Showing posts with label RespectTheBottomShelf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RespectTheBottomShelf. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

X By Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


Scotch made for mixing. Scotch made for mixing? Oh no, is this going to be one of those awful things that need something else to make it tolerable?


I've had Scotch made for mixing before, and frankly, I enjoyed it neat.  A little over two years ago, I reviewed Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" and it earned a Bottle rating. In fact, I said, "I'd buy this bottle all day long."  It was $49.99 and I didn't even bother using it as a mixer.


Today I'm pouring X by Glenmorangie, which is a Highland Single Malt made for mixing. Glenmorangie wants this description to be unmissed. It is on the bottle. It is on the hangtag. There is even a QR code on the reverse label so you can get mixing recipes. Full disclosure time:  I'm a big fan of Glenmorangie and I can't recall anything that was just meh out of this distillery. Dr. Bill Lumsden knows his stuff and he doesn't release whisky for the sake of releasing whisky. There is a ton of thought and consideration put into each bottling and if it doesn't meet his standards, it doesn't make it to market. 


As I stated, this is a single malt, which means that the whisky came from a single distillery and hasn't been blended with other whiskies. It aged in the normal ex-Bourbon barrels as the original Glenmorangie. However, another portion was aged in virgin, charred oak casks. It is bottled at a basic 40% ABV (80°) and a 750ml bottle will set you back about $25.00 or so. It carries no age statement. Wait! Don't roll your eyes. Read on, I beg you.


"Crafted with top bartenders, this is our single malt made for mixing. Pair its sweeter and richer taste with your favourite mixer to create delicious drinks." - Glenmorangie

 

Interestingly enough, that's pretty much the same story from Auchentoshan


I'd like to thank Glenmorangie for providing me a sample of X in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. But, before I do that, I want to talk about the presentation. Most distilleries send a bottle between 50ml and 750ml and maybe some printed material. A select few pour a lot of effort into what's sent out. Glenmorangie went above and beyond.





The box was huge. My Glencairn glass is there for perspective. When I pulled off the outer box, inside were five bottles:  X by Glenmorangie, Topo Chico Twist of Grapefruit, Fever-Tree Club Soda, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa. It also contained suggested cocktail recipes. One of which I'm going to make (after I taste the X neat) is called X Ginger:

  • 1.5oz X by Glenmorangie
  • Ginger Ale

Fill a glass with cubed ice. Add X by Glenmorangie then top with ginger ale. Gently stir and garnish with an orange wedge.


Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass (because X is made for mixing and I judge all whiskeys, at the very least, neat), this Scotch presented as deep gold in color. I observed a fat rim that formed a thick, wavy curtain that slowly crashed back to the pool.


Nose:  The aromas of orange citrus and honeysuckle were unmistakable. It bordered on almost overwhelming. But, beneath those were pear, butterscotch, and something floral. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, I could swear I was eating a macaroon. 


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and viscous. In fact, the more I sipped, the huskier it became.  The front featured raw honey, malt, and almond. Flavors of orange peel and crème brulée were next, and on the back, it was simply char and toasted oak. 


Finish:  My hard palate tingled despite the minimal proof. Virgin oak was evident and was joined by char, almond, and maple syrup. Like the mouthfeel, the finish was initially short, and subsequent sips elongated it to what I would describe as medium in length.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Is Glenmorangie X made for mixing? Well, sure, because Glenmorangie says so. Is it made for drinking neat? You betcha. This was a sweet but simple Scotch that provided a pleasant experience. When you compare Glenmorangie X to many other $25.00 Scotches, this not only deserves a Bottle rating but also provides an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf


Afterword:  For whatever it is worth, I made the X Ginger cocktail sans the orange simply because I didn't have one on hand. It did tame the ginger beer and give it a sweetness that complimented the expected spiciness.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Friday, July 9, 2021

Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes




I'm often amazed, with all the whiskeys that I've had checked into my library, what has never been in the catalog. When you get into what I'd classify as The Basics, that should be a part of pretty much any whiskey bar.  Evan Williams. Buffalo Trace. Jim Beam. Four Roses. Maker's Mark... you know, the basics. 


Except, I left one out. One iconic American Bourbon distillery - Wild Turkey.


It isn't as though I've not had Wild Turkey products grace my shelf. I have Russell's Reserve. Four different barrels that I've picked, as a matter-of-fact.  And, if you've read any of those reviews, you'll know that until two years ago, I pretty much avoided Wild Turkey.  It has nothing to do with Eddie or Jimmy, they're great guys. But, I didn't care for it.


And then I got into an Austin Nichols Wild Turkey. It was at some American Legion Post and it was hiding behind a bunch of other stuff. It obviously hadn't been poured in a long time. I tried it, and it was simply amazing. I remember asking the bartender if they had any bottles left, and he confirmed that the bottle was just sitting there and they had no more.


Well, flash forward two years and I'm invited to do my first Russell's Reserve pick. Then a second. Then the third. And, I'm loving it. Then I start telling myself that I need to explore other Wild Turkey expressions. I went to a bar and tried Kentucky Spirit. I enjoyed it. I told myself I'll have to grab a bottle of 101. Months passed. COVID hit. And, then my little town, which had been lacking a liquor store for a few years, had a brand new liquor store open up.


I went there on opening day to introduce myself and support them. Because of COVID, they had not received much as far as stock goes. I checked out their whiskey selection, and there it was:  Wild Turkey 101


If you're unfamiliar with 101, it is named after its proof, 101°. The Russells start with a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. It is distilled to an entry proof of 114 °, then is then poured into #4 charred white oak barrels where it is allowed to rest between six and eight years. Retail is about $23.99.


So, how does Wild Turkey 101 taste? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Wild Turkey 101 presents as caramel in color. It offered a thin rim that created fat, wavy legs to drop back to the pool.


Nose:  This one starts as thick caramel and joined by mint. As I continued to explore, I found toasted oak and cinnamon. And, finally, sweet butterscotch. When I inhaled through my lips, stewed peaches glazed my tongue.


Palate:  Wild Turkey 101 has a medium-thick mouthfeel. Drinking this is like eating cinnamon-dusted vanilla custard. As you continue to dip your spoon in the custard, there are raisins down there. Then, you hit some crust - gingerbread crust. At the very bottom was a puddle of maple syrup.


Finish:  Once I got past the sweet, things became spicy. It began with black pepper and dry oak. Then some of the sweetness returned with berry, raisin, and creamy caramel. Overall, it was a medium-to-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  One of the really awesome things about the #DrinkCurious lifestyle is that it forces you to keep coming back to things you haven't enjoyed in the past.  Wild Turkey 101 is flavorful, affordable, and for the money, this is one hell of a Bourbon. It is absolutely a Bottle rating and proves yet again why you offer second chances for redemption. 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.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Old Forester Straight Rye Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


When I took a tour of the Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, I found the tour itself was basic, although I have to admit they have stuff that you don't run into at other distilleries. Between the micro-cooperage and the all-black, steel, industrial rickhouse, it was fun. If you have a chance to go, do it.


But, this isn't a review of their distillery tour. Rather, it is a review of their Straight Rye Whiskey (sorry, Whisky, because Brown-Forman, the parent company, likes to spell it without the e). But I mention the distillery tour because this is the first time I was able to taste their Rye.  Made from a mash of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn, this is the first time in 40+ years that the Old Kentucky Distillery's Normandy Rye Whiskey recipe has seen the light of day. Brown-Forman acquired Old Kentucky in 1940 and the recipe eventually went away. Or, that's the backstory. You know how I feel about some of these backstories - everyone's great-grandpappy had some long-lost recipe that was discovered in an abandoned cupboard and resurrected to make the whiskey you're drinking today. True or not, this is a big step for Brown-Forman to create a unique American Rye and steer away from their standard mash. And, before you ask, yes, this is a completely different mash than sister company Jack Daniel's Rye.


There is no age statement, but we know it is at least two years old due to the Straight designation. And, while this is 100°, like their Old Forester Signature, this is not Bottled-in-Bond. The packaging is simple with a screw-top, metal closure. Retail is just over $20.00 depending on where you shop.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as a definite deep amber. It created a medium-thick rim which generated a thick curtain that slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  A complex blend of oak, vanilla, and floral notes greeted me initially. As I continued to explore, I discovered toasted oak and cocoa. Below that was thick plum.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was a blend of rich vanilla and plum.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and coating.  The front of the palate was light, much lighter than I expected for 100°. I discerned brown sugar, allspice, and nutmeg. Mid-palate was more pronounced with toasted nuts, plum, and slight citrus. The back was even stronger with very heavy cocoa and dark chocolate.


Finish:  There was a deep finish if you are patient. Rye spice and cocoa begin the process. As it drops off, toasted oak and very long-lasting chocolate hang on. Then it falls off about a minute or so later.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is one of those #RespectTheBottomShelf moments that makes me smile. First of all, this is very affordable for everyone. Secondly, there's more complexity than you'd guess from a budget whiskey. I found it fascinating that while the front of the palate started off so soft, it finished with a crescendo. It also drank more closely to barely-legal ryes such as Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond than something with a much higher rye content. I'm chalking that up to the malted barley, which is what produced all of the chocolate and cocoa notes. Not only did I enjoy this, but I enjoyed it so much that I bought a bottle at the distillery (something I rarely do). This one's a definite Bottle.  Cheers!


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

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Deadwood Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Winston Lee North American Blended Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes



One of the really cool things about the #DrinkCurious lifestyle is that, when you're traveling and you stumble upon something you've never even heard of, you stop and try it. Even if the description is a little weird or off-putting, you try everything before passing judgment. Sometimes, you wind up with a nifty surprise. Other times, you just shake your head and mumble to yourself. But, either way, you keep an open mind.


Today I'm reviewing Winston Lee North American Blended Whiskey.  Yeah I know, you've never heard of it. Neither has most of the whiskey world.  It comes from Lee Spirits Co. in Monument, Colorado, a town almost halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs on I-25. It is run by cousins Ian and Nick Lee. Their philosophy is "Our Prohibition forefathers had an outlaw spirit, and so do we."


Blended whiskey has an undeserved bad reputation. Many people will automatically think neutral grain spirits (NGS) blended with Bourbon, Rye, or another type of whiskey.  However, in many cases, it can simply be different kinds of whiskeys blended together. Even in the sophisticated world of Scotch, blends can be fantastic. In the case of Winston Lee, it made from a blend of four-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon, corn whiskey, and unaged rye whiskey. That's proofed down to 94° using Rocky Mountain spring water. Retail is $14.99 and it is currently available only in Arizona and Colorado.


Is this an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf, or did I throw out $15.00?  The only way to know for sure is to crack it open and taste...


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this blend had the color of yellow straw. It left an ultra-thin rim on the wall and fast, watery legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I am unsure what the blend ratio is, but it is obvious the corn whiskey is a large component. That was evidenced by the aroma of sweet corn. The corn was joined by oak and sawdust. Sawdust generally suggests a younger distillate. Beneath those were vanilla, grass, and lemon zest.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was all vanilla.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was both buttery and oily. There was a distinct lack of ethanol which, considering the corn and unaged rye, threw me for a loop. I prepared myself for a punch that never came. Instead, I was greeted with vanilla cream and sweet corn on the front. Mid-palate, I found mild oak. On the back, the rye spice was a tad sharp.


Finish:  This whiskey is like the Energizer Bunny. It kept going and going and going. The unaged rye blasted through with spice, black pepper, and clove. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Despite having a very uncomplicated palate, I found Winston Lee to be full of flavor. This certainly isn't going to blow your socks off, but it had the potential to be rot-gut and it failed miserably at that. I found it enjoyable, and for $15.00, I believe you will, too.  As such, this one certainly earns both the #RespectTheBottomShelf label and a Bottle rating.  Cheers!


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

Friday, December 18, 2020

Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Several years ago, when I first visited The American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky, I saw Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond in the gift shop. It was a bit on the pricy side, at least in my opinion... $20.00 for a 375ml.  It was hard to justify because, for the same amount of money, I could get Jim Beam Bottled-in-Bond in a 750ml for the same price. Being the price-conscious shopper I can be at times (that's cheap for folks that prefer to call a spade a spade), I passed.


And, every time I thought about it, I kicked myself.  The last time I went to Kentucky, there was no time to go to Clermont, although it was something I wanted to do.


Well, lo and behold, this summer, Jim Beam released Old Tub outside of Kentucky, and they did it for the same price, but this time in a 750ml bottle.


I've been impressed with Beam's limited-edition Bourbons. Distiller's Cut was tasty, affordable, and I grabbed a few bottles.  Repeal Batch was lighter but interesting in its own right. As such, when I saw Old Tub on the shelf, I grabbed the one bottle they had.


Old Tub was the original name of Jim Beam Bourbon, and Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond is allegedly the original recipe back from 1880 for what is now Jim Beam White Label:  75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley.  For the record, James B. Beam changed the name from Old Tub to Jim Beam back in 1943.


Being Bottled-in-Bond, while the Bourbon carries no age statement, it is at least four years old, is bottled at 100°, and came from a single distilling season. Old Tub spent its time in #4 charred oak barrels.  It is not only non-chill filtered, but it is unfiltered, basically, the only thing that's happened is Jim Beam sent the aged whiskey through a screen to catch chunks of wood and char.


The question becomes, did I kick myself all these years for no reason, or did I do good by grabbing the lone bottle I saw?  The answer will be found on my palate, and the way to do that is to #DrinkCurious


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Old Tub was a hazy orange amber. It created a thick rim on the wall, that rim generated medium-thick, fast legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was sweet corn. It took a bit to get past that, and when I did, aromas of vanilla, caramel, orange peel, brown sugar, and banana appeared. I was, frankly, shocked the nose was going to be that complicated, as I've never found that on Beam White Label or the other inexpensive, limited-release Bourbons.  When I breathed the vapor in my mouth, I tasted musty hay and corn.


Palate: The mouthfeel was unexpectedly heavy and very, very oily. Despite being 100°, I didn't feel any heat or ethanol blast. Flavors of corn, vanilla, and honey-roasted peanuts were at the front of the palate. Considering this is Jim Beam distillate, I would have been disappointed if peanuts were absent. At mid-palate, things got complicated with tobacco leaf, berries, and orange peel. Those morphed on the back to oak, clove, and cinnamon. 


Finish:  Initially, the finish was short. But, additional sips proved it was medium-long in length. The oak from the back became smoky, the cinnamon from the back took on a cinnamon apple quality, and then toffee came out of nowhere.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $21.00 Bourbon that can compete with more expensive options.  It is full of flavor, much more than you'd ever assumed, and it goes down oh-so-easy. I'm really hoping this limited edition isn't too limited, because I loved it, and not only is this a Bottle rating but an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf. If you see this, get it. No excuses, no hemming-and-hawing. Trust me, just grab it. Cheers!


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

 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The 30 Days of Bourbon Recap and my Donation to RSDSA.org to Help Cure CRPS

September was a ton of fun - a well-needed (and earned) break from the disaster that is 2020. The #30DaysofBourbon challenge was bigger, badder, and better than it has ever been. This year, I relaxed one of the rules allowing for different proofs of the same label to be counted as different Bourbons. You can thank COVID-19 for that.



Truth be told, until the last few years, I've hated being in photos and I still hate being in videos. I don't mind public speaking, I don't mind being a guest on someone's webcast. In fact, I enjoy those things. But, when I'm on my own doing my own thing, I really dislike being in front of the camera. As such, part of the 30 Days of Bourbon challenge is for me to make myself uncomfortable.


Things started off with a video introduction and explanation. Then, on September 1st, the challenge kicked off with Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond.  This is my house Bourbon, the one that I never allow to disappear from my whiskey library.



Day two was a celebration of George Garvin Brown's birthday. He was the namesake of Brown-Forman, which owns Old Forester, and is credited with offering the first bottled Bourbon. Each year, on September 2nd, Old Forester releases its Birthday Bourbon. This release is from 2016.  By the way, check out my t-shirt!



On Day three, I decided to go with something discontinued. In this case, it was Ezra Brooks 7-year, which is a 101° rumored to be sourced from Heaven Hill. If you stumble across this one on the shelf, do yourself a favor and grab it. You can thank me later!



For the fourth day, I decided to crank things up a bit and pour something barrel proof. That led me to EH Taylor Barrel Proof. This one is from 2015 and rings in at a hefty 124.7°. It was the first Bourbon I had that gave me a purely overwhelming blast of berries.




Day Five was my introduction to Barrel-Proof Bourbon:  Elijah Craig.  Not this particular release, but still before the bottle redesign. This beauty came out of the barrel at 139.4° in May 2016. In the current labeling system, it would be called B516.



As day six rolled around, I selected an exemplary reason why it is so important to #DrinkCurious. When I was early on in my whiskey journey, my wife bought me Old Weller Antique. It burned like hell and my palate was just too young to appreciate it. About two years ago, I revisited it, and ever since then I've been kicking myself for passing up all the opportunities I had to buy it while it was easy to find.  Lesson learned:  If you don't like something now, give it a second chance down the road.




To round out the first week, Day 7 was probably the most unusual pour:  Jim Beam Signature Whole Rolled Oat.  This is an 11-year Bourbon whose mash substituted rolled oats for the typical rye content. These Signature releases seem to hit the clearance aisles of liquor stores that I've visited, and they're mostly good stuff.




On the eighth day, I selected another discontinued label, this time from Heaven HillOld Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond went from an everyday opportunity to an allocated, limited edition run. You used to be able to pick these up for about $20.00.  The new version will set you back over $100.00, but carries an age statement and is aged many more years. 




The ninth day went to the first private barrel (a/k/a store pick) of the month:  Maker's Mark Private Selection.  This one was for Mahen's which has a few stores in the greater Madison area. Maker's is customizable by the customer - you get to choose from various staves to add to the finish and make it all your own. 



I'm big on humor. Learn, Laugh, & Enjoy Great Whiskey is my slogan. The 10th pour of the month has a funny name: Cinder Dick. It was the name that encouraged me to first try it, because, good or bad, it made me smile. As it turned out, this is a serious whiskey. 




The choice for my 11th pour was not easy. September 11th is a somber day for the United States. What makes one distillery better than another or more deserving? Bourbon is America's Native Spirit, I don't think any single distillery is more "American" than another. But, the Blaum Bros use red, white, and blue on their in-house distilled labels, of which Old Fangled Knotter Bourbon is not. I selected the 12-year cask strength at 114°.


I had something completely different planned for the 12th day, but as happens every single year, things change. Wiggly Bridge Distillery sent me a bottle of its Bottled-in-Bond expression for a review, and after a few days, I couldn't stand the suspense and cracked it open. 



The 13th day brought a very limited-edition pour from Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. out of Dekalb, Illinois. It is a 5.5-grain Bourbon made from wheat, oats, rye, malted barley, and then two types of corn: green and yellow. Those two corn varietals make the 1.5 of the 5.5 grains.  It was aged only a year, but it was one tasty pour.



I rounded out the second week with Old 55 Single Barrel Bourbon. Old 55 is a farm-to-glass whiskey out of Indiana, and their rickhouse is in the basement of a former elementary school, giving it very little change in temperature despite seasonal changes. 




At the halfway point, I decided my 15th pour would be the Bourbon that changed my mind about Texas Bourbons:  Still Austin's The Musician. This two-year-old really impressed me.



I opted out of being in the photo for Day 16 because you'd never see the lettering on the bottle label and it would just look weird. This is Lux Row Distillers' Double Barrel Bourbon, which was my 2019 Bourbon of the Year.




The 17th pour of my challenge was Tumblin’ Dice Barrel Proof. This four-year MGP distillate will knock your socks off, and so will the price. Oh yeah, I'm back in the photos.




The 18th Bourbon was Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond. This is the one that started me on my #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign. It was also my introduction to bonded whiskeys. Unfortunately, this one is kind-of, sort-of discontinued. While still available at 100°, it has lost its Bottled-in-Bond status.



On the 19th day, I poured Wollersheim Distillery's 2020 Spring Release Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. Drink local, right? Moreover, Drink Wisconsinbly!



At the two-thirds mark, twenty days in, I went in with Fighting Cock 103. This is a Heaven Hill Distillery 6-year bottling which hs been discontinued, but a no-age-statement version is still around. 



My 21st pour was Kentucky Peerless Straight Bourbon. This is done in small batches but is bottled at barrel proof. In this case, it was 109.5°.



At this point, I planned on everything forward to be a store pick. The 22nd pour would be the only one that I'd not personally picked, but it had to be done because, well, what would a month of Bourbon be without Buffalo Trace?  This one is from Monumental Enterprises in McFarland. 




And now, for something completely different: Every Bourbon for the remainder of the month is from a barrel that I personally picked. To start that off, the 23rd pour is “Unicorn Slayer” - a 7.5 year Backbone Bourbon bottled at 119.3° and picked by the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuth’s Southside Market.




For the 24th pour, I chose J. Henry & Sons Patton Road Reserve. This was picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Riley's Wines of the World in Madison back in 2018. Barrel number 210!



For the 25th pour, I chose "Scott's Holy Grail" - a 1792 Full Proof picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquors of Middleton in 2019. 



On Day 26, the pour was a Russell's Reserve pick called "The Candyman." Picking Wild Turkey has been an interesting chapter in my life because, until recently, I wasn't the biggest fan. But, I'm at the point in my journey where I appreciate what it is and what it can be. This was a 2020 pick, again for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquor



I’m going with a George Remus pick from a few months ago called “Bootlegger Bentley's.” Bentley is a loveable Newfie that belongs to Troy, the owner of The SpeakEasy_WI. Given the opportunity, I’d steal him. This is one of the better whiskeys I’ve stumbled across in 2020 and was picked for Neil's Liquor in Middleton.

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And then, there's the 28th. Year over year, my 28th pour is the same. Always. This was picked on September 28th, 2013, which happened to be my 11th wedding anniversary. It was my first barrel pick. I really only drink this Four Roses OBSO on September 28th, with my goal to keep being able to take a sip as long as I'm alive. This 10-year comes in at 126.8° and was picked for Fine Spirits in Cooper City, Florida.


With only two days left, I went with Woodinville Whiskey Co's first barrel-proof release in Wisconsin for the 29th pour, picked with The Speakeasy_WI for Neil's Liquor. We called this one "Whassup? Flockers." It weighs in at 119.6°.




And then, finally, all good things come to an end. Day 30, the final day - what to choose? How about an amazing Knob Creek Single Barrel I helped pick for Riley's Wines of the World with The Speakeasy_WI. This one is called "The Rat Pick" and while I've been involved with some incredible barrel picks, this one's my second favorite of all time. Yeah, that's my face on the sticker. 



And with that, we come to the best part of the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge - the giving back. I have selected the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association at RSDSA.org as my charitable donation. I support the RSDSA every year because it is personal - Mrs. Whiskeyfellow has been an amazing Pain Warrior and battling this horrific nerve disorder for several years. The RSDSA provides awareness, assistance, and education about RSD/CRPS and helps drive research for a cure. It is my sincerest hope that one day, CRPS will be a faint memory and those afflicted will be able to live pain-free again.



Thank you for taking part in my #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. Cheers!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Porter's Small Batch Rye "95" Straight Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes



Utah is not a place you immediately associate with whiskey. I mean, this is the Mormon capital of the world. Mormons are not known for imbibing in alcohol. In fact, practicing Mormons abstain from it. Its Words of Wisdom mentions "strong drink" and that's been defined by the Mormon Church as alcohol of any kind, including wine, beer, and yes, whiskey.


Except then, of course, what brand comes to mind after a few moments of thought?  High West Distillery!  High West is very well-known and I'm not sure how that escaped me when I started thinking about this review.


I stumbled upon Ogden's Own Distillery, a micro-distillery that creates a variety of flavored spirits. Founded in 2009, it is located in Ogden.  Its first unflavored whiskey is called Porter's Small Batch Rye 95. Porter is named for Orrin Porter Rockwell, who was known as a determined lawman and a bodyguard to Joseph Smith, Jr., and was an important figure in the founding of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. It made me curious as to why a Mormon would be the namesake of a whiskey.


Porter's Small Batch Rye 95 led me to think the "95" referred to the proof. Nope, instead, it describes the rye content. The label, which, incidentally, is made of and printed on actual wood (versus paper), states it is distilled in Indiana, aged, blended and bottled by Ogden's Own Distillery. It should come as no shock that when you see the words, "Distilled in Indiana" that this mostly means MGP.  When you take into account the mashbill is 95% rye and 5% malted barley, that removes all doubt - that's a standard MGP recipe.


What makes this Rye different from other MGP-sourced whiskeys is the latter part of the label's disclosure. It spent the first quarter of its life aging in Indiana. From there, it was shipped to Utah, where it was aged an additional three years in heavily-charred oak barrels. Utah is a dry climate and the winters tend to be harsher than the humid climate of Indiana. Assuming the warehouse isn't temperature-controlled, that should lead to a significant difference in how the whiskey interacts with the barrel. 


It is then proofed down using spring water that requires a 5-mile hike to obtain. Apparently, this spring is inaccessible to vehicles. I don't quite understand the semantics as I'd assume you'd need a lot of water in the proofing process, especially considering this water is used in Ogden's Own other products as well. The proof is brought down from 111° to 90°.  A 750ml bottle runs about $20.00.


One last thing before I get to the review.  On the front and back labels, there is almost a ghost-printing of Five Wives 7/20.  Five Wives is the name of the vodka that Ogden's Own produces, and the water source is the same. Also, a clear sticker with Porter's face is on the back of the bottle. 




That's a long introduction, and now let's get to why you're here - the tasting notes and my review. I'd like to thank Ogden's Own for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Porter's presents as the color of honey.  It created a thinner rim but fat, watery legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Initially there was dill, honey, and toasted oak. The honey was unexpected especially considering the mashbill. Underneath those were grapes and baking spices.  When I inhaled through my mouth, berries coated my tongue.


Palate:  My first sip was thin and oily with a light body. Subsequent tastes failed to add any weight.  Cinnamon, lemon zest and cocoa started things off. As this rye dropped mid-palate, the citrus changed to orange with an added note of chocolate. Then, on the back, was a combination of toasted oak and toasted cereal grains. 


Finish:  A medium-to-long finish of oak and white peppercorn stuck to my tongue and throat. It was spicy, but there was no "burn" per se.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found Porter's to be different than other MGP-sourced Ryes I've had, particularly in this younger realm. That may have been due to the change in venue for aging or perhaps the spring water used, or even a combination of the two. What was confusing was the notation by Ogden's Own of using a heavily-charred barrel and the simple, toasted profile. Of course, heavily-charred is similar to small batch, which is there's no legal definition of either. My point is I was expecting from that a smoky component that never materialized.


This isn't a mind-blowing whiskey by any means. For a Rye, especially a young one, it is very subdued. It is an easy sipper neat and would be fine in a cocktail where spiciness isn't required. This is a $20.00 bottle. For me, that's an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf, and in this case, I do. And, because of that, this one earns a Bottle rating. Cheers!


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