E.J. Curley Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon — USAReviewed April 10, 2022 (edited November 28, 2023)Neat. Second pour. New NDP brand, first time I saw this single barrel release at Party Source for around 72.99. Neck pour didn’t sit with me right but after drinking a few other things I decided it was my palate that was the issue and want to reset my opinion on this. Coming back to it today to see if I was the one that was off. (Spoiler - It was an off day for me clearly.) Nose is delightful. Peanut brittle, powdered sugar and elephant ears, with a medley of fruit. Some darker baking spices hiding behind everything the more you sit with it. Slight hint of clove. On the taste, texture is oily and coating. Initially dark on the tongue. Brown sugar, cinnamon and slight peanut skins. Hint of vanilla. Mid-palate lightens up a tad with a waves of vanilla and that medley of fruit - I’d go with a blackberry and raspberry combo. Finish is all sweet, sweet peanut brittle. The sweetness hangs on and escalates. Confectionery sweetness. Comes back for a second wave. Finish is the main event here. It’s so sweet. Solid single barrel. If I were to wager it’s 6+ year Heaven Hill. Reminds me a lot of the recent 7 year Barrell Single Barrels that have been dropping recently. The finish is the best part and sweetness is addicting. My instincts are to pour more after finishing this glass. Solid for a $72 purchase that isn’t a pick either.
Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Seagrass (2022 Release)
Canadian — (bottled in) Kentucky, CanadaReviewed January 29, 2022 (edited April 13, 2022)Neat. Sample. Intrigued by this release and blessed with whiskey friends who provide samples of unique and limited bottles like this. I am a big fan of the original Seagrass (I have batch 1 when it first came out). That rye was a blend though. It was a blend of KY, Indiana, Tennessee, and Canadian whiskey. This is 100% Canadian which is how it gets the 16 year age statement. So it’s not simply aged up Seagrass, it’s kind of it’s own thing with the same finishing. On the nose, the fact that this is 100% Canadian is apparent. Reminds me a lot of Alberta Premium. Very peppery. The oak is very nice, has more presence than I expected based on the color. It’s this very refreshing wood, like going on a walk in the woods on a nice spring morning. Peaches and cream come to mind, specifically the skin of the peach. The whip cream smell is delightful. Not as much depth from the finishing as the original Seagrass, but what is here is delightful. Probably my favorite Canadian Rye nose, over any Whistle Pig or Alberta Premium. On the taste, mouthfeel is pretty perfect. Oily, creamy, coats, fluffy on the tongue. Delightful texture. On the first sip I like this WAY more than I was expecting honestly. I was skeptical (and still am on the price) but it’s really delicious. The flavor hits the tongue immediately. I am getting so much from it just letting it sit and move on tongue. It’s sweet, it’s peppery. There is an effervescence to it like Sprite. I can feel the wine influence. The oak makes its presence known as well. On the swallow, it escalates and really brings an awesome flavor bomb. Really ramps up the vanilla whip cream and the peaches come roaring through on a wave of sweetness. Doesn’t even present itself as a Rye until the finish. The finish is all oak and rye and pepper. The sweet lingers but takes a back seat for the finale. I could see the finish being considered dry. This is where the 16 year comes at you and it feels like an Oaked Chardonnay. I enjoyed that immensely. I may try to get a bottle of it. I get why they called it Seagrass with the finishing but it really is it’s own thing. Comparing it to the Seagrass does it a disservice because Seagrass on its own is amazing value for what it provides at $80. This isn’t three times better than regular Seagrass and it doesn’t blow Seagrass away. But I think it’s one of the best high aged Ryes I have had. The finishing adds sweetness and flavor that balanced out that delicious oak (that would probably dominate and dry you out completely if not finished). I recommend not dismissing this release but approach it as its own thing and not in the shadow of the regular Seagrass.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (Fall 2021)
Rye — Kentucky, USAReviewed December 9, 2021 (edited June 24, 2022)Neat. Bar pour. This is the last BTAC I have not tasted after knocking Sazerac 18 and Eagle Rare 17 off the list the last couple weeks. Looking forward to this. The other two let me down… On the nose, initial impression is underwhelming but delicious. It’s been a year if incredible ryes though. Gosh, I spoke too soon. There is a note here that is amazing. It’s like pure honeycomb with a hint of pistachio. There is a bright inviting vanilla coupled with glaze donuts. So scratch that whole underwhelming thing. Growing on me. The rye notes are a bit earthy and barnyard, fresh haystacks in the morning. Now I am thinking about cinnamon rolls and sweet cream frosting. Delightful, dessert of a rye. On the taste, mouthfeel is syrupy and viscous. Really covers all parts of the tongue. Getting cinnamon and eucalyptus, initially a bit drying even. Wow the rye really escalates more than the nose let on. Man, that honey note. It’s there and it’s the main event too. Backing up - it’s very rye toast, little charred but that toast is drenched in butter and honey. And after you gulp the toast down, the honey coats your mouth and takes it’s sweet time oozes down your throat. I adore this finish right now. The spice and the rye is there and omnipresent, a white pepper on the finish behind that honey. On subsequent sips that eucalyptus note really takes over. Almost morphing into an agave. Very enjoyable. Soooo if I had my order on BTAC now (obviously hard to judge across time versus in a single year so this is overall across the batches I have had) - #1 WLW, #2 GTS, #3 Handy, #4 Saz 18, #5 ER17. This was an amazing pour but… if I got my hands on one, I think I would trade it still. Amazing but not special enough for the premium.
Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Coy Hill High Proof (2021 Special Release)
Tennessee Whiskey — Tennessee, USAReviewed December 2, 2021 (edited August 8, 2022)Neat. Sample. So so so so excited. The color of this thing is a ridiculous mahogany by the way. On the nose, it is so tightly wound. Everything feels compressed. Zero characteristics of a typical Jack. No banana fosters. Tree bark. Caramel apple. Elephant ears smothered in powdered sugar. Stewed fruits. I’m going to let this sit and open up. Usually I would try right away but I was told this needed air and forgot. But it actually feels like it needs air. 15 minutes later…. That was a torturous wait. Oh that worked. Nose is so sweet now. Lovely butterscotch note emerged. Elephant ear smothered in butterscotch and powder sugar. On the taste, oh that texture is something different. It’s ultra thick but weightless. So the roof of my mouth feels like there is thick syrup but my tongue feels light and fluffy. Probably numbness? So weird! Finish on this thing is nuts but I’ll try not to get ahead of myself. On the tongue, overwhelming butterscotch and cinnamon intenseness. Mid palate is extreme butterscotch that escalates until my toes curl. Finish is the elephant ears and it’s one of those elephant ears that oozes the oil it was fried in as you chew it. Then on the finish is a second wave of stewed fruits. And they go on for days. That was intense. Going back to mid palate there is more nuance than just butterscotch. Cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, clove. Now there is a coffee on the finish. Oh I got a banana appearance deep into the finish. This is all about the finish. I don’t want to take another sip because the flavors don’t stop. I just lean back and let it happen over and over and over. It’s morphing into a bread pudding with butterscotch. Just dessert after dessert after dessert. This is an experience.
Sazerac Rye 18 Year (Fall 2021)
Rye — Kentucky, USAReviewed December 2, 2021 (edited April 13, 2022)Neat. Bar pour. First time tasting any Saz 18. On the nose, the 18 years comes across as a musty log cabin. Even has some moss growing on the walls. There is a lot of sweetness resting underneath. The rye comes across like a peppercorn mixture. Going back to the sweetness, it is a sweet cream vanilla frosting primarily. Slight hint of dark chocolate. I really enjoy the musty oak. I keep going back to that note. Really makes me want to be in an old wood cabin, nestled by a fire. On the taste, mouthfeel is thin. I was hoping it would come across as more oily like a Lost Prophet but it’s thin. Not a whole lot going on initially either. Sugared mint leaves. Mid-palate it is all rye. And strangely it doesn’t taste like an ultra aged rye mid palate (the comes later but not 18 years worth still). Rye, vanilla. The finish is the most interesting part. Those oils finally come into play. It’s really tannic though. The finish is mint chocolate chip and then dry wood chips. Then the tannic nature takes over, a bit unpleasant. First Eagle Rare 17 and now this. No desire to own a bottle of this if this is the experience. I do not enjoy it. Rather have Michters 10 Rye by a mile off memory. It’s an expensive pour ($40) but great knowledge if ever faced with a choice to buy one versus something else.
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed November 26, 2021 (edited June 24, 2022)Neat. Neck pour. First ever taste of any Octomore! On the nose, the peat takes over the room. Radiates from the glass. It’s a savory peat. Diving into the glass, initial approach is all burnt ends but immediately the fruits and sweetness take over. Pineapple and pears with a side of raspberry preserves. Salted sour dough. Slight milk chocolate. Just has this cool flow from savory to sweet to savory to sweet. The peat is less aggressive than I expected. Omnipresent but not over the top. On the taste, the mouthfeel and immediate immense flavors are off the charts great. It is oily and the peat and spiced cooked pears take over every surface of my mouth. Everything escalated mid palate and continues to escalate to the finish. Mid palate, it’s a balance of sweet and savory. Spiced pears again with a vanilla cream. Salted Caramel. Finishes at its flavor peak. Cinnamon and pepper, pears, jam, burnt ends, white grape juice. Sparkling white grape juice for ages. Oh that is good. Still enjoying the finish well after the glass was empty. The sweetness and Jam aspects are not what I expected. The peat is balanced despite being over the top. I really enjoyed this pour. I’d buy 12.1 or 12.3 if I see them.
Eagle Rare 17 Year Bourbon (Fall 2020)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed November 18, 2021 (edited November 19, 2021)Neat. Bar pour. On the nose, the oak was dominating but very inviting. It subsided a bit after a few minutes. A rich vanilla sweet cream syrup emerges underneath along side some dark cherries. Hint of white pepper. Butter scotch and light peanut, reminding me of a chocolate turtle a bit. For the most part it is the oak and vanilla syrup doing a dance. On the taste, mouthfeel is light but oily. Almost like it’s not even on the tongue until you move it around and oils swish about. Initial flavors on the front of the palate are odd and surprising. Upfront it almost has a mouthwash quality to it, like the flavor is so bright it mutes itself off the scale. It’s just very sweet again with that vanilla syrup. The oak and cherry come punching through on mid-palate. Finish is all barrel and pepper. Very drying, long finish. Barrel and tobacco. That mouthwash sensation keeps occurring. Going to wash out and reset before going back in. Washing out and resetting dispelled that mouthwash sensation. An orange note starts poking through. All in all, not sure why people spend so much on this. I guess just to complete the vertical. I open everything that enters my house but if I get my hand on this, I would not open it. Glad I get to try it in this setting!
Booker's 30th Anniversary Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed November 11, 2021 (edited January 20, 2022)Neat. Bar pour! Because I needed it today and found a cool local place that had it ($45 for 1.5 ounce). I proceed to knock over the Glen and lost .5 of it…. Got enough left to taste it for the first time. The bar I am at is also a cigar bar. May influence the nose a bit. On the nose, oakier than expected. The wood actually dominates the typical Booker’s nuttiness. Dark cherry and lots of nutmeg and cinnamon. Getting a nice elephant ear sprinkled with a powdered sugar but also a vanilla glaze. There is a melody of fruit under all of this…. Mango and passion fruit? Interesting. On the taste, mouthfeel is syrupy dense and even with a grit to it. Flavor upfront is intense and immediate. Sweet caramel syrup, rock candy, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mid-palate is a caramel covered salted pretzel that morphs into a chocolate covered pretzel. The finish brings an immaculate oak, slight nuttiness and more chocolate. It brightens up on subsequent sips with a bit of vanilla in places and those fruits are emerging too. Especially on the finish. Delicious pour. I love every second of it. I can’t knock it for any aspect.
Four Gate Batch 15.3 The Bluegrass Trilogy
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed November 7, 2021 (edited March 24, 2022)Neat. Neck pour. This is the third act in the trilogy. Each act they add a new layer of finishing. I was able to buy this one by itself and, of course, went for the max finishing. Port, Sherry and Dark Rum. Yum. The bourbon is a blend of 6, 9, and 12 year Kentucky bourbons. Based on the mash, the 12 year is Barton. For a $200 bottle, hopefully it is more 12 year than 6 year. A bit nervous about that at the price but Four Gate continually blows me away. On the nose, it is far more subtle than I was expecting. First thought was raisin cinnamon bread. The port is coming through, almost like a plum juice. Getting a nice layer of raspberry flavored milk chocolate. Along the same lines, it is like Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream. Ooo there is a layer of cheese cake too. This has more depth than initially let on. Lots of fruit, very dark, and bourbon is definitely hiding behind all the finishing. The nose is delightful. On the taste, mouthfeel is quite creamy. The initial flavors on the tongue are fantastic. Super, lip puckering sweet. Vanilla ice cream and that cheese cake hit immediately. That raisin cinnamon bread is there too. Mid-palate is all about that Black Raspberry Chip. Those notes carry through to the finish which lasts for days. That chocolate really hangs. Getting a layer of vanilla icing on subsequent sips. Getting a root beer on the finish too. Absolute flavor bomb. The flavors on this are intense and dialed up. The finish really sticks. You can chew it. Never had anything that hits these notes, I like it a lot. The finish is still with me, it’s been like 2 min. since the last sip and I am tasting waves of flavors. I’m not going to buy the whole trilogy but this intrigues me enough to consider it. See how each layer of finishing adds to it.
New Riff Red Turkey Wheated Bourbon
Bourbon — kentucky, USAReviewed November 7, 2021 (edited June 14, 2022)Neat. Neck pour. These New Riff special releases have been fun and expectations are even higher after the amazing Malted Rye. On the nose, it is darker than expected. Dark chocolate and straight cocoa beans. Kind of funny due to the name but there is a Wild Turkey-like funk. Lots of royal vanilla icing. There is a dark fruit here. Somewhere between a black plum and blood orange, hard to pin down. Morphing a bit into a white chocolate. There is a fresh earthiness here too. Like walking through an open meadow away from any city. Flashes of that scene in Gladiator running through my head. A delightful freshly baked bread is wrapped around the entire thing. It’s a refreshing nose. On the taste, the mouth feel is light and fluffy but not thin. Oily for 100 proof. Upfront it’s all cinnamon bread with a spread of butter. Mid-palate is where this starts to shine. An uppercut of dark bitter chocolate gets overtaken but the vanilla icing and a surprising blast of orange zest. There is a continuous layer of cinnamon and clove. Geez an unexpected layer of mint too. The finish is longer than expected as well. Cinnamon bread with a drizzle of vanilla icing for days. That orange zest hangs on too. What an interesting wheater. It has a depth of flavor and long finish I was not expecting. Kicking back in the autumn Sunday with leaves falling around me, this is a perfect pour for the setting. New Riff should make more of this one, it’s another winner. What a year they have had with these special releases.