Friday, September 17, 2021

Elijah Craig Barrel Select Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Elijah Craig is a name in Bourbon that carries a long, storied tradition.  First of all, he is credited with being the Father of Bourbon.  At least that's how the legend goes.  The Reverand Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister who was involved in a variety of business enterprises, including distilling. However, truth be told, there is no evidence beyond nostalgia that suggests Elijah Craig actually invented Bourbon. But, he was certainly an early force in the art.

Elijah Craig the brand hit shelves in about 1986.  It started off as a 12-year Bourbon, which was something new for Heaven Hill.  Their goal was to get beyond the less-than-positive opinion of its whiskeys and turn the company around. It then moved into an 18-year, and from there, older expressions.

Laying down my cards on the table, I'm admittedly an Elijah Craig fanboy. I buy Barrel Proofs and Single Barrel store picks as I come across them.  I have more than I probably should.  I've known about the Elijah Craig grenades, which is really called Barrel Select, for a few years.  But, I've never tried a bottle, that is, until a very recent trip to Kentucky.  I had two bottles on my list that I wanted to purchase when I took my trip, this being one of them.

Barrel Select is not Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, but it is entry proof (meaning, it is the same proof as what goes into the barrel before any aging occurs).  It carries no age statement, although it is assumed to be between eight and nine years, and is the typical mash of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley.  It only comes in 200ml bottles that are shaped like a barrel, but fit in the hand like a grenade, hence, the nickname.  It is bottled at 125° and costs about $25.00. The only place to buy them is from the Heaven Hill gift shop. You're only allowed one per person per visit.

Will Barrel Select live up to the Elijah Craig reputation? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Barrel Select appears as a deep, dark amber. It left a very thin rim on the wall that created fat, wavy legs.  Those legs certainly took their time crawling back to the pool.

Nose:  I didn't even have to bring the glass near me to start picking up the aroma of caramel. Once I brought it to my face, it was that caramel and a small amount of mint. Underneath the mint was cinnamon. When I held the rim just under my nose, aromas of cherry and oak filled my nostrils.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was warm vanilla with cinnamon.

Palate:  The initial sip was thick and coating. It was also packed a wallop of a punch. I've been drinking Elijah Craig Barrel Proof since I've really been into Bourbon, and until you get into the super-heavy proofs, I've not felt this much of a kick as what Barrel Select delivered.  But, once I got past that punch, it was a mouthful of berries at the front.  At mid-palate, it became like thick caramel with cinnamon. On the back, it was clove and oak.

Finish:  And, that clove and oak held on for the finish, which was quick and dropped off without warning. My initial feeling was a disappointment, as Elijah Craig never delivered me that, not even in its rather mellow 18-year expression. Just before I went to take another sip, that clove and oak raced back for another round, sticking around only a little bit longer, almost like a tease.  I did notice, however, that my lips were tingling. And, I noticed cherry that was left behind on my palate.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I already admitted I'm an Elijah Craig fanboy. While the finish initially left me disappointed, when it came back again, I found that interesting. When the oak and clove fell off the second time and left the cherry behind, it turned my frown upside down. 

When you consider the price of $25.00, it seems affordable, until, of course, you do the math and realize it is the equivalent of an $87.50 750ml bottle. That becomes expensive for what it is. However (and this may be the fanboy providing justification), it is $25.00 for a very cool experience that would probably last you four pours. And, that's cheaper than going to a bar, in which case you wouldn't find Barrel Select anyway.  As such, my recommendation is to buy the one Bottle you're allowed to the next time you're at the distillery.  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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Jim Beam Devil's Cut Review & Tasting Notes

Let's get real.  You've seen the commercials. You may have even chuckled at them. If not at the commercials, then the schtick - squeezing the Bourbon from the wood after the barrel has been emptied. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about Jim Beam Devil's Cut. If you've never seen the commercial narrated by Mila Kunis, you can view it here

But, this is a review of the whiskey, not the commercial. I've honestly been curious about Devil's Cut for several years, but I've also not wanted to pay money to taste something that is, well, schticky. But, when I saw a shooter on the shelf, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Devil's Cut is basically taking Jim Beam Extra-Aged (which I assume is Black Label), draining it, and then recovering the whiskey that was soaked up in the wood. The two are then blended together, then cut at 90°.  To get there, Beam started off with a mash of 75% corn, 12% rye, and 13% malted barley. The distillate was placed in new, #4 charred oak barrels at 125° and aged approximately six years (but carries no age statement). A 750ml bottle will run about $18.99.

All background aside, what really matters is if this process works, and the only way to know that for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass Devil's Cut presented as caramel in color, but that caramel was lighter than you'd assume. I don't know why, but I expected it to be much darker.  It generated a medium-thick rim on the wall which led to fat, slow legs.

Nose:  Predictably, there was a blast of wood to my nostrils. It was a mixture of wet oak and sawdust. I would not describe that as overly pleasant despite the fact I love the smell of wood. Once I was able to get past that, I found caramel, molasses, and that typical Beam peanutty goodness. Finally, the aroma of orange peel rounded things out.  When I inhaled through my lips, oak and corn rolled across my palate.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and coating. For whatever reason, that was unexpected. The oak that hit the front was not. It was joined by caramel, mint, and maple syrup, which seemed appropriate considering the texture. At mid-palate, I found Beam peanuts, oiled leather, and sweet cherry. Then, on the back, flavors of brown sugar, dry oak, and cocoa powder.

Finish:  A very long-lasting finish started with heavy, dry oak and cinnamon. Then, the freight train of black pepper rumbled past that seemed unending.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I like Plain Jane Jim Beam. There are many expressions from the distillery that I love. Like it or leave it, Devil's Cut is still a shtick Bourbon. The question becomes, does it work? I wasn't turned off by Devil's Cut, but I also couldn't picture myself buying a pour at a bar, let alone picking up a bottle. It was interesting, it might make for a good mixer, but my goal is never to buy something to be a mixer. I also don't think it is fair to rate this one a Bust, because despite what I just said, it wasn't bad. And, that's why the Bar rating exists.  Try this one for yourself before committing to 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 that you do so responsibly.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Knob Creek Quarter Oak Review & Tasting Notes

I love it when distillers get curious and want to do something different. It isn't as if there isn't enough choice in the Wonderful World of Whiskey, but I enjoy the whole experimentation aspect. I want to see (and taste) what outside-the-box ideas they can come up with.

When Knob Creek announced they were going to release a small barrel Bourbon, it piqued my curiosity. It involved taking their standard Knob Creek Bourbon, made from a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, but instead of aging it in a standard 53-gallon barrel, it used what's called a quarter cask, which is only 13 gallons, and let it rest for four years. The smaller barrel gives a greater contact surface area between whiskey and wood. It is one way to accelerate the aging process.

Instead of leaving it at that, Knob Creek then took that quarter cask and blended it with their standard Bourbon aged in a traditional barrel.  The end result is called Knob Creek Quarter Oak.  

Bottled at 100°, Quarter Oak carries no age statement. Suggested retail is $49.99 for a 750ml and this is a limited edition offering. But, does limited edition mean it is worth chasing down?  I'll be honest - while I've enjoyed Knob Creek's limited editions in the past, I've found them overpriced for what they are. That hit a crescendo with the 25th Anniversary Release, which was essentially nothing more than a good store pick of Knob Creek 120 at three times the price. 

While the bottle is a media sample, it was passed along by a fellow reviewer and I did not get it directly from Knob Creek. Time to #DrinkCurious and find out if it is anything special...

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Quarter Oak appeared as a dull, golden amber. It left a thin rim that created fat, slow legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  The first thing to hit my nostrils was rose perfume. It was a bit overwhelming. However, once I got past that, I found a blend of dried fruit and caramel. Underneath that, leather was evident. When I inhaled through my mouth, apple and pear caressed my palate.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and coating. Thick, sweet vanilla and cream greeted the front of my palate. That led to dry oak and leather at my mid-palate. Then, on the back, it became black pepper and barrel char. 

Finish:  I found it long and building. It started with black pepper and finished with very dry oak.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I am a big fan of Knob Creek 120.  I've said a few times that it is one of the most underrated Bourbons around. While it is a single-barrel Bourbon, I use it as a bellwether for other Knob Creek releases. I found Quarter Oak to be very atypical of what I've found in Knob Creek 120s, especially concerning the sweetness level at the front, and it was enjoyable. While this is slightly more expensive than Knob Creek 120 and is only 100°, it isn't obnoxiously priced like the 25th Anniversary or the 2001 Series. In all, Knob Creek Quarter Oak comes in as a net positive and earns my coveted Bottle rating.  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.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Batch 030 Review & Tasting Notes


I've reviewed several whiskeys from Barrell Craft Spirits. Most of them have been Bottle ratings. A handful have been Bar and there was even a Bust.  And, good or bad, whenever Barrell tells me it is sending a sample my way, I get excited because, well, they're usually tasty.

The most recent one to come my way is Bourbon Batch #030.  This one is absolutely different because it contains a component I've not yet seen in the prior releases:  Bourbon from a Wyoming distillery.

One of the fun things about Barrell is they're very transparent about some things, and other tidbits they give you just enough information to almost figure it out on your own. For example, here's the make-up of Batch #030:

  • 5-year Indiana Bourbon
  • 10-year Tennesse Bourbon
  • 6-, 9-, 11-, and 15-year Bourbons from Kentucky and Wyoming

Obviously, Barrell isn't providing the sources of those whiskeys, but some simple deductions will give away much of the information.  The Indiana content is MGP. I know this because I've been reviewing Barrell offerings for a few years and the ages make it obvious. Also, I'm not aware of any other Indiana-based distilleries that can provide the volume required. The same is true with the Tennessee portion: George Dickel. What's more challenging are the last two components.

I suspect the Kentucky component is Jim Beam because that's been used in a previous batch. A portion of the Kentucky Bourbons used are described as nutty.  It doesn't mean that it is Beam, but it is because Beam is known for nutty Bourbons and you don't stop working with a partner unless there's a reason to stop. The Wyoming component requires some additional research. 

Taking into account production volume and founding dates, the only Wyoming distillery that makes sense is Wyoming Whiskey. It is the oldest legal post-Prohibition distillery in the state when it was established in 2009. And, that would certainly take into account the possibility of the 15-year portion.

The detective work is fun, at least it is to me. But I know what matters to everyone is what's in the bottle. Both the Kentucky and Wyoming Bourbons are wheaters (or wheated, meaning the 2nd-largest ingredient is wheat instead of the typical rye). The wheaters mingled together for a month separately from the traditional (which also mingled together), until both were married into a single batch. Batch #030 is packaged at a cask strength of 117.32° and retails right around $90.00. 

I'd like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and taste if this is a winner.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Batch #030 presented as mahogany in color. It formed a medium ring that yielded legs that raced back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Sweet aromas wafted to my nostrils. It started with peach and flowers, apple, and, finally, sweet tobacco. The familiar mineral quality of Dickel popped up as well. When I breathed the air into my mouth, coconut gave me a bit of a surprise. 

Palate:  Thin and oily in my mouth, the front started with dark chocolate and orange citrus. As it moved to the middle, I tasted cocoa, coconut, pear, and walnut. The back offered flavors of clove, oak, and English toffee.

Finish:  A medium-length finish featured clove, black pepper, and raw honey. That was Act 1. There was a brief intermission, and then Act 2 began. This time, it was long and lingering, with English toffee, dark chocolate, old leather, and cinnamon.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The finish was just amazing. I love when different (or weird) happens and this was that. The marriage of six barrels from four distilleries was a successful one. Blending is an art form, and this was a masterpiece. Bottle rating all the way, it is well worth the outlay. 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, September 8, 2021

New Riff Bottled in Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 is one of the most important consumer protection laws passed by Congress. It was, interestingly enough, passed unanimously.  Back in the day (does that make me sound old?), bad people looking to stretch dollars did bad things to whiskey. They would add things to it. Bad things. Things like tobacco spit, old coffee, and even turpentine, and unsuspecting folks were getting sick and even dying. 

Something needed to be done, otherwise, no one would buy whiskey anymore, at least not with the risks involved. The Act was passed and signed into law by President Grover ClevelandThe Act states that any distilled spirit that carries a Bottled in Bond (or Bonded) label must adhere to strict standards:

  • It must be a complete product of the United States
  • It must be composed of the same type of spirit (whiskey, brandy, gin, etc.)
  • It must be distilled by a single distiller in a single distilling season (January to June or July to December)
  • It must be packaged at exactly 100° (50% ABV)
  • It must be aged at least four years in a government-bonded warehouse (hence, the bonded part of the term)
  • If the spirit is bottled by someone other than the distiller, it must state the name of the distiller
  • It can be filtered, it can use water to be proofed to 100°, but nothing else can be added

For what it is worth, I've been a longtime fan of bonded whiskeys and loved when almost all of them could be found on the bottom shelf of the liquor store. It was overlooked, it was ignored, it was dirt cheap, and it was delicious. Bonded whiskeys caused me to create a #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign.  And then, not so many years ago, folks caught on, and suddenly bonded whiskeys became high-dollar investments.

One distillery that jumped on the Bottled-in-Bond bandwagon was New Riff Distilling. Back in 2014, Ken Lewis, then a liquor store owner, sold his store to his employees and jumped into the distilling business. He started with a mission to do things in a new way.

"To a certain extent, there’s nothing revolutionary about New Riff’s process. We make sour mash whiskey, like all the big/huge distilleries in Kentucky. But the devil, as they say, is in the details. We began, as any distillery should, with water, with a private tap into an ancient aquifer right under our feet. Our distillation equipment is all-copper: wherever the mash or distillate is heated, we want it in contact with nothing but copper, to help our whiskey age for decades to come. Every batch of New Riff whiskey is sour mashed, in accord with the Kentucky Regimen we have vowed to uphold. We allow a slow, natural rise in fermentation temperature over a patient four-day fermentation, collecting flavors from our native microflora all along the way. Perhaps our greatest, yet simplest process is that of patience: at least four years in a full-size 53-gallon barrel for any New Riff whiskey. You’ll find no small-barrel shortcuts—or any other kind of shortcuts—here. New Riff makes whiskey the hard way: every single whiskey takes at least four years in the making." - New Riff Distilling

Every whiskey New Riff makes is Bottled-in-Bond, except for its single barrel program (more on that later). Today I'm reviewing its Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It starts with a mash of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. It is non-chill-filtered and naturally colored. You can expect to lay down about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle. This is its own distillate, not sourced from anyone else.

I've told you a lot, and I've not forgotten the need for a review. Before I #DrinkCurious, I'd like to thank New Riff for a sample of this Bourbon that I acquired while doing a barrel pick (again, more on that later).

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the Bourbon presented as a golden amber. A medium rim was formed, but the fat droplets it created just stuck to the rim. Eventually, they got too heavy and fell back to the pool.

Nose:  Initially, aromas of candied corn, toffee, butterscotch, and toasted oak hit my nostrils. The butterscotch then dominated everything. As I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, the butterscotch continued and rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  A medium-bodied mouthfeel coated everywhere in my mouth. It wasn't oily, it wasn't creamy, it was just coating. On the front of my palate, I tasted corn and caramel. The middle offered nothing and fell flat on the first sip. On subsequent attempts, I found a hint of vanilla, but it took a lot of concentration. The back offered flavors of oak, clove, and rye spice.

Finish:  Medium-to-long in length, the finish featured berries, which came from nowhere, then transformed to rye spice and oak. It was a bit warming, but not unexpected considering the proof.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I thought most of the Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was decent. I admittedly wind up discouraged when there's something missing (in this case, the middle of the palate). It makes me spend more time analyzing the whiskey instead of enjoying it for what it is. It isn't a bad Bourbon by any means, but I also can't give it more than a Bar rating. You'll want to try this one first before you lay down the cash for it.

Final Notes: I hinted at the single-barrel program, and what I want to say has everything to do with the rating. Earlier this year, I was involved in a New Riff Bourbon pick.  They're packaged at barrel proof and each barrel I sampled wasn't anything like the profile of the Bonded Bourbon. There wound up being two barrels that seemed like winners and either would have been great. What I'm saying is, New Riff does a great job of distilling from what I've tasted, I just wasn't overly impressed with the Bottled-in-Bond version. 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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

My 2021 Ice Bucket Challenge for CRPS and the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge


I love Mrs. Whiskeyfellow with all my heart. She's the reason I do what I do for the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. The charity angle is meant to raise money for a charity that is meaningful for the participant. Well, my charity of choice is the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrom Association ( Its mission is to assist those who are battling CRPS and drive research for a cure. My wife is one such Pain Warrior. 

I have been Mrs. Whiskeyfellow's caretaker for the last several years as the disease has progressed. And, as much as I witness, I still don't have anything to use as a reference point to understand what she goes through. CRPS (or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) is something you can contract after an injury or surgery. It can affect anyone at any age. Your pain receptors never stop firing. The pain is unbearable.

Today, I had a chance to learn what a sliver of this feels like. Two years ago, I did an ice bucket challenge and used my hands for it. Sticking your hands in ice water for a minute isn't a very big deal, but what happens afterward is.

My feet are a different story. I don't like anyone or anything aside from socks and shoes touching my feet. Not because of pain, but just they're very sensitive (and ticklish). I refused to do my feet two years ago because of that. Unfortunately, people who are battling CRPS don't get to pick and choose when they have a pain breakthrough. As such, this year I promised Mrs. Whiskeyfellow that I would do the ice bucket challenge and use my feet this time.

Mrs. Whiskeyfellow filmed the entire thing. This is not a funny video (at least not to me), but it is informative. And, that's just part of the story.

The link to the video is here (Blogger won't allow something this large to be imbedded). 

I ended the challenge about 20 minutes ago, and what I'm writing about next wasn't filmed. When I first pulled my feet out of the ice water, my feet started sizzling with electric shocks. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow forced me to walk and I had difficulty feeling the floor because of the pain. I got myself to the couch and sat down. As time wore on, the pain increased. It went from electric shocks with a stabbing sensation in both feet to burning and back. My heels recovered quickly. The arches, balls of my feet, and toes did not and had not yet. There was a cycle of burning, shocks, and stabbing. Sometimes it felt like a screwdriver being jammed in my feet. Sometimes it was pins and needles as the nerves started to wake.

If you've ever lived in a cold climate on a cold windy day and didn't cover your ears, you know what it feels like to have your ears freeze. That's the easy part. The hard part is when they thaw. If you have some memory of that sensation, that's what the burning feels like.

About 25 minutes in, my left foot felt much better than my right. My right already had some neuropathy to it (before this challenge) which may be why it took longer to recover. The stabbing in both went away. The burning in my arches and toes had not. The spasming in my feet finally ended. But the pain remained.

About 30 minutes in, I was finally able to put my feet flat on the floor without intense pain. But, from all the spasming, my Achilles, especially in my right foot, started throbbing. Thankfully, that didn't last very long.

My conclusion is this was awful but still an unfair comparison. After 30 some-odd minutes, I was mostly okay. Those battling CRPS don't get a break. But, it sucked nonetheless and it would take a lot of coaxing for me to repeat the process. 

Finally, I know a lot of athletes do the ice bath thing after a rigorous workout. I am not an athlete and haven't been for about 20 years. Even then, I was a cyclist and a golfer and I never ever jumped into an ice bath.

If you're willing, please consider a donation to the RSDSA. You can do that either on my Facebook video post or you can visit the RSDSA donation link.  

For those of you who have already donated, thank you. Both Mrs. Whiskeyfellow and I are very grateful. If finances are tight, I get that. I won't pressure you. Just send over good thoughts for the Pain Warriors.

Thank you for reading this, cheers!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Headframe Spirits "Neversweat" Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


When I travel, I love to find new things.  Usually, that involves hitting up a local bar or a liquor store and asking lots of questions. But, every so often, a friend offers me a pour of something from their liquor cabinet.  In this case, not only a friend but one of Mrs. Whiskeyfellow's cousins.

While we were traveling in Minnesota, what she pulled out of her cabinet was from a trip she took to Montana. Now, I got excited because Montana is one of those states where I've never sampled its whiskey.  Coming out of Butte (pronounced like the first half of beauty, not butt), this straight Bourbon is called Neversweat, and is distilled by Headframe Spirits. So, yes, we're talking not sourced elsewhere.

Neversweat is named for a Butte silver and copper mine. It never made it big in silver, but the copper was plentiful and profitable.

Headframe Spirits was founded in 2010 and is a Certified B Corporation since 2017.  That's actually good to know considering the photo above of the mine. If you're unaware, a B-Corp is certified as such when it meets verified social and environmental performance, public transparency (I love transparency!), and legal accountability balancing both profit and purpose.  Headframe is owned by John and Courtney McKee, John is the founder, CTO, and distiller. Courtney is CEO. 

Neversweat is distilled from a mash of 70% corn, 15% rye, and 15% wheat. What's missing from that mix? Barley! Headframe utilizes American-made column stills. The Bourbon carries a two-year age statement and is bottled at 80°. A 750ml bottle will set you back only $24.99, making it a very affordable choice, especially compared to much other craft Bourbons on the market.

But, how does Neversweat taste? The only way to tell for sure is to #DrinkCurious - so let's go!

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Neversweat presented as gold in color and left a very thick, sticky rim on the wall. The legs were heavy.

Nose:  As I cycled through the various nosing zones, I smelled cornbread, cedar, cereal grains (which was a bit surprising since there's no malted barley), and a slight herbal quality.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was all vanilla.

Palate:  The watery mouthfeel offered a medium body. I found Neversweat to be very corn-forward.  The front was joined by rye spice. Come mid-palate, I tasted coconut and apple. Then, on the back, a mix of vanilla sugar cookie and oak.

Finish: A medium-short finish of white pepper and toasted oak were the only things I could pick up. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'm not sure if Neversweat is a bit under-proofed or just missing something. It isn't a bad Bourbon. It is an easy sipper. But I found the finish too short and bland. The price is attractive, which is nice but is only one part of the larger equation. As such, I'm going to give this one a Bar rating - try it before you commit.  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.

Friday, September 3, 2021

My Guest Appearance on Entry Proof Podcast Live


Last night I had the pleasure of appearing on Entry Proof Podcast Live with Drew P. Whiskey and Abandon Bourbon to discuss the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. It was a fun evening, we chatted up what we love about whiskey, a bit about Bourbon & Banter, and a brief discussion about RSD/CRPS and how devastating it is.

The most awesome part of the night was a pledge to raise money for the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association ( That made my evening, and Mrs. Whiskeyfellow was very thankful when she watched the webcast and the offer was made.

This was a lively exchange that ran about 90 minutes, so pour yourself a glass of Bourbon (because, after all, it is Bourbon Heritage Month) and relax. You can watch the show by clicking the Play icon in the middle of the header photo

Thank you, Drew, for this opportunity, and for your generosity, 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.

Crooked Furrow Four-Year Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Did you know that North Dakota distills whiskey? I suppose I did since Bourbon is made in all 50 states, but when I think Bourbon, North Dakota doesn't even register on my radar. 

The first legal distillery in the state was founded by brothers Jay and Joel Kath. They chose Fargo and named it Proof Artisan Distillers. The Kaths started in 2015 with potato vodka because, well, potatoes are easy to grow in North Dakota. They moved into other spirits, including whiskeys. Bourbon was one of those whiskeys, and the Bourbon line took on the name Crooked Furrow. Why Crooked Furrow?

"The name Crooked Furrow comes from furrows that are created when you plant corn.  But, Grandpa always said, 'Corn grows better in a crooked furrow.' That's because a crooked furrow is longer than a straight one. In reality, he just drove crooked." - Joel Kath

My review today is of Crooked Furrow Four-Year Straight BourbonThe mash is non-GMO corn and barley grown in North Dakota. That's the whole mashbill, with an 80/20 ratio. There is no third ingredient. It is run through the Arnold Holstein still, then placed in #4-charred oak, double-toasted 53-gallon barrels from Independent Stave Company

Proof Artisan Distillers then does something I've never heard of before. With most distilleries, proofing down is done by dumping the barrel and then adding water. But, in the case of this specific Bourbon, proofing is done inside the barrel. That means after the angels take their fair share, water is added to the desired proof. This is done over a period of time that begins one year in advance of dumping, with the goal to not dilute more than a couple of points in the last few months. Proof Artisan Distillers calls it bottle-proof, and as Joel Kath told me, this whole process is called conditioning. Conditioning continues when the whiskey is then transferred to conditioning tanks, where it is subjected to oxidation to bring out even more flavor.

Joel says he is a student and admirer of Hubert Germain-Robin, who suggested the whiskey is alive while in the barrel, and conditioning keeps the flavors intact. 

When all is said and done, the conditioning to the Four-Year Bourbon results in a bottle proofing of 92°. You can expect to pay about $55.00 for a 750ml bottle. Proof Artisan Distillers' product is currently sold in Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Dakota, but Joel indicated they're currently expanding to other markets.

A friend provided me with a sample of Crooked Farrow for review purposes. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and learn more.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Crooked Farrow presented as chestnut in color. It formed a medium-thin rim that generated long, watery legs to fall back to the pool of Bourbon.

Nose:  I could smell the cherry syrup from across the room while I was allowing it to breathe. The aroma became more pronounced as I brought it to my face, and that was joined by butterscotch, caramel, and a slightly musty quality. When I inhaled through my mouth, toasted oak crawled across my tongue.

Palate:  Patience is a virtue. I found the mouthfeel to be light-bodied and warm. On the front of my palate, I picked out caramel, brown sugar, corn, and a bit of char. As it moved to the middle, I tasted almond and cocoa powder. The back consisted of clove, weathered leather, and dry oak.

Finish:  The first sip was deceptively short. The next sip gave me a long, lingering, and dry finish. It featured clove, tobacco leaf, leather, and dry oak. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you thumbed your nose at this whiskey because it came from Fargo, you'd do yourself a disservice. This was a fun experience. The longer I allowed it to oxidize, the better and more complex it became. By the end, I found myself pouring another neat pour, looking for what might come next. The price is about average for craft Bourbon, it is properly proofed, and I'm happy to award it a Bottle rating. Watch for this on your store shelf, and be patient with it. You'll be pleased with this Bourbon. 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, September 1, 2021

Penelope Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

When a selling point of a whiskey is how many calories a pour contains, that becomes an interesting marketing campaign. Most brands want to tell you how old the whiskey is, or that it is high-proof, or that it has a certain ingredient in the mash bill, or it has a history steeped in someone's grandpappy's grandpappy eluding the revenuers, or something else along those lines. But, in all the years I've been enjoying whiskey, I don't believe a conversation has ever come up with How many calories are in this pour? 

Two childhood friends, Mike Paladini and Danny Polise, along with Mike's wife, Kerry, went into business together and created their own brand of Bourbon. Mike and Kerry were expecting a child and knew they wanted to name their daughter Penelope. That inspired them for the name of their brand:  Penelope Bourbon.  

Penelope Bourbon earns kudos from me with its very broad transparency.  Penelope makes no secrets that it is distilled by MGP and then blended and bottled at Castle Key Distillery. What Penelope does differently than your standard, sourced Bourbon is it created a four-grain straight Bourbon by blending three different MGP mashbills utilizing corn, rye, wheat, and barley. All the whiskeys are aged in #4 char barrels with #2 char heads, and then aged between two and three years, giving it a 24-month age statement.  Penelope Bourbon is non-chill filtered and bottled at 80°.  It has a suggested retail price of $34.99.

Oh yeah, a 1.5-ounce pour is only 100 calories.  I don't know how that compares to other Bourbons, and to be perfectly frank, I don't care. To me, the important qualities are nose, palate, and finish. And that, my friends, is where this review is going. Time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Penelope appears as a pleasant amber.  It left a thick rim on the wall that produced fast legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  Aromas of sweet cream, maple, and butterscotch.  It was also floral.  When I inhaled through my lips, muted apple came through. 

Palate:  At the first sip, the mouthfeel was thin and coating. It remained such afterward. There was nothing I could describe as harsh. The initial flavors of caramel, nuts, and corn were not overwhelming. At mid-palate, citrus, and chocolate, with oak the back. 

Finish:  The very short finish started with oak, corn, and grass before slipping into nothingness. No matter how many subsequent sips I took, the finish would not stick around. It produced no real warmth whatsoever.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The last time I called something a beginner's whiskey, I got an earful. But, I really don't know how else to describe this.  If I had someone who told me they didn't like Bourbon because of all the things that make Bourbon Bourbon, I'd definitely pour them Penelope. For them, it could be a game-changer. There's nothing offensive about Penelope, yet at the same time, there's nothing that makes it interesting, aside from the calorie statement. It is 80° and obviously so. I believe it is proofed down excessively, but again, if I'm a beginner, 80° is going to be inviting. This doesn't deserve a Bust because it isn't bad. If you're an experienced whiskey drinker, my recommendation is to try this one at a Bar first, especially considering the $35.00 price tag. 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.