Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

 



Wheaters are very popular and, for some, almost cult-like status. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it means that instead of rye as the second most significant ingredient in the mash, wheat is used. Distilled wheat has no taste; it highlights other things in the mash and barrel while providing a more "smooth" or "rounded" mouthfeel. In the case of Bourbon, a wheater will typically be sweeter because the corn is highlighted.


Today I'm reviewing Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon. Distilled by Pennington Distilling Co. of Nashville, it is made from a mash of 60% Tennessee corn, 22% Tennessee Red Wheat, and 18% malted barley. It was aged for "at least" four years and is bottled at 101.7°.  You can expect to pay about $44.99 for a 750ml. 


I've had some good luck with other Davidson Reserve expressions. I enjoyed the Sour MashTennessee Straight Rye, and Genesis Tennessee Straight Bourbon.  I was less impressed with their Four Grain Tennessee Straight Bourbon. But, a 75% positive rating is pretty darned good for any distillery.


I'd like to thank Pennington Distilling Co. for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as a deep red amber.  It created a medium rim, and the legs were sticky, slow, and fat.


Nose:  While my glass was set aside with the Bourbon rested, I thought it to be very fragrant. It was sweet and fruity. However, when I brought the glass to my face, I picked up sawdust, toasted oak, caramel, and berry, but the latter was muted.  When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the only thing I found was corn.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily with a medium body. On the front, I tasted corn and cocoa powder. Then, in the middle, flavors of nutmeg and allspice. The back consisted of oak and subtle orange peel.


Finish:  The finish was short-to-medium. Corn, clove, and toasted oak hung around. I also experienced a touch of char and coffee.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Shockingly, this Bourbon was on the bland side. Sure, there were flavors to pick out, but it was also corn heavy. The finish was less than impressive, and while the price was attractive, the rest of it was not. Unfortunately, I can't recommend buying this Bourbon, and as such, it takes a Bust 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 that you do so responsibly.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

 



My history with Teeling Whiskey goes back almost seven years. I was the Whiskey Consultant for Vom Fass’s flagship store in Madison, Wisconsin, and there were several independent bottlings of Teeling whiskeys available. One of them, called Against the Grain, was my secret weapon whenever someone came into the store and suggested they didn’t care for whiskey at all. I’d pour them a sample, and it was a game-changer more often than not.

 

Since moving on from Vom Fass, I’ve not had much opportunity to try Teeling’s whiskeys. I’ve seen them on the shelves, but I’d always explore something else. I came across a triple pack of 50ml Teeling’s Single Malt, Single Grain, and Small Batch whiskeys one day, and it would be my opportunity to try all three.

 

If you’re not familiar with the Teeling family, you should be. Go back a few generations to Walter Teeling, who started the journey back in 1792 in Dublin. There is a suggestion that the Teelings have been involved ever since. In 1987, John Teeling purchased a formerly-state run industrial alcohol facility, installed a couple of stills, and then became the Cooley Distillery.  Cooley wasn’t any distillery; it was winning accolades for what it produced. It became so much so that in 2011, Beam Suntory bought it.

 

And that may have been the end of Teeling, except it wasn’t. John’s sons, Stephen and Jack, teamed with their first employee, Alex Chasko (its Master Distiller and Blender), and opened the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in 2015, the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years. Because of that, combined with laws governing Irish whiskey, anything with the Teeling label before 2018 is sourced (from Cooley, Old Bushmills, etc.).

 

Today’s review is of its Single Grain release. While we’re in 2022, the Trinity Pack I purchased was from 2019. I believe this whiskey is still a Cooley product and the labels state it is crafted and bottled by Teeling (rather than distilled).

 

The Single Grain starts with a mash of 95% corn and 5% malted barley. If that has you scratching your head, recall that single refers to the distillery, not the actual grain content. Single malt or single grain whiskey comes from a single distillery, whereas a blend is from several. It carries no age statement, but it is aged between five and six years. It spent time in former Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon French Oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to spend $45.00 or so on a 750ml bottle.

 

How does the Single Grain fare? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, this single grain whiskey presented as deep orange. It formed a medium-weighted rim that released wide, slow legs that fell back to the pool.

 

Nose: Before I even picked up the glass, a waft of butterscotch was easy to find. Once I brought it close to my face, I found plum jam, vanilla, French oak, and sawdust. The last note was curious because, in my experience, it suggests smaller cooperage, which isn’t the case here. As I drew that air past my lips, oak and toasted pineapple rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  The first sip seemed thin, but that texture thickened quickly, making it full-bodied and creamy. Coconut and Werther’s candy came out in a big way on the front. Next, I tasted date, pear, and cranberry. The back featured oak, caramel, and toffee.

 

Finish:  The French oak woke up on the finish and kept building. At its crescendo, cinnamon spice and toffee toned it. The finish was long and very dry, almost giving me the pucker power that one should expect from Cabernet Sauvignon casks.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I went into this review wanting to like the Teeling Single Grain. The independent bottlings of its Single Grain from the Cooley Distillery were lovely. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience with their branded one. I’m not suggesting this is bad because it isn’t. It just lacks anything remarkable to give a wow factor. I do appreciate its 46% ABV versus the 40% that so many Irish whiskeys have, but that in and upon itself doesn’t push it over the edge. For the price, I would recommend trying this one at a Bar before committing to the entire 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 you do so responsibly.

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Tasters Releases 001 - 007 Reviews & Tasting Notes


 

Recently, friends of mine took a vacation to Tennessee and surprised me with some bottles from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. These weren’t ordinary bottles that you could just get anywhere. They’re an experimental series called Tennessee Tasters. At the time I’m writing this, there are seven whiskeys in the series.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Jack Daniel’s (is there anyone who hasn’t heard of it?), it was founded in 1866 as the first registered distillery in the United States. It started when Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel purchased a distillery for $25.00 from a preacher named Dan Call. One of Call’s slaves named Nearis Green (also known as Nathan “Nearest” Green) taught Jack how to distill whiskey.

 

Daniel used water from Cave Spring Hollow in Lynchburg. Realizing how vital it was to have a steady, reliable water source, he purchased it and the surrounding land. The rest, of course, is history, and Jack Daniel’s is the #1 selling whiskey in the United States and the fourth most popular in the world.

 

My friends brought me three bottles of the Tennessee Tasters. Another friend, David Levine, sent me samples of the remaining four so I could have a complete set and provide tasting notes for each.

 

Each whiskey has a different recipe and proof, but each 375ml bottle will set you back $39.99, and there are about 24,000 bottles of each available. With that being said, I’ll #DrinkCurious and tell you about each one. My usual format will be slightly different; I’ll give the specifications of each and then provide the tasting notes. Unless otherwise stated, each Taster is distilled from the Old No. 7 mashbill.

 

Release 001 – High Angel’s Share Barrels



  • Barrelled January 2013, Released Fall 2018
  • 53.5% ABV / 107°

 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this whiskey was the color of caramel. It formed a thick rim with fast, heavy legs.

 

Nose: Cinnamon, lemon zest, and oak joined with caramel and vanilla. When I pulled the aroma into my mouth, there was more caramel.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be oily and thick. I tasted English toffee, caramel, and raw honey on the front of my palate. The middle featured crème brûlée, and the back offered berries, cinnamon, and oak.

 

Finish:  Medium to long in duration, the finish was made of berries, English toffee, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I enjoyed this pour. It was perfectly proofed and full of flavor. It is difficult not to sip this one and smile. I’m happy to crown this one with a Bottle rating.

 

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Release 002 – Hickory Smoke



  • Finished with Charred Hickory Staves
  • Released Fall 2018
  • 50% ABV / 100° 

 

Appearance:   Chestnut in color, Release 002 formed a thin rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass and yielded thick, quick legs.

 

Nose:  As you might suspect, hickory smoke was dominating. Beneath it was vanilla and caramel. As I drew the air past my lips, vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  Thin and oily, the front of my palate experienced hickory smoke and oak. The middle consisted of vanilla and cream, while the back tasted of dark chocolate and berries.

 

Finish:  Perhaps the most interesting of this whiskey was the Blue Diamond Smoked Almonds, salt, and roasted coffee flavors that remained for a medium-to-long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Each tasting element should be exciting. In the base of Release 002, the only riveting component was the finish. That’s not to say this was a lousy whiskey; instead, just a few notes mostly seemed out of place. A Bar rating is well-deserved.

 

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Release 003 – Barrel Reunion #1



  • Finished in Red Wine Barrels for 288 days
  • Released Spring 2019
  • 45% ABV / 90°

 

Appearance: The orange-amber liquid issued a thin rim and weak legs in my Glencairn glass.

 

Nose: I smelled fruity notes of strawberry and plum, then sweet vanilla, and finally, oak. In my mouth, the vapor tasted of bananas.

 

Palate:  A silky texture greeted my tongue. Banana, plum, and cherry flavors completed the front, while vanilla encompassed the entire middle. Toasted oak and leather created the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish was cherry, vanilla, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate what Jack Daniel’s tried to do with Release 003. It is unique; it is also only a few notes, and this whiskey could have been so much more. My recommendation would be to try it at a Bar first.

 

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Release 004 – Barrel Proof Rye



  • Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey
  • 70% Rye, 18% Corn, 12% Malted Barley
  • Released Spring 2019
  • 63.8% ABV / 127.6°

  

Appearance:  This whiskey presented as caramel in color and formed an ultra-thin rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. What remained were sticky droplets that fought gravity.

 

Nose: Aromas of cherry and prune married brown sugar and caramel. Charred oak was also easy to discern. Through my mouth, banana teased my palate.

 

Palate:  So far, Release 004 has the oiliest texture. Banana bread, rye spice, and cinnamon made for an exciting start. The middle featured caramel, nutmeg, and anise. On the back, I tasted leather, allspice, and coffee.

 

Finish:  Long and lingering, this Rye had a spicy finish made of coffee, allspice, rye bread, and charred oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There was nothing not to enjoy with this Rye. Flavors meshed naturally. I loved how this went from sweet to spicy. Release 004 also drank under its stated proof. A Bottle rating for sure!

 

◊◊◊◊◊


 Release 005 – Barrel Reunion #2



  • Finished in Oatmeal Stout Barrels for at least 240 days
  • Released Fall 2019
  • 46% ABV / 92°

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the caramel color was enticing. A medium rim was formed, which released watery legs.

 

Nose:  Peanut butter!  I’m a peanut butter freak, and peanut butter just exploded out of the glass. While I couldn’t care less what other aromas were floating around, they were there and featured vanilla, toasted oak, and cherry pie filling. Drawing the vapor into my mouth, vanilla was evident.

 

Palate:  A creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel resulted in milk chocolate and oatmeal cookies on the front. Peanut butter and nougat formed the middle, while coffee, dark chocolate, and cherry summed up the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish was made of chocolate-covered peanuts, coffee, nougat, and cherry.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 005 was mind-blowing and easily a standout from anything else in the series. I would have loved a longer finish. As my favorite of the seven, this snags a Bottle rating.

 

 ◊◊◊◊◊


Release 006 – Jamaican Allspice 




  • Finished with Toasted Jamaican Allspice Wood for 180 Days
  • Released Spring 2020
  • 50% ABV / 100°

 

Appearance:  A reddish-amber hue grabbed my attention. In my Glencairn glass, it generated a medium rim with irregular, thick legs.

 

Nose:  As you’d imagine, a mesquite aroma blasted my face. Accompanied by honey barbeque, brown sugar, plum, and tobacco, the sweetness melded nicely with the liquid smoke. As I drew the air into my mouth, vanilla punched my tongue.

 

Palate:  Medium-bodied, caramel and cola were at the front of my palate. Flavors of honey and coffee formed the middle, while allspice, smoked oak, and tobacco were on the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish tasted of clove, tobacco leaf, smoked oak, and cola.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 006 was an easy sipper. I have had pimento wood/allspice finished whiskeys before, and usually, what dominates is the allspice. I believe the cola notes tamed it. There weren’t complicated notes, yet overall, it was delicious. I’m happy to convey my Bottle rating. 

 

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Batch 007 – 14E19 “Twin” Blend Whiskey



  • Straight Tennessee Whiskey (40%) blended with Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey (60%)
  • Barrelled May 2014, Released Fall 2020
  • 53.5% ABV / 107°

 

Appearance: Caramel in color, it formed a medium rim on the side of my Glencairn glass, then released thick, fast legs.

 

Nose:  An aroma of honey barbeque sauce blended with cinnamon and brown sugar. When I inhaled through my lips, vanilla and rye spice were noted.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily. At the front, I discerned caramel, vanilla, and citrus. The middle featured molasses and honey, while the back was cinnamon, more caramel, and barrel char.

 

Finish:  Long and spicy, the finish tasted of rye, charred oak, nutmeg, and caramel.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Release 007 was the least interesting of the series. I enjoy bouryes; this was just Plain Jane and didn’t do anything for me. I must stress it wasn’t bad. But, it does take a Bar rating.

 

Final Thoughts:  If Jack Daniel’s releases additional experimental whiskeys to the Tennessee Tasters series, I’ll review them separately. Thanks for wading through all of these notes. 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, April 20, 2022

Highland Park 12 Year Viking Honour Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


Photo courtesy of Highland Park



There are several storied, well-loved Scotch distilleries out there, and one of those is Highland Park, a Highland distillery in Orkney. Orkney is off on its own, way up north, and consists of 70 islands, 20 of which are inhabited. The primary industry in Orkney is agriculture, with only 4% of that dedicated to cultivating cereal grains. The average temperature in Orkney is about 46°F, with an average summer temperature of only 54°F, meaning there isn't a lot of room for whiskey to pull flavor from a barrel. 


The islands have been part of human history going back about 8500 years. There is a rich Viking history in Orkney due to its historical ownership by Norway. As such, it should come as no surprise the distillery, established in 1798, names its various expressions after Viking mythology and culture. Their 12-year expression is Viking Honour, a single malt, natural colored Scotch bottled at 43% ABV. Retail on Viking Honour is $59.99.


Is Viking Honour a worthy namesake of the brave Vikings? The way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Viking Honour presents as a dull gold. Creating a thick rim on the wall, thick, fast legs dropped back to the pool of this icy liquid sunshine. 


Nose:  Floral aromas, mixed with sherry and light peat, greeted my olfactory senses. Underneath those were bright orange citrus.  When I inhaled through my lips, there was a grassy quality that ran across my tongue. 


Palate:  Passing my lips, the mouthfeel was watery and thin.  That light peat from the nosing crossed onto the front palate along with rich honey. Mid-palate, it transformed into a blend of coffee, clove, and orange peel. On the back, there was a combination of dry sherry, mace, and cinnamon. 


Finish: A concise finish left dry leather, dark chocolate, and oak behind, but it required several sips to pick them out. It became a chore to discern them because nothing stayed behind long enough to allow me to enjoy it.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I know there are a lot of Highland Park fans out there, and everyone's palate is different. I found Viking Honour to be unexciting, and a disappointing finish made it even more so. I would, at the very least, have preferred more peat both on the nose and palate.  But fans of Highland Park definitely need to try this one.  As such, Viking Honour will earn a Bar 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.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Blood Oath Pact 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


A handful of annual-release whiskeys out there have me longing to see what the next one brings. I don’t mean the standard-bearers out there that’s pretty much the same whiskey year after year, just offered at varying proofs. Instead, I’m talking about the ones you never know what to expect because something different is done each time.

 

One such whiskey is Blood Oath Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Lux Row Distillers produces the whiskey under the creative mind of master distiller John Rempe. Each release is called a Pact. The 2022 incarnation is Pact 8. I’ve reviewed most of the Pacts, and no two are even close to alike.

 

“I’ve once again sourced three great Bourbons for Blood Oath Pact 8, and I’m particularly excited to include a Bourbon finished in Calvados casks. The Calvados cask will bring additional tasting notes characterized by slight apple on the nose, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, as well as flavor notes of ripe apples, juicy pears, butterscotch, and even subtle hints of chocolate. Blood Oath Pact 8 is a Bourbon I’m proud to share with Bourbon lovers, but the recipe is a secret I’ll be keeping to myself.” – John Rempe

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Calvados, that’s a brandy made from apples or pears from France’s Normandy region. The fruits are made into a cider, then distilled and aged for at least two years in oak.

 

While it carries no age statement, Rempe does disclose its components are 14-year, 11-year, and 8-year rye Bourbons. The latter is the one finished in Calvados casks. After blending, the concoction is bottled at 98.6°. Every Pact is packaged at that particular proof – that’s the temperature of human blood!

 

There are a total of 51,000 bottles available. In the seven-year history of Blood Oath, each 750ml package was $99.99. Like everything else in 2022, inflation reared its ugly head, and Pact 8 will set you back $119.99.  That’s a 20% increase; however, Pacts 5, 6, and 7 could easily have been valued above their stated MSRPs, and no one would complain.

 

We’re left with two questions:  Is Pact 8 any good?; and, Is Pact 8 worth the premium? The only way to answer either is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank Lux Row Distillers for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was a brilliant copper. A thinner rim offered wide tears that crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose: Apple and pear presented as promised. Milk chocolate, like a Hershey bar, came next. Nutmeg, vanilla, and toasted oak followed. As I drew the air into my mouth, cinnamon apple rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  Blood Oath greeted me with a cool, buttery texture. I’ve had Calvados before, and everything I’ve ever tasted was in the mix. The front featured dry pear, bittersweet apple, and green apple. Vanilla and a massive punch of very dark chocolate formed the middle. The back was a spice bomb with dry oak, clove, and cinnamon Red Hots.  

 

Finish:  Dry, French oak, cinnamon apple, and likely the most prominent clove note I’ve had made for a long-lasting, warm finish. Blood Oath Pact 8 doesn’t drink hotter than its stated proof, but the spice could trick you into believing otherwise. When I thought all was said and done, the bittersweet apple came for an encore.  

 

With Water:  Pact 8 made me curious about what two drops of distilled water would do. The apple and pear on the nose became sweeter. Cinnamon remained, but the chocolate notes vanished. The apple went from bittersweet to bitter on the palate, with oak and clove spice. The Red Hots were gone, as was the dark chocolate. The French oak became more prominent on the finish, but the apple and pear sweetened. I wouldn't recommend dropping the proof. Things were not complex; they were confusing.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you’re into sweeter Bourbons, then Blood Oath Pact 8 is one you should frankly avoid because you’re not going to find anything here that caters to your palate. However, if you appreciate spicy, high-rye Bourbons, Pact 8 may be your Holy Grail. Thankfully, I am happy with either direction. A bonus is that you’ll nurse this year’s release, making that $119.99 investment last longer than usual. In the 2022 Bourbon world, I am not turned off by the higher price. At $99.99, it would have been an absolute steal. At MSRP, I believe you’ll walk away happy, and for that, Pact 8 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 enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Pendleton "Original" Blended Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


Pendleton “Original” is a whisky bottled by Hood River Distillers in Oregon. It uses glacial water from the Mt. Hood National Forest. It is named to “celebrate the spirit of the American cowboy and cowgirl.” However, it is a Canadian blended whisky distilled from the “finest ingredients” and aged in American oak. It carries no age statement.

 

Pendleton isn’t overly difficult to find, and it certainly is affordable. A 750ml, 40% ABV (80°) package runs about $22.00.

 

In full disclosure, I’m unimpressed with the mainstream Canadian whiskies I’ve tried so far—all of them. But, I keep trying others as I stumble across them in hopes of finding something that is beyond a mediocre mixer. I also work to clear my mind as best as possible and approach each one as I do with any other whisky – no expectations. That’s the #DrinkCurious lifestyle.

 

Let’s get to this review, shall we?

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, I allowed this to breathe for about 20 minutes. It presented as dull gold and made a fragile rim that led to weak legs.

 

Nose: As I brought the glass to my face, the aroma reminded me of Corn Chex cereal. Also found was a hint of cinnamon before what smelled like industrial floor cleaner took away the others. When I took the air into my mouth, it was like acetone.

 

Palate: There are many instances where a lovely palate offsets a poor nosing experience. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. I picked up caramel and then what tasted exactly like vanilla-flavored vodka. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t offensive like the nose.

 

Finish:  Have you ever been dusting your furniture and accidentally taking a cloud of lemon Pledge in your mouth? That’s what I think I was tasting. Chemical qualities remained, which I initially thought was clove, but any semblance of it quickly vaporized. And unfortunately, it stuck around.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Must I say it? Bust. End of story.

 

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, April 13, 2022

The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 Single Malt Scotch Reviews


It isn’t often that I get to sip older Scotch whiskies. When I do, it is usually due to the generosity of friends who, like all good whisky ambassadors, believe that whisky is meant for sharing, and they make that happen.

 

Once a year, The GlenDronach rolls out a batch of its Scotches referred to as The Cask Bottlings. These aren’t your average Highland whiskies; instead, these tend to fall into the ancient category. They’re all single malts, naturally colored and non-chill filtered, and the distillery is renowned for its use of high-quality Spanish sherry casks in the aging process. The 2022 release is referred to as Batch 19.

 

“The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 offers an insight into our sherry cask maturation history and the exceptional quality of the casks we have at The GlenDronach. I have personally chosen these casks to celebrate and share the very best of the distillery’s character. Each represents the rich selection of barrels, Hogsheads, Puncheons and Butts that have been used throughout The GlenDronach’s history. This release reflects our enduring commitment to crafting the most exceptional, richly sherried Single Malts representative of The GlenDronach’s rare dedication to its craft, embodied in every expression.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

 

Batch 19 consists of three different casks:  Cask 5080 (1994), Cask 6052 (1992), and Cask 217 (1992). 

 

I want to thank The GlenDronach for providing me samples of the three in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

 



First up is Cask 5080. Aged 27 years, this single malt Scotch rested in a former Oloroso sherry puncheon. It yielded 667 bottles packaged at 54.3% ABV (108.6°). While you’ll find this on some store shelves in AZ, CO, DE, DC, IL, FL, MD, MN, MD, NV, and SC, you should expect to spend at least $600.00.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 5080 looked like burnt umber. A medium-thick rim formed long, wide legs.

 

Nose: A fruity aroma of fig, raisin, date, cranberry, and vanilla cream started the journey. It was joined by toasted walnut, and when I drew the vapor into my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla caressed my tongue.

 

Palate: The silky texture featured fig, black cherry, and caramel on the front of my palate, while sweet pipe tobacco, orange zest, and cherry cola were on the middle. The back offered old oak, clove, and dark chocolate.

 

Finish:  Pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, fig, clove, and dry oak remained for a long, lingering finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask 5080 is, in a word, stunning. The nose was enticing, the mouthfeel rich, and the combination of flavors complimented one another as if they were designed to do so. I can’t help but give it a Bottle rating.



Adding another year, the next Scotch is Cask 6052. I’m assuming it aged a few months shy of 28 years in a former Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon. There are 658 bottles available at 50.8% ABV (101.6°), and the suggested retail is $720.00.  Availability is limited to CA, ID, IN, KY, LA, NM, NC, ND, NE, MT, OH, OK, OR, TX, UT, WA, and WY.

 

Appearance: A deep, caramel color filled my Glencairn glass. It took an effort to create an ultra-thin rim. It generated sticky legs that crawled back to the pool of whisky.

 

Nose: I found cherry, plum, fig, strawberry, and red grape entwined with dark chocolate and oak. English toffee rolled across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.

 

Palate: A medium-weight, silky mouthfeel released flavors of sweet vanilla, orange, and apricot on the front of my palate. Espresso and tobacco leaf fell on the middle, while dark chocolate, oak, and a kiss of caramel were on the back.

 

Finish: French oak, dark chocolate, and espresso remained for a long, steady finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While the nose was fruity, the palate was far less so. The spice notes dominated. I frankly didn’t expect that from a PX cask – the sweeter notes were anticipated. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t enjoy Cask 6052; I was merely caught off-guard. Age allowed the spiciness to be mellow, keeping it from becoming a punch. I can see this whisky being particularly attractive to fans of mature American rye whiskeys (and I fall into that category). A Bottle rating is warranted.  




The final whisky is the oldest: Cask 217. It spent a whopping 29 years in an Oloroso sherry butt. Only 383 bottles were filled, and as you can imagine, its distribution is much smaller. GA, MA, NY, and NJ were the handful that can sell it for the suggested $820.00 price. You’re getting 55.4% ABV (110.8°) for that investment.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 217 looked like maple syrup. Not the artificial stuff you buy at the grocery store, but real syrup from places like Vermont. The thick rim made husky legs.

 

Nose:  A bouquet of plum, raisin, leather, and fudge tickled my olfactory sense. Plum plowed through as I pulled the air into my mouth.

 

Palate: Whereas the previous two whiskies had silky textures, Cask 217 was oily. The uncomplicated palate started with dark chocolate and nutmeg on the front. The middle featured rum raisin and black cherry. The back was an interesting blend of leather, oak, and fresh ginger.

 

Finish:  Remember the fudge from the nose? That came out from nowhere like an angry bull let loose for San Fermin. There were oak tannins, nutmeg, old leather, and cherry mixed with that fudge.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate how simple the palate of this Scotch was. That finish was mind-blowing. I happily convey a Bottle rating for the finish alone.

 

Final Thoughts:  For the three whiskies of Batch 19, my recommendations purposefully ignored price. Why? Because I don’t purchase whiskies in this price range. That doesn’t mean you (or someone you know) don’t. Experiencing something the caliber of Batch 19 is a rare opportunity, and the only thing I took into account were the aromas, flavors, and finish.

 

Of the three, my favorite pour was Cask 5080, which happened to be the youngest. The second was the elderly Cask 217, and the third was, of course, Cask 6052. 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.