Showing posts with label Ross & Squibb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ross & Squibb. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

O.H. Ingram River Aged Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


So many American distillers are trying to differentiate themselves from one another. Some do barrel finishing, some get creative with a mashbill, and play with char levels and barrel staves. Others include exposing the whiskey to artificial seasons, blasting music at the barrels, or sticking them on a boat.


There is one brand that is famous for aging whiskey on boats: Jefferson’s. Its Ocean range sends barrels around the world, with the idea that the rocking sea, stormy weather, and ocean air would impact the whiskey inside. I’ve reviewed AO Come Hell or High Water from Pilot House Distilling, which puts barrels on fishing vessels in the Pacific Northwest.


But I’ve never heard of aging whiskey in a rickhouse floating on the Mississippi River – until today.


About 150 years ago, O.H. Igram owned an Eau Claire, Wisconsin lumber company that sent logs down the Mississippi River. His grandson, O.H. “Hank,” expanded the family business to include river barges. Then, O.H. Ingram III came up with the idea of aging whiskey on barges and founded Brown Water Spirits in 2015. A year later, he experimented with his vision. In 2019, he obtained his DSP; the first-even one granted for a floating rickhouse; in 2020, the initial batches were ready.


O.H. Ingram attributes three things that make the process special:


Motion – Our whiskey works harder than any other. The motion of the river keep the whiskey inside our barrels constantly churning, exposing more liquid to the surface of the barrel where it extracts more flavor from the wood.

Temperature – Our whiskey experiences large diurnal shifts (the difference in temperature between daily highs and lows). The heat from the daytime sun causes the pores in the wood to expand and absorb more whiskey. At night, the river pulls the heat from the barge causing the pores to squeeze the whiskey back into the barrel along with the flavors it has extracted.

Humidity – the humidity from the river keeps our barrels moist. Aside from slowing down evaporation of the whiskey (known as the Angel’s Share), the sugars in our barrels do not dry out in the heat, keeping a nice molasses-like consistency. This allows the whiskey to better extract the flavors from the wood.”O.H. Ingram River Aged


O.H. Ingram River Aged’s portfolio includes a Straight Bourbon, a Straight Rye, a Straight American Whiskey, and a Flagship Bourbon. Today I’m sipping on the Straight Bourbon. It is distilled in Indiana utilizing the MGP/Ross & Squibb 51% corn/45% wheat/4% malted barley mashbill. It carries no age statement, which means there are at least four years of exposure to oak. Packaged at 52.5% ABV (105°), a 750ml bottle costs about $69.99.


Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I must thank Brown Water Spirits for providing me with a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it, shall we?


Appearance: I sipped this whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. Inside, the liquid presented as deep chestnut and formed a thinner rim. That rim released wide, sticky tears that crawled back into the pool.


Nose: The aroma consisted of cherry, pear, freshly-sawn oak, and honeysuckle. When I drew the air into my mouth, I tasted lightly-toasted oak.


Palate: A thick, weighty texture crossed my lips and the front of my palate encountered cinnamon, vanilla, and orange rind. I found nut, honey, and apple flavors as the Bourbon moved to the middle. The back featured new leather, nutmeg, and toasted oak.


Finish: I first noticed how numb my hard palate became. There wasn’t any burn; it just numbed it like I visited the dentist. Leather, orange rind, and cinnamon spice remained to form a medium finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: O.H. Ingram River Aged Straight Bourbon is an unusual pour. I’ll embrace that the sleeping whiskey was impacted by life on the river, and this isn’t a gimmick. This Bourbon is so off-profile for MGP’s wheated mashbill. I liked it, but I am not in love with it. When the price is considered, I will toss a Bar rating at it. Cheers!  


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


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


Saturday, December 31, 2022

Clyde May's Special Reserve 6-Year Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The history of the Clyde May’s brand is rather tumultuous. It is named for Lewis Clyde May, a talented moonshiner from Alabama. He was a World War II Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient while serving in the Army’s 77th Infantry Division. He was a peanut farmer. He was also caught and convicted for illegally making his shine.


In 1998, Clyde’s son Kenny started the Conecuh Ridge Distillery in Troy, Alabama. Because distilling in Alabama was still illegal, the whiskey was sourced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (more popularly known as Willett). In 2004, the Alabama Senate passed a resolution making Conecuh Ridge Fine Alabama Whiskey the official spirit of the state, which was curious since it was illegal to distill!  The governor vetoed the resolution, and the House and Senate overrode the veto. Soon after, Kenny was arrested for selling alcohol without a license, selling alcohol to a minor, and possessing an “excess” amount of alcohol in a dry county.


If that’s not crazy enough, Conecuh Ridge Distillery lost its license to sell Alabama’s Official Spirit in Alabama! 


A holding group then purchased the brand, reorganized it in 2014, and called it Conecuh Ridge Distillery, Inc.  In 2017, the brand announced it would build a new distillery in Troy, slated to open in early 2023.


Today I’m exploring Clyde May’s Special Reserve, a 6-year Straight Bourbon distilled by MGP/Ross & Squibb, although the mashbill is undisclosed. This Bourbon is non-chill filtered and packaged at 110°. It should run in the neighborhood of $60.00.


“In 1946, before there was a craft whiskey boom, Clyde May revolutionized the art of whiskey making by crafting a unique style of whiskey we refer to as Alabama style. Clyde discovered that by using dried apples in the aging process, it resulted in a whiskey of unparalleled smoothness and richness. The ultimate sipping whiskey.


Back in the day, Clyde May gifted this select stock of barrels as a sign of respect to his close friends and lucky locals. Today we pay homage to Clyde and offer you our Special Reserve Straight Bourbon.”Conecuh Brands


Sixty-some-odd dollars for 110° six-year MGP Bourbon seems reasonable; of course, that’s assuming it tastes good. The only way that can be determined is to pour a glass and #DrinkCurious. Conecuh Brands generously provided me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a liquid the color of burnt umber. A medium rim released slow, sticky tears.


Nose: I smelled brown sugar, corn, cinnamon, and cherries. Despite allowing it to rest for about 20 minutes, there was still a punch of ethanol. When I brought the air into my mouth, molasses coated my tongue.


Palate: In contrast with the nose, there was no ethanol blast on my palate. An extremely oily mouthfeel introduced vanilla and caramel on the front. Raisin, black currant, and dark chocolate flavors were at the middle, while charred oak, cinnamon, and clove formed the back. 


Finish: I encountered a long, spicy finish of dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, clove, and barrel char. There was a kiss of caramel before everything fell off.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Clyde May’s Special Reserve is a Bourbon that drinks at its stated proof, if not a smidge higher. The spice notes became bolder as I continued to sip, and if I tasted this blind, I would swear to you that it was an American Rye. Overall, this whiskey doesn’t offer something to differentiate itself from other high-rye Bourbons. Is it priced reasonably? Yes. But it hasn’t crossed the threshold to a Bottle rating, so I recommend you try this one at a Bar first. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


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


Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Prideful Goat 6-Year Straight Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Many whiskey drinkers are used to seeing new brands on the shelf that come out of nowhere but command a super-premium price. Aside from the sticker shock, what's noticeable is that the whiskey is almost always sourced and comes in a pretty package.


The Prideful Goat offered a different approach:


While whiskey used to be a lot more inexpensive, we are dedicated to doing everything possible to keep costs low and trying to maintain the most reasonable pricing in current and future releases on the market. The Prideful Goat Straight Rye Whiskey is a fantastic, reasonably priced straight rye whiskey that is meant to be shared amongst friends.”


You may see plenty of social media posts about those new whiskeys, but searching for unbiased reviews is challenging. I’m here to fix that, at least with The Prideful Goat 6-Year Straight Rye.


The Prideful Goat Straight Rye was sourced from MGP (now Ross & Squibb) utilizing its 95% rye/5% malted barley recipe. As you can guess from the name, it took six years to mature in new, charred oak barrels. It aged for an additional undisclosed period at Gulf Coast Distillers (now Giant Texas Distillers) in Houston. Batches are limited to between 30 and 40 barrels.


Non-chill filtered, this whiskey weighs in at a healthy 59.2% ABV (118.4°). It enjoys distribution in eight states (with three more to follow): California, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida. It is also offered online at Seelbach’s and Bourbon Outfitters.


I procured my sample from Randy Sullivan of Bourbon Real Talk®. There were no strings attached aside from taking part in the online presentation. I did the #DrinkCurious thing, which led me to pen my honest review and assessment.


Appearance: I sipped this one neat in my Glencairn glass. The Rye presented as orange amber, forming a medium rim and slow, sticky legs.


Nose: An interesting aroma consisted of butterscotch, bubble gum, orange peel, cinnamon, toasted oak, and clove. It took me longer than usual to pluck those out, but it was worth the wait. That bubble gum was unmistakable when I inhaled the vapor through my lips.


Palate: The mouthfeel was oily, and at the front of my palate, things began spicy with spearmint, cinnamon, and orange citrus. The middle featured that strange bubble gum and butterscotch combination, joined by caramel. The back offered leather, oak tannins, and clove.


Finish: A long, lingering finish left flavors of orange, caramel, leather, oak, and spearmint in my mouth and throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This Rye has been among the more unusual MGP whiskeys I’ve encountered. I commend The Prideful Goat for not doing yet another me-too Rye. I found no reason to proof things down; the 118.4° was lovely and full of flavor. When you consider the $59.99 investment, this hits all the right buttons to take 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.


Friday, October 7, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Bourbon (2022) Review & Tasting Notes

Last year, I had a chance to review the 2021 Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Bourbon. It was fantastic dram and showed another facet of what Master Blender Joe Beatrice can do. When Barrell announced the release of 2022 Gray Label Bourbon, I was curious how it would differ; and that it has.


Gray Label Bourbon starts with variously-aged distillates from Indiana (MGP/Ross & Squibb), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Whereas the 2021 edition (Release 4) was made of only three mashbills, the 2022 version (Release 5) comprises five. Those mashbills are undisclosed, but they should be familiar regardless due to the sources.


Here’s where things get interesting. After Joe and his team blended the five, they were placed in finishing barrels made from 36-month air-dried staves. But, those weren’t any ordinary staves; they were from barrels that held previous versions of Gray Label Bourbon.


Like all things Barrell, Gray Label is bottled at cask strength which, in this case, is 100.58°. And, like all things Gray Label, it has a suggested price of $249.99. What is unusual is that Release 5 carries no age statement, whereas Releases 1 through 4 were 15 years. I have no insight as to why the age statement was dropped, but it is a curiosity.


Now that this year’s Gray Label Bourbon background is known let’s delve into the unknown and #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank Barrell for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, Gray Label Bourbon presented as burnt umber as it formed a medium rim. Thin droplets formed and slid back to the pool.


Nose: The nose carried a robust fruity fragrance of plum, cherry, pineapple, stewed peach, and apple pie filling. It was accompanied by sweet vanilla and ginger. Inhaling through my lips brought a blast of cherry vanilla ice cream.


Palate:  You’d think that at 100°+, this Bourbon would have a punch, and like me, you’d be wrong. I found the texture creamy as the front of my palate plucked ripe melons, plantains, and vanilla cream. Those sweet fruits vanished as the whiskey crossed the middle of my palate. Instead, I tasted nutmeg, coconut, and thick molasses. Those flavors vaporized when my back encountered peanut butter, honey, and oak.


Finish: Clove, oak, peanut butter, and nutmeg stuck to my tongue while black tea and green grape hugged my throat, creating a slow, building finish that, like the palate, hit a crescendo before falling off a cliff.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Barrell has slammed another hit out of the park with Gray Label Bourbon. I loved its complexity on both the nose and palate, how flavors took turns rather than simply melding, the luxurious mouthfeel, and the lovely finish. If I had $250 burning a hole in my pocket, I’d grab a Bottle and walk away thrilled. However, this price eclipses what the average whiskey drinker can spring, and as such, like the other Gray Label whiskeys, my final rating is a Bar. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Thursday, September 1, 2022

Remus Repeal Reserve Series VI Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

One problem in the Wonderful World of Whiskey is that a subsequent incarnation has to live up to the reputation of a former when an annual release has received tremendous accolades. So is the case with Remus Repeal Reserve VI. You see, Remus Repeal Reserve V took my 2021 Whiskey of the Year award. It was mind-blowingly good and not overly challenging to find (at least, not until I crowned it, but that’s just a coincidence). If you’d like, you can read that review here.


“The Remus Repeal Reserve Series provides our team the opportunity to showcase the incredible array of aged reserves available to work with, as well as our expertise at blending these Bourbons to create a special medley each year. Series VI is the latest in this award-winning collection that is certain to be yet another excellent example of what our Remus Repeal collection represents:  what great Bourbon can be.” – Ian Stirsman, Master Distiller


The story of George Remus is one of my favorite examples of Bourbon lore, and I hope you’ll allow me to go off on a slight tangent. I’ve taken this from my review of Series III. 


Remus was an American icon. Oh, maybe not the best example of a decent person, but he was, nonetheless, an icon. He was known as King of the Bootleggers.  He was a criminal defense attorney. Some of his clients were bootleggers, most of them were murderers, and he got a green tint in his eye watching his bootlegging clients making a fortune. One day, he decided he knew more about the criminal justice system than anyone else, and he could make a ton of money by using his legal knowledge to do illegal activities and not fall prey to the authorities.  


Remus was, indeed, very clever.  He found a loophole in the Volstead Act that allowed him to buy distilleries and distill medicinal whiskey. He wound up buying most of the operating distilleries in and around Cincinnati, and his schtick was that his employees would hijack his finished product, which he would then turn around and resell on the black market.  


One day, Remus found out he wasn't as clever as he thought as the government indicated him of thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, and a jury quickly convicted him. He was sent to the federal pokey in Atlanta. 


But wait, there’s more! Remus buddied up to a fellow prisoner and bragged about how all of his money was controlled by his wife. He didn't know that his new pal was an undercover agent named Franklin Dodge. Dodge then resigned from his position and engaged in an affair with Remus's wife. The two fell in love and started selling off Remus's assets, leaving him with a mere $100. 


Don’t stop reading because that’s not the end.  Remus was on his way to court for his divorce proceeding when he chased down his ex-wife's car, got out, and shot her to death in true gangster fashion. He pled insanity, and the jury believed him, taking less than twenty minutes to deliver the verdict.


Now, let’s get back to the business of reviewing this Bourbon. This sixth release is described as a medley of five Bourbons, ranging in age from eight to fourteen years and, as always, bottled at 100°. All five Bourbons are MGP (now Ross & Squibb) distillate. The distillery will launch Repeal Reserve this month to coincide with Bourbon Heritage Month and has a suggested retail price of $99.99. The components of this medley include:


  • 2% of 2008 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 17% of 2012 Bourbon (36% rye)
  • 27% of 2012 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 29% of 2014 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 25% of 2014 Bourbon (36% rye)


Now that you know what makes Remus Repeal Reserve special, it is time to #DrinkCurious and address my concern:  Will Series VI hold up to Series V? I must thank Luxco for providing me this sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  The liquid presented as deep, dark mahogany when poured neat into my Glencairn glass. A medium-thick rim formed syrupy legs that dragged back to the pool.


Nose: As I inspected the rim and legs, an aroma of berry fruits wafted from the glass. When I drew it closer to my nostrils, I found linen, leather, oak, and vanilla. Thick caramel danced across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was light and silky. The front of my palate encountered Fig Newton cookies, stewed fruits, and vanilla, while the middle featured caramel, nutmeg, and toffee. I tasted charred oak, mint, and fresh leather.


Finish: A soft but long finish was constructed of nutmeg, barrel char, leather, caramel, white pepper, and rye spice.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Series VI was very tasty, and to get this out of the way, it earns every bit of my Bottle rating.  The remaining question, however, is if it holds up to Series V. As much as I enjoyed Series VI, it didn’t meet its lofty standard. I wanted to ensure that my memory wasn’t romanticizing last year’s release and to verify that, I poured myself a glass of my 2021 Whiskey of the Year, which confirmed my suspicion. But, despite that, don’t pass up Series VI. It is well worth the investment. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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



Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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