Monday, January 22, 2024

Old Scout Binny's Private Selection Straight Rye Whiskey

- $50
- 114 Proof
- 5 Years
- Barrel No. 31905
- Indiana

This is one of those whiskeys where by now I pretty much know what I'm going to get. After all, this is a single barrel, cask strength bottling of MGP rye. This has stuff has been bottled under so many different labels, of course at varying ages and proofs, but almost always the 95/5 mashbill.

This is a single barrel, though, so it should have its own unique qualities. And, it was good enough to be selected by the tasters at Binny's (though if you look at number of private barrels sitting on the shelves at Binny's lately, it doesn't exactly scream discriminating).  So, what's another cask strength, single barrel MGP rye?? At least I know going in I'm going to to enjoy it!

And yet, when I first popped the cork, poured my glass and took a big whiff, I wasn't much of a fan of the nose. I got notes of dark chocolate and cherry cola. Good so far. But, what followed that were notes of bitter oak, and a healthy amount of pine-scented household cleaner. At first I thought it was just the typical pine note and I was blowing it out of proportion, but I definitely got that Pine-Sol note off of every single pour. 

Luckily, though, that note did not carry over to the flavor. It made for a bit of a weird experience getting something so strong on the nose but not in the flavor, but that was a good thing. Rather, I got a great, strong cinnamon spice. There was a bit of a bitter note, but it came across as more of a coffee note. And this all seemed to mix with a cherry and dark chocolate note that just really worked.

There was a light pine resin note, but nothing even close to approaching that cleaner note. Rather, it was a welcome note of pine, one that came across as natural and complementary to everything else going on. And all in all, this was a rich, sweet and spicy pour. In fact, the last few pours of the bottle were even sweeter and incredibly enjoyable.

This rye also had a great oily texture, which made for an incredibly long finish full of that same, bold cinnamon spice I got up front as well as the rich dark chocolate notes. 

If I could have gotten past the nose, this would have been one of the best MGP ryes I could recall. But that nose was really off-putting, despite how good the whiskey actually tasted.

Grade: B

Monday, January 1, 2024

Bondstone Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $42
- 125 Proof
- 4 years
- Kentucky

Whenever I go out of state and find myself in a liquor store (always seems to happen), I make it a point to seek out whiskeys that I can't get or haven't seen on shelves back home. Of course that usually involves a local craft distillery or perhaps a store pick if they have any. But sometimes I come across something that I just simply have never seen before.

That was the case with this Bondstone. They had a handful of offerings, and not necessarily the usual line you might see, which included a high rye bourbon and a double oaked bourbon. I, of course, gravitated to the cask strength version.  And with a price tag of $42, finding a cask strength, age-stated Kentucky straight bourbon for that price that I've never seen before made for an easy decision. 

The nose immediately told me that this was going to carry many of those traditional bourbon flavors, and it also told me I was going to enjoy that first sip! I immediately got notes of caramel and cinnamon, with a mild vanilla undertone. There was even a bit of an anise note as well as hints of cloves to spice it up just a bit and add another layer. 

The flavor very much matched up with what the nose was telling me. Right up front I got a great medley of cinnamon and vanilla, with a light oak note making this seem like it had more age than it did. There was a sweetness to it, but it was tempered, kind of like a burnt sugar note.

Behind those traditional notes, however, I got some rich, fruity notes, including a great candied orange note that I couldn't get enough of. The spiciness from the high rye content of this bourbon also added to a bit of a spiced cherry note, particularly on the finish.  That note seemed to linger forever in the back of my throat and had me really wanting that next sip right away.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this bottle.  I knew nothing about it (and, quite frankly, still know nothing about it), but I know now that it's very good whiskey at a very good price!  I've since learned (if YouTube is to be believed) that this was distilled by Wilderness Trail.  It certainly wouldn't surprise me, as I've found their whiskey to be very good at a young age.  In any event, I may have to try some others in this line, including the Double Oaked.

Grade: B+