Monday, June 19, 2023

Eagle Rare Binny's Single Barrel Select Barrel #044 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $35
- 90 Proof
- 10 Years
- Barrel #044
- Kentucky

Eagle Rare is the bourbon that got me into bourbon. It was the one that opened my eyes to a world beyond Scotch, and now bourbon absolutely dominates my whiskey shelf in my basement. So, it should then come as no surprise that Eagle Rare still holds a special place in my hear and always will.

And, for that reason, I grab every Eagle Rare store pick that I can find. Granted, this was a much more fruitful venture a few years ago.  It seems now that Eagle Rare picks are not only few and far between, but are also being treated as highly allocated whiskeys, only getting into the hands of select customers. I was lucky enough, though, to get my hands on this Binny's release back in 2020.  Given their relative scarcity, I waited a bit to finally open it, but eventually they all get opened at some point.

The nose on this one was great.  I got notes of vanilla and cinnamon, along with a great bready note. It definitely had a cinnamon roll thing going on. There was something else as well, though. I got candied pecan along with a definite cherry note, like a Maraschino cherry Everything seemed to blend together like a Danish and cinnamon roll hybrid.

As to flavor, the cherry note from the nose seemed to take center stage. It still had that Maraschino lean to it, along with a bit of a syrupy sweetness.  There was something tangy and boozy about it as well, kind of like amaretto liqueur.  The pecan note was there as well to offer a nutty quality, and even a touch of bitterness, but without the sweetness.

The tangy bite at times came across as an orange peel notes, and other times like tart cherry. At times it had that bitter bite that you sometimes get when eating walnuts.  As great and perfectly complementary all the notes on the nose were, I couldn't say the same thing for the flavor.  This seemed a bit all over the place, and the bitter notes didn't seem to balance out the sweetness, but rather competed with it.

On the nose the boozy note really seemed to come through, but it was more as a cherry liqueur than amaretto. The problem with this, though, is it seemed more like an artificial cherry note, and that's the flavor that seemed to linger on the finish, along with a lightly bitter oak note. The finish left a bit to be desired.

This was not my favorite barrel of Eagle Rare. That said, even lesser showings are still pretty good, and this bottle was not long for this world once it was finally opened.

Grade: B-

Monday, June 12, 2023

Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Batch No. 16


- $60
- 130.9 Proof
- Batch No. 16
- Kentucky

Over the past few years I've managed to accumulate a pretty nice lineup of Stagg Jr. and what is now just Stagg.  Between the regular releases and store picks, I ended up with seven different bottles without even realizing it. I guess it's the burden of a bourbon collector, but certainly a good burden to have.

So, realizing this backlog of Stagg on my shelf, it was certainly time to start opening and drinking them. They are doing me no good just sitting there on the shelf. The question then became, do I try them one at a time, or open a bunch and compare? Perhaps after this one I'll go the latter route, but for now I just opened up this Batch 16 bottle and enjoyed it pour after pour. 

The nose gave off everything I've come to love about Stagg, a certain consistency with all of their releases. Right up front I got rich, dark chocolate along with a dark cherry note. But, it wasn't that artificial cherry that I get in some other bourbons. It was just rich and spicy dark cherry, like the kind baked into a pie. I also got sweet notes of toffee as well as a cloves spice that really had my mouth watering.

I did find this release to be more cherry-forward in flavor than other releases.  I guess that should have come as no surprise given how prominent that note was on the nose. There was a dark chocolate note that accompanied it, along with a vanilla note. All together it gave of a cherry cordial note that was sweet and rich and decadent.

To further that cherry cordial note, there as a bit of an amaretto note as well, to add just a touch of booziness as well as a light tanginess to it.  Unfortunately, though, I didn't get that great cloves note I was getting on the nose. Stagg has always had a certain spiciness to it that has always put it right in my wheelhouse, and from the nose I thought this going to give me that. But, that is the only area where this one fell flat.

Even on the nose there wasn't that lingering cinnamon or cloves spice I was hoping for. Rather, as the cherry notes faded, I was left with a chocolate and amaretto flavor coating my mouth. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely delicious, but I really did want that spice, particularly on the back end.

Now that this bottle is done, I can only wonder what the hell I was waiting for on these. I think tonight I've got myself an easy choice for my first pour.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Bushmills 12 Year "Triple Wood" Single Malt Irish Whiskey

- $50
- 80 Proof
- 12 Years
- Ireland

It's not often that I find myself purchasing Irish whiskey. There's no particular reason for it, I guess just that there aren't many brands where I feel I must have particular releases. Of course, I love some well-aged Redbreast, and I've certainly tried all of the "Spots" I've been able to get my hands on.  But, it's just not the aisle of the liquor store that draws my attention. 

Of course that changes when St. Patrick's day is coming. We planned on having neighbors over for food and drinks to celebrate, and having only a bottle of Gold Spot on my shelves to offer my visitors, I felt the need to pick up at least one more bottle. So I came home with this, a 12 year Irish whiskey aged in Oloroso sherry casks and bourbon barrels before finishing in Marsala casks. I figured there's a lot going on there, and even at 80 proof, this should still pack a good amount of flavor.

With my first pour I noticed right away a bright and fruity aroma. The Sherry and Marsala casks definitely made their influence known, as I got raspberry and strawberry, along with a sweet honey note. There were also traditional malt notes of sweet tobacco leaf and butterscotch, but there was also a distinct vanilla note along with a light black pepper note, perhaps showing some of the ex-bourbon cask influence.

At only 80 proof, this whiskey unsurprisingly came across as thin and watery. Despite that, it packed a very good punch of flavor. That raspberry note came through right away, but it also had a bit of tartness to it, kind of like a cranberry note.  Once again, those Sherry and Marsala casks made their influence known, but it was far from overdone.

The sweet tobacco note also came through right away, and it seemed to be sweetened by a bright honey note. There was also a sort of sweet tea flavor that I got, adding a sort of earthy but sweet note that worked really well with the bright berry notes.

On the finish the tea notes certainly came through, but the sweetness seemed to fade a bit. It was more like a basic black tea. Some of the raspberry notes lingered, but even those were faded as well.  What I really noticed, and couldn't avoid once noticed, was a weird metallic note. I'm not completely sure how to describe it other than that, but there was something definitely metallic that bugged me.

For an easy-to-find, off-the-shelf Irish whiskey, this is a crowd pleaser. Everyone that tried it loved it, as it's very approachable at a low proof and offers sweet and bright fruit notes that even a non-whiskey drinker might appreciate. In the end, though, I had a hard time moving past that weird metallic finish that seemed to linger.

Grade: C+