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September 2020
ROUNDUP

Watershed Barrel Strength Bourbon Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels

Company: Watershed Distillery

Distillery: Watershed Distillery

Release Date: September 2020

Proof: 119.3

Age: 6 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $70 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Apple pie | Granny Smith apples | Pear | Graham cracker | Musty oak

Palate: Summer fruits | Blackberry | Plum | Cherry | Musty oak | Rye spice | Full flavored with underlying spice throughout

Finish: Apple crisp | Luxardo Cherries | Nutty | Tobacco | Lingering Rye spice

This 6 year old non-chill filtered bourbon distilled, aged, and bottled by Watershed Distillery located in Columbus, Ohio was made to honor the company’s 10 year anniversary. Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels and released at barrel proof, its intensity and array of flavors is unexpected and potent. While it succeeds in offering a diversity of flavors, it’s a tad sharp in its delivery. Regardless, what it offers is interesting, with an explosion of unique flavors highlighting the sip.

Written By: Nick
September 1, 2020

Riverset Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: B.R. Distilling Company

Distillery: B.R. Distilling Company

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 93

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Yellow Gold

MSRP: $40

Official Website

Nose: Ripe peaches | Subtle spice | Light oak | Vanilla | Hint of syrup

Palate: Peach gummy rings | Leather | Vanilla | Green peppercorns

Finish: Leather | Oak | Light rye spice | Fading hints of peach

Peach seems to be a running theme with Riverset Rye. From the opening scents of ripe peaches to the interwoven peach flavors throughout the palate and finish, it’s hard to ignore. There’s a subtle undertone of spice, that to a degree helps balance things out, yet overall this is a sweet rye. While it won’t wow when poured neat, it also won’t disappoint either. Where I really see this shining is in summertime cocktails that call for a slightly sweeter base whiskey.

Written By: Jordan
September 7, 2020

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

Classification: Rye

Company: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Distillery: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 80

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 100% Rye

Color: Light Gold

MSRP: $45

Official Website

Nose: Grain | New oak | Hint of rye spice | Youthful

Palate: Sweet vanilla | Light spice | Cinnamon | Light dry oak

Finish: Bold rye spice | Sweet vanilla syrup | Hint of oak | Medium in length

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whiskey exudes youth throughout its sip. While the flavors present are adequate, they tend to be lacking in depth. Even though single barrels can always vary, expectations are often set high since those barrels are usually carefully selected. Founded in 2009, I was surprised to see that Catoctin Creek Rye has no age statement associated with it. Its youthful flavor profile combined with its low proof leads me to believe it's on the younger side of the age scale. The bottle being reviewed comes from batch number 20A10.

Written By: Jordan
September 9, 2020

OCD #5 Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Glenns Creek Distilling

Distillery: Glenns Creek Distilling

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 112.6

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: 87% Corn, 8% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Light Mahogany

MSRP: $55 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Dark fruits | Dark cherry | Seasoned oak | Vanilla custard | Rich, bold & potent

Palate: Sticky brown sugar | Clove | Molasses | Charred oak | Thick, oily texture | Sharp rye spice on the backend

Finish: Pepper spice | Rich caramel | Fresh oak | Lingering

This unique tasting Kentucky crafted bourbon embodies everything I like about craft distilling, with an interesting background and unique flavor profile. It’s born from a yeast revived from #5 fermenter at the abandoned Old Crow Distillery site, now home of Glenns Creek Distilling. The bourbon itself tastes more like it originates from Texas than Kentucky, with a thick, oily mouthfeel and rich, bold flavor profile. For anyone seeking something both authentic and different, this fits the bill.

Written By: Nick
September 10, 2020

Thomas H. Handy (2020)

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 129 (Barrel Proof)

Age: 6 Years, 2 Months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark Copper

MSRP: $99 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Bubblegum | Cherry fruit snacks | Black currant | Fruit-forward and quite sweet | Fantastic

Palate: Baking spice | Raisin | Orange | Fruit punch | Mid-palate cinnamon | Straightforward

Finish: Cherry | Light cinnamon | Minor lingering anise aftertaste | More sweet than spicy | Warming

Often leaning heavily on spice and heat, this year’s release finds a way to balance its spice by countering it with a perfect amount of fruity sweetness. At the same time, it forgoes its standard jetfuel-like temperament and is warming instead of hot. Despite the sip being straightforward and not overly complex, the highlight of this whiskey is that it is amazingly balanced. Those are two words I thought I’d never use to describe Thomas H. Handy, but it absolutely nails its intensity of its fruity sweet flavors against its typical cinnamon-forward profile. There is no doubt in my mind, this is the best Thomas H. Handy in a long, long time - possibly ever.

Written By: Eric
September 14, 2020

Sazerac 18 Year (2020)

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 90

Age: 18 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Light Copper

MSRP: $99 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Summer fruits | Apricot | Baking spice | Rye spice | Aged oak | Light overall intensity | Classic Sazerac 18 nose

Palate: Aged oak | Cherry | Musty | Caramel | Buttery mouthfeel

Finish: Rye pop with lasting intensity | Cinnamon | Allspice | Brown sugar | Musty oak

The 5th release since the last of the legendary tanked batch, this year's Sazerac 18 echoes the tanked batch's greatness. At 18 years old, aged oak is the highlight, though it's surprisingly mild in intensity. A playful mix of sweet and spicy notes play their part in keeping the oak in check, and at times even overpower it. This is the most notable difference compared to the tanked batch, which is more complex and oak forward throughout than the 2020 release. Still, while it does not live up to its former greatness, this might be the closest Buffalo Trace has come yet to matching it.

Written By: Nick
September 15, 2020

George T. Stagg (2020)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 130.4

Age: 15 Years, 4 Months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark Mahogany

MSRP: $99 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Burnt caramel | Dark chocolate | Cigar box | Charred oak | Stewed apples | Rumtopf | Light before becoming potent

Palate: Spice | Vanilla | Leather | Straight-forward | Rich but not overly bold

Finish: Vanilla | Caramel | Graham cracker | Slight mustiness | Dry | Flush of heat before subsiding | Cinnamon aftertaste | Long & complex

After dropping to its lowest proof ever in 2019, Stagg returns to its usual 130 proof range. Interestingly, the usual robustness typically associated with Stagg doesn’t return with it to the same degree. Out of the gate, its nose is light, requiring extra time and a swirl of the glass to open up. Its palate follows in much the same way, lacking the typical Stagg bearhug that has come to define the brand. Spice is the showcase of the palate, overshadowing its medium-intensity vanilla and leather notes. It’s in its finish that the whiskey turns itself around as it grows in complexity and intensity, making for an exceptional finish. Far from being flawed, the 2020 Stagg struggles to reach the amazing heights of years past throughout its entire sip. It’s a solid drinker overall that at times is overshadowed by the company’s own ever impressive Stagg Jr. and its competition that have stepped up their game, offering comparable and worthy Stagg alternatives.

Written By: Eric
September 16, 2020

Eagle Rare 17 Year (2020)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 101

Age: 18 Years, 3 Months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $99 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Warm notes of aged oak | Baking spices | Hint of brown sugar | Dark fruits | Fresh baked vanilla cake | Complex & inviting

Palate: Aged oak | Dark fruits | Rye spice | Baked pie crust | Creme brulee | Berries and oak on the backend

Finish: Aged oak | Light leather | White peppercorn | Whisper of rye spice | Aged earthy flavors that show its true age

This year’s release of Eagle Rare 17 Year again sees 101 proof and ups the ante by carrying an 18 year old age statement as evidenced by the Fact Sheet from Buffalo Trace that accompanies the release. 18 years in oak can be tricky, as this much time aging can often leave a bourbon dominated by more oaky and earthy flavors. While aged oak is ever present throughout the sip and earthy flavors specifically in the finish remind you of Eagle Rare 17 Year's age, the bourbon is also full of wonderful nuanced flavors. The nose brings forth a complexity that reveals its layered nuances as you spend more time with it, while the palate delivers a great mix of dark fruits and sweet baking flavors that intertwine nicely together. All of this taken together delivers a well rounded sip on par with Eagle Rare 17 Year pours in recent memory.

Written By: Jordan
September 17, 2020

William Larue Weller (2020)

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 134.5

Age: 12 Years, 6 Months

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Cherry Wood

MSRP: $99 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Bright cherry | Soft wheat | Sweat baked dough | Light oak | Ethanol | Brown sugar | Inviting

Palate: Cherry syrup | Red fruits | Brown sugar | Syrup soaked raisins | Baking spice | Dry oak | Mouth coating

Finish: Oak | Bold spice | Touch of tobacco leaf | Lingering leather and oak | Mouth enveloping heat throughout | Lingering

William Larue Weller (WLW) is never shy about its brash proof, and this year it’s even more amplified by the fact that this is the highest proof expression in this year's Collection. It also happens to be the only wheated bourbon in the Collection, which allows it to stand out even more. This year's release embraces all of these unique traits and delivers a pour that will please WLW fans. It’s full of rich flavors and hugs you with a tight heat throughout the entire sip. The competition for high proof wheated bourbon has certainly increased over the years, in particular with Maker Mark’s cask strength offerings and Heaven Hill’s limited edition Old Fitzgerald and Larceny barrel proof lines. However, William Larue Weller is still the gold standard to beat, and this year's release continues this mark for another ye

Written By: Jordan
September 18, 2020

King of Kentucky 2020 Release

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: The Brown-Forman Distillery

Release Date: September 2020 (Annual release)

Proof: 130.6 (Cask Strength - Single Barrel - Proofs range from 125-135)

Age: 14 Years

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

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $250 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Aged oak | Cigar box | Leather | Honey | Dark cherries

Palate: Big aged oak | Rye spice | Tobacco | Chocolate | Caramel | Vanilla | Musty | Robust & warming

Finish: Aged oak | Dr. Pepper sweet note | Light cinnamon | Dry | Lingering

King of Kentucky is back with its third annual edition, comprising approximately 1,900 bottles originating from 32 barrels with an average yield of only 26%. While all barrels were distilled on June 27, 2006, bottles will offer slightly different flavor profiles depending on the barrel and proof as this is a single barrel bourbon. This year’s edition is no different than the 2019 or 2018 editions, featuring oak but still providing an incredibly complex, bold, full-flavored sip. It’s easily on my short-list of possible candidates for favorite whiskeys of the year again this year.

Written By: Nick
September 21, 2020

Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection Cask Strength Boxergrail Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Rabbit Hole

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: October 2020

Proof: 114.6 (Cask Strength)

Age: 6 Years

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Deep Amber

MSRP: $195 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Big rye spice | Anise | Dark fruit | Potent

Palate: Black licorice | Brown sugar | Tobacco leaf | Rye spice | Caramel | Maple sugar candy | Gripping intensity

Finish: Swash of rye spice | Maple sugar candy | Long with tapering spice

This Kentucky-made rye represents the second release in the Founder’s Collection line and is extremely limited with only 1,315 bottles in total. The name “Boxergrail” honors Louisville’s boxing heritage, and this release adds age, proof, and more carefully curated barrels to Rabbit Hole’s standard 95 proof Boxergrail Rye offering. Consisting of only 7 barrels that were part of the very first rye barrels company founder Kaveh Zamanian created, the resulting flavor profile is mouth-hugging with just the right balance of rye spice and sweet notes. It is unequivocally a crowd-pleasing and great tasting whiskey. However its asking price, high end packaging, and ultra-limited production quantity gear it towards being more of a collector's item than a whiskey consumers will purchase simply to enjoy.

Written By: Nick
September 23, 2020

Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Brown-Forman

Distillery: The Brown-Forman Distillery

Release Date: October 2020

Proof: 126.8 (Batch Proof)

Age: NAS

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

Color: Medium Mahogany

MSRP: $150 (2020)

Official Website

150 barrels were set aside for Old Forester’s 150th Anniversary release, which were divided into three unique batches intended to honor George Garvin Brown’s process of batching from the three original distilleries. The bourbon in review is from batch 03, the highest proof of the three batches. The bourbon offers a fairly complex sip without a particular highlight of any flavor, instead providing a wide array of flavors in relative balance. However, it drinks a bit hot which detracts from the overall experience.

The concept of three distinct batches drawn from the 150 barrels, or really 147 as 3 of the barrels were completely lost to the Angel’s Share, is a fascinating one and makes me wish I could compare them. Unfortunately, the price makes that a challenge at $150 (notice a number trend here?), and without an age statement it’s not entirely clear how different the bourbon within the bottles is relative to some of Old Forester’s other releases. With that being said, each batch’s relatively small barrel count, its throwback amber bottle and tube, and one-off nature undoubtedly makes this a collector’s item.

Written By: Nick
September 25, 2020

Three Chord Whiskey Drummer Batch 01

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Steel Bending Spirits

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

Release Date: September 2020

Proof: 117.9

Age: 15 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Copper

MSRP: $190

Official Website

Nose: Cherry |  Blackberry | Caramel | Vanilla | Brown sugar | Light tobacco | Touch of herbal | Sweet | Rich and satisfying

Palate: Mixed berries | Steeped cherries | Rich vanilla | Leather | Hazelnut | Oily mouthfeel | Quite enjoyable

Finish: Old oak | Dark brown sugar | Mild black pepper | Ramp up of heat | Cinnamon and black cherry aftertaste | Long lasting

Three Chord comes out strong with their first limited release that’s a 15 year old Kentucky-sourced bourbon. While its age statement is certainly eye-catching, it's the whiskey itself that truly makes its mark. With a mouthcoating viscosity and its dark berry, brown sugar, and old oak flavor profile, it makes a great impression. With only two batches of 10 barrels a piece that produced 125 bottles per barrel on average, this is a very small release. You’ll likely have sticker shock from its $190 price tag, but ultimately find repose in its persuasive sip.

Written By: Eric
September 28, 2020

Barrell Bourbon Batch 024

Classification: Blend of Straight Bourbons

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

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

Release Date: April 2020

Proof: 113.9 (Cask Strength)

Age: 9 Years (Blend of 9, 10, 13, and 15 year old barrels per company website)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Golden Molasses

MSRP: $80 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Rich caramel | Green apple | Pear | Pine | Almond| Fresh tobacco | Oak | Impressive

Palate: Dark chocolate | Black cherry soda | Marzipan | Dark brown sugar | Rich oak

Finish: Bitter chocolate | Black pepper | Minor clove | Delayed aftertaste of cherry cough syrup | Thick oak

Barrell Bourbon Batch 024 starts off with an impressive array of scents that balances sweet and savory with heavy oak and a punch of sweetness. The palate in turn transitions into a heavier ordeal of darker and richer flavors. The finish takes it a step further, leaning into pepper and bitterness. This isn’t one of the sweet and fruity batches from Barrell that they’re known for, but instead goes in the opposite direction. Providing a nice contrast to those batches, Batch 024 is yet another impressive blend by Barrell Craft Spirits that also makes for a great cigar bourbon.

Written By: Eric
September 29, 2020

Spirit Works Distillery Four Grain Bourbon Batch 001

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Spirit Works Distillery

Distillery: Spirit Works Distillery

Release Date: April 2020

Proof: 80

Age: NAS (Website states 4 years old)

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Blend of two bourbon mashbills, each containing 60% corn with unspecified amounts of wheat, rye, and barley)

Color: Light Bronze

MSRP: $50

Official Website

Nose: Light vanilla | Peaches | Summer fruits | Hint of grain | Creme brulee | Sweet and light in delivery  

Palate: Oaky | Light peppercorn | Touch of brown sugar | Light overall mouthfeel

Finish: Light oak | Vanilla | Hint of tannic oak | Touch of white peppercorn | Incredibly short


Spirit Works Four Grain Bourbon is light in its overall delivery. While the nose draws you in with sweeter flavors, the palate and finish are just a little too light and short in their delivery. Since you don’t see too many four grain bourbons on the market, Spirit Works Distillery has an opportunity to really differentiate itself from the competition. I would like to see this spend a few more years developing in the barrel to really pull out its fullest potential. That said, this would be a great bourbon to use for a favorite sweeter whiskey cocktail.

Written By: Jordan
September 30, 2020
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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