Macallan 18 Year Sherry Oak Cask
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandReviewed August 28, 2020 (edited October 14, 2020)Dusting off another long overdue review that’s been sitting in my draft folder. You know me. I taste, I write down initial impressions. Then I ponder, and if other tasting opportunities presents itself, maybe some new hidden notes. Then I post. So some of my reviews tend to lag a bit behind the actual date of taste. That’s my process and I’m sticking to it...for now. Heads-up/spoiler alert...lazy imitation attempt at old Shakespearean english coming up! Backdrop: In ATL for a leadership conference. Wrapping up team dinner at a fine establishment (aka another opportunity to try some “pricey” drams on the company’s dime). I was looking for a “legitimate” night cap to close out a great night before heading back to the hotel. Oh ye Macallan 18, thou reputation dost precede thee...to no avail, in my book. Thou art been greatly lauded doth far by imbibers across the spectrum. Dost thy perceived greatness deserved...or fallacy? Tis thy chance to astound me. In case you were wondering, I was bit of an old English nerd in high school...possibly ONLY when it served my purpose. I’m partial on Shakespeare. Nonetheless, enough with the “contrived” Elizabethan english . Take this review for what it’s worth given it wasn’t in a controlled environment and was after tasting other alcoholic bevs that evening. To be fair (and if it makes you feel any better), I did take out my phone there and then to jot down my tasting notes. My colleagues probably thought I was crazy. So without much further ado, let’s indulge shall we. Nose (4) vanilla galore, low fat caramel, [reminiscent of bourbon notes], light sherry. Good, balanced nose. Didn’t pick up a lot of oak. Some sweetness. Pineapple?? Banana foster. Banana Candy? Can’t tell exactly but defintely some tropical fruits coming through. Palate (3.75): Follows the nose very closely. The sherry flavors are more pronounced here but not overwhelming. Good balance. Finish (3.75 ) - Medium. Sherry, vanilla. Ending with Star anise / bitterness/oak tannins. Not unpleasant. Overall (3.75 stars). To buy or not to buy? That is the question. I went in expecting at least a 4-star dram, and it came close. But alas, given subpar vfm + Macallan self-imposed atmospheric standards, it wasn’t not flawed (I know, double negative. Sue me). I guess what I’m trying to say is, for a well-aged Macallan at the $250+ price point, I expected near perfection. Maybe it was the environment, maybe my taste buds were off that day. Whatever it was, it didn’t quite live up to the expectation. Still a nice dram. Would NOT turn it down if offered but will not likely add to my collection...unless maybe as a gift (wink wink). Upon this dram I proclaim 3.5 - 3.75⭐️
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed August 21, 2020 (edited September 15, 2020)Tasted from two-of-two 50ml samples that came with my 10Yr old Ardbeg purchase. The other sample was the Corry. So naturally, I had to do a side-by-side. Here are my initial SbS taste “observations” Even though cask strength, this drank smoother than the Corry. Also had more fruit notes. Still very enjoyable but gave an ever so slight, minuscule edge to the Corry at the time. I have a bottle of both to spend time with. Who knows, maybe over time I’ll reverse myself. Again, initial sample observations. Will add more detailed tasting notes after cracking full bottles.
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed August 21, 2020 (edited August 26, 2020)Tasted from one-of-two 50ml samples that came with my 10Yr old Ardbeg purchase. The other sample was the Uggy. So naturally, I had to do a side-by-side. These were initial sample tasting notes. More like taste “observations”. I’ll add more detailed tasting notes after cracking main bottle. This one was a brute across the board - nose, palate and finish - all heightened experience. I kept going back and picking up more flavors - campfire smoke, cooked fruits and roasted vanilla. Drinking side-by-side with the Uggy, I enjoyed both immensely. If I had to choose [this go round], I gave a slight edge to the Corry. Realistically, it’s more like a 1A & 1B, where the ranking is pretty much an interchangeable coin toss, with not much fuss from me on either side. Cheers friends!
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed August 14, 2020 (edited September 15, 2020)I spent some quality time with this bourbon. Long and short of it is - If you’re looking for a life-altering, mind-bending [bourbon] experience, look elsewhere. This bourbon is not for you. If you’re looking for a reliable and tasty daily sipper, you’ve arrived at your destination! In a world of seemingly endless whiskey options, including craft iterations, both fostering bourbon traditions and pushing experimentation boundaries respectively, this is my “return to normal” bourbon. It placates my oak, caramel & vanilla cravings. Everyone should try an EC at some point in their bourbon whiskey journey. This one (and it’s SiB & CS/BP variants) have secured a permanent spot on my rotation. 3.25 - 3.5⭐️ Cheers friends!
Bunnahabhain 25 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed July 24, 2020 (edited December 5, 2020)Tried a couple pours at a dinner celebration at one of our partner’s home. This was pretty good. But for a 25Yr old Islay, averaging $600 - $800+, it didn’t quite hit the mark IMHO. It seems the age mellowed out much of the character. EVERY gustatory and olfactory sensation for this dram (smoke, peat, malt, fruits and other flavors), was extremely subtle. If there was ever a scenario where the typically positive refinement that comes with age was ambiguous, this would be it! I just remember thinking as I was savoring my pour, “is this it?” To be clear, my overall score heavily indexes on the vfm here. If this was a $150 - $200 bottle, this would prolly be a solid 4+. Nonetheless, it was somewhat too “smooth/delicate” to a point of diminishing returns. 3.75 - 4 ⭐️ Since I suspect some folks here will cry blasphemy, I’ll plan on coming back with more detailed notes and possibly a revised a score if I obtain a sample or somehow come in possession of a bottle.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed July 24, 2020 (edited August 29, 2020)I’ll say ONE thing about this bourbon. It has kept me company on many a business trip. It’s my “go to” bourbon on [very slim pickings] domestic flights drink menu... top-tier mileage status notwithstanding (one of the few decent perks of said status). It always gets the job done when I need a sipper in-flight. Ok, I guess I said THREE things about it. Ooops! To the taste (and it’s a quick, analogous one): Since we’re in an election year, I’ll go with a political analogy. If this were an amendment, I’ll say the eye, nose, palate and finish are all towing the grand ol classic bourbon party line - brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, vanilla, & spice. This does not stand out in a crowd. It does not wow. It does not offend or disappoint. It’s simply bourbon, made well. 2.25 - 2.5⭐️
Town Branch Rye
Rye — Kentucky, USAReviewed July 17, 2020 (edited March 17, 2021)Working Title: “Spice Me Up! We’ll Worry About the Taste Later.” Prologue: TGiF! Looong week...it’s performance review time amid Covid and financial pressures on company’s top & bottom lines. Second wave of layoffs possibly in the works. So you know, good times? Prediction: I’ll go over my self-imposed 2 pour max per wknd day, this weekend. This bottle has been open for a few months . Currently at the half-way mark. Let’s jump in. N: From afar, a combo of ethanol, rubbing alcohol and rye spice wafts through the air, fighting for dominance. Reminds me of the weird-smelling faux hand-sanitizers, which were a by-product of early Covid response from distilleries pitching in and redirecting their production towards hand sanis. (Btw, If you haven’t experienced this yet, try smelling one of the off-brand hand sanitizers at your local grocery chain). As I nose closer to the glass, I get a bit of paint varnish, sweet vanillirye (yeah I made that up)...like what a genetically engineered hybrid of vanilla bean + rye grain would smell like. I also get some unfinished butter caramel. Kinda reminds me of first trial batch of DIY home-made caramel thrown together by an amateur home cook. Don’t ask me how I know. A little bit of water softens the alcohol hit and more of the vanilla peeks through. P: The warm spice hits you HARD upfront. Coats entire palate. Let me hear you say spice bomb! There’s some vanilla and bitter chocolate breaking through in the middle but still plays second fiddle to the hash rye spice, which I can only attribute to youthfulness. This one needs a little bit of time in the glass, and some H20 to open up. Adding a dash of agua and letting it sit, turns into a creamy vanilla mouthfeel. Now the spiciness complements the “not-quite-there” butter caramel, instead of fighting it. F: Long and spicy. Some bitter lemon notes. Nail varnish vapor still lingers. Epilogue: This one will probably make a killer old-fashioned. What it won’t make, is my permanent rotation, after bottle kill. A splash might end up in my infinity bottle for some spice kick, if it starts to trend towards sweet. Try, own, or pass? I will always try most things once but if I had a time machine, semi-hard pass on picking up the bottle.
Buck 8 Year
Bourbon — Kentucky (bottled in California), USAReviewed July 17, 2020 (edited November 15, 2020)Decent pour that checks all the boxes for classic bourbon notes (color, aroma and taste). No more. No less. Keep it moving folks...nothing to see here.
Baker's Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed July 7, 2020 (edited November 9, 2020)No tantalizing backdrop to this review. Just plain ol social-distancing “make a dent” pour in my entry to semi-mid level bourbon stash. Let’s get into it, shall we: N: The nose comes in very sweet upon first whiff. I get hard toffee candy and vanilla bean ice cream as the top notes. Checks all the classic bourbon fragrances. P: Sweet Corn cereal dominates the palate upon entry. An infusion of crushed corn kernels permeates the tongue and through the nostrils as you “chew” on the juice. It’s followed by vanilla wafers and thick maple brown sugar, which starts to turn bitter at the end. F: Finishes long with a tingly spice on the sides of the tongue and some burnt sugar bitterness, that is not necessarily unpleasant. Overall/Conclush: Solid bourbon. Nothing extraordinary. 3.25 - 3.5 ⭐️ This could come back into my rotation after I get through the “B” section of my collection, which at my current addition-to-subtraction ratio/rate, will be in another lifetime. Another way of saying that it does not warrant a glitch in the matrix of my linear whiskey trajectory. I guess that says it all. Cheers friends!
Compass Box Rogues' Banquet
Blended — Miltonduff, Glen Elgin, Clynelish, and North British, ScotlandReviewed June 29, 2020 (edited October 11, 2022)Review coming soon but wanted to share this as I suspect curious minds would want to know. Recently picked up a bottle CBRB and was curious about the ages of the whiskeys making up this blend. So I wrote CB to get age breakdown info for component parts and here’s what they came back with: 1: Miltondoff (Rechar Bourbon Hogshead - 25Yr, 68.7%) 2: Clynelish (Rechar Bourbon Hogshead - 25Yr; 3.5%) 3: North British (First Fill Bourbon Barrels; 25Yr; 25.6%) 4: Glen Elgin (Recharred Bourbon Barrel; 19Yr; 2.2%) Gotta say kudos & hats-off to Compass Box for the transparency! We (consumers & collectors alike) mos def need more of that in this space. With skyrocketing prices and no justification prevalent with a lot of OBs and IBs, it’s refreshing to see some accountability, [albeit] with climbing prices for recent CB products. C’est la vie...