Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted October 5, 2021Amber-orange, plentiful thin legs. Smoke hits first - but it’s more of a mesquite and medicinal smoke. There’s carrot cake, dried fruits, brine, iodine, vanilla, orange rind, and lids of resin. In some ways I’m reminded of Lag 16 - lots of densely sweet and resinous notes, but no ash and the iodine shouldn’t be there. The brine and mesquite, smoked notes remind me of Springbank 12 cask strength but the funky kippers aren’t there and it’s a bit too dark. It has the heft of Ardbeg Cory but lacks the citrus. Just way more complex than Laphroig. Damn that’s hot!! Pins and needles hot. 120 proof hot, with little restraint. Coating mouthfeel. Cinnamon, mesquite smoke, iodine, oak, dried pineapple… maybe a dash of ash. The finish rests in the throat and is that same resinous sweetness. A drop of water brings out the iodine and grilled pineapple. The palate becomes creamier and more acidic with a bit more citrus than the first go round. There’s also a move from a dark resin to more cinnamon roll and toffee sweetness with prominent, slightly bitter oak and a hint of rancio. Interesting for sure and tips the scale toward increased complexity, but to each their own. Has to be Islay… but who? Thanks to @pkingmartin I’ve now gotten to to take a crack at Port Charlotte! I had snagged a 10 year that remains waiting to be opened but this bad boy… this is MRC:2010 and I was shockingly close on the proof. All 59.2 ABV hits up front and perhaps is a bit much. Water truly changed this and made it seem brighter and more aged at the same time… odd but it worked! Really lovely pour!
Springbank 18 Year
Peated Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandTasted October 3, 2021So @pkingmartin sent me a handful of lovely Scotch samples that were nicely labeled. Being against pre-conceived notions I’m tasting this one before reading the label. Pale straw with a thin appearance in the glass - nothing much sticks to the sides. Light and fruity with a hint of wet, earthy peat. Pears, clover, ginger, wet stone, freshly cut apple, new leather. The peat isn’t the faintest bit smokey or ashy. Methinks Speyside or Cambletown? Not the smokey Islay and doesn’t burst with malt or heather, no sherry here to speak of. Soft and light. Peat hits first, then a blink of malt and then almost a Italian Pino Grigio or NZ Sauvignon Blanc-esque mixture of stone with grapefruit, pear, and floral elements that subside into a saltwater taffy and peaty finish that lingers but not intrusively. This is light and dang near refreshing. There is no burn to speak of and ABV I’m guessing is 43-44%. Age? In Scotch years maybe 12 but could be more. It has just a slight bit of medicinal iodine and sulfur component on the finish like @ContemplativeFox points out about Highland Park. This is honesty more dry than HP though which leaves me wondering, what is this?!? Drumroll… Springbank 18!!! Love these guys. Was way off on the age. Was also slightly low on the ABV. This honesty could be 40% given how little heat it puts off. Don’t get much, if any, of the sherry barrels - maybe I’m daft or maybe the barrels were spent. Pure malty goodness, and @ContemplativeFox read my mind with the mention of a “peated Irish whiskey.” Soft, fruity, and perhaps more acid and mineral than an good Irish pour though. Score is tricky - it deviates from my love of viscous, high proof whiskys. Great in the summertime but in early fall it’s a bit lacking. Considering the price difference between this and the 10 year I likely won’t make the jump. I say that having just picked up a 15 year though so more to follow…
William Larue Weller Bourbon (Fall 2019)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted October 1, 2021So this is it - my unicorn bourbon. I once called the Buffalo Trace gift shop. There was no answer but I left a message along the lines of what sorts of bourbons I might find there. It was years ago and an incredibly naive question. The best part - that afternoon I got a call! The gentleman in the other end was kind and soft spoken. We talked for probably 20 minutes about Blanton’s, Eagle rare and Weller special reserve showing up at the gift shop and how they differed. He describes the mash bills and the flavor nuances. I mentioned Pappy - he laughed. What he said next though changed how I saw bourbon. His favorite, if he could pick one single bottle, would be this. William Larue Weller is the king of the growing Weller franchise. It’s older and more concentrated and sadly quite rare. Understatement, until tonight I wasn’t convinced it existed. Compared to Weller Antique it has more fruit and more wood. Compared to Weller full proof it has much older, dustier earthy and oak notes. It’s like comparing a grape to a raisin. The nose is perhaps one of the greatest I’ve encountered. Vanilla frosting, dusty cherries, old oak, brown sugar, bananas foster, tobacco, heat, chestnut, coconut. There might be more but that comes close. Wow. Smooth vanilla frosting, then building heat (unlike the wooden club that is GTS), clove, allspice, furniture polish, fig, dried cherries, ginger, oak, chestnut. Long finish with a bit of allspice, clove, polish, tobacco. More tobacco and vanilla frosting, brown sugar and dried cherries… the finish goes on. I can see where this comes from OWA or Weller full proof (a wimpy 114 proof I might add). Weller special reserve and 12 are nothing like it - or at least are watered down and a far stretch in complexity. Is it my true unicorn? It might be my favorite BT product for the strong tobacco and earthy notes along with rich sweetness and balanced oak. I can’t say that I haven’t had better though. I can say that tonight, with friends in early fall when barrels are being roles out and whiskey is ready for its annual mass exodus from Kentucky that this is special. Maybe if I’m lucky one will follow me home some day. Until then there are plenty of outstanding bourbons, whiskeys and whiskys to enjoy. Cheers everyone and for those following along and sharing thanks for adding to the richness of this shared journey!28.0 USD per Pour
George T. Stagg Bourbon (Fall 2019)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted October 1, 2021So, perhaps we’ve met before. Perhaps my last GTS notes were on a 2018 batch. I honestly don’t care because these are so inaccessible that who realistically goes about sampling multiple years. If I could find a single bottle I would be beyond ecstatic. As part of a dream flight this leaves me asking if it is still a 5.0 bourbon. It is absolutely incredible in how forceful and concentrated it is. My nose is pummeled with aromas of cherry syrup, toffee, old oak, overripe banana, allspice, tobacco, and leather. It’s a beating. The arrival brings a quick, hot burst of sweet dried and dark fruit, potpourri, burnt sugar, toffee, pecans, and brown butter. It finishes for minutes upon end with dried cherry, allspice, oak and a nice mineral quality. If it’s not a 5 then a 4.75 at the least. I was blown away by this in a simile fashion to ECBP A119. At 116.9 proof it takes no prisoners, hits darker, earthier corners of every corner of the flavor wheel and leaves me wanting more. I have to wonder if a mixture of IW Harper 15, OF 1920 and dash of either ECBP or another high-rye barrel proof bourbon could come close. The funny part is this is a low rye mash bill! Goes to show that compared to the higher rye mash bill of Blanton’s SFTB this is significantly spicier. I know which I would pick between the two. Throw a WLW into the mix and the decision becomes frustratingly difficult.20.0 USD per Pour
Blanton's Straight From the Barrel
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted October 1, 2021Kentucky is an odd land filled with lovely people. Being a transplant I found it odd initially that I could look people in the eye and not feel like someone would pick a fight with me. Nowadays (a word that seems apropos for KY) I’m accustom to conversing with complete strangers over bourbon, my belt or whatever. I’ve also learned that tracking down great bottles is a giant pain in the ass and often a waste of time if you can find the right bar. Enter a 1oz pour if this SFTB Blanton’s for $26. Most places in town would charge 5x that but tonight I got lucky. Out with friends, in the open air and a glass in my hand. Actually part of a dream flight - paired with a 2019 GTS and a 2019 WLW, the nose (comparatively and unfairly) was next to nothing. With time my senses returned (nosing WLW first ruined things a bit). Soft aromas of candy cigarettes, honey, sawdust/oak, apricot, marshmallow, bubblegum, cinnamon, allspice, cola, and lastly some faint spearmint. The palate was light and not as hot as expected for 129.2 proof. Flavors of sawdust, honey, apple pie, allspice, a bit if black walnut, marshmallow, clove, toffee, buttered rye bread all roll in and out slowly. This is so much better than standard Blanton’s it’s not even funny. It also has the most rye of any of these three pours and aside from that faint spearmint giveaway from the empty glass I would never have know. As far as bourbon hysteria goes - just don’t. It is probably as tasty or complex as an array of $100 to $200 bottles that are more readily available, which is a compliment. I have to believe that a handful of non-mashbill 2 products for around $60-80 can match or beat this but tonight is for tall tales and unicorns.26.0 USD per Pour
Compass Box Tobias & The Angel
Peated Blended Malt — ScotlandTasted September 30, 2021What an evening for a sample pour curtesy of @pkingmartin. Golden straw, probably around SG 1.010. Sorry for the comparison for those that get it. A good swirl causes a dense ring to form and then break into thick legs. Lovely notes of sweet, almost Pilsner-like malt and honey float up from the glass from a foot away. There’s a hearty amount of earthy peat, bit of leather and oddly maybe even denim. Going deeper there’s a tad of ginger, oak, lemon rind, red berries, brine, sandalwood and blonde espresso in there as well. So far this comes across as well balanced and unadulterated. The ethanol is inferred rather than detected. It’s like a Johnny Walker green without the puff of smoke or a more earthy and citrusy Springbank 10. Admittedly my experience is limited so I don’t have other great comparisons at this point. Maybe a more floral Highland Park 12 without the smoke. Oh so satisfying when it lands. The soft peat blanket comes in first, then a bit of heat and sweet, almost floral malt then more of the ginger and citrus… and those linger for quite a while. In fact the finish itself just doesn’t stop. It’s like watching tai-chi. Nothing abrupt. Minutes later the peat, mild oak, lemon, honey and ginger persist. This is what I imagine a full-proof hot toddy should be. There is no real phenol but it is almost medicinal in its own right. I have no idea what age this is but would guess 15 years or more. Answer please…Tobias and the Angel! Holy zikes I feel almost guilty drinking that!! Glad that the JW Green thought wasn’t too off since Caol Ila is a component of both. I’ve never had Clynelish or Caol Ila on their own but this makes me think I need to give them a try. I don’t know that I could buy this without my wife murdering me and covering it up for my life insurance, which would come close to covering the price of the bottle. I really love it, and gladly don’t miss it yet because it keeps on finishing with a tai-chi flow of sweet grain, peat and spicy citrus. Alas, old whiskey can indeed be good, quite good in fact. I love this finish!!!
Rivulet Artisan Pecan
Nut Liqueurs — Kentucky, USATasted September 24, 2021I’m not someone who gravitates toward liqueurs but I was offered a sample so why not. Notes are from memory but this was surprisingly very good. The base spirit is brandy, in which pecans and spices are soaked prior to being dredged out. The result was something of maple syrup drizzled pecan pancakes with cinnamon and oily whipped cream. Nice heavy mouthfeel and can absolutely see myself purchasing a bottle for the holidays.
Blackened x Willett Kentucky Straight Rye Finished in Madeira Casks
Rye — Kentucky, USATasted September 24, 2021Sweet cherry pie Batman! Ah, then the rye rolls, fresh mint, caraway, rock candy, grape jam and oak. I hate that I caved and bought this. I hate that I’m a closer Willett fan-boy. The label is misleading as @TheWhiskeyJug points out on his (awesome) website. The concept of rock music making whiskey better likely all BS. The price, outrageous. The nose is clearly a Willett rye and wine cask lovechild. The longer it sits the more the cherries jubilee fades and the more the Willett rye backbone comes out. There is an over-oaked IW Harper 15 note that I don’t care for but isn’t bad. Oh. Oh dang. Dang, dang, [other actual expletives]. That is perhaps the best mouthfeel if any whiskey I’ve tried. It’s heavy. It’s thick. Clearly wine driven because Willett 4 and 7y rye don’t land like this. Palate follows the nose. Rich, cherry pie, thick Madagascar vanilla paste, cloves, allspice, anise… somewhere mid-palate a pleasant nuttiness and yeasty note from the casks shines through along with raspberry and maybe even a bit of strawberry… and then it finishes forever with salted caramel, cherry pie and a bouquet of spice and herbs. I still hate the price, and the label, and the pseudo fan-boy hype over Willett products (that rest on the laurels of what is likely old Heaven Hill before the stills fired back up). They are doing some things very right though. This is sweet, bright, lightly tannic and nutty, has a heavy body and finishes forever. I hate that I might buy another one…145.0 USD per Bottle
Remus Repeal Reserve Series V Straight Bourbon
Bourbon — Indiana , USATasted September 23, 2021So, @dhsilv2 got me to thinking... I saved a sample of III before the bottle kill and was lucky enough to stumble upon RRR V today. Nothing like a good head to head comparison. To start with III - from what is left I get a wonderful oak and wood spice (hard to tease apart but a mixture of vanilla paste, anise, dill, cardamon and clove) laden nose with musk, leather oil, dusty books, cherries, slight over-ripe banana and maybe even a bit of desert-wine notes. It is also just a slight bit lighter in color than V. So, enter V. A shade darker. Many of the same elements and I suspect oxidation might play a role but there is lest "dust" or musk and more fruit, specifically cherry, as well as some as some buttered pecan. There is also a bit of sweet tobacco that I pick up. The earthy, woodsy base is still there with a blend of vanilla paste, anise and dill and clove. It seems slightly less exotic but again, not fair to compare a newly opened bottle to an older sample. Long story short - they're clearly siblings. After another whiff will say that some of the caramel and bananas foster notes of III are diminished in V. Taste - let's start with V this time. Thin and dry, then vanilla and then a huge spice kick. There isn't a sharp left turn mid-palate like I remember with III but more of a building toward sweeter, candy cigarettes and dusty leather boots after the spice blast. Once everything settles there is a slight nutty bitterness that I don't recall III having. Going back to it the cherry fruit isn't as outstanding as the nose had suggested. A quick sip of III - much darker sugar up front and a stronger dill note. The "wait for it" swing in flavor from sweet and woody to dill spice, caraway and cardamon is still there. There is nothing really bitter to speak of on the finish, just woodsy/earthy spicy goodness with subtly sweet undertones. This is a tough one. The RRR III has a playful, "gotcha!" character whereas the V has a slightly fruitier, more well rounded landing on the palate. I would say that V also just tones down the spice and perhaps brings up the lacquer, making it drink like it is actually a tad older than III (which makes since because it is) but it doesn't do it in spades. It is still a beautiful iteration of MGP that has been lost in the younger batches that everyone else is rushing to put out, including SAOS once again. I think I like III a tad better for it's ability to stand out as different with such an interesting and prominent spice portfolio. This is in no way bad, and for the combination of dusty/leathery notes that lend to a more dry, spice-forward palate with a bit of fruit for $80-90 buying 2 is a no-brainer. This certainly clocks in with the complexity of a solid ECBP but likely won't please the ECBP crowd due to being less sweet. I'm going with a 4.5 on this one and will leave RRR III at 4.75. I can see the score on this one coming up with oxidation but honestly don't care. It is an excellent sipper with little left to be desired for the price point and hopefully relatively widespread availability. I'm probably inflating them both but am just happy to see Remus back!85.0 USD per Bottle
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2021
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted September 21, 2021So, I’ve looked for one of these for years and was never successful or willing to wait 12h in line. With prices creeping up and hopes sinking I was ready to give up on it and then one day it came out of the ether (really just off the truck with 2 other bottle that also immediately sold). Serendipity - and even more reason to celebrate because I popped this several days later with a friend for my birthday. This could best described as aggressive, yet gracefully restrained. It’s like walking right up to the edge without going over, though the earth crumbles slightly beneath your feet to remind you of the situation you are in. Rich, medium-dark amber with a thin to medium appearance being swirled in the glas. Smoking hot cherry pie, oak and lacquer lane first. Sweeter notes emerge of cinnamon roll and fruit cake with a large swath of spices that I will take my best guess in but resemble caraway, dill, anise and unmalted rye. There are funky, musty support notes of dusty books, tobacco pipe, and tarry creosote as well. Some aggressive swirling brings out those familiar OF bananas foster and maple maple syrup notes. With even more time to rest the brighter cherry and raspberry notes oddly burst forth. Wow. Nose is on par with GTS or a funkier version of ECBP B520 or Remus Reserve IV for any who have tried those. Medium mouthfeel - musk, funk, oak, oak, lacquer, wet leaves, tobacco, raisin and dried berries, char. Toward the end the brighter fruit notes show up but the empty pipe funk never fades. This is so rustic and heavy. Imagine Blanton’s, Green Spot or even Oban 14 - and then imagine the complete opposite. While I wouldn’t call this viscous or syrupy it is none the less heavy and somewhat weathered. Finish - empty tobacco pipe, dust, cinnamon, dried fruits. Simply heroic. All the dark, brooding, earthy and oak notes of Glendronach 18 with the fruit and dusty funk of a WT Masters Keep 17y BiB…. I think this has the balance of a solid Old Carter single barrel but the spice and heat are dialed back. Same with GTS but instead of the melt-your-face-off approach it stops just short, and throws in a dusty/funky element to match. I really don’t want to do this but for 12y, 104 proof and an unlikely $135 out the door this comes close to how I would take my ideal bourbon. The price is still more than I would like but the only real comp at that price and degree of complexity, if you win the bourbon lottery, is GTS. Neither are worth the $500-900 on the secondary but both are worth a $50 pour at least once in life. This gets a probationary 5.0 from me. Here is to another year!120.0 USD per Bottle