Mortlach 1995 19 Year (Alexander Murray & Co.)
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTasted September 21, 2020Alexander Murray & Co. operates out of Calabasas, California. Started by Steve Lipp in 2004 and named in honor of his great uncle, who gave him his first taste of whiskey. The company specializes in selecting barrels and blending them. Located in Speyside region, Mortlach is affectionately referred to as "The Beast of Dufftown" because of the richness, sulphurous, and bold, smoked meat flavor profile. Owned by the giant Diageo, the distillery boasts one of the most complicated distillation set ups using their six stills. All their in-house single malt labels proclaim their spirit is distilled an odd 2.81 times. Mortlach whisky is used as the main component in Johnnie Walker Black Label, leaving very little stock for Single Malt bottlings. The flavors on the nose, palate, and finish are bold, heavy, and rich. On the nose there's orange marmalade, honey, cashews, berry preserves, and some smoked meat. On the palate simple sugar sweetness at first, then lemon hard candy followed by black pepper spice, campfire smoke and grilled meat. Finishes buttery, with smoked nut and meat flavor and a faint creamy vanilla custard note at the very end.
Laphroaig Càirdeas 2019 Triple Wood Cask Strength
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted September 21, 2020Laphroaig has the distinction of producing a Scotch that people either absolutely hate or really enjoy. Which makes sense because who in their right might would enjoy a Laphroaig if they thought it was simply "ok?" Maybe there's a few people but probably not many. The distillery traces back it's beginnings to 1810 but is not officially established until 1815. Located on Islay (pronounced "Eye-la") region, it has a reputation of producing some of the most heavily peated whisky. It has been part of the Beam-Suntory family of brands since 2014. The Càirdeas Triple Wood is first matured in ex-bourbon barrels, then is aged in quarter casks (21 gallon barrel), and finally in ex-oloroso sherry casks. "Càirdeas" means friendship in Gaelic and is released exclusively for Friends of Laphroaig club. Bottled at cask strength, this 2019 bottling comes in at 119 proof or 59.5% ABV. On the nose there's lots of dried fruit, plums, dark cherry, and smoke. On the palate there's smoke, iodine, and band-aid notes at first. Those are quickly replaced by sweeter sherry cask influence with stewed fruits, honey, maple syrup followed by black pepper, beef jerky and smoked meat. The finish is fairly long with some chemical notes similar to furniture polish or varnish replaced by fruit sweetness and caramel. This is personally one of my favorite Laphroaig expressions I have tasted.90.0 USD per Bottle
New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Bottled In Bond
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted September 21, 2020New Riff was started in 2014 by Ken Lewis, former owner of The Party Source, a large liquor retailer. Privately owned, the distillery is lead by individuals hailing from retail and craft brewing industries. Instead of simply hiring a head distiller with background in whiskey, the owner and partners were given advice to think about recruiting a brewer instead. The reason why? Because brewers know fermentation and what sort of impact the fermentation stage has on flavor. Brian Sprance was recruited from Boston Beer and is the head distiller and production manager at New Riff. The vision for the distillery serves as the name as well: a new riff on old tradition. Their goal is not to sell a story of a brand that goes back generations with a bottle of whiskey, but to make excellent whiskey in a new way that honors old traditions. New Riff Bottled in Bond mash bill is 65% corn, 30% rye, 5% malted barley. The nose is powerful and bold with cinnamon, caramel, honey, cherry, oak, and slight grassy and herbal note. On the palate I get hit with charred oak, leather, and black pepper spice that transitions to sweeter flavors such as cola, vanilla, and candied orange peel. Finish is long with spice, charred oak and caramel flavors.50.0 USD per Bottle
Yellow Spot 12 Year Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still — IrelandTasted September 21, 2020Mitchell & Son started as a bakery café in Dublin. While the men drank whiskey, the women were supposed to drink tea. The café got a reputation for serving whiskey to female patrons on the downlow, pouring it from 'teapots' into their 'teacups.' The company went from pastries to importing wine, to whiskey bonding. After the wine casks were emptied, they were sent up the street to the Jameson distillery on Bow Street to be filled, then returned back and placed in the company's cellar to be aged. Each barrel would be marked with a dab of paint to indicate how long it will be aged for: blue for 7 years, green for 10, yellow for 12, and red for 15 years. This is the origin behind the 'Spot' in the name, as in a spot of paint that marked each barrel. The brand is distilled at the Midleton Distillery with Mitchell & Son retaining distribution rights in Ireland and Pernod Ricard handling distribution everywhere else. Yellow Spot is a blend of 12 year old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged in three different casks: ex-bourbon, Sherry, and Malaga wine. On the nose cloves, orange zest, and honey. On the palate and finish there's nectarines, unsweetened baking cocoa powder, black pepper spice, cinnamon, vanilla, and surprising amount of dark chocolate at the end.
Arizona Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon — Arizona , USATasted September 21, 2020Most people probably never heard of Elgin Distillery but it is putting out some serious spirits and winning plenty of awards. Just like many craft distillers, there's a big focus on sourcing local ingredients and transparency in their process. Their Arizona Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled from 100% Arizona grown grain. Mash bill is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% barley. Outside of growing the grain, every step of production is handled in-house: malting, milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, aging, and bottling. I don't believe it's common for a craft distillery to malt their own grain, Elgin Distillery malts not only the barley but the corn and rye as well. They also use their own well water (fondly referred to as their Magic Water) in distilling and proofing as those details do matter in the final product. This bourbon is aged 6 years in their single story rickhouse situated at 5,000 foot elevation in Elgin, AZ where temperatures can experience a 60 degree variation daily. Full size, 53 gallon barrels are used with #4 char and medium plus toast. Only 50 barrels were produced in 2019 with the intent of setting aside 12 for advanced aging. They are talking 20+ year old whiskey being released down the line! On the nose there's wood, baking spices, brown sugar, charred oak, leather, and baked apples. The palate starts out with honey sweetness, cinnamon, black pepper and raw wood. Finish is nice and lengthy with dry oak, slight black pepper spice and caramel sweetness and flavor throughout. No alcohol burn at all, instead it is a pleasant warming sensation. Absolutely love the fact that there is now decently aged and excellent bourbon using traditional mash bill coming out of Arizona.
Michter's 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted September 21, 2020For those who may watch the series Billions on Showtime, you may recognize the familiar shape of the bottle used for Michter's rarer releases, as it makes regular appearance in many episodes. The 10 Year Single Barrel is the most widely available of course. While Michter's is secretive about where they source their whiskey from for each release, it's definitely fun to speculate. This bottle is from Michter's Barrel No. 19H1330. Based on the fact that this is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the lack of unmistakable strong peanut note found in Jim Beam, and having notes of buttered popcorn and slight nuttiness I taste in Evan Williams and Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel, my guess would be that it is from Heaven Hill. On the nose there's vanilla, honey, popcorn butter, cinnamon. On the palate black pepper spice up front, then brown sugar, charred oak, and leather. Finish is memorable but not too prolonged with barrel char, slight sweetness, baking spices, and nutiness at the very end. All in all this has classic bourbon flavors that are pleasant without anything that is off putting. If you don't focus too much on the price you're paying but simply want a fantastic bourbon, you will not be disappointed.145.0 USD per Bottle
Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted November 21, 2019During 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, ScotlandTasted November 14, 2019Glenmorangie 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
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted November 10, 2019The 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 November 8, 2019"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.