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

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you’re new to Indian whisky, there is the whisky that’s sold only in India, which is usually distilled from molasses. Then there is Indian Foreign Made Liquor (IMFL), the type of whisky with which much of the rest of the world is familiar.

 

Founded in 1943 as Rampur Distillery & Chemical Company, Ltd., this Indian distillery didn’t start producing its own brands until 1998. Instead, it made extra neutral alcohol and bulk alcohol that it sold to other brands. But that changed when its new owner, Lalit Khaitan, and his son, Abhishek, learned that more Scotch whisky was consumed in India than what was produced in Scotland!

 

Think about that last thought… and then consider why there is a massive market for counterfeit spirits worldwide.

 

The Khaitans had an idea: they wanted to provide Indians with inexpensive Scotch-like whisky since there was, at the time, nothing that could satisfy the demand. After much financing and taking on partners such as Diageo and Whyte and Mackay Group, Radico Khaitan Ltd., as the company was now known, entered the international whisky market. Radico Khaitan operates two distilleries, Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and Radico NV Distilleries Maharashtra Limited in Aurangabad.

 

The climate in much of India is stiflingly hot. And, if you are in the Himalayan region, it can also get darned cold. Uttar Pradesh is at the base of the world’s highest mountain range and is exposed to both. In the summers, Indian whisky ages much faster than its Scottish counterpart, some claim by a factor between three and five times. When you consider the cold temperatures, too, that only compounds the equation.  

 

The Rampur brand is considered Radico Khaitan’s premium drink division. Today I’m reviewing Double Cask, an Indian Single Malt made from 100% malted barley that’s been run through a copper pot still. The newmake is aged in ex-Bourbon for two-thirds of its long sleep and ex-Oloroso sherry casks for the remainder. It carries no age statement (similar to most Indian whiskies), is packaged at 45% ABV (90°), and is non-chill filtered. The suggested price is $79.99 for a 750ml bottle.

 

For the record, I’ve had stunning Indian whiskies and others that are far less impressive. The only way to know where Rampur Double Cask falls on that scale is to #DrinkCurious. However, I would be remiss not to thank Rampur for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance:  This single malt appeared rusty brown when served neat in my Glencairn glass. A thicker rim formed, which yielded wide, fast legs that crashed back to the pool.

 

Nose: The second this whisky left the bottle, its aroma wafted and filled the room. I let this sit for about 20 minutes before I pulled the glass close to my face. As I inhaled, I discovered pine, stewed pear, and nutmeg. Further exploration offered malt, nut, and toasted oak. The stewed pears slammed across my tongue as I sucked the air into my mouth.

 

Palate: A thicker, silky texture greeted my mouth, and I immediately tasted grapefruit, roasted coffee, and cacao on the front of my palate. The middle hinted at strawberry, which was quickly overcome by more of the stewed pear. On the back, flavors of toasted oak, nutmeg, almond, and a kiss of clove were evident.

 

Finish:  This long-lasting finish consisted of grapefruit, roasted coffee, oak, macadamia nut, strawberry, and crescendoed with clove.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you asked me if Rampur Double Cask is more similar to one of the two other Indian Single Malt brands (Amrut and Paul John), I’d tell you that the three are more cousins than siblings. I’d say Rampur is more of a distant cousin. That should not be interpreted as a lesser whisky, just that it is decidedly different.

 

I admit I was concerned with how this whisky would taste during the nosing. I’m not a gin fan because I dislike juniper, and the pine quality left me wondering. Thankfully, the pine was restricted to only the nose. The tasting experience, on the other hand, was lovely. I enjoyed the combination of citrus and berry fruits; the spice notes were significant yet not overwhelming. In all, they melded together nicely, creating a happy sipping event. At $79.99, I’m delighted to have this in my whiskey library and believe it has earned every bit of its 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, March 30, 2022

Amrut Peated Cask Strength Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Have I been on an Indian single malt whisky kick lately? Yes. For the most part, I’ve been stunned by how well the subcontinent handles single malt whisky, especially in light of almost no regulation.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61°F and 94°F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Indian Peated Single Malt Cask Strength. Unlike many Indian single malts, including those from Amrut, this version is distilled from 100% peated barley sourced from Scotland. Although it carries no age statement, it spent between four and six years in former Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and weighs in at a hefty 62.8% ABV (125.6°). You can expect to pay around $105.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to my tasting notes, I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (Amrut's US importer) for providing me a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Poured neat into my trusty Glencairn glass, this single malt presented as gold bullion. A fragile rim released a colossal curtain that crashed into the pool, leaving tiny, sticky droplets.

 

Nose: As you might guess, the first aroma picked out was peat. It was more sweet than smoky, although the latter was easy to discern. What followed was salted chocolate, brown sugar, apricot, date, orange, and, finally, fresh pastry. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb went off with date as the aftermath.

 

Palate:  An oily, heavy texture greeted my tongue. The front of my palate tasted vanilla, cooked plantains, and date. As it transitioned to the middle, I could imagine biting into brisket straight off the smoker, accompanied by toffee, orange peel, and lemon peel. The back featured salted caramel, clove, and charred oak.

 

Finish: A long-lasting, spicy finish consisting of dry oak, smoke, clove, slightly tempered by salted caramel and cooked plantains. My tongue sizzled for just under five minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several peated Indian single malts and expected more of a peated punch than what I experienced. Oh, it is there, but it steps aside easily enough to make the other flavors shine. I have to admit, this cask-strength version Amrut Peated Single Malt wowed me. Personally, I found this to be a hell of a deal, and it would be a mistake to pass it up. A Bottle rating for sure, 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, March 21, 2022

Amrut Neidhal (Single Malts of India) Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



Its fans know that Amrut is the pioneer for distilling Indian Single Malt Whisky. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010.

 

Many Amrut fans may not know that Amrut has created an umbrella brand called Single Malts of India. It is a line of whiskies that Amrut produces but doesn’t distill. Instead, Amrut works with small Indian distilleries, then Amrut takes the unaged distillate back to Bengaluru to age in its warehouses. The initial release is called Neidhal.

 

“What we have done this time is dug deep and discovered an uncut gem. We have then procured the gem, carried it to Amrut, caressed it with our touch, and polished it with our expertise. What you discover bottled is truly an amazing whisky showcasing its real potential. Watch out, we as an organization are now sailing into unchartered waters of independent bottling.”Ashok Chokalingam, Head Distiller of Amrut

 

Neidhal is the first independent bottling in India. Neidhal comes from the ancient Tamil texts from the Sangham period (300BC to 300AD). In those texts, the earth was divided into five distinct regions. Neidhal consisted of all oceans and coastal lands. This distillate was sourced from a coastal distillery.

 

Neidhal is a single malt whisky. The mash is 100% Indian six-row malted barley which used peat imported from Scotland.  It carries no age statement, but we know that Bengaluru, where Amrut ages its whisky, has about a 12% annual angel’s share loss, which ages at around 3.5 times that of Scotland. Also, Amrut typically uses a blend of vintage Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak as its cooperage.

 

Worldwide, there are 12,000 bottles of Neidhal, of which only 1200 were allocated to India. It is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and you should be able to acquire a 750ml for $109.99.

 

I want to take a moment and thank Glass Revolution Imports, the US importer, for providing a sample of Neidhal in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how this experiment turned out.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Neidhal presented as bright gold. A minuscule rim formed that gave way to long, wavy legs.

 

Nose: Smoky peat was the first aroma to hit my olfactory sense. It took some work to get past, but notes of seaweed, coconut, pineapple, iodine, and tasted oak eventually passed through. An interesting blend of coconut and brine rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air into my mouth.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was incredibly oily yet somehow light and airy. The front featured fruity notes such as cherry, plum, pineapple, pear, and sea salt. A punch of smoke, followed by coconut and vanilla, formed the middle. The back consisted of oak, white pepper, leather, and tobacco leaf.

 

Finish: Each time I sipped, the length of the finish changed. The first was very short. Subsequent tastes gave incredibly long durations. Yet, others brought it more to medium to medium-long. Regardless of the span, the flavors of smoke, pineapple, pear, salted caramel, and white pepper were consistent.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Neidhal is a complex single malt whisky. If you don’t like peat, don’t bother. But, if you’re like me and enjoy the earthy smoke, you’re in for a treat. The $109.99 cost is a bit high, but I wouldn’t let that preclude me from enjoying a Bottle. Just take your time to savor it. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

 

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

  





Monday, March 14, 2022

Amrut Bagheera Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

If you read (or watched) The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, you’ll remember the black panther that protected “man-cub” Mowgli. The panther’s name was Bagheera (which, in Hindi, means black panther). Bagheera was wise and well-respected by most of the other jungle animals, and when he found Mowgli in a wrecked canoe, Bagheera dedicated his life to teaching him and protecting him from harm.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded at Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61F and 94F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Bagheera. It is a limited-release offering, taking its flagship Amrut Single Malt and finishing it in former sherry casks. Amrut begins its journey with a mash of six-row barley, 99% of which is unpeated and 1% peated. That’s then aged in both former Bourbon and new, charred American oak barrels for an undisclosed period. While the type of sherry cask is unknown, I’m going out on a limb and believe it was Oloroso, and my tasting notes will explain why. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. You can expect to pay about $89.99 for a 46% ABV (92°) 750ml package.

 

I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (the US importer) for providing me a sample of Bagheera in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it’s time to #DrinkCurious and taste what it is all about.

 

Appearance: Sipped neat from my Glencairn glass, Bagheera presented as deep, burnt umber. A medium rim released sticky droplets.

 

Nose: Bagheera was very fragrant from the moment I opened the bottle. It was as if I had released a djinn from its prison. There was no possible way to miss the sherry influence. Raisin, date, dried cherry, leather, and candied citrus peel wafted from it. Caramel, cocoa, and oak were next, with a touch of brine for good measure. As I pulled the aroma into my mouth, leather and date tangoed across my tongue.

 

Palate:  An oily, medium-weighted texture greeted my tongue. Fruity date, raisin, prune, and apricot created the front, while brown sugar, sweet tobacco, toffee, and almond formed the middle. Chocolate, roasted coffee beans, leather, and dry oak rounded the back of my palate.

 

Finish: Remember that 1% peated barley? I forgot about it until this point. A puff of mild smoke enveloped date, raisin, dried cherry, apricot, and dry oak from beginning to end. There was some pucker power to the dryness as it lingered for a medium-to-long finish.   

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  With single malts, there are sherry bombs and sherry-influenced whiskies. Bagheera falls somewhere in-between. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t a supporting cast member. I found Bagheera to be tasty and decidedly different. Sure, it is non-age stated, but nearly every other Indian single malt is. I’d have no problem paying the $89.99 because the experience was delightful. Bagheera earns every bit of 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, March 9, 2022

Kamet Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


I have to admit; it has been exciting to see the growth in popularity of Indian single malts. My first experience was about a dozen years ago with Amrut. I’ve been a big fan of Paul John. Rampur has been showing promise.

 

Watch out, folks, because there’s a new player in town, and it is called Kamet. Kamet is a joint venture between Peak Spirits and Picadilly Distillery. If you shrug your shoulders and ask yourself (or me), “What’s the big deal about that?” I have two names to mull around: Surrinder Kumar and Nancy Fraley. Surrinder is considered the father of Indian Single Malts; he was formerly the Master Blender at Amrut. Nancy “The Nose” Fraley is one of the most respected blenders in the United States.

 

“The story begins at the base of Mt. Kamet, the third highest peak in The Himalayas. From here, the Kamet foothills unfold into verdant plains where the fertile soils become a patchwork cut by mountain-fed streams. For thousands of years, the lands beneath Kamet have been a breadbasket for the Indian people providing water and agricultural sustenance. The stories, legends, and fortunes of this region have been passed along and are carried forth today by the sacred Parrot, our brand icon. We are reminded and inspired by the winged messengers of the region to work hard, be loyal to our community, and be thankful for our bounty.” – Kamet

 

Kamet starts with 100% malted six-row barley, the most common kind used with Indian whisky. It utilizes French yeast in the fermentation process and Scottish-style copper pot stills for the distillation process. It aged in former Bourbon barrels, ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry butts, and vintage Bordeaux wine casks. Kamet is the first Indian single malt to utilize the latter cooperage.

 

Kamet carries no age statement, but that’s not uncommon with Indian single malts. They age much faster, often at a rate of three times that of Scotch due to India's hotter, more humid climate. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Proofed to 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to spend about $44.99 for a 750ml package.

 

One of my favorite Madison-area liquor stores brought Kamet to my attention, and I bought a bottle, both to #DrinkCurious and put together a review.  Let’s see if all the background lives up to the only thing that matters: the whisky.

 

Appearance:  I served this neat in my trusty Glencairn glass and allowed it to rest about ten minutes before approaching it. It was one of the most orange-amber ambers I’ve come across. This whisky formed a fragile rim but couldn’t hold onto the fast, fat legs that crashed back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: The first thing I smelled was candied orange peel. It was joined by caramel, toasted oak, raisin, cherry, English toffee, and roasted almond. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, I discovered cherry vanilla.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was medium-weighted and silky. At the front of my palate, I tasted black cherry, plum, raisin, and orange slice candies. The middle featured sweet tobacco, caramel, and vanilla. Then, I tasted dark chocolate, leather, dry oak, and clove on the back.

 

Finish: My tongue tingled slightly from the medium-long, spicy finish. Heavy raisin, dark chocolate, fresh leather, dry oak, and clove remained.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I started by stating how exciting it is to see the explosive growth of Indian single malts. New players will be welcome so long as they provide quality whiskies. I believe Kamet falls in that category. I admit that I was looking forward to a peated whisky, but that wasn’t meant to be, and that’s perfectly fine. Kamet is tasty, well-constructed, and quite affordable, and I failed to find anything to complain about. I’d love to see more from this brand and am happy to confer my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

 

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

 


 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The 2021 Whiskeyfellow Awards Show

It didn’t seem like too long ago when I published my 2020 Best Whiskey Awards. And yet, here we are in December. This year went by so fast! It is already time to review my 2021 awards.

 

I know, I know, if you’re only recently enjoying my reviews, you’re likely rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, Oh… joy. Another list of whiskeys that I’ll never be able to taste. As the greatest clown/philosophizer said many times, Homey don’t play that!

 

What differentiates my “Best Of” list from most others is that mine is for the average whiskey drinker. What’s that mean? To begin with, for any whiskey to qualify for one of these awards, it must meet the following four requirements:

 

1.  It must have been something I’ve both tasted and reviewed this year. I don’t have a team of tasters who whittle something down for me to review. It is my palate that you put your trust in. And, as wonderful as something is, if I wrote about last year and am still drinking this year, that wouldn’t qualify for this year’s list.

 

2.  It must be fairly 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 impossible. But, it also won’t be something you’d have to sell your soul to see in person, let alone acquire.

 

3.  It must be reasonably affordable. I tend to put a ceiling of $150.00 for my awarded whiskeys.

 

4.  It cannot be a store pick. While these are a fantastic way to taste truly unique whiskeys, the average whiskey drinker outside of 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?

 

Something else I’ve never understood is how reviewers can name a Best Whisky/Whiskey of the Year way before the year is close to over (some publish theirs in September! That's why I wait until mid-December to hand out awards. I can safely say 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. Last year, 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. I added a Runner Up to each category (except Please Santa?) to highlight another excellent option this year. I'll not include links in an attempt to circumvent social media claiming my annual list is (yet again) clickbait. However, you are welcome to use the search function of my Blog to locate reviews that interest you.


This year, I reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 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 interested in, it means I either didn’t drink anything in that category, or if I did, I didn't find anything 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 2021:

 


Winner:  Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass

  • Date reviewed: March 24, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99



This is probably the most unusual whiskey I’ve tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.  

If you’re adventurous and want to really #DrinkCurious, I’m here to tell you this will stimulate the heck out of you. Of course, I’m in that camp, which means Seagrass grabs my coveted Bottle rating.

  

Runner up:  Cat’s Eye Distillery Nassif Family Reserve

  • Date reviewed: January 29, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99


Nassif Family Reserve is touted as something approachable for beginners yet nuanced enough for more experienced sippers. Overall, I’d have to agree, although I’m left wondering if the 107° is a tad too aggressive for newbies. Regardless, I appreciated the nice balance between sweet and spice. The price offers no real barrier to entry. Do the math, and this one winds up snagging a Bottle rating.


◆◆◆◆◆ 

 


Winner:  Boulder Spirits American Single Malt - Peated

  • Date reviewed: August 25, 2021
  • Price:  $55.00


This is a peated American Single Malt. There are so few of these out there that they’re special just by existing. But, this one is also delightful. It is lightly smoked. It is sweet. It has flavors that naturally transition from one to another. Even if you don’t like peat, this one is something you can work with. While the cost of a bottle is about average, there’s nothing average about this whiskey. If you see it, buy it. American Single Malt - Peated is a slam-dunk Bottle rating.

 

Runner up:  Cedar Ridge The Quintessential American Single Malt

  • Date reviewed: June 25, 2021
  • Price:  $59.99

 

The QuintEssential is a stand-out. I wish more American distilleries tinkered with peat. This American Single Malt is an excellent introduction 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 super-easy Bottle rating.

 

◆◆◆◆



Winner:  Stellum Rye

  • Date reviewed: April 14, 2021
  • Price:  $54.99

I’m not a fan of anise - at all. And, yet, Stellum managed to make anise work for whatever reason. This rye is a spice bomb. If you’ve never had American Rye before but have a preconceived notion of what it would taste like, Stellum Rye fits that bill almost perfectly. 

All the various spices mingled as if they were meant to be together (even the anise). The $54.99 price is more than fair, especially when you consider this is barrel-proof. I’m happy to convey my coveted Bottle rating for it.


Runner up:  Coalition Whiskey Margaux Barriques

  • Date reviewed: January 27, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

Coalition Margaux Barriques was, simply put, elegant. I’ve had several wine-finished whiskeys, and this one is a stand-out. The whiskey is a quality base, and the wine barrels were top-notch before the two even interacted. There was absolutely nothing not to like from nose to finish. Even the mouthfeel was luxurious. The fancy decanter was unnecessary - this could be packaged in a mason jar, and I would still not have any problem dropping $90.00 on it. Obviously, this grabs my coveted Bottle rating.


 ◆◆◆◆

  


Winner:  Remus Repeal Reserve V

  • Date reviewed: July 19, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

 

Everything about this Bourbon was delicious. But strange as this may sound, the luxurious mouthfeel eclipsed all that. This was easily the best batch of Remus Repeal Reserve I’ve had, the price is right, and I love the fact it is pretty easy to get your hands on. This is a slam-dunk Bottle rating. If I had, say, a Case rating, this would take that.

 

Runner up: Blood Oath Pact 7

  • Date reviewed: April 26, 2021
  • Price:  $99.99


All the Blood Oath Pacts are unique from one another, and of the (now) four I’ve reviewed, I’ve yet to find a cadaver. While Rempe won’t ever pony up his recipes, he knows what he’s doing. The more I sip this one, the more I enjoy it. I give props to Lux Row for keeping the price the same over the years and am happy to have this one in my library. Pick up a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed.

 

◆◆◆◆



Winner: Paul John Christmas Edition 2021

  • Date reviewed: November 5, 2021
  • Price:  $84.99 


This is everything Christmas should be. It is sweet, smoky, and savory, and the flavors blend stupendously with one another. The fact that I only had a 50ml is heartbreaking because this whisky is stunning. The good news is that in my area Paul John Christmas Editions aren’t too difficult to come by, and I’ll track a Bottle down to earn a coveted place in my whiskey library.



Runner up:  M&H Elements Peated

  • Date reviewed: January 22, 2021
  • Price:  $65.00

The Elements Peated did an admirable job of reminding me of an Islay Scotch while still offering something a bit different. While not as heavily peated, if you told me that Ardbeg was the distiller, I’d accept it as gospel and wouldn’t balk at the price at all. The fact that it isn’t Ardbeg makes it even more intriguing, and as far as a rating goes, I’m sold!  M&H Elements Peated takes a no-brainer Bottle rating. 


◆◆◆◆


 Winner:  Blue Spot

  • Date reviewed: October 8, 2021
  • Price:  $100.00


This is one dangerous whiskey. At no point did I recognize the proof. But, it sure recognized me. It came at me like a wave; I could feel the flush in my head. Despite that, I enjoyed every iota of Blue Spot. Is it worth $100.00? Yeah, it is. It also earned my Bottle rating, and if there were something higher, it would take that, too.


Runner up:  Jameson Black Barrel

  • Date reviewed: December 1, 2021
  • Price:  $34.99


This is very likely the best $7.00 I’ve spent on a bottle of whiskey. I have no idea why this was on the store’s clearance rack, but I’m thankful for the opportunity. I loved everything about Jameson Black Barrel except for one thing. I really adored the finish and wanted it to last longer. Now, as far as a $34.99 bottle goes, I’d still rank it a Bottle all day long.

 

◆◆◆◆




Winner: Ardbeg Wee Beastie

  • Date reviewed: April 28, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99


It is difficult to see a bottle of Ardbeg at this price and ignore it, youthful or not. Some distillers have that sort of magical power, and I’m not talking hype. Wee Beastie doesn’t disappoint with its smoky punch, character, and distinct mouthfeel. Not only do I think this was a good purchase, but I believe it is a steal. Wee Beastie is an absolute Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Kilchoman Sanaig

  • Date reviewed:  December 6, 2021
  • Price:  $70.00


Sanaig was one of those mind-blowing whiskies. The nose and palate were amazingly complicated but also managed to complement one another. I loved the nosing to finish and everything in between. In my opinion, Sanaig blows Machir Bay out of the water, and I enjoyed Machir Bay tremendously. There was a total lack of anything remotely astringent, which is another plus. Tie all that up with the very affordable investment, and that’s a perfect recipe for a Bottle rating.

 

◆◆◆◆




Winner:  Paul John Mithuna

  • Date reviewed: April 2, 2021
  • Price:  $300.00


I gave this away already, but I’m confident in my Bottle rating. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow gave this a sip and was blown away. Frankly, so was I. I cannot understand how aging something in virgin oak and ex-Bourbon casks equals a nuclear sherry explosion in every aspect of the whisky. If you want a complex nose, Mithuna has it. If you desire a crazy-good palate, Mithuna will deliver. If you seek an Energizer Bunny finish, Mithuna will satisfy that desire. If you’ve got $300.00 to invest in a beautiful pour, this should be what you spend it on.


◆◆◆◆ 

 

And that, my friends, leaves one final order of business to conduct. Which of those named best in their respective classes is my Whiskey of the Year? Everything that I've listed was unique. However, only one can be king, and the crown goes to the King of Bootleggers, Remus Repeal Reserve V.

 

Congratulations to the distillers who made this year's cream of the crop. Cheers! 

 

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