Showing posts with label Lux Row Distillers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lux Row Distillers. Show all posts

Monday, April 26, 2021

Blood Oath Pact 7 Review & Tasting Notes


 

I don't know if kids do this anymore, but back in the day (wow does that make me sound old!), if you made a solemn promise, you committed a blood oath. You even called yourselves blood brothers. A blood oath is a pact committed by each person involved by cutting themselves, then shaking hands, and "blending" the blood between the two (or more).


Truth be told, I'm pretty squeamish and never participated in a blood oath. I'm fairly confident there's not enough whiskey that would convince me a blood oath was a good idea. Well, not a traditional blood oath.


What is a good idea, or at least has been in the past (I've reviewed Pacts 3, 4, 5, and 6), is Lux Row's annual Blood Oath release. For 2021, this would be Pact 7. Blood Oath is an experimental line from the brain of Master Distiller John Rempe. He takes Bourbons and does interesting things with them to create something special. In this case (as with the six previous incarnations), Rempe is the Master Blender, because the Bourbon used in Pact 7 is sourced, most likely from Heaven Hill, but that's unconfirmed. 


"Creating an extraordinary and unique blend of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys is at the heart of the Blood Oath series. Pact 7 continues this tradition, and the result is a secret I can't wait to share with bourbon lovers." - John Rempe


Pact 7 is blended from three different Bourbons:  A 14-year high-rye Bourbon, an 8-year high-rye Bourbon, and another 8-year high-rye Bourbon, but the latter was finished in Sauternes (pronounced saw-turns) casks. If you're unfamiliar with the term, that's a sweet white wine from France's Bordeaux region. Once blended, it is proofed down to 98.6° which is very purposeful. Why? Well, because that's the average temperature of human blood! 


You can expect to pay $99.99 for one of the 51,000 bottles available. One interesting aspect is that Lux Row has not raised the price of Blood Oath in its seven-year history. 


Is Pact 7 any good? Is it worth a c-note? The only way to tell for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I do, I'd like to thank Lux Row for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Pact 7 presented as chestnut in color, and, strangely enough, an oily, iridescent sheen. I can't say that I've ever come across that before in a whiskey. It created a medium-thick rim and husky legs that slowly fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  A sweet, fruity aroma consisted of apricot, brown sugar, toasted coconut, oak, and nutmeg. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, blueberry rolled across my palate.


Palate:  Thick and oily in texture, the front tasted of vanilla, toasted coconut, apricot, and nuts. On the middle, flavors of stewed peaches and maple syrup took over, and the back offered oak, cinnamon, rye, cereal, and cocoa powder.


Finish:  Cinnamon and cocoa powder continued, and the oak suddenly became bone-dry and gave a pucker power sensation. After a few sips, that went away, and was replaced by creamy vanilla and nuts. My hard palate numbed quickly and the finish was long-lasting.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  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. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System:

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Daviess County Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks Review & Tasting Notes




One of the most widely-recognized grape varietals in the world, grown in nearly every major wine-producing region is Cabernet Sauvignon. Until the 1990s, it was also the most widely planted grape. It was finally surpassed by Merlot, but then in 2015, Cabernet Sauvignon regained its throne. The reason for its popularity is how flavorful it is. Typically, you'll find flavors of heavy red and black fruit.


Today I'm reviewing Daviess County Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks. It is produced by Lux Row Distillers of Bardstown, Kentucky.  Daviess County Bourbon is a new expression from Lux Row, and is a blend of sourced wheated and traditional mash Bourbons, most likely from Heaven Hill.  If you want to learn more about the standard expression, you can read my review from May. For the record, it earned my Bottle recommendation.


As the bottle implies, Lux Row took the standard expression and dumped it in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon casks, where it rested another six months.  It carries no age statement, however, we know that means it must be at least four years old. Bottled at 96°, the suggested retail is $44.99.


I'd like to thank Lux Row for sending me a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's get to it.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Daviess County Bourbon appears chestnut in color. It left a very thin rim on the wall which created very slow, fat legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine. 


Nose:  The first thing to hit my nostrils was old oak that was slightly musty. Past the oak were plum, blueberries, molasses, and vanilla. That's right, I said blueberries! When I inhaled through my lips, I picked up black currant. 


Palate:  The initial sip was very thin and oily. There was no alcohol punch whatsoever. At the front was smoked oak. I was a bit taken back that there was nothing else offered. However, as it moved mid-palate, I discovered caramel, plum, and (again) blueberry. I must admit that I've never used blueberry in a whiskey review before. The back consisted of honey and grilled peaches.


Finish:  Clove and blueberry stuck around for a very long, enticing finish that lasted several minutes. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This expression of Daviess County Bourbon is a fruit bomb. That's absolutely due to the wine casks.  Blueberry is my favorite fruit, and as you can imagine, when I picked up that note in the nose, palate, and finish, I became a very happy camper. There was nothing off-putting about anything from beginning to end, and when you consider the $44.99 investment, this one becomes a very easy Bottle recommendation. 


On an ending note, I found the Cabernet Sauvignon finish to be the most interesting and the best of the three.  Cheers!


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

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Daviess County Bourbon Finished in French Oak Casks Review & Tasting Notes



When Lux Row Distillers released Daviess County Kentucky Straight Bourbon, they had three separate expressions:  the standard Kentucky Straight Bourbon, that Bourbon finished in Cabernet Sauvignon casks, and the straight Bourbon finished in French Oak casks.  If you want to know the history behind the label and the name, I'll invite you to read my review on the original Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  To give you a preview, that expression earned a very easy Bottle rating. 


Today I'm reviewing the French Oak Cask release.  In a nutshell, this is the same as the original expression that's then been finished for six months in French Oak. It starts with a mash of two Bourbons - one that is traditional (meaning rye is the second largest ingredient) and one that is wheated (meaning wheat is substituted for rye). Therefore the grains used are corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley.  But, as this is a blend, you really don't want to consider it a four-grain because that's not how it was originally distilled. Lux Row is sourcing these Bourbons, most likely from Heaven Hill. Since it carries no age statement, it must be at least four years old. Daviess County French Oak is bottled at 96° and retails about $44.99.


The important thing, however, is how does this bourbon taste? To answer that, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon appeared as a deep bronze.  It left a fat rim on the wall, which generated thick, fast legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine. However, it also abandoned fat droplets that never really moved.


Nose:  Before I could even bring the glass to my face, it was difficult to not smell caramel. When I sniffed the glass, it seemed to be a caramel bomb. The caramel was joined by oak. As I continued to explore, aromas of honey and raisins joined the parade.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was as if I took a bite of honeycomb and a shot of vanilla. 


Palate:  At the first sip, it had a thin and oily mouthfeel. But, it gained weight during subsequent ones. The dry tannins made a big impression.  That caramel bomb from the nosing also hit me on the palate. Behind the caramel was dusted cinnamon and vanilla.  On the back, things got weird. It was a combination of both sweet and dry oak. 


Finish:  With 96°, you'd think that warmth would be impactful, and you'd be right in this case. There was no burn per se, but this Bourbon definitely let you know it was there. The finish was long and flavorful, with dry oak, dark chocolate, white pepper, and rye spice. The other interesting aspect was how creamy it remained in my mouth and throat. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Like the original expression, the French Oak was unusual, and I love unique whiskeys. This was so different from the original, yet didn't take away from its character. I could still identify what I'm assuming is Heaven Hill Bourbon. The French Oak adds further character. When you take into account the affordability aspect, this one is like the original - another easy Bottle rating. Cheers!




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

Friday, May 29, 2020

Daviess County Straight Bourbon Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes



One of the things I find entertaining about Bourbon is the history behind it.  I'm not necessarily speaking of tall tales and marketing backstories, although those can be fun, too. Rather, I'm talking about real history. When I come across a new whiskey, I try to learn what I can about it - whether that is the history of a distillery or the reason behind the name of a whiskey. 


Joseph Hamilton Daveiss had an interesting background. He became a lawyer in 1795 and appeared in court as someone you'd think of from the movie Deliverance. He got involved in a duel in 1799 and wound up becoming a fugitive.  And, yet, he was also the first lawyer west of the Appalachian Mountains to litigate a case before the US Supreme Court.


Daveiss then became a US District Attorney based in Kentucky. He wound up getting a burr (pun intended) under his saddle regarding Aaron Burr. He tried many times to prosecute Burr for treason but was never successful. 


In 1811, Daveiss volunteered to serve in the Indiana militia, where he was placed in charge of the entire Indiana calvary as well as two companies of dragoons. He led them into battle at Tippecanoe, where he died from his injuries.


At this point you're probably wondering if I've got a spelling error regarding his name. For whatever reason, anything named after Daveiss has been spelled Daviess, including a county in Kentucky. In that county was a distillery called Daviess County Distilling Co., one of the original Kentucky distilleries. 


Leave it to Lux Row Distillers to resurrect the name and create a line called Daviess County Bourbon. There are currently three expressions:  Kentucky Straight, French Oak, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Today I'm reviewing Kentucky Straight.


Kentucky Straight is made from two different Bourbon mashbills: wheated and traditional rye. Although Lux Row has been distilling for a few years, the whiskeys used in this marriage are sourced and, while undisclosed, Luxco (Lux Row's parent company) has a history of sourcing from Heaven Hill.  It also carries no age statement, but since it is Straight, we know it is at least two years, plus that no age statement cranks it up to at least four. It is bottled at 96°, and retail is $39.99.


I'd like to thank Lux Row Distillers for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. On a side note, I want to say that what Lux Row sent me is one of the nicest sample packages I've come across.



And now, time to #DrinkCurious to discover what matters...


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass,  Daviess County Kentucky Straight appeared as caramel in color. It left a very thin rim that led to very thick, fast legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  The first aroma to hit my olfactory sense was cinnamon. That was followed by lightly-toasted oak. As I continued exploring, it grew sweeter, with molasses, vanilla, and peach.  When I inhaled through my lips, I found what could best be described as peach cobbler. 


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to very oily. There was a mild warming sensation. I'm curious which char level was used because this is smokier than I anticipated, especially considering the nose.  At the front, that became a big deal. Mid-palate, oak, and stewed fruits became evident. Honey, vanilla, and caramel made an appearance at the back. 


Finish:  Extremely long in duration, this finish starts off with peaches and honey. It then shifted to dry oak and clove which seemed powered by the Energizer bunny. I'm talking for many minutes. I was shocked at how quickly 96° numbed my hard palate. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The more I sipped Daviess County Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the more convinced I became at least one of the Bourbons used in the blend was Heaven Hill-sourced. The wheater was less obvious, but Heaven Hill has that mashbill, too, and as far as I know, I've not tasted a blend of the two.


This Bourbon is definitely off the beaten path. That's something that always grabs my attention, good or bad. In this case, I found it to be the former. While not mind-blowing, it is flavorful and keeps you focused on that never-ending finish. When you factor in $40.00 for a 750ml, this one becomes an easy Bottle recommendation.  Cheers!



My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System:

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

Monday, April 13, 2020

Blood Oath Pact 6 Review and Tasting Notes



The human body has, at least in theory, an average temperature of 98.6°F.  That's how hot the blood is that churns through our veins. A blood oath was a serious promise between two parties to adhere to an agreement. And, those promises were sealed by blood:  the parties involved would cut their hands and their blood would mingle together. 


But, these days, we would probably not be too keen on participating in a blood oath. There's just too much ickiness and risk involved.


Speaking of risk, Lux Row Distillers takes one on annually with their Blood Oath series. They're always doing something out of the ordinary in an attempt to create something new.  I've reviewed Pact 4, which I found to be good but questionable for the price, and Pact 5, which I disliked the finish but enjoyed the remainder. Both took Bar ratings from me. So, when Lux Row sent me Pact 6, I was curious if this would eclipse the others or be another maybe whiskey.


Pact 6 is a blend of three Kentucky Straight Bourbons:  one at 14 years, one at 8 years, and the last, 7 years. However, the 7-year is finished in ex-Cognac casks before the three are married. The mashbill and cooperage are undisclosed. Legally, any age statement must represent the youngest whiskey in the blend, but Pact 6 doesn't carry one. And, in the tradition of a real blood oath, the proof is that of blood:  98.6°.  It is packaged a nice bottle with a collectible wooden box and retails for $99.99. This is a limited edition run with 17,000 cases produced.


How does Pact 6 hold up?  Will it get something besides the Bar rating? The only way to find out for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  But first, I'd like to thank Lux Row for sending me a sample in exchange for an honest, no-strings-attached review.


In my Glencairn glass, Pact 6 appears as a deep amber.  It created a medium rim which led to fat droplets that slowly worked its way back down to the pool.


Aromas of caramel and brown sugar greeted my nostrils. Beneath that was a bouquet filled with apricot, vanilla, and oak. When I inhaled through my lips, it was thick butterscotch. 


The mouthfeel was oily and warming. At the front, I discovered caramel, oak, and a big punch of leather. As the liquid sunshine moved across my palate, I found sweet apricot, spicy clove, and toffee.  Then, on the back, a return of the oak and, finally, crème brũlee. 


A long-lasting finish of rye spice and dry oak was uncomplicated but pleasant. Pact 6 did offer much more of the Cognac profile than I would have expected, especially since only one component was finished with it.


Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Here's where the pedal hits the medal and we fly down the road smoothly or wreck in a fiery mess. The blending was well-done, and I am intrigued by Cognac-finished whiskeys. It adds a completely different nuance to the profile - if done correctly. I enjoyed the heck out of both the nose and the palate. They were complex and enticing. The finish made me feel like I was drinking Cognac, which is a positive. Pact 6 is, in my opinion, the best of the series so far and I believe a good return on a $99.99 investment. As such, I'm pleased to offer it my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!





My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Not So Aimless Wander Around Kentucky

I've been to Kentucky several times. To me, it is the Promised Land. The distilleries, the great people, the Bourbon culture, the gorgeous scenery - it all gets my blood racing. This time around, the purpose was for a Bourbon & Banter barrel pick and some handshaking, and Mrs. Whiskeyfellow and I decided to make it an extended trip. 






Our first stop was on the way to Kentucky, in Borden, Indiana.  If you're wondering what's in Borden, it is the home to Huber Winery and Orchard and Starlight Distillery



When I was taking part in some barrel picks recently, I was introduced to Starlight via Huber's Old Rickhouse Indiana Straight Rye. Now, I know what you're thinking... Indiana Straight Rye means that this is MGP distillate. I made that same assumption and I was absolutely wrong. Huber's has been around for 170 some-odd years. The distillery is newer, but it is all their own.



Anyway, for $15.00, you get a tour of either the winery or the distillery. Either one includes seven samples. As luck would have it, they had several whiskeys from which to sample, and the only one they were sold out of was the Old Rickhouse.  That's okay because I had a chance to sample their other whiskeys, as well as a Blueberry Port and a Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy.  Reviews of the whiskeys will follow.



I will say this much:  Starlight is a distillery you should pay attention to. I predict big things once people learn about it.





Our next stop was to Louisville Distilling Company, a/k/a Angel's Envy. This working distillery was opened in an ex-elevator and sawblade factory. For $18, they put on a very nice tour that gives you a lot of ins-and-outs and provided some good transparency. What you don't get is a glass to keep at the end of the tour. We had a fantastic guide named Peter who knew his stuff and had a great sense of humor. Honestly, a lot of these tours give you the same basic information on the distilling process. Each has some unique aspect of what makes them special. But, the tour guide makes or breaks these tours, and if you get Peter, you're going to have a very enjoyable one.


We sampled their standard Bourbon finished in Port barrels. Once the tour ends, you're invited to their bar where you can order cocktails or their Rye finished in rum casks.


The gift shop was gorgeous, but things were more on the pricey end of the spectrum.





Then, it was off to Old Forester.  This is a working distillery re-opened original location on Whiskey Row. What makes Old Forester unique is they have a working mini cooperage on-premises. I've been to cooperages before and building a barrel is a fascinating process. Being Sunday, the staff was off, but the equipment was still there. Our tour guide was McKenzie who was full of energy and animated. She made it fun. At one point, after she was done explaining where the various flavors come from, my buddy Jim Knudson and I asked her, "Where does the marzipan come from?" Kudos to McKenzie for not missing a beat and getting halfway through her explanation before she stopped and asked, "Is this some sort of set-up?" We admitted it was and had a great laugh.


We sampled the workhorse, Old Forester 86, then 1897 Bottled in Bond, and then their brand-new release of their Rye. For $14 it is a nice tour that, again, does not include a tasting glass to keep at the end. The gift shop has very fair pricing.






Monday morning was the crown jewel.  We met up with Eddie Russell at Wild Turkey to do our barrel pick of Russell's Reserve.  If you're curious, Eddie is very down-to-earth and an all-around gem. We didn't tour the facility, but we did hang out in one of the rickhouses to sample directly from the barrels. We settled on an absolutely delicious one, but until it is time for release, I'll withhold details.








Next was probably the most unusual tour I've ever been on. We were able to tour the Castle & Key distillery on a private tour. Our guide was Abigail, and she knew everything about everything. What made Castle & Key fascinating was how they're still renovating things on the campus. This distillery used to be the Old Taylor Distillery and was left abandoned and severely neglected. They've done a marvelous job restoring things to their original condition as much as possible while ensuring things are safe and up to code. When they're finished, I predict Castle & Key will be like Woodford Reserve or Maker's Mark, where the campus itself will be a destination beyond the distillery.


Castle & Key is not sourcing anything. Currently, they've got vodka and a couple of gins, but we were able to sample some of the newmake that is aging in one of the original rickhouses.  They've also got a gift shop that is well-stocked with variety and was surprisingly affordable.










From there, we went to Michter's Fort Nelson for a private tour. Our guide was Jacqueline, who had an amazing sense of humor and put up with a lot of our silly jokes, including the marzipan one (and then joined in on the fun). We wound up skipping some of the basics since she knew we were not distillery newbies, and really enjoyed the tasting, which included the Michter's 10 Bourbon and Rye as well as the 20 Bourbon. For the record, the 20 is stupidly amazing. 


Michter's also has a very interesting bar at the end of the tour. Here, you can try pretty much anything Michter's has ever produced, including the famed Celebration. You may need to take out a small loan for that, though. Their gift shop is very nice and what I browsed seemed affordable.




 


The next day was our two final distillery tours, starting with Lux Row DistillersOne of the burning questions I've had was Lux Row's relationship with Limestone Branch. I discovered that these are sister organizations under the Luxco parent company.  Thank you to our host, Vincent.


Lux Row is another one of those drop-dead gorgeous campuses. This was erected on a farm near Bardstown and the scenery is amazing. Too bad I didn't catch much of it on film. We were able to sample Rebel Yell, Ezra Brooks 90, and David Nicholson Reserve. We were then given the choice of their Double-Barrel Bourbon and Blood Oath V for our final. I recently reviewed the Double-Barrel Bourbon and fell in love with it, but have a bottle at home and opted for the Blood Oath. 


Lux Row also has a beautiful and affordable gift shop.








The final distillery tour was at Bardstown Bourbon Company.  This distillery landed on the Kentucky scene with one plan and wound up with something completely different. They set out to do their own distillate and took on some clients for contract distilling. From there, the contract distilling business apparently went gangbusters. Every client has their own completely customized mashbill and is then distilled by BBC. I don't recall the exact number, but our guide, Sam, told us it was somewhere around 43 different mashbills they distill. 



The campus itself is very modern, from the distillery to the guest center to the rickhouses. One curiosity for me was the feasibility of the rickhouse design. The inside was fine, it was the outside. Rickhouses grow a lot of lovely mold on the outside as the angels take their share, but the way the BBC ones were designed with glass walls and wood plank siding, looks like they'd need to be regularly cleaned to maintain the appearance of the campus. Of course, I could be way off base here. 


When you come through the front door of BBC, the lobby is their restaurant which, if you're curious, has a very nice menu and the food is well-prepared. Their bar has much more than what you'd find at bars of other distilleries. It is fully stocked with a variety of brands. Their gift shop was minimalistic and could best be described as "new retro-modern" in design. They sold not only their house brand of whiskeys but also those of their clients.


On a side note, in the photo below (the overview of them loading barrels), this guy in the warehouse was very talented. He would spin and flip the barrels to get them in the right place. Spinning and rolling I could understand. Flipping? That looked like it required a lot of practice!





And with that, my time with my fellow Bourbon & Banter colleagues came to a finale.




This was, overall, a really fun experience. As I stated at the start, I've been to Kentucky several times. But, it had been five years since I'd been, and there has been a lot of growth in Bourbon Country. Aside from the wonderful fellowship with my colleagues (and seeing many of them in person for the first time), except for Wild Turkey, these were all distilleries that were new to me.


If you've never been to Kentucky, you should go. And, if it has been several years since you last visited, maybe it is time to consider a return.  As for me, I will not wait another five years.


Cheers!