We're excited to launch a new segment on our website called “Tasting Note Tuesdays.” It's going to be exactly what it sounds like - tasting notes we publish on Tuesdays! This will be in addition to our standard full reviews and weekly content, but we've found our backlog of bourbons we'd like to review has become so extensive we don't think we'll ever catch up using our standard review process for all of them. To that end, the tasting notes will be much more brief, and won't represent the same in-depth evaluation we provide in our reviews. We hope you enjoy this segment, and we hope that getting our thoughts out more timely and for a greater number of bourbons will serve readers well.

 

 

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Heritage Barrel

Classification: Tennessee Whiskey

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: Jack Daniel Distillery

Proof: 100

Age: Undisclosed

Mashbill: 80% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 8% Rye

MSRP: $65 (2018)

Official Website

 

Jack Daniel’s set out to celebrate the art and skill of barrel making with the release of Heritage Barrel. According to the company, the barrels are slowly heated to achieve a deeper and richer toasted layer before being charred. The whiskey enters the barrel at 100 proof, a lower entry proof than standard releases, and was aged in the highest levels of the company’s highest elevated barrelhouse. This release is limited to 200 barrels, each bottled as a single barrel.

 

A delicate yet rich array of fresh baked banana bread, french vanilla ice cream, cherry, and mild oak make up the nose. Really nice. The palate does a 180 and introduces pepper, cinnamon, toasted oak, and a mingling of baking spice. I would have liked a little more sweetness to help balance the spice notes, but this is quite a unique tasting offering. It finishes a bit dry and with a long mild oak aftertaste.

 

This “Heritage Barrel” concept turns out to be more than just a marketing gimmick. The process used to make this created a flavorful and complex tasting whiskey. It’s still within the Jack Daniel’s flavor wheelhouse, but altered enough to justify itself proudly. Again, some additional sweet notes would have really made this whiskey an out-of-the-ballpark home run. Yet, this is a very enjoyable pour and worth seeking out immediately, as this limited release is already becoming difficult to find. This is another well-crafted whiskey in the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection.

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Jack Daniel’s. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached. We ended up liking it and purchasing out own bottle after tasting it.

 

 

Old Forester Single Barrel - Third Base Market & Spirits

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: Brown-Forman Shively Distillery

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

MSRP: $35

Official Website

 

According to Brown-Forman Old Forester was “created in 1870, Old Forester is the only bourbon continuously distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during and after Prohibition.” Depending on the barrel evaporation, each single barrel selection of Old Forester usually produces between 200 to 240 bottles. This particular barrel was aged on floor 5 of warehouse H.

 

Summer fruits and banana gently greet you as they mingle with classic bourbon notes of light vanilla, oak, and caramel on the nose. The palate is delivers a deeper experience with heavy hints of oak and leather mingling with hints of dark plum and vanilla, which produces a nice overall mouthfeel. Heavy vanilla and a drier oak form the short finish.

 

The standard Old Forester and single barrel selections are often overlooked for the company’s more recently Whiskey Row series which includes 1870, 1897, 1910, and 1920. However, Old Forester single barrel picks usually deliver a good value for the money, and this is no exception. It won’t blow you away with an exotic flavor profile, but it also won’t snub you of a flavorful sip either. Overall this store pick is a very easy drinker. -Jordan 12/2018

 

The sample used for this review is from a production bottle and was provided at no cost courtesy of Third Base Market & Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Chicken Cock 10 Year Old Double Barrel Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Grain & Barrel Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (from MGP Ingredients, Inc.)

Proof: 104

Age: 10 years

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 21% Rye, 9% Malted Barley

MSRP: $250 (2018)

Official Website

 

Grain & Barrel Spirits has revitalized the age old Chicken Cock brand with roots dating back to 1856. I reviewed their first limited edition premium bourbon release about a year ago, a single barrel bourbon in tribute to the 160th anniversary of the brand. The current release shares similarities including mashbill and source of distillation. However, the similarities end there. Chicken Cock 10 Year Old Double Barrel Bourbon is a small batch bourbon, marrying two barrels at a time, with the overall release consisting of a total of 12 barrels, or 6 batches - presumably where the term “double barrel” originated from. Non-chill filtered, the bourbon is described by the company as being proofed down to the “perfect proof.” The total release is made up of 1,980 bottles, and is available in numerous states along with the company’s website.

 

This bourbon’s flavor flavor profile lives up to the company’s description of it. On the nose are sweet and inviting aromas of honey, vanilla, and a touch of leather. The sip brings further sweetness, enveloping the taste buds in rich caramel, honey, licorice, and light mint. A dab of rye spice comes into play in the finish, followed by a reversion back to sweeter notes leaving a long, sugary-sweet aftertaste. Well-rounded and delicious overall.

 

This bourbon is, admittedly, very good. At 104 proof it brings a depth of flavor without feeling overly heavy on heat. Instead, it’s balanced, rich, and refined. However, the $250 price tag is something that cannot be overlooked. With only 6 two barrel batches released, I have no doubt it will find a place in today’s marketplace, though I feel this price point will inspire criticism and I’ll simply let you be the judge of its $250 asking price. Despite this, it’s a good whiskey and one that enthusiasts should take note of. Nick - 11/2018

 

The sample used for this review is from a production bottle and was provided at no cost courtesy of Chicken Cock Whiskey. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Doc.52 Bourbon/Rye Blend

Classification: Blend of Straight Whiskeys

Company: Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 112 (Barrel Proof)

Age: Bourbon is 9 Years, 10 Months; Rye is 2 Years

Mashbill: The bourbon contains 8% rye; The rye contains 51% rye

Official Website

 

Doc.52 14 Year Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More

Distillery: From an undisclosed distillery in Tennessee

Proof: 120 (Barrel Proof)

Age: 14 Year

Mashbill: “High corn, low rye”

Official Website

 

Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More has been busy since we profiled the store’s journey into creating their own brand. They recently released a 14 year old bourbon which was sourced from a undisclosed Tennessee distillery (presumably George Dickel). With that knowledge comes certain assumptions, but here’s a case where that doesn’t quite ring true. The bourbon sports a nicely layered floral and custard-filled nose that is mellowed by ample amounts of oak. It tastes similar to its nose with an overarching bakery filled palate. It’s finish adds a bit of clove, black pepper, and nutmeg that harshly contrasts the front-end of this bourbon and bucks expectations. With a lot of sourced 14 year bourbon recently hitting the market from a certain Tennessee distillery, you’d expect it to taste similar. That isn’t the case here and goes to show that despite matching origin distillery and age, barrel aging can have drastically different results.

 

Doc’s next Doc.52 limited release is set to arrive on November 17th, with a two barrel blend of bourbon and rye. It’s an interesting contrast pairing of a bourbon comprised of only 8% rye, with a rye whiskey consisting of 51% rye. The nose is quite a unique mingling of almond, corn, grain, cedar, and butterscotch. The sweetness of the corn is prevalent right from the first sip and quickly gets overtaken by more hearty notes of tobacco, anise, grain, and rye spice. It packs a punch for 112 proof and is unapologetic. A good amount of oak from the bourbon shines through the younger aspects of the rye. I wouldn’t call it a symbiotic relationship, more like sibling fighting for attention. This is a blend that retains strong aspects of each of its parts, and wants you to know it.

 

If there is one thing that these two whiskeys have in common it would be its uniqueness. These simply don’t taste like something you typically find on the shelf. Despite being sourced whiskey, Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More seems to be striving for uniqueness over commonality. There’s risk in that, as these whiskeys won’t be for everyone. Any company attempting to launch a whiskey (especially a sourced one at that), needs to be different, and that is the case with these two new Doc.52 offerings from Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More. - Eric 11/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Booker’s Bourbon (2018 - 03 "Kentucky Chew")

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Jim Beam

Proof: 126.7

Age: 6 years, 4 months, 12 days

Mashbill: 77% Corn, 13% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

Official Website

 

Beam has made it a point in recent years to deliver six distinct batches of Booker’s a year, each named given a unique name and back story. For this release of Booker’s, it is named after Booker Noe’s signature way of tasting bourbon. Beam has been very straightforward in releasing as much information as possible, including listing the percentage of each barrel aging location within the mix. Kentucky Chew is no exception and consists of a mix of:

 

29% from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse D

42% from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse D

8% from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse I

8% from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse I

6% from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse J

2% from the 7th floor of 9-story warehouse J

5% from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse N

 

The usual bold Booker’s nose is present. Ethanol mingles with classic scents of oak, vanilla, and caramel. The palate delivers sweet notes of raisins, syrup, vanilla, hints of orange marmalade, and of course a big dose of heat. The heat carries through and lingers throughout the finish. Fighting through beneath it are hints of oak, leather, and a dab of sweetness.

 

Kentucky Chew is very much in line with the Booker’s flavor profile. The first mass produced barrel proof bourbon continues to deliver big bold flavors inline with equal big doses of heat. While I didn’t find it to be a particular standout among other batches that have been released, I did find it to deliver the same bold Booker’s flavor profile that I very much enjoy. Whether you’re new to the Booker’s line, or a long time fan, Kentucky Chew is a solid pour that will please most. - Jordan 11/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Jim Beam. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof - C918

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Proof: 131.4

Age: 12 Years

Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye

MSRP: $60 (2018)

Official Website

 

Heaven Hill launched Elijah Craig Barrel Proof in 2013, releasing three batches that year and each year thereafter. Since then, the brand has blossomed in popularity beyond whiskey geekdom, having first undergone a bottle redesign to an arguably more sophisticated look, followed by 2017’s Batch B517 being crowned Whisky Advocate’s Whisky of the Year. It’s not surprising that I’ve noticed friends and family on the fringe of bourbon curiosity often have a bottle in their cabinet.

 

Barrel proof bourbon batches can typically be identified by their proof, though that can be misleading as the proof could be the same from batch to batch depending how the cards fall. Fortunately, Heaven Hill makes identifying batches an easy task by assigning each a code - this one being “C” (for third batch of the year) - “9” (released in September) - “18” (released in 2018).

 

As for taste, dark fruits against cinnamon spice and tobacco on the nose give way to more traditional flavors of caramel and vanilla on the palate. It finishes long with a spicy kick dominated by black pepper and allspice along with a touch of oak underneath. The sip is charged - it’s an unapologetically high proof and potent affair that’s straightforward in its presentation. I rarely add water to bourbon, but a few drops subdues the spice just enough to pull out some deeper flavors on the palate - dark fruits and a sweet brown sugary note in particular.

 

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a crowd pleaser, and for good reason. After dropping the 12 year age statement from the standard bottling, the company noted the barrel proof version would retain its age statement which means it’s at least 12 years old, something I believe further adds to the complexity and variety you can find from batch to batch. The flavor profile is often rather straightforward, lining up with what many would consider more “traditional” bourbon characteristics that would include flavors of oak, caramel, and vanilla. While I have not made it a point to taste every batch, I do like some better than others, though I have never had a bad one. Batch C918 falls in the middle range of the batches I’ve had, having a straightforward flavor profile that’s good, but lacking characteristics that might make it really stand out. Batches tend to move from good to great, and at $60 (or close to it) for a barrel proof age stated bourbon it’s still one helluva deal. Nick - 11/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Heaven Hill. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

2018 Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Wine Casks

Company: Limestone Branch Distilling Co

Distillery: Limestone Branch Distilling Co and other undisclosed distilleries

Proof: 101

Age: NAS (A blend of 4-12 year old bourbons)

Mashbill: Undisclosed (A portion of this release contains Limestone’s own distillate which consists of 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley)

MSRP: $100

Official Website

 

Finishing bourbon in wine casks or another type of second used barrels isn’t terribly uncommon, but Limestone Branch has taken this process a step further this year. They started in 2016 by finishing their Limited Edition bourbon in (unspecified) wine casks. The following year they lightly charred those same casks and used them to finish their 2017 Limited Edition bourbon release. For this year’s 2018 release, they took those same barrels again and deeply charred them and used them for a third time, to finish this year’s bourbon. It seems like this repurposing of the same barrels year after year may result in messy results, but so far I’ve been impressed with both 2016 and 2017 releases. Will the third release finally break the camel’s back?

 

A potent aroma of caramel, red wine, raspberries, and wet oak. The scents are nicely balanced, which is impressive due to the many factors involved with finishing it. The whiskey goes down quite warm, and its thick mouthfeel handles its vigorous flavor well. This results is a well-integrated and flavorful palate that’s highlighted by dark chocolate, rich raspberries, and brandy soaked cherries. It finishes noticeably drier than previous years, with a heavy oak and cherry aftertaste.

 

Yes this year’s release still tastes like a wine barrel finished bourbon, but accomplishes what few do. It adds what bourbon can sometimes lack and enhances without overpowering. This year’s edition is a bit more heavy-handed than previous releases, but that is to be expected due to the process of its conception. Its oak component will be its main conflicting point. It will be too much for some, while others will find it nicely counters the whiskey’s strong flavors. In a year that has seen a number of great limited releases, this is yet another that can be added to the list. 12,000 bottle release. Eric - 10/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Limestone Branch Distilling Co. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Classification: Canadian Whiskey

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Old Montreal Distillery

Proof: 80

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Official Website

 

Caribou Crossing lays claim to being the world’s first single barrel Canadian whiskey. In addition to being a single barrel, its packaging shares many similarities with Sazerac’s Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon in that each bottle is bottled by hand (Caribou at the Old Montreal Distillery), and similar to Blanton’s brown bag, each bottle of Caribou is packaged in a blue pouch. Additionally each bottle is adorned with a caribou topper and sealed with blue wax.

 

The nose greets with sweet smells of caramel, marshmallow, corn, and light oak. The palate much like the nose is light in intensity. Light vanilla and caramel dominate with the faintest hint of grain in the background. The finish is on the short side, with vanilla, oak, and a hint of melted marshmallow pulling through.

 

Caribou Crossing surprised me in how light and airy of a sip it delivered. Its low proof allows it to be an easy sipper, albeit one that I wish had more depth to it. While this is one of the more easy to sip Canadian whiskeys I’ve had, I would really like to see what this expression could deliver if it came bottled 10-20 proof points higher. Jordan - 10/2018

 

The sample used for this review is from a production bottle and was provided at no cost courtesy of Sazerac. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Barrell Bourbon Batch 016

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (from undisclosed distilleries in Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky)

Proof: 105.8

Age: 9 years and 9 months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $80 (2018)

Official Website

 

Barrell Bourbon batches are sourced from a number of distilleries. Sometimes the blended batch originates from one state and potentially even a single distillery, and other times the batch originates from numerous distilleries and states. This particular batch includes bourbon from three states - Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. The blend includes bourbons aged 9 years and 9 months, 11 years, and 15 years. This is also the lowest proof Barrell Bourbon batch to date at 105.8 proof, with the next lowest proof bourbon batch being batch 015 at 107.6.

 

The bourbon is soft and delicate on the nose, with aromas of butterscotch, creme brulee, and a touch of spice adding structure. The sip enters on a sweet note, which intensifies progressively. Creme brulee and caramelized sugars depict the sweeter side, with a touch of oak on the backend. It’s slightly thin and quite drinkable. The finish is medium in length, highlighting the sweet flavors and capping the experience off tactfully.

 

Batch 016 isn’t a typical Barrell Bourbon. An overall balance and weight towards sweet flavors and drinkability make it quite approachable. It doesn’t have a robust flavor punch as compared with many other batches, notably lacking the spicy side Barrell Bourbons often exude. It does, however, manage to stay within what I would describe as an anticipated Barrell Bourbon flavor band. Batch 016 is a good example of the company’s mantra that each batch is unique. It showcases the balance and drinkability that experienced blenders Joe Beatrice and Tripp Stimson can achieve, while still staying true to the foundation on which the bourbon brand has been built. Nick - 10/2018

 

The sample used for this review is from a production bottle and was provided at no cost courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

Distillery: MGP

Proof: Between 110-120 proof

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 64% Corn, 30% Rye and 6% Malted Barley

MSRP: $60

Official Website

 

Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve is a small batch bourbon, with each batch comprised of seven barrels that are blended together at the Green Brier Distillery in Tennessee. Originally sourced from MGP, the barrels range in age from 7-11 years. Thankfully, Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve is available nationally, since you’ll want to seek this out.

 

The nose is full of rich warm flavors of cinnamon, baking spice, rye spice, and spiced syrup. These are combined with a heavy punch of ethanol. The palate is sweet and full of cinnamon apples, baked pie crust, allspice, a touch of caramel, and plump raisins. Heat is present, although it’s not overpowering and allows you to savor the sip and pull apart the flavors. The sip ends on a warming finish where the heat makes itself known. Baked cinnamon apple pie, a touch of raisins, oak, and rye spice all linger a while along with a heat that stays in your mouth for just the right amount of time.

 

This is a fantastic pour. Not often does a sip make me think of a single food item, but this really reminds me of spiced apple pie through and through. It’s really nice to see a new release bourbon that’s so full of flavor for only $60. Make sure to seek this one out. Jordan - 09/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Breckenridge Reserve Blend - Third Base Market & Spirits

 

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Breckenridge Distillery

Distillery: Breckenridge Distillery and other undisclosed distilleries

Proof: 86 Proof

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Breckenridge’s distillate is 56% corn, 38% rye, and 6% malted barley. Other bourbon mashbills used in the blend are undisclosed.

MSRP: $35

Official Website

 

It’s been awhile since we checked in with Breckenridge. It was during our first few months of Breaking Bourbon that Nick gave it a favorable review. Since the company’s beginning, Breckenridge has been blending their own distillate with sourced stock. The ratio of their own distillate versus sourced seemed to favor sourced, as their releases tasted closer to a typical aged Kentucky bourbon than a younger craft one. Breckenridge is still blending their own distillate with sourced bourbon, but based on this tasting, the ratio now seems to favor their own. Does Breckenridge’s own distillate have what it takes to be the star of the show?

 

The nose is a pleasing, no nonsense burst of butterscotch, vanilla, apple, and cherry. It’s straightforward and presented in an enjoyable degree of intensity. One half of the palate leans heavily on caramel, with the other leaning on grain youthfulness. The bourbon finishes with mild oak intensity that downplays its youthful side and balances its overall sweetness. There is also a bit of ethanol punchiness that’s hard to ignore.

 

Despite being founded 10 years ago, Breckenridge Reserve doesn’t taste like what you’d expect from a distillery that’s been around for that long. Be it growing pains or an over-reliance on sourced whiskeys during their early years, any head start the company had, seems to have  evaporated. Taken as is, it’s hard to find many major faults with its sweet and traditional bourbon flavors. Like most young whiskeys, its grain-forwardness won’t be for everyone. It tastes more like a 3-4 year old bourbon with some (slightly) older stock blended in to help round it out. Breckenridge still has some work to do with their Reserve Blend release, but unlike many craft distilleries, it’s priced right. This goes a long way towards respecting the bourbon consumer and is something we just don’t see enough of right now. As this product matures, that good karma may just do Breckenridge a lot of good in the near future.  Eric - 08/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Third Base Market & Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel - Third Base Market & Spirits

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (From an undisclosed distillery in Tennessee)

Proof: 133.7

Age: 9 years and 6 months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $80

Official Website

 

If you’ve read any of my other Barrell reviews, you know I’m a fan. However, the standard releases are blends that are meticulously created by founder Joe Beatrice and master distiller Tripp Stimson. For Barrell’s single barrel program, barrels are first identified by Beatrice and Stimson as having the quality to be bottled without being blended, and then put out to the market along with other options to be selected by a retailer or private barrel club pick to bottle as their own. This particular one was selected by Third Base Market & Spirits.

 

This single barrel is big Barrell flavor all the way...and I love it. Aromas of orange peel, seasoned wood, cornbread, and sweet caramel characterize the nose. The sip enters with an intense wave of spice that has a cinnamon-rye quality to it. Sugary sweet caramel and charred oak rest underneath. The spice holds its own into the finish, which is as robust as it is long. Hints of caramelized oak and dark fruit mingle in as well. Overall it’s as bold as it is delicious.

 

Remember I said it’s big? Well it comes in at a whopping 133.7 proof, which is on the high side for Barrell. In fact, it’s higher than any of their batches released so far, with the closest being Batch 008 at 132.84 proof. I don’t always like high proof, but when it’s pulled off nicely it can be really fantastic. This one nails it, and really gets me excited to try other single barrel Barrell Bourbon selections.   Nick - 07/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Third Base Market & Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Highspire Rye Whiskey Batch 03

 

Classification: Rye

Company: Kindred Distilled Spirits

Distillery: Kentucky Artisan Distillery

Proof: 80

Age: 4 Months

Mashbill: 100% Rye

MSRP: $45 (2018)

Official Website

 

The Highspire brand was originally created by Irish immigrant Robert Wilson in 1823. Unfortunately, the brand didn’t survive prohibition and lay dormant until Kindred Distilled Spirits obtained it and reintroduced Highspire to the market a few years ago. In its latest iteration, Highspire is still made with 100% rye grain, distilled by Kindred Distilled Spirits at the Kentucky Artisan Distillery, and aged in California wine barrels. While the Highspire Rye is only aged for four months, the company states that they are using a proprietary blend of oak staves which allows them to “not take years to express the true distinctive flavor of 100% rye grain whiskey.”

 

The nose is full of youth and spice, with oak and rye being the predominant notes followed by an underlying layer of baking chocolate and a touch of summer fruit. In addition, ethanol makes a strong showing, which is surprising for an 80 proof whiskey. The palate carries the youth forward with light oak and rye being the main drivers and a thin layer of sweet vanilla mixed in. Highspire finishes with notes of oak, vanilla, new leather, and a dab of baking chocolate.

 

Highspire is a young rye delivering a sip that shows its youthfulness despite the addition of oak staves. While I wouldn’t write this off completely, as it shows promise with its flavors, I would like this to sit a few more years in a barrel before revisiting it. Jordan - 07/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Robb Vices. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Fortuitous Union

 

Classification: Distilled Spirit Specialty

Company: Rolling Fork Spirits

Distillery: MGP Ingredients, Inc (Rye)

Proof: 103

Age: Blend of 5 year old rye whiskey & 12 year old Trinidad rum

Mashbill: Undisclosed ( >75% rum, <25% rye)

MSRP: $65 (2018)

Official Website

 

Once upon a time an unplanned mingling of unlikely spirits took place with unusual results. You might have heard this story before, but you might want to stick around for the ending on this one.

 

In this tale, founders Jordan Morris and Turner Wathen set out on a journey to bring unadulterated rums to the American market. Once imported, they barrel finish them in used sherry or bourbon casks to add their own fingerprint. They had just spent six months finishing a 12 year old rum from Trinidad in bourbon casks when a warehouse worker transferring it to a steel tank, didn’t realize the tank still contained 5 year old MGP rye whiskey. This fortuitous union, which stands for “F.U.” for short, or more blatantly as they call it, “fuck up,” resulted in a product the friends never planned on.

 

I recently posted tasting notes in this column of a rum and bourbon mashup called Brixton Mash Destroyer (nine posts below this one). It was an interesting marriage of two spirits that were equal parts strange and amiable. The bourbon did well to cut some of the rum’s sweeter notes, but would a rye with its spicier notes be a better companion?

 

Fortuitous Union sports a sugary nose that mingles molasses, butterscotch, and cinnamon, which is offset by a sharp spicy edge. It’s a savory aroma of agreeable intensity, and is unique yet still familiar. The rum’s vanilla and burnt caramel sweetness is nicely cut by a hearty spice that does well to turn this into something of its own creation. The finish is equally rich with a long lasting sugary and oak centric side.

 

You can’t be blamed for being sick of hearing about “accidental” product creation stories. Stories aside, in the end the products always have to speak for themselves. Overall, Fortuitous Union’s rum characteristics are still present, but softened and transformed into something a whiskey drinker might be more familiar with. The three of us at Breaking Bourbon tasted this against Brixton Mash Destroyer and we unanimously like Fortuitous Union better. Not only that, we all agreed we should split the remaining sample as everyone wanted more. Always a good sign.  Eric - 07/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Rolling Fork Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Westland American Single Malt Whiskey “American Oak”

Classification: Malt Whiskey

Company: Westland Distillery

Distillery: Westland Distillery

Proof: 92

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley (Washington Select Pale Malt - 70%, Munich Malt - 9%, Extra Special Malt - 13%, Pale Chocolate Malt - 4%, Brown Malt - 4%)

MSRP: $60 (2018)

Official Website

 

Located in Seattle, Washington, Westland Distillery was established in 2010 by Matthew Hofman and Emerson Lamb. Lamb left the company in 2015, but Hofman remains as master distiller. Each of Westland’s whiskeys is 100% malt, with the other three ingredients being water, yeast, and oak.

 

The whiskey is approachable and inviting on the nose. Scents of chocolate custard, coffee beans, and sweet raisins wake up the senses. The sip brings a tasty combination of chocolate, toasted marshmallows, dark coffee, and a welcome smokiness. It’s thin but flavorful. Surprisingly long, sweet toasted marshmallows and smoky wood contrast robust spice on the finish.

 

I haven’t had many, but the American malt whiskeys I’ve tried I’ve really liked. Westland’s flagship product is no exception, and might even be the most enjoyable American malt I’ve had so far. The rich, chocolatey flavor profile is quite good and surprisingly well developed at only two years old. I do detect a hint of youthfulness, but it’s barely noticeable against the great flavor profile of this whiskey, and if anything simply gives it some pep. Westland uses a combination of barrel types to age this whiskey, which includes first fill ex-bourbon barrels. Presumably, this is the only factor that disqualifies this from being labeled “straight,” as it meets the qualifications based on the ample amount of disclosure on both the bottle and the company’s website. After my experience with this whiskey I’d really like to try the rest of what Westland Distillery has to offer.  Nick - 07/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Douglas A. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Wilderness Trail Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

BiB Single Barrel

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Wilderness Trail Distillery

Distillery: Wilderness Trail Distillery

Proof: 100

Age: NAS/Minimum of 4 years per BiB designation

Mashbill: 64% Corn, 24% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley

MSRP: $46 (2018)

Official Website

 

Wilderness Trail Distillery co-founders Shane Baker and Pat Heist first started distilling operations in Danville, Kentucky in 2013. They made it clear from the get-go that their first bourbon would be bottled-in-bond. Due to the immense startup cost required to start a distillery, it’s a rarity in the craft world to wait for four years before releasing your first bourbon. Props must be given to them for sticking to their guns. They emptied 40 barrels to make up this first release which was released  in April 2018.

 

A mix of vanilla, caramel, and mild oak make up the nose with ever-slight hints of wild flowers. The bourbon tastes of leather, pecans, burnt  vanilla, and astringent oak. It finishes with a pop of caramel, light grain, maltiness, and mild oak.

 

The elephant in the room is that this tastes a bit strange and quite frankly, off. Nick also tasted the sample and agreed with me. This flies in the face of the general online consensus and Michael Veach who called it “a very good bourbon” in his write up. Veach also called it “the first sweet mash wheat recipe Bourbon on the market since prohibition,” so is it possible I’m simply not accustomed to this style of bourbon? Whatever the reason, this wasn’t an automatic like for me unlike the company’s Settlers Select Rye Whiskey.

 

It’s still the early days for Wilderness Trail and it’s worth mentioning that this is a single barrel and not all single barrels are created equally. We’ll give another barrel a try and report back in a later post.  Eric - 06/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Wilderness Trail Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Elijah Craig - Third Base Market & Spirits

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Proof: 94

Age: NAS (Store confirms it to be 9 years old)

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley

Official Website

 

Citing a surge in popularity and supply not meeting demand, Heaven Hill removed Elijah Craig 12 Year's age statement in 2016. It was rebranded to “Small Batch,” and while there is no official age statement the batches are rumored to contain bourbons in the 8-12 year old range. For this particular bottle, even though the age is not stated on the bottle, Third Base Market & Spirits selected a 9 year old single barrel. The barrel selected was #5222012 and was pulled from barrel location X-3.

 

The nose is very traditional and leads with oak and nut followed by a hint of banana chips and vanilla. The palate is light with hints of sweet vanilla and oak. The sip is rounded out with a short finish consisting of vanilla, oak, and a dash of pepper.

 

Ever since losing its 12 year age statement, Elijah Craig has been a staple of store selections. While not all store selections live up to the old age stated version, in general they are much better than the current NAS version being bottled by Heaven Hill. This store selection proves that point again with a simple yet enjoyable flavor profile. Whenever given the choice this just reconfirms that you should grab an Elijah Craig store selection versus the standard NAS bottling. Jordan - 6/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Third Base Market & Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Wilderness Trail Settlers Select Rye Whiskey

 

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Wilderness Trail Distillery

Distillery: Wilderness Trail Distillery

Proof: 97

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 56% Rye, 33% Corn, 11% Malted Barley

Official Website

 

Wilderness Trail Distillery co-founders Shane Baker and Pat Heist first started distilling operations in Danville, Kentucky in 2013. For their aged whiskeys, they start with Kentucky sourced grains and a proprietary yeast, which is a blend of strains collected over the years. A proprietary Infusion Mashing Process is used for their sweet mash, which is said to produce a softer and flavorful distillate. A chemical-free steam boiler is used, where only pure steam goes into their cooker and beer column. Distillation started with a 250 gallon Vendome Pot Hybrid Still, which produced the first bourbons they made. As the company has expanded, they introduced both a 40 foot tall, 18-inch beer column still and a 40 foot tall, 36-inch continuous beer still along with a 500 gallon doubler.

 

Whiskeys enter 53-gallon #4 char barrels at 110 proof for bourbon and 100 proof for rye, which is believed to be the lowest rye entry proof in Kentucky. Wilderness Trail states that their goal is to age whiskeys onsite for an average of 6-8 years, however as honey barrels are identified they’re being released in limited quantities to the market.

 

This particular rye whiskey is a 3 year old single barrel (#15D22) straight rye, bottled at a cask strength of 97 proof, meaning it dropped 3 proof points from its original barrel entry proof of 100 over its three years of aging. It’s peppy and bright on the nose, with aromas of butterscotch, rye, vanilla, and a hint of caramel. On the sip, rye spice is most prominent, along with balanced sweet notes of honey and caramel. There’s a youthful characteristic to it as well, but not overly so. The finish is warming with a touch of leather, oak, citrus, and finally more rye spice. It sticks around for a while with rye spice lingering the longest.

 

I tend to find rye matures more quickly than bourbon, as I’ve enjoyed younger rye releases but often find younger bourbon releases often still taste underaged. While this rye definitely tastes youthful, it’s developed a nice flavor profile in just 3 years. The low 100 barrel entry proof is interesting as well - while this was common in the early 1800’s when whiskey was sold by the barrel it has certainly trended upward, often found at or pushing the typical 125 barrel entry proof limit. I’m excited to see how Wilderness Trail’s aged whiskeys develop over the upcoming years. Nick - 05/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Wilderness Trail Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon 2017

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Limestone Branch

Distillery: 7 & 12 year bourbons undisclosed, 4 Year bourbon Limestone Branch

Proof: 101

Age: NAS (Blend of 4, 7, and 12 year old bourbons)

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malt

MSRP: $100 (2017)

Official Website

 

Brothers Steve Beam and Paul Beam opened Limestone Branch Distillery in 2011. The 2017 version of Yellowstone Limited Edition is comprised of a mixture of sourced 7 and 12 year Kentucky straight bourbons mixed with Limestone Branch’s own 4 year Kentucky straight bourbon. This is the first time that Limestone Branch used their own distillate in a limited release. The blend of bourbons is finished in once-filled charred wine casks. The 2017 release consisted of 7,000-8,000 bottles.

 

A rich mixture of sweet toffee and baking chocolate dominate the nose with hints of malted barley and oak laying underneath. The palate comes across as thin and hot, which is unexpected following the rich nose. Rye spice, oak, leather, and sweet sugary vanilla try to compete with the heat. The heat fades away and the bourbon ends on sweeter notes of toffee, vanilla, caramel, and hints of dark berries.

 

This is a conundrum of a bourbon for me. The nose is rich and inviting, yet I was surprised by how much heat the palate delivered. It’s hard to tell how much influence the charred wine cask finishing had on the overall product, however there is no denying that the flavors throughout the sip are rich and inviting. I’m looking forward to seeing what each year’s limited release brings, especially as Limestone Branch transitions to using more of their own distillate. Jordan - 05/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Limestone Branch. We thank them the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Sonoma County West of Kentucky Bourbon No. 1 SiB BP -  Third Base Market & Spirits

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Sonoma County Distilling Company

Distillery: Sonoma County Distilling Company

Proof: 112.4

Age: Aged no less than one year

Mashbill: Undisclosed amounts of American yellow corn, Canadian rye, and Wyoming barley smoked with California Cherrywood

Price: $50

Official Website

 

Sonoma County Distilling has been making whiskey since 2010. According to the company, they use direct fire copper pot stills for their distillation process that is both labor intensive and requires them to distill twice for their new make in order to reach a high enough alcohol concentration before barrelling. They also predominantly feature “Grain to Glass” on their label. Near every level of the production is handled in-house including the milling, mashing and fermentation of grains, direct-fire copper alembic pot distillation, American oak barrel aging, bottling, and labeling.

 

West of Kentucky Bourbon No. 1 features a bright and fruity nose that is quite peppy. It also has a noticeable degree of youth to it but it doesn’t distract from the fruit aromas. It actually helps add an additional layer of depth and overall I found this nose to be quite enjoyable. The palate is  creamy and a bit punchy thanks to its grainforwardness and proof. This is then backed up by a different intensity of cherry flavors that really shine. It finishes with mild smokiesness, salty caramel, and more grain.

 

Despite Sonoma County Distilling Co. being eight years old, this bourbon’s youth can still be tasted throughout the sip. It’s not so overpowering that it interferes with the other flavors, but it’s hard to escape. If you’re someone that is generally turned off by this, than you should know what you’re getting into here. I would add that the other flavors have an enjoyable intensity and you may find yourself focusing on them more. I usually don’t love grain-forward bourbons, but this single barrel cask strength bourbon features a lot of character in its sip and I find myself eager to go back for more. Eric - 05/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Third Base Market & Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Maker’s Mark Private Select - Bill Samuels, Jr.

Classification: Bourbon finished with oak staves

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Maker’s Mark

Proof: 110.9

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley

MSRP: $80 (2018)

Official Website

 

In September of 2015 Maker’s Mark released a distillery only Maker’s 46 Cask Strength. Soon after they announced plans for a unique Private Select program - a barrel program where the consumer could choose 10 finishing staves from a set of five options - Baked American Pure 2, Seared French Cuvee, Maker’s 46, Roasted French Mocha, and Toasted French Spice. The Bill Samuels, Jr. bottle uses 10 Maker’s 46 staves, similar to the original Maker’s 46 Cask Strength release. The batch size now varies from about 5-7 barrels and is available at the Maker’s Mark gift shop as well as select Kentucky retailers (and maybe some others if you look hard enough). It’s an ongoing release and each batch will vary somewhat in flavor profile and proof.

 

Heavy oak on the nose is accompanied by more traditional vanilla and caramel notes. The bourbon hits the tongue gently considering the proof, with seasoned oak, a touch of spice, and a hint of orange rind on the backend. It has a nice, well rounded mouthfeel. The flavors intensify in the finish, where they really ramp up quickly and in full force. Sweet burnt brown sugar, toasted oak, tobacco, cigar box, and cinnamon spice take hold and then trail off. The finish turns slightly dry towards the end.

 

Despite trying it many times, I never could really get into the original Maker’s 46 Cask Strength distillery only release, which utilized the same 10 Maker’s 46 staves as this Bill Samuels, Jr. Private Select release. I found it overdone and a bit too overbearing - though I know it was a single barrel release and some people really enjoyed it. With this batch, I think Maker’s Mark got it right. They hit all the right Maker’s 46 notes, taking the wood intensity up a notch from Maker’s Mark Cask Strength...but not so far that it’s become a distinctly polarizing flavor profile. I also find it interesting that they note the use of 10 of the same staves is intended to allow the bourbon to exemplify the flavors that particular type of stave introduces. This can be overdone and I know a lot of Private Select bottles use more than one type of stave - sometimes all five. While this results in different flavors coming through, I can’t help but think sometimes these flavors compete for attention resulting in an odd flavor profile or just plain cancelling one another out. I’d like to try more examples where 10 of the same stave are used to see if they can capture the essence of that particular stave type...and of course not overdo it.  Nick - 05/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of . We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Stoll & Wolfe Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey

 

Classification: Rye

Company: Heritage Spirits LLC

Distillery: Stoll & Wolfe Distillery

Proof: 90

Age: 18 Months

Mashbill: 65% Rye, 25% Corn, 10% Malt

Official Website

 

Stoll & Wolfe Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is a mix of old and new. Created and distilled by legendary distiller Dick Stoll, this sweet mash rye is aged in 30 gallon barrels by the upstart Stoll & Wolfe Distillery. If the name Dick Stoll rings a bell, that’s because Mr. Stoll was the last master distiller at Pennsylvania’s Michter’s where he also distilled bourbon for the A.H. Hirsch Bourbon brand. He was trained by Charles Everett Beam who was the grandnephew of the legendary Jim Beam himself. Currently the Stoll & Wolfe Rye is mainly sold in the distillery tasting room in Lititz, PA. The bottle that was tasted is from Batch 1117.

 

Sweet notes of honey, vanilla, and orange rind lay on top of a large dose of rye grain. Beneath these lie distinct hits of corn and oak which come with the territory of this young whiskey. Rye and honey carry through to the palate and dominate the experience along with a dash of cinnamon. The sweet spiciness is mellowed out by the new oak layer that mingles with it. The finish brings about a lingering mixture of rye spice, honey, and hints of sweet orange and dry leather.

 

The old adage that there’s no substitute for experience clearly holds true as Stoll & Wolfe Pennsylvania Rye shows a ton of potential for such a young whiskey. Dick Stoll’s knowledge and experience has allowed this young rye to start to show the promise of what this brand could become. While the youth is present throughout the sip, the flavors are inviting and will hopefully continue to mature and build even more depth with additional time in the wood. I’m looking forward to revisiting this brand in the future and seeing if Dick Stoll’s magic can be recreated one more time.  Jordan - 04/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of the Stoll & Wolfe Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

John Drew Rye & Brixton Mash Destroyer

 

John Drew is the man behind the Drew Estate’s Pappy Van Winkle Cigars, ACID Cigars, and Kentucky Fire Cured Cigars. He has since created John Drew Brands, a venture that focuses on spirits, craft beverages, and specialty food. Some of the company’s first products were sent to us. Our tasting notes follow.

 

John Drew Rye

 

Classification: Rye

Company: John Drew Brands

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery in Alberta, Canada

Proof: 90

Age: 4 years then “held” for an additional 3 years

Mashbill: 95% Rye

Price: $45

Official Website

 

Sweet and expressive aromas of cloves, grain, honey, and toasted oak open this rye. The palate is thin and on the sweet side with cinnamon, molasses, licorice, baking spices and finishes with mild oak and ethanol notes. It’s a fairly straightforward rye that lacks a lot of the character other ryes on the market offer. It even lacks some of the uniqueness of John Drew’s other products in this tasting group. I was expecting more influence from the toasted barrels, but they seem to have had little impact on the overall whiskey. If this is, in fact a 7 year old rye, it would be news to my taste buds because it certainly doesn’t drink that way. It comes across closer to a 2-3 year old rye due to its simple palate, mild oak influence, and ethanol present.

 

Brixton Mash Destroyer

 

Classification: Bourbon and Rum Blend

Company: John Drew Brands

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Price: $35

Official Website

 

The label states “Bourbon & Rum Mash” which made me hope that some interesting process of blending bourbon and rum mashbills together helped create this, but that simply is not the case. This is a bourbon and rum mash-up, which takes a Kentucky bourbon and a Florida rum and blends them to create this. The results are what you would expect: Interesting and at times confusing.

 

The nose is all bourbon with oak and vanilla aromas. There is a slight tinge of sweetness that wavers in, but it’s brief. The taste is definitely a mashup of flavors. Everything from vanilla, oak and orange, to molasses, brown sugar, and honey. It’s not going to be for everyone, but as strange as this concept comes across, it definitely has its good moments. The bourbon helps ground the rum’s heavy sugar notes and the rum helps sweeten the bourbon’s oakier notes. It’s not a perfect pairing but it does enough to justify its existence. I can imagine this being a nice pour on a hot day and as the bottle states, “crazy good in a mixed drink as well.” I didn’t mix a drink with it to find out, but after tasting it neat, I just might be convinced to give it a try.

 

BONUS: Dove Tail Rum

 

Classification: Rum

Company: John Drew Brands

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery in Florida

Proof: 80

Age: Aged 4 years in spent bourbon barrels

Mashbill: Distilled using Florida sugarcane black strap molasses

Price: $35

Official Website

 

This is a bourbon website, not a rum website so this will be short. Dove Tail Rum tastes like sweet, sweet molasses.  Eric - 04/2018

 

The samples used for this review were provided at no cost courtesy of John Drew Brands. We thank them for the samples and for allowing us to review them with no strings attached.

 

 

1792 Full Proof - Linwood Wine & Liquor Company Selection

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company Inc.

Distillery: Barton 1792 Distillery

Proof: 125

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Rumored to be around 75% corn, 15% rye, 10% malted barley)

Official Website

 

Described by Barton as a “high rye” bourbon, 1792 Full Proof skips the traditional chill filtering that Barton normally uses, and instead only passes through a plate and frame filter. This bourbon’s name is derived from the fact that it’s been bottled at its original 125 barrel entry proof, making it the highest proof 1792 offering to date. While it’s well-known that I’m not a fan of the standard 1792 Full Proof, I was excited to try my first store pick of this line.

 

Surprisingly lacking any ethanol, the nose is really inviting and full of caramel, oak, burnt sugar, baking chocolate, and spiced apples. The palate starts sweet with notes of creme brulee, brown sugar, soft caramel, and vanilla, before building into a crescendo of heat. Upon swallowing, the heat from the palate explodes and fills your mouth. The heat lingers for a long time before subsiding into a funky mixture of chewy wet oak, dry leather, and bar soap.

 

In the end, I think my taste buds will never fully fall in love with 1792 Full Proof. I still find this to be slightly too hot of a palate and with too funky of a finish to fully enjoy. That said, this bottling is a really nice example of how store picks can surprise you. A lot of the negatives that I found in the standard bottle are smoothed out, allowing for a more enjoyable experience for me. I can see why so many people track down store selections of 1792 Full Proof versus the standard bottle, as it simply delivers a better drinking experience.   Jordan 4/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Linwood Wine & Liquor Company. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

 

PAGE 2