McKenzie Irish style whiskey distillery only
American Single Malt — Finger Lakes , NY, USATasted December 31, 2021Rating: 8/23 N: Minerals, citrus with an alcohol bit like in a cheap vodka, jicama. I'm not a fan of this. It's weird and funky like Ransom The Emerald, but it smells lighter with more flaws. P: It burns immediately. Spice, jicama, that ethanoly lemon, a bit of apple. It's medium-to-thin, but also a bit chalky and it tears the tastebuds off of my tongue a little bit. Something kind of earthy and spicy, like some sort of chili pepper, but not too spicy. Ah, I get it now. What's bothering me so much right here is that flavor cherry wood imparts that I describe as mushroomy. It's bitter, earthy, and vegetal. There is a sort of grainy layer in here that I like a little, but there isn' much I enjoy here. F: Oil and jicama, mostly. Perhaps a hint of lemon and a faint burn. Some of that chili still. Mushroom. - Conclusion - Side by side, Ransom The Emerald crushes this. I can't say I really love either though. OK, so the more I have of this, the more I appreciate it. The earthy flavors become more complex and interesting. Does it taste Irish? Absolutely not. I'd have guessed some sort of barrel-aged twice distilled potato vodka or something. Although this is very interesting, I don't think that it is that good overall, unfortunately, I like how it builds in complexity, but it's too young with too many off-notes. A 10 would be generous here and a 6 would be overly harsh. It isn't a great comparison, bit I think I prefer Glendalough Double Barrel a little bit. Not a lot, but enough to put this at an 8. I came back the next day and liked this a little more, but not a lot more. I considered as high as a 10 and seriously considered a 9, but I stuck with an 8. Thank you @PBMichiganWolverine for sharing this! It's been interesting trying some American whiskeys made in an Irish style. Unfortunately, it seems that I'm not much of a fan of Irish whiskey and I'm even less of a fan of American attempts to replicate it.
Osocalis Rare Alambic Brandy
American Brandy — California, USATasted December 31, 2021Rating: 12/23 N: The nose is unfortunately quite youthful. It isn't quite sulphuric, but I smell the feints from the distillation process clearly. There's some floral, sweet fruitiness as well, with sort of a chalky confectioner's sugar minerality. The smells do kind of blend together in an OK way and there's a decent balance. I get a bit of ethanol, but the feints are more of what I'm getting. P: Sort of a bubblegummy floral fruitiness with a light green wood bitter herbaceousness. Thin, mild, and full of minerals as well. This makes me think of a younger, watered-down ABK6 VSOP. Ah, the spices come in and they burn a bit. Black pepper. That interesting herbaceous - sort of herbs de provence - feinty flavor does work pretty well here by adding some complexity, though it also makes this taste more youthful, particularly when combined with that faint touch of sulphur that comes through. I wouldn't call this harsh, but it does burn and I do taste plenty of the alcohol. F: Spice, herbaceousness, bubble gum, floral, perhaps faint fruit. Still the alcohol. - Conclusion - This is not a good brandy. It's far from the worst and I wouldn't be too upset picking it up for under $15, but what they're charging for it is outrageous. ABK6 VSOP is less and Rémy Martin 1738 isn't that much more. A De Fussigny probably has a VSOP in this range that is much better than this one too. As much as I dislike the youthful alcohol flavor here, I find it a whole lot better than that pure ethanol hit that Glendalough Double Barrel (9/23) has. Despite being super youthful and a bit too feinty, I would probably take this over the Glendalough. There is no way that this is a 14. I'm thinking a 10 at least. Essentially, this is good execution of a spirit that is just too young to be bottling. The youth is obvious here and I'd prefer that it weren't but it isn't sulphuric or industrial so much as light and tarry. It's OK. This has been growing on me. At one point, I thought I might give this an 8. Now, I'm looking at an 11. I can understand someone going higher because of the interesting flavors and smoothness, but this tastes flawed to me. After many (MANY) side by sides, this has grown on me, but I think it's stuck in the 11 to 12 range. Surprisingly, I'm going with a 12. I like the moderate complexity and lack of obviously flawed youthful flavors (sulphur and industry, mostly). It still tastes young and not good, but I'd be fine drinking it.39.0 USD per Bottle
IronRoot Harbinger XC
Bourbon — Texas, USATasted December 31, 2021Rating: 13/23 This particular bottle has been aged for 32 months. N: Immediately, I get that Texas bourbon sawdust like Garrison Brothers has. It doesn't smell über full, but it does have a nice mild sweetness to it. P: Yep, that sawdust hits with a hint of milk chocolate like hot cocoa, mild baking spices, and some corn sweetness that's kind of like light caramel corn. Although the palate is a not super full, those flavors give it a moderate complexity with a nice balance. There is a light areas where some alcohol comes out though and it has a bit of a bite to it. There's also some more bitterness than Garrison Brothers Small Batch has, unfortunately reminding me a bit more of Kings County at times. F: That sawdust remains. Unfortunately, the strongest remnants of the rest of the profile are the bitter alcohol and bite. - Conclusion - Ironroot has a lot of potential and I really enjoyed the core flavors of this offering, which are quite similar to those of Garrison Brothers Small Batch (13/23). I think that the Garrison Brothers is probably a hair better, so I'm giving this the win. At less than 3 years old, this has a lot going for it and is solid competition for Garrison Brothers Small Batch at less than half of the price. I was considering a 14 to 16 for this, but seeing as I gave the Garrison Brothers Small Batch a 14, I think that this needs to be capped at a 14. I know that earlier bottles of this were released at just 2 years old and I suspect it is still pretty easy to get a younger bottle that may not be as good, so I wouldn't be shocked to go below a 14 on a subsequent tasting from a different bottle.35.0 USD per Bottle
Balcones Texas Straight Bourbon Spring 2021 Single Cask #8 (Lost Lantern)
Bourbon — Texas, USATasted December 28, 2021Rating: 22/23 I think I read somewhere that this is only about 2 years old, which makes me highly skeptical. At the same time, I read fantastic reviews of it, so I'm hopeful. I guess I'll just have to see (taste). N: Quite a big nose. I do get some alcohol, but it's more the amount I would expect of a 60+% ABV bourbon, not nearly as much as I would normally expect from a 2 year old bourbon. It's toasty-woody with some subdued corn sweetness. The wood doesn't seem overly tannic. I get sort of a medium roast coffee bringing in roasted, slightly tart, and mild herbal notes. Hints of tart cherry here and there. At a couple points I got a tad of something savory like young alcohol, but that note quickly vanished. Ocassionally I get a bit of a burst of dried fruits (cherry, raisin, sultana, and maybe a couple of others) that reminds me of a grande champagne cognac. This nose started out bold but uncomplex; however, after a few minutes in my glencairn, it has opened up tremendously, developing lots of complexity with some really great smells and even a little more boldness than it started with and at least as much balanced. There's that one, occasional off smell, but it's easy to look past on the nose and I don't expect to taste it on the palate. Coming back a few minutes later, the fruits have become more syrupy, yet they don't seem overly sweet. It's just decadent. P: Rich, full, moderately high viscosity, lots of burn. First it hits me with that cognac fruit layer, but that quickly disappears and I get toastiness for a moment, before it heads into medium roast coffee city. I get char, tartness, a little bit of herbal character. All the while, there is a soft corn sweetness underneath. The tartness turns into a flash of bright cherry and then the cognac fruits come back in. I do occasionally get a hint of that maple that I get from Balcones Single Malt. The early and mid-palate are good, but it's really the late palate heading into the finish where this shines the brightest. Initially, there is a bit of a bite to this. It isn't exactly harsh, but it's a flavor that harsh whiskey often has - just a sharp bitterness with vaguely prickling spice. I do get some alcohol flavor in there, but there are also some flavors of clove and black pepper, along with maybe hints of cinnamon and allspice, helping to explain it. I would hope that if I drained the bottle by a third and left it for several months, this aspect would smooth out a bit. F: A delightfully hedonistic, complex, balanced, and long finish of medium roast coffee bitterness, tartness, and light herbal variation mixed with some decadent dried fruits. Occasionally, the coffee develops a little bit of a dry wood note, but that's infrequent. Some 50% dark chocolate at times even. - Conclusion - I wouldn't have guessed that a barrel this young could be nearly this good, but clearly the folks over at Lost Lantern know better than I do. They absolutely nailed it on this barrel. OK, time to put this side by side with some giants. This isn't quite as full as my cask strength bottle of Garrisson Brothers Single Barrel, but it is much more complex with less woody austerity. Although the Garrisson Brothers has improved substantially over time, it still isn't amazing and isn't at all on the same level as this is. Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof (21/23) starts with a definite alcohol flavor too, but it's less pointed and quickly is enveloped by the oily viscosity. Although just as hedonistic, the Jack Daniel's never achieves the level of complexity that this does, so I have to give this the win. Going cross-category here: El Dorado 21 (21/23). The El Dorado similarly surprised me with its cognac character. The El Dorado is smoother, though not necessarily more balanced or complex. Without getting into the details too much, I think I prefer this. It's not blowing the El Dorado out of the water, but it definitely seems better. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B520 (22/23) has more of a traditional sour mash flavor to it while maintaining somewhat similar coffee to this one, plenty more barrel spices, and a bit of chocolate. There really isn't much fruit in the Elijah Craig, but it's similarly balanced and complex. This one kind of spreads its balance wider, taking on more different - and unusual - flavors, whereas the Elijah Craig is more focused on its traditional bourbon profile. It's actually a pretty tough call between the two, but I've finally concluded that as each currently stands the Elijah Craig is a slightly better bourbon. That said, I can imagine that this given several months of air would smooth out enough while maintaining its complexity to crush the Elijah Craig. After all, I did originally give the Elijah Craig an 18 before it got all of that air. I don't know how long this was sitting in an open bottle before being bottled up for me, but I doubt that it was very long. Considering how close this is to the Elijah Craig, I'm going with a 22. I can imagine anything in the 21 to 23 range for this, though I feel like a 23 is more likely than a 21 at this point. Even with the Elijah Craig being slightly better, I have to give this some serious applause. At a mere 2 years, I didn't think that any whiskey could be this rich, full, complex, and balanced. A huge thanks to @ctbeck11 for sending me a sample of this! It is the best demonstration of the abilities of both Lost Lantern and Balcones that I have yet to find. I'm thoroughly impressed by this bourbon and am delighted to be posting this tasting of it as my 1100th.
Auchroisk 19 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) (Batch 5)
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTasted December 28, 2021Rating: 17/23 I haven't heard much about Auchroisk before, but I understand that it has kind of a particular flavor to it that nothing else does. I've been wanting to try this bottle for a while, but had it marked as reserved. I got some substantial work done today and it's almost Halloween. The bottle has zombies on the side. Seems like I'd better open it. N: There's a sweet, super soft graininess that's sort of like slightly watery skim milk. There's also a bold, bitter waxiness that has a zing to it that isn't quite tart. The waxiness turns into grassiness a bit. Oddly, I really don't get any fruit here. P: A bit of alcohol quickly turns into that bitter, somewhat zingy waxiness. Beside that, theres a bit of restrained heat that's spicy like a kind of mild clove, having less of that bold woodiness and being less numbing (though it definitely does retain those core clove characteristics a bit). Moving out of the waxiness (but retaining the spice), the bitterness starts letting up and some grassy flavor with a little bit of other herbal character comes in. A brush of light vanilla. As the grass and vanilla fade, it becomes apparent that this palate has all been layered on top of some super smooth, slightly full, soft as a down pillow grain flavor. This is where some sweetness finally makes its way in. If I hold this on my tongue for a while, I do start to get a bit of that watery skim milk flavor from the nose. This is an enjoyable and unique palate with good balance and suggestions of maturity, but it's far from being terrible complex. With a fair amount of water, the alcohol and burn are softened and some more herbal nucance comes out. The flip side is that that nice milky flavor is substantially diminished. Despite the spice and heat, this drinks at a lower proof than the 49.4% that it is; I'd have guessed more like 45%. That's because of its smoothness. It isn't especially viscous, but it isn't thin enough to make me guess a lower proof. F: That pillowy grain flavor increases its presence, revealing its watery skim milk side, which is somehow actually a good thing. Light grassiness and very subdued waxiness form an interesting background before eventually taking back over in the long finish. Some spicy clove heat remains, though it is never the central flavor. - Conclusion - This is quite unique in an enjoyable way, though if the grassy bitter wax and skim milk were more common in scotch profiles, I don't think there's much that would make this stand out. It's really earning a lot of its points for uniqueness here. Based on the kind of bitterness to the wax and clove, I suspect that this might have been aged in French oak. It makes me wonder if American oak might have added more complexity or if a combination of the two could have balanced the austere French and sweet American oak flavors. Without trying this side by side with anything else yet, Im looking at a 15 to 19 for this. Cadenhead's Tullibardine 25 (1993) (18/23) is another one that is just different enough from the standard formula to be interesting. They're both well executed variations on a clean style with an interesting bitter twist to them. The Tullibardine's twist is Manuka honey, whereas this has the grassy wax and milk. The complexities are about the same too. It's a tough call between the two, but I'm leaning toward the Tullibardine. They're actually really close though. What strikes me more is how much more complex Glen Grant 18 (17/23) is than either this or the Tullibardine. Maybe I overrated the Tullibardine and/or underrated the Glen Grant. I feel like the Glen Grant should be an 18 and maybe the Tullibardine should be a low 18? Or maybe the Glen Grant should be a 19. The glen Grant really is a more cohesive and better-executed product than this is by a substantial margine. Considering that, it would seem that this should be with a 16 or 17, depending on whether the Glen Grant is an 18 or a 19. Going from refined, delicate spirits to something a bit more funky: Loch Lomond 12 (16/23). This has a bit of refinement, that I like better, but honestly it does still show its alcohol and burn. On the other hand, the Loch Lomond has less alcohol burn, but it has a bit brasher character that doesn't quite always land. I'm hovering in the 15 to 17 range now. This is good and I enjoy its interesting character, but I just don't see this as a great whisky, unfortunately. I'm glad I tried it and I'll enjoy the rest of my bottle, but I'd need a real reason to buy another bottle of Auchroisk in the future. As much as I'm enjoying Auchroisk, the value just doesn't seem there based on this bottling. When Loch Lomond 12 and Glen Grant 18 are options, I can't see myself dropping the cash needed to buy more of this. At this point, I'm inclined to put this ahead of Loch Lomond 12, but behind Glen Grant 18. I think I'm going to go with the 17.189.0 USD per Bottle
Three Scottish Brothers
Single Grain — ScotlandTasted December 28, 2021Rating: 12/23 N: Fairly rich with a mellow sweetness, a little alcohol, some toastiness, and light nuttiness. P: A very flat profile. But it's sweet and smooth. It's almost a little malty in its sweetness, but not quite. There's the nectar quality. Occasionally some coconut comes in and out. It tastes about 12 years old by malt scotch standards, but I can see 15. There's a tad of spice - maybe ginger and clove, but I'm reaching to even detect that. It's really frustrating, but I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what that main sweetness is. It's just the most generic scotch sweetness. Lightly toasty. Neither particularly fresh nor particularly tired barrels. I think I'm getting vanilla. I want to find something fruity in here, but I don't think it's actually there. Very balanced, but not even slightly complex. If all you care about is having smooth whisky, this is one for you. There's remarkably little happening here, but at the same time I find myself appreciating the maturity here. At 20 years, I expect a single grain to still be a bit harsh and young tasting. Although this does not taste super old and it certainly isn't complex, I like that clean profile it has that just nails the one flavor. It makes me think of Pure Scot Virgin Oak in how monotone but still nicely flavored it is. I think this is even a bit less complex than the Pure Scot though, somehow. It would be a good intro scotch for somebody getting to know the flavor profile. F: Clean. Just the palate lingering for a while. - Conclusion - This is super simple, but cleanly executed. It's so simple that it makes Pure Scot Virgin Oak seem complex in comparison. I'm leaning toward a 12 here.51.5 USD per Bottle
Whiskey del Bac Arizona Single Malt Spring 2021 Single Cask #5 (Lost Lantern)
American Single Malt — Arizona, USATasted December 27, 2021Rating: 15/23 I didn't particularly care for the bottle of Del Bac Mesquite I bought a couple of years ago, but this is cask strength and bottled by Lost Lantern, so I'm kind of hopeful that it's going to be a couple steps up. N: A lot like the regular Del Bac Mesquite, but fuller with more smoke and vanilla. There's that dry sort of tart bitterness to the mesquite smoke and there's sort of a black licorice side to it. The smoked meat is less sweet - more in the beef or even lamb range than the pork to beef range of the regular Del Bac Meqsquite. The apple is still there, though it's subdued and the burnt grass is increased a bit. I like this nose better so far, but I'm a bit worried still. P: That higher ABV really helps to fill this out. It's smoky and dry, giving a little bit of a peaty effect somewhere in the Laphroiag range with all of the other funky flavors. Some dry grass, a dash of minerality, and a few herbs I get wintergreen, pork, black licorice, vanilla, faint apple and orange, and a bold malty backing that avoids being overly sweet. There's a definite burn here, but that's expected for the proof. not much in the way of spice. F: Numbing peaty smoke - but not quite. Wintergreen, barbecued pork, burnt grass, a little wood, a mellow malty layer. There's actually quite a bit of wintergreen in both the palate and the finish. - Conclusion - This whole thing is very odd, but it does kind of work. I'm not blown away by it, but it makes me think of how much I hated Ardbeg Wee Beastie and wonder whether all that's missing here is some more age for this to really start making sense. I'd love to try this at 6 to 8 years. Does this beat regular Del Bac Mesquite (13/23)? Yes. Does it beat Corsair Wildfire? No. And I don't think it's that I prefer the Corsair's hickory smoke to Del Bac's mesquite smoke: I think that the Corsair is just a generally better executed product. Looking past the smoke, it's more balanced and complex, embracing the smoke, grain, malting, wood, and oxidization in a way that introduces smoke to American single malt without inundating it or creating an off-kilter profile. Pulling out Westland Peated (15/23), the two seem fairly competitive. This is obviously more assertive, whereas the Westland is (for once) more balanced. The Shin 10 (16/23) is another funky, off-kilter, young-seeming whiskey, but I find it to be more balanced and refined than this is, so I would take it. Most likely, I'm looking at a 15 here. Thanks for sharing this, @ctbeck11 ! I'm looking forward to trying some mesquite-smoked American single malts that have had some more time in the barrel once they presumably start coming to market, but I don't think these young ones are for me.
Whiskey Del Bac Dorado Mesquite Smoked Single Malt
American Single Malt — Arizona, USATasted December 27, 2021Rating: 13/23 This has has a ton of time to age in the bottle with a whole lot of air. Bottle kill tasting. N: Rich and full with smoke carrying that mesquite barbecue bitterness, roast meat, apple, minerals, and vanilla. The scents are a bit brash and at odds with each other and the youthfulness does come out. It reminds me a bit of Corsair Wildfire, but less balanced and mature. P: Smoky yet sweet with barbecue leading into ash tray with a bit of grassy herbaceousness and tartness underneath that bleed into apple and then vanilla. There's minerality that makes the palate kind of light and there's somehow still also a bit of a youthful bite (though I don't taste the alcohol). It's oddly brash for something that has had so much air. The maltiness shows, but it's just another weird flavor sticking out. F: Malty sweetness with apple leading into bitter-tart smoke and grass. It's all still kind of a jumble. - Conclusion - So this is definitely not a 15, unfortunately. I'm thinking somewhere in the region of a 13. OK, wait a second. I just threw out the bottle and glanced at the top of the cork. It says "B: D19-3" and on the line below it it says "D: 01/19". Now, I first tried this bottle in July 2019, so I'm thinking this looks a lot like it's saying this was only aged for 2 months?! I'm quite impressed if that's the case. Though, if it is, I'm very frustrated that they didn't give it some more time. Just 2 months?! What if it had had a year!52.0 USD per Bottle
George Dickel Tennessee Single Barrel 15 Year
Tennessee — Tennessee, USATasted December 27, 2021Rating: 15/23 I'm very curious to see how this is in comparison with my 15 year old single barrel bottle of Resilient that was sourced from Dickel. The Resilient was bottled a few percent higher ABV, but nothing else was done differently from what has been done here, to my knowledge. N: So much wood. It's bitter and toasty. Oak for days. Dry. Peanut shells with hints of peanut. Minerals in that Dickel vitamin range, bringing in a light tartness. P: Not that viscous, but very full with plenty of those usual Dickel flavors, but much more tannic than usual. Although I do like this profile, the tannins are a bit overwhelming. Toasty with spicy (cinnamon, black pepper, a bit of nutmeg) notes, vitamins, a bit of brown sugar. There's too much oak here though. I like the other flavors, but the bitter oak is a bit too strong. Peanut shells with a dash of peanut, but those oak tannins are still too strong. This is good, but it sadly tastes like someone let the barrel age for too long and its proof dropped too low. It's over-oaked. F: Bitter, astringent tannins. Some faint peanut/peanut shells. Minerals come out with some vitamins. Very faint bitter cinnamon eventually, but that's kind of a stretch. - Conclusion - It's unfortunate, but this is too tannic. I'm not sure whether increasing the proof would help it or whether this is just over-oaked. It's a shame because there's a lot to like here. This is fuller than George Dickel Bottled In Bond (16/23), but it's also more tannic. Woodinville Rye (16/23) is a bit thinner than this while also dealing with lots of woody, toasty flavor. The Woodinville's flavor seems more balanced and generally tasty though, so I prefer it. I'm looking at a 15 or 16 here. Upon further comparison, this could be a 14. Sadly, this is over-oaked, so a 16 just is not happening here. I think that a higher proof would have really helped here (something in the 55-60% range), but I think what happened was that this was bottled at barrel proof and that was just too low (otherwise, I'm not sure how they chose 48.1%, particularly considering how overly-low that tastes). This is so much more mature than Elijah Craig Small Batch (15/23)...but this is also too mature. I'm inclined to go with the 15 here. I could even imagine going down to a 14, but I think a 15 is right.60.0 USD per Bottle
Copperworks American Single Malt Release No. 34
Peated Single Malt — Seattle, Washington, USATasted December 27, 2021Rating: 19/23 This is really exciting. This is the first American single malt to ever be release made from Washington peat. Not this brand - this actual release number. Westland is coming out with one too soon(ish) but for now copperworks is the only producer and even for then this batch has pretty much come and gone. Not heavily peated. I smell some medicinal bite but also some really nice chocolate on top of the usual copperworks fruit (cherry, tangerine, maybe some orange), malt, yeast, and oiliness. It's a very nice extra layer. There's some vanilla with sort of a dusty papery quality to it. There's also something funky deep down that lands just on the right side of the line between good savory and bad/young distillate savory. I get some dry grassiness as well. I'm a big fan of this nose - it has tremendous complexity. From the nose, my impression is that Washington peat is more grassy and smoky, but far less phenolic than Islay peat. But on to the tasting. Smooth, rich, full, viscous, oily. I get chocolate, cherry, tangerine, yeast, malted barley, mild spices (cinnamon and ginger), papery vanilla. This is a tremendously hedonistic and balanced whiskey with some really nice complexity. It tastes far older than it is. Considering the way everything fits together so mellowly, I would have guessed this was a much older bottle. There is some smoke, but it's a light touch for a peated whiskey. With the yeast and paperiness, this reminds me of westward, but it's more interesting, mature, and refined. Nutty. How did I forget to say that? This is very nutty, blending nicely into the oil. Sort of pecan and almond. This is a sweeter and less bitter peat It has a weird profile for a scotch, but if have put it at around the 16 year mark if it were a scotch. I mean, it has that American single malt character to it, so that kind of strongly hints at its age, but aside from that. As for rating, this is no lower than an 18. It could be a 20. I think I'll go with a 19.90.0 USD per Bottle