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