Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Lost Lantern 2001 Fall Release #1 (Cedar Ridge) American Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


Back in June, I had an opportunity to try The QuintEssential American Single Malt from Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher, Iowa. It is one of my favorite things I’ve tasted in 2021. When Lost Lantern announced its Fall 2021 Single Cask collection and I found out Cedar Ridge’s American Single Malt was one of the whiskeys, I wanted one – badly.  

 

"The best whiskey reflects its origins, its craftsmanship, its ingredients, and its distillers. Inspired by the long tradition of independent bottlers in Scotland, Lost Lantern is a new, independent bottler of American whiskey. The company seeks out the most unique and exciting whiskeys being made all across the country and releases them as single casks and blends, always with a deep commitment to transparency." - Lost Lantern

 

Founded in 2018 by Nora Ganley-Roper of Astor Wine & Spirits and Adam Polonski of Whisky Advocate, the duo is committed to releasing whiskeys from distilleries they've personally visited. Nora handles production and operations, and Adam takes care of marketing, sales, and sourcing. Currently, Lost Lantern's whiskeys can be purchased from LostLanternWhiskey.com or Seelbachs.com

 

Cask 1 is the Cedar Ridge American Single Malt aged two years in 53-gallon, new, American oak coopered at Independent Stave Company, and then finished another two years in 500-liter Jerez Sherry casks. The total yield was 555 bottles and packaged at 115.3°. Retail is approximately $110.00.

 

How does the sherry cask finish affect the standard single malt?  The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I’d like to thank Lost Lantern for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this American Single Malt presented as the color of caramel. It formed a thin rim that yielded husky, lightning-fast legs that crashed back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: The bouquet from the glass was sweet and overflowing with caramel, raisin, apricot, pear, and chocolate. When I drew the air into my mouth, it was as if I took a bite from a prune.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin, slick, and oily, and led to my front palate picking out raisin, fig, apricot, and honey. It moved to the middle as prune and cocoa. The back became warm and spicy with black pepper, oak, chocolate, and the slightest appearance of date.

 

Finish:  The finish was long-lasting and made it abundantly clear it was a high-proof whiskey. My palate, which is used to things with a much higher ABV content, numbed quickly. Black pepper, raisin, fig, dark chocolate, and bone-dry oak rounded it out.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cedar Ridge makes an incredibly delicious American Single Malt. When you add a sherry cask finish to the mix, well, that just opened up a whole new dimension. Yes, it was a bit hot, but that didn’t take away from the experience. Is it worth $110.00 for a 750ml bottle? I’m not completely convinced. It blurs somewhere between a Bottle and Bar, and when that happens, I always opt for some wiggle room. Bar it is. 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, November 8, 2021

The BenRiach Malting Season Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes



One month each year, the folks at The BenRiach spread barley on its malting floor, watch it carefully while turning it by hand, and pick the “perfect” time to move it to the kiln to dry and stop the germination process.

 

The BenRiach is a Speyside distillery and is known for doing things in its own way. Dr. Rachel Barrie is one of the most respected master blenders in the business.  And, in 2021, she’s taken a single malt Scotch in an entirely new direction with Malting Season.

 

“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with BenRiach being one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting.

Distilling spirit from barley malted here on site is a true labour of love and something we are passionate about keeping alive here at BenRiach as an ode to our creative whisky-making heritage.”Stewart Buchanan, The BenRiach global brand ambassador

 

It begins with the aforementioned once-a-year malting. A concerto strain of barley, the most common, was used, and in this case, 100% of it came from the malting floor. The distillation took place on November 2, 2012. That single malt new make then aged in two types of casks:  virgin American oak and former Bourbon barrels and rested for nine years. The yield was 6672 bottles, and you can expect to pay about $149.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to the review, I’d like to thank The BenRiach for providing me a sample of Malting Season in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I’ll #DrinkCurious and get to it.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Malting Season presented as the color of bright gold. It left a medium-thick rim that led to husky, slow legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose:  Honey was obvious. Peach, vanilla, Fuji apple, malt, and raw almond aromas lay beneath. As I pulled the air through my lips, the Fuji apple gained strength.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel offered a medium-weight body and was silky. Fuji apple, Bartlett pear, and honey started things off. As the whisky moved to the middle, toasted almond and vanilla took over. Then, on the back was a blend of oak, white peppercorn, and milk chocolate.

 

Finish:  The oak became dry, the white pepper remained, and then became sweet with honey and apple, then featured a redux of the dry oak. This was one of those big finishes that lasted several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Malting Season is a stunningly good Scotch. The balanced palate and finish offered a substantial presence with bold flavors. There’s no astringent. There’s no peat. The proof is just right without being unnecessarily diluted. Would I spend $149.99 on this? I believe so, but I’d also like to see it come down about $20.00 or so in price. Regardless, this earned every bit of my Bottle rating. Grab one. This is the first edition of what’s sure to become an amazing annual release. 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.

 


 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Obtainium 16-year "Dracarys" Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 


I’ve reviewed several barrels of Obtainium Light Whiskey in the past. Some were excellent, one or two could better be described as a hot mess. So, when the Lake Country Bottle Club requested I review their barrel pick in conjunction with the Bottle Shop of Grafton, I was open to the adventure.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the Obtainium label, that comes from Cat’s Eye in Bettendorf, Iowa. Cat’s Eye sources and blends whiskeys from various sources. In the case of its Light Whiskeys, those come from MGP. Except MGP wasn’t called MGP when this whiskey was distilled. It was working under the name of Lawrenceburg Distillers, LLC (LDI). Except, LDI wasn’t called LDI when this whiskey was distilled. Instead, it was Seagram’s.

 

Barrel SC-00191 was distilled May 3, 2005, when light whiskey had already fallen out of favor and rested 16 years in vintage, charred oak barrels until dumped on June 9, 2021. The Lake Country Bottle Club named this one Dracarys, the word Daenerys used to summon her dragons to breathe fire in Game of Thrones. It weighs in at a very hefty 140.6°, and is sold out at The Bottle Shop of Grafton. A 375ml was $34.99 and a 750ml was $54.99.

 


 

Before I get to the verdict, I’d like to thank Lake Country Bottle Club for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now I’ll #DrinkCurious to see what this fire-breather is all about. 

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Dracarys presented as the color of bronze amber. It made a sticky, medium-weighted rim that formed long, slow legs.

 

Nose:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to punch the nose so hard it would draw blood. Nope, that didn’t happen. In fact, I struggled to pick up any ethanol whatsoever. It was a soft aroma that included cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, vanilla, and lightly toasted oak. When I pulled the air into my mouth, I discovered crème de menthe.

 

Palate:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to burn the hell out of your palate. Nope, that didn’t happen, either. The front palate featured caramel, chocolate, and nutmeg. The middle was all leather. Then, on the back, I tasted cinnamon, clove, mint, and oak.

 

Finish:  At 140.6°, you’d expect this to set fire to your throat. Nope, that didn’t happen.  Instead, flavors of caramel, chocolate, cinnamon spice, clove, and old leather came through.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several Haz-Mat whiskeys before, but I don’t believe any has ever drunk this far below proof. Could it pass for 100° or 110°?  Certainly. It was a pleasant surprise for sure. The nose and palate were well-balanced despite the single leather note on the middle. Dracarys is tasty, and I’m happy to crown a Bottle rating on 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.

 


Friday, November 5, 2021

Paul John Single Malt Christmas Edition 2021 Review & Tasting Notes

 



Have you ever had whisky from India? This subcontinent makes some truly lovely whiskies. That’s not to say that they’re all good because India is pretty fast-and-loose as to what qualifies as whisky. But, if you stick with Rampur, Amrut, and Paul John, you’ll avoid those shenanigans.

 

Paul John is located in Goa, India, which is in the western part of the nation. The average temperature in Goa is the high 80s to low 90s (Fahrenheit), which translates to a naturally-accelerated aging environment.

 

Here we are in November, and that means that it is time for the Christmas Edition 2021 release. This would be the fourth in the series. Paul John uses its Christmas Editions to give a sneak peek into what’s new for the following year. I’ve had the 2020 and 2019 Editions, and they’ve been divine.

 

Christmas Edition 2021 is, as always, a single malt. Paul John sources six-row barley grown in the country, which is said to have a higher protein and fiber content. This leads to an oilier whiskey than two-grain barley. Any peat that Paul John uses is sourced from both Islay and the Highland regions of Scotland. Fermentation takes 40 hours or longer before the mash is distilled through its copper pot stills. 

 

Aging took place in ex-Bourbon casks and mingled with cooperages that formerly held vintage port, tawny port, and Madeira wines. The whisky is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement, although it is somewhere in the five-year neighborhood. Before you roll your eyes and dismiss that, understand that due to the hot, humid climate of Goa, things tend to age at about a 3:1 ratio compared to a Scotch counterpart.

 

That’s bottled at 46% ABV (92°) and you can expect to pay about $84.99 for a 750ml bottle. It is available now throughout the USA.

 

I’d like to take a moment and thank Paul John for providing me a sample of Christmas Edition 2021 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. To find out if this one is worth the trouble, I’ll have to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this single malt was the color of dark rust. It presented a thinner rim that led to slow, husky legs and crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose:  Nutty and fruity, the nose was obvious the second I cracked open the bottle. I let it rest for about ten minutes before bringing it to my face. Aromas of English toffee, toasted coconut, roasted nuts, candied orange slices, raisin, and, for good measure, light peat wafted from the glass to my nostrils and just made me smile. When I drew the air into my mouth, it became a caramel bomb with a bit of plum.

 

Palate:  First things first, and that’s the mouthfeel. It was super creamy and thick. The more I sipped, the weightier it became. Racing out of the gate was butterscotch and smoky chocolate. Beyond that, I tasted nutmeg, caramel, berry, and raisin. The back featured oak, Nutella, and molasses. My smile became more pronounced.

 

Finish:  Long and lustful, notes of smoke, oak, Nutella, berry, nutmeg, and clove stuck around, only to be eclipsed by molasses. It left my hard palate tingling slightly despite the lower proof.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is everything Christmas should be. It is sweet, it is smoky, it is savory, and the flavors blend stupendously to one another. The fact that I only had a 50ml is heartbreaking because this whisky is stunning. The good news is that in my area Paul John Christmas Editions aren’t too difficult to come by, and I’ll track a Bottle down to earn a coveted place in my whiskey 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.

 


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Benriach Smoke Season Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes



The Speyside region is known for many things, but peated whiskies are the exception to the rule. Those that have this quality tend to be mildly so.

 

For the last fifty years, The BenRiach has been offering a line of peated Scotches. I’ve reviewed a few of them and found them to be quite tasty. Even the Peated Cask Strength was not overly peated. During the summer, Benriach would send peated malt through the still. For the remainder, it would distill unpeated malt. It calls the period when peated malt is used Smoke Season.

 

“Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and this new addition gives both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet, and smoky character of Benriach single malt, crafted in Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt. At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak barley, and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

 

Smoke Season is an intensely-peated single-malt Scotch that carries no age statement. It aged in a small portion of first-fill Bourbon barrels, with the majority in both charred and toasted virgin American oak casks. Bottled at 52.8% ABV (105.6°), this is the first year it has been available in the US market. You can expect to pay about $71.99 for a 750ml package.

 

I’d like to thank The BenRiach for providing me a sample of Smoke Season in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. The way we make that part happen is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Smoke Season presented as a bronze amber. It made an ultra-thin rim on the glass that gave no time whatsoever for the watery legs to crash back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: There is no mistake that this is a peated whisky!  Burnt oak, caramel, vanilla, toffee, and citrus provided a well-balanced aroma that would drive any Islay fan bonkers. When I drew the air into my mouth, vanilla and toasted oak caressed my tongue.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was slick and oily, coating every nook and cranny of my mouth. The front featured a Crème Brulee that was subjected a bit too long to the flame and cinnamon. At mid-palate, I tasted pear, caramel apple, and orange peel. The back suggested charred oak, black pepper, and dark chocolate.

 

Finish:  The smoky finish offered no astringent quality. It consisted of charred oak and barbeque smoke. Poking through those heavy notes was a vanilla blast. The whole thing lasted several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m a big fan of Islay Scotches, and while this one was out of the Speyside region, I’d put this one up against many of them. If you blindfolded one such enthusiast, it would not shock me if they guessed this was something out of Port Charlotte. Sure, it doesn’t have an age statement, but who cares? I loved this. You will, too. Buy one, because this 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 you do so responsibly.

 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


 

There exists a gentleman who distills whiskey in a Denver suburb. He’s one of the most highly-respected distillers in the country. He has taught and mentored so many in this industry. His name?  Todd Leopold. His distillery?  Leopold Bros.

 

Leopold Bros. is distinct for several reasons aside from Todd.  Founded in 1999, the distillery has the largest malting floor in the United States. Everything is done in-house. There’s no sourcing of anything, including the botanicals in the garden just outside the open fermentation tanks. Those botanicals create the wild yeast used in, well, everything.

 

It also houses the only working three-chamber still in the country, the kind that was super-popular among American distillers…

 

“For over a hundred years, American rye whiskey was commonly produced in what was called a Three Chamber Still to extract not only distillate, but also oils and aromas hidden in the grains. The resulting spirit was marketed as “heavy-bodied” whiskey, but production stopped just after World War II and the still in which it was made became a lost American tradition.

Leopold Bros. painstakingly re-engineered a Three Chamber Still from old manuscripts and grew the heritage grain Abruzzi rye that was favored by Pre-Prohibition distillers to resurrect this one-of-a-kind whiskey.” – Leopold Bros.

 

That one-of-a-kind whiskey is aptly named Three Chamber Rye Whiskey.  It starts with a mash of 80% Abruzzi rye and 20% malt from the malting floor. It was (obviously) run through that still, then aged four years in new, charred oak barrels. As a bonus, it is Bottled-in-Bond, which means, aside from other things, it is bottled at 100°. There were 5280 bottles made, and that wasn’t by accident. That’s the famous elevation of Denver. If you can find a bottle (and I’ve seen one very recently at a Binny’s in Vernon Hills, Illinois), you can expect to pay about $250.00 for it.

 

I’d like to thank Leopold Bros. for providing me a sample of the Three Chamber Rye Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. The only way to see if this is worth all the trouble Todd and his team have gone through is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye presented as the color of rich topaz. It formed a thicker rim that generated fat, slow legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: To suggest this whiskey was fragrant would be unfair to the term. It filled the room with aromas of orange peel, vanilla, peach, nutmeg, and toasted oak. It even smelled oily! When I took the air into my mouth, I experienced dill. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was there.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was heavy and oily. It slid down my throat, almost anticipating my desire to swallow. The first things I tasted were vanilla, dark chocolate, and toasted oak. Next up were rye spice, orange citrus, and peach. The back featured leather, tobacco, nutmeg, and white pepper.

 

Finish:  You’d never guess this one was 100° because there wasn’t even a hint of burn.  Rye spice, leather, tobacco, cocoa powder, oak, nutmeg, peach, and, finally, vanilla, gave this a spicy-to-sweet, medium-length finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Three-Chamber Rye is one of those dangerous whiskeys. It goes down way too easily. After several sips, the proof is like the Kool-Aid Man as he busts through a wall. Before you even know what happened, you’re feeling it in your head. There was absolutely nothing not to love, except perhaps the cost.

 

I realize that the Three-Chamber Rye is an absolutely unique whiskey. That’s always a turn-on for me. But with American whiskeys, and even Scotches, $250.00 is a big hit to my wallet. Can I see myself spending that on this Rye?  No.  Do I think you need to experience this for yourself? Absolutely! If you can find it, try it. You’ll fall in love, and you’ll then have to decide if this is worth the purchase. Due to the price and only the price, this one takes a Bar 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.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Lost Lantern 2021 Fall Release #3 (Boulder Spirits) Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 


One of the more interesting US-based independent bottlers is Lost Lantern. It finds unique barrels, bottles them at cask strength, and when what is packaged is gone, it is gone forever.

 

One of the more interesting American distilleries is Boulder Spirits out of Boulder, Colorado. I’ve reviewed several of its whiskeys before. They’re made in a Scottish tradition with their American Single Malts and what isn’t ASM still relies heavily on Scottish malt in the mash.

 

Lost Lantern just released its Fall Single Casks, and one of those is Single Cask #3, which comes from (you guessed it) Boulder Spirits. In this case, it is a Bourbon. It starts with a mash of 51% corn, 44% Scottish malted barley, and 5% rye. It aged five years in 53-gallon new, charred oak barrels from Kelvin Cooperage. It is non-chill filtered and came out of the barrel at a whopping 138.1°. The yield was only 181 750ml bottles, which Lost Lantern priced at $100.00 each.

 

“We are proud to have this unique straight Bourbon whiskey as our first selection from Colorado, one of the hotbeds of the whiskey renaissance taking shape all over the country. And this whiskey captures just why we’re so excited about Boulder Spirits, and about Colorado whiskey in general:  it does something new.” – Lost Lantern

 

Before I #DrinkCurious, I’d like to thank Lost Lantern for providing me a sample of Single Cask #3 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it, shall we?

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as the color of mahogany. It formed a very thin rim that made fat, slow, sticky legs.

 

Nose:  Single Cask #3 had a bouquet that wouldn’t quit. I expected and prepared myself for the big ethanol blast. Instead, it started with plum, then chocolate-covered cherry, light oak, and orange peel. When I drew the air in my mouth, the cherry became more pronounced.

 

Palate:  An almost weightless mouthfeel became oily as it traveled down my throat. The front of the palate featured deep, dark chocolate, almond, and maple syrup. Cherry, nutmeg, and English toffee took over the middle. The back offered flavors of coconut macaroon, oak, and dry leather.

 

Finish:  The tastes of nutmeg, dry leather, oak, cherry, coconut macaroon all morphed into dark chocolate and maple syrup in a medium-long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This was a very interesting pour. As close as it is to Haz-Mat, it was shockingly easy to drink after getting past the first sip. It needs no water added. Single Cask #3 was just lovely from the nosing to the finish. The lack of the ethanol punch on either the nose or mouth was surprising. I’ve had many expressions from Boulder Spirits and this is up near the top. Would I spend $100.00 on it? Without a second thought! This is a Bottle rating that you won’t regret. 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, October 27, 2021

Copper Sky Distillery Wheat Whiskey Honey Barrel Finish Review & Tasting Notes



 

This summer I took a trip back "home" to Colorado. I lived there for over twenty years. My family is still there, and I try to come back at least annually.


When I lived in the Denver area, there were breweries. That’s what folks were interested in. Colorado distilling was more along the lines of vodka, gin, and fruit whiskeys. Sure, there was more traditional whiskey, but that wasn’t on the forefront.


Every time I go home, I try to take in a few distillery tours. There are so many Colorado distilleries now it is crazy. There exists a Colorado Whiskey Trail. The good news is I can probably visit Colorado enough times and always find something new each time I’m there.


One of the distilleries I visited this last time was Copper Sky Distillery. It is owned by Mike Root, someone I’ve known for a few years but never met in person. Copper Sky is off the beaten path, easily missed if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It has a great outdoor patio, there are events all the time, perfect for the surrounding Longmont neighborhood.


Mike gave me a bottle of his Wheat Whiskey Honey Barrel Finish, which is part of his Experimental Series. This was the first experimental whiskey for this distillery.


“We start with honey from a local beekeeper and regular at the distillery, Bill, from Bill’s Bees, and boil the honey down to a soft liquid. Next, we fill a barrel just enough to coat the sides, rolling it every day to ensure it gets in every nook and cranny. After we feel like the barrel is ready, the honey is removed and our 5-year old wheated bourbon is added. Once it hits that sweet spot of ‘whiskey with a little honey on the side,’ we pull it and get it ready for its new home with you.” – Mike Root


What’s in the wheated Bourbon? The actual distiller is undisclosed, but it is from a mash of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley. It aged for five and a half years before it was ready. Then the contents were transferred into that honey barrel for finishing. Batch 1 is packaged at 107.5°. It is sold out, but the retail price was $74.99 for a 375ml bottle.


The above is nice and all, but is it any good? The only way to find out for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Thank you, Mike, for providing me a bottle in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whiskey was the color of, strangely enough, copper. It formed a medium-thick, sticky rim that just stuck to the wall. It eventually let loose fat legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: Toasted oak was the first thing I picked out. Then came corn, caramel, and molasses. When I took the aroma into my mouth, I found vanilla mint.


Palate: The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and a bit oily. Considering the barrel it was in, that was unexpected. The front of the palate featured fresh sweet corn, vanilla, and Bit O’ Honey candy. The middle offered caramel and cinnamon. On the back, flavors of toasted oak, Cocoa Krispies cereal (I swear I could almost taste the cocoa powder on it before it flavored the milk), and a hint of mint.


Finish: The finish was medium-to-long in length and a bit dry. It started with faint mint, then toasted oak, followed by caramel. Subsequent attempts brought mocha. With each additional sip, that mocha dominated more and more.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I wasn’t a fan of the neck pour. I’m not a believer in neck pour quality issues, but it was my first taste. I let it alone on the shelf for a couple of weeks during Bourbon Heritage Month as I concentrated on, well, Bourbon. When I revisited it in October, anything I wasn’t a fan of was long gone. I loved the finish, especially how the mocha kept stealing the show. I sipped it as I composed this review, and each time I did, I had to remind myself that I need to finish writing.


Look, if you can find a bottle of this, just pick it up. And, if you aren’t a fan of the first pour, let it sit in the glass and try it again. I’m betting you’re going to come to the same conclusion as me – this one takes my coveted 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.

 


Monday, October 25, 2021

Woodford Reserve Chocolate Malt Whisper Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 



Whiskey backstories are sometimes entertaining and something that becomes suspect as a tall tale. It seems that so many craft distillers have come into existence because their grandpappy's grandpappy's secret recipe that was tucked behind an old cupboard was discovered in the attic. Maybe not exactly, but they are usually darned close.

 

The big legacy distillers come up with their own romanticism. Woodford Reserve, despite its relatively young 25 years, falls under the legacy distillery category (mostly due to its parent company, Brown Forman). As such, when Woodford Reserve launched its Chocolate Malt Whisper limited-edition Bourbon and called it a happy accident, I was interested but not completely convinced.

 

The accident started with the distillation of the Chocolate Malt Rye, which became the 2019 Distiller’s Edition. As it is told, some of that distillate mingled with the next batch, carrying over chocolate notes.

 

“Sometimes unforeseen developments occur in the distillery that result in great flavors, this is one of those cases.”Master Distiller Chris Morris

 

The Straight Bourbon is the typical Woodford mashbill:  72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malt. Woodford is also triple-distilled, something unusual in American whiskey. It has a lower-than-average entry proof and, while it carries no age statement, it is typically around six years. Woodford chose a 375ml package and you can expect to pay about $49.99 for it. Availability is very limited, it is a distillery-only item in conjunction with select Kentucky-only retailers.

 

I’d like to thank Woodford for providing me a sample of Chocolate Malt Whisper in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and vett this one out.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Chocolate Whisper was the color of brushed antique copper. It didn’t really form a rim, each time I tried, it would crash back into the pool, but it did leave sticky droplets where a rim would have been.

 

Nose: A fragrant aroma started with caramel and citrus, then introduced oak, and ended with a freshly unwrapped Heath bar. As I took the vapor through my lips, it was as if I popped a Queen Anne Cherry in my mouth.  

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was as if a massive oil slick hit my tongue. The front of the palate was nutty with toffee and cocoa powder. As it moved to the middle, it became caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla. The back featured roasted coffee, oak, and clove.

 

Finish:  Soft mocha initiated the experience, which then vanished. A second or so later, it came back in a tsunami of dark chocolate, black pepper, clove, and dark-roasted coffee, and that stuck around for several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This Bourbon was unexpected. By the name, I had the preconceived notion of expecting chocolate notes over everything else. The chocolate was there, but the coffee notes competed with it. What the coffee didn’t do was take over the entire tasting, and for me, that’s a positive.

 

Is Chocolate Whisper the happy accident that Woodford claims?  Only Woodford knows for sure. Is it a unique Bourbon? Absolutely. I also appreciate 375ml bottles being offered with this limited release for two reasons:  First, because it extends the availability. Second, it brings the price down to something affordable for many.

 

I enjoyed this Bourbon tremendously. It didn’t have a ton of complexity, but that’s not a negative. For $49.99, this is something you should snag off the shelf without a second thought, and that means it earned 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 you do so responsibly.