Russell's Reserve 10 Year Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted October 29, 2019The scope of Wild Turkey's operation is hard to put into words that would do it justice. From the two giant silos of grain that the distillery goes through a single week, to 24 fermenting tanks each holding 30,000 gallons, and the enormous column still 6 feet in diameter that takes one week to shut down and another week to fire back up. It's one thing to read about it or see pictures, to only see it in person and be absolutely blown away by the size of it all. Wild Turkey has only one bourbon mashbill but is able to put out 10 different labels regularly, which is pretty crazy. It is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Russell's Reserve 10 Year is the next step up in price from Wild Turkey 101. On the nose there's cinnamon and roasted almonds with a bit of apricots. On the palate you get a little bit of honey and vanilla, a hint of earthy notes, and lots of oak. Towards the finish, that oak taste starts to turn to resemble something similar to lacquered wood which took me a bit to appreciate. The flavors change as the finish continues for quite a few minutes it seems like. There is vanilla with burnt brown sugar and cinnamon and thick, surypy mouthfeel. The more I drink it the more I start to appreciate it. At less than $35 per bottle, it's getting harder and harder to find bottles that pack as much flavor as this does.
Angel's Envy Rye Finished in Caribbean Rum Casks
Rye — USATasted October 29, 2019Lincoln Henderson, whose signature is at the top of every Angel's Envy bottle, was the Master Distiller at Brown-Forman for almost 40 years and is credited with creating Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack, and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel brands. He created Angel's Envy in 2006 and released the port barrel finished bourbon. Since then, the company has become a family run business. After Lincoln Henderson's passing, his son Wes has taken over the reins and in turn his sons, Kyle and Andrew, have also joined the company. Bacardi officially owns Angel's Envy now but chooses to let it operate independently. This bottle is labeled as batch "9I" and bottle 1483. There's very little information to be found that's current. Info from prior batches indicate that it is from MGP, 95% rye and 5% malted barley mashbill, aged 6 and 7 years. It's blended in batches of 8 to 12 barrels before being rebarreled in Caribbean rum casks and aged for up to 18 more months. Supposedly only 48,000 bottles are released annually and given how hard it was to find a bottle in Arizona, I would certainly believe that. Lots of sugar and cotton candy on the nose, along with vanilla, sugar cookies and a hint of grassy note. On the palate it's super sweet with maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, and spun sugar. There's recognizable rye flavor of dill and cut grass towards the end but it's very faint. Finish is extremely long and sweet with the same flavors that are found on the nose and palate. Having had the chance to taste a few excellent aged rums, this whiskey actually reminds me more of those rums than rye whiskey. Perhaps that is due to the extended finishing time in those barrels (most finished whiskey spends only 6 weeks to maybe 6 months in the finishing barrels), but I for one am not complaining!
George Dickel No. 12
Tennessee — Tennessee, USATasted October 29, 2019Very similar to most other brands of whiskey, George Dickel has a colorful story behind it and it has been appropriated by Diageo, who now owns the brand. George Dickel was a German immigrant. He opened Cascade Hollow Distillery in 1878 after earning a reputation for selling quality spirits in Nashville region, which probably means he sourced from other distillers. He chose to spell whisky without an "e" specifically to honor Scottish traditions. After his passing, his wife Augusta Dickel and business partner Victor Schwab continued to operate until the Prohibition, which was enacted in Tennessee in 1910. It was rebuilt close to original location in 1958. The label itself gives certain clues on how Dickel is made. "Sour mash" means that a portion of the mash is set aside and added to the next batch. "Tennessee Whisky" has to be made in namesake state, consist of at least 51% corn mash, aged in virgin charred oak barrels, contain no color or flavor additives, and be filtered through maple charcoal. Meeting these requirements also means it can technically be a bourbon as well, which has all the same requirements except for the first and the last. In keeping with Dickel's preference of distilling during winter months to produce a smoother whisky, Dickel chills it's whiskey to 40 degrees before charcoal filtration. Mashbill is 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. On the nose there's vanilla, honey, stewed apples, and slight ethanol burn. With a high corn content, it's not surprising that the palate is very sweet with brown sugar, honey, and simple syrup. There also a slight taste of fresh lumber and charred oak. Mild black pepper spice on the finish that is replaced with more sugar sweetness and slight astringency at the end. It is definitely sweeter, mellower, and smoother than Jack Daniel's.
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon
Bourbon — (bottled in) Colorado, USATasted October 29, 2019Old Elk is on schedule to complete their distilling facility and warehouse by the end of the year in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was founded by Curt Richardson, the creator of Otterbox, which is also headquartered in Fort Collins. Greg Metze at MGP was approached to create the mash bill and concept of Old Elk Bourbon. In fact, the bourbon was distilled at MGP during the time that Metze was the Master Distiller there, along with 2 other sources, one in Colorado and the other in New York. If it wasn't for the fact that it was distilled in three different states, Old Elk would qualify to be labeled as simply straight bourbon instead of "blended." Greg Metze officially joined Old Elk as Master Distiller shortly after leaving MGP. It's not just the mash bill that sets this bourbon apart, but also their slow proofing process. Most whiskey has water added to it over couple of days to achieve desired proof. Old Elk takes several weeks in order to retain some of the more volatile and delicate congeners that give the whiskey its flavor profile. 51% corn, 34% barley, and 15% rye. The nose is very subtle with sour candy, honey, caramel and cinnamon. The palate struck me as having flavors associated with unpeated Single Malt Scotch. Ginger, citrus fruit and zest, along with traditional bourbon flavors of vanilla and caramel. The finish is short with apples, more vanilla, and toasted pine nuts. This is a very unique bourbon that is easy drinking, smooth, and delicate.
Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted October 29, 2019Buffalo Trace Distillery consistently puts out some of the most sought after bottles of bourbon. Stagg Jr. is no exception. One of the requirements for bourbon is that it must enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof. This expression carries no age statement but according to the labels it is aged for "nearly a decade." In that time more water is lost out of the barrel than alcohol to where the proof rises to 129.5. I'm guessing the reason behind the "Jr." on this label is because the George T. Stagg clocks in at higher age and proof. Which probably means if the barrels were left untouched they would have gone to become bottled as George T. Stagg expression. Lots of charred oak and cinnamon spice on the nose along with citrus notes of orange peel marmalade. On the palate there's heavy punch of alcohol followed by dark cocoa, cinnamon brown sugar, and more charred oak. Very long finish with slight citrus zest and cinnamon brown sugar apple pie filling flavors. The alcohol is very aggressive here and requires very small sips at first. Adding a bit of water helps cut the heat and allows the flavors to open up more. A worthy addition to any shelf!
Garrison Brothers Balmorhea Texas Straight Bourbon
Bourbon — Texas, USATasted October 29, 2019Garrison Brothers Distillery was founded by Dan Garrison in 2006 and was issued their federal permit in 2007, but technically he has worked on getting it started since 2001. He credits Bill Samuels Jr, Maker Mark's Master Distiller, as being his mentor. His prior employment was as a marketing executive for a tech company until he was laid off in 2008. Originally called Lone Star Distillery, the company had to change the name because Busch Brewing insisted it was too similar to their Lone Star Beer brand. Located in Hye, Texas, Garrison Brothers benefits from big temperature swings in helping them age their whiskey. Some good friends visiting from Texas gifted us this bottle as I have personally held off picking it up due to the $130 price for a full sized bottle. According to their conversation with Dan Garrison, out of all the whiskey the distillery produces, this is the one he's most proud of, and after tasting it he has every right to be. While the initial batch was aged slightly differently, Balmorhea is now aged 4 years and then transferred to another new charred barrel for another one year. It is named after a park in the area with a spring-fed lake. Jim Murray named this "The American Micro Whiskey of the Year" in 2018 with some rather poetic description. Mine is is rather more simple. On the nose caramel, burnt brown sugar, oatmeal, vanilla, and a bit of ethanol. On the palate chocolate fudge and molasses that give way to heavy charred oak flavors with leather only to be replaced with honey and fresh cut wood notes. Finishes extremely long with more heavy oak, burnt brown sugar, and buttered toast and cinnamon spice. If the color indicates what to expect in flavor, this is probably the darkest whiskey I've ever seen and the flavors reflect that. Saving up money for a full bottle!
Ironroot Republic Harbinger
Bourbon — Texas, USATasted October 29, 2019Ironroot Republic is a distillery in Denison, TX opened in 2013 by two brothers, Robert and Jonathan Likarish. The name Ironroot pays tribute to Texas "iron" grape roots that were used to save the French wine industry from an invasive insect that was killing the vines in 1800's. The brothers found it inspirational in adapting the process of distilling to unique climate of Texas instead of attempting to copy a specific flavor profile. The Likarish brothers are constantly experimenting with different barrel sizes, different barrel entry proofs, as well as using heirloom grains. Earlier releases I've seen were 18 months old and 118.5 proof. This particular bottle is aged 27 months and 115 proof. The mash bill supposedly contains 4 different types of corn, including purple and Bloody Butcher heirloom varieties, as well as rye. This is definitely not your average bourbon. While it does have some telltale notes that give away its relatively young age, it's easily forgivable due to the bomb of flavors it packs. On the nose there's maple syrup, baked cinnamon apple, toasted oak, and some ethanol burn. On the palate you get hit with molasses, cinnamon brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, more oak, fresh cut grass notes and orchard fruit flavors. Finish is fairly long with cinnamon spice and heat, more oak, brown sugar, and grassy notes which is probably from the rye in mash bill. The mouthfeel ends very dry and tannic which is a quality I tend to pick up in whiskey aged in smaller barrels. However, I'm not certain what size of barrels are used here and it could very well be the result of Texas climate. I was told by the spirit manager at a Total Wine that this bottle will soon be extremely hard to find, not sure what that means but I'm glad I picked it up!
Highland Park 18 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTasted October 29, 2019It is believed that Highland Park was founded by either a farmer, David Robertson, or by a priest turned smuggler, Magnus Eunson, in 1798. As with much history pertaining to distilleries in Scotland prior to late 1800's, not much is recorded officially and has an air of folklore surrounding it. Just like most major Scottish distilleries, Highland Park has changed ownership multiple times but unlike many others, it has never been shuttered or mothballed. In 1999, it became part of Edrington brands, which also owns Macallan, Glenrothes, Cutty Sark, and The Famous Grouse. Peat from different regions imparts different flavors to malted barley as it dries. Highland Park uses Orcadian peat, which is composed of sphagnum moss and heather. This peat imparts lightly smoky and much more fragrant flavors than mainland or Islay peat. Highland Park mash consists of 20% of their own peated malted barley (though I've also heard that only half of their own malted barley is actually peated) and 80% of unpeated malted barley brought in from mainland Scotland. The 18 Year expression was introduced in 1997 and uses ex-Oloroso sherry casks. The result is one of my favorite whiskys. On the nose there is nectarines, peaches, and apricot (stonefruit), sweet smoke, green apples, and citrus with honey. On the palate there's the same jammy, sweet fruit flavors along with a hint of earthy, mushroom notes, followed by fragrant smoke that finishes long and sweet with a bit of tartness. This is a must have bottle for any whisky fan!
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTasted October 29, 2019Aberlour is located in what is considered Speyside region of Scotland. While it was established in 1825, a fire in 1879 almost completely destroyed the location and it was rebuilt at it's current site. Just like with most other Scottish distilleries, Aberlour changed ownership a few times before being acquired by Pernod Ricard in 1974 and has operated under their Chivas Brothers Holdings arm since 2001. The A'Bunadh (pronounced a-boon-arh) expression was first officially released in 2000 and it means “of the origin” in Gaelic. No age statement, matured exclusively in Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts, non-chill filtered, and bottled at cask strength. For those who are not familiar, a butt is a barrel type that is usually used in aging sherry, which is a fortified wine produced in Spain. Butts hold between 475-500 liters or approximately 125-132 gallons and are made from Spanish oak or American white oak. While each batch of A’Bunadh will be slightly different, they have all been excellent. This is Batch 57 and it clocks in at 60.7% ABV. On the nose dark berries and plums, a bit of potpourri almost and very little ethanol, which is surprising considering the ABV. On the palate you get hit with black pepper, lots of sherry influence that comes out, dark raisins. On the finish there’s a bit of fresh green apple, a little herbal bitterness. As soon as you think the alcohol burn dissipates it actually comes back down in your chest with big pleasant warmth. Excellent batch and look forward to picking up new ones!
Jura Seven Wood
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTasted October 29, 2019So I've been meaning to write up a review on this for a little while but have put it off. Circumstances have forced my hand as a friend left an excellent bottle of RUA from @gwrdistilling and took this bottle in return. Jura Distillery is located on the Island of Jura. Fun fact, George Orwell wrote the novel "1984" while staying there. I purchased the bottle when it first came out as I was fairly new to whisky and was intrigued on the premise of seven different types of oak barrels being used in maturation. I've never heard of Jura before and went on their website, which looked a lot different then it does now. I distinctly remember the website implying that the distillery was owned and operated by the small community residing on the island. The truth is that the current distillery was rebuilt in 1963 by the island's owners as a way to stop further decline in population of the island. The distillery has been owned by Whyte and Mackay Group since 1995, which was acquired by Emperador Distillers Inc. in 2014. The distillery is pretty much the only source of work for those who live on the Island of Jura. On the nose there's some citrus and baked apple notes with touch of cinnamon. On the palate it starts out sweet like honey and candied apple, slight nuttiness then there's a bit of citrus and ginger notes with black pepper spice followed by bitterness and slightly metallic finish. It's interesting to nurse this and almost taste the influence of the different types of oaks, however, there's nothing that really ends up happening. It feels like this was rushed and not enough time given in European oaks. Interesting premise that is flawed in execution. It's not bad, but I had much higher expectations for this. Maybe future releases will show improvement.