Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength Batch 07
Bourbon — Louisville, Kentucky, USATasted September 22, 2022I'm not usually one to create a new listing for batched whiskey (while some others will create listings for far less of a change), but this one does have a different ABV listed, and the distillery found it important enough to print new labels with this information instead of using write-in labels, so here we are. At least I take better pictures than damn near everyone else on here. A darker color from some decent time in the barrel around the outskirts of the glass, but a surprisingly thin and more translucent hue through the center. Lots of classic notes on the nose, including vanilla and wood sugar, but there are also some smaller notes of unripe banana, and some citrus-y grain. The ethanol is really quite weak through the nose given the proof. The body is a little weak at first, but it's mostly because the focus is simple, and really captures good, basic qualities of a bourbon. The corn is still young, but at it's full strength, it combines well with the small amount of rye here, giving a sweetness that has just a tinge of bitterness behind it thanks to the charred barrels. The gum piercing is mild, but the rye can still be tasted in the forms of cinnamon and some of the raw grain, again with the youngness. A slight spiciness on the finish, but far than I expected with this proof, which is interesting as well as it is dangerous. I really do love the simplicity that Bulleit captures, being a bourbon that's very approachable by all, and, as a side note, for making the most rounded and first (to me) proper 95% rye whiskey. As that stands, that also makes this a very approachable cask strength bourbon, but also makes it fairly plain as a result. For the price, it's a great pick-up, and although I don't believe there can be too much of a difference between batched whiskey, it's cheap enough to get a few of the different batches and work to detect the nuances between them. Other than that, as I continued to finish my glass, I was unable to come up with any further notes, further sinking in the simplicity of this whiskey, for better or worse.
Silks Irish Dry Gin
Distilled Gin — Meath, Ireland, IrelandTasted August 26, 2022A friend sent me a photo of this, and although the bottle and label art are very beautiful, I wasn't sold on just any random gin just yet. That is, until he told me the botanical list, and I thought this would be a wonderful welcome into the autumn season with the high floral notes and crisp apple to round it out. As I'm always looking for any other tasty gins (although I'm more looking for more navy strength gins, but that has proven to be a sullen waste of my time hoping I'll see more of that), the balance between some familiar botanicals and some very unique but tasty ones should definitely make for a different gin, and I'm just hoping that's in a good way. I can already smell a solid juniper, floral base from over a foot away with the glass on the table, but nothing specific pops out yet. This is further cemented with the actual scent inside the glass, as there's a plentiful juniper and a great base in place, with some florality for sure, but no more than would be found in other similar dry gins. If anything different, there's just the slightest push towards warmer notes, with the cardamon being somewhat detectable. A light body, and even though this has a lot of floral botanicals, I notice it's mostly light due to the low proof. The flavor is quite bitter and dry indeed, which does help the floral notes come out and, although blurred together pretty well, some of the citrus oils are evident, as well as a touch of honey, although not in a sweet form. The cardamon and some of the other warmer botanicals seem the very lowest found, definitely behind the floral wall, but it does start to surface slightly on the finish. So, in terms of this living up to the botanicals used and what I expected to taste, it's below average and a decent faceplant. However, it's one of the most dry gins I've had in quite some time, but one that has a good focus on a flavor profile that London dry gins definitely lack. I'm not satisfied having any part of this neat, but am fairly excited to use it in simpler cocktails, giving gin & tonics and martinis a curve that's both minute and still noticeable.
Blackened Rye the Lightning
Rye — Kentucky, USATasted August 20, 2022Holy shit do I love Metallica. Seriously, likely my favorite metal or heavy rock band of all time. I do have the classic Blackened whiskey, but it's definitely not my flavor profile, and is a little weak for my tastes. When this one came out a few months ago (near my birthday), I do not have shame in saying that I begged a lot of people to get this for me as a gift. That did not happen, mostly because the pre-orders sold out almost immediately (why does nobody budget the correct amount of whiskey for pre-orders?), and it was far overpriced. Thankfully, I found it locally for far less, and I definitely couldn't resist. As I listen to the Ride the Lightning album (well, I cheat and am listening to the Call of Ktulu version with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra because it's amazing), I will enjoy this no matter what, because Metallica kicks ass and a rye is always better for me. There's lots of fresh rye grain on the nose, with an impressive spiciness for the relatively low proof. Candied cinnamon and a bit of citrus pop out, with the classic cut grass behind it. A great amount of caramel is also present, which I am guessing comes from the triple barreling of sorts. A light body is what starts off, but the rye grain is present with a sweeter flavor, likely from the rum barrel. There's also a very dry follower, which I attribute to the wine barrels. The gum penetration is moderate here, and the spice level is also moderate, but only because the flavors imparted by the barrels also deliver to an almost equal amount. The finish is pretty hot, but it ultimately ends with a dry finish, which does keep you coming back for more, to refresh the cycle. Maybe it's the music playing (very loudly) behind me, or because this whiskey is both delicious and unique, but I'm quite enjoying this. It's definitely not a front runner of any of my rye favorites, but it also isn't entirely in the rye category, since the Madeira and rum deliver their own flavor notes that definitely do come through. For ~$70, this is way steep, but if this ever dropped below $50, this would easily be both the most metal and layered rye whiskey out there, and created with no other method that can be rivaled by any other distillery, similar to how Metallica cannot be rivaled in their music; if there is such a rival, I definitely need to crank those tracks.
Angostura White Oak
Silver Rum — Trinidad & TobagoTasted August 9, 2022I absolutely will, never in my entire lifetime, understand the impulse to filter beautiful barrel color out of an aged spirit, leaving a blank, pale, sad looking bottle behind. I honestly missed the fact that this was even aged due to "white rum" being on the label, in addition to how dumb it would be to get rid of the color initially. Simply needing an unaged rum for the bar, I went for this distillery that is new to me (as far as distilled spirits go, anyway), but I suppose all is not lost since this is at least aged in some quality used white oak barrels. The scent is very much of molasses, but a cleaner version with some of the sweetness taken out and perhaps a touch of citrus added. The ethanol is just slightly more aggressive than expected of an 80 proof. I get just enough vanilla and barrel sugar to know this is from a nice, charred barrel, and even some of the caramel-backed bourbon can also be smelled after backing off a bit. Very neutral flavor at first, with the body being very light and easily approachable. The molasses is there, but it's quite muted, but instead of being overshadowed by the barrel or any other flavor note, the neutral quality simply sticks around until the ethanol builds and starts to slightly enter the gums. At this point I taste some oak, but the charcoal starts to take over through the finish. I'm honestly shocked that the palate isn't overflowing with charcoal since this is double filtered, but it's clear that there are at least a handful of different flavor notes that could be here were the unnecessary filtering omitted. Angostura making rum seems surprising given that this is the spirit of choice, but it makes far more sense once the location is considered. Maybe some of this, bitters, and some fresh citrus could make something out of it after all, but I'll save that experiment for another day. Even with the slight disappointment sustained here, I can't say I wouldn't buy an aged Angostura rum, since I am quite curious, but I can confidently say that this isn't the stand-in needed for an unaged rum, and it certainly doesn't beat out a true, untouched aged rum.
Town Branch Single Barrel Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey
Rye — Lexington, KY, USATasted August 8, 2022Liquor Barn barrel select, barrel #2675, bottle #59, barreled December 2015, bottled May 2021, 50.5% ABV. Finally, I found a single barrel of this rye. I have been to the distillery over most of the summer asking about a single barrel rye, and was left to drink whatever else sounded good at the bar while planning my next trip in this search. This distillery has always been a little "off" to me, and it wasn't until writing this review that I think I've figured out why. Usually American distilleries will start "side project" distilleries once they become successful, sometimes as a friendly competition, to double profits, or just to experiment in different spirits or climates, usually done so in different countries. In the case of Town Branch, THEY are actually the experiment, with the "sister distillery" in Europe actually being the flagship safe route. Either way, the new rye whiskey in the square bottle is miles improved from the tall bottle with rounded shoulders, and having finally found a single barrel, I'd love to see exactly where the flavors travel. A typical dark caramel color of a rye whiskey aged this long, but still slightly darker than the batched version of this same whiskey. Sweet molasses and bold cinnamon battle it out on the nose, with the outcome being a malty, spicy confusion of scents in the end. I'm trying to ignore the abysmal low amount of rye in the mash bill, but the sweet corn on the nose makes it very difficult to do so. Hoping this doesn't turn out to be a bad barrel, since I do enjoy the batched version just fine. Yikes. The flavor is full of spicy malt, like this were some kind of single malt whiskey with some capsaicin added. Low rye is one thing, but just barely over legal requirements for rye is embarrassing, and the flavor really shows that. Even the gum burn leaves so much to be desired, and trying to reach by applying some air only makes the sugary sweetness of the corn stronger, truly making me forget that I'm even drinking rye whiskey. Despite the malty sweet finish, after enough time, there is enough rye left in the air and gums to not be a hateful attempt at a proper rye whiskey. For the life of me, I don't know how the standard batched rye whiskey, that I had just a few weeks ago at most, can be this many galaxies away in taste just because it's one barrel. A shame really, but it makes me happy that it didn't cost very much, and I still have something to add to my barrel pick section regardless. Still, this was definitely regretful how much time was spent searching for this, and had I remembered how low the rye percentage was initially, I may have stopped the search, but the call for barrel picks, and at this price point, means I still would likely have picked it up anyway.
Unflavored Vodka — Texas, USATasted August 7, 2022When someone leaves behind a bottle of the best damn American vodka in your house, you remember you've never rated it, despite having it fill most days, afternoons, evenings, and nights of your early military career. If that situation applies to you, then I'll walk you through the rating process. Despite all standard grain vodkas tasting very similar, Tito's somehow rises above all others, which, with my knowledge of grain alcohol having soared over the years, starts to make more sense since it's nothing but delicious corn. Whereas corn distillate tastes very sweet and has a great body by itself, it needs way too long in a barrel to transform to a remotely enjoyable, aged flavor. So, instead of letting the water rise on a continuous drowning culture of young American whiskey, I'd like to reward a distillery who takes this crop and turns it into something simple in just a matter of a few days. For someone like me, who has been around a lot of whiskey new make, the scent is so familiar that it's hard to break it down to describe. Raw corn is definitely there, and there's a decent amount of ethanol for only 80 proof. Just barely in the distance, there's a slight citrus note, usually typical of a fresh neutral spirit, but is otherwise very uncomplicated. A fairly medium body that's slightly on the light side, but the flavor is anything but light. Very sweet up front, almost like a very light caramel, which dissolves into raw sugar with a mix of a vegetal and citrus finish. Definitely far more sweeter during the first few sips and hotter towards the end of the glass. For someone who only has one bottle of vodka in their home amongst the hundreds of other spirits, this is definitely the choice to have; an American spirit that actually has some character behind it, which isn't easy to develop in the vodka world. Classic, yet full of flavor, and a shining star if you're the type of person who absolutely must partake in the dullest category of spirit.
Barrel-Aged Gin — Ireland, IrelandTasted July 9, 2022Jesus, pot-still cask? Barrel aged? "Ireland, Ireland?" Remember, people who make these postings are allowed to drive with no restrictions. Anyway, getting past this stupidity, I was fairly impressed (although also drunk) when I got to try this gin at it's sister distillery in Lexington, and found the mediterranean botanicals to be quite unique compared to their other dry gin offering. I love the Irish heritage this bottle takes on, as well as the art and the all-around "craft" design to it. So that I can finally file this away on my shelf, I'm ready for a *fairly* sober review. The botanicals used here are so unique and, in most cases, potent are their own, so it was a little shocking as well as disappointing that the nose was mostly juniper, some citrus, berries, and herbs, but none really jumping out specifically. Upon repeated smelling, however, the thyme and rosemary are both revealed, as are all the other botanicals, but very faint. This gin has a nice body, and moves around where I need it to as the flavors surface. The citrus and juniper are balanced and the only flavors tasted at first, but as more air is introduced and further sips play into this, I can taste a more sour, almost bitter fruitiness that becomes balanced from a herbaceousness, despite the herbs not being all that strong a tasted flavor. The finish is not as dry as I would have predicted, but while there is some dryness on the front of the tongue, a fairly moderate amount of citrus oil exists in the rear of the mouth, and makes me want to come back for more, to see if I can amplify any previous notes, or perhaps find new ones. Even if you DO choose to think really hard about this gin while tasting it, you're not going to taste things like kalamata olives or fresh basil. Instead, you will taste a gin that is unique all on it's own, and should be tasted many more times and in many different ways, to really pay homage to the unique botanicals used and in hopes of finding ways they can shine through even more. This is certainly a craft gin that stands alone, and is at a lovely price point if you're looking for something both different, unique, and approachable.
Jefferson's Ocean Aged at Sea Voyage 26 Rye
Rye — USATasted June 6, 2022Given as a birthday gift from my beautiful wife, I have been saving this to celebrate my first day on the new job. This is my second Ocean bottle owned, and probably my fourth or fifth tasted. I am a fan of this series because I love the unique aging at sea, and how nobody had done that before, and it's still not done by anyone now (at least that has good whiskey). Plus, the sea really does add a noticeable layer of sea salt that works well with the barrel notes. The price reflects this well, since there's a lot of added time that it takes for these ships to make their rounds, on top of Jefferson having no competition to this front. As always, I disapprove anyone who ages anything for close to a decade, waits even LONGER with the added sailing time, and then the first thing they do when they dump the barrel is add a bunch of water. I suppose 96 proof could be somewhat worse, but it's a shame there aren't more barrel proof Oceans (or other whiskeys, for that matter), and this does help to upset the price point. One final thing I noticed from my sweep of the bottle and labels is that this is actually a sourced Canadian whiskey, which I normally would be excited for with expectations of good rye strains and a proper 90%+ mash bill. However, with all the added changes to the flavor profile including the sea aging and double barreling, that would be enough to transform the base notes of any whiskey, so let's just see what our final product has become. Not at all surprisingly, the color is quite dark, thanks to the second barreling. It's only slightly lighter than some other double barrel American whiskeys I've had, so it seems the toasted ends did contribute slightly. Traditional (and delicious) rye spice notes found on the nose, slightly sweet, which normally I would think is due to a low rye mash bill, but it's likely from all the extra oak used. Whereas the bourbons in the Ocean series usually have an obvious salty scent from the voyage, this rye only has a very slight astringency that takes away from the other notes. There's both a lot to dissect for the taste, while also being fairly simple. Initially, the rye seeps into the gums a moderate amount, leaving behind a dry mouth feel, but not before the grains start to come alive. Traditional rye flavors are tasted, but it's quite focused on the cinnamon and spicier than some other rye whiskeys I've had recently. I wouldn't have expected this after double barreling and aging at sea, both of which are difficult to pin down against the bold rye grain. The extra oak is tasted closer to the finish, even the toasted oak ends, but I do wish it were more prominent earlier on. The sea aging doesn't seem to have done a lot here, other than the slightly bitter taste up front, and another bit right at the finish. Something done here is a recipe for a damn good rye whiskey. The problem is that too many things are floating around, some competing while others accompany, and it's hard for me to tell which elements helped make this work, and which elements (if any) hindered any flavors. I could do without the dry and bitter notes, which I can only imagine come from the sea aging, and I understand how ironic that is. This creates a whiskey that, although tastes pretty good in the end, isn't worth paying for the extra aging elements that don't provide a positive, noticeable difference. Now, and this may already have been done, but if Kentucky Artisan Distillery wants to make an Ocean bourbon that's also double barreled, I will definitely be on the lookout.
Pearse Distillers Choice Aged 7 Years
Blended — Dublin, Ireland, IrelandTasted June 2, 2022Adding this to the app only because the older version of Distillers Choice has a slight variation in ABV, cask type, and age statement. Another visit to the Town Branch distillery, and I find out that they're very heavily importing and selling products from their sister distillery in Ireland, which I absolutely love. I purchased this and the mediterranean-inspired gin, after trying absolutely everything, of course. I was extremely happy at the price point here, especially when it was on a shelf next to American whiskeys with exuberant price tags. I don't remember much about the taste, other than it having an expected light body, but also an unexpected punch of smoke. Either way, it now sits next to my bottle of Pearse Lyons Reserve (I still regret not getting the barrel strength version, although I'm fairly certain neither exist anymore), and makes for a good start to the Pearse collection. A very light color, not quite out of the ordinary, but a bit lighter than 7 years in bourbon barrels should be, so maybe the sherry, even though it's just small butts (not my type), is more of an impact to the color than previously thought. I can start to smell this from across the table, with potency of a cask strength whiskey as opposed to an almost minimum proof. Inside the glass (at this point, my damn air freshener went off, so now all I smell is peonies or some shit) are notes of caramel, cereal, some biscuit, and just a bit of bonfire smoke, again on a much higher ethanol burn than should be for this proof. The scent really and truly blends together notes of a bourbon and a fully sherry barrel aged Irish whiskey. The initial flavors are weak and take a few extra seconds to kick in, but after getting past the low proof and light body, you're rewarded with some caramel covered biscuits, honey, and cereal, as found in more traditional Irish whiskeys, but is slightly more concentrated here. This really only lasts a second, though, when a huge hit of smoke takes over the palate, creating both a nice mouth burn as well as helping to smooth out and blend the aforementioned flavors. The smoke is definitely close to a peat flavor, but also has notes of tobacco or simply burnt oak. The finish is quite long, as both the smoke and earlier sweet flavors slowly drift out, but the smoke lasting much, much longer. This really is a fantastic blend for an Irish whiskey. I really find it hard to believe that specific bourbon barrels are truly enough to give this it's smoky vibe, but if so, find this very impressive, and would love to know who's barrels are responsible. This isn't, however, a blend I would recommend to just anyone; I think even a novice can detect the harsher smoke flavors, and want to steer clear of them in favor of a sweeter, milder Irish whiskey. However, if you're tired of the same sherry-inspired flavors of bread, cereal, and biscuit, this is a perfect stepping stone into enjoying some that's different enough, but still true to it's roots. I'd be cautious to try a cask strength version of this, but would still go for it without question. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the 12 year version of this, and hoping that the price point of that is just as gracious as this!
Corzo Tequila Silver
Tequila Blanco — Los Altos, Jalisco, MexicoTasted May 26, 2022This bottle is, by far, the most efficient way to spill and waste liquor while trying to pour a simple couple ounces. When looking for a budget-friendly blanco tequila for a party some time ago, I did become very curious about the flavors in play here, and simply decided to buy both bottles I was debating against. I'm definitely loving the idea of triple distillation, and the classical music playing during the process is also a nice touch (hoping for some Chopin or Vivaldi). Given that the cost wasn't very steep at all, we'll see if the spillage made earlier was acceptable, or if I need to start sucking bartop. The ethanol is very, very strong here. Sure, that might be because tequila is on every surface near me, but it really is jumping out of the glass. It's somewhat harsh, but once you get further in with the nose, you can detect the agave, and it's more vegetal than usual. Some floral notes also seep into the nose somewhat, and some sea salt can be found after pulling away a little bit. The flavor is truly hard to take in, simply because of how different this is than any other unaged tequila I've had. The agave has "broken down" more so than usual (likely due to the triple distillation), and showcases a lot of florality and light earth tones that are unexpected for being unaged. I hate to simply defer to Distiller tasting notes, but umami is definitely a big flavor factor here, creating both a blend and yet a chaotic body to ride on. This flavor remains potent for some time, before a lightly dry and salty finish comes around. Describing this particular tequila is becoming sort of a loss for me, so I'm instead trying to think of the best ways it can utilized. The flavors are too complex to enjoy neat, but I'm willing to bet that some ice may calm things down enough to be more throughly enjoyed. This is no simple margarita tequila, but instead something I'll be ready to use when a complicated, new Liquor or Punch cocktail posting comes about. I'm even thinking about how well this tequila could hold infused flavors, and whether it would overshadow added ingredients or help to boost them. The bottle style still upsets me, and overall it's too complicated and complex for me to recommend without a qualifying factor (and a good liquor, that never makes).