Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ardbeg Uigeadail Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

- $80
- 108.4 Proof
- 2020
- Islay

I've kept no secret about the fact that I love the mix of peat and wine, particularly when that peated scotch is aged in sherry or port casks. Something about that smoky flavor mixed with the rich berry notes I get from those fortified wines just hits right.

So, it was a must that I try Ardbeg's Uigeadail. Not only is it known for its heavy smoke notes, but also the prominent sherry cask notes. It has a reputation as big and strong and bold, but also as being absolutely delicious. This was one I knew I had to try for myself, even if I had no clue how to pronounce it (and still don't). 

The nose was an absolute smoke bomb on this. The peat absolutely dominated over just about every other note. With some effort, though, I was able to get some other aromas, including a yeasty wheat bread note. There was a certain mustiness or even a mossiness to it, like a damp forest. I also got something bright on the nose, however, like a rich blackberry note.

Of course, the peat smoke was front and center on the flavor.  No question about it, and it was very campfire-like.  However, immediately behind that was a strong and bright raspberry note from the sherry cask. It was such a sharp but inviting contrast to that smoky flavor.

The sherry added more depth than that, though, also providing notes of plum and currant.  Along with that I did get that sort of musty note, but musty night not be the right word. It reminded me of the way the air tastes when the sun comes out after a rain. That sounds very hippie-ish, I know, but that's what I was getting. There was also a touch of salinity to it, as though it was sea air I was tasting.

The finish was phenomenal, giving off this bright and jammy raspberry sweetness that lingered forever. There was also a bit of maltiness to it, giving off a note of sweet crackers with raspberry jam. I absolutely loved it! Of course the peat smoke carried through here as well, though it seemed a bit more subdued by the time it got to the finish.

I think what I loved the most about this was that it wasn't that normal barbecue sauce type flavor I often get with that mix of peat and wine. Rather, it had those two distinct notes of peat and bright raspberry, which each held their own but completed each other incredibly. This is an incredible whisky!

Grade: A

Monday, August 22, 2022

Copper & Cask SavWay Fine Wine & Spirits Single Barrel Selection Straight Rye Whiskey

- $45
- 109.2 Proof
- 6 Years
- Indiana

Prior to buying this bottle, I hadn't had anything from Copper & Cask out of Rhode Island. A few buddies of mine have picked up bottles and, while they might not necessarily have raved about them, certainly indicated it was good stuff, at least the rye anyway.  Admittedly, I haven't heard much about their bourbons.

And when I say "their" rye, I mean their sourced rye. This is, of course, MGP rye, with the traditional 95/5 rye mashbill.  What made this an easy buy, though, was the fact that this is cask strength, single barrel 6 year MGP rye. Other distilleries are bottling this stuff and putting it on the shelves for close to twice the price. So, this was an easy grab for me off the shelf.

On the nose I got a light oak note along with some sweet caramel notes right away. That gave way to vanilla, with a black pepper spice to follow.  I did get a bit of a dill note, as well as a touch of mint, both of which I've come to expect from MGP ryes. But, they certainly weren't strong notes, and it was that vanilla and black pepper that took center stage.

When I took my first sip, though, it seemed the first things I noticed were that dill and mint. There was no question that this was MGP rye right away. It also had a spicy cinnamon note, rather than black pepper.  And the caramel note seemed a bit darker and richer, more like a toffee note.

This rye had something odd to it, however. There was a distinct coppery note to it. Kind of like that flavor left over after having pennies in your mouth.  I'm pretty sure this is more relatable than it sounds, right?  I also got a lot of vanilla coinciding with that copper note, and there was also something funky, almost like pine resin. This whiskey got a little weird in the middle.

The finish was dominated by a long-lasting vanilla note, as well as a bit of spearmint. This was particularly pronounced in the last few pours I enjoyed, and both flavors stuck around for quite a while. Meanwhile, that coppery note was luckily nowhere to be found on the finish.

All in all a decent whiskey, but it just had something weird going on with that copper note, and it was one of those things that once you noticed it, it was all you could notice.

Grade: B-

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Blaum Bros. 5 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Puncheon

- $80
- 108
- 5 yrs.
- Illinois

I do love Blaum Bros. distillery. Of course their sourced product, Old Fangled Knotter Bourbon, was absolutely phenomenal bourbon.  Unfortunately, much of that is long gone. I have also enjoyed their ryes, and I do make it a point to support local distilleries.

So, when I was offered an 5 year age-stated bourbon from Blaum Bros. that was finished in Cognac casks, I really couldn't turn it down, even if it was a bit steep at $80.  I can't help it, I'm a sucker for those Cognac finishes in the first place, and I definitely wanted to give their Blaum Bros.' bourbon another try now that it has more age on it.

The nose had a certain woody and nutty note to it. It was like caramel and chocolate covered oak, with some peanut thrown in. Kind of like a Snickers, but instead of nougat it was a soft and chewable wood.  Okay, I'm stretching here, but it didn't really provide the fruit notes I expected from the Cognac, but rather seemed to come across as tannic with hints of sweet caramel and chocolate.

As to the flavor, it came across as a bit young and corn-forward.  The corn notes were inescapable and they provided for some sharp, rough edges on top of making it come across as hot.  The sweetness inside came across as a brown sugar note, and there was a bit of green apple underscoring everything.

The Cognac notes did come through here, where they were missing on the nose. Along with that green apple, I got some quite delicious notes of pear and melon. There was also a creamy vanilla note that accompanied these flavors.  Unfortunately, they didn't seem to match up very well with the brown sugar and corn notes I was getting right up front.

On the finish the brown sugar note seemed to last the longest. However, it was here that I got a mild, but off-putting tannic note adding a bit of bitterness that seemed to linger for a bit on the sides of my tongue.  

This was not my favorite offering from Blaum Bros. Whatever they were going for just never seemed to materialize. I'm all for the experimentation, though, and I hope they keep putting out new and interesting releases such as this.

Grade: B-

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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

- $90
- 110.6 Proof
- 10 Years
- Barrel No. 10-2Q
- Kentucky

Recently Binny's got a couple rounds of Four Roses private picks in, with some having more age than others. While the price on these has gone up, and while it's become harder to find them with anything over 10 years of age, I've found that the quality of the bourbon inside has not changed. $90 does seem a little steep, but I was still willing to pay it for a 10 year, cask strength, age stated single barrel that was a known commodity.

I've had and reviewed all ten Four Roses recipes on this blog, so now I'm re-treading, and it's fun to look back at what I thought of this recipe the first time around. With respect to the OBSK recipe, however, it might not be a fair comparison, as that one was a gift shop exclusive selected by Brent Elliott. That one almost had to be really good as a matter of course.

The nose on this one was incredibly rich and sweet. I got delicious soft caramel notes as well as a rich chocolate note that made for a great combination. It also had a sort of bite to it, almost like an amaretto liqueur. There was also a sort of baked good notes, like the smell of a pecan pie baking in the oven. I could tell just from the smell that this was a great barrel!

The flavor was right in my wheelhouse as well.  Right up front I got all those great, sweet and rich notes of caramel and chocolate, as well as a bit of cinnamon heat. It tasted like some specialty chocolate treat you'd get at a sweets shop.

As more flavors seemed to come out, while I didn't necessarily get the pecan pie I got on the nose, it still came pretty close. I got a distinct candied pecan note, sweet and nutty. It didn't really come across as baked goods like a pie, but that was just fine by me, as this was delicious. The cinnamon even started to take on more of a cloves note, seemingly ramping up the richness.

The finish reminded me very much of an old fashioned. It was here that I got a rich cherry note that seemed to linger, along with a bright but slightly bitter note of orange peel. It still kept that spiciness as well, with the cinnamon notes providing heat long after I had swallowed.

I'm so glad I went back to this recipe, as this was one of my favorite Four Roses single barrels I can recall having. I can't wait for the next one now!

Grade: A

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $17
- 90 Proof
- 36 mos.
- Kentucky

This is one of those bottles where I was way more excited to have found it than I really should have been.  After all, this is just a very young, somewhat low proof mashbill #2 from Buffalo Trace.  I've had other bourbons from this mashbill hundreds of times, and while I do love this mashbill, I really can't say that a 3 year old version was ever something I felt I really needed to try.

Yet, I was excited to come across this bottle for two very simple reasons. First, I can't find it in Illinois. I'm not sure of the distributional footprint on Ancient Ancient Age, but it does not include Illinois, and I've never seen it in any of the neighboring states on my travels. Second, it's only $17!!  I had to try it for that reason alone. After all, what if it's somehow amazing and I need to be stocking up every chance I get?  Probably not, but you never know.

My first impression of the nose was that it smelled young.  It came across as sharp and biting, with a certain vegetal quality that I liken to young whiskeys. However, it also had a good amount of brown sugar and cinnamon, and it came across as almost like a cinnamon sugar cookie. It had something a bit more earthy as well, almost leather-like. 

The flavor was a bit better than expected. While it still comes across as young, it lacked those rough edges that I was getting on the nose. It came across as softer and more cohesive. It was, however, certainly corn-forward, and as a result, was very sweet. 

I definitely got that sugar cookie note that I got on the nose, but in this instance the vanilla really seemed to come forward more. There was also a sweetness that took the form of a honey note, which, as far as sweet notes in whiskey go, I like the lean towards honey rather than cane sugar.

The sweetness carried through on the finish, but there a bit of a cinnamon bite came out as well. That vanilla note seemed to coat my mouth and the back of my throat as well for a nice finishing combo.

This bourbon was young, no question. However, it didn't get to the point where it tasted too young, if that makes sense. It wasn't offensively young, and the young qualities weren't off-putting. But, despite the price, I think I'd look for other options on the shelf.

Grade: C+

Monday, August 1, 2022

Jack Daniel's Triple Mash Bottled-In-Bond Blended Straight Whiskey


- $35
- 100 Proof
- 4 years
- Tennessee

When Jack Daniel's initially released two no bottled-in-bond expressions -- it's standard whiskey and this Triple Mash -- I didn't initially pick up both. Rather, I grabbed the standard expression and a friend of mined picked up the Triple Mash. It made sense, as we had planned that evening to then try them together.  At the time I enjoyed my pour of Triple Mash, and decided, for the price, I should go ahead and pick one up for myself.

But, by then they had all been cleared from the shelves. After a few weeks, the standard bottled-in-bond release began re-emerging on the shelves, and I thought that I had missed out on my one chance at getting the Triple Mash.  Patience is a virtue, as they say, and eventually while making a side-trip down the liquor aisle at Jewel, I was surprised to find it sitting on the shelf. So into the cart it went.

This "triple mash" is a blend of American malt whiskey, rye whiskey and Tennessee whiskey. So, given the presence of sweet malt as well as the sweet Tennessee whiskey, I was not at all surprised that the aroma was as sweet as expected. It was full of creamy, boozy caramel notes, with some light chocolate and even a bit of a bready note. The boozy note was a bit of a surprise, though, as this is certainly not a burner.

The flavor likewise matched my expressions. It had that sweet caramel note backed by a bit of a chocolate note. This was the backbone of this whiskey and lent to a sweeter profile. There was also a bit of a nutty quality, but a softer, sweeter note, kind of like a cashew note.

The rye did come through a bit, but it was somewhat muted. I got notes of cinnamon, but without any sweetness or any spicy kick. From the malt I did get a bit of a doughy, pastry like note, and the two combined reminded me of cinnamon rolls but without frosting. 

The one thing I found interesting, though, and which I didn't particularly enjoy, is that this came across as a young whiskey. It had that green apple type note to it that I often find in young, craft whiskeys that were bottled too soon. I don't know if it's one particular mash that resulted in this young note (my money would be on the American malt, if so), but that young quality, matched with the heightened sweetness of this whiskey, just didn't work for me all that much.

Friends have really enjoyed this bottle, in fact raved about it, and on my first pour I thought I really liked this new release. But, having sat with it for a while and gotten to know it, it's just not really for me. There's a real possibility I'm in the minority here. 

Grade: C+