Friday, April 28, 2023

Cutty Sark Prohibition Blended Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


“Not that long after Prohibition began, Captain Bill McCoy started smuggling in Rum Row (the name given to Atlantic waters just outside the US maritime border). Captain McCoy’s reputation for dealing in only the finest liquor resulted in Cutty Sark being referred to as ‘The Real McCoy.’  He was caught in late 1923, and by that time Cutty Sark had captured the hearts (and taste buds) of whisky fans across the country.”Cutty Sark


Cutty Sark Prohibition is a blended whisky introduced in 2013 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal. Before you thumb your nose at that and stop reading, stop and digest what I’m about to say: There are great blended Scotches out there, and if you miss them, you’re missing out.


Blended Scotch, simply put, is a blend of malt and grain whiskies. There are some crappy blended whiskies on the market, which is why the category has such an unpleasant reputation. However, blending is an art form. The notion is to determine what you want the result to be, and the challenge is how to get the whisky there. Great blenders make that happen by using quality whiskies. Blenders who either don’t know what they’re doing or are stuck with mediocre (or worse) barrels wind up with the yucky stuff.


Prohibition starts with an undisclosed blend aged in former Bourbon barrels seasoned with sherry for an indeterminate amount of time. This whisky carries no age statement, but because we’re familiar with Scottish law, we know that means at least three years. It is non-chill filtered but does contain E150a caramel coloring. What’s different than many blends is that Prohibition is bottled at 50% ABV (100°), which is something that you usually pay a whole lot more than $26.99. But that’s all Prohibition costs.


Until 2018, the brand was owned by Edrington Distilleries, when it was sold to Glen Turner Company, Ltd. (La Martiniquase). The bottle I’m reviewing was from the prior owner, and as such, I cannot tell you if something has changed post-ownership.


I picked up a 50ml taster from a random liquor store for my review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover if this budget Scotch is worth drinking.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Prohibition presented as brass with a medium rim. When it finally released, the legs were thick and crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: An intriguing bouquet of honey, apricot, raisin, toasted oak, and floral notes permeated my olfactory sense. What was different was damp cardboard. Not the stuff that is decaying, just wet. Honey rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be both creamy and weighty. Salted caramel, orange zest, and raisin greeted the front of my palate. A combination of black tea and English toffee formed the middle, while black pepper, charred oak, and cocoa powder rounded things out.


Finish:  The medium-length finish eased out but quickly ramped up to a warm, dry blend of black tea, raisin, old oak, and freshly-cracked black pepper.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The dry sherry seasoning carried much influence during the entire sipping experience. I was taken aback by how spicy the punch was at the finish. Cutty Sark Prohibition is quite the affordable pour, and while it wouldn’t be an everyday sipper for me, I enjoyed it. For an under-$30.00 Scotch, 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.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Windsor Blended Canandian Whisky Review


It used to be that I was not too fond of Canadian whiskies. I had been on a multi-year mission to find one to which I could give a Bottle rating, and I did last year. Since then, I’ve discovered several other lovely Canadian pours.


Mrs. Whiskeyfellow has an uncle who indulges in whisky: specifically Windsor Blended Canadian Whisky. However, I’ve never tried it until today. I was perusing some random liquor store, saw a 50ml taster, and grabbed it.


One of the most respected Canadian distilleries is Alberta Distillers Limited. Aside from its namesake brand, Alberta Premium, it is known for being one of the few remaining 100% rye whisky distillers in North America. It also happens to produce Windsor.


Alberta Canada is a rye and wheat growing region of Canada producing the oldest 100% rye distillate. The location is unique, at the foothills of Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains to the East. The mountains supply fresh water for fermentation and mash while the grain comes from the prairies. Large temperature swings between summer and winter months puts Alberta in an advantageous position to distill whisky which helps the whisky breath through the barrel and enhances the aging process for whisky.” – Alberta Distillers Limited


Windsor was introduced in 1963 by National Distillers as Windsor Supreme. The brand grew so quickly that National Distillers purchased the Alberta distillery to keep its stocks available. Then, in 1987, both Windsor and Alberta Distillers Limited were sold to Beam-Suntory.


Windsor is aged three years in charred ex-Bourbon barrels and bottled at 40% ABV (80°). It is available pretty much anywhere and everywhere and is reasonably acquired at $10.00 for a 750ml package. That’s pretty much the basement of whisky pricing, regardless of style or country of origin.


That said, it is now time #DrinkCurious and taste if it is worth having a bottle around.


Appearance: I sipped this whisky neat from my Glencairn glass. It possessed a bright, golden color and formed a medium rim. I observed a combination of thick tears and sticky droplets.


Nose: I smelled floral rye, lemongrass, and butterscotch. There was also a rubbing alcohol quality to it. Inhaling through my lips featured more butterscotch.


Palate: An incredibly weightless mouthfeel led me to taste butterscotch, lemon zest, and caramel on the front. Mid-palate was grassy with brown sugar, while the back offered rye spice and oak.


Finish: Lemon zest, brown sugar, rye spice, and an astringent taste remained for a medium-lengthed finish.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Nobody will ever sip Windsor Blended Canadian Whisky and be wowed. Some aspects of this whisky are not good, particularly the rubbing alcohol and astringent portions. Would Windsor make a decent mixer? Potentially.


Do I buy whiskies for their cocktail potential? No. Frankly, neither should you. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) cook with wine you don’t like, and the same applies to using whisky. Due to that, I’d recommend saving your ten bucks for something else. Windsor is a Bust.


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


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


Monday, April 24, 2023

Bertie’s Bear Gulch Cask Strength Bourbon Review

Some folks assume that bootlegging during Prohibition was a guy thing. However, some women played prominent roles. Of those, immigrants and women of color took part. Saint Liberty Whiskey selected Montana’s female bootlegging pioneers, such as Josephine Doody, Mary Curley, and Bertie Brown, to grace the labels of each whiskey release.


“Bertie Brown – known as ‘Birdie’ to her friends - was a woman of great courage. She was one of very few young African American women who homesteaded alone in Montana in the 1920s. Birdie was famous for her warm hospitality and her brewing what locals called the ‘best moonshine in the country.’ One day, in 1933, just before Prohibition ended, a revenue officer came around and warned her to stop her brewing. But as Birdie multitasked, dry cleaning with gasoline and tending to her latest batch of hooch, fumes from the gasoline ignited and her kitchen exploded. Birdie was tragically burned in the fire and died shortly after. Today her once orderly homestead stands in a state of disrepair in the hills of Montana, a memorial to the immortal spirit and kindness of Birdie Brown.”  – Saint Liberty Whiskey


Bertie’s Bear Gulch Bourbon is the second edition of the Women’s Bootlegger Collection. This cask-strength Bourbon is triple pot-distilled from a mash of 83% corn, 14% rye, and 3% malted barley. Two cooperages were used: 53-gallon #3 charred oak and 30-gallon #4 charred oak. Both were aged at least four years. Distillation occurred in Texas, and water from the Rocky Mountains was used in the process. Bottling occurred at 57.5% ABV (115°).


I don’t speak much about packaging in my reviews, but I will in this case. The presentation is gorgeous. The label looks like much thought and work went into it, and the glass is embossed with the words Saint Liberty and its logo. The closure is a wood-capped cork.

Bertie’s Cask Strength is available on Saint Liberty’s website for $49.99. The website also indicates Total Wine & More, Drizzly, Instacart, and Bevmo! carry it. I thank Saint Liberty for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste what this is all about.


Appearance: I used a Glencairn glass to sip this whiskey and drank it neat. Inside, it was bright and coppery. A fragile, microthin rim formed and released willowy tears.


Nose: Bertie’s may possess one of the most damned unusual noses I’ve encountered. It smelled of soy sauce. It was briny. It was citrusy. But it was also enchanting; I found it challenging to stop sniffing it. It was like salted popcorn when I drew that air through my lips.


Palate: Here’s where I remind folks to never judge a whiskey on the first sip. That’s because of something called palate shock. If you don’t like the taste of something, wait a moment, then take a second. Your palate will be prepared for what’s coming, and you’ll get past that shock.


What I initially tasted was bitter, salty, and hot. On the second sip, the bitterness went away. The saline remained. It was accompanied by charred oak. Midway through, I found torched sugar and hickory smoke. Flavors of rye spice and coffee were on the back.  


Finish: It was hot, smoky, earthy, and salty. It was as if soy sauce met a Ramen Noodles flavoring packet.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I was excited to try this and wanted to like it. I loved how the brand dedicates itself to a virtually unknown segment of American whiskey lore. I seek out the unusual and unique. Bertie’s Bear Gulch Cask Strength Bourbon fits that bill. It is, however, somewhat bizarre. I commend Saint Liberty Spirits for providing this reasonably rather than a premium-priced whiskey. Unfortunately, an attractive price can’t save this from my Bust 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.



Friday, April 21, 2023

Tumblin' Dice Barrel Proof, Single Barrel Straight Rye Review

It wasn’t long ago when you’d mention MGP, and people would roll their eyes. They’d say things like, “Oh, gee, another MGP copycat whiskey. Yawn.” Then, one day, things changed on a dime. MGP was da bomb, and everyone wanted to get as much of it as possible.


You had people like Dave Schmier who never lost faith. In fact, he built his reputation by sourcing some of the best barrels MPG had to offer under his Redemption brand. After much success, he sold it to Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. He took his winnings, rolled the dice again, and in 2015, he started Proof and Wood Ventures.


Proof and Wood has since grown to include several brands. One of its most popular is Tumblin’ Dice, which has Dave doing what he does best: betting on winners from MGP (now Ross & Squibb) stocks.


His newest release from Tumblin’ Dice is a single-barrel, barrel-proof Straight Rye. His ante is a 7-year-old, 58.74% ABV (117.48°) whiskey distilled from the familiar 95% rye/5% malted barley mash. It is packaged in a 700ml bottle (which, incidentally, will become a more and more common size with American whiskeys) and retails in the neighborhood of $85.00.


I must thank Proof and Wood for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. No more wagers; let’s #DrinkCurious and see if we have a winner or not.


Appearance: This whiskey was a brilliant orange amber. A thick rim released a bunch of jagged tears glued to my Glencairn glass's wall.


Nose: I engaged with this whiskey neat. The most notable thing I smelled was orange citrus. I was taken aback because that’s not what I expect from a barrel-proof 95/5 Rye. The remainder of the aroma consisted of rich vanilla, brown sugar, toasted oak, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Drawing the air through my lips made me think of an orange dreamsicle.


Palate: An extremely oily texture that let the liquid flow across my tongue. I tasted orange peel, vanilla, and brown sugar at the front. Midway through, I encountered cinnamon spice, rye spice, and nutmeg. The back featured tobacco leaf, black pepper, and dry oak.


Finish: Tumblin’ Dice possessed one of those freight train finishes. It started off slow and built in intensity, then ran forever. Black pepper, cinnamon Red Hots, dry oak, and tobacco leaf were easily plucked.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Even after sipping this and several minutes into waiting for the finish to subside, I’m still enchanted with the bold orange notes. Neither the nose nor palate hinted at how potent this whiskey is. Only the finish reveals its true nature. I can’t think of anything wrong with this Rye; it highlights everything MGP did correctly. If you see this on the store shelf, go all in and grab the Bottle. You won’t regret it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


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



Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Reviews of Found North Batches 003, 005, and 006 Canadian Whiskies


Look North! That’s the simple tagline for Found North Whisky. It is a brand that came about during the pandemic when two brothers, Nick and Zac Taylor, wanted to do something different with Canadian whisky: They targeted Bourbon drinkers.


Found North is an independent bottler, meaning that they don’t distill. Instead, the Taylors acquire barrels from other distilleries and blend them to form something decidedly their own.


Our goal is to make whisky so delicious and resonant that it shines a light on northern whisky-making. We blend Canadian whisky because its entire purpose from distillation through maturation is to produce quality components for the blender. As blenders, we have access to a diverse range of old, well-made whiskies from which we can further mature and blend the whisky that we want to drink right now.” – Found North Whisky


Canadian whisky is different from many others because each component is aged individually. The grains are blended before the distillation process begins with Bourbon or Rye. In other words, if you have a whiskey that’s 64% corn, 26% malted barley, 5% rye, and 5% wheat, it means they took four fully matured whiskies (corn, malt, rye, and wheat) and filled a container with those ratios.


The Taylors are big on transparency, and I admire that, whether the whisky is good, bad, or ugly. Many brands keep basic information proprietary, which I’ve always found confusing, but I still respect their decision.


Each batch of Found North Whisky is unique. However, the Taylors do build future batches upon previously released ones. Every release is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and contains no additives. They graciously provided me with a sample of Batch 003, Batch 005, and Batch 006 in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews. I’ll #DrinkCurious in numerical order.


For the record, each was poured neat into Glencairn glasses. Finally, in full disclosure, I enjoy very few Canadian whiskies, the first only in the last twelve months.


Batch 003


Batch 003 is a five-whisky blend of 64% rye, 32% corn, and 4% malted barley.  


An 18-year rye whisky aged in former Speyside Scotch casks, another 18-year spent its slumber in ex-tequila barrels, and the 17-year came from Hungarian oak. The corn component utilized a 25-year-old corn whisky aged in Hungarian oak and a 21-year corn whisky in vintage American oak.  


After blending, it was bottled at 55.1% ABV (110.2°). Batch 003 comes in a 750ml package and is sold on Found North’s website for $135.00.


Appearance: This whisky presented as bright gold. A thin rim yielded a wavy curtain of tears.


Nose: The bold aroma included notes of mint, nutmeg, butterscotch, and tropical fruits. When I drew that air into my mouth, I encountered pure vanilla.


Palate: The texture was like whipped butter while warming my tongue. The front of my palate discerned nutmeg, orange, and honey. Midway through, I tasted pear, rye spice, and ginger, whereas the back offered oak, cinnamon, and vanilla.


Finish: A long-lasting finish with more ginger, rye spice, and cinnamon.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Is this whisky really 110°? While it did warm my mouth, it couldn’t be mistaken for a burn. I prepared myself for more of a punch; I was pleasantly surprised at how easy Batch 003 was to drink. This 17-to-25-year blend is fairly priced and earns every bit of my Bottle rating. 



Batch 005


Batch 005 is made from 73% corn and 27% wheat whiskies. The younger component, wheat, was 8 years old, whereas the corn rested for 21 years. The wheat was aged in new American oak, and the corn in former Bourbon barrels.


After blending, it spent another 8 years in new American oak casks. Packaging was 58.1% ABV (116.2°) in a 750ml bottle. Batch 005 is sold on Found North’s website for $124.99.


Appearance: Batch 005 was a brassy amber that created a medium rim. Fat droplets tried desperately to hold on before collapsing.


Nose: I smelled brown sugar, bananas, and what I could swear was whipped cream. In other words, this smelled like dessert. Butterscotch rolled across my tongue.


Palate: My attention was grasped when the light, airy mouthfeel offered far more heat than Batch 003. A second was comparatively muted. The first tastes included nutmeg, brown sugar, and caramel. The middle featured pastry and almond, and at the back, I found toasted oak, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon.


Finish: Cinnamon continued and was joined by mint. Both were quashed by the sweet brown sugar. In all, it was a medium duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: While the blend is corn whisky, I believe the wheat component made the Taylors’ goal of catering to Bourbon drinkers real. A blind tasting could have fooled me. Is this a $125.00 whisky? That’s a hard sell. I understand the time and money involved, but what matters at the end of the day is whether I would pay that much?


I’m torn. It acts like an older Bourbon, maybe at a decade, and several are priced way below this threshold. I recommend trying this at a Bar before making any further commitments.   



Batch 006


Batch 006 is made from 87% corn, 12% rye, and 1% malted barley. It is a blend of five whiskies aged 17 to 26 years.


The 17-year corn component took 17 years to mature in ex-Bourbon barrels. The 26-year element was also corn but was placed in Hungarian oak. The third corn whisky was from Batch 002, a blend aged in new American oak, former Bourbon barrels, and Hungarian oak. The rye whiskies came from one aged 18 years in Hungarian oak, while the 19-year spent time in re-charred American oak.


A 750ml bottling at 64.1% ABV (128.2°) sells on Found North’s website for $149.99.


Appearance: The deep orange-amber liquid left a thick rim. Slow, syrupy tears were created.


Nose: Things started off with a big blast of butterscotch. I was in no rush to take the glass away from my nostrils. As I continued to explore, I ran into smells of bananas, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It was, in a word, delightful. When I inhaled through my lips, I tasted old leather.


Palate: The mouthfeel is spicy, rich, and oily. Leather, roasted chestnuts, and cocoa were the initial flavors, and fruity flavors of dates, honeydew, and dried figs melded at my mid-palate. Tobacco leaf, smoky nutmeg, and bold oak tannins rounded things out.


Finish: An extremely long, deep oaky finish featuring dates, roasted nuts, nutmeg, and tobacco leaf tingled my tongue and throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Wrapping your mind around Batch 006 will drive you batty. Don’t even try. Instead, savor the aroma, get lost in the palate, and bask in the warmth of the finish. It is one of the better whiskies I’ve had in 2023 and is worth every penny you’ll pay. If you see this one on the shelf, don’t dawdle. Just grab the Bottle. You won’t regret it.


Final Thoughts: Regardless of the ratings, I commend Found North for putting out whiskies I enjoyed. As I stated earlier, I was not a fan of the category for several years but recently have come to appreciate it. My favorite was Batch 006, which I believe easily eclipsed its siblings. 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, April 17, 2023

Green River Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Green River Distilling Company has a storied background. Rather than rehashing what was in the review of its flagship whiskey, I invite you to head over to it and learn more. To keep things simple, Green River was assigned DSP-KY-10, making it only the tenth licensed distillery in Kentucky. There was a fire, mothballing and resurrections, and several acquisitions. Just last year, Green River was purchased by Bardstown Bourbon Company.


A few weeks ago, I reviewed Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon, its flagship high-rye Bourbon. Today I’m reviewing Green River Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon, which launched across 25 states just last month.


We’re energized by how the bourbon community has embraced Green River. [It] is a brand with a distinct and storied history, and we embrace it fully while remaining future-looking to create delicious new whiskies that delight bourbon enthusiasts and casual consumers across the U.S.” - Aaron Harris, Head Distiller


This whiskey starts with a mash of 70% corn, 21% wheat, and 9% malted six-row barley. It carries no age statement, making it at least four years old. The char level is undisclosed. It is packaged at 45% ABV (90°), and you can expect a 750ml bottle to run about $35.00.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I must thank Green River Distilling Company for providing me with a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: I used a Glencairn glass to sip this Bourbon neat. Inside, it resembled old gold. A medium rim formed slow, straight tears that fell down the wall.


Nose: The first things I smelled were stewed peaches and dried apricot. Vanilla, corn, and toasted oak. I encountered more corn and vanilla when I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate: A thin and oily texture greeted my tongue. The front of my palate tasted of Nutella, Danish pastries, and almonds, while the middle had flavors of cherry and honey. The back offered clove, dry oak, and leather notes.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish consisted of cherry, honey, almond, oak, leather, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I tried to avoid preconceived notions and failed with Green River Wheated Bourbon. I had expected a softer mouthfeel. That’s okay because it became an attention-getter. This Bourbon won’t blow your mind, but for $35.00, you’re getting an impressive Bourbon that will be sure to please. Without a doubt, it snags 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.



Saturday, April 15, 2023

Review of "Wheandigo" Lone Elm Wheat Whiskey


One of the things I enjoy doing is reviewing someone’s barrel pick. This request comes more often than you’d think. Sometimes, the request is to not publish it beyond a club’s or group’s members. Others are private barrel store picks.


In my eyes and mind, a whiskey review is a whiskey review. They’re all held to the same standard, regardless of the whiskey or who provides me the sample. I rate them as I taste them. It is all part of the no-strings-attached, honest review process.  


Niemuth’s Southside Market of Appleton, Wisconsin, has invited me to review its single-barrel Lone Elm Wheat Whiskey, named Wheandigo. Lone Elm comes from Five Points Distilling in Forney, Texas. Wheandigo is the first Lone Elm pick for Wisconsin. It is 4 years, 9 months, and 28 days old, weighs in at 59.25% ABV (118.5°), and is priced at $63.99 for a 750ml bottle.


If you are left scratching your head, wondering why a sub-five-year whiskey is a big deal, there are two things to consider: The first is that this whiskey rested in 30-gallon, new, #3-charred oak barrels. Smaller barrels lead to shorter aging times. The second is it was distilled and matured in Texas.


The Texas weather is another factor that plays a key role in our Whiskey’s maturation. Our Whiskey matures quicker than in traditional whiskey-producing regions due to the wide temperature swings that are a common feature of our Texas climate.” – Five Points Distilling


On a side note, Niemuth’s is re-using the barrel to down-proof a 27-year-old Canadian whisky that aged in a former Pappy Van Winkle barrel.


Before I get to the tasting notes and rating, I must thank Niemuth’s for sending me a sample. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: I poured this wheat whiskey into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. I observed a deep, dark, mahogany-colored liquid. A thin rim shed tiny droplets that crawled down the wall.


Nose: I’ve been smelling this whiskey for the last ten or so minutes while I’ve penned the introduction and allowed it to oxidize. It was fragrant and fruity with cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and banana. What I didn’t find were wood notes. That surprised me as most whiskeys possess it, and small-barrel ones even more so. A cherry vanilla flavor filled my mouth when I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate: I was introduced to a thin, oily, Texas-hot mouthfeel. The front tasted of cherry cola and cocoa powder, while the middle offered leather, tobacco, and marshmallow. The back provided bold, charred oak, dark chocolate, and graham crackers. With all the oak notes, I was slightly confused why it never showed up on the nose.


Finish: Oak tannins, dark chocolate, old leather, and tobacco leaf formed a long-lasting, warm finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: In case you’re wondering, yes, this wheat whiskey had a S’mores quality. There was no gooeyness to it, but the flavors were there. I failed to discover any telltale signs of smaller cooperage being used, which was also unexpected. That’s money in the bank right there, which shoves Wheandigo forward from a Bar to 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.


Friday, April 14, 2023

Rock Town Column Still Collection Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes

On April 15th, 2023, Rock Town Distillery will release its newest Bourbons, the Column Still Collection. The grains come from Arkansas. Usually, distillation would occur right there in Little Rock. However, in this case, those grains were shipped to Bardstown Bourbon Company in Kentucky on its column still. The whiskey was then transported back to Little Rock for on-site aging.


But, who, or what, is Rock Town Distillery? In 2009, Phil Brandon left corporate America. In 2010, he and his wife, Diana, built a distillery in Little Rock to offer the highest-quality distilled spirits at an affordable price.


Rock Town makes a variety of whiskeys, vodkas, liqueurs (including a Bourbon Cream), as well as a gin. You can peruse all of what it offers on its website.


The big release is not your average gathering. Rock Town has billed it as The Rock Town Road Trip. Starting at 11am at the distillery, the first 50 people who buy a bottle will also receive a swag bag. Then, the Barrel and Bung Games begin. Phil will sign bottles, and there will be whiskey and snack pairings along with food trucks. Finally, at 7pm, Phil will lead a ticketed Master Class.


Today I’m reviewing the three whiskeys included in the release: a Small Batch Straight Bourbon, a Toasted French Oak Barrel Finish Straight Bourbon, and a Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Bourbon. Before I can do that, I must thank Rock Town Spirits for providing me with samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Let’s #DrinkCurious. 


Small Batch Straight Bourbon



The mashbill is 79% Arkansas corn, 8% Arkansas wheat, and 13% malted barley. This Bourbon aged for 34 months in new, charred oak barrels, then packaged at 46% ABV (92°). You can expect to pay about $39.99 for a 750ml.


Appearance: This Bourbon was a brilliant orange-amber in my Glencairn glass. A thicker rim formed syrupy tears.


Nose: An aroma of corn, cherry, marshmallow, and nougat wafted from the glass. When I drew the air through my lips, I found cherry vanilla.


Palate: I sipped this neat. A thin, oily texture greeted my tongue. Flavors of corn and vanilla were on the front of my palate. The middle tasted of tobacco leaf, while the back featured clove, black pepper, and dry oak.


Finish: Tobacco leaf, black pepper, clove, and dry oak created an extremely long, spicy finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At 92°, the assumption would be this Bourbon would be an easy-sipper. I was also surprised at how heavy of an oak influence it possessed. It drank way above its stated proof. There wasn’t much depth to it. I believe this fairly deserves a Bar rating.




Toasted French Oak Barrel Finish Straight Bourbon



The mashbill is 79% Arkansas corn, 8% Arkansas wheat, and 13% malted barley. It rested for 34 months in new, charred oak barrels before being transferred to toasted French oak casks. A 50% ABV (100°) 750ml bottle costs $69.99.


Appearance: Poured neat, this Bourbon had a deep reddish hue in my Glencairn glass. The medium rim formed long, thick legs.


Nose: There was no doubt French oak was involved. I smelled cherries, plums, caramel, and the requisite tannins. A smoky sensation crawled across my tongue when I inhaled the air past my lips.


Palate: The silky mouthfeel introduced my palate to cocoa nibs and dusty corn flavors. I tasted dark chocolate can caramel in the middle. The back consisted of clove, nutmeg, and smoked oak.


Finish: The entire palate remained on the finish, which was medium-long in duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Like the Small Batch Bourbon, the Toasted French Oak Barrel Finish was warm and spicy. The smokey quality was welcome; it added a touch of depth that the Small Batch lacked. However, $69.99 is steep for what’s in the glass. This, too, earns my Bar rating.




Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Bourbon



Their 79% Arkansas corn, 8% Arkansas wheat, and 13% malted barley recipe aged for 34 months in a single barrel before being hand-selected by Phil Brandon. My sample is from barrel 81 and weighs 57% ABV (114°). You’ll pay $59.99 for a 750ml package.


Appearance: I drank this neat from my Glencairn glass; as I observed its caramel appearance, I took notice of its thin rim and crooked, meandering tears.


Nose: A bouquet of field corn, molasses, oak, and leather touched my nostrils. My mouth encountered leather when I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate: The front provided tastes of toasted oak, corn, and dark chocolate introduced my palate to an oily mouthfeel. Caramel and cherries could be found at the midpoint, trailed by leather and tobacco on the back.


Finish: Old leather, toasted oak, dark chocolate, and tobacco remained for a medium duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Interestingly, this cask strength Bourbon was less bold than its Small Batch counterpart. It drank a few points below its stated proof. And while it was more flavorful, it still lacked any real depth. Is this a $60.00 whiskey? Probably, yes. But I also can’t picture myself gravitating to it, given the many other similarly priced options. As such, it, too, takes my Bar rating.


Final Thoughts: Trying this at various proofs means that’s not what caused the shallowness of flavors. The mashbill shouldn’t lead to that, although I admit I’ve never had whiskey made from Arkansas-grown grains before.


The good news is that if you head to the distillery on the 15th, you can likely taste these for yourself. If I were to purchase only one, it would be the Single Barrel Cask Strength. 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.