Showing posts sorted by relevance for query vantage. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query vantage. Sort by date 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


Saturday, September 19, 2020

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I'm just going to come out and say it. This is, to date, the most expensive whiskey I've ever reviewed:  $1299.00 a bottle.  For the record, I've tasted more expensive liquor but never reviewed it. Today I'm drinking a Highland Scotch: The Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, from The GlenDronach.

The Kingsman is a collaboration between Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and The Kingsman franchise director Matthew Vaughn. It was inspired by a bottle of whiskey at the distillery - the oldest one they had - a 29-year Single Malt from 1913.

"This expression is deep in meaning, paying homage to fallen friends who bravely fought during WWI, and the depth of character and integrity shared by both The GlenDronach and the Kingsman agency. This is none other than a whisky truly fit for a King’s Man." - Dr. Rachel Barrie

As a Single Malt, this is 100% malted barley. It was distilled in 1989, then aged for 29 years in Oloroso sherry casks. Then, it was finished in Pedro Ximénez casks before being bottled at 50.1% ABV. A total of 3052 bottles exist and they hit the shelves on September 1st.

Now that you know all of the facts, it is time to #DrinkCurious.  But, first, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample of The Kingsman in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's get to it, shall we?

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, at the vantage point I'm looking at it, it looks like motor oil. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that would be used in a whisky review.  This is the deepest, darkest whisky I've ever laid eyes on. Naturally-colored or not, caramel coloring doesn't do this. This is a result of being in the barrel for 29 years. The photo below is not run through any filter.

It left no rim on the glass at all. No matter how many times I tried to generate one, it never happened. It was just a curtain of alcohol that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:   If you hung out at a fruit stand, you'd understand what I'm about to describe. Fig. Apricot. Raisin. Plum. Citrus. But, it wasn't all fruit. Dark chocolate and cinnamon dust hid beneath all that. When I inhaled through my mouth, fig and vanilla rolled across my palate.

Palate:  As I tipped the glass to my lips, it was thick and luxurious like syrup. As far as flavor, that orchard just kept slamming my tastebuds. Raisin, fig, plum, vanilla, and brown sugar kept the front of my palate busy. Come mid-palate, the brown sugar became molasses. Almond and orange peel were there, too. Then, on the back, I found dark chocolate, cocoa, clove, nutmeg, and then pear.

Finish:  Raisin was the obvious flavor, and that was followed by berries, oak, and nutmeg. But, then, it was like I shoved a huge piece of rum-soaked fruitcake in my mouth. The good kind of fruitcake, not the rock-hard crap that nobody is willing to open. There was a smidge of gingerbread. And, just before I thought things were done, the pear reappeared.  This was a long-lasting finish that just wouldn't give up.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I write for the everyman. That's my schtick. The average whiskey drinker isn't spending $1300 on a bottle of booze. A review needs a rating. 

I have no idea what a pour of this might cost at a bar. A couple hundred? Who the hell knows. But, this was a damned good whisky. It is absolutely memorable. Have I tried a better Scotch? I've had 40+-year-old Scotch, which was amazeballs, but this is just beyond words. This is not just a drink, this is an experience.

If you have deep pockets and want a really special pour, this one earns a Bottle. If you have an opportunity to try The Kingsman, whether a bottle or a dram at a bar, go for it. Your wallet will be lighter but I guarantee you won't be unhappy. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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