Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof
Tennessee — Tennessee, USATastedBananas Foster slightly overcooked on a charcoal grill. Detailed review to follow. Probably.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask Edition
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedI've had this bottle open for 4 months, and finally decided to finish it and write the review. It's not that I dislike it and don't want to tarnish my oft-stated love of Laphroaig. It's not that I love it and was waiting until I'd built a vocabulary adequate for expressing such greatness. In truth, it's because I didn't really know what to think of it, nor how to express what I was tasting. The nose is so hot that I get alcohol and smoke, and nothing else. No amount of time changes this, and it doesn't evolve for me in any direction. The palate also opens hot, but the gritty dryness goes really well with the overwhelming peat smoke, as if you're literally chewing charcoal (or eating the incredibly over burned skin of a natural-casing hotdog that you left in the fire for way too long). it's enjoyable to me, but it's also very one-note, which is very un-Laphroaig. After many small sips, and much concentration, I can get bits of iodine and seaweed, and the slightest hint of brine, before it closes out with more heat, grit and smoke. Water makes it slightly less aggressive, but doesn't really change the nose or palate. I don't hate on the NAS market because if a whisky tastes good, it doesn't matter how old it is. That being said, this isn't as good as it could (should?) be, and would have been better served with a few more years in the barrel. I'll take the standard 10 CS over this any day.90.0 USD per Bottle
Kilkerran 12 Year
Peated Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandTastedThis is obviously a Campbeltown product. The nose is brine and lemon and grass, with just a touch of smoke, as though from a fire doused the night before. Palate leads with lemons, then lemon oil, then a flash of wet hay and finally the smoke appears and carries it to the short, slightly sweet, clean finish. This is quite good, and something I would gladly drink on a regular basis. The only problem I have is that Springbank exists, and the 10 yr is cheaper and has many of the same flavors (in different proportion) plus a few more, while for only a few dollars more, the Springbank 12yr CS blows this out of the water. It's good, but I think Springbank does it better.
Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel Reserve
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedThis highlights the sometimes vast differences between store picks and the standard offering. The Total Wine in Charleston has had three different store picks of this, and they've been consistently very good. That consistent goodness prompted me to grab a bottle of the standard fare. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was taking an inattentive big sip right after the first pour. Fire! Boiling Water! Oak branch to the face! Tears! Burning in my nose! Ugh! My third mistake was thinking it would mellow with a little time. Nope! I've finally given up, and mixed this with a bit of Eagle Rare and water, and it's ok. Similar to Wild Turkey 101, but not as smooth or as sweet. There are a lot of better options at this price point, to include the aforementioned Wild Turkey 101. I won't be buying this again.
Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedI'm not going to waste a bunch of time on something this simple: Maker's 46 CS is to Maker's 46 what the 46 is to the regular Maker's Mark. I prefer it to the standard 46, but only barely as the oak is just a bit more than I prefer. Works fine with a small splash of cold water. I think the sweet spot here would be a 5-7 year, 50% ABV. Nice effort, and when I can find it for under $40, I'll grab it.
GlenDronach Original 12 Year
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedHow much are you supposed to drink before you start paying attention? Umm...err...anywhoooo Finally grabbed a bottle of this after reading all the mostly positive reviews, plus my palate tens to align pretty well with Stephanie's and her review sounded tasty. My opening sentence was only partly in jest; this is one of those drinks that to me is elusive and difficult to pin down. The first nose shows a lot of generic fruit and a slight mustiness. A few sips later and I can pull leather and dust, and the fruits now smell like mincemeat instead of an edible arrangement that's sat out too long. The taste behaves quite the same; initial strong honeysuckle and then a blast of raisins, but subsequent trips to the well reveal that same leather as on the nose, and the raisins combine with the dust to become their slightly drier, more bitter, cousin, currants. There's Christmas spices throughout, and the rich, creamy mouthfeel is a plus. I was surprised to find the finish is actually quite long, leaving that bit of leather and a touch of honey to linger for a solid minute. I should be clear; this is not my preferred style of Scotch. My first sip made me think I'd bought a creamy Macallan, and anyone who's read my reviews knows I'm not a fan of that particular distillery. On second (and third, fourth, and now fifth) visit, I'm starting to see more to this than that first impression. I'm still not 100% certain that sherry doesn't require peat, but this bottle is helping me to work through that dilemma.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 107 Proof American Whiskey
Blended American Whiskey — Indiana and Tennessee (Bottled in West Virginia), USATastedA friend read somewhere that this was supposed to be MGP stock, so when I saw a bottle on my way out of the store, I figured I'd give it a go. Nose is very light, mostly ethanol aromatics with just a whiff of sweet. Given a few minutes, soft caramel shows up, but there's really not much happening. Palate starts just like the nose finishes; mild alcohol bite and creamy soft caramel. Sadly, it never really goes anywhere else, with just a touch of drying spiciness before finishing cleanly. It's very inoffensive. Very mild. Very neutral. Very unremarkable.42.0 USD per Bottle
Green Spot Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still — IrelandTastedSaw this at a non-Alaska price for the first time and decided to give it another shot. I was hoping for a rich, creamy, interesting drink I could have while I cycled between Scotch, bourbons and rye. I guess 2 out of 3 isn't all bad. My original review from several years back still stands true today, with a few minor variations; It smells very light and floral on the nose, like honeysuckle on the vine, then meanders to vanilla. The mouthfeel is still very creamy, and the palate is still sadly one-note (sweet honey) and boring. No real finish to speak of. It's smooth, unobtrusive, inoffensive, and just pretty ok. I tried to like it more than I do, but this will be my last bottle. Maybe it's time to bring cognac and Armagnac back into my rotation...48.0 USD per Bottle
George T. Stagg Bourbon (Fall 2018)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedNo matter how much I could have hyped this in advance, I would have been unprepared for the experience. It smells like a tray of hot caramel cinnamon rolls; dry, yeasty, sweet, sugary, vanilla. The taste is all of that and so much more. It starts rich and sweet, led by brown sugar, caramel and vanilla, but then leads to a surprise snap of dill and mint (and rosemary?) Before turning just ever so slightly dry and woody. Finish is more mint and a bit of oak, leaving a very nice numbness on the cheek and gums for several minutes. Incredible. This is without question the best bourbon I've ever had.25.0 USD per Pour
Maker's Mark Cask Strength
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedBatch 18-02, at 55.45% ABV. The bottle has been open about 45 days, and is roughly 3/4 empty. This taste is from a glencairn, after resting for 20 minutes. The nose starts as expected, opening with vanilla and leading to a newly-cut field of hay containing a large stand of fresh honeysuckle, before throwing a curveball in the form of Play-Doh and a dash of grape bubblicious. Palate is sweeter than my previous bottle, and the mouthfeel is quite a bit heavier, bordering on creamy. It doesn't drink at 55%, displaying vanilla, creme-brulee, honey, and soft caramel. Think Werther's original in a liquid form. The cardamom finally makes an appearance mid-way through, and when the cinnamon arrives right afterward, it plays a supporting role to the much softer, less in-your-face, cast. There's also a very interesting thread reminiscent of English breakfast tea running throughout the whole sip, tying everything together before fading in the close. And the close is where we finally find a bit of astringency and wood; but it's far from objectionable, working well to balance the sweetness and spice with just enough dryness to make it not cloying. Finish is nice and clean, albeit slightly short, with the caramel lingering before the breakfast tea reappears to dry the mouth in preparation for the next sip. This was a night and day difference from my last bottle, and one that I'll probably buy again in the future.48.0 USD per Bottle