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).
WhistlePig 10 Year Single Barrel Rye
Rye — CanadaTasted May 8, 2022Bottled exclusively for: Indiana Liquor Group Vol. 1 From barrel #119984, Warehouse 6, Rick G, Level 6 116.7 proof, 58.4% ABV I truly will never understand the impulse to create an entire Distiller entry just for individual single barrels, and then watch as everyone slanders every last detail. Then again, they do just let anybody make new entries. That aside, I honestly don't know what compelled me to buy this. Unfortunately, I needed something to help celebrate a new job, and with pickings everywhere being what they are, I guess I went with this overpriced bottle. I actually like the 6 year Whistlepig quite a lot; it's a great rounded Canadian rye whiskey that's good by itself and mixed. Speaking of, Whistlepig should truly be proud of themselves for achieving the American dream: taking another country's product and putting their own name on it. I'd love to actually hear the defense for sourcing Canadian rye and then truly trying to pass it off as their own, but in reality, if I could trick chumps into paying more for a product than it's worth, I'd certainly do it too. Either way, we've got ourselves a proper rye that's cask strength, but I fear there may actually be too much age in this for me to enjoy it. Step 1 on identifying this as a Canadian rye: the color is super light and extremely translucent, likely from aging in an ex-bourbon barrel or other light, non-charred cask. I don't like the idea of missing these charred oak notes, especially since they aren't present on the nose. In it's place, I get some bright grain (disturbing after 10 years) that almost has corn notes to it (god help me if there's corn in this). The rye is here, but very mellowed from the age, taking away any harsh spice or herbaceous notes typical of the grain. Given that the barrel is also only providing light, somewhat floral flavors, there is a lot of empty space here that's taken up by mostly the ethanol and a little spiced rye. Thankfully, the muted notes from the nose do come alive in the mouth, with initial flavors being a little floral along with some honey. It does not take long for the rye to get into the gums, with a medium amount of overall penetration. A little barrel sweetness does actually sneak in near the finish (tasting like a used bourbon barrel), allowing a small amount of caramel to peak through. The finish, however is where the rye really hits, thanks to the cask strength, giving the full bodied spice notes expected of the grain, combining with a mildly dry finish, and numbing the gums like you're about to get a filling from your dentist. Man, Canadians know how to make some rye whiskey. Having said that, I can tell that I would definitely not enjoy this if it weren't cask strength, since the rye really only comes out in the finish, which would be far more muted at a lower proof. Not to mention that it's a cardinal sin to dilute anything that's been aged for an entire decade (looking at you, Jim Beam, and your 10 year Basil Hayden's rye at 80 proof). It's not quite simple, yet not quite complex, but great for high proof lovers of non-American rye, only because it's missing those heavy char notes from a new barrel. Considering I'm not an advocate for heavily aging rye, this is definitely a great offering for a 10 year, and makes me want to seek more Canadian rye cask strengths to compare it to. That said, the price point of this is abysmal, and should never be supported unless you absolutely cannot find a cask strength Canadian rye within a few hundred miles, because any other Canadian distillery will likely be a much better offer.
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey (114 Proof)
Rye — Kentucky, USATasted May 6, 2022Very rarely do you get to find a rye whiskey that hits all the right marks, at least on the outside. Super affordable, relatively easy to find, cask strength, good age (rye needs no more than 7 years), reputable distillery/region, and a good mash bill, which is the only unknown out of the whole list. I'm hoping this isn't so amazing that it replaces my other all-around rye whiskeys, because I don't remember where I bought it, and the world would sooner implode than good whiskey ever being sold in Ohio. The one thing that actually is a turn-off from the beginning is the amber bottle; an amber bottle is to prevent sunlight from reaching the contents, but also greatly takes away from the color appreciation of said contents. Plus, there is nothing on the label that is even remotely pleasing to the eye, unless the goal was to emulate a whiskey bottle from 100+ years ago, in which case I would say this nails it. Really a fantastic chestnut color, full of a rich, burnt sienna hue in the center while still staying lighter and straw-hued around the edges. I have to guess with this mash bill, unfortunately, but the scent is telling me they did this proper, and it's likely 90%+ rye grain. There's a decent oak note, really focusing on the wood itself, but there's some light-to-moderate caramel from any charring used. The rye grain nose is mostly hot and vegetal, with all the classic notes of cinnamon, cut grass, and baking spices coming together to perform as the star of the show via an equal ensemble. Upon tasting, I immediately discovered that I have several cuts on the inside of my gums. After effectively disinfecting that, I notice the initial flavors are rye grain, but much less pronounced than was on the nose. The grain tastes much fresher here, unusual for 4 years of age, as is the only very slight gum penetration from the spice flavor itself. As I continue to dissect it, a disturbing note I can only half-heartedly assume is charcoal kills any lingering spice, turning this into a fungal and earthy finish. I once had a rye whiskey that was finished in peated scotch barrels (which was a very fun finishing idea), and not even that was as earthy as this is. This really can be two different things entirely, but can only occur at the same time; decent, practical American rye whiskey notes up front, and then a spiced mushroom broth on the finish that would work with certain European whiskey lovers. To me, this really isn't enjoyable, and reminds me of a similar flavor I've gotten from a Michter's single barrel rye that I still resent (mostly based on cost) and have no idea how it came about. Sure, this has plenty of uses in certain cocktails (talk about a delicious Sazerac), but to have to remember and perhaps even label this bottle to only have these uses and flavor profiles does not a good rye whiskey make. With the cost and barrel strength factor to this, though, I think it's still worth picking up to see the viewpoint and creative ideas other distilleries have for affordable American rye whiskeys.
Pendleton 1910 12 Year Rye Whisky
Canadian — CanadaTasted April 24, 2022I am very humbled to be given this as a gift from my brand new sister-in-law, having been the officiant between her and my brother-in-law and having the greatest pleasure of joining them as husband and wife. I was very humbled to hear of their research by reading my reviews to determine my likes and dislikes, and then driving all over the tri-state area to find me a much more overpriced bottle (which is no longer relevant). However, I'm much happier that they settled here, on a rye whiskey from a country who actually knows and appreciates how rye whiskeys should be made, and where something as high as 12 years aged is nothing to them, but unheard of for American ryes (at least under $150). One of these days I will find a cask strength Canadian rye that still has good age to it, but god help me it probably won't be in America. Still though, even with all the water added, this should still be a great tapestry to the rye grain's flavor. The color is fairly dark and slightly lighter than I would expect from 12 years in a barrel, but this is almost certainly from the low proof and all the water added, as well as not knowing what types of barrels were used here. The scent here really reminds me of brandy, as I get a sweetness and even a tiny note of raisin. There's also a moderate amount of vanilla, and thankfully still some classic cinnamon candy. There's a slight vegetal note that does have some cut grass to it, but also a tiny floral notes that is also confusing me. Of course, the body is extremely light, as expected for the proof. The vanilla is the first flavor to emerge, and it hits quite hard, which really overshadows the spiciness of the rye itself, which is only tasted a tiny amount near the finish. The finish is pretty dry, which also distracts from the classic flavors of the rye. There's more barrel character that also rides through the finish, but this time it's more about wood spice than sweetness. Now, I don't believe I've had any other Pendleton products (at least neat), so I don't know if sweet and dry is what they set out to establish here, but as that's what I found here, it was definitely disappointing as a classic rye whiskey. I'm not sure if the high age is how the flavors ended up arriving here, but this does reinforce why I like younger ryes so much; maximum age that I've enjoyed thus far for rye is 6 years. Since I like the harsh, cinnamon, vegetal notes of younger rye grain, I do attribute the long resting in the barrel of this bottle to be at least a major part of why I dislike it. Still, it has a flavor unique enough from all other rye whiskeys that I own that I'm sure it will find it's place. In this case, I probably wouldn't even buy the cask strength version (if that exists), but would rather have a lower age (and also still cask strength).
Cenote Añejo Tequila
Tequila Añejo — Jalisco, MexicoTasted April 21, 2022Time to try the big brother. The reposado was definitely a favorite of mine, being a delicious sipper neat and also giving a lot of character to cocktails. My original recommendation to me regarding Cenote was for their blanco, so knowing that I'll most likely already enjoy that one, I opted to see what more age would do by getting this bottle. It's honestly a bit cheap for the distillery to choose the blue glass bottles for the reposado and añejo, because it amplifies the depth of the aged color and looks as if it's been aged for a decade instead of just "one year" / "more than one year." When poured into the glass, the color is still impressive for the age, although still looks drab next to the bottle. The nose really leads with caramel and toffee, with agave being present, but roasted and seemingly caramelized next to all these other sweet scents. There's a very small touch of salt in the form of a blended saline, and even a hint of pepper, although too muted to tell if it's more of a capsaicin or spice note. Nothing really comes alive at first in the mouth, I assume as a component of the low proof. The barrel is tasted quite well for the aging time, with the sweet flavors coming alive for just a second, but they don't last long at all, being replaced by a salty, roasted veggie flavor. This lasts through to the finish, which becomes overwhelming dry, before backing off slightly to let just a touch of the sweet barrel notes back in. This may be the most barrel sweetness I've ever tasted in an añejo thus far, but it unfortunately does not last. The dry finish is really kind of a letdown, but only to this sweeter flavor, and does not make a bad tequila overall. Given that I'm getting profiles of a harsher blanco and great age expected of an extra añejo, I'm wondering how this would fare in some cocktails, as I predict it may have more versatility than some other añejos.
Chartreuse Green Liqueur
Herbal/Spice Liqueurs — FranceTasted April 19, 2022Well, I've known about this liqueur (and it's yellow sibling) for a good while, but for some reason, I've just recently been seeing more and more cocktail recipes that are requiring this. I've known about the high price, but not the high proof, which, combined with a curiosity of said new-to-me cocktails, went ahead with the purchase. Against my better wishes, I want to try a few ounces of this the same way I would any other spirit, and start to do the same for all of my other liqueurs as well. With the complexity and the highest ingredient count of any beverage I've ever had, this is one hell of a place to start. Of course there's a lot to the nose, but my immediate thoughts, without thinking, include notes of furniture cleaner, anise (not even licorice, instead the actual ground spice, in this case), dried citrus peels, juniper berries, and do many other tiny spices and botanicals that blend too much for me to pick out. There is a little ethanol, but not enough for me to predict the moderate 110 proof. The initial flavor is nothing but spices, like the entire aisle of Whole Foods spices were mixed in. Even holding the liquid still, the spices seep all around the mouth, being both an oily and a dry texture. The anise flavor starts to creep in somewhat here, but it's not until it's swallowed that it's really made known. The flavors in the mouth and throat now differ, letting the spicier notes come through in the throat, while the mouth gets more of the raw, baking spices. Once air is introduced, this becomes as dry as if I were eating sand. Fresh notes of very dry citrus and some juniper help mold the finish. Cheers indeed to anyone who's got a glass of this neat right now, because this is a bit too concentrated for me to enjoy it that way. The possibilities of enhancing and playing with different flavors in cocktails are definitely endless, especially since some liquors would bring out notes of this that others would not be able to. Calling this unique goes without saying, but I do love the history and secrecy behind the creation. I wouldn't go as far as saying that this is a needed liqueur for everyone's bar, but it's for sure available and recommended for those who are craving and urging to find the next best mixed combination.
New Riff Balboa Rye
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted April 5, 2022Back with a return to a generally reliable distillery, New Riff. I say generally because, although their standard bourbon and rye is consistently great for the price, and the single barrels (which I'll always buy directly at the distillery after tasting) are fantastic and flavorful, the "experimental" whiskeys that are made for the "Whiskey Club" lean heavily towards marketing and profit making only. When this first released (perhaps almost a year ago now), I attempted to order it immediately after receiving the email; although my shopping took no more than 5 minutes, I was unable to finalize payment because it had sold out. When I purchased this nearly a year later, an employee at the distillery distinctly remembered the release and confirmed it had sold out in 4 minutes. At first I thought it was due to an extremely small amount of bottles available at the time, since only so many people were available to purchase online 4 minutes after an email release, and wondered how a distillery could release less liquid than your average 7-year-old's lemonade stand. Then I saw it pop back up for sale here and there throughout last year, and realized the decision was all in the money, and they had pulled a "Buffalo Trace" hype plan in exchange for a revenue spike. Honestly, I really didn't want to buy this for that reason, but considering everything at the distillery is priced essentially the same, and that I already have several single barrels of their rye, this was a nice new addition to everything else. The color here is quite dark, at the same level of the single barrels that New Riff has, but this is somewhat shocking for this one, considering it's only 100 proof. The expected fresh rye grain and cinnamon is complimented by a candied fruitiness, but still doesn't smell sweet. There's a hint of lemon oil, like it's in the air near the glass, but the main focus appears to be mixed berries of almost all kinds. I had quickly skimmed the back label of this bottle to see if it was any different, and did notice the tasting notice of red and blue fruit, but really didn't expect to be able to pick it out so quickly and suddenly. Knowing that this is full rye whiskey with no other distractions in the mash, it's surprising to me that the spice of it stays only on the tongue, entering the gums only slightly and long into the finish. Initial flavors are fruity and even identifiable as berries, but nothing specific. Even the slightest bit of air added drops a cinnamon bomb, but only for a moment, as the fruitiness returns to compliment the medium age of the grains. The finish is medium-short, with the only real reminents starting to seep into the gums as a familiar spice, yet not as strong as New Riff's regular rye. With the flavor here being fairly unique, although fairly less appealing than the regular rye whiskey, the most exciting appeal to me is the history it can tell. With the balboa strain being grown in a time where rye whiskey was a common (if not overplayed) medicine used in the USA, it humbles me to sit here and drink casually what may have required a prescription or illness to sip almost a century ago. With far more rye and other whiskey options today, I'm happy to taste what may have been the first real experimentation for rye whiskey, at a time where people were expanding and creating new whiskeys without an overwhelming concern of sales and marketing, letting the distilled and aged grain speak it's wonders all by itself. This may not be the best tasting rye out right now, and in fact, it's not even close to being a contender, but the story it tells, if you're willing to listen, is worth a glass or two.
El Jimador Blanco Tequila
Tequila Blanco — Tequila Valley, Jalisco, MexicoTasted March 26, 2022As I was restocking the bar and looking for budget friendly options, it was very easy to reach for this familiar tequila produced by my very favorite tequila distillery. For me, El Jimador has mostly been in cocktails, but very easy to detect with it's bright citrus and vegetal notes that were not overpowering as equally as they were not unique or special. I'm excited to try this alone, as well as have a very inexpensive Herradurra-quality tequila to make a paloma with, right after this tasting. Very strong raw agave on the nose right off the bat, with the ethanol burning hotter than it should for this minimum proof tequila. There's a pinch of salt, and as I pull away, I get roasted veggies, like basic vegetal notes and carbon combined. There's nothing else that sticks out to me (yet), as expected from the simplicity of the El Jimador line. My first thought on tasting was that it's very watery, but honestly not far off the 80 proof expectation. I thought the flavors would be really muted because of this, but they do pick up eventually, imparting agave, assorted raw veggies with a focus on corn and tomato, oddly enough, and a pinch of salt. Going back for further sips brings up some light black pepper. The finish is light on the tongue, but sticks around for a mild gum burn that turns the black pepper into white pepper. Look, as weird as it may sound, the vegetal and salt notes, combined with a very fresh agave flavor, makes me think of the basics for Mexican food: chips and salsa. This tequila is so simple, yet delivers an image and flavor profile so vivid and complimenting that it's shocking, but still very delicious. I can picture upping the quality of the base agave and other parts of the distillation process to really enhance these wonderful basic necessities (aka Herradurra itself), but if you were looking for something to really represent tequila and agave without breaking the bank, look no further. I'd love to try the aged version for an affordable reposado comparison, but given that Herradurra blanco is actually still aged just a bit, I believe this El Jimador blanco may actually be a better representation of the unaged tequila this distillery has to offer.
Cleveland Underground Bourbon Whiskey Finished with Black Cherry Wood Full Proof
Bourbon — Cleveland, Ohio, USATasted March 22, 2022Batch: 01 Bottle: 1181 Another gift from a friend, who really seems to be rocketing his way to the top of my list with these gestures. To be honest, I think this one may just be a way to convince me that Cleveland, his hometown, isn't the sweaty, smoggy blemish on Ohio, although it's certainly not as bad as Cincinnati. Cleveland Underground, their standard bourbon in the tall bottle, was by far one of the worst whiskeys I have ever had, for what I am positive is the fake aging process they try to replicate using pressure instead of time. There is absolutely no substitute for time, ever, and although I'm sure this will be good since it is barrel proof, the addition of black cherry wood will probably also upset the balance that may normally have come to fruition if only this whiskey was given it's proper and deserved time to age. The color is a rich, darker hue, but honestly less than I would expect of a barrel strength whiskey of even 2 years of age. Sadly, the color must come from the additional wood used, since we know this hasn't even rested for 2 years, given it's lack of "straight." A very clean and fruity ethanol is found at the top of the nose, with the cherry wood being very evident, but only this wood, and not anything from the original oak. Some lemon follows this, and the ethanol fades before ever becoming too potent. In all regards, this smells like it would be a fantastic cherry wood aged whiskey, but since this distillery claims it to be a very low aged bourbon instead, the expectations shift, and will likely cause more of a loss than if those terms were omitted entirely. The initial flavor is packed full of cherry, almost as if it were simply fresh juice, but evolve into very young grain, especially corn, soon after. Another loss from this distillery is the choice to omit the mash bill from our knowledge, so I can only guess that this is a very high corn bourbon base. Rye is definitely a choice here over wheat, however, because I do get some familiar hot cinnamon gum penetration, although it's light, showcasing that the rye is a low percentage used. The finish is hot and close to raw ethanol, but nothing more expected than from 115 proof. There's a slight baking spice that also surfaces around the finish, which thankfully gives some body to the otherwise raw and grain-focused finish. The cycle always resets with fresh cherry after each new sip. There is almost nothing else on my mind other than how young this is. If not for the added cherry wood, this would somehow taste younger than new make I've had right off the still. However, the cherry wood really does hammer home great, unique flavors, probably since it's spent almost as much time in contact with the whiskey than the oak did. As predicted before, if this was marketed as a young American whiskey aged in black cherry wood, this would honestly be very good, although still equally unique and limited in it's uses. However, this distillery just had to jump on the bourbon resurgence, and, even worse, they didn't even have the dignity to let it age even a few years. No, actually, even worse than that was thinking that they could somehow shortcut the aging process, cheating the system in hopes that they could sell their product even faster and not have to worry about the wait. And if you thought that was the worst thing, it can only be topped by someone actually having convinced others that using pressure on the barrels was somehow related to time. Cleveland, not only have you made a huge public smear on the bourbon industry with that dumbass idea, but you convinced others to give you money for it. As always in these situations, I'm not mad, but instead jealous that you managed to make even bigger fools out of your customers than you did of yourselves. But hey, money solves all problems, and this makes you set by one more bottle.