Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Old Ezra 7-Year Barrel Proof Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Every so often, something in the whiskey world hits the market and generates excitement. I’m not talking about BTAC or Pappy Van Winkle. I’m talking about things you and I and everyone else can find and actually afford.

Luxco has just released Old Ezra Barrel Strength Bourbon. It is slated to hit shelves nationwide very soon and has a suggested retail of $39.99. Considering this is a barrel proof, seven year old Bourbon, Luxco definitely piqued my curiosity. Of course, age is just a number, there are bad barrels out there, and an attractive price won’t ever make up for a poor product.

How does Old Ezra Barrel Strength fare? Before I spill the details, I’d like to thank Luxco for providing me a sample with no strings attached.

In my Glencairn, the appearance was a very appealing, clear copper color. It left a thin rim on the wall of the glass which produced thin droplets that never became legs. They simply hung on the rim.

When I lifted the rim to my chin and inhaled, sawdust and caramel permeated my nostrils. I raised it higher to my lips and the caramel became more bold, and I also picked up cinnamon. Letting it hover under my nose changed up the cinnamon to almost Red Hots candy. When I breathed the vapors through my mouth, cinnamon and vanilla flavors raced over my tongue.

The mouthfeel was thin but coating. For 117°, it packed far less of a punch than I anticipated, especially after the nosing.

Cinnamon and oak were definitely up front on the palate, but it toned down quickly with flavors of caramel and a creamy vanilla. On the back, a blend of clove and thick caramel led to a lasting finish that allowed the clove to continue and warm the throat. There was also a very slight stone fruit that came several minutes after the swallow.

Although it wasn’t necessary, I added water to see what would happen. I always use an eyedropper to add exact amounts (two drops). Caramel exploded on the nose, and when inhaled through my mouth, it was all vanilla. The mouthfeel became creamy, and prevalent pepper on the palate soon transformed to strong cinnamon on the tip of my tongue. The finish was still warming but that fruit never appeared. Interestingly enough, the clove didn’t manifest but pepper with water was stronger than the clove was on the finish when neat.

Bottle, Bar or Bust: Overall, I found Ezra Brooks Barrel Strength Bourbon enjoyable. I would have preferred that hidden fruit to be less so, but I have to take the whiskey at face value. I also found the proof to be surprising considering the mouthfeel. There just wasn’t much in terms of “burn” that you’d expect. For $39.99, I would happily add this to my whiskey library and as such, will rate this as a Bottle.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Elijah Craig B518 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I'm going to start this off by saying I'm a sucker for Elijah Craig. This doesn't mean that any of the various expressions get a free pass from me, rather, it means when I see a new incarnation, I get excited and will buy a bottle untasted. When reviewing it, I give it the same unbiased opportunity for BottleBar, or Bust as I do with anything else. There have been a couple of unimpressive releases in the barrel-proof versions...

You can read this review in its entirety at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


We’ve all been there. You have a few friends who pick up a pricey bottle, they tell you what a great whiskey is inside and that you have to get a bottle of your own. You consider what your friends say, then consider other options similarly priced, and you pass on the opportunity - at least for the moment.

Joseph Magnus is an MGP-sourced Bourbon that was triple-finished in Cognac, Oloroso Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks...

You can read the remainder of this review in its entirety at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Litchfield Cask Strength Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I know the first question many of you have is, “Is this MGP?” The answer is a definitive, “No.” Litchfield does not source its whiskey. They obtain their corn, rye, and barley from local farmers to create their own mash and distillate.

The appearance was a very deep, dark amber that certainly gave the impression it was much older than three years. It left a very thin rim on the glass and created thick, heavy legs...

You can read the entire review at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Friday, August 31, 2018

#30DaysofBourbon Challenge (2018)


Four years ago I started a little something to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month. You see, I wanted to go to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. The problem was that life happens, and I couldn't make it work out.

What I wanted to do was start a challenge for myself that would let me feel like I was truly celebrating America's Native Spirit. It couldn't be easy, and it couldn't be something that required little effort. What I did is come up with a 30 Days of Bourbon challenge.

This was something initially just for me. In Year Two, I had a few friends and some of the Bourbon & Banter crew join me. In Year Three it went viral as we put together a calendar and invited all of our readers to join us. What it boiled down to was folks taking part put up over 1800 tweets and 3800 Instagram posts that reached more than 8.5 million people...

You can read the remainder of this post over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Aged & Ore Duo Glass Review


A bit over two years ago, when I was brand new to Bourbon & Banter, I wrote an article called Glassware 101: Choose the Best Glass to Enjoy Your Bourbon. The purpose was to demonstrate just how important glassware is in the entire whiskey experience. I compared the differences between a shot glass, a rocks glass, a white wine glass, a Glencairn glass, and a NEAT glass. In that experiment, the Glencairn came out the clear winner...

You can read the remainder of this review at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Elijah Craig C916 Barrel Proof Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I don't know that Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was ever an overlooked Bourbon, but ever since last year's B517 being named "Whisky of the Year" by Whisky Advocate, its popularity has certainly jumped. I've chased down the Barrel Proof releases since I was introduced to it since back in 2014 (134.8 proof, now referred to B514).

If you're unfamiliar with what the letters and numbers mean, it boils down to the release date. Elijah Craig Barrel Proofs are released three times a year. A is the first release of the year, B the second, and C the third. The numbers are the date. To decode the award-winning B517, it was the second release of the year and was released May 2017.

Today I'm cracking open C916 at 136.0 proof. Decoding this means it was the third release of the year and was from September 2016.

In the glass, the color was a very dark, rich brown. It left a very watery rim and thin, fast legs that raced back to the pool.

I kept the glass about two feet from me and even at that distance, caramel was thick in the air. I let it sit for about ten minutes before nosing it just to let the fumes evaporate. Holding my glass at chin level gave aromas of oak and caramel. When raised to lip level, the caramel remained and it was joined by a hint of citrus and stone fruit. Just under the nostrils, the caramel faded and citrus gained slightly and the stone fruit dominated. Inhaling through my lips was pure orange.

The mouthfeel was thin and oily. It can't be described as coating, although it completely left tingles from my lips to the back of my throat. Flavors of corn and stone fruit were up front, followed by oak, and caramel. The back of the palate found clove and black pepper.

The finish was almost all stone fruit that kept the mouth watering. It mostly resembled cherry and plum. Despite the high proof and the tingling in my mouth, there was relatively little burn, which makes casual sipping easier than you'd guess.

There was so much happening on the palate that I opted to add two drops of water to see how it would change. Remember how strong the caramel on the nose was? It exploded with water. The mouthfeel became thinner but the oiliness went away. Many of the flavors were muted, except it gained a nutty quality. Toasted oak took over the finish.

BOTTLE, BAR or BUST: I try hard to keep an open mind with Elijah Craig. Saying that C916 is one of the better Barrel Proof releases. At the original $60 some-odd, it is an absolute Bottle. Secondary market prices are $75 - $85 and would still be a great buy.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Talisker Storm Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Talisker provides a great lineup and Storm is certainly no exception. I was loving Storm when it was almost twice the price, and last year I was pleasantly surprised to see the price drop. There are still retailers that will charge the original price, but you should search around because I see Storm in store after store anywhere between the $38 to $48 range, even while traveling outside of my home distribution area...

You can read this review in its entirety over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Islay Storm Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


If you’ve been reading my reviews for awhile, you’ll know that my prior experience with Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey left me with a bad taste in my mouth – a really bad taste. It was a taste so bad that it had me skittish to try any other Trader Joe’s exclusives. And, yet, here I am, one year later, embracing the #DrinkCurious lifestyle, ready to risk my palate for the whisky-loving community with Islay Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

You can read this review in its entirety over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Wollersheim Round Top Rye Review & Tasting Notes


There’s a plethora of two-year-old Ryes hitting the market, with some commanding amazingly high price tags. As this market gets more crowded, distillers must distinguish themselves from the competition.

Being a local, I was excited when Wollersheim, who has run a successful winery for several years, opened its distillery and announced it would create whiskeys. I’ve been curiously waiting ever since for something to be released, with my fingers crossed that they’d distill and age something of at least decent quality, as they’ve done a great job creating wines...

You can read the remainder of the review in its entirety at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!