Showing posts with label American Single Malt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Single Malt. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2023

Virginia Distillery Co.'s Courage & Conviction Series and VHW Series Whisky Reviews & Tasting Notes


Virginia Distillery Company was founded in 2011 by Dr. George G. Moore. Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States and, after running several successful Irish- and US-based businesses, he established this brand in Lovingston, Virginia. Sadly, George passed away in May 2013 before he could see his dream come to fruition. The first whiskies were released in 2015.


His wife, Angela, became its Chairwoman, and his son, Gareth, was named CEO. Gareth’s wife, Maggie, is the Chief Experience Officer.


“‘Have the courage of your convictions’ was a saying George often repeated to friends and family. His credo became our core principle and the name of our newest American Single Malt whisky line, Courage & Conviction.” – Virginia Distillery Co.


Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a tasting panel hosted by Amanda Beckwith, the distillery’s Lead Blender. It was a chance to sample six of Virginia Distillery Co.’s expressions.


Today isn’t the first or second time I’ve encountered Virginia Distillery Co. In 2020, when I was reviewing for Bourbon & Banter, I had a chance to write about Prelude: Courage & Conviction and what was then called Virginia-Highland Whisky Port Cask. Interestingly, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) forced the name change, citing that consumers might mistake the Virginia whisky for being Scotch.


Virginia Distilling Co. sources only two-row barley for its distillate. Barrel entry is 125° for its whiskies; the smallest barrels used are 53 gallons.


I was sent all six whiskies when I participated in the tasting panel. I took detailed notes intending to compose a review for each. The results of that #DrinkCurious adventure follow.


The one commonality was each whisky was poured neat into a Glencairn glass. Now, the differences can be revealed. 



The first expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky. This is the distillery’s flagship expression. It carries no age statement, but it is between five and six years, per Amanda. It is comprised of a distillate of malted barley, which was aged in former Bourbon barrels (50%), Cuvée casks (25%), and sherry butts (25%). A 750ml package is about $65.00 and bottled at 46% ABV (92°).


Appearance: The liquid was golden and produced a thick rim. Slow, wavy tears flowed from it.


Nose: The aroma was fruity with smells of green apple, apricot, and pineapple, which was joined by a dollop of vanilla. When I drew the air through my lips, I found butterscotch.


Palate: The mouthfeel had a silky texture. Pineapple, butterscotch, and vanilla formed the front, with apple, pear, and honey at the midway point. On the back, it tasted of rum-soaked fruitcake and oak.


Finish: A bit of oak remained, but butterscotch burst through like the Kool Aid™ Man, and it didn’t want to let go. As he ran away, the rum-soaked fruitcake closed the show for a long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The flagship whisky made one heck of an introduction. Flavors melded and shifted beautifully, and even the proofing was correct. I fell in love with the finish. A winner for sure; it is well worth the investment and takes my Bottle rating.


The second expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Bourbon Cask. It carries no age statement and is made of a distillate of malted barley aged in undeconstructed former Kentucky Bourbon barrels. A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).


Appearance: This whisky appears as bright, liquid gold. A medium rim released a wavy curtain of tears.


Nose: A complicated aroma of green apple, floral, lemon citrus, cookies, and cedar teased my olfactory sense. Pulling the air through my lips enhanced the vanilla.


Palate: This whisky had a buttery mouthfeel. The front of my palate discovered vanilla, apple, and pear. The middle tasted banana, while the back featured charred oak, clove, and ginger beer.


Finish: Charred oak, black pepper, and clove were tamed by vanilla and banana flavors. In all, it was a long-lasting finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I found Bourbon Cask to be much different than the flagship expression. However, it was still good, just not great. As it commands a $10.00 premium over the flagship, I rate this a Bar.  



The third expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Cuvée Cask. It carries no age statement; however, Amanda indicated it was at least five years. The distillate comes from malted barley, aged in cooperages that formerly held Spanish and Portuguese wines. Those barrels were deconstructed and underwent an STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) process.  A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).


Appearance: Bronze in color, Cuvée Cask fabricated a massive rim and wide tears.


Nose: The nose was complex with smells of raspberry, pineapple, banana pudding, orange peel, vanilla bean, and baked goods. My mouth found the air to be heavy with vanilla.


Palate: Cuvée Cask’s texture was rich and thick. Thoughts of a dreamsicle crossed my mind as the liquid hit the front of my palate. The middle offered sweet tobacco leaf and leather; at the back, I tasted coffee, almond, and chocolate.


Finish: The medium-long finish left me with vanilla, leather, clove, and oak.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Considering how much I savored the flagship. Cuvée Cask blew it entirely out of the water. An audible “Wow” escaped my lips. Everything about this American Single Malt screamed luxury. It is worth $75.00, perhaps more. Obviously, this snagged my Bottle rating.



The fourth expression is Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky – Sherry Cask. It carries no age statement and is made of a distillate of malted barley, aged in Fino, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximénez sherry butts. A 750ml package costs about $75.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). The world-renowned and highly respected Nancy Fraley was involved in its blending.


Appearance: This whisky presented as a dull gold with a thick rim. Long, crooked legs worked their way back to the pool.


Nose: As I brought this glass to my nose, it was as if I entered an orchard with blueberry, strawberry, plum, and cherry.  The fruit was then drizzled with chocolate. As it worked through my lips, chocolate-covered raspberries were rather seductive.


Palate: A buttery mouthfeel led to plum, cherry, and stewed apricot on the front. The middle of my palate encountered raspberry, almond, and chocolate, while the back tasted of tobacco, oak, and white pepper.


Finish: The white pepper I just tasted turned black, accompanied by oak, raspberry, and chocolate. It was a medium duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The fruity notes were expected but far more complex than I had prepared for. I found the mild-to-sharp spice transition at the end fascinating. I usually love sherry-influenced whiskies, and Sherry Cask did not disappoint. I’d be thrilled to have this in my whisky library, so a Bottle rating is well-earned.

From here, we go to the fifth and sixth expressions. These are produced under the VHW Series banner. The difference from the Courage & Conviction series is that VHW uses Virginia Distilling’s distillate and a portion of Single Malt Scotch from the Highland region.

The fifth pour is VHW Cider Cask Finished Whisky. The 100% malted barley-aged whisky was finished in barrels sourced from Virginia cideries, notably Potter’s Craft Cider and Buskey Cider. The finishing cycle was between eight and 20 months. A 750ml package costs about $40.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). Nancy Fraley was involved in its creation.


Appearance: This whisky was the color of pale straw. A microthin rim had to be formed several times before I could even find it, as thick, wide tears fell immediately.


Nose: The aroma was raw honey, apple, vanilla, and raisin. Drawing it through my lips gave me the sensation of apple crisps.


Palate: A thin and airy consistency rolled through my mouth. The front of my palate tasted apple, citrus, and honey. The middle offered graham crackers and walnut. Flavors of cinnamon, dry oak, and leather pulled up the rear.


Finish: A brief finish featured honey, citrus, dry oak, clove, and cinnamon.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’m a fan of hard ciders. Aside from a cocktail, it is the only other adult beverage I drink with any regularity. Cider Cask was meh. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t impressive. At $40.00, you may want to try this one first before committing to a bottle. That makes my rating a Bar.



Finally, we get to VHW Port Cask Finished Whisky. The 100% malted barley-aged whisky was then finished for a year in 70% of barrels sourced from Portuguese bodegas that held both tawny and ruby port wines and 30% Virginia port-style wine. A 750ml package costs about $40.00 and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). This expression also involved Nancy Fraley. There is no age statement, but it is about seven years, per Amanda.


Today is the second time I’ve visited the Port Cask Finished Whisky. Spoiler alert: Three years ago, it earned my Bottle rating. Let’s see how it fared this time.


Appearance: This whisky presented as an orange amber as it formed a thin rim that collapsed into a wavy curtain.


Nose: Dark chocolate attempted to envelop strawberries, cherries, and plums. Those plums held onto the air as I pulled it into my mouth.


Palate: The mouthfeel was oily yet dry. I know that’s hard to fathom, but it is what I experienced. At the front, the whisky tasted of plum, raisin, and strawberry, while at mid-palate, tobacco and cocoa flavors dried things out. The back offered leather, coffee, and oak.


Finish: A long, dry, tingly finish left me with dark chocolate, saltines, French oak, and a kiss of smoke.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: After I tasted the Port Cask and took my notes, I reread my review from 2020 to see if I found the experience similar. There were a few differences here and there, but for the most part, my palate remained true. My conclusion is the same; it deserves every bit of that Bottle rating.


Final Thoughts: Between the six, I’d rate them in the following order:  Cuvée Cask, Port Cask, Flagship, Sherry Cask, Bourbon Cask, and Cider Cask. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


Whiskyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whisky as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Yellowstone's Inaugural American Single Malt Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

One of the hottest whiskey categories in the United States is American Single Malt. It has been around for several years but has not been legally defined. That’s coming very soon, as the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC), representing almost 100 distilleries, has submitted its proposal to the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for consideration.


I’ve been on an American Single Malt kick for the last few years. There are some stunning examples on the market, and if you think this is just a me-too copy of Scotch or Irish whiskeys, you’d be wrong. American Single Malts are distant cousins to those styles. The main similarity, naturally, is the use of malted barley.


Limestone Branch Distillery out of Lebanon, Kentucky, has just introduced its first American Single Malt to the marketplace under its Yellowstone brand. One of the cool things Yellowstone does is donate a portion of its proceeds to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).


I’m proud of the success Yellowstone Select Bourbon has enjoyed since 2015 when I introduced my take on my family’s historic brand, and I’m proud to once again continue my family’s tradition of innovation with the launch of Yellowstone American Single Malt. This is a brand-new category of American whiskey, and our offering is sure to become a favorite among Yellowstone Bourbon fans and fans of American Single Malt Whiskeys alike.” – Stephen Beam, Master Distiller


Yellowstone’s American Single Malt is distilled from 100% two- and six-row malted barleys from MGP. The distillate is then aged four years in new, charred 53-gallon oak barrels. It is bottled at 54% ABV (108°) and should start showing up on store shelves this month. Expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml package.


Unlike those European cousins, my experience is that four years is plenty of time for an American Single Malt to mature fully; they age faster than either Bourbon or American Rye.


When this whiskey showed up, I did an unboxing video, which you can view below:

Before cracking this bottle open, I must thank Limestone Branch for providing me with a sample of its inaugural American Single Malt Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: I sipped this single malt neat in my Glencairn glass. It presented as bronze with a medium-thin rim. Slow, tiny tears were released.


Nose: The first thing I smelled was Honey Nut Cheerios. A floral bouquet was evident, along with lighter tannins. When I inhaled through my lips, I encountered honeysuckle.


Palate: The mouthfeel was medium weighted and a bit oily. A fruity front consisted of pear, apple, and raw honey. Midway through, I tasted cherry, raspberry, and apricot. The back featured clove, nutmeg, and oak.


Finish: Substantially dry oak, along with clove, nutmeg, apricot, and raspberry, stuck around for a long-lasting finish.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Yellowstone’s American Single Malt is a stand-out and different from many other American Single Malts I’ve sampled. The fruity notes dominated, much like a Speyside Scotch, but it had a muted maltiness. It was proofed perfectly. I found myself returning to it over the next few days. At $54.99, this is almost a steal, and I’m thrilled to have this in my Whiskey Library. Yellowstone has set the bar high regarding this year’s crop of American Single Malts, and I have no qualms about crowning it with 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.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The 2022 Whiskeyfellow Awards are out!

Each trip around the sun seems to go faster than the last. Here we are, at the end of 2022, and it is again time to hand out the annual Whiskeyfellow Awards (queue the loud cheering).


If you think this is yet another list of whiskeys that you’ll never be able to get your hands on, that’s not how the Whiskeyfellow Awards work. All my reviews are written for the average whiskey drinker, and my “Best Of” whiskeys are no different. For any whiskey to qualify for an award, it must meet the following requirements:


It must have been something I’ve both tasted and reviewed this year. Some reviewers have a team of people who sip whiskeys all year long and provide their favorites to the “face.” That person then takes that list and comes up with their favorites. Whiskeyfellow doesn’t work like that; I’m a one-person shop tasting whiskeys and keeping tabs on the ones I enjoy the most.


Any winning whiskey must be reasonably affordable. I tend to put a ceiling of $150.00 for my awarded whiskeys. That’s about the most I’d pay for a whiskey, and I’d assume the average whiskey drinker is in that range, too.


It must be pretty reasonable to get your hands on. I’m not suggesting that you can walk into any liquor store to find it – the three-tier distribution system makes that promise impossible beyond Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Evan Williams Black Label, and Jim Beam White Label. But, it also won’t be something you’d have to sell your soul to see in person, let alone acquire, and when you do, hopefully, you don’t have some jackwagon charging many times retail for it.


It cannot be a store pick. While these are a fantastic way to taste truly unique whiskeys, the average whiskey drinker outside the store’s or club’s locale typically can’t get their hands on a bottle.

In my opinion, the bottom line is that
for a “Best Of” list to have any value, it must contain whiskeys you can actually drink. Otherwise, what’s the point?


I’ve never understood how reviewers can name the Best Whiskey before the year is close to over (some publish theirs in September!). That’s why I wait until December to hand out awards. I can safely say that I’ve found my top whiskeys while still giving you some time to buy presents if you’re so inclined.


I also occasionally tweak the categories. Two years ago, I added a Please Santa? category. It allowed me to point out something genuinely outstanding that was either extraordinarily difficult to find or way above the average whiskey drinker’s bankroll. That category carries over into 2022. But, new to the Whiskeyfellow Awards is The Sleeper category which reflects a whiskey that came out of nowhere and blew my mind. And, in what may be a complete shock to anyone who has followed me for more than a year, there’s a Canadian Whisky category! Don’t order yet, because if you keep reading, I’ll also include at no extra charge the Flavored Whiskey category.


I’ve also eliminated a category. Strange as it may sound, I’m no longer naming a Whiskey of the Year. The classes I’ve listed are broad and wide. Simply put, with this breadth, a Best of the Best is pure guesswork and becomes irrelevant.


I used to include links to my reviews of what wins in a category. Every year I’ve published my list, a particular social media platform that shall remain anonymous (cough cough Meta cough cough) has flagged my post and shut it down, calling it “clickbait.” Last year I stopped doing it, and magically, no flag was thrown. You can search out any of the reviews of these whiskeys on my Blog.


This year, I reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 165 whiskeys. While that may seem like a lot, I’ve not tasted whiskeys from every available niche. If you don’t see something in the category you’re seeking, it means one of two things happened; I didn’t drink anything in that category, or nothing from it was worthy of a “Best Of” award.


Finally, all I care about is the liquid inside the bottle. It matters not if it is sourced or a brand’s own distillate.


And now, let’s get to it! Here’s the best of my #DrinkCurious journey for 2022:


American Single Malt


Winner:  Copperworks Distilling Co. Release No. 042

Date reviewed: October 19, 2022

Price:  $76.49

Release No. 042 is one of those whiskeys where I don’t really care what it costs because it is a sipping experience that must be savored. There was nothing to dislike. The peat was so light that even folks who claim they don’t enjoy peat will discard that notion. I recommend this American Single Malt to Bourbon drinkers who aren’t sold on malts – Release No. 042 will change your mind. It earns every little bit of my Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Hatch Distilling Doc Wahl Straight Single Malt Whiskey

Date reviewed: September 23, 2022

Price:  $40.00

I am not a coffee drinker, but despite that, I kept coming back to additional pours of Doc Wahl. I will say this much; if you enjoy espresso, you’re going to go ga-ga for this American Single Malt. If you’re less into coffee (like me), you’ll still find this one exciting and attention-grabbing. The pepper at the end adds a complementary layer that simply works. And, yet, the nose gave no hints as to what the mouth would expect.


The $40.00 price is at the sweet spot for authentic craft whiskey, bolstered more so by its stated proof. I loved Doc Wahl American Single Malt. I believe you will, too, and that means it has earned every bit of my coveted Bottle rating.


American Rye


Winner:  Mammoth Distilling Northern Rye No. 01

Date reviewed: November 10, 2022

Price:  $74.99

Before I began this tasting journey, I stated that Northern Rye No. 01 looked unique on paper. It followed through on that promise, offering me one of the most unusual palate experiences I’ve encountered. If you’re a fan of Rye, you’re going to go crazy here. If you’re not big into Rye, this may be the one that grabs your interest. I enjoyed every bit of this whiskey; I would describe it as entertaining. Northern Rye No. 01 earns every bit of its Bottle rating.


Runner up:  JW Kelly & Co Melrose Rye

Date reviewed: December 12, 2022

Price:  $60.00

JW Kelly & Co.’s Melrose Rye is a nice change from the “me too” American Ryes on the market. There was nothing to complain about. If you like flavorful Ryes, Melrose does that. If you want a luxurious mouthfeel, Melrose has it. If you desire a slow-sipping whiskey, Melrose knocks that out of the ballpark. All of this for $60.00? Are you kidding me? Melrose is what Bottle ratings are all about.




Winner:  Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Date reviewed: June 13, 2022

Price:  $59.99

I may say something that will make you angry, and for that, I apologize. As we pass the halfway point of 2022, it is time to start considering the cream of the crop. Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon is one of the best – if not the best – Bourbon I’ve tasted year-to-date. There’s nothing not to love here. Even the price is attractive. So, why is that upsetting? Well, it means you’ll have to travel to or have a friend in Kansas or Missouri to snag a Bottle. Travel. Make new friends. Trust me.

Runner up: Barrell Craft Spirits Vantage Straight Bourbon

Date reviewed: September 2, 2022

Price:  $89.99

I’ve never had a Mizunara-finished whiskey before today. I can’t swear that most of this experience is directly related to that wood, as there are two others to contend with, but let’s say that I’m curious about tasting others. The coconut flavors came through hard, and while that’s something that isn’t overly unusual with whiskeys, to have it as prominent as Vantage offers is.


Vantage is also surprisingly easy to sip despite its proof. There is undoubtedly a spicy component to this Bourbon, but no alcohol burn, which many folks will appreciate. However, it also sneaks up on you because there is no warning of it coming before it hits. I’ve been delighted with many of Barrell Craft Spirits' offerings as of late, and Vantage is no exception. I’d happily fork over the $90 to have this Bottle in my library.


World Whiskey

Winner: Starward Octave Barrels Australian Single Malt

Date reviewed: June 3, 2022

Price:  $79.99

The smaller cooperage was not an issue with this whisky. Perhaps it was due to it being vintage rather than new. The seasoned oak was different, I loved the fruity flavors (especially the blueberry), and those Bullseye candies have always been my favorite. Starward Octave Barrels hit all the nails on the head, and I can safely say this is one of the top whiskies I’ve tried in 2022. It steals my Bottle rating. Find it. Buy it. Enjoy it.


Runner up:  Indri-Trīni Indian Single Malt

Date reviewed: March 21, 2022

Price:  $60.00

Indri-Trīni lacks any resemblance to Indian Single Malts I’ve tried from Amrut, Paul John, Kamet, or Rampur. I’ve loved Indian Single Malts for the last couple of years, and while decidedly different, this is an attention-grabbing whisky that is also easy on the wallet. If big, fruity notes are your jam, you will swoon over Indri-Trīni, and it snags my Bottle rating.


Canadian Whisky


Winner: Proof and Wood Good Day 21-Year

Date reviewed: July 18, 2022

Price:  $99.99

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to congratulate Proof and Wood. You have finally ended my quest for an affordable, drinkable Canadian whisky. Yeah, in this case, $99.99 is “affordable” when you consider it is 21 years old. I’ve paid far more than that when it comes to similarly-aged Scotch, and that becomes almost a Walmart price when you bring Bourbon into the picture. Today was a good day to drink Good Day, and it snags my Bottle rating.

Runner up:  BEARFACE Triple Oak

Date reviewed:  August 31, 2022

Price:  $34.99

I don’t know if it is the base single grain whisky, the French oak finish, the Hungarian oak finish, or those repurposed shipping containers that did it, but BEARFACE Triple Oak Whisky is easy to sip and generous on flavor, and it is just damned good. It earns every bit of my Bottle rating, and I’m thrilled to have this easy-on-the-wallet Canadian whisky in my library. 


Irish Whiskey


Winner:  Limavady Irish Single Malt, Single Barrel

Date reviewed: September 21, 2022

Price:  $49.99

Limavady has a complex nose, an unusually thick mouthfeel, and a spicy, fruity palate. Its long-lasting finish gently warmed my throat, and I caught myself smiling as I analyzed the experience. To offer a 46% ABV single malt at $50.00 ranks this one heck of a bargain, and I can’t think of a single reason why it hasn’t earned my Bottle rating. On a side note, Limavady is one of the better Irish whiskeys I’ve sampled this year.

Runner up
:  The Irishman Single Malt

Date reviewed: August 10, 2022

Price:  $45.00

There are a lot of 40% ABV Irish whiskeys out there for less than the cost of The Irishman Single Malt. If you’re shopping based on price, you’ll cheat yourself out of something special. Even Mrs. Whiskeyfellow took a sip and smiled, then begged for a second. I’m thrilled to crown this with my Bottle rating and have this in my whiskey library.


Scotch Whisky

Winner: BenRiach Smoke Season Single Malt

Date reviewed: October 12, 2022

Price:  $79.99

I’m a big fan of Islay Scotches, and Smoke Season can compete effortlessly with several (and win). There’s no way on the planet I would guess this was a Speyside. After jotting down my tasting notes, I read my review to see how close this year’s matched up. While the proof was the same each year, I believe this year’s release trumps the inaugural. This one steals my Bottle rating.


Runner up: Glengoyne 10-Year Single Malt

Date reviewed:  May 9, 2022

Price:  $37.99

There are summer days when I want to sit on my back deck and drink something light and refreshing. Glengoyne 10 is perfect for that occasion. Sans the peat-craver, there’s something here for any Scotch-lover: lots of fruity goodness, significant sherry influence, a touch of spice, a lovely texture, and even those who are price-conscious in this economy yet demand a quality pour. If you’ve not yet figured it out, Glengoyne 10 grabs my coveted Bottle rating and runs away with it. 


Budget Whiskey

Winner:  Harleston Green Blended Scotch

Date reviewed: August 15, 2022

Price:  $24.99

The first thing I’ll say is I’ve shared this Scotch with a few friends, one of whom is a well-known distiller. The consensus was it was pretty damned good, especially for a young whisky. I was well-blended, and while there is a smoky quality to it, it would not turn off those who dislike peat (or who are newbies).  Harleston Green is a great Scotch to explore if you’re new and curious. Harleston Green is a tasty gem for those who are more experienced. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy this one, as such it earns its Bottle rating. 


Runner up: J.W. Dant Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Date reviewed: May 27, 2022

Price:  $14.99

JW Dant Bottled-in-Bond is a reasonably simple Bourbon. For the money, there's good value. You get notes you can actually identify because they're not muted, you get a sufficiently complex finish, and while it isn't the best of Heaven Hill's Bottled-in-Bond bottom shelf program, that shouldn't turn you off. Much of what's in that program is lovely. This one earns a Bottle rating from me. 


Flavored Whiskey


Winner:  Kurvball “The Original Barbeque Whiskey”

Date reviewed: September 28, 2022

Price:  $24.99

Kurvball is absolutely unlike any Islay whisky that I mentioned at the beginning of this review. It isn’t anything like a flavored whiskey. It stunned me how natural it tasted and how much it toyed with my brain and palate. There was no alcohol quality to it, which puts this in the dangerous category, meaning you won’t feel the impact of the alcohol until you’re stuck in a chair, wondering how you got there and how you’re going to get out of it. I smiled the entire journey. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow tasted it and was impressed. It doesn’t matter that this doesn’t come across as a whiskey; it still gets my Bottle rating.


Runner up: Lonerider Spirits Nutcracker Pecan Flavored Whiskey

Date reviewed: January 21, 2022

Price:  $17.95

Several companies are making pecan-flavored whiskey, but few hit the legal requirements of whiskey. Most of the flavored whiskeys I encounter are below 80°. Lonerider’s Nut Cracker does the full Monty with its version. With its attention-getting flavor, creamy mouthfeel, and welcoming nose, it is easy to understand that Lonerider wasn’t playing any games when it made this whiskey. If there ever was one, it is a true dessert drink, and I’m happy to slap a Bottle rating on it.


Please Santa? 

The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 Single Malt Scotch

Date reviewed: October 14, 2022

Price:  $800.00

I loved this Scotch. It was yet another example of Dr. Barrie’s immense talent. The nose, the palate, the finish; each told me this was a luxurious whisky. All things being equal, this would capture my Bottle rating. The elephant in the room is the price:  $800 is beyond my and many others' means. But that shouldn’t discount your chance at a dram of Grandeur Batch 11 if you can find it at a good whisky Bar.


The Sleeper

J.T. Meleck American Rice Whiskey

Date reviewed: November 11, 2022

Price:  $47.00

This rice whiskey drank at its stated proof and featured more flavor than I would have ever imagined. As I suspected, it was nothing like the Japanese versions I’d tried. J.T. Meleck American Rice Whiskey is kinda-sorta like a blend of Bourbon and Rye. The more I sipped it, the more flavorful it became.


I’m curious if American rice whiskey will catch on. If J.T. Meleck is an example of what the category becomes, it’ll be a winner. I commend Mike Frugé for doing something decidedly different, and I’m thrilled to have this in my whiskey library. If you’ve not figured it out, it takes my Bottle rating. 


And there you have it; these are the best whiskeys I’ve tasted in 2022. Lift a glass to the winners and runners-up, and let’s see what 2023 brings. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my reviews and follow me. I truly appreciate it. Cheers!


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