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March 2021
ROUNDUP

KO Distilling Distiller’s Select Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: KO Distilling

Distillery: KO Distilling

Release Date: November 2020/Ongoing

Proof: 100

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 20% Wheat, 10% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Gold

MSRP: $70 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Cornbread | Orange rind | Cream soda | Grass | Light barrel char  

Palate: Vanilla | Caramel | Cola | Light grain | Nicely balanced

Finish: Cocoa powder | Barrel char | Light grain | Slight spice | Flirty dryness

KO Distilling was founded in 2013 by Bill Karlson (K) and John O’Mara (O). In 2015, the distillery opened their doors in Manassas, Virginia with their first aged whiskey hitting the market in 2016. Four years later, the company now has a Bottled in Bond bourbon ready for market. The extra time in the barrel shows ample improvement over the younger 2 year version we reviewed. The majority of the overpowering youth notes are replaced with more potent vanilla, cola, and barrel char notes. Complexity is not on display here, but its straightforward flavor profile is compelling nevertheless. The bourbon’s 20% wheated mashbill can be tasted throughout, and together with some youthful notes, adds some extra spring to its step. A bit pricey, but it’s a solid pour overall.

Written By: Eric
March 1, 2021

Kooper Family Single Barrel Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Kooper Family Whiskey Company

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery in Indiana

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 92

Age: NAS (Website states 4-5 years old)

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

Color: Light Mahogany

MSRP: $47 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Vanilla | Rye spice | Peppercorn | New oak | Caramelized sugar | Light & well balanced

Palate: Sweet vanilla | Caramel | Fresh yellow cake | Light floral notes | Rye grain | Dry oak | Noticeably sweet, yet grounded by the oak

Finish: Oak | Sweet vanilla | Light rye spice | Short and to the point

Kooper Family Whiskey Company is based out of Texas, however their single barrel product is distilled in Indiana. While there are a slew of Indiana sourced bourbons on the market, Kooper Family Whiskey Company tried to distinguish their Single Barrel Bourbon from the rest by aging the barrels in Texas. This allows the bourbon to experience the hot Texas summers and mild winters. The end result is a bourbon that’s full of sweet flavors that crescendo in the palate. It won’t easily stand out in a crowded room, however the bourbon is an easy sipper and one that is hard to find fault with. While this is a single barrel bourbon, the company doesn’t denote any identifying information indicating which barrel it comes from on the packaging, which can make things difficult when you run into a bottle you love and want to try to buy another from the same barrel.  

Written By: Jordan
March 3, 2021

Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Lux Row Distillers

Distillery: Undisclosed Kentucky Distillery(ies)

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 80

Age: NAS

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

Color: Gold

MSRP: $18 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Hay | Corn | Rose petals | Lilac | Caramel | Light but expressive

Palate: Vanilla | Oak | Wheat grain | Sweet corn | Thin & mild

Finish: Mild oak | Vanilla | Leather | Light pepper | Faint strawberry | Tame

What does anyone expect from an 80 proof $18 bottle of straight bourbon? They don’t expect to be wholeheartedly impressed of course, but they probably foresee it as a straightforward drinking experience with a traditional flavor profile and thin mouthfeel. That is all true of Rebel Yell Bourbon’s 80 proof version, which makes it the furthest thing any bourbon drinker who has more than one bourbon in their lives will ever want. But...if you’re someone who is reaching for a sip of bourbon for the first time, Rebel Yell should be on your short list to try. It's an extremely approachable bourbon that sports the classic vanilla, oak, and leather notes, that leans a touch towards the sweeter side. Compared to what other spirits offer at $18, it’s amazing Lux Row can offer a bourbon of this decent quality at such a price. Rebel Yell Straight Bourbon is never going to impress anyone, but it will provide a warm welcome to anyone just getting to know and understand what bourbon is.

Written By: Eric
March 5, 2021

Bull Run American Whiskey 11 Year (Batch 006)

Classification: American (Corn) Whiskey Finished in Oregon Pinot Noir Casks

Company: Bull Run Distilling Company

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery in Indiana

Release Date: March 2019

Proof: 100

Age: 11 Years (Plus additional 37 months aging in Oregon pinot noir casks from Brooks Wines)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Golden Copper

MSRP: $40 ($2021)

Official Website

Nose: Lush berries | Dried raisins | Aged oak | Warming vanilla | An inviting open to the sip

Palate: Berries | Ripe plum | Creme brulee | Leather | Oak | Vanilla | Well balanced with rich flavors

Finish: Light vanilla | Dashes of berries | Leather | Oak | Smoldering heat | Dashes of sweet morph to drier flavors that linger

Bull Run Distilling has been putting out some great whiskey as of late. We found their 13 year whiskey finished in pinot noir barrels for 5 months to be fantastic, and this 11 year finished for an additional 37 months is almost as equally enjoyable. Full of lush flavors that commingle with well rounded drier notes,it’s a great example of wine barrel age finishing. The most amazing part is that this is being delivered for only $40. If you are a fan of wine barrel finishing, want to explore wine barrel finishing, or just like really good American whiskey that is very reasonably priced, I highly recommend exploring the Bull Run American Whiskey Finished in Pinot Noir line. The bottle being reviewed is number 02088.

Written By: Jordan
March 8, 2021

Pinhook Bohemian Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: CJS Beverage Corp.

Distillery: Castle & Key Distillery

Release Date: August 2020

Proof: 95

Age: 3 Years

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

Color: Light Gold

MSRP: $38 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Candy corn | Orange zest | Clove | Light

Palate: Clove | Summer fruit | New make | Herbal | Earthy undertones | Unique

Finish: Slightly dry | Hibiscus | Green tea | Earthy | Medium length

Released alongside Pinhook Bohemian HighProof, the two releases are the first bourbon distillate from Castle & Key to hit the marketplace. While Bohemian Bourbon shows signs of its youth, it revels in a unique flavor profile with earthy undertones making it subtly different than any other bourbon I've experienced. Offered at a very reasonable $38 MSRP, I would highly recommend seeking this one out as it will serve as a snapshot in time showcasing the beginnings of things to come from Castle & Key Distillery.

Written By: Nick
March 10, 2021

George Dickel Superior No. 12 Whiskey

Classification: Whiskey

Company: George A. Dickel & Co.

Distillery: Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

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

Color: Amber

MSRP: $28 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Cherry | Apple | Vanilla custard | Oak | Potent

Palate: Fruit punch | Potent oak | Vanilla | Buttery mouthfeel  

Finish: Dry oak | Mild baking spice | Stewed cherries | Short

George Dickel whiskey is distinctive and surprisingly polarizing at the same time. Used as a sourced whiskey for way too many non-distiller producers at this point, you’ve probably had George Dickel even if you didn’t buy a bottle that features the name “George Dickel” on its label. Many cite the company’s whiskey as having a strong mineral and fruit vitamin flavor to it, but it's the whiskey’s cherry and overly fruity qualities that stand out the most. This makes it an easy drinker even in this budget-friendly form. As an under-$30 bottle, it's not overly complex, but is really only a few degrees less than some of Dickel’s more expensive offerings, which few brands can claim. With a nice mouthfeel, ample flavor, and great price, George Dickel Superior No. 12 Whiskey certainly packs in the value and can slot into anyone’s everyday whiskey.

Written By: Eric
March 12, 2021

Lucky Seven “The Holiday Toast”

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Lucky Seven Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (From an undisclosed distillery[ies] in Kentucky)

Release Date: November 2020

Proof: 115

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Deep Amber

MSRP: $75 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Baking spice | Cinnamon | Nutmeg | Pine | Toffee | Inviting

Palate: Cinnamon | Toffee | Charred oak | Toasted marshmallow | Dark fruit | Heavy spice | Full bodied

Finish: Crescendo of spice | Cinnamon | Gingerbread | Long

The Holiday Toast is a limited edition double oaked bourbon - Aged first in new charred oak barrels then re-barreled and finished in new toasted oak barrels. While Lucky Seven Spirits' releases typically offer an age statement, that is not the case here. Instead, the focus is on the rebarreling and "Holiday" theme, which results in the sip offering a robust flavor profile reminiscent of the holidays - cinnamon, nutmeg, pine, and gingerbread. It's both fun and delicious at the same time.

Peeling back the front label reveals a bit of background and QR code that leads to a short black and white movie, true to the tenets of Lucky Seven Spirits. Overall it's another great release from a spirits company that's quickly earned its stripes as one to look out for.

Written By: Nick
March 15, 2021

Westward American Single Malt Whiskey

Classification: American Single Malt

Company: Westward Whiskey

Distillery: Westward Whiskey

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Rust

MSRP: $70 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Butterscotch | Vanilla custard | Sugar cookie | Orange peel | Mild oak  

Palate: Herbal | Chocolate malt balls | Orange | Lemon | Elegant

Finish: Oak | Mild dryness | Touch of cinnamon | Spicy aftertaste

Located in Portland, Oregon, the state's cool wet winters has perhaps had a good deal of influence on Westward’s American Single Malt Whiskey. This easy-sipping whiskey is surprisingly delicate, presenting its flavors in a soft and friendly way. Its fascinating mix of orange/lemon against chocolate/herbal creates an intriguing interplay. Despite finishing with a splash of spice, this whiskey is quite elegant in its delivery, lending itself to coming across as more of a character on Downton Abbey versus John Wick. As strange as that comparison might be, it's an ample way of describing what Westward American Single Malt Whiskey has to offer. Mild mannered, stately, and of course, debonair, Westward may not feature high shock value, but time with it will make up for it.

Written By: Eric
March 17, 2021

Bull Run Barrel Strength Bourbon Batch 022

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Bull Run Distilling Company

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: January 2020

Proof: 115.32

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 65% Corn, 25% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $60 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Caramel | Honey | Smoky | Leather | Nose tingling

Palate: Rye spice | Barrel char | Caramel Cinnamon | Straightforward & robust

Finish: Baking spice | Slight metallic note | Long & spice

Bull Run Distilling Company has surprised us at every step of the way with their releases so far. Interestingly, their Barrel Strength is a tasty bourbon, but doesn't present any uniquely surprising traits like their other releases so successfully excel at. Barrel Strength is very much a straightforward affair, and at $60, it’s exactly what you expect it will be. Spicy notes highlight a robust sip that doesn't compromise structure at any turn. It's a barrel proof bourbon through and through, but probably won't leave the same kind of lasting impression other releases from Bull Run will.

Written By: Nick
March 19, 2021

Distillery 291 “M” Colorado Whiskey

Classification: Rye

Company: Distillery 291

Distillery: Distillery 291

Release Date: December 2020

Proof: 123.4

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark Gold

MSRP: $105 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Rye grain | Maple | Straw | Oak

Palate: Maple | Rich oak | Rye spice | Cinnamon | Fig | Rich & viscous

Finish: Tannic maple oak | Plum | Spicy cinnamon

Distillery 291 never shy of trying something new, and “M” is their newest and certainly not their last radical whiskey. Barreling their Aspen stave finished rye whiskey in Lincoln County Reserve maple syrup barrels for 4 months, has resulted in a potent and unique whiskey. With the flavor profile leaning heavy on maple - which is to be expected of course - it's also surprisingly not as sickly sweet as you’d expect. It provides an enjoyable maple current throughout the sip that is nicely offset by rich oak and cinnamon spice from the rye. The finish is a bit tannic for the first few sips taking the whiskey down a notch. Thankfully, you do get accustomed to it with spice and plum taking over the reigns. Overall, the whiskey lacks refinement with the stave finishing coming across as a bit too overpowering at times. Despite this, the whiskey is strangely compelling nevertheless.

Written By: Eric
March 22, 2021

Old Forester The 117 Series (Batch No. 001)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: Brown-Forman Shively Distillery

Release Date: March 2021

Proof: 110

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Bright Mahogany

MSRP: $50 375mL (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Dry aged oak | Nut | Caramel | Leather | Rich & inviting

Palate: Seasoned oak | Tobacco | Cigar box | Creamy caramel | Robust with a prominent nod to nicely aged oak

Finish: Flash of rye spice | Baking spices | Aged oak mixed with leather | Tapering spice on the backend | Dry

A new series by Old Forester, The 117 Series Batch 001 is composed of high angel’s share barrels and will be available exclusively at Old Forester Distilling CO. and select Kentucky retailers at the end of March. This is the first Old Forester bourbon to feature a woman’s signature on the bottle - Master Taster Jackie Zykan.

The debut of The 117 Series is a good one, with a robust bourbon that grips the senses and showcases rich oak and tobacco notes. It echoes what I love about Brown-Forman’s annual King of Kentucky release, offering even more intense oak flavors that will satisfy anyone who enjoys an oak-forward bourbon. With that being said, it strikes enough balance with caramel, nut, and tobacco notes to keep the oak in check. Overall it’s a remarkable bourbon from Master Taster Jackie Zykan.

Written By: Nick
March 23, 2021

Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1

Classification: Blend of American Malt Whiskeys

Company: Lost Lantern

Distillery: Balcones, Copperworks, Santa Fe Spirits, Triple Eight, Westward, Virginia Distillery Co.

Release Date: October 2020

Proof: 105

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed Blend of Mashbills

Color: Yellow Gold

MSRP: $120 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Roasted malt | Hay | Light smoky oak | Dab of grain | Light baking chocolate | Quintessential malted whiskey scents through and through

Palate: Dry oak | Vanilla | Punchy malt | White pepper | Touch of raisins | Sprinkle of baking chocolate | Leather | Honeydew melon | Nice mixture of drier and sweeter flavors

Finish: Vanilla cream | Smoky oak | Dry leather | Smoldering heat | Initial sweetness turns to dry lingering heat

In October, Lost Lantern announced their release of American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1. It is a 3,000 bottle limited release, consisting of a 12 barrel blend of single malt whiskeys from six distilleries located in all corners of the US:

  • Balcones in Waco, Texas
  • Copperworks in Seattle, Washington
  • Santa Fe Spirits in Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Triple Eight on Nantucket, Massachusetts
  • Westward in Portland, Oregon
  • Virginia Distillery Co. in Lovingston, Virginia

American malt whiskeys have become more and more popular over the years with American Vatted Malt helping to emphasize that point by blending multiple American malt whiskeys from all across the country together. The end result is an interesting blend of flavors that play well together. Its price is high considering the individual components of the blend can be found for much cheaper. As a result, those looking to break into American malts would be better served by first honing their flavor profile preferences before tackling this monster of a blend. Price aside, Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt pulls off an unusually large blend of various distilleries resulting in a complex and approachable malt that will please fans of the category.

Written By: Jordan
March 24, 2021

Larceny Barrel Proof Batch A121

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: February 2021

Proof: 114.8

Age: NAS (Company states that this batch contains six to eight year old bourbon)

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

Color: Dark Bronze

MSRP: $50 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Cherry | Roses | Toasted oak | Blueberry syrup | Pomegranate molasses | Leather | Familiar yet surprising at the same time

Palate: Brown sugar | Dark fruit | Toasted coconut | Light fennel | Cocoa powder

Finish: Black pepper | Rich oak | Leather | Black tea  

With four batches now under its belt, Larceny Barrel Proof has performed admirably. Yet, I still can’t help but feel the brand still hasn’t lived up to its full potential. The first batch of 2021 is more of the same and might even be a slight notch down from what felt like a universally praised Batch C920 in 2020. Notably, Batch A121 clocks in at only 114.8 proof which is quite a step down from the three 2020 Larceny Barrel Proof batches. Unfortunately, I don’t taste a concentration of flavors, and again it feels like more of the same. That won't be a bad thing to most people, but the whiskey community needs a more readily available and budget-friendly wheated barrel proof counterpoint to William Larue Weller. I do believe the Larceny brand has it in it to do just that. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy Batch A121, as it’s a solid barrel proof wheater, but I feel the best is still to come.

Written By: Eric
March 25, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Batch 027

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

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

Release Date: February 2021

Proof: 115.7

Age: 5 Years (blend of 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, and 15 year old barrels per company website)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Deep Amber

MSRP: $90 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Cherry | Apricot | Blood Orange | Moss | Oak | Quite expressive

Palate: Cherry | Skittles | Fruit cup | Raisins | Fig | Sweet & fruity

Finish: Pepper | Light tobacco | Sugary oak | Walnut | Lingering toasted oak aftertaste | Slight buttery mouthfeel

Barrell Craft Spirits comes out in 2021 with what is bound to be a fan favorite. Batch 027 is what many love about Barrell Bourbon: a bright, sweet, and fruit-fueled flavor bomb. Dominated by cherry and backed up further with lush summer fruits, many will enjoy every sip of this batch. It’s sweet through and through, and even when the bourbon tries to ground itself with oak, raisin, and fig notes, they are no match for the sweeter ones. It’s only on the finish that light tobacco, pepper, and walnut come through in any meaningful way to ground it. If I had to theorize, the fruitiness is coming from the Tennessee stock, with the Kentucky bourbon doing what it can to ground the bourbon and the Indiana bourbon adding some brightness to the overall package. Batch 027 follows the two preceding batches with yet another crowd-pleasing blend.

Written By: Eric
March 25, 2021

Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye 130.2 Proof

Classification: Rye

Company: Alberta Distillers

Distillery: Alberta Distillers

Release Date: December 2020

Proof: 130.2

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 100% Rye

Color: Gold

MSRP: $70 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Vanilla custard | Green apple | Mint | Honey | Light spice | Straightforward

Palate: Hearty nut | Rye grain | Maple | Rye spice | Excellent mouthfeel

Finish: Candied apple | Leather | Mild oak | Nut | Slightly dry | Light ethanol | Warming spice aftertaste

At first sip there wasn’t much that impressed me right out of the gate. The nose is pleasant and efficient, the palate is a nut and spice forward affair, and the finish is a bit flat. Tasting through it with more of a keen eye (or tongue), parts of the whiskey start to reveal their virtues. The nose is straightforward, yet the vanilla custard against the spice is compelling. The palate is spearheaded by its maple and nut notes that work well in tandem, and are capped off with a silky mouthfeel. Finally, while the finish is uneventful, it's more than serviceable, offering a candied apple note against its warming spice. The mileage you get out of this 130.2 proof batch of Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye seems to change on a sip by sip basis. At times it's quite enjoyable, others merely serviceable, yet it never ventures close to completely wowing you either. For its price, it offers just enough to warrant a look.

Written By: Eric
March 29, 2021

Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye 132 Proof

Classification: Rye

Company: Alberta Distillers

Distillery: Alberta Distillers

Release Date: December 2020

Proof: 132

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 100% Rye

Color: Gold

MSRP: $70 (2021)

Official Website

Nose: Creamy vanilla custard | Cinnamon buns | Hot cinnamon candies | Mint toothpaste | Rye grain | Potent

Palate: Sweet cinnamon | Rye spice | Bubble gum | Touch of orange | Creamy | Impactful

Finish: Warm spice | Cinnamon | Warm before becoming hot

Here’s a lesson in sometimes less is more. Compared to the 130.2 proof batch, this batch isn’t as complex, offering a traditional rye flavor profile, but it does it with a much better delivery. More creamy, offering more sweet and spicy notes, with a ramping up of heat that simply leaves an impression after every sip. I applaud the more out of the box profile of the 130.2 proof batch, but the 132 proof batch leaves its mark in a very impactful way. A rye offering cinnamon and spice isn’t exactly news, but how it delivers these flavors makes the difference. 100% ryes, especially Canadian ones, don’t often taste like this, with it having more in common with Thomas H. Handy than WhistlePig or Canadian Club special releases. Many slept on Alberta announcing this product as Canadian rye whiskey and it hasn’t had a recent watershed moment to shine. Now it might finally have one. They just have to do something about the awful screw cap for their next release.  

Written By: Eric
March 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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