Showing posts with label American whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American whiskey. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2022

Whiskey Del Bac Dorado American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

I get on whiskey kicks. Sometimes, it’ll be Bourbon and Rye. Other times, it could be Scotch or Irish. Lately, I seem to hone in on American Single Malts. I find the category fascinating because while it is currently undefined, there is a ton of creativity going into it while lobbyists are trying to have the category defined legally.


One of the American Single Malt category players is Whiskey Del Bac. It is distilled and aged at The Hamilton Distillery in Tucson, Arizona, where temperature swings can vary 40 degrees in a single day. Whiskey Del Bac also uses 15-gallon barrels versus the standard 53-gallon used for much of the American whiskey universe. When you marry those two facts, an accelerated aging process is achieved.


“Whiskey Del Bac uses the Scottish model of whiskey-making. Made from 100% barley that is malted, mashed, fermented, copper pot distilled, aged and bottled on-site, creating a single malt whiskey portfolio that represents the true character of the American southwest.” – Whiskey Del Bac


A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Classic from this distillery. I loved it, and I am not someone who typically appreciates American whiskey aged in small cooperage.


Today I’m sipping Dorado.  It is similar to The Classic, except the malting process occurs over a fire using velvet mesquite, a type of tree native to Southern Arizona, before going through the distillation process. Dorado is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement, making it at least four years old. A 45% ABV (90°), 750ml bottle costs about $60.00.


Although my bottle was very recently acquired from a friend, Whiskey Del Bac’s website suggests this is 46% ABV. I ran into the same conflict with The Classic. I attempted to get clarification from Whiskey Del Bac, but the distillery did not respond to my request.


Will Dorado be another winner? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Let’s get to it, shall we?


Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, Dorado was as orange as amber gets. A medium rim formed, which released thick, fast legs.


Nose: As you would imagine, the first smell that hit my nostrils was mesquite smoke. However, with effort, I also found vanilla, strawberry, and some sort of citrus. When I pulled the air into my mouth, the citrus revealed itself as orange peel.


Palate:  I encountered a thick, creamy mouthfeel, while the front of my palate tasted of grilled meats and orange peel. The middle had notes of berries and vanilla, while the back tasted of leather, clove, and nutmeg.


Finish:  You might wonder where the mesquite went. Never fear; it was all over the finish and complimented the black pepper, old leather, and orange peel.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: One might be wary of grilled meat transitioning to vanilla. If I had read those notes, I would have wrinkled my nose. Believe it or not, it worked. I was expecting mesquite on the palate and was surprised it was missing. I poured myself a second glass to make sure I didn’t misread things, but, no, it was only regulated to the finish. I found Dorado to be unusual in a good way, I appreciate what Whiskey Del Bac did with this single malt, and I’m happy to report it deserves 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, June 29, 2022

Creek Water Spirits American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

I often stumble across something I’ve never seen or heard of. There was this mini bottle bin. Inside was a bottle of Creek Water American Whiskey. What’s that?


“From the mind of Slumerican founder and global recording artist Yelawolf, Creek Water is a whiskey company breaking through traditional barriers. Our grassroots approach fosters a bond with a loyal family of fans who love to live wild at heart.

With grit and with style Creek Water is the brand that gives no apologies … just great whiskey!!”Creek Water Spirits


I’m unfamiliar with Yelawolf, but “celebrity whiskeys” have a habit of being mediocre. Now and then, there’s a gem, but like precious stones, they’re rare. Let’s read on:


Similar to Canadian and Irish whiskey, Creek Water is carefully crafted in Durham, North Carolina using a bourbon mash of 21% rye, 4% malt, 75% corn.” 


I have to be honest; I don’t understand that. Canadian and Irish whiskeys are carefully crafted in Durham, North Carolina? Or is the claim that Canadian and Irish whiskeys are carefully crafted? Aren’t most whiskeys carefully crafted? Whatever.


Creek Water American Whiskey is bottled at 100° and “aged a minimum of one day.” I picked up my 50ml for $1.99. You can pick up a 750ml for $30.99.


So, is Creek Water carefully crafted? The only way to find out for sure is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: This whiskey was the color of golden straw. It formed a medium rim that released husky, slow legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: Hmmm.  It smells a bit like buttered popcorn, but not really. Could it be vanilla taffy? Not really. It is sweet. It is chemical-like. When I drew the air into my mouth, there was no change.


Palate:  It is as if some artificial intelligence (think Skynet) decided to try its hand at distilling. Normally I’d try to define the texture. I can’t. Why? While I’ve never poured a glass of Fabuloso before, this is what I imagine it tastes like. I’m worried about what this is doing to my palate. Flavors? There’s super-concentrated black pepper, but it is so industrial I can’t tell.


Finish: Egad. I believe that I’ve been transported to the Gates of Hell by ingesting this whiskey. Not by Scotty, but dragged by YelaEyes from Supernatural. I can already feel the hangover.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Every so often, I come across something so godawful there’s no point in trying to be nice about it. Creek Water American Whiskey is offensive. Simply put, I’d rather have a root canal without anesthesia than ever drink this again. It is undrinkable. Do I really have to say it? A Bust rating might be a compliment for this dumpster fire. Avoid it at all costs.


By the way, Yelawolf, you owe me an apology.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Monday, October 4, 2021

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Whicked Pickle Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

I love pickles. If you asked me what my favorite condiment was, it would be a pickle. I'd gladly take a giant half-sour over pretty much any other snack. When I used to eat Subway, it would be meat, cheese, and then "flood it with pickles." Did I mention I love pickles?

Imagine my surprise when perusing the 50ml section at some random liquor store and seeing a pickle-flavored whiskey!  It was called Whicked Pickle, and it was a slam-dunk purchase. 

Whiskey + Wicked = Whicked. That's what Holladay Distillery states. Holladay has an interesting history. Founded in 1856, it is the oldest business in Kansas City, Missouri. It also happens to be the oldest continuously operating distillery west of the Mississippi River still on its original site. 

Whicked Pickle is very new to the market. It is currently available in three states and plans for increased distribution.

"This product went from concept to market in a matter of months," said Patrick Fee, the company's Vice President of Marketing. "When the pandemic caused dips in other parts of our business, it allowed us to have some fun with product development."

There's not a lot of information about the whiskey itself, other than it has caramel coloring added and bottled at 35% ABV (70°).  You can expect to pay about $19.99 for a 750ml package.

So, how's this One Stiff Pickle (as Holladay calls it) taste?  I'll #DrinkCurious and find out.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Wee Glencairn Glass, Whicked Pickle's color is gold, but since this has E150 caramel added, that doesn't tell us much. It tried to form a rim but was so watery that it simply collapsed back into the pool. 

Nose:  When I cracked the bottle open, the air exploded with the aroma of pickled pepper. It took me a bit to get the glass to my face because it was so overwhelming. Yet, when I finally did that, the pepper was gone and only a residue remained. Vinegar and brine were easy to discern, and then a nuclear bomb detonated, releasing dill fallout. I mean, there was a LOT of dill! When I brought the air into my mouth, the pickled pepper was back.

Palate:  At this point, I was concerned. While I  love pickles, I'm not big on pickled peppers. But, I put my big boy pants on and took the first sip. The mouthfeel was unexpectedly soft, lacking the spice I expected. It started off like eating a pickle, and that was cool. Then, it moved into chewy dill. That wasn't my favorite, but I said to myself, This isn't that bad...

FinishMy father used to eat pepperoncini out of a gallon jar like it was candy. I remember sneaking one from the jar when I was about five or so, because, even then, I was a pickle freak and those were pickled peppers. Dad found out very quickly. He laughed. Mom laughed. My idiot brother laughed. Why? Because I was screaming and crying. The finish tasted exactly like that stolen pepperoncini, and it stuck around a long time (along with the dill). I didn't cry, but Mrs. Whiskeyfellow found the faces I made quite entertaining.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cutting to the chase, Whicked Pickle was not my thing at all. But, I could see this making someone happy as a shot with a beerback, it could make for a good Bloody Mary. It certainly had the spicy pickle part down. Normally, I'd give something like this a Bust. However, that would be unfair because I'm not into spicy pickles or peppers. I'm making my rating a Bar. You should try this, especially if spicy pickles or pepperoncini are your jam. 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, June 26, 2021

Limousin Rye "Dancing Goat Fever" Barrel Pick is now available!


Got $40 burning a hole in your pocket? Well, fear not, because a brand spanking new barrel pick I was involved in just dropped! This is Limousin Rye at Barrel Proof of 51.9% ABV (103.8 proof) and rested six years. This is an amazing pour available only at McFarland Liquor!

The remainder of the selection committee consisted of Troy Mancusi, Adam Pritchard, Scott DeWerd, Fred Swanson, Nathanael Romick, and Mark Andrews, we enthusiastically settled on Barrel 554.

If you're unfamiliar with Limousin Rye, it is 95% rye/5% malt mash distilled by MGP and aged in vintage Limousin French oak casks for six years. It then goes through Dancing Goat Distillery's solera system, then again into former Wild Turkey barrels for another four months.

We called this pick Dancing Goat Fever and that's Mark Andrews showing off his best moves on the label. There were only 200 bottles, and when I was there to grab mine at 9am, Nathanael already sold 10 bottles. You're going to want this one, don't dawdle or you'll be out of luck. Cheers!

McFarland Liquor is located at 4716 Farwell St in McFarland.

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Dancing Goat Fever presented as deep and dark. It formed a thinner rim but left heavy, fast legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose: Aromas of toffee, caramel, molasses, and vanilla cream were enticing. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I found even more vanilla.

Palate: The mouthfeel was silky. On the front, I tasted corn, caramel, and molasses. The middle was molasses and vanilla, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon and clove.

Finish: The finish was long, with black pepper, toasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more clove on the very back.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Because I picked this barrel, I will not rate it, but you can rest assured my very strict standards guarantees this is awesome.

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 25, 2021

Cedar Ridge The QuintEssential American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


I've been drinking several American Single Malts the last few years. They're all over the place, partially due to distiller experience, venue, type of barley used, and the fact that this is a completely unregulated category, so distillers can pretty much do whatever they want, attempting various aging methods, casks, etc. They're allowed to call their whiskey a Single Malt even if the malts come from different locations.

The Quint family at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery has been involved in the distilling business for nine generations. The Master Distiller, Jeff Quint, and his son, Murphy, the Head Distiller, have been long-time fans of Scotch whiskey and collaborated to create their own Single Malt, called The QuintEssential. Murphy learned how to distill from the folks at Stranahan's in Colorado. 

The QuintEssential starts with two-row barley imported from Canada. That barley then gets split between a peated and non-peated germination process. The peated portion's distillate goes through an aging process of between four to five years in former Cedar Ridge Bourbon barrels. The unpeated goes through a two-step process:  the first is aged in former Cedar Ridge Bourbon barrels for two to three years, and then finished in former rum, port, brandy, sherry, and wine barrels. Then, both are married in Cedar Ridge's solera system.  Entry proof is 120°, and the end result is a 92° bottling that retails for about $59.99.

“It’s during these two cask treatment phases that the whiskey develops its complexity and richness, and by never emptying the solera beyond the halfway mark, we gain a consistent complexity you can’t get from single barrels.” - Master Distiller Jeff Quint

How did Jeff and Murphy do? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I'd like to thank Cedar Ridge for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, The QuintEssential presented as pale gold in color. It created a thicker-than-expected rim on the wall which formed fat droplets. Those droplets grew until they became too heavy to sustain their weight and then fell back into the pool.

Nose:  I could swear the first thing I sniffed was fresh apple pie, including the filling, cinnamon, nutmeg, and crust. There was also a chocolate-covered cherry on top. When I pulled the vapor through my open lips, stewed peaches caressed my tongue.

Palate:  Offering a medium body, The QuintEssential started with creamy vanilla, peach, and raisin bread. That transformed to pear, caramel, and molasses on the middle. The back suggested brown sugar, cherry, and oak.

Finish:  Out of nowhere came the peat. It wasn't overwhelming, it was light and sweet. Dry oak followed, with molasses and chocolate. This finish was one that built its way into a long, satisfying experience.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The QuintEssential is a standout. I wish more American distilleries tinkered with peat. This American Single Malt is a great introduction to it because the peat is understated compared to the rest of this whiskey. I loved the fruitiness, I enjoyed the complexity, and I wish I could find something to complain about, but I can't. Even the price is attractive. This is what American Single Malt should be, and a slam-dunk 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, June 11, 2021

Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt, Cedar Ridge Bourbon, and Balcones Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes


Independent bottling is not something overly common with American whiskey. Oh, it is obtusely, but you don't really hear about it in the same terms as you do with, say, Scotch. In theory, folks who source whiskey from others and put their own label on it might be considered independent bottlers. But, few actually try to claim their niche as an independent bottler.

Then, there's Lost Lantern. You've never heard of them? Well, until very recently, neither had I. In its own words:

"The best whiskey reflects its origins, its craftsmanship, its ingredients, and its distillers. Inspired by the long tradition of independent bottlers in Scotland, Lost Lantern is a new, independent bottler of American whiskey. The company seeks out the most unique and exciting whiskeys being made all across the country and releases them as single casks and blends, always with a deep commitment to transparency." - Lost Lantern

Founded in 2018 by Nora Ganley-Roper of Astor Wine & Spirits and Adam Polonski of Whisky Advocate, the duo is committed to releasing whiskeys from distilleries they've personally visited. Nora handles production and operations, and Adam takes care of marketing, sales, and sourcing. Currently, Lost Lantern's whiskeys can be purchased from or

One thing that I'm passionate about is transparency. I respect that some things have to be held close to the vest. However, when distilleries lay most or all of their cards on the table, that gets exciting. The fact that Lost Lantern is also big on transparency is much appreciated.

Today I have an opportunity to explore three of Lost Lantern's whiskeys:  American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1, Single Cask #2 Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon, and Single Cask #8 Balcones Straight Bourbon. This opportunity is due to Lost Lantern's kindness in providing me samples of each in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. 

This will be a three-part review process. Up first is the American Vatted Malt.

Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1

I've come to appreciate the American Single Malt category. Back in its infancy, I can say I was pretty pessimistic about its future. They seemed hard, rough, and lacking as compared to single malts from around the world. However, the category has matured, and distillers have figured out the magic behind distilling malted barley.

"[It] is one of the first blends of single malts ever made in the United States ... We brought together the founders and distillers behind some of the country's most distinctive single malts, all of whom hand-selected the barrels for this unique blend. Over the course of a single marathon day, we worked, tasted, and blended together. The result was this unique and special blend." - Lost Lantern

In the end, Lost Lantern wound up blending twelve barrels from Balcones (Texas), Copperworks (Washington), Santa Fe Spirits (New Mexico), Triple Eight (Massachusetts), Westward (Oregon), and Virginia Distillery Co. (Virginia).  When I saw the list of participants, my curiosity was piqued. I've tried whiskeys from several of those distilleries, they're unique in their own rights, and couldn't imagine what I was about to try. 

Aged for two years and packaged at 105°, naturally colored, and non-chill-filtered, American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1 has a suggested retail price of $120.00.  There were 3000 bottles produced. 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this malt presented as the color of a deep copper. It produced a thick rim with heavy, fat legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Fruity aromas of plum, raisin and orange peel married caramel. I could imagine sherry casks being used. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I picked out citrus and milk chocolate.

Palate:  A medium-bodied, quite oily mouthfeel greeted the tasting experience. On the front, I found milk chocolate, malt, and brown sugar. The middle consisted of salted caramel and apple pie filling. Orange, charred oak, molasses, and nutmeg created the back.

Finish:  Long-lasting and continually building, flavors of barbeque smoke and barrel char yielded to nutmeg and salted caramel. Black pepper refused to give up for several minutes.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is one unique whiskey and also a bit of a curiosity. At one end, there is a two-year age statement, and at the other, the $120 price. This isn't unheard of: one of the more famous brands, Compass Box, works this formula of young blends with impressive price tags regularly and has been successful. I found American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1 flavorful, drinks way under its stated proof, unusual in a good way, and while I still think this is pricy, I believe this one is worth picking up and crown it with my Bottle rating. 

Single Cask 2:  Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon

Next up is Single Cask #2: Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon. This is the first Bourbon cask for Lost Lantern. I've reviewed the 86° standard release and found it enjoyable. This one is different - it is a single barrel Bourbon and bottled at its cask strength of 120.5°. Similar to the standard version, it started with a mash of 74% corn, 14% malted rye, and 12% two-row malted barley, then rested three years through the harsh summers and winters of Iowa, where it experienced, on average, 18% angel's share loss. Lost Lantern's release produced 213 bottles and carries an $87.00 price. It is non-chill-filtered and naturally colored.

Appearance:  Tasted neat in my Glencairn glass, this Cedar Ridge cask was the color of dark amber. A thin rim gave way to slow, husky legs that fell back to the pool. 

Nose:  Corn-forward, it was joined by candy corn, toasted oak, and cinnamon. When I breathed in through my mouth, bubble gum shot across my tongue.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily, and the front was strictly corn. That bubble gum quality showed up at mid-palate and was joined by caramel for a very different affair. The back quickly warmed with toasted oak, rye spice, and black pepper.

Finish:  The Cedar Ridge cask had a freight-train finish, meaning it just wouldn't quit. It rode on (again) bubble gum and black pepper, and introduced cinnamon Red Hots. I'd estimate I got almost ten minutes out of the finish before either it fell off or my palate just said, "I give up."

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This one drank at least at its stated proof, it not hotter. Bubble gum is not something I come across regularly, so when I do, it is an attention-getter. When caramel was tossed into the equation, it strangely made sense, although I'd never think of mixing the two. I've seen other Cedar Ridge single barrels run at about $60.00 or so, and the Cedar Ridge Single Barrel  Collection cask-strength bottles retail at $69.00. This is where my hang-up happens because while this was definitely worth drinking, I don't see an additional $20.00 in value, and as such earns a Bar rating. 

Single Cask 8:  Balcones Straight Bourbon

Finally, I'm sampling Single Cask #8: Balcones Straight Bourbon.  Texas whiskey can be polarizing. There are folks who love and swear by it, and there are others who won't take a second sip of anything out of The Lone Star State. I can count on one hand and have fingers left over for Texas whiskeys I'd recommend. But that #DrinkCurious lifestyle encourages me to try them all, just like anything else.

Founded in 2009, Balcones Distilling hails from Waco. It is a grain-to-glass distillery that creates atypical whiskeys. In this case, the Bourbon comes from a mash of 100% Texas-grown roasted blue corn, then aged in 60-gallon new American oak barrels for two years in the formidable Texas heat. Non-chill-filtered and naturally colored, it was bottled at 126.8° with a suggested retail price of $90.00. Only 199 bottles came from the barrel. 

Appearance:  Experienced neat in my Glencairn glass, this Balcones cask was the color of dark caramel. A medium ring led to big, heavy legs that crawled back to the pool.

Nose:  I could smell this whiskey from across the room. It wasn't bad, rather, it was luxurious. Thick, rich caramel made me smile. That was joined by plum. It delivered a Wow! factor that you don't come across too often in whiskeys. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, it was like biting into a Heath bar. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was Texas sweet crude. It may be the oiliest feel I've experienced. There was also something meaty about the palate. The front featured cumin, brown sugar, and liquid smoke. Coffee and dark cacao were on the middle, while the back consisted of paprika, oak, and tobacco leaf. 

Finish: A medium finish offered coffee, cinnamon, barrel char, and black pepper. It grew spicier and smokier as I waited and then it just vanished. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Balcones single barrel was unusual. It started off drinking under its stated proof. But, as the finish came along, that turned around and I had no doubt it was at least 126°. The latter is what I usually experience with Texas whiskey. The nose, despite the few notes, was stupendous. The palate was warming and a good blend of sweet and spicy notes. The liquid smoke threw me for a bit of a loop. The finish was hot but not overwhelming. Lost Lantern's selection was a good one, and I'm giving this Texas whiskey 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 that you do so responsibly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

A-O "Come Hell or High Water" Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

Every so often, I come across something decidedly different. I revere different when it comes to whiskey. It doesn't mean I always like it, but I respect the effort of any distiller willing to take a risk and think outside the box.

We've seen whiskeys that have been "aged at sea."  Jefferson's Ocean is probably the most well-known.  Each batch is known as a Voyage, and some voyages are definitely better than others. 

Founded in 2013, Pilot House Distilling of Astoria, Oregon, offers an annual, limited-edition whiskey it ocean-ages, called A-O Come Hell or High Water. The A-O comes from Astoria and Oregon. It starts with a mash of Northwest Premium two-row Pale Ale barley and utilizes A01 Imperial yeast. That's then distilled and aged for 18 months in the warehouse. From there, the barrels spend seven months on a South Bay fishing vessel. In the case of Batch 4, which Pilot House provided me in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review, the fishing vessel harvested shrimp.

Bottled at 80°, this limited-edition single malt commanded a $60.00 price tag but is now sold out. However, that doesn't mean you can't get your hands on one, it just may be difficult to come by. I'll #DrinkCurious and let you know if this is worth hunting.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Come Hell or High Water appeared as tarnished gold in color. It produced a heavy rim with fat, sticky tears that eventually worked their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Malt was obvious on the nose. But it was joined by strawberry jam and cinnamon. The aroma of seaweed took me a few takes to figure out what it was. There were both musty and saline qualities to it. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, I tasted grapefruit and malt.

Palate: A thick and viscous mouthfeel greeted my tongue as it passed my lips. There was a very light briny tang that was married to apricot and cinnamon on the front. Mid-palate suggested flavors of cereal, vanilla, and white grapefruit. Toffee, oak, and white pepper created the back.

Finish:  Initially the finish was fairly short. A subsequent swallow fixed that and it became long, with white grapefruit, oak, nutmeg, cereal, and white pepper.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Come Hell or High Water is absolutely a unique pour and in a good way. I loved the mouthfeel. I believe it has been properly aged, perhaps the sloshing around of the barrels on the fishing vessel is more than a simple marketing gimmick. Yes, this is sold out and you'll have to wait for Batch 5 to be released if you're going to buy it at retail. But, if you do come across Batch 4, I'd suggest picking it up, you'll find it tasty and captivating. This one gets 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 that you do so responsibly.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Mythology "Hell Bear" American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Colorado is known for many things. Gorgeous mountains, snow skiing, whiskey, beer, wine, and professional sports teams. Oh yeah, there's also that other Rocky Mountain "high" people can experience. I mention that because when I read what a Hell Bear was, it requires some pharmaceutical assistance to imagine. 

"…. A Colorado prospector ventured into darkness. In the mine, he heard a loud snap– then he was falling! In a daze, in pitch black, he awoke, face-to-face with a unique creature– part bear, part badger. Resolved that today wouldn’t be his last, he rose and followed the glow of the creature’s eyes. The Hell Bear guided the explorer to the surface, then vanished back into the mine."  Mythology Distillery

So there you have it - a Hell Bear!  Mythology felt the story was inspirational enough to name one of its whiskeys for it, an American whiskey that is a blend of three whiskeys:  A 2-to-3-year Rye with a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, a 4-year Bourbon with a mash of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley, and a 5-year wheated Bourbon, made from 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley. The actual percentages are undisclosed.

Because of the blend, it carries a two-year age statement.  If you're interested in learning more about Mythology Distillery, I'll invite you to read my review of its Best Friend Bourbon. At 90°, you can expect to pay around $49.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Before I get to my tasting notes, I'd like to thank Mythology Distillery for providing a sample of Hell Bear in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Shall we #DrinkCurious?

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Hell Bear presented as a bright, orange-amber. It made for a thin rim and thinner, slow legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Rye and cinnamon were easy to pick out. More challenging were apple, corn, and sweet dough. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, floral rye danced across my tongue. 

Palate:  A bit unexpected, the mouthfeel was thick, oily, and heavy. It filled my mouth.  On the front, I found caramel, cinnamon, and baking spice. The middle offered vanilla, roasted almond, and corn. Flavors of white pepper, rye, dry oak, and tobacco leaf were on the back.

Finish:  Dry oak, vanilla, white pepper, and tobacco leaf provided a long-lasting finish.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Hell Bear drinks rye-heavy, which makes me suspect it is the largest portion of the blend. Yet, the Bourbon portion was easy to discern. The mouthfeel was inviting. I enjoyed how unusual yet uncomplicated this whiskey was and am happy to crown Hell Bear with a Bottle rating. Grab one, 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 that you do so responsibly.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Old Wm Tarr Manchester Reserve Kentucky Straight Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


If you think about Kentucky Bourbon, and you wonder who, exactly, was the first federally-licensed distillery to make it in Lexington, you may be surprised to learn it was the Ashland Distillery in 1865.  A mere six years later, a gentleman named William Tarr purchased the controlling stake in the distillery.  Tarr's first venture in distilling was in the Chicken Cock Distillery in Paris, KY. 

But, that's only a minor part of the story. Did you know Ashland Distillery was responsible for the creation of the Lexington Fire Department? It came out of a fire that decimated the distillery in 1879. The city fathers determined they needed a permanent fire department. Once rebuilt, the distillery was renamed the Wm. Tarr & Company. As the distillery grew, they made a sweet mash whiskey called Ashland, and a sour mash whiskey called Wm. Tarr (later renamed Old Tarr). In 1897, Tarr had to declare bankruptcy, and his assets were sold to the Stoll family, and in 1902, and the distilling plants they owned formed Stoll & Company, Inc

Stoll & Company produced brands such as Ashland, Old Tarr, Old Elk, Bond & Lillard, Belle of Nelson, E.L. Miles & Co., and New Hope. Then, in 1908, the Wm. Tarr Distillery was shuttered and dismantled. That was the end of the distillery until the brand was resurrected in 2020 and opened in the famous Lexington Distillery District.

"Our company is committed to the principles and foundations laid over 150 years ago by William Tarr, one of the bourbon giants of the Bluegrass. Today, we stand on the shoulders of his rich legacy. His ideas, philosophy, and daring inspire us. Our mission is to act with Tarr's single-minded determination, guided by our genuine passion for the spirits we create." - Old Wm. Tarr Distillery

Meet the new Old Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve Kentucky Straight Whiskey. It is a blend of three whiskeys from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. The first blend, 60% of the recipe, is an 8-year Rye from a mash of 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. The next component, 30%, comes from an 8-year Bourbon made from 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. The remaining 10% is a 7-year Bourbon made from an identical mashbill. The result is a 114° whiskey that retails for around $80.00.

But, is it any good?  I'm here to answer that question, but before I do, I'd like to thank Wm. Tarr Distillery for providing me a sample of Manchester Reserve in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. You know what comes next - it is time to #DrinkCurious!

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Manchester Reserve presents as a classic orange-amber color.  It created a thinner rim, with medium legs that slowly dropped back to the pool.

Nose:  This whiskey was fragrant from across the room while I let it breathe. If there was ever an example of a caramel bomb, this was it. Additionally, a big cherry aroma was evident. That was joined by plum, cinnamon, cedar, and orange peel. If that sounds complex, it was. When I drew the vapor in my mouth, vanilla rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  I was greeted with a creamy mouthfeel with a medium body. On the front of my palate, I tasted caramel, black cherry, and corn. As it transitioned to the middle, I could only pick up brown sugar and nutmeg. On the back, it transformed to oak, leather, cinnamon, and rye spice.

Finish:  Originally I found the finish to be medium, but additional sips convinced me it was much longer. Oak tannins, dry leather, cinnamon, and sugar plum stuck around for a pleasurable experience.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  For $80.00 I expect a lot. That's my sticking point with Manchester Reserve. This was a delicious, complex whiskey that offers a lot. There's nothing not to like. The 114° worked well and delivered. It was one of those smooth drinkers that left a good tingle to the hard palate. At MSRP or less, I'd give it a Bottle. But, I wouldn't go above that price. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It