Sunday, May 21, 2023

Macallans, Secret/Unnamed Speysides, Cragganmore 25; Speysides?

Some quick notes, some in-depth, mostly due to sample sizing. I have a lot of speyside bottles and samples. Perhaps I’ve got a type?

Secret Speyside 17 (Macallan 2005), 57.5%
Signatory Vintage collection, 1st fill Oloroso. The nose is dark rish varnish oloroso note, nearly bordering on smoke. The palate is hot and bursting with flavor richness. Spicy, woody palate, with toasted sugar and wood being just a sliver below bitter. Yet again, there are some nearly smoky notes in the most awesome ways. Aftertaste is medium length, spicy and sticks around for a while. Overall: This is some of the best representation of what a viscous cask can do to good quality malt. It’s good weird, but it’s still ‘weird’. Perhaps a little too saturated on the toasted notes after repeated sips, this starts to slip into bitterness. Value: N/A (~$210-ish)
https://www.whiskyba … ret-speyside-2005-sv
Score: B+
Secret Speyside 17 (Macallan 2005), 57.6%
Another single cask, same year… same proof… same age… same cask type being 1st fill Oloroso. The nose is quite light for 1st fill, bursting with fruit compote composed of apples and oranges with perhaps some cherries in the background. The palate is much more classic Macallan cask strength. Malt, cherries, spices, orange rinds, speyside red apple notes. Aftertaste is more of the same from the palate and seems to last for a while before fading. Overall: This is very classic Macallan in its profile and blindly I’d struggle to call this an independent bottling. This is a good reminder of Macallan potential. An excellent, classically-represented sherried Speyside pour. Value: N/A (~190-ish)
https://www.whiskyba … ret-speyside-2005-sv
Score: A

Cragganmore 25 , Hunter Laing Old & Rare SiB, 57.4%
A single cask of Cragganmore from 1995. The cask is first fill sherry butt, not much other info; though see details in link below. Classically sherried speyside nose, with sherry taking the first note and fruits taking secondary roles. Definite apple/pear note in the background. Rich, sweet & sticky, sherried, spicy palate with more red apples. The notes continue to the medium-length aftertaste with spicy peppers that linger around with time turning into light ash notes. Overall: Good, but not uniquely outstanding. This is another solid speyside cask that showcases rich and fruity malt in a sherry cask. I’ve not had enough Cragganmore to really form an opinion as they tend to be rare and low proof. Am I tasting the cask or Cragganmore? I really don’t know. Value: N/A / Overpriced (~$250ish)
https://www.whiskyba … /cragganmore-1995-hl
Score: A-

Unnamed Speyside 30 years old, K&L / Thompson Brothers, Single Cask, 50.4%
Source… Unknown. A 30 year old refill american oak cask from speyside region from 1990. The nose is white peaches all the way in a very classic fruity speyside character. Some white honey, vanilla, pears. The palate is somewhat thin on texture for the age, oh so flavorful. Most of the notes from the nose continue but sichuan peppers really kick in from midway onwards and into the aftertaste. There’s a touch of a metallic note at the very end but it’s barely felt and if anything adds another dimension to the experience. Overall: This is bloody good. It won’t be sweeping competitions but 30 years of good malt in a good cask is nothing to scoff at. Well executed, great representation of 90s ex-bourbon cask malt. Random guess: Benriach. Value: K&L Sold these for $209… Kinda worth it perhaps, for the specs.
https://www.whiskyba … isky/212057/1990-pst
Score: A-

Secret Speyside (Macallan) 30, Maltman SiB, 45.2
A 1993 vintage, supposedly, Macallan single cask in sherry for The Maltman. The nose is insanely fruity with a touch of sherry spice note. This is well worth sniffing for a while. The experience is similar to smelling a glass of fruit punch, red fruits and sugars dominate. The palate is amazing, just the right amount of richness, sherry spices and fruit flavors in their concentration. It falls unfortunately flat in the aftertaste. There is nothing wrong with the overall experience but the aftertaste is mostly sweet toasted wood and some spice without anything outstanding to distinguish itself. Overall: Amazing overall experience, old school funky, slightly metallic sherry… until the aftertaste lets it become pedestrian. Is this a great pour? Yes. Is it amazing one? Not quite. Value: At $500+ for the bottle this is definitely not cheap but considering where Macallan 30 falls on the price tag when it’s an original bottling… Well I won’t mention that price. I’ll say that I won’t be spending this kind of money myself.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/228661
Score: A

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

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Bardstown Discovery 6 & Toasted Rye, Velier Sassafras, High West Prairie Carcavelos; Mixed Bag Part 2

Part 2 of the below post to make it less lengthy.

Bardstown Discovery Series #6, 55.55%
This is the “One with the Dickel in it” bottling. Let’s go! Mashbills and percentages are disclosed and published online in many places, so I won’t repeat them here. For better or worse, this is 16% Dickel that’s 17 years old… Which is to be fair rather respectable age for bourbon. The color is near-perfect chestnut. Straight out of the bottle there’s a touch of pecans on the nose, but that disappears after few minutes, leaving cologne-forward notes. There are certainly some nuttiness but it leans towards toasted bits of jam and crust from a berry pie. Let’s add some pecans on top of same pie before baking and… you get the picture. The palate is ripe with toasted cherry wood. There’s something about burnt cherry pie filling in the glass. Lots of toasted oak, cinnamon, cloves, and perhaps torched sugar with the overall profile leaning towards burnt, rather than caramelized. The aftertaste is a bit of a wash unfortunately with pecans coming back as well as that slightly bitter baking spice note letting itselves be known. Few drops of water calm the aftertaste down somewhat but it tones down everything across the board equally… Water is a preference here. Overall: Enjoyable all the way to aftertaste but instead of aftertaste elevating the experience this goes into the burnt notes. Quite drinkable and will likely please most bourbon lovers that want that firm kentucky hug in the aftertaste. The Dickel isn’t really a huge factor here, unless one is a staunch fan of Buffalo Trace products as this certainly leans to the Kentucky+Tennessee nutty style. Surprisingly, there’s some cherry on the palate and perhaps even on the nose, but that aftertaste firmly sticks it back into Tennessee for better or worse. Value: MSRP is too high at ~$120+, should be $99 IMHO… though their packaging and bottle design are well done.
Score: B

Bardstown Blended Rye x West Virginia Great Barrel Co, 55%
This is a weird one that’s for sure. 6 year MGP rye, aged in re-toasted cherrywood/oak hybrid casks, blended with 12 year old Canadian whiskey? What-a-mix! This is certainly off a beaten path for a reasonably well established company. Let’s try anyways! Disclaimer: This s a neck pour so there could be a some changes down the line once oxigen does its thing. The nose is fairly typical MGP rye, toasted wood with old varnish that’s been in the sun, medicinal pine forest, a bit of fermented/pickled dill in the background. The palate is rather sweet, with cherry notes coming in, sweet toasted vanilla and woody oak, gentle baking spices, and aromatic bitters notes. More of the same palate notes are in the aftertaste. Overall: Very enjoyable, despite the uncommon premise. This drinks like a very strong manhattan, or high rye bourbon rather than blended rye. In short, the more I drink it, the more I seem to enjoy it. I like a little more cherry in my manhattan though I’m still enjoying the experience. It doesn’t get too hot or too bitter or too rye-ish, preferring to back off that flavor peak just before becoming too much. This is certainly flavorful, interesting bottling. Value: I’ve picked this up at about $130 from Costco which for the spec seems a bit overpriced, as seems to be the norm with other ‘premium’ Bardstown bottles. Let’s set it as slightly above average on value here.
Score: B+

Velier Sassafras, Foursquare Barbados Rum, 14 year old, 61%
A sample from friend Charu. Bottled in November 2020 as one of 6000 bottles. This 14 year old bottling was aged 3 years in ex-bourbon and then 11 years in ex-cognac casks. It needs time to breathe in the glass, yet the notes I’m smelling all the way from the table surface are already amazing. The nose is toasted vanilla oak, touch of cigar tobacco, very light mint and… fruity perfume. The longer I leave it in the glass, the more perfume-forward it becomes. I’ll be honest with you, it’s really a cognac cask speaking with the fruits but it doesn’t detract from the experience. The palate… is pretty much everything from the nose… turned up to 11. The aftertaste… is… same as palate, gently fading with some barrel spice instead of fruity sweetness of a brandy. Overall: An astonishingly amazing and cohesive experience that’s very hard to duplicate in another bottling. Granted, this is a rum that’s wearing a woody cognac cape at the end of the day. I imagine when tasted blindly it could be hard to identify this as a rum and to call out a off-profile cognac instead. Still, the layers of flavor are great and there’s literally nothing to complain about in the glass. Borderline singular experience. Value: This is where it gets tricky… Originally priced at ~$200, and currently going for ~$450 on secondary… this isn’t a particularly great deal at first glance… yet considering that similar bourbon/cognac foursquares (ie 2006) are ~$1k on auctions and flavor-comparable cognacs are priced in the thousands… This is perhaps a worthwhile endeavor to chase down a bottle or a sample if your budget allows.
Score: A+

High West American Prairie Bourbon, K&L SP, Carcavelos Cask, 50.1%
This is a blend of straight bourbons, finished for 8 months in Carcavelos (White, somewhat spicy, port) and selected by K&L wines. Cask number is 18341. The nose is restrained and at best can be described as sweet & woody-something. There are toasted sugar, sweet spices, some vanilla, oak of course, yet none of it really stands out. The palate is thin on texture but rich in flavor. Lots of sugars, caramelized flavors, some wood, the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm but instead combines well with vanilla and spice. Aftertaste is rather szechuan-peppery, and surprisingly dry, providing a good contrast to the palate and nose. It’s not the most complex or the longest but pleasant enough to let it do its thing. Overall: Well this is an interesting one, I was expecting an everyday drinker and I’ve arguably gotten one. The port notes work surprisingly well with youthful (~2 year old) spirit in hiding bad things and bolstering spice and sweetness. In the end I’m left with enjoyable, casual, dessert pour which does not skimp on sweet & spicy peppers. Value: I’ve picked it up at $55… That’s a decent price for something like this. Let’s call it a good deal for Cask Select High West Bourbon for this price.
Score: B+

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Old Potrero, Remus Gatsby, Tequila, Rums; Mixed Bag

Mixed bag of samples. I believe this takes care of anything that I’ve got open or a sample of that’s not a scotch.

Origin — Age — Score — Notes


- Saint Lucia 2006, Chairman’s/Smuggler’s Cove SP, 51% — 14 years — C+ — Very medicinally funky, minty woodiness. Intense, borderline bitter but relents at the right time. Would be unpleasant if higher proof. Mix it
- Saint Lucia 2009, Chairman’s/Florida Rum Society SP, 57.7% — 11 years — B+ — Sweet caramel, vanilla and a touch of mint are balancing the wood nicely. This is well balanced, enjoyable sipper that drinks under it’s proof. Well played.
- Panama, Grander Toasted Oak, Florida Rum Society SP, 63.7% — 11 years — B — A little water needed. Very wood & vanilla caramel-forward. Warm spice hug afterwards. Enjoyable but over-casked, giving it a confused identity.

Tequila Ocho Tasting

- Tequila Ocho Plata 2022 — 0 — B- — Fresh, mineral, citrus and lime peel.
- Tequila Ocho Reposado 2022 — 8w+8d — B — Aged 72 days. Ocho being 8… Got it? Caramel, rosemary, black pepper, spiced orange peel, vegetable stew.
- Tequila Ocho Añejo 2021 — 1y+1d — B- — Savoury, earthy, mineral, anise, orange peel, black pepper, touch of mint.
- Tequila Ocho Extra Añejo 2018 — 3y+1d — B — Sweet and mineral, light and fruity, almond notes, herbs, light pepper dust.
- Tequila Ocho Reposado Barrel Select 2022 45.5% — N/A — B+ — Likely 72 days. Aged in Widow Jane Casks. Sweet candy, orange peel, white pepper, anice. Solid stuff. By far the best of the lineup.

Remus Gatsby Reserve 2022, MGP: 15 y/o, 48.9%
A small sample courtesy of friend Michael. This is of course a 15 year old MGP extra ‘premium’ version of the limited Remus release. The nose is caramel and wood and some fennel surprisingly and overall rather deep. Closest approximation of the palate I can come up with is ‘velvety smooth’ or ‘polished to perfection’. We’ve got brown sugar, vanilla, almost no bitterness even though wood is felt through and at 15 years of age, it certainly could have been over-oaked, but it’s not. Long aftertaste lingers with sichuan peppers, more vanilla sugars, gentle baking spices. Overall: This is in one word… ‘Decadent’! Bloody good and well done MGP/Remus. One of the best bourbons I’ve tried. It only lacks a few more points of proof to be spectacular; 107 proof isn’t out of reach here. Supposedly, this is cask strength, but it really needs a little bit of oomph to soar; it glides instead. Value: The MSRP of $200+ is a little bitey… but considering a slew of questionably premium releases from other well known distillers at same or higher price… It’s a ‘perhaps worth it’ at sub $250.
Score: A

Old Potrero Malted Rye, 7y 3mo, Single Cask Port Finish 64.48%
Old Potrero Single Malt Single Cask, this is port cask finished and 7 years and 3 months of age. The nose is full of ripe red fruits and sweetness backed by malted rye pine, eucalyptus wood and fennel. The palate is very sweet and woody, it’s got lots of funk but the wood seems to be nearing bitterness here which somewhat spoils the balance. Aftertaste starts sweet from the palate, then veers into tobacco and gobs of sichuan pepper and then comes back into sweet fruit syrup yet again. Water is needed here… And it blooms with water! Overall: As typical with Old Potrero, this is an absolute flavor bomb that’s influenced by port cask, adding a number of red fruits to the assault on the senses! The nose and aftertaste are fantastic but I’m finding myself swallowing it down a touch too fast in order to avoid that bitter note on the palate. To be clear, this is purely cask issue as I’ve encountered similar balance issues in the past. Few drops of water tone down that middle and it becomes very enjoyable dessert pour. Value: N/A
Score: B- (B /w water)

Old Potrero Malted Rye, 8y 7mo, Non-Chill Filtered 64.72%
Old Potrero Single Malt Single Cask, non-chill filtered and 8 years and 7 months of age. The nose is unapologetic, concentrated, toasted wood. The backing notes are familiar pine, eucalyptus and toasted vanilla. The palate is hot, lots of wood, yet again toasted vanilla, mint, eucalyptus. Really dark and quite similar to varnish in some ways it’s yet again near-bitter. On the very welcome positive, it’s got a velvety texture and mouthfeel. The aftertaste is more burnt sugar and continues from the palate. Overall: This is more or less everything I enjoy in Old Potrero Malted Rye in a reasonable balance. The bitterness note is yet again hard to get away from at the proof and age, but few water drops really calm it down without losing too much if it gets too overwhelming. Value: Priced at ~$90 in various retailers these are no longer awesome deals as they were a year or two ago, so this price is about average on the market though still a worth checking out the flavor bomb that these bottles are.
Score: B+

Old Potrero S-b-S: The winner is non-chill-filtered sample, easy win for this pairing. As flavor balance of single casks is variable this result should not be considered the rule.

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