Showing posts with label MGP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MGP. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2022

A Sampling of Buzzard's Roost Whiskeys: Reviews & Tasting Notes

American whiskey blenders are nothing new. Several very talented blenders produce incredible whiskeys. Others seem to hunt and peck and learn as they go. As I’ve said for several years, blending is an art form; it doesn’t matter what type of whiskey you’re working with.


One blender that’s been around a while is Jason Brauner. He’s got two decades of experience under his belt and is the founder and master blender of Buzzard’s Roost Sipping Whiskey. Jason was one of the pioneers involved with restaurants offering their own whiskey barrels.


“After taking part in more than a [sic] 100 barrel selections over his career, Jason is embarking on his most exciting challenge yet  - Buzzard’s Roost Sipping Whiskey, a Rye he designed with the bourbon drinker in mind.  His goal with Buzzard’s Roost is still the same as it was 19 years ago,  to educate and share his love of whiskey.” – Buzzard’s Roost


Buzzard’s Roost gets its barrels from MGP/Ross and Squibb, transferring traditionally-aged whiskeys to proprietary barrels, where they sit for a handful of weeks before being dumped and bottled. Its current distribution is Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Mexico, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alberta, Canada.


A kind friend provided me with five different samples of Buzzard’s Roost and asked for my thoughts. So, let’s #DrinkCurious and get to exploring.


Toasted American Oak Bourbon, Batch 1




  • Cooperage: Lightly charred, toasted 53-gallon American white oak barrels
  • Mashbill: A blend of 59% corn, 36% rye, and 5% malted barley with 74% corn, 21% rye, and 5% malted barley
  • Age: NAS (but between 4-5 years)
  • 52.5% ABV (105°)
  • Price:  $75.00


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this toasted Bourbon presented at a bright, gold amber and created a thicker rim with watery tears.


Nose:  The toasted oak heavily influenced the nose, but beneath it were plum and nutmeg. When I drew the air through my lips, I tasted vanilla.


Palate: I found a creamy mouthfeel offered toasted oak and black tea on the front of my palate. The middle suggested mint and honey, while the back was clove and caramel.


Finish:  Medium-to-long in duration, the finish kept the wood, mint, and clove throughout.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Toasted American Oak Bourbon is an uncomplicated whiskey, and that’s part of its shortcoming. I can’t see this standing head-to-head with similarly-priced Bourbons. It isn’t unpleasant and, thus, doesn’t deserve a Bust, but all things considered, a Bar is a fair rating.




Toasted Barrel Rye, Batch 2




  • Cooperage: No char, toasted 53-gallon American white oak barrels
  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • Age:  36 months
  • 52.5% ABV (105°)
  • Price:  $80.00


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, this orange-amber Rye formed a thin rim and thick, sticky legs.


Nose: Toasted oak and eucalyptus wafted from the glass, while closer examination led to floral rye and vanilla. Pulling the vapor into my mouth gave a sensation of rye spice.


Palate: A thin, oily mouthfeel introduced my palate to juniper, oak, and vanilla to the front of my tongue, while white pepper, black tea, and eucalyptus formed the middle. The back consisted of mint, caramel, and heavy clove.


Finish:  Clove, white pepper, and mint carried through for a very long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Juniper is my immediate attention-getter, mostly because I dislike it. Instead, I concentrated on the other notes. I ran into a similar issue as the Toasted American Oak Bourbon; this is pricy for a three-year American Rye. No matter how much I tried to ignore the juniper, I wasn't a fan. But, if that’s not something that offends you, you’ll want to try it yourself. Thus, it takes a Bar rating. 




Single Barrel Straight Rye





  • Cooperage: Toasted and lightly-charred 53-gallon American white oak barrel
  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • Age:  Undisclosed to me
  • 52.5% ABV (105°)
  • Price:  $70.00


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, the bronze color was enticing. A microthin rim produced a wavy curtain of legs that crashed back to the pool.


Nose: There was a lot of caramel and vanilla on the nose, which I found pleasant. Floral rye took an effort to find, as was the tannin quality. When the air hit my mouth, minty vanilla coated everywhere.


Palate: The texture was very oily. The front of my palate encountered caramel, vanilla, and light mint. Flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg formed the middle, while the back was toasted oak and rye spice.


Finish:  A medium finish offered toasted oak, mint, and white pepper. I struggled to find something else, but if there was, it eluded me.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Single Barrel Rye was the most pleasant of the three tasted so far, but it also is not a $70.00 rye. There was nothing to dislike; there wasn’t anything remarkable about it. Like the others, this finds itself taking a Bar rating.




Cigar Rye, Batch 1


  • Cooperage: Toasted and lightly-charred 53-gallon American white oak barrels, cold-smoked with aged Kentucky tobacco leaves
  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • Age: 4 years
  • 52.5% ABV (105°)
  • Price:  $75.00


Appearance:  A neat pour in my Glencairn glass showed off a golden-amber liquid. The medium rim gave up slow, sticky legs.


Nose: An aroma of rye spice combined with nutmeg, allspice, and freshly-shredded tobacco leaf. Pulling the air past my lips gave a whisp of minty tobacco.


Palate: Cigar Rye had a silky texture. I got a mouthful of fresh fruit with strawberry, plum, and cherry on the front. Tobacco leaves, light smoke, and vanilla formed the middle. The back tasted of oak, rye spice, and clove.


Finish: Big vanilla and tobacco were accompanied by nutmeg and plum for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Cigar Rye is the breakout whiskey of the four I’ve tasted so far. I believe this one can compete against similarly-priced ryes, and the tobacco adds a lot to ponder. Cigar Rye takes my Bottle rating.




Barrel Strength Rye, Westport Whiskey & Wine Selection, Barrel #1416B24



  • Cooperage: Toasted and lightly-charred 53-gallon American white oak barrel
  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • Age: undisclosed
  • 56.48% ABV (112.96°)
  • Price:  $88.99
  • Westport Whiskey & Wine, Louisville, KY


Appearance:  Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, the whiskey from this private barrel of Rye presented as dark, orange amber. A medium-thick rim made sticky droplets that clung to the wall.


Nose: The aroma that emanated from my glass included plum, cherry, mint, vanilla, and oak. Aside from the mint, which was nondescript, the nose could pass for a barely legal Rye or even a Bourbon. Cherry and vanilla rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  An incredibly oily mouthfeel dropped cherry, plum, and creamy caramel on the front of my palate. Midway through, I tasted vanilla cola. The back featured toasted oak, candied ginger, and clove.


Finish:  I found this whiskey’s finish to be long and warming with caramel, toasted oak, plum, ginger, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This Rye started to remind me of Dr. Pepper at some point. That’s one of my two favorite soft drinks (the other being Mr. Pibb). The flavors were well-defined, and I couldn’t get enough of this Rye’s texture. It was an excellent example of why MGP Ryes can be remarkable. It is also an example of age being just a number because it doesn’t matter. It easily snags my Bottle rating and is the best of the five Buzzard’s Roost I was given. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Friday, October 7, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Bourbon (2022) Review & Tasting Notes

Last year, I had a chance to review the 2021 Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Bourbon. It was fantastic dram and showed another facet of what Master Blender Joe Beatrice can do. When Barrell announced the release of 2022 Gray Label Bourbon, I was curious how it would differ; and that it has.


Gray Label Bourbon starts with variously-aged distillates from Indiana (MGP/Ross & Squibb), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Whereas the 2021 edition (Release 4) was made of only three mashbills, the 2022 version (Release 5) comprises five. Those mashbills are undisclosed, but they should be familiar regardless due to the sources.


Here’s where things get interesting. After Joe and his team blended the five, they were placed in finishing barrels made from 36-month air-dried staves. But, those weren’t any ordinary staves; they were from barrels that held previous versions of Gray Label Bourbon.


Like all things Barrell, Gray Label is bottled at cask strength which, in this case, is 100.58°. And, like all things Gray Label, it has a suggested price of $249.99. What is unusual is that Release 5 carries no age statement, whereas Releases 1 through 4 were 15 years. I have no insight as to why the age statement was dropped, but it is a curiosity.


Now that this year’s Gray Label Bourbon background is known let’s delve into the unknown and #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank Barrell for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, Gray Label Bourbon presented as burnt umber as it formed a medium rim. Thin droplets formed and slid back to the pool.


Nose: The nose carried a robust fruity fragrance of plum, cherry, pineapple, stewed peach, and apple pie filling. It was accompanied by sweet vanilla and ginger. Inhaling through my lips brought a blast of cherry vanilla ice cream.


Palate:  You’d think that at 100°+, this Bourbon would have a punch, and like me, you’d be wrong. I found the texture creamy as the front of my palate plucked ripe melons, plantains, and vanilla cream. Those sweet fruits vanished as the whiskey crossed the middle of my palate. Instead, I tasted nutmeg, coconut, and thick molasses. Those flavors vaporized when my back encountered peanut butter, honey, and oak.


Finish: Clove, oak, peanut butter, and nutmeg stuck to my tongue while black tea and green grape hugged my throat, creating a slow, building finish that, like the palate, hit a crescendo before falling off a cliff.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Barrell has slammed another hit out of the park with Gray Label Bourbon. I loved its complexity on both the nose and palate, how flavors took turns rather than simply melding, the luxurious mouthfeel, and the lovely finish. If I had $250 burning a hole in my pocket, I’d grab a Bottle and walk away thrilled. However, this price eclipses what the average whiskey drinker can spring, and as such, like the other Gray Label whiskeys, my final rating 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.



Thursday, September 1, 2022

Remus Repeal Reserve Series VI Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

One problem in the Wonderful World of Whiskey is that a subsequent incarnation has to live up to the reputation of a former when an annual release has received tremendous accolades. So is the case with Remus Repeal Reserve VI. You see, Remus Repeal Reserve V took my 2021 Whiskey of the Year award. It was mind-blowingly good and not overly challenging to find (at least, not until I crowned it, but that’s just a coincidence). If you’d like, you can read that review here.


“The Remus Repeal Reserve Series provides our team the opportunity to showcase the incredible array of aged reserves available to work with, as well as our expertise at blending these Bourbons to create a special medley each year. Series VI is the latest in this award-winning collection that is certain to be yet another excellent example of what our Remus Repeal collection represents:  what great Bourbon can be.” – Ian Stirsman, Master Distiller


The story of George Remus is one of my favorite examples of Bourbon lore, and I hope you’ll allow me to go off on a slight tangent. I’ve taken this from my review of Series III. 


Remus was an American icon. Oh, maybe not the best example of a decent person, but he was, nonetheless, an icon. He was known as King of the Bootleggers.  He was a criminal defense attorney. Some of his clients were bootleggers, most of them were murderers, and he got a green tint in his eye watching his bootlegging clients making a fortune. One day, he decided he knew more about the criminal justice system than anyone else, and he could make a ton of money by using his legal knowledge to do illegal activities and not fall prey to the authorities.  


Remus was, indeed, very clever.  He found a loophole in the Volstead Act that allowed him to buy distilleries and distill medicinal whiskey. He wound up buying most of the operating distilleries in and around Cincinnati, and his schtick was that his employees would hijack his finished product, which he would then turn around and resell on the black market.  


One day, Remus found out he wasn't as clever as he thought as the government indicated him of thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, and a jury quickly convicted him. He was sent to the federal pokey in Atlanta. 


But wait, there’s more! Remus buddied up to a fellow prisoner and bragged about how all of his money was controlled by his wife. He didn't know that his new pal was an undercover agent named Franklin Dodge. Dodge then resigned from his position and engaged in an affair with Remus's wife. The two fell in love and started selling off Remus's assets, leaving him with a mere $100. 


Don’t stop reading because that’s not the end.  Remus was on his way to court for his divorce proceeding when he chased down his ex-wife's car, got out, and shot her to death in true gangster fashion. He pled insanity, and the jury believed him, taking less than twenty minutes to deliver the verdict.


Now, let’s get back to the business of reviewing this Bourbon. This sixth release is described as a medley of five Bourbons, ranging in age from eight to fourteen years and, as always, bottled at 100°. All five Bourbons are MGP (now Ross & Squibb) distillate. The distillery will launch Repeal Reserve this month to coincide with Bourbon Heritage Month and has a suggested retail price of $99.99. The components of this medley include:


  • 2% of 2008 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 17% of 2012 Bourbon (36% rye)
  • 27% of 2012 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 29% of 2014 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 25% of 2014 Bourbon (36% rye)


Now that you know what makes Remus Repeal Reserve special, it is time to #DrinkCurious and address my concern:  Will Series VI hold up to Series V? I must thank Luxco for providing me this sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  The liquid presented as deep, dark mahogany when poured neat into my Glencairn glass. A medium-thick rim formed syrupy legs that dragged back to the pool.


Nose: As I inspected the rim and legs, an aroma of berry fruits wafted from the glass. When I drew it closer to my nostrils, I found linen, leather, oak, and vanilla. Thick caramel danced across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was light and silky. The front of my palate encountered Fig Newton cookies, stewed fruits, and vanilla, while the middle featured caramel, nutmeg, and toffee. I tasted charred oak, mint, and fresh leather.


Finish: A soft but long finish was constructed of nutmeg, barrel char, leather, caramel, white pepper, and rye spice.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Series VI was very tasty, and to get this out of the way, it earns every bit of my Bottle rating.  The remaining question, however, is if it holds up to Series V. As much as I enjoyed Series VI, it didn’t meet its lofty standard. I wanted to ensure that my memory wasn’t romanticizing last year’s release and to verify that, I poured myself a glass of my 2021 Whiskey of the Year, which confirmed my suspicion. But, despite that, don’t pass up Series VI. It is well worth the investment. 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.



Sunday, August 21, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 033 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of the more consistently excellent blenders around. That’s not to suggest it is perfect at what it does, but if you were going to take a chance and risk purchasing a bottle without knowing anything about it, you’d likely be on the winning side of that bet.


While the art of blending isn’t simple, Barrell makes things less complicated. Everything it produces is barrel-proof. If you think something is too strong, you get to change things up by adding water. That’s on you; Barrell won’t do that on your behalf.


Barrell doesn’t get fancy with names. Its highest-end whiskeys are Gold Label, and the next level is Gray Label. Then, you have a few specialty blends, such as Seagrass, Dovetail, etc., but most labels say something like Batch 033 (which is the Bourbon I’m reviewing today).


Batch 033 is a Bourbon that carries a five-year age statement. That’s the youngest whiskey in the batch. The oldest is nine years, and there are six, seven, and eight-year Bourbons as well. Barrell sourced these Bourbons distilled from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both high-rye and high-corn Bourbons were procured, then blended into two sets of barrels that rested an additional two months. Barrell then blended those to make what’s in the bottle.


It weighs in at 116.6° and carries an MSRP of $90.00. Typically, Barrell whiskeys are easy to find at good liquor stores around the country.


Will this be another winner for Barrell? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I do so, I must thank Barrell for providing a sample of Batch 033 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Deep and dark, the burnt umber liquid left a medium-thick rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. Sticky droplets remained after an initial release of thick legs.


Nose:  A rich blast of corn and caramel escaped my glass. Plum and cherry punched through, and getting beyond those aromas, I found almond, pecan, and oak. Plum and cherry rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  A thick, creamy texture filled every nook and cranny of my mouth and warmed my throat. A wave of vanilla, plum and baked apple smashed the front of my palate. Flavors of grapefruit, lime, and nuts formed the middle, while chocolate, allspice, and oak rounded the back.


Finish:  The long, lingering finish was ripe with chocolate, oak, vanilla, allspice, lime, limestone, and oak. By the third sip, the warming sensation in my throat subsided.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Despite the complicated listing of barrels used for Batch 033, the components were easily discerned. The nuttiness of Beam, the minerality of Dickel, and the classic fruitiness of MGP shone through. Batch 033 is a welcome addition to my whiskey library, and I believe you will walk away happy after buying a Bottle. 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, July 25, 2022

Broadleaf Whiskey's Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon and Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes


One thing that isn’t unusual these days is the birth of a new whiskey brand. They seem to pop up all over, and many come with a lofty hit on the wallet. How can you, as a consumer, tell if it is worth taking a risk on a bottle?


Thankfully, we have these people called whiskey reviewers. And, lucky for you, I happen to be one! I do that #DrinkCurious thing for you and help eliminate that risk.


Today I’m introducing you to two whiskeys from Broadleaf Whiskey, one is a Bourbon and the other an American Rye, and they are called Brothers of the Leaf. What’s with all the leafiness?


“Brothers of the Leaf is a term often used to describe the bond between fellow cigar smokers and their passion for the cigar culture. Brothers of the Leaf Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks and Brothers of the Leaf Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks have been crafted to pay homage to those cigar enthusiasts and the joy of smoking their favorite cigar while sipping on a special whiskey.”Brian Gelfo, Co-Founder, Broadleaf Whiskey


In full disclosure, I am a friend of Brian’s. I’ve known him for several years (although we’ve never met in person). He and I are both members of The Bourbon Mafia, as is Co-Founder J. Paul Tucker, the owner of Oxmoor Smoke Shop in Louisville.


I always promise you that no matter my relationship with any brand or its owners, there is always a no-strings-attached, honest review whenever I’ve been provided a sample.

Here’s what I am not: a cigar enthusiast. I’m not even a beginner. I don’t smoke cigars and have no desire to do so, but I appreciate good cigar blends.


These two whiskeys have some things in common. First, they’re sourced from Ross and Squibb Distillery (formerly MGP). Second, they’re both finished in barrels from Kelvin Cooperage. Third, they’ll be available in late August at select Kentucky retailers and, and each 750ml bottle will run $89.99. Neither carries an age statement.


I’m getting ready to taste the Bourbon first, but before I do that, I must thank Broadleaf Whiskey for providing me with both of these samples.


Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Toasted French Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
  • 57.7% ABV (115.4°)

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the bronze liquid formed a thick rim. Many heavy tears fell back to the pool but left behind sticky droplets.


Nose:  Caramel and tobacco (I swear this wasn’t subliminal) rose from the neck of the glass, followed by toasted oak and plum. A waft of tobacco leaf hit my tongue as I pulled the air past my lips.


Palate:  A heavy, oily texture coated my mouth. French oak and tobacco exploded in my mouth, making me think of the cigars my Dad used to smoke. The middle tasted of bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel, while barrel char, smoked meats, and clove rounded things out.  


Finish: A long, dry, almost dusty finish of caramel, French oak, cocoa, smoked meats, and clove, which kept my attention.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Not being a cigar smoker (I said that, didn’t I?), I don’t know what kind of whiskey would pair well, but I can say that this Brothers of the Leaf Bourbon was very cigar-like. And, as someone who enjoys cigar blends, it honestly reminded me quite a lot of Jos. A. Magnus, which I enjoyed and was about $20.00 more than Brothers of the Leaf. I’m happy to offer a Bottle rating on it.




Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted White Oak Casks

  • Batch 1
  • Mashbill:  95% rye, 5% malted barley
  • 59.6% ABV (119.2°)


Appearance:  A neat pour of reddish amber filled my Glencairn glass. A heavy rim collapsed under its weight and dropped a curtain of tears.


Nose: Toasted oak, cherry, plum, and floral rye teased my olfactory sense. Minty vanilla tickled my tongue as I inhaled the vapor.


Palate: A creamy, medium-weighted texture led to thick vanilla, caramel, and leather on the front of my palate. The middle was more straightforward with rye spice and mint, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon, smoked oak, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Long and lingering, the finish comprised tobacco, smoked oak, rye spice, and old, dry leather.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  To suggest that Brothers of the Leaf is a typical MGP rye would be disingenuous. Perhaps the toasted white oak is the differentiator, but you could have told me this Rye had aged in a bota bag, and I wouldn’t have blinked. Regardless, I savored the leather notes and believe you would, too, whether or not you planned to pair it with a cigar. That means it has earned 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.


Friday, July 8, 2022

Keeper's Heart Irish + American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Blended whiskeys can be a ton of fun. I hold a deep respect for good blenders. They take several things and create something remarkable from them. The trick is mapping out the journey to get to the desired result. That assumes that the blender isn’t simply taking mediocre whiskeys and attempting to salvage them.


It isn’t uncommon to create Scotches, Irish whiskeys, or American whiskeys from blends. What is less so is taking whiskeys from various countries and blending them. Such is the case with Keeper’s Heart Whiskey by O’Shaughnessy Distilling of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its Master Distiller, Brian Nation, is formerly of the famed Midleton Distillery of Ireland.


“Several years ago cousins Patrick and Michael O’Shaughnessy, along with Michael’s father Gerry, were sharing a bottle of whiskey. It was the end of a long and joyous day at an O’Shaughnessy family reunion, where hundreds of relatives traveled from around the world to spend time together. They were reflecting on the importance of family; on how to make sure future generations stayed connected; and on the legacy they wanted to leave.

As conversation went deeper into the night and more whiskey was poured, they had a realization: the answer was in the glass. It was at that point they set out to create a whiskey that celebrated their Irish-American heritage, that built a way for friends and family to connect today and left a legacy for future generations.” – Keeper’s Heart Whiskey


Keeper’s Heart has three offerings:  Irish + American, Irish + Bourbon, and a 10-Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey. If you’re curious about the difference between the first two, the “American” refers to American Rye.


Nation took three whiskeys:  an Irish grain whiskey, an Irish Single Pot Still whiskey, and an American Rye to create the Irish + American version.


I will approach my review of Keeper’s Heart Irish + American a bit differently because I have the tools to do something special. I will start with tasting notes for each of the three components and then the notes and rating for the packaged whiskey. Doing that is something I’ve not had an opportunity to do before, and as such, I’m excited.


But, before I start this adventure and #DrinkCurious, I must thank O’Shaughnessy Distilling for the component samples and the final product in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s get to it.


Component One:  Irish Grain Whiskey

The first component is an Irish grain whiskey which comes from a blend of maize (corn) and malted barley. It aged for four years in refilled American oak (Bourbon) barrels and diluted to 43% ABV (86°).


Appearance: This is the lightest color of the three components, presenting as pale straw. A medium rim formed on the wall of my Glencairn glass, creating heavy, fast legs that fell back to the pool while retaining sticky droplets.


Nose:  Buttery popcorn, pear, and malt notes were easy to pick out. We don’t know how often the cooperage was refilled (three is usually the maximum), but there was no evidence of it on the nose. Vanilla and sweet corn were in the air that I brought into my mouth.


Palate: An airy mouthfeel offered up vanilla and sweet corn on the front, with citrus peel and caramel in the middle. The back was a combination of oak and cinnamon Red Hots.


Finish: As light as this whiskey was, the finish wasn’t giving anything up. It remained spicy with the cinnamon Red Hots, tempered slightly with rich vanilla. It lasted far longer than I would have imagined.


Component Two:  Single Irish Pot Still Whiskey

The second component is a Single Irish Pot Still whiskey, made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley. It also aged four years in refill American oak (Bourbon) barrels and was proofed to 43% ABV (86°).


What, exactly, is Irish Pot Still whiskey? The requirement is it contains at least 30% unmalted barley and at least 30% malted barley, and the balance may be other unmalted cereal grains, but no more than 5% of those other grains may be included. The distilling process must be performed via a pot still. The “single” portion refers to the mash coming from a single distillery rather than blends from multiple distilleries.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, the Single Pot Still component was slightly darker than the grain component. The rim was delicate, collapsing instantly with thick, slow legs.


Nose:  The smell of barley jumped from the glass to my nostrils. A malted portion was evident, but the unmalted barley stole the show—Vanilla and orange peel combined with nutmeg and peach. I could pick out what I swear was oatmeal. The air I pulled into my mouth was all citrus.


Palate:  Thin with an oily texture, the first things tasted were vanilla, apple, and pear. As it moved to the middle, I found peach, orange peel, and pineapple, while the back had flavors of nutmeg, toasted oak, and malt.


Finish:  Peach lingered into the finish, as did the toasted oak and nutmeg. The oak turned dry, and the whole thing lasted for a medium-long duration.


Component Three:  American Rye Whiskey


The final component is an American Rye made from 95% rye and 5% malt. I assume the source is MGP (now Ross & Squibb), and the distillate rested in new charred oak barrels for four years. Like the others, it was proofed to 43% ABV (86°).


Appearance:  As you’d completely expect, the American Rye was far darker in my Glencairn glass, appearing as an orange amber. A thin-to-medium rim released a curtain of thick legs.


Nose: It smelled minty, with black cardamom and fennel. A deeper exploration found plum, nutmeg, and oak. When I inhaled through my lips, I discovered fennel and oak.  At this juncture, I should point out that I am not a fennel fan. But we’ll see where this goes.


Palate:  A very oily texture led to black cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg on the front with floral rye and plum. Dark chocolate, charred oak, and fennel sewed up the back.


Finish: Fennel remained on the finish, overwhelming other flavors that could have stood out. A deep search found cinnamon, plum, cherry, and charred oak. It was medium-to-long in duration.


I will interject that if I were involved in a barrel pick, I would have rejected this sample. I was not a fan of this rye. However, this is one blend component; let’s see what happens.


The Resulting Blend


Those three components are then blended to produce Keeper’s Heart Whiskey. As you’d guess, it is bottled at 43% ABV (86°), and a 750ml package will set you back about $33.00. It should be interesting to taste how this fits together. The Irish whiskeys and the American component couldn’t be further apart in the flavor universe.


Now that I’ve followed O’Shaughnessy’s map, I’m excited to dig up the chest and taste the pirate’s booty.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Keeper’s Heart had the look of polished gold. The thin rim could not sustain the weight of its legs, which flowed down like a curtain back to the pool.


Nose: A flowery bouquet wafted from the glass and hit my olfactory sense. Apple, strawberry, nutmeg, and mint followed. I allowed the air to enter my mouth, and in doing so, I encountered vanilla and apple.


Palate:  Despite any of the components, the mouthfeel had a creamy quality. Apple, lemon peel, and nutmeg formed the front. The middle had flavors of peaches and cream joined with Nilla wafers.  I tasted candied ginger, cardamom, and charred oak on the back.


Finish:  Cinnamon Red Hots from the grain whiskey came from nowhere, as did a hint of fennel from the Rye. Charred oak also had a drying effect in my mouth, creating what I describe as pucker power. The dryness subdued the Red Hots, leaving behind nutmeg and a kiss of lemon peel.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: While there was evidence of fennel, it was nowhere near as dominating as the Rye had. I was fascinated how these three components were recognizable in the final product yet transformed into something unique that those individual components lacked. It demonstrated what blending is all about. Keeper’s Heart Irish + American should appeal to American Rye drinkers, but it is off-profile for Irish whiskey fans. It was stuck between the two, and as such, it earns a Bar rating from me. You’ll want to try this one for yourself before committing to the relationship. 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.