Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year
Peated Blended Malt — ScotlandTasted February 1, 2021Lingering just under the thick smokiness there is something like a rich marmalade, along with a warm honey-meade, perhaps there is a non-Blue Label Johnnie worth taking a look through. The nose is bright, full and sweet. I always feel out of place doing these Scotch reviews, as someone who spends 99% of my time sampling Bourbon, American whiskey and Rye, for me Scotch is like feeling my way along in the dark of a house I've never been in before. The full malt-barley flavor was never my thing and I always remember the really awful malt alcohol wine coolers that came into being when I was a kid. So take full warning, this is a bourbon drinkers opinion and nothing more! The smoke and iodine subside a bit after a heavy coating of the tongue, and amazing flavors emerge, some really nice tea and honey nut cereal sweetness, along with the mentioned orange notes. I like the non-Islay factors a good deal, it's just wading through the smokey salty brine to get there that doesn't tempt me much. There is a little dryness on the end with just some lemon zest that I actually find really nice, it kind of reminds me of a party that happens in your mouth but then cleans up after itself. I can safely say this is easily the most complex Johnnie you will find, far more bold of character than the Blue Label that excels at being smoother than butter on a silk plate. And far more interesting than the myriad of Blacks and Golds the brand throws at you, you can accuse Green Label of many things, but being boring isn't one of them. While I won't be giving up on my Booker's anytime soon, I can see pushing the Blue over and making a second spot for a Green JW on my bar. Cheers!
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted January 31, 2021"Slow aged in oak barrels." Is that better than "fast" aged? I really can't say. At least it's not solera, or maybe that would be a good thing? For some reason the world needed another mid-lowish level Barton product. What that reason is probably only Sazarac knows. One thing I can say is this will beat out Tenn High or Kentucky Gentlemen, but maybe not by that much. Very Old Bartons? ehhh probably. The sweet oak nose is very promising, like a real old bourbon made the right way. Through the middle the body is a bit sweet and rough at the same time, both oaky but not as mellow as well aged oak from say Woodford. The promise of the nose just doesn't quite add up. It's almost like a dry oaky whiskey that was somehow sweetened with corn syrup. A lot of the right components are there but like a Frankenstien project it just doesn't seem to have ended up right. At just over 20 I would say you aren't getting ripped off, but at that price you can usually find Larceny which would also edge this Barton product out. Not a bad try though, would be a great bar pour for a bowling alley bar, beware of 5 star hotels proudly displaying this on the premium shelf. cheers!
Noble Oak Double Oak Rye
Rye — USATasted January 10, 2021Product of USA is clearly marked, well it's distilled in INDIANA so yea, no false advertising so far. Noble Oak is reputedly double finished in a second port stave loaded cask, after a period in standard new charred American white oak. What this adds up to is some nice work done on some fairly average MGP rye. As most of you already know, MGP can produce some good stuff from time to time, this really feels like a little more of the middling stuff less cut and extra finished of course. The nose betrays the port red sugars and if any youngish or green characteristics exist, they are well hidden. I'm not gonna come right out and say this is a lot like Basil Haydens Dark Rye but it really is, so I guess I just did. That's actually a good thing in my book, as I'm a fan of the BH wine treated rye. There are just a bit of other nice sugar notes to go with the port, namely some brown sugarish candy, it almost does remind somewhat of "bit o honey". The finish is nice out the door style of just a little dill-rye spice burn, and nothing else, which seems "good enough". If this bottle comes in at around half the price of Basil Hayden Dark, which is admittedly better, it still has something to offer at a nice price. Largely a recommend depending on your penchant for finished rye's and your budget. Cheers!
Glenfiddich 12 Year
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTasted December 29, 2020The classics, 'fiddich and 'livet, these two 12 year old Glens stare each other down in many a liquor store, priced oh so similar and of the same vintage, but which is better? Or is there even an answer to that. No doubt you could google up a boat load of websites that claim to answer this question, just as no doubt there are as many varied answers. Like maybe "it's a 12 year Scotch, drink it and don't worry about it". Both have a nice warm sweet honey meade nose, with just a touch of some fruit sweetness and spices. What I get from the 'fiddich is a bit more of malty tea note and that rings in as just a bit harsher for me, the 'livet in it's present "double oak" guise seems a bit smoother on the back side. However the two are similar to the extent I could easily believe many would see it exactly the opposite. They share the fruit sugars, malt cereal and honey making it a really close call. On further study I would say while the 'livet might seem a bit smoother through to the back end, the tea note of the 'fiddich adds a bit more variation. This may be the classic "Ginger or Mary Ann" dilemma, or "Marilyn or Jane" even. The only real answer is to try them both yourself and see which if either really does it for you. The good news is you are going to wind up with two perfectly drinkable bottles of Scotch! Cheers!
Tequila El Mayor Reposado
Tequila Reposado — Jalisco, MexicoTasted December 13, 2020Another mid to upper 20 dollar Jalisco Reposado imported for Luxco, el Mayor could be as close to a "does everything" Repo tequila as any. The nose is exceptionally smooth and sweet but also doesn't offer up much beyond the fragrant agave bouquet,, some hints of spicyness and just a very feint smoke but really nothing complex at all. Front taste is spicy, a bit of citrus fruit even some dry apple/pear, quickly gives way to some hot black pepper notes, the sweetness is understated and again nothing like a heavy or intense smoke feeling on this one. It all fades quickly with a bit of a bitter cinnamon kick at the end along with the feint smoke. Over all I really like the notes it brings and the fact it's on the dryer side doesn't seem to hurt it at all. A tequila that would work well in mixed drinks or as shooters and sippers, I can see a lot of versatility for this one, a real do it all tequila that won't break the bank. Doesn't hurt that it comes in an attractive classical style corked bottle. Cheers!28.0 USD per Bottle
Old Fourth Distillery Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon
Bourbon — Indiana (aged in Georgia), USATasted December 6, 2020Barrel 38 for the 2020 release Sample: Rested open bottle below neck pour. (double) Nose: Rich brown sugar is the opener, a bit of candy oranges and corn, very burn and ethanol free for 100 proof. Really nothing but the sweet notes and just a hint of tell tale vanilin making it a very rum like nose. It's no surprise at all the front is loaded with the brown sugar, very strong, the vanilla crosses over to the ethanol and certainly a noticeable burn nothing bad nothing harsh again absolutely nothing you wouldnt fully expect at 100 proof in the way of heat. That heat tails into a nice red hots cinnamon finish, fairly pleasant. The trailer also includes a hint of leather and old spice and wood nibs, just enough to remind you this is indeed a mid aged not a well aged product. It would be interesting to see what a 2nd finish adding an additional 2 -4 years of age would bring, I can imagine that being a really special dram. The bottle is certainly a gaudy work of art, not bad looking at all but a bit too "art deco" for my own personal taste, this clearly has nothing to do with the contents and would only really matter for collectors. I like what Old Fourth has done with the barrels they procured from MGP and as Swahillie reminded me not a lot of startups bother to take the time and care to go full Bottle and Bond on their maiden outing. It's easy to see why some folks from Georgia might over value this but all the same it's a nice bottle that isn't terribly unaffordable and useful for a number of occasions,
Tequila Reposado — Jalisco, Mexico, MexicoTasted December 6, 2020Has a very sweet and mild nose, floral and just hints of sour, nothing bad but not at all smokey, lacking in anything special, Bitter astringency in the front, the sweetness goes south fast, it's peppered in the middle and minted in the finish with some tangy citrus, with a notable lack of any real distinct agave tastes. The agave sugars are really thin although some sweetness peeks through the rough astringency, A little more bite and character than 1800 but only a little and not delivering some of the more interesting reposado characteristics this isn't going to win any awards. Really about average depending on what you tolerate in a grungy and unrefined tequila.
Don Julio Reposado Tequila
Tequila Reposado — Los Altos, Jalisco, MexicoTasted December 4, 2020On the 3rd day of Tequila my liquor store provided me... ok I wanted to make a comparison of the surprising Herradura Reposado with an industry standard, which Don Julio really is. Both Jalisco agave distillers, both rested in american oak, here's where the two paths begin to part. Unlike the clay oven roasted hearts of Herradura the Don Julio is steam boiled and second distilled (pot) and one of the first things I notice is a milder plant-vegetal presence in the Don Julio, the beautiful smokey nose holds up and the agave sugars are less pronounced, not as sweet as the Herradura but certainly sweet enough, more balanced? Very possibly. In the taste I get a better "pepper" presence almost bordering on a feint jalapeno, the final note is a minty and warm sweet sensation. The Blanco DJulio is certainly a smooth and yes I hate that overworked term as much as anyone but it is just a really easy drinking tequila. The Reposado follows suite as a treat to the palate, just with more character and better body of notes to enjoy. Don Julio has been working the craft apparently since 1942, and notes itself as one of the first tequila distilleries to own it's own agave cultivating process. For shear weight of unusual boldness of character I give the advantage to the Herradura by a nose, but if you just want a well crafted and still tasty tequila with a good flavor profile that won't make waves, Don Julio easily gets the job done.
Herradura Reposado Tequila
Tequila Reposado — Tequila Valley, Jalisco, MexicoTasted December 3, 2020My last(first) tequila review was enough fun to make me want "More Please Suh", so here goes nothing. Nose: WOW... smokey, sweet, spicy, flavor packed nose, this really makes me regret not trying Herradura long ago.. scotch drinkers take note, exciting stuff smells like it lives here.. but will the taste live up to the promise? Starts slow and fades in to strong agave tinged burn the sweetness and smoke on the nose are apparent, it burns a little longer than I would like but nothing terrible, and the final notes are a bit of acrid baked sprout plant along with the roasted sugar quality that is wholly unlike bourbon sugars. Mild black pepper spices but nothing too rich. Likable enough, and while the body doesn't quite offer up the same level of character and excitement as the nose, it's really not that far off. It would be fair to say the "smoke" is more of a scotch like than some American mesquite style, not what I would expect but still pleasant. For a relatively low priced tequila this is certainly a bottle good enough to drink or mix, but I wouldn't want to throw a bunch of margarita lime in it and ruin the character, it stands up well enough to be enjoyable. Cheers!
Grand Mayan Tequila Silver
Tequila Blanco — Mexico , MexicoTasted November 29, 2020So its holiday season and interesting bottles make nice gifts. The Grand Mayan assortment certainly qualifies for the bottles as they are some of the nicest looking glazed and unglazed ceramics you will see in a liquor store. It's certainly priced as a near to high end tequila but is it really a top notcher? The sugars are a bit light on the nose, this isn't overly sweet tequila, however it does have a nice purity about it, nothing in the sour range, like a rested Don Julio, its clearly unaged and also very clean. What sugars are present come in with some slight mint and also some tropical fruit sugar aspects. There are some tart and also hot cinnmon flavors throughout the middle and ending, it finishes with some real character and doesn't just wash out like number of cheap white tequilas. Nor does it have any off putting chemical notes, definitely a bit of crafting going on to make this a better than average and interesting taste for a blanco tequila. While I prefer a rested or sometimes a well aged tequila I'm gonna say this is worthy of the price point, given it falls in the 70-90 range. The reposado bottle is a nice deep blue and gold noted glaze, either way these are nice enough to both drink and keep as art work.79.0 USD per Bottle