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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Remus Repeal Reserve V Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 


Do you know who George Remus was? He was known as the King of the Bootleggers during Prohibition. He was absolutely not a nice man. In fact, the term psycho might be appropriate. 


Remus was a criminal defense attorney. Some of his clients were bootleggers. Many were murderers. He watched his clients make an illicit fortune while he was getting them off the hook. After finding a barrel full of loopholes to get bootleggers off the hook, Remus figured he could do it better and, after ditching his briefs, got rich.


One loophole he found was in the Volstead Act, which allowed someone to buy distilleries and legally manufacture medicinal whiskey. Investing heavily in the purchase of just about every operating distillery in greater Cincinnati, he discovered he could have his employees hijack his finished product, then turn around and resell it on the black market. 


Well, as luck would have it, George found himself indicted on several thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, and it took very little to convince the jury of his guilt. He was sent to a federal prison in Atlanta. 


Don't buy the story just yet, there's more!  Remus had a big mouth. He got affable with a fellow prisoner and made a big deal about how his wife had all of the assets in her name so that nobody could get it. That fellow prisoner just happened to be undercover agent Franklin Dodge. Oh, Dodge wasn't a saint, either. He resigned his position and started an affair with Remus' wife. They fell in love and started selling off George's assets, leaving him with a mere $100.00 to his name!


Oh, I'm not done yet. Remus was on his way to court for his divorce proceeding when he staked out his wife's car. He shot her in the stomach. Rumor was she was pregnant with Dodge's child. He was arrested, pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and the jury took less than twenty minutes to deliver its verdict supporting that. And that, my friends, is the story of George Remus.


MGP named its flagship Bourbon after Remus. MGP also acquired Luxco, which owns Lux Row Distillers and Limestone Branch. MGP transferred its Remus brand to Luxco, presumably to keep the MGP name a parent entity rather than a brand. This year, Remus Repeal Reserve V will be released in September, just in time for Bourbon Heritage Month. As you can gather from the name, it is the 5th incarnation of this annual release.


The whiskey is 100% MGP, but this year, it is the oldest batch yet.  It is a blend of 9% 2005 Bourbon with 21% rye mash, 5% 2006 Bourbon with 36% rye mash, 19% 2006 Bourbon with 21% rye mash, 13% 2008 Bourbon with 21% rye mash, and 54% 2008 Bourbon with 36% rye mash. While it carries no age statement, that makes this a 13-year MGP Bourbon. Bottled at 100°, the suggested retail is $89.99. If history is any guide, unlike many annual releases, Repeal Reserve tends to be fairly easy to find and hangs around on shelves longer than others. 


September is a few months away, but I've been provided with a sample of Repeal Reserve V in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I'll #DrinkCurious here and share my tasting notes with you.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon appeared as deep, dark mahogany. It formed a thin rim, but heavy, slow legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Aromas of caramel, toasted nuts, cinnamon, and cherry hit my nose. When I took the vapor into my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and silky. In fact, it may have been the silkiest texture I've come across in a whiskey - any whiskey. It gave me a bit of a Wow sensation that made me forget about everything else. When I gathered my senses, I was able to taste cherry, vanilla, and English toffee on the front of my palate. The middle suggested cream, cherry (again), and rye spice. On the back, there was a bold taste of oak, leather, and black pepper. 


Finish:  Big shocker, cherry remained. It was joined by char, dry oak, cinnamon, clove, and tobacco leaf. As those faded off, rye spice stuck around. And remained. And remained some more. I timed it. It went almost five minutes before finally ending.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Everything about this Bourbon was delicious. But strange as this may sound, the luxurious mouthfeel eclipsed all that. This was easily the best batch of Remus Repeal Reserve I've had, the price is right, and I love the fact it is fairly easy to get your hands on. This is a slam-dunk Bottle rating. If I had, say, a Case rating, this would take that. 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, June 26, 2021

Limousin Rye "Dancing Goat Fever" Barrel Pick is now available!

 



Got $40 burning a hole in your pocket? Well, fear not, because a brand spanking new barrel pick I was involved in just dropped! This is Limousin Rye at Barrel Proof of 51.9% ABV (103.8 proof) and rested six years. This is an amazing pour available only at McFarland Liquor!


The remainder of the selection committee consisted of Troy Mancusi, Adam Pritchard, Scott DeWerd, Fred Swanson, Nathanael Romick, and Mark Andrews, we enthusiastically settled on Barrel 554.



If you're unfamiliar with Limousin Rye, it is 95% rye/5% malt mash distilled by MGP and aged in vintage Limousin French oak casks for six years. It then goes through Dancing Goat Distillery's solera system, then again into former Wild Turkey barrels for another four months.






We called this pick Dancing Goat Fever and that's Mark Andrews showing off his best moves on the label. There were only 200 bottles, and when I was there to grab mine at 9am, Nathanael already sold 10 bottles. You're going to want this one, don't dawdle or you'll be out of luck. Cheers!


McFarland Liquor is located at 4716 Farwell St in McFarland.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Dancing Goat Fever presented as deep and dark. It formed a thinner rim but left heavy, fast legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: Aromas of toffee, caramel, molasses, and vanilla cream were enticing. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I found even more vanilla.


Palate: The mouthfeel was silky. On the front, I tasted corn, caramel, and molasses. The middle was molasses and vanilla, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon and clove.


Finish: The finish was long, with black pepper, toasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more clove on the very back.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Because I picked this barrel, I will not rate it, but you can rest assured my very strict standards guarantees this is awesome.


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, 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 19, 2021

Deadwood Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes



I don't know about you, but I love searching for gems on the bottom shelf of your local liquor store. These are things that have the potential to be high-turnover sales, but since they're not pricy, the retailer wants you to check out the more expensive offerings and puts those more at eye level. This is why, many years ago, I created the hashtag #RespectTheBottomShelf.  I want to always encourage whiskey drinkers to look down and see what's buried there.


Today I'm reviewing Deadwood Straight Bourbon. This is another release from the folks at Proof & Wood Ventures, which doesn't distill, rather they source whiskeys typically from MGP and Dickel. For the most part, Proof & Wood knows what they're doing.  I've reviewed several of their whiskeys and am impressed with their ability to select barrels, sell them at a very fair price, and their transparency.


Deadwood Bourbon is sourced from MGP.  If you're not familiar with MGP, they're probably the largest distiller in the country and provide whiskey for dozens upon dozens of brands. Like most any distillery, they create excellent barrels and mediocre barrels. I've had plenty of MGP's whiskeys featuring both extremes and everywhere in between. The trick is to be patient and find those good barrels and nix the remainder. 


The mashbill for Deadwood is MGPs typical 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It was then aged "at least" two years in new, 53-gallon charred oak barrels. It weighs in slightly over the bare minimum to be called a whiskey - 81° - and a 750ml bottle will set you back only $20.00.


I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for sending me a bottle of Deadwood Straight Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  With that, it is time to #DrinkCurious to learn what Deadwood has to offer.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Deadwood presented as a most definitive orange amber. A medium rim led to fat, watery legs that raced back to the pool of liquid sunshine. 


Nose: Aromas of fresh corn and sawdust were evident. Beneath those, however, was mint and vanilla. There was no blast of ethanol, despite the age and mashbill. When I breathed the vapors through my open lips, caramel and raisin danced across my tongue.


Palate:  I was greeted by an oily mouthfeel that came with a light Kentucky hug. Flavors of caramel and orange peel complemented each other on the front of my palate. They changed to a blend of almond and honey-roasted peanuts in the middle. Then, on the back, a combination of oak, vanilla, and rye spice seemed to round out the front to back.


Finish:  A longer than expected finish came from a combination of black pepper, char, caramel, toasted oak, and corn to sew things up.  Despite the lower proof, Deadwood did leave my hard palate tingling just a bit.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Deadwood isn't going to knock your socks off.  At the same time, it isn't going to disappoint you. Surprisingly, there are more things going on with this low-proof Bourbon than you'd otherwise imagine. When you take into account the $20.00 investment, well, it is almost foolish to not give it both a Bottle rating and add this to the #RespectTheBottomShelf section of my whiskey library. Cheers!


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

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs 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

Friday, May 7, 2021

Cat's Eye Obtainium Single Barrel Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 


It is difficult to give an introduction to Cat's Eye Distillery because I've reviewed many of its expressions. Cat's Eye buys a lot of whiskeys, often (but not always) from MGP, and packages it under its Obtainium label. Cat's Eye is headed by Gene Nassif, and in full disclosure, he's a friend. However, that won't change the outcome of this or any review.


Single barrel whiskey is cool because once that barrel is gone, it won't be repeated. If you took two barrels, coopered them the same day from the same stack of staves, charred them the exact same amount of time, filled them with the same newmake, and put them adjacent to one another in the same rickhouse for the same amount of time, they'll be different. That's just the nature of whiskey in the barrel.


Today I'm drinking its 5-year single barrel Rye, specifically Barrel SC90. This weighs in at a hefty 118.3° and is distilled by MGP.  This whiskey runs about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.  


I obtained my sample of this Rye from Cat's Eye's Wisconsin distributor and would like to thank them for it in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and find out what this one's all about.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Rye presented as deep, orange amber in color. It generated an ultra-thin rim which, in turn, formed medium-thick, slow legs.


Nose:  The aroma of dill was obvious. It was joined by mint, cinnamon, and rye spice. When I drew the fumes in my mouth, caramel rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  An oily mouthfeel with a medium body started things off. On the front of my palate, I tasted rye bread, vanilla wafers, and nutmeg. The middle featured mint and very light, dried cherry. On the back, flavors of dill, rye spice, cinnamon, and oak gave an unusual experience. 


Finish:  Medium in length, the finish consisted of smoked oak, cinnamon spice, rye bread, and then an explosion of dill pickle muted everything else. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This Rye drinks much lower than its stated proof. If I had no idea what it was, I'd guess about 100°. If you're looking for heat, you'll want to go elsewhere. I like dill. I'm a pickle freak. However, it dominated both the back of the palate and even more on the finish, and while I understand some folks like a pickleback, that's not my thing. If that's your jam, you're going to love this whiskey, but I found it distracting. I'm conferring a Bar rating for this. Cheers! 


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

Monday, April 19, 2021

Stellum Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 


Have you heard the news?  Barrell Craft Spirits has launched a new brand called Stellum Spirits. Stellum's mission is to be clean, straightforward, and polished. The name comes from a play on the Latin term stella, meaning star. Barrell will also tell you the name just sounded cool.


"Stellum stands with the modern American whiskey drinker. We respect the history of whiskey, but we're more interested in making spirits accessible to today's audience. With an eye towards innovation, minimalism, and inclusivity, Stellum Spirits is here for you, whoever you may be." - Stellum Spirits


Last week I reviewed Stellum Rye, and you can learn more about the brand from what I wrote there. Today, I'm going with Stellum Bourbon.


One of the "cool" things about Stellum Bourbon is how it is made. It begins with a blend of three MGP mashbills:  two that are high rye (60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley), and one that is 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The remainder consists of older whiskeys from Tennessee (George Dickel) and Kentucky (an undisclosed distillery). Stellum uses a multi-step blending process to make things "just right." It is non-chill filtered, carries no age statement, and is bottled at 114.98°. Available in 45 markets, you can expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml package.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I'd like to thank Stellum Spirits for providing me a sample of the Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Stellum Bourbon was a chestnut-amber color. It formed a thicker rim that fabricated heavy, slow, sticky legs.


Nose:  Aromas of allspice and tobacco were easy to discern. I also smelled rye bread, toasted oak, and almond. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I discovered a mixture of strong almond and muted caramel.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was soft, light, and airy. This is just shy of 115°? I find that difficult to believe. On the front, flavors of vanilla, almond, and nougat gave it an almost candy bar experience. The middle featured cola, ginger, and honey. On the back, I tasted black pepper, clove, and cocoa powder. 


Finish:  A medium-length finish began with clove and cinnamon, and ended with toasted oak and a drop of honey.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There are a few things I want to touch on. The first is that if you told me this was 90-some-odd proof, I'd believe you. To have something drink 20-points below its stated proof is crazy. It offered zero burn either on the initial sip or the finish. The second is that this is one of those dangerous whiskeys, meaning, if you were inclined to do so, you could probably drink dram after dram and not even realize you're getting plastered.

There was absolutely nothing I didn't enjoy about Stellum Bourbon. It wasn't overly complicated, it had interesting flavors. The only thing I'd be more interested in would be a long finish, as that would likely slow down the "dangerous" part.

For $54.99, you're going to be hard-pressed to not be pleased with your purchase. I'm thrilled to have this one in my whiskey library. As such, I offer my Bottle rating for Stellum Bourbon. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Stellum Spirits Straight Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 



Many of us have heard of Barrell Craft Spirits. They're blenders out of Louisville, Kentucky, and they experiment with Bourbon, Rye, and Rum to create some rather marvelous adult beverages. You can imagine my interest when I found out that BCS launched a new brand called Stellum Spirits


"Stellum Spirits is devoted to bringing American whiskey into the modern age with simple, elegant blends and single barrels selected with care and intention. Our whiskeys are created through a rigorous process of study, observation, and experimentation. We are driven by progress, polish, and—above all—attention to detail. We will always think critically about how to make our whiskey better and more accessible." - Stellum Spirits


Currently, Stellum has released two core whiskeys:  a Bourbon and a Rye.  It sources from the same distilleries as BCS (MGP out of Indiana, George Dickel out of Tennessee, and an undisclosed Kentucky distillery). However, Stellum is more affordable than the BCS offerings. I could make a variety of assumptions why, but I'd rather not spread unsubstantiated rumors and come across looking like a moron. Both whiskeys have a suggested retail of $54.99 and are available in 45 different markets across the United States.


Today I'm sipping on the Rye. The label says it is distilled in Indiana, but the website suggests Tennessee and Kentucky are also involved. The majority, the MGP distillate, is a 95% rye mashbill. Smaller portions of barley-forward rye mashbill have been added and the entire concoction is non-chill-filtered. Like many BCS products, Stellum Rye carries no age statement and is bottled at 116.24°.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Stellum Spirits for providing a sample of the Rye in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste what this is all about.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Stellum Rye presented as the color of old copper. A medium ring formed, which yielded slow, heavy legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Mint was very easy to pick up, way before I brought the glass to my face. Fennel struck me as I pulled the whiskey closer. Beneath them, I smelled clove, apple, and peach. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, mint and oak were distinctive. 


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel both oily and spicy. I don't usually suggest a mouthfeel is spicy, but it made my hard palate start to tingle almost immediately, and on my tongue, it felt as if dry spice was rubbed directly on it. On the front, anise, nutmeg, and white pepper started things off. The middle offered flavors of oak, lemon zest, and green Jolly Ranchers. The back consisted of coffee, spearmint, and a healthy dose of clove.


Finish:  Long, lingering, and spicy, the finish kept white pepper, clove, anise, spearmint, followed by pine, oak, and then, very late, char.


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

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



Monday, April 5, 2021

Sisterdale Distilling Co. Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 



Whiskey in Texas simply ages faster. Between the heat and humidity, it matures faster than more well-known whiskey venues such as Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. Whiskey out of Texas also tends to have its own terroir. Terroir is defined as a characteristic taste and flavor from a certain region due to that region's climate.


Even blind, it is relatively easy to pick out a Texas whiskey over others from around the United States. When you take distillate from another region - say, Indiana - and then bring the barrels down to Texas, that throws a wrench in the works, and trying to pin down the terroir becomes challenging.


Today I'm sipping on Sisterdale Straight Bourbon. What's that? You've never heard of it? That's not surprising since this is the distillery's inaugural release.


"Sisterdale Distilling Co. was formed by two longtime friends and entrepreneurs who set out to make the highest quality, small-batch bourbon for ourselves - bourbon that we truly love to drink with our friends and family. So that is exactly what we have done." - Sisterdale Distilling Co.


Sisterdale starts off the same way many craft brands do - they source whiskey from MGP of Indiana. The Bourbon is a blend of four grains and five different distillates, including a high-wheat recipe. After distillation, the whiskey was transported down to Texas' hill country, where the distillery sits on a 1200-acre cattle ranch on Sister Creek. It then aged 3-1/2 years, then was blended and proofed using Texas rainwater. 


Packaged at 93.4°, you can expect to pay about $78.00 for a 750ml bottle. I obtained my sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review, and I'd like to thank Sisterdale for providing that. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Sisterdale presented the color of bright copper. It produced a medium rim that, try as I might, didn't create legs. Instead, it left sticky droplets that continued to build. Eventually, those legs got so heavy they fell back into the pool.


Nose:  The Bourbon was not fragrant from across the room, but that doesn't mean it isn't aromatic. When the glass got closer to my face, I picked out nutmeg, popcorn, cinnamon, and strawberry fruit strips. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, I experienced vanilla and lemon peel. 


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be very thin and somewhat oily. Subsequent sips added a bit of weight, but it never became what I would describe as thick. On the front of my palate, I tasted caramel and creamy vanilla. Mid-palate flavors consisted of cherry, plum, malt, and nuts. The back featured cinnamon red-hots, oak, and clove.


Finish:  The finish proved this was aged in Texas. It was spicy and very, very long. It began with clove and nutmeg, then toasted oak and nuts, and then cherry with black pepper. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I said at the very beginning, whiskey in Texas ages faster. One of the more interesting aspects was how hot the finish was. If you blindfolded me and asked me to tell you what proof I was drinking, I'd put this about 15 points higher. My hard palate tingled without drinking much volume at all. The finish was fascinating. And, while I thought this was a tasty pour, the challenge is value. Is this worth nearly $80 a bottle?  There's nothing wrong with this Bourbon, I believe Sisterdale, overall, did a good job. However, it doesn't buttress the price. As such, I'm awarding this Bourbon my Bar rating. Cheers!


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





Monday, March 22, 2021

Obtanium "Beautiful Swan" Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 



MGP is the big boy on the block when it comes to sourced whiskey in the United States. There are some other big names who provide whiskey to brands, but no one really does it at the same level. A handful of years ago, brands were shy to admit their whiskey was really MGP distillate. Folks frowned on MPG.  Oh, wonderful, another MGP Bourbon. Yawn. 


But then, something almost magical happened. It isn't that MPG necessarily got better, but it developed a cult following. Now, when someone bottles MGP whiskey, they either come right out about it or they make it obvious in some other way. Excited consumers now ask, Is this MGP? and hoping the answer is Yes. 


In Bettendorf, Iowa, there exists a place called Cat's Eye Distillery. It buys a lot of MGP distillate. Sometimes it is Rye, sometimes Bourbon, sometimes Light Whiskey. Gene Nassif of Cat's Eye is prolific on social media and doesn't hide the facts. 


If you cross over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin and head into Appleton, you'll find Niemuth's Southside Market. Niemuth's picks a lot of interesting barrels and uses The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club to do its barrel selection. In full disclosure, I've been involved with a handful of their picks. Not all, not most, just a handful.


Today, I'm reviewing Obtanium Bourbon Whiskey, which is a Niemuth's pick called Beautiful Swan.  The Obtanium label is owned by Cat's Eye.  It consists of an MGP Bourbon utilizing its 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley mash and was aged for six years. It weighs in at 118.2°, and you can expect to pay $29.99 for a 375ml bottle.


I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me a sample of Beautiful Swan in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I'm ready to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Beautiful Swan was, well, a beautiful burnt umber color. It produced a medium rim and watery, fast legs that sped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  In an unusual fashion, the first aroma to hit my nose was nutmeg. Nutmeg is typically a comparatively subtle smell against others, but this time it jumped out quickly. I found cinnamon, charred oak, cherry, and plum as well. When I breathed the vapor in my mouth, I got a cherry vanilla blast.


Palate:  I discovered a creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel that offered a distinctive Indiana hug. Fruity flavors of cherry, plum, and berries were on the front of the palate. As it moved to the middle, I tasted caramel, nutmeg, and English toffee. Then, on the back, I experienced rye spice, cinnamon, toasted oak, and sweet tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Things started off sweet with cherry, then earthy with dark chocolate, and finally spicy with cinnamon and rye. As those two faded, clove came in late and offered an overall longer finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  In my experience, six years seems to be a nice sweet spot for MGP 36% rye Bourbons. That's not to say they're all good because they're not. But, Beautiful Swan fits the bill and I sure enjoyed the heck out of it. I'm confident you'll find this to be a good Bourbon, and as such, it earns my Bottle rating. Cheers!


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


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



Friday, March 19, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Batch 28 Review & Tasting Notes

 



Some folks get hung up on single barrels, single malts, etc. I make it a point at any of my tasting events for my guests to keep an open mind - the whole #DrinkCurious philosophy is pushed hard.  Single barrels and single malts can be awesome, but blending is a learned skill and unless you're very, very lucky, you don't just mix things together and wind up with a good finished product. Play around with an infinity bottle - you'll understand that many great whiskeys blended together do not necessarily make for a good blend. Believe me, I know. I've dumped my own attempts at infinity bottles down the drain because they were just horrific.


Today I'm sipping on Batch 28 Bourbon from Barrell Craft Spirits. If you're unfamiliar with Barrell, they aren't distillers, they're blenders. They're also, for the most part, at the top tier of American blenders. I won't say that I've loved everything Barrell has put out, but I will say that I've enjoyed most of it. A good example of Bottle and Bust ratings for Barrell can be found on my review of their Private Release Series. The nice thing about Barrell, good or bad, is that everything is bottled at barrel-proof. They dilute nothing. 


Batch 28 is a blend of 10- and 11-year Bourbons distilled in Indiana (MGP), Kentucky, and Tennessee (George Dickel).  I've stopped trying to nail down who Barrell sources their Kentucky components from. The proof is 108.86° and the suggested retail price is $90.00. Per the youngest whiskey in the blend, it carries a 10-year age statement.


I'd like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing a sample of Batch 28 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's get to it.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Batch 28 presented as a hazy orange amber. It offered a medium rim, but husky, slow legs that dropped back to the pool while leaving sticky droplets behind.


Nose:  Batch 28 was fragrant before I pulled the glass anywhere near my face. A fruitful bouquet of orange zest, apricot, peach, and cherry started things off. They were joined by honey, oak, and a mineral quality that spoke Dickel. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, I could swear a Dreamsicle caressed my tongue. 


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be extremely oily and coated everywhere. As the liquid hit the front of my palate, flavors of orange citrus, cherry, apricot, and strawberry required no effort to discern. At the middle, I tasted a marriage of smoked vanilla and salted caramel. The back featured oak, walnut, orange peel, and clove.


Finish:  Long and warming (but not hot), the finish seemed like a blending of Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, smoked oak, black pepper, and a dash of brine.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I loved the orchard of fruit on the nose and palate. The mouthfeel was deliciously oily. There was no Flintstone vitamin quality that can come from Dickel-sourced whiskeys. The finish reminiscent of two great liqueurs was a nice touch and unexpected. I believe Barrell has another winner with Batch 28, and I'm happy to tender my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!



My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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



Monday, March 8, 2021

Four Gate Batch 11 "Ruby Rye Springs" Review & Tasting Notes

 


Blenders take someone else's spirits, sometimes along with their own distillate, and create something special. Blending whiskey is an art form.  Some Master Blenders in Scotland do amazing things. Here in the United States, there are some good, respected blenders out there. Names like Smooth Ambler, High West, J. Mattingly, Barrell Craft Spirits, and Four Gate Whiskey Company.


I've reviewed Four Gate before. I've been impressed with what they've done with both The Kelvin Collection II and River Kelvin Rye.  When I was presented with an opportunity to review Batch 11, called Ruby Rye Springs, I was very interested. Ruby Rye Springs starts with a seven-year MGP straight Rye whiskey, then finishes it in casks with an unusual heritage.


Initially, the casks held ruby port wine. Once the barrels were dumped, they were filled a second time with a blend of rums and left to age.  Once the rum matured, the barrels were filled with the Indiana Rye, where they rested for 45 days.  The end result, a whiskey weighing in at 113.4°, yielded 1444 750ml bottles. Retail is $185.00.


I'd like to thank Four Gate for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and learn what this one is all about.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Ruby Rye Springs presented almost as you'd expect - the color of red mahogany amber.  How it interacted with the glass was novel. It left a thick rim that created a heavy curtain which raced to the pool. Yet, that husky rim never evaporated. It just stuck there.


Nose:  Aromas of cherry, plum, and citrus offered a fruity smell. Mint, rye, and oak provided spice. Molasses seemed to glue them together. When I sucked the vapor into my mouth, mint, plum, and brown sugar ran across my palate.


Palate:  A syrupy mouthfeel featured flavors of brown sugar, plum, black cherry, and raspberry on the front. As it traveled down my tongue, cinnamon and blueberry hit the middle, and on the back, I tasted black pepper, tobacco leaf, and molasses.


Finish: Rye spice, oak, citrus, and plum were embraced by molasses in a medium-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Ruby Rye Springs was certainly different. I've had port-finished whiskeys and I've had rum-finished whiskeys, but I've not, until now, had a port/rum-finished whiskey. It was a unique experience, it was quite enjoyable, but no matter how divergent it may be, this is a serious investment. This earns a Bar rating, you'd want to try it before buying it. Cheers!


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