Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedDuring a recent chocolate and bourbon pairing tasting event at a local whiskey bar a question came up of who was George T. Stagg and his importance in the Buffalo Trace line of brands. George T. Stagg served in the Civil War and received a field commission, promoting to Captain in 1863. After the war he became a successful whiskey salesman and a partner in 'Gregory & Stagg, Commercial Merchants & Distillers.' In 1878, George T. Stagg took ownership stake in Old Fire & Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery and partnered with previous owner, Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. That partnership soured and dissolved within the decade and resulted in Taylor's exit from the company. George T. Stagg retired in early 1890's and passed in 1893, at a young age of 58. The distillery was renamed 'The George T. Stagg Distillery' in 1904. It was purchased by Sazerac Company in 1992 and officially renamed to Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999. Whisky Advocate Magazine gave it Distillery of the Year honors in 2000. Stagg Jr expression was first released in 2013. Nose has citrus, chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel. On the palate lots of heat with charred oak and leather followed by brown sugar and caramel sweetness. Alcohol burns fades on the finish with black pepper spice and burnt brown sugar, dark chocolate, and raisins at the very end. This bottle clocks in at 132.3 proof and is still a great consolation bottle for anyone who wants the George T. Stagg and can't get it.
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedGlenmorangie began as a brewery before being converted to a distillery in 1843. Since then, as with most distilleries in Scotland, it has changed owners multiple times before being aquired by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy in 2004. Glenmorangie is known to have the tallest necks on their stills in all of Scotland, at 16 feet 10 inches. This would be the reason why you'll see giraffes in some of the visuals featuring Glenmorangie name. They use unpeated malted barley but once a year some chocolate malt is added to the mash specifically for their Signet expression. The signet design is featured across the entire Glenmorangie range but only one bears the name. The design comes from Hilton of Cadboll Stone carving done in late 8th century AD by the Picts, tribal people of northern Scotland at the time, and is an important historical artifact. While there is no age statement on the bottle, there's chatter that it contains whisky as old as 30 to 40 years. On the nose there citrus and flowers followed by dark chocolate, lemon and butter cookies. The palate starts with black pepper spice and cigar tobacco then gets sweet with dark chocolate a bit of honey. On the finish, citrus flavors return with orange zest, lemon icing, a bit of brown sugar sweetness and biscuit. Extremely well done with all the flavors layered instead of smashed together, following one another in a way that is complimentary and pleasant. The more a person sits on a full pour, the more different flavors they will pick out. My quick flavor notes do not do it justice.235.0 USD per BottleLiquor Express
Weller Antique 107
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedThe Weller brand is made by Buffalo Trace Distillery that is owned by Sazerac. Any of the Weller expressions tend to be cleared off the shelves in Arizona very quickly and I have never personally seen any of the bottles on the shelf unless they were at 4X or more of normal retail price. William Larue Weller serves as an inspiration behind the brand and Buffalo Trace credits him with developing the first bourbon with wheat instead of rye as secondary grain. However, Weller was not a distiller but a rectifier. This means he took stock from actual distilleries then blended it, filtered it, and finished it before selling it. I'm learning to take the stories behind the whiskey brands being spun by the corporate marketing teams with a grain of salt. There is a reason why Weller is highly sought after by those who appreciate exceptional whiskey. It tastes and drinks well above its retail price. Out of the three Weller expressions I've tasted, Special Reserve and Weller 12 being the other two, the Antique 107 is my favorite. The nose is full of caramel, vanilla, honey, oak, cherries, and even some potpourri floral notes with a slight alcohol burn. On the palate, there's cinnamon, caramel, black pepper, oak, leather, fruit, and again honey sweetness throughout. The heat on this starts out low and slowly build to maximum on the finish before fading again. More oak, honey, and black pepper at the finish that lingers. If you see this at $50 or below on the shelf, it is absolute must purchase. Many pay much more than that and I honestly don't blame them, it is absolutely that good!
Redemption Wheated Bourbon
Bourbon — Indiana, USATasted"Wheated bourbons" have become a hot trend over the past few years. So much so that many distillers are paying attention to this trend and making adjustments. Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits owns the Redemption brand but actually sources from MGP out of Indiana, who distills for the brand according to their specifications. Apparently, this is a new recipe MGP started to distill in 2013 and since Redemption Wheated Bourbon is aged 4 Years that means all those first barrels are finally being bottled. The mashbill is 51% corn, 45% winter wheat, and 4% malted barley. That means if the recipe was tweaked just a bit to add more wheat and reduce corn, you end up with a straight wheat whiskey instead of a bourbon! Most "wheated bourbons" top out at 20% or 30% wheat in comparison. On the nose there's sour fruit, herbs, vanilla, and honey. On the palate the texture is silky and buttery thanks to the high wheat content, vanilla, toasted nuts, bread, and grilled meat. Finishes with charred oak and tons of white pepper spice. Apparently wheat actually gets better with extended aging and truly shines after 8 to 16 years in the barrel. This is obviously quite different from most bourbons on the market. It would be interesting to see how it evolves once older expressions start hitting the shelves.
Wild Turkey Longbranch
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedWild Turkey has only two mashbills: their bourbon and rye whiskey. Their bourbon recipe is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. Any Wild Turkey Bourbons that you purchase will have this recipe when it is distilled, regardless whether it is their Wild Turkey 101, Russell's Reserve, Rare Breed, Kentucky Spirit, or Longbranch expression. Wild Turkey collaborated with Matthew McConaughey in developing Longbranch and he apparently was closely involved in the process and not just a famous face acting as a spokesperson for the brand. McConaughey being from Texas and Wild Turkey being in Kentucky, it was important for them to make sure both places were represented in Longbranch. To achieve that, Longbranch bourbon is filtered the first time through American White Oak charcoal to represent Kentucky and second time through Mesquite charcoal, representing Texas. It is also the only label to have someone's signature other than Eddie Russell's. Nose is sweet with cornbread, brown sugar, and vanilla. On the palate there is caramel, green apple, black peeper, charred wood and a bit sour patch candy at the finish. It is definitely a Wild Turkey bourbon but with a bit of its own unique character.35.0 USD per Bottle
Fremont Mischief Whiskey
Other Whiskey — Washington, USATastedSometimes it's nice to taste something different and unexpectedly unpretentious. Despite the use of kitschy phrases like "bespoke barrels" and "rare earth" on the label, the Straight Rye Whiskey from Fremont Mischief Distillery is brash, bold, and quite good. This whiskey shows up to the dance with a bit of a flash (people starting looking it up and down), then it makes a scene, a few flashy dances, maybe drop kicks someone in the face (jaws drop), then twirls around before slowly exiting as everyone is staring in disbelief. Yes, it will not appeal to everyone and people may dislike it's antics, but it definitely puts on a show and doesn't hide the fact that it is unapologetically rye. Rye bread on the nose, raw dough, a bit of vanilla, and buttered popcorn. On the palate you get kicked in the face with yeast, spice, black pepper, and charred oak. The finish is fairly thin but with pleasant heat and black pepper and some biscuit goodness.
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedFor those who may not be aware, Glenmorangie is owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, which also owns Ardbeg distillery. Over the past decade, both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg have been releasing "special" or limited edition expressions. The 10th Private Edition release from Glenmorangie is titled "Allta," which roughly translates to "wild" from Scots Gaelic. The big focus is the yeast used. According to the press releases, the master distiller Dr. Lumsden isolated a proprietary strain of yeast found on barley in the fields right outside the distillery, hence the name Allta. This resulted in quite different whisky from the core 10 Year expression. Nose is slightly sweet and citrusy with notes of freshly baked bread. On the palate you get more citrus, vanilla, and almost raw pizza dough flavors followed by biscuit and pepper finish. For those who prefer bourbon to Scotch, this is an interesting expression as many of the flavor profiles reminded me of some bourbons such, as Four Roses Small Batch. At $100, it's interesting but quite pricey entry point for something different from one of the most approachable Single Malt Scotch distillers.100.0 USD per Bottle
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedThe bottle used for this review was a BevMo! Single Barrel pick of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. This is one of my favorites. The nose is deceitfully subdued with vanilla, cocoa, and leather as some of the strongest components. Once you take a sip, it is like fireworks of flavors: dark chocolate, charred oak, brown sugar, leather, and tobacco followed by a pleasant heat and nice long finish. Yes sir, this bottle will definitely be on a repeat!
Bluff Springs Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon — Kentucky , USATastedAlways curious when new whiskey label appears at the local Total Wine. To my surprise, I was told by the employee that Heaven Hill is actually behind the label which was approved on 12/14/18 by the TTB. According to Total Wine the mashbill is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% malted barley. If that is true then it would mean a completely different mashbill from all the other Heaven Hill whiskeys. This is really puzzling because that means Heaven Hill distilled using new recipe, aged it at least four years, and is now putting it on the shelves without any fanfare or marketing. It is a decent bourbon, the nose is similar to Jim Beam which makes sense because of a very similar mashbill (75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley). Caramel, vanilla, and honey on the nose with more of the same on the palate with charred oak added. Finishes quickly with very little spice and a hint of sweetness. Pleasant and inoffensive but nothing that will wow anyone. Solidly respectable bourbon.25.0 USD per Bottle
Single Malt — Highlands , ScotlandTastedDualchas expression from Tomatin is a no age statement (NAS) bottling that is probably the most budget friendly out of any Single Malt Scotches, starting at $24 from Total Wine. The nose on this whisky is incredible with apricots, golden raisins, and candied ginger and orange peel. The palate and the finish is a bit of a let down as the nose promises more than what this bottle delivers. Some vanilla and a bit honey sweetness followed by citrus notes before quickly burning out with notes of charred oak and black pepper. More substance is hoped for but it is hard to complain when it is only $24. While I may only pick this up again to use in cocktails, it sold me on giving their other expressions a whirl.