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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
Luca Mariano Old Americana Small Batch Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Luca Mariano

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 83

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

Francesco Viola was a home distilling hobbyist and in 2010 he decided to bring some of his grandfather's old whiskey recipes to life. Upon learning that it was illegal to home distill, Francesco dove in head first, obtaining a license to distill and creating the Luca Mariano brand along the way. The company derives its name from Francesco’s son, Luca Mariano, who is named after Francesco’s grandfather. It’s bottling design employees embossed glass reminiscent of what you might find in an italiain liquor. The brand is currently working with a Kentucky distillery to distill their products to spec. In 2017, the company found a 300 acre farm in Danville, Kentucky with the goal of it eventually housing a future distillery, rackhouses, and a visitor center.

The nose of Batch Number 2019-03 contains light hints of butterscotch, vanilla, oak, and hay. The sip is approachable and brings with it marshmallow, caramel, sweet vanilla, and a touch of oak. The finish rounds it out with vanilla, hard butterscotch candy, and tannic oak that lingers along with a pleasing heat. This heat helps drag out the finish longer than you would expect for an 83 proof bourbon.

Much like the Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye, the 83 proof on this bourbon delivers a lighter sip. The flavors are light and limited yet distinguishable, however I do wish this was higher in proof to pull them out more. In its current form, Old Americana Small Batch Bourbon would be best suited to use in a simple whiskey cocktail or paired with a light bodied cigar.

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

Written By: Jordan
Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: American Freedom Distillery

Distillery: American Freedom Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 87

Age: Aged a minimum of 2 years

Mashbill: 65% Corn, 30% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

In the days after the events of September 11, 2001, a group of special operations officers answered their nation’s call to defend it. These officers soon found themselves riding horseback in a Green Beret insertion in Northern Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. These men are honored at the America’s Response Monument at Ground Zero and have been given the nickname Horse Soldiers.

These same men banded together to create American Freedom Distillery. Their 16,000 square-foot distillery is located in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, where they distill their Rekker Rum. Their whiskey is made in Ohio in conjunction with Middle West Spirits. A portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold by American Freedom goes towards maintaining the America’s Response Monument.

A soft and sweet aroma makes up the heft of the nose, with touches of caramel, spice, and grain in tow. It’s followed by a gentle tasting palate that’s sweet and approachable, thanks to honey, vanilla, and lemon zest. It finishes with an impactful pop of oak and spice.

Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey an easy sipper that non-bourbon drinkers will find very approachable. What the sip may lack in depth, it makes up in its easy drinkability.

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

Written By: Eric
Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Luca Mariano

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 83

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

Francesco Viola was a home distilling hobbyist and in 2010 he decided to bring some of his grandfather's old whiskey recipes to life. Upon learning that it was illegal to home distill, Francesco dove in head first, obtaining a license to distill and creating the Luca Mariano brand along the way. The company derives its name from Francesco’s son, Luca Mariano, who is named after Francesco’s grandfather. The brand is currently working with a Kentucky distillery to distill their products to spec. In 2017, the company found a 300 acre farm in Danville, Kentucky with the goal of it eventually housing a future distillery, rackhouses, and a visitor center.

The batch being tasted comes from Batch Number 2019-01. The batch’s nose is light with hints of corn, vanilla, oak, and light marshmallow. Taking a sip presents light flavors of oak, white pepper, corn, and a dash of vanilla. The rye pulls through on the finish and presents a slightly spicier than expected ending, especially considering its 83 proof. Along with the rye spice, sweet vanilla and light oak are also present for this short to medium finish.

As would be expected for an 83 proof rye, the sip is on the lighter side. The flavors are fine, but you can’t help but feel a few more years in the barrel and about 10+ more proof points would really allow this rye to shine. It will be interesting to see how the Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye develops over time, especially once distillation moves in-house. In the meantime, Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye presents the perfect cocktail rye when you need a lighter base for a whiskey-based cocktail.

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

Written By: Jordan
Taconic Distillery Finished Whiskeys

Taconic Distillery Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon Cognac Cask

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Cognac Casks

Company: Taconic Distillery

Distillery: Taconic Distillery

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 25% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $54 (2019)

Official Website


Taconic Distillery Founder’s Rye Madeira Cask

Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Madeira Casks

Company: Taconic Distillery

Distillery: Taconic Distillery

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $54 (2019)

Official Website

Taconic Distillery located in New York’s lush Hudson Valley, was established in 2013. Its founders hoped to bring the spirit of the region’s hunting, fishing, and outdoor lifestyle to their entire whiskey making process. The company calls their products “farm-to-bottle” whiskeys, utilizing locally sourced Hudson Valley grains and water from the distillery’s on-premise natural spring.

In the fall of 2016, Taconic finished construction and opened its new 4,200 square foot distillery, which now allows them to produce, bottle and package their whiskey in one place. Their tasting room allows visitors to sample their whiskey, but more interestingly, also allows visitors to taste many other distilleries' whiskeys in hopes of providing a greater understanding of the wealth of different whiskeys on the market. Their straight bourbon and rye whiskeys also are available in cask strength varieties, and during the fall they also release a double barreled maple bourbon, which is their bourbon finished for a few months in emptied maple syrup barrels from Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse. Some of the company’s newest products are their barrel finished whiskeys, two of which are Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon finished in cognac casks, and their Founder’s Rye finished in Madeira casks.

Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon finished in ex-Remy Martin cognac casks opens with a soft whiff of toasted coconut, vanilla extract, and dark berries that slowly gives way to cognac soaked raisin scent. An extra swirl of the glass nicely opens the aroma further and increases its intensity. The sip piggybacks on the nose with juicy raisins and dark berries at the forefront, followed by oak, burnet caramel, and nuts. The finish is oak and grain forward and most noticeably, a bit bitter, which most likely has to do with the cognac barrel finishing. Overall the barrel finish is mild and keeps its intensity in check.

Founder’s Rye finished in Madeira casks starts with a delightful aroma of whipped strawberry frosting, rye spice, orange, and toffee. The palate transitions into a more nutty and oak base with light cherry and peach bringing some brightness to the flavor profile. The finish is oaky and bitter with a walnut and orange peel aftertaste.  

Both whiskeys are easy sippers and I can’t help but feel that’s the direction they were going for. “Gentle” is the conclusion I came to regarding both finishes. The barrel finish doesn’t try and get in the way of the base whiskey and is instead there to compliment it. There are plenty of whiskey drinkers that will appreciate this, while others will wish for more barrel finish and proof intensity. It’s hard to please both in this regard and I can’t help but think Taconic knew exactly who they were making this for.

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

Written By: Eric
War Penny Krogh's Stout Beer Barrel Finish Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon Finished in a Krogh’s Stout Beer Barrel

Company: Milk Street Distillery

Distillery: Milk Street Distillery

Proof: 93

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $68 (2019)

Official Website

Milk Street Distillery was launched by brothers Mike and Gordon Geerhart in 2016. Located Branchville, New Jersey, it is the first distillery in Sussex County in over 70 years. War Penny Bourbon consists of a mashbill of undisclosed percentages of corn and rye, with a portion of that grain steeped in cherry wood smoke over the course of 36 hours. Aged until the brothers deemed it ready, the bourbon is then finished in beer barrels of varying styles from local breweries for an undisclosed amount of time. This variation of beer barrels allows War Penny to have a continuously changing flavor profile. The top of every bottle of War Penny Bourbon is adorned with a real 1943 steel penny.

The nose opens with a strong dash of smoke, sweet malts, youthful grain, and a sweet marshmallow notes. The sip is thin yet flavorful delivering flavors of smoked corn, chocolate malt, pepper, and a dash of rye spice. The bourbon finishes on notes of chocolate, pepper, rye, and toasted marshmallow. The inclusion of steeping in cherry wood smoke and finishing in beer barrels is readily apparent throughout the entire sip.

This bottle of War Penny Bourbon deep down comes across as a young whiskey. However due to the fact that some of its grains have been cherry smoked, and that it was finished in a stout barrel, that youth is masked well and features flavors typically not found in young whiskey. I’d best describe this as a beer drinker’s bourbon, and one that would be a nice introduction to those rooted in the beer world who would like to dabble in the world of bourbon.

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

Written By: Jordan
King of Kentucky 2019 Release

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: The Brown-Forman Distillery

Release Date: July 2019

Proof: 131 (Proofs range from 125-135)

Age: 15 Years

Mashbill: 79% Corn, 11% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

MSRP: $250 (2019)

Official Website

Available only in Kentucky, King of Kentucky is a rebirth of the classic brand by Brown-Forman. The original King of Kentucky label was named in honor of horse racing, also known as the “sport of kings.” According to the company’s press release, “...this release is based on a brand of the same name that was established in 1881. Brown-Forman acquired the brand from Selected KY Distillers, Inc. in 1936, and discontinued it in 1968.”

The release is derived from 27 single barrels with an average yield of 30%, that range in proof between 125-135. Brown-Forman estimates this year’s release to be 2,100 bottles, which is about 1,140 more bottles than last year’s inaugural release. The single barrel sample provided to us by Brown-Forman is from Barrel No. 8.

Honey, cherry, cinnamon, peaches, leather and seasoned oak form a sophisticated aroma that beautifully showcases the bourbon’s age while still maintaining its punchiness. The palate is rich and while the bourbon is certainly hot, distinct notes of dark chocolate, brandy cherries, sweet oak, and rye spice come though the heat gracefully. It finishes dry with a touch of sweetness, leaning heavily on oak.

The 2019 release of King of Kentucky picks up right where last year’s edition left off. It is once again an excellently constructed bourbon that balances its sweet and oak flavors nicely. There are plenty of full flavored barrel proof bourbons, but few match the quality of flavors and pure richness of this bourbon.

Jordan awarded the 2018 edition one of his favorite bourbons last year. The year is only half over but it looks like there will be a good chance the 2019 edition will make our list again. Yes, it’s that good.

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

Written By: Eric
Blood Oath Pact No. 5

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Caribbean Rum Casks

Company: Luxco

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 98.6

Age: NAS (Blend of 8, 11, and 13 year old bourbons)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $100 (2019)

Official Website

Launched in 2015, a new unique Pact is released each year. For this 5th release, an 8 year old rye bourbon was finished in Caribbean rum barrels for an additional 6 months. It was than blended with an 11 year old wheated bourbon and a 13 year old rye bourbon. The exact blend percentages are not disclosed. All bourbons used in the blend originated from Kentucky.

The rum finishing is noticeable yet not overbearing, as a hint of molasses weaves its way throughout. The nose is sweet and enjoyable with vanilla, brown sugar, brown butter, light grain, and a touch of ethanol present. The juicy sip carries forward the molasses and also brings forward rye spice, pepper, vanilla, and oak. It finishes with a warming spicy rye heat, and vanilla, aged oak, brown sugar, and leather are sprinkled throughout.

Blood Oath Pact No. 5 is a mix of sweet and spicy that results in an overall easy drinking and enjoyable sip. While the barrel finished 8 year old bourbon has the biggest impact on the bourbon’s flavor profile, the 11 and 13 year old bourbons help bring balance. As a result, this influence is an enhancer versus a dominating factor throughout the sip. For those who enjoy a slightly sweeter bourbon, Blood Oath Pact No. 5 will help scratch that itch. It’s billed as a limited run product, but thankfully many will have any opportunity to try this as 15,000 cases were produced, for a total of 45,000 bottles.  

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

Written By: Jordan
Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2019-01 “Teresa’s Batch”

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Jim Beam

Proof: 125.9

Age: 6 Years, 3 Months, 1 Day

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

MSRP: $80 (2019)

Official Website

Booker’s Bourbon’s first batch of 2019 is named in honor of Teresa Wittemer, a 30+ year veteran at Jim Beam, and selected by Booker Noe to work on his namesake brand. During her career she has worked in the quality control department and became well acquainted with Noe’s desired flavor profile. She now helps his son, Fred Noe, select batches of Booker’s Bourbon and maintain the distinct flavor profile that the brand has become known for.

When the company moved to named batches, they began to experiment playing within Booker’s desired flavor profile. While never straying too far from the line, Fred has found interesting ways to offer Booker’s Bourbon drinkers a reason to pick up different batches. They’ve never quite tasted night and day different from one another, but fans of the brand will probably notice the biggest differences over casual Booker’s drinkers.

“Teresa’s Batch” opens with a burst of sweet caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar. Oak is layered upon these flavors and presents an extremely sweet and sugary aroma. The palate features much more spice against its sweet base of caramel and vanilla. Like the nose, brown sugar is also quite prevalent in the palate, but balanced against notes of chestnut, seasoned oak, and baking spice. It finishes hot like you’d expect from any Booker’s Bourbon batch and brings with it additional notes of roasted peanuts, nutmeg, and leather.

Booker’s Bourbon maintains its track record of quietly releasing batches that are satisfying and well crafted. They don’t quite get the attention or reach the heights of say a good Barrell Bourbon batch sometimes does, but more often than not, any named batch of Booker’s Bourbon is a solid drinker.

‍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.

Written By: Eric
Belle Meade Bourbon Honey Cask Finish 2019

Classification: Bourbon finished in Belle Meade Single Barrel Bourbon barrels that were also used to age Trubee Barrel Aged Honey

Company: Nelson's Green Brier Distillery

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 111.8

Age: NAS on bottle; 11 years stated on website

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $125 (2019)

Official Website

Belle Meade Bourbon Honey Cask Finish is part of Belle Meade’s Craftsman Cask Collection. This series features limited edition spirits that can only be found at the distillery gift shop. To create the Honey Cask Finish, Belle Meade gave used 11 year Belle Meade single barrel bourbon barrels to Trubee Honey. Trubee Honey filled these bourbon barrels with local wildflower honey, and after dumping the honey, returned the barrels to Belle Meade. Belle Meade then refilled the barrels with 11 year old high rye bourbon (30% rye) again and let them rest for a few months before finally bottling the bourbon.

Unlike an artificially sweetened bourbon that some distilleries release, Belle Meade Honey Cask Finish nails the balance between the honey influence and the underpinning bourbon that originally went into the barrel. Sweet on the nose, vanilla, wild flowers, honey, and a dash of cinnamon mix with aged oak. The honey influence is clearly evident, as the palate is full of rich sweet sugars. Honey, vanilla, and a massive dose of cinnamon pull through. The finish is long and drawing, full of baking spices, honey, and a sweet rich cinnamon spice that leaves a warming heat.

I’m a big fan of distilleries experimenting. The end result may not always be great, but no matter what, it’s fun to see how they turn out. In this case, Belle Meade Honey Cask Finish is one of the more unique bourbons I’ve had in awhile. The honey influence is clear from start to finish, and imparts an unusually deep influence to the bourbon that you probably wouldn’t get by just blending bourbon and honey together. Kudos to Belle Meade for going out on a limb and trying this type of experimentation as the end result is really great, and makes me wish this would become a permanent product line from them.

‍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.

Written By: Jordan
Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon - 2016 Batch #1

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 120

Age: Under 4 Years

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

MSRP: $93 (2019)

Official Website

Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon doesn’t look like a typical bourbon. Adorned in upscale packaging with a small, understated side label and rounded shoulders offset by a copper medallion and heavy copper stopper, it feels different. Like seeing a European sports car amid a range of more familiar pickup trucks, muscle cars, and the like. Rolling the bourbon around in the bottle I can see a healthy amount of sediment - a pleasing attribute as it typically means the bourbon has been minimally filtered. I later learned it was not filtered at all.

The bourbon is full bodied on the nose, with apple, summer fruits, and sweet caramel emanating from the glass. On the sip, it has a viscous, oily consistency. There’s a healthy dose of spice in the form of cinnamon and black pepper. The spice is countered by sweet black currants. As the spice fades, a summer fruit sweetness comes into play on the lingering finish.

Overall it’s robust, full-flavored, and unique tasting. There are echoes of youth, but not in the same way you might usually describe a young tasting bourbon. Rather, the lack of typical barrel and wood notes suggests youth - there is an absence of typical higher aged elements as opposed to a presence of the typical lesser aged flavors.

The side label bears a small gold signature - Ray Walker. Intrigued by the bottle design and flavor profile, I was excited to speak with Walker about this inaugural release. Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon is Walker's comeback story, but also a new beginning that honors Walker’s past with a family history that, according to Walker, has roots in Kentucky. Walker’s experience making wine - a spectacular rise to the top and fall to the bottom - is now being transitioned to his bourbon. His goal is exploration into the not-so-typical. In this case, a mashbill of more than 70% corn, less than 20% rye, and more than 10% malted barley (exact percentages were not disclosed), combined with a copper pot still, aging in french oak barrels, and then bottling at cask strength with no filtering results in something with a not-so-typical flavor profile. The current batch of 12 barrels, with a 3,000 bottle yield, is the first of many. Walker seeks to experiment, and see where each release - the aim being keeping them small - takes him.

Batch 1 is unique, and despite its young age really intrigued me. While it is pricey for a young bourbon, if you’re looking for something not-so-typical this fits the bill.

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

Written By: Nick
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