Tastes

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  1. 1792 Full Proof Straight Bourbon

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Whiffs of brown sugar mixed with acrid, unripe bananas greet the nose. After a tipple or two, the aromas consolidate into warm, comfortable brown sugar-crusted banana bread. The nosing notes mirror the palate in the overall flavor hit. Hints of cola with added vanilla and caramel qualities make themselves known as well. Then cinnamon notes lead to a dark spice finish, as tobacco flavors layer in to compliment the experience. This is definitely a whiskey that I should partake in only after a drink or two of something else. As a first tipple, it's a hammer: a palate-cleansing gold brick in an Ansell cattle hide glove. Anything savored afterwards will taste oddly unhinged and diluted. With a four or five drops of water, a good deal of the heat is neutralized. The brown sugar characters are highlighted in the palate, even as a refreshing spearmint note appears in the finish. To wrap things up - at this point, I should introduce price as a coefficient in rendering a score. Unfortunately for bourbon drinkers in California, prices are comically inflated in the most brutal of ways. What you can buy for $45 plus change in the South or East Coast, is sent upwards of $90 here. I'll do a little comparison here with a couple of other bourbons in the same price range and ABV: This is certainly no better than the ECBP, as the heat is much more dominant on the both the nose and the palate. And, while it is sweeter than the Stagg Jr, this Full Proof is less bold and complex. These latter two, I will save for special occasions. This one - I will drink before I head outside to ski while bareback and in shorts. To say I would replace this bottle once it's empty is a tough call - but, I'll enjoy whatever's left in the meantime. 3.75/5 - and a quarter point off for value.
    90.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Nikka Whisky From the Barrel

    Blended — Japan

    Tasted
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    The initial nose is a hit of ethanol notes, before turning into lemony powdered sugar. Following whiffs reveal caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and lemon taffy aromas. The palate rolls on with the same notes of vanilla, caramel, nougat, butterscotch, and floral honeysuckle. The nose and palate are closer to a scotch profile than any other Japanese whisky I've tasted (four so far). If you had told me this was a Highland, cask-strength scotch, I wouldn't have doubted it for a minute. The finish is both woody and spicy. Further sips consolidate it into a parallel flow of effervescent, citrus sparkles that light up the palate. It's a bit hot and a little mouth-drying - very much like a high-proof bourbon. (And hotter still than some BiB American whiskies, while containing only 1-2% higher ABV.) Nonetheless, I picked this 750ml bottle up for a very reasonable price. Had I bought this at the market rate in my area (roughly $100+ tax), I'd most likely score this lower. (To put things into perspective, at the going rate, I could be drinking a bottle of Talisker Distiller's Edition instead) Still, this has easily proven to be my favorite J-whisky thus far. I'm of the mind that if supply increases and meets demand, the age statement expressions from Nikka will definitely be on my must-try list. (No hard feelings, Suntory.)
    90.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Tamdhu 12 Year

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    A glass of Tamdhu 12 gifts you with aromas of orange mint chocolates (thanks to @waddelles), while at other times it reminds one of the expert review notes of "cherry candy cane". The palate has your red fruits and butterscotch in a playful dialectic that is typical all over Speyside. The finish is a synthesis of those two dancing components, with baking spices closing in on a fair amount of oak. There's not a whole lot of nuttiness going on - which I would've expected from a drier oloroso maturation. That'd have been nice as it would've complimented the flow from sweet to spice. But then again, I don't get any sulfur notes out of this either. And that's about all I could only ask for from a 12 yr scotch priced in the same range as the Macdaddy 12. At a low 86 proof, the mouthfeel is substantive - but don't expect this to blow your socks off. In short, I paid a Macallan-like price for a same age statement whisky, but got a more pleasant experience. (The novel bottle shape is up there in quality with the Mac as well.)
    65.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Foursquare Sagacity

    Aged Rum — Barbados

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Unadulterated by filtering, added sugar or color, this exquisite brown liquid is maple syrup in tincture. Seen under kitchen lights, a stream of barrel and/or cork particles scintillate within the bottle. That's very heartening as it reminds me of the unfiltered state of a Glendronach scotch - while - at the same time, far removed from the cloudy louche of a finished Belle Meade bourbon. The nose surprisingly resembles a very sweet bourbon, layered with unripe banana peel notes, eventually seguing into honey and brown sugar. After a sip or two, a burnt sugar note arises along with a charcoal backing. The palate is as @Cornmuse reviewed (thank you for your dead-on notes) is, "banana, nougat, coconut" and brown sugar, before a bourbon-like mouthfeel takes over. The finish of "bitter coffee bean" is right on as well, together with slightly green banana. At this point, I confess - unsweetend aged rums don't jibe with me (and I don't really intend to change that). Still, I recognize the workmanship, the degree of maturation, and the quality behind the make up of this distillate. Rum aficionados should find this expression a worthy addition to any liquor cabinet.
    65.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Wild Turkey Rare Breed 116.8

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    A nose of spearmint, and blanketing wafts of vanilla. Brown sugar aromas follow as you sip along. The palate entry is sweet and smooth as buttery brown sugar and honey notes envelop the taste buds. When the ethanol hits at mid-palate, the expert notes of burnt toast and barrel char appear. A very warming Kentucky hug follows (though at other times, it feels more like a synthetic chemical burn - I'd recommend a splash of water to tame the heat). The sweet notes fade into a sparkly finish leading to bitter orange and sizzling, dark spices. At other times, it finishes with cherry cough drops and cinnamon red hots candy. This is surprisingly good! Although it's been several years since I've had the WT 101 - I don't remember liking it as much as I do this. Moreover, I find this a notch tastier than the Russell's Reserve Single Barrel 10 and (the now ludicrously priced) Col. E.H. Taylor Small Batch. And to have done that, well, that's one rousing bird.
    52.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    Aromas of butterscotch with candied coconut on the nose. The palate follows, with the coconut sweetness predominating, and a note of something between toffee and vanilla. It's a normal scotch journey in its development, but finishes with bold bourbon flavors - mainly barrel char and vanillas. These flavors linger into acidic citrus and wood . The new oak finishing is the obvious influence here. The length and character of development in the palate journey does remind me of some very good finished bourbons. But this misses their quality. No doubt, it's a very fine gateway scotch for bourbon drinkers. But at a speculative gloss, it's a tad boring for any experienced scotch drinker. This has impressed me with the same ambivalence I feel towards most Irish and Japanese whiskies. That is, I don't mind drinking it. I often enjoy it. But really, it just makes me want to drink a tastier scotch instead.
    44.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Gin Mare

    Distilled Gin — Spain

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Of the batch of gins I've recently opened, the nose on this one is the closest in style to a traditional London Dry. No unconventional aromas here. The macerated olive, rosemary, thyme, and basil notes unique to this expression aren't obvious on the nose. Olives may have rounded some of the sharper notes, but the difference in botanical greens isn't made apparent, before a bouquet of sweetness eventually supplants the herbal notes. The palate is surprisingly, and pleasantly, oily for a gin - might I say, even savory. Furthermore, the rosemary and thyme presence produces a fuller and rounder herbal flavor than in an average London Dry. The inclusion of basil sweetness is a brilliant and deft concept as it supplants the more medicinal notes of the standard coriander (i.e. cilantro). The sweet citrus flavors then wash away the botanical notes and fuse them into hints of fragrance on the palate. This is lovely when tasted neat. While it's undeniably recognizable as gin - with its tweaked elements, however - this drinks like the distillers have re-invented the wheel but not the platform. When paired 1:1 with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, the sweet and botanical notes turn effervescent - even as the spice notes bubble into orange and lime flavors. It's a work of art, bravo!
    30.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Compass Box Peat Monster (Painting Label)

    Peated Blended Malt — Scotland

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    My first taste of a peated whisky was a bottle of Lagavulin 16. I fondly recall a campfire vibe with layers of drying smoke and white ash, and not much else. That introduction to peat has spoiled me. To foreshadow my review, this is a Peat Monster in big letters to let you know it is singularly, The Monster. The Lagavulin 16 or Uigeadail are ravens in a gilded cage by comparison. The peat on this Monster is sulfuric and murky. A healthy 46% abv amplifies the effects as charcoal briquettes are literally melting away your taste buds. There is no equivalence to call, to balance out this spirit. No backbone of sherried fruit or seaside brine. Drop a dozen burning matches into a glass of weak honey lemon tea, and there you go. (That evokes hazy memories of unintentionally drinking out of near empty beer cans after somebody - probably myself - put out a cigarette butt into it.) The finish is a layer of liquid ashtray (thank you, @WhiskeyLonghorn for the vivid imagery) coating the tongue. Is this the peatiest Peat Monster I've slain? Unequivocally, yes. But after that experience, I regret having ever pursued that goal! I don't think I'll continue on with the bottle as is. Sherry bombs and honeyed malt scotches - to the rescue - are going to neutralize this potent abomination into a more palatable creature. UPDATE: Two weeks and many mixed concoctions afterwards, this has evolved with air. Pineapple or lemon Birthday pound cake with the lit match thrown in for good measure. Classic CB notes tethered to a sulfuric traffic cop. Bumping the score from 3.0 to 3.5.
    60.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Rémy Martin XO Cognac

    Cognac — Cognac, France

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    To say I bought two of the 50ml samples instead of a 750ml bottle from the other big cognac players - because they were affordable and were there, is redundant. I've consumed bottles of the VSOP releases from both Hennessy and Martell. But it's the Courvoisier that had them beat. The Courvoisier XO, however, has been wantonly expropriated by rap culture, due in no small part to Busta Rhymes 2001 hit, "Pass the Courvoisier". (Featuring P.Diddy, no less. Allow me the liberty to describe the track's lyricism as NSFW..... but, if it betters Courvoisier's bottom line, then, who am I to judge.) With this notion in my head ("What will my partner think?"), I decided to go with the Rémy Martin miniatures, instead. Fittingly enough, this was the one major cognac brand I'd never had. The nose is figs and raisins, with a vein of orange candy and red licorice. The nose becomes a tad drier with each sip, but the raisin notes linger while eclipsing into purple grape aromas. Sweet orange peel and red grapes on palate, before baking spices and leather take over. Following sips reveal light honey notes, which I found quite good. The finish is quite dry, more so than the Camus XO Elegance. But it leaves my mouth with a slight leathery feeling that I find pleasing - even as orange spice notes pop here and there. Is that a sign this holds a high ratio of decades old cognac? I don't doubt it. This is a very well designed cognac XO - especially the finish - but at a 45% price point over the Camus, I'm not convinced the premium is worth it. For the same price, I could pick up an exquisitely-aged scotch like a Glendronach 18 or Glenfarclas 25. And that's where I begin to question the overall VFM for this spirit, which is, afterall milder and less complex. (Disclaimer: this is only one of the five cognac releases I've had, so my limited experience should be put into consideration. Perhaps the sweet crap is what I enjoy at this stage?) At this point, I am considering just parenthetically separating cognac into a past phase, and moving on to armagnac. Nevertheless, if you feel you'd still enjoy the palate and wouldn't mind having a cool bottle (it resembles a ribboned Livesavers candy - said to reflect a waterdrop - and features a friggin' centaur on the label) - well, you could do much worse.
    10.0 USD per Pour
  10. Ron Zacapa 23 Sistema Solera Rum

    Aged Rum — Guatemala

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Rum. I've never had anything other than several bottles of Bicardi over my adult life. @Ctrexman , @WhiskeyLonghorn , and @ContemplativeFox thank you for your helpful reviews. They've contributed to this effort at learning more about this diverse, and versatile spirit. Rum purists may poo poo the sugar-added expressions, but I'm a fan of all things "chapin" i.e. Guatemalan. So when I discovered this was from there, and that they age their rums on a mountain - I was like 'Let me get that'. The nose unveiled shows dark caramel and wood qualities (thank you @Cornmuse a spot-on description). After a sip or two, aromas of toffee and brown sugar greet the olfactory sensors. The palate is a wave of confectionairy sweetness: coffee candy, brown sugar, prunes and raisins. For scotch drinkers, there's even a tempting, but encouraging impression of a sherry-cask matured scotch with a rum cask finish. (No, not like a Balvenie.) But it's to be expected from the Solera process that this is aged in, which includes former oloroso and Pedro Xímenez barrels. The ethanol burn is what you should anticipate with an 80 proof spirit, no less mild or harsh. If you deconstruct the finish, it does end in a woodiness that delivers a modicum of balance. Then it leaves the mouth with sweet and fruity notes that linger for quite a length of time. The bottom line: it's liquid candy. If that's your idea of what a good spirit should be, then this is a fantastic choice. It's also light on the Yankee pocketbook. This is a keeper for the occasional drinker with little to no experience in more balanced, aged spirits. It would make for a splendid dessert or a party sipper. But, obviously, it goes without saying that it's too sugary to work as a night cap.
    37.0 USD per Bottle
Results 1-10 of 121 Tastes