Showing posts with label Proof and Wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Proof and Wood. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Cabinet American Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Proof & Wood Ventures is a company that brands itself as Purveyors and Blenders of American and Global Spirits. Founded by Dave Schmier, Proof & Wood takes what it considers only the best barrels and tries to improve upon them. That's a heck of a task many have tried, yet few succeeded. Proof & Wood usually nails it.


I’m sure most of us have seen the DC Collection of whiskeys from Proof & Wood. They come with labels such as The Ambassador, The President, The Representative, The Senator, and The Justice. It stands to reason that it would run out of names at some point. Before that happens, let me introduce you to The Cabinet.


The Cabinet is sourced from MGP/Ross and Squibb. Like much of what Proof & Wood offers, The Cabinet is bottled at barrel proof, which, in this case, is 112.48°. It is a blend of American Ryes and Bourbon, and one of the things I appreciate about Proof & Wood is its transparency. This whiskey consists of a 2013 9-year Rye, another 2013 9-year Rye, a 2014 7-year Rye, a 2015 6-year Rye, and a 2017 4-year Bourbon. The Ryes are all the familiar 95% rye/5% malted barley recipe, while the Bourbon is 75%/21%/4% corn, rye, and barley mashbill.


The Cabinet comes in a 750ml package and has a suggested price of about $110, which enters another echelon of whiskey quality. So, before I get to the #DrinkCurious thing, allow me to thank Proof & Wood for a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s sip this and see how it is. 


Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a burnt umber liquid. A medium-thick rim formed slow, sticky tears that didn’t seem overly excited to fall.


Nose: Nutmeg, cinnamon, caramel, and maple syrup provide a sweet-spicy combination to my olfactory sense. Thick caramel rolled across my tongue as I sucked the air past my lips.


Palate: An oily – make that very oily - mouthfeel carried less weight than I would have guessed. It was almost airy. Perhaps that’s purposeful to mimic the various stances of the members of a cabinet. The front of my palate encountered nutmeg, rye spice, and pome fruit, while the middle found dark chocolate, caramel, and nuts. The back featured charred oak, cinnamon, and clove.


Finish:  Dark chocolate, charred oak, rye spice, and cinnamon began mild but started building and warming as time progressed, similar to a heated political discussion. The crescendo took about a minute, ending with black pepper and a nutty quality.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Cabinet is a complicated marriage of Bourbon and Ryes, but one that is thought-provoking and worthy of consideration.  There is no compromise here with my Bottle rating. It is one that I’m thrilled to have in 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 you do so responsibly.



Monday, July 18, 2022

Proof and Wood "Good Day" 21-Year Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


What does Canada require for its whisky to be considered Canadian? Many people get this one wrong – and I used to be one of them. I used to believe the rules were fast and loose. I was schooled by none other than Davin de Kergommeaux, a respected whisky author who, in 2009, founded the Canadian Whisky Awards and is one of the most respected gurus regarding Canadian whiskies.


Canadian whisky must begin with the mashing and distillation of cereal grains (corn, rye, wheat, etc.). It must age at least three years in small cooperage – less than 700 liters), all of which must occur in Canada. It can have added flavors – up to 9.09% and can have added caramel coloring (e150A). The added flavors must be from a spirit at least two years old or wine. Contrary to popular belief, not a single grain of rye must be used for a Canadian whisky to be called Rye.


Them are the rules.


Something else you need to know is my bias when it comes to Canadian whisky. Simply put: I don’t like it. I want to like it. I’ve been on a mission to find an enjoyable one for several years. The closest I have come to is the Gray and Gold Labels of Barrell Seagrass. Yet, those are so unusual (and expensive) I don’t even count them as a win.


So, here I am, once again, staring at a bottle of Canadian whisky and wondering if this will be the one that changes my mind. It is a unique bottle containing a 21-year-old blend called Good Day. Good Day comes to us from Proof and Wood Ventures out of Bardstown, Kentucky. I’ve reviewed several whiskies from Proof and Wood. It was founded by Dave Schmier, the gentleman who started Redemption Rye. Dave has a habit of finding stunning barrels, mainly from MGP (now Ross & Squibb). If there was something in the United States called a Master Blender, you’d have to hand that title to him.


Good Day began with corn, rye, and barley whiskies, each distilled in 2000 or later and sourced from the Lethbridge distillery in Alberta. If you know your Canadian distilleries, that would be Black Velvet.


You may notice that I used the word “whiskies” because that’s how things are done in Canada. One grain is distilled and aged before being blended with others. Eight barrels were used, making the final formula 97% corn, 2.7% rye, and 0.3% malted barley. Dave then took that concoction, brought it to Bardstown, and finished it for an additional three weeks in vintage American Rye barrels.


Good Day comes in a 700ml, 52% ABV (104°) package with a suggested retail price is $99.99.


Before I begin this adventure, I must thank Proof and Wood for providing me a sample of Good Day in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to psych me up and #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Good Day looked like pale straw. That may seem strange for a 21-year whisky until you remember the rules of Canadian whisky and the penchant for using vintage wood. A nearly invisible rim was formed, yet the thick, wavy legs were easy to see.


Nose:  The very first thing I smelled was green apple. Not Jolly Rancher green apple, but the kind you cut up and put into a pie. Corn and vanilla were present, along with floral rye. As I drew the air into my mouth, I found honey and more green apple.


Palate: A thick, syrupy texture filled every crevice in my mouth. Raw honey, vanilla, and brown sugar were introduced on the front. Caramel-covered apples formed the middle, while the back featured cinnamon, clove, and oak.


Finish:  A freight train finish left cinnamon spice and clove all over my tongue and throat. Except for those extensive spice notes, there is nothing in terms of burn to contend with.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to congratulate Proof and Wood. You have finally ended my quest for an affordable, drinkable Canadian whisky. Yeah, in this case, $99.99 is “affordable” when you consider it is 21 years old. I’ve paid far more than that when it comes to similarly-aged Scotch, and that becomes almost a Walmart price when you bring Bourbon into the picture. Today was a good day to drink Good Day, and it snags 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.


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.



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, January 13, 2021

Roulette Straight Rye Review & Tasting Notes


I play Whiskey Roulette all the time. The UPS and FedEx guys call me Whiskeyfellow (as they should!) because this place is a revolving door of incoming samples. I never quite know what I'm going to get and if it is new to the market, that makes that wheel of fortune more chancy. 

I've reviewed whiskeys from Proof & Wood Ventures before. They're all sourced, either from MGP or Dickel, and Dave Schmier picks some true cream-of-the-crop barrels. I've enjoyed most of them and have a lot of respect for what he does.

Today I'm sipping on Roulette Straight Rye. This is sourced from MGP, utilizing its 95% rye, 5% malted barley mashbill. Aged for four years, it is proofed at a respectable 100° and available either in 200ml or 750ml bottles. You can expect to pay $11.99 and $29.99 respectively.

Before I get started with the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for providing me a sample of Roulette in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Roulette Rye presented as the color of bronze. It created a medium-thick rim that produced a watery curtain that fell back into the pool. 

Nose:  An interesting blend of caramel, mint, and oak was fairly easy to pick out. Beneath those, aromas of citrus and nutmeg were more challenging. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I tasted citrus and oak.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be oily with a medium body. It wasn't overly coating, and I had to force it onto my mid-palate. For whatever reason, it kept going from the front to back and skipped the middle.

On the front, flavors of stone fruit and caramel started things off and were quickly discernable. The middle featured baking spices of nutmeg and allspice. I also experienced cinnamon, which also stuck on the back. That was married with cocoa powder, rye spice, and oak.

Finish:  A sizzling, spicy finish of dry oak, freshly cracked black pepper, clove, cinnamon Red Hots, and dark chocolate ended this game of chance. My hard palate was numbed before I even realized it.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The odds are definitely in your favor if a spicy finish is your jam. Roulette Rye is bold would absolutely make a great base for a cocktail. You won't lose it amongst other ingredients. Neat, you may think this drinks hotter than its stated 100°, but it doesn't really. There is no offputting alcohol burn. It is simply a spice bomb, and I happen to like spicy ryes. When you consider the ante, it becomes a jackpot and I'll cash out with a Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

Proof and Wood 25-Year "100 Seasons" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


25 years. Some of you aren't even that old yet! If you're talking Scotch, 25 years is starting to get into big deal territory, but their whisky can age much, much longer.  With American whiskeys, 25 years is a curious period of time. While there are some 25-year Bourbons and Ryes, they can be over-oaked and it seems like you're chewing on a barrel stave as you drink it. 

25 years. Back in 1995, MGP didn't even exist. At that time, it was Seagrams and known as The Jos. E Seagram Lawrenceburg Plant. MGP didn't come into existence until 2011.

25 years. That's 100 Seasons and is the name of the whiskey I'm reviewing today. Specifically, 100 Seasons is a Light Whiskey that was distilled by Seagram's. Released by Proof and Wood Ventures, 100 Seasons is pretty much a unicorn. There are several 10- to 15-year-old Light Whiskeys out there, almost exclusively coming out of the MGP rickhouse. But, 25 years? I've not stumbled on one yet, until now.

What is Light Whiskey?  Back when Bourbon was on the decline, distilleries were scrambling to figure out what could take its place to stay alive. According to Chuck Cowdery:

"Compared to traditional American whiskeys such as bourbon and rye, the whiskeys of Scotland, Ireland and Canada are generally distilled at a much higher proof, entered into barrels at a higher proof, and the barrels are mostly used, not new as American law requires. This makes them cheaper to produce, which American distillers felt put them at an unfair competitive disadvantage."

Lo and behold, there's Light Whiskey.  Distilled between 160° and 190° and typically aged in used (or, in some cases, new but uncharred) cooperage, it allowed American distillers to compete, at least in theory. Truth be told, it never really took off, and rather than tossing the whiskey down the drain, the barrels just sat around, many times forgotten (for real, unlike the backstory of a certain unnamed whiskey brand). 

Dave Schmier of Proof and Wood seized upon this opportunity. Distilled in 1992, it rested for 25 years in the Seagram's/MGP warehouse. It was then transferred to used Rye barrels, where it spent the next eight weeks. From there, it was transferred to steel containers for two years to stop the aging process. 

As you can imagine, there wasn't a lot of stock to work with. The yield was only 500 bottles when packaged at 102.3°. Proof & Wood considers 100 Seasons part of its Curated Collection and is presented in a specialty gift box.

How does it taste? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. But first, I would like to thank Proof and Wood for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, 100 Seasons presented as a clear, bright amber. It could easily be mistaken for a Bourbon or Rye, and that's not something typical of Light Whiskey. As far as a rim and legs went, this didn't create a rim. It left a bunch of little dots on the wall. Try as I might, I couldn't get a rim produced. 

Nose:  When I brought the glass to my face, I was confronted with a blast of sweet, thick caramel. As I continued to explore, I picked up cinnamon, 'Nilla Wafers, and berries. When I inhaled the vapor, a wave of butterscotch rolled over my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was viscous and full-bodied. On the front, I tasted caramel and cinnamon sugar. As it moved to mid-palate, flavors of sweet fruits took over. Then, on the back, toffee, ginger, and oak commandeered the tasting.

Finish:  Things got long and spicy, and left my tongue with a sizzle. It started with barrel char, then the familiar ginger and oak. All the spice subsided, and when I thought it was over, plum took over and stuck around for a few minutes. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Drinking 100 Seasons is a unique, enjoyable experience, one you're likely not going to be able to duplicate anytime soon. At 102.3° it sips below that without any need to add water. You're probably wondering why I've not disclosed the price, and that's because I wanted to get all of this out of the way beforehand. You'll need to pony up about $350.00 for a bottle.  Before you scoff at that, consider what you're looking at.  It takes a lot for me to give a Bottle rating for something this pricy, but in my opinion, if you can afford it, 100 Seasons deserves it. Cheers!

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Exodus Aged Jamaican Rum Review & Tasting Notes


Let's get a few things out of the way here.  I'm Whiskeyfellow, not Rumfellow. My experience with aged rum is very limited, my experience with rum overall involves cocktails. There's nothing in the world wrong with rum, I just enjoy drinking whiskey and there's enough variety to keep me plenty busy.

What, you may wonder, am I doing reviewing a rum, then? Well, this one is special... at least it is marketed as such. You see, this rum has been finished in whiskey barrels!  Whiskey is my jam. I know whiskey. I appreciate whiskey. I love everything whiskey. So, why not?

Being rum-dumb, I wanted to learn something about it before just blindly writing a review. I went to where any spirits-curious person should: Federal Regulation § 5.22 The Standards of Identity.

Class 6; rum. “Rum” is an alcoholic distillate from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane molasses, or other sugar cane by-products, produced at less than 190 proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to rum, and bottled at not less than 80 proof; and also includes mixtures solely of such distillates.

The rum I'm drinking is Exodus from Proof and Wood Ventures. This isn't your basic white rum. Proof & Wood blends column still rum, pot still light rum, and pot still heavy rum to create this concoction. All of it was distilled in Jamaica. The column still portion was aged for three years in Canada in Canadian Rye casks, then in ex-American Rye casks. The light rum aged for two years in ex-Bourbon casks and then an additional two years in ex-American Rye casks. The heavy rum was aged two years in ex-Rye casks.

Everything remained naturally colored with no added flavors. While we would say everything is aged up to five years, that's not something you'd put on a bottle. Like whiskey, if there's an age statement, it is always the youngest spirit in the mix. Exodus carries no age statement. It is packaged at 84° and you can expect to pay $30.00 for a 750ml bottle. 

Before I sip Exodus and do the #DrinkCurious thing, I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for a sample of it in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

Appearance: Normally, I'd be tasting from a Glencairn glass. But, this time, I used a nice, hefty, crystal rocks glass. It presented as the color of light gold, almost as straw. It left a super-thick rim on the wall, and that rim created heavy legs that caused the rum to fall back into the pool.

Nose: The most obvious aroma was vanilla, so much so that if you dumped vanilla extract in a glass, this is what I would imagine it smelled like. I also found scents of molasses, apricot, and sweet, tropical fruits. When I inhaled the fumes through my lips, a blast of butterscotch exploded in my mouth.

Palate: The mouthfeel was heavy and oily. If this was whiskey, I'd be floored. On the front, and pretty much through the finish, that butterscotch bomb continued. At mid-palate, it was joined by vanilla, honeydew, and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted rye spice and green peppercorn - and then something earthy I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Finish: A medium-to-long finish went from very fruity to spicy. At first, pineapple dominated. That was followed by toasted coconut. Then came toasted oak and green peppercorn. It was the peppercorn that stuck around longer than anything else. That earthiness hung around, too.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This was definitely better than anything I've had out of Cruzan or Bacardi. I recall enjoying Appleton Estate, but it has been too many years and my memory doesn't go back that far. I'm not a rum aficionado so my rating is based purely upon a whiskey drinker's perspective: I liked it. I found the earthy quality somehow complementary to the sweet and spicy notes. As far as a value statement, Exodus seems to be fairly priced amongst other 5-year rums. Does this want me to abandon whiskey and jump on the rum bandwagon? No. But, if the occasional hankering for rum came up, I could easily see myself grabbing this (and yeah, I'd drink it neat). Do the math and that adds up to a Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Presidential Dram Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The 2020 election is over (thank goodness). I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to hear is anything else about a president - any president - at least for a few months. However, sometimes life throws you for a loop and makes you want to talk about a president anyway.

Today I'm reviewing The Presidential Dram by Proof & Wood Ventures.  Proof & Wood sources whiskeys, usually from either MGP or Dickel, and it has an uncanny ability to pick some of the better barrels from either. The Presidential Dram is part of Proof & Wood's DC Collection, and if you're unfamiliar with it, I've already reviewed The Senator and The Justice.  There is also The Representative and The Ambassador, neither of which I've tried yet.

The Presidential Dram is sourced from MGP and distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It entered the barrel at 120° and then aged for One Term (four years, although Dave Schmier of Proof & Wood said it "could be" five). It is a single-barrel bourbon, bottled at a barrel proof of 116.9°, and is non-chill filtered. One of the neat things with Proof & Wood is what they offer tends to be priced quite reasonably. In the case of The Presidential Dram, you are looking at $79.99, which is $10.00 more than The Senator, but equally less than The Justice.  The Presidential Dram is a once-every-four-years release.

I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for sending me a sample of The Presidential Dram in exchange for an honest, no-strings-attached review.  And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my trusty Glencairn glass, The Presidential Dram is deep, reddish amber. It left an ultra-thin rim on the wall, and the legs, if you can even call them that, were fat tears that didn't really move.

Nose:  Sweet and fruity aromas wafted from the glass. What was lacking was anything even resembling wood. The sweet smells were chocolate and caramel. The fruity were citrus, plum, and coconut. When I inhaled the vapor through my mouth, a tsunami of butterscotch raced over my tongue.

Palate:  This is where things got crazy. For me, the first sip of anything is concentrating on the mouthfeel. I don't even care what it tastes like. With The Presidential Dram, my attention deficit disorder kicked in. I was so overwhelmed with flavors that I lost my train of thought. As it turned out, it was thick, creamy, and full-bodied. What distracted me was the punch of plum, cherry, and caramel on the front. At mid-palate, I tasted orange peel, mint, and malted milk balls (think Whoppers without the chocolate coating). Then, on the back, spice finally came into the picture with black pepper, clove, and toasted oak. It was joined by chocolate.

Finish:  There was a slight sizzle on my hard palate, but the finish itself was long and almost silky. It began with high-cacao dark chocolate, charred oak, cherry, and ended with orange peel. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Presidential Dram is only four years old, but you'd never know it. Heck, I had a rough time buying it. This Bourbon could easily pass for much older MGP stock. This one hits all the right buttons for me. If you're concerned that a four-year Bourbon will set you back $80.00, those will evaporate once you taste it. It is time to start reflecting on the 2020 best whiskeys of the year, and The Presidential Dram is a serious contender. The rating on this is simple:  Bottle. If you see it on the shelf, just buy it. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Deadwood American Rye Review & Tasting Notes


The old West was full of romanticism regarding ranchers and cowboys, about gunfights in the middle of the street at high noon. And then, of course, there were the saloons. Often the center of attention on the frontier, saloons served as the watering hole, the theater, and the whorehouse.  It was also a source of tall tales and outlandish characters. One such personality was Bill Hickok. He worked a variety of jobs and was rumored to have killed dozens of men until his untimely death. As it turned out, Hickok was a good storyteller and that's about it. He did kill a few men, but the more accurate number was closer to six.  He did some embellishing, no doubt.

Today I'm reviewing Deadwood American Rye by Proof & Wood Ventures. One of the things I appreciate from Proof & Wood is the transparency aspect. While everything is not disclosed, everything you need to know is disclosed so that, with little effort, you can fill in the blanks on your own. You'll notice a few things when you look the bottle over. Go to the backside and you'll see an age statement:  Carefully aged in full-size American oak barrels at least 24 months. Between the front and back are the very bold words, Sourced Small Batch

For example:  Distilled in Indiana and Tennessee tells you this comes from MGP and George Dickel.  They aren't the only distillers in each state, but they're the two that provide a lot of sourced whiskeys to the rest of the country. What's interesting, however, is that Dickel doesn't have its own Rye. Guess where Dickel gets theirs? MGP!  Well then, why isn't this just sourced from MGP?  Because Dickel takes the MGP stock and runs it through the Lincoln County Process (LCP), which is charcoal filtering designed to remove any harshness and add a smoothness factor.

Finally, you'll find the word straight curiously missing. It isn't the age that prevents that statement - all that's required is two years in new, uncharred oak. Is that due to the LCP? Is there some adulteration that takes place? Or, is it missing words? Remember, we're told full-size American oak barrels. Not new and not charred, although the charring quality becomes obvious. Bottled at 83°, a 750ml will set you back a mere $20.00, making this a very affordable choice.

The most important question you should be asking yourself, though, is Is it any good? I'm here to answer that. Before we #DrinkCurious, however, I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for sending me a bottle in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Let's get to it.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Deadwood American Rye appears the color of honey. It is crystal clear and left a medium rim that gave rise to watery, heavy legs.

Nose:  While I was allowing the whiskey to rest, the room filled with the aroma of menthol. Once I brought the glass to my face, the menthol was joined by mint and oak.  As I inhaled through my lips, dill ran across my tongue. 

Palate:  As the liquid sunshine rolled across my mouth, it was thin and watery. Barrel char was the first thing that I tasted. There was also a smoky quality beyond that char. Mid-palate was sweet brown sugar and heavy rye spice. On the back was cinnamon.

Finish:  The cinnamon started as Red Hots candy and very strong black pepper and lasted a few minutes.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:   As I drank it, I was torn between the brash flavors and my desire to slam my fist on the bar and scream Smooooooth! It was obviously young and uncomplicated. With that boldness, it would do well in most cocktails. I can't say that I would choose this for a neat pour. Given its already low proof, I'd not want to experiment with water. If you want affordable rye for mixing, this is worthy of consideration. That's not what I look for in whiskey and as such, this one earns a Bar recommendation. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Senator Barrel Proof Rye Review & Tasting Notes

It is funny how things change in a short period of time. Not too long ago, if you said you had MGP whiskey (be it Bourbon or Rye), people would roll their eyes and yawn. But, in the last year or so, suddenly MGP is the golden child. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. And, everyone is willing to pay top dollar for it.  That's market hype for you.

I'm not suggesting MGP isn't good. In fact, the opposite is true. Before MGP was popular, I was impressed by it. Call me an early adopter, if you will. I'm glad to see how much respect MGP has these days. I'm not so keen on some of the prices that are being charged, but whatever. MGP makes some very good whiskeys and, like anyone else, they have mediocre barrels. So, you can't hang your hat on something that is MGP distillate.

Enter, Stage Right, an MGP-sourced barrel-proof Rye called The Senator. The Senator is brought to you by Proof & Wood Ventures of Bardstown, Kentucky. I've reviewed whiskeys out of Proof & Wood before. They're barrel pickers and blenders.  Headed by Dave Schmier, who founded Redemption Whiskey, they choose what they deem to be the "best" of what a distillery has to offer and from there, they do their magic.

The Senator is a Straight Rye aged-stated at six years. That means the youngest whiskey is that age. As this is not single barrel Rye, it is possible to have older whiskeys in the batch. The Senator is a limited-edition release that states on the label when it was distilled (in this case, 2013) and when it was bottled (in this case, Fall of 2019). Since I said this was barrel-proof, it happens to weigh in at 116°.  The lowest retail price I found online was $69.99. Finally, since it is straight, that means there are no additives aside from water to adulterate the whiskey.  It also comes in a wax-sealed top, so that must mean it is awesome, right?

I'd like to thank Proof & Wood Ventures for providing me with a sample of The Senator in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. With that being said, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Senator introduces itself as a bright copper. Frankly, I was expecting something deeper in color, especially as a barrel-proof Rye. But, whatever. It left a thin rim on the wall, yet, that thin rim created a thick, wavy curtain to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Things started off very floral. That was soon joined by caramel and oak. As I continued to explore, I discovered cinnamon, nutmeg, and mint.  When I inhaled through my mouth, a blend of thick caramel and rye spice tangoed across my tongue. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin, yet bold. I know that sounds weird. Cinnamon and dry wood took demanded time on the front of my palate. Then, oak and char interrupted at mid-palate. Candied orange slices spoke up, too.  On the back, I tasted clove and mint.

Finish:   Closing arguments were long and dry (but not boring). Leather and tobacco leaf came out of nowhere, and the clove from the back kept things interesting. 

Because I was in an overly-curious mood, I decided to add two drops of water to my glass to see what would happen.

Nose:  You know Emeril Lagasse? You know how he'd say, BAM! at anything he wanted to get you to pay attention to?  Well, caramel went BAM!  Cinnamon and sweet cream provided some support, and the slightest hint of orange zest made itself known for good measure. When I inhaled through my mouth, all I could find was that caramel.

Mouth:  The light body remained, but any semblance of boldness was completely sequestered. At the front, I tasted musty oak and cinnamon. Mid-palate was dry oak and barrel char. On the back, the only thing I picked out was clove.

Finish:  Despite the added water, that long, dry finish remained It consisted of clove, rye spice, and tobacco leaf.

I am pretty Type-A when it comes to adding water. I use an eye-dropper. I need to be exact because I want to give everything a fair chance on equal ground. I absolutely preferred this neat.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Forget the water-added version.  The neat pour was flavorful, spicy, and sweet in all the right places. Granted, it allowed for some numbing of my hard palate, but that didn't stop me from discerning flavors. At $80.00, this is probably at the upper-echelon of what I'd pay for it and still be a happy camper. I wouldn't go more than that, though. So, for $80.00, this one takes my coveted Bottle rating. For anything higher, you'll want to try it at a Bar before committing to a bottle. Cheers!

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

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Justice Barrel Proof Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

I'm gonna lay all my cards on the table.  I am, generally speaking, suspect of George Dickel whiskeys. It isn't that they're bad, but what I've had has been fairly unimpressive. I've walked away from several barrel picks, not knowing they were Dickel beforehand, but after passing judgment, learned they were, indeed, Dickel barrels. For me, there's always that Flinstones vitamin taste to it.

The #DrinkCurious lifestyle is one of each barrel or bottle considered innocent until proven guilty. That means when you are presented with something you've rejected in the past, you don't dismiss future opportunities. You take them one at a time. Everything deserves a second, third, or even fourth chance.

Proof and Wood Ventures is a company that brands itself as Purveyors and Blenders of American and Global Spirits. Founded by Dave Schmier, it takes what it considers only the best barrels and tries to improve upon them. That's a heck of a task that many have tried and few have found serious success. 

Today I'm reviewing The Justice, which is a Dickel-sourced Bourbon that carries a 14-year age statement. Proof and Wood purchased a dozen barrels and blended them to make this barrel-proof Bourbon. And, when I say barrel proof, you're going to think I'm crazy when I tell you what it is:  94.2°!  That's one of the lowest barrel-proof American whiskeys I've had the opportunity to try, and, in fact, might be the lowest. It was distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2019. Retail is about $89.00.

I'd like to thank Proof and Wood for providing me a sample of The Justice in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's have a trial, shall we?

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Justice appeared before The Court as a deep, brown amber. It left evidence of a thick, heavy rim and fat, slow legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of cinnamon and vanilla pled the case. Then, cherry, plum, and toasted oak were introduced for consideration. When I inhaled through my lips, the vanilla was insistent.

Palate:  The oral arguments started thick and full-bodied.  Plum, cinnamon, and cherry testified first. Then, midway through, cola, stewed fruits, and citrus bore witness. Finally, dry oak and cocoa established their presence.

Finish:  A long, intense cross-examination of dry oak, spearmint, black pepper, and leather made their cases. Then, cherry offered an objection insisting it was owed due diligence.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found a few things that impressed me. First, the mouthfeel got thicker and thicker each time I sipped. Second of all, this one drank much higher than 94° - it wasn't burn per se, but there was a definite Kentucky... err... Tennessee hug. The verdict is in:  This one changed my mind on Dickel. I thought this was deliciously complex, it was unusual, and I think this is worth every penny of the $89.00 investment. As such, it takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Monday, August 3, 2020

Tumblin' Dice Straight Bourbon Heavy Rye Mashbill Review & Tasting Notes

As a reviewer, one of the things I really appreciate is transparency. Actually, as a consumer, I appreciate it even more. So when a brand goes out of its way to not play games or hide behind a cute backstory, I give them props.

One such brand is Proof and Wood Ventures, a company that brands itself as Purveyors and Blenders of American and Global Spirits. Founded by Dave Schmier, it takes what it considers only the best barrels and tries to improve upon them. That's a heck of a task that several folks have attempted, and few with much success.

Today's review is Tumblin' Dice Straight Bourbon Whiskey Heavy Rye Mashbill. If you think that's one heck of a name, I'm guilty of shortening it. Before that big name, it says, "Deadwood Presents." Tumblin' Dice is sourced from MGP of Indiana. It is made from a seriously high rye mashbill. I'm talking 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley.  It carries a four-year age statement, and this one weighs in at 100°.  MGP doesn't have a standard char level for its barrels, but, because this is Bourbon, we do know new, charred oak was used.  Retail of Tumblin' Dice is about $40.00.

All of this, short of the price, is on the label. That's disclosure!

Before I go any further, it is time for my own disclosure. Proof and Wood sent me a sample of Tumblin' Dice in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Now it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Tumblin' Dice appeared burnt umber in color. I saw a thicker rim that generated even thicker legs to slowly drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of orange peel and stone fruits started things off. Underneath those were cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel.  Finally, I got a whiff of milk chocolate.  When I brought the air through my open mouth, vanilla and oak rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  A warming, oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel presented caramel, plum, and citrus flavors on the front of my palate. As it moved along, dark chocolate, nutmeg, and a hefty cinnamon punch took over. That, in turn, led to charred oak, creamy vanilla, and rye spice on the back.  

Finish:  The cinnamon from mid-palate continued into the very long finish. That was married with toasted oak, cocoa, and at the end, plum.  

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If I'm going to be honest, and that's what you expect of me (and I expect of me), this is a damned good four-year Bourbon. The nose, palate, and even the finish are complex enough to keep things interesting. I loved the plum bomb at the end. As varied as things were, they all seemed to compliment each other. If you tried to describe Christmas in a bottle, this would be it. Think of grandma's fruitcake. Her good recipe, not the garbage that everyone regifts for decades.

Now let's look at the two Andy Jacksons it'll take to get a bottle. I wouldn't blink twice handing that over. As me for an Alexander Hamilton on top of it and I'd not even flinch. If you see this, buy it. You won't be disappointed.  I shouldn't even have to say this, but it earns a Bottle rating from me.  Cheers!

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