- 90 Proof
I've previously touted the barrel-picking abilities of Vinny, the owner of Niche Restaurant in Geneva, Illinois. I've had many a private pick at the restaurant, and with only one exception, they've all been exceptional. A couple months ago, towards the start of the pandemic, Niche began selling liquor to go, and I was able to get my hands on a few of their picks, including the Buffalo Trace I reviewed back in March, which was delicious.
Apparently the pandemic didn't slow down the distribution of their barrel picks, as they've since gotten in a couple different new picks, including this Old Forester pick. I'm not sure what the "Stallion pt 12" is in reference to, though my Google skills tell me it's probably a reference in some way to a song by Ween, a band I only know for their song "Push th' Little Daisies" which was a featured video in Beavis and Butthead. Regardless, whether I understood the reference or not, I made sure to get my hands on one of these bottles as soon as Niche got them in.
The nose on the first pour was really an indicator of what I was going to get throughout this bottle. On that first pour I was immediately hit with a dark cherry note, somewhat sweet but also somewhat tart. That was balanced out by notes of amaretto and black licorice (which I hate in large doses -- it didn't get to that point here). It was also full of spice, like cloves and even allspice. In a way it reminded me a bit of a spiced fruitcake, which I know might sound like a turn off to some people, but this was rich and spicy and delicious smelling.
As to flavor, I got many of those same notes. I got a bit of an anise note right up front that hit the sides of my tongue. I also got a lot of sweet cinnamon spice. It also had that fruit-forward note, however, in this case it was more of a dark plum rather than cherry, and at times even came across like raisin. It did carry some sweetness, with a bit of a molasses note, but that seemed to be well-balanced by the light oak note that I got as well.
Despite its proof, this had a nice oily texture that still managed to coat the mouth with each sip and allow the finish to linger for quite a while--and the finish was great! This is where the cherry from the nose appeared, accompanied by rich dark chocolate as well as a healthy dose of almond or amaretto. At times I even got a bit of a peanut butter note. It was absolutely rich and delicious.
Those chocolate-cherry-almond notes seemed to get stronger as I made my way to the bottom of the bottle to the point that they really took over the flavor, which was quite alright by me. This whiskey had a lot going on, but all of the flavors seemed to be borderline sweet flavors, making this more of a rich, more decadent dessert-like whiskey, rather than a sugary sweet whiskey. Everything going on in this bottle worked really well, and quite frankly I appreciated the dryness to it. It seemed to focus the flavors a bit more.
Once again, Niche has provided an outstanding private pick, and I'm just going to be keeping my eye out for every new pick that hits their restaurant.