Monday, June 27, 2022

Old Potrero Rye, Michter’s Rye, J Mattingly, Jack Heritage, New Riff… Americans

It’s been a nice little break. But back to action…

Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey, Malted Rye. 48.6%
Let’s start with an old favorite of mine… Old Potrero Malted Rye. Sample generously provided by way of… friendly booze fairies. Notably, this is a regular release of theirs which happens to be 100% single malt rye, at respectable 48.5%. Old Potrero bottles have just went through a label change rebranding and, honestly it’s for the better. I do like the new labeling. Anyways, back to the sample. The nose is sweet fruit compote, mixed with old wood varnish, this is very cologne-like and sweetly musky. Eucalyptus and perhaps some boxwood notes. There really isn’t anything quite like OP ryes out there. Bitter burnt vanilla sugar on the palate, those malted rye notes, pine, tons of complexity. Both savory and sweet, full of vanilla and nearly amaro-bitter this mostly covers the entire spectrum of darker saturated flavors. Thick texture. Long and slightly bitter herbaceous aftertaste. Overall: Not as glorious as some of the single casks, which are higher proof and of course vary in quality. This is fantastic for a general (reasonably) widely available release provided one actually enjoys malted rye flavor profile. The proof is no slouch, so kudos to OP’s folks there; and I would recommend it for those that are unable to locate a single cask or don’t want to risk single cask variability… or scary proof numbers. The malted rye is a polarizing thing and I would argue that it cannot be everyone’s favorite… but when it clicks… it clicks. Value: MSRP being a $60 this is solid deal for a bottle with clear age statement and being something different that’s not produced in bulk at a very large distillery.
Score: B+

Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye 2022, 54.8%
Barrel #22B582 and sample provided by friend Michael (thank you Michael!), who’s really into the ‘22 crop of bottles of this release. Let’s dig in! The nose is complex and like a chameleon, keeps on changing. One moment it’s dried peanuts; another moment it smells like my shampoo, next it’s vanilla and wood, and then it’s back to peanuts. As far as peanuts concerned, some distilleries often got a clear roasted peanut butter note (looking at you Dickel…); this is specifically dried but not roasted peanuts. The palate is surprisingly just as dynamic as the nose. It keeps on shifting underneath me from vanilla bomb to something nutty while staying complex. It’s definitely a rye through and through, yet this isn’t a typical minty, spicy rye, but more of a nutty, woody, vanilla forward number. Long and slightly bitter aftertaste, with wood, it shockingly brings everything together and calms down with some cooling peppermint notes. One of the better aftertastes in quite awhile. Overall: Amazing aftertaste! Shifting and complex nose and palate that are more interesting in their shifty nature than any particular facet there. That multiple personality does bring a lot to the table and makes an experience dynamic. Value: Reasonable at MSRP ~$100… this is highly sought after on the secondary so buyer beware anything more that MSRP and the value declines fast.
Score: B+

J Mattingly PCS Pick, Private Barrel. Bourbon. 56%
I have this sample… I think it’s from friend Charu. Another of J Mattingly’s picks. No other information given. Gotta assume this is MGP since it smells like it. Vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg nose with a few roasted nuts in the background. Eye-wateringly hot for the proof. Lots of sweet vanilla and deeply roasted hazelnuts, slight soapiness. Bitter wood notes come up in the secondary notes and continue into medium length aftertaste. Overall: Not my thing here. It echoes some of the good bourbons out there and plenty of folks would enjoy but it’s not the profile I like… It’s too hot for me which is saying a lot and is quite odd for the 56% abv, suggesting it’s horribly unbalanced… A little bit like drinking liquid cinnamon spiked with charry wood. Value: J Mattingly’s are usually ~$100-120 or so… They’re not a good value unless a unicorn bottle.
Score: D+

Jack Daniel’s Bourbon, Heritage Barrel, 50%
A 2018/2019 special release, these are single casks proofed down to 50% abv. This is the blue-labeled Jack release, followed by green rye and red high proof editions. Thanks friend Charu! Nose is cherry and burnt vanilla caramel riot, feels almost a little sherried. The palate is sweet, woody, full of vanilla, velvet in texture and high in spice. That dry sherry or herbaceous associations continue here. Just half a step over the comfort zone for me on the bitterness. Aftertaste is a long with bitter chocolate woody notes lingering for a long while. Overall: Oh… I really like this! It may not be an everyday pour for me… but it’s actually real good one. The proof is right, the nose is just fantastic, the palate and aftertaste isn’t too overwhelming but jam-packed of flavors and complexity. The overall experience is great. Value: Originally priced ~$70… that’s fantastic value. Good luck now since it was a limited run. If you see it for anywhere under ~$100 gathering dust on the shelf it’s still a good deal.
Score: B+

New Riff Bourbon, Royal Liquors SP, Cask #7264, 52.55%
New riff Single Cask from Royal Liquors. I didn’t have a New Riff for a while now, so perhaps my new casual sip? Freshly opened bottle here, so it may change a bit with time. Orange marmalade on the nose, the good kind, where rind is used. Very much not what I was expected on the palate, almost zero sweetness. Tons of burnt orange zest, some butteriness in that thick texture. Lots of complexity. Mental image, burnt toast with citrus marmalade. Quite a bit of complexity, and gently rolling well balanced finish here that becomes buttery with time as bitterness fades leaving an interesting cinnamon and grilled orange skins aftertaste. Those orange cinnamon notes stick around for a very long time too. Overall: Totally not what I was expecting here. Almost too bitter, initially, the off notes thankfully fade. This will not break anyone’s mind but it’s a solid daily drinker so far that’s very ‘different’ from other bourbons I got… And I like different. Very solid after-dessert pour. Value: Solid for $45… New Riff generally presents a good value in bourbons from a craft distiller.
Score: B

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

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Literal Box of Rums!

A friend Jason passed to me a literal box of (open) rum bottles. There are mostly single casks, aged in the tropics are from all over the world. A rum world tour perhaps? By the nature of rum ‘tasting’ I’ll try to be brief in covering what’s going to be 11 bottles of rum. To be clear this is not Bacardi, Captain Morgan or Malibu. This is real stuff most of which aged in tropics and is 100% actual ‘rum’, not 51% rum + 49% vodka + flavorings + colorings which a lot of cheaper brands do.

Doorly’s (Foursquare) 12 year old, 43%
Barbados Rum from Foursquare distillery, not even disguised from foursquare bottled under special label and exclusive to Total Wine. Comes in 40% and 43% variety depending on when it was bottled. I happen to have a 43% but 40% is mostly same, but slightly sweeter because of marginally less proof. Wood, baking spices, burnt sugar and little menthol; this is classic Foursquare exceptional cask ex-bourbon at lower proof with 12 year age statement. Overall: Fantastically drinkable both in a mix or sippable, I’ve taken a liking to this for warmer days. Not quite bourbon and not quite malt but something in-between. Value: This is like $30 in Total Wine. One of the best values for very accessible truly tasty rum.
Score: B+

Foursquare Detente, 10 year old, 51%
Another Foursquare, this time is exceptional cask selection mark XIV (14). 10 Years old blend of ex-bourbon and ex-port casks. The port really takes over in this one and makes very slightly… port-y. Would definitely please any fan of port casks finish in Single Malt land (looking at you Portwood) and this is quite tasty, if a little bit confused between burnt sugar and port sweetness. With repeated sips, becomes slightly bitter with wood notes perhaps very burnt sugar. Overall: Would I drink it? Yes, though not every day. Value: Foursquare… is slightly expensive but not too bad for the quality and the flavor. Surprisingly their official bottlings tend to be cheaper than independent ones.
Score: B

Lost Cask/Rolling Fork/Seelbach’s Foursquare 22 year old, 57.7%
Independent Foursquare from 1998. This is concentrated vanilla, little bit of anice, and seasoned wood all the way. Exceptionally concentrated and basically a ‘true’ brown sugar apple pie of sorts, it’s quite delicious thought surprisingly not that complex. Like a well aged bourbon, this has plenty of character even if notes mostly are the same across the board. Very oddly this evokes the images of BTACs for me. Perhaps it’s similarly shaped bottle? Overall: Oh my, this is a flavor bomb in it’s own way. Pretty much a apple pecan pie with ice cream ala-mode. Would I eat that every day? Perhaps, until I grew tired of it a week in. I’d still enjoy it! Value: This was priced at $299.99, while unique-ish this is an atrocious value proposition. Hard pass on paying for it.
Score: A

Travellers Distillery (Belize), 15 year old, The Nectar, 52%
The Travelers Distillery in Belize, bottled for The Nectar in Belgium from a private collection. A note is worth it here… This is rather full of sediment unfortunately. This is also rather not rum-like at all! Mint, eucalyptus, savory notes galore, very burnt sugar comes up eventually with tropical lychee fruits and perhaps some charred pineapple. Overall: Very different and very unexpected here compared to the foursquares and other tropical rums. Definite flavor bomb but not nearly as sweet at first as just about any tropical rum is. Very complex and almost chilling with the mint notes. Value: This was $150… yeah no dice. What’s with the independent bottlers being worse than retail original bottlings!?
Score: B

Travellers Distillery (Belize) 2008, 13 year old, Holmes Cay, 61%
A single cask bottled by Holmes Cay company. From the same Travellers Distillery as the one above. The Holmes Cay premise of pure barrel to bottle is on full display here. Pine needles on the nose in a harsh way. The proof is very punchy in the glass. Eucalyptus and pine resin with some funky medicinal notes to start on the palate, then followed by sweet sugar and toasted nuts. The label isn’t joking when it’s suggesting a small splash of water in this one. Overall: This is rather pine-y with a complex rock sugar candy notes following. I don’t dislike it by any means but I prefer it somewhat less than most of the bottles above for what it’s worth. Value: Eeeeh about average as with everything Holmes Cay… With the single cask difference some are unicorns and some are just okay though nothing is particularly overpriced.
Score: B-

Panama Kill Devil 2006 11yr, 61.5%
Kill Devil is of course an Independent bottler in Scotland. Very medicinal and almost menthol like. This is very much like thin mints in liquid form. Or those thin dark chocolate mint-filled treats I recall from my childhood or for simplicity, dark chocolate mint Ghirardelli Squares. Lots of ex-bourbon spice and some interesting funk in the secondary notes. Though seriously this is numbing mint notes all over without being actual mint tingle. Overall: Quite different but drinkable for something different and refreshing. Value: This was originally ~$130… Pass!
Score: B-

Guyana Diamond Distillery Kill Devil 2005 16yr, 59.9%
A 16 year old from French Guyana. This is very blond, suggesting non-tropical maturation here as tropics really pull out everything from wood asap due to climate/heat/humidity. Very funky on the nose. My friend described it as ’smelling a swamp’ and while I disagree about the swamp part, it’s definitely got that green banana and freshly cut grass thing going on in there. The funk disappears mostly when it hits the palate but it tastes… ‘green’ and young. The aftertaste is alright with a nice peppery tingle that lasts for quite a while. Overall: There’s something medicinal in this rum. The sweetness is there and some of the mint notes are present, but the nose isn’t quite great and overall this seems like a miss for my palate as this combination isn’t particularly what i like. Value: This was ~$150… Pass!
Score: C

Guyana Diamond Distillery Kill Devil 1998 23yr, 48.5%
An older brother to the one above, coming at extremely respectable 23 year old. Still quite light in color for a 23 year old the nose is somewhat restrained forest after the rain with some perfume. The palate is nice with layers and layers of complexity in a pseudo ex-bourbon palate that’s missing most of the rum sugars. Really this reminds me of slightly over-aged single malt on the palate from an old malt cask. The aftertaste is where it hits a snag… And it doesn’t happen every time… but somehow this ‘tastes like a swamp’. The last few notes are like my compost bin smells after a week in a the sun. It’s super weird not unlike fresh earth on the palate. Although somehow I’m not getting that weird aftertaste currently… Though I did get it when I took a quick sip earlier and when i tasted this the first time. Overall: Not a fan. I really hope that after 16 year old being ’smell the swamp’ and 23 year old being ‘taste the swamp’ there isn’t a 30 year old that is ‘be the swamp’ out there. Value: This was ~240!?… Pass!!!
Score: C+ (D+ with aftertaste present)

Cuba S.B.S. Bourbon and Virgin Oak Cask 2012, 50%
A Cuban rum!? In USA? Did we end embargo yet? After quick wikipedia check. we have not. It’s stupid but oh well, plus not here to talk about politics, but about rum! Nose is classical ex-bourbon rum casks. Oh this reminds me a lot of Foursquare products. As aside, Cuba is well known for their rums and cigars so I guess it’s not surprising that this tastes pretty darn good. Lot’s of sugars and bourbon cask notes here. Extremely easy drinker that’s not over complicated. Some medicinal and mentholy notes in the back that appear eventually but it makes me think of tropical rain rather than distract from the overall experience. Overall: Enjoyable and interesting for rum drinkers this is another example of excellent tropical rum that would be pleasing for a whiskey drinker. Value: ~$145 in price this is… slightly below average on value… Geez independents rum values are way over-inflated.
Score: B+

Mauritius SBS 2008 10yr Port Cask, 55.7%
This is absolutely nuts. I’ve heard of the name of the country this was made in before but didn’t know where it was located. Crazy tiny island east of Madagascar. Well World Tour of Rums indeed! A port cask finish from Grays distillery and distilled from molasses. The nose is really interesting and almost reminds me of Coca Cola or perhaps Rum and Coke. Crazy spiced and nearly slightly sour the whole Coke parallels continue with what I can only describe as light fizziness. It’s a lot like Sprite/Coke mixed with Captain Morgan. Very delicious and unusual stuff. Overall: Different but really enjoyable, especially for Rum and Coke fans. Not to mention this is about as far as it gets distance-wise at least for trying something from there. Value: ~$150 kinda a tough tag to swallow, especially blindly. Below average value, but certainly some credit is due for uniqueness.
Score: B+

Dominican Republic S.B.S. 2007 13yr Madeira Finish, 50%
Madeira (basically red wine) cask finish, distilled from cane juice in column still. The nose is punchy combination of wood, burnt sugar and plum jam with a bit of tobacco notes in there perhaps coming from charry casks. The color is also very very dark but it’s almost certain due to madeira. Very much wine-forward on the palate while staying true to its rum roots. Aftertaste is nice, and warming with mulled wine spices. Overall: This more than reminds of Starward single casks in the overall profile though slightly lighter overall. Mulled spices galore though somewhat muted and reasonably balanced on the palate. An interesting cask but nothing outstanding and madeira hides too much of the rum character. Tropical rum purists will stick their nose up on this and while this is imminently drinkable there are better rums out there. Value: This was ~$130… I’d say it’s at priced little bit above average.
Score: B

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