Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


In my experience, there are two types of flavored whiskeys. The first involves attempting to salvage substandard whiskey by burying it in additives. The second is adding or infusing flavors into otherwise decent whiskey to enhance it. Yes, there is a real difference.

 

“We started this business with absolutely no experience besides drinking the stuff. We just had a vision. This made us work harder to develop a unique, high quality whiskey that was the perfect balance between complexity and drinkability. We spent many sleepless nights running home from our corporate jobs to blend, infuse, and spit out lots of homemade infusions. In 2017, after four years of development and feedback, we finally bottled Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whiskey. The next question was, would anyone buy it?” - JD Recobs & Chris Buglisi, Co-Founders

 

Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whiskey begins with a blend of sourced Bourbon and American whiskey. Most of the combination is Bourbon. The distiller is undisclosed; the only thing we know about the whiskey’s recipe is it possesses a high corn mashbill. The blending process occurred first. The infusing, second.

 

That’s where two types of ginger – not ginger flavoring, but real ginger root comes into play.

 

Misunderstood Whiskey carries no age statement nor a straight designation. Likely that’s due to the e150A caramel coloring. The whole shebang was blended and packaged in Bardstown, Kentucky, at 40% ABV (80°). A 750ml bottle costs about $31.00 and can be found in 24 states, with more coming. On a side note, it is non-chill filtered.

 

JD’s and Chris’s question is valid. Would anyone buy it? I’ll take it a step further. Should anyone buy it? That’s answered via a #DrinkCurious journey. Still, before I get there, I must thank Misunderstood Whiskey for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: I poured Misunderstood Whiskey into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. All whiskeys go through this same vetting procedure. The color is a deep bronze, but since that’s enhanced by the e150A, we get nothing from it. A medium rim released thick tears that didn’t rush down the side.

 

Nose: My initial sniff brought no surprises. I smelled ginger. It actually smelled like ginger beer, which is cool because I enjoy a good ginger beer. Vanilla and a kiss of oak were buried beneath. I drew the air into my mouth the ginger beer reference became more realistic.

 

Palate: The silky texture carried some heft. Plenty of spicy ginger through the front, middle, and back again made me think of ginger beer. Similar to what I found on the nose, there was a gentle wave of vanilla. The back is where flavors of orange marmalade and honey were found.   

 

Finish: The ginger continued its trek with marmalade, honey, caramel, and vanilla in tow. Overall, it was a medium duration.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If you’re looking for a whiskey that tastes like whiskey, Misunderstood won’t make you very happy. There are very few whiskeyish qualities to it. But, to expect that is to misunderstand Misunderstood.

 

I don’t know if hard ginger beer exists, but if I were to design one, it would taste exactly like Misunderstood Whiskey.

 

Just for fun, Mrs. Whiskeyfellow provided barbecued baby back ribs for dinner. I jotted down all my tasting notes before dinner and reapproached Misunderstood Whiskey with the ribs. ¡Qué bueno!

 

My guess is Misunderstood Whiskey would make a delicious cocktail base. I didn’t go in that direction because that’s not how I rate whiskeys. In truth, I can’t see myself reaching for Misunderstood if I wanted to sip on a glass of whiskey. But, if I wanted to relax with an incredible “hard” ginger beer, I’d happily grab a Bottle of this and it wouldn’t be a forgotten volume in my whiskey library. 


P.S. I blew through three glasses on the first night. 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, June 5, 2023

Jack Daniel's Bonded Tennessee Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


I’m pretty sure everyone, including non-whiskey drinkers, has heard of Jack Daniel’s. Its Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey is the best-selling whiskey of any kind in the world. Founded in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1866, the distillery sources water from the Cave Spring Hollow, two miles beneath its campus.

 

Jack Daniel’s starts with a mash of 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye. It then goes through a six-day fermentation process. When that’s complete, it is sent through the copper pot still, which exits at 140°.

 

It then goes through the Lincoln County Process (LCP). This is what makes Tennessee Whiskey a subset of Bourbon. There is much debate surrounding this; however, nothing in the rules disqualifies Tennessee Whiskey from being Bourbon. In the case of Jack Daniel’s, the LCP process takes between 3-5 days. After the LCP, the whiskey goes into barrels. Jack Daniel’s has its own cooperage, giving it greater control over barrel quality and consistency.

 

Today I’m sipping on Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey. Because it is Bottled-in-Bond, we know it is at least four years old and is exactly 50% ABV (100°). The rest of the Bottled-in-Bond designation means it was distilled by a single distiller at a single distillery in a single distilling season (meaning either January to June or July through December) and requires maturation to occur in a government-bonded warehouse (hence the bonded nomenclature).

 

Jack Daniel’s Bonded isn’t challenging to find. Of course, it isn’t at every bar and liquor store like Old No. 7, but I’ve seen it in more than enough retail shops. A 750ml costs about $35.00 or so. I picked my bottle up for a few pennies less after taxes.

 

How does this taste? We #DrinkCurious to find that out. But, before we do, I will say this much: Bonded whiskey is my favorite niche category of American distilling. It is a rare exception to have one that’s not tasty. Now, let’s get to it.

 

Appearance: A neat pour into my Glencairn glass showed me a rusty-colored liquid. It formed a thinner rim which, in turn, created lightning-fast, thick tears.

 

Nose: The smell of maple, caramel, cherry, banana, and nutmeg permeated my nostrils. When I inhaled through my lips, I encountered toasted oak.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was soft and creamy. Maple syrup, corn, and nutmeg hit the front of my palate, while the middle featured caramel, brown sugar, and banana flavors. Charred oak, bold rye spice, and clove created the back.

 

Finish: Its long, lingering duration consisted of banana, brown sugar, char, nutmeg, cinnamon, and rye spice.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Forget anything you know about Old No. 7 because Jack Daniel’s Bonded is nothing like that. It possesses enough spicy punch to hold your attention, allowing you to ponder what flavors are stuck in your mouth. It is a pleasurable pour, one well worth its $35.00 cost, and, to be blunt, I’d happily pay more. If you see this one on your local store shelf, buy a Bottle. You won’t be disappointed. 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, June 4, 2023

Grand Canyon Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I love when friends hand me a bottle of whiskey and request I put together a review. I love it even more when I’ve never heard of the distillery, and it is so micro that I go into the tasting experience completely blind.

 

When I was at Distill America a couple of weeks ago, a friend slipped a sample bottle in my hand. A family member was in Arizona and gave it to her. At the 2022 event, they also gave me samples to reflect upon.

 

Canyon Diablo Spirits & Distillery is located in Flagstaff, Arizona. Aside from the backstory from the brand's website, there’s not much information about the operation.

 

Canyon Diablo Spirits, located in Flagstaff, AZ,  was formed in 2013 by the three owners with a passion for distilling and brewing, and a taste for good spirits and beer. One owner had recently embarked on starting a microbrewery. Two of the owners were former members (one the master distiller/brewer) of the first legal distillery in Arizona which had ceased operation, and were looking to start their own distillery. Through happenstance the three owners met up and Canyon Diablo Spirits was born.” – Canyon Diablo Spirits

 

I’m unsure when the website was last updated because Grand Canyon Bourbon is not mentioned, which is the whiskey I’m tasting today. In fact, there are no whiskeys at all listed, just gin and a couple of vodkas.

 

What little I could glean is for about $30.00, you can acquire a 750ml package that weighs in at 42% ABV (84°) and is available at various Arizona retailers. I know nothing about the mashbill, the type or size of cooperage used, or how long it sat in oak. Flagstaff does sit at about 7000 feet in elevation, bringing a far different exposure than most other distilleries experience.  

 

Let’s get to the #DrinkCurious part and discover what this Bourbon is all about.

 

Appearance: I sipped this whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. It was the color of straw; it created a massive rim. Huge tears slowly fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: The first thought that hit my mind as I started sniffing Grand Canyon was it is likely a wheated Bourbon. It was mellow with sweet corn, vanilla, toasted oak, and nutmeg. Inhaling the vapor into my mouth revealed butterscotch.

 

Palate: The texture further convinced me this is a wheater. It was gentle yet weighty. Vanilla and sweet corn hit the front of my palate. My mid-palate tasted nutmeg and caramel, while the back offered flavors of toasted oak, cinnamon sugar, and white pepper.

 

Finish: This low-proof Bourbon had a longer-than-anticipated finish made of white pepper, toasted oak, caramel, and candy corn. It hugged the back of my tongue and down in my throat.    

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’m doing a lot of guessing here, but my experience tells me this is a youngish, wheated Bourbon that aged in standard, lightly-charred 53-gallon barrels. Of course, I could be totally off. But, for $30.00, Grand Canyon got my attention. I don’t believe it is available outside of Arizona but pick up a Bottle if you find yourself that way. I think you’ll be impressed, 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, June 2, 2023

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


One of my favorite Highland Scotch distilleries is The GlenDronach. The distillery exploits fine sherry casks to age its newmake and create something consistently above-par. Located in Aberdeenshire, it was founded in 1826 by James Allardice; its name comes from the Gaelic Glen (meaning valley) and Dronach (meaning brambles or blackberries) from the Dronach Burn, which is the river that provides the distillery its water. Together, The GlenDronach means the valley of the blackberries.

 

Things were great for nine years until the distillery was destroyed by fire in 1837. Not interested in giving up, Allardice quickly rebuilt it. Allardice went bankrupt in 1842 and had to divest himself of his assets, including The GlenDronach. In 1852, Walter Scott, the former distillery manager of Teaninich, became the owner until 1877. Over the next 40-some-odd years, it changed hands several times and was eventually acquired by Captain Charles Grant in 1920. His family maintained ownership until 1960, when William Teachers & Sons purchased the distillery. At that point, The GlenDronach went through a refitting that included adding two stills.

 

By 1976, Teachers had been purchased by Allied Distillers, and the deal included The GlenDronach. The distillery was shuttered in 1996. Six years later, Allied revived it, and in 2005, Pernod Ricard purchased Allied, but it wasn’t interested in keeping The GlenDronach. In 2008, BenRiach Distillery Co., Ltd., led by Billy Walker, purchased it and honed in on aging whisky in ex-sherry casks instead of former Bourbon barrels. Things went well and caught the attention of Brown-Forman, who bought it, along with BenRiach and Glenglassaugh. Dr. Rachel Barrie was brought in as the Master Blender of all three distilleries. At the same time, Billy Walker went to The GlenAllachie.

 

A relatively recent decision by The GlenDronach was to introduce chill filtration to its whiskies. This change was controversial among fans of the brand. My view on chill filtration is the same as nearly every other aspect of the whiskey in front of me: How does it smell and taste? At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.

 

Today I’m exploring The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 single malt Scotch.

 

The GlenDronach Cask Strength offers connoisseurs a deep insight into the distillery’s signature character, by bottling at the whisky’s natural cask strength, as was the custom before the turn of the 20th Century. Add a drop or two of water to open up the liquid and reveal a cornucopia of flavors; from rich mocha to raisin-filled fruit-cake and indulgent crème brûlée. Such is the reward of our twelfth batch of The GlenDronach Cask Strength, a richly sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky matured in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie

 

Batch 12 carries no age statement and is bottled at 58.2% ABV (116.4°). The whisky is naturally colored, and my sample provided no information on chill filtration. It has a suggested price of $104.99 and is available from select retailers across the United States.

 

So, back to the original question: How does it smell and taste? The only way I know how to answer that is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: I sipped this single malt whisky neat from a Glencairn glass. Inside, it presented as a deep, slightly cloudy orange amber. A thinner rim produced crooked tears and sticky droplets.

 

Nose: The first things I smelled were dark chocolate and cherries. As I continued to sniff, I found plums, raisins, orange zest, and English toffee. When I took a whiff through my mouth, the chocolate became fudgy.   

 

Palate: The texture bordered on syrupy. The front of my palate encountered coffee, cocoa powder, and hazelnuts. The middle tasted of Grand Marnier with a touch of wood. The back featured cherries, caramel, and almond.

 

Finish: The flavor of orange-brandied liqueur was glued to my tongue while the rest of my mouth and throat relished the chocolate, nut, and cherry notes. There's no heat whatsoever. It was medium in duration; my complaint is that it wasn’t long enough.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I could sum this up in a nice, pretty package or tell you this was enchantingly delicious. Is it worth $104.99? You betcha. Grab a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed. By the way, this eclipses last year’s Batch 11, which I went crazy for. 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, May 31, 2023

Kilbrin Blended Irish Whiskey Review


The Spirits Direct program is connected with Total Wine & More stores. It is also a bit of a misnomer. Most of what falls under that banner is a “house” brand. Except for states that don’t allow exclusivity, you cannot buy a Total Wine house brand anywhere else. Other spirits that fall under it include Angel’s Envy, a brand that can be widely found anywhere.

 

The aggravating thing about Spirits Direct is how Total Wine pushes it. Ask a store associate about a Spirits Direct bottle, and they’ll often tell you, “It is the same thing as [insert brand you recognize].” You need to know that, no matter the label, it isn’t the same thing, and I’ve been chastising Total Wine about this for years. Total Wine is fully aware that I do. We’ve had discussions. Considering they have not changed their business practices, I’m not a company fan.

 

Despite my disdain for Total Wine, the Spirits Direct program is hit-and-miss. I’ve had good and bad sipping experiences and have been fair and frank with my reviews.

 

Why am I blathering about Spirits Direct and Total Wine today? There are two reasons; first, I’m a firm believer in educating the whiskey consumer; second, I’m reviewing Kilbrin Irish Whiskey, which is part of the Spirits Direct umbrella. The Kilbrin Distilling Company is a non-distilling producer (NDP) and was founded in 2017 as part of Quality Spirits International. QSi provides Total Wine with several Spirits Direct whiskeys, even gin.  

 

Specifically, I’m reviewing Kilbrin’s flagship Irish Whiskey, a blend made from malt and grain whiskeys. Like most Irish whiskeys, it is triple-distilled and aged at least three years in wood. QSi kept any other information close to its vest. Bottled at 40% ABV (80°), you can expect to spend about $19.99 on a 750ml. That opens the door for possible entry to my #RespectTheBottomShelf realm.

 

Fortunately, much of the Spirits Direct whiskey selection is available in 50ml tasters, so if you want to experience what it offers, you can do it cheaply. I believe I paid $1.99 for the one I acquired.

 

The only way to know for sure if Kilbrin is worth the money is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get to it!  

 

Appearance: I sipped this Irish whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. I have no idea if e150A caramel coloring has been added; however, it is presented as classic gold in my glass. A thick rim formed slow, wide tears.

 

Nose: The aroma comprised grass and lemon rind. I also pulled floral notes. Drawing the air through my lips offered a taste of vanilla.

 

Palate: A medium body introduced my palate to flavors of vanilla, lemongrass, almond, and pear. I had difficulty discerning which hit the front, middle, or back. It was more of an all-or-nothing event.

 

Finish: Beyond the vanilla that carried through, ginger came from nowhere and remained for a short finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Several bottom-shelf Irish whiskeys outperform Kilbrin and provide a far better experience. This sipping adventure was utterly unremarkable. Perhaps it is good for a mixer, but that's not something I seek out. I felt like I was drinking whiskey for the sake of drinking whiskey, and that’s never a good thing. Save your money, and buy something else, because Kilbrin is a Bust. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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

 

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

 


 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Good Day & Sunshine 21-Year Canadian Whisky Review

 


What does Canada require for its whisky to be considered Canadian? Many people get this one wrong – and I used to be one of them. I used to believe the rules were fast and loose. But, once you read (and understand) them, the Great White North is somewhat strict.

 

Canadian whisky must begin with the mashing and distilling of cereal grains (corn, rye, wheat, etc.). Things always start with single-grain whisky. In other words, if you had a Canadian whisky made from corn, rye, and wheat, it means the corn was distilled and aged, the rye was distilled and aged, and the wheat was distilled and aged. Once everything matures, those whiskies are then blended.

 

A typical Canadian whisky comes from a distillate of around 95% ABV (190°). That’s Neutral Grain Spirit (NGS) territory. It must age at least three years in small cooperage – less than 700 liters), all of which must occur in Canada. However, there is no rule indicating the use of a specific wood. Used cooperage helps the NGS gain flavor.

 

Like whisky all over, bottling happens at no less than 40% ABV (80°).

 

Today, I’m sampling Good Day & Sunshine from Proof and Wood Ventures of Bardstown, Kentucky. If you think Good Day Canadian Whisky sounds familiar, it should. It was the 2022 Canadian release from Proof and Wood. This year’s release also carries a 21-year age statement. It is a blend of mostly corn whisky and a smaller portion of barley and rye whiskies that were aged in oak. The combination was finished in Jamaican Rum barrels (Good Day for the Canadian and Sunshine for the Jamaican). It is packaged at 52.5% ABV (105°) and has a suggested retail price of $99.99.

 

Before I begin this adventure, I must thank Proof and Wood for providing me a sample of Good Day & Sunshine in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: I sipped this whisky neat from my Glencairn glass. The liquid was bright gold; it left a thin rim and shed slow, crooked tears.

 

Nose: The Rum cask finish was no joke. An aroma of thick molasses rose from my glass. Corn, vanilla, and floral rye followed. I found brown sugar and vanilla when I drew the air through my lips.

 

Palate: The full-bodied mouthfeel launched flavors of butterscotch and cinnamon on the front of my palate. Vanilla, brown sugar, and corn formed the middle. Flavors of clove, toffee, and caramel were on the back.

 

Finish: The clove was determined to keep the show going once the caramel, brown sugar, and toffee faded; it hung around on my tongue for what appeared to be several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The original Good Day stole my Bottle rating. It was the first time a purely Canadian whisky was worthy enough to earn it. Good Day & Sunshine took things a step further. The Rum and spice notes created an attention-getting experience. The duration of the finish only enhanced the affair. In a head-to-head competition, Good Day & Sunshine outperforms Good Day (I still have some to verify). It only makes sense that an even better whisky would be crowned accordingly for the same money. Grab a 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 you do so responsibly.

 


Monday, May 29, 2023

Copperworks Release 047 American Single Malt Whiskey Review


Copperworks Distilling Company of Seattle, Washington, was founded by Jason Parker and Micah Nutt in 2013. Both had backgrounds in craft brewing and were curious about what would happen if they distilled high-quality craft beer into spirits. While using traditional hand-hammered copper stills from Scotland, Copperworks is a leader in the American Single Malt Whiskey movement and is driven by innovation, sustainability, and the pursuit of flavors from the Pacific Northwest. 

 

Copperworks was named the 2018 Distillery of the Year by the American Distilling Institute. It offers American Single Malts, vodka, and gins. Everything it produces comes from malted barley. I’ve reviewed several of its whiskeys; its accolades are well-deserved.

 

Today I’m exploring Release 047, an American Single Malt comprised of blending 13 casks. Four came from Copperworks' Five Malt recipe, and the remainder from its Baronesse Pale malt.

 

"Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey Release 047 is our largest blend to date, and a portion of it is destined for select export markets, including Taiwan. This latest release is among other special selections of Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey that have made their way to select International markets such as Italy, Canada, UK, and Japan.” – Jason Parker

 

Copperworks utilized new, #2-charred American oak barrels from Canton Cooperage with staves seasoned between 24 and 36 months. Release 047 was aged three years and packaged at 50% ABV (100°). It has a suggested retail price of $69.99 for a 750ml bottle and can be procured from the distillery’s online store or Shots Box.

 

I thank Copperworks for providing me with a sample of Release 047 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now is it time to #DrinkCurious and explore what this whiskey offers.

 

Appearance: I used a Glencairn glass and sipped this whiskey neat. The deep, dark orange liquid formed a thin rim and sticky tears.

 

Nose: When you begin with an aroma of a dreamsicle, you command my attention. English toffee, cinnamon, and cocoa followed. I tasted orange pekoe tea as I drew the air through my lips.

 

Palate: The texture was thick and creamy. Flavors of honeysuckle, orange peel, and cocoa hit the front of my palate. Midway through, I found peach, tea, and mint. The back consisted of cinnamon, oak, and pink peppercorn.

 

Finish: Honey, peach, orange citrus, tea, spiced oak, and cinnamon closed out the sipping experience. The oak and cinnamon started slow and gradually built to a crescendo. Once they fell, the honey remained, giving this single malt whiskey a longer finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Release 047 differs from the other Copperworks single malts I’ve encountered. I don’t recall bold tea notes in the experience. I’m not a tea drinker. I know what it tastes like, but I don’t enjoy it. Yet, somehow, Jason and Micah made that quality palatable. I found myself pouring another glass. Release 047 seems almost perfect for a summer sipper, and the timing couldn’t be better. This American Single Malt takes 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.

 


 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Howler Head Banana-Infused Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review

 


Flavored whiskeys make up a growing segment of the industry. They’re nothing new, but more and more brands are getting on the bandwagon. Several flavored whiskeys technically aren’t whiskeys; they’re liqueurs because they don’t meet the 40% ABV (80°) requirement. Drinking flavored whiskey is akin to playing Russian Roulette. Some are quality and quite tasty products; others are not so much. It becomes obvious someone was desperate to salvage something mediocre at best. But, if you don’t #DrinkCurious, you wind up missing what could be gems hidden in the swamp.

 

Last weekend, I attended Distill America, and while visiting the Wild Turkey (Campari) booth, I saw Howler Head.

 

“Howler Head is the original banana-flavored super-premium Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It starts with real, carefully crafted Bourbon made with the finest grains and mineral-rich water. The resulting Bourbon is then aged for two years in charred American white oak barrels. Following the aging, the fine Bourbon is then blended with natural banana flavor.” – Howler Head

 

Howler Head approaches the ring exuding an air of machismo. There’s no disclosure as to who is responsible for the distillate. Still, since Campari owns Wild Turkey and has a minority ownership stake in Howler Head, we would naturally want to make an educated extrapolation. Yet, it comes from Owensboro, which makes it Green River’s distillate.   

 

Who else is involved with Howler Head? The majority owner is Catalyst Spirits, headquartered in Miami, Florida. Additionally, Howler Head is partnering with UFC, the famous MMA sports entertainment organization. Moreover, Howler Head is a Gold Medal winner at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. As such, it is obvious why Howler Head is such a self-confident brand.

 

Yet, if you’ve followed my reviews and history, you understand that I put little stock in whiskey competitions (despite being a judging panelist), fancy marketing is considered just that, and partnerships are investment opportunities. I take everything at its most fundamental value: How does it perform from the glass?

 

Before we get to that, you should know that a 750ml package of Howler Head can be acquired for about $20.00. It is a legitimate whiskey, weighing in at the minimum requirement of 80°. Also, I must disclose that Howler Head provided me my sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: I approached Howler Head like any other whiskey; it was poured into my Glencairn glass and sipped neat. It presented as a bright yellow, golden fluid. The thicker rim released a wavy curtain that crashed back into the pool.

 

Nose: You’d hope that a banana-flavored whiskey would smell of bananas. Howler Head doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it goes a step or two further, smelling of banana pudding and vanilla. When I pulled the air through my lips, it was strictly banana.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was thin and oily. That surprised me a bit; I expected something thick and weighty. Howler Head tasted like a banana cream pie. The front was banana and cinnamon powder. The middle gave up graham cracker crust, and the back tasted of vanilla with a hint of oak spice.

 

Finish: Flavors of banana, vanilla, and oak spice stuck around for a relatively long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Howler Head is strangely addictive. I brought this to share with friends while camping over Memorial Day Weekend. While Mrs. Whiskeyfellow and I were day campers, the folks sleeping in tents and trailers requested that we leave the bottle behind, and I complied. I’ve had other banana-flavored whiskeys, and in a fair and blind head-to-head bout with Howler Head, the competition would tap out. It is affordable, tasty entertainment, and a fun Bottle to keep on hand. 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, May 26, 2023

Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review

 



A handful of annual-release whiskeys out there have me longing to see what the next brings. I don’t mean the standard-bearers out there that’s pretty much the same whiskey year after year, just offered at varying proofs. Instead, I’m talking about the ones you never know what to expect because something different is done each time.

 

One such whiskey is Blood Oath Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Lux Row Distillers produces this whiskey under the creative mind of Master Distiller and Master Blender John Rempe. Each release is called a Pact. The 2023 version is Pact 9 and was finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. I’ve reviewed most Pacts, and no two are even close to alike.

 

You may wonder what Oloroso Sherry is. Like every other Sherry, it is a Spanish-fortified wine aged via a Solera system. Oloroso is made from palomino grapes and is typically bold and dry. Oloroso is the most commonly used for the maturation or finishing of all the Sherry casks. Oloroso tends to impart nutty and fruity qualities to the whisky.

 

“Blood Oath Pact 9 contains three great Bourbons, and the Oloroso Sherry cask finish has resulted in deep, dark amber liquid with long legs. The Oloroso Sherry casks also bring out tasting notes of sweet Sherry with hints of ripe fruit on the nose, as well as flavor notes highlighted by ripe fruits, including figs, plums, and raisins, with notes of molasses, chocolate, and tobacco. This Bourbon also provides a long-lasting finish characterized by fruit notes and complemented by hints of spicy oak. I’m proud to share Blood Oath Pact 9 with Bourbon lovers.” – John Rempe 

 

While this whiskey carries no age statement, Rempe does disclose its components are 16-year, 12-year, and 7-year ryed Bourbons. The latter is the one exposed to the Sherry casks. After blending, the concoction is bottled at 98.6°. Every Pact is packaged at that particular proof – that’s the temperature of human blood!

 

There are a total of 51,000 bottles available. Lux Row plans to release a Trilogy Pack release (Pacts 7, 8, and 9) sometime in 2024 and will hold back about 1400 bottles. You can expect to pay about $129.99 for a 750ml package, representing an 8% price increase over Pact 8 (thank you, inflation).

 

Before I do the #DrinkCurious thing, I must thank Lux Row Distillers for providing me with a sample of Pact 9 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: I sipped this whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. It presented as a deep orange amber that formed a thin rim and syrupy tears.

 

Nose: I smelled plum, fig, cherry, and spiced nuts from the Sherry influence, with vanilla and oak from the Bourbon. Inhaling the aroma through my lips offered tastes of date and oak.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was silky and carried a medium weight. I encountered plum, cherry, and date on the front of my palate. I found brown sugar, dark chocolate, and roasted almond at mid-palate. The back featured rye spice, pipe tobacco, and charred oak.

 

Finish: Fruity flavors of cherry, plum, and date melded with spicy oak notes, clove, and cinnamon. The sweetness fell off while the spice notes stuck around. Everything was mellowed by a wave of chocolate. The finish was warm and lingering long after all the flavors vanished.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: My experience is that, mostly, the Blood Oath Pacts get better each year. There have been exceptions. Pact 9 offers plenty of fruit and a plethora of spice. It is well-balanced as the Sherry characteristics complement the Bourbon base. Is it worth an extra $10.00 over Pact 8?

 

One of the things I have to sit down and mull over is that everything has been more expensive since the end of COVID. So, while I’d say this is a $120 whiskey, the 8% bump really isn’t a big deal. I loved this Bourbon. You will, too. Buy a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed. And, yes, I'm looking forward to whatever Pact 10 has to offer. 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.