Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Dark Door Washington Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

We hear the term craft more often than not when it comes to American whiskey. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. We even see some legacy distillers try to eek out that their whiskey is somehow craft whiskey. But, what, exactly, is craft whiskey?

Like various words in the wonderful world of whiskey, such as small-batch, extra-aged, and others, craft is one of those marketing terms that has no legal definition.  It is understood to mean it is produced on a small-scale operation and usually connotes some form of hand-made, better quality than one that was mass-produced. If we stick to that assumed definition, this is an opportunity for things to become interesting. 

Today I'm reviewing The Dark Door, which is a Washington Straight Bourbon that is distilled, aged, and bottled by Wildwood Spirits Co. out of Bothell. Owner, Master Distiller, and sommelier Erik Liedholm teamed up with renowned Chef John Howie to create a craft Bourbon meant to stand apart from others on the shelf. But, why call it Dark Door?

“Since bourbon names are expected to be somewhat evil, magical, maniacal, catchy, I thought why not `Dark Door’? My parent’s house is already the Wildwood emblem on the back label of all our products. Why not keep to the theme – and keep people wondering?” - Erik Liedholm

This whiskey begins with a mash of 80% corn and 20% white wheat. All the grain comes from local farms and is non-GMO, making it a true grain-to-glass Bourbon. It is then distilled and then put into highly-charred barrels from an undisclosed Missouri cooperage known for constructing superior wine barrels. These are smaller barrels, which means that in theory, it matures faster than if placed in standard 53-gallon ones.

Resting a few months beyond two years, the Bourbon is dumped and then diluted to 90° before being bottled. You can expect to pay about $50.00 for a 750ml package. It is sold in Washington but is available for purchase online.

I'd like to thank Wildwood Spirits Co. for providing me a sample of The Dark Door in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. For the record, this is from Barrel #17.  And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious to taste what this Bourbon is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Dark Door presented as the color of chestnut. It formed a thin but sticky rim on the wall that produced thick, wavy legs that crawled back to the pool of whiskey.

Nose:  An obvious punch of raw honey hit my olfactory senses. That was joined by freshly-sawn wood, apple, and raisin. I could have easily mistaken this for a sherry-finished whiskey simply based upon what I smelled. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, it was like I had a mouthful of golden raisins. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was slightly oily and spicy. The front started with barrel char, then became sweet with corn and vanilla. At mid-palate, if I closed my eyes, I could imagine biting into a Bit O' Honey candy. The back consisted of orange blossom, milk chocolate, and bone-dry oak.

Finish:  That oak tannin continued well into the long, mostly spicy finish. It was joined by the barrel char from the front, big black pepper, which was strangely offset by caramel and milk chocolate. Just as I thought everything was over, a dollop of honey slid down my throat making everything just nice.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Getting back to craft whiskey, $50.00 seems to be the sweet spot no matter how old or young it is. With the use of smaller cooperage, The Dark Door drinks older than two years. I will say that the use of those barrels, special or not, was easily identifiable with the dominant wood notes. The more I sipped, the more enjoyable this Bourbon became as my palate accepted the woodiness and allowed me to concentrate on other notes. I believe 90° is correct for The Dark Door. It is an interesting pour that is perfect for someone who wants to drink something off the beaten path, and that's me. As such, I'm handing The Dark Door my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Friday, October 30, 2020

Dry Fly Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey Review

When you hear the term wheat whiskey, several people would assume it means a wheater or a wheated Bourbon. However, wheat whiskey is a category all by itself. And, what we know about wheat is that it is a tasteless grain when it is distilled:  It adds a level of "smoothness" and highlights the other flavors in the mash.

There are not too many out there that do it right. Perhaps the most well-known wheat whiskey is from Heaven Hill, and it is called Bernheim, named after the distillery's founder. For the record, when someone is new to whiskey and claims they don't like it, I've been known to grab a bottle of Bernheim because it goes down so easily.

But, what happens when the mash is 100% wheat?  Does that mean that the whiskey itself has no taste? Not at all! 

Today I'm pouring Dry Fly's Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey. This isn't my first rodeo with Dry Fly. Recently I had the opportunity to review their Straight Triticale Whiskey and I loved it. The Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey is distilled from a mash of 100% soft, white wheat that is grown by Wisota Farms, located 30 miles from the distillery. It is then aged for three years in new, #3 charred oak 53-gallon barrels from Independent Stave Company before being bottled at 90°.  Retail is $39.95 for a 750ml bottle.

I'd like to thank Dry Fly Distilling for providing me a sample of their whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, let's get to it.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this wheat whiskey appears as a clear, light gold. While it created a thin rim, the legs were fat and heavy. They fell to the pool of liquid sunshine, but at the same time, left behind big droplets that hung to the wall.

Nose:  Aromas of orchard fruits, particularly peach and apricot, greeted my nostrils. They were followed by oak and, finally, caramel. When I inhaled through my lips, it was a blend of dried hay and peach. The nose was not very complex, but in my experience, that's typical of a wheat whiskey.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was very light and airy but also delivered a spicy punch. On the front, it was dry oak and cinnamon spice. At mid-palate, there was a suggestion of peach and definitive nutmeg. Then, on the back, it was citric acid and nuts. I could not nail down what type of nut (or nuts) were present.

Finish:  Medium-to-short in length, it started off with very spicy white pepper. That subdued to black pepper, and when that vanished, it became sweet.

On a bit of a segway, I did pour some Bernheim to do a quick comparison.  The Bernheim is four years older but also bottled at 90° (and, again, is not 100% wheat). The two are absolutely different in pretty much every way. Dry Fly's version has more on the nose and palate, and Heaven Hill's has no spice whatsoever. Heaven Hill has a much creamier mouthfeel and more vanillas. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Because there are a limited number of easy-to-obtain 100% wheat whiskeys, my experience is admittedly sparse. I found this Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey to be interesting and easy to drink. The spice, especially on the finish, was a bit of a surprise. When I consider the price, it is very fair, especially out of a craft distillery. I happily offer my coveted Bottle rating, and on a side note, I'm so far very impressed with Dry Fly.  Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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

Monday, July 27, 2020

Woodinville Straight 100% Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

The State of Washington is known for many good things. Technology and industry. Timber. Gorgeous scenery. Wine. And, if you don't know, yes, whiskey.

I've written about Woodinville Whiskey Company a few times. My introduction to it was its Straight Bourbon, which reminded me of Elijah Craig. Then, I was able to take part in a rather stupendous barrel proof pick of the Bourbon.  When a sample of their Straight 100% Rye showed up for review, I was captivated.  Would this be as great an experience as the Bourbons? Only time would tell. And, that time is now.

Woodinville starts off with a mash of, as the name implies, 100% Rye. That could be a blend of both malted and unmalted rye. You'd need the malted stuff to get things fermenting. All of that rye comes from Quincy, Washington, and is exclusively grown for Woodinville. That's then taken to the pot still for distillation. Then, the barrels get filled. Each barrel uses staves that were seasoned 18 months in the open air. Those staves are used to create 53-gallon barrels that are first subject to heavy toasting and then heavy charring. The barrels are then trucked over the Cascade Mountains to eastern Washington where they're aged in open-air rickhouses. 

There is a barrel proof version of it, but that's a distillery-only item. For the rest of the distribution, it is bottled at 90°.  It carries no age statement, but we know that means it is at least four years old and things at Woodinville tend to age closer to five. Retail is about $54.99. 

I'd like to thank Woodinville for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's get to it, time to #DrinkCurious...

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Rye appears as a very orange amber. It produced a medium-thick rim that created very fat, heavy legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  To suggest this was anything less than very aromatic would be unfair.  As I was letting this whiskey rest, it filled the air with cherry pie filling. That was an attention-getter. As I brought the glass closer to my face, the cherry pie filling remained, and was joined by rye spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and, get this, apple pie filling.  Now I got excited.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was like I was holding a freshly-baked apple pie, the crust and all.  I found this whole nosing experience rather mind-blowing.

Palate:  The first sip was thin and watery. However, it did bring quite the punch of wood.  Subsequent sips kept the mouthfeel thin and when the palate shock ended, I was better able to discern flavors.  Up at the front was toasted oak and honey. Mid-palate was a combination of cherries, leather, and a certain earthy quality. Then, on the back, a definitive rye spice, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  It was strange to have the rye spice on the back, especially considering the mash is all rye.

Finish:  Originally, I thought the finish was medium in length. Again, that cherry pie came into play, which was joined with barrel char and dry oak. When I thought that was the end, I found very long-lasting leather that lasted almost two minutes.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If I could find something to complain about, it would be proof. At 90°, it packed plenty of taste. But, knowing there is a barrel-proof version has my curiosity piqued. The nose was simply gorgeous. The palate was complex. I love the whole idea of pie smells and flavors. When I take all that into account and tack on the reasonable price, this one takes my coveted Bottle rating. I'm positive you'll enjoy this one. Cheers!

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

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Woodinville Barrel Proof Bourbon Tasting Notes

Have you heard of Woodinville Whiskey? If not, perhaps it is time to take a look at them.  I discovered Woodinville about a year or so ago. Woodinville Whiskey Distilling Co. is located in Woodinville, Washington. They do their own distilling and don't source. Their barrels are created from wood seasoned in the open air for 18 months. Once coopered, the barrels are then slowly, heavily-toasted, and then subject to a heavy charring. As far as whiskey goes, they offer both Rye and Bourbon.

Their Bourbon is made from a mash of 72% corn, 22% rye, and 6% malted barley. After the barrels are filled, they are then transferred to one-story rickhouses (similar to Four Roses) on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington where they are left to age.  The rickhouses are not subject to any artificial temperature controls.

Today I'm providing my tasting notes on the very first Woodinville Bourbon store pick in Wisconsin. I know all about this Bourbon because I was on the selection committee along with The Speakeasy_WI group and Neil's Liquors of Middleton. We wound up choosing Barrel 2718, which is five years old and we took it at barrel strength at 119.42°. It is non-chill-filtered and the yield was 192 bottles.  Retail is $69.99.  We named it Whassup? Flockers.

So, what makes this Bourbon special?  Time to #DrinkCurious and find out!

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Whassup? Flockers appeared as a reddish amber. The color was definitely deep.  It left a micro-thin rim on the wall and extremely slow legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  As I waited for the whiskey to breathe, aromas of cherries filled the air.  When I brought the glass to my face, that cherry became even stronger. That was joined by cinnamon and caramel. As I continued to explore, I discovered banana.  When I inhaled through my lips, I found heavy vanilla that rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was very silky and it took no effort for it to coat every corner of my mouth. It also, despite being 119.42°, failed to offer any noticeable heat. That allowed me to easily identify oak, barrel char, rye, and light mint at the front. Come mid-palate, I tasted thick caramel, berry, and crème brûlée that packed a punch. On the back, it was smoked oak, rye, and cocoa.

FinishWhassup? Flockers gave me a very long, complex finish of dry oak, white pepper, and coffee. Just as with the mouthfeel, there was warming but nothing that could be described as "burn."

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you've never had a whiskey that I've picked, I'm very choosey. I reject more barrels than I accept and I'm perfectly happy walking away empty-handed. My reputation as both a picker and a reviewer is on the line and I want nothing that isn't amazing attached to that. So, cut to the chase, this one's a Bottle. However, at the time of publishing, there are only a few dozen bottles left, so if you're going to act on it, the time to do that is now.  Cheers!

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dry Fly Straight Triticale Whiskey Review

I tend to get very excited about different. It is this whole #DrinkCurious lifestyle. There's nothing in the world wrong with standard-bearers in the Wonderful World of Whisk(e)y, but there is something special about discovering something, well, special.  

Triticale is special. It is a grain developed in Scotland that is a hybrid of rye and wheat. So, when Dry Fly Distilling sent me a bottle of their Triticale whiskey in to review, well, I got damned curious. 

Dry Fly Distilling is located in Spokane, Washington and describes itself as a farm-to-bottle distillery. What that means is they source their grains from the immediate area, most of which from the 117-year old Wisota Farm, with any other farms located within 30 miles of the distillery.  They do their own distilling and age their whiskey in 53-gallon new, American oak barrels from Independent Stave Company

Dry Fly's Straight Triticale Whiskey has been aged four years and bottled at 90°. A 750ml will set you back about $39.95, which is at the lower-end of craft whiskey pricing. I'd like to thank Dry Fly for providing me this sample in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review. And now, let's get to it.

In my Glencairn glass, this whiskey presents as burnt sienna.  It is almost orange, almost brown, but not quite either. It produced a very thick rim that generated fast, slow legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

To suggest the nose is fragrant would do a disservice to the word fragrant. It filled the room. I put off sipping because of how strong the aromas were, I didn't want to interrupt it. Berries and stonefruits dominated. When I finally brought the glass to my nose, I discovered caramel and nuts, candied fruit, and finally, pepper. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow commented that it reminded her of a cabernet sauvignon. When I inhaled through my lips, it was all caramel and berry.

The mouthfeel was thin and oily. This Triticale Whiskey drank like a Lowland Scotch without any astringent (or band-aid) quality. At the front, I tasted almond and vanilla. When it got to mid-palate, it was an unusual combination of plum and pear.  Then, at the back, caramel and white pepper. That sweet spiciness was interesting in a good way.

The finish was medium to long, at least from the start. It started off with an obvious nutmeg. Underneath that was white pepper and charred oak. And then, it dropped off. As I was putting together my notes, caramel came out of nowhere and hung around. I need to make this clear: I was convinced the finish was over and done with and there was nothing for well over two minutes before the caramel said Hello and then that stuck around.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  I couldn't stop talking about the nose.  I don't recall the last time I spent this much time just savoring the nose of a whiskey. In the future, I'm going to grab a NEAT glass to see what that does for it. When I considered my rating, Dry Fly's Straight Triticale Whiskey would be an excellent summer sipper. It is light and goes down easy. There is nothing overwhelming on the palate. And, when you factor in the price, it would be silly to pass this one over. This one earns my coveted Bottle rating and I'm happy to have it in my library.  Cheers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Woodinville Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

One of my favorite things about sipping whiskey is discovering something new and unheard of. Oh, it doesn't mean it will always be good, but it is exciting nonetheless. Some folks really enjoy drinking the same thing time after time, and I don't blame them, that's their thing. For me, the whole #DrinkCurious lifestyle is all about exploration into the unknown.

Woodinville Straight Bourbon is distilled in-house at the Woodinville Whiskey Distilling Co. in Woodinville, Washington (that's a lot of Woodinvilles!). The whiskey is then transferred to rickhouses on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington where they are left to age. The barrels are created from wood seasoned in the open air for 18 months. The barrels are then slow toasted and are subject to a heavy charring. 

The Bourbon itself is distilled from a mash of 72% corn, 22% rye, and 6% malted barley. It is bottled at 90°, and while it doesn't carry an age statement, Woodinville suggests it is aged over five years.  Suggested retail is $55 for a 750ml.

Before I get started on the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Woodinville Distilling Co. for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review.

In my Glencairn glass, the appearance is a dark caramel. It left a thin rim that led to fat legs. Those legs slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Aromas of cinnamon and vanilla initially permeated my nostrils. Underneath those were toasted wood and berries. When I inhaled through my lips, I picked up crème brūlée.

The mouthfeel was thick, oily and coating. The front of my palate picked up cherry and caramel. There was also quite a bit of heavy oak.  Mid-palate, it was very dark chocolate. That all yielded to black pepper and a return of the oak. 

All of that resulted in a long, steady, peppery finish that brought back memories of the long-gone Elijah Craig 12

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  There are a few factors going on here in my rating. I enjoyed the mix of cherries and dark chocolate on the palate and the finish that brought back good memories. When that's compounded with the suggested retail, which falls nicely into the rest of the craft whiskey category, there's really no downside and easily snatches up a Bottle rating. If you visit their website at, you can discover if distribution is near you.