Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Diznókõ Tokaji Aszú (2008) Review & Tasting Notes

You've looked at the title. If you're like me, you can't even figure out how to pronounce it. So, what the heck is Diznókõ Tokaji Aszú?  

My 2020 Whiskey of the Year was The Dublin Liberties Murder Lane Irish whiskey. What made it special was it was finished in Tokaji wine casks. I was so in love with it that I had to chase down the wine in the cask.  By the way, that's something I've never done before. On a side note, Tokaji was also used to finish Glenmorangie's Tale of Cake

So, what the heck is Tokaji wine?

Well, the most important thing to know is it is from Hungary, and that explains why unless you're fluent in Hungarian, you'd have difficulty saying the name.  Tokaji has to come from the Tokaji region of Hungary. Neighboring Slovakia may also legally use the term, but only if they follow the established Hungarian methods. Six varietals of grapes are used in the production of Tokaji: Furmint, Hárslevelű, Yellow Muscat, Zéta, Kövérszőlő, and Kabar. While there are several types of Tokaji wines, the most famous and revered is Aszú. Aszú is made from grapes subjected to noble rot. Yup, you read that right. Rot. It is a fungus that grows on the grape. It creates a sweet, luxurious wine. 

Diznókõ's release is a 2008 vintage and has a puttonyos rating of 5, which measures sweetness. In the world of affordable wines, it doesn't come cheap, although the $35.00 cost for the 500ml bottle wasn't obnoxious (you can spend much, much more on Tokaji). 

Before I get to the tasting notes, remember, I'm a whiskey guy. I don't write about wine, and unless Mrs. Whiskeyfellow asks nicely, I rarely drink it. I'm handling this just like I'd do a review for whiskey, and it will be rated on the same Bottle, Bar, or Bust scale.  Let's get to it!

Appearance:  In my Riedel Copita glass, this Tokaji wine presented the color of topaz. It created a heavy rim with thick, sticky legs that eventually fell back to the pool.

Nose:  An explosion of orange blossom filled the air as soon as I pulled the cork. The only other thing I smelled was honey. When I breathed in through my mouth, I tasted a bit of vanilla, but it was mostly honey. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and silky. The flavors were exactly like the nose. Orange blossom and honey. Front, middle, and back. There was nothing else going on.

Finish:  Here's where things changed up.  The citrus flavor that came through was lime, not the expected orange. It was joined by oak tannins. The oak fell off early. The lime was medium in length.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While composing this review, I've had two glasses of Tokaji. The wow factor is definitive. Distillers, take note: If you're interested in finishing a whiskey in something unusual and flavorful and not what everyone else is using, you may want to consider Tokaji wine casks. As for me, I'd buy this all day long - it takes a Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Barrell Seagrass Review & Tasting Notes


Barrell Seagrass may be the most unique whiskey I've ever tried. There, I said it!  When it becomes challenging for me to figure out just what I'm tasting, that piques my interest. Each time I took a sip, I was tasting something else.

Seagrass begins with a blend of Ryes from MGP of Indiana and an undisclosed Canadian distillery. They've been finished separately in some rather unusual barrels:  Martinique rum, Malmsey Madiera, and of all things, apricot brandy barrels. If you're trying to imagine what this would taste like, don't bother. I spent a week wondering about it. I was wrong.


"Seagrass stands alone as a whiskey, while also inviting the drinker to explore the multitude of influences created by a global approach to sourcing, finishing, and blending. It highlights the grassy oceanside notes we love in rye and the opulence and spice of finishing barrels." -- Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits.

If you're unfamiliar with Barrell Craft Spirits, they're blenders. There are good blenders and less-than-good ones. Barrell is in the former grouping. That's not to suggest everything they do is awesome, I've had some blends that have fallen short. But, I've enjoyed most of what I've tried.

Seagrass doesn't carry an age statement, and like everything out of Barrell, it is packaged at barrel proof. In this case, that's 118.4°. You can expect to pay about $89.99, which is about average for a Barrell expression. 

Before I get to the tasting notes and recommendation, I'd like to thank Barrell for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. With that, it is time to investigate this whiskey.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Seagrass was bright bronze in color. It made a thin rim and perhaps the thickest legs I've seen. They were heavy and crashed back into the pool.

Nose:  Here's where things got really different - dried apricot and plum were sweet notes, then brine offered a barrier of sorts, separating out the grass and mustiness on the other end of the spectrum. When I inhaled through my lips, coconut and apricot rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was full-bodied and weighty. The front of my palate found candied apricot, peach, pear, and pineapple. Rich, strong pineapple. The middle consisted of chocolate, almond, and caramel. On the back, there was a mixture of cinnamon, molasses, candied ginger, and the bitterness of walnut.

Finish:  Long and warming, the finish had plenty of wood tannin, salted chocolate, molasses, ginger, rye spice, apricot, and pineapple. Again, these are things that are difficult to imagine intermingling with one another. I did find my hard palate zinged quickly, but the sweetness mellowed out any burn the proof may have otherwise presented.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I said at the beginning, this is probably the most unusual whiskey I've tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.  

If you're adventurous and want to really #DrinkCurious, I'm here to tell you this is going to stimulate the heck out of you. Of course, I'm in that camp, which means Seagrass grabs my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!

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

Monday, February 15, 2021

M&H Elements Red Wine Cask Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Two months ago, if you had asked me, "What do you think about M&H Distillery?" I would have had no clue what you were talking about. I'd never heard of them. Whisky? From Israel? I didn't know that was even a thing. And, yet here I am, two months later, and I'm penning my third review of one of its whiskies.  This time it is the third entry in the M&H Elements series:  Red Wine Cask

For some background on both M&H and its Elements program, I'll direct you to my first review, Elements Peated.  All of the M&H expressions begin with the same base Single Malt Whisky. What happens beyond that is where the real magic happens. 

"Ex-red wine casks that were sourced from Israel's finest wineries were picked for this part of the Elements trilogy. The Mediterranean's climate, variety of soil types, hot sunny days and cool nights bring a spicy and unique flavor to Israeli wine - and in turn, our casks." - M&H Distillery

The wood used starts with 60% ex-Bourbon barrels, then 26% red wine casks, 10% STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred), and 4% virgin oak. While it carries no age statement, the Elements series is aged a minimum of three years. You should expect to pay about $56.99 for a 750ml and is bottled at 46% ABV.

I'd like to thank M&H Distillery for providing me a sample of Elements Red Wine Cask in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I'll #DrinkCurious and get to it.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this single malt presented as dull gold in color. While it left a medium rim, the legs were fat and heavy while racing back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Toasted coconut is not all that unusual of an aroma. But, it is rare to be a dominant smell. That was joined with cranberry, cherry, ripe plum, chocolate, and oak. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and nutmeg danced across my tongue.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be light yet coating. Flavors of red grape, vanilla cream, and toasted oak launched the experience. As it moved mid-palate, nutmeg and black cherry took over, which transitioned to black pepper, dry oak, and dark chocolate on the back.

Finish:  Black pepper and dry oak carried into the finish. Cherry, plum, and vanilla cream assisted. While only 46%, I found it interesting how tingly my hard palate became.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Single malts finished in wine casks is a thing now. Admittedly, I'm fairly new to it. For the most part, I've enjoyed what I've tried. Elements Red Wine Cask is no exception and is in the upper-echelon of what I've sampled from that niche. I was a bit shocked how any sweetness was subdued compared to the spices on the back and finish. When I consider the price, this one's a no-brainer Bottle rating. 

One final word - now that I've had all three of the Elements expressions, my favorite was Elements Peated. But, that shouldn't diminish the greatness of Red Wine Cask or Sherry Cask. You can't lose with any of the bunch. Cheers!

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Coalition Kentucky Straight Rye Margaux Barriques Review & Tasting Notes


Finished whiskeys are the "in" thing right now. Finishing involves taking a mature whiskey and then transferring it from the original barrel to another. Those finishing barrels can be pretty much anything, from Bourbon and Rye to beer, from sherry and wine to Tobasco sauce. The idea is the finishing barrel allows the whiskey to take on some of the characters from what was previously in the barrel.

Very new to the market (meaning just released this month) is Coalition Whiskey. The name is meaningful. It involved three industry experts,  Leonid Yangarber (formerly of Russian Standard), Ludwig Vanneron (an expert in wine), and Steve Thompson (president of Kentucky Artisan Distillery), coming together and forming a coalition.  Their goal was to create a great whiskey that would be finished in some of the world's finest wine barrels.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery provides the base product across the brand's spectrum. Located in Crestwood, Kentucky, it utilizes a 100% rye mash, of which 10% of the rye is malted. All of the rye comes from a farm located about a mile away. That mash was then sent through a copper pot still that dates back to pre-Prohibition days. It is then aged for four-to-five years before making the transition to the wine barrels.

I'm reviewing the Margaux Barriques expression today.  Margaux refers to the famed Margaux appellation, the wine-growing region in Bordeaux, the birthplace of many highly-prestigious marks of wine.  Barriques is the French term for "barrel."  The base rye whiskey, once matured, is then finished in these former Margaux barrels.  It does not carry an age statement and packaged at 90.8°.  It is available in NY, NJ, CA, FL, KY, IL, and CO, and you can also purchase it online. Expect to pay $89.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Speaking of said bottle, it is an absolutely gorgeous presentation. It has some heft and something you'd want to keep afterward as a decanter for something else. 

The only way to find out if Coalition Margaux Barriques is any good is to #DrinkCurious. Before I get there, I'd like to thank Coalition Whiskey for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Rye presented as a deep, dark amber. A thick rim left very thick, sticky legs that didn't want to move anywhere.

Nose:  A fruity aroma filled the air. As I brought the glass closer to my face, cinnamon and oak hit my olfactory sense first. Then the fruitiness returned in the form of currant, dried fig, and red grape. There was also a muted floral note. When I inhaled the vapor through my mouth, rye spice and Bordeaux wine danced across my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was silky and full-bodied. On the front, I tasted chocolate and creamy vanilla. Then, on the middle, a fruit bomb of plum, currant, and black cherry exploded. The back was a blend of leather, rye spice, tobacco leaf, and coffee bean.

Finish:  Things started sweet and then transformed to spicy. Plum, then clove, then warming with rye spice. Finally, things got very dry with leather and oak tannins. It definitely had pucker power. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Coalition Margaux Barriques was, simply put, elegant. I've had several wine-finished whiskeys and this one is a stand-out. The whiskey is a quality base and the wine barrels were top-notch before the two even interacted. There was absolutely nothing not to like from nose to finish. Even the mouthfeel was luxurious. The fancy decanter was unnecessary - this could be packaged in a mason jar and I would still not have any problem dropping $90.00 on it. Obviously, this grabs my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!

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


Monday, January 4, 2021

Thomas S Moore Extended Cask Finish Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes


I enjoy barrel-finished whiskeys. There are a bunch of purists who are turned off at the mere idea of finishing whiskeys, and they're absolutely entitled to their opinion. I just don't happen to agree with them.

Barrel-finishing involves taking a properly-aged whiskey and then taking it from its original barrel to a barrel that contained something else. That something else could be anything from whiskey to wine, from coffee to hot sauce, and everything in between. The finishing process can go from a few weeks to a handful of months. Distillers and blenders can be creative, and I appreciate their creativity, even if I don't enjoy the bottled product.

Then there's something called extended barrel-finishing. While there's no legal definition for it (read: marketing speak), the idea is that instead of finishing a whiskey for weeks or months, you're now talking years. That is unusual. Who is the early adopter? None other than Barton 1792, owned by Sazerac (the parent company of Buffalo Trace). 

Back in 1889, a gentleman named Thomas S. Moore built and founded the Barton 1792 Distillery. He was an early adopter of Bardstown, which is now known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. The distillery decided to honor Moore with this new product line of extended barrel-finished Bourbons.

"[The] signature high-rye Bourbon is aged for many years in new charred oak barrels before filling other casks that previously matured various wines or spirits from around the world, ranging from Cognac to Cabernet to Port and more. In these fabulous casks, the Bourbon aged another one to three years. This extended cask-finishing method results in elegant whiskeys, each displaying a distinct flavor profile, reflecting nuances of both the Bourbon and the finishing cask." - Barton 1792 Distillery

The mashbill for 1792 High Rye is undisclosed, but if we take the above information from Barton 1792, we know it is aged somewhere between five and seven years. As such, we know it spent six-to-ten years in wood.  You can expect to pay about $69.99 for a 750ml bottle of either the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Port finishes.

Knowledge is nice, of course, but you can't smell or taste it. The only way to know for sure if it is any good is to #DrinkCurious. I'd like to thank Barton 1792 for providing me samples of these three Thomas S. Moore expressions in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.

First up, I'm reviewing the Chardonnay Cask FinishThe cask once held California Chardonnay wine, and before it was filled with the Bourbon, the barrel went through toasting to bring out additional flavors. Finally, it is bottled at 97.9°.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, the Bourbon presents as a deep, orange-amber. It created a thick rim and extremely slow legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  I found this whiskey to be quite fragrant. It started with buttercream and vanilla, and then it got fruity with apple, pear, and peach. When I inhaled through my mouth, that apple crossed my tongue.

Palate:  The mouthfeel offered a medium body and was oily. On the front, I tasted vanilla and toffee. The middle consisted of baking spices, cinnamon apple, and dried cherry, while the back featured apricot, rye spice, and caramel. The caramel was stronger than I'd imagine. There was a mineral-like quality as well.

Finish:  I found the finish long and buttery, and experienced apricot, caramel, oak, and apple cider. The Kentucky hug was subtle.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Thomas S. Moore Chardonnay Cask Finish was certainly different from other finished whiskeys I've tried. Knowing what 1792 High Rye tasted like made it easy to distinguish the Chardonnay finish. I enjoyed this. I'm not sure if I enjoyed it for $70.00, though. I appreciate the uniqueness of what the distillery has done. I'm offering a Bar rating to it. 

Next up is the Cabernet Sauvignon expression. It shares the same 1792 High Rye mashbill as the Chardonnay, the only real difference is the wine cask used in the finishing process. It weighs in a bit lower at 95.3°. 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, the color was a pretty reddish-orange. It left the same thicker rim and slow legs as the Chardonnay finish.

Nose:  The aroma of darker fruits permeated the air. I smelled raspberry and cherry, along with a muted blackberry. Caramel was easy to pick out and provided a mouthwatering invitation. When I breathed in the vapor through my lips, I found strawberry preserves.

Palate:  The Cabernet Sauvignon version offered a luxurious, silky mouthfeel. Flavors of plum and strawberry exploded on my tongue. The middle was French vanilla ice cream and freshly-cracked black pepper. On the back, charred oak and raspberry formed a complementary combination.

Finish:  Slightly shorter than the Chardonnay, the finish was jammy and fruity, with toffee, oak, and black pepper. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While I enjoyed the Chardonnay expression, I just loved the Cabernet Sauvignon version. Sure, it was a fairly simple Bourbon, but it was delicious and made me smile. This one is worth $70.00 and takes my coveted Bottle rating.

Last up is the Port Cask version. Again, it uses the 1792 High Rye mashbill. Port comes from Portugal and is a fortified wine, meaning it blended with a portion of spirits, which is usually some type of brandy. Fortification is used as a method of preserving the wine from spoilage and was developed to allow the wine to be shipped across long distances. The Port Cask Finish is bottled at 96.9°, making it the highest-proofed of the three.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Port Cask is the deepest, darkest color yet. The rim was thinner than either the Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon expressions. That rim created sticky drops that didn't really go anywhere, even with some tapping with my finger on the wall.

Nose:  Oak was dominant, and right behind it were both blackberry, raisin, and blueberry. Strange as it may sound, the nose had a syrupy quality to it. I also smelled vanilla. When I drew the air in my mouth, I tasted sweet vanilla and cherry.

Palate:  Sweet, spicy, and airy would be an appropriate way to describe the mouth on this Bourbon. The front was sweet with boysenberry, blueberry, strawberry, and raisin. Caramel and vanilla made up the middle, and then the back featured nutmeg, allspice, oak, and slight pepper. 

Finish:  This was the short-to-medium finish was big on cherry and plum with an ending of toasted oak. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Port Cask Finish had a good balance. I've had several whiskeys that have been finished in Port Casks and the fruit is a common denominator. I would have preferred a longer finish, but this is another that sat well with me and earned a Bottle rating.

Final Thoughts:  The Chardonnay was my least favorite. It wasn't a bad Bourbon, but it didn't have a wow factor that caused me to want to lay down $70.00 for it. But, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Port Cask versions did. Of the two, I preferred the Cabernet Sauvignon with the Port Cask a very close second. I'm curious what future expressions will contain, and am admittedly excited about the proposed Cognac finish. While Barton 1792 is at it, I'm hoping Armagnac is part of the plan.  Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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