Monday, March 18, 2024

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon - 2018

- $110
- 124.9 Proof
- NAS (15 yrs., 4 mos.)
- Kentucky

Okay, let me just get this out of the way . . . this is really fucking good!! No surprise, right?!? For me, this has been the most consistent of all the BTAC releases in that I can't recall there ever being a "down year" for George T. Stagg.  In fact, I was on the fence about even writing this review. After all, by this point, there are hundreds of reviews of the 2018 release, and guess what? Every one of them tells you this is really fucking good!

But, I held onto this bottle for so long, saving the last few pours for who knows what. I just didn't want it to be gone and off my shelf. I liked having that last bit of Stagg sitting there on my shelf, just in case someone came over to my house who had never had it, or just really wanted to try this particular year. After six years, though, it was time, and on a random night drinking with friends, we finally polished off the last few pours.

The nose on this was really fun.  Of course I got some of the traditional notes of caramel and cinnamon, and even some dark cherry and amaretto. It certainly came across as rich and sweet but with a bit of depth. What I loved, however, was that there was a cake-like note on the nose, and eventually I was able to place it as waffle batter. I thoroughly enjoyed this note, particularly as it mixed with the caramel and cherry notes.

From the first sip I couldn't help but notice just how rich and flavorful a bourbon this was. Even at a lower proof than previous years, this had so much depth and flavor and richness and complexity, and all of it seemed to be right in my wheelhouse.

It was full of toffee and cinnamon notes, of course. There was also the constant undercurrent of vanilla bean throughout. And what brought me great joy and pleasure was that I also got the waffle batter that I loved on the nose!!  It added this cookie-like or cake-like flavor and sweetness that, again, just seemed to complement everything else going on here.

The great viscosity on this bourbon provided for a long and lasting finish, and that's where the darker, richer notes really came through. It as dark but sweet cherry along with a brown butter note. It almost had a praline flavor to it that was incredible. As the finish lingered, notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon really stuck in the back of my throat, kind of like a spicy Skor bar. 

Again, no surprise here.  I absolutely loved this. It's always been top tier for me in my ranking of whiskeys, not to mention it's always held a particularly special spot in my heart. I miss it already!

Grade: A+

Thursday, March 7, 2024

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


- $90
- 116.6 Proof
- 11 yrs, 2 mos
- Barrel No. 16-3 M
- Kentucky

Having been through all ten Four Roses recipes at this point, I'm not just picking up these store picks wherever and whenever I see them. The problems with that, though are (1) the price has really jumped -- $90 is a bit of a tough pill to swallow anymore; and (2) despite the increase in price, they're just not that easy to come across. 

But, I've still picked them up here and there, because, in my opinion, it's still some of the best bourbon hitting the shelves. Apparently, though, I've done so without any regard to which recipes I was getting. After my most recent purchase, I realized I was sitting on three different bottles of OESF!  It was at that point that I knew I had to open and drink at least one of them!

The nose came across as rich and spicy and sweet. I got a dark cherry right up front, followed by notes of rich toffee and dark chocolate. There was also a woodiness to it, but it wasn't an oak note. It was lighter, like more of a balsam wood note. In addition to the toffee, there was an added rich but dark sweetness like molasses.

Much like the nose, the flavor had a lot going on, but it certainly leaned towards those dark, rich and sweet notes. Right up front I got notes of anise or black licorice. Not enough to turn me off, but it was noticeable right away.  It also had a peppery spice that hit the tip of my tongue immediately with each sip.

The rich sweetness came through in the form of toffee and brown sugar. There was also the dark chocolate that I was getting from the nose. What kept this from being to 'heavy" was a tangy Amarena cherry note that seemed to come through right in the middle and seemed to perfectly complement everything else going on. 

The finish had many of the same notes--the toffee, the dark chocolate and even a bit of the cherry note. But, it also had a sort of roasty coffee note that seemingly came out of nowhere but was absolutely great! The peppery spice seemed to transform into more of a cinnamon spice that lingered as well.

I know I have two more OESF bottles waiting to be opened, and given how much I loved this one, I'm thinking it won't be long before that happens. This bottle was so rich and full of flavor and absolutely delicious, it even made me forget about the price increase on these bottles!

Grade: A

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Eagle Rare Niche Single Barrel Select "Waverly Boys" Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $40
- 90 Proof
- 10 Years
- Kentucky

I've propped up some Niche single barrel offerings in the past, and for good reason. In addition to making some of the best food in my area, Vinnie, the owner of Niche, has consistently made some great single barrel picks.  From standard Old Forester and Elijah Craig picks to Weller Full Proof picks, it seems his and my palates align, because I've enjoyed them all!

So, it was, of course, a no brainer to grab this Eagle Rare when it hit Niche's doorstep.  I'm not completely certain as to the "Waverly Boys" reference. Perhaps it's a reference to Waverly, Illinois, a town in central/southern Illinois that I'm sure I've only heard of from spending time in Springfield.  Name aside, I was just glad to get my hands on this bottle.

The nose was fairly traditional. It led with caramel and cinnamon, along with a rich vanilla note. It, in a way, reminded me of ice cream. There was also a distinct woody note to it, but not the usual oak note. It was more like a cedar note, which was a bit odd but not necessarily offensive. 

That cedar note did not carry through to the flavor, however. I got the cinnamon from the nose, and the caramel notes seemed to evolve into a richer, deeper toffee note. It was definitely sweet up front, but as that sweetness receded, it gave way to a bit of a twist, kind of like an amaretto or an anise note. Luckily the anise was not strong, as that can turn me off a bit. Here, it was just complementary.

The toffee note seemed to dominate a bit, but at times I did get notes of dark chocolate and even a sort of peanut note. Those notes were a bit fleeting, however. But, in later pours it seemed to develop a rich, Amarena cherry note that I absolutely loved, and wished it had shown up sooner!

That cherry note really carried through to the finish. Despite the lower proof, this had a great, lasting finish with the rich cherry note, but the dark chocolate seemed to return as well, and both flavors really complemented the long toffee note that lingered. 

The market seems a bit saturated with single barrel picks these days, but Niche has once again proven that their picks always appeal to my tastes, and I'm just going to keep going back to that well as long as I can.

Grade: A-