Knob Creek 18 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2023 Release)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed December 21, 2023 (edited December 22, 2023)Nose was pleasant and deceptivey sweet. The palate was thin and almost acrid. Sour with needly oak, pepper, fleeting finish.
Redemption Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish
Bourbon — USAReviewed February 26, 2023 (edited March 23, 2023)High-rye MGP bourbon finished in Ferrand cognac casks. I’m essence the recipe isn’t far from the likeness of Juggernauts such as J. Magnus and Bardstown Laubade. The price of $70 sets this at 1/2 to 1/3 of those above and should be widely available without the secondary market BS. Color is a slightly peach-amber. Nose is shy - bits of spice, roasted praline, grape and cherry notes. There is a slightly youthful bread note as well. The palate is also a bit shy at first but the high-rye MGP notes bloom (herbal) and then are swept away with a Hawaiian Punch fruitiness (cherry, raspberry, peach) and a dash of white pepper. It’s also a bit hot for the proof, leaving a prickly sensation rather than gentle warmth. Ok, so this is no Juggernaut. It has promise but is nowhere near as “complete” as it’s pricier competitors. In comparison, it is young, 3-4 note, and overall flat. For what it’s worth, Belle Meade sherry/cognac/etc finished blew the socks off of this for similar $ but seem to have disappeared. This is a tricky category and for the meantime I remain unaware of a solid cask finished bourbon for under $100 (or more).70.0 USD per Bottle
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon
Bourbon — Indiana, USAReviewed February 25, 2023 (edited September 2, 2023)This has been a bit if a unicorn for me. I spotted it in the wild 4-5y ago, hesitated because of the price and never saw it again… until now that is. Price is still painful. Batch 113, 57.8% ABV. Amber color, likely in part thanks to tripple cask finishing. I had thought this was all MGP but aparently is part Kentucky bourbon. The nose reinforces the KY component - reminiscent of Four Roses, cherry and floral notes, some light caramel and slightly dusty oak. It certainly evolves though and MGP shows up later with bits of dill, eucalyptus, cacao and tobacco. The question here is what comes from the base bourbons themselves va the casks. There is a slight mustiness I attribute to the armagnac, the cacao and buttery sweetness of cognac, and the brighter fruit notes could be the sherry (maybe a PX?). Some of this is getting into the palate as well. As far as taste goes it follows the nose with a welcoming warmth but little bite. Lighter body but still mouth coating and hits every single corner. Nothing dominates, just a wonderful balance. Back to price for a moment. Standard JM at $100 is leathery, and for me, nearly offensive with a hearty sulfur component. The result is that standard JM drinks like a +20y bourbon - which most people likely won’t want despite the madness of age statement hype. At twice the price, this cigar blend is what I hoped standard JM would be. Much sweeter, dare I say bourbon-like, complex and interesting. The finish of the cigar blend is everlasting and evolving - and perhaps the place where the price tag is justified. It drinks like a 12-16yo bourbon and the cask finishes compliment rather than dominate the final product. So, the scarcity. It’s frustrating. And the secondary prices are foolish. I would say the best substitutes are also blends - namely some of the Bardstown Discovery series. At $120 they are almost a bargain. This rivals their initial Laubade finish and if I wasn’t whiskey-broke I might snap up their second edition. Frankly, Rare Breed isn’t far off (and should still be under $60 unless you’re being price gouged). Short story - wonderful finished bourbon that is complimented rather than dominated by cask finishing, complex and interesting, approachable and yet not leagues beyond products that are half the price. Worth a splurge for a special pour but nothing to lose one’s mind over.220.0 USD per Bottle
RD One Registered Distillery One
Bourbon — Kentucky , USAReviewed January 27, 2023 (edited March 23, 2023)So, this appears to be the same brand that re-released the WM Tarr label that has re-branded themselves without UK football coach Stoops. Tried as part of a store tasting, was told 5-6y KY straight bourbon that I’m guessing is sourced from Bardstown Distilling Co. Pretty one dimensional but well executed. Nose is very sweet with elements of vanilla, corn syrup and oak. Palate has some rough edges that could be smoothed out with age. Finish basically over as soon as it starts. Falls into the “another young KY bourbon” category. Value? Could be almost an existential argument but I would much rather have almost any $20 bottle from an established KY distiller that is more carefully blended to smooth out the edges and add some personality. This looks to be about $50, which is a complete bust for me. Of note, they have a 101 proof version finished in French oak that actually brought some personality. Its sweetness was dialed back with the spice of French oak (sandlewood like qualities) coming through. At $60 it is the better buy in my book I for those looking to branch out but won’t be following me home unless sale prices bring it into the $45 range.
Wild Turkey Master's Keep Unforgotten
Blended American Whiskey — Kentucky, USAReviewed December 7, 2022 (edited February 21, 2024)Messing around in the new app - tried to use flavor tags but they don’t do this justice. Wound up pouring a few from a friends bottle while talking music theory and plucking guitar strings. To be clear - I know little to no music theory despite 13 years of violin and an on-off relationship with guitar. Obsessed (a habit/fault of mine) with understanding chord structure, I would like to offer some half baked parallels. Most chords can stand on 3 (or even 2 notes). If you want to create tension or get a little spicy then a 4th note can jazz things up. Speaking of jazz - why stick with a major or minor diatonic scale when swashbuckling pentatonic scales and stealthy modes can make schizophrenia sound like it makes sense. This whiskey does all of that. The 8-9y rye is hardly young. Unsure if the dustier/attic qualities come from the rye or the 14y bourbon. This exudes age and complexity in a way that leaves you thinking this could be a barley legal rye (Russel’s Rye single barre style - but aged). No doubt the price is steep but this is on my list to Santa. The fruit, spice, dark sugars and long finish check all of my boxes - holiday or year-round.250.0 USD per Bottle
Four Gate Batch 23 Barossa Creek Brrye
Blended American Whiskey — USAReviewed November 10, 2022 (edited June 28, 2023)Full disclosure, I’ve never had an Australian port (activate @cascode but I’m imagining a smoky, richly sweet and slightly mineral swath of notes. This has a nice tawny color to it and a slightly shy nose. Sweet, soft notes of cornbread, honey, caraway, rye and red berries. There are some sharper bits from the oak and alcohol to keep it balanced. The longer it sits the more rye-dominant it becomes and maybe some chocolate and tobacco pop out without much trace of those aforementioned berry notes. Somewhat hot with a strong herbal rye presence and a big, unexpected pop of cinnamon stick. I’m searching for port notes and maybe with a bit of water there are some pomegranate and cranberry notes, but they’re pretty buried. This really needs water to be approachable. The heat dials back quickly and the viscosity improves. That cinnamon stick still hits up front but potpourri notes follow along and a slightly floral element blends with the wood and vanilla extract on the finish. Where the rye was sourced from is a toss up, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised it it is Canadian although @PBMichiganWolverine mentioned MGP. The bourbon is almost certainly Barton but who cares. This is hot as hell and gets more interesting with water but lacks the wow factor I expect from this price range. Regardless, I tip my hat to @PBMichiganWolverinee for going out on a ledge with this one. If the aroma from the empty glass matched the palate I’d buy a bottle myself but the palate was just a bit of an attack on my senses. Demerit for price.
WhistlePig 10 Year Single Barrel Rye
Rye — CanadaReviewed November 10, 2022 (edited March 23, 2023)Stewed apples, vanilla, caramel, light oak, clover, eucalyptus and rye bread with caraway seed Sharp and a tad thin but absolutely exploding with flavor. Vanilla, white pepper, cayenne, apricot and a pleasant buttery, yeasty note with just a touch of oak on the medium finish. This is really good but won’t be for everyone. It is so close to the green label Seagrass - and clearly cut from the same DNA. It lacks the viscosity and the swell of fruit and molasses notes, which is to be expected with this being the unfinished base. It pains me to say that this isn’t all that far off from the 16y Gray Label Seagrass. Sure, the extra $200 gets you more viscosity and a bit more maturity with less bite. Also unclear how much variation there is with these SB picks but would easily reach for one once the Seagrass(es) in my cabinet [are] empty. What a find and a big thanks to @ctbeck for sharing!
Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum
Navy Rum — JamaicaReviewed September 30, 2022 (edited November 15, 2022)Gobs of molasses, overripe banana, papaya, and Funk. There’s some hidden corn syrup in Oak notes. A little ethanol, a little tobacco Burn burn burn with tons of tobacco, leather, papaya, mango, creme brûlée, and caramel that sort of fights an earthier molasses - the latter wins in the finish. Subsequent sips add in bits of blonde espresso, dark chocolate and a bit of barnyard. Fantastic value. My only complaint is that it comes across thin and lacks some of the oak notes of say an unsweetened, aged Barbados rum. More challenging than a Doorleys 12, less approachable for some thanks to loads of borderline rancid hogo. Must try bottle that makes me want to explore other Jamaican rums.
Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino
Vermouth — ItalyReviewed September 30, 2022 (edited December 8, 2022)I will echo what others have said (including the Distiller notes). Drinkable on its own, over soda or in a cocktail. Golden brown in color with a viscous consistency. Butterscotch candies, caramel, toasted nuts, mint, holiday fruitcake. Viscous entry bursting with candy sweetness that is well balanced with bitter herbs (bit of quinine, thyme, and peppermint). The finish is definitely on the orange zest and bitter pith side without much lingering sweetness. Easily one of the more interesting sweet vermouths out there. Works wonderfully in a number of bourbon and rye whiskey cocktails. Over ice and club soda with a slice of orange there are a lot of cola and balsamic notes that come out and the bitterness is muted substantially, but still balanced.
Other Aromatized Wine — Piemonte, ItalyReviewed September 3, 2022 (edited October 23, 2022)I’m gonna open with - I really like this. Sweet, viscous, grapefruit pith. That’s right. Grapefruit pith. The rest is built around it. Ruby red grapefruit, apricot, honey, chamomile, eucalyptus, and a dash of bitter pith. Mixed 1:1 with club soda this is decadent - and interesting. Sweet and bitter. I threw in frozen lemon and peach slices. I can only imagine how this plays with juniper and gin. I’d say @Cornmuse has it right - this could (and should, time to time) replace Lillett Blanc, which is much more straightforward Pinot Grigio notes but boring. I’m thinking Vesper martinis and Corpse reviver #2 are several he’s recommended. Hell, it could be a solid (albeit syrupy) digestif on its own.