Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Homegrown Boone's Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Oh, gosh. There is so much going on here that I don’t know where to start. So, I’ll start from the beginning.


There is a distillery I’ve never heard of called Striped Pig Distillery.  It was the first legal South Carolina distillery since the end of Prohibition and is located in Charleston.


There is a musician named Tyler Boone, who I’ve also never heard of. That’s not saying much because I don’t follow celebrities and don’t listen to Americana or Blues Alt Rock. Boone is also from Charleston.


Speaking of celebrities, there’s a thing about celebrity whiskey. It tends to be sub-par (and I’m being nice). That’s not to say that there aren’t good ones, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.


There are some dirty little secrets that most folks don’t know about most spirits competitions – one of which is anything that is entered automatically wins at least a Bronze medal unless it is so godawful it can’t be done with a straight face. But, in 2020, the New York International Spirits Competition named Hometown Boone’s Bourbon one of the six best in the world.


“NYISC differentiates itself from standard competitions in that the tasting panel is comprised entirely of professional buyers. This includes restaurant beverage directors, bartenders, bottleshop owners, etc. Furthermore, the liquids aren’t just judged by category, but price is also taken into consideration. And so there you’ll find some liquids that perhaps wouldn’t have a chance in other forums because you have a modest $20 bottle sized up against a $2000 showstopper. When cost is a factor, you end up with a fairer spectrum of finalists.” Forbes, August 28, 2020


The second secret is that anyone can be a judge at a spirits competition. You have respected people who do it, and you have people who you’ve never heard of. The only thing that matters is whether your palate and preferences align with theirs. This is why I don’t put stock in awards (except my own, which come out at the end of the year and just published last week). The third secret is most competitions are money-making opportunities for those who run the shows and marketing opportunities for those who enter.


Would I judge a whiskey competition? Indeed, and I’d be excited to do so. But, by giving up those secrets, I’ll likely never be invited to be a judge. It’s okay.


So, back to Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon. This is one of those things I saw when I dug through the 50ml bins at some random liquor store. But, you can get a 750ml for about $38.00. What’s in it?


It comes from 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It was then aged for a minimum of six months in American white oak chared barrels. That’s not my misspelling; it is Striped Pig’s. What size cooperage is used? I have no idea. There’s just so little information about one of the “top six” Bourbons in the world; it’s mind-blowing. The last fact is that it is bottled at 117°.

Finally, this comes from the same venue that utilizes the TerrePURE aging system. Does that mean this went through it? Who knows?

So, I’ve taken many potshots here at this still-untasted whiskey, and I need to remember to keep an open mind and #DrinkCurious. Maybe it is fantastic. Let’s see.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon presented as the color of golden straw. It formed a thin rim with sticky droplets that didn’t go anywhere.


Nose:  I was shocked as I pulled this young Bourbon to my face and didn’t get punched in the nose by ethanol. Instead, I took in corn, vanilla, and cinnamon sugar aromas. As I took the vapor into my mouth, more corn, albeit light, hit my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was interesting. It was thin but creamy at the same time. And, you know that ethanol punch that was missing on the nose? It was hiding on the palate. Caramel was on the front. The middle consisted of granny smith apple and barrel char. The back offered black pepper, clove, and cinnamon.


Finish:  The finish lasted many minutes. It also left my hard palate sizzling. Cinnamon spice, rye spice, black pepper, and charred oak were left behind, along with something decidedly sour.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This Bourbon needs to spend much more time in wood. It also proves the point that proof isn't everything. Homegrown Boone’s Bourbon is a perfect example of why spirits competitions are irrelevant. I’d hate to see what this whiskey was up against because this is absolutely not one of the six best Bourbons in the world. It is the consummate poster child for what celebrity whiskeys are and absolutely earned my Bust rating.

Addendum:  On Friday, January 7, 2022, Tyler Boone contacted me about this review:

"People love it, the brand is blowing up. It’s a labor of love, started it on credit cards & still invest all my money into it, one of the hardest things to do is start a brand, people do not know that. It’s a father & son business, gave half the company to my dad to help him out, it’s so much more than just a whiskey."

I did respond to Tyler that these are my honest tasting notes and that I did use a 50ml taster. I indicated that if he would provide a sample, I would be happy to give it a second chance. To date, there has been no response to my offer.


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, September 24, 2021

Charleston Distilling Vesey's Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Getting introduced to new distilleries is intoxicating.  Stepping into the unknown is like one, giant blind tasting. You don't know what to expect, except perhaps the style of whiskey offered. But, there's also the learning about what the distillery is all about, what its goals are, and how it works to achieve them.

One of the ways I learn about new distilleries is via friends who are curious what my opinion is of something they come across. You can imagine how pleased I was to receive a sample bottle of this previously-unknown elixir. What I'm talking about is Charleston Distilling Co. out of Johnstown Island, South Carolina. Founded December 31, 2013, by Stephen Heilman, his philosophy was to do something different. It was to "master the old practice, but refine and redefine."

Charleson Distilling utilizes two German copper stills and gets all of his grains from nearby Weather's Farm. Nothing is outsourced - this is a true grain-to-glass distillery. The warehouse is naturally-acclimated.

I'm drinking Vesey's Straight Bourbon from barrel 10-13.  It begins as a mash of 70% corn, 20% winter wheat, and 10% rye.  You'll notice there's no malted barley in that mix. Fermentation takes between three and five days, and then once distilled, it is aged four years in an undisclosed cooperage. Once dumped, it is diluted to 94°. You can expect to pay about $48.99 for a 750ml.

Let's #DrinkCurious and learn what this Bourbon is all about, shall we?

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Vesey's presents as a deep mahogany color. This made me curious if smaller cooperage was used for aging. It made a thin rim but huge, fat, watery legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  This Bourbon was fragrant from the start. Cherry and plum filled the air before the glass got anywhere near my face. It was joined by toffee and cedar. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the toffee continued.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was soft and airy. On the front, I tasted dark coffee and barrel char. The middle offered flavors of caramel and cedar. The back was big oak, leather, and cinnamon spice.

Finish: A long, spicy finish involved black pepper, nutmeg, oak, leather, and cocoa powder.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I honestly have no idea what size barrels were used but from my experience, it seems like they had to be less than 53-gallons. While the nose wasn't oaky, the palate and finish were. I do commend Heilman for going with rye over barley for the final ingredient in the mash. The wheat also helped to round out some of the strong oak presence. The proof on Vesey's seems correct, and $49.00 is relatively average for craft, especially true craft whiskey. But, I'm stuck somewhere between Bar and Bottle on my rating, and when that happens, I err on the side of caution. As such, it takes a Bar, and I'll recommend trying this one first before making a purchase. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Six & Twenty Old Money Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


There exists a distillery in Powdersville, South Carolina called Six & Twenty named for a local love story.

"In the 1700s, there was this Choctaw maiden named Issaqueena who fell in love with an English trader, Alan Francis. Shortly after Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokee, she learned of a plan to raid, massacre and loot Francis' trading post.

Wanting to warn him, Issaqueena escapes. On a swift pony she takes off down what we now know of as the Issaqueena Trail. Along the way, she names landmarks that we still use today based on the distance from the village. This is why we have the town of Six Mile, Mile Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, Three and Twenty River, Six and Twenty Creek. She does this for nearly 96 miles in order to warn her lover and so names the town of Ninety Six." - Six & Twenty Distillery

Founded in 2011 by David Raad, this microdistillery is a grain-to-glass operation that utilizes only local, organic grains and does everything on-site in a 6000 square foot former milk packaging facility. It offers what it calls a Core of FourOld Money Whiskey, 5-Grain Bourbon, Carolina Cream, and Heirloom Rye Vodka.  Six & Twenty has the occasional limited-run offering. But, today, I'm reviewing Old Money Whiskey. 

Old Money is a wheat whiskey. Raad's goal was to create a whiskey that his wife would enjoy sipping. It starts with soft winter wheat and barley, but the percentages are undisclosed. It is then distilled and aged in new, charred oak barrels for three years. Once dumped, Old Money is packaged at 80°. You can expect to spend about $37.99 of your new money on a 750ml bottle.

I'd like to thank a friend for providing me a sample of Old Money to review. And so, with that, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Old Money presented as a dull gold color. There was an amazingly fat rim that generated husky, wavy legs that dropped back to the pool.

Nose:  The first aroma I picked out was melba toast. Beyond that, I discovered wheat, light citrus, sawdust, and a floral quality. When I took the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and banana rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and warm, which isn't so unusual for a wheat whiskey but is for something at 80°. The palate was uncomplicated with dark chocolate and oak on the front and maple at the middle. The back offered white pepper and oak.

Finish:  Long, long, long.  Like old money itself, this finish stuck around. Raisin, oak, and white pepper were evident. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Wheat whiskeys are a funky bunch with me. I don't dislike them, yet I also don't gravitate to them, either. I was admittedly surprised by the warm mouthfeel, especially for this low of a proof. Old Money was an easy sipper and something I could see myself enjoying on a hot summer's day. That by itself makes this a winner, and when you add in the price, that's just the cherry on top. Old Money takes 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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Jimmy Red" Revival Project Review & Tasting Notes

It is always fun to come across something in whiskey I've never heard of. When a friend approached me and asked if I've ever had Jimmy Red Revival Project, I had no clue in the world what he was talking about. He asked if I would be willing to review it if he provided a sample. My answer to this question is always a hearty "Yes" because that's the #DrinkCurious lifestyle.

The backstory behind Jimmy Red is that this variant of corn was known as a moonshiner's corn that went "nearly extinct" when the world's supply dwindled to an entire two cobs. The folks at High Wire Distilling Company partnered with Clemson University to bring Jimmy Red corn back to life. 

Founded in Charleston, South Carolina in 2013, High Wire Distilling was the brainchild of husband and wife Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall. Their goal is to distill "small batch spirits using specialized ingredients" utilizing a German copper pot still.

Jimmy Red Straight Bourbon is aged two years and then bottled at 102°. It is only released once a year. The sample I was provided is from the 2017 batch, and my research indicated it runs about $99.99 for a 750ml.

In my Glencairn glass, Jimmy Red presented as a deep, rich copper that left a very thin rim. When the rim released, a thick, wavy curtain of whiskey dropped down the wall.

Aromas of vanilla and sweet corn were up front. Underneath that sweetness was wet wood and plum. When I inhaled through my lips, it was all corn that rolled over my palate.

The Bourbon's mouthfeel was thin and oily and coated the entire inside of my mouth. Despite the fact I let the glass sit for almost ten minutes, it was heavy with a harsh ethanol burn that became a bit overwhelming.

Up front were just corn and that ethanol. Mid-palate the ethanol dissipated and became a spicy, white pepper and barrel char. Then, in the back, it subdued to dry oak.

The finish was long, with a mixture of pepper and oak. 

My impression was this was very corn forward and the alcohol burn was too hot (I know some folks dislike the term hot just like they dislike the term smooth, but hot is very fitting).

I drink barrel proof whiskey all the time. I do not shy away from high-proof spirits and, given the choice between higher and lower proofs, I tend to gravitate to the higher ones because they're often more interesting.

Wanting to make sure my palate wasn't off, I asked Mrs. Whiskeyfellow to take a sip. Her reaction was the same: the alcohol burn was formidable.

I've recently decided if I'm not sold on a whiskey, I'll try adding water to see if that opens up any flavors. In an effort to remain as consistent as possible from whiskey to whiskey, I add two drops of distilled water using an eyedropper. That's usually enough to bring out hidden flavors and aromas without over diluting the pour. 

Proofed down, the nose really opened up with the corn and ethanol almost disappeared. The plum changed up to stewed fruits. However, the palate didn't change much. Aside from still being corn forward, that ethanol burn was still there and added to it was an astringent quality. The white pepper remained, but the finish was much shorter.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  I was excited for my friend and how much he seemed to enjoy Jimmy Red. I wanted to like this, too. Even taking price completely out of the equation, I did not find Jimmy Red, with or without water, to be something I would seek out again.  For me, Jimmy Red Revival Project is a Bust.