June 2021

Ridgeline Barrel Aged Vermont Whiskey (Batch 17)

Classification: Whiskey

Company: Appalachian Gap Distillery

Distillery: Appalachian Gap Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 98

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 45% Barley, 30% Corn, 25% Rye

Color: Light Amber

MSRP: $40 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Fresh distillate | Apricot | Scotch | Ethanol

Palate: Summer fruit | Malt | Light raisin | Baking spice | Youthful & off balance

Finish: Grass | Malt | Slight nuttiness | Figs | Light spice

Ridgeline is Appalachian Gap Distillery’s premier whiskey, and according to the label “the reason we started Appalachian Gap Distillery” with each batch is intended to be unique, and unique this whiskey certainly is. It dances with fruit, spice, and sweet notes, and even maybe some flavor more typical in scotch or Irish whiskey, but these flavors don’t work in harmony with one another. There is also a rather prominent youthful note throughout, and combined with the competing range of flavors it’s just too much. Without the youthful note, the range of flavors might work better together. Unfortunately, the whiskey struggles to find balance and combined with the prominent youthful note doesn’t hit the mark I believe Appalachian Gap is going for. I would love to see how this comes together with more aging, and with a keener eye towards keeping the array of flavors working in unison with one another as the whiskey certainly shows potential.

Written By: Nick
June 1, 2021

Ranger Creek .44 Rye Whiskey

Classification: Rye Aged in Used Bourbon Barrels

Company: Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling

Distillery: Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 94

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 100% Malted Rye

Color: Gold

MSRP: $50 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Hay | Raspberries | Toffee | Whipped cream | Light herbal note | Overall light

Palate: Mellow rye spice | Fresh mint | Caramel | Wildflower honey | Creamy & mellow

Finish: Strawberry rhubarb pie | Fresh baked bread | Slight ramp up in heat & spice | Light youthful grain aftertaste

I love that more distilleries - especially craft ones - are going all in on malting their rye. It’s a fun divergence from the rye’s classic spicy flavor profile that insead softens everything across the board. In a way, it’s almost an anti-rye if there was such a thing. Ranger Creek out of San Antonio, Texas, has been working on this rye for some time, releasing it in incremental stages with it now hitting the two year mark. At this stage, it's an incredibly easy-sipping rye due in large part to its malted rye mashbill, but also having been aged in used bourbon barrels. Yet, its youth still comes across, not in strong youthful notes, but in its overall complexity. Its flavors work well in tandem, and it sports a great mouthfeel, but it just needs a little more time to fully blossom. I don’t doubt Texas’ hot climate will make short work of that.

Written By: Eric
June 3, 2021

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Spring 2021

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: April 2021

Proof: 100

Age: 8 Years

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 20% Wheat, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Chestnut

MSRP: $85

Official Website

Nose: Brown sugar butter | Toasted cinnamon | Fresh cut oak | Vanilla wafer | Traditional bourbon scents with a twist

Palate: Vanilla brown sugar | Cream | Underlying light summer fruits | Hint of peach | Light syrup | Peppercorn spice | Light sugary fruit flavors are highlighted

Finish: Flash of brown sugar | White peppercorn | Dry oak | White peach | Light leather | Grounded flavors pull forward in a lighter overall finish

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is a twice yearly release of varying aged bourbon. For the spring 2021 release, Heaven Hill chose to bottle an 8 year old bourbon for the first time in the series. The end result is simply a classic pour which highlights brown sugar and sweeter notes intertwined with hints of fruit. It’s a sip that draws you back in for more, not because any one part is particularly outstanding, but instead due to the overall well-roundedness of the whiskey. This is a bourbon that is incredibly easy to sip, and the bottle will be sure to go fast once cracked open.

Written By: Jordan
June 7, 2021

Kings County Barrel Strength 6 Year Blender’s Reserve Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Kings County Distillery

Distillery: Kings County Distillery

Release Date: May 2021

Proof: 140

Age: 6 Years

Mashbill: 80% Corn, 20% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Mahogany

MSRP: $125 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Warm maple syrup | Dark burnt caramel | Butterscotch | Amaretto | Coffee bean | Barrel char | Potent but nowhere near as you’d expect

Palate: Fig | Cherry rhubarb | Vanilla extract | Baking spice | Dark brown sugar | Touch of mint | Hot

Finish: Quick drop in heat | Heavy oak | Leather | Lingering molasses

Finding a 140 proof bourbon is always a treat (in a sort of masochist kind of way). When Kings County released a 300 bottle allotment of their 6 year old bourbon, I jumped at the chance to try it without even taking notice of its proof. Having reviewed their 3+ year old Barrel Strength Bourbon and also their 4 year old Bottled in Bond Bourbon, Kings County is on their way to becoming a standout distillery putting out an equally standout product. Like many distilleries, I had been waiting for them to release an older whiskey, not because their younger products are flawed, but because greatness seemed to await them.  

Kings County Barrel Strength 6 Year Blender’s Reserve is proof of that. Incredibly rich - which is sort of a given based on its proof - it further brings with it a deepening of all of the brand’s typical flavor notes, while adding complexity. Strangely, at 140 proof it isn’t a barn burner. While hot, it’s oddly tame given past experiences with ultra high proof bourbons. This was also a release that benefited greatly from having been open for a week which allowed the whiskey to open up and blossom (tasted on multiple occasions during this time). The whiskey started incredibly tight, where its proof got in the way of its flavors. Over a short amount of time a reversal occurred and a balancing took place.  

Having just tasted multiple barrels of Kings County slightly younger than this release, confirms that the distillery has a lot of great whiskey forthcoming. Kings County Barrel Strength 6 Year Blender’s Reserve is a great example of this and a standout product on its own.

Written By: Eric
June 8, 2021

Bluegrass Distillers Wheated Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Bluegrass Distillers

Distillery: Bluegrass Distillers

Release Date: April 2021

Proof: 100

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: 75% Yellow Corn, 21% Wheat, 4% Malted Barley

Color: Light Bronze

MSRP: $50 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Corn | Youthful grain | Brown sugar | Oak | Faint carmel | Overall youthfulness in the scent compositions

Palate: Baked bread | Peppery spice | Sharp tannic oak | Wheat grain | Sharp spice throws off the softer baked flavors

Finish: Toasted caramel | Fresh bread | White peppercorn | Lingering smoked oak that lasts for minutes on end

Bluegrass Distillers Wheated Bottled-in-Bond is the follow up to the distillery’s first bottled in bond release in July of 2020, and the company’s first wheated bottled in bond product. This Small Batch Wheated Bourbon release is a blend of 4 barrels aged 4.5 years, totalling 920 bottles for the release. The resulting whiskey displays the wheat grain within its mashbill with flavors of baked bread and sugars. These however battle with youthful notes and a sharp spice in the palate that slightly throws things off. It’s an interesting combination that begs for just a bit more time in the barrel.

The bourbon being reviewed is from batch 1, bottle #693.

Written By: Jordan
June 10, 2021

Lost Lantern Single Cask #9

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Lost Lantern

Distillery: New York Distilling Company

Release Date: March 2021

Proof: 117.2

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: 75% Rye, 15% Corn, 10% Malted Barley

Color: Light Copper

MSRP: $70 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Baking chocolate | Rye grain | Malt | Cinnamon bubble gum | Light curry powder | An intriguing scent combination that piques your interest

Palate: Bright sweet cinnamon | Underlying oak notes | Raisins | Faint leather | Bubble gum sweetness | Vanilla | Rye spice

Finish: Burst of rye spice | Light oak | White peppercorn | Lingering heat | One dimensional | Long lasting heat

The company announced Single Cask #9 as part of their Spring 2021 release with this particular cask producing a scant 133 bottles. The resulting whiskey delivers an enjoyable sip that drinks below its proof. The nose is full of untraditional flavors, specifically a distinct scent of curry powder, that may sound weird, but plays nicely with the other scents surrounding it. This is in contrast with the rest of the sip which is slightly more traditional, focusing on spice and sweetness. The only fault is the finish, which relies too heavily on its more one-dimensional rye spice characteristic and results in an incredibly lingering heat. Overall, Lost Lantern Single Cask #9 will please most whiskey drinkers, especially those who are chasing a more unique rye.

Written By: Jordan
June 14, 2021

Lost Lantern Single Cask #8 Balcones Distilling

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Lost Lantern

Distillery: Balcones Distillery

Release Date: Spring 2021

Proof: 126.8

Age: 2 Years, 2 Months

Mashbill: 100% Roasted Blue Corn

Color: Dark Amber

MSRP: $90 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Deep rich caramel | Overcooked cinnamon buns | Maple syrup | Sweet corn | Barrel char | Very rich and warming

Palate: Warm maple syrup | Roasted chestnuts | Buttered pecans | Touch of chocolate malt

Finish: Dark chocolate | Barrel char | Tobacco | Cinnamon | Lingering maple syrup

Lost Lantern is a non-distiller producer (NDP) that sources their whiskey from multiple distilleries from around the country. While this is nothing new, what differentiates them is that they hand select the barrels and either create new blends combining whiskeys from multiple distilleries, or in their Single Cask series, highlight a particular distillery with the name of the distillery on the bottle’s label.

Having had many whiskeys from Balcones Distillery, I wasn’t sure what Lost Lantern Single Cask #8 was going to offer me. Why involve a second party and not just get it from the horse's mouth? It became clear rather quickly that there is value in curation. Single Cask #8 is incredibly bold and rich with its wealth of dark and roasted flavors and a deep barrel char. This is a dark bourbon both in color and taste.

It’s amazing Balcones was able to get this deep color and intensity of flavors out of a bourbon that was aged for only 2 years in full size barrels. A lot of that probably has to do with roasting the blue corn to an insane degree, but in the end it doesn’t quite matter, because it works. The cask chosen for this release produced a total of 199 bottles.

Written By: Eric
June 29, 2021

Coalition Barrel Proof Straight Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Coalition Whiskey, Inc.

Distillery: Kentucky Artisan Distillery

Release Date: January 2021

Proof: 108.8

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 90% Rye, 10% Malted Rye

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $130 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Apricot | Pear | Rye spice | Earthy undertone | Bread dough | Touch of heat

Palate: Summer fruit | Green apple | Baking spices | Sourdough bread | Dry leather | Heat amplifies

Finish: Heat transitions from the palate | Fruity undertones with a surge of rye | Spice lingers with a trace of sweet burnt brown sugar on the backend

Coalition Whiskey certainly draws your eye with their unique art deco bottle design. The whiskey follows suit, with a 100% rye mashbill (10% of which is malted) along with a variety of finishes. Unlike Coalition’s other whiskeys, their barrel proof rye is not finished, instead focusing on the intensity of flavors created by Kentucky Artisan Distillery in Crestwood, Kentucky.

At 108.8 proof this rye is surprisingly intense, with an ample amount of spicy heat present throughout. An unusual earthy undertone reminiscent of bread or fresh dough accents other more traditional fruit and spice notes enough to give pause. While this deviation from the norm will surely draw comment among whiskey drinkers, most would agree it is an intensely unique rye whiskey.

Written By: Nick
June 15, 2021

Henry A. Sipes’ Smoked Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Hard Truth Distilling Co.

Distillery: Undisclosed Distillery(ies) in Indiana

Release Date: January 2021

Proof: 90

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Tawny Brown

MSRP: $68 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel | Vanilla | Light barrel char | Cigar box | Campfire

Palate: Loads of smokiness | Graham cracker | Toasted marshmallow | Cocoa | Burnt brown sugar

Finish: Smokiness dissipates with a transition to underlying sweetness | Caramel | Molasses | Tobacco | Dry Leather

Finishing a 4 year old bourbon in smoked barrels, this limited edition 90 proof bourbon is going to more than satisfy those with a craving for bourbon with a gripping smokiness in its flavor profile. The marriage of sweet bourbon flavors and smoky campfire flavors might just be the best I’ve experienced to date, though I cannot say this is a common nion. With an ever-present smokiness, sweet and savory flavors weave in and out, even reminding me of the taste of fresh s'mores without overdoing the sweetness. In many ways, Smoked Barrel captures the wonderful smoky flavors much like a quality smoky Mezcal, while still managing to maintain the whiskey’s bourbon roots. Worth seeking out for the price if you can find one.

Written By: Nick
June 16, 2021

Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series Volume 1

Classification: Whiskey

Company: Heaven’s Door Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (from undisclosed distillery[ies])

Release Date: November 2019

Proof: 111.5

Age: 26 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Hay

MSRP: $500

Official Website

Nose: Weathered oak | Muted vanilla | Earthy | Light wafts of fungi | The age of the whiskey is prevalent and comes across as distinguished

Palate: Vanilla | White peppercorn | Light baking spice | Bold rye spice | Aged oak | Mellow honey | Medium viscosity | Its proof shines through in a multitude of various spices

Finish: Muted honey | Vanilla | Green peppercorn | Brash rye spice | Aged oak | Prickly heat that lingers

The Bootleg Series is an annual release by Heaven’s Door Spirits. For the inaugural 2019 release, labeled Volume 1, the company chose a 26 year low rye whiskey aged in Japanese Mizunara Oak Barrels. Each of the less than 3,000 bottles released is adorned with Bob Dylan’s painting, Train Tracks.

Bootleg Volume 1 is nothing short of intriguing. The use of rare (and expensive) Japanese Mizunara oak barrels and its 26 years of age results in a sip that doesn’t taste over-oaked, instead coming across as lively and spiced. The nose is full of unusual scents, while the palate is highlighted with a barrage of various spices that makes you stop to ponder what exactly you’re drinking. It’s these spicy notes that intertwine with softer flavors that elevate the sip and truly define Bootleg Volume 1. While the price tag for this volume was exorbitantly high, the resulting sip may persuade an individual into justifying the cost of admission should you ever happen to come across a bottle.

Written By: Jordan
June 17, 2021

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (Batch B521)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)

Distillery: Elijah Craig Distillery Co. (Heaven Hill)

Release Date: May 2021

Proof: 118.2

Age: 12 Years

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

Color: Light Mahogany

MSRP: $65 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Barrel char | Graham cracker | Burnt caramel | Light for the proof

Palate: Aged oak | Leather | Brown sugar | Medium intensity | Straightforward

Finish: Spice intensifies and lasts | Turns dry towards the end | Caramel sweetness develops | Long

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is one of the most reliable higher aged barrel proof bourbons you can easily find (relatively speaking, of course). Always a solid choice and always a fantastic value, it’s quite hard to go wrong. With that being said, batches do vary, and while some are true standouts, others simply stay the course. Batch B521 is a solid bourbon representative of the brand and offers a nice finish, but just like the movies, not every release is worthy of an Oscar. Batch B521 will appeal to bourbon drinkers seeking a lighter, more straightforward barrel proof pour. It offers a fine drinking experience, but not much more.

Written By: Nick
June 18, 2021

Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength Batch 6

Nose: Strawberry cream | Maraschino cherries | Vanilla | Touch of rye spice | Light grain

Palate: Rhubarb pie | Strawberry cream | Sweet corn | Brown sugar | Mild oak

Finish: Rye spice | Corn | Barrel char | Toasted nuts | Dry & hot

Continually improving the complexity of their barrel strength blends, Batch 6 offers a decidedly more exciting flavor profile over Batch 5. Initial peaks of sweetness on the palate countered by heavy spice during the finish, create an engaging sip. Much like previous batches, the bourbon is hotter than you’d expect from a 115 proof bourbon. It is most likely the result of its age, being punchy in some places and featuring light grain and mild oak in others. Overall, it's an approachable bourbon that will challenge you when you least expect it.

Written By: Eric
June 21, 2021

Thirteenth Colony Southern Rye Whiskey

Classification: Rye

Company: Thirteenth Colony Distilleries

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 95

Age: NAS (Aged 3+ years according to company website)

Mashbill: 96% Rye, 4% Malted Barley

Color: Medium Amber

MSRP: $35 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Rich caramel | Vanilla | Candy corn | Sweet & inviting

Palate: Loads of caramel | Vanilla custard | Creme brulee | Quite tasty

Finish: Rye spice develops, creeping in softly | Caramel chews | Anise | Long with lingering spice

Thirteenth Colony Distilleries lays claim to being Georgia’s original craft distillery, producing spirits since 2009. Southern Rye Whiskey is aged in new charred oak barrels with custom toasted French oak spirals, and then cut with natural water from Georgia’s oldest aquifer. This particular whiskey has a few head-scratching qualities, which is not a bad thing but surprising never-the-less.

First, while it’s made from a 96% rye mashbill, it is quite a bit more sweet than it is spicy, and the spice doesn’t develop until the finish. Second, it’s only three years old, and does not show any signs of youth at all. While it is quite tasty overall, its lack of dimension holds it back from achieving greater heights. But at $35, it’s a must buy, and the fact that it comes in a bottle reminiscent of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is either a bonus or a penalty, depending on who you ask.

Written By: Nick
June 22, 2021

Bluegrass Distillers Straight Blue Corn Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Bluegrass Distillers

Distillery: Bluegrass Distillers

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 125

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 75% Blue Corn, 21% Wheat, 4% Malted Barley

Color: Amber

MSRP: $43 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Creamed corn | Condensed milk | Ethanol | Pungent charred oak | Potent with a robust delivery of aromas

Palate: Explosion of spices | Baking spice | Hot cinnamon | Toasted oak | Cigar box | Acidic | Big & bold

Finish: Cinnamon spice | Baking spices | Super sweet caramel | Cinnamon buns | Long

Located in Lexington, Kentucky, Bluegrass Distillers was established in 2012 and began releasing their products in 2015. Offering a monstrously robust pour, this particular cask strength single barrel is unapologetic in its delivery of flavors. It’s big, bold, and brash, shocking the palate with an explosion of hot spices that borders on overly acidic. Possibly a result of the wheated mashbill, this potency doesn’t stop the bourbon from being an enjoyable pour despite its clumsiness. Sweet flavors dance with the unusual, and are encapsulated in a whirlwind of spice. It’s a bit of a monster, but one that will not be soon forgotten.

The bottle in review was barreled on 1/24/2017.

Written By: Nick
June 24, 2021

Wyoming Whiskey National Parks Limited Edition Straight Bourbon (2021 Release)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Wyoming Whiskey

Distillery: Wyoming Whiskey

Release Date: April 2021

Proof: 92

Age: 5 Years

Mashbill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley

Color: Rust

MSRP: $50 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel pudding | Flint | Fresh cut pine | Wet rocks | Leather

Palate: Dark brown sugar | Raisins | Plum | Vanilla | Floral | Dry malt

Finish: Toffee | Delicate baking spice | Touch of cola | Slight cinnamon spicy

Wyoming Whiskey takes its namesake to heart, as this isn’t just a whiskey made in Wyoming, it’s also made from Wyoming. All of its ingredients originate from the equality state, and it’s aged through five years in its dry and windy climate that sees greater temperature extremes than the majority of the continental U.S. Wyoming is known for its numerous national parks, and the company’s latest limited release honors them with each of their annual releases focusing on a specific one, with $5 from every bottle sold donated to the National Park Foundation. The 2021 release highlights Grand Teton National Park, which gets its name from the second highest peak in the state.

Coming in around the same proof, age, and price as their standard release, what makes National Parks Limited Edition qualify as a special release? This is hands down a very strong showcase of the distilling prowess of Wyoming Whiskey and how far they've come since their first bourbon in 2012. This is an elegant bourbon that charms you with its refinement and drinkability. It’s the definition of smooth, never venturing too far with spice or heat, instead zeroing in on balance. Unpretentious and straightforward, this bourbon isn’t trying to be anything that it’s not. And that's reflected not only in its flavor profile, but also its price. Very well done.

Written By: Eric
June 28, 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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