young Barrel Proof presented as medium-gold in color. A thin rim was formed, which created fast, heavy legs that crashed back into the pool.


Nose:  Aromas of baked apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg were beyond obvious. It made my mouth water and engaged my interest in getting to the tasting. When I drew the air into my mouth, cinnamon apples rolled across my tongue.


Palate: I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily. It found every nook and cranny of my mouth. The front offered flavors of baked apple and vanilla. In the middle, I experienced maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon powder. The back was cinnamon Red Hots and clove.


Finish:  I love freight-train finishes. They just go on and on and so long as the whiskey is good, there’s no reason not to savor it. Clove, pepper, and cinnamon remained behind.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I enjoyed what I tasted, it was uncomplicated and easy to sip despite the proof. I’m at the same crossroads that I was with the 92° version, and that’s the value portion. I get that this is 120°, I get that it is 12-years old. If you would have asked me two years ago if I would pay $109.00 for a similarly-aged, similarly-proofed whiskey (such as Knob Creek 120), I’d tell you no way. But, we’re at a time where these older, higher-proof whiskeys can command the higher price. I’m leaning toward a Bottle rating on this one, there’s just enough to push it across the finish line.




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.