Monday, May 28, 2018

Weller Antique 107 Binny's Private Selection Batch 3 (NCF) Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $26
- 107 Proof
- Region: Kentucky

Weller products have developed a sort of demand that I never thought I'd see. It's gotten to the point that even Weller Special Reserve, previously a low-mid shelfer, is now high in demand, low in availability, and commanding prices on the secondary that are borderline absurd. So, while a few years ago I might not have been so eager to get my hands on a bottle like this, when the opportunity presented itself a few months back, I found myself not thinking twice about grabbing a private select, non-chill filtered Weller Antique.

Don't get me wrong, I happen to like Weller Antique. While I tend to favor high-rye bourbons over wheaters, this one has always been one of my favorites. And the price is an absolute steal for any Weller private selection.  I'm more or less just commenting on the fact that not too long ago this would have just been another decent find, not some special bottle they kept in the back.

The best part about getting it at retail, though, is it makes it really easy to crack it open and drink it as an every day pour, and so I did! The nose on this is very good. It's a mix of cinnamon and a slightly sweet cereal. I couldn't help but think of Life cereal. I also noticed a nice caramel scent on the nose. It certainly smelled sweet, but not cloyingly so.

Its flavor matched that light sweetness, too.  It was primarily vanilla and caramel, with a light amount of heat to balance out that sweetness. It also had a slight anise flavor that added a bit of a tang somewhere right in the middle.

The sweetness on this lingered for quite a while, leaving me smacking my lips and looking forward to each next sip. And yet it was never too sweet.  It even seemed to develop a sort of a sweet coffee flavor, like a caramel machiatto.  Not one of those super-sweet Starbucks kind, but a real caramel machiatto that is somewhat sweet, but also roasty and bitter. It was a nice touch on the back end that gave it a sort of richness and complexity that made it more than just a sweet wheated bourbon.

This was very tasty and incredibly easy to drink.  Perhaps too easy.  I found myself getting to the bottom of this bottle more quickly than I had intended.  But I just couldn't help but keep going back to this one. It was just that good! And the price gave me no regrets!

Grade: A

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Warehouse Liquors Private Selection Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $60
- 101 Proof
- Barrel No. 091
- Kentucky

So, typically I'll post a picture of my empty bottle when I'm done with one. After all, I don't review anything until I've at least given it a bottle's worth of a try, rather than just a single pour. With this particular bottle, however, due to a late night on my front porch with my neighbors, the empty seems to have gone missing. Odds are it ended up in my neighbor's recycling bin as part of our late night clean up efforts. In any event, I just don't have my typical empty bottle picture for this post. So, I used a nice picture of a half empty bottle I found on the internet.

I've never had Kentucky Spirit before, so maybe it's unfair that my first bottle is a store pick. That being said, perhaps I ran the risk of loving it more than necessary, as Warehouse Liquors has made some absolutely incredible private picks in the past. Nonetheless, having tried most all of the regulars from Wild Turkey, I was excited to finally give this one a go.

This whiskey smells great. It has a bunch of cinnamon on top of a consistent layer of vanilla. However, it has that familiar Wild Turkey funk to it, a slightly musty or tobacco flavored scent to it that is familiar and inviting. Although I've only had the cereal a couple times, I couldn't help but be reminded of Cinnamon Frosted Flakes with each whiff I took.

On the palate, in addition to the cinnamon and vanilla that I expected, the first flavor I noticed was a distinct almond flavor, like an amaretto liquor. That flavor seemed to go perfectly with the cinnamon to give this whiskey a nice bite, different from the alcohol bite you get from higher proof whiskeys. This was more of a tangy bite.  It also had a bit of a piney quality that added a bit of earthiness to it, the kind of earthiness I tend to associate with Wild Turkey products.

The cinnamon is also not the typical sharp cinnamon of a rye or even a high rye bourbon. Even that had a certain dank or musty quality to it. Nonetheless, overall this is a sweeter product than most Wild Turkey products I've had. Despite all the earthy qualities, it also has a sweet, honey like quality to it that seemed to balance everything out with the perfect amount of sweet, spicy and savory in each sip.

Once again Warehouse Liquors made a fantastic pick, and I only wish I had more. This whiskey ran the gamut of flavors, and yet it did so on a very well-balanced manner.  I only wish I had my empty bottle shot as a memento.

Grade: A-

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Barrell Rye Cask Strength Rye Whiskey Batch No 001

- $90
- 117 Proof
- 4 yrs., 6 mos.
- Region: Indiana & Tennessee

Barrell is one of the few "craft" whiskey companies that has really been able to take the world by storm. Their business model is a bit different, however, not only acknowledging the fact that they are a Non-Distilling Producer, or "NDP," but embracing it and marketing as such. They seem to take pride in transparency, and for this reason alone they have been a breath of fresh air.  Plus, it doesn't hurt when your sourced bourbons seem to frequently win awards and accolades.

I haven't yet gotten around to trying one of those bourbons, but I couldn't pass up their first rye release when it came out. Barrell products come with a somewhat steep price tag, relatively speaking, so it wasn't an automatic decision, but in the end it was one I was glad I made.

The nose, at first, was incredibly off-putting. When I first opened it up (and even on the next few pours) I got a strong whiff of ethanol singing my nose hairs (of which there are many). Eventually, however, that ethanol note disappeared, perhaps evaporated off, and other notes were able to come through, including natural cherry (as opposed to the cough syrup kind), even with a bit of tartness on the notes. It also had a more earthy, almond note to it. All and all, once that ethanol seemed to burn off, it smelled really good!

More importantly, though, even when that ethanol note was hanging around, this rye tasted amazing! It was sweet up front with a mild spice providing just enough kick to counterbalance the sweet. It was tones of molasses or brown sugar, balanced out by a Christmas-y cinnamon spice. It also had light pine notes and even a hint of dark fruits, like black cherry or plum. I couldn't quite place my thumb on it.

As this rye opened up, though, it became a caramel bomb. Pour after pour I found myself taking a sip and then licking my lips for a while before diving in for the next sip. The cinnamon spice still stuck around, but this was caramel all day, rounded out just a bit by those dark fruit notes.

This was Barrell's first foray into rye, and it was a great success! I loved everything about this rye (even despite the off-putting nose at first), and I would recommend this to anyone as a great example of a traditional rye. I certainly place this on par with Kentucky Owl Rye or even Michter's Toasted Barrel Rye, which I loved.

Their second batch is sourced in part from Poland, which has me intrigued. Given how good this one was, there's a real possibility I give that one a try as well.

Grade: A