Showing posts with label Oregon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oregon. Show all posts

Friday, May 5, 2023

Broken Top Mountain Whiskey Reviews: Straight Rye, Straight Bourbon, and 113-Proof Straight Bourbon


“Broken Top lies in the eastern segment of Oregon’s Cascade Range known as the High Cascades. An extinct stratovolcano and part of the prolific Cascade Volcanic Arc, Broken Top is known for its distinct jagged silhouette resulting from ages of glacial erosion. It stands as a beacon for daring hikers and mountaineers. Broken Top Whiskeys reflect the adventurous spirit of the Cascades.”Cascade Spirits


Today we’re embarking on a sipping adventure that originates in Sisters, Oregon. That’s where Cascade Spirits is located. Its CEO, Chris Joseph, founded Cascade Spirits in his garage while still in college in 2012, with infused vodkas. In 2016, he founded Wyld, a brand that sells cannabis edibles and CBD beverages.  


Other brands within the portfolio include Wild Root, which offers vodka, gin, and Ready To Drink (RTD) cocktails; Sun Ranch, whose catalog includes vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey; Good Tide, featuring fruit-infused spirits; and Broken Top Mountain Whiskey, with two Bourbons and a Rye on the menu.


And that’s what we’re ordering. We’ll taste all three neat from Glencairn glasses, render our opinions, and provide the final recommendations.


Broken Top Whiskeys are distilled and aged for two years in Indiana. You know what that means:  MGP a/k/a Ross & Squibb. Before we can do the #DrinkCurious thing, I must pause and thank Cascade Spirits for providing me with samples of each in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Straight Rye Whiskey


The mashbill is undisclosed. MGP offers two rye recipes: 51% and 95%. It is packaged at 43.75% ABV (87.5°) and a suggested $44.95 price tag.


Appearance: The blonde-amber liquid formed a thick rim before releasing slow, wavy tears.


Nose: The bouquet smelled of mint, strawberries, vanilla, and oak. Inhaling through my lips brought a wave of vanilla.


Palate: I encountered a soft, airy mouthfeel. The front of my palate came across as vanilla and corn, suggesting this is likely MGP’s 51% rye mashbill. Midway through was rye spice and caramel, while the back had mild oak notes and clove.


Finish: The finish kept the oak and clove from the back but added mint and strawberry. It was short to medium in duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Broken Top Straight Rye offers easily identifiable flavors. Little exists to differentiate itself from other youthful MGP ryes. I am satisfied by its current proof; otherwise, the mintiness may have taken complete control over the whiskey. As it lacks anything memorable, I toss my Bar rating at it.  




Straight Bourbon Whiskey


The mashbill is undisclosed short of comprising of corn, rye, and barley. That limits it to one of two MGP Bourbon recipes: 21% rye and 36% rye. It is packaged at 43.75% ABV (87.5°) and a suggested $44.95 price tag.


Appearance: Slightly darker than the Rye, this Bourbon presented as a brassy amber. A medium-thick rim formed wavy tears that raced to the pool.


Nose: Corn, vanilla, and rye spice were easily discerned. Banana bread and lemon came with further effort. Corn was present when I drew the air through my lips.


Palate: A considerable amount of ginger spice and peanuts were on the front, while the middle suggested flavors of nutmeg and caramel. I tasted oak, allspice, and that bubblegum you get from a packet of baseball cards. It had a medium body and was slightly oily.


Finish: Surprisingly, that bubblegum became more prominent as the finish continued. The nutmeg, allspice, and ginger remained through its longer duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: It was nice to have that sweet and spicy back and finish, which, in my opinion, were the best parts of this Bourbon. It didn’t taste young, perhaps due to its lower proof, and I commend Cascade Spirits for what it did. This one is an easy sipper on a summer evening and would make for a decent cocktail base. As such, it wins my Bottle rating.  




113 Proof Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Last up is the 113° (56.5% ABV) Bourbon. The label states the same ingredients as the 87.5° Bourbon, meaning it is one of those two MGP mashbills. The extra heft commands a $54.99 price tag.


Appearance: This whiskey was several shades darker than the previous Bourbon and bronze-colored. A thin rim produced slow, syrupy tears.


Nose: The aroma included corn, cinnamon, and butterscotch. There was an ethanol punch that grabbed my attention. When I brought the air into my mouth, I tasted Corn Chex cereal.


Palate: A silky texture greeted my tongue. Honey and cinnamon graham crackers hit the front of my palate. A tidal wave of caramel coalesced with nutmeg midway through. As it ebbed, I tasted oak, tobacco, and ginger.


Finish: Slightly spicy and long-lasting, the finish featured ginger, caramel, tobacco, and cinnamon graham crackers. It left a warming sensation in my throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Let me get one thing out of the way: The 113 Proof Straight Bourbon is the hands-down winner of this tasting. It could easily pass as a whiskey twice its age, if not a smidge more. The $10.00 premium for the 30 extra proof points is more than a bargain. My Bottle rating is very well earned.


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, August 26, 2022

Crater Lake Spirits Whiskey Reviews & Tasting Notes

There is more to whiskey than just what’s poured into your glass. If you go beyond the backstories, many of which are nothing more than entertaining tall tales, there’s the process behind the whiskey, the people who make things happen, and the values and mantras those people consider essential.  


“Anyone can create a quick and dirty spirit. Luckily, we’re not just anyone. At Crater Lake Spirits, we know that our intense commitment to quality, taste, and sustainable practices means we’re not going to be everybody’s top choice. And that’s ok.


We’re here for the spirit enthusiasts who care about what they’re drinking, how it’s made, and its impact on the planet. By purchasing Crater Lake Spirits, it shows that you share our goal of doing right by our employees, our community, and our shared future.” – Crater Lake Spirits 


Crater Lake is big on sustainability and focuses on three areas: materials, facilities, and community. The glass used is made of at least 30% recycled materials, the plastics for 50ml bottles at 25% or more, and the ink is all plant-based, making their bottles 100% recyclable. Packaging is 100% recyclable and uses at least 90% recycled materials. The facilities are using water and electricity responsibly and recycling them whenever possible. And, with an eye on the community, they reuse returned packaging from customers, offer employees 24 hours of paid volunteer time, and participate in roadside cleanups.


Founded by Jim Bendis in Bend, Oregon, in 1996, the craft distillery boom hadn’t yet happened. There were fewer than 20, whereas today there are close to 2000! In 2005, he founded Bend Spirits to offer private-label spirits. And in 2015, he created Ablis, a CBD-based beverage.


Today I’m sampling four whiskeys from Crater Lake:  Estate Rye Whiskey, Black Butte Whiskey, Reserve Rye Whiskey, and Straight American Rye.  I’ll be sipping these in order of proof, from low to high, which I recommend whenever you do more than a couple of pours.


Before I get to my tasting notes and recommendations, I wish to thank Crater Lake Spirits for providing me samples of each in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. It will be a #DrinkCurious adventure.


Straight American Rye Whiskey



The lowest proof is the Straight American Rye Whiskey. It is made from a mash of 100% rye and aged in new, charred American oak for two years. It is packaged at 80°, and a 750ml bottle costs about $27.99.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this two-year Rye presented as a light gold. A thin rim formed a wavy curtain that dropped down my glass wall.


Nose: Rye spice was easy to pluck from the glass, as were toasted oak, stone fruit, and vanilla. When I drew the air past my lips, I tasted toasted oak.


Palate:  The texture was watery, yet the palate was flavorful, with vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg on the front and milk chocolate and toffee in the middle. The back was peppery with rye spice, clove, and oak.


Finish:  Clove, toffee, and oak stayed for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Straight American Rye Whiskey was an easy sipper for sure. I believe there’s a tightrope to walk to younger Ryes, not to have the flavors become too sharp but still maintain the classic Rye experience. This Rye might be proofed down a bit too much for my liking, but it could be a great toe-dipping whiskey for someone interested in 100% rye mashbills. My recommendation is to try this one at a Bar first.




Estate Rye Whiskey



Next up is the oldest of the quartet:  Estate Rye Whiskey. It is farm-to-bottle, meaning the rye was grown at the distillery. Only a handful of new, charred American oak barrels are filled each year with the 100% rye distillate, then allowed to rest for six years. Packaged at 93°, a 750ml bottle runs $54.99. 


Appearance: The Estate Rye appeared as an orange amber in my Glencairn glass. A fragile rim released fat tears that inched their way back to the pool.


Nose: Rich oak notes wafted out of the glass, and the rye spice smelled mellowed. Mint and stone fruits combined with vanilla and a bit of menthol. When I inhaled through my mouth, mint, and vanilla were evident.  


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and coated my tongue. Honey, almond, and mandarin oranges were on the front, while the middle consisted of nutmeg and mocha.  The back featured allspice, oak, and clove.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish continued with the notes of allspice, oak, and clove from the back of my palate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The flavors in the Estate Rye were not shy, they were easy to pick out, and none overwhelmed another. I found this whiskey to be well-balanced, enjoyable, and very much a classic Rye. Considering its age and limited quantity, I believe the price is at the very least fair. Crater Lake Spirits could charge another $10 and still be reasonable, and I’m happy to crown my Bottle rating for it.




Black Butte Whiskey



Black Butte Whiskey is an outlier as an American Single Malt versus the others being Ryes. It is also a collaboration whiskey, where the folks at Crater Lake distilled Black Butte Porter before placing it in #4-charred, new American oak, where it sat for five years. You can expect to pay about $74.99 for a 94°, 750ml package.  


Appearance: Black Butte Whiskey was the color of burnt umber, leaving a thick rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. Sticky droplets remained, taking several minutes to collapse.


Nose:  A gorgeous nose always concerns me, and Black Butte has one. Mocha and old leather rose from the glass’s chimney, and I just kept sniffing, relishing the moment. Green apple kissed my nostrils. Mocha rolled across my tongue when I drew that vapor into my mouth.


Palate:  A creamy mouthfeel helped erase whatever worries I had from the nose. At the front, I discovered chocolate, nutmeg, and vanilla. The middle featured almond, leather, and tobacco leaf, while the back released mocha, toasted marshmallow, and oak.


Finish: Rich mocha, marshmallow, old leather, and charred oak hung around for what seemed to be forever, and I wasn’t complaining.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m not a beer drinker, and I don’t know if this whiskey represents what a Porter offers, but I believe I’ve fallen in love with Black Butte Whiskey. I don’t care what it costs, this is one you don’t want to pass up given the opportunity, and that’s a slam-dunk Bottle rating.




Reserve Rye Whiskey


The final pour is Crater Lake Reserve Rye Whiskey. It starts with a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, which is a bit more classic than the 100% rye mashbills this distillery has offered so far. It aged in new, charred American oak for three years and weighs in at 96°, making it the heavyweight of the four. A 750ml bottle will set you back $39.99.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, the Reserve Rye looked of dark amber. A medium rim released long, fast legs.


Nose: Vanilla, mint, and oak joined a smell of rye spice. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb had exploded in my mouth.


Palate:  A creamy, weighty mouthfeel introduced my palate to more vanilla and milk chocolate. Rye spice, toffee, and cinnamon formed the middle. The back had flavors of oak, black pepper, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  My tongue was left with a tingly feeling as the spices lingered for what seemed to be eons. Tannins, black pepper, and rye spice each took a turn.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The more familiar mashbill was enjoyable and easy to drink. I could encounter more of what this whiskey had to offer with the higher proof. It is only three years old, but it tastes more mature. This one is priced right, and this is a classic Rye whiskey that I’m sure you won’t have a second’s worth of buyer’s remorse. I’m giving Reserve Rye Whiskey a Bottle rating.


Epilogue:  If I were staring at all four of these on the shelf and wondering which to grab, it would be a no-brainer. The Black Butte Whiskey takes Best in Show. But the two older ryes are great pick-ups, too, and you won’t complain about the price. 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.



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

A-O "Come Hell or High Water" Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

Every so often, I come across something decidedly different. I revere different when it comes to whiskey. It doesn't mean I always like it, but I respect the effort of any distiller willing to take a risk and think outside the box.

We've seen whiskeys that have been "aged at sea."  Jefferson's Ocean is probably the most well-known.  Each batch is known as a Voyage, and some voyages are definitely better than others. 

Founded in 2013, Pilot House Distilling of Astoria, Oregon, offers an annual, limited-edition whiskey it ocean-ages, called A-O Come Hell or High Water. The A-O comes from Astoria and Oregon. It starts with a mash of Northwest Premium two-row Pale Ale barley and utilizes A01 Imperial yeast. That's then distilled and aged for 18 months in the warehouse. From there, the barrels spend seven months on a South Bay fishing vessel. In the case of Batch 4, which Pilot House provided me in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review, the fishing vessel harvested shrimp.

Bottled at 80°, this limited-edition single malt commanded a $60.00 price tag but is now sold out. However, that doesn't mean you can't get your hands on one, it just may be difficult to come by. I'll #DrinkCurious and let you know if this is worth hunting.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Come Hell or High Water appeared as tarnished gold in color. It produced a heavy rim with fat, sticky tears that eventually worked their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Malt was obvious on the nose. But it was joined by strawberry jam and cinnamon. The aroma of seaweed took me a few takes to figure out what it was. There were both musty and saline qualities to it. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, I tasted grapefruit and malt.

Palate: A thick and viscous mouthfeel greeted my tongue as it passed my lips. There was a very light briny tang that was married to apricot and cinnamon on the front. Mid-palate suggested flavors of cereal, vanilla, and white grapefruit. Toffee, oak, and white pepper created the back.

Finish:  Initially the finish was fairly short. A subsequent swallow fixed that and it became long, with white grapefruit, oak, nutmeg, cereal, and white pepper.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Come Hell or High Water is absolutely a unique pour and in a good way. I loved the mouthfeel. I believe it has been properly aged, perhaps the sloshing around of the barrels on the fishing vessel is more than a simple marketing gimmick. Yes, this is sold out and you'll have to wait for Batch 5 to be released if you're going to buy it at retail. But, if you do come across Batch 4, I'd suggest picking it up, you'll find it tasty and captivating. This one gets 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 that you do so responsibly.