Monday, January 16, 2023

Port Askaig 25, Mortlach 20, Stranahan’s Cask Strength, Hogback Distillery Mixed Bag

Happy “official” New Year. This is my first entry started after the holidays (even though it’s January 16th). Mostly malt with a small inclusion of other since it’s sometimes hard to group thing together meaningfully.

Port Askaig 25 (Impex), 45.8%
This is a pleasant surprise gift from friend Mike. This is a Caol Ila 25 bottled by Impex in 2019. There are total of 3000 bottles of this, though there is a European counterpart to this batch, I’m not sure if it counts as part of the 3000 bottles. Either way… ‘Small’ batched IB Caol Ila 25! Did I mention I enjoy old peated whiskey even while I whine about young peat being gross yet? Lightly salted, complex smoke on the nose reminiscent of fish smokehouse that’s not been in use for a while. Salty floral notes, lightly spiced vanilla. Incredible legs on the Glencairn. The palate is gentle, floral vanilla, light smoke, almost no saltiness at all. Peppery, warming and lightly smoked aftertaste that lasts and lasts and lasts. Overall: Easily excellent example of light (or mostly dissipated) peat that’s complex rather than punchy. The palate is barely peated at all, with the smoke only showing up somewhat in the nose and in the aftertaste. Excellent drinker. There’s something to be said here that this is different from OB Caol Ila that’s typically saltier. The particular bottling could have benefited from sherried cask or two in the mix to bring up another layer of complexity… Overall though I’m grasping for straws with my biggest thought being that while it’s excellent, it doesn’t seem to stand out in a distinguishable way. Value: This was ~$350 in 2019… Eeeeh.. Leaving it at “This is tasty but I’d not buy a bottle”.
https://www.whiskyba … kaig-25-year-old-sms
Score: A

Mortlach 20, Cadenhead Small Batch, 53.4%
I seem to be reviewing a lot of Mortlach around here… Well, too bad! I enjoy these! And I write reviews. Small batch bottling from Cadenhead, 700ml so EU. The nose is full of baked pears and green apples with a touch of vanilla. The palate is excellently orchard-fruity ex-bourbon standard faire. I cannot believe it’s proof vs how gently it drinks. The long aftertaste is gentle vanilla and a little bit of ginger spice warming the very back. Overall: Excellent drinker, with nothing to complain about here in the scope. Value: N/A (from friend)
Score: A

Stranahan’s Cask Strength, Dry Creek Liquors SP, 57.86%
A high proof Stranahan’s single malt. No info unfortunately. Likely at reasonably respectable age as the distillery has been able to put up 10 year old malt release (though that one was distillery exclusive), suggesting that their stocks are coming up in average age nicely. Of note I’ve poorly reviewed the Small Batch (~2 years old) version and really liked the exclusive higher proof Carcavelos Cask (at very respectable 8.5 years of age). Let’s dig into this one. Tropical fruit pie on the nose, with bananas and mango fruits leading the charge predictably. More of the same tropical banana mango custard on the palate, rather sweet and spiced with cloves and nutmeg and topped with vanilla whipped creme. Long sweet, and tingly aftertaste follows that reminds of red hots cinnamon aftertaste. Overall: This is enjoyable. It’s not particularly complicated and the banana pie is certainly indicative of American single malt that may not appeal to some malt drinkers. Without the context though this is quite drinkable and high proof helps a ton here. Value: Similar Store Picks are priced circa $70… assuming that this is the same for this particular one… good value.
Score: B+

Hogback distillery Tasting… They do a bit of everything so this is going to be a mix. https://www.hogbackd … ry.com/our-whiskies/

Hogback ‘Oak & Aspen’ Bourbon, 61.8%
So this is a high rye bourbon finished with aspen wood stakes for 3 months. The sample is ~4 years old. The nose has a noticeably dry wood character to it, similar to lumber isle in a hardware store. The palate is spicy and pleasantly woody, sweet; lots of toasted notes, quite creamy texture. This reminds me somewhat of lighter MGP stuff, though I believe this is distilled at the distillery itself. Long, pleasantly sweet and lingering aftertaste follows with a touch of cinnamon in the very back. Overall: Enjoyable for a sipper. Hard to tell this is young. Lacks secondary notes, but overall a reasonably rounded experience, that extra wood really helped here I feel by filling in some gaps so that the palate doesn’t fall flat onto itself. Value: N/A. This is undiluted version, the official version is 44% abv and costs $45. If the high proof version is about $60, it’s a fair deal.
Score: B

Hogback ‘Eclipse’ Rye, 60.5%
This time a rye from the same distillery. From the blurb: “Aged a minimum of 4 years in a virgin oak barrel and ex-rum cask”. Smells like a typical rye to be honest, salty dill and pine, with a touch of nuttiness. The palate is a different story entirely. Very complex and multilayered. Salty, sweet, spicy, this reminds of a sweet and spicy pickle of some kind. The aftertaste calms down somewhat after the roller coaster that is the palate, its medium length, and slightly bitter at the very end. Water makes it a little better with apples coming through but it’s still a weird one. Overall: This has the ‘typical’ rye underpinnings which I usually don’t enjoy so I don’t particularly like this one either. The nose is alright, the palate is wild and aftertaste brings some bitterness. It certainly is flavorful but it’s almost like 3 different drinks rather than one. It could have used some more time in the cask to integrate better. I’ve finished it surprisingly after a bit of added water so perhaps it’s in the drinkable category. Still I’d rather mix than sip it. Value: This is $70 on the official site… Which isn’t a particularly great deal.
Score: C

Hogback Wallace Malt, 61.6%
This is a Cask #5: Matured in ex-rye American oak barrels for four years, then finished for six months in 4-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels from the Philip Togni Vineyard, Napa. The initial nose is quite funky and I’m letting it air out. The best approximation is that it smells like cooked buckwheat, nutty and somewhat yeasty. Frankly the nose has some of those newmake notes that come from low aging or weird cut during distillation. I am NOT a fan of this at full proof. I need to proof it down. Still nope. Too grassy and acrid, bordering on bitter. Way too weird for me. Overall: It’s possible that something’s off with my palate tonight, meanwhile: “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do NOT like them Sam-I-am”. Perhaps someone may enjoy it? Value: This is $149.99 SRP?! Hard pass.
Score: D-

Hogback Wallace Peated Malt, 61.2%
Peat and barley is sourced from Scotland. Matured in ex-rye American oak barrels for four years, then finished for six months in 2-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels from the Continuum Estate, Napa. Alrighty this is sweet & acrid, heavily peated and frankly not my thing. I can imagine a peat-heads liking this. Supposedly it tastes a lot like Ardbeg. I don’t like Ardbeg. Value: $175. Hard pass
Score: D+


Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Grizzly Beast, Woodinville Moscatel, Red Line Toasted, Midwinter Nights Dram Rye, Sagamore SiB Rye, America!

Redwood Empire Grizzly Beast Batch 1, 50%
An interesting sample here: It was aged for five years in a lot size of just 26 barrels. The mashbill is a unique four grain recipe of 69% corn, 22% rye, 5% malted barley, and 4% wheat. The nose is slightly metallic, with light sulfur, though becomes toasted sugar and vanilla-forward once my nose gets close enough to the glass. There’s also slight nuttyness there, but it smells almost exactly like a wooden box of matches to me. The palate redeems the nose, it starts oaky and nutty, then turns quite sugary-sweet, then turns spicy, lightly minty, and bread-forward. It’s really going through that gamut of 4 component grains layering the flavor on the palate. The aftertaste has some dried apricots and minty. It lingers for a long time after the primary primary notes rapidly faded. Overall: Well, this is an enjoyable anyday pour that will nether disappoint nor amaze. That sulfuric note is a concern though the rest of experience is flavorful and multilayered. Value: Batch 2 is being offered for $89 though it does use a different mash bill and is in my opinion somewhat on the higher-than-average price for the age of the alcohol. Batch 1 was ~80 about a year ago and arguably still average-priced. This is a good value at ~$60-70… It’s not great value at $90.
Score: B+

Woodinville Moscatel Finish, 50%
A sample from friend Aaron. While initially only available at the distillery, the special moscatel (muscat grape-based fortified wine) is occasionally available nationwide, albeit surely in very limited quantities. Of note, while this is Batch 2 vs the exclusive Batch 1, the casks are sister casks, meaning this is one year older (so this is 6 year old or so) than the first release and same general source and distillation time bracket. The nose is typically oaky and spicy bourbon backed by the sweet muscat fruit notes. There’s a light fruity sourness to the nose too, perhaps something inherent to Woodinville’s stills or casks, as I recall same note in their general releases. The palate is sweet, almost too sweet, then thankfully flips into very fruity and heavily spiced bourbon. Kinda like a boozy peach and apricot cobbler that’s very toasty. Proof is solid, but not overwhelming. The aftertaste is mediocre here, it’s reasonably short, sweet and leaves lingering cinnamon, coffee and nutmeg around. Overall: An interesting counterbalance to a bourbon that’s finished in port casks that’s named after Angels. I really wish that the fruit hung around a little longer in the aftertaste, though there’s not much to complain here. Extremely enjoyable, if sweet, pour that is thankfully balanced out by the robust amount of spices. Without moscatel this would be over-oaked unbalanced bottle so there is something in this combination. Easily one of the best finished bourbons around. Value: With $99, it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow for a finished bourbon… Yet, moscatel finish is quite rare and this is overall quite good. So it’s worth a shot and frankly beats going to the distillery to get the bottle. ~$85 would have been much more approachable in my opinion.
Score: A (*Finished Bourbon)

Red Line Toasted Barrel, Breaking Bourbon Pick, 58.5%
This is MGP-sourced: https://www.breaking … h-bourbon-toastlines. The nose here is classic bourbon: grain, vanilla, baking spices, cornbread with syrup. More of the same on the palate, with definite sweet and woody vanilla toastiness coming in addition to everything that nose promised. Drinks quite under its proof. A ball of spices in the background continues into the aftertaste, seemingly fades and then comes back for a nice warm hug. Is this what they call the “Kentucky Hug” when referring to bourbon (even if this isn’t from Kentucky)? Overall: Very enjoyable both classic and modern light bourbon flavors. Not amazing but imminently drinkable. Value: N/A
Score: B+

A Midwinter Night’s Dram Rye Act 5 Scene 5, High West Distillery, 49.3%
So these releases are always of blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in french oak port barrels, exact composition and ratios, as well as sources, vary and aren’t disclosed. Nose-wise, this smells like High West rye finished in port cask (unimaginative ain’t it?). Actually, nuttiness, a little bit of eucalyptus, pepper, port sweetness come to my nose when I sniff it, the underlying core is still that fairly ‘bland’ High West rye. The palate is quite sweet and rounds up the light pepperiness of the rye nicely. The aftertaste continues with exact same notes as the palate had. Overall: This is pleasantly sweet and enjoyable… yet it falls a little flat somewhere and I’m thinking it’s the palate. It has some great primary flavors and falls through immediately into the aftertaste with nothing sticking around to smooth the transition. Value: This is a ‘fairly’ old bottle from 2017… at the time MSRP was ~$80, they are priced at suggested value of ~$100 if findable at retailers. The secondary is a bit higher. Not a bad drinker, but it’s value is in its scarcity, not the flavors.
Score: B+

Addendum: Having tried another of the MWND from 7.x series. It’s more of the same.

Sagamore Rye SiB, @SFWBSS Pick, 55%
(Short disclaimer, I’m somewhat under the weather with leftovers of a cold.) My first Sagamore rye sample ever! And my local group’s pick too! What a treat. On the nose, not very rye-forward, it smells more like a spicy bourbon. Sun-dried apricots, toasted wood, nearly-burnt pie crust. Definitely a spicy palate, with somewhat reasonable amount of rye-ness. More of the nose notes, this time loads of brown sugar, spiced up apricots, touch of charcoal bitterness. The aftertaste is lingering with baking spice black tea leaves, bordering on a very mild bergamot (earl gray tea) aftertaste. Overall: I’m enjoying the nose, the palate is alright, yet the aftertaste seems like it comes from a different bottle. The whole experience is good but not coherent and mostly seem to throw my palate around, not unlike a rollercoaster. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, while nothing particularly amazing either. Glad I’ve tried it but I’d not finish a bottle if i had one. Value: This was $60… Which is reasonable for a single cask, and overall probably a decent deal.
Score: B-


Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Sunday, December 4, 2022

2022/23 Chris-tmas Holiday Advent (Sample Exchange)

A local group I’m part of is doing a Christmas Calendar of blind samples. There are 22 samples with 22 guesses and 22 blind reviews. This is organized by friend Chris, thus the title. The bottles are supposed to be $80+ which both limits the choices and makes it much harder to guess. I’ll be updating this as I go!

The format is going to be:

Name — Brief Notes — Guess: — Reveal:

  1. GN — High proof and grain forward nose, picks up more sweet vanilla with time in glass. Light sulfur quickly fading. Tons of red berries on sugar-sweet palate. Raspberries, strawberries, caramelized pineapple, cloves, light cinnamon. Spicy and lingering finish that stays sweet through to the end — Guess: N/A — Yay — Reveal: Barrell 18 year old Kentucky Straight Whiskey, K&L #A111, 58.33%
  2. BT — High proof, light roasted almonds, vanilla toastiness on the nose, cherries? High proof indeed on the palate, lots of spice, a particular metallic nuttiness is present. The aftertaste drops off fast but tingles with cinnamon in the very end for a while. Few drops of water scale back the ethanol burn, but doesn’t make it taste young. — Guess: Light Whiskey 15; ABV: 60%+ — Nay+ — Reveal: Blue Run, High Rye, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 55.5%
  3. JR — Toasted wood and baking spices on the nose. Highly enjoyable to sniff. Sweet, not over-proofed palate. Reasonably high rye being spicy. Toasted wood-saturated palate, lots of baking spices. The aftertaste is pleasantly long, gets warmer in the back of the throat. Feels little malty, but unlikely to be a malt. — Guess: Henry McKenna or Low-proofed ECBP — Yay- — Reveal: Old Elk Wheated Straight Bourbon, MGP; Total Wine NorCal SiB; Mashbill: 51% corn, 45% Wheat, 4% Malted Barley; 56.9%
  4. JP — Definite malt on the nose. Tropical fruits, reasonably high proof, very light sulfur that fades quick. High proof palate, some grain; tropical fruits cut by the what I can only call grain notes. Long, high proof, cloves and cinnamon, and light tropical fruit aftertaste — Guess: Almost screams Irish with malt + grain mix. High proof Two Stacks? Reminds me of Teeling but too high proof for their regular stuff. Could be Redbreast Cask Proof — Yay — Reveal: Milk & Honey Single Malt; River City Whiskey Society SiB, Ex-bourbon; 59.5%
  5. KM — Nose has cinnamon vanilla ice cream & bananas. With time opens up into almost sherry notes. Palate is very fruity with more bananas and is backed up, yet not overpowered, by baking spices, cloves, nutmeg. Medium-long, sugary, lightly spiced aftertaste. Not overly malty, surprisingly — Guess: World Malt. Possibly American (bananas). Something Stranahan’s? Unlikely Scotch; 45% — Yay — Reveal: Green Spot Chateau Montelena Irish Whiskey, finished in Zinfandel barrels; 46%
  6. MBA — Nutty, sulfuric, dark & brooding nose, dried figs, light burnt rubber. On the palate, high proof, more rubber, lots of malt, nuttiness, sawdust. Long spicy sweet finish. Would be amazing if not for the rubber note — Guess: Amrut SiB Sherry Cask; Honorable mention to Balcones Rumble — Yay- — Reveal: Balcones True Blue Cask Strength, Eureka SP, 65%
  7. CB — Lightly metallic wine note on the nose combined with light malt and high proof; not quite sherry, not quite red wine. Reminds me of an old humidor with perfumed tobacco and wood. The palate’s got prunes, lots of spice, woodiness, malt, layers of complexity. Malty, sweet, long and gentle finish with a spicy tingle at the very end that turns into sawdust dryness — Guess: Malt; double or triple casked; with a wine cask in the mix. Random Callout: Glenallachie Cask Strength — Yay — Reveal: Maker’s Mark BRT-02; 54.7%
  8. PC — Dry wood sawdust/wood chips nose. The palate’s got sweet cinnamon, high-ish but not overpowering proof, sugar-roasted walnuts. More walnuts in the aftertaste that last for a while with a slightly metallic tingle — Guess: Old Weller Antique Single Cask? This got some characteristics of MPG and Knob Creek too but not corny. Tastes like something out of Buffalo Trace — Yay — Reveal: Maker’s Mark Total Wine Private Selection; #20044 “Fireside Spice” ; 55%
  9. SR — Baked apples & perfume nose. Rye?. Light dill. Palate is sweet, peppery, light metallic tang, doesn’t taste like rye at all, unlike the nose. Highly drinkable proof and in general super drinkable. Long sweet aftertaste with mellow spices. — Guess: Something from Wild Turkey? Russell’s Reserve 10 — Yay — Reveal: High West Bourye, 22A10; 46%
  10. DW — Chocolate and cigarettes on the nose. Lots of wet leather and some grain spirit notes. Malt on the palate, coffee, bitter chocolate, spices, not sweet, light nuttiness. More bitter chocolate and coffee on the medium length aftertaste — Guess: Scotch. Edradour? Kirkland Sherry Cask Finish? 46%– Yay — Reveal: Yamazaki 12, 43%
  11. JK — Bourbony, high proof, wood, vanilla, minwax wood finisher, caramel, cinnamon nose. What I can describe as MGP palate, high proof, sweet, slightly sour, bitter with wood, loads of baking spices with cinnamon dominating. Long warm and peppery aftertaste. — Guess: High proof MGP, Possibly Joseph Magnus bottle, or from someone that sources (NBC) — Yay — Reveal: Elijah Craig Private Barrel 8; LiquorLand Pick - Thekedar S&M, 65.05%
  12. VS — Vanilla toasted wood caramel nose, tobacco. Liquid caramel and wine finish on the palate. Very hot, light maltiness. Short hot and sweet aftertaste — Guess: Westward Malt Single Cask, Wine Cask. — Nay+ — Reveal: Obtainium Light Whiskey, Finished in PlumpJack Cab Barrel; 68.7%
  13. EM — Strong, nutty, slightly sour, woodyness on the nose. The palate is full of roasted nuts with peanuts dominating but backed up by a core of near-bitter woodiness. Woody, nearly bitter, nutty lingering finish. — Guess: Something Beam Based. Bakers? Knob Creek? — Yay- — Reveal: Bib & Tucker 12; OCBS / Cypress pick ; 49.5%
  14. IT — Perfume galore on the nose, with somewhat spicy flowers. Sweet & fruity palate, balanced spices that don’t overwhelm, woody vanilla, lightly drying. Loooong aftertaste gentle with sweet sichuan numbing peppers that lasts and lasts — Guess: I’m stumped… — Yay — Reveal: Smoke Wagon Straight Rye Whiskey Bottled-in-Bond, 50%
  15. JE — Rye nose, roasted caraway seeds, light fennel. Palate starts sweet becomes spicy with some rye spice while staying sweet and unobtrusive. Not too proofy, but somehow numbing in the mouth, somewhat medicinal. Aftertaste is short and mostly missing. — Guess: Templeton Rye — Nay — Reveal: Spirit Works Rye Whiskey 8; 45%
  16. KF — Rye nose, but with a solidly nutty and noticeably darker undertones. The secondary notes here reminded me of a cigar smoke. Oh wow, high proof, flavorful, more of the same cigar coffee notes. Lingering spice in the aftertaste with some dill — Guess: Templeton Cask Proof Rye — Yay- — Reveal: Traverse City Straight Rye 7; Total Wine SiB; 59%
  17. TO — Sweet and funky to the point of smelling almost like spoiled vegetables (sulfur). High-ish proof caramel behind that funk note though. On the palate, caramel, none of the funk. Sweet, proofy, red fruit notes. Long aftertaste with sometimes-gentle, sometimes hot, cinnamon follows — Guess: Texas-style High Proof Bourbon — Nay+ — Reveal: Frey Ranch Single Cask; 62.23%
  18. TV — Sweet and grassy with a bit of a spoiled fruit note oddly contrasting the veggie note from the other SbS. The palate starts sweet, then turns bitter, then turns sweet and honeyed again. Light, sweet aftertaste follows with more honey — Guess: Something High proof with honey. Tough Call. Since its SbS with TO Perhaps Good Times regular and honey finish? — Yay- — Reveal: Westward Single Cask; 57%
  19. KT — High proof sweet caramel on the nose… Not overpowering, woody, sweet, lightly corny, toasted vanilla palate. Lightly spiced finish that lingers sweetly but doesn’t overwhelm — Guess: Larceny Cask Proof? — Yay- — Reveal: Baker’s 107; 11.8 years old, Costco Bay Area SiB; 53.5%
  20. KK — Color: Dark! Tear-inducing proof, lots of wood on the palate. Very very very hot palate that overwhelms everything. Cinnamon, wood, baking spices. Long aftertaste with more cinnamon and baking spices. Water highly recommended to tame the beast — Guess: Google suggests it’s ECBP; nearly 140 proof, sure, let’s go with this — Yay — Reveal: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Release #8; 69.9%

What an unexpected lineup! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Widow Janes and Pinhook High Proof.

Widow Jane tasting samples. Located in Brooklin their story sounds great on paper. Let’s see if their product keeps up.

Widow Jane 10 year old Bourbon, 45.5%
The nose is slightly nutty and quite mineral-forward. Somewhat reminds me of a bunch of dill seed. Meaning this is high rye mash. Enjoyable palate between sweetness, some grain, little bit of that same dill seed, baking spices, roasted walnut bitterness and alcohol. The proof is just right to be both easily drinkable and flavorful. The texture is… thin, but flavor isn’t thin, which clashes a little bit in my head. The aftertaste is surprisingly medium-long, and is actually rather enjoyable here with all those flavors from the palate slowly fading while each shows something new in a slow rotation. Overall: Enjoyable drinker with nothing that offends. It’s nutty but not on the level of Tennessee product and is well balanced. Value: This is listing at about $65 which is slightly about average nowadays but more or less becoming the norm. For comparison Eagle Rare which is another 10 year old is still ~$30; while Henry McKenna, another 10 year old, is reaching into the same $70 range.
Score: B

Widow Jane Rye, Oak & Applewood, 45.5%
Well, I wasn’t planning to have rye today but this ended up in my glass before read the label. Obviously rye on the nose. Together with dill (caraway) seeds. Pine needles and pine resin, yet reasonably tame. The palate is primarily sweet and enjoyable. Also doesn’t quite taste like a ‘regular’ rye, if such thing exists. Lots of vanilla, raspberries, some wood, little bit of anise/caraway; light and enjoyable. Long and *very* underwhelming aftertaste, light sweetness and it’s gone… then eventually it does taste a teensy bit like an apple in the very tail notes. Overall: With the disclaimer I don’t usually like rye… I like this one. I only wish this had some sort of a notable finish to write home about. This is totally approachable by anyone that’s not a hardcore rye-head and willing to deal with quite a few subtle flavors. Value: Total Wine lists this at $52… I’ll say this is about average, trending towards good value, if you like VERY light rye.
Score: B+

Widow Jane Rye, American Oak, 45.5%
Another Widow Jane Rye… The nose is rather lively with light fennel and vanilla without being overwhelming. There are also some toasted wood notes in there somewhere. Palate starts with lightly toasted wood, slight touch of fennel, once again. It continues into more oak and toasted vanilla note. Very lively casks here. The aftertaste is gently fading with more of the same from the palate and lasts about medium amount of time with few notes lingering longer. Overall: A bolder version of the Applewood, this one is more into the direction of more typical rye on the wood composition, though not on the mashbill. I’m of the understanding that Widow Jane Ryes are 51% rye mashbill, which leans towards gentler balanced and less in-your-face flavors. Another enjoyable exemplar of a rye that doesn’t quite taste like a rye. I’ll say this is an excellent crowd-pleaser for @work or a party bottle to share. There’s hardly anyone that would dislike it. Value: at ~$45 this is about average, trending towards good value for a rye.
Score: B+

Widow Jane Lucky 13 Bourbon, 46.5%
Back to the bourbons we go! Roasted corn on the nose, together with some toasted oak. Like Heaven Hill x Dickel levels of toasted corniness. Very corn-forward palate backed up by surprising amount of wood tannins. Nearly drying secondary notes after initial grain hit. Over time, it becomes somewhat less corn-forward but little more wood-bitter. Same notes from the palate continue into the medium length aftertaste. Overall: An enjoyable bourbon with nothing outstanding. Something that can be shared and enjoyed during a conversation. Nothing broken here. Nothing outstanding either. This is a solid performer in the upper 1/3rd of the pack. Always a runner up, never a winner. Value: Total wine lists it at $86.99 though I’ll argue that’s a bit high on the value… Comparable age-stated bourbons nowadays are certainly reaching into $99 range. Average-ish price it is.
Score: B+

Widow Jane ‘Decadence’, 45.5%
This is a blended straight bourbon whiskey aged 10 years and finished in Crown Maple syrup barrels. There’s a roasted, nutty, vanilla complexity to the nose which changes depending on how much I swish it in the glass. Perhaps a touch too nutty. Or perhaps it’s the jack/tennessee note that I’m not quite a fan of and is often easily identifiable. Thankfully the nuts aren’t overwhelming the nose. The nuttiness is gone or integrated into the a solid whole. Perhaps candied snack mix? Somewhat sweet and syrupy but delicious palate with lots of baking spices, sugar, loads of maple syrup for sure. The palate is a bit of a mix of bourbon notes and maple syrup. Gently fading for a while. Like eating cornbread with syrup. Overall: Enjoyable, if a tad too sweet for a casual pour, this is certainly a dessert in a glass. This may somewhat offend purists while pleasing fans. For now, annual 12k batch sells out quickly so it must be approachable by enough folks. Value: Around ~99 for 2022 this is somewhat above average, considering this is a ‘gimmick’ bourbon. Though perhaps tolerable for the uniqueness.
Score: B+

Pinhook High Proof, 59.97%
This is the Bourbon Heist named edition of Pinhook. Originally distributed as part of Eureka Subscription box but also easily findable in Total Wine. This is definitely not a single cask. Distilled in Castle & Key in Frankfort KY and ‘aged for more than 3 years’, making it Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The nose is enjoyable if a tad too young, as in high in alcohol, and lacking in deeper flavors that longer maturation time would bring. Lots of cinnamon, pepper, light nuttiness, this has new’ leather smell vs ‘old’ leather smells here. The palate is young and lively, light nuts, cinnamon, lots of alcohol, quite fruity and flowery-fragrant. Akin to drinking perfume. The same perfume impression continues to the medium length aftertaste that brings nothing surprising to the table. Overall: This is young, flavorful, high proof but ultimately disappointing pour. There’s nothing great about it, while thankfully not having an offensive quality. A perfect example of ‘try it once and never again’. With water it’s slightly more drinkable. Perhaps an interesting mixer faire here on the premium side. Value: ~$40 on paper sounds like a good value. Until you read the age. Just… anything less than ~5 years in a cask just isn’t worth it.
Score: C

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Blended Malt XO, Glendalough, Penderyn 6, Edradour 12, Notable Age 30 … More mixed bag

Whiskey Agency Blended Malt X0, 51.4%
A bottle from 2017. Another one from an auction by way of my friend Logan. Unpeated, sherried blend. Likely speyside and/or highlands. Complete mystery what’s inside or how old it is… though by my guess it’s probably at least 18+ years old. On the nose, oak, malt, nuts, leather. Nothing overwhelms. Smells like old sherried malt that’s not overaged. On the palate, delicious high quality oak and sherry together. Basically, nearly burnt figs. Not bitter but definitely getting there. Lots of sweet umami, burnt sugar. Aftertaste is long with more of those not-quite-burnt sweet notes, slowly fading, some charcoal and black licorice in the very end. Overall: Amazing blend from old stocks where quality of this caliber nowadays is incredibly hard to find. Sherry lovers (and me) should rejoice. Perhaps slightly too one dimensional, but it’s basically what those 25 year old sherried costco blends could have been if done like 20 years ago with access to all sorts of amazing sourced stuff. Value: N/A from auction.
https://www.whiskyba … /blended-malt-xo-twa
Score: A

Glendalough Irish Whiskey, Double Barrel Single Grain, 42%
We’ve got a N.A.S. Single Grain Irish whiskey first aged in a bourbon barrels and then finished in oloroso sherry barrels. The nose is somewhat old oil and metal with a side of cigarette smoke, like an old fishing boat perhaps or and old train car. It’s got that old railway grease kind of whiff. The palate is neutral spirits, fruity, mellow spice, sweet and nutty with some of the sherry and caramel. The aftertaste is where it falls apart with grain spirit and lack of age. There’s nothing to hold onto the mouth and short aftertaste quickly fades with sherry sweetness and light spice. Did i mention it’s got a reasonably thin ‘texture’? Overall: I don’t dislike it but it’s basically sherry aged… grain spirit (read ‘vodka’)… and to be fair not particularly drawing my interest. It’s by no means bad (though I wish the finish lasted a little longer) but it’s also doesn’t stand out. Arguably a solid @work pour that will not offend anyone. Value: Total Wine lists these at $35… which is actually a good price everything considered. I’d say reasonable value here knowing what to expect.
Score: B-

Penderyn 6, RoCo SP, Port Cask, 59.3%
Another Penderyn pick, I’ve reviewed a similarly sourced one, yet with Cognac casks in the mix before: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry220411-202626 to somewhat mixed results. Let’s see if this one can change my opinion. The color is reddish brown. The nose is very port-forward. Fortified red wine all the way! Palate is sweet and also wine-forward with lots of red fruits, slightly spicy and had a bit of a metallic funk. The palate lacks secondary notes, which is not surprising considering the age of the spirit. The aftertaste is medium length and quickly becomes very spicy and warming while still staying wine-forward. Overall: This is a very wine-forward port cask offering from Penderyn. Shockingly for the proof… I don’t hate it. But I will admit that i’m a fan of wine finishes. This is definitely a young spirit that saw a very active port cask in it’s short lifetime. It will likely please fans of port casked malt enough to consider it viable. Frankly, the cask masks any off-notes but it also overpowers everything else too. Value: N/A Probably slightly overpriced for the age. The cognac cask was ~$99 from same store so we’ll assume same valuation.
Score: B

Edradour 12, Ibisco Decanter Series, Cask #326 57.4%
I’ve reviewed (and have tried) Edradour before and generally found it oversherried and… wanting something more. There was one exceptional bottle that I’ve tried… but I digress. Let’s see if this bottling from the premium decanter series brings something new. The nose is… dusty… sherry cask sawdust, well seasoned, dusty wood being cut up into planks. Occasional weird whiff of… something sulfuric, like a matchbox. The palate is reasonably balanced between funk, sweetness and woodiness with neither dominating. Mostly same notes of seasoned wood are present, but at least they aren’t dry and the sulfuric note is gone. The palate is in fact mouth-watering, slightly funky, nearly bitter from the sherry. Perhaps some thoughts of bitter cocoa nibs are relevant here. The aftertaste is long, mouth-coating, and a little heavy on (very) bitter chocolate all the way down. Overall: Excellent example of non-sweet sherry bomb! Sherry just runs over everything in the bottle though. It’s really quite good and proof helps a lot here. Yet… I’m not really tasting anything but sherry. It’s possible that the malt is so heavy that integrates with the spices well though it’s definitely leaning somewhere on the lightly bitter side of the spectrum. Value: This should be about ~$140… 3 years ago which is a ‘maybe’ for the ibisco decanter, though not for the age. Above average pricing, but also a premium product.
https://www.whiskyba … 145483/edradour-2007
Score: B+

Notable Age Statements “NAS” 30, Decadent Drinks Blend, 45.1%
Official Blurb: “A single sherry butt of blended malt. This is vatted stock of numerous old Signatory cask samples and bottling run ends that was married and put into fresh sherry wood with a minimum age of 16 years old. The composition is by now at least 30 years old, but contains within it many much, much older whiskies, many of which hail from closed distilleries and date back to the 1960s. We’ve bottled this butt at natural cask strength and the result is a wonderfully aromatic and old style sherried malt.” The nose is old school nutty sherry funk. Nosing this is fantastic. The palate is quite sweet, rather reminiscent of speyside style with nutty, heavy (surprisingly modern) sherry notes; secondary notes of tobacco, coffee, leather, but nothing dominates. The components are well integrated as a complex and layered whole. The aftertaste… surprisingly weak and mild. There’s a little bit of malty vanilla sweetness and residual spice, but it disappears fast leaving me wanting more of that nose and palate. Overall: Fantastic start with a rather mediocre finish. Still, more please! Value: Listed at ~$265.00 this was expensive…
https://www.whiskyno … nts-decadent-drinks/
Score: A

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown