Showing posts with label whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label whiskey. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2022

Barrell Vantage Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

There’s been a recent craze for finishing whiskeys in Mizunara casks. Mizunara is a native Japanese wood that does a fantastic job of retaining moisture. However, it is a challenging wood to work with:


“The oak does not grow straight, it has a high moisture content, and it’s much more porous than other varieties, he says. These issues make the casks prone to leaking. Its name, after all, translates to ‘water oak.’” - Hirotsugu Hayasaka, former head cooper at Nikka


Mizunara cask development was due to European and American oak shortages during World War II. The Japanese looked to their forests to create the required containers. The Japanese coopers returned to European and American oak once the supply chain issues were remedied. However, the memory of how good the whisky aged in Mizunara wood remained.


In more modern times, the Mizunara trees are a protected species. First, the tree must be about 200 years old to be suitable for carving staves. Secondly, the yield of usable wood is meager compared to its European and American counterparts. Thirdly, you can’t harvest a live Mizunara tree; it must be naturally felled.1


Barrell Craft Spirits has just released Vantage, a blend of straight Bourbons finished in Mizunara, French, and toasted American oak casks. All three finishing cooperages were virgin oak, so nothing but wood would impart its flavors to the whiskey. As with many of Barrell’s American whiskeys, it has sourced distillate from Indiana (MGP/Ross & Squibb), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam).  Each component of Bourbon was finished independently and blended together in Louisville, Kentucky.


“Barrell Vantage is a bourbon dedicated to the arts of barrel selection and blending. We drew upon our years of blending expertise, creativity, and testing to create a bourbon with impeccable balance and depth of flavor that embraces different char and toast levels, along with its oak origins. Barrell Vantage is an exciting step forward in our never-ending journey to take Bourbon to new heights.”Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits


Vantage carries no age statement and is packaged at 114.44°. A 750ml bottle has a suggested price of $89.99 and is available in 48 states. That price puts it in line with most of Barrell’s standard releases.


Now that you know its background, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this Bourbon is all about and if it is worthwhile. But, before I do, I will shout out to Barrell for providing me a sample of Vantage in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Vantage presented as oiled brass. A microthin rim formed, leading tiny tears to fall back into the pool.


Nose: A bouquet of toasted coconut, pineapple, cumin, cinnamon, and clove tickled my nostrils. When I pulled the air into my mouth, a strong sense of caramel engaged my tongue.


Palate:  An incredibly oily texture provided a weighty mouthfeel. I tasted caramel, vanilla, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch on the front of my palate. The middle featured plum, coconut, ginger, and cocoa powder, while the back dispensed coffee, clove, and allspice flavors.


Finish: Vantage possesses one of those freight train finishes that plows through and runs for miles. Allspice was the highlight; however, the plum, coconut, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and ginger weren’t derailed.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve never had a Mizunara-finished whiskey before today. I can’t swear that most of this experience is directly related to that wood, as there are two others to contend with, but let’s say that I’m curious about tasting others. The coconut flavors came through hard, and while that’s something that isn’t overly unusual with whiskeys, to have it as prominent as Vantage offers is.


Vantage is also surprisingly easy to sip despite its proof. There is undoubtedly a spicy component to this Bourbon, but no alcohol burn, which many folks will appreciate. However, it also sneaks up on you because there is no warning of it coming before it hits. I’ve been delighted with many of Barrell Craft Spirits' offerings as of late, and Vantage is no exception. I’d happily fork over the $90 to have this Bottle in my library. 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.



1Brad Japhe, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 27, 2022


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Remus Repeal Reserve Series VI Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

One problem in the Wonderful World of Whiskey is that a subsequent incarnation has to live up to the reputation of a former when an annual release has received tremendous accolades. So is the case with Remus Repeal Reserve VI. You see, Remus Repeal Reserve V took my 2021 Whiskey of the Year award. It was mind-blowingly good and not overly challenging to find (at least, not until I crowned it, but that’s just a coincidence). If you’d like, you can read that review here.


“The Remus Repeal Reserve Series provides our team the opportunity to showcase the incredible array of aged reserves available to work with, as well as our expertise at blending these Bourbons to create a special medley each year. Series VI is the latest in this award-winning collection that is certain to be yet another excellent example of what our Remus Repeal collection represents:  what great Bourbon can be.” – Ian Stirsman, Master Distiller


The story of George Remus is one of my favorite examples of Bourbon lore, and I hope you’ll allow me to go off on a slight tangent. I’ve taken this from my review of Series III. 


Remus was an American icon. Oh, maybe not the best example of a decent person, but he was, nonetheless, an icon. He was known as King of the Bootleggers.  He was a criminal defense attorney. Some of his clients were bootleggers, most of them were murderers, and he got a green tint in his eye watching his bootlegging clients making a fortune. One day, he decided he knew more about the criminal justice system than anyone else, and he could make a ton of money by using his legal knowledge to do illegal activities and not fall prey to the authorities.  


Remus was, indeed, very clever.  He found a loophole in the Volstead Act that allowed him to buy distilleries and distill medicinal whiskey. He wound up buying most of the operating distilleries in and around Cincinnati, and his schtick was that his employees would hijack his finished product, which he would then turn around and resell on the black market.  


One day, Remus found out he wasn't as clever as he thought as the government indicated him of thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, and a jury quickly convicted him. He was sent to the federal pokey in Atlanta. 


But wait, there’s more! Remus buddied up to a fellow prisoner and bragged about how all of his money was controlled by his wife. He didn't know that his new pal was an undercover agent named Franklin Dodge. Dodge then resigned from his position and engaged in an affair with Remus's wife. The two fell in love and started selling off Remus's assets, leaving him with a mere $100. 


Don’t stop reading because that’s not the end.  Remus was on his way to court for his divorce proceeding when he chased down his ex-wife's car, got out, and shot her to death in true gangster fashion. He pled insanity, and the jury believed him, taking less than twenty minutes to deliver the verdict.


Now, let’s get back to the business of reviewing this Bourbon. This sixth release is described as a medley of five Bourbons, ranging in age from eight to fourteen years and, as always, bottled at 100°. All five Bourbons are MGP (now Ross & Squibb) distillate. The distillery will launch Repeal Reserve this month to coincide with Bourbon Heritage Month and has a suggested retail price of $99.99. The components of this medley include:


  • 2% of 2008 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 17% of 2012 Bourbon (36% rye)
  • 27% of 2012 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 29% of 2014 Bourbon (21% rye)
  • 25% of 2014 Bourbon (36% rye)


Now that you know what makes Remus Repeal Reserve special, it is time to #DrinkCurious and address my concern:  Will Series VI hold up to Series V? I must thank Luxco for providing me this sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  The liquid presented as deep, dark mahogany when poured neat into my Glencairn glass. A medium-thick rim formed syrupy legs that dragged back to the pool.


Nose: As I inspected the rim and legs, an aroma of berry fruits wafted from the glass. When I drew it closer to my nostrils, I found linen, leather, oak, and vanilla. Thick caramel danced across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was light and silky. The front of my palate encountered Fig Newton cookies, stewed fruits, and vanilla, while the middle featured caramel, nutmeg, and toffee. I tasted charred oak, mint, and fresh leather.


Finish: A soft but long finish was constructed of nutmeg, barrel char, leather, caramel, white pepper, and rye spice.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Series VI was very tasty, and to get this out of the way, it earns every bit of my Bottle rating.  The remaining question, however, is if it holds up to Series V. As much as I enjoyed Series VI, it didn’t meet its lofty standard. I wanted to ensure that my memory wasn’t romanticizing last year’s release and to verify that, I poured myself a glass of my 2021 Whiskey of the Year, which confirmed my suspicion. But, despite that, don’t pass up Series VI. It is well worth the investment. 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, August 31, 2022

BEARFACE Triple Oak Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

I never thought I’d say this, but after the recent success of a fantastic Canadian whisky I rated, I’m excited to try another! Another reason I’m excited to sip this whisky is that the distillery uses a unique aging process. No, this isn’t shooting music or microwaves at barrels or sending them around the world’s oceans on ships. It is something I’ve never heard of before:  Elemental Ageing.


“Elemental ageing is our unique process where hand-selected oak casks are matured in repurposed shipping containers and exposed to the elements in the Canadian wilderness. Our extreme northern climate amplifies how the whisky and wood interact, transforming the liquid inside for a bolder, smoother flavor. 

From freezing -10°C to searing 40°C [14°F to 104°F], the temperatures can fluctuate wildly in a single day under steel.”BEARFACE Spirits


BEARFACE is owned by Vancouver-based Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits. Master Blender Andrés Faustinelli was born in Venezuela, raised in Italy, is a citizen of France, lives in San Francisco, and creates whisky in Canada. He is experienced in beer, Bourbon, wine, and Mezcal. He chose Canada purposefully due to its more relaxed rules regarding whisky making.


BEARFACE Spirits offers three expressions:  Triple Oak Whisky, One Eleven, and Wilderness Series. Today I’m exploring Triple Oak Whisky.


It begins with single grain Canadian whisky made of 99.5% corn and 0.5% malted barley aged for seven years. BEARFACE Spirits openly states it is sourced; it doesn’t state from who. Its primary aging was spent in former Bourbon barrels. Over 100 days, it was finished first in three different vintages of French oak wine barrels, which held Bordeaux-style wines from Mission Hill for seven years. The whisky was then finished in toasted, virgin Hungarian oak barrels made from staves air-dried for three years. Bottled at 42.5% ABV (85°), it carries a suggested retail price of $34.99, making it easily affordable to most.  Mark Anthony indicates this can be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail. I opted for the neat pour.


Will BEARFACE Triple Oak Whisky be another Canadian winner, or will it fall by the wayside like many predecessors? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious. Before I get there, I must thank BEARFACE Spirits for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: A brilliant orange amber shined through my Glencairn glass. A medium-thin rim released thick, watery legs that raced back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: A combination of browned butter, caramel, orange peel, strawberry, and sweet corn lacked any evidence of wood. Inhaling through my mouth brought strawberries and vanilla that flowed across my tongue.


Palate:  I found the medium-weighted liquid held a silky texture. Coffee, chocolate, and caramel started the journey. Caramel continued through the middle, joined by vanilla and corn. French oak, strawberry, and rye spice formed the back.  


Finish:  That rye spice built into cinnamon-soaked toothpicks. Dark chocolate and rich caramel faded to bold French oak; everything escaped with a gentle kiss of strawberry.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I don’t know if it is the base single grain whisky, the French oak finish, the Hungarian oak finish, or those repurposed shipping containers that did it, but BEARFACE Triple Oak Whisky is easy to sip and generous on flavor, and it is just damned good. It earns every bit of my Bottle rating, and I’m thrilled to have this easy-on-the-wallet Canadian whisky in my library. 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, August 26, 2022

Crater Lake Spirits Whiskey Reviews & Tasting Notes

There is more to whiskey than just what’s poured into your glass. If you go beyond the backstories, many of which are nothing more than entertaining tall tales, there’s the process behind the whiskey, the people who make things happen, and the values and mantras those people consider essential.  


“Anyone can create a quick and dirty spirit. Luckily, we’re not just anyone. At Crater Lake Spirits, we know that our intense commitment to quality, taste, and sustainable practices means we’re not going to be everybody’s top choice. And that’s ok.


We’re here for the spirit enthusiasts who care about what they’re drinking, how it’s made, and its impact on the planet. By purchasing Crater Lake Spirits, it shows that you share our goal of doing right by our employees, our community, and our shared future.” – Crater Lake Spirits 


Crater Lake is big on sustainability and focuses on three areas: materials, facilities, and community. The glass used is made of at least 30% recycled materials, the plastics for 50ml bottles at 25% or more, and the ink is all plant-based, making their bottles 100% recyclable. Packaging is 100% recyclable and uses at least 90% recycled materials. The facilities are using water and electricity responsibly and recycling them whenever possible. And, with an eye on the community, they reuse returned packaging from customers, offer employees 24 hours of paid volunteer time, and participate in roadside cleanups.


Founded by Jim Bendis in Bend, Oregon, in 1996, the craft distillery boom hadn’t yet happened. There were fewer than 20, whereas today there are close to 2000! In 2005, he founded Bend Spirits to offer private-label spirits. And in 2015, he created Ablis, a CBD-based beverage.


Today I’m sampling four whiskeys from Crater Lake:  Estate Rye Whiskey, Black Butte Whiskey, Reserve Rye Whiskey, and Straight American Rye.  I’ll be sipping these in order of proof, from low to high, which I recommend whenever you do more than a couple of pours.


Before I get to my tasting notes and recommendations, I wish to thank Crater Lake Spirits for providing me samples of each in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. It will be a #DrinkCurious adventure.


Straight American Rye Whiskey



The lowest proof is the Straight American Rye Whiskey. It is made from a mash of 100% rye and aged in new, charred American oak for two years. It is packaged at 80°, and a 750ml bottle costs about $27.99.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this two-year Rye presented as a light gold. A thin rim formed a wavy curtain that dropped down my glass wall.


Nose: Rye spice was easy to pluck from the glass, as were toasted oak, stone fruit, and vanilla. When I drew the air past my lips, I tasted toasted oak.


Palate:  The texture was watery, yet the palate was flavorful, with vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg on the front and milk chocolate and toffee in the middle. The back was peppery with rye spice, clove, and oak.


Finish:  Clove, toffee, and oak stayed for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Straight American Rye Whiskey was an easy sipper for sure. I believe there’s a tightrope to walk to younger Ryes, not to have the flavors become too sharp but still maintain the classic Rye experience. This Rye might be proofed down a bit too much for my liking, but it could be a great toe-dipping whiskey for someone interested in 100% rye mashbills. My recommendation is to try this one at a Bar first.




Estate Rye Whiskey



Next up is the oldest of the quartet:  Estate Rye Whiskey. It is farm-to-bottle, meaning the rye was grown at the distillery. Only a handful of new, charred American oak barrels are filled each year with the 100% rye distillate, then allowed to rest for six years. Packaged at 93°, a 750ml bottle runs $54.99. 


Appearance: The Estate Rye appeared as an orange amber in my Glencairn glass. A fragile rim released fat tears that inched their way back to the pool.


Nose: Rich oak notes wafted out of the glass, and the rye spice smelled mellowed. Mint and stone fruits combined with vanilla and a bit of menthol. When I inhaled through my mouth, mint, and vanilla were evident.  


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and coated my tongue. Honey, almond, and mandarin oranges were on the front, while the middle consisted of nutmeg and mocha.  The back featured allspice, oak, and clove.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish continued with the notes of allspice, oak, and clove from the back of my palate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The flavors in the Estate Rye were not shy, they were easy to pick out, and none overwhelmed another. I found this whiskey to be well-balanced, enjoyable, and very much a classic Rye. Considering its age and limited quantity, I believe the price is at the very least fair. Crater Lake Spirits could charge another $10 and still be reasonable, and I’m happy to crown my Bottle rating for it.




Black Butte Whiskey



Black Butte Whiskey is an outlier as an American Single Malt versus the others being Ryes. It is also a collaboration whiskey, where the folks at Crater Lake distilled Black Butte Porter before placing it in #4-charred, new American oak, where it sat for five years. You can expect to pay about $74.99 for a 94°, 750ml package.  


Appearance: Black Butte Whiskey was the color of burnt umber, leaving a thick rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. Sticky droplets remained, taking several minutes to collapse.


Nose:  A gorgeous nose always concerns me, and Black Butte has one. Mocha and old leather rose from the glass’s chimney, and I just kept sniffing, relishing the moment. Green apple kissed my nostrils. Mocha rolled across my tongue when I drew that vapor into my mouth.


Palate:  A creamy mouthfeel helped erase whatever worries I had from the nose. At the front, I discovered chocolate, nutmeg, and vanilla. The middle featured almond, leather, and tobacco leaf, while the back released mocha, toasted marshmallow, and oak.


Finish: Rich mocha, marshmallow, old leather, and charred oak hung around for what seemed to be forever, and I wasn’t complaining.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m not a beer drinker, and I don’t know if this whiskey represents what a Porter offers, but I believe I’ve fallen in love with Black Butte Whiskey. I don’t care what it costs, this is one you don’t want to pass up given the opportunity, and that’s a slam-dunk Bottle rating.




Reserve Rye Whiskey


The final pour is Crater Lake Reserve Rye Whiskey. It starts with a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, which is a bit more classic than the 100% rye mashbills this distillery has offered so far. It aged in new, charred American oak for three years and weighs in at 96°, making it the heavyweight of the four. A 750ml bottle will set you back $39.99.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, the Reserve Rye looked of dark amber. A medium rim released long, fast legs.


Nose: Vanilla, mint, and oak joined a smell of rye spice. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb had exploded in my mouth.


Palate:  A creamy, weighty mouthfeel introduced my palate to more vanilla and milk chocolate. Rye spice, toffee, and cinnamon formed the middle. The back had flavors of oak, black pepper, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  My tongue was left with a tingly feeling as the spices lingered for what seemed to be eons. Tannins, black pepper, and rye spice each took a turn.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The more familiar mashbill was enjoyable and easy to drink. I could encounter more of what this whiskey had to offer with the higher proof. It is only three years old, but it tastes more mature. This one is priced right, and this is a classic Rye whiskey that I’m sure you won’t have a second’s worth of buyer’s remorse. I’m giving Reserve Rye Whiskey a Bottle rating.


Epilogue:  If I were staring at all four of these on the shelf and wondering which to grab, it would be a no-brainer. The Black Butte Whiskey takes Best in Show. But the two older ryes are great pick-ups, too, and you won’t complain about the price. 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, August 24, 2022

Dura Dram 2.0 and Hexa Dram Silicone Whisky Nosing Glasses Review

What you may not realize is I’m very passionate about whisky glassware. Some may pish-posh the notion that glassware makes any difference; however, my real-world experience and head-to-head comparisons tell a different story. Because of those, I’ve settled on a Glencairn nosing glass to be the standard to which I compare others.


I’m not close-minded about my glassware preference. If there’s a new glass to be tried, I’ll review it. As such, when the folks at DuraDram asked if I’d do a review of what it has to offer, I happily agreed.


What is DuraDram? I’ll allow Adam and Dolores Dolan, the husband-wife founders who brought the brand to fruition, to explain:


“DuraDram is more than a whisky glass – it’s a new way to appreciate spirits. It’s a durable, yet flexible silicone, a material that never breaks, is thermally insulated to reduce heat transfer, and is freezer safe to chill your spirit without watering it down.


With DuraDram being made of silicone, you’re now able, for the first time ever, to use Forced Aeration. By gently squeezing the walls, you force the aromatics up toward your nostrils for more direct nosing.”


These nosing glasses are made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone and have a soft touch matte finish. Each glass costs $15.00 if purchased individually; however, DuraDram offers discounts on its website if you buy multiples. Currently, DuraDram offers two designs, the Dura Dram 2.0, which is shaped similarly to a Glencairn, and the Hexa Dram, which is hexagon shaped. Both are the same size: 4.5” tall and 2.8” at their widest point and can hold up to seven ounces. They’re also available in a variety of colors. They're designed in Texas and made in China.


The critical thing to remember is that you must wash the DuraDram nosing glasses before use. Aside from the sanitary issues, the silicone has an odor of rubber, and if you don’t wash them, that will interfere with the entire experience.


I’m curious about the silicone and how it will compare to glass. To properly assess these DuraDram nosing glasses, I’ve poured Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon in them and in my Glencairn glass. I chose Elijah Craig because it is 94° and readily available. I allowed the Bourbon to rest for about 15 minutes before nosing and tasting. I plan to offer general terms regarding the nose and palate; don’t expect full reviews of Elijah Craig because that’s not the purpose of the evaluation.


However, before I start, I must thank DuraDram for providing me this opportunity in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review of each. Let’s #DrinkCurious to find out more.

My first pour was in my Glencairn nosing glass, as that’s my “control” in this experiment.


Nose:  The expected caramel, vanilla, and oak notes came through. When I inhaled through my lips, caramel rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The caramel, vanilla, berry fruits, oak, and pepper are the standard notes.


Finish: Medium to long in duration, vanilla, caramel, and oak remained.


Dura Dram 2.0 Nosing Glass


Nose: The aroma of the caramel was muted, but vanilla and citrus plowed right through. I can’t recall pulling citrus notes from Elijah Craig before. Taking the air in through my lips offered berry notes.


Palate: The texture was creamier than the controlled pour, and I found the same notes as the Glencairn provided, except the vanilla and berry were stronger.


Finish: Black pepper and dry oak overwhelmed the vanilla and caramel. The duration of the finish remained the same.


Hexa Dram Nosing Glass


Nose:  I smelled no caramel, but vanilla, oak, and pepper were evident. A giant blast of vanilla hit my mouth as I drew in the air.


Palate:  Like the Dura Dram 2.0, the mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The flavors seemed slightly flat compared to the Dura Dram 2.0.


Finish:  The finish length was much shorter than the Glencairn or Dura Dram 2.0.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: One of the interesting observations that I would not have otherwise considered came from Mrs. Whiskeyfellow. As many of you know, she is disabled. Part of her disability involves her possessing limited hand strength and can experience spasms. A huge smile came across her when she grabbed the DuraDram glasses. She indicated she had no issues whatsoever holding them, with or without whisky inside. It fit her hand well, especially when she grabbed the base of each. It alleviates a lot of her anxiety about dropping the glass. To me, that’s worth a million bucks all by itself.


However, how it impacts the whisky enthusiast is how I’ve judged them. The good news is that there was no rubber residue on the nose or palate. That’s huge. Obviously, they won’t give the same tasting notes as a standard Glencairn, but the flavors aren’t completely off, either.


I tried to use the forced aeration and, honestly, didn’t get much of a change one way or the other. It tasted the same with or without that exercise.


I found these glasses to be weighted well, similarly to the Glencairn. They fit my hand well. The Dura Dram 2.0 felt more natural, but that’s likely because of how it is shaped like the Glencairn. The Hexa Dram had a more solid grasp, and I’m assuming it is the edges and angles. However, I didn't particularly appreciate drinking from the flat edge. It was easier to sip from the “corner” between the two.


I didn’t experience any leeching from these silicone glasses. That’s one thing that’s always kept me away from synthetic materials, especially plastic.


So, what’s my ruling? Would I recommend the Dura Dram 2.0 and Hexa Dram nosing glasses? I found these impressive. I won’t pretend I like them as much as the Glencairn, but there were zero concerns about breakage or care. I wouldn’t use these to evaluate whiskeys for review purposes.


However, the DuraDram nosing glasses can be crushed in your hand, and they’ll bounce back to shape unscathed every time. I also don’t believe the $15.00 price is out of line, especially when you start getting quantity discounts on four or eight glasses, and even more so when you look at pricy gimmicks like the Norlan or Aged and Ore glasses.


The Dura Dram 2.0 earns my Bottle rating. I thought it performed well and kept much of the Glencairn experience. The notes of the Hexa Dram were adequate but didn’t perform entirely as well on the palate and finish. If you’re used to a similar hexagon-designed glass, this will interest you, too. Both worked well, but I did prefer the Dura Dram 2.0. 


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, August 21, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 033 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of the more consistently excellent blenders around. That’s not to suggest it is perfect at what it does, but if you were going to take a chance and risk purchasing a bottle without knowing anything about it, you’d likely be on the winning side of that bet.


While the art of blending isn’t simple, Barrell makes things less complicated. Everything it produces is barrel-proof. If you think something is too strong, you get to change things up by adding water. That’s on you; Barrell won’t do that on your behalf.


Barrell doesn’t get fancy with names. Its highest-end whiskeys are Gold Label, and the next level is Gray Label. Then, you have a few specialty blends, such as Seagrass, Dovetail, etc., but most labels say something like Batch 033 (which is the Bourbon I’m reviewing today).


Batch 033 is a Bourbon that carries a five-year age statement. That’s the youngest whiskey in the batch. The oldest is nine years, and there are six, seven, and eight-year Bourbons as well. Barrell sourced these Bourbons distilled from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both high-rye and high-corn Bourbons were procured, then blended into two sets of barrels that rested an additional two months. Barrell then blended those to make what’s in the bottle.


It weighs in at 116.6° and carries an MSRP of $90.00. Typically, Barrell whiskeys are easy to find at good liquor stores around the country.


Will this be another winner for Barrell? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I do so, I must thank Barrell for providing a sample of Batch 033 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Deep and dark, the burnt umber liquid left a medium-thick rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. Sticky droplets remained after an initial release of thick legs.


Nose:  A rich blast of corn and caramel escaped my glass. Plum and cherry punched through, and getting beyond those aromas, I found almond, pecan, and oak. Plum and cherry rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  A thick, creamy texture filled every nook and cranny of my mouth and warmed my throat. A wave of vanilla, plum and baked apple smashed the front of my palate. Flavors of grapefruit, lime, and nuts formed the middle, while chocolate, allspice, and oak rounded the back.


Finish:  The long, lingering finish was ripe with chocolate, oak, vanilla, allspice, lime, limestone, and oak. By the third sip, the warming sensation in my throat subsided.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Despite the complicated listing of barrels used for Batch 033, the components were easily discerned. The nuttiness of Beam, the minerality of Dickel, and the classic fruitiness of MGP shone through. Batch 033 is a welcome addition to my whiskey library, and I believe you will walk away happy after buying a Bottle. 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.