Thursday, July 1, 2021

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for these Whiskey Scams!

 


I hate to see folks get scammed. But the whiskey boom, particularly the Bourbon boom, has given these thieves a new means of taking your hard-earned money.


You may notice a lot of random comments on social media whiskey posts (mainly Facebook and Instagram) that begin with "Bourbon Whiskey" or "I was surprised how affordable this was and how quickly they shipped..." and provide a link to someone's "store" usually with a promise that they have rare and allocated whiskeys at no mark-up. These are always new profiles to a group and new to the social media platform.


I'm not telling you how to spend your money, but you'd be better off buying some store's obscenely-priced Blanton's for $300 - at least you'll have a bottle of what you want in exchange for your money, versus sending some stranger $69.99 plus a small shipping fee for nothing (or a counterfeit) in return.


A few of these schmucks have posted in the comments on my own social media posts, and thankfully, I keep a close eye on things and remove them. But I see them in others, particularly Facebook Groups, that remain unmoderated.


Please do the whiskey community a favor, report those scammers and their profiles (If you see it in a Facebook Group, report it to the moderators only - no need to get a group shut down inadvertently). Place a 😄 reaction or something similar as a warning to others.


I know this is elementary, but if a deal is too good to be true, walk away. Cheers!



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

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Port Askaig 110° Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



I've talked about independent bottlers in the past. If you're unfamiliar with the term, that is a brand that does not distill but, instead, buys casks from working distilleries and packages them under their own label. They may do something unique once it takes possession of the whisky. An independent bottler may or may not disclose what distillery they acquire the casks from.  Independent bottling is commonplace in Scotland, it is done in the United States but we tend to talk about it in terms of sourcing


One such independent bottler is Elixir Distillers. Located in London, Elixir is a blender and bottler and owns a handful of brands, one of which is Port Askaig. Port Askaig is named for a port town on the island of Islay. While the source of the whisky is undisclosed, someone with a very talented palate can probably figure out which of Islay's nine distilleries is the source, and several have suggested Caol Ila

"Each expression within the range is bottled in limited batches. While recognising that each bottling will vary, the aim is to achieve a consistency of quality and character over time. To ensure each whisky maintains its original flavor and character, the whiskies are not chill-filtered and no colouring is added." - Elixir Distillers

Today I'm drinking Port Askaig 110°, a US-exclusive, non-age statement single malt. While we don't know much more about this Scotch, we do know that vintage Bourbon cooperage was used for aging, but the number of casks involved is another secret. Just like in the United States, small batch has no legal definition. You can expect to pay about $65.00 for a 750ml package.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Impex Beverages for providing me a sample of Port Askaig 110° in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious! 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as the color of golden straw. It created a medium-thick rim that formed sticky little droplets. As they gained weight, they slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Aromas of peat, brine, toasted coconut and green apple caught my attention. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the flavor of toasted coconut rolled across my hard palate.


Palate:  With an oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel, Port Askaig 110° started with sweeter fruit, smoke, and vanilla. On the middle was apple, and the back featured white pepper and smoked wood.


Finish:  Medium-long and warming, there was a blend of smoky and sweet peat, followed by apple, white pepper, and just as it falls off, clove. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Aside from proof, there's not a lot going on with Port Askaig 110°. And, despite that, it doesn't drink at its stated proof. This isn't a bad at all, but it does seem young. I can absolutely appreciate why the rumors point to Caol Ila as the distillery, there are reminiscent notes, but for about $5.00 more, I can pick up an excellent 12-year Caol Ila that has more depth, maturity, and flavor. Because of that, I'm going to suggest you try this one at a Bar. 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, June 28, 2021

Old Forester Straight Rye Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


When I took a tour of the Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, I found the tour itself was basic, although I have to admit they have stuff that you don't run into at other distilleries. Between the micro-cooperage and the all-black, steel, industrial rickhouse, it was fun. If you have a chance to go, do it.


But, this isn't a review of their distillery tour. Rather, it is a review of their Straight Rye Whiskey (sorry, Whisky, because Brown-Forman, the parent company, likes to spell it without the e). But I mention the distillery tour because this is the first time I was able to taste their Rye.  Made from a mash of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn, this is the first time in 40+ years that the Old Kentucky Distillery's Normandy Rye Whiskey recipe has seen the light of day. Brown-Forman acquired Old Kentucky in 1940 and the recipe eventually went away. Or, that's the backstory. You know how I feel about some of these backstories - everyone's great-grandpappy had some long-lost recipe that was discovered in an abandoned cupboard and resurrected to make the whiskey you're drinking today. True or not, this is a big step for Brown-Forman to create a unique American Rye and steer away from their standard mash. And, before you ask, yes, this is a completely different mash than sister company Jack Daniel's Rye.


There is no age statement, but we know it is at least two years old due to the Straight designation. And, while this is 100°, like their Old Forester Signature, this is not Bottled-in-Bond. The packaging is simple with a screw-top, metal closure. Retail is just over $20.00 depending on where you shop.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as a definite deep amber. It created a medium-thick rim which generated a thick curtain that slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  A complex blend of oak, vanilla, and floral notes greeted me initially. As I continued to explore, I discovered toasted oak and cocoa. Below that was thick plum.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was a blend of rich vanilla and plum.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and coating.  The front of the palate was light, much lighter than I expected for 100°. I discerned brown sugar, allspice, and nutmeg. Mid-palate was more pronounced with toasted nuts, plum, and slight citrus. The back was even stronger with very heavy cocoa and dark chocolate.


Finish:  There was a deep finish if you are patient. Rye spice and cocoa begin the process. As it drops off, toasted oak and very long-lasting chocolate hang on. Then it falls off about a minute or so later.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is one of those #RespectTheBottomShelf moments that makes me smile. First of all, this is very affordable for everyone. Secondly, there's more complexity than you'd guess from a budget whiskey. I found it fascinating that while the front of the palate started off so soft, it finished with a crescendo. It also drank more closely to barely-legal ryes such as Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond than something with a much higher rye content. I'm chalking that up to the malted barley, which is what produced all of the chocolate and cocoa notes. Not only did I enjoy this, but I enjoyed it so much that I bought a bottle at the distillery (something I rarely do). This one's a definite Bottle.  Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

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

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Limousin Rye "Dancing Goat Fever" Barrel Pick is now available!

 



Got $40 burning a hole in your pocket? Well, fear not, because a brand spanking new barrel pick I was involved in just dropped! This is Limousin Rye at Barrel Proof of 51.9% ABV (103.8 proof) and rested six years. This is an amazing pour available only at McFarland Liquor!


The remainder of the selection committee consisted of Troy Mancusi, Adam Pritchard, Scott DeWerd, Fred Swanson, Nathanael Romick, and Mark Andrews, we enthusiastically settled on Barrel 554.



If you're unfamiliar with Limousin Rye, it is 95% rye/5% malt mash distilled by MGP and aged in vintage Limousin French oak casks for six years. It then goes through Dancing Goat Distillery's solera system, then again into former Wild Turkey barrels for another four months.






We called this pick Dancing Goat Fever and that's Mark Andrews showing off his best moves on the label. There were only 200 bottles, and when I was there to grab mine at 9am, Nathanael already sold 10 bottles. You're going to want this one, don't dawdle or you'll be out of luck. Cheers!


McFarland Liquor is located at 4716 Farwell St in McFarland.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Dancing Goat Fever presented as deep and dark. It formed a thinner rim but left heavy, fast legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: Aromas of toffee, caramel, molasses, and vanilla cream were enticing. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I found even more vanilla.


Palate: The mouthfeel was silky. On the front, I tasted corn, caramel, and molasses. The middle was molasses and vanilla, while the back offered flavors of cinnamon and clove.


Finish: The finish was long, with black pepper, toasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more clove on the very back.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Because I picked this barrel, I will not rate it, but you can rest assured my very strict standards guarantees this is awesome.


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, June 25, 2021

Cedar Ridge The QuintEssential American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


I've been drinking several American Single Malts the last few years. They're all over the place, partially due to distiller experience, venue, type of barley used, and the fact that this is a completely unregulated category, so distillers can pretty much do whatever they want, attempting various aging methods, casks, etc. They're allowed to call their whiskey a Single Malt even if the malts come from different locations.


The Quint family at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery has been involved in the distilling business for nine generations. The Master Distiller, Jeff Quint, and his son, Murphy, the Head Distiller, have been long-time fans of Scotch whiskey and collaborated to create their own Single Malt, called The QuintEssential. Murphy learned how to distill from the folks at Stranahan's in Colorado. 


The QuintEssential starts with two-row barley imported from Canada. That barley then gets split between a peated and non-peated germination process. The peated portion's distillate goes through an aging process of between four to five years in former Cedar Ridge Bourbon barrels. The unpeated goes through a two-step process:  the first is aged in former Cedar Ridge Bourbon barrels for two to three years, and then finished in former rum, port, brandy, sherry, and wine barrels. Then, both are married in Cedar Ridge's solera system.  Entry proof is 120°, and the end result is a 92° bottling that retails for about $59.99.


“It’s during these two cask treatment phases that the whiskey develops its complexity and richness, and by never emptying the solera beyond the halfway mark, we gain a consistent complexity you can’t get from single barrels.” - Master Distiller Jeff Quint


How did Jeff and Murphy do? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I'd like to thank Cedar Ridge for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, The QuintEssential presented as pale gold in color. It created a thicker-than-expected rim on the wall which formed fat droplets. Those droplets grew until they became too heavy to sustain their weight and then fell back into the pool.


Nose:  I could swear the first thing I sniffed was fresh apple pie, including the filling, cinnamon, nutmeg, and crust. There was also a chocolate-covered cherry on top. When I pulled the vapor through my open lips, stewed peaches caressed my tongue.


Palate:  Offering a medium body, The QuintEssential started with creamy vanilla, peach, and raisin bread. That transformed to pear, caramel, and molasses on the middle. The back suggested brown sugar, cherry, and oak.


Finish:  Out of nowhere came the peat. It wasn't overwhelming, it was light and sweet. Dry oak followed, with molasses and chocolate. This finish was one that built its way into a long, satisfying experience.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The QuintEssential is a standout. I wish more American distilleries tinkered with peat. This American Single Malt is a great introduction to it because the peat is understated compared to the rest of this whiskey. I loved the fruitiness, I enjoyed the complexity, and I wish I could find something to complain about, but I can't. Even the price is attractive. This is what American Single Malt should be, and a slam-dunk 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 you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ardbeg Corryvreckan Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I'm almost embarrassed to write this review. You see, Ardbeg Corryvreckan is probably my favorite, readily accessible, reasonably-priced, peated Single Malt Scotches. But, about two weeks ago, when I was at an Ardbeg Day Event celebration, I discovered I've never reviewed this whisky! I have no idea how that happened, but it is time to fix that oversight right now.


If you're unfamiliar with Ardbeg, that's one of the nine working distilleries on Islay (and if you've ever wondered how that's pronounced, say Eye-Lah). Founded in 1815 by John Macdougall, it was also the first Scottish distillery run by women (Margaret and Flora Macdougall). Sold in 1977 to Hiram Walker, Ardbeg was shuttered in 1981 and remained so until 1987 when it was purchased by Allied Lyons. Ardbeg was used as a source for blends instead of bottling its own. That didn't last long, as in 1991 it was shuttered again.  Finally, in 1997, Glenmorangie purchased the distillery and resurrected it to its former glory.


So now you know about Ardbeg. What's a Corryvreckan? It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools (as in the ocean, not a tub) in the world and the largest in Europe. It located between the islands of Jura and Scarba in Scotland. 


Ardbeg chose to name its peatiest core Scotch after the storied maelstrom. There have been others with stronger peated flavor, but they're all limited edition offerings.


Corryvreckan begins with a mash of 100% malted barley, with between 50 and 55 PPM of peatiness. It is then aged in former Bourbon barrels, some first-fill, and others more vintage, plus French oak barrels, rumored to be a mix of virgin wood and former wine casks. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and bottled at 57.1% ABV (that's 114.2° for us Americans). It carries no age statement, and I'll explain later why that's important. You can expect to pay between $79.99 and $99.99 for a 750ml package.


What makes Corryvreckan special? I'll let my tasting notes explain that.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch is the color of golden honey. It presented a medium rim that formed long, wavy tears that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I smelled the smoky peat as it left the bottle and poured into the glass. As it sat for several minutes, it stuck around. Once I got the glass under my nose, aromas of toasted seaweed, brine, apple, pear, citrus, and French oak were evident. As I took the vapor into my mouth, pear was easy to pick out.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was slick and silky. The peat on the front was sweeter than you'd guess from the nose. That was offset by the darkest of chocolate, and the two were bridged by cherry and plum. Mid-palate flavors included coffee, almond, and hickory-smoked meat. Yeah, that's an actual flavor. The back tasted of old leather, sweet tobacco, and clove.


Finish:  The big finish was constructed of coffee, white pepper, leather, French oak, and that hickory-smoked meat that left my mouth and mind longing for more.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I stated at the beginning, this is probably my favorite, readily accessible Islay Scotch. That equals an obvious Bottle rating. But, why? It is amazingly complex from the nose to the finish. It has immense, bold flavors and drinks way under its stated proof. More importantly, it is one of the best explanations as to why an age statement is less important than many folks believe. This NAS whisky competes easily against its age-stated brethren, both within and outside of the Ardbeg family. If peated whisky is your jam, grab a bottle of Corryvreckan. You won't regret it. 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, June 21, 2021

A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 



The A. Smith Bowman Distillery is Virginia's oldest, tracing its roots to before Prohibition. Originally distilled in Sunset Hills on the family dairy farm and granary, the Bowmans used their excess grain to distill spirits. In 1934, the Bowmans built a state-of-the-art distillery at Sunset Hills Farm. Then, in 1988, a new distillery was constructed near Fredericksburg.


A. Smith Bowman doesn't do large-scale distilling. In fact, if you visit the campus, you'd consider it a micro-distillery more than anything else. Owned by Sazerac (the parent company of Buffalo Trace and Barton), Bowman takes advantage of the relationship to craft its art.


This month, A. Smith Bowman is releasing a brand new, permanent expression to its lineup:  Cask Strength Bourbon.  This will be an annual release, likely limited in availability, it starts with a blend of Buffalo Trace's Mashbills #1 and #2, which is then sent to the distillery in Virginia, where it is distilled a third time on-site, using one of its two copper stills named Mary and George, honoring the Bowman Brothers' parents.  The Bourbon is then aged for a decade and bottled at, as advertised, cask strength.  In the case of this first batch, that's hazmat, weighing in at a tremendous 141.1°!  Suggested retail is $99.99, but my guess is you'll pay more than that if you buy anywhere aside from the distillery.


"We're excited to add another offering in the A. Smith Bowman line of bourbons, especially a Cask Strength, which we're sure will be really popular with our fans. This first release in this annual series contains barrels selected from the lower tiers in Warehouses A1 and A. We thought the flavor combinations resulted in a delicate sipping bourbon that drinks like a much lower proof. We hope you agree!" - Brian Prewitt, Master Distiller


I'm going to #DrinkCurious and explore this in greater detail, and plan to hold Prewitt to his words. But first, I'd like thank A. Smith Bowman for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, A. Smith Bowman was the a serious reddish-amber that could pass itself off as cherry juice. It created a medium-thick rim on the wall, and that produced husky, slow legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine. 


Nose:  Not to be mistaken for the firecracker, this was a cherry bomb on the nose. Cherry crushed my olfactory senses and it took true effort to get past it. I eventually came across vanilla and cocoa. When I breathed in through my lips, apple and pear came from nowhere and raced across my tongue.


Palate:  My first sip slid across my palate with an oily mouthfeel. I tasted brown sugar, praline pecan, and toated coconut on the front. Plum, cherry, and fig then took over at the middle. The back featured charred oak, cocoa, and cherry syrup.


Finish:  Char and plum stuck around for the encore, and then the spotlight went to black pepper and dark chocolate. If you like long finishes, this was one of those unstoppable freight trains that went on for several minutes before eventually retreating.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This Bourbon was one heck of a treat. It was warming but I'd never guess it was 141.1° - Prewitt was correct, this one drinks way below its stated proof. It was amazingly approachable. The problem with that, however, is that as you're sitting there sipping this with a smile on your face, this bad boy is sneaking up behind you with a 2x4, ready to smack you in the skull. Or, at least that's what happened to me. 


Another problem is that I enjoyed A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength so much, it would be an easy contender for Bourbon of the Year,  except for the fact that it is immediately disqualified for being an allocated whiskey. If you see this on the shelf, just shut up and grab it. It is an excellent representation of a Bottle rating and you will be happy to hand over your money. 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 to do so responsibly. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Ardbeg #MonstersOfSmoke Tour Recap

 


Last week I told you about the #MonstersOfSmoke Tour that Ardbeg is putting on to celebrate Ardbeg Day, and highlight Wee Beastie and An Oa Single Malts. Well, on Saturday, I had a chance to check things out at its Menomonee Falls at Otto's Wine & Spirits venue.


First things first, you want to take part in this tour. To find a stop near you, head on over to the tour's official page. Tour dates on the north side of the Mason-Dixon line feature the Wee Beastie mega-truck and the south side has its twin An Oa truck. Tours run through mid-November, so there's plenty of time to get out and visit.


The Wee Beastie truck is above. I did get a peek inside, they had an amazing display of some lovelies...




As I wandered inside the store, I was greeted by these two nice Ardbeg ladies. They poured samples and handled the bottle engraving.



They also gave out some pretty cool Ardbeg swag. All you had to do was ask!




Once you decided which bottle of Ardbeg you wanted to bring home, that's when the engraving comes into play. Due to an amazing sale that Otto's ran during the event, I picked up a bottle of Ardbeg 10 for the stupid-low price of $42.88!  These sales are very common at Ardbeg events, so if nothing else, you have an opportunity to grab some amazing whiskies at a great price.


The engraving was quick and easy. The bottle is placed in a RayJet engraver. You can see my bottle on the left, the rest of the chamber is empty. But, they can do multiple engravings at once.




And then, voila!  It is done. As you can readily imagine, I had Whiskeyfellow engraved in mine.




Basically, they can do whatever you want as far as engraving goes. The only limitation is the number of characters... just look at these bottles just waiting to go home with someone (oh, yeah, that's Uigeadail on the left!).




In all, I had a great time. Social distancing is no longer required in Wisconsin, but the team is prepared if your area hasn't lifted restrictions. I put together some Facebook Live videos while I was there that you can feel free to peruse:


Let me know if you've been to one near you. I'd love to hear if your experience was similar. Cheers!




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


Revel Stoke Blended Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 



I am Whiskeyfellow. I drink whiskey and I know things. I love whiskeys from around the world:  The United States, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Israel, France, Sweden, India... you get the idea. But, there is one niche of whiskey I've not been fond of, and that's the stuff from Canada.


One of the first non-American whiskeys I tried was a Canadian. To my then untrained palate, it was horrible. I've tried a number of Canadian whiskies since then. I've had some that were upper-tier, such as from Alberta Distillers but there was never a wow factor to any of them. I know Canadian whisky has its fanbase, and I respect that. And, part of the #DrinkCurious lifestyle is the requirement to revisit stuff you didn't like in hopes that a more mature palate (your palate is always maturing no matter how experienced you are) might appreciate it more. To be perfectly frank, I'm looking for a Canadian whisky that will change my mind about Candian whisky.


Canadian whisky is pretty fast and loose as far as regulations go. It has to be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada for at least three years in small wood barrels, must possess the aroma, taste, and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky, and, finally, can be colored and flavored with caramel.


I'm sure you've heard of Canadian Rye. That's a general term for Canadian whisky. The regulations are so loose that in order to be called Canadian Rye, there is no requirement for a single grain of rye in the mash!


After a fairly long hiatus, I'm back to trying something Canadian. In this case, it is Revel Stroke Blended Canadian Whisky. Named after the mountain resort Revelstoke in British Columbia, Revel Stoke is known for its various flavored whiskies. It is owned by Phillips Distilling Co. out of Minnesota. Phillips holds a lot of information close to its vest. The mashbill is unknown. The distiller is unknown. It makes no secret, however, that this is a blend of three-year and eight-year whiskies. A one-liter 80° bottle will set you back about $12.99, making it a very affordable choice.


While the affordability aspect is nice, what's more important is how it tastes.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Revel Stoke presented as pale gold in color. It formed a thicker rim that stuck to the wall while the watery legs raced back to the pool.


Nose:  The initial aroma was caramel, which didn't shock me considering the legally allowed caramel additive is a factor. Behind that was an ethanol punch. Once I got past that, I picked up a faint Jolly Rancher green apple smell.  I tried to pull the vapor into my mouth, but there was nothing.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was watery and light. It offered an almost immediate tingle to my tongue but left the hard palate alone. I picked up just two flavors:  corn and toasted oak. Try as I might there was nothing else to be had.


Finish:  The tingle continued into the finish, which was longer than I anticipated based upon the mouthfeel and palate. It consisted of toasted oak, clove, and raw almond.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This isn't the Canadian whisky to change my mind about Canadian whisky. What this really is is a mixer or something to slam as a shot. Or, it is a whisky to drink for someone who really doesn't like the taste of whisky because there's just nothing there whisky-like, at least in my opinion. I don't buy whiskies for the purpose of having a mixer. I'd rather use a good whisky to make good cocktails. Revel Stoke earns a Bust. You can do much better than this. 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.



Monday, June 14, 2021

Introducing Hezekiah Crain Coachgun & Deep Oak Whiskeys - With Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


If you hang out with folks in the distillery industry long enough, you get a chance to get your hands (and palate) on something new and different. One of the folks I know is Sean Wipfli, who started the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club which has picked some impressive barrels. In full disclosure, I've done some barrel picks with them in the past. It has been a couple of years, though.


Sean has spread his wings into things beyond barrel picking and has even started his own label called Hezekiah Crain, which is now in its first releases and hitting store shelves as you read this.


Who was Hezekiah Crain?  He was one of the very first American patriots. He was a private in the Connecticut Light Horse Regiment during the Revolutionary War, survived it, but died at a fairly young age of 48 in 1796. 


The first two Hezekiah Crain releases are Coachgun American Whiskey and Deep Oak 14-Year American Whiskey. Both are sourced from MGP, the mega-Indiana distillery. Sean has been around long enough to understand that transparency is a big deal and he doesn't hold many cards close to his vest. 


Before I get to the reviews, I'd like to thank Sean for providing me with a sample of both in exchange for no strings attached, honest reviews. And, before anyone rolls their eyes, I've not been in love with everything that Sean has had me review. He knows he is taking a real risk with me.




Coachgun American Whiskey Batch #001


American whiskey can be pretty much anything that qualifies a whiskey and is distilled in (you guessed it) the United States. That can be Bourbon, Rye, Light Whiskey, Blended or Single Malt, Wheat Whiskey, or a blend of any of those. As such, the term is vague.


In the case of Coachgun, we're looking at a blend of Bourbon and Rye, often called Bourye. These are single barrel whiskeys, both sourced from MGP, and consist of its 36% rye content Bourbon aged four years and its 95% Rye aged five. There was no dilution, and as such, touts a Batch Strength descriptor that weighs in at 105.8°. There's been no added flavor or color and is particle-filtered, but not chill-filtered. You can expect to pay about $59.99 for a 750ml bottle. It is important to note that this is, by design, not sold by any retailers outside of Wisconsin.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Coachgun was gold in color. It produced a broad rim and fat, slow tears that fell back to the pool of whiskey.


Nose:  Sweet corn, caramel, toasted oak, and cinnamon hit my nose first, but hidden beneath was apple. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, vanilla caressed my tongue.


Palate:  I discovered an oily mouthfeel with a medium body. The first flavors were cherry and maple syrup. It was certainly unusual. As the whiskey worked its way across my palate, I tasted vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg. The back offered oak, cherry (again), and mint.


Finish:  Long and warming, the finish gave up toasted oak, cherry, rye spice, and mint.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There wasn't anything overly complicated with Coachgun, but it was tasty. I've had Bouryes before at lesser proofs and for the most part, enjoy them. They often wind up spicier than Bourbons and softer than Ryes. As far as a value statement goes, $59.99 for something barrel-proof is under the "average" price. Good job, Sean, I'm tendering my Bottle rating for it. 





Deep Oak 14-Year American Whiskey Project #001


And now, for something a little different. Light whiskey at 14-years isn't overly uncommon. I've reviewed a few of these MGP Light whiskeys and some have been impressive, but I recently had one that was awful. 


What makes Deep Oak different is that once the single barrel was dumped, it was then placed in a hand-selected, freshly-dumped former whiskey barrel for extra-aging. Bottled at cask strength of 115°, Deep Oak is non-chill filtered and retails for about $74.99.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Deep Oak presented as the color of bright gold. A medium rim was formed which yielded medium, slow legs that eventually dropped back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Aromas of vanilla, oak, and mint were evident on my olfactory senses. As I breathed in through my mouth, I picked out a bold vanilla. 


Palate:  If you've ever wondered what the mouthfeel of an oil slick is, Deep Oak will answer that question. This may be the oiliest whiskey I've tried to date. It coated every crevice of my mouth. The front brought a single flavor: berry jam. The middle changed things up with rye spice and cocoa powder. The back was dry oak, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon Red Hots.


Finish:  Deep Oak was one of those whiskeys with a freight-train finish. It didn't build, it just rolled on and on for several minutes. You couldn't miss the oak, which was joined by black pepper, cinnamon, and clove. My hard palate was left tingling. You could feel the oily mouth well into the finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Light whiskey isn't everyone's thing and has its detractors. However, Deep Oak is unlike any light whiskey I've had before, and if you blindfolded me and didn't tell me what it was, I would not pin it down as light whiskey.  I found the mouthfeel and finish fascinating. I thought it interesting that the palate started off slow before adding complexity. I like the idea that it was twice-barreled, both times in vintage cooperage. If you want to drink something off the beaten path then this one's for you. It is for me, too. This snags my Bottle rating. Cheers!


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


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