Sunday, July 31, 2022

McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Do you like Buffalo Trace?  How about George T. StaggEH Taylor?  If you're a fan of all of those, they're made from the Buffalo Trace #1 mash bill. Well, guess what? McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8 is made from the lineage.

Benchmark's history is fascinating. It began with Seagram's in the 1960s as a luxury Bourbon brand. It was distilled and aged at Four Roses back when Seagram's owned it. Before Four Roses was sold off, Benchmark was acquired by Sazerac (the parent company of Buffalo Trace) in 1992. Sazerac also tacked on McAfee's to the branding to pay homage to the McAfee brothers.  

"Named after the McAfee brothers who surveyed a site just north of Frankfort in the late 1700s, this rye recipe bourbon is yet another label that honors the storied history of the Distillery and the land it sits on." - Sazerac

This is a dirt-cheap whiskey that carries a 3-year age statement. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and if you want a 750ml or even a 1L, you can expect to pay around $15.00 for it.

I picked up a shooter on one of my various liquor store runs for about $0.99. I couldn't even get a soda for that price, so I considered it a wise investment no matter the outcome. Plus, I'm always on the prowl for something that makes me #RespectTheBottomShelf. Let's see if that happens while I #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Benchmark was the color of golden straw. It formed a medium rim that gave way to fat, medium-weight droplets that fell back into the pool. 

Nose:  The nose was lovely with candied green apple, candy corn, and vanilla sugar wafers. Those were joined by a tad of tartness with lemon zest. As I pulled the air into my mouth, I discovered more candied green apples. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was extremely thin. The front featured corn and vanilla. The middle was almond and light caramel. Feint oak and bubblegum were on the back. 

Finish:  Short-to-medium in length, the finish consisted of corn, nuts, allspice, and bubblegum.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a tough one. There's nothing remotely offensive about Benchmark, but at the same time, there's nothing memorable, either. Was I to introduce someone to the world of Bourbon, and they feared burning or being too strong, this would be a perfect toe-dipping opportunity. 

I hear all the time from folks that something they're not a big fan of would be a "good mixer." I don't believe in good mixers. Oh, I know they exist, and sometimes you're stuck staving off buyer's remorse that way, but I don't recommend whiskey thinking of its mixing potential. Every whiskey I try is poured neat and perhaps a drop or two of water if I'm curious what that may do. They're all judged on that basis.

You could use Benchmark Old No. 8 as a mixer. It could also be a Bourbon to drink on a hot summer's day when you want something light. And, if that's your goal, this would be a Bottle rating. However, for me, this is far too muted. This isn't a Bust by any means, but unless you can find a 50ml sample bottle at the store, you'll want to try it at a Bar first.  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.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico Review & Tasting Notes

It is always exciting for me to explore a new-to-me whiskey region. When that happens, I’m going in completely blind because, well, it is uncharted territory.


When I say Mexican Whisky, I’m guessing you’ve giggled while replying, Yeah, tequila!  Not so fast!  I’m talking about real, down-to-earth, 100% ancestral corn whisky. What’s ancestral corn?


Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico is crafted and distilled from 100% Mexican Cacahuazintle (kaka • wha • SINT • lay) corn, which has been cultivated and passed down for more than 200 generations by local farmers for its distinct, extraordinary flavor.”Distileria y Bodega Abasolo


If you’re like me, you’re doing math in your head and thinking how many centuries 200 generations might encompass. Forget it. You’re talking about 4000 years!  Corn has its birthplace in Mexico, and people have been harvesting and cooking it for longer than that. As you can imagine, the corn from back then was much different from today’s crop.  


The Cacahuazintle variety is non-GMO and has large, bulky kernels. It is grown at an elevation of at least 7000 feet. That corn is then divided into two lots – a small one that malts the corn and the second that isn’t. Then, both lots of the corn are cooked.


The technique used to make Abasolo is called nixtamalization.  Basically, the corn is treated with lime, cooked, dried, and pulverized to make flour – the same flour you would use to make tortillas.

Distileria Abasolo then allows a 120-hour fermentation cycle, followed by a double-distillation process using copper pot stills. From there, it is placed in both new and vintage toasted oak casks for an undisclosed period. The final result is a whisky that is bottled at 43% ABV (86°). You can expect to pay $40.00 for a 750ml package. I found a 50ml bottle at some random liquor store for a few bucks.


Are you ready to embark on this adventure with me? Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover what it is all about.


Appearance:  A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a liquid the color of golden straw. A medium rim created a mix of watery tears and sticky globs that remained on the wall.


Nose: I would have assumed corn would be the first aroma to hit my nostrils, but it wasn’t. Instead, it was lime and marshmallow. That was undoubtedly a different combination, that’s for sure! Then the corn hit, but it wasn’t typical corn. It was more like if you grilled the corn over a campfire. Beyond that, I sampled fried plantains. When I drew the air through my lips, I could taste that grilled corn.


Palate:  As this whisky rolled across my tongue, it had a light, oily texture. On the front, I tasted lime and fried plantains.  The middle featured roasted corn with a punch of what I could swear was Tequila Blanco (it had that agave and white pepper quality). The back offered toasted oak, fresh leather, and sweetcorn.


Finish:  The long-lasting finish consisted of white pepper, oak, and leather, with the leather becoming almost chewy.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I don’t like tequila. That’s why I’m not Tequilafellow. However, the notes of tequila mid-palate were mild and, for whatever reason, just fit with the rest of this whisky. Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico is definitely off the beaten path. It captivated my attention, plus it is affordable. That’s a recipe for 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.



Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The GlenAllachie 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

The GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a relatively new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its short 55 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company.


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 additional time to study what's in the tank. The campus is home to 16 warehouses holding 50,000 barrels of whisky!


Today I’m pouring GlenAllachie 12-Year, a single malt Scotch aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, along with first- and second-fill Bourbon barrels and virgin American oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), the average retail price for a 750ml bottle is $65.00. 


“[W]e would like to introduce the most important release in the history of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company; GlenAllachie 12-year-old, the heart of our range, a landmark bottling. Our best casks selected and bottled under the careful eye of our Master Distiller Billy Walker.” – The GlenAllachie


Before I get to my tasting notes, I’d like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 12-Year appeared as dark mahogany. It created a thicker rim which formed fat, sticky legs.


Nose: From across the room, I could smell the sherry notes.  Raisin, green grape, fig, cherry, and dried apricot were accompanied by dark chocolate and oak. When I pulled the air past my lips, it was a big blast of banana pudding.


Palate:  The texture of molasses crawled across my tongue and didn’t go away. Dark chocolate, fig, and green grape were on the front, with raisin, clove, and leather on the middle. I found ginger, oak, and French vanilla on the back.


Finish:  The medium-to-long finish consisted of Mole Coloradito, ginger, clove, tobacco leaf, and oak.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is certainly reasonably priced for a 46% ABV 12-year Scotch. The nose was beautiful, the palate flavorful, and the finish; well, if I go to a Mexican restaurant and there’s a mole sauce option, I’m all over it. The GlenAllachie 12 is just lovely all around and deserves my coveted 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, July 25, 2022

Broadleaf Whiskey's Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon and Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes


One thing that isn’t unusual these days is the birth of a new whiskey brand. They seem to pop up all over, and many come with a lofty hit on the wallet. How can you, as a consumer, tell if it is worth taking a risk on a bottle?


Thankfully, we have these people called whiskey reviewers. And, lucky for you, I happen to be one! I do that #DrinkCurious thing for you and help eliminate that risk.


Today I’m introducing you to two whiskeys from Broadleaf Whiskey, one is a Bourbon and the other an American Rye, and they are called Brothers of the Leaf. What’s with all the leafiness?


“Brothers of the Leaf is a term often used to describe the bond between fellow cigar smokers and their passion for the cigar culture. Brothers of the Leaf Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks and Brothers of the Leaf Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks have been crafted to pay homage to those cigar enthusiasts and the joy of smoking their favorite cigar while sipping on a special whiskey.”Brian Gelfo, Co-Founder, Broadleaf Whiskey


In full disclosure, I am a friend of Brian’s. I’ve known him for several years (although we’ve never met in person). He and I are both members of The Bourbon Mafia, as is Co-Founder J. Paul Tucker, the owner of Oxmoor Smoke Shop in Louisville.


I always promise you that no matter my relationship with any brand or its owners, there is always a no-strings-attached, honest review whenever I’ve been provided a sample.

Here’s what I am not: a cigar enthusiast. I’m not even a beginner. I don’t smoke cigars and have no desire to do so, but I appreciate good cigar blends.


These two whiskeys have some things in common. First, they’re sourced from Ross and Squibb Distillery (formerly MGP). Second, they’re both finished in barrels from Kelvin Cooperage. Third, they’ll be available in late August at select Kentucky retailers and, and each 750ml bottle will run $89.99. Neither carries an age statement.


I’m getting ready to taste the Bourbon first, but before I do that, I must thank Broadleaf Whiskey for providing me with both of these samples.


Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
  • 57.7% ABV (115.4°)

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the bronze liquid formed a thick rim. Many heavy tears fell back to the pool but left behind sticky droplets.


Nose:  Caramel and tobacco (I swear this wasn’t subliminal) rose from the neck of the glass, followed by toasted oak and plum. A waft of tobacco leaf hit my tongue as I pulled the air past my lips.


Palate:  A heavy, oily texture coated my mouth. French oak and tobacco exploded in my mouth, making me think of the cigars my Dad used to smoke. The middle tasted of bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel, while barrel char, smoked meats, and clove rounded things out.  


Finish: A long, dry, almost dusty finish of caramel, French oak, cocoa, smoked meats, and clove, which kept my attention.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Not being a cigar smoker (I said that, didn’t I?), I don’t know what kind of whiskey would pair well, but I can say that this Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon was very cigar-like. And, as someone who enjoys cigar blends, it honestly reminded me quite a lot of Jos. A. Magnus, which I enjoyed and was about $20.00 more than Brothers of the Leaf. I’m happy to offer a Bottle rating on it.




Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • 59.6% ABV (119.2°)


Appearance:  A neat pour of reddish amber filled my Glencairn glass. A heavy rim collapsed under its weight and dropped a curtain of tears.


Nose: Toasted oak, cherry, plum, and floral rye teased my olfactory sense. Minty vanilla tickled my tongue as I inhaled the vapor.


Palate: A creamy, medium-weighted texture led to thick vanilla, caramel, and leather on the front of my palate. The middle was more straightforward with rye spice and mint, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon, smoked oak, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Long and lingering, the finish comprised tobacco, smoked oak, rye spice, and old, dry leather.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  To suggest that Brothers of the Leaf is a typical MGP rye would be disingenuous. Perhaps the toasted white oak is the differentiator, but you could have told me this Rye had aged in a bota bag, and I wouldn’t have blinked. Regardless, I savored the leather notes and believe you would, too, whether or not you planned to pair it with a cigar. That means it has earned 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 you do so responsibly.


Friday, July 22, 2022

Woodford Reserve Batch Proof 118.4 (2022) Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Woodford Reserve Batch Proof started five years ago as part of the distillery’s Master's Collection, essentially as an experimental product line from Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall 


Woodford does things a bit differently than many other distilleries. It starts with a mash of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. They use limestone water obtained from right at the distillery. Nothing unusual with that so far, but it is the next steps that matter:  It uses a six-day fermentation process, which is longer than the industry average of three. It is triple-distilled using a blending of whiskeys from both pot and column stills. Entry-proof is also lower than average, brought down to 110° before being poured into new, #4 charred-oak barrels. 


“Barrels drawn from the first floors of our heat-cycled warehouses routinely possess lower proof presentations due the more relaxed angel share process found there. This batch had more of these barrels in its composition, and therefore a lower batch proof presentation than past releases.” – Chris Moore, Master Distiller 


Woodford Reserve carries no age statement but ages a minimum of four years. The price of Batch Proof is $129.99 for a 750ml bottle, which has remained the same for the last several years. The 2022 release weighs in at 118.4°. 


So, how does this particular release taste? Let's #DrinkCurious and find out. But, first, I'd like to thank Woodford Reserve for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  A deep, dark amber gave the impression of something aged far longer than the four-year minimum. A medium-thin rim created almost random, fat droplets that fell down the wall of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: This Bourbon was fragrant from across the room. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow was seated about ten feet from me and picked out notes. It was a fruit bomb with plum, dark cherry, elderberry, and blackberry. A puff of the air in my mouth tasted of thick, rich vanilla.


Palate:  An intense, oily texture greeted my tongue. Coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel formed the front, with flavors of dark cherry, orange peel, and elderberry on the middle. The back was black pepper, dry oak, and allspice.


Finish: Long and very warming, the coffee and dark chocolate held their own against the black pepper and allspice. Every so often, a kiss of caramel would poke through.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The nose was lovely, the palate had plenty going on, and overall, this is a good Bourbon. I’m hung up on the price. I said the same thing when I reviewed Batch 123.6 (2020). Batch 118.4 takes the same rating: 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, July 20, 2022

The Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery's Filey Bay Single Malt Reviews & Tasting Notes


(photo courtesy of Impex Beverages)

What is the Spirit of Yorkshire? This English distillery began making whisky in 2016 with the idea that tradition is important and must be respected and weighed against a desire not to copy Scotch whisky production. Its founder, Tom Mellor, and the team worked under the guidance of Dr. Jim Swan, and the result is a proper grain-to-glass operation. It is also the first working distillery in all of Yorkshire.


The Spirit of Yorkshire prides itself in using everything possible from the land. The water comes from the chalk aquifers beneath the family farm, which they have been operating since 1945. The barley is 100% of that farm’s crops. The Molds for the bottles use the local earth to form them. This lets them produce whiskies made of Yorkshire versus making whiskies in Yorkshire.


“Our local area is hugely important to us, and so naturally, it’s where we’ve found the name for our Single Malt: Filey Bay. It’s our local beach, visible from the distillery windows; a beautiful stretch of sand that goes on for miles, from the outcrop of Filey Brigg to the headland of Flamborough Head.” - Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery


I have had English whiskies before, and I don’t mean Scotch. But I’ve never had a Yorkshire Single Malt before. Single malt is the same idea no matter what nation you’re considering. It is 100% malted barley from a single distillery. From there, you can get into differences, such as how Spirit of Yorkshire’s distillation process occurs in two of the largest Forsyth pot stills in the country outside of Scotland and a four-plate rectifying column.


Today I am sipping on four expressions of Filey Bay. Two are core expressions, and the others are single cask whiskies. But, before I get started, I thank Impex Beverages for providing me samples of each in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious and learn more.


Filey Bay Flagship Yorkshire Single Malt

As the name implies, this whisky is the flagship offering of Filey Bay. This single malt aged in former Bourbon casks for an undisclosed time and then married together before bottling at 46% ABV (92°). You can expect to pay $70.00 for a 700ml package.


“Bringing together some of our very best and oldest whisky, it has been matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks […] The true representation of our light and fruity house style, it’s complex and nuanced for those with an experienced palate but welcoming and delicious for those just discovering Single Malt.” – Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery


Appearance: The bright golden liquid left a fragile rim on my Glencairn glass. A combination of sticky droplets and long, wide legs made their way back to the pool.


Nose: The fruity, malty aroma consisted of apricot, apple, pear, and peach. I also came across cinnamon and toasted oak. Peaches and cream rolled across my tongue when I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  A light but oily mouthfeel began the tasting experience. The front was bright with orange, lemon, and apple. As it moved across my palate, honey, peaches, and pastry formed the middle, with gingerbread, hazelnut, and vanilla on the back.


Finish:  An amazingly fruity finish included peach, lemon, orange, and apricot. Vanilla, hazelnut, almond, and ginger rounded things out for a medium-long duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Filey Bay Flagship could be an excellent introduction to single malt whiskies. I’m not a newbie and found it refreshing and easy to drink, particularly on this hot, humid summer evening. This whisky was delightful to sip, and I’m happy to rate this one a Bottle.




Filey Bay STR Finish


What is STR? That is when a distillery will Shave, Toast, and Re-char a barrel. It isn’t always wine barrels that go through an STR process, but in my experience, it is the most common. In the case of Filey Bay STR Finish, red wine barriques from Sunny Vineyards of Spain were utilized for the finishing process following normal aging in ex-Bourbon casks. Packaged at 48% ABV (96°), a 700ml bottle carries a suggested retail price of $80.00.


Appearance: The STR finish was brassy and generated a medium rim. Long, flowing legs fell down the wall of the Glencairn glass.


Nose: An aroma of rich, red fruits rose from my glass. Malted barley, orange peel, and toasted oak hid beneath them. Drawing the vapor in my mouth led to vanilla and a touch of lime.


Palate:  The texture was creamy with a medium weight. Cinnamon spice, plum, and caramel introduced themselves. On the middle of my palate, I tasted strawberry preserves along with almond, while the back suggested black pepper, barrel char, and clove.


Finish:  Red wine notes that were almost jammy became known and stuck around for a long finish. Oak tannins, black pepper, and cinnamon left my mouth with a dry pucker.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciated the fruitiness and the influence of the red wine casks. I might have expected those fruits to be muted since the wood was scraped and charred. Perhaps that char drew out the wine? Regardless, the STR finish was completely different from the Flagship expression. The STR was bold, thick, and left a smile on my face. That adds up to a Bottle rating. 




Filey Bay Fino Sherry Cask #674


Once the core releases have been tasted, new exploration comes with single cask whiskies. Rather than releasing the single casks on a schedule, Spirit of Yorkshire simply waits for them to be ready. That’s something I respect from any distillery.


The first single cask I’m reviewing is Fino Sherry Cask #674. It was distilled in 2017 and spent four years in a Fino Sherry Hogshead sourced from Jerez. This whisky is bottled at a cask strength of 61% ABV (122°), and a 700ml package will cost about $110.00. It is exclusive to the US market.


Appearance: Cask #674 was big, bright orange in my Glencairn glass. A medium-thick rim clung to the wall, releasing only a few thick tears.


Nose: The sherry influence had no problem shouting from the rooftops. Raisin, plum, almond, and dry oak permeated my nostrils. But I also smelled cocoa powder. There was candied orange peel when I inhaled that air through my lips.


Palate:  A thin, oily texture greeted my palate. The front consisted of dark fruits blended with nutmeg, while the middle offered lighter flavors of orange zest, pear, and apple. Then a strong wave of cocoa powder, bone-dry oak, and shredded tobacco overwhelmed the back.


Finish:  Bitter dark chocolate, tobacco, and a complete lack of moisture gave a medium-to-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  You must be a fan of extremely dry sherry to appreciate what this single malt serves. I did like the fruity start and striking finish. However, that’s also not for everyone. The high proof is not the issue; the dryness didn’t come from the alcohol content. If anything, it was indiscernible. If this is your jam, then this whisky won’t disappoint. But because this is so dry, I’m giving Cask #674 a Bar rating.




Filey Bay Pedro Ximénez Sherry Cask #685


The final whisky in today’s tasting is not yet available for purchase but should be at the end of July. It is a single malt aged in a Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry cask. While I enjoy sherry cask whiskies, those aged or finished in PX casks tend to be extra-special, and as such, I’m admittedly excited. It, too, should be cask strength at 61% ABV (102°) with a suggested price of $110.00 for a 700ml bottle.


Appearance:  Of the four whiskies, the PX cask was the deepest and darkest, appearing as burnt umber in my Glencairn glass. A thinner rim formed sticky droplets that just hung in place.


Nose: A rich aroma wafted from the neck of the glass, with raisin, dried apricot, molasses, and chocolate.  Dried apricot rolled across my tongue as I breathed air into my mouth.


Palate:  An oil slick coated the inside of my mouth. The first flavor I encountered was French oak and caramel. As the liquid moved to the middle, raisin, prune, and dried apricot melded with the oak, and the caramel vanished. The back was a mix of clove, black pepper, and dark chocolate.  


Finish:  Very long and spicy, the finish continued the clove, black pepper, and dark chocolate, while the French oak carried through. There was also a sizzle left on the tip of my tongue.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This PX cask whisky didn’t disappoint. It was mostly what I had hoped for with an added twist of the French oak. Of the four single malts, this held the boldest flavors. Anyone who lusts for sherry bombs will find Cask #685 satisfies their every desire. I loved it, and have no issues crowning it with a Bottle rating.


Final Notes:  This was a fascinating sipping experience. I’m interested in what else this distillery has to offer, especially in its core expressions. Which was my favorite? You may assume Cask #685, and that would be a great, educated guess, but I’ll tip my hat to the Flagship Single Malt. The second would be Cask #685, and the third would be the STR Finish. 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.