Weller Special Reserve
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted June 19, 2021Light golden orange-ish color; light-medium legs and mouthfeel. Soft and fruity nose, with dry grain sweetness poking through. Warm soft wheat, sweet and dry at the same time, light vanilla and peanut husks, but the warmth and a little grassy minty peppery flavor builds on a long finish. Nothing brutish about this--no big oak or smoke or leather. It's not a whiskey that will overwhelm you, and that's part of the attraction. It's also not a push-over. It's quiet, elegant, and soft sipping. This is one for #DAD any day of the week.
Early Times Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted June 12, 2021Vanilla and orange blossom nose. Soft entry, medium light mouthfeel. Sweet grain, citrus, and vanilla oak around an essential core of sweet corn sweetness. Only in the finish does a little rye spice show up. Reminds me of Wild Turkey 101, but sweeter and softer, missing WT's spicier rye finish. But that makes it an easy entry-point bourbon, with little ethanol heat for a 50% ABV. This is a really good BIB product that deserves more recognition for quality than it's bottom shelf status affords it, but there's a cult following out there and they're not wrong. $25 for 1000ml BIB bourbon? Bang! OK, it's not going to knock your socks off with complexity--sweet corn is it--but it's a good sip outdoors in the woods and a great mixer at home.
Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
Blended — IrelandTasted May 7, 2021Honey and coconut and light grain on the nose. Sweet grain, grassy, and then iodine and ethanol burst, with oatmeal and tropical fruit lingering into finish. Straw yellow color, medium light body, a classic Irish whiskey. I think I like the Teeling Single Grain more than this, even though it seemed a little one dimensional. Tasting side by side, this is paler, thinner, and less grain-sweet than the Single Grain.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
Canadian — Manitoba, CanadaTasted April 7, 2021Fruity rubbing alcohol on the nose. Apple, sweet fruit, and citrus, then builds up with spicy rye grain and ethanol in the mouth. Light body and medium quick finish from that ethanol and rye spice to spearmint to apple and dry grain. Not as much vanilla and oak,, nor as sweet as I anticipated,, but those are all there in the background. At 45 abv and prominent rye spice it has the chops to mix, but not sure about sipping. Will revisit this later with a little ice.
Barr Hill Reserve Tom Cat Gin
Old Tom Gin — Vermont, USATasted April 3, 2021Floral nose, juniper and honey, and wiff of the soft beeswax the cork and bottle neck was dipped in to seal. Full bodied and rich, sweet honey surrounds the juniper, and oak rounds and softens it. Some ethanol in that mouthful. Dry oak, sweet beeswax, and some dry baking spice lingers in a long round finish. Unusual gin, unusual Old Tom Gin, but familiar barrel aged flavors lightly coated in honey. I am a fan of barrel aged gins, so consider that if you're not. The honey sweetness sets this apart--too sweet? maybe, but what an experiment. This is a beautiful sipping gin (which I do rarely), delicious neat. Ice thins it out, but moderates the sweet and lets more juniper and oak through. I'll have to experiment mixing cocktails given how bold this is, but imagine an Old Tom Collins or Bees Knees (too sweet?, reduce honey) would be elegant and let the gin's character shine. More later. Just made a White Negroni with equal parts this, Luxardo Bitter, and Maurin dry vermouth over one iceberg. Soft, round, I'd probably up the white bitter proportion next time, but... elegant, easy to drink, a great Negroni intro for the bitter-timid. Reconsidering this again tonight, 4/23/21. This is a gin to saveur neat or with an ice cube, no need to mix. Upping this from 4.75 to a 5 for it's uniqueness.
Old Raj Dry Gin (55%)
Distilled Gin — ScotlandTasted March 25, 2021Juniper and citrus on the nose, lightly floral with spices in the background. Citrus, juniper, and a little ethanol in the mouth. Floral quality follows with spices like coriander and peppercorn coming on in a long full finish. Full oily mouthfeel, hint of straw color in the bottle. At this 55 ABV it serves well in classic cocktails, but the citrus and underlying floral make it worthy of drinking by itself.
Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Style Rye
Rye — Kentucky, USATasted March 24, 2021Strawberries and cereal on the nose, with spice behind, but very light and dry. Big roundhouse punch of grassy spicy rye and vanilla oak, then sweet cereal, fruit, and a little damp char smoke in the mouth. Oily coating mouthfeel and good ethanol burst for a 45 abv (yes, my bottle says 90 proof). Grassy and floral finish lingers, but dry, not sweet. This whiskey softens and rounds with an ice cube. Nice rich auburn color. At this price point a great mixing rye (think a Manhattan), but it's also worth drinking with a little ice.
Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted March 24, 2021Grapefruit citrus and vanilla oak nose. Citrus and vanilla in the mouth. Sweet followed by cereal, oak, and then grassy rye--but not too spicy--in the finish. Medium mouthfeel, orange color, orange label, short finish leaving a vague orange peel aftertaste. A very respectable bottom shelf bourbon with a high rye content, but BIB 4 yr straight whiskey credentials, and grand-dad staring at you after every pour. Not going to WOW your friends, but more than respectable as a mixer, and campfire metal cup worthy.
Frey Ranch Straight Rye
Rye — Nevada, USATasted March 10, 2021Batch 3, Bottle 1579/3500. Light banana, dry grass, and ethanol on the nose. Spicy rye, vanilla oak, sweet grain, and dried fruit in the mouth. Sweet and spice battle each other in the long-ish finish. Medium mouthfeel, dark golden straw color. Pleasant to sip neat or with a cube. A solid brawny straight rye at 50 abv with a great local production story, farm to barrel to bottle. Cheers to that! And that wide, squat, and thick bottle has an extra-thick glass bottom, plus a heavy oversize metal top on the synthetic stopper. All that makes this a surprisingly HEAVY lift to carry and pour. That presentation has gotta contribute some to the cost, $58, which is substantial. That said, it's still a rye worth finding and trying.
Balcones Texas Rye 100 Proof
Rye — Texas, USATasted March 9, 2021Batch: Rye10020-2, date 6/10/2020. Foreboding dark brown color. Spicy rye and cinnamon all over the nose, with a rotting apple scent underneath. Burnt rye grain, burnt brown sugar, smoked leather, astringent raw oak (some people noting this as a bitter dark chocolate or cacao flavor), and vanilla in the mouth, with tart hard fruit underneath. Medium light mouthfeel, and then a short grassy rye finish. Feels young and burly, burned and a little raw. Would love to try this at four years in oak. As is, at 50 abv this will work well in cocktails with other strong flavor components, but... that's a VERY pricy mixer!