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  1. Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain

    Single Grain — Ireland

    Tasted April 25, 2021
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    N: The barrels rule the day here: just about equal parts oaky bourbon and silky red fruit, favoring the oak just slightly. The two are married here. I find it really tough to separate the two profiles. So you end up with a woodsy cherry, orchard fruit that's still in the orchard, little bit of black AND red licorice (never gotten that before). It's all interesting and fun, but doesn't have a lot of depth (which is fine, considering the price). P: Smooth and rich. Leans even more toward bourbon on the palate than the nose. Quick hit of caramel, vanilla, cherry, before the anise/black licorice drops in and lingers. Caramel comes back atop a bread pudding profile. Finish is sweet with lots of red fruit, dash of cayenne pepper, and a lingering chocolate powder. This is tasty, cheap, unique, interesting. It is not complicated, so it can't really compete with drams higher up the price scale. But the craft is on display - the distillery has clearly put thought and effort into making something that approaches an Irish twist on a traditional bourbon, and affordable at that. The end result is better than a cheap bourbon or a cheap Irish whiskey, but not better than the upper-middle range of either. Not even close, really. But it's not trying for that. It's just an interesting outlier. I'm good with that. Might even pick it up again because I can't really think of anything else quite like it, especially at the price. Long story short: this is far from amazing, but unique, interesting, and super easy to enjoy at the same time. Perfect for a sub $25 bottle.
    24.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted April 18, 2021
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    N: Ripe berries, caramel, brown sugar, spearmint. Leather with citrus oil. Raw tobacco leaf, or at least what I imagine that smells like. Herby with a lean toward basil, but that's cut through and balanced by the sweeter caramel and brown sugar from before. Oak and cinnamon. More leather and unlit cigar tobacco. More berries and red fruit. P: The berries hit first, like the nose. Caramel and vanilla follow. Both are well developed, but the vanilla is particularly nice with a palate filling creaminess. Oak and cinnamon next. Good deal of baking spices. Finish is medium long, spicy and tannic. Spice is cinnamon first, but quickly builds and turns to a chili pepper heat - noticeably hot, never overwhelming, really nice. Lots of oak tannin in the finish, but, again, the bitterness eases in and eases out - there are no sharp edges in this bourbon. I'm not saying anything new here, but this may be the best VFM bourbon on the market. It has the traditional caramel and vanilla notes that you expect (at a minimum) in a value bourbon. But neither of those flavors are presented at minimum here - both are developed and robust with complication, interplay with other flavors, and nuance. Very well done. More interesting, however, is the fruity, berry flavor that leads the way. That is way above the bar for a ~$30 bourbon. This easily drinks like a $60 or maybe even $80 bourbon. This is one to put on repeat.
    36.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Talisker 10 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted April 18, 2021
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    Review #100. Picked a classic. N: Delicious, delicate, and perfume-y peat smoke that's more tinged with maritime scent than anything from Islay. It actually reminds me of a cross between Islay and Campbelltown traditional profiles, which, come to think of it, sounds like a great idea. Iodine, sea salt, saltine crackers. Seaweed, sour fruits, overripe fruits, peach, pear, green apple. Feels like more earthy peat than smoke, but there's a faraway campfire in it, for certain. Moss on a tree in a rainy forest on a cold Saturday mid-spring - like after the snow has mostly melted, but the air still has bite to it. Fresh fish hanging on a line on a dock. Dried fish. Salted fish. Most other types of fish, but it's still not fishy, thankfully. Apple juice. Cold cuts. Almond cookies. Dash of mint/menthol/anise - hard to pick which. A fresh, soapy coriander. P: Caramel, vanilla, mint, peat, pine needles, cinnamon. Rich, sweet, smoky, and spicy, but very well balanced. Just right on the bitterness, which feels tannic in nature. Good dose of salty too. Milk chocolate and Milk Duds. A super mushy vanilla bread pudding with a caramel drizzle over the top. Honey in white tea. Less fruit than on the nose, but there's some red fruit and orchard fruit in the background. Finish is a great mix of sweet, tannic bitter, salty, and pepper heat. It's cinnamon plus - cinnamon sort of flavor, but heat is a bit more. There's a good bit of chocolate and honey in the finish too. Oaky, tannic bitterness lingers. Salt pervades it all, adding some character and interest. There is not a damn thing wrong with this dram, except that Lagavulin 16 exists. I can hardly choose between the two. I think the Lag 16 is slightly more complicated, perfume-y, and interesting, but it's also 50 to 100% more expensive. The fact alone that I'm willing to pay that difference to get a Lag 16 makes me think it's the slightly better dram. But the Talisker is a far better value and, in reality, I will probably choose this most nights over the Lag because it's just easier to replace. And just about as good. Regardless, this is a question with no wrong answer: Talisker is excellent; Lagavulin is excellent. Can't go wrong either way.
    55.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch B520

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted April 6, 2021
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    N: Butter and caramel. Huge butter scent, actually: toasted butter in a cast iron skillet, buttered corn, buttered bread... Lavender, shaving soap, wood stain, strawberry, bacon soaking in maple syrup, black licorice, caramel coated red fruit. Plenty of ethanol, but doesn't feel quite up to the proof. Some wood scents: fresh cut lumber, sawdust, very distant campfire/burning wood. A really nice raspberry note develops after it's been in the glass for a bit. The raspberry tends to merge with the butter and maple syrup, soften it, and turn it all towards a raspberry vanilla cream. That, in turn, is punctuated with black licorice hits - which I would not have expected to be complementary to the raspberry, but it is here. It is an incredible nose. It comes across a little young and mildly harsh at times, but it really keeps giving and giving and giving. P: Caramel and vanilla first. Oak tannins, then both wood and ethanol burn. Straight drinks a bit too hot for my taste. Has that melt on the tongue feeling (ECBP has it too). Rocks glass, two cubes, just enough whiskey to float them, and then wait for them to melt - this seems to be where the palate works for me, but it blunts the nose, unfortunately. Cubes are good and melted now: caramel and vanilla are still there. Honey is added. A very raw feeling cinnamon joins - it's like how a cinnamon stick smells before it's ground down: full of potential. Raspberry returns, but all by its lonesome now. Black licorice, mint and menthol, some herbal tea notes. Still lots of oak flavor and bitter tannins. Letting it sit on the tongue a very long time - long enough to warm up - adds some baking spices, some bready, baked goods notes, a healthy dose of chocolate powder, and a hint of coffee. Finish is very long with cinnamon burn and tannin pucker sitting on the sides of your tongue for what feels like a couple of minutes after your last sip. Hint of chocolate and honey in there too. Almond and peanut are suddenly noticeable as the spice fades. Last note is a hoppy, herbal bitterness. Picked a big one for review #99. No idea what's going to be #100 yet. I have to say, on the whole, I don't really like this whiskey. The nose is incredible, but drinking it takes effort, planning, thought. If you ice it, as I did, then you lose a lot of the nose. Maybe experimenting with varying amounts of water would yield better results for both nose and palate, but I've got other whiskies to drink - I don't really care enough about this one in particular to try and draw out all its nuances. Neither do you, probably. I love uncut, cask strength, barrel proof, untouched, unadulterated, whatever-you-want-to-call-it whiskey. But this is one that probably could be improved if someone in-house, with lots of time to tinker (on the company dime, obviously), could find exactly the spot where the nose and palate work together as a cohesive whole. Is that cut down to 55%? 50%? 46%? I don't know, because I don't like math that much and, as stated above, don't care enough to figure it out for this one bottle in my collection. The point, ultimately, is that the barrel proof here is not doing this whiskey favors - it needs to be cut, likely at a very specific ratio, and Larceny (Heaven Hill) was kinda lazy in not doing that. Think about Russell's Reserve at 55% - why? Why not just barrel proof it? Because someone took the time to think about it, taste it, test it, and decided it was better when cut to some very specific degree. Same is true here, but Larceny decided to let you do that work (or not). I can see some people appreciating that. I can also see how that looks like an attempt to cash in on the barrel proof trend. Whatever it is, it worked. See Whisky Advocate, Winter 2020, p. 61. On the whole, I would pass on this at what I paid. At normal retail, maybe two bottles gets you a good shot at finding an excellent balance of water to whiskey with just enough left to enjoy. But I'd rather just drink another whiskey than put in that effort.
    120.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Laphroaig 10 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted April 5, 2021
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    N: Barbecued vanilla frosting and iodine. Smoked mint, tarragon, and other garden herbs. Turkey bacon with a smoked raspberry jam. Definitely medicinal, as its reputation would lead you to expect. It's an ethanol sort of medicinal, slightly numbing, but far from unpleasant. Caramel and old tennis balls (which is noticeably different from new tennis balls). Some rich red fruit hiding inside an unbaked wheat flour dough ball. Additions after beginning to drink: new tires, anise, chlorinated pool water, gasoline (but just barely - like the pleasant, sweet first note and then no more), middle school gym class, black tar... P: Medicinal first - not ethanol this time, it's something more bitter, sharp, and herbal - like a really strong tea (probably black, but some white in it too). Behind that is a really nice traditional profile of caramel, vanilla, and dried red fruit. The ethanol does hit a little later and, like the palate, it's not unpleasant - just doesn't add much either. Grilled pineapple, dark chocolate, dark roast coffee. Very faint stone and orchard fruit deep in the background. Finish is dark chocolate (bitter), mild cayenne pepper heat, and more of the herbal/medicinal character. This whisky is fantastic. It has depth, character, a story. It's truly delicious. But I still think it's a step behind the Lagavulin 16 - unfair comparison as that may be since 16 year olds usually beat up on 10 year olds in any competition, but I don't make the rules about the best known and best selling Islay whiskies. (The Laphroaig 10 is actually better selling, I believe, so maybe 10 year olds can beat 16s at something.) Worse, I don't make the rules about the best peated Scotches, generally. If I did, however, I think I favor the Talisker 10 and Highland Park 12 over this, just slightly. Each of those are closer in price (and, probably related, age) to this, and yet both offer a slightly more robust and diverse palate. Basically, I don't love the medicinal nature of this. A lot of people do love it - maybe you will! I think this is a personal preference dram - if a somewhat bitter, medicine character appeals to you, then this is your dram; if you want Islay smoke and character, but less medicine, drop a few extra bucks on the Lagavulin; if you want smoke, not the bitter pill, and want to stay around $50, grab the Talisker if you can find it, or the Highland Park. Regardless, no disappointments with any of those drams. All of them are excellent.
    50.0 USD per Bottle
  6. George Dickel Tennessee Single Barrel 15 Year

    Tennessee — Tennessee, USA

    Tasted April 1, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Label says bottle 320 and 46.7% ABV. Proof seems a bit low for the possible range, but I wasn't thinking about that when I spotted this on a bottom shelf in a random liquor store while taking my baby daughter for a walk in a random neighborhood while waiting for a car wash. It was an impulse buy. (Yes, I take my baby daughter on walks to random liquor stores sometimes - where else am I supposed to go? Parks? Borrr-ing...) These notes are in a rocks glass with one ice cube, and I think that is the way to drink this one. N: Blast of peanut butter followed by chocolate, cherry, cherry cough syrup, Reese's Pieces. Every time you go back, slapped in the face by peanut butter and Reese's Pieces - it's kinda cool like that actually. Waiting out the peanut butter and candy gets you to some mild citrus, caramel, vanilla, dried red fruit. Every now and then there's this sort of Highland Scotch fruit quality that jumps out, peach and pear and very rich - also nice. P: Bitter and a bit boozy at first glance. Peanut butter is there, especially mid-palate, just before the finish. Dark chocolate, peanuts generally, dried cherry, milk chocolate, peanut brittle. Fairly sharp medicinal ethanol bite that is not very pleasant, especially in combination with the bitterness (tannic). Finish is a sort of indistinguishable mish-mash of hot baking spice that occasionally touches on chili pepper, but nothing else really stands out. Peanut butter lingers through the finish too, but not as clear or as impressive as on the nose. Mouthfeel is rich and heavy which later comes to feel sweet, but it's not enough to counteract the bitterness and ethanol. So, I tried drinking this straight from a Glencairn and was hugely disappointed. The concentration of the nose in the Glencairn is just too much. The whiskey comes across as very boozy and medicinal - I think my threshold for that is fairly high, but I found it unpleasant and hard to nose. I still got the peanut butter, but it was overpowered by a cherry cough syrup scent that I couldn't take or escape. I switched to a rocks glass and threw a cube at it. Night and day difference - the contours of the profile were the same, but the harsh spots were tamed. A beautiful and fun-loving nose emerged, as described above. The palate, sadly, was basically the same, but watered down, and mediocre before that. I would pass on this bottle at this proof. Maybe I got a weak barrel, maybe not. My gut feeling is that this is what it is - kinda mediocre - and the barrel isn't the problem. That said, I think if I spot this again, I'll look for a bottle with a proof approaching or over 100. Maybe I'll prove to be a glutton for punishment, but I have a feeling the extra angel's share might overpower the proof and leave just enough flavor compounds to make this pretty good.
    60.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Kilbeggan Single Pot Still

    Single Pot Still — Ireland

    Tasted March 26, 2021
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    N: Overripe peaches soaking in apple cider, white grapes and/or white wine, grass and hay, oxidized apple, varying hints of stone and orchard fruit, Fig Newton cookies, prune, maybe plum, bit of lemon. Just a subtle suggestion of something vegetal and funky. Also feels like there's something more earthy and bready trying to break through from underneath all these softer and sort of off-key fruit flavors. I say off-key because all of them are quite pungent on their own and the nose almost has a vinegar quality to it - almost, but it dances nicely on the right side of that line. P: Very soft milk chocolate, honey, white bread (lightly toasted, I think), and slivered almond. Then the white grapes and mixed stone and orchard fruit return. As does the grass and hay. Softer peach and pear follow that and just barely break in before the pot still spices become assertive enough to remind you that this is single pot still whiskey after all. Finish starts hot with a generous dash of cayenne heat, accompanied by allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, but that all fades and softens to more of a cracked black pepper. Rising up through that spice is a faint toasted coconut (again, letting you know it is truly an Irish single pot still whiskey). Finally, a little chocolate and honey return to play the coda, and they brought graham crackers. How nice of them! This is not a terribly complicated whiskey, but it's fun and easy to drink. It's crisp and almost refreshing - as much as a whiskey can be, I guess. As a limited release, it is an interesting expression of the style. It's pretty affordable too. Worth grabbing if you like the single pot style. For perspective sake, this shares a similar character with the Teeling single pot still, but feels more rounded, less harsh, easier to enjoy. It is quite far from the robust and full bodied Powers or Spot whiskey single pot still expressions. It's kind of a dumb comparison, but I think it works here: this is white wine while those are red. I prefer red, as I assume most whiskey drinkers do, but I also like a nice changeup sometimes. This would suit that purpose perfectly. Hunting story: I read of this release close to a year ago and, since I love the Irish single pot still whiskeys, added it to my shopping list. I, of course, expected to partake of this fine dram shortly thereafter. Disappointment followed disappointment in trying to locate a bottle. A cornucopia of websites were surfed; a plethora of store shelves perused. Plenty of other Kilbeggans were found, but not this special one. But then, one day, there it was on the shelf! I had to do a double take on the bottle and also check my whiskey shopping spreadsheet on my phone (which I totally hate doing because spreadsheets really suck on phones) to make sure my eyes did not deceive me. I followed my "immediate buy list" rules and immediately bought it. So, friends out there, if you're holding out hope to find that special and nearly forgotten dram, let this be a lesson to you: just keep looking. And keep a spreadsheet. (Unless your special dram is an allocated bourbon. You're pretty much just screwed then. Spreadsheet won't help.) (Also, I feel like I may be able to cut and paste this same story into a Blue Spot review in about a year.)
    42.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Red Spot 15 Year Single Pot Still

    Single Pot Still — Ireland

    Tasted March 24, 2021
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    N: Plum, pear, raisin, gumdrops, cherry candy, cherry cough syrup, overripe banana, toasted coconut, almond extract, sugar cookies. Little bit of petrichor in it - thought I caught it in the Yellow Spot last night, but wasn't sure. I'm certain it's in the Red. Tiny and fleeting hits of mint and ethanol. Nosing across the edges of the glass (Glencairn) reveals a really nice sour stone fruit. P: Hot, sweet, oily, and heavy, and yet nothing out of place. Sweet and sour red fruit, little bit of anise and/or black licorice, cinnamon candy, banana playing at the edges of your tongue, little bit of a bitter white tea, cracked pepper, something vegetal - not quite bell pepper, but getting there. Sweet bread drizzled with caramel and vanilla sauce. Thin layer of chocolate which sometimes hits as powdered, sometimes as milk, sometimes dark. Finish is long and layered - hot cinnamon, banana, peach, pear, little bit of lingering dark chocolate, espresso... There's significant bitterness in the finish - in the chocolate and the espresso especially. Pot still spice is there, but generally sits in the background - very unlike the Yellow, Green, or really most Irish single pot still whiskies. And there's still red fruit hanging through to the end - bits of cherry, strawberry, grape, plum, raisin - some of it fresh, some of it dried. Seriously though, this dram just keeps coming. Every pour, sometimes every sip, there's something new here. This is an incredible whiskey. That said, it's not super easy to drink: the bitterness is going to turn some people off. There is an ethanol presence that doesn't bother me at all, but some may dislike it at the price point. The herbal and vegetal notes will turn some people off. For me, I think all of that is crazy interesting and super enjoyable, both to drink and to think about how it happened. But I still don't think I'd want this every day. Green Spot holds that place for me - could drink that every day. That said, this is noticeably better and more complicated. I think it justifies its price increase. Don't pay an upcharge or a secondary market price, but normal retail (about $120) is fair for this.
    125.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Yellow Spot 12 Year Single Pot Still

    Single Pot Still — Ireland

    Tasted March 23, 2021
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    N: Lemon, coconut, banana, dried strawberry, peach, pear. Lemon cookies. Something earthy and herbal, like a tea, but also maybe basil. Shortbread covered in sweet jam (probably strawberry, but lots of options). Occasional tropical notes break through, mango in particular. More sweet bread and/or vanilla bread pudding. P: It's hard to pick apart the fruit here - it's like if you dumped one of those little mixed fruit cocktail cups all into your mouth at once, and especially the juice at the bottom of the cup, and then just started chewing. Then grab some shortbread and add that to the mix. That's close to the first 2-3 seconds of this being in your mouth. It's kinda equal parts intense, overwhelming, and awesome. After all that, heavy and yeasty vanilla bread pudding starts to smooth out the edges and transitions to the finish. Finish is vanilla cream first, then herbal, medicinal, even minty. I did not expect that. Over time, the pot still spice builds to a pretty serious intensity - close to chili pepper type heat - but also backs off of the herbal/minty and transitions to a nice baking spice flavor and character (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) that sits nicely on top of that still lingering vanilla. This is a really good, tasty whiskey. I highly recommend it. That statement out of the way, I think the Green Spot is a better value. I think Redbreast 12 is a better value. I think Redbreast 12 Cask Strength is a vastly better value (even if an unfair comparison). So, this is excellent juice, and I have definitely enjoyed the bottle - had to pace myself a bit to make sure I saved some for this review - but I have a hard time imagining buying another. I just love the lively and fresh sort of swill-ability of the Green Spot too much to pick this over that probably nine times out of ten. And then there's the Cask Strength Redbreast (review forthcoming eventually) - an absolutely delightful monster that I paid about $15 less for than this. So, the message is, buy Yellow Spot. It's fantastic. But also buy Green Spot and Redbreast. You won't be disappointed by any of them.
    79.0 USD per Bottle
  10. Balcones Brimstone

    Corn — Texas, USA

    Tasted March 21, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    N: Liquid smoke, mint, menthol, ethanol, burning charcoal, ash, pine tar, leather, salted caramel, minty toothpaste, mint flavored waxed floss, earth and pine needles, a pineapple that's been stuffed with mint leaves and is roasting (probably burning) over hot charcoal. There are also less distinct tropical fruit scents - hard to place what exactly. And then there's the birthday cake with vanilla icing. Dead ringer for it every time I nose it - sometimes up front, sometimes behind everything else, but always there. Needless to say, this is not going to be for everyone. P: Sweet corn, caramel, vanilla, cornbread with honey. Some floral, herbal, and even white tea notes. A sort of dry, mesquite smokiness lingers over everything - it reminds me of dry rub Texas barbecue. And, of course, there's the birthday cake and vanilla icing. High bitterness mid-palate. That's then mostly displaced by a burning chili pepper heat for the finish. There's also cumin, coriander, allspice, maybe some ginger, dried tomato - basically, it is a dry rub barbecue mixture, which was thrown in a smoker for half a day, obviously. (What I don't get, unfortunately, is that savory meat you put the rub on. It's all rub and no meat for me.) This is a fascination, but I don't really think it's a great whisky. It's an interesting idea and fine execution (far as I can tell). But the end result is a dram that has to really hit your personal, subjective flavor preferences just right. It will do that for some people, but it doesn't quite get there for me. You see a lot people say they have to be "in the mood" for this. I might actually be in the mood for this sometimes too, I think, but I'm likely to hit an Islay single malt instead. This is unrefined, barely restrained power where an Ardbeg or Lagavulin or Laphroaig (etc.) has similar power, but also offers subtlety, refinement, grace, balance - in short, they scratch the same itch and are more interesting (to me, at least). That is where I am more likely to spend my whisky time and money. That said, this is undeniably unique. If you like smoky whiskies, it's worth trying this to see if it hits a special place or not. It doesn't for me, but YMMV.
    42.0 USD per Bottle
Results 1-10 of 102 Tastes