I want to try all the whiskey. Then, I'd like to go back and do it again to see if anything has changed.
Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedA bit of caramel, cream, and vanilla oak with an interesting, dusty oat note underneath. There is some sweet notes of apples with some faint cinnamon. The palate is really smooth, with the apple spice sweetness and oak forming the foundation. There is a flash of bright fruits, particularly raspberry, before it darkens up with molasses and some char rolling in to tamp down the sweeter elements. The oak and barrel notes finish the experience, with the worn used oak and the new oak bouncing off each other to see which one can have the last word. Ultimately the worn, slightly dry oak has the last breath as the apple and vanilla also give one last appearance.
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedSome friends and I did a budget bourbon blind flight and this was universally picked as the worst of the flight. No one cared for it. My notes were "Almost marshmallow but a lot of hot wood covering that up. Leaves a young wood and ethanol taste at the finish."
Evan Williams Single Barrel
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedVanilla and oak on the nose. Tiny bit of caramel beneath, can be a bit heavy on the alcohol if you're not careful. There is a pretty noticeable apple juice lurking behind everything else. The notes have an interesting aspect of smelling like they're coming from something frozen or coming out of a freezer. It's not bad, just lends the nose a slightly watered down element while also smelling like it's super chilled. Hard to explain. The first taste is almost overwhelmingly salted peanuts in the shell. The salt and a bit of heat is hard to get past to detect anything else. The apple juice is clearly present just behind the salted peanuts with the sweet fruit taking the edge off the salt eventually. You're left with a fairly juicy note that sees some caramel creep in as the salt fades just enough to leave you picturing apple slices drizzled with salted caramel. On subsequent tastes the cycle basically repeats itself, just with slightly more oak being noticeable, particularly in the middle. The intense salty peanut quality stands up really well to coke (if you've never poured some salted peanuts into an ice cold coke and then drank it, you really should) but the price is just high enough for me to not go out of my way to get it just for mixing when it's not dynamic enough to drink neat--it just lands in a no-man's land space of price/enjoyment for me.
Michter's US*1 Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedThis has a nice rounded nose. Oak with a dark, subtle vanilla greets you at first, and there is some cherry trying to fight through that never fully gets realized before turning into a nice maple syrup. The first thing I noticed when I tasted it was how incredibly easily it went down. The only other whiskey I've had go down as neatly was Blanton's. Despite being 91 proof, there isn't much of an edge and the bourbon flavor profile shines through clearly. It hits all the classic bourbon notes: cherry and leather, which has a hint of tobacco for a second, and sweet oak. There is some saltiness under the sweetness before the finish that gets slightly nutty. That ultimately turns into a nice caramel-vanilla-oak with a medium length finish. A drop of water gave all the flavors a megaphone to stand out a little more while rounding them off a bit more as well. This is a perfect introductory bourbon or a great anytime dram that will play nice regardless of what mood you're in. I originally mistook it for their US*1 American Whiskey, which is aged in used oak barrels because of how rounded everything was (and because the menu I ordered off of wasn't totally clear which one it was). I bought a bottle of this after thinking I had tried the American Whiskey US*1 and it turns out what I had at the restaurant was the bourbon. Really blown away by how rounded everything was despite still being aged in new oak barrels.
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Single Grain — JapanTastedThe nose was strongly reminiscent of apple cider vinegar with some melon and a bit of char, with some very mild cereal and honey. The taste was sweet, clear spring water that blooms into honey, vanilla, and apple, with just enough spice and barrel notes to turn the refreshing sweetness into something a little more challenging and demanding of your attention. This was similar to a lot of Irish whiskey I've tried, but much neater and more natural tasting. I wasn't wowed by it, but it was pleasant enough.
Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
Blended — IrelandTastedThe nose is oatmeal shortbread with a little bit of cream and honey. Oak and caramel apple (like at Halloween) is fairly strong at the end of the nosing. This is really sweet on the taste, too sweet for me in a way that reminded me of simple syrup and only gives a little ground to the apple and honey. The interesting oatmeal on the nose is missing and this just tastes like a fairly generic Irish. The finish gets a little bit darker and I think I can begin to see the stout-influence but then it's over. I had this with a bit of a spicy meal, so that may have obscured some virtues of it, but I was really disappointed with this.
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedThere is a ton of vanilla on the nose, very noticeable even though you can't stay in the glass too long. There's also a caramel sweetness that reminded me of taffy and a bit of oak underneath. It should be no surprise, but this whiskey kicks. On the first taste I got nothing but salted peanuts in the shell. I got a hint of cherry lurking on the edges before the heat rolled in. Second taste wasn't nearly as overwhelming and had more oak and vanilla with a creamy-char sweetness that I couldn't put my finger on but tasted like something nostalgic. A couple drops of water cools the dram down and brings out the barrel notes while tamping the sweetness down. The cherry becomes more muddled with other dark fruits and the salted peanuts return on the finish and linger for awhile.
Basil Hayden's Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedAnother formal taste after the bottle had been opened for a year (rebottled into a 375mL before finishing it off). You can see my initial taste on my profile, and this one will focus on what I found different. The nose had more vanilla and creme brûlée than I remembered, with caramel and baking spices. After drinking some, the nose developed a pleasant marshmallowy note. The palate was more citrusy, but darker than the nose would suggest. The creme brûlée showed up tempered with the wood notes and slight barrel char to mix with the rye spice. The finish was fairly long and full of the marshmallow cream, slightly herby in an interesting way, and ultimately highlighted the barrel notes.
Modern Gin — JapanTastedOn the nose I get stewed citrus with the peel in, slightly heavy on the lemon, but definitely with some sugar added in as the sharp citrus is dampened down with sweetness. There is also some berry and fruit lurking in the space between the citrus and the juniper, which is also clearly present under the citrus. The palate is fairly sweet up front, full of lemon, fruit, and juniper. That goes pretty quickly into a surprisingly spicy movement, full of black pepper and herbs, before the fruit fights it’s way back through. The final note was a nice lychee tea that left my mouth watering. Very refreshing altogether, another excellent product from Suntory.
Mortlach 16 Year "Distiller's Dram"
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedThe nose is full of apple and honeyed, sticky fruits. Just a bit of brine mingling with baking spices (especially clove) lurked underneath the syrupy sweetness. Sherry cask finish is very evident here. The initial taste was extremely sweet, full of apple and honeyed raisins and dates. Just when I was thinking it was too sweet, the brine came back to keep it from going too far. The subsequent tastes featured the brine, which tamped down most of the honey to allow the mellow, dark notes to shine. A nice, peppery wood with the hard edges of those notes rounded off is the star now, with the baking spices being supported by what’s left of the honeyed, dark fruits. A spiced rum cake is presented on the finish, with the return of the syrupy sweet notes, and settles in for a long finish that fades into a nice, crisp apple.