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August 2021
ROUNDUP

Redwood Empire Emerald Giant Rye

Classification: Rye

Company: Redwood Empire Distilling

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery[ies] in California and Indiana

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malt Barley

Color: Light Copper

MSRP: $35 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Pine | Rye spice | Light oak | Anise | Faint dill | Intriguing soiree of scents

Palate: Rye spice | Green peppercorn | Sweet oak | Bold spice plays nicely with a touch of sweet

Finish: Light rye spice | Oak | Dab of leather & tobacco leaf | White peppercorn | Lingering heat

Redwood Empire Distilling is in the heart of the Russian River Valley wine region in Sonoma County, California. Emerald Giant is aptly named after the fastest growing Redwood tree in the world. With a focus on sustainability, for every bottle sold, Redwood Empire Distilling will plant a tree. The rye itself is an easy sipper that offers just the right amount of spice with an interesting cast of supporting flavors. It may not be the complex  of ryes, however, its approachable price tag along with its four year age statement makes this whiskey an easy bottle to recommend picking up.

Written By: Jordan
August 2, 2021

Heaven’s Door Highway 61 Blend

Classification: Blend of Straight Whiskey

Company: Heaven’s Door Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (from undisclosed distillery[ies])

Release Date: 2020

Proof: 95.7

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of 69% Tennessee bourbon and 31% straight rye

Color: Dark Gold

MSRP: $60 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Light marshmallow | Caramel dipped green apple | Toasted brown sugar | Baking spice | Pie crust | Rye grain spice | Inviting opening to the sip

Palate: Spiced rye | Light cinnamon | Peppercorn | Light sweet caramel | Vanilla | Slightly tannic oak | A trio of spice with a dash of oak and sweetness

Finish: Oak | Dry cinnamon | Rye spice | Dry leather | Lingering spiced heat to close things out

Heaven’s Door Highway 61 Blend began as a private blend program that Heaven Door allowed retailers to partake in. Instead of offering the choice of a single barrel, retailers created a custom blend by choosing between three different bourbons and two different ryes. The company has recently shifted away from doing custom blends and now focuses on offering a more traditional single barrel program.

The end result in this case is a bourbon that carries distinct traits of Heaven’s Door more traditional product offerings, yet manages to stand out as distinctly unique on its own. The sip opens with an intoxicating nose of rich scents that draws you in. While the mouthfeel is on the thin side, the flavors are good. While the sip is unique, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s any better than the standard Heaven’s Door offerings, and in fact, I’d be hard pressed to recommend it over those offerings. That’s not to say this is bad, it's more of a testament to the quality of the standard products Heaven’s Door puts out.

The bottle being reviewed was a blend produced by Premier Spirits out of Amherst, New York . It is bottle number 86 out of 120. The final blend chosen was 69% of Batch I05-52 bourbon and 31% of Batch B15-64 rye.

Written By: Jordan
August 3, 2021

Burnside Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Garryana Oak Barrels

Company: Eastside Distilling

Distillery: Sourced (from undisclosed distillery[ies])

Release Date: 2021

Proof: 92

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Copper

MSRP: $40 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Rye spice | Candy corn | Rustic oak | Apricot | Lightly floral

Palate: Fig | Honey | Light caramel | Grass | Pine

Finish: Cedar | Malt | Pepper | Touch of smoke | Scotchy

Located in Portland, Oregon, Eastside Distilling sources their whiskey but utilizes unique techniques to add their own fingerprint to their products. Burnside Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon is a blend of four straight whiskeys that is finished for 45 days in casks made with Oregon white oak from the Quercus Garryana tree species. While finishing in wine casks or other spirit casks is common, finishing in casks made with unique wood is an entirely different beast.

The nose only gives slight hints of the distinctness that is to come, with the sip immediately revealing its quirkiness. Unique oak finishes are rarely in your face and instead are more nuanced, offering shades of subtlety. Burnside Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon follows this path and its flavor profile has a lot in common with scotch, especially its finish. Overall it's an easygoing and approachable sipper, offering acute tweaks to what you’d expect from a typical straight bourbon.

Written By: Eric
August 5, 2021

Still Austin Cask Strength Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Still Austin Whiskey Co.

Distillery: Still Austin Whiskey Co.

Release Date: 2021

Proof: 118

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 70% Non-GMO White Corn, 25% Elbon Rye and 5% Wildfire Malted Barley

Color: Gold

MSRP: $65 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel | Vanilla | Cinnamon | Brown sugar | Light citrus | Oak | Light intensity

Palate: Cinnamon | Maple sugar candy | Caramel chews | Textured body

Finish: Spice & heat intensifies | Caramel | Cherry | Slightly herbal | Seasoned oak | Long

Still Austin Whiskey Co. is definitely an up-and-coming distillery you immediately want to root for. Located in Austin, Texas, production is led by head distiller John Schrepel, a New Yorker who “adjusted to the Texas heat,” he says. The company credits much of their success to guidance provided by industry experts Nancy Fraley and Mike Delavante. Incidentally, they also affectionately refer to their custom 42-foot column still as “Nancy,” though the reference has nothing to do with Fraley, instead named after the main character in the sci-fi classic "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman." But you might have already known that if you read our review of their ongoing standard release, “The Musician” bourbon.

With Still Austin’s Cask Strength release, the nose is strangely just as temperd as their standard 98.4 proof release, but it's during the palate and finish that things get ramped up. Adding a nice texture to the body and now sporting a longer finish, it takes a lot of what is great about their standard release and intensifies it. Of course that is generally a given when talking about a cask strength bourbon, but Still Austin got on our radar because of the maturity their 2 year old bourbon displays. Much like their lower proof bourbon, Cask Strength could use some more complexity as it currently wears what it has on its sleeve. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to enjoy here, as this is a craft distillery we continually keep our eyes on.

Written By: Eric
August 9, 2021

Burnside Bourbon Casked Rye

Classification: Rye Finished in Bourbon Casks

Company: Eastside Distilling

Distillery: Sourced (from undisclosed distillery[ies])

Release Date: 2021

Proof: 110

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $40 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Rye Spice | Creme brulee | Wintergreen | Light strawberry cream

Palate: Rye Spice | Vanilla custard | Pine | Apple crumble | Light strawberry cream | Buttery mouthfeel

Finish: Baking spice | Oak | Slightly dry | Touch of malt | Scotchy aftertaste

Eastside Distilling states that they are the country's first and only publicly traded craft distillery. Their reach is ever growing, acquiring Big Bottom Distilling, owning their own bottle and can companies, along with owning Azuñia Tequila. They are upfront, declaring Burnside Whiskey doesn’t distill their own whiskey and instead focus on finishing their blends in unique 60 gallon casks made with Oregon white oak from the Quercus Garryana tree species.

Despite their Burnside Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon only being finished for 45 days, the impact the unique oak has on the bourbon is pronounced. For their Bourbon Casked Rye, they take their blended rye and finish it in those same used Burnside Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon casks.

The result is a whiskey that quickly grows on you. Potent rye spice contrasted by custard and pine with a very enjoyable buttery mouthfeel makes it mark. The Oregon white oak cask finish surprisingly doesn’t get lost with the extra layers of complexity, and is most noticeable on the aftertaste. It adds just enough spin to the traditional rye and bourbon flavors present, coming together to offer an interesting and never boring pour.

Written By: Eric
August 10, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Batch 029

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

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

Release Date: July 2021

Proof: 115.88

Age: 6 Years (blend of 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, and 16 year old barrels per company website)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $90 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Cinnamon stick | Brown sugar | Stewed apples | Dried apricot | Light spice caps it off

Palate: Tropical fruit | Maple sugar candy | Barrel char | Dark chocolate | Caramel | Vanilla | Nutty | Spicy mix develops on the backend | Rich & robust but not overly hot

Finish: Spice intensifies & lingers forming a base for other flavors | Caramel | Crescent rolls | Tobacco on the backend | Long

According to Barrell Craft Spirits, the base of Batch 029 is composed of a blend of Indiana bourbons, expanded with 6 and 7 year old rye grain Kentucky bourbons, 9 and 10 year old wheated Kentucky bourbons, and finally accented with a small amount of 6, 14, and 16 year old Tennessee bourbons. In addition to its inherent complexity, the blend does not taste like it specifically originates from any of the aforementioned states - most notably Tennessee which can have a distinct identifying flavor note. While some of Barrell Craft Spirits’ Bourbon Batch releases lean more heavily into a particular flavor note, Batch 029 offers a range of different flavors that all come together while still maintaining a familiar-enough bourbon-centric base to satisfying results. Barrell Craft Spirits continues their streak of releasing ”worth seeking out” bourbons with Batch 029.

Written By: Nick
August 11, 2021

Copper Sky Wheated Bourbon (Batch 6)

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Copper Sky Distillery

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 98.9

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 51% Corn, 45% Wheat, 4% Malted Barley

Color: Amber

MSRP: $40 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel | Herbal note | Summer fruit | Light & traditional

Palate: Plum | Vanilla | Caramel | Touch of cinnamon bark | Easy sipping

Finish: Sweet flavors envelope diminishing spice | Caramel chews | Sweet cinnamon candy | Medium length

Located in Longmont, Colorado, Copper Sky Distillery was founded by author and entrepreneur Mike Root. Wheated Bourbon Batch 6 clocks in a few years younger than their inaugural batch, however you would never guess it was only three years old. A notably straightforward affair, the bourbon isn’t particularly memorable though it is quite pleasant. Offering a focus on the sweeter notes, Batch 6 will surely please those seeking a sweet, easy-sipper.

Written By: Nick
August 12, 2021

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Redwood Empire Distilling

Distillery: Undisclosed distilleries in California, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: NAS (Websites states contains bourbon aged between 4-12 years)

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 21% Raw Rye, 4% Malt Barley

Color: Gold

MSRP: $35 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel | Oak | Vanilla | Light maple | Classic bourbon aroma with little fanfare

Palate: Roasted mixed nuts | Toasted oak | Caramel | Very smooth & buttery

Finish: Dry oak | Pepper | Lingering strawberry rhubarb aftertaste

Redwood Empire’s Pipe Dream Bourbon gets its name from the 14th tallest tree on the planet. Like its namesake, Redwood Empire has lofty goals with their first bourbon brand crafting a blend of bourbons from four different states with a wide range of ages.

I’m not sure if Redwood Empire’s goal was to create a quintessential bourbon flavor profile, but they certainly nailed it if that was the case. Pipe Dream Bourbon is mainly a straightforward bourbon that nails the caramel/vanilla/oak trio with expert precision. Easy sipping and inoffensive in every way, Redwood Empire nails being an every-person bourbon. That decision ends up being a double edged sword, as it makes the bourbon a bit on the boring side, lacking much excitement besides its delightful strawberry rhubarb aftertaste. The bourbon will probably work best as a gift to a budding bourbon drinker that will be equally impressed by the out-of-the-mainstream selection and enchanting label design. For more experienced drinkers, despite its straightforwardness, it gets a few bonus points for its amazingly smooth and buttery consistency. For its price, it's hard to beat the value it offers.

Written By: Eric
August 13, 2021

Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey

Classification: Whiskey

Company: Pabst Brewing Company

Distillery: Pabst Brewing Company

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 80

Age: 5 Seconds

Mashbill: 52% Corn, 27% Malted Barley, 17% Wheat, 4% Rye

Color: Clear

MSRP: $20 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Light corn | White peach | Light grain | White peppercorn | Crisp apple | Surprisingly fresh and crisp

Palate: Peach | Corn | Light malted barley | Grains pull through more | Straightforward

Finish:  Flash of peach | Dry corn & grain | White peppercorn | Light heat

Jacob Best was a German immigrant who went to Milwaukee to brew beer in 1844 with his sons. This endeavour would eventually end up releasing Pabst Blue Ribbon, the beer that has seen a resurgence in popularity. Coming out of left field to many, the company decided to release a whiskey. The mashbill is made of ingredients Best would have had access to in 1844. To avoid being classified as moonshine, the company “ages” it for 5 seconds in a barrel, thus allowing it to be classified as whiskey by the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bhreau (TTB). Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey is being produced in collaboration with New Holland Brewing Co.

The company states that they created “this whiskey to be drunk, not judged. Just like our beer.” Yet any product that is being charged a price for deserves some judgement. I’ve had many white whiskey/white dog/moonshine...whatever your choice of name is over the years. While a good majority have been on the harsher side, others have been surprisingly well rounded, offering a solid glimpse of the whiskey's potential. Surprisingly, Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey falls solidly in the later camp.

The whiskey’s nose is bright and lively with an unexpected hint of peach and crisp apples which provide for a welcome opening. The palate follows suit providing a less complex but equally enjoyable midpoint of the sip. The finish is the weakest part, ending the sip on the realization that this is a white whiskey afterall and can only stretch its raw ingredients so far. While the “aged for 5 seconds” slogan is clearly gimmicky, the whiskey in the bottle is not, showing more lively flavors than I expected to encounter. I find myself shocked saying this, but I would actually like to see what this whiskey would taste like with a few years of age on it. In the meantime, it seems best suited for some summertime whiskey cocktails.

Written By: Jordan
August 16, 2021

Walker’s Cay Straight Bourbon

Name: Walker’s Cay Straight Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished with Sherry Cask Staves

Company: King Spirits, LLC

Distillery: Green River Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

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

Color: Light Rose Gold

MSRP: $35 (2021)

No Official Website

Nose: Bright vanilla | Lively summer fruit | Plum | Floral | Hint of spice | Pleasant & inviting

Palate: Ripe pear | Brown sugar | Fig | Easy to sip

Finish: Flash of rye spice | Sweet caramel | Orange peel | Medium length

Walker’s Cay whiskey pays homage to Walker’s Cay, which is a 100 acre island located 53 miles to the northeast of West End, Grand Bahama and 105 miles northeast of Jupiter, Florida, in the northern Bahamas. According to the company, proceeds from every bottle directly help the Bahamian community.

Light, sweet, and with a hint towards fruit and floral notes, Walker’s Cay’s strength lies in its combination of drinkability and subtle complexity, making for a flavor profile that is unlikely to offend anybody. Sourced from an undisclosed distillery (or distilleries) in Kentucky and then finished with sherry staves, Walker’s Cay is different enough to take note of and will satisfy new and experienced bourbon drinkers alike.

Written By: Nick
August 19, 2021

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch Proof Bourbon (Spring 2021 Release)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: Woodford Reserve Distillery/Brown-Forman Distillery

Release Date: March 2021

Proof: 128.3

Age: NAS

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

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $130 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Pecan pie | Confectioner’s sugar | Semisweet chocolate | Thick oak

Palate: Marshmallow | Graham crackers | Semisweet chocolate | Charred oak

Finish: Robust oak | Leather | Dark berries | Very mild tannins

It was quite exciting when Woodford Reserve finally released their Batch Proof Bourbon in 2018. Unfortunately, a lackluster showing and high price tempted the excitement rather quickly. With a few batches now behind them, Woodford released their highest proof yet in 2021 - and boy what a difference it makes.

With the company in love with the 90.4 proof point, any chance to taste Woodford’s bourbon at a higher proof is always a tantalizing prospect. Despite being only a few proof points higher than some prior Batch Proof releases, 2021’s release of 128.3 proof is impactful. From its delightful s’mores focused palate, to its robust and thick sweet oak running throughout, this year's Batch Proof finally hits the mark. If you’ve shied away from this $130 barrel proof bourbon that never quite felt like a limited release, this is finally the year that it makes a case for its price...and a spot on your shelf if it's not too late to find a bottle.

Written By: Eric
August 23, 2021

Elijah Craig Beer Barrel Finish (2020 Release)

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Beer Barrels

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: September 2020

Proof: 94

Age: NAS bourbon finished in beer barrels for 9 months

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

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $40 (200 ml) (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Chocolate malt | Baking chocolate | Caramel | Hints of vanilla | Rich with clear barrel finish influence

Palate: Chocolate beer | Barely | Aged oak | Pop of rye spice | Clear beer barrel influence

Finish: Rye spice | Leather | Light sweet chocolate | Lingering heat | Light oak | Nice contrast of flavors

Elijah Craig Beer Barrel Finish is a unique collaboration between Heaven Hill and Goose Island Brewery out of Chicago. To create the 2020 version of this bourbon, Elijah Craig Small Batch barrels were dumped and sent to Goose Island to age their Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. This beer would eventually be released on Black Friday, 2018. Three barrels used to create the beer were then sent back to Heaven Hill, where according to the packaging, they were filled with Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon for an additional 9 months before being bottled in 200ml bottles.

The resulting bourbon is something incredibly distinct from your standard Elijah Craig Small Batch. Gone is your classic bourbon flavor that Elijah Craig Small Batch is so well known for. In its place is a rich chocolatey swirl of flavors that clearly showcases the beer barrel finish influence on this bourbon. It reminds me a lot of War Penny Krogh's Stout Beer Barrel Finish Bourbon, however since the base bourbon used has more age on it, the resulting bourbon is more refined. While priced high at $40 for a 200ml bottle, if you’re a lover of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, or just beer barrel finished bourbon in general, this is one you’ll want to check out.

Written By: Jordan
August 24, 2021

St. Elmo Straight Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon with Dark Cherry & Bourbon Vanilla Beans

Company: St. Elmo Steak House

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 88

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 54% Corn, 36% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Ruby

MSRP: $35 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Dark chocolate | Vanilla bean | Black cherry | Light brown sugar & oak | Non traditional yet inviting opening

Palate: Strong cherry syrup | Crushed black cherries | Vanilla | Two dimensional with a viscous mouthfeel

Finish: Cherry syrup | Light vanilla | Flash of baking chocolate | Peppercorn spice | Sweet

St. Elmo’s Steak House is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and is the oldest Indianapolis steakhouse in its original location, having opened its doors in 1902. While St. Elmo’s is famously known for being a favorite of Peyton Manning during his time as quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, it is also well known for their famous Elmo Cola. This drink consists of ice, 2 ounces of St. Elmo Bourbon, cola, and a two cherry garnish. Simple in nature, it’s the twist in how St. Elmo’s bourbon is made that makes it unique.

According to Elliot Dixon of Huse Culinary, the restaurant and retail food group that owns and operates St. Elmo’s, “the barrels are dumped and then we add the cherry and natural vanilla bean, if you see floaters at the bottom of your bottle – that is why.” This gives the bourbon a unique flavor profile providing a good base for simpler cocktails. The company states that St. Elmo’s Bourbon “is often served on the rocks with a dash of bitters for a Manhattan or the way we serve it in St. Elmo Steak House with a splash of cola to recreate our signature Elmo Cola.”

So how does the whiskey taste neat? While it may not be finished in a secondary barrel, it reminds me of the bourbon equivalent of Angel’s Envy Rye. Ultimately, it is a bourbon that needs to be judged by its overall capabilities versus its standalone sip. As a sipping whiskey, the cherry syrup flavor profile dominates, creating a sickly sweet bourbon that will instantly produce a love it or hate it reaction. However, if used as the company recommends, and it's mixed with cola or a just few dashes of bitters, the bourbon transforms into a fantastic cocktail bourbon. These characteristics are why it made the cut for our Ultimate Valentine’s Day Whiskey Drink Guide. As long as you know your end use for it, this whiskey has serious potential.

Written By: Jordan
August 26, 2021

Remus Repeal Reserve Series V Straight Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Luxco

Distillery: G. Remus Distilling Co. (MGP)

Release Date: September 2021

Proof: 100

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 9% 2005 Bourbon (21% Rye), 5% 2006 Bourbon (36% Rye), 19% 2006 Bourbon (21% Rye), 13% 2008 Bourbon (21% Rye), 54% 2008 Bourbon (36% Rye)

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $90 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Fruity caramel | Raspberries | Strawberry | Apple | Sweet corn | Mellow oak | Bright & inviting

Palate: Caramel | Oak | Cream soda | Dried figs | Light ginger | Touch of honey | Soft & gentle

Finish: Tobacco leaf | Leathery oak | Slightly dry | A dash of walnut

Now in its fifth release, Remus Repeal Reserve is MGP’s premier limited edition brand. Utilizing many different bourbon mashbills, the company creates a bespoke blend that is meant to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and honor one of the oldest distilleries in the United States.

During its first few sips, Remus Repeal Reserve Straight Bourbon hits you hard with a strong front of caramel and oak. Tasting neither particularly young or old, it settles on an enjoyable middle ground, demonstrating maturity without the typical mustiness that comes with it. With ample time to open up, the whiskey reveals an interesting collection of flavor notes. Absent any real fruit or overly sweet notes (somewhat of an oddity these days), Remus Repeal Reserve is instead an experience of intrigue. Discovering notes of cream soda and dried figs, combined with ginger and honey make for a fascinating flavor profile. The finish contrasts this by leaning heavily on a classic style of leather, tobacco, and of course, oak.

What comes across at first as an overly convoluted blend of bourbons - which you still have to give the company props for sharing this information - translates into a unique sipper. I wasn’t overly wowed initially, as I discovered, this is a bourbon that takes some time to get to “know.” This should find an audience with more experienced drinkers that want to take the time to dissect it and come away with a better understanding of what makes this bourbon tick.

Written By: Eric
August 30, 2021

Blackened x Willett Straight Rye Finished in Madeira Casks

Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Madeira Casks

Company: Sweet Amber Ventures

Distillery: Willett Distillery

Release Date: August 25, 2021

Proof: 109.6

Age: NAS (Press release states whiskey is as old as 8 years with an average of 6.5 years)

Mashbill: Exact percentages undisclosed (Blend of high rye and low rye mashbills according to their press release)

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $140 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Red raspberries | Strawberry | Mint | Charred oak | Faint anise | Touch of smoke

Palate: Brown sugar | Strawberry rhubarb | Oak | Hint of grape

Finish: Rhubarb | Fig | Plum | Charred oak | Spice

Blackened x Willett marks the launch of Blackened’s Masters of Whiskey Series which showcases the talents of renowned whiskey makers utilizing the company’s trademarked BLACK NOISE sonic enhancement finishing process. Given the name of the whiskey, Backened x Willett, it's easy to assume this is Backened’s whiskey finished in ex-Willett barrels instead of their standard black brandy casks, but come to find out it's not that at all, and in fact so much more.

This is a hands-on collaboration between Blackened’s master distiller and blender Rob Dietrich and Willett’s master distiller Drew Kulsveen. The duo selected a range of high rye and low rye Willett rye whiskey barrels that average 6.5 years old and go as high as 8 years old. This bespoke blend is then finished in Madeira casks for 14 weeks and subjected to the company’s proprietary BALCK NOISE process that uses low hertz frequencies from Metallica's music to vibrate the barrels as they age.  

Much like aging whiskey on a boat, truck, cold or hot climate, or even outer space, regardless of how you feel about the BLACK NOISE process, subjecting barrels to additional vibration or outside effects is bound to have some effect on the whiskey. Nevertheless, Blackened x Willett is an impressive sip. Immediately making an impact, this wine finished rye whiskey gets its barrel finishing right. Excellent intensity, paired with colorful tasting notes from both the rye and wine casks, creates an end product that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a crowd pleasing whiskey from start to finish.

Written By: Eric
August 31, 2021
The samples used for these reviews were provided at no cost courtesy of their respective companies. We thank them for allowing us to review them with no strings attached.
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