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High West A Midwinter Night's Dram Act 7 Scene 6

Classification: Blend of straight rye whiskeys finished French oak port barrels

Company: Constellation Brands

Distillery: Blend of whiskeys from MGP and High West Distillery

Proof: 98.6

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Barley Malt from MGP and 80% Rye, 20% Malted Rye from HWD

MSRP: $100

Official Website

High West A Midwinter Night's Dram is a limited annual release that consists of High West’s Rendezvous Rye finished in French oak port barrels. The theme of the whiskey is inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While the exact ratios are not disclosed, unlike earlier releases, Act 7 Scene 6 contains distillate from the High West Distillery.  

Nose
: Chocolate covered berries, toasted oak, lightly toasted marshmallow, cinnamon bark, fresh baked bread.

Palate
: Big waves of lush juicy red fruits, toasted brown sugar, vanilla, light rye grain.

Finish
: Rye spice, summer fruits, dry leather, oak, and white peppercorns.

It’s been a few years since we initially reviewed A Midwinter Night's Dram Act 2.1 Scene 868. At the time, the base Rendezvous Rye whiskey was a mix of sourced 16 and 6 year old ryes. Today, Rendezvous Rye is comprised of 4 to 7 year old rye whiskey that is a mix of sourced and in-house distilled ryes. The end result hasn’t changed though. The barrel finishing process does a great job of delivering dominate deep fruit forward flavors, and the sip is as enjoyable in its current iteration as it was years ago. A Midwinter Night's Dram lives up to its name, as it is a perfect whiskey to pour on a cold night in front of a warm fire.

Written By: Jordan
Four Gate Batch 4: Split Stave By Kelvin

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Split Stave Barrels

Company: Four Gate Whiskey Company

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: December 2019 (Kentucky and Tennessee Only)

Proof: 115.6

Age: Blend of 5.5 and 12 year bourbons - Finished for 5 months

Mashbill: 5.5 Year: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley - 12 Year: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley

MSRP: $175 (2019)

Bill Straub, founder and Editor-In-Chief of ModernThirst.com, and Bob D’Antoni started Four Gate Whiskey Company in 2018 with the intention of exclusively being a non-distiller producer (NDP). Their plan isn’t like many other NDPs, who normally sell sourced whiskey while their own whiskey comes of age. The duo doesn’t have a distillery, and they don’t plan to distill. Instead, they are focusing on sourcing barrels to create very small batches and doing unique things to them. Four Gate’s Batch 2 in particular fulfilled this promise, as it was a bourbon finished in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks.

Their latest batch is the same base whiskey blend used in Batch 2, but utilizes the barrel experts at Kelvin Cooperage to create a unique finishing technique. The Kelvin team started out with a series of medium toasted casks, #2 and #4 char casks. They then dismantled the barrels and rebuilt them alternating between toasted staves and #2 char staves on some barrels, and toasted and #4 char staves on others. The team trademarked this creation as  “Split Stave™.”

Nose
: Char, cocoa powder, vanilla, butterscotch, and burnt caramel. Straightforward aroma but quite potent.

Palate
: Oak, cinnamon, vanilla, and creme brûlée. Robust flavor.

Finish
: Long, with cinnamon, heavy oak, Red Hots candy, slight clove, and pepper notes. Slightly dry.

Finishing a bourbon in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks was certainly interesting, but it doesn’t pique the curiosity of bourbon enthusiasts like the Split Stave™ finishing probably will. It’s hard to know for sure if simply finishing the bourbon separately with each type of char and then blending them would have had the same effect as the Split Stave™ process, but there is no denying the intensity of this bourbon. It may not be overly complex, but its flavors are strikingly bold and work really well together. It’s always interesting when a company takes the tried-and-true and toys with it. While this is a double barrel finished bourbon, it doesn’t come across as “finishy” as say, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked does. That’s huge, as Four Gate has found an interesting middle ground between a traditional aged bourbon and a finished double barreled bourbon, that in the end, adds to the bourbon without drastically changing it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see more Split Stave™-like finished bourbons in the future from not only Four Gate, but possibly other companies as well.

Written By: Eric
New Riff Balboa Rye Batch 1

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: New Riff Distilling

Distillery: New Riff Distilling

Release Date: Fall 2019

Proof: 100

Age: NAS (4 Years)

Mashbill: 95% Heirloom Balboa Rye, 5% Malted Rye

MSRP: $50 (2019)

Official Website

Balboa Rye is New Riff Distilling’s first limited edition release. It originates from a single batch that was distilled in June 2015, making it just over four years old. Like New Riff Distilling’s flagship rye whiskey, it’s Bottled in Bond and non-chill filtered, however for the mashbill they’ve swapped the standard rye with Balboa rye. Balboa rye is an heirloom grain that dates back to the 1940s, though it hasn’t been distilled in decades. The Fogg Family Farm in Indiana now grows it exclusively for New Riff Distilling. Balboa Rye was first released to New Riff Whiskey Club members only for pickup at the distillery, along with limited distribution in Kentucky.

Nose:
Flood of fruit followed by caramel, maple sugar candy, and clove. Very nice overall.

Palate:
Surprisingly sweet with fruit-forward notes - caramel chews, apple, apricot, raisin, and light oak delivered with a medium-bodied mouthfeel.

Finish:
Rush of rye spice balanced by raw sugar sweetness, clove, and nutmeg. Long with lingering sweetness.

New Riff Distilling continues to impress with this limited edition rye whiskey. It’s an explosion of fruit and sweet notes, with just the right amount of spice in the mix. Balboa isn’t just a marketing term either, it’s an heirloom grain which means it has been passed down from generation to generation and has not been genetically modified. Compared to New Riff’s flagship rye, Balboa Rye leans more towards the sweeter fruitier notes, however it’s impossible to know exactly how much impact the grain variation influenced the end product as aging and other factors all come into play. That being said, the combination of a different grain, New Riff Distilling’s distillation capability, and then ultimately their aging and blending process resulted in a fantastic whiskey.

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

Written By: Nick
Blanton’s “Medicinal Whiskey” Private Selection

Classification: Straight Whiskey

Company: Sazerac Company, Inc.

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Proof: 93

Age: 6 Years 9 Months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Official Website

Blanton’s “Medicinal Whiskey” is a collaboration pick between DGC in Greenville, South Carolina and The Book Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. Their goal was to pick a single barrel that best reproduced the memory of an individual's first exposure to Blanton’s, which is often one of a syrupy balanced drinker. The barrel selected was #12-K-07-H-1-02-197, from warehouse H, floor 1, rick 02. Some of these bottles will be auctioned at ‘The Gala’ in Charlottesville, VA benefiting the UVA Children's Oncology program on February 1, 2020.

Nose
: Cinnamon spice abounds, cherry, vanilla, oak, light ethanol

Palate
: Vanilla, caramel, baking spice, a large does of oak

Finish
: Vanilla, cherry, white pepper, medium dry

Blanton’s Single Barrel private selections don’t occur as often as many of the other brand’s that Buffalo Trace offers. It’s a shame too, since it’s always fun to try a barrel chosen by a group that has a specific vision in mind when going into a pick. The end result for Blanton's “Medicinal Whiskey,” is a fine example of what the brand has to offer when the right barrel is chosen. This barrel delivers an easy to enjoy sip, that most anyone who tries will find pleasing.

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

Written By: Jordan
Barrell Bourbon Batch 020, 021, & 022

Barrell Bourbon Batch 020

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (Undisclosed distilleries in Tennessee and Kentucky)

Proof: 106.7

Age: 10 Years (Blend of 10 to 14 year old barrels)

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Includes corn, rye, and malted barley)

MSRP: $90 (2019)

Official Website


Barrell Bourbon Batch 021

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

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

Proof: 106.34

Age: 10 Years (Blend of 10 to 14 year old barrels)

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Includes corn, rye, and malted barley)

MSRP: $90 (2019)

Official Website


Barrell Bourbon Batch 022

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (Undisclosed distilleries in Kentucky and Indiana)

Proof: 116.6

Age: 5 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Includes corn, rye, and malted barley)

MSRP: $90 (2019)

Official Website

Batches 020, 021, and 022 are the latest in Barrell Craft Spirits’ Barrell Bourbon line, where each batch is unique and released at barrel proof. All three batches employ a different combination of source distillery from different states.  Batches 020 and 021 are both a blend of 10 to 14 year bourbons, while Batch 022 clocks in at only 5 years old.

Batch 020

Nose: Corn, light oak, toasted marshmallow, molasses, marzipan, dab of ethanol

Palate
: Rye spice, light sweet caramel, white pepper, green apple, corn, fresh oak

Finish
: Rye grain, pepper, oak, lingering heat

Batch 021

Nose: Heavy brown sugar, vanilla, fresh baked pastries, hint of oak, dab of ethanol

Palate
: Cinnamon spice, oak, pepper, a touch of green apple

Finish
: Cinnamon, leather, oak, rye spice, long lasting heat

Batch 022

Nose: Vanilla, oak, brown sugar, cinnamon bark, fresh baked pie, wallop of ethanol

Palate
: Cinnamon apples, big baking spice, white pepper, and vanilla

Finish
: Cinnamon, baked apples, peppery spice, touch of leather, heavy long lasting heat


All three Batches are quintessential Barrell Bourbon offerings, with each bringing a high proof pour with depth found in each sip. I find it interesting that while Batch 020 and 021 share the same age range, how different their flavor profiles are, which can most likely be attributed to the inclusion of Indiana sourced bourbon in Batch 021. In addition, for being so much younger than the other two in comparison, Batch 022 is able to keep up with its older siblings really well, delivering a high proof pour with lots of heat. While all three are great offerings, Batch 021 is the standout of the three, delivering a solid classic bourbon flavor profile that makes it well worth seeking out a bottle.

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

Written By: Jordan
Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon 2019

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Limestone Branch Distilling Co.

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: August 2019

Proof: 101

Age: 9 Years (Press release states it also includes 12 year old bourbon)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $100 (2019)

Official Website

Limestone Branch Distilling Co. has impressed me with their limited release bourbons over the past three years. Over this time they’ve reused, and more interestingly, recharred the same barrels each year to finish their bourbon for their limited releases. Surprisingly, this didn’t create a miss-mash of convoluted flavors, but instead created a warm and potent-tasting whiskey that were some of my favorite finished whiskeys each year they were released.

In 2019, they took a different approach, and according to the company, poached some of their best 9 and 12 year old barrels to create this year’s blend.

Nose
: Cherry, vanilla custard, oak, and light orange citrus. Warming and pleasant, with a gentle intensity.

Palate
: Oak, dark chocolate, burnet caramel, dark sweet fruit, and leather. It has a soft delivery with a thin mouthfeel and tastes less than its stated proof.

Finish
: Spice, oak, vanilla, and cinnamon. Medium length finish that is slightly dry with a slow ramp up of heat.

This is a straightforward blend that presents its flavors well, is easy-drinking, but also might not necessarily blow you away. It definitely leans on the darker, heavier side of the flavor wheel with its oak, chocolate, and spice. Thankfully there are veins of sweetness throughout that provide a sudden and welcomed contrast. In any other year, this year’s Yellowstone Limited Edition would probably make more of a splash. It just comes at a time when many other blends have been hitting it out of the park (Little Book Chapter 3, Lux Row Double Barrel, and Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch). Still, that doesn’t diminish what this release does well. It delivers a nicely constructed, and gentle overall intensity bourbon that makes it a really nice sipper. Approximately 12,500 bottle release.

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.  

Written By: Eric
Old Pepper Rye - Finest Kentucky Oak

Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Heavily Toasted Barrels

Company: James Pepper Distilling Co.

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 116

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $80 (2019)

Official Website

The Old Pepper Distillery is rich with history. Assigned DSP-KY-5, its roots date back to 1780 when the distillery was first established. James E. Pepper was a third generation distiller, and operated the distillery until 1939 when he passed away. In 1958, the distillery fell on hard times and shut down. In 2008, Amir Peay of Georgetown Trading Co. acquired rights to the brand and began efforts to bring it back to life. In the meantime, whiskeys have been sourced from MGP in Indiana.  

Nose:
Orange peel, black pepper, and black licorice give way to a potent rye spice. Balanced in its delivery and quintessentially rye.

Palate:
Ginger root and orange peel combined with young oak. Full bodied and nicely developed.

Finish:
Black peppercorns, rye spice, and a rush of cinnamon. Sweeter notes of cotton candy and caramel develop on the backend. Long.

This particular release is from batch number K02. It’s surprising how developed and balanced it is for being only three years old. While there are plenty of young MGP ryes on the market, exceptional ones are still few and far between. This bottle fits the bill. Well-rounded and nicely balanced, it surprises with just how good it is for its age. The secondary finishing in heavily toasted barrels might have something to do with that, and further helps distinguish this bottling from the vast MGP 95% rye crowd. While the history behind James E. Pepper is interesting and I’m excited to taste what comes out of the restored distillery in the future, this bottle of sourced whiskey stands on its own nonetheless.

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

Written By: Nick
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C919

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: November 2019

Proof: 136.8

Age: 12 Years

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

MSRP: $60 (2019)

Official Website

Heaven Hill returns to form with this latest batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Coming off the heels of Batch B519 - the brand’s lowest proof release at 122.2 - the final batch of 2019 is a monster in more ways than one.  

Nose: Heavy vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and oak. Nothing shockingly unique, but overall sweet and punchy.

Palate
: Bold oak, sweet brown sugar, burnt caramel, and rich vanilla.  

Finish
: Cinnamon, rich seasoned oak, toffee, and a pinch of leather.

Because it’s “bourbon hunting season” and many will be left empty-handed, if you come across this batch, it’s a perfect fill-in for that limited release you really wanted, but couldn’t get. If you’re a high proof high flavor lover, this holds especially true this year with George T. Stagg being the least "George T. Staggy" it's ever been.  In many ways, Batch C919 is an all around better bourbon too. It may not feature that classic Stagg flavor (ironically neither does this year’s Stagg), but does an excellent job delivering a rich and flavorful traditional bourbon flavor profile. Yes it’s hot, but it's not the proof doing the heavy work here. It’s flavor profile manages to outshine its proof. That’s not always easy to do when you’re 136.8 proof.

Once again, Heaven Hill releases another solid batch of Elijah Craig, which has to be one of the most consistent brands on the market. Sure there are batches that are better than others, but you really can’t go wrong picking one of these up - especially this final batch of 2019.

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.

Written By: Eric
Bourbon & Vine

Classification: Bourbon Finished with a Cabernet Steeped French Oak Spiral

Company: Oak & Eden

Distillery: Undisclosed (Sourced from a number of distilleries including MGP)

Proof: 90

Age: NAS (2 years per company website)

Mashbill: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Malted Barley

MSRP: $65 (2019)

Official Website

Oak & Eden was founded in April 2017 by brothers Joe and Jamie Giildenzopf and Brad Neathery. In May 2018 they launched their first product, and now offer six different whiskeys. Each is finished in a unique way - a five inch long wood spiral, which the company refers to as the “Spire,” is added to each bottle to finish it. For Bourbon & Vine, the spire is made of French Oak and rested in cabernet sauvignon for four weeks before being placed in the bottle. Oak & Eden does not disclose where they source their whiskeys from besides stating on their website that they use a “handful of carefully selected distilleries in America” and then go on to say “namely MGP."

Nose:
Luxardo cherries, dark red wine, seasoned oak

Palate:
Dark fruit, cherries, plums, raisins, seasoned oak, wet bark, buttery caramel; rich, velvety mouthfeel  

Finish:
Dark fruit, seasoned wood, and wet bark linger; light rye spice comes into play as other flavors trail off; rich overall

In 2014, a Kickstarter for Whiskey Elements by Time & Oak raised over $195,000 from over 5,000 backers for a concept that was effectively an oak stick designed to be inserted into a bottle of whiskey to further age it. Time & Oak currently sells this product and states it’s a way to “enhance your whiskey in as little as 24 hours.” Somewhat surprisingly no one had taken the next step of adding an aging stick to a bottle as part of the brand’s identity, until Oak & Eden. While I haven’t taken the time to fully understand Time & Oak’s six patent filings and how they might overlap with Oak & Eden’s products, they are effectively a similar concept in the sense of inserting an oak stick into the whiskey to enhance its flavor.

In the case of Bourbon & Vine, the wine finish is so prominent and the color so dark and red, it seems reasonable to assume the spire acted like a sponge while it soaked in cabernet sauvignon for four weeks. This trapped wine was then released into the bourbon when the spire sat in the bottle. I can only draw conclusions with respect to how much additional influence the actual oak itself had outside of transferring wine to the bottle. Maker’s 46 comes to mind, which is the standard Maker’s Mark finished with seared French Oak staves within the barrel, prior to bottling. Similar flavor notes are in play, and incidentally the first comparison that came to mind when I tasted Bourbon & Vine was the original release of barrel proof Maker’s 46.

Bourbon & Vine will certainly draw criticism from skeptics. It has flaws, and I’m not convinced adding staves (of anything) is the ideal way to finish a bourbon or whiskey, and that includes my experiences with Maker’s 46 and the Maker’s Private Select Program. But considering the onslaught of similar whiskeys released to market, it is refreshing every time I see something notably different.

I admittedly enjoyed Bourbon & Vine a lot more than I thought I would. It’s not perfect, but it packs a lot of flavor and manages to keep the off-putting notes in check enough to look past them. It got me thinking about how this might taste with an older base bourbon, as well as how the bottle I have might taste a week, month, or even a year from now as the spire continues to influence the liquid inside the bottle.

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

Written By: Nick
Four Gate Whiskey Batch 2: Outer Loop Orbit

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks

Company: Four Gate Whiskey Company

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: September 2019 (Kentucky and Tennessee Only)

Proof: 120.1

Age: Blend of 5.5 and 12 year bourbon

Mashbill: 5.5 Year: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley - 12 Year: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley

MSRP: $200 (2019)

Bill Straub, founder and Editor-In-Chief of ModernThirst.com, and Bob D’Antoni started Four Gate Whiskey Company in 2018 with the intention of exclusively being a non-distiller producer (NDP). Their plan isn’t like many other NDPs, who sell sourced whiskey while their own whiskey comes of age. The duo doesn’t have a distillery, and they don’t plan to distill. Instead, they are focusing on sourcing barrels to create very small batches - for example Batch 1: 1,732 bottles, Batch 2: 2,402 bottles - and finishing them in a unique way. The company plans to release 2-3 batches per year.

Their plan also includes consulting with the “best-regarded experts in the field on the effects of barrels” for their input on selecting barrels and blends. They have already worked with Brian Haara, aka Sipp’n Corn (author of Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America), Owen Powell (founder of Louisville Bourbon Hounds), and Louisville Bourbon Hounds administrator and experienced barrel picker, Craig Rupprecht.

Four Gate Whiskey Batch 2: Outer Loop Orbit Tasting Notes:

Nose
: Gin, concentrated lime juice, orange, fresh cut wood.

Palate
: Citrus, gin, Orange Curaçao, mild oak, light cinnamon.

Finish
: Hot, punchy, mildly dry, lemon, mild oak, juniper.

Overall
: Wow this is interesting. On paper this seems like a bad idea, but surprisingly, a lot of fun to drink. Was it $200 fun? Probably not, but if you’re looking for unique, this is exactly what you’ll get. I’m surprised Four Gate bottled this at such a high proof as it comes across very hot, and its intense gin influence is definitely an acquired taste. Speaking of, I’m quite taken aback by the intensity of the barrel finish. Throughout the sip, very little of the bourbon manages to pull through the Orange Curaçao-gin finish. Perhaps a better balance between its parts would help pull this together a bit more. I would have loved to have tasted this with more oak and vanilla pulling through against the heavy citrus. Yet as is, this is about as unique as they come.

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

Written By: Eric
Driftless Glen Whiskeys

Driftless Glen Distillery was founded by Brian and Reneé Bemis, and is located it in the Baraboo Valley of Wisconsin. This is near a region known as the Driftless Area which escaped the flattening effects of glaciation during the ice age. The result is an area that is in stark contrast to the flatness of the broader Midwest and central Plains regions. According to the company, the region is “rich with peat, bogs, an amazing aquifer, and uncommon sandy soil for our grains to grow in,” which provides a favorable environment for spirit production.

The whiskeys come in impressive custom designed bottles that feature embossed glass fingerprints of the company’s owners on either side, “Driftless Glen” on the front, and the company’s windmill icon on the back. Contrasting the beautiful bottle, is the distillery’s label that is largely unimpactful and is in need of a revamp.

The company produces all of their whiskey from locally sourced grain and currently sports a 4+ year age statement. They age their whiskey in 25 and 30 gallon barrels in order to accelerate maturation. This is probably why their whiskeys feature a darker-than-expected color.

The company also allows private selections of their products in single barrel form and at barrel proof. Impressively, the price is reasonable for a craft distillery where such attributes are usually come at a premium price. Seelbach’s sent us three of their current private selections to taste and provide our tasting notes for.

Driftless Glen Bourbon Single Barrel


Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 125

Age: 4 Years, 2 Months

Mashbill: 60% Corn, 20% Rye, 20% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Pecan, dish soap, mustiness, wet rock

Palate: Butter pecan pie, corn, walnut, cinnamon, slight clove  

Finish: Oak, leather, dark chocolate

Overall
: The nose is certainly unique. It’s not so strong that it detracts from the rest of the sip,  but is also hard to forget. The palate also has a unique tasting element that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m not sure if it’s the result of a bunch of different flavors interacting with each other, or one note on its own. In the end, this is interesting bourbon to say the least. It clearly won’t be for everyone, and will appeal to the more adventurous type.  


Driftless Glen Rye Single Barrel


Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 125.2

Age: 4 Years, 3 Months

Mashbill: 75% Rye, 25% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Youthful grain, light rye spice, strawberry cream, minty pine

Palate: Sugar cookies, peanuts, orange marmalade    

Finish: Hot, mixed fruits, rye spice

Overall
: It comes off a bit hot and does better when a few drops of water are added. I enjoyed the flavor profile quite a bit, but it’s slightly marred by youthful grain notes.


Driftless Glen First Marriage Rye (A blend of two barrels)


Classification: Rye

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 123 Proof

Age: 4 Years, 3 Months

Mashbill: 75% Rye, 25% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Roses, green candied apples, fresh mint, grain

Palate: Caramel creams, rye grain, candy corn

Finish: Mellow oak

Overall
: It comes down a little hot on the finish but overall this is a sweet and easy drinking rye. Its flavor profile is on the simpler side, but it works well combining caramel creams and candy corn against its hot oaky finish.

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

Written By: Eric
Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel - Dark Spirits Society

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 108.64

Age: 14 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Includes corn, rye, and malted barley)

MSRP: $99 (2019)

Official Website

Barrell Bourbon’s Joe Beatrice and Tripp Stimson have mastered batched blends. Each of their releases offers something different than the last. In line with general flavor characteristics but in a league of their own, are their single barrel offerings. Their single barrel program has taken off over the last few years, and we’ve been fortunate to have tried quite a few, so far selecting three bourbons for our Single Barrel Club. One was released about a year ago, and the next few will be released as a pair.

We’ve partnered with Mash&Grape for each of our Barrell single barrel picks, as they’re also fans of what the folks at Barrell are doing, regularly carry their products, and work really well with our subscriber group shipping to most states. This particular bottle in review is not released as part of our Single Barrel Club, but rather is one of the first single barrel releases in a new experience Mash&Grape has worked to cultivate, The Dark Spirits Society.

Cinnamon, creme brulee, and toasted oak comprise a rather inviting nose. The sip is medium-bodied. Spice erupts on the tongue, with vanilla, cornbread, and toasted marshmallow in tow. The spice lingers in the finish, which turns slightly dry with hints of vanilla and burnt brown sugar sweetness.

At just over 108 proof, this finds itself on the lower end of the barrel proof spectrum, but is about average for a Barrell single barrel. A healthy dose of spice keeps it robust, but it otherwise drinks easily as I found myself sipping through multiple glasses without breaking a sweat. If you enjoy Barrell Bourbon but seek a more easy-drinking experience, this pick is for you. As of this writing, it is still available.

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

Written By: Nick
Easy Rider Bourbon

Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Company: Hood River Distillers

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 80

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $25 (2019)

Official Website

Easy Rider Bourbon was recently reintroduced into the market by Hood River Distillers. The company acquired the brand in 2018 as a replacement to fill the hole left in the company portfolio after selling the Pendleton Whisky brand to Becle, S.A.B. de C.B., (the parent company of the Jose Cuervo line of tequilas) in 2017. Easy Rider is a sourced four year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which is then blended and proofed down with glacier-fed spring water from Mount Hood. The company bills it as being great for shots or mixing.

Its nose is on the lighter side with corn, vanilla, graham crackers, and an odd yet satisfying hint of spearmint. As can be expected for an 80 proof bourbon, you won’t find any bursts of flavor on the palate. Instead it mainly consists of  hints of light vanilla and corn oil. The finish is short with new oak, corn, and white pepper making brief appearances.

Easy Rider’s lower proof has a drastic impact on the sip and does this bourbon a disservice. It’s an easy drinking affair, albeit one that is lacking in flavor and is quickly forgettable.It’s priced accordingly however, and at $25 you don’t walk away expecting more for your money.

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

Written By: Jordan
Doc.52 Cask Finished Series: Corsair Ryemageddon

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in a Rye Barrel

Company: Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More

Distillery: Undisclosed Tennessee Distillery

Release Date: August 2019

Proof: 114.2

Age: 14 years, 6 months with an additional month in a 15 gallon Corsair Ryemageddon barrel

Mashbill: 84% Corn, 8% Rye, 8% Malted Barley

MSRP: $90 (2019)

Official Website

We profiled Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More in 2018 about how the liquor store took to creating their own whiskey brand in order to stand out in the ever-crowded retail market. Since then, they have released a number of single barrels and one-off batches, including a unique tasting bourbon and rye blended whiskey. They’re finishing 2019 strong with a number of new releases, but there was one release that sounded particularly interesting: a whiskey finished in a Corsair Ryemageddon barrel.

The whiskey opens with a prickly rye scent that is followed by strong orange pop. Further scents of vanilla, oak, and mixed berries gently weave through this whiskey’s bright and punchy aroma. Its palate is equally as dizzying, as a rush of flavors hit all at once. It’s a bold front of rye spice, orange chocolate bar, brandied cherries, and spicy vanilla. The finish leaves a mild dry aftertaste, with an overall flavor profile that reminds me of a Sazerac cocktail.

While finishing American whiskey in wine barrels was considered quite unique, it has become more commonplace and producers continue to push boundaries finishing in rum, cognac, toasted oak, and many other types of barrels.. In keeping with this experimental trend, finishing in Corsair Ryemageddon barrels has proved to be a surprisingly fun and out of the ordinary tasting experience. It’s interesting to taste how much the whiskey changed in flavor for only being finished for one month. I had a chance to try the base whiskey pre-finishing which I found to be good in its own right. It’s sweet, fruit-forward and nicely oaked profile proved to be a good recipient of Ryemageddon’s intense barrel influence.

With only 66 bottles available in this first edition of Doc.52’s Cask Finished Series, all of the bottles are sold out. Ryan Gill, general manager of Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More said there are more cask finished editions on the way, with the next being a Port barrel finished in October. They’re also interestingly experimenting with a honey finish using a Corsair Triple Smoke barrel.

Despite the Ryemageddon finish being sold out, we wanted to highlight this interesting path Doc’s is exploring with their barrel finishing. Partly as a non-distiller producer finishing in a barrel from another whiskey distillery, but also the truly unique tasting whiskey they created by taking a common Tennessee Whiskey (presumingly Dickel), and finishing it in a one-of-a-kind Ryemageddon barrel. This barrel finishing reveals there is still a lot of depth left to explore in this category.

‍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.

Written By: Eric
Penelope Four Grain Barrel Strength Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Penelope Bourbon

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 116.6

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of three bourbon mashbills comprised of four grains (Corn, Wheat, Rye, and Malted Barley)

MSRP: $55 (2019)

Official Website

Penelope Bourbon was created in 2018 by lifelong friends Mike Paladini and Danny Polise. The name is a nod to Mike’s daughter Penelope. The bourbon is a blend of wheat and rye bourbon mashbills, which are aged separately before being blended and bottled. The bourbon is aged in barrels charred with #4 staves and #2 heads. The bourbon being tasted is from Batch 02. It’s non-chill filtered and released at barrel strength.

Scents of brown sugar, caramel, and baking spices create a pleasing aroma, though a trace of ethanol teases the bourbon’s youth. The palate brings more brown sugar along with blackberries. The intensity ramps up on the sip with baking spice crescendoing towards the end and leading into the finish, where it quickly tapers off. Sweet vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and butterscotch linger.

The barrel strength version of Penelope Bourbon intensifies the flavors while maintaining the overall drinkability found in its 80 proof counterpart, resulting in a significant step in the right direction. While there is certainly an undercurrent of youth that would be expected, the higher proof serves this bourbon well, intensifying the better flavors present. The presence of three bourbons containing a total of four grains seems to soften the overall delivery. All three bourbons in the blend are sourced from MGP and aged at least two years (the two rye bourbons are aged 3 years, and the wheated bourbon is aged 2 years), and the result is well-rounded considering the age, demonstrating both the quality of MGP’s distillate along with the quality of blending that went into creating this bourbon.

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

Written By: Nick
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