Monday, June 19, 2023

Cali Gold, Blanton’s Gold, Frey Ranch Corn & Wheat, Murray Hill Club, Rare Character Bourbon; Americans Again

Going to be a mixed bag of samples or bottles I got to get them out of the way, some of these may be short.

Cali Gold, Private Blend Batch 3, 59.5%
This is a High Rye Kentucky Straight Bourbon, allegedly blended by the savant person down in Southern California. Nose got some toasted and wheated notes to it with a dollop of alcohol. The palate is rather corn-forwards and is somewhat spicy confirming the high rye part of the equation. Past the corn note, is where it gets interesting. Lots of baking spice intensity, few honey notes, touch of wood. The aftertaste pleasantly lingers for a while with burnt caramel flavor. This also gets better the longer it sits in the glass or with a drop or two of water, though it’s easy to overdo the water so a word of caution there. Overall: A competent sweet & spicy bourbon that reminds me of off-profile Weller Full Proof or perhaps a very very very good single cask of 1792. Value: Full stop here. Priced at $100 for 375ml prior to tax and shipping, this got one of the worst values in a while of anything I’ve spent on. This is absolutely not worth it.
Score: B+

Blanton’s Gold. 51.5%
Not quite regular Blanton’s, not quite SFTB Blanton’s. Single Cask as the norm and I have no idea on distillation or dump dates here, also BT Mash Bill #2. But likely to give me a good idea on what to expect. The nose is tropical fruit with light baking spice veil over it clearly coming from toasted wood of the cask. The palate, tropically sweet, mouth-watering, then dives into some toasted woodiness. Aftertaste is more of that mouth-watering toasted wood and cinnamon note that doesn’t overwhelm. Overall: I really like it. Perhaps it’s this specific cask but it’s a fantastic pour. It’s got the all the flavors I want and none that I don’t in a bourbon at the right proof/concentration. Value: Eeeeeeh… Not great as the only place that these are findable is reseller/secondary.
Score: A

Frey Ranch, 100% Malted Corn, 55%
A Frey Ranch single grain series, 100% corn in this case… aged 5 years and 10 months in what I can only assume single cask as these bottlings typically are. Actual malted corn whatever that means for corn, considering that it’s already quite sweet to begin with and doesn’t typically require starch to sugar conversion as barley does during malting process. The nose reminds me of a reasonably refined bourbon, corn and toasted wood with baking spices but is reasonably tame. I’m quite enjoying the nose on this, being like a bourbon-y perfume with just a touch of smoke. The palate is somewhat same as the nose and generally stays very even from where the nose started, subdued. The aftertaste is where it’s at here. It start with a cinnamon and ginger rush, then settles down into a very long aftertaste of buttery grilled corn. Seriously, this lingers exactly like foil-wrapped corn cob that’s been grilled with some butter inside of foil on the grill. Overall: Different, enjoyable, intriguing bottling that really showcases the grain (and also the cask to some extent). Not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but certainly is worth trying. Very solidly drinkable, provided you enjoy that grilled buttery corn note that, no joke, lingers for 30 minutes afterwards. Move aside, Mellow Corn, there’s a new 100% corn whisky king in town, and this one is actually worth a sip. Value: Priced at around ~$60 for 375ml this isn’t the best value for the money but there’s some credit due to quality and uniqueness.
Score: B+ (unique)

Frey Ranch, 100% Wheat Whiskey, 51%
A Frey Ranch single grain series, 100% wheat in this case… aged 6 years and 3 months in what I can only assume single cask as these bottlings typically are. A note that this really benefits from sitting in a glass for a while. The nose is paint thinner and vanilla caramel. The palate is somewhat thin on the texture yet manages to be a bit oily and mouth-coating. It brings toasted oak, baking spices and some breadiness but not much else to the table being reasonably neutral grain. The aftertaste got more of the baking spices and has a prominent peach note in it that brings perfume from nose full circle. Overall: Good spirit, aged in a good cask but there’s not much to work with when dealing with 100% wheat leaving this an interesting experiment. Probably more interesting as a mixer rather than as a neat pour, but does carry itself enough to be viable on its own. Value: Given away as part of a goody bag for @SFWBSS Fog City Social event the value is N/A but these are all priced about same so let’s slap a $60 valuation on this making it not that great of a value for 375ml, especially considering that wheat grain typically doesn’t bring anything interesting to the table being reasonably neutral.
Score: C+

Michter’s Rye, 2019 — 10 years — 46.4% — Score: B+ — Light and sweet rye with barely any dill or spice notes. Very pleasant to sip on, like a anise-seed and baking spices custard or a rye bread cookie. Overall: A pleasant mellow rye that’s ultimately forgettable
Bone Snapper MGP Rye — 4.5 years — 59.2% — Score: A- — A sample from Charu. High flavor high alcohol number on the nose. Starts sweet then slides into sugar syrup, eucalyptus and a touch of dill. Something between a typical MGP rye and old potrero malted rye here. Very interesting

So, personally, of the vs above… I’m torn. They’re both good for different reasons, with Michter’s being more casual and easy drinking and Bone Snapper being more fun and exciting. I’ll declare this a ‘tie’ situation due to either of these being more appropriate in different situations.

Murray Hill Club Bourbon, MGP Blend, Batch #38, 51.5%
A blend of MGP bourbons from Jos. A Magnus. On the nose: funky, nutty corn note and woody baking spices. It does benefit from sitting in a glass as it opens up. Sweet and slightly funky but not very complex palate, vanilla forward with . Medium length yet again custard-sweet with a dusting of cinnamon aftertaste. Overall: Pleasant, sweet, mellow MGP faire. Nothing particularly amazing, nothing particularly bad. A workable, drinkable bourbon that’s a fancy everyday pour for a fancy bourbon lover. Value: Here’s we got a problem. This is way too expensive for a casual everyday pour at $115.
Score: B+

Rare Character Exceptional Series, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 9 years old, K&L SP, 61%
That’s gotta be one of the longest titles I’ve written out as of yet. Alrighty, a K&L-picked single cask from Rare Character, Barrel E-KB-05, distilled in 10/2013 and bottled in 11/2022, making this 9 years old. Woody and spicy nose that’s well balanced on intensity despite high proof. Sweet palate that takes toasted wood note up the the edge of bitterness with warming baking spices following suit. Warming, woody, moderately spicy aftertaste with that warmth lingering for a while. After about 5 minutes there’s a notable grilled corn note that still lingers. Overall: Highly enjoyable bottling that doesn’t quite drink like anything else that off my recent memory. Some folk think this is sourced from Wild Turkey but who really knows. It’s darn good. Value: … In one word… ‘awful’! Priced at ~$170… that is exceptionally ‘meh’ as a blind purchase for a consumer.
Score: A-

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