Showing posts with label Single Barrel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Single Barrel. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Limavady Irish Single Malt, Single Barrel Review & Tasting Notes


In ye olde 1750, alongside the River Roe in County Londonderry, Ireland, John Alexander began making whiskey on his family farm and called his distillery Limavady. Limavady remained in business in one form or another, including adding a brewery, until it was shuttered in 1915 when Distiller’s Finance Corporation (DFC) acquired several Irish distilleries and killed them off.

 

Then, 260-something years later, Darryl McNally, a well-respected veteran of the distilling industry under Bushmills and The Dublin Liberties, traced his family tree and discovered he was related to the Alexanders who began the distillery.

 

“Limavady kept calling, so I said, let’s grab this with both hands. My brother—who was also a distiller at Bushmills—left as well to come into the family Limavady.” – Darryl McNally

 

But McNally didn’t want to simply do another me-too whiskey, especially since he had to source barrels. He planned on offering Irish single malt whiskey but took things a step further. He concentrated on single barrel, single malt whiskeys. While the single-barrel idea isn’t unheard of in Ireland, it is unusual.

 

You know me; unusual is something that always grabs my full attention!


While Limavady doesn’t disclose who distilled its whiskey, we know it is made from 100% malted and unmalted Irish barley that’s been triple-distilled in copper pot stills, then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for about four and a half years. At that point, McNally selects his barrels of whiskey.


Next, the matured whiskey is dumped and finished in former Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks, giving it a chance to pull fruity notes from the wood. Those PX casks are lovingly referred to as Darryl’s Barrels.


Sourcing barrels of whiskey won’t last forever; McNally has a distillery planned so he can make everything in-house and bring distilling back to its historical roots.


Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), it carries a suggested retail price of $49.99.


Each bottle is labeled with the barrel number and bottle number. In the case of the sample that was provided to me, it is Barrel 0082, Bottle 452 of 846. And, speaking of the bottle, the brand didn’t spare any expense. It is an attractive, embossed bottle with Limavady printed lengthwise along the side, 1750 above the label, and has a bulbous neck with a glass stopper.


The bottling process and distribution are performed by WhistlePig, which has partnered with McNally. That allows McNally to concentrate on his whiskey without the hassles of logistics.


Now that we know the backstory, the only thing left is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I thank WhistlePig for providing 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 whiskey the color of bronze. A thick, heavy rim yielded sticky tears that slowly crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose: The journey began with an evident PX influence, with strawberry, apple, pear, and honey, followed by malt and buttery toffee from the Bourbon. When I inhaled through my mouth, honey and pear rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate: Thick and viscous, the whiskey imparted flavors of raw honey, stewed apple, and peach on the front of my palate. The middle consisted of malted barley, grass, and caramel, while the back featured cinnamon, oak, and graham crackers.

 

Finish: Cinnamon spice and oak tannins dominated the beginning, then syrupy honey seemed glued to my mouth and throat. Stewed peaches and apple pie filling slid by, with the whole shebang remaining for several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Limavady has a complex nose, an unusually thick mouthfeel, and a spicy, fruity palate. Its long-lasting finish gently warmed my throat, and I caught myself smiling as I analyzed the experience. To offer a 46% ABV single malt at $50.00 ranks this one heck of a bargain, and I can’t think of a single reason why it hasn’t earned my Bottle rating. On a side note, Limavady is one of the better Irish whiskeys I’ve sampled this year. 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.

 


 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Balcones Single Barrel Texas Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 


Texas whiskeys are getting better. There, I said it!  It used to be if it came from Texas, I wasn’t excited. Then I discovered one that changed my mind. From there, I found Balcones Distilling with a taste of its single malt whiskey. Very recently, I had a chance to peruse its True Blue Cask Strength Straight Corn Whiskey. Today, I’m sipping on its Texas Rye Single Barrel Cask Strength Whiskey

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Balcones Distilling, head on over to that True Blue review.

 

Balcones likes to experiment with variations of components to create its Rye whiskey. My sample came from Barrel 19988, which starts with a mash of 100% Texas-grown rye. That’s distilled twice in its pot still. It is then aged at least 30 months in new European oak barrels. I tend to assume American oak is used with American whiskeys, so this took me a bit by surprise. The whiskey is non-chill filtered and naturally colored (more on that in a bit). It weighs in at a hefty 127.6° (63.8% ABV), and a 750ml package will set you back around $65.00.

 

Before I get to the tasting notes and review, I’d like to thank the Wisconsin distributor for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, the Texas Rye was in competition with only a handful of others for being the darkest, naturally-colored whiskey I’ve come across. Burnt umber is the color descriptor I chose. An ultra-thin rim was formed, which released thin, slow legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose:  Deep oak notes wafted from the glass before I got it anywhere near my face. It was accompanied by dark fruits and roasted coffee beans. When I drew the air into my mouth, it was like dark-roast coffee.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily but not overly so. It also drank way below its stated proof, much closer to something in the mid-90s. The palate was, at least to me, one note: black coffee. It was on the front, middle, and back, and I tasted nothing beyond it.

 

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish offered a bit more than the palate. The black coffee was there; it became slightly bitter. I found some oak notes and the faintest hint of dark chocolate.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m not a coffee drinker. I do like coffee ice cream. But I don’t drink coffee. You absolutely, positively must enjoy the taste of dark-roast coffee to enjoy this whiskey. That’s not me. But I have friends who would go completely nuts over this single-barrel Rye. So, for you coffee drinkers that want a cup of Joe with a kick, this is a Bottle rating. And, for the rest of you, this one 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.


Monday, December 13, 2021

Lost Lantern Fall 2021 Single Cask #4 (Spirit Works Distillery) Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 


Spirit Works Distillery of Sonoma County, California, is a grain-to-glass operation founded in 2012 by the husband-and-wife team of Timo and Ashby Marshall. Ashby is the original Head Distiller, and Krystal Goulart, who trained under Ashby, is also a distiller. Interestingly, Spirit Works earned the 2020 ADI Distiller of the Year award. All of the grain they work with is organic.

 

I’ve reviewed Spirit Works before, and to be completely blunt, I was not pleased. However, one of the fun things about a #DrinkCurious lifestyle is you get to revisit distilleries that missed the mark.

 

It certainly helps that Lost Lantern, an independent bottler that has impressed me with its ability to pick impressive barrels, chose a Rye from Spirit Works. This one is called Fall 2021 Single Cask #4. It starts with a mash of 70% organic rye, 10% malted rye, and 20% malted barley. Once distilled, it rested five years in 53-gallon new American oak barrels from Independent Stave Company. Fall 2021 Release 3 is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and weighs in at a hefty 122°. A 750ml bottle sells for $80.00, and there are 195 available for purchase.

 

I want to thank Lost Lantern for setting up this second-chance opportunity for Spirit Works in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whiskey was the color of burnt umber. For only five years old, that was nice to see. The rim was almost invisible, and thick, fast tears returned to the pool.

 

Nose:  Oak was the first thing my nose picked out. Plum, floral rye, brown sugar, and a whiff of cinnamon followed. As I drew the vapor into my open mouth, clove woke my palate.

 

Palate:  An oily texture greeted my tongue. Dark chocolate was the only note on the front. Nutmeg and rye bread were next, with spiced oak, cinnamon, clove, and oak on the back.

 

Finish:  The cinnamon note kept building into Red Hots. The oak became dry, and dark chocolate outlasted everything. Overall, it was a long finish that seemed well-balanced.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found the nose enticing, especially with the clove. The palate was deep and spicy. The finish would satisfy anyone looking for something warm. Is Fall 2021 Single Cask #4 a bad pour? Not at all. Is it an $80.00 pour? I’m not convinced. I would say, however, that I’m interested in trying more things from Spirit Works, as this was much better than what I tasted earlier this year. This Rye takes a Bar 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.

 


Saturday, November 6, 2021

Obtainium 16-year "Dracarys" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


I’ve reviewed several barrels of Obtainium Light Whiskey in the past. Some were excellent, one or two could better be described as a hot mess. So, when the Lake Country Bottle Club requested I review their barrel pick in conjunction with the Bottle Shop of Grafton, I was open to the adventure.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the Obtainium label, that comes from Cat’s Eye in Bettendorf, Iowa. Cat’s Eye sources and blends whiskeys from various sources. In the case of its Light Whiskeys, those come from MGP. Except MGP wasn’t called MGP when this whiskey was distilled. It was working under the name of Lawrenceburg Distillers, LLC (LDI). Except, LDI wasn’t called LDI when this whiskey was distilled. Instead, it was Seagram’s.

 

Barrel SC-00191 was distilled May 3, 2005, when light whiskey had already fallen out of favor and rested 16 years in vintage, charred oak barrels until dumped on June 9, 2021. The Lake Country Bottle Club named this one Dracarys, the word Daenerys used to summon her dragons to breathe fire in Game of Thrones. It weighs in at a very hefty 140.6°, and is sold out at The Bottle Shop of Grafton. A 375ml was $34.99 and a 750ml was $54.99.

 


 

Before I get to the verdict, I’d like to thank Lake Country Bottle Club for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now I’ll #DrinkCurious to see what this fire-breather is all about. 

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Dracarys presented as the color of bronze amber. It made a sticky, medium-weighted rim that formed long, slow legs.

 

Nose:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to punch the nose so hard it would draw blood. Nope, that didn’t happen. In fact, I struggled to pick up any ethanol whatsoever. It was a soft aroma that included cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, vanilla, and lightly toasted oak. When I pulled the air into my mouth, I discovered crème de menthe.

 

Palate:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to burn the hell out of your palate. Nope, that didn’t happen, either. The front palate featured caramel, chocolate, and nutmeg. The middle was all leather. Then, on the back, I tasted cinnamon, clove, mint, and oak.

 

Finish:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to set fire to your throat. Nope, that didn’t happen.  Instead, flavors of caramel, chocolate, cinnamon spice, clove, and old leather came through.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several Haz-Mat whiskeys before, but I don’t believe any has ever drunk this far below proof. Could it pass for 100° or 110°?  Certainly. It was a pleasant surprise for sure. The nose and palate were well-balanced despite the single leather note on the middle. Dracarys is tasty, and I’m happy to crown a Bottle rating on 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.

 


Monday, October 11, 2021

Balcones True Blue Straight Corn Barrel Proof Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes (2021)

 



Texas whiskey. It is about as polarizing a whiskey category as it gets. I can tell you that until a year ago, I wasn't a fan at all of it. I found it hot, one-or-two notes (oak and corn or corn and oak), and pricey, especially for the return on investment.


As I was saying, a year ago I found one that changed my mind and allowed me to #DrinkCurious with less fear. I still find fault in many Texas offerings, but I'm keeping the door open to discover hidden gems. If you're interested, it was The Musician from Still Austin.


One of the reasons Texas whiskey is, well, unappealing is everything ages there so quickly due to the heat. It can, as we saw this past February, get pretty darned cold there, too. But, mostly it is hot. And, many distilleries choose to age in smaller barrels, making the corn and oak, oak and corn dominance even stronger.


Today I'm sipping on another Texas whiskey. This time, it is from Balcones Distilling out of Waco. Balcones is a grain-to-glass distillery, using blue corn from New Mexico and barley from Texas. Founded in 2008 in an old welding shop, operations were up and running a year later. It utilizes copper pot stills. Then, in 2016, it opened a new distillery in a former storage building which was many more times the size of the original. Jared Himstedt, Balcones' Head Distiller, was a homebrewer before joining the team at Balcones from its inception.


"At barrel proof, True Blue Cask Strength preserves the bold flavors and aromas straight from our premium barrels. Select casks yield a power expression of our blue corn whisky that opens with deep notes of brown sugar, roasted nuts and buttered toast, while lingering honeysuckle and citrus accents usher in a long finish with hints of cinnamon. Crafted from scratch at Balcones, and held to the highest standards of quality, this whisky can be enjoyed “as is” or with as much water as you prefer." - Balcones Distilling


The cask strength True Blue Straight Corn Whiskey is a once-a-year, single-barrel product made from roasted blue corn, and aged 41 months in vintage, American cooperage. The barrel size and source are undisclosed. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored.  The 2021 version is a whopping 65.8% ABV (or 131.6°), and if you can find it, you'll pay about $64.99.



A local distributor provided me with a sample of True Blue in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I won't make him wait any further.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, True Blue may be the reddest mahogany color I've seen, and I include whiskeys that have been aged in red wine casks. It formed a medium-width rim that made a slow curtain collapse back to the pool.


Nose:  Plain and simple, this starts as a caramel bomb. Additional aromas included banana pudding, vanilla, cinnamon, and toasted oak. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, sweet corn raced across my tongue.


Palate:  Warm and oily, the mouthfeel told me this whiskey was not fooling around. Praline pecan and vanilla cream greeted the front of my palate. That changed to heavy maple syrup on the middle. The back was an interesting blend of cinnamon, clove, and butterscotch.


Finish: Texas is big, and so is True Blue's finish. It started sweet with honey and maple syrup, then moved to spicy with cinnamon, coffee, and clove. 


Bottle, Bar, or BustWhile the mouthfeel told me it was very serious, True Blue didn't drink at its stated proof. Look 130° and more is going to get your attention. It will always do so. But, there are some that are like drinking napalm and others that are shockingly smooth (yeah, I know, that's a frowned-upon term in the whiskey world). True Blue may also be the best Texas whiskey I've had to date. The wow factor was surprising. There was nothing about it that I disliked, and I would absolutely buy a Bottle at $64.99. You should, too. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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

Friday, February 26, 2021

Border Bourbon Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond Review & Tasting Notes




If I had to choose a favorite niche of whiskey, it would be a no-brainer with Bottled-in-Bond.  I love it because there is some guarantee of quality, at least in the production of it.  This was, not too long ago, a forgotten, overlooked category and everything was dirt cheap. Now, Bottled-in-Bond is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and with that, there is an increase in the average price. That's not to say you can't still #RespectTheBottomShelf with some affordable gems, but they're not getting the attention they deserve.


45th Parallel Distillery is located in New Richmond, WI.  I've reviewed several whiskeys out of this distillery, and for the most part, I enjoy what they slap a label on. They distill both their own whiskeys as well as contract distilling for other brands. The philosophy is one of taking things slowly. 


"When you understand that time is a factor you cannot control, you focus on the ones you can. Temperature and humidity are two very important elements in the maturation process. Many try to speed up the aging process by using higher temperatures and using smaller barrels. This results in the hard and disproportionate amount of tannins. There is no substitute for time. It is a fundamental part to achieve high-quality products.


Today many distillers care more about maturing their spirit quickly with wood extracts. A traditional slow maturation process results in a full-bodied flavor that can only be accomplished from years in high-quality wood barrels.

Time is constant and cannot be controlled. We don’t try to." - 45th Parallel Distillery


My review today is of its Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon.  Not only is it bonded, but it is also a single barrel. Barrel 196 was purchased in its entirety by Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, WI.  It comes from a mash of corn, rye, wheat, and barley, and is then placed in a medium-char, Ozark white oak barrel. The staves were seasoned for three years prior to being coopered.  It then rested 68 months (5 years, 8 months).  Because it is bonded, it is diluted to 100°.  Retail is $42.99.


I'd like to thank Niemuth's for providing me a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and find out if this one is any good.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as honey brown in color. While a thinner rim was created, thick, heavy, slow legs worked their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Corn and vanilla were the first aromas I discovered. But, they were joined by mint, nutmeg, and cinnamon. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, caramel rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  An oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel gave me the impression this drank below its stated proof. On the front, I tasted only creamy caramel. The middle expanded to milk chocolate, almond, and corn. On the back, flavors of black pepper, clove, and rye spice were easy to pick out.


Finish:  This whiskey has one of the most confusing finishes I've ever come across. It started as incredibly long. The next sip it was medium-short. A subsequent sip brought the length back. One more it was medium-short. But, the confusion didn't stop there. It began with a slow ramping of spice. Another taste would bring out sweet notes without spice. Additional attempts kept cycling between the two. I was able to discern clove, tobacco, and black pepper that would tango with vanilla, toasted coconut, and toasted oak.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you've read my reviews for any length of time, I am fascinated with whiskeys that offer something distinct. The finish on this one absolutely fits that bill. This was delightful all the way around, the mind-games notwithstanding. The price is not a major factor and as such, I'm dropping my Bottle rating on it.  You'll enjoy the experience from start to finish. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


Niemuth's Southside Market is located at 2121 S Oneida Street in Appleton.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Obtanium 5-Year Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 




Despite the fact I've been writing about Obtainium whiskeys for the last year, I've never really thought about what obtainium means. Curiosity got the best of me and I looked it up. It is a slang term that represents things that have been taken or stolen that others have discarded. When you consider what Cat's Eye Distillery does, the name is fitting (no, they don't steal). They've been grabbing up MGP Light Whiskey, which is something many non-distilling producers (NDPs) have overlooked.


Today I'm reviewing Obtanium 5-Year Single Barrel Bourbon out of Cat's Eye. This, too, is MGP-distillate, although which Bourbon mash is undisclosed. It is from barrel SC-88, which aged five years and is bottled at 118.3°, which is barrel strength.  It is non-chill filtered. You can expect to pay about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.


I'd like to thank the Wisconsin distributor for Cat's Eye for a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, the color presented as orange-amber. It generated a heavy rim that collapsed into thick, fast legs that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I found the nose corn-forward, along with aromas of nutmeg, caramel, and boysenberry. When I inhaled the vapor in my mouth, salted caramel rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was coating and full-bodied. On the front, I tasted caramel and corn. On the mid-palate, some complexity was added with black cherry, cocoa powder, and almond. The back consisted of rye spice, clove, and toasted oak.


Finish:  The longer finish offered toasted oak, nutmeg, rye spice, and more of that salted caramel. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While not an overly complicated Bourbon, this was very tasty. I loved how the caramel switched between classic and salted and then blended with the rye spice and oak at the end. It also doesn't drink at its stated proof, I would have guessed it to be about 15 or so points lower, which made it an easy drinker. Considering everything, including the bang for the buck, I have no issues handing over my coveted Bottle rating.  Cheers!


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

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Clover Single Barrel Straight Rye Review & Tasting Notes

 



A four-leaf clover has (obviously) four leaves. Each leaf is said to hold four different meanings:  Hope, faith, love, and luck.  To Bobby Jones, those four words were his life.


What's that? You have no idea who Bobby Jones is?  Born on St. Patrick's Day in 1901, he was one of the world's premier golfers. He was the only one to ever win the original grand-slam. He was a scholar. He obtained degrees in English from Harvard, in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, and was admitted to law school at Emory University, He was a war hero. When presented with a ceremonial command during World War II, he declined and instead went to Normandy Beach as an infantry captain. He was a mentor. Bobby Jones set the standard of what a sportsman should be. Ethics were important to him, so much so that he wound up losing a golf tournament by a single stroke because he noticed he earned a penalty when none was assigned. He made such an impression that Emory has the Jones Program in Ethics, and in 1955, the USGA created the Bob Jones Award to recognize distinguished sportsmen in golf who emulate his spirit, personal quality, and attitude. Jones passed away in 1971.


"Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies." - Bobby Jones


The Clover is not just another celebrity whiskey. With Jones gone, there is no ego to feed. Instead, The Clover was founded to sustain the legacy of golf's greatest gentleman and champion. There are three expressions under the umbrella of The Bobby Jones Whiskey Collection: Straight Bourbon, Straight Rye, and Straight Tennessee Whisky. All three are single barrels, and while not overly easy to obtain, they can be purchased from a variety of golf course gift shops and online retailers. A handful of retailers also have them available for purchase. The Clover provides a link on its website with a listing of which courses carry it.


Today I'm reviewing the Straight Rye.  It is bottled by Piedmont Distillers (the creators of Midnight Moon) but was actually distilled in Indiana (meaning, MGP), this is a four-year-old single barrel that is diluted to 91°. It is described as a high-rye mashbill which would translate to MGP's 95/5 recipe. Expect to pay about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle.


I'd like to thank The Clover for providing me a sample of this whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  I'd also like to compliment them on the attractive package.




Appearance:  While the included glassware was gorgeous, consistency is vital to me and as such, I tasted this in my Glencairn glass. It appeared as caramel in color and offered a thick rim with sticky, fat droplets that took their time falling back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  As I opened the bottle, the fragrance was immediately noticeable. Mint, citrus, cherry, and brown sugar were simple to pick out. The toasted oak was less so, and beneath everything were soft, floral notes. When I took the vapor into my mouth, cherry vanilla rolled over my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and had a medium body. On the tip of my palate, flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar gave it a sweet, slightly spicy tingle. The middle was cola, dark chocolate, and almond. On the back, I tasted black cherry, rye spice, and toffee.


Finish:  Originally, I thought the finish was medium-to-long, but as I continued to sip, it grew in length. Black pepper, leather, and dry oak were the first qualities, then rye spice and cocoa powder followed.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Clover is very much an MGP rye, with the single barrel giving it some uniqueness. This rye is not overwhelming and is something that could easily be sipped after a round of golf, even on a hot summer day. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the price is quite fair especially considering it is marketed to golfers. All of that translates to a hole-in-one and I'm happy to award it my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!


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


Monday, December 28, 2020

Backbone Bourbon: "Unicorn Hunter" and CWBS Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


Back in January, I wrote about a store pick called Unicorn Slayer.  It was selected by The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, Wisconsin. I had assisted in that pick, and it was one of those mind-blowing ones that resonate with you for years. At the time, I stated Unicorn Slayer was one of the five best barrel picks I've been involved with.


Today, I'm reviewing one called Unicorn Hunter. It was also picked by The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuith's, but this time, I was not part of the selection committee. However, the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club did ask me to review it for them, which I'm happy to do.


Unicorn Hunter is distilled by MGP, and it is bottled under the Backbone Bourbon brand. Like Unicorn Slayer, this is a barrel-proof, uncut, single barrel Bourbon. It is distilled from the same 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley mash. Unlike its predecessor, which was 7.5 years old, Unicorn Hunter is 6 years and a month. It is 117.1° versus 119.3°.  To be frank, two points isn't going to make a lot of difference. You'll find this only at Niemuth's and one of the 168 bottles yielded will set you back $64.99, which is less expensive than Unicorn Slayer was.


I'd like to thank The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for providing me a sample in exchange for my honest, no-strings-attached review. Let's #DrinkCurious and get this taken care of.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Unicorn Hunter presented as chestnut in color with amazing clarity. A thin rim was created, and it generated wavy legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine but also sticky drops that did not.


Nose:  An aromatic combination of mint, menthol, and stone fruit was easy to pick up. As I continued to sniff around, I detected berries and dark chocolate. When I drew in the vapor through my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla ran across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and coated everywhere with ease, and was full-bodied. Up at the front, I experienced a sweet and fruity punch of berries and cherry syrup with dark chocolate. In the middle, I tasted rye spice and toffee. Then, on the back, it was coffee, clove, and oak.


Finish:  A blend of charred oak, coffee, cinnamon, and black pepper lasted several minutes before falling off. Cherry syrup stuck around. There was a distinct Indiana hug about it, but despite the proof, it couldn't be described as hot or burn


Bottle, Bar, or BustUnicorn Hunter was tasty as hell and a very easy sipper. Just to get it out of the way, it takes a Bottle rating and if you missed out on Unicorn Slayer, don't make the same mistake. Saying that, between the two, and I am probably biased, I preferred the predecessor. But, you aren't finding that on the shelf.


But Wait, There's More...


Now, in an interesting turn of events, The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club provided me a sample of another Backbone pick, this time for the Central Wisconsin Bourbon Society. It, too, is six years old and also retails for $64.99, and bottled at 120.9°.




Appearance:  The color was a slightly deeper chestnut than Unicorn Hunter. The rim was heavier, but not thick, the legs were similar, but lacked the sticky droplets.


Nose:  The very first thing I picked up was sawdust, which, interestingly enough, was the first thing I picked out of Unicorn Slayer last year. I smelled toasted oak and cocoa powder, mint, and a brush of cinnamon. Breathing the fumes in through my lips led me to uncover vanilla.


Palate:  An airy mouthfeel was a complete contrast to Unicorn Hunter. The body was closer to a medium than full. Caramel and cherry came out swinging. Clove, rye spice, and char hit me mid-palate, with cinnamon, black pepper, and dry oak on the back. This was, undoubtedly, much spicier than Unicorn Hunter.


Finish: I found the CWBS pick to have a longer finish than Unicorn Hunter. It was made up of cocoa powder, barrel char, caramel, and mint. It didn't have the same Indiana hug that Unicorn Hunter did, but it did leave my tongue tingling. As I was considering that, I found myself tasting dark chocolate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The spice focus of the CWBS pick was interesting and much different than my other experiences with Backbone Bourbon. There was enough going on here to keep me paying attention. I was particularly enchanted by the sawdust aroma because it reminded me so much of Unicorn Slayer. There is no reason to not pick one up, and the price is certainly fair. Add it all up and you get a Bottle rating from me. 


So, between Unicorn Hunter and the CWBS pick, which did I prefer?  I enjoyed them both, but Unicorn Hunter edged out the CWBS pick, mostly because I preferred the fruity flavors on the former. Either, however, would leave you happy. Cheers!


Niemuth's Southside Market is located at 2121 S. Oneida Street in Appleton.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Monday, December 21, 2020

Wisconsin's own Great Northern Rye and New Richmond Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


I was recently approached by the folks at Neimuth's Southside Market in Appleton to review a few of their store picks:  Great Northern Rye Dapper and Richmond Rye Lil'Nog'n.  As such, today's review will be a twofer.  As a matter of full disclosure, I was provided samples of each in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Great Northern Rye Dapper



Great Northern Distilling is located in Plover, which is just outside of Stevens Point. Founded in 2014 by its president and head-distiller Brian Cummings, Great Northern sources everything locally and is a big supporter of transparency. He started with distilling rum, then potato vodka, gin, and finally, whiskey.


Our rye whiskey is made in an old east coast style, reminiscent of a Maryland style rye. Different than a Kentucky rye, we use a higher proportion of raw rye grain, rye malt rather than barley malt which gives a more savory rye flavor rather than the sharpness of the barley, and just a touch of corn to round out the edges. - Great Northern Distilling

In the case of Dapper, it is a 4-year, 4-month old single barrel, bottled at 96°, and a 750ml will set you back $52.99.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Dapper presented as deep amber in color. It left a medium rim that created slow, fat legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  A jab of caramel was the first thing I smelled. As I continued to explore, I found oak and a big blast of mint. Underneath those was a floral perfume. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the floral quality continued.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and oily. It started off on the front as sweet with a burst of caramel, cherry, and floral notes, then at mid-palate, it got very spicy with rye, mint, and oak.  On the back, I tasted leather, clove, char, and coffee.


Finish:  A long (very long) finish was both smoky and spicy. The smoke started off mild and then built quickly. Once it climaxed, rye spice and cinnamon took over. That then became leather and clove, and finally ended with dark roast coffee that stuck around several minutes.


Bottle, Bar, or BustDapper drinks much higher than its stated proof thanks to how spicy it is. That's not a negative, rather, it is an observation. I enjoyed this, it was interesting, and my favorite part was the finish, particularly the dark roast coffee at the end. Dapper earns a Bottle rating from me.



New Richmond Rye Lil' Nog'n






Richmond Rye is distilled by 45th Parallel Distillery out of New Richmond. That's just south of the Minnesota border on the 45th parallel. The 45th is considered the "halfway" point between the equator and north pole. It was founded in 2007 by Paul Werni, it remains family-owned, with a goal of distilling small-batch spirits. Werni started with vodka, then moved onto whiskeys. But, he was contract distilling, with his most widely-recognized client being J. Henry & Sons Wisconsin Straight Bourbon. Then, in 2013, he launched New Richmond Rye, and the rest is history.


Werni's philosophy is one of taking his time to make a quality product.


Today many distillers care more about maturing their spirit quickly with wood extracts. A traditional slow maturation process results in a full-bodied flavor that can only be accomplished from years in high-quality wood barrels. - 45th Parallel Distillery


New Richmond Rye is a 65% rye mash with the remainder being corn and malted barley. Entry proof was 116°.  In the case of Lil' Nog'n, it goes a step further - Barrel #134 is a Bottled-in-Bond single barrel, aged for 5 years and 5 months. Like any other Bottled-in-Bond spirit, it weighs in at 100°, and a 750ml is priced at $42.99.


AppearanceIn my Glencairn glass, Lil' Nog'n offered a deep, mahogany color. It provided a thick rim and heavy legs that came down like a curtain. 


Nose:  Caramel and mint were the two dominant aromas. Sawdust, cherry, plum, and cinnamon tagged along. When I inhaled through my mouth, vanilla ran across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and had a medium body. Flavors of crème fresh, plum, and nutmeg were on the front. As it moved across my palate, I tasted cinnamon and brown sugar. The back consisted of rye spice, toasted oak, and the slightest dusting of char.


Finish:  A long, spicy finish featured cinnamon red hots, mint, nutmeg, and dry oak. 


Bottle, Bar, or BustLil' Nog'n drinks at its stated proof. I found this one fascinating, and I understand the reason for its name - it had all the flavors you'd find in eggnog (without the texture, which some people find off-putting). As for me, I love eggnog, it is a treat I look forward to each winter, and, quite frankly, this one is unique. This takes a very easy Bottle rating.



Final Verdict:  The natural question is, Which of the two did I prefer? These are both delicious ryes, full of character and flavor, but I found Lil' Nog'n came out on top. In either case, you'll wind up with a winner. Cheers!


Niemuth's Southside Market is located at 2021 S. Oneida Street in Appleton.


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

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye Review & Tasting Notes


Jack Daniel's has been around for what seems to be forever. In fact, they've not changed their mashbill since 1866, back when 14-year old Jasper "Jack" Daniel started his own distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, producing a charcoal-mellowed whiskey after learning his art from Reverend Dan Call and slave Nathan "Nearest" Green. Back then, the mash was 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye. That's remained unchanged through today.


Except in 2012, Jack Daniel's started tinkering around and released its Unaged Rye, using a mash of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley. That then led to Rested Rye in 2014. Neither were greeted with big accolades. But, then, in 2016, the Single Barrel Rye release started to turn heads. 


The Rye goes through the same Lincoln County Process (LCP) that its world-famous Tennessee Whisky does. That involves filtering newmake through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal prior to barreling in new, charred oak. This LCP is supposed to mellow the whiskey. 


As a single barrel whiskey, every release is going to be at least slightly different. It carries no age statement, although it is rumored to be between four and five years old. It is packaged at 94° (although barrel proof is newly released). A 750ml bottle runs around $55.00.


If you're thinking that $55.00 seems a lot for a four or so-year American whiskey, keep in mind that American Rye tends to mature faster than its Bourbon counterpart, and four years is plenty adequate in most cases.


Today I'm reviewing Barrel 18-5485 from rick L-23.  It was dumped on August 14, 2018. Is it any good? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious, so let's get to it.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Rye was a bright, clear amber color. It left a very thin rim but generated fat, wavy legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Stewed fruits and a hint of mint started things off on the nose. Aromas of brown sugar and toasted oak was next. And then, strangely enough, I smelled corn. When I inhaled through my open lips, minty vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was soft and silky. I picked up no ethanol burn. The first flavor to hit my palate was sweet, creamy vanilla. The mint was absent. Mid-palate was rye spice and corn (again). On the back, it was muted oak. 


Finish:  As light as this whiskey was, it had a surprisingly long finish. Pepper and smoky oak started the show, and it ended with, and I can't believe I'm saying this, corn. Corn? Corn is only 18% of the mash. It blows my mind that corn would be a heavy player in something other than a barely-legal Rye.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This whiskey had a very interesting, appetizing nose. It had a nice mouthfeel. The palate was not complicated and lacked any real panache. The corn was baffling, making for a very different American Rye. As most people who follow me know, different is something that's typically appealing. However, different also has to be exciting. The heavy corn presence was distracting and, frankly, I found this Rye boring and not worth $55.00.  As such, it takes a Bust. Cheers!




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