Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (Fall 2017)
Rye — Kentucky, USATastedNose: Vanilla, Apricot, quite a bit of oak, a hint of peppermint and some dusty corn notes as well. Flavor: Spicy with quite a bit of apricot and still more background mint. Finish: Oaky and fruity with hot cinnamon and clove notes. Medium long with lingering spices and more stone fruit. Wow this is good! Not super complex but the fruity spicy flavor is outstanding!
Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength
Single Malt — TaiwanTastedI'm a fan of Kavalan. That said there was some confusion. We went to Whiskyfest and asked the ladies at the Kavalan booth to pour us the Vinho Barrique and Sherry and loved what they poured Admittedly there was some language barrier. After some samples and confusion I am 99% sure they actually poured us the Sherry and Ex Bourbon. The Ex Bourbon was the one that kind of blew my mind that night. This is a roughly 5 year old pick from Total Wine. It's been said that a year in Taiwan is equivalent to 5 in Scotland and I'm in agreement to be sure. Nose: Vanilla buttercream frosting, mango, papaya, and oak with a malty dusty background note that I tend to associate more with corn whiskey. Flavor: Sweet but not cloyingly so. More of a honey sweetness. More tropical fruit especially mango with some heat from the proof but no ethanol note with some spice as well. Finish: Long finish with some clove and cardamom from the barrel and quite a bit of toasted coconut as well. Lingers for a long time and dries out a little with the tropical honey and barrel char staying with you a long time. Wow this is a superb whisky. I've now tried the sherry, two picks of the ex bourbon, vinho barrique, and port and can say this slightly younger pick from Total Wine is my favorite. The older pick was nice but the wood was too forward and masked the fruit notes. Pricey but definitely worth the cost.150.0 USD per Bottle
GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 7
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedThis was a gift actually of roughly 95% of a bottle from someone who hated it. He hates Macallan, knows I like Macallan (like not love), and says this is similar. I went in to this somewhat skeptical seeing as it got a solid thumbs down. Nose: Raisin abounds with oak, sherry funk, honey, milk chocolate, and toffee. Quite a nose on this and very complex. Almost no ethanol punch which is interesting at over 115 proof. Flavor: Boom! Trail mix! It's like grabbing a handful of trail mix and putting everything in your mouth: First raisins, then boiled peanut, then milk chocolate, and toffee. Wow! Finish: A little spicy with moderately drying oak. Quite a long finish that is somehow raisiny and sweet and tapers in to barrel char and honey. This is truly outstanding. Definitely taking the top spot for me on sherry finished malt whiskey. Super complex and delicious. I highly recommend.80.0 USD per Bottle
Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Rye
Rye — Kentucky, USATastedKind of excited to try this since it's a super deal at $30, I like the Pikesville, and it's not available in my state. Fortunately I know a guy who shops in Oregon! Nose: Butterscotch and quite a bit of baking spices up front. The signature nutty Heaven Hill note comes through right after with hints in the background of mint and oak. Flavor: Sweet and spicy! The Heaven Hill nuttiness is subdued but there with more baking spices and toasted pecans. Finish: Medium long and somewhat drying first rye spice and oak followed by mint and tarragon and then leather and clove. Boy this is an interesting one. Clearly some age on this NAS product. A huge bargain at $30. Hope they release this everywhere soon as I'll have to nurse this bottle in the meantime.30.0 USD per Bottle
Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedAn impulse buy recommended by a local store. Nose: Very floral a la Wild Turkey but a background oaky nuttiness that I find pleasant. A little bit of stewed apple with hints of lemon peel. Flavor: Not as nice as the nose. Some sweetness and more floral notes but this is overpowered by young piney whiskey and everything else gets lost. Finish: Kind of long and drying with some oak and hints of barrel spices but that young piney whiskey note just lingers and kind of blots everything else out. This one has promise but without more time in barrel I'd say it's a pass for me. Shame. New whiskey makers need to determine if they want to put out product too soon and risk turning away future customers for when their bottles are released at the right age.45.0 USD per Bottle
Sonoma Distilling Co Cherrywood Straight Rye Whiskey Single Barrel Reserve
Rye — California, USATastedSo I'll be honest that I don't love their bourbon. In fact I've already reviewed it so feel free to check it out. That said, the rye is good and the cherrywood is my favorite. This is the one and only time they've done a cask strength pick of the cherrywood rye through a restaurant near San Jose, CA. Needless to say there were some extreme measures gone to in order to acquire this one. This stuff has the malted barley portion of the mash bill smoked with cherrywood in a makeshift smoker that the distiller described as "a half size cargo container modified as a smoker". Pretty cool. Nose: Very herbal with mint and tarragon as the primary notes. Some sweet sugar and citrus peel as well. A little astringent with some cedar wood in the background. Smells young. Flavor: Sweet and herbal with some pine notes that I associate with whiskey that needed more time in barrel. Background notes of a light maraschino cherry but overwhelmingly piney. Finish: Fairly long with some oak and a little bit of spice. Barrel spices but an overwhelming solvent cleanser note that lingers longer than I'd like. I really wanted to like this because I like the standard offering but the young age here comes through much more on the cask strength version and doesn't do any favors here. Too much pine and lemon pledge. Bummer.75.0 USD per Bottle
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
Single Grain — JapanTastedThis is an interesting one in that it's a grain spirit (corn) instead of malted barley. Almost like a Japanese take on bourbon. Nose: Heavy vanilla, honey, lemon peel, and some background notes of corn sweetness, hay, and bread dough. Flavor: Sweet vanilla custard all the way! Uncomplicated but I like the clear flavors coming through. Finish: More sweet vanilla and honey but some oak transitioning to a dry slightly tannic finish. Just a hair nutty as well. Very uncomplicated and not at all challenging but sweet and delicious. More of an after dinner dessert type drink for me than something I want to sip with a burger. Regardless I'm a fan.55.0 USD per Bottle
Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finish
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedCan't believe I found this for $33 for a 750ml bottle! Given the ex bourbon/sherry cask finishing I'm pretty excited as I really liked the PX Sherry finished Distiller's Masterpiece. Nose: Sweet vanilla and brown sugar with dried cherry and fig. This has the usual Jim Beam boiled peanuts but kind of a dusty note that mixes with a little bit of funk and comes out a little bit like hazelnut in the end. Flavor: Very bourbony right up front with vanilla and dark sugars but right away more dark fruit and a little bit of sherry funk. It's a little spicy too with quite a bit of oak. Finish: More rye spice and dark fruit fades in to a heavily drying oaky finish. Very long and keeps going with more drying oak that I assume comes from contact with those small casks. This is excellent! The sherry isn't super pronounced, coming forward more with background dark fruit notes but I like the way the sherry notes play with the heavy oak from the quarter casks all overshadowed by the traditional Jim Beam bourbon flavors.33.0 USD per Bottle
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch Proof 123.2
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedA sample from dthom as part of the "whiskey transfer program". Nose: Quite a bit of ethanol punch, heavy vanilla, apple, and raisin. Some background oak and mint. Flavor: Very sweet but a lot of barrel bitter up front which I found a little off putting. Otherwise vanilla and brown sugar and nothing else seemed to come through the bitter notes. Finish: Heavy leather and tobacco with rye spice. A ton of barrel bitter that overwhelms everything else. I don't think that Woodford made a good choice making this such a high proof as some gnarly flavors are coming to the forefront. Kind of disappointing.
Cream of Kentucky
Bourbon — Kentucky , USATastedA sample generously gifted by bourbonjosh24. Nose: Vanilla up front with quite a bit of poached pear. Some oak with background notes of rye grassiness and an earthy note I can't quite put my finger on. Flavor: Vanilla, dark sugar, and poached pear with quite a bit of toasted pecan. Kind of like pecan pie with fruit in it. Delicious but sweet. Finish: Very oaky with some rye spiciness. Fairly long finish that gets drier as time goes on and the sweetness fades nicely in to the barrel notes.