Showing posts with label Bottled in Bond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bottled in Bond. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

How many distilleries are you aware of that can trace their history back to Lewis and Clark? They didn’t found the distillery, but the duo is credited with discovering the limestone spring in what would be Weston, Missouri in 1804. Two brothers, Ben Holladay and Major David Holladay, decided that the spring would become the site for a distillery.


Holladay… Holladay… why does that name ring a bell? Perhaps you’ve heard of Wells Fargo. Ben was the founder of Wells Fargo Express, he was known as the Stagecoach King, transporting folks from Missouri to the West Coast and points in between. Ben had his hands in several companies, and by 1864, he was the largest individual employer in the nation! 


It was in 1856 that the Holladays founded their distillery. It was known as Blue Springs Distillery, but as often happens in American distilling, it changed hands several times - first to George Shawhan, whose family named it the Shawhan Distillery in 1900. It changed in 1936 and was called the Old Weston Distillery before becoming McCormick Distilling Company in 1942. In 1993, the business was purchased by Ed Pechar and Mike Griesser.


McCormick Distilling is the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River that still operates at its original location. The distillery is also one of the few that were allowed to remain open to bottle medicinal whiskey during Prohibition. Now, the Holladay Distillery operates as part of McCormick Distilling.


Today I’m exploring Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. A few exciting things are going on. First, Bonded whiskeys are some of my favorites. They differ from any other kind of whiskey in a handful of ways. Perhaps the most significant impact that many gloss over is the whiskey must be distilled during a single distilling season. That means, while you can blend barrels, all the barrels in the batch must be from the same season (January to June or July to December). That precludes a distillery from mixing barrels of various ages. In the case of Ben Holladay, it was distilled during Spring 2016 and bottled during Spring 2022.


A Bonded whiskey also must be at least four years old. If you’re a math guru, you can tell this Bourbon is aged six years. The mashbill is undisclosed, but the other thing about Bonded whiskey is it must always be bottled at 50% ABV (100°). The market for Ben Holladay is currently limited to Missouri and Kansas with a retail price of $59.99.


One last interesting factoid before I get to the tasting notes is the barrels originated from Warehouse C, with 21% coming from the first floor and 79% from the fifth of a seven-story warehouse, and the Bourbon is non-chill filtered. I do appreciate the transparency from Holladay – to me; it is always fascinating to have that.


I must thank Holladay Distillery for providing me a sample of Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste what it is all about.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was a dark, deep orange amber. A thick rim clung to the wall, which eventually collapsed under its weight with fat, slow legs.


Nose: I found this whiskey very corn forward on the nose. Hidden beneath was a dash of mint, suggesting to me this is a rye (versus wheat) Bourbon. Cherry, plum, orange peel, and toasted oak rounded out the aroma. I tasted chocolate and orange peel when I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  A lighter-than-anticipated weight possessed an oily feel to it. The front of my palate found coffee and caramel. The middle featured dark chocolate, vanilla, and corn, while the back had flavors of bold oak, smoke (from the char), and white pepper.


Finish: Ben Holladay offered a big Missouri hug. Coffee, dark chocolate, oak, and white pepper remained in my mouth. The duration was somewhere between medium and long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  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. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Friday, May 27, 2022

JW Dant Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I'm Mr. #RespectTheBottomShelf.  Oh, you may know me as Whiskeyfellow, but before that, I was a fan of that sneered at, overlooked area of the liquor store. Not because I was cheap; instead, there are some real gems there. Generally, I like to keep this stuff a secret because, quite frankly, I'm concerned the distilleries will pick up on it and start ratcheting up the price. An example? Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond. That was an $18.00 whiskey. For the last couple of years, that's been a $100+ whiskey. Or Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond.  It was a $12.00 Bourbon. They ended production, tacked on an extra year, revived it, and now you can pay $50.00 (and it isn't any better).

Here we are, and I'm reviewing another Heaven Hill Distillery product:  JW Dant Bottled-in-Bond. This one is a $15.00 Bourbon; it isn't the easiest to find - not because folks scoop it up like it is allocated, but because it has a more limited distribution. Similar in nature to the original Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond, Heaven Hill doesn't even list JW Dant on its website, likely due to that limited distribution.

It begins with the typical Heaven Hill bourbon mash of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye. JW Dant carries no age statement. But, since it is Bottled-in-Bond, we know that it must legally be at least four years old. My suspicion is it is right about that age. And, because it is Bonded, we also know it is 100°, we know it is from one distiller (Heaven Hill) during one distilling season (January to June or July to December) from a single distillery.

Is JW Dant Bottled-in-Bond worth the #RespectTheBottomShelf designation? You know what happens next... it is time to #DrinkCurious and find out.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, JW Dant was the color of caramel. It made a fat rim on the wall; it eventually yielded slow, heavy legs that fell back into the pool.

Nose:  The nose was pretty straightforward with corn, vanilla, and oak, but it was accompanied by banana nut bread. When I drew the vapor into my open mouth, it was a vanilla bomb.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be light-to-medium, but there was an oily quality to it. The front of my palate tasted corn, brown sugar, and caramel. As it worked its way across my tongue, vanilla, nuts, and cinnamon took over the middle. The back started with big oak, clove, and pear hidden beneath those.

Finish:  Medium-long in length, the finish featured black pepper, oak, nuts, marshmallow, and apple.  It was a bit strange for it to go from big spice to sweet. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  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. 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, January 10, 2022

Cedar Ridge Bottled-in-Bond Rye Review & Tasting Notes

I’m no stranger to Bottle-in-Bond whiskeys. After all, it is my favorite genre of American whiskey. Bonded whiskey is fantastic because it carries certain guarantees that others don’t. The whole Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 came about because unsavory people did unpleasant things with whiskey before selling it to the public. Sometimes turpentine was added. Sometimes tobacco spit. Sometimes, who knows what. People were getting sick and dying because of the impurities in the whiskey. The result was a consumer protection law enacted by Congress.


The law requires several things. First and foremost, it must be 100% a product of the United States. A single distiller must distill it at a single distillery during one distillation season (January to June or July to December). It must age a minimum of four years in a federally-bonded warehouse, must be bottled at precisely 100°, and must state on the label who distilled it. Any deviations preclude the whiskey from being bonded.


I’m also no stranger to Cedar Ridge Distillery out of Swisher, Iowa. I’ve reviewed a handful of its whiskeys, sometimes carrying its own label, sometimes that of an independent bottler. The distillery has earned an overall good reputation with me, and as such, when they send me something new to try, I’m eager to get to it.

Distilled from a mash of 85% rye, 12% corn, and 3% malted barley, Cedar Ridge Bottled-in-Bond Rye carries no age statement and is bottled at an unsurprising 100°. The distillery states it is a seasonal release and intends to be ready every November.   Distribution is limited to Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri. You can expect to spend about $50.00 for a  750ml package.


Before I get to my tasting notes, I’d like to take a moment and thank Cedar Ridge for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how it fares.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this bonded Rye presented as reddish-amber. It formed a medium rim and slow, thick legs.


Nose: The first aroma to hit my nose was soft cedar. It was joined by cherry cola, bubble gum, vanilla, and floral rye. When I took the air into my mouth, that cherry cola intensified.


Palate:  I discovered a soft, airy mouthfeel. Flavors of toasted oak, salted caramel, and vanilla began the journey. In tow were bubble gum and cherry cola. The back featured cinnamon, caramel, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Things were on the dry side with cinnamon powder, pink peppercorn, tobacco leaf, toasted oak, and sassafras. It had a medium-length duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Your average craft whiskey runs about $50.00. I found this one tasted above average. The finish was atypical, especially that sassafras note, and the whole thing left a smile on my face. That’s worth a Bottle rating to me. 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, September 8, 2021

New Riff Bottled in Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 is one of the most important consumer protection laws passed by Congress. It was, interestingly enough, passed unanimously.  Back in the day (does that make me sound old?), bad people looking to stretch dollars did bad things to whiskey. They would add things to it. Bad things. Things like tobacco spit, old coffee, and even turpentine, and unsuspecting folks were getting sick and even dying. 

Something needed to be done, otherwise, no one would buy whiskey anymore, at least not with the risks involved. The Act was passed and signed into law by President Grover ClevelandThe Act states that any distilled spirit that carries a Bottled in Bond (or Bonded) label must adhere to strict standards:

  • It must be a complete product of the United States
  • It must be composed of the same type of spirit (whiskey, brandy, gin, etc.)
  • It must be distilled by a single distiller in a single distilling season (January to June or July to December)
  • It must be packaged at exactly 100° (50% ABV)
  • It must be aged at least four years in a government-bonded warehouse (hence, the bonded part of the term)
  • If the spirit is bottled by someone other than the distiller, it must state the name of the distiller
  • It can be filtered, it can use water to be proofed to 100°, but nothing else can be added

For what it is worth, I've been a longtime fan of bonded whiskeys and loved when almost all of them could be found on the bottom shelf of the liquor store. It was overlooked, it was ignored, it was dirt cheap, and it was delicious. Bonded whiskeys caused me to create a #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign.  And then, not so many years ago, folks caught on, and suddenly bonded whiskeys became high-dollar investments.

One distillery that jumped on the Bottled-in-Bond bandwagon was New Riff Distilling. Back in 2014, Ken Lewis, then a liquor store owner, sold his store to his employees and jumped into the distilling business. He started with a mission to do things in a new way.

"To a certain extent, there’s nothing revolutionary about New Riff’s process. We make sour mash whiskey, like all the big/huge distilleries in Kentucky. But the devil, as they say, is in the details. We began, as any distillery should, with water, with a private tap into an ancient aquifer right under our feet. Our distillation equipment is all-copper: wherever the mash or distillate is heated, we want it in contact with nothing but copper, to help our whiskey age for decades to come. Every batch of New Riff whiskey is sour mashed, in accord with the Kentucky Regimen we have vowed to uphold. We allow a slow, natural rise in fermentation temperature over a patient four-day fermentation, collecting flavors from our native microflora all along the way. Perhaps our greatest, yet simplest process is that of patience: at least four years in a full-size 53-gallon barrel for any New Riff whiskey. You’ll find no small-barrel shortcuts—or any other kind of shortcuts—here. New Riff makes whiskey the hard way: every single whiskey takes at least four years in the making." - New Riff Distilling

Every whiskey New Riff makes is Bottled-in-Bond, except for its single barrel program (more on that later). Today I'm reviewing its Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It starts with a mash of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. It is non-chill-filtered and naturally colored. You can expect to lay down about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle. This is its own distillate, not sourced from anyone else.

I've told you a lot, and I've not forgotten the need for a review. Before I #DrinkCurious, I'd like to thank New Riff for a sample of this Bourbon that I acquired while doing a barrel pick (again, more on that later).

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the Bourbon presented as a golden amber. A medium rim was formed, but the fat droplets it created just stuck to the rim. Eventually, they got too heavy and fell back to the pool.

Nose:  Initially, aromas of candied corn, toffee, butterscotch, and toasted oak hit my nostrils. The butterscotch then dominated everything. As I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, the butterscotch continued and rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  A medium-bodied mouthfeel coated everywhere in my mouth. It wasn't oily, it wasn't creamy, it was just coating. On the front of my palate, I tasted corn and caramel. The middle offered nothing and fell flat on the first sip. On subsequent attempts, I found a hint of vanilla, but it took a lot of concentration. The back offered flavors of oak, clove, and rye spice.

Finish:  Medium-to-long in length, the finish featured berries, which came from nowhere, then transformed to rye spice and oak. It was a bit warming, but not unexpected considering the proof.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I thought most of the Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was decent. I admittedly wind up discouraged when there's something missing (in this case, the middle of the palate). It makes me spend more time analyzing the whiskey instead of enjoying it for what it is. It isn't a bad Bourbon by any means, but I also can't give it more than a Bar rating. You'll want to try this one first before you lay down the cash for it.

Final Notes: I hinted at the single-barrel program, and what I want to say has everything to do with the rating. Earlier this year, I was involved in a New Riff Bourbon pick.  They're packaged at barrel proof and each barrel I sampled wasn't anything like the profile of the Bonded Bourbon. There wound up being two barrels that seemed like winners and either would have been great. What I'm saying is, New Riff does a great job of distilling from what I've tasted, I just wasn't overly impressed with the Bottled-in-Bond version. 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, August 28, 2021

SN Pike's Magnolia Bottled in Bond Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


It is always exciting to see an old, defunct brand resurrected. Back in 1849, Sam Pike was a Cincinnati-based whiskey merchant who procured what he deemed to be the very best whiskeys and sold them throughout the United States and Europe. Much of what he sold was shipped to clients down the Ohio River and into the Deep South. His brand was called Magnolia Spirits

Sam was an interesting fellow, shrouded in secrecy. He claimed on a passport application that he was a native-born American, however, a biographer claimed he was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and his last name was Hecht. If you translated that from German to English, you'd wind up with pike. As such, it seemed obvious he would take that on as his surname.

Sam became enchanted with a traveling singer named Jenny Lind. If that name sounds a little bit familiar, she was the opera singer P.T. Barnum sponsored to tour the country. Sam was hopeful Jenny would come to Cincinnati, but as there was no opera house, it couldn't be done. Sam promised he would build one in Cincinnati, and a few years later, he fulfilled it with Pike's Opera House. A fire broke out in 1866 and the building was completely destroyed. He had it completely rebuilt a year later. For the record, that building was also decimated by fire in 1903.

After Sam died, Magnolia was sold to Fleischmann Distillers. The above story was provided by Jack Sullivan in January 2018, and I thank him for his dedicated research.

Fast-forward to today and Ed Carey, a retired real-estate developer and self-described Bourbon fan, brought Magnolia back to life. 

"Our goal in recreating the Magnolia Spirits brand is to act in the Samuel Pike tradition by seeking out and blending special quality bourbon and whiskey. I think the secret to the smooth taste is we import Kentucky Springwater and do a very slow multi-day trickle-proofing." - Ed Carey

Today I'm reviewing Magnolia Bottled-in-Bond Whiskey. Distilled by MGP utilizing its 95/5 rye mash, the whiskey is aged in #4 charred American oak barrels. Why not call it Bottled-in-Bond Rye? If you reread the type of cooperage, you'll see one distinct word missing: new. That suggests Magnolia utilizes vintage barrels. It carries a four-year age statement and, as it is bonded, it is packaged at 100°.  

Batch 1 was limited to 5800 bottles, and you can expect to drop about $54.00 for a 750ml package. Bottling is handled by Noble Cut Distillery of Gahanna, Ohio. Distribution is all over Ohio, and you can buy online from

I'd like to thank Magnolia for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and taste what this is all about.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Magnolia was the color of a lighter orange amber. It created a medium ring and widely-spaced, long, slow legs that fell back to the pool.

Nose:  The floral notes were easy to pick out. Additional sniffs were required to discover nutmeg, caramel, and berry. When I breathed the aroma into my mouth, vanilla rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  A silky, full-bodied mouthfeel greeted my palate. On the front, I tasted vanilla, cinnamon, and pecan. As it moved to the middle, flavors of vanilla and the softest of stone fruits were discernable. The back offered clove, rye spice, and smoked oak.

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish featured smoked oak, caramel, cinnamon, and the longest-lasting element, clove.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I've had MGP's 95/5 rye mash aged in vintage cooperage before, and I've been a big fan. Dancing Goat does it with French oak and a solera system. Magnolia is not the same cooperage, that much is obvious, but that soft, easy-drinking aspect is still there, and I love it.  Is $54.00 pricy?  You're getting 4-year MGP 100° rye that is different in a good way, so no, it isn't. Magnolia has earned my Bottle rating and I'm thrilled to have this in my whiskey library. 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, February 26, 2021

Border Bourbon Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond Review & Tasting Notes

If I had to choose a favorite niche of whiskey, it would be a no-brainer with Bottled-in-Bond.  I love it because there is some guarantee of quality, at least in the production of it.  This was, not too long ago, a forgotten, overlooked category and everything was dirt cheap. Now, Bottled-in-Bond is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and with that, there is an increase in the average price. That's not to say you can't still #RespectTheBottomShelf with some affordable gems, but they're not getting the attention they deserve.

45th Parallel Distillery is located in New Richmond, WI.  I've reviewed several whiskeys out of this distillery, and for the most part, I enjoy what they slap a label on. They distill both their own whiskeys as well as contract distilling for other brands. The philosophy is one of taking things slowly. 

"When you understand that time is a factor you cannot control, you focus on the ones you can. Temperature and humidity are two very important elements in the maturation process. Many try to speed up the aging process by using higher temperatures and using smaller barrels. This results in the hard and disproportionate amount of tannins. There is no substitute for time. It is a fundamental part to achieve high-quality products.

Today many distillers care more about maturing their spirit quickly with wood extracts. A traditional slow maturation process results in a full-bodied flavor that can only be accomplished from years in high-quality wood barrels.

Time is constant and cannot be controlled. We don’t try to." - 45th Parallel Distillery

My review today is of its Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon.  Not only is it bonded, but it is also a single barrel. Barrel 196 was purchased in its entirety by Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, WI.  It comes from a mash of corn, rye, wheat, and barley, and is then placed in a medium-char, Ozark white oak barrel. The staves were seasoned for three years prior to being coopered.  It then rested 68 months (5 years, 8 months).  Because it is bonded, it is diluted to 100°.  Retail is $42.99.

I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and find out if this one is any good.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as honey brown in color. While a thinner rim was created, thick, heavy, slow legs worked their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Corn and vanilla were the first aromas I discovered. But, they were joined by mint, nutmeg, and cinnamon. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, caramel rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  An oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel gave me the impression this drank below its stated proof. On the front, I tasted only creamy caramel. The middle expanded to milk chocolate, almond, and corn. On the back, flavors of black pepper, clove, and rye spice were easy to pick out.

Finish:  This whiskey has one of the most confusing finishes I've ever come across. It started as incredibly long. The next sip it was medium-short. A subsequent sip brought the length back. One more it was medium-short. But, the confusion didn't stop there. It began with a slow ramping of spice. Another taste would bring out sweet notes without spice. Additional attempts kept cycling between the two. I was able to discern clove, tobacco, and black pepper that would tango with vanilla, toasted coconut, and toasted oak.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you've read my reviews for any length of time, I am fascinated with whiskeys that offer something distinct. The finish on this one absolutely fits that bill. This was delightful all the way around, the mind-games notwithstanding. The price is not a major factor and as such, I'm dropping my Bottle rating on it.  You'll enjoy the experience from start to finish. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Niemuth's Southside Market is located at 2121 S Oneida Street in Appleton.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Several years ago, when I first visited The American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky, I saw Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond in the gift shop. It was a bit on the pricy side, at least in my opinion... $20.00 for a 375ml.  It was hard to justify because, for the same amount of money, I could get Jim Beam Bottled-in-Bond in a 750ml for the same price. Being the price-conscious shopper I can be at times (that's cheap for folks that prefer to call a spade a spade), I passed.

And, every time I thought about it, I kicked myself.  The last time I went to Kentucky, there was no time to go to Clermont, although it was something I wanted to do.

Well, lo and behold, this summer, Jim Beam released Old Tub outside of Kentucky, and they did it for the same price, but this time in a 750ml bottle.

I've been impressed with Beam's limited-edition Bourbons. Distiller's Cut was tasty, affordable, and I grabbed a few bottles.  Repeal Batch was lighter but interesting in its own right. As such, when I saw Old Tub on the shelf, I grabbed the one bottle they had.

Old Tub was the original name of Jim Beam Bourbon, and Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond is allegedly the original recipe back from 1880 for what is now Jim Beam White Label:  75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley.  For the record, James B. Beam changed the name from Old Tub to Jim Beam back in 1943.

Being Bottled-in-Bond, while the Bourbon carries no age statement, it is at least four years old, is bottled at 100°, and came from a single distilling season. Old Tub spent its time in #4 charred oak barrels.  It is not only non-chill filtered, but it is unfiltered, basically, the only thing that's happened is Jim Beam sent the aged whiskey through a screen to catch chunks of wood and char.

The question becomes, did I kick myself all these years for no reason, or did I do good by grabbing the lone bottle I saw?  The answer will be found on my palate, and the way to do that is to #DrinkCurious

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Old Tub was a hazy orange amber. It created a thick rim on the wall, that rim generated medium-thick, fast legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  The first thing I smelled was sweet corn. It took a bit to get past that, and when I did, aromas of vanilla, caramel, orange peel, brown sugar, and banana appeared. I was, frankly, shocked the nose was going to be that complicated, as I've never found that on Beam White Label or the other inexpensive, limited-release Bourbons.  When I breathed the vapor in my mouth, I tasted musty hay and corn.

Palate: The mouthfeel was unexpectedly heavy and very, very oily. Despite being 100°, I didn't feel any heat or ethanol blast. Flavors of corn, vanilla, and honey-roasted peanuts were at the front of the palate. Considering this is Jim Beam distillate, I would have been disappointed if peanuts were absent. At mid-palate, things got complicated with tobacco leaf, berries, and orange peel. Those morphed on the back to oak, clove, and cinnamon. 

Finish:  Initially, the finish was short. But, additional sips proved it was medium-long in length. The oak from the back became smoky, the cinnamon from the back took on a cinnamon apple quality, and then toffee came out of nowhere.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $21.00 Bourbon that can compete with more expensive options.  It is full of flavor, much more than you'd ever assumed, and it goes down oh-so-easy. I'm really hoping this limited edition isn't too limited, because I loved it, and not only is this a Bottle rating but an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf. If you see this, get it. No excuses, no hemming-and-hawing. Trust me, just grab it. Cheers!

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


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Davidson Reserve Genesis Tennessee Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Tennessee is steeped in distilling tradition. The most popular American whiskey in the world is Jack Daniel's Old No. 7.   Then there is George Dickel, the distillery that provides many with sourced whiskeys.  Most folks would stop right there if asked to name Tennessee distilleries. There are many others, they're just not on everyone's radar. One such distillery is Pennington Distilling Co. located in Nashville. 

Founded by the husband-wife team of Jeff and Jenny Pennington in 2011, the Penningtons started with Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream.  Usually, you see distillers start with gins and vodkas, not whiskey creams. But, they had a plan and they ran with it. Next up was Pickers Vodka. Finally, in 2014, the Penningtons started distilling Bourbon.  They named the product line Davidson Reserve

Then, in 2017, they released a limited-edition Bourbon called Genesis. Released every October 17th, and always releasing only 1017 bottles (in case you didn't catch that, 1017 is October 17th). What Genesis is is a blend of three of the original 25 barrels distilled in 2014. This is their Birthday Bourbon, and the 2020 edition is the sixth year of the release.

Distilled from a mash of 70% white corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley, Genesis is bottled at 100°.  Pennington suggests in its marketing materials that it is Bottled-in-Bond, although it doesn't say that anywhere on the label. As this is extremely limited (there are, at most, only 1016 other bottles out there), finding retail pricing is $99.99, and if you can find a bottle, like anything else allocated, it is probably above MSRP.

I'd like to thank Pennington for sending me a bottle of Genesis in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious, shall we?

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Genesis appeared as a reddish-amber. It created a thicker rim that brought about fast, medium legs to fall back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Fruit could be smelled from across the room. As the glass came closer to my face, it was easier to narrow aromas down.  Honeysuckle and raisin came first, followed by green grape and cherry. I didn't pick up any wood notes or ethanol.  When I breathed the vapor in my mouth, vanilla and raisin danced across my tongue.

Palate:  My first sip seemed thin and light. But, the body gained weight as I continued to explore what was in my glass. It never got heavy or full-bodied but did offer an oily texture. Corn and toasted oak were predominant on the front. As the Bourbon moved to my middle-palate, blueberries and cherries blended with candied almond. Then, on the back, I tasted tobacco leaf and vanilla, which made for an interesting combination.

Finish:  A long-lasting finish of cinnamon, honey-roasted peanuts, almond, and charred oak kept things going and warmed my throat.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Tennessee Whisky is a category I don't delve into often. I stick to the professional blenders who source from Dickel or bottles of the higher-end offerings from Jack Daniel's. This is nothing like the standard fare from either of those distilleries. For that matter, this is nothing like the "good" stuff from those, either. 

Instead, what I experienced was unique (always a scary word) and I appreciate what the Penningtons have distilled and aged. I have no idea what the previous three releases of Genesis were like, but this six-year is delicious, and I'm thrilled to have it in my whiskey library. That, folks, means this snags my Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Wiggly Bridge Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Did you know they were making Bourbon in Maine? I mean, yeah, Bourbon is made in every state, but have you heard of Bourbon from Maine? Until this bottle from Wiggly Bridge Distillery hit my hands, I hadn't. 

A dinner discussion between father and son David and David Woods casually led to a joke about starting a distillery. Soon, that joke became very serious. David Jr. learned how to craft copper, and he designed a 60-gallon, hand-made still, by - get this - watching YouTube videos! Fast-forward to now, and they've released a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, their first using standard, 53-gallon barrels. All of Wiggly Bridge's products are distributed in Maine, Washington DC, New York, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey with plans to continue expansion.

This Bourbon is twice-distilled from a mash of 58% corn, 37% rye, and 5% malted barley. The Woods use a Scottish whisky yeast to get things fermenting. The distillate is then poured into new, medium-toasted #3-charred oak barrels and allowed to rest four years before being dumped. Obviously, as this is a bonded whiskey, it is 100°. A 750ml bottle will set you back roughly $69.99. 

I'd like to thank Wiggly Bridge for sending me a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time for me to #DrinkCurious and let you know my thoughts.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Wiggly Bridge appeared as burnt umber in color. It left a medium-thick rim on the wall with heavy, slow legs that dropped back to the pool.

Nose:  Corn was the first note I picked up. It was followed by cinnamon, toasted oak, and mint. When I inhaled through my lips, caramel rolled across my palate. 

Palate:  A thick, watery mouthfeel started things off. Considering the proof, the watery quality was unexpected. There was very little ethanol. Similar to the nose, corn was the first thing I tasted. The front was joined by caramel. At mid-palate, the caramel continued and was blended with dried cherry. Then, on the back, I discovered black pepper and dry oak. Very dry oak.

Finish:  The finish had me fooled. First, it was medium in length. I took another sip, and then it became a locomotive, just chugging along without end. Barrel char and clove stuck around for many minutes, and when that subsided, it was oak. The oak was so dry there was almost pucker power to it. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Wiggly Bridge Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon is not complex, but it is far from boring. There are enough surprises to keep things interesting. Frankly, I enjoyed it, even the extraordinarily dry quality on both the back and finish. And, while I'm happy to have it in my whiskey library, the price is a stumbling block. A $70 price tag breaks the glass ceiling of craft whiskey. Were it priced $10-$15 less, it would get a Bottle rating. At this price, my recommendation would be to try it at a Bar first. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The 30 Days of Bourbon Recap and my Donation to to Help Cure CRPS

September was a ton of fun - a well-needed (and earned) break from the disaster that is 2020. The #30DaysofBourbon challenge was bigger, badder, and better than it has ever been. This year, I relaxed one of the rules allowing for different proofs of the same label to be counted as different Bourbons. You can thank COVID-19 for that.

Truth be told, until the last few years, I've hated being in photos and I still hate being in videos. I don't mind public speaking, I don't mind being a guest on someone's webcast. In fact, I enjoy those things. But, when I'm on my own doing my own thing, I really dislike being in front of the camera. As such, part of the 30 Days of Bourbon challenge is for me to make myself uncomfortable.

Things started off with a video introduction and explanation. Then, on September 1st, the challenge kicked off with Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond.  This is my house Bourbon, the one that I never allow to disappear from my whiskey library.

Day two was a celebration of George Garvin Brown's birthday. He was the namesake of Brown-Forman, which owns Old Forester, and is credited with offering the first bottled Bourbon. Each year, on September 2nd, Old Forester releases its Birthday Bourbon. This release is from 2016.  By the way, check out my t-shirt!

On Day three, I decided to go with something discontinued. In this case, it was Ezra Brooks 7-year, which is a 101° rumored to be sourced from Heaven Hill. If you stumble across this one on the shelf, do yourself a favor and grab it. You can thank me later!

For the fourth day, I decided to crank things up a bit and pour something barrel proof. That led me to EH Taylor Barrel Proof. This one is from 2015 and rings in at a hefty 124.7°. It was the first Bourbon I had that gave me a purely overwhelming blast of berries.

Day Five was my introduction to Barrel-Proof Bourbon:  Elijah Craig.  Not this particular release, but still before the bottle redesign. This beauty came out of the barrel at 139.4° in May 2016. In the current labeling system, it would be called B516.

As day six rolled around, I selected an exemplary reason why it is so important to #DrinkCurious. When I was early on in my whiskey journey, my wife bought me Old Weller Antique. It burned like hell and my palate was just too young to appreciate it. About two years ago, I revisited it, and ever since then I've been kicking myself for passing up all the opportunities I had to buy it while it was easy to find.  Lesson learned:  If you don't like something now, give it a second chance down the road.

To round out the first week, Day 7 was probably the most unusual pour:  Jim Beam Signature Whole Rolled Oat.  This is an 11-year Bourbon whose mash substituted rolled oats for the typical rye content. These Signature releases seem to hit the clearance aisles of liquor stores that I've visited, and they're mostly good stuff.

On the eighth day, I selected another discontinued label, this time from Heaven HillOld Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond went from an everyday opportunity to an allocated, limited edition run. You used to be able to pick these up for about $20.00.  The new version will set you back over $100.00, but carries an age statement and is aged many more years. 

The ninth day went to the first private barrel (a/k/a store pick) of the month:  Maker's Mark Private Selection.  This one was for Mahen's which has a few stores in the greater Madison area. Maker's is customizable by the customer - you get to choose from various staves to add to the finish and make it all your own. 

I'm big on humor. Learn, Laugh, & Enjoy Great Whiskey is my slogan. The 10th pour of the month has a funny name: Cinder Dick. It was the name that encouraged me to first try it, because, good or bad, it made me smile. As it turned out, this is a serious whiskey. 

The choice for my 11th pour was not easy. September 11th is a somber day for the United States. What makes one distillery better than another or more deserving? Bourbon is America's Native Spirit, I don't think any single distillery is more "American" than another. But, the Blaum Bros use red, white, and blue on their in-house distilled labels, of which Old Fangled Knotter Bourbon is not. I selected the 12-year cask strength at 114°.

I had something completely different planned for the 12th day, but as happens every single year, things change. Wiggly Bridge Distillery sent me a bottle of its Bottled-in-Bond expression for a review, and after a few days, I couldn't stand the suspense and cracked it open. 

The 13th day brought a very limited-edition pour from Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. out of Dekalb, Illinois. It is a 5.5-grain Bourbon made from wheat, oats, rye, malted barley, and then two types of corn: green and yellow. Those two corn varietals make the 1.5 of the 5.5 grains.  It was aged only a year, but it was one tasty pour.

I rounded out the second week with Old 55 Single Barrel Bourbon. Old 55 is a farm-to-glass whiskey out of Indiana, and their rickhouse is in the basement of a former elementary school, giving it very little change in temperature despite seasonal changes. 

At the halfway point, I decided my 15th pour would be the Bourbon that changed my mind about Texas Bourbons:  Still Austin's The Musician. This two-year-old really impressed me.

I opted out of being in the photo for Day 16 because you'd never see the lettering on the bottle label and it would just look weird. This is Lux Row Distillers' Double Barrel Bourbon, which was my 2019 Bourbon of the Year.

The 17th pour of my challenge was Tumblin’ Dice Barrel Proof. This four-year MGP distillate will knock your socks off, and so will the price. Oh yeah, I'm back in the photos.

The 18th Bourbon was Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond. This is the one that started me on my #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign. It was also my introduction to bonded whiskeys. Unfortunately, this one is kind-of, sort-of discontinued. While still available at 100°, it has lost its Bottled-in-Bond status.

On the 19th day, I poured Wollersheim Distillery's 2020 Spring Release Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. Drink local, right? Moreover, Drink Wisconsinbly!

At the two-thirds mark, twenty days in, I went in with Fighting Cock 103. This is a Heaven Hill Distillery 6-year bottling which hs been discontinued, but a no-age-statement version is still around. 

My 21st pour was Kentucky Peerless Straight Bourbon. This is done in small batches but is bottled at barrel proof. In this case, it was 109.5°.

At this point, I planned on everything forward to be a store pick. The 22nd pour would be the only one that I'd not personally picked, but it had to be done because, well, what would a month of Bourbon be without Buffalo Trace?  This one is from Monumental Enterprises in McFarland. 

And now, for something completely different: Every Bourbon for the remainder of the month is from a barrel that I personally picked. To start that off, the 23rd pour is “Unicorn Slayer” - a 7.5 year Backbone Bourbon bottled at 119.3° and picked by the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuth’s Southside Market.

For the 24th pour, I chose J. Henry & Sons Patton Road Reserve. This was picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Riley's Wines of the World in Madison back in 2018. Barrel number 210!

For the 25th pour, I chose "Scott's Holy Grail" - a 1792 Full Proof picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquors of Middleton in 2019. 

On Day 26, the pour was a Russell's Reserve pick called "The Candyman." Picking Wild Turkey has been an interesting chapter in my life because, until recently, I wasn't the biggest fan. But, I'm at the point in my journey where I appreciate what it is and what it can be. This was a 2020 pick, again for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquor

I’m going with a George Remus pick from a few months ago called “Bootlegger Bentley's.” Bentley is a loveable Newfie that belongs to Troy, the owner of The SpeakEasy_WI. Given the opportunity, I’d steal him. This is one of the better whiskeys I’ve stumbled across in 2020 and was picked for Neil's Liquor in Middleton.


And then, there's the 28th. Year over year, my 28th pour is the same. Always. This was picked on September 28th, 2013, which happened to be my 11th wedding anniversary. It was my first barrel pick. I really only drink this Four Roses OBSO on September 28th, with my goal to keep being able to take a sip as long as I'm alive. This 10-year comes in at 126.8° and was picked for Fine Spirits in Cooper City, Florida.

With only two days left, I went with Woodinville Whiskey Co's first barrel-proof release in Wisconsin for the 29th pour, picked with The Speakeasy_WI for Neil's Liquor. We called this one "Whassup? Flockers." It weighs in at 119.6°.

And then, finally, all good things come to an end. Day 30, the final day - what to choose? How about an amazing Knob Creek Single Barrel I helped pick for Riley's Wines of the World with The Speakeasy_WI. This one is called "The Rat Pick" and while I've been involved with some incredible barrel picks, this one's my second favorite of all time. Yeah, that's my face on the sticker. 

And with that, we come to the best part of the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge - the giving back. I have selected the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association at as my charitable donation. I support the RSDSA every year because it is personal - Mrs. Whiskeyfellow has been an amazing Pain Warrior and battling this horrific nerve disorder for several years. The RSDSA provides awareness, assistance, and education about RSD/CRPS and helps drive research for a cure. It is my sincerest hope that one day, CRPS will be a faint memory and those afflicted will be able to live pain-free again.

Thank you for taking part in my #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. Cheers!