Showing posts with label Light Whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Light Whiskey. Show all posts

Saturday, March 11, 2023

"Lamboozhound" Blend Project of La Crosse Distilling High Rye Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Every so often, I have friends in the retail liquor business who ask me to review their barrel picks or blended whiskey projects. Today I’m exploring Lamboozhound, a blended whiskey project created by Sean Wipfli of Niemuth’s Southside Market, located at 2121 S. Oneida Street in Appleton, Wisconsin.


Lamboozhound began its journey as La Crosse Distilling Co.’s High Rye Light Whiskey. It contains portions of four of six Niemuth’s La Crosse store picks, which were then aged at least two years in four of ex-Niemuth’s store pick barrels. The cooperage used was:


a Heaven Hill barrel used to age maple syrup and Bourbon;

a Driftless Glen third-fill Rye barrel;

a Great Northern Distilling second-fill Rye barrel; and

an MGP barrel that initially held Bourbon, then Stout.


Lamboozhound is packaged at 90°. There are 180 - 750ml bottles available priced at $30.99.


I hold my friends' whiskeys to the same standards as anything else. It has to pass muster. If you are curious if I’ve ever rated these lower than a Bottle, the answer is absolutely. In fact, I’ve done it with a prior pick or two that Sean did for Niemuth’s. So, let’s #DrinkCurious and discover how this one turned out. 


Appearance: I sipped this blend neat in my Glencairn glass. Frankly, it presented similarly to a standard La Crosse High Rye Light Whiskey, the color of pale straw and a thick rim. Slow, sticky tears fell back into the pool.


Nose: I found Lamboozhound quite fragrant as it was resting in my glass. I came across vanilla cream, milk chocolate, rye spice, hops, and something minorly astringent. Those last two notes I attribute to the Stout influence. Drawing that vapor through my lips created a blast of orange and tangerine flavors.


Palate: A buttery texture greeted my tongue. The front tasted of hops, vanilla, and maple syrup. Midway through, I found rye spice and a hint of cinnamon, whereas the back featured citrus, oak, and clove.


Finish: If I didn’t know better, I could wonder if Sean dumped a dollop of orange juice for good measure because that was the first thing I thought of after I swallowed. Clove and hops came next, and while the clove fell off, the hops lasted far longer. Overall, it was long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’ll start by saying that I’m not a beer guy, and it seemed to me its character dominated the blend. I’ve had beer-finished whiskeys and found some enjoyable, but they were all less hoppy. Lamboozhound should easily appeal to someone who savors a strong beer influence. I believe the fairest rating on Lamboozhound is a Bar. 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, November 6, 2021

Obtainium 16-year "Dracarys" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


I’ve reviewed several barrels of Obtainium Light Whiskey in the past. Some were excellent, one or two could better be described as a hot mess. So, when the Lake Country Bottle Club requested I review their barrel pick in conjunction with the Bottle Shop of Grafton, I was open to the adventure.


If you’re unfamiliar with the Obtainium label, that comes from Cat’s Eye in Bettendorf, Iowa. Cat’s Eye sources and blends whiskeys from various sources. In the case of its Light Whiskeys, those come from MGP. Except MGP wasn’t called MGP when this whiskey was distilled. It was working under the name of Lawrenceburg Distillers, LLC (LDI). Except, LDI wasn’t called LDI when this whiskey was distilled. Instead, it was Seagram’s.


Barrel SC-00191 was distilled May 3, 2005, when light whiskey had already fallen out of favor and rested 16 years in vintage, charred oak barrels until dumped on June 9, 2021. The Lake Country Bottle Club named this one Dracarys, the word Daenerys used to summon her dragons to breathe fire in Game of Thrones. It weighs in at a very hefty 140.6°, and is sold out at The Bottle Shop of Grafton. A 375ml was $34.99 and a 750ml was $54.99.



Before I get to the verdict, I’d like to thank Lake Country Bottle Club for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now I’ll #DrinkCurious to see what this fire-breather is all about. 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Dracarys presented as the color of bronze amber. It made a sticky, medium-weighted rim that formed long, slow legs.


Nose:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to punch the nose so hard it would draw blood. Nope, that didn’t happen. In fact, I struggled to pick up any ethanol whatsoever. It was a soft aroma that included cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, vanilla, and lightly toasted oak. When I pulled the air into my mouth, I discovered crème de menthe.


Palate:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to burn the hell out of your palate. Nope, that didn’t happen, either. The front palate featured caramel, chocolate, and nutmeg. The middle was all leather. Then, on the back, I tasted cinnamon, clove, mint, and oak.


Finish:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to set fire to your throat. Nope, that didn’t happen.  Instead, flavors of caramel, chocolate, cinnamon spice, clove, and old leather came through.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several Haz-Mat whiskeys before, but I don’t believe any has ever drunk this far below proof. Could it pass for 100° or 110°?  Certainly. It was a pleasant surprise for sure. The nose and palate were well-balanced despite the single leather note on the middle. Dracarys is tasty, and I’m happy to crown a Bottle rating on 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, 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.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Introducing Hezekiah Crain Coachgun & Deep Oak Whiskeys - With Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you hang out with folks in the distillery industry long enough, you get a chance to get your hands (and palate) on something new and different. One of the folks I know is Sean Wipfli, who started the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club which has picked some impressive barrels. In full disclosure, I've done some barrel picks with them in the past. It has been a couple of years, though.

Sean has spread his wings into things beyond barrel picking and has even started his own label called Hezekiah Crain, which is now in its first releases and hitting store shelves as you read this.

Who was Hezekiah Crain?  He was one of the very first American patriots. He was a private in the Connecticut Light Horse Regiment during the Revolutionary War, survived it, but died at a fairly young age of 48 in 1796. 

The first two Hezekiah Crain releases are Coachgun American Whiskey and Deep Oak 14-Year American Whiskey. Both are sourced from MGP, the mega-Indiana distillery. Sean has been around long enough to understand that transparency is a big deal and he doesn't hold many cards close to his vest. 

Before I get to the reviews, I'd like to thank Sean for providing me with a sample of both in exchange for no strings attached, honest reviews. And, before anyone rolls their eyes, I've not been in love with everything that Sean has had me review. He knows he is taking a real risk with me.

Coachgun American Whiskey Batch #001

American whiskey can be pretty much anything that qualifies a whiskey and is distilled in (you guessed it) the United States. That can be Bourbon, Rye, Light Whiskey, Blended or Single Malt, Wheat Whiskey, or a blend of any of those. As such, the term is vague.

In the case of Coachgun, we're looking at a blend of Bourbon and Rye, often called Bourye. These are single barrel whiskeys, both sourced from MGP, and consist of its 36% rye content Bourbon aged four years and its 95% Rye aged five. There was no dilution, and as such, touts a Batch Strength descriptor that weighs in at 105.8°. There's been no added flavor or color and is particle-filtered, but not chill-filtered. You can expect to pay about $59.99 for a 750ml bottle. It is important to note that this is, by design, not sold by any retailers outside of Wisconsin.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Coachgun was gold in color. It produced a broad rim and fat, slow tears that fell back to the pool of whiskey.

Nose:  Sweet corn, caramel, toasted oak, and cinnamon hit my nose first, but hidden beneath was apple. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, vanilla caressed my tongue.

Palate:  I discovered an oily mouthfeel with a medium body. The first flavors were cherry and maple syrup. It was certainly unusual. As the whiskey worked its way across my palate, I tasted vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg. The back offered oak, cherry (again), and mint.

Finish:  Long and warming, the finish gave up toasted oak, cherry, rye spice, and mint.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There wasn't anything overly complicated with Coachgun, but it was tasty. I've had Bouryes before at lesser proofs and for the most part, enjoy them. They often wind up spicier than Bourbons and softer than Ryes. As far as a value statement goes, $59.99 for something barrel-proof is under the "average" price. Good job, Sean, I'm tendering my Bottle rating for it. 

Deep Oak 14-Year American Whiskey Project #001

And now, for something a little different. Light whiskey at 14-years isn't overly uncommon. I've reviewed a few of these MGP Light whiskeys and some have been impressive, but I recently had one that was awful. 

What makes Deep Oak different is that once the single barrel was dumped, it was then placed in a hand-selected, freshly-dumped former whiskey barrel for extra-aging. Bottled at cask strength of 115°, Deep Oak is non-chill filtered and retails for about $74.99.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Deep Oak presented as the color of bright gold. A medium rim was formed which yielded medium, slow legs that eventually dropped back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of vanilla, oak, and mint were evident on my olfactory senses. As I breathed in through my mouth, I picked out a bold vanilla. 

Palate:  If you've ever wondered what the mouthfeel of an oil slick is, Deep Oak will answer that question. This may be the oiliest whiskey I've tried to date. It coated every crevice of my mouth. The front brought a single flavor: berry jam. The middle changed things up with rye spice and cocoa powder. The back was dry oak, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon Red Hots.

Finish:  Deep Oak was one of those whiskeys with a freight-train finish. It didn't build, it just rolled on and on for several minutes. You couldn't miss the oak, which was joined by black pepper, cinnamon, and clove. My hard palate was left tingling. You could feel the oily mouth well into the finish.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Light whiskey isn't everyone's thing and has its detractors. However, Deep Oak is unlike any light whiskey I've had before, and if you blindfolded me and didn't tell me what it was, I would not pin it down as light whiskey.  I found the mouthfeel and finish fascinating. I thought it interesting that the palate started off slow before adding complexity. I like the idea that it was twice-barreled, both times in vintage cooperage. If you want to drink something off the beaten path then this one's for you. It is for me, too. This snags my Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

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

Friday, June 4, 2021

Hooten Young 12-Year American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


American whiskey... what is it, exactly? The definition is vague and broad. Essentially, it is whiskey distilled in the United States from fermented cereal grains. It could include bourbon, rye, Tennessee whisky, corn whiskey, moonshine, single malt, light whiskey, or the blending of some or all those listed.

When I come across an American whiskey that I'm unfamiliar with, I assume it is not bourbon, rye, or Tennessee whisky. Those incarnations tend to brag about what they have. Single malt is starting to get that way, too.

As I was presented with an opportunity to review Hooten Young American Whiskey, I had no idea what to expect. What Hooten Young presented seemed straightforward and, to my great pleasure, transparent. 

"Hooten Young was founded by former Special Operations Soldier, Master Sgt. Norm Hooten and Tim Young. Created as a brotherhood bonded by the love of freedom, family, and honor, Hooten Young is a tribute to the brave men and women of the armed forces who have gone above and beyond the call of duty." - Hooten Young

If the name Norm "Hoot" Hooten seems strangely familiar, he was portrayed by Eric Baca in the 2001 movie, Black Hawk Down.  

Hooten Young is a 12-year whiskey sourced from MGP. It started as a mash of 99% corn and 1% malted barley and distilled at 189° before aged at 140° in second-fill barrels.  If you consider all that, it becomes obvious this is a light whiskey.  

The barrels were discovered by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, one of just 268 Master Sommeliers in the world. He educates and curates wines and spirits, and owns Wine Bar George at Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort

Hooten Young is bottled at 92° and a 750ml package will set you back about $64.99. Distribution is in Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, and Kansas. As expected, you can order it online from various retailers.

Before I get to the tasting notes and rating, I'd like to take a moment and thank Hooten Young for providing a sample of their whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I've reviewed several MGP light whiskeys, some are very tasty, others are a hot mess. Let's see where Hooten Young falls on the scale and #DrinkCurious.

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Hooten Young was the color of gold straw. It provided a slim rim but yielded a curtain of husky, fat tears that dropped back to the pool.

Nose:  The nose was soft and easy with candied corn and toasted marshmallow. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, I picked out vanilla.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin-bodied, and the palate was fairly simple.  On the front, I tasted caramel and brown sugar. Mid-palate featured marshmallow fluff and crisp apple. The back offered roasted corn and cherry cola.

Finish:  Long and warming, Hooten Young was slightly numbing that reminded me of Mr. Pibb. When it fell off, I could swear I had freshly-charred marshmallows on a stick at a campfire in my mouth.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This was not like other Light Whiskeys that I've had, and perhaps that's the influence of the lower proof. I liked the simplicity of the nose and palate. The charred marshmallow at the very end was a treat. I enjoyed what I smelled and tasted. I appreciate that Hooten Young is a dozen years old, and having one of 268 Master Sommeliers "discover" it is a fun backstory. I would have a tough time paying $65.00 for it, especially when there are several similarly-aged (and older) MGP light whiskeys bottled at barrel proof for about the same price out there. I give Hooten Young kudos for providing something lovely, but unless the price comes down, I'm recommending you try this at a Bar first. 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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Cat's Eye Obtainium 13-Year Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

There are whiskeys out there that are legally classified as Haz-Mat. I love high-proof whiskeys, they're full of flavor and give you, the casual drinker, an opportunity to tinker with them by adding water and tasting how proof changes character.

Today I'm reviewing an MGP Light Whiskey packaged by Cat's Eye Distillery under its Obtainium label. I've been lucky and had several opportunities to review stuff out of Cat's Eye, and as such, I won't rehash the company information beyond the fact it sources and blends whiskeys from different distilleries from both the United States and around the world.

Light Whiskey is a remnant from the 1960s that is enjoying a small resurgence in today's market. While not distilled exclusively by MGP, almost all of the well-aged stuff is sourced from it. In a nutshell, it is distilled between 160° and 190° (compared to Bourbon which is distilled at 160° or less) and aged in either used or new, uncharred oak containers. 

For this particular whiskey, it aged for 13 years before being bottled at its cask strength of 136.6°. That's not quite Haz-Mat but is darned close to it. You can expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml bottle.

I'd like to thank Cat's Eye's Wisconsin distributor for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Light Whiskey was the color of rubbed copper. It left an almost indiscernible rim but produced fat, sticky droplets that didn't seem interested in falling back to the pool.

Nose:  Cedar was the first aroma to hit my nose. That was joined by cinnamon, spearmint, and nuts. When I inhaled the vapor in my mouth, it was a blast of wintergreen.

Palate:  If you took a grenade, pulled the pin, and stuffed it in my mouth, it might adequately describe the mouthfeel. My hard palate sizzled almost immediately. I was able to pull out some flavors, including oak, nutmeg, and cinnamon Red-Hots, but I couldn't tell you where on the palate they fell or in what order.

Finish:  The only thing I could pick out was more Red-Hots. The finish was like a freight train, there was no stopping it. I had to munch on some animal crackers to calm my mouth and give me a sense of normalcy.

I don't always add water to whiskey, I prefer most neat. But, when something is so dominating that I have trouble even picking things out, to give a fair review, I will. Using an eyedropper, I added two drops of distilled water. With a bit of recovery, I was ready to address this Light Whiskey again.

Nose:  This time, I pulled aromas maple syrup and vanilla from the glass. There was only a hint of cedar.  Drawing air in my mouth, I sensed vanilla and light mint.

Palate:  It is sometimes amazing what just a minuscule amount of water can do to a whiskey. The mouthfeel was silky and much easier to handle. On the front, the only thing I picked up was caramel. But, at mid-palate, I discovered cinnamon, clove, and sweet tobacco leaf. The back featured that familiar cinnamon Red-Hots and oak.

Finish:  The Red-Hots was less aggressive and joined by dry oak and black pepper. Spicy and very long-lasting, when the finish finally curbed, a kiss of caramel ended the show.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'll be frank. I did not like this neat. I've had higher-proofed whiskeys that were nowhere near as lava-like as this. Water definitely helped make this drinkable. Proofed down, the best things were the nosing and the caramel kiss at the end. There was just not a lot beyond that I could call a pleasure to drink. I hate to say this, this is the first thing out of Cat's Eye that is taking a Bust rating from me. This is not representative of my Light Whiskey experience. Cheers!

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

Monday, April 12, 2021

Obtainium Single Barrel 14-Year Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


What isn't shown in the photo above is the massive snowflakes coming down. Yeah, it is snowing again. A very fair question would be, Why is this Whiskeyfellow character out in a snowstorm taking a picture of whiskey? Keep looking at the photo, specifically where it mentions the proof. That says 147°, and this would be one of the highest-proof whiskeys I've ever tried.

Another fair question is, What is light whiskey? Is that diet whiskey?  Well, no.

Light whiskey came into existence in 1968 because consumers were moving away from Bourbon and more into clear spirits such as vodka or gin. Light whiskey is distilled between 160° and 190°.  Contrast that with Bourbon or American Rye, which tops out at 160°.  It must be aged in used, charred oak barrels or new, uncharred oak. Most distilleries didn't let it age very long, but then light whiskey fell out of favor, and the stocks were left hanging around, mostly ignored and forgotten.

What we have here is a light whiskey distilled by MGP of Indiana and bottled by Cat's Eye Distillery out of Bettendorf, Iowa. Packaged with its Obtainium label, this barrel sat in the MGP warehouse for 14 years. That's not all, this is a single barrel offering, and as such, it is the pure experience of what light whiskey can become. It retails for $54.99.  

I'd like to thank Cat's Eye Distillery's Wisconsin distributor for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this whiskey presented as a rich, caramel color. The rim was so faint, I had to squint to pick it out. A wavy curtain of legs, if you could call them that, dropped back to the pool.

Nose:  Aromas of brown sugar and caramel hit my olfactory senses. I also smelled orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon. When I drew the vapor in my mouth, I tasted butterscotch.

Palate:  Shockingly, my tongue was not set on fire while sipping this. I admittedly psyched myself out preparing for it. It was definitely warm and thin. I also found it to be a caramel bomb from start to finish. The front added butterscotch and brown sugar. At the middle, I experienced only vanilla. The back featured notes of oak and cinnamon.

Finish:  I felt like I was sucking on a cough drop, a menthol blast literally cleared my sinuses. The finish lasted for what seemed to be forever. Caramel and butterscotch continued until the very end. Toasted oak made a brief appearance and cinnamon red hots carried the remainder. While spicy, I need to stress it wasn't hot.

With Water:  I don't normally add water to my whiskey unless I'm curious what would happen. Something that pushes the Haz-Mat envelope is an opportunity I didn't want to pass up. Some people add a splash of water. I'm pretty Type-A when it comes to adding water and I use an eyedropper, and I always measure out two drops of distilled water.

Nose with Water:  The brown sugar and butterscotch were magnified, as was the caramel. The spice completely fell off, and the orange peel became candied. Overall, the nose got sweeter.

Palate with Water:  The mouthfeel became thick and creamy. The caramel bomb vanished, while the cinnamon spice and oak took center stage. 

Finish with Water:  Black pepper, clove, and cinnamon spice created a very long finish. Absolutely shocking was the finish got both hotter and spicier, almost painfully so. My hard palate was buzzing despite the fact I only took a simple sip.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  With water, I did not enjoy this light whiskey at all. The water ruined it. But, drunk neat, it was tasty and surprisingly easy to drink. I got past the menthol blast and was able to savor the flavors, perhaps because my sinuses were cleared. If you drink whiskey neat, I think Cat's Eye has a winner here. If you are into adding water, this may be one to avoid. I'll stick with the way I normally drink whiskey and crown it with a Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

Proof and Wood 25-Year "100 Seasons" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


25 years. Some of you aren't even that old yet! If you're talking Scotch, 25 years is starting to get into big deal territory, but their whisky can age much, much longer.  With American whiskeys, 25 years is a curious period of time. While there are some 25-year Bourbons and Ryes, they can be over-oaked and it seems like you're chewing on a barrel stave as you drink it. 

25 years. Back in 1995, MGP didn't even exist. At that time, it was Seagrams and known as The Jos. E Seagram Lawrenceburg Plant. MGP didn't come into existence until 2011.

25 years. That's 100 Seasons and is the name of the whiskey I'm reviewing today. Specifically, 100 Seasons is a Light Whiskey that was distilled by Seagram's. Released by Proof and Wood Ventures, 100 Seasons is pretty much a unicorn. There are several 10- to 15-year-old Light Whiskeys out there, almost exclusively coming out of the MGP rickhouse. But, 25 years? I've not stumbled on one yet, until now.

What is Light Whiskey?  Back when Bourbon was on the decline, distilleries were scrambling to figure out what could take its place to stay alive. According to Chuck Cowdery:

"Compared to traditional American whiskeys such as bourbon and rye, the whiskeys of Scotland, Ireland and Canada are generally distilled at a much higher proof, entered into barrels at a higher proof, and the barrels are mostly used, not new as American law requires. This makes them cheaper to produce, which American distillers felt put them at an unfair competitive disadvantage."

Lo and behold, there's Light Whiskey.  Distilled between 160° and 190° and typically aged in used (or, in some cases, new but uncharred) cooperage, it allowed American distillers to compete, at least in theory. Truth be told, it never really took off, and rather than tossing the whiskey down the drain, the barrels just sat around, many times forgotten (for real, unlike the backstory of a certain unnamed whiskey brand). 

Dave Schmier of Proof and Wood seized upon this opportunity. Distilled in 1992, it rested for 25 years in the Seagram's/MGP warehouse. It was then transferred to used Rye barrels, where it spent the next eight weeks. From there, it was transferred to steel containers for two years to stop the aging process. 

As you can imagine, there wasn't a lot of stock to work with. The yield was only 500 bottles when packaged at 102.3°. Proof & Wood considers 100 Seasons part of its Curated Collection and is presented in a specialty gift box.

How does it taste? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. But first, I would like to thank Proof and Wood for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, 100 Seasons presented as a clear, bright amber. It could easily be mistaken for a Bourbon or Rye, and that's not something typical of Light Whiskey. As far as a rim and legs went, this didn't create a rim. It left a bunch of little dots on the wall. Try as I might, I couldn't get a rim produced. 

Nose:  When I brought the glass to my face, I was confronted with a blast of sweet, thick caramel. As I continued to explore, I picked up cinnamon, 'Nilla Wafers, and berries. When I inhaled the vapor, a wave of butterscotch rolled over my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was viscous and full-bodied. On the front, I tasted caramel and cinnamon sugar. As it moved to mid-palate, flavors of sweet fruits took over. Then, on the back, toffee, ginger, and oak commandeered the tasting.

Finish:  Things got long and spicy, and left my tongue with a sizzle. It started with barrel char, then the familiar ginger and oak. All the spice subsided, and when I thought it was over, plum took over and stuck around for a few minutes. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Drinking 100 Seasons is a unique, enjoyable experience, one you're likely not going to be able to duplicate anytime soon. At 102.3° it sips below that without any need to add water. You're probably wondering why I've not disclosed the price, and that's because I wanted to get all of this out of the way beforehand. You'll need to pony up about $350.00 for a bottle.  Before you scoff at that, consider what you're looking at.  It takes a lot for me to give a Bottle rating for something this pricy, but in my opinion, if you can afford it, 100 Seasons deserves it. Cheers!

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

La Crosse Distilling "Reboar'n" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

A little over a year ago, I reviewed a standard release of La Crosse Distilling Co.'s High Rye Light Whiskey.  It was the first decent Light Whiskey I'd tasted and earned somewhere between a Bar and Bottle rating. I've passed the bottle around to several people and the reviews were mixed. Some people really enjoyed it, others said it was decent but not great. I don't recall anyone saying it was lacking. But, that also validated my rating.

If you're not familiar with La Crosse Distilling, it is a craft distillery in (you guessed it) La Crosse, Wisconsin. It uses only organic, locally-grown ingredients, and the still is powered by geothermal energy, making it very earth-friendly.  It makes gins, vodkas, rock & rye, and light whiskey.  Barrels are sourced locally from Staggemeyer Stave Co., located 20 minutes southwest of the distillery. They're currently aging Bourbon and other whiskeys.  Their Light Whiskey is a mash of rye and wheat.

Today, I'm reviewing another High Rye Light Whiskey from La Crosse Distilling. What's different about this one?  Well, this one aged one year and a day in used Wisconsin Full Boar Straight Rye barrels. This was a collaboration between La Crosse Distilling and Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, and as such, it is exclusively available at Niemuth's.  The barrel yield was 125 90°-bottles and can be purchased for $29.99. Niemuth's decided to name this one Reboar'n

I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. So, let's get to it. Time to #DrinkCurious

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Reboar'n appears the color of straw. It left a very thin rim on the wall of my glass, and that rim never generated any legs. The rim just stuck like glue.

Nose:  Despite its aging for a year, it still had the aroma of buttered popcorn like many new-make whiskeys do. It lacked any alcohol vapor to the face. I found light oak and then, surprisingly, caramel. My guess is that caramel came from the previously-barreled rye.  When I inhaled through my lips initially, I tasted nothing. However, after repeated attempts, a hint of citrus materialized.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and coating. It also smacked my hard palate hard, which took me aback. I had to remind myself that this is only 90°!  Up at the front was an obvious rye spice dusted with cinnamon. As it moved to the middle, I tasted floral and citrus notes. It was an interesting combination. The back was all dry oak.

Finish:  My throat was warmed by a very long, spicy finish of clove and rye.  I would estimate it lasted just beyond three minutes before it began to wander off.  Clove is something I find appealing in whiskey, and that brought a smile to my face.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Because of the high-rye mash and ex-rye barrel aging, Reboar'n took on a lot of rye character, much more than the original version I tasted last year. If you really enjoy spicy rye, then Reboar'n is going to be a Bottle rating for you. If you haven't delved much (or at all) into Light Whiskeys, you may want to try this one first (giving it a Bar rating).  Cheers!

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

Friday, June 5, 2020

Cat's Eye Distillery Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Light Whiskey is something that's making a comeback. It came into existence in 1968. It came into being because consumers were moving away from Bourbon and more into clear spirits such as vodka or gin. Yeah, I know, perish the thought. But, what is Light Whiskey? Well... first and foremost, it is distilled between 160° and 190°.  Contrast that with Bourbon or American Rye, which tops out at 160°.  But, that's not the only difference. It must also be aged in used, charred oak barrels or new, uncharred oak. 

What is was not designed to be was aged very long. Except, that wound up happening anyway, especially since its recent resurgence. 

Bring in MGP of Indiana. They had barrels and barrels of aged Light Whiskey, and some folks got interested in it. They started ordering those barrels and while it isn't a huge market, it is growing in popularity.  Thanks to distilleries like Cat's Eye Distillery of Bettendorf, IA, that buys MGP stock, and now you've got some distribution.  Cat's Eye produces its Light Whiskey under its Obtanium Master Collection Series

But wait, there's more.  Then you have retailers such as Niemuth's Southside Market of Appleton, WI, that get creative with what they buy from Cat's Eye.  They took a barrel of Cat's Eye Light Whiskey and left 1/3 of it alone, 1/3 of it was then finished in Bone Snapper Darkest Sourcerye and Doppelbock (Ball Buster Bock) barrels, and the last 1/3 in Traverse City Birthday Bu'url Bourbon and Stout barrels. 

Today I'm reviewing the unadulterated version.  It is distilled from a mash of 99% corn and 1% malted barley and aged for 13 years in used, charred oak barrels. By the time that was over and done with, it was bottled at 134.6° (67.3% ABV). Niemuth's offers this for $55.99 for a 750ml bottle.

I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  And now, time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Light Whiskey appears honey in color. It, strangely enough, didn't really leave a rim on the wall. Instead, it was a series of drops that then cascaded down the wall and back to the pool.  Those legs were medium in width and very slow.

Nose:  It started off with corn, which shouldn't be surprising considering it is made from nearly all that.  But, that was joined by vanilla and orange citrus.  Behind that was smoked oak and what I could swear was a dirty BBQ grill.  I know, that last one is weird, but that's what hit my mind. When I inhaled through my lips, I discovered a blend of chocolate and toasted coconut.

Palate:   At my first sip, it had a medium mouthfeel, but dang, it numbed the heck out of my hard palate.  I drink a lot of barrel-proof whiskeys and this one kicked my butt.  I'm not suggesting that's a bad thing, rather, it just shocked me. At the front, I tasted oak and very dark, heavy cacao chocolate.  As the whiskey worked its way across my tongue, I found cocoa, smoke, and cherry. And, as it moved to the back, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Finish:  The Light Whiskey had an Energizer Bunny finish of coconut, oak, and clove. It was very long and warming, and left absolutely no question about its proof.

And, then, I got even more curious.  Using an eyedropper, I decided to add two drops of distilled water to see what would happen.

Nose:  This time, the nose was milk chocolate, like a Hershey's Kiss, and orange zest. When I inhaled through my lips, I found only vanilla. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was definitely thinner and all that punch disappeared. Up at the front were plum and date.  Then, at mid-palate, a marriage of vanilla, light smoke, and dry oak. And, again, zilch on the back.

Finish:  The length of the finish was greatly muted.  The coconut was gone. So was the warmth. But, the clove remained and was joined with dry oak and barrel char.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I enjoyed this Light Whiskey neat, despite the fact it numbed my hard palate so quickly.  I was not a fan of it proofed down. Neat, the nose and palate were complex despite the lack of anything on the back. With water, it became boring. When you take into account this is a 13-year, barrel-proof whiskey, the $55.99 price is quite affordable. As such, it takes my coveted Bottle rating. 

On a final note, I'm very curious about what the two finished expressions will taste like.  Cheers!

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