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

Monday, June 13, 2022

Crossborder Jackpot Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Dave Schmier is no pigeon. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s one of the originals who sourced better barrels from MGP and bottled something special.  If you’ve heard of Redemption, that was his brand. He sold it in 2015. He’s since created Proof and Wood Ventures.  He runs a hot table. Of all the whiskeys from Proof and Wood that I’ve tasted, most have been not only good but excellent (for the record, he also does rum). There’s been an occasional tap-out, but the odds have been against that, except…


I am not a fan of Canadian whiskies. I’m trying; believe me, I am. I have been buying and trying Canadians to find something acceptable to my palate.


Crossborder Jackpot is two-thirds Canadian. The distilleries involved are undisclosed, but the mash of the Canadian blend is 97% corn, 2.7% rye, and 0.3% malted barley. The Canadian Rye is 91% rye and 9% malted barley. Both aged seven years in former Bourbon barrels.


The wild card in the blend is a typical 95/5 MGP American Rye recipe that rested seven years in new, charred oak. It is packaged at 107°. The idea here is that seven is a big deal.


A 750ml bottle requires a minimum bid of $74.99.


Dave is obviously going all in and hopes Crossborder Jackpot hits all lucky sevens. Is it a winner or a bad beat? Let’s get past what’s on the label, #DrinkCurious, and let the chips fall where they may. Proof and Wood sent me a sample and is familiar with the terms and conditions requiring a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: The ante was a neat pour in my Glencairn glass. Crossborder Jackpot showed as dirty blonde. A thin rim formed that released massive tears, which crashed back into the pool.


Nose: If you hedged about this whisky’s rye content, it was confirmed by the floral notes exploding from my glass. Vanilla, toasted oak, mint, and cinnamon were easy to discern. When I pulled the air past my lips, minty vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The texture was incredibly silky, but it was weighty at the same time. The front of my palate picked out vanilla, caramel, and red currant. The back doubled down on spice with rye, cinnamon, and clove. The middle? It was transitionary with sweet corn, nutmeg, and oak.  


Finish: Vanilla, toasted oak, cinnamon Red Hots, and an herbal flavor played the last hand. The Red Hots moved the duration from long to very long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This whisky is certainly a gamble, at least for my palate. I enjoyed the way everything with this whiskey went from sweet to spicy. The mouthfeel was enticing. The palate offered fascinating flavors. I savored the long, spicy finish. In the case of Crossover Jackpot, the payoff is a 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, May 6, 2022

2022 Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

We’re used to calling that massive Indiana distillery in Lawrenceburg MGP. Before MGP, it was LDI. And, before that, it was Seagram. What about before Seagram? Before 1933, it was the Rossville Union Distillery, founded in 1847. The property adjacent to Rossville Union was Squibb Distillery, established in 1869 and purchased by George Remus. While we may refer to this distillery as MGP, it rebranded as Ross & Squibb Distillery last September.


Shortly before the rebranding, MGP purchased Luxco, the owner of Bardstown, Kentucky’s Lux Row Distillers, and solidified its reputation as a serious distillery. MGP then shifted its house brands to its Luxco umbrella, including George Remus and Rossville Union.


Today I’m sipping on Rossville Union 2022 Barrel Proof Rye. It is an annual, limited-edition release that is a blend of 82 MGP rye barrels aged at least seven years. There were 18,000 117.2° bottles released at the end of April and should hit store shelves about the time of this writing. The suggested retail price is $69.99.


"Rossville Union 2022 Barrel Proof is another example of the great rye-whiskey tradition we've carried on at Ross & Squibb Distillery and yet another reason Indiana is the rye capital of the world. As the popularity of rye whiskey continues to grow, we've selected another exceptional medley of rye mash bills to satisfy even the most discriminating tastes […] of rye-whiskey drinkers." - Ian Stirsman, Ross & Squibb Distillery’s Master Distiller.


I appreciate Luxco for providing me a sample of Rossville Union in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. The only way we’ll find out if it is worthy of the reputation of MGP’s ryes is to #DrinkCurious. Let’s get to it. 


Appearance:  The color appeared like deep caramel poured neat into my Glencairn glass. A medium-weighted rim generated slow, thick tears that crawled to the pool.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was mint. Underneath that were aromas of vanilla cream, rye spice, chocolate, nutmeg, and oak. When I brought that air into my mouth, the rye spice seemed to have a megaphone.


Palate:  I found the texture to be silky. The front of my palate found caramel, vanilla, and milk chocolate flavors, which then became nutmeg, chalk, and cinnamon as they hit the middle. The back featured rye spice, fresh mint, and muted oak.


Finish:  That soft oak led the way and opened to rye spice and mint. As those fell off, clove remained behind for a medium-to-long finish.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Rossville Union was interesting. Although the mint was a smidge too bold for my liking, the entire palate was a fascinating melting experience. It flowed naturally from beginning to end. Should I downgrade my rating for that mint? Nah, that would be unfair, especially since everything else seems lovely. The bigger question is, Is this a $70.00 rye?  Two or three years ago, I would have said no. These days, $70.00 ryes are far more common. Rossville Union is a must-have whiskey if you’re an MGP (sorry, Ross & Squibb) fan. If you enjoy spicy ryes, as I do, this one deserves a Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Off Hours Straight Bourbon Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Part of the (at least) American whiskey experience is the marketing. That campaign usually includes a backstory, a well-designed label, an impressive website, and a bit of hype. So many pricy “top shelf” American whiskeys come out of nowhere looking to grab your attention.


You’re not going to find any of that with Off Hours Straight Bourbon. And that seems to be its marketing plan.


Today’s generic brands have nice and bright labels meant to impress and give an aura of quality. Yeah, not in the early 1980s. Instead, we had bare-knuckle brawlers like this:


While the label for generic SPAM is clean and informative, it isn’t overly exciting. Yet, it isn’t off-putting as a Bourbon label for whatever reason.  


The website is at least colorful but is still minimalist. The most informative part of the website is the backstory:


“Off Hours Bourbon is meant to engage our senses and change perceptions. It’s not about preconceived notions of artisanal cocktails and dimly lit bars. It’s for everyone, everywhere. So cheers to more inspiration. More real-life connections. More easygoing hangs, and less expectations. More time outdoors, less time behind our screens. After a long week or just because. Find the time and the moments in between. Find them with us in the Off Hours.”Jake Ireland, Founder


So, what, exactly, is Off Hours Bourbon? A five-year MGP-produced and bottled straight Bourbon made from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It is about five years old despite the lack of an age statement on the label. Bottled at 95°, the website offers a $46.99 MSRP, but it can be had for $37.99 elsewhere.


Before I go further, I’d like to thank Off Hours for providing me a sample of its Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and see how it tastes.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Off Hours presented as the color of caramel. A medium rim dropped heavy, thick legs that crashed into the pool.


Nose:  Aromas of caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and toasted oak were simple to ascertain. But then, bubble gum slammed my olfactory sense. When I drew the air into my mouth, the bubble gum continued.


Palate:  A thin, oily mouthfeel opened the show, with corn, vanilla, and toasted coconut on the front of my palate. Nutmeg, pecan, almond, and tea came next, with flavors of spearmint, cinnamon, clove, and soft oak on the back.


Finish:  The next thing I know, the spearmint from the back became Wrigley’s Doublemint gum. Several subsequent sips revealed clove, oak spice, and cinnamon-spiced nuts. As those fell off, the tea came back to close the show. Medium in length, the finish somehow made sense.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate the simplicity of the marketing campaign. Off Hours may be one of the most off-profile MGP-sourced Bourbons I’ve had where it wasn’t subjected to a barrel finish. However, it is so unusual that it may appeal only to a niche of the Bourbon community. Off Hours is a whiskey you must try at a Bar to see if you’re in that segment. Cheers!

 My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Monday, March 28, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 032 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of those non-distilling producers (NDP) that causes me a little giddyup in my step when a sample winds up on my doorstep. Barrell is a Louisville, Kentucky-based NDP that doesn’t just source a barrel; they take various barrels and blend them to something (hopefully) special. I’ve been impressed with what Joe Beatrice and his crew created for the most part.


The most recent release is Batch 032, a Bourbon married of barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Who distills those? While Barrell won’t disclose that information, I’ve long suspected the Kentucky distillery is Jim Beam, Tennessee is George Dickel, and Indiana is, without a doubt, MGP. I’ve published this repeatedly; Barrell has never corrected me.


“Batch 032 began with a balance of two sets of barrels: a selection of 5 and 6-year-old barrels with a creamy and tropical profile and a selection of 6, 7, and 10-year-old barrels vatted for their complex, old, woody character. These two sets of barrels were slowly blended over three months. A small group of spice-driven 7-year-old barrels with notes of cinnamon toast, coffee bean, and chocolate were then carefully added to complete the blend. The result is a decadent and rich bourbon with layers of spice and nuttiness.”Barrell Craft Spirits


One thing I respect Barrell for is everything they produce is at cask-strength. Nothing is proofed down. If you want to change things up, you can add a few drops of water yourself, but Barrell won’t do that for you. Batch 032 weighs in at 115.34°, and you can expect to pay about $89.00 for a 750ml package.


I thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Batch 032 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste how it fares.


Appearance: Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn Glass, Barrell Batch 032 presented as burnt umber. It created a fragile rim that released thicker, slow legs to rejoin the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: From the moment I cracked the lid, a waft of old oak hit my nostrils. Upon closer inspection, I found cedar, cherry, plum, and caramel, which then became floral before spicy notes of cinnamon and mint kicked in. When I pulled the air into my mouth, vanilla and caramel caressed my tongue.


Palate: Many of the Barrell Bourbons I’ve tried were oily. Batch 032 was different. The texture was creamy with a medium weight. The first flavors to engage my palate were cinnamon spice, vanilla, and almond pastry. The back offered a taste of clove, charred oak, and ginger spice.


What happened to the middle? That was almost transitionary between the softer front and spicier back.


Finish:  Once I swallowed, the finish was soft and spicy before ramping up to big, bold spices. Cinnamon, clove, and ginger led to a kiss of citrus before being completely subdued by freshly-cracked black pepper. It was a ramping experience.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I had fun with Batch 032. The middle was almost frustrating as I took sip after sip, trying to find something that would stand out. It is also one of those dangerous whiskeys; there is no way you’d guess this was 115+° - it went down way too easily. And, because I attempted to nail down the middle, I got a tad buzzed. If you like rye-forward Bourbons (I do), you will go ga-ga over Batch 032. It is a true representation of a 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.



Monday, February 14, 2022

Mayor Pingree Black Label Batch 6 15-Year Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Valentine Distilling has been around since 2007. What’s that? Have you not heard of it? Founded in Detroit, Michigan, by Rifino Valentine, it bills itself as one of the first microdistilleries in the country before the distilling craze took hold.


The centerpiece of the distillery is Sherbert, a custom-made, 1500 gallon copper pot still, the first to be imported to the United States by Frilli, a 100+-year-old Italian still maker. Valentine is eco-conscious, having developed a 10-year climate sustainability initiative, concentrating first on reduction, recycling, and reuse, and once achieved, looking to wind and solar energies to power the campus.


“Everything that I do must be done with quality in mind above all else. I’ve always appreciated the American craftsman; working by hand, making one-of-a-kind items that stand the test of time. I take great pride in using old-world techniques that haven’t changed in centuries. There are no computers controlling the stills, just our sense of taste and smell to determine the cuts.” – Rifino Valentine


Its Master Distiller is Justin Aden. He started his distilling career straight out of college at Michigan State University, where he majored in Microbiology and Molecular Science. He concentrated on fermentation science and worked for the MSU Artisan Distilling Program, where he distilled full-time and acted as a researcher and industry consultant. He joined Valentine Distilling in 2014.


Today I’m sipping on Mayor Pingree Black Label Straight Bourbon. This one is Batch 6, utilizing a mash from only seven barrels of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley sourced from MGP/LDI and aged 15 years! A portion of the aging process occurred in a climate-controlled warehouse in California before being transferred for final aging in Michigan. It is non-chill filtered and weighs in at a hefty 114°. There are only 684 bottles available, and you can expect to spend about $159.99 on a 750ml package.


If you’re curious who Mayor Pingree was, you’re not alone. Hazen Stuart Pingree was a socialite and storied mayor of Detroit elected in 1890. He was a trust-buster, targeting monopolies and corruption, and was a champion of the poor, taking vacant lands and turning them into vegetable gardens to feed the needy. Pingree was re-elected three times before becoming Michigan’s two-term governor.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I wish to thank Valentine Distilling for providing me a sample of Mayor Pingree Black Label in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I’ll #DrinkCurious and discover what this is all about.


Appearance: Inside the bottle, the Bourbon looked almost like cranberry juice. Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn glass, Mayor Pingree was reddish amber. It formed an almost microscopic rim that generated thick, runny legs.


Nose: I spilled a drop on my hand while pouring the whiskey into my glass. I sniffed the droplet, and it was rich dark chocolate. That remained in the glass, along with thick caramel, butterscotch, nutmeg, berry, and old oak. The oak wasn’t dry; it just smelled ancient. Caramel and the old oak rolled across my tongue when I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate:  A massive oil slick filled my mouth, yielding flavors of dark chocolate and heavy caramel on the front. The middle tasted of butterscotch, roasted coffee, and cocoa. Oak, clove, nutmeg, and leather filled the back of my palate.


Finish:  Nutmeg, cocoa powder, butterscotch, black pepper, and old oak began the journey's end. Fresh leather stuck around for what seemed to be forever.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Mayor Pingree Black Label drank way under its stated proof and was about as easy a sipper as one could imagine. That shocked me. It is a 15-year pre-MGP-sourced Bourbon, and, simply put, you don’t run into those every day. There are plenty of spicy and savory notes, but the sweeter ones prevented them from dominating the experience. I just loved it, and considering what it is, I believe its price tag is reasonable. I’m sure you’ll agree it deserves a 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, February 4, 2022

Blue Note Crossroads Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Blue Note Bourbon has been making waves in the Wonderful World of Whiskey. Founded in 2013, B.R. Distilling Company is the oldest legal distillery in Memphis, Tennessee, and has two flagship brands:  Blue Note and Riverset Rye. B.R. Distilling changed ownership in 2017 and aggressively marketed its whiskeys.


The newest release from Blue Note is Crossroads, a straight Bourbon crafted in Memphis. The team at B.R. Distilling spent two years working with Tonnellerie Radoux, a French wine cooperage, to determine the correct type and amount of toasted French oak staves used in the finishing process.


“This unique expression combines the unmistakable boldness of Blue Note Bourbon with the sophistication of the finest, toasted French oak crafted from an artisan cooperage in Central-Val de Lore. [It is] the unforgettable intersection of notes that embodied the inherent spirit of The Blues. The sound and movement of The Blues were meant to break the rules. This is Blue Note Crossroads. We mark our crossroads with the intersection of American and French oak.” – B.R. Distilling Company


Blue Note Crossroads carries no age statement and uses MGP’s 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley recipe. It is non-chill filtered and packaged at 100°, and you can expect to pay around $40.00 for a 750ml bottle.


Before I get started on my tasting notes, I must thank B.R. Distilling for providing a sample of Crossroads in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious!


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Crossroads appeared as a deep, orange-amber. A medium rim released slow, straight legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: The first thing I smelled was corn. But, beneath that was cherry, vanilla, dry leather, and cinnamon. When I took the air inside my mouth, I felt as if I was sucking on a cinnamon stick.


Palate: The texture was massively oily. I tasted cinnamon spice, nutmeg, and roasted almonds on the front. Vanilla, raw honey, and English toffee formed the middle, with French oak, tobacco leaf, and leather on the back.


Finish:  Mildly spicy, the finish featured dry French oak, old leather, tobacco leaf, and raw honey. It went on, and on, and on, and on.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  $40.00 Bourbons are a dime a dozen. Seriously, this is lower-echelon of the sweet spot for craft American whiskey. The French oak influence was evident from the nose to the finish. However, it wasn’t overwhelming. Instead, it married the other notes gloriously. The mouthfeel was slick, the palate made perfect sense, and the Energizer bunny finish never let you forget what you were drinking. I enjoyed this immensely. The outlay is more than fair. Blue Note Crossroads is a perfect example of the recipe needed to earn my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

I’m no stranger to Barrell Craft Spirits. With its Master Blender Joe Beatrice and his team, they bring us (always) barrel-proof whiskeys that go beyond the average sourced offerings. Sometimes the whiskeys are US-based, occasionally Canadian, sometimes from other venues, but you can count on what’s in the bottle to be decidedly different from what you’re used to.


Recently, Barrell introduced us to its Gray Label whiskeys. These were premium offerings, above and beyond the “standard” releases. Made from older stocks, they commanded a premium price tag. And, now, there’s something called Gold Label, which is a step above the Gray.


Today’s review is Barrell Gold Label Bourbon. What’s inside is sourced from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can read that (in my opinion) as George Dickel, Jim Beam, and MGP, respectively. These are 16- and 17-year stocks! Barrell opted for four lots of barrels:

  • Cherry-bombs
  • Nut/oak-forward
  • High-proof
  • Milk chocolate

The exciting thing is that the last group was finished in toasted virgin oak barrels.


“Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon is a blend of 16- and 17-year-old straight bourbons. Barrels for this release were selected from four different collections: cherry bomb barrels with a rich mouthfeel, nutty oak-forward barrels, high proof and high complexity barrels, and barrels with pronounced milk chocolate notes. The last group underwent a secondary maturation in toasted virgin American oak casks before being added to this intricate and seductive blend.” – Barrell Craft Spirits.

The resulting product is a Bourbon that weighs in at 113.54° and the price – hold onto your seats – is $499.99. On the plus side, it comes with a red gift box.


I want to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Gold Label Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. That means it is time to #DrinkCurious and figure out what this is all about.


Appearance: Drank neat from my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was deep and dark, the color of burnt umber. It took an effort to create a rim, and when it did, it was micro-thin but led to long, wavy legs.


Nose: Crème Brulee was the first thing I smelled, and it almost punched me in the nose. Beneath that were toasted marshmallow, hazelnut, almond, oak, cherry pie filling, and apple pie filling (yeah, I had to come back several times to confirm those last two). When I drew the aroma in my mouth, it was like sucking on chocolate-covered cherries.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and thick. Caramel, vanilla, peanut, and leather ruled the front. The middle featured fresh mint, cherry, plum, and berry. I tasted ginger, oak, cocoa, and tobacco on the back.


Finish:  This was one of those never-ending finishes. Sure, it ended eventually, but it seemed to run forever. Mint, oak, black pepper, ginger, chocolate, and marshmallow cream stuck around for a captivating experience.  There was no Flintstone vitamin quality from the Dickel portion. This is one of those sneaky bastards – it drinks much lower than its stated proof, but, dang, it makes up for it with a 2x4 once it catches up.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ll get this out of the way. I’ve never paid $500.00 for a Bourbon, and I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. That’s me. Barrell Gold Label Bourbon is stupendous. It is gorgeous. It is delicious. It is amazing. If you have $500.00 burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a nice investment. It would be a real treat for those of us who have lighter wallets to try this at 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.



Monday, January 3, 2022

Stellum Black Label Rye and Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you’ve ever been curious about an American Express card, there are some basic levels. Green is for the average user. Above that is gold, then above that is platinum. And that’s it, right? Well, not exactly.


You see, beyond the platinum card that any peasant can apply for is something called American Express Black. This card is so exclusive that there’s no way to apply for it. The only way to get your hands on one is via an invitation, and you have to charge between $250,000 and $450,000 a year to maintain it.


Meant to give a similar aura of exclusivity is Stellum Black Label. You don’t need an invitation to get your hands on it, but it is pretty limited. Stellum offers both a Bourbon and a Rye, and in each case, they begin with the original stocks of Stellum and then “fold in” older whiskeys.


“For Stellum Black, we maintained the soul of Stellum while creating a new dimension of flavor by adding reserve barrels from our stocks. We’ve refined this layering technique over time which produces whiskeys focused on both immediate flavor and a long-developed complexity. The result is an entirely new set of whiskeys that has its roots firmly planted in the inaugural whiskeys.”Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits


I’m reviewing both the Bourbon and Rye today. Like anything else out of Stellum Spirits or Barrell Craft Spirits, these are both cask strength whiskeys, both sourced from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both have a suggested retail of $99.99.  Unlike the standard releases, Stellum Black Label will be allocated nationally. Both are non-chill filtered.


Before I get started on the tasting notes, I’d like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for sending me a sample of both in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and learn all about these.

I’ll begin with the Bourbon. There are three MGP components: two are high rye with 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley, and the other 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The Beam and Dickel components are undisclosed, but they’re older than the MGP. It is packaged at 109.22°.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Black Label Bourbon presented as caramel in color. It formed a thicker than expected rim and slow, lumbering legs.


Nose: An intense bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange peel was enticing. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, cherry vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  An oily, full-bodied texture greeted my mouth. At the front, I tasted vanilla, caramel, leather, and nuts. The middle transitioned to plum, coconut, and cocoa powder. I found tobacco leaf, cinnamon spice, and old oak on the back.


Finish:  A very long, warming finish consisted of plum, nuts, orange zest, caramel, old oak, leather, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon spice. It didn’t even try to hide the proof, as my hard palate tingled almost immediately. However, the caramel stuck around the longest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It was reasonably easy to pick out the Beam component, but less so with the Dickel and MGP, which was shocking, especially considering how much of the blend was out of Indiana. But, the telltale nuttiness was also something I looked for, so perhaps there was some subtle power of self-suggestion? The more I sipped it, the less I felt the proof. It never became something that drank under its stated proof, but the numbing factor ceased and allowed me to concentrate on other things.  I enjoyed this, and I could somehow feel this felt older than the Stellum Bourbon I reviewed last year.


Stellum Black Label Bourbon competes with its sibling, Barrell Bourbon, and they both cost about the same. I’m happy to toss a Bottle rating at it based upon that.

Next up is the Rye. The majority component is 95% rye and 5% malted barley from MGP. The smaller portions come from the others. It is packaged at 114.26°.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as orange amber. It created a thinner rim that yielded slow, fat tears.


Nose: Caramel leaped from the glass and smacked me in the face. Beneath it were candied fruits, almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon spice. As I pulled the air into my mouth, orange cream danced across my tongue.


Palate:  A soft, silky mouthfeel greeted my palate. The front offered very dark chocolate and creamy caramel. Mint, clove, and dill were on the middle, while dry oak, black pepper, and a vast amount of new leather were on the back.


Finish:  I found the finish to build itself into a giant crescendo before plateauing, and then it just chugging along. Dark chocolate, dill, clove, and caramel started things off before leather and tannins came and left me making “thuck” noises with my tongue.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It isn’t that often I come across a whisky that is so dry it sucks the moisture from your mouth. That’s a different sensation that, for whatever reason, always makes me go for another sip, which makes no sense because, in the back of my mind, I know it is going to dry my mouth again. Yet, the flavors are lovely together, and I enjoyed the extraordinarily long finish. A Bottle rating for sure, it is an experience worth experiencing.


Final Thoughts:  Given the option between Bourbon and Rye, I tend to gravitate to Rye. In the case of Stellum Black Label, I enjoyed the Bourbon more. That’s not to discount the Rye; it was just surprising. I had to taste them both again just to make sure.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Backbone Bourbon "Sweet Dreams" Speakeasy_WI Review & Tasting Notes


I take part in most of the barrel picks for The Speakeasy_WI, a club I’m a member of. In the case of the one I’m writing about today, I was not on the selection committee due to a whiskey tasting I was hosting.  I did, however, have an opportunity to taste the winning barrel after it was selected, and it has recently dropped at Neil’s Liquors in Middleton, Wisconsin.  It was selected this past August and is priced at $59.99.


I’m talking about a Backbone Bourbon pick called Sweet Dreams. If you’re unfamiliar with Backbone, it tends to pull some incredible MGP-sourced barrels of Bourbon and Rye. The Ryes are branded as Bone Snapper.


Sweet Dreams was distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. That, in turn, was barreled on March 5, 2015, and aged six-and-a-half years in #3 charred oak barrels.  Dumped in October, it weighs in at a healthy 110.6°.



How did the selection crew do?  Let’s #DrinkCurious and find out!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Sweet Dreams took the stage of deep, dark mahogany. It created a thin rim and very fat, slow legs that crawled back down to the pool.


Nose:  The first aroma to hit my nostrils was cherry pie filling. It was joined by toasted oak, a hint of vanilla, and plum. As I inhaled through my mouth, I tasted cinnamon and plum.


Palate:  Sweet Dreams had the consistency of an out-of-control oil slick. It was shockingly not warm considering the proof:  If I didn’t know what it was upfront, I would have guessed this was somewhere around 94° or 96°. The front featured cherry and plum, while the middle offered rye spice and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted thick mocha and oak.


Finish:  I found this finish did numb my hard palate, but sneakily because it was so luxurious it lulled you into a daydream. Toasted oak, cherry, plum, cinnamon, and chocolate stuck just meshed perfectly while it all hung around for a medium finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  When I first tasted Sweet Dreams, my initial thoughts revolved around how stunning this whiskey was. When I take into account it is only $59.99, I believe you’d have to be insane to pass this one up. Bottle for sure, all day long. Good job, crew! 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.