Thursday, July 29, 2021

Rogue Distilling, Old Fitz 15, Old Carter 13 SiB

Another evening, more reviews.

Rogue Distilling tasting samples, with rogue famously being an Oregon brewery, they been distilling since about 2003. They do distillations of all sorts of mash but it does lean towards malt somewhat.

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey, 40%
Smells malty with woody caramelized bananas as is fairly typical with American beer-adjacent whiskeys. Mineral and metal forward palate with slightly bitter wood notes. Aftertaste is more bitter metal, like tin water. Comparably low proof, this isn’t offensive but just barely drinkable. Don’t bother.
Score: D-

Rogue Original Single Malt, 40%
Nose is perfume-forward and very approachable. Still some plantains/bananas but it’s now with tropical punch. Rather pleasant, if un-inspiring malty fruity palate, still slightly bitter but not in a bad way, more of a charred tropical fruits. Somewhat bitter aftertaste which is unfortunate. This is a conundrum overall, as I can see some potential in this but low proof and overwhelming bitter note compared to other flavors is wrecking the experience. Probably worth a try but not a bottle. Honestly, it’s also fundamentally too young to have any real complexity and possibly with too short of a fermentation process.
Score: C

Rogue Cherry Single Barrel Project. 46%
And now for something different. Not going to look up details, but probably some sort of collaboration between distillery and a cooperage to use cherry wood casks which aren’t usually done. Not going to lie, the nose is… odd. Best I can describe is ‘really burnt cherry’. It’s nearly acrid with char and some smoke, almost-but-not-quite bordering on my least favorite ‘rubber’ notes but thankfully pulled back by some cherry. The palate reminds me of a mix between Dead Guy Whiskey with some cherry added in to amp up the palate and the aftertaste which unbelievably… works. The palate is flavorful and the aftertaste is long and is quite interesting with more burnt woody cherry notes. I wonder if there’s a bit of smoked barley in the mash here as there’s a decently prominent smoke (not peat) notes that I’m getting. Extremely interesting, this is also certainly quite unique and is not for everyone, but well worth trying for the complexity of cherry flavors alone. Fans of Manhattan cocktails should apply and would be quite pleased with this. In fact this is a lot like a Manhattan without bitters and done with a mellow whiskey instead of rye. I’d certainly have it as a food pairing with smoked duck or red meat; though solo it’s somewhat lacking.
Score: C+

Rogue Oregon Rye Malt, 42.5%
So this is about 51% malted rye, the rest is some mix of other grains. The nose is actually quite breathing the insides of a freshly baked rye bread, a bit of a steamy, savory, rye-ness. The palate falls apart… this is sorta nutty water. More of the same nutty water on the aftertaste. This should be like 60% abv… then we’d talk. at 42.5% it is water! No, just no… Just shy or drain pour for the sample, and I would not get or even consider keeping the bottle. Maybe a mixer? But there are so many better mixers. This isn’t it.
Score: D-

Rogue Rolling Thunder Stout Whiskey, 58.13%
Perhaps something a little special, or at least higher proof. This is quite dark in the glass, with pretty solid chestnut coloring. Nose is leathery wood with some unfortunate rubber notes balanced off by solid alcohol kick. This solidly evokes wood varnish on the nose for me. The palate is resinous wood, quite thick and with a nearly bitter streak of flavor though it that tastes almost like concentrated hops. Still some rubbery notes distract from otherwise exceptional palate. The aftertaste is drying with some woody bitterness and yet again a bit of chocolate or coffee or hops streak through it. I quite like the aftertaste. It’s an interesting one that reminds me somewhat of a russian imperial stout that’s been fortified into oblivion while keeping its characteristic thickness and bitterness. Easily my favorite of the Rogue’s tasting samples lineup. Not for everyone, but fans of russian imperial stouts are welcome to apply and won’t be disappointed.
Some Background: https://whiskeyrevie … iskey-review-041620/
Score: B

Overall Rogue: With two D- (bordering on F) scores and overall mediocre showing I wouldn’t recommend diving into Rogue’s regular lineup with high expectations. Their special editions and higher proof stuff is perhaps something to consider long term and they are passionate about their craft which gives a bit of a notch up for them in my book. But at the end of the day… If it’s not Rogue’s high proof stuff, avoid it… low proof and younger age do not mix well.

Old Fitzgerald, 15, Bottled-in-Bond, 2019, 50%
A batched release from Heaven Hill that’s highly sought after. This is the ‘Pappy’ to Larceny with which they share mash bill of 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley and stills. With Old Fitz being hand-selected casks and Larceny being everything else. Very familiar Heaven Hill toasted corn caramel and woody rye spice on the nose bordering on sweet wood resin. That nose is deliciously luxurious. Palate is woody, sweet and spicy while being finely balanced and leaning towards bitey spice. Almost subdued coming in, this explodes with secondary flavors after few seconds in the mouth. Long woody and spicy sweet aftertaste that lasts for a while. Overall: okay folks, this stuff is a real deal. The slightly subdued initial palate primary flavors are the only real stumble here and it’s one of those that I’d love to have again and again. A finely refined, delicious, well balanced, and dangerously drinkable. Just short of earning a WOW from me, this is right on the edge of amazing. Value… well that’s where we’re going to have a problem since all these are snagged on sight to be sold in secondary pricing and are totally bonkers on price. With MSRP of $150, I’d still say it’s about average or even low on value, but with very distinct decanter-like bottle this is barely worth it at or below MSRP if only for the unique display on your shelf and with quite tasty wheated bourbon being extra. Just like Pappy, the pricing is mostly hype and this isn’t a magical elixir of the gods, but just a bourbon, even if it is quite good.
Score: A-

Old Carter Single Cask 13 years old, Cask #95. 59.2%
Ah Old Carter whiskey. From their bourbon, to their American whiskey all overpriced. Okay seriously $180+ bottles with no transparency? No! Granted some of them are amazing. I’m looking at your Bourbon Batch 3 and 5… Still… Way pricy to get blindly. My whining aside. I got a Single Cask of 13 years. And my pretty solid guess is that this is Barton-sourced. Also to the best of my knowledge this is cask #95 from K&L Wines. Nose is full strength sweet corn caramel with the huge dollop of perfume mixed in. Sweet, flowery, and slightly woody the nose is filled with sugar, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, yet not too spicy but mellow instead. Palate is sweet corn caramel, some wood and spices but overall more gentle bourbon palate. Very pleasant bourbon, corn and wood aftertaste that leans towards sweetness with subdued spice and a bit of wood notes at the very end. Overall: okay, yet again this is fancy Barton full proof a complex one to be sure but still a Barton full proof store pick essentially… Is it tasty? Yes, quite tasty indeed and a good one to contemplate on. Is it special-tasty? That one is up to each individual palate! Value: With list price of $210… This is a terrible value. Full stop.
https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1512935
Score: B+

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

Monday, July 12, 2021

Stranahan’s, Blue Spot, Tomatin, Tobermory

Stranahan’s Colorado (Malt) Whiskey, Batch 204, 47%
It’s a colorado whiskey and if I recall correctly this happens to be a four barley mash bill. Making this technically an american single malt. These are fairly easy to find but certainly have picked at my curiosity to try them out. The nose is just pure banana pie or perhaps banana bread. Alcohol is barely felt, which isn’t surprising for an older bottle and relatively low proof compared to most bourbons I been having lately. The palate is more banana custard, with a little bit of tobacco notes. Very sweet but those bitter parts balance it out nicely with some bitter chocolate. The aftertaste is about medium with some more spices that float up, general burnt sugar sweetness and not offensive. Frankly it’s an inoffensive American Malt that’s a little too young and a little too boring to score high in the category of malts. It will also not offend anyone really but I don’t see myself chasing this down ever since there are literal tens of thousands of bottles that are better. Worth trying for American Malt checkbox but that’s really it. Being priced about $55 and fairly widely available does work in it’s favor but, yet again kinda young at the price.
Score: B-

Blue Spot Irish Whiskey, 2020 release, 7+ years, 58.7%
This is a blend of different malts matured for at least 7 years in bourbon, sherry, and madeira casks. Being a single pot still whiskey, this will be a blend of single malt and single grain whiskeys as mostly the norm with most Irish whiskeys. The nose is fairly strong with grain alcohol, sherry notes, bourbon spices and some madeira red fruits. The palate is nutty sweet with red wine and sherry there’s a lot of complexities here that could be coaxed out but mostly hiding behind primary flavors. Aftertaste is a little bit bitter and slightly sour with madeira dominating and lack of malt notes to make it better balanced. Overall, I actually like it more than say Redbreast Small Batch, which was way more grain-forward on the nose and palate. If this blend was single malt, it’d probably be amazing. As it is now… it’s on the upper levels of ‘good’. While little rough around the edges this is certainly very very good on it’s own. On the value side, I paid $75 out the door which does make what I paid a fantastic value proposition compared to others in this range.
Score: B+

Tomatin 12, Haskell’s SP, Cask #1831 53.0%
A 2002-vintage Tomatin, aged in ex-bourbon single cask at full proof and one of only 222 bottles. Quite rare single cask Original Bottling by the distillery itself. I’m aware of only a handful of other distilleries that do this and most prefer to go through a 3rd party bottler. I picked this up on a whim from Haskell’s with few other bottles and to be honest I’m not disappointed. The nose is typical malty mineral vanilla situation with ex-bourbon. Color is quite dark yellow amber borderline cider-like. Palate is super clean ex-bourbon spices with a solid nuttiness through that start with peaches but then go into ginger and sichuan pepper numbness. On the aftertaste, the numbness and pepper slowly fades into more malty vanilla. Overall this is delicious ex-bourbon cask that’s hitting all the right notes. It is by no means ground-breaking but I’m really finding it hard to fault a 12 years old scotch for what it is. Value-wise, I believe it was ~$60 which yet again points a solid price here. Zero complaints in context.
Score: B+

Tobermory 22, Old Malt Cask, 54.4%
An interesting 3rd fill sherry cask by Old Malt Cask bottling. The Tobermory is the unpeated branch of Ledaig which are both produced in same distillery but Tobermory isn’t peated and Ledaig is heavily peated. So a rare unpeated Island single malt. Grassy nose, with few sherry notes that are reasonably balanced by the spirit, slightly funky with pears and melons galore. It evokes a very specific dish for me, being a green pear and arugula salad with parmesan and almond slivers that’s lightly seasoned with white wine vinegar. Lots of citrus on the palate with lemons dominating, very fruity and slightly spicy with peppery spice that’s quite subtle, perhaps evoking candied ginger. Medium aftertaste with sweet and subtle vanilla notes. Overall this is citrusy, very very subtle Old Malt Cask that’s quite good for what it is… but not really mind-blowing in any parameter. A solid showing for a distillery checkbox and a fantastic summer shanty sipper.
https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1380521
Score: B+


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

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Nassif, Stagg’19, Barrell, Bowman, Maker’s Bourbon Assortment

Nassif Family Reserve American Whiskey, Batch 7, 53.5%
Named after Gene Nassif’s family name, who happens to be the owner of Cat’s Eye distillery in Iowa. This is technically an American whiskey blend of Light Whiskey, high rye bourbon and rye. Almost certainly this is product of them buying a lot of MGP casks as Cat’s Eye bottles Obtainium Light Whiskey line which is all MGP, which is where the core component light whiskey comes from and is like 99% of which is from MGP. Sooo, it’s a MGP blend. Nose is fairly recognizable MGP woody spice mix. The palate is complex actually with everything from cherry cola, to some raspberries so cotton candy and toasted sugar while staying on the lighter side of the spectrum. Wood is there but not super pronounced and it’s not nearly as woody or concentrated as typical MGP SAOS is for example, also being 107 proof vs a SAOS’s 120 or so. The aftertaste is medium length with more of sugar lollipop flavors that stick around for a bit afterwards and a light ginger spice tingle. Quite delicious and certainly a surprise overall this also happens to be proofed about right to please both lovers of high proof stuff and more casual drinkers. It’s not overly complicated, yet not too simple to just be flavored booze. A great, casual drinker here. I cannot recommend this over say a single cask SAOS but it does offer a slightly more casual and a little easier to deal with alternative to that. Would great for @work… Value being circa $50 it’s a solid valuation here.
Score: B

Super quick blurbs off a recent tasting:

George T. Stagg 2019, 116.9 proof
Woody and fantastic for the proof. As much as I didn’t care for the ‘20 bottling this is complete opposite to it flavor-wise, it’s criminally underrated bottle. Woody and very distinctive BT mash1… It’s just purely fantastic overall. Sweet caramel spices and cherry dialed up to 11… Me likes!
Score: A

Barrell Seagrass Rye, 118.4 proof
Rye Whiskey Finished in Martinique Rhum Casks, Agricole Casks, Apricot Brandy Casks & Madeira Casks. Very bitter. Unique, but no like. Sweet with bits of fruit from brandy in the beginning but darn so bitter. Unique and may work under certain terms but No, couldn’t get through the bitterness. I’ll go on a segway here for a moment and quote this particular review: https://www.breaking … iew/barrell-seagrass : “Its unique and striking flavor profile can be rather lavish and challenging at times.”… no… It’s… terrible. It’s a drain pour.
Score: D-

End of quick notes.

John J. Bowman, Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey, SiB, 50%
Mark does infinitely better job at this than I do here: https://the-right-sp … pirit-single-barrel/, but I’ll summarize. This is Buffalo Trace (BT) mash 1 distilled second time in a copper pot in Virginia distillery that Sazerac (Parent Company to BT) owns. So essentially this is Eagle Rare. This is good Eagle Rare, this is easily on par with store pick Eagle Rare. And so very few folks know about it. Best-kept open secret, this is good stuff. Expect their recent cask-proof release to catch insane prices on secondary. Huge like for fans of BT mash 1 and solidly priced at about $50 if you can find the BiB single cask version.
Score: B+

Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited, SE4xPR5, 55.5%
While technically marketed as a part of Maker’s wood finishing series, this being one of 1001 possible recipe this is instead a vatting of bunch of different aged bourbons rather than being same age in the stave program. A wheated bourbon Maker’s overall is somewhat of a middle ground between more subtle Wellers (at same proof) and much punchier on spice department traditional higher rye bourbons. Nose is flowery and balanced off with vanilla extract. Sweet toasted wood, harmonizes with more flowers and vanilla on the palate. Spiced vanilla and burnt caramel revels around the mouth. Lightly woody, almost nutty aftertaste is medium long, warming and sweet with notes of leather and wood remaining strong. This is really good and fantastically balanced… but… it feels l little raw around the edges with some chewing and repeated sips revealing some raw and not too pleasant alcohol notes at the edges with the flavors shouting all over each other instead of creating a subtle harmony. If you happen to enjoy your bourbon shouting the entire way at your palate… by all means. A commendable effort by Maker’s of course that showcases their blending abilities at a reasonable availability and price.
Score: B-

vs

Maker’s Mark 2019 Limited, RC6, 54.1%
This is part of Maker’s wood finishing series, this being one of 1001 possible recipes more so than the SE4 above and while the exact recipe is secret, RC6 incorporates mostly American Seasoned Oak staves. Nose is quite wood-forward with bits of alcohol floating up in the vapors. Very wood forward with notable ‘toasted’ nutty quality of the wood flavors. Obvious burnt caramel and vanilla dominate the other notes. Bitter enough to almost entire hide the bourbon sweetness without getting too bitter as to overwhelm the palate. Definite sugar candied walnuts are felt in the aftertaste. Yet again without overwhelming and the sugar sweetness does make an appearance in the aftertaste to relieve the primary palate oakiness which is actually fantastic twist for the experience. Repeated sips are keeping my opinions and taste consistent with the first one so another small kudos and a small bump vs the SE4. Considering that RC6 was essentially Maker’s way to showcase the existence of their barrel and stave finishing program I think they succeeded with ease.
Score: B+

Overall: RC6 is clear winner for me because I seem to enjoy sipping it repeatedly vs SE4 which is good on primary palate and nose and then falls apart on the aftertaste and repeated sips from the glass.

Addendum:

Maker’s Mark 2021 Limited, FAE-01, 55.3%
Not going to write a long-winded description since it’s still Maker’s. Reminds me of something between SE4 and RC6 with a little bit more fruit. It’s on par with RC6 pretty much.
Score: B+

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

GlenAllachie, Munros Tormore/Braeval

It’s the fated hour! I’m finally trying the GlenAllachie samples I got…

GlenAllachie 13, Cask #6871, 59.6%
2007 Vintage, UK exclusive, Virgin Oak casks… Let’s gooooo! Nose got chocolate funky burnt rubber notes going but in a perfume way. Palate… Wood-forward for a 13 year old single cask. Very surprising. Lots of chocolate, tons of malt and minerality. The aftertaste is a little more minerality, slight alcohol tingle and fast-fading wood the primary flavors are a bit on the shorter side, but some remnants linger for a while. Water brings a ton more wood bitterness and makes the malt horribly peppery, avoid the water here. It’s tasty but not that special to be honest. Very wood and chocolate forward making an interesting flavor combo, nearly bordering on bourbon type of palate here, but with malt instead. Not really my jam to be honest, there’s nothing particularly bad here and I really want to like it, yet I’m not having warm and fuzzy feelings about it. Rather forcing myself to finish this sample.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/181254
Score: B-

GlenAllachie 11, Cask #5000, 58.3%
A Grattamacco Red Wine cask from 2009… Amusingly, almost pink in the glass. The nose is sorta chocolate with lots of alcohol and a light whiff of red wine berries. This is oddly bordering on light port notes. The easiest way I can describe this… It’s Glendronach Portwood but cask strength and a little light on the port sweetness. Red wine berries forward, with some chocolate in the back this makes for a solid combination of flavors. Small downside is the relative youth and really rather high proof making it slightly too alcohol-forward. The aftertaste is spot on with wine cask influence taking center stage and lasting for quite a while. This is certainly red wine and chocolate pairing… Rather interesting flavor combination to find in scotch. Oh and it takes water fantastically, dialing back some of the proof without losing the flavors. Anyways, this is woody wine that’s quite tasty even if it’s one-sided on the primary and cask flavors and lacking secondary subtle notes to some extent.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/181255
Score: B+

GlenAllachie 15, Cask#901042, 63.0%
To be honest… This one I’m looking forward to…. Very unmistakably sherry colored and tons of sherry notes on the nose. Very much varnish/mastic smell suggests oloroso, but ooooh does it smell good in combination with the seemingly consistent chocolate notes from the malt. An absolute sherry bomb, this reminds me somewhat of the Chieftain’s Glentauchers 15 I’ve had last year vs Kavalan’s mulled sherry with every spice possible. This is straight and to the point, wood, sherry, malt, fairly dynamic and non sticky consistency. Definitely does not feel like a 63%… Aftertaste is very slightly letdown by not lingering for little longer, but fading fast instead. Still, while it fades it’s well balanced and to some extent toasted wood sort of wins in the end finishing with toasted nuts on the very back. Surprisingly delicate for such intense sherry concentration on the nose and palate. Definite chocolate sherry bomb and arguably the best of the 3 GlenAllachie samples I’ve tried so far. Very much a sherry bomb and dead ringer for that Glentauchers 15 described here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry200423-122847… Now for the sad part… value-wise it’s not that great and being a UK-exclusive… best of luck getting it cheap.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/181253
Score: A-

Braeval 22 (1994), Munros, 55.6%
Somehow I feel like I’ve reviewed a Braeval before… But I guess I didn’t. Let’s try again. A distillery formerly called Braes of Glenlivet this is part of Chivas portfolio and doesn’t seem to have any Original Bottlings, though Independent Bottles do tend to float up occasionally. For what it’s worth, I like IB’s; so all the better here with an unaltered single cask. Nose is.. Vanilla & Banana yogurt, creme custard with some citrus notes, very lively. The palate is surprisingly restrained after that luscious nose is somewhat reminiscent of a slightly woodier old malt cask on the mouthfeel. So vanilla, bourbon spice that’s bordering on bitterness, tons of malt and some white pepper. Few grass notes appear too, or perhaps it’s the cask wood playing tricks on me. Malty, buttery, bitterness dominates slightly secondary flavors and the aftertaste though it lasts for a very very long time which could be either good, if one is looking for a somewhat medicinal aftertaste or bad depending on the preference here. Many many layers of flavor here that would please ex-bourbon cask folks this takes water like a champ (just like just about every 20+ year old scotch) and that bitterness layer opens up into… lots of other layers, but primarily, it mostly fades away which is awesome. Water is highly recommended. Very approachable by just about anyone and quite flavorful in its own way. Value-wise this was a pretty solid value offering, all gone by now of course.
https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1485016
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/140044
Score: B+ (w/ Water)

Tormore 22 (1995), Munros, 45.4%
Another Munros bottling… Little darker, suggesting a reasonably active cask and having a huge nose while at relatively low proof. Unfortunately, this is a bit rubber-forward on the nose too reminding me somewhat of Clyde Mays Bourbon with a sort of hot roofing rubber smell. The palate is surprisingly creamy with more of that rubber glue notes that personally I cannot get around. The aftertaste is about medium and gently-fading. This drinks surprisingly hotter than the proof stated which is quite odd for a 22 year old whiskey. Overall, it’s reasonably nutty, tasty bottling with the ‘right’ palate, yet with enough of the burnt rubber note that makes me want to skip this. Betcha my wife wouldn’t taste the rubber in this. Anyways, myself… no like! Which marks this as the lowest grade I’ve ever given to a single cask scotch so far.
https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1485015
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/140043
Score: D (B+ if you’re not tasting the rubber note)


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