Tuesday, October 3, 2023

- $90
- 100 Proof
- 10 Years
- Barrel N. 5651821
- Kentucky

This is a bit of a re-visit to this bottle.  I was given the chance to grab a bottle of Rebel 10 years, and I knew that it had been some time since I last had it. Additionally, this bottle was being sold to me in the year 2023, yet it had a fill date of 2009. So, while I was never able to confirm the age, I had a pretty good feeling that what was in the bottle was actually a couple years older than the 10 year age statement on the label.

Additionally, I went back and realized that the last time I had a bottle of Rebel 10 Year was in 2016, when it first came out under the name "Rebel Yell"! I had no clue that it had been that long, so even for that reason alone it was worth the re-visit. That's not to mention that it's a single barrel product, giving me all the more reason to try it once again and put my thoughts to paper. 

The nose was full of rich, sweet notes, like dark chocolate mixed with cinnamon. It even had a bit of an espresso note to it as well, but more so in flavor. It didn't seem to have bitterness that comes with dark chocolate or coffee.  There was also a good brown sugar note, and in a way it smelled a bit like chocolate chip cookies.

The flavor was a bit of a different profile. Right up front I got some sweet oak notes (again, none of the bitterness you so often get with oak notes), as well as a good amount of sweet vanilla bean. It definitely leaned toward the sweeter end of the spectrum right away.  

In fact, at one point I was even getting caramel popcorn notes. Now, it wasn't quite that sweet. My teeth weren't sticking together or immediately developing cavities or anything like that. But that was the kind of sweetness that it had to it. The oak and vanilla definitely gave way to a prominent caramel note, that verry much carried forward from that point.

The finish, however, brought me right back to the nose. That's where the chocolate notes came in, though perhaps more on the milk chocolate end. It's also where the brown sugar and cookie notes came through as well.  

The only thing really missing from this was a spicy note to help balance out all the sweet notes. But other than that, this was a delicious bourbon, one that I've clearly been sleeping on!  And I still find myself giving it the same grade I gave it 7 years ago, which is saying something for the product's consistency!

Grade: A-

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Bernheim Original Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey - Batch A223

- $70
- 118.8 Proof
- 7-9 Years
- Batch A223
- Kentucky

I supposed it was only a matter of time until this became a think. After all, Heaven Hill started releasing Elijah Craig Barrel Proof tri-annually.  It then started releasing Larceny Barrel Proof, which has seen its own share of success. So it only makes sense that they'd release Bernheim Original, one the few and certainly the most popular wheat whiskey out there.

Here, though, I don't know that people were beating their drums demanding a barrel proof version of Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. I just don't believe it's that popular of a product or has that much of a following. That said, the initial feedback I was getting from others upon its release was that it was very good. So, despite not having some deep yearning for it, I decided to give this bottle a go.

On the nose, right away I found it to be very cinnamon forward, which I wasn't necessarily expecting. There was also a distinct pastry note to it, kind of like a cinnamon roll, but not nearly as sweet.  There was a slight spiciness to it, perhaps a black pepper spice. Later on I noticed a vanilla bean note that I really enjoyed.

The flavor wasn't quite in line with the aroma. Right up front I got a distinct bread note, like a sweet wheat bread. More than that, it reminded me of toast. It had that toasted bread flavor, which made the immediately following cinnamon and brown sugar notes all that more welcome. It was like a breakfast snack.

Admittedly, at first I wasn't a huge fan of this. I didn't want to drink bread, even if it did remind me a bit of cinnamon toast.  But, this bottle really grew on me. I think one reason that it is is that it developed a spiciness that I really loved. It was a mix of sweet and hot cinnamon, black pepper and even a bit of that sharp cayenne spice. It added a level that seemed to make this whiskey so much more interesting.

That spice and the sweetness both lingered for quite a while on the finish as well, providing that nice counterbalance. A bit of the brown sugar note stuck around as well, while the grainy bread note seemed to fade away, which was alright with me.

Like I said, at first I was unimpressed, but by about half-way through the bottle I found myself actively wanting a pour whenever I'd go to make my choice of drink for the evening. Whether or not I buy future batches remains to be seen, but I'll certainly give it a thought.

Grade: B

Friday, September 15, 2023

Coppercraft Distillery Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey

- $70
- 113.58 Proof
- Indiana

I've said it before, repeatedly. But, it's worth saying yet again.  I love free whiskey!!  This bottle was a gift from a very good friend of mine who traveled to my place from California via Michigan for the 4th of July. On his way through that mitten-shaped state, he stopped by Coppercraft distillery and picked this bottle up for me, one I had never had before. 

In fact, I don't know that I have had anything from Coppercraft prior to this bottle. But, it's cask strength MGP bourbon, and I was told it was 6 years old (though that remains unverified). In any event, I figured it had to, at the very least, be decent whiskey, and was in all likelihood very good.

On the nose I got a lot of those characteristics I've come to expect from MGP. It had a more spice-forward profile, rather than being sweet.  I got cinnamon and toffee, as well as a bit of vanilla undertone. Despite its youth, I also got a bit of oak, but no bitterness to accompany it. Rather, just a bit of an earthy, woody aroma. It also had a bit of an orange peel note to it, adding just a slight twist to things.

The flavor was pretty on point with the nose. The toffee note seemed to be more up front, however. I expected the cinnamon note to carry the day, but it leaned toward the sweeter end of the spectrum right up front. The vanilla seemed to come forward more than on the nose as well.

However, it didn't take long for that cinnamon spice to come through. As those sweet caramel and vanilla notes subsided, the spicy cinnamon shone through. There was also a rich, dark fruit note, kind of like a mix between cherry and blackberry. But it didn't have any sort of jammy fruit notes to it. Rather, it was just the richness and flavor of the hybrid berry that I was getting.

On the finish the toffee and cinnamon prevailed. None of those rich fruit notes really seemed to linger. Quite frankly, the sweet and spicy notes didn't linger as long as I'd have liked either, as it was a relatively short-lived finish, despite the higher proof.

I think I need to give more Coppercraft products a try. I realize this is sourced, but there's something to be said about a good, sourced whiskey, and this fits the bill.  

Grade: B+

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Batch No. C922

- $65
- 124.8 Proof
- 12 Years
- Batch No. C922
- Kentucky

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on most releases of a couple of the more popular barrel strength releases -- Stagg (formerly Stagg, Jr.) and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof.  What's amazing about these two whiskies is that for the most part they've remained fairly reasonable in pricing. They are also both semi-annual releases, so if I don't get a particular one, I know another one will be coming out shortly.

However, I've managed to get a sort of backlog on both.  So, I've been making it a point to start working my way through my sub-collection of ECBP bottles.  It's kind of funny. I just haven't felt compelled to open them sooner, because I already know they're going to be good. It's a bit axiomatic, I guess.  I know it's good, so I drink other stuff instead. But, I'm making it a point to open them and try the different batches, and this one only confirmed what I already knew.

The nose on this was full of sweet cinnamon and oak. It had a nice balance of sweet, dessert-like notes, an earthy and slightly bitter oak note and a cinnamon spice. In fact, it kind of had a barbecue rub type of aroma to it, but one that is heavy on the brown sugar. It even had a little bit of a chili powder note to it. It smelled great, even if a bit unlike most Elijah Craig's I've had.

The flavor really carried that barbecue note forward. I certainly got some cinnamon and oak, though neither were super strong or overwhelming. What really came forward, though, was the brown sugar. It wasn't that brown sugar note that I get off of some Canadian whiskies, though. Instead it was more of a brown butter note. It was sweet and lightly smokey and had a bit of unctuousness to it (I've clearly been watching too much Food Network).

Even the finish had that barbecue feeling to it. The oily texture of the bourbon coated my mouth with that light smokiness and brown butter. But, it also had a bit of a paprika note to really round out that barbecue flavor. I also got cooked cherries on the finish, with a lingering rich sweetness that seemed to perfectly balance out everything else and bring this from a spicy bourbon to a very well-balanced one.

My final thought? Guess what . . . it's good! No surprise there! Perhaps I've had others that have been better (some have been absolutely great), but this one was absolutely delicious, and I kind of appreciated that it was a bit off-profile.

Grade: B+

Monday, August 28, 2023

High West Binny's Barrel Select Double Rye! Finished in Tawny Port Casks

- $70
- 98 Proof
- Finished 9 mos.
- Barrel No. 28124
- Utah

I feel like it's been a while since I've last seen Double Rye! private barrels on the shelves.  I've seen plenty of American Prairie single barrels, most of which were finishes that I wasn't really interested in, such as rum cask or vermouth. And, to be honest, the American Prairie Bourbon barrel selects simply haven't done a whole lot for me overall.

But, I have had some amazing Double Rye! single barrels, with all sorts of finishes from Muscat to Armagnac and even a great tequila finish.  So I knew I had to give this Tawny Port finished Double Rye! a try (and I also grabbed a Cognac finished Double Rye! at the same time).  For me, High West has always done really well with their wine finishing, so I felt pretty good that I'd be getting something delicious here. 

On the nose, the most prominent aroma was raisin. In fact, the nose kind of reminded me of oatmeal raisin cookies, but made with about three times the usual number of raisins. In fact, the raisin or even fig note almost came across as jammy.  But, there was also that baked goods or cookie-like note to go with it, and all in all, it simply smelled great!

While the nose was somewhat straightforward, the flavor was actually a bit more complex.  I definitely got rich, jammy notes, but it wasn't singularly raisins or figs. Instead I actually got heavy notes of cherry and raspberry--very consistent with my experience with anything port-finished. It wasn't overly sweet, though, which I absolutely loved, rather relying on the richness of the dark fruits.

The rye gave it a great cinnamon backbone, and there was also a distinct chocolate note that came through, probably due to the combination of the port and the rye. Interestingly, I also got a certain amount of saltiness.  Certainly nothing that made my mouth pucker, but there was a "lightly salted" tone to everything.

On the finished the baked goods notes really came out, providing not only that oatmeal or Fig Newton flavor, but also highlighting some of those baking spices.  The cherry and raspberry notes fell away just enough to allow me to appreciate everything else going on as I contemplated my next sip.

I once again found myself really enjoying Double Rye! with a wine finish. This bottle certainly reinforced what I already knew--that I'll continue grabbing these when and where I can.

Grade: B+

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Jack Daniel's 12 Year Tennessee Whiskey


- $90
- 107 Proof
- 12 Years
- Batch 01
- Tennessee

It was just last year that Jack Daniel's released their 10 year whiskey, the first time in my lifetime that they put an age statement on their whiskey. This was a pretty big deal, and the excitement among the whiskey community was pretty high. What made it even better is that the whiskey itself was really damn good!

This year they released once again their 10 year whiskey, and people were once again excited. But, at the same time they also released a 12 year whiskey.  Not only did Jack add two years of age to the whiskey, but he bottled it at a significantly higher proof, clocking in at 107 proof compared to the 97 proof of the previous release.  Now that's how you keep that excitement going! I knew I needed to get my hands on a bottle of this, and I was so glad I did!

On the nose I got this great, sweet blend of brown sugar, cinnamon and black cherry.  The black cherry was almost the kind of flavor you get from a cherry cola, or even a Dr. Pepper. It was rich and sweet, and the cinnamon spice played with it so nicely. I knew upon the first sniff that this was going to be delicious.

The flavor had everything from the nose and more. That rich and sweet cherry note was front and center. It didn't have any of those artificial notes you sometimes get, but rather had more of that Marascino cherry syrup note to it. 

There was a healthy amount of brown sugar to aid in that sweetness but yet not take away from those rich dark fruit notes. The age provided a bit of an oak note as well, which might have actually tempered the sweetness a bit, keeping it from being too sweet.  Interestingly, I didn't get much of those traditional Jack Daniel's notes, that sweet banana note that so many people get, for example. But it wasn't missed, because everything else going on worked so well together. 

The finish was long and sweet and rich and full of that cherry note that I absolutely loved. But, this is where the cinnamon spice came through. It wasn't just that sweet, baked goods type cinnamon. It had some actual kick to it, and it was an incredible way to finish off each sip.  

Once this bottle was opened I had a really hard time not going right back to it every time I stared at my whiskey shelf trying to figure out what to pour next. I wanted to save it, to share with friends.  But it was just too good not to drink. 

Grade: A

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Four Roses Single Barrel Binny's Private Selection Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon - OESO

- $90
- 117 Proof
- 11 Years
- Barrel No. 25-3T
- Kentucky

I just can't say no.  At least not to Four Roses single barrel picks. As I've said in the past, they're always really good, and so often great.  Sure, the price has gone up a bit in recent years.  But, even at $90, to get a barrel strength 11 year bourbon from one of the big guys for that price is still a pretty good deal, particularly when you consider similar premium releases that are quickly leaving the shelves at twice the price.

I've had all ten recipes, so at this point I'm just re-visiting them. It's been six years, though, since I last had a bottle of OESO.  So, this isn't much of a re-visiting but more of a trying out OESO once again, pretty much without any frame of reference.  Of course I have this blog, but beyond what I wrote six years ago, I have no independent recollection of this particular recipe from way back then. 

Right up front I got rich, fruity and sweet notes, but it also had a certain boozy liqueur quality to it. It struck me as a cherry cordial type of note right away. On top of that, though, was an oaky note that I can't say I've gotten very often from these Four Roses single barrels, though I really enjoyed it. It also had some of the traditional caramel and vanilla notes to round it out.

The flavor was very much in line with the nose, but ramped up a bit. That cherry cordial note was the first and last thing that I tasted, leaving little room in between. It was the same note I got on the nose, but punched up quite a bit, particularly on the cherry note.

It also came across as more boozy. Not hot, like an alcohol burn. But boozy in flavor, if that makes sense. Kind of like the difference between a regular chocolate truffle and one made with any sort of liqueur. It has that distinct boozy tang to it, and it really complemented the charry note here.

The finished took a bit of a turn, letting that cherry cordial note subside and giving more of a grain and spice-forward experience. It reminded me a bit of cinnamon cereal, kind of like cinnamon toast crunch.  It also took on some sweet oak notes as well as a distinct chocolate flavor. The nice oily texture made for a good, long finish, and it was that chocolate note that seemed to stick around the longest.

This bottle was consistent from beginning to end, and it took on the characteristics of a cherry cordial so well that I found myself getting cravings for this specific bottle some evenings. I can't say that about a lot of whiskeys, and that's what made this one great!

Grade: A