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...
Bowmore Darkest 15 Year
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed April 12, 2020 (edited March 25, 2021)Another delayed review that’s been sitting in my draft folder for a while. Since we’re all social-distancing and self-quarantining [no thanks to COVID-19], what better time to revisit and “dust off” some of my drafts for the Distiller community. THE BACKDROP: Late August 2019 at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa for a conference. Initially planned to extend my stay to max out a company-funded trip. My gf was flying in to meet up and explore Miami with me. All was good with the world. THEN...hurricane Dorian decided to crash the party. The ever-changing forecast at the time was that Dorian will hit Miami in 2 days. People were scrambling for the airports or to get out of town quicker than you could say prestidigitation (whatever the fuck that means). To stay or not to stay? That is…was, the question. So, there I am on a windy Miami night, with a group of “brave” guys...& girls, trying to decide whether to call it and head home next day before the storm hits, while simultaneously trying to squeeze out some fun in anticipation of hurricane to come. It was clearly a time to try some good whiskey to calm the nerves. Enter Bowmore 15Yr The Darkest & JW Blue label (review coming soon). Not particularly super upper echelon drams but since I hadn’t tried neither before, they would do the trick (or so I hoped). The price per pour at the resort was ridiculous enough that I’m choosing not to remember it and not get upset. Sucks to be part of a captive audience with limited choices. Nonetheless, I’ll just say hurricane Dorian was NOT the only thing robbing us of our good spirits that evening (no pun intended). But...since it’s considered company “perks” [Read: Not coming out of my pocket], I’m not complaining too much...nuff said. Moving on. NOSE: The nose is alluring. An aromatic orchestra of fruit, smoke and chocolaty caramel. I get cherries, buttered caramel and light sweet smoke, all playing their parts so well together. A little touch of brine at the tail end but not in your face aggressive like Talisker or Springbank. PALATE: Taste doesn’t disappoint, mimicking the nose closely. Juicy fruit dipped in smoked liqueur. The smoke gently wafts in and out as if to tell you it’s also invited to party but wants to remain a stranger. FINISH: Long and a bit dry. Smoke stays with you, cascading down your throat in a warming embrace. CONCLUSH: Overall, a decently balanced and integrated dram, nose to tail (not another pun). I enjoyed this one. Solid 3.5 - 3.75 ⭐️. Try, own or pass? Definitely try! I personally won’t be adding this to my collection because there are other similar styles with better VFM out there…AND...my whiskey-collection sieve is getting more and more selective as the world spins. Pass only if you don’t like the good things in life. Cheers my friends!
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel
Blended — JapanReviewed March 25, 2020 (edited March 20, 2021)Heads-up this review is a few months behind. I drafted it a while back but it wasn’t ready for posting. Finally got through the spell checks, syntax, etc. Here goes… My first real Japanese dram. Wasn’t sure what to expect but it wasn’t this. If I tried this on a blind taste, I would have guessed a Scottish Speysider – floral, fruity and enveloped by sherry (READ: sherry-forward). Nonetheless, let’s dig in: CONTEXT: Paris CDG airport with two of my best buds, waiting to board a flight to Madrid (second stop on a three-city short euro-trip). Our first boys trip together LA --> Paris --> Madrid --> Barcelona --> Paris --> LA. As always, ever since I started my whiskey-collection journey, I always check out the international duty-free. So here I am at Charles De Gaulle airport, on the euro side, and of course had to drop in on the local duty-free. VERY slim pickings at the CDG “domestic side” duty-free but I did see the Nikka from the Barrel (NftB) on the shelf for $34 Euros. Started to think it might be a good idea to pick up a bottle for night caps with my buds during our trip (keep in mind I already own 3 unopened bottles of NftB in my collection) …but like I said, slim pickings. It was either this, or 1-liter bottles of Glenlivet, and Monkey Shoulder. Apologies in advance from my stereotype-laced judgment but any scotch that’s bottled in 1-liter containers is an automatic No-Go for me! (OK, maybe a couple of exceptions.) My logic – if it was that good, they wouldn’t be [essentially] “giving it away”. But I’m happy to stand corrected. Throw out names of really high quality, 1-liter dufry bottles, and I’ll take it all back. I do have my mind set on picking up the 1-liter bottle of Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition next time I swing through Heathrow. But I digress. I think I got played (or it felt like it) by the salesperson at the duty-free counter. She apparently had to add back the VAT because I was travelling to another EU country, so our flight was considered a domestic flight. So no duty free! Urgh…grrrrggh. I call BS! So final price was in the neighborhood of $42 euros, which I think was over $50 bucks after conversion at the time! For a 500ml no less. Too late to pull back now…I already got my boys’ hopes up. On to the tasting! So first night cap in Madrid, second night cap in Paris (skipped a night cap in Barcelona) …all worth it NOSE: Incredible nose…almost bourbon-like! I could nose this indefinitely if time were limitless, and/or I didn’t have other drams to check out. Almost a perfect, albeit, subtle balance of caramel, vanilla and sweet sherry rancio, with a hint of smoke coming in last minute to the party. It’s was as if caramel, vanilla and sherry were heading to an olfactory party and last minute decided to make quick detour to a friend’s and ended up bringing a +1 to the soiree. PALATE: Strong sherry influence. Not yet well-versed on my sherries but I dare guess it’s Oloroso. Vanilla & caramel continue through on to the front & mid-palate from the nose. Some light smoke makes an appearance late but almost apologetically...like it sneaked in through the back door. Simply put, this is a well-balanced dram. Overall, it drank so much more like a sherried scotch. I felt I was missing the “Japanese essence”, although to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what that means or what to expect from a Japanese whiskey. I have not sampled a lot of them, so my Japanese taste library is relatively scant. Still, a pretty decent dram indeed. FINISH: Sherry and caramel continue through a relatively short finish. The smoke disappears almost as soon as it appears as if to remind you that it wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. Light coating on the tongue lingers but can’t quite figure out what the after taste is. Kinda leaves you wanting more but I can’t quite decide whether it’s in a good or bad way. FINAL VERDICT: Solid 3.75 - 4 (I could potentially change after I spend more time with this bottle…OR…sample more Japanese whiskies). This one is a bit of an enigma. Noses like a bourbon, drinks a like a Speyside single malt. The die is cast…and the bar has been auspiciously set, my friends. Try, own or pass? I say definitely try! Own…if you can find a bottle at retail.42.0 EUR per Bottle
Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength
Peated Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandReviewed March 20, 2020 (edited March 27, 2020)Context: First tasted on whiskeys of Scotland tasting with a group of co-workers, who I’m also trying to recruit to my soon-to-be formed LA whiskey club. Had high expectations for this pour based on Springbank brand name and reviews. Not sure if it was because it was the 9th pour of the night but initial impressions wasn’t “wow”. In fact, several in the group thought it was one of their least favorite (which proves that whiskey reviews are totally subjective and that “different strokes for different folks” rules the day). They really gave me hard time for talking up this whiskey as one of the most highly rated of the bunch. To be fair, majority in the group are relative novices to the whisky world. So I figured I need to spend a little more time with this bottle to make sure I do it justice. This review is from my follow-up tastes. Let’s dive in shall we: Nose: (after you let the alcohol drift off about 30 minutes in glass). There’s a splash of maritime sea salt. Coming right behind is a hint of smoke with not much of peat (in the Islay sense). There’s a punch of zesty brine...like an orange peel & chlorine dry-humped each other wearing ammonia garments. I also get a tiny, tiny dose of milk chocolate. Well-balanced nose with all aromas playing in concert Palate: Forceful, heavy hit on the tastebuds. Same Intense flavors from the nose reinforced more boldly. A very putrid sulphuric note dominates the palate. You have to wait patiently for the malt to come through. I don’t pick up much smoke on the palate but there’s some spice bite in there somewhere. Finish: Medium to long. The spiciness continues with the citrusy brine at the tail end. Ending with warming feeling down the throat. NWW (Nose w water): creamy caramel & vanilla. Less brine/maritme which comes across more faint & subtle. A bit more sulfuric undertones. Ever heard of sweet sulfur? This might be it! Overall solid pour...not for the faint of heart. I would even go as far as saying the flavors are an acquired taste. Was one of the least favorite for the group in our tasting night. I bestow upon this here Campbeltown juice a 3.25⭐️ because it’s not one I would readily go back to as a daily sipper . Also the VFM (@ over $100/bottle) came up just a little short for me. In conclusion, I would say that I have a strong suspicion that this juice will open up with time and good ol oxidation. So stay tuned for an updated tasting.
Glenlivet Founder's Reserve
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandReviewed January 25, 2020 (edited July 17, 2020)This tasting belongs in my palate-building series so without much ado here we go: Nose: Medicinal alcohol. Floral. Citrus. Muted smoke Palate: Enters with a dash of everyday “standard malt” showcasing orange peel / orange zest. Rolls over smooth...probably due to the low a$$ abv. I can tell it’s a young juice. Uncomplicated (aka not complex). In a blind taste I would have guessed bottom shelf, entry level scotch whiskey. Would probably be great for a mixer. Finish: Short - medium. Some sprinkle of tingly spice at the end like toasted peppercorns. Doesn’t leave a whole lot to be desired but neither does it have whole to lot to complain about. May be described as a “do no harm” whiskey. WrapUp: Bought for a great price (sub $30) @ Costco as part of my palate-training batch. If one was looking to dabble in scotch whiskey with an established Speysider, this would be a no-brainer for the price-2-value. Hits all the usual Spey malt notes with no drama for your mama. Would not be seeking another bottle or asking for another taste once bottle is gone. Debating whether the last ounce will end up in my infinity bottle like the rest of my killed bottles. Can’t say it made a strong case. Upon this Speysider I say, 2⭐️
Russell's Reserve 10 Year Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed January 25, 2020 (edited August 14, 2020)Context: First drink back after a month-long dry stint of not consuming a single drop of alchohol [long story]. Not sure if I was getting back on the horse or off it. Either way, glad that social experiment is over...for now. I promised myself I would drop more detailed reviews moving forward having considered my previous reviews to be in the “palate-building” phase of my whiskey journey. Thus, I tasted a bunch of “entry-level & bottom-shelf” stuff with exception of a couple not-so-entry-Level” [read LagaV DE & Laph 10] on my way to expanding my palate. So feel free to take those reviews with the proverbial “grain” of salt (no whiskey pun intended). For those reviews, I focused purely on what I liked and what stood out the most, without detailed tasting notes. Henceforth however, with my palate “foundation” squarely established, I venture into the more nuanced arena of detailed reviews, albeit with an “Anthology” twist. My mum (& high school teacher) always said that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. So...here goes: First Nose : Toasted cereal, right up front. I haven’t checked the mash bill on this but if I was a betting man, I would put chips on a very high corn bill, at least 75% More Nose: Faint vanilla extract, severely burnt caramel and dark-roasted peanuts. Slight alcohol burn, which is surprising given the relatively lower proof (Read: NOT cask strength) Front Palate: Follows closely with the nose...more cereal, very much grain-driven. Mid Palate: Classic bourbon notes of vanilla with some burnt caramel following but so muted and almost unnoticeable that I wonder if I’m imagining it out of anticipation. The grain is very prominent! I also picked up charred peanuts. Finishes with a slight bitter aftertaste (with ice) All in, solid bourbon but was expecting more for the age. It’s possible Eagle Rare 10 may have set the bar a bit high for entry-to-mid level 10yr old bourbons. Since this is not as good as the ER10 (IMHO), which I scored a 4⭐️, I bestow upon this here bourbon, a 3.25⭐️. For some reason, I have a nagging feeling that this will grow on me and get up to a 3.5 / 3.75 by the time it’s all said and done. Maybe it’s because I have a few WT products yet to be explored. Need to keep hope alive and room for improvement. That said, I stand by my initial rating. Time will tell. Check back at the half bottle mark.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (Fall 2014)
Rye — Kentucky, USAReviewed February 21, 2019Dope! Nuff said36.0 USD per PourRedbird
Pike Creek 10 Year Rum Barrel Finish
Canadian — Ontario, CanadaReviewed February 21, 2019 (edited September 22, 2020)Maybe this was a victim of unrealistic high expectations from reviews but I came away disappointed... which is rare for me when it comes to whiskey. The rum influence overtakes everything!!! [sad face]. Maybe some time in the future, some oxidation might do it some good but I’m not holding out much hope. Sucks I bought an extra bottle before I tried it [sadder face] Best case scenario for me at this point is using a tiny splash in my growing infinity bottle(s). UPDATE (2020): Bottle kill edition. Some oxidation did help in rounding out the cloying edges from the overwhelming rum influence, which made it a bit more drinkable. Also worked decently well in my DIY home blends. Still, it didn’t really change my overall score for this dram. Any possible improvements were so negligible as to register in my taste Richter scale to move the needle. Cheers!25.0 USD per BottleFine Wine & Good Spirits