Showing posts with label cask strength. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cask strength. Show all posts

Friday, October 8, 2021

Blue Spot Cask Strength Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


In 1803, William Mitchell declared that all of the firstborn Mitchell sons would be named Robert to honor the memory of his close friend, Robert Emmet. Many generations later, that demand has been honored to the present day. His bakery, Mitchell & Son, slowly expanded into other fields, such as importing wines from mainland Europe. Then, in 1887, it delved into bonding whiskeys. With a plethora of wine casks on hand, Mitchell & Son gained a reputation for taking Jameson distillate and aging it in fortified wine casks. It referred to this product as Spot Whiskey. His warehouse was a cellar, located beneath the streets of Dublin.

"When their fortified wine casks were filled exclusively with Jameson spirit from the old Bow St. Distillery, they were marked with a daub or ‘spot’ of paint which identified how long the barrels would be matured for. Blue for 7 years, Green for 10 years, Yellow for 12 years and Red for 15 years—hence the name Spot Whiskey." - Spot Whiskey

Blue Spot is the only one bottled at cask strength. It is a Single Pot Still Whiskey which means the mash is made from both malted and unmalted barley. To get into even more detail, any Single Pot Still Whiskey must contain both a minimum of 30% malted and 30% unmalted barley. Then, up to 5% of other cereal grains can be used. It must be distilled in a pot still, and Blue Spot was triple-distilled, which is the most common means of distilling Irish whiskey (the other option is double-distilled).  The single part of the category means that all the malt comes from a single distillery. 

The distillate was then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, ex-sherry butts, and ex-Portuguese Madiera casks. Spot Whiskeys are non-chill filtered. Blue Spot weighs in at a hefty 58.7% ABV (117.4°) and was distilled at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork. You can expect to pay right around $100.00, I picked mine up for $105.00. One last note, 2021 is the first time since 1964 that Blue Spot has been available for mass consumption. 

I've given you a lot of background, but now it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Blue Spot was the color of brass. It left a medium rim on the wall and fast, medium legs that crashed back into the pool. 

Nose: The smell of fruits was simply delicious. Blueberry is my favorite fruit. Guess what? The explosion of blueberries into my olfactory sense was welcomed. Pineapple, banana, and citrus shined through. I also experienced a thick maltiness. When I drew the aroma into my mouth, I got more fruit - this time, apple. 

Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and oily. It coated every nook and cranny of my mouth. Nutmeg, almond, cinnamon, and dark chocolate started things off. The middle offered orange, vanilla, raisin, and honey. On the back, I tasted caramel, oak, black pepper, and red wine.

Finish:  Thick, rich, caramel flavor dominated. Dark chocolate and leather were next, and the end was spicy with clove and black pepper. It was long-lasting and warming, but not anything that could be described as burn.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is one dangerous whiskey. At no point did I recognize the proof. But, it sure recognized me. It came at me like a wave, I could feel the flush in my head. Despite that, I enjoyed every iota of Blue Spot. Is it worth $100.00? Yeah, it is. It also earned my Bottle rating, and if there was something higher, it would take that, 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.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Gray Label Review & Tasting Notes

It is almost Autumn. That means it must be limited-edition American whiskey season. It is September, that's Bourbon Heritage Month. It is time for the rush. You've got whiskey money burning a hole in your pocket, you've been waiting all year, what do you spend it on?

Barrell Craft Spirits throws down its gauntlet with Gray Label Bourbon. Gray Label? What's that mean? I sat down and thought about it, and about the best I can come up with is it's old. It starts with a blend of three very old straight Bourbons: one from Kentucky (likely Jim Beam), one from Tennessee (George Dickel), and one from Indiana (MGP). The youngest is 15-years, hence the age statement.

Barrell calls Gray Label its "Ultra-Premium Limited Edition" Bourbon. 

"The barrels harvested for this limited release were selected for their refined properties and extraordinary flavor profile. This complex 15-year old Bourbon was blended and bottled at peak maturity so you can experience its true flavor. The perfect union of grain and barrel, with an opulent, oak forward nose and a honey-Brulee palate that reveals the lushness of the grain." - Barrell Craft Spirits

Bottled at 100.4°, you can expect to pay a premium for this ultra-premium Bourbon. I'll get to that later. But, first, I'd like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of its Gray Label in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Gray Label was deep caramel in color. It formed a thin rim that created thinner legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose: Thick, rich caramel started things off. It was soon joined by cinnamon, tobacco, citrus, plum, old smoky oak, and that telltale Dickel mineral quality. Trying to identify something as I drew the air into my mouth was challenging. After many attempts, it struck me I was tasting pineapple.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was certainly different. It was both airy and oily. I don't know how to describe it further. It was a lighter body than I expected. Each time I sipped, I expected that airiness to vanish, but it stuck around. On the front of my palate, I discovered berries, Cherry Coke, and milk chocolate. The middle featured peanuts (that's the Jim Beam component), caramel, and raw honey. At the back, it was pure spice with oak, tobacco, allspice, and nutmeg. 

Finish: Shockingly lacking was any strong spiciness you'd expect from an older Bourbon. Instead, there was cocoa powder, smoked oak, tobacco, nuts, pineapple, and strawberry. Yes, it ended sweet and fruity. Overall, it was long-lasting.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found Barrell Gray Label to complex from the nose to the palate, and the palate to the finish. The mouthfeel was crazy. The finish was impressive. It was a delicious pour, truly. I know you're thinking, there's a "but" coming... and you'd be correct. Remember I said that this with a premium pricetag? I have a rough time spending $250.00 on an American whiskey, and that's what you'll have to pay if you can find it. Barrell suggests this is available in select markets. I don't have a choice other than a Bar rating. You'll want to drink this, it is just hard on the wallet.

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 14, 2020

The Presidential Dram Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The 2020 election is over (thank goodness). I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to hear is anything else about a president - any president - at least for a few months. However, sometimes life throws you for a loop and makes you want to talk about a president anyway.

Today I'm reviewing The Presidential Dram by Proof & Wood Ventures.  Proof & Wood sources whiskeys, usually from either MGP or Dickel, and it has an uncanny ability to pick some of the better barrels from either. The Presidential Dram is part of Proof & Wood's DC Collection, and if you're unfamiliar with it, I've already reviewed The Senator and The Justice.  There is also The Representative and The Ambassador, neither of which I've tried yet.

The Presidential Dram is sourced from MGP and distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It entered the barrel at 120° and then aged for One Term (four years, although Dave Schmier of Proof & Wood said it "could be" five). It is a single-barrel bourbon, bottled at a barrel proof of 116.9°, and is non-chill filtered. One of the neat things with Proof & Wood is what they offer tends to be priced quite reasonably. In the case of The Presidential Dram, you are looking at $79.99, which is $10.00 more than The Senator, but equally less than The Justice.  The Presidential Dram is a once-every-four-years release.

I'd like to thank Proof & Wood for sending me a sample of The Presidential Dram in exchange for an honest, no-strings-attached review.  And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my trusty Glencairn glass, The Presidential Dram is deep, reddish amber. It left an ultra-thin rim on the wall, and the legs, if you can even call them that, were fat tears that didn't really move.

Nose:  Sweet and fruity aromas wafted from the glass. What was lacking was anything even resembling wood. The sweet smells were chocolate and caramel. The fruity were citrus, plum, and coconut. When I inhaled the vapor through my mouth, a tsunami of butterscotch raced over my tongue.

Palate:  This is where things got crazy. For me, the first sip of anything is concentrating on the mouthfeel. I don't even care what it tastes like. With The Presidential Dram, my attention deficit disorder kicked in. I was so overwhelmed with flavors that I lost my train of thought. As it turned out, it was thick, creamy, and full-bodied. What distracted me was the punch of plum, cherry, and caramel on the front. At mid-palate, I tasted orange peel, mint, and malted milk balls (think Whoppers without the chocolate coating). Then, on the back, spice finally came into the picture with black pepper, clove, and toasted oak. It was joined by chocolate.

Finish:  There was a slight sizzle on my hard palate, but the finish itself was long and almost silky. It began with high-cacao dark chocolate, charred oak, cherry, and ended with orange peel. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Presidential Dram is only four years old, but you'd never know it. Heck, I had a rough time buying it. This Bourbon could easily pass for much older MGP stock. This one hits all the right buttons for me. If you're concerned that a four-year Bourbon will set you back $80.00, those will evaporate once you taste it. It is time to start reflecting on the 2020 best whiskeys of the year, and The Presidential Dram is a serious contender. The rating on this is simple:  Bottle. If you see it on the shelf, just buy it. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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