That Boutique-y Whisky Company Bourbon Whiskey No. 1 24 year old batch 1
Bourbon — USATastedA 24 yr bourbon. That is hard to come by...and maybe for a good reason. Bourbon isn’t raised in the same climate as scotch. The heat plays a huge role in imparting wood flavors into the distillate. So...yes, this is hard to come, rare and expensive...but it doesn’t necessarily mean great. It’s about 10 yrs too much in the barrel. I felt as if distillate lost its character, and the wood took over. Just too oaky. I honestly didn’t get much else besides a huge oak influence. Okay, so—if you want to experience a bourbon over two decades old, and can’t afford the Pappy 21 or 23, or even the Diageo lost barrel series, sure....this will fill that void in putting a check mark. Otherwise save yourself $300 ( or in my case $15 for the 3cl pour), and go buy a great bottle for half the price and age.15.0 USD per Pour
Barrell Rum Private Release Blend J553
Aged Rum — Multiple CountriesTastedI think I’ve had maybe 4-5 rums ever—-none of which I liked except for a Caroni. I found them overly sweet, an almost artificial sweetener taste. The Caroni, on the other hand, I absolutely loved. It was viscous, oily, and whisky-like complex. This comes in second. It’s very “unlike rum”...not sweet at all. Herbal , engine oil nose, followed by walnut skins, cocoa, and a bit of a spicy cinnamon after taste. Really well made...it’s not a Caroni level, but damn close (and much more affordable). Thanks to @jonwilkinson7309 for the sample!
Lusty Claw Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedBack in college, there was this one woman, we’ll call her “C”. She always wore these religious cult like T-shirts, a bandana, and mismatched sneakers. She also always used to ask me to come over her place, generally late at night, to look at her knife collection. Like every week. ‘ hey, I just got this awesome switchblade to add to my collection. Want to come over tonight to take a look? I’m good after 11pm”. Or, “ hey, I just got this awesome sword, sharpened it real good too. Want to come over around midnight?” Problem was, I never knew that if I went in, if I’d ever come back out. Needless to say, I always politely refused. I didn’t have medical insurance back then...would’ve hated to bleed to death while waiting at the ER. That takes me to this beauty. Over the holidays, a friend bought this over, saying it’s been sitting way back in his cabinet, and he thought I’d like to have a taste with him. Problem is...the name and looks of it, I just didn’t know if I’d come out alive after a few sips. Never heard of this brand; bottle looked weird as if he got it from the shelf of an odd ends bin store; and the name...well, no self respecting distillery would use Lusty as the name. Unless it’s cheap rum targeting spring break co-eds as their primary consumer base. Then I can see Lusty as a great moniker. Anyway, I did have a few sips. It’s not drain worthy...but it’s bad. Young, heavy handed in the corn-saccharin taste, and a rough itchy finish. I can see it mixed well with high sugar cocktails, but neat is just plain wrong. I didn’t drink or go on spring break in college ( 25 credits.semester and dual major saw to that), but if I did, this might be my go-to condiment. My personal opinion: as grown adults, we should never invite people late at night to look at our knife collection, nor should we be drinking this neat.
Virginia Distillery Co. Rum Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky
Blended Malt — Multiple CountriesTastedOne day, when I retire, one of the bucket list items I have is to drive across this great beautiful nation of ours and visit every major distillery in each state. But, until that time comes, I’ll have to be content in trying samples from various ones as I find them. This one was sent to me by @jonwilkinson7309 ( thanks Jon!). Virginia isn’t up there in the distilling scene like Colorado, New York, or California, and they’re probably known more for their craft beer than whiskey. But I’m glad to see this one, although technically they’ve been sourcing from Scotland while they produce and age theirs I think. This particular one is a limited version, age unknown ( but I’m guessing young), with a 8-12 month rum cask finish. I’ve not had many rum cask finishes, but the ones I did have, I wasn’t a fan ( Balvenie and Glenfiddich come to mind). Personally, I found the rum casks overly sweet or not doing much to the base spirit. I’m finding the similar situation here : Nose is a bit sharp. You know it’s young and can benefit some time more in the barrel. Taste...not getting rum. More of a bread-y malty taste, some sharpness towards the end. Youth is so evident in this...thinking something else besides rum would’ve helped cover the age ( sherry? Red wine?) Interesting, but if you like rum finishes ( I don’t personally), try the Balvenie Caribbean cask instead. It comes with an age statement (14yr), and similar price point ($60).
Lagavulin Offerman Edition 11 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedThere’s a lot of celebrity spirits out there, and in fact, if you’re a celebrity and you don’t have a spirit, it’s as if you’re lacking. Right up there in that street cred, like having an Oscar sitting on your mantle. But, I find I can’t seem to link the spirit with the marketed personality of the celebrity. So, case and point: I found Wild Turkey Longbranch smooth and silky. I don’t associate smooth and silky with its celebrity sponsor, Matthew Mcaunaugey. (Sp?). But this one...spot on with Nick Offerman. My impression of Mr.Offerman is down to earth, no-nonsense, a man’s man. Hats off to Diageo for nailing the association. ( you made up for the entire GoT blunder...how the hell is the Targaryen a Cardu??!). So...onto this pour, which by the way was graciously provided by my buddy @Richard-ModernDrinking . The smoke is evident throughout the nose and palette, as to be expected. It’s a Lagavulin absolutely. But, here’s the kicker...it’s not as potent as the 16. I’d expect this to be brutish compared to its older brother. But it’s not, instead it has a strong smoky caramel flavor throughout, with some fruity backbone. Really well made; one that I can imagine Mr.Offerman truly enjoying, not such pitching an ad. Some places are pricing this above the 16. Look...it’s good, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves...it’s no better or worse than the 16. It’s just different. But I’d not pay more than the 16. If you see it for less than the 16, a strong buy recommendation.
Port Dundas 1988 28 Year Clan Denny (Douglas McGibbon)
Single Grain — Lowlands , ScotlandTastedI’m always thankful for getting to sample ghost distilleries; they’re neither cheap or easy to come by. This one was sent courtesy of @Generously_Paul. Port Dundas’ demise was a bit different than others like Brora , Rosebank, Karuizawa, etc. While those shut down due to economic downturns and moving away from single malts to blends, this one shut down rather recently in 2011 from a strictly business decision. Diageo decided to concentrate its grain whisky investment into Cameronbridge and not Port Dundas. Diageo leveraged Cameronbridge for blends, gins (Tanqueray) and vodka ( Smirnoff). The rest—-well, Port Dundas went to the wayside a while Cameronbridge flourished. Onto to the tasting:. Unlike @LeeEvolved below, I’m not enjoying the nose at all—-I’m getting a very grain-y industrial aroma. But for me, the palette is where it shines. You gotta let this one sit out a bit. A few drops of water, and flavors open up to a tropical fruit plate. Pineapple and coconut at the onset. Lingering finish. If not for the disappointing nose, a solid 4.5-4.75. I just couldn’t get past the industrial grain scent. But palette is amazing. Without smelling it and simply tasting it blind, I’d not guess this was a grain whisky. Palette for me is steps ahead of the nose. But more importantly, it’s something to cherish—-a ghost isn’t easy to come by, and for that I’m extra thankful to @Generously_Paul.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Brora
Peated Blend — ScotlandTastedThis what the regular JW Blue wishes itself to be. Add a few drops of water, let it rest and open up, and you’ll be treated to a cornucopia of aromas. You get wool and herbs. First taste is mineral taste, a bit farm-y, hazelnuts. There’s a surprising waxy side as well. That and the farmy taste must be the Brora. This is an excellent blend, and complexity head and shoulders over the Blue. At the level of Compass Box’s high end stuff. It’s not exactly cheap, and I have an issue with Brora being used in a blend...but personal feelings aside, it’s well engineered showcasing a plethora of aromas and layers of taste.290.0 USD per Bottle
BenRiach Albariza 22 Year
Peated Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedI opened this last night to share with some friends and family. I’ve heard really good things of the 18 yr Albariza, so was hoping this can replicate it, especially considering that 18yr old isn’t available anymore. Personally, I feel there’s a few combinations that work really well—-Peat+port, Peat+PX sherry, and peat+oloroso are some of my favorites. So, with this peat+PX, I went in with high hopes. It’s really good...but I felt as if it was about a few years too much in the barrel. I felt as if the barrel was probably overactive, and ideally would’ve peaked around 17-19yr. But I know I’m nitpicking—-a 22 yr single malt is a luxury in itself. At first whiff, you get the earthy peat, not the Islay medicinal, but more mushroom-y. Followed in taste by a sweet nutty flavor and a smoky aftertaste. It’s damn good...but just a tad over-oaked, in my opinion. If you see the 18, grab it...I’m guessing that may have been the epitome of a good speysider / highlander Peated single malt.150.0 USD per Bottle
High West A Midwinter Nights Dram. Act 7
Rye — USATastedAnd they’re back (almost) back to form. Just when I was close to writing off HW Midwinter, they came up with their Act 7, which though not to the level of Pre Act 4, is still pretty good. Christmas in a bottle—-mulled wine, nutmeg, allspice and oranges. Well made —and with a bigger portion of their own juice. @Scott_E I know you’re a fan—-this is much better than last year’s Act 6.80.0 USD per BottleWhiteface Mountain Ski Resort
Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedThe mere words “Japanese whiskey” brings about images of exotic, expensive, and very good whiskey. Good enough to have given their Scottish counterparts a run for their money. But the last few years, it’s been difficult to discern between real Japanese whiskey, and those sourced from Canada, Scotland, and US. In Japan, with regulations being loose about this, one can source whiskey from anywhere, and as long as it’s aged (for unspecified time) in Japan, it’s still labeled Japanese whiskey. So, you think you’re buying a 16 yr Yamazakura ( sounds like Yamazaki...that alone adds a few extra quid), but in reality you’re getting a 16 yr Canadian or American. But, there’s still some pure Japanese made—like -Hakushu ( along with Yamazaki, Yoichi, Chita, and few others). Unfortunately the age statements are rare and expensive, I opened this from my stash last night, with some family over for the holidays. I was in no mood to open my Hakushu 12, 18 or Heavily Peated, so I grabbed this one. I love Hakushu’s aroma—-pine and forests. Taste is peaty, with more of that fresh forest. Sweet finish. If not for having tried their amazing 12, I’d have given this a 4-4.25. But, as good as it is, it’s not there with the 12. Still...really well made, if you’re choosing a true Japanese NAS, this is one of them better bets.