Thursday, February 3, 2022

Elijah Craig 18, Russell’s 2002, Saint’s Alley, Spirit Works Wheat AmeriCANs

An American whiskey mix (blend?) for a change.

Elijah Craig 18, 45%
Another Heaven Hill bottle. Mashbill is 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye so fairly standard HH faire. These are all single barrels, so they do vary somewhat. This one bottled in 6/13/2019 and generously shared by friend Orpheus. The nose is dark chocolate chip cookies with a touch of alcohol on them. Palate is fruity and minty fresh primarily; somewhat conflicting with warmth that was emanating from the nose. The aftertaste is of medium length with little bit of lingering mint, vanilla, some wood and a touch of warmth after all. Overall: it’s enjoyable but somewhat generic. Low proof makes it imminently drinkable but also dilutes any interesting character. It cannot help being a crowd-pleaser though as this is essentially a ‘what a good bourbon should taste like’. Value: At $150+ MSRP this is somewhat acceptable (comparing to Michter’s 10 at similar proof at $159)… but honestly it’s not that great of a deal factoring barrel inconsistencies and low proof, not to mention availability being non-existent in the current secondary market asking for $250+. Ultimately, this is McKenna 18… and McKenna 10 costs $60 nowadays. This bottle is an easy way to make a few bucks for whoever catches the MSRP price first. Well worth having at a bar and maybe splurging MSRP on the bottle for an easy daily drinking, or to impress your friends with a crowd-pleaser… but definitely don’t overpay for it. I’ll put a “YMMV” yet again due to these being a single cask bottling as a reminder.
Another review of a different bottle here: https://www.breaking … 8-year-single-barrel
Score: B+

Russell’s Reserve 2002, 15 years old, 57.3%
Another sample from friend Ross, thank you! A 15 year old Turkey distilled in 2002 and one of only 2,500 (some sources claim 3,640) bottles. Toasty seasoned wood with nearly burnt vanilla caramel and vanilla extract on the nose, nutty rather than sweet. Burnt cherry jam that spilled onto the oven sheet while baking and then toasted up on it. The nose keeps on changing with time. Velvety smooth palate, dollops of spice on the secondary palate notes. Plums and cherries, some chocolate and old cigar (not smoke) on the primary ones. Drinks smoother than it’s proof would suggests. A cacophony of rye spice on the finish that lasts a medium-long period of time and is quite warming, bit of malt notes towards the end are a pleasant surprise. Overall: Oh I want to love this so much, I really do… yet the palate is rather uneven here which distracts from the experience and the balance of the Nose/Palate/Aftertaste feels off here. It’s big, it’s bold… and it’s a slightly rough experience around the edges. Is it better than Russell’s Reserve Single Cask?… Arguably yes… Age and personal touch adds a bit more complexity to the spirit. Of course this isn’t a single cask so a credit is due to the master blender’s palate and choices. Value: MSRP was in 2018 at $250 this is rather bad value. Even Pappy 15, a rough equivalent on pedigree and availability to this bottle ‘technically starts at’ $119 today… Almost certainly any Wild Turkey fan will pay gladly and considering secondary market is hot for these… Good luck finding a bottle even if i say it’s a ‘bad’ value.
Another opinion: https://www.breaking … ussells-reserve-2002
Score: A-

Saints Alley Bourbon Port Cognac Cask, 50%
A blend by Chris “the LiquorHound” Trevino, it is MGP and Ironroot Harbinger spirit blend finished in port and cognac. This is batch two and it’s one of 2400 bottles. Dark berry compote with burnt wooden spoon char on the nose, quite jammy and slightly peppery. Quite a full body with strawberry sweet port that’s backed up by plenty of wood and a kick of spice from MGP. Light pine notes, with bittersweet dark chocolate balance quite well and the spices bring everything together. Medium aftertaste seemingly fades fast, but then rises again with a cinnamon tingle to round it off. Overall: I really like it! It’s not a typical bourbon for sure, but the balance of sweet/spicy/fruity works fantastically here. This is what I imagined Angel’s Envy should be… so let’s leave it at: this is a much more interesting Angel’s Envy. It’s a finished bourbon which really should be its own category and not competing with other bourbons. Definitely a welcome surprise… I’ll reiterate that it’s scored based on my enjoyment rather than as a comparable to say George T. Stagg (that’s scored an A-), as I would consider them Apple vs Orange situation. Value: At $55… this is solid deal for a awesome sipper… Just get it while it lasts to try it out yourself.
https://www.totalwin … ?s=1124&igrules=true
Score: A-

Spirit Works, Straight Wheat Whiskey, Eureka Private Barrel. 61.8%
This is a blend of 5 to 7 year old straight wheat whiskeys, distilled in Sonoma by Spirit Works distillery. I’ve reviewed their products in some detail here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201020-182936 and frankly didn’t have much of a high opinion about their products, noting that just about everything is quite… juniper-y and smells like gin. Well… This is no exception… buuuuut… It somehow works in this one. The nose is straight sugar and sweet vanilla plums and inescapable alcohol notes due to high proof. The palate is odd, as it starts sweet just like the nose and then switches into juniper notes. The aftertaste is a bit short, and yet again very gin-like. Overall: Because this is wheat whiskey, there’s not much corn/rye spice going on, with juniper notes not clashing with anything. The proof works, considering that I found the regular wheat whiskey a little thin. This would make amazing mixer and a half-decent sipper of the something different category. If you like bourbons… you’ll hate this, don’t bother. If you want something different to try… then it’s a maybe. I am reasonably enjoying it but i like a different pour once in a while. Value: Not too sure due to this being in Eureka club box. But similar bottles are ~$70… honestly… below average on the value for the money.
Score: B

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