Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Heaven's Door Warehouse Liquors Select Cask Strength Single Barrel Straight Bourbon

- $75
- 123.8 Proof
- Barrel #49
- Indiana

Who here loves free whiskey???  I sure do!!! This was a bottle that was given to me after it was brought over to my house by a friend for a small whiskey gathering/tasting. Of course we opened it, drank it, and enjoyed it, and when he left the bottle remained behind. So, hooray for free whiskey!

What's interesting about this, though (at least interesting to me), is that this is MGP bourbon bottled by Heaven's Door.  I don't know what of its own juice, if any, Heaven's Door is bottling. But, I've seen a lot of their private selection single barrels on shelves lately, and nearly all of them have been sourced whiskey from Tennessee. In fact, while I'm sure there are others, this is the only one I've come across that was sourced from Indiana, and I do love me some MGP whiskey!

On the nose I immediately got great candy bar-esque notes, with cinnamon, caramel and milk chocolate taking center stage. There was also a candied walnut note as well as a citrus orange note behind everything. I even got a popcorn note off of it at times. I have no clue what candy bar that all could possibly remind me of, but it certainly came across as rich, sweet and delicious.

As to flavor, this is unquestionably MGP goodness.  I have no idea on the age, but it's certainly not young MGP.  My guess would be 6-7 years. Right up front it's loaded with rich dark caramel and a great cinnamon spice. It's warm and sweet and spicy right away on the tongue.  

It did have a bit of a twist to it, though, as it had this almond extract note that added a layer or richness as well as a bit of bite or tanginess or, I don't know, something to make it a bit more interesting. There was also a bit of an orange bitter to help balance out all the sweetness, and which seemed to work perfectly with everything else going on. It also had this nutty, walnut note that likewise helped keep the sweet notes at bay a bit. 

On the finish, I got a light coffee note, like a sweetened coffee. In fact, it reminded me of an amaretto cream coffee, and once I pinpointed that note, it was all I could notice and I really enjoyed it, so much so that I would dive back into my glass just to experience that finish again. 

I have no clue how good the Tennessee-sourced store picks are from Heaven's Door, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to grab any MGP-sourced picks if I were to run into them again.  And, it's worth saying, once again Warehouse Liquors did an amazing job with this pick.  It was not only really good, but also interesting and different in a good way!

Grade: A-

Monday, March 20, 2023

Jack Daniel's Coy Hill High Proof Single Barrel Special Release Tennessee Whiskey

- $75
- 138.1 Proof
- Tennessee

While Jack Daniel's doesn't have anywhere near the hype or excitement over releases as some of the big Kentucky distilleries do, they've managed to put together a few consecutive limited releases that, even if they haven't garnered the hype, have at least garnered significant praise and positive reviews.

The Coy Hill 2021 release, however, seemed to garner a significant portion of hype as well. That was due in large part to the fact that some of the barrels they bottled were being bottled as "hazmat" bottles, as the kids say on social media. In other words, there were bottles of Coy Hill that exceeded 140 proof!  And thus the hype-train took off. I was able to get a Coy Hill, though not a hazmat bottling, which was alright with me. What am I going to do with all that proof anyway? That said, 138.1 proof was hardly anything to sneeze at, and I doubt anyone is going to miss that extra 1.9 proof.

On the nose this smelled distinctly Jack.  I got cinnamon raisin bread right up front. A touch of spice, a sweet bready note as well as a dark, rich fruit note. There was also a sweet, light chocolate note on the nose that was delicious. It also had a bit of a crackery note, as well as a nutty aroma, kind of like cashews.

The palate was all sweet and, naturally, heat.  I definitely got a sweet raisin bread note. It certainly had that sweet, doughy pastry note to it. While the cinnamon came through, it wasn't spicy by any means, but more like the cinnamon part of a cinnamon roll.  And, of course, those rich, dark raisin notes were immediately noticeable as well. 

There was a sort of buttery note to this as well, and that, along with the sweet notes gave it sort of a butterscotch flavor. There was also just a touch of bitterness, and that seemed to translate into a sweet coffee note, kind of like tiramisu or coffee with a healthy amount of Irish sweet cream.

This was a heater for sure, and that was very noticeable on the finish. That heat was certainly there up front, but on the finish the alcohol vapors seemed to just consume every inch of space in my mouth and throat. That heat, though, still paired with the sweet, and it was those tiramisu and butterscotch flavors that seemed to linger, making this, in my mind, a sweeter whiskey than most, despite the high proof.

I only got to try the one single barrel, but others I know who had different barrels were likewise impressed. This was yet another success in the Jack Daniel's relatively new line of limited releases.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Campbeltown Loch Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

- $70
- 92 Proof
- Campbeltown

First off, let me start by saying that I had to use a stock photo for this one rather than my typical empty bottle photo because I waited too long to write this review, and that empty bottle ended up in the recycling bin as empty bottles are wont to do.  I still wanted to get this review up, though, so stock photo it is.

I honestly didn't even have this bottle on my radar, but one day I got a text from one of my liquor store guys with a picture and the question of, "Do you want it?"  My knee jerk reaction was, "Of course!" But, I refrained and did a bit digging, and I learned that this is a blend of all five whisky brands that hail from Campbeltown -- Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn, Kilkerran and Glen Scotia. Springbank bottled the blend as the label suggests.  So, with that 30 seconds of research on my phone, my response was still, "Of course!"

The nose was soft and very malty. It reminded me of the inside of a Whoppers candy, even with the added chocolate note. I also got a good amount of sweet tobacco leaf. It seems a bit of an odd combination, but all that, along with notes of honey, lemongrass and butterscotch gave this a sweet, soft and interesting nose.

As to flavor, right up front I got the butterscotch that only seemed light on the nose. I also got a healthy amount of caramel, which, I acknowledge, is a very similar flavor, but one with some distinction. The tip of my tongue was hit with a light black pepper spice as well, helping detract from the immediately sweet profile.

As I worked my way through this bottle (which I did with relative speed), I got some brighter notes. Not quite the lemongrass I was getting on the nose, but there was a golden raisin note that I really enjoyed. I also got a sort of nutty, earthy note that was sweet at the same time, kind of like cashews with a bit of a grassy note.

The finish, however, is what made this bottle worth it for me. The finish was like a rich dessert, full of nougat and caramel, along a rich dark chocolate note that helped keep it from leaning too sweet. The bright notes seemed to fade away, leaving on the finish the taste of a well-made dark chocolate turtle bar. 

While the idea of the blend comes across as a gimmick, the fact of the matter is Springbank still staked their name to it, and, like seemingly everything Springbank does (yes, I'm a bit of a fanboy), this was another winner!

Grade: B+

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $45
- 96 Proof
- 6 years
- Batch 1 - Distilled Fall 2016
- Kentucky

I've grown quite the affinity for most things that Bardstown Bourbon Company is doing. With only a few exceptions, I've loved just about every release that they've put out, including both their bourbon blends and their collaborations.  I've even been surprised by some of those collaborations that I didn't figure would be for me and I ended up loving, such as the Goose Island collaboration.

Given the pricing on their newest release, this Origin Series as well as a bottled in bond Origin Series release, I was pretty confident that I'd be picking up a bottle to try. After all, I knew where the floor was, and that I'd only go up from there.  Plus, given its a high rye mashbill (36% rye), this should be my kind of bourbon!

On the nose I noticed that rye influence right away. I was immediately hit with a strong cinnamon note. It also had some rich, dark cherry notes, as well as a bit of a tangy amaretto aroma. There was almost a coffee bean note as well, which I found interesting. At 96 proof, this doesn't necessarily classify as a "big" whiskey, but it certainly had a big nose.

The flavor somewhat matched, but it was a bit more cherry-forward than the nose. In fact, in my notes this apparently came across as some sort of cherry two-ways dish. I got rich, spiced cherry on one hand, and on the other I got those sweet maraschino cherry notes, the kind you top a sundae with. Either way, this was unquestionably cherry-forward.

There was a bit of cinnamon spice, but not nearly as much as on the nose. It also had some Old Fashioned qualities to it, as I got some orange peel and even a bit of brown sugar sweetness.  There was a certain level of malt or cracker-like flavor, kind of like graham crackers but less sweet.

On the finish that cherry note remained, but of the two it was the spiced cherry note that seemed to hang around the most. The finish had a bit of clove and black pepper to it, as well as the last remnants of that cracker note. 

At $45 for a 6 year, high rye bourbon, this is not only accessible but very good! I can't wait to dive into the bottled-in-bond version!

Grade: B+

Monday, March 6, 2023

High Hawk Binny's Private Select Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

- $50
- 102.6 Proof
- 4 Years
- Barrel No. 489
- Wisconsin

I feel like it's been a while since I've taken an absolute flyer on a purchase of whiskey. Even when I've grabbed something new off the shelf, it's usually been from a distiller I know or I have some idea of what I'm getting into. This was not the case, however. I'd never heard of High Hawk prior to purchasing this bottle. Quite frankly, I don't know that there's much about the squat bottle and desert scene label that would have grabbed my attention. But, on that day I got a hair up my ass and decided to try a new rye that landed on the Binny's private barrel shelves.

The whiskey is distilled in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, which is northwest of Madison bordering Minnesota.  So, I was surprised I hadn't heard of LaCrosse Distilling. It also begs the question, why the desert scene on the label? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, a four year single barrel Wisconsin rye for $50 seemed like a fun gamble to me. 

The nose on this was very soft and inviting. While this is not a super high rye, it's still a 70% rye, and I expected a bit more spice and punch. Instead, what I got was a soft and sweet caramel with a malt backbone, almost pilsner like, along with a layer of vanilla. That was all accompanied by a mild pine resin to add a bit of earthiness.

On the flavor, I still didn't get any of the typical rye spice I've come to expect. There was no cinnamon or black pepper.  Rather, much like the nose, the flavor was very caramel forward. It was a soft but sweet caramel note that reminded me of Werther's candies.  It also had that malt note from the nose, and at times I was reminded of Golden Grahams (which happens to be one of my favorite cereals). 

However, it did bring forward some more traditional rye notes as the pine was even more prominent on the palate than it was on the nose. I also got a bright mint note right up front, which seemed to flutter in and out with each sip. 

The finish was probably my favorite part of this whiskey, though, as all those sweet and malty notes seemed to coalesce at the end into a delicious butterscotch note. It was also on the finish that I got a little bit of an oak note to add a bit more character and even a bit of dryness.

All in all, I liked this whiskey. Though I may have preferred a bit more spice, I think this will appeal to a lot of whiskey drinkers. It didn't have any of the sharp young notes that are always so off putting, and the flavors all seemed to work fairly well together.  I need to make it a point to grab those unknowns off the shelf more often, even if the winners may end up in the minority. This was fun exploring this rye.

Grade: B