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