Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Weller, Willett, Jefferson’s, Bardstown Bourbon samples 3

Yet, again we are in this predicament with more bourbon samples. Some unique, some not so much.

Weller 12, 90 proof
As today is Wednesday… Lets appropriately start with a Weller 12. This is the same wheated BT mash bill as all the other Wellers (and Pappy) aged at least 12 years and batched among some barrels for consistency. MSRP is around 39.99, secondary is 199.99 (oof!). Nose is… fairly typical Weller/BT faire with sour cherries and fair amount of wood. The wheated mash bill is felt a little bit on the nose making it more subtle and more of a refined sugar smell vs typical charred caramel that bourbons tend towards. Palate is soft, velvety smooth, slightly woody and well balanced with the sweetness. Neither overwhelms or under-represented here. The aftertaste is gently with wood and spice coming to dominance yet still in a gentle way. The whole experience feel like a gentle blanket that makes me go for more… yet it’s not really compelling enough to truly shine. I get a feeling it’s trying to be too… gentle of an experience with nothing for me to latch on to say ‘THIS is what I want in my glass’. The proof is also unfortunately underwhelming… can this be higher proof PLEASE… oh wait.. that’s basically pappy or William Larue Weller (BTAC) then. A fantastic bottle up to double MSRP, but not worth the hype train or the secondary pricing at near $200. An excellent, pleasurable, yet un-inspiring pour.
Score: B+

Willett Bourbon, Ledger’s SP #4795, 129.6 proof
A 6 year old single cask picked by Ledger’s in Berkley. A little rye and eucalyptus forward nose with tons of live spices in it, very lively and a bit proofy, considering the abv. The nose has a bit of a sour apple note so it is very pleasant to say the least. Palate is hard to describe, rye spices, heavy roasted nut (NOT peanuts) presence, quite bitey from the proof but not overwhelmingly so. Very unique palate, not that sweet, bordering on savory, herbal, nutty, and nearly bitter, but not quite ever entering unpleasant territory for me. The palate continues the crazy concert from the palate with spices dominating. Absolutely unique and unlike anything I’ve tried before this is a wow stunner. It’s a shame it doesn’t quite fit my preferred, sweeter, drinking palate as it such an interesting pick and is certainly an experience to be had. In some ways it reminds me of the kaleidoscope of flavors I’ve had out of malted Old Potrero rye single casks, while this leans towards bourbon, it retains some of that herbal eucalyptus whimsical play onto the senses. Of course this is something long gone and considering the Willett 6’s year bourbon pricing, I’d think twice before paying for this bottle in the first place, so this is certainly in the ‘beg your rich friend that has it for a pour’ category.
An interesting similar sentiment from Mark and Michael here: https://the-right-sp … -bourbon-store-pick/
Score: A-

Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old, 90.2 proof
I saw this at a store priced same as regular Jefferson’s Reserve and couldn’t pass up. Looks like the bottle was produced towards the end of 2014. Real age of contents: unknown but some sort of a mix between 8 and 18 year old bourbons, mash bill is also unknown, but leans towards wheated profile. Nose is typical rye forward whiskey and little more alcohol than the proof may suggest but mostly just tells me that this is a ‘bourbon’. Some sweet vanilla, alcohol burn, and few dark fruits are also present. Palate is fruity with citrus notes, vanilla of course and caramel. The wood offers a bit of a burnt toffee or coffee note in the background without being too present. Mouth texture is pleasant and slightly viscous. The finish is warm and warming with more of the notes from the palate. Unfortunately it’s too low proof and too watery on the flavors to be of any real interest and if proofed up this would be too bitter and way unbalanced into the charred wood bitterness (not toasted, charred). Certainly get a taste at a bar, as this is inoffensive, but skip buying this as a bottle. Plenty of other things out there that are much more interesting. @work this would probably be a good one or at least will be done fast as it is an easy drinker that doesn’t require any thoughts behind it and instead requires something to fill the void, be that conversation or some kind of different activity. I’m not regretting drinking this, yet I’m also not excited to have more of it either. This is a completely neutral start of the night and leaves no last impression, making this a solid…
Score: C-

Willett 6 year old SiB
No other info provided. Assuming it around 120 proof as with other Willett single casks.
Nose is fairly intense alcohol, vanilla, spun caramel sugar, citrus and orchard fruits. Palate is all about grapefruits with slight bitterness being well pronounced. Eucalyptus notes come up in the palate after some time. The usual sugar and caramel flavors are there too. Not quite typical MGP profile, it’s somewhat pointing in that general direction. The aftertaste fades slowly into sweet and gentle spices. This takes water like a champ and cuts the alcohol bite, becoming rather pleasantly relaxed and sippable even if staying on the lighter side of the spectrum.
Score: B+

Bardstown Discovery Series Batch 3, 110 proof
A blend of: 45% 13 years old bourbon from MGP, 32% 13 years old bourbon from Barton and 23% 10 years old bourbon from Wild Turkey (though it could be JB) the distilleries aren’t stated, only mash bills which are open to infererence. Super quick taste suggests Turkey, not Beam. Intense wood caramel and MGP+Turkey spices on the nose, basically sweet and spicy and woody, really enjoyable. On the palate… it’s like MGP and Wild Turkey had a beautiful pheonix of a baby. Dusty cherries, sweet oak and spices, some chocolate, bit of licorice. Yum! It’s fantastically integrated and exceptionally multilayered. The aftertaste continues the multilayered avalanche of flavors from the palate while substantially potent it’s only about average length with tingling sensation afterwards. In short: it is very, very good stuff. The MGP spices compliment WT well with barton balancing it out fantastically makes this quite an enjoyable sipper. While this doesn’t quite make me go ‘wow’ while drinking it, it is an excellence in blending of different mashbills that shines though. This is essentially 13 year old MGP blended with Russell’s Reserve and balanced off by 1792… and it is real good. The price is a little… questionable for me as none of the components are really expensive per-se so I’ll leave it up to the reader to establish their valuation.
Score: A-

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Joseph Magnus Revisit

So, I happen to have a number of Jos. A Magnus samples from different single cask bottlings that I have acquired over the course of months. So I figured a quick side by side would be of my own interest. Majority of these should be MGP but it’s not a 100% guarantee I’m able to make. The usual single casks being different disclaimer applies for this entire post… Their additional bottlings have been previously covered here:

Joseph Magnus. Wine and Whiskey Cellars SP. #1374, 106 proof
A private bottling that I could find very little about of online, other than this is for sure 13 year old MGP, single cask store pick.
Nose: Woody MGP spice, with a touch woody varnish and dark caramel. Little on the intense side.
Palate: Maybe it is my palate tonight, but tastes slightly soapy. For the most part it is a fit to MGP profile. Like a very woody SAOS 5 year old. The intense flavors continue… Notably not too sweet, but everything else is dialed rather up there including wood which makes for a somewhat bitter sip.
Aftertaste: Mostly same as the plate with wood fading last with a tiny bit of charry bitterness in the very end.
Overall: A little too woody and a little too bitter for my taste. Not offensive by any means but not my first pick of the night for sure. Certainly a take on a less sweet and woodier MGP but for me it leaves it unbalanced. With water opens up a bit, but nothing too major happens other than becoming easier to swallow. Definitely try it, and if you like that char-forward wood, it will be up your alley! For ~$99 this is a very hard bottle sell for me.
Score: B-

Joseph Magnus, K&L Wines SP, #1384, 103 proof
Here’s a link to the product page: Another 13 year old Magnus Pick and only fitting to have it side by side with its sister cask.
Nose: The wood on the nose seems better balanced, and spices and caramel are coming through nicely.
Palate: Burnt caramel and wood but much MUCH better balanced than the #1374 above as far as wood-to-spice-to-sweet goes.
Aftertaste: Genly and predictably fades from the palate. Still slightly charry in the very back but not overwhelmingly so.
Overall: A good example what a difference cask makes on balance and overall enjoyment. Pretty solidly enjoyable… Yet not much more than a B in my book. Just not my style of a bourbon here. I wish it was a little bit sweeter and then it’d be awesome.
Score: B

Joseph Magnus, Nasa Liquors. “Tiramisu”, 115 proof
Nasa Liquors is in Houston Texas. Some info here: http://flightclubict … ection-announcement/. Little proofier than it’s sisters. Seems like an 11-some year old MGP. Let’s see how it compares.
Nose: Almost perfume-like. The proof, surprisingly, helps itself out here. Still mostly same general flavors, but this one seems to be lightest in wood of the 3, but it could simply be the proof talking. Solidly tasty on the nose at least. Slightly singe-y but not terribly so.
Palate: Yes! Finally a sweeter version of the Magnus. Wood is now offset by the sugar and it’s great. Strong and proofy and punchy but great.
Aftertaste: Still very slight bitterness at the very back but it doesn’t distract too much from enjoyment as sugar continuously offsets the wood notes. The proof is solid and very present through the experience.
Overall: Of the three I’ve tried so far, this is the one I liked the most. After not too long of a contemplation, it’s the balance of sugar to wood on the palate and the aftertaste. WIth a few drops of water it opens up into a fantastic drink by scaling the wood char slightly down without losing sugar. It’s not perfect, but it is near close to it. I’d be pretty happy to nip at a bottle of this. Many thumbs up on the selection, there’s not much to fault here.
Score: A-

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend, Batch 28, 122 proof
This is a blend of bourbon barrels ranging from 12 to 20 years in age, finished in cognac, sherry & armagnac casks. Batch 28 is notably a combination between Batches #24-26 and those are a secret blend of ratios of mentioned cask types. In short, this is a blend of blends.
Nose: Mix between sherry sweetness and MGP spice and wood. Pleasantly deep and slightly musty.
Palate: Nice sherried and sweet but a tad too woody to be subtle so a lot of fruit from brandy is lost under the spice and the wood primary flavors.
Aftertaste: Continued from the palate into a gently fading but yet still too woody aftertaste that lasts for quite a while and FINALLY more subtle flavors appear at the very end.
Overall: For near-$200 price tag I’ve expected something more ‘amazing’… What i got is certainly tasty but not worth the price and the hype in my opinion. Very complicated and multilayered to say the least but perhaps too astringent of the batch which throws it off balance. The sherry and cognac definitely help it though and an argument could be made that this would be awesome with a cigar. I don’t smoke though. I do keep sniffing the glass and as I do like sherry finished bourbons and want to like it, but as is the balance is just a tiny bit off. If you like woody MGP and got some money that need to be spent in your pocket then by all means you’re not going to be dissapointed. It is what sherry finished bourbon should taste like with the fine example of MGP profile and works well enough.
Score: B+ (possibly higher)

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Foursquare Rums

Friend of mine keeps on telling me that I’m missing out by not trying rums. I shall indulge him. Foursquare rum distillery is fairly famous among the rum drinkers. I know nothing but feel free to read all about it via google… https://punchdrink.c … barbados-distillery/ and https://altamarbrand … uare-rum-distillery/… So with the disclaimer that I’m coming into this without having ANY palate for rums and will be judging it mostly compared to whiskey and scoring primarily how much I enjoy drinking it… Let’s get into it.

The info on the cask and age makeup is somewhat shamelessly copied from, credit to him for the info and if you like rum reviews it seems to be the site to visit/bookmark. Give it a read.

Foursquare Sagacity, 48%
From quick sleuthing: “We have a blend of Pot and Coffey Column distilled rums aged for 12 years. A portion of the rum in this blend is aged for the full 12 years in ex-Bourbon casks the other in ex-Madeira casks.” The nose is very sugar caramel and bananas, quite as expected out of rum honestly. Little woody, spicy, bourbon baking spices but different sweetness profile, more sugar, less corn. Again as expected out of rum. Some red wine asserts itself but wine is more of a notable influence on the finish. Very slightly rough around the edges on the spice profile which pleasantly offset the sweetness. Enjoyable? Yes… Tropical? Yes. Tiny bit too bitter and could use some tropical fruit as a chaser? Yes. Would I drink at the beach? Sure. Would I buy a bottle? No. This is a good rum that tastes like a rum.
Score: ? B+ /RUM

Foursquare Empery 56%
This is a blend of Pot/Column distilled rum aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks and a portion of Pot Column distilled rum which was aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks and then matured for a further 4 years in ex-sherry casks. Sherry Sherry… baby! Surprisingly sherried notes in the nose. If I didn’t know better, I’d be willing to guess this being a grain whiskey as it lacks the malty notes for obvious reasons. Oh this I like! Little spicy but very sherried on the palate, nice sweet backbone through the whole experience. More sherry and a little bit of spice on the aftertaste. Very tiny bit metallic on some of the secondary flavors but it’s minor and fades after some time in the glass. Real good stuff. Very VERY drinkable.
Score: ? A- /RUM

Foursquare Exceptional Cask Series 2008, 60%
This happens to be a blend of Pot and Column distilled rum which has been blended and aged for the full 12 years of maturation in Barbados. Tropically Aged Rum. The barrels used in the ageing process they are 1st, 2nd and 3rd fill ex-Bourbon barrels. With this rum Foursquare also advise that there in no added colour, sugar, additives and its non chill filtered. The nose on this is great. I been smelling it all evening and I’m not getting tired of it. Sweet, spicy and quite delicious on the palate this reminds of a very strong grain whiskey or perhaps lighter bourbon variety with tropical fruits, some raspberry, and bourbon spice. Strong and quite viscous sugar streak goes though the experience. The aftertaste continues wonderfully from the palate. This is certainly not sherried compared to Empery above (ex bourbon maturation), but no less enjoyable. Surprisingly drinkable even at full proof.
Score: ? A /RUM

You know.. Foursquare rums ain’t so bad. I’ll not be chasing these down but I also shouldn’t scoff at rums either. There are plenty good ones if one knows where and what to look for.

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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Glenglassaugh Tasting

I’ve participated in Glenglassaugh Distillery tasting the other day where we paired 4 different expressions from the distillery with some scottish baked goods from Scottish Tea Shoppe. Glenglassaugh itself got reasonably colorful history of being open/closed and open again. Feel free to read it on the Wiki: https://en.wikipedia … glassaugh_distillery. Since they were reopened in 2008 all the newer expressions from the distillery (aside from Single Casks) are NAS and are reasonably young.

Revival, 46%
Facts: Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Red Wine, Ex-Sherry Casks. ~ 7-8 years old in the current batch (this varies). Pairing: Seasalt Caramel
N: Fresh grapes, orchard fruit, some red wine and sherry notes. Orange oil.
P: Tannic spice, some sherry. wood. full body. Almost a little bitter.
A: More of the same from the palate, gently fading with malty flavors….
Thoughts: A little too bitter for me. Bitterness fades after a while but still a bit too rough and tannic from red wine.
Score: B-

Evolution, 50%
Facts: Ex-Tennessee Barrel. Pairing: Scottish tablet
N: Funky distillery note. Light tropical fruits. Pineapples.
P: Very full, buttery body… more of the light fruits from the nose. Reminds me slightly of chardonnay wine but in whiskey form.
A: Consistent with malty mouth-wrapping feeling of the palate.
Thoughts: A little too young and relying on inherent distillery profile to compensate for the age… Enjoyable, but somewhat on the thinner side of flavor while having a thick-ish mouth texture. Very much chardonnay with a kick.
Score: B

Torfa, 50%
Facts: Peated, Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry. Pairing: Mint shortbread. Disclaimer: I do not like peat.
N: Medium salty peat. Not quite islay and not quite highland. Something in between.
P: This is middle of the pack peated whiskey. Roughly comparable to Lagavulin perhaps.
A: Fairly thin aftertaste with some slowly fading peat. Too young to carry interesting complex peat or aftertaste notes, but not too overwhelming to be bad. On the good side, the mouth texture mostly carries it. On the bad side… there’s not much interesting in there. I imagine peat fans will generally like it.
Thoughts: Can really benefit from a pairing on this one to amp up the buttery notes…. Trying it with the mint shortbread that assessment is 100% on-point. Butter and sugar brings to the spirit what it’s missing. Overall, it’s a peated scotch. It’s not winning many awards but it certainly isn’t a drain pour either. Basically, it’s peated evolution.
Score C (Peat!)

Single Cask, Hi-Times SP, 57.3%
Facts: Port Cask #685, Aged 9 years. Pairing: Dark chocolate fudge.
N: Dark and dry sherry-like, even though it’s port. Some wood and spice. Distillery character funk. Noticeable alcohol due to abv. Woody spice.
P: Sweet dessert on the palate. The proof is on the high side, but for the most part the palate can handle it with the reasonably-typical thick texture and malt backbone. The high proof is a little bit overwhelming though and it can really benefit from a bit of water. Some spice and bitterness is present but restrained, compared to the Revival levels.
A: Gently fading wood spices with some sweetness. Unfortunately, bitterness comes to dominate towards the end.
Thoughts: Proofing it down with a bit of water snaps pieces into place and makes it a much more enjoyable. The youth is shows in lack of prominent secondary flavors but what there is pretty solid.
Score: B+ (/w Water)

I can see why distillery old stocks are quite sought after and won bunch of awards around 2010 when they reopened. I’m looking forward to what they’ll come up with in about 10 years or so as I believe this distillery got some solid potential, yet the current spirit is simply too young to be truly interesting. Aka: “Not too bad, kid. Come back when you’re few years older”.

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

Monday, March 1, 2021

Special Mystery Tasting

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a special bulletin… A mystery tasting. A friend via SFWBSS group have mixed up their own version of a fancy bourbon/rye blend out of the following components and would like folks to evaluate his efforts. So I’ve got 6 samples… One of the blend, one is a mystery misdirection sample, and 4 are the components of the blend. My mission, which I have chosen to accept, is to review the samples and provide my own ratings. The sample bottles are numbered so I’ll be reviewing and guessing what they may be blindly, I’ll write the answers at the bottom once my review is finished and I will find out the results from the source. The samples, in no order are:

  • George T. Stagg 2020, proof 130
  • Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel, proof: 120-130
  • Old Rip Van Winkle (Pappy 10) proof: 107
  • Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13, proof 95.6
  • The Blend of the 4 above, proof (given) ~116
  • ??? Sample

Without trying to be apologetic, the samples aren’t that large and I’ll be trying to save a bit after the answers are revealed, so if I guess wildly wrong… Well, I’m blaming it on small sample size :).

Sample 1 (tasted first)
N: First thing that comes to mind with nose… is rye. Somewhat malty notes, with good chunk of eucalyptus and sandalwood.
P: Well balanced, not too sweet, surprisingly punchy on the alcohol without much to hide behind in there, yet not overwhelming on alcohol burn. Solid amount of wood spice and vanilla. Somewhat thin body.
A: More herbal eucalyptus notes, still not all that sweet, almost savoury-woody. Lasts for a very long time with wood notes lingering.
O: Little too woody without much body and sweetness to balance out those woody notes. Still quite delicious, especially in the aftertaste department, it’s not quite as sweet as I’d ideally wanted it to be. A note that this is different wood notes from say Old Ezra 7 but more of an aged wood furniture feeling rather than charcoal on the palate. While flavorful, the low proof (compared to others) is a suspect and likely the answer to what it may be
Score: B+ ; Guess: Van Winkle Rye 13

Sample 2 (tasted last)
N: Amazing nose… To me at least. Orchard fruits, with plums dominating. Wood and spices. Not too high on the alcohol though it is certainly felt. Tobacco and leather emerge after some time.
P: A bit of everything on the palate. Rye, eucalyptus, more plums, sugar, leather, burnt caramel. Almost borders on a mess, but a delicious mess it is. Layers and layers of flavor mostly work together, yet… perhaps too many flavors end up fighting with each other for dominance with no clear winner.
A: Amazing aftertaste that lasts and lasts with flavors galore… By far the best and longest-lasting of all tasted today. Oddly, reminds me of a better-balanced GTS ‘20 on the aftertaste which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Overall: By process of exclusion, this should be the final blend… But is it? I think it is… Assuming it is the blend… The amazing nose and phenomenal aftertaste are sadly let down by a somewhat unfocused palate that tries to do a little bit of everything and ends up being a master of none. For a blend of BT products this surprisingly does not taste like something out of BT stills. Purely on the palate, it’s likely a B+ material but the nose and the aftertaste push this into A-… I want to bottle that nose and especially the aftertaste, please, O.M.G!
Score A- ; Guess: The ‘Mister Steve’ Blend

Sample 3
N: Cologne. So much strong french classic cologne. Sandalwood and some cola. High alcohol. I can keep my nose in this one for quite a while… Until it’s singed by the alcohol.
P: Eucalyptus, cola, lots of wood, rye spices galore. Almost tannic and slightly overwhelming on the wood part. Really high proof.
A: The proof fades, leaving buckets of primary and secondary flavors. The aftertaste drop off is sudden and unfortunate.
Overall: Clearly a BT product this heavily reminds me of Stagg Jr 14 I have. I dislike being ‘certain’ in blind tasting, but I’m fairly sure that this is GTS ‘20. Reviewed here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201221-143911. I’ll be repeating the score. The minus on the grade is fairly large with this one as the flavor profile is delicious but not my favorite which makes it not quite the first thing I’d pick up to drink.
Score: A- ; Guess: George T. Stagg 2020

Sample 4
N: Spicy, woody. Cherry. Strong on the alcohol, but not overwhelming.
P: More stuff from the nose. Fantastically balanced. Very cherry and lots of wood. Suggestive of BT flavor profile.
A: Sweet, woody deliciousness. A fantastic aftertaste that gently fades after a while.
Overall: I like it. I like it a lot. It’s what I think good bourbon should taste like. One of the better exemplars of American whiskey I’ve had.
Score: A ; Guess: Old Rip Van Winkle

Sample 5
N: Woody with bit of everything on the nose. Reminds me somewhat of SAOS/MGP Plumpjack Pick smell.
P: Oh this is 100% MGP palate. Spicy, sweet, fresh. Woody. Great stuff.
A: Same as palate above, gently fading for a while.
Overall: I’ve reviewed Plumpjack SAOS here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry200729-002755 and it’s arguably closest to it overall. With abundance of other SAOS bottles out there and perhaps knowing the tongue-in-cheek character of the provider of the samples; it could be SFWBSS SAOS pick or any number of others. IMHO… The provider of the samples should have stuck with BT theme to confuse the heck out of the guinea pigs tasters rather than provide an obvious giveaway… Nonetheless, I’m grateful for a delicious sample.
Score A- ; Guess: SAOS 5 year old MGP pick

Sample 6
N: Woody, cola, cologne again. Strongly suggesting BT product. Not too potent on alcohol burn yet still flexing its muscle. Solid amounts of… rye spice on the nose.
P: Very strong on alcohol. Yet, this still reminds me of Blanton’s if it was dialed to 11. Sweet vanilla fire basically… Some wood appears with time and balances it out decently well. Sweet vanilla BT fire suggest mash bill #2
A: Delicious and very classically BT aftertaste once alcohol fades a bit. This is palate-singeing initially, suggesting ~130 proof without much body to support it before it calms down.
Overall: I had to cut it with a few drops of water to make it not as fiery and it went full on delicious on me. Still, the balance is slightly off and I liked sample 4 more which is similar profile but waaay better balanced.
Score: B+ ; Guess: Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel

Nothing above this line will be changed, except to correct typos or grammar.

I was asked for tie-breaker ranking based on the blind results so…
In order of drinking preference: 4 > 3 > 2 > 5 > 1 > 6 though the differences in like/dislike are minor.

Answers vs Guesses:

  1. 2020 Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye — Guessed Correctly
  2. 2019 Bourye, 92 proof — Guessed Incorrectly
  3. Mister Steve Blend — Guessed Incorrectly
  4. 2020 Old Rip Van Winkle (Pappy 10) — Guessed Correctly
  5. Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel — Guessed Incorrectly (WHAT?!)
  6. 2020 George T. Stagg — Guessed Incorrectly

Re-tasting after knowing what each sample is…

1: 2020 VWFR Rye
Notes are consistent… Tasty and surprisingly active on the palate despite the proof. Too woody and not that interesting for a bottle but totally get a taste to check box it off…
Re-score: B+

2: 2019 Bourye, 92 proof
Does smell like a rye mixed with bourbon, which is why I thought it was the mystery blend. With the rye component not too sweet this could have been it. Other that it doesn’t taste like a BT product. Palate is a mess of flavors, not terrible by any means, but without direction it ends up unfocused. Man, that aftertaste is so good though. I think the giveaway here is the lower proof. Oh well. Still, I don’t mind drinking it.
Re-score: B+

3: Mister Steve
I’ll be frank… This is what GTS should taste like IMHO. Except it doesn’t… At least 2020 GTS doesn’t, but I not tried others. Perhaps 2019 with lower proof. The proof should have been a giveaway when compared to 130 proof monsters but I gave too much credit to my own resistance to high proofers and quality of the booze. Fantastic nose which is non-surprising due to rye and wheater. The palate is spicy mess sadly with what almost feels like MGP spice. Which in retrospect is coming from Blanton’s. It does taste higher proof than it is. Still really good and I prefer it to the #6 (GTS) while doing a side-by-side comparison.
Re-Score: A-

4: 2020 ORVW
Woody deliciousness on the nose but quite… subtle and almost gentle. Clearly a lower proof than the monsters… This is a fantastic pour. Cohesive, tasty and just overall great; this is the whole package.
Re-Score: A

5: Blanton’s SFTB
Very cherry on the nose. Totally not what I got out of it on initial pass. The palate is still a hot mess reminiscent of SAOS bottlings. The aftertaste redeems itself after the palate. I still like it, but it really is closer to MGP than to BT product. I’ve been told that this is one of the spicier Blanton barrels they had and that ’single cask disclaimer’ applies here, which makes sense…
Score: B+

6: 2020 GTS
Spun sugar and more sugar. For the interests of science dropped the proof on this a little bit with water. Nose is much less interesting that the #3 blend (of course due to rye influence). Concentrated woody, spicy dark caramels. Too woody and a little bit tannic for my tastes… I touched on this before… Don’t buy whole bottle… It’s good but it’s also too much. At the secondary pricing you’ll be disappointed. Nose the most outstanding quality here, with the rest is not being too exceptional.
Re-Score: B+

Re-shuffled preference order… Doesn’t count for overall ratings.
4 > 3 > 1 > 5 > 2 > 6

Reposting some of the text from the benefactor:

I put together 6 sets which each had 6 blind samples. Included was my Mister Steve blend and each of the individual components: Van Winkle Family Reserve 13yr Rye, George T Stagg, Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel, Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr. I also added in a unknown mystery blind to help throw people off when trying to ID or guess them. The outlier blind was the 2019 Bourye which I chose to add another lower proof whiskey to match the VWFR rye and also to get more rye in the mix.
I asked everyone who got the set to give me a ranking. Notes or scores weren’t required, but many included those. My goal was to find out what others thought of the blend stacked up against some tough competition, and ultimately learn if the blend was better than the individual components.

After getting everyone’s rankings back, I averaged the ranks across everyone and it was:
2. Mister Steve
3. Blantons SFTB
4. Bourye
5. GTS
6. VWFR Rye
Very surprised to see this, but a few notes here. Mister Steve was mostly 2nd or 3rd. It never won, but never did poorly. ORVW was consistently a top finisher and was a clear cut number 1. VWFR Rye made One Person’s number 1 but everyone else had it ranked 4th or 5th. GTS was very surprising coming in so low, it was middle of the pack for some and dead last for several. The 2019 Bourye was a great pour, but I expected it to get killed here up against this competition. Very cool seeing it hold its own.

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