Compass Box The Circle No. 2
Blended — ScotlandReviewed March 21, 2023I bought a bottle of the Circle No 2 knowing almost nothing about this particular blend from Compass Box except for the fact that generally, Compass Box does not produce bad whisky. Sometimes you've just got to close your eyes and take the plunge.... The nose on this is incredibly bright and fruit forward. It brings to mind a whole host of light colored fruits. Tangy pineapples swirled together with canned peaches in that thick sugary syrup with some honey thrown in for good measure. There's a bright pop of citric acidity, brings to mind freshly cut tangerines. The tail end of the nose pulls back that brightness, mixing in some beeswax and raisins. The front of the taste is bursting with sweet fruit. Pineapple and apples drizzled with honey and vanilla. It instantly fills your mouth with sweet and tart, taking you to a warm summer afternoon picnic. Mid taste switches up the flavor profile, a little bit of candied raisins sit between the tail of the taste and start of the finish. Peppercorn spice takes center stage as the finish turns decidedly toward a spicier route. Baking spices join in on the fun and are swept away by a wave of honey and milk chocolate. You can really notice that sweet kick at the end of the finish if you press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Another great blend by Compass Box indeed. Perhaps a little too fruit forward for my personal tastes, but I can see this appealing to a large audience.
Heaven's Door 10 Year Decade Series (Release #1)
Bourbon — USAReviewed March 17, 2023This is one of those limited releases you can still likely find on the shelf at Total Wine or Bevmo which is shocking. I was very excited to try this until I got home, had a good look at the bottle and read that this Bourbon was considered "high rye". I'm not a rye lover and this sort of made me less excited to try this bourbon... but would it disappoint? The nose is classic bourbon with a zing. Caramel starts the show but is quickly joined by bittersweet baking spices and orange peel. Sweet, thick honey rounds out the end of the nose. The taste initially starts sweet with a warm and viscous mouth feel. Caramel slowly melts on your tongue and slightly bitter orange pith rides on the back of a bit of honey which bridges the taste with the finish. That finish ushers in the rye spice we were expecting from a high rye blend but also some spicy cinnamon. A bit of musty leather rounds out the finish with a powdery mouth feel, reminding you that this is a higher proof bourbon. More complex than Heaven's Door and certainly a significantly less sweet take on Bourbon, Heaven's Door Decade Series is definitely worth a taste. This bourbon is complex but somehow rounds out the taste by softening the transitions on the taste and finish themselves, not an easy feat. Go pick up a bottle while you still can.
Compass Box Orchard House
Blended Malt — ScotlandReviewed March 17, 2023Orchard House snuck into Compass Box's core lineup while the world was trapped indoors trying to avoid the rona. After tasting the Godsend that is Flaming Heart, I've become much more interested in Compass Box as a whole. Of course, I had to buy a bottle of Orchard House to give it a go. Such a fruity nose! Apples and pears sitting amongst some sweet, floral beeswax. The taste is surprisingly not overwhelmed with fruit. Mildly spicy and sweet anise takes center stage as the taste opens up. Midway through you get some hints of almond cookie. The finish is a little shorter on this one but continues with the sweet spicy anise. It trails off with a whisper of peat right at the very tail end. What a good, solid sipper this one is. And for the price, it could easily become a daily. I really cannot think of many $50 and under bottles that can swing at this level.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt
Blended Malt — Speyside, ScotlandReviewed March 17, 2023Monkey Shoulder was recommended to me by a friend who swears by the stuff. I took the opportunity to try it for a very modest $9 neat 2 oz pour when I was visiting Arizona this past week. The nose is loaded with sweet honey drizzled oranges. An interesting and unique smell for sure. The taste has a Glenlivet type sweetness to it mingled with a bit of floral potpourri. Mid taste hits you with some tingly cinnamon spice. As the taste moves into the finish, it kicks off with sweet and powdery cocoa powder. The finish is rather quick with the latter half exhibiting bitter and citrusy orange pith. Odd that the orange on the nose stays hidden until the very end. It's not bad for a budget minded blended whiskey, you know. In this price range it is admittedly hard not to find something that's excellent and while Monkey Shoulder isn't excellent it is at least unique.
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed March 17, 2023Another home run Single Barrel bourbon. I tasted this at a restaurant out of a whiskey glass. I can't wait to pick up a bottle so I can taste this at home out of a Glencairn. The nose is all dessert. Sweet cream, vanilla and caramel all swirled together. Makes you think the taste will be cloying. Indeed the taste is sweet but not overly so. It initially reminds me of apple pie. Caramel, cinnamon and a very faint hint of apples dance across your tongue. The finish sticks with that cinnamon but on its own it creates a spicier profile. What an awesome way to break up all the sweet! It's a long lasting, mouth coating and immensely satisfying finish. This stuff is delicious but sadly is rarer than unicorn t!ts in my market. Not sure when I'll ever get a bottle for a decent price. I just can't picture myself shelling out $300 a bottle ( which seems to be average going price online ).
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed March 17, 2023Man this bourbon is STRONG. It's really kind of my fault though - I insist to drink every whiskey and bourbon neat, cask strength or not. Many, especially Booker's; would very likely benefit from a drop or two of water but my stubbornness won't allow it. I want to taste every whiskey and bourbon the same way. The nose on Booker's is a good indicator of the heat that's to come. Ethanol fills your nose along with some cocoa powder and leather. The predominant taste here is tongue prickling heat. A little bit of cocoa opens for a wallop of spicy cinnamon . There's a very faint underlying cherry sweetness during the proof fueled mouth fire of a taste. The finish starts hot and tapers down to some rye spice and leather. I'm all for a good cask strength bourbon but man, this stuff is taking that to the next level. At 120-130 proof, its no wonder the smell and taste is hot through and through. Still, a pretty surprising complexity remains after the heat has gone and makes this an interesting dram. Maybe I'd give it another shot with a drop or two of water.
Compass Box Phenomenology
Blended Malt — ScotlandReviewed February 28, 2023Phenomenology is Phenomenal. Har har. Okay sorry that was lame joke to open up this review. Back in late 2018 I was holding out hope that I'd actually find one of these bottles at SRP locally. Of course, with the proliferation of self proclaimed "whiskey connoisseurs" flocking the streets of sunny Southern California, that hope would never come to pass. I all but forgot about this bottle. And then, deep from within the depths of some forgotten storage room somewhere on the east coast, a bottle was found. And I was notified. Yeah I paid dearly for this bottle. But this could have been my last chance, my fleeting opportunity to taste the one that was never to be. The nose smells of apricots, citrus and peaches swimming in a bowl of sweetened cream. It tails off with the familiar smell of vanilla mixed with some baking spice. The first thing you notice about this whiskey is the mouth feel. Its so creamy and rich, its really quite dessert like. Sweet peaches and melon opens up the taste, followed by vanilla and baking spice all riding that creamy feel throughout. There is a drier quality between the taste and finish, as the creaminess subsides; that actually really reminds me of their core offering "Spice Tree". That dry taste reminds me of some slightly worn leather goods. The finish is a tad bit waxy and does start spicy but melts away to that familiar drier finish. As that taste all but subsides a faint kiss of honeydew comes out of left field and then is gone in an instant, leaving you feeling a bit disappointed. I wish that sweet melon finish wasn't quite so fleeting. Overall a wonderfully complex and delicious blended whiskey. Was it worth the wait and price? Eh, 50-50 but you can be the judge.... if you can still find a bottle that is.
Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed February 24, 2023Hipsters ruin everything. There I said it. And I won't take it back. Remember the good ol days when you could roll into a Total Wine or Bevmo any day of the week and see a fully stocked bourbon shelf with Eagle Rare 10 year amongst the other gleaming bottles? Ready for the picking at a wonderfully affordable SRP of $45? Well, I do. And then some hipster "influencers" decided that this bourbon is pretty good drinking and sent their legions of followers in to all of the local fine retail establishments to wipe the shelves clean of certain bottles including Eagle Rare. Perhaps some of you live in parts of the country that don't have this problem. I live in Orange County, California where the streets are rife with hipsters. And so, when a beloved local retailer calls me to tell me that they've got some Eagle Rare 10 year in stock and will sell it to me for SRP which apparently now is $50... hell I was in my car before he could even hang up. And if that intro offended you... well.. I'm sorry. But my views and opinions do not reflect those of Distiller as a community and let's face it - if you are on a site like Distiller... the chances that you are actually a hipster looking for the next flavor of the week are probably pretty slim. No, chances are if you're reading this you're an enthusiast of fine alcoholic beverages like myself. I tasted Eagle Rare way back in the day. In the infancy of even knowing what good whiskey tasted like. I've been wanting a bottle ever since, with the intent to actually give it a good tasting. What a soft, sweet and delicate nose indeed! Caramel blankets some dark cherries and a bit of cooling mint. The nose just oozes of dessert. The taste starts fruity and sweet. Cherries and pears dance with honey and caramel but only for a fleeting moment. Mid taste a surprising wallop of spice swoops in. Tongue tingling cloves and cinnamon mingle with the sweet fruitiness as they usher in the finish. The mouthfeel of the finish is a bit sweet and powdery, reminiscent of dark chocolate. And in fact, I do detect some chocolate but maybe leaning more towards the sweetness of milk chocolate. Vanilla shines through on the finish with some herbal spices ( this is supposed to be a low rye mash bill but you can just taste a bit of rye spice on the finish ) ending off with a familiar leather smoking jacket at the tail end of the finish. I have this habit of bending my ratings based on price point. I try not to, but I do. If you can find a bottle of this stuff at SRP, it is a screaming bargain. This bourbon is wonderful, complex and delicious. The overwhelming taste profile is spice, but it isn't overpowering or unpleasant. Now if we can just convince the hipsters to buy something else so us whiskey junkies can actually buy Eagle Rare for a decent price...
Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USAReviewed February 24, 2023A younger version of myself once drank a neat pour of Taylor Single Barrel at a restaurant and whiskey bar years back and was blown away. Of course, that was when I was just starting to discover GOOD whiskey and bourbons. And so, much like a fevered teen who had just discovered sex, I was doing my best to taste as many whiskies as humanly possible in each sitting. Today I was lucky enough to score a bottle of Taylor Single Barrel locally and actually have the time to sit and truly enjoy this bourbon. The nose smells of sweet vanilla and some green raisins. Its not bright and fruity rather, a bit darker. That fruit smell lurks in the shadows. The Vanilla and Raisins sit on a platform of ethanol. But it isn't distracting or overpowering, its just enough to remind you that this bourbon is bottled at a healthy 100 proof. The taste is warm sweet and inviting. My God, this is as close to a quintessential bourbon as one can taste. Vanilla sets the stage, rolling across your tongue and ushering in a hint of that raisin you got up front. The front of the taste brings in something dark, sweet and ever so slightly salty - reminds me of salted caramel. As you drink it down, some spice prickles your tongue, reminiscent of black peppercorn. The finish is moderately dry and spicy. You get a bit of fine leather mixed with pipe tobacco underlined with the slightest hint of rye. Boy, what an absolute treat this bourbon is. Like all good bourbons, I wish this wasn't as damn rare as it is. It's nuts that this $60 MSRP bottle will regularly command $200 or sometimes more. And although I am a bit ashamed to admit I did pay a price in that $200 range I can honestly tell you that its well worth the price of entry. Delicious.
Green Spot Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still — IrelandReviewed February 20, 2023I'm sorry to say - I am not a fan of Irish Whiskies. Some of the absolute worst whiskies I've ever had were Irish Whiskies. And maybe I'm not giving the category a fair shake, but I feel that by and large most Irish Whiskies are cheap and relatively tasteless. But do not misread that. I did not say ALL Irish whiskies are such. For example - I've tried Redbreast Cask Strength and 12 and both are perfectly acceptable whiskies. Not mind blowing, but not terrible in the least bit. And so, when I stumble across an Irish with glowing reviews and an average community rating above 4... well... it piques my interest. Can I find an Irish that will turn my opinion around about a specific segment? So what's the deal with these "Spot" whiskies? No one ever talks about them but every time I see a review of any of them they're always commended for being excellent. Are these the sleeper hits of the Irish Whiskey world? The nose of Green Spot is so soft, its almost undetectable. It's incredibly sweet and sugary, reminds me of bubble gum. As you inhale the nose deeper, you can pick up on sugary cereal and vanilla as well. The taste is decidedly fruity. I am not one typically for wine cask whiskies but this one is light, bright and pleasant. Bananas and apples come to mind as a bouquet of sweet fruit blooms on your tongue. As the taste winds down, tart berries take center stage. The finish sings of slightly bitter citrus, like orange pith. The mouthfeel during the finish is an interesting one, though - the sensation is almost powdery and sweet like dark chocolate. Green Spot is so incredibly unique that I can see why the ratings are where they are. Well deserved indeed and now I have quite the motivation to try their other offerings.
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