All reviews are mine: unfiltered and cask strength 💋 I'm a booze nerd and spirit fan touring the world one dram at a time. 🥃 Full reviews, videos and photos on Instagram.
Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength
Single Malt — TaiwanReviewed August 25, 2022I'm practicing what I preach as I write this review from a beautiful rural cottage in the midst of wine country (complete with indoor fireplace - ooh lala!). I do appreciate excellent wines, but of course I brought a few whisky samples along for the journey too. Kavalan's Solist Vinho Barrique uses American oak casks from both red and white wines that are retoasted prior to filling. This Taiwanese copper-gold whisky is bottled at cask strength, 57.8% ABV. Its aroma is sumptuous with rich lychee, aged oak, orange blossoms and grape jelly. Chocolate and red fruits (like red currant jam) reveal themselves over time. A fleeting grape note ascends to peppery blackberries. The spiciness fades through a lengthy oaky, bodied wine-reminiscent, lightly tannic finish. A few drops of water brings more sawdust to the nose but enhances the fruit notes in the flavour profile alongside caramelized sugar. The woody notes in the finish are toned down with a few drops of water, which I view as an advantage. Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique is a very interesting dram. I particularly enjoy its nose without dilution and am pleasantly surprised by the benefit to flavour/finish thanks to minimal water. I can imagine Solist Vinho Barrique being a good whisky for high proof bourbon drinkers that are curious to explore international offerings and a conversation-worthy pour for whisky enthusiasts as well. 8/10
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Cask Proof
Rye — Virginia, USAReviewed August 25, 2022In the "good news department" is the recent release of Catoctin Creek whiskies in Canada. I love seeing more American whiskey offerings pop up locally. I decided to try the Cask Proof Roundstone Rye first, a single barrel 100% rye whiskey at 58% ABV. Orange syrup, dried dates and cloves meet severed wood as I inhale this deep amber rye. I can picture an old woodworking shop as I close my eyes and sit with this pour. While I sip, faint sweetness ascends to a pepper-petrol note in the middle. It wanes to an enjoyably long, warming, baking space-laden, cocoa dusted, lightly tannic oak finish. Catoctin Creek Cask Proof Rye opens up nicely with a few drops of water added. It's substantial enough to play with the light dilution but I'm curious to see how their other offerings compare. 7.25/10
Lagavulin Offerman Edition Guinness Cask Finish
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed August 25, 2022As a fan of both excellent scotch and stouts, the Lagavulin Offerman Edition 11 Year Guinness Cask Finish is a must-try in my book. The smell of this whisky gives me an image of toasted campfire s'mores; nostalgic gooey biscuit and malted chocolate with wafts of smoke. With time, this pale straw coloured pour reveals tones of juicy pear, yeast, banana and nutmeg. Lightly sweet malted chocolate transitions to pepper and grounding savoury smoke. Faint tannins and tobacco settle through a long finish. Its creamy smoke stays on my palate indefinitely, like a roasted version of classic Guinness foam. Lagavulin Offerman Edition Guinness Cask Finish is easy and enjoyable without too many bells and whistles. I see this as an inviting, slightly sweet crossover for people who aren't interested in immensely peated drams but are "smoke curious". My biggest gripe is that the bottle will finish all too quickly. 8/10
McQueen Mocha Gin
Flavored Gin — ScotlandReviewed August 25, 2022Mocha Gin sounds like an alluring alternative to morning java on a Saturday, right? McQueen Mocha Gin hails from Callander Scotland where founders Dale & Vicky McQueen express their adventurousness through innovative gin creations. McQueen Mocha Gin is eye-catching in an impressive blue glazed ceramic bottle with a raised embossed crest. It seems like this may have been an old or limited edition bottle compared to McQueen's contemporary offerings. Bulgarian juniper stars at the forefront of the nose with a healthy dose of minerality and lime. It smells like a cheery summer day at the beach. In contrast to its bright nose, the sip is smooth and brooding with a mix of juniper, vanilla and grapefruit paired with undertones of cocoa nibs and coffee. The aftertaste really is like a mocha. It's delightfully weird. I'm a fan of unconventional flavour combinations and McQueen Mocha Gin does check that box. I feared that it would be a sugary blast of artificial mocha flavouring and I'm so glad that it wasn't. I'd imagine that this could give vodkas a run for their money in an espresso martini. The bottle claims that their gin "can never be described as 'another gin'" and they're spot on with that sentiment. I'm curious to taste more of their concoctions. 7.5/10
Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
Flavored Whiskey — USAReviewed August 25, 2022Have you ever felt like a "black sheep" before? For much of my childhood to young adulthood, I have. As a nerdy science-studying vintage-loving whisky drinker who loves dance, travel, food and art, I didn't fall into conventional categories of cool. One of my favourite things about the whisky/spirits community is connecting with like-minded individuals who celebrate our differences through shared appreciation for high quality pours. Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey branded themselves as such to reflect independence and free themselves from "societies tight and rigid standards". The inspiration for this bottle came from founder Steve Yeng's signature peanut butter and whisky cocktail at his bar in Ocean Beach, CA. Together with his wife Brittany, they brought this vision to life in a way that honours their community of misfits and "black sheep". The nose smells like roasted peanuts laced with gooey toffee. Skrewball is dessert in a glass. Smooth, sweet peanut butter in light, drinkable form coats my mouth and lips with a wisp of tannins. It's like a more tooth-friendly peanut brittle that stays on your palate well after sipping. I'd think of this as being more in a liqueur category. I really appreciate its uniqueness as an ingredient and I would use this sparingly as a digestif, cocktail (...add a little Chambord for PB&J!) or to make a vanilla milkshake more fun. If your go-to candy bar is a peanut butter cup, this bottle should definitely be on your shelf. 6.5/10
Park Distillery Barrel Aged Gin
Barrel-Aged Gin — Canada , CanadaReviewed August 25, 2022Park Distillery Barrel Aged Gin brings me back to a crisp, refreshing visit to Banff a few years ago. Through my adventure, I was lucky enough to purchase batch 1 (bottle 233) of this creation that "hibernates" through the winter in oak bourbon barrels for 180 days. Post pour, I can smell ethanol, light pine and mountain musk laced with faint anise-honeysuckle-orange sweetness. Familiar gin botanicals and white pepper dance on the tip of my tongue. Their more pronounced entry quickly relaxes to lasting oak that remains on my palate indefinitely. This is a gin that sips like a whisky which in itself is an impressive feat. The distillery promotes that "there is no place like Banff" and for my international friends, I'd agree with that sentiment. It's certainly worth the visit. 7.75/10
291 Small Batch Colorado Bourbon
Bourbon — Colorado , USAReviewed April 17, 2022What's in a name? For @distillery291, the number 291 is an homage to both the first gallery that featured photography as fine art (291 gallery by Alfred Stieglitz) 📸 and coincidentally the dorm room number inhabited by owner/distiller Michael Myers. Small Batch Bourbon 50% ABV, 100 proof, Batch 11: Distillery 291 Small Batch Bourbon has a very similar profile to its barrel proof cousin. The nose offers charred Aspen wood staves, orange rind and a touch of aged oak. I feel like I'm sitting in front of an extinguished campfire eating orange marmalade on toast. This iteration brings more prominent vanilla after a few minutes in the glass. I find it comforting. This lightly honeyed wave of baking spice and pepper is more gentle than the Barrel Proof. While there is still savoury solvency, it's much more cohesive with the rest of the aspen-oak profile. The finish is medium-long complete with tongue tingle, vague citrus tanginess and its starring characteristic wood at the forefront. Comparing this expression with the Barrel Proof is a negotiation; there are some nuances that shine in this bottling that were lost in a higher proof party. And vice versa. I do prefer this ABV of bottling (just "pour and go!" IMO), but my hardcore bourbon fans may prefer the Barrel Proof Bourbon as an experimental DIY adventure. ...Or simply pack a bigger punch, if you're into that sort of thing. 😉 7.5/10 *Note: Each these bottles were tasted independently with a fresh palate per pour. Proofs in these samples are slightly higher than what is being widely released.
291 Barrel Proof Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon — Colorado , USAReviewed April 17, 2022Isn't it beautiful when passions collide? @distillery291 owner/distiller Michael Myers crafted his original still from ex photogravure plates that he used from his photography career. 🤯 Barrel Proof Bourbon 64.2% 128.4 proof, Barrel 633: Its aroma has pleasant depth from the charred aspen wood staves and aged oak, complimented by orange rind, dried fruit and dark brown sugar. This nose evokes the 291 Distillery signature "wild west" scene in my mind, complete with stunning boots and squeaky saloon doors. Much like the Barrel Proof Rye, the palate was served better by adding a couple drops of water. A wave of baking spice is met by savoury solvency and pepper. Its medium finish is belly warming, lightly drying with lingering aspen wood and cinnamon. There are elements in here that are reminiscent of a high ester Jamaican rum. I would love to experience more of the sweet notes from the nose within the palate but it certainly earns points for originality from more-conventional bourbon profiles. 7.25/10 *Note: Each these bottles were tasted independently with a fresh palate per pour. Proofs in these samples are slightly higher than what is being widely released.
291 Small Batch Colorado Rye Whiskey
Rye — Colorado, USAReviewed April 17, 2022Small Batch Rye Whiskey 50.8% ABV, 101.7 proof, Batch 14: This initial aroma brings rich spiced pear and orange with wood shavings. It's pleasant. As the pour sits, nostalgic toasted wood weaves in throughout. A quick glimmer of spiced apricot makes way to more prominent, scorched wood. Its deep charred American white oak barrels and toasted Aspen wood staves are front and center. Savoury solvency and tannins rush towards the middle and back of my palate. The finish lingers with tastes of leather, wood and tobacco that makes you feel like a badass. I do wish that the first half of the taste stuck around for a while longer versus dashing out the door, but so long as it doesn't forget their sunglasses before donning a biker jacket, at least they'll be doing it in style. 7/10 All in all, the 291 Distillery bottles are worth exploring. They have a different twist compared to more-standard American whiskey offerings. This is a refreshing compliment to the bustling, ever-evolving whiskey landscape. I'd also love to see how 291's Aspen wood finish compliments in cocktails as well. Cheers! 🥃🏔 *Note: Each these bottles were tasted independently with a fresh palate per pour. Proofs in these samples are slightly higher than what is being widely released.
291 Barrel Proof Straight Rye Whiskey (Batch #1)
Rye — Colorado, USAReviewed April 17, 2022As I looked at my quartet of @distillery291 bottles, I'm not sure what possessed me to make this selection, but I went for the highest proof to start. Would you have done the same? Barrel Proof Rye 65.8% 131.7 proof, Barrel 667: While the proof initially made my nose twinge a touch, it's nowhere near the ethanol punch I had braced myself for. There's a woody-meets-refreshing musk that deviates from typical oaky scents (...likely some aspen wood stave magic!). It evokes an image of a rugged person wearing a worn leather jacket taking confident strides in a rainstorm. As it opens, ginger and citrus add a syrupy kiss on the cheek to that cologne-conjured individual. Had neat, this does sip quick and hot. I am a cask-strength-enjoying kind of gal, but in the spirit of doing this whiskey full justice, I added a few drops of water to my pour. Game changer. Water slows the pace of the taste so I can enjoy a flash of stewed fruit and a crescendo of savoury pepper and oak. The finish is long as the spice wanes, laced with charred wood and hint of petrol. I really love the aroma of this one neat, but I would highly recommend experimenting with a touch of water for consumption. 7.75/10 *Note: Each these bottles were tasted independently with a fresh palate per pour. Proofs in these samples are slightly higher than what is being widely released.
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