Showing posts with label Tennessee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tennessee. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Wheaters are very popular and, for some, almost cult-like status. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it means that instead of rye as the second most significant ingredient in the mash, wheat is used. Distilled wheat has no taste; it highlights other things in the mash and barrel while providing a more "smooth" or "rounded" mouthfeel. In the case of Bourbon, a wheater will typically be sweeter because the corn is highlighted.

Today I'm reviewing Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon. Distilled by Pennington Distilling Co. of Nashville, it is made from a mash of 60% Tennessee corn, 22% Tennessee Red Wheat, and 18% malted barley. It was aged for "at least" four years and is bottled at 101.7°.  You can expect to pay about $44.99 for a 750ml. 

I've had some good luck with other Davidson Reserve expressions. I enjoyed the Sour MashTennessee Straight Rye, and Genesis Tennessee Straight Bourbon.  I was less impressed with their Four Grain Tennessee Straight Bourbon. But, a 75% positive rating is pretty darned good for any distillery.

I'd like to thank Pennington Distilling Co. for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as a deep red amber.  It created a medium rim, and the legs were sticky, slow, and fat.

Nose:  While my glass was set aside with the Bourbon rested, I thought it to be very fragrant. It was sweet and fruity. However, when I brought the glass to my face, I picked up sawdust, toasted oak, caramel, and berry, but the latter was muted.  When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the only thing I found was corn.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily with a medium body. On the front, I tasted corn and cocoa powder. Then, in the middle, flavors of nutmeg and allspice. The back consisted of oak and subtle orange peel.

Finish:  The finish was short-to-medium. Corn, clove, and toasted oak hung around. I also experienced a touch of char and coffee.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Shockingly, this Bourbon was on the bland side. Sure, there were flavors to pick out, but it was also corn heavy. The finish was less than impressive, and while the price was attractive, the rest of it was not. Unfortunately, I can't recommend buying this Bourbon, and as such, it takes a Bust 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 that you do so responsibly.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 032 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of those non-distilling producers (NDP) that causes me a little giddyup in my step when a sample winds up on my doorstep. Barrell is a Louisville, Kentucky-based NDP that doesn’t just source a barrel; they take various barrels and blend them to something (hopefully) special. I’ve been impressed with what Joe Beatrice and his crew created for the most part.


The most recent release is Batch 032, a Bourbon married of barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Who distills those? While Barrell won’t disclose that information, I’ve long suspected the Kentucky distillery is Jim Beam, Tennessee is George Dickel, and Indiana is, without a doubt, MGP. I’ve published this repeatedly; Barrell has never corrected me.


“Batch 032 began with a balance of two sets of barrels: a selection of 5 and 6-year-old barrels with a creamy and tropical profile and a selection of 6, 7, and 10-year-old barrels vatted for their complex, old, woody character. These two sets of barrels were slowly blended over three months. A small group of spice-driven 7-year-old barrels with notes of cinnamon toast, coffee bean, and chocolate were then carefully added to complete the blend. The result is a decadent and rich bourbon with layers of spice and nuttiness.”Barrell Craft Spirits


One thing I respect Barrell for is everything they produce is at cask-strength. Nothing is proofed down. If you want to change things up, you can add a few drops of water yourself, but Barrell won’t do that for you. Batch 032 weighs in at 115.34°, and you can expect to pay about $89.00 for a 750ml package.


I thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Batch 032 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste how it fares.


Appearance: Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn Glass, Barrell Batch 032 presented as burnt umber. It created a fragile rim that released thicker, slow legs to rejoin the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: From the moment I cracked the lid, a waft of old oak hit my nostrils. Upon closer inspection, I found cedar, cherry, plum, and caramel, which then became floral before spicy notes of cinnamon and mint kicked in. When I pulled the air into my mouth, vanilla and caramel caressed my tongue.


Palate: Many of the Barrell Bourbons I’ve tried were oily. Batch 032 was different. The texture was creamy with a medium weight. The first flavors to engage my palate were cinnamon spice, vanilla, and almond pastry. The back offered a taste of clove, charred oak, and ginger spice.


What happened to the middle? That was almost transitionary between the softer front and spicier back.


Finish:  Once I swallowed, the finish was soft and spicy before ramping up to big, bold spices. Cinnamon, clove, and ginger led to a kiss of citrus before being completely subdued by freshly-cracked black pepper. It was a ramping experience.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I had fun with Batch 032. The middle was almost frustrating as I took sip after sip, trying to find something that would stand out. It is also one of those dangerous whiskeys; there is no way you’d guess this was 115+° - it went down way too easily. And, because I attempted to nail down the middle, I got a tad buzzed. If you like rye-forward Bourbons (I do), you will go ga-ga over Batch 032. It is a true representation of 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.



Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ole Smoky Flavored Tennessee Whiskey Reviews & Tasting Notes

If you’ve been to a liquor store, convenience store, grocery store, or truck stop, you’ve probably seen Ole Smoky Distillery products on the shelf. Ole Smoky is known for flavored moonshines typically packaged in mason jars and flavored whiskeys.  Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, it was founded in 2010; it is one of the fastest-growing spirits brands in the United States, available in all 50 states plus another 20 or so countries.


Earlier this year, I reviewed a Straight Tennessee Bourbon from Ole Smoky called James Ownby Reserve. I was impressed with how good it was, and it scored my Bottle rating. Ole Smoky also sent me five samples of its flavored whiskeys:  Peach, Peanut Butter, Salty Caramel, Salty Watermelon, and Mango Habanero.


There are some commonalities among each of the five. They’re all 60°, making them whiskey liqueurs, and all have natural flavors with added caramel coloring. Each of the five runs $19.99 and should take minimal effort to locate a bottle.


I’ll provide notes on each, but before I do, I thank Ole Smoky for these samples in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews.  Let’s #DrinkCurious and take them on one at a time…




The first one up to bat is Ole Smoky Peach Flavored Whiskey.


Appearance:  Served neat in a Glencairn glass, this whiskey was the color of chardonnay wine. It formed a thick ring on the glass, which generated slower legs.


Nose: As you’d imagine, I smelled peaches and nectarines. The aroma was overwhelming, but that sensation subsided as I allowed it to rest for a while. When I drew the air into my mouth, it seemed as if peaches and cream rolled past my palate.


Palate:  The texture was thick and creamy. As far as flavors are concerned, they were limited to peach and vanilla from front to back.


Finish:  Medium in duration and slightly peppery, the peach continued to the end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If peaches and cream are your things, this liqueur won’t disappoint. The peppery quality in the finish was unexpected, but it helps remind you this is booze and not something like Capri Sun. I wasn’t entirely happy with it, though, and I will give this one a Bar rating.




The next batter stepping up to the plate is Ole Smoky Peanut Butter. Let’s get something out of the way here: I’m a peanut butter freak. It could be a sandwich, mixed in ice cream, or it can be a flavored whiskey, and merely because it says “peanut butter” on it, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to taste it.


Appearance:  A yellow-gold appearance offered a medium-thick rim on my Glencairn glass that yielded slow, wavy tears that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  Honestly, I’d have been shocked if I didn’t smell peanut butter. Thankfully, there was a lot of it, but I also experienced graham crackers. When I inhaled through my lips, only the peanut butter remained.


Palate: A creamy, thick mouthfeel led to a flavor more of fresh, roasted peanuts than peanut butter.


Finish: Slightly warming, a medium-length finish was closer to peanut butter.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I was slightly confused by the peanut butter nose, roasted peanut palate, and peanut butter finish. Regardless, it was tasty. While I have had better peanut butter flavored whiskeys, there’s nothing wrong with the Ole Smoky version. I’ll toss a Bottle rating at it.




Salty Caramel is next in line. I’ve sampled a few salted caramel flavored whiskeys over the years, and typically they’re good on their own without the need to put them in cocktails (but there’s no reason you couldn’t).


Appearance:  The color certainly matched the name. It formed a heavy rim and stuck like glue to the wall of the Glencairn glass.


Nose: The aroma of caramel syrup, reminiscent of ice cream topping, exploded from the glass, and I had difficulty putting it down. The ice cream topping refused to stop as it wafted between my lips.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The only flavor I discerned was caramel.


Finish:  Until now, I was a bit disappointed because while the caramel was present, there was nothing salty about it. The good news is, while it did eventually come out, it was not dominating. The entire finish was medium in length.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Ole Smoky Salty Caramel is, simply put, dangerous. If I wasn’t paying attention and sipping right from the bottle, I might plow through the whole thing. Would it make for a good cocktail? Probably. Did it need anything else, including ice? Nope. But it did take a Bottle rating from me.




Salty Watermelon is in the fourth position. Much to Mrs. Whiskeyfellow’s horror, I’m not a fan of watermelon. I’ll eat it, but it would be one of the last fruits I’d choose.


Appearance: Light caramel but crystal clear in appearance, Salty Caramel formed a heavy rim with legs that crashed back to the pool of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: This whiskey smelled precisely like a Jolly Rancher watermelon, then somehow included the rind. How is that done? When I pulled the air past my lips, there was no shock when I tasted watermelon.


Palate:  Thick and full-bodied, Salty Watermelon tasted of sugar and watermelon rind. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow taught me if you put salt on watermelon, it brings out the sweetness.


Finish: Short-to-medium in duration, the sugary watermelon remained to the end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: In my opinion, Salty Watermelon was closer to flavored rum than whiskey. I believe it was the sugary quality that contributed to this conclusion. Like the Salty Caramel, this one was dangerously easy to drink and good to boot. Because I’m not fond of watermelon, but I do like Salty Watermelon, which will earn it extra points and steal that Bottle rating.  




The last in the lineup is Mango Habanero. I left it for last for a specific reason:  I can’t drink it. I’m severely allergic to mango, and the fact these all contain “natural flavors” means I can’t risk a reaction.


Final Assessment:  My favorite of the flavors I tasted was hands-down, Salty Caramel. But the most impressive was Salty Watermelon. I was surprised Peanut Butter came in third. Before tasting any of them, I would have assumed Peanut Butter would have taken the top spot when this whole thing started. There’s nothing wrong with it; just the Salty ones eclipsed 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.



Friday, February 18, 2022

James Ownby Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

My guess is you’ve heard of Ole Smoky Distillery. Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, it is known for its flavored whiskeys and moonshine and is widely available in most retail liquor outlets. You may not know that it has a traditional whiskey in its portfolio. Its name is James Ownby Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey.


Who was James Ownby?


“One of the original settlers of Tennessee - who beat back the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain and faithfully fought for freedom as an Overmountain Man in the Revolutionary War, this treasured family secret is now my pleasure to share with you.” Joe Baker, Co-Founder of Ole Smoky Distillery


What’s the family connection?  Joe is James Ownby’s fifth great-grandson.


As you can gather from the name, this is a Bourbon that was distilled and aged in Tennessee. Ole Smoky chose not to call it Tennessee Whisky, although, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The Lincoln County Process (LCP) was used to mellow the distillate before aging in new, charred oak barrels. There is no age statement, and both the distillery and mashbill are undisclosed. We do know it is at least four years old.


Bottled at 94°, you can expect to spend about $40.00 for a 750ml package. Ole Smoky indicates this whiskey is limited to only select markets. If you hit its website, you can check availability nearby or buy it online.


Ole Smoky was gracious enough to send me a sample of James Ownby Reserve in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and learn what this is all about.


Appearance: Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn glass, this Bourbon appeared as deep caramel. Bold, slow legs fell from a medium-thick rim.


Nose: Just like the color, the aroma began with huge caramel. Oak came next, and it had a dusty quality to it. Freshly shredded tobacco mixed with raisin and cherry evened things out. When I inhaled through my lips, the oak and tobacco carried through.


Palate: I found the texture to be light and airy. Salted caramel and vanilla filled the front, while tobacco leaf and nutmeg controlled the middle. The back featured clove and oak. It wasn’t overly complicated.


Finish: Clove, black pepper, and soft oak crescendoed with caramel and tobacco leaf for a long, easy finish. For the record, I didn't come across anything remotely Flintstoneyish. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I found James Ownby Reserve an easy sipper. I didn’t try adding water, and I’m unsure it’s even necessary. As I said earlier, the palate didn’t offer many flavors, but the spicy finish was a fascinating way to end the experience. If Ole Smoky never crossed your mind as a serious whiskey brand, perhaps it is time to rethink that because I’m giving James Ownby Reserve my coveted 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, February 4, 2022

Blue Note Crossroads Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Blue Note Bourbon has been making waves in the Wonderful World of Whiskey. Founded in 2013, B.R. Distilling Company is the oldest legal distillery in Memphis, Tennessee, and has two flagship brands:  Blue Note and Riverset Rye. B.R. Distilling changed ownership in 2017 and aggressively marketed its whiskeys.


The newest release from Blue Note is Crossroads, a straight Bourbon crafted in Memphis. The team at B.R. Distilling spent two years working with Tonnellerie Radoux, a French wine cooperage, to determine the correct type and amount of toasted French oak staves used in the finishing process.


“This unique expression combines the unmistakable boldness of Blue Note Bourbon with the sophistication of the finest, toasted French oak crafted from an artisan cooperage in Central-Val de Lore. [It is] the unforgettable intersection of notes that embodied the inherent spirit of The Blues. The sound and movement of The Blues were meant to break the rules. This is Blue Note Crossroads. We mark our crossroads with the intersection of American and French oak.” – B.R. Distilling Company


Blue Note Crossroads carries no age statement and uses MGP’s 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley recipe. It is non-chill filtered and packaged at 100°, and you can expect to pay around $40.00 for a 750ml bottle.


Before I get started on my tasting notes, I must thank B.R. Distilling for providing a sample of Crossroads in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious!


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Crossroads appeared as a deep, orange-amber. A medium rim released slow, straight legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: The first thing I smelled was corn. But, beneath that was cherry, vanilla, dry leather, and cinnamon. When I took the air inside my mouth, I felt as if I was sucking on a cinnamon stick.


Palate: The texture was massively oily. I tasted cinnamon spice, nutmeg, and roasted almonds on the front. Vanilla, raw honey, and English toffee formed the middle, with French oak, tobacco leaf, and leather on the back.


Finish:  Mildly spicy, the finish featured dry French oak, old leather, tobacco leaf, and raw honey. It went on, and on, and on, and on.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  $40.00 Bourbons are a dime a dozen. Seriously, this is lower-echelon of the sweet spot for craft American whiskey. The French oak influence was evident from the nose to the finish. However, it wasn’t overwhelming. Instead, it married the other notes gloriously. The mouthfeel was slick, the palate made perfect sense, and the Energizer bunny finish never let you forget what you were drinking. I enjoyed this immensely. The outlay is more than fair. Blue Note Crossroads is a perfect example of the recipe needed to earn 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.



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

I’m no stranger to Barrell Craft Spirits. With its Master Blender Joe Beatrice and his team, they bring us (always) barrel-proof whiskeys that go beyond the average sourced offerings. Sometimes the whiskeys are US-based, occasionally Canadian, sometimes from other venues, but you can count on what’s in the bottle to be decidedly different from what you’re used to.


Recently, Barrell introduced us to its Gray Label whiskeys. These were premium offerings, above and beyond the “standard” releases. Made from older stocks, they commanded a premium price tag. And, now, there’s something called Gold Label, which is a step above the Gray.


Today’s review is Barrell Gold Label Bourbon. What’s inside is sourced from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can read that (in my opinion) as George Dickel, Jim Beam, and MGP, respectively. These are 16- and 17-year stocks! Barrell opted for four lots of barrels:

  • Cherry-bombs
  • Nut/oak-forward
  • High-proof
  • Milk chocolate

The exciting thing is that the last group was finished in toasted virgin oak barrels.


“Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon is a blend of 16- and 17-year-old straight bourbons. Barrels for this release were selected from four different collections: cherry bomb barrels with a rich mouthfeel, nutty oak-forward barrels, high proof and high complexity barrels, and barrels with pronounced milk chocolate notes. The last group underwent a secondary maturation in toasted virgin American oak casks before being added to this intricate and seductive blend.” – Barrell Craft Spirits.

The resulting product is a Bourbon that weighs in at 113.54° and the price – hold onto your seats – is $499.99. On the plus side, it comes with a red gift box.


I want to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Gold Label Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. That means it is time to #DrinkCurious and figure out what this is all about.


Appearance: Drank neat from my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was deep and dark, the color of burnt umber. It took an effort to create a rim, and when it did, it was micro-thin but led to long, wavy legs.


Nose: Crème Brulee was the first thing I smelled, and it almost punched me in the nose. Beneath that were toasted marshmallow, hazelnut, almond, oak, cherry pie filling, and apple pie filling (yeah, I had to come back several times to confirm those last two). When I drew the aroma in my mouth, it was like sucking on chocolate-covered cherries.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and thick. Caramel, vanilla, peanut, and leather ruled the front. The middle featured fresh mint, cherry, plum, and berry. I tasted ginger, oak, cocoa, and tobacco on the back.


Finish:  This was one of those never-ending finishes. Sure, it ended eventually, but it seemed to run forever. Mint, oak, black pepper, ginger, chocolate, and marshmallow cream stuck around for a captivating experience.  There was no Flintstone vitamin quality from the Dickel portion. This is one of those sneaky bastards – it drinks much lower than its stated proof, but, dang, it makes up for it with a 2x4 once it catches up.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ll get this out of the way. I’ve never paid $500.00 for a Bourbon, and I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. That’s me. Barrell Gold Label Bourbon is stupendous. It is gorgeous. It is delicious. It is amazing. If you have $500.00 burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a nice investment. It would be a real treat for those of us who have lighter wallets to try this at 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, January 3, 2022

Stellum Black Label Rye and Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you’ve ever been curious about an American Express card, there are some basic levels. Green is for the average user. Above that is gold, then above that is platinum. And that’s it, right? Well, not exactly.


You see, beyond the platinum card that any peasant can apply for is something called American Express Black. This card is so exclusive that there’s no way to apply for it. The only way to get your hands on one is via an invitation, and you have to charge between $250,000 and $450,000 a year to maintain it.


Meant to give a similar aura of exclusivity is Stellum Black Label. You don’t need an invitation to get your hands on it, but it is pretty limited. Stellum offers both a Bourbon and a Rye, and in each case, they begin with the original stocks of Stellum and then “fold in” older whiskeys.


“For Stellum Black, we maintained the soul of Stellum while creating a new dimension of flavor by adding reserve barrels from our stocks. We’ve refined this layering technique over time which produces whiskeys focused on both immediate flavor and a long-developed complexity. The result is an entirely new set of whiskeys that has its roots firmly planted in the inaugural whiskeys.”Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits


I’m reviewing both the Bourbon and Rye today. Like anything else out of Stellum Spirits or Barrell Craft Spirits, these are both cask strength whiskeys, both sourced from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both have a suggested retail of $99.99.  Unlike the standard releases, Stellum Black Label will be allocated nationally. Both are non-chill filtered.


Before I get started on the tasting notes, I’d like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for sending me a sample of both in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and learn all about these.

I’ll begin with the Bourbon. There are three MGP components: two are high rye with 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley, and the other 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The Beam and Dickel components are undisclosed, but they’re older than the MGP. It is packaged at 109.22°.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Black Label Bourbon presented as caramel in color. It formed a thicker than expected rim and slow, lumbering legs.


Nose: An intense bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange peel was enticing. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, cherry vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  An oily, full-bodied texture greeted my mouth. At the front, I tasted vanilla, caramel, leather, and nuts. The middle transitioned to plum, coconut, and cocoa powder. I found tobacco leaf, cinnamon spice, and old oak on the back.


Finish:  A very long, warming finish consisted of plum, nuts, orange zest, caramel, old oak, leather, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon spice. It didn’t even try to hide the proof, as my hard palate tingled almost immediately. However, the caramel stuck around the longest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It was reasonably easy to pick out the Beam component, but less so with the Dickel and MGP, which was shocking, especially considering how much of the blend was out of Indiana. But, the telltale nuttiness was also something I looked for, so perhaps there was some subtle power of self-suggestion? The more I sipped it, the less I felt the proof. It never became something that drank under its stated proof, but the numbing factor ceased and allowed me to concentrate on other things.  I enjoyed this, and I could somehow feel this felt older than the Stellum Bourbon I reviewed last year.


Stellum Black Label Bourbon competes with its sibling, Barrell Bourbon, and they both cost about the same. I’m happy to toss a Bottle rating at it based upon that.

Next up is the Rye. The majority component is 95% rye and 5% malted barley from MGP. The smaller portions come from the others. It is packaged at 114.26°.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as orange amber. It created a thinner rim that yielded slow, fat tears.


Nose: Caramel leaped from the glass and smacked me in the face. Beneath it were candied fruits, almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon spice. As I pulled the air into my mouth, orange cream danced across my tongue.


Palate:  A soft, silky mouthfeel greeted my palate. The front offered very dark chocolate and creamy caramel. Mint, clove, and dill were on the middle, while dry oak, black pepper, and a vast amount of new leather were on the back.


Finish:  I found the finish to build itself into a giant crescendo before plateauing, and then it just chugging along. Dark chocolate, dill, clove, and caramel started things off before leather and tannins came and left me making “thuck” noises with my tongue.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It isn’t that often I come across a whisky that is so dry it sucks the moisture from your mouth. That’s a different sensation that, for whatever reason, always makes me go for another sip, which makes no sense because, in the back of my mind, I know it is going to dry my mouth again. Yet, the flavors are lovely together, and I enjoyed the extraordinarily long finish. A Bottle rating for sure, it is an experience worth experiencing.


Final Thoughts:  Given the option between Bourbon and Rye, I tend to gravitate to Rye. In the case of Stellum Black Label, I enjoyed the Bourbon more. That’s not to discount the Rye; it was just surprising. I had to taste them both again just to make sure.


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 15, 2021

Elvis "Tiger Man" Straight Tennessee Whiskey and "The King" Straight Rye Reviews & Tasting Notes


Celebrity whiskeys. They’re all the rage now. It doesn’t matter if they’re athletes, actors, singers, or whatever. Dead or alive, these famous names are making headway in the industry.


You would think that with all the fame, fortune, and fondness fans have with celebrities, what they’d attach their names to would be excellent. More often than not, that’s an exception to the rule. Many are mediocre. Some are just awful. And, every one that comes to mind includes a celebrity price tag to boot.


When Elvis Presley Enterprises, representing the brand of the King of Rock and Roll, does something, you’d hope it would do right by him.  And, today, we’re going to put that to the test. In partnership with Grain & Barrel Spirits (the producer of Chicken Cock and Virgil Kane whiskeys) Elvis Presley Enterprises brings us (you guessed it), Elvis Whiskey.


There is more transparency with Elvis Whiskey than I’d have guessed. Some of it is purposeful, some of it may be accidental. Regardless, pieces of the puzzle were easy to put together, and I’m highly appreciative and applaud brands that do this, particularly when they’re not doing any actual distilling.


The introductory whiskeys are a Straight Tennessee Whiskey and a Straight Rye. First, I’m tackling the Straight Tennessee Whiskey.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m going to tell you to just shush.  This is not sourced from George Dickel. Instead, it comes from DSP-TN-21029, which belongs to Tennessee Distilling Company. Who is that? It distills for Heaven’s Door, Kirkland (Costco), and other partners, including Grain & Barrel Spirits.


Elvis Whiskey calls this release Tiger Man. Tiger Man was the record with songs from his second comeback concert in 1968 and included such titles as Heartbreak Hotel, That’s All Right, Blue Suede Shoes, and Tiger Man. It begins with a mash of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. It then rested two years before being bottled at 90°. The cooperage is undisclosed, and you can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml package.


The big question, of course, is Is this whiskey fit to be named for a king? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Tiger Man looked the color of polished brass. It created a thicker rim on the wall which released husky legs that slid back to the pool.


Nose: There was a gentle bouquet of sweet corn, vanilla cream, baked apple, nutmeg, and toasted oak. When I took the air into my mouth, I picked out candy corn.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was buttery. The front of my palate immediately honed in on maple syrup, which was accompanied by vanilla and crème fresh. The middle offered pear, green apple, and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted more caramel, toasted oak, nutmeg, and orange peel.


Finish:  Long and pretty much unending, notes of vanilla, maple syrup, dry oak, and candied orange peel kept things interesting. Even the oak, however, while dry, wasn’t spicy.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I was half-hoping that I’d pick up notes of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. That didn’t happen. This is one of the sweeter Tennessee Whiskeys I’ve encountered. There was no Dickel “Flintstone’s vitamin” quality, which pleased me. In fact, pleasing is an excellent descriptor.  Tiger Man was a very easy sipper, with enough flavor to keep things interesting, and a finish that wouldn’t quit. Thankfully, this is one of the better celebrity whiskeys on the market and I’m happy to crown it with my Bottle rating.



Up next is the Rye, The King. It is named for, obviously, the King of Rock and Roll. This one is a 95% rye/5% malted barley straight out of MGP. It, too, aged two years in new, charred oak, and is bottled at 90°. As with Tiger Man, you can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml package.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, The King was, again, the color of polished brass. It created a medium rim on the wall yielded sticky droplets that crawled back to the pool.


Nose: Strangely enough, the first note I experienced was… corn? There is no corn in the mashbill! That was followed by grass, floral rye, mint, and orange peel. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, I found mint.


Palate:  A medium-weight, silky mouthfeel greeted my tongue. Rye bread and caramel started things off. The middle suggested cocoa powder and toffee. The back is when things became interesting and more rye-like – I tasted dry oak, clove, rye spice, and sweet tobacco leaf.


Finish:  Here’s the crazy thing. The finish was like a Plummet ride. It built up and immediately dropped. Cocoa, rye spice, clove, and old leather flavors meshed well together, it just took several sips to catch what was there.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  No peanut butter and banana sandwich here, either. Selecting 90° on this was an interesting choice. I’ve become so used to cask-strength MGP rye that I’ve missed what a proofed-down one tasted like. In this case, I believe Elvis Whiskey may have been a little heavy-handed with the water. The front and middle parts of the palate were simplistic. The back is where the hip-gyrations came into play. Just like Fountain of Love, The King gets lost among other whiskeys. As such, this one takes my Bar rating.


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.