Sunday, February 4, 2018

George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel

George Dickel is produced at Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Like most TN whiskey, Dickel is produced using the Lincoln County Process, which involves undergoing charcoal and chill filtration. In 2013, Dickel started a Barrel Select Program which gave commercial retailers the opportunity to hand select and purchases single barrels of their sour mash whisky. I love when distilleries do this, as the bottles are vetted for taste and sold to consumers at wholesale pricing. I recently spoke with a representative from the distillery, and was told the program is no longer offered, citing "limited supply".

9 years old
103 proof
Price: $45
Mash bill: 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malted barley

Nose: Creamed corn is dominant. Submissive scents of caramel popcorn, apples, and maple introduce a welcomed depth to the overall bouquet. Enclosed is a slight hint of burnt oak.  

Taste: Sweet with a smooth entry. Corn continues to have the most impact on the flavor profile although, there is an edgy fruit tone. Artificial sweetner, butter, and toasted oak are all tertiary notes which don't have much impact on the overall taste.

Finish: Sweet from beginning to end, although the oak is more prevalent on the finish.

Conclusion: This is a smooth, corn forward sour mash whisky that (like most Dickel products) lacks depth. I was raised in Tennessee however tend to shy away from most TN whiskey; I believe the Lincoln County Process leaves whiskey tasting like artificial sweetner and syrup. At 103 proof, it is the nicest Dickel product I've had, so if your a fan of their product line, this is something you may really enjoy.

Rating: C (Decent)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Four Roses Super Premium Bourbon

In 2002, Diageo (the world’s largest distiller at the time) acquired the Four Roses brand and sold it to Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. While there are many Four Roses products available in the United States, there are two bourbons exclusively exported and sold in Japan- Four Roses Black Label and Four Roses Super Premium. My brother-in-law acquired this bottle through a friend who visited Japan a while back, and he cracked it open for the Holidays.  

No Age Statement
86 proof
Price: $59

Nose: Waves of vanilla and caramel with a trace of marmalade. It’s an aroma blended with a multitude of spices, from cinnamon, nutmeg, and tobacco. 

Taste: Extremely smooth, with an edgy oak note that wafts in and out of the sweetness. Orange zest and cherries mix with tobacco, black pepper and other baking spices.

Finish: Quick yet drying with a subtle oak.

Conclusion: Four Roses Super Premium leans heavy on the rye and baking spice spectrum. At 86 proof it drinks fairly light, but the extra spice gives it a kick that makes me think I am dealing with a higher ABV. It’s a unique, however, very enjoyable bourbon. If I could find another bottle at MSRP, I’d buy it, but I’m not going to fly around the world for anything under 100 proof.  

Rating: B+ (Very Good)  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Heaven Hill Select Stock

Late autumn and early winter are my favorite seasons; aside from the inevitable common cold symptoms (daily one-a-day vitamins be damned), it’s a time for holidays, family, food, and of course, amazing whiskey. This year for Thanksgiving, we opened a bottle of Heaven Hill Select Stock. These are of limited availability (unfortunately), and can only be purchased at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown Kentucky. This particular release (2016) is a barrel proof wheat bourbon finished in cognac barrels.

8 years old w/ 21 month cognac barrel finish
126.4 Proof
Mash bill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley
Price: $150

Nose: Sweet with powdered sugar, dark fruits, baking spices, and toasted oak.

Taste: The cognac finish shines on the palate with notes of honey, raisins, and pepper. It’s well-balanced, yet mellow, with hints of maple syrup, cinnamon, and toasted oak.

Finish: Baking spices linger for a dry and mouthwatering withdrawal. 

Conclusion:  From nose to finish, the best way to describe this bourbon is rich. 21 months in cognac barrels is a long time, but I think it was necessary to mellow out what would have been very hot and spicy wheat bourbon. I personally am not a huge cognac fan, but this certainly meets my expectations.  

 Rating: B+ (Very good)  

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kentucky Owl Straight Rye Whiskey

The Kentucky Owl brand dates back to 1880 and the C.M Dedmon Distillery. Charles M. Dedman produced Kentucky Owl Bourbon before closing to Prohibition in 1919. In 2014, Dixon Dedman (great great grandson of Charles), reclaimed the brand as a Non Distiller Producer. Dixon sourced and bottled bourbon to be sold in Kentucky markets only. Dixon's ability to source high quality barrels (along with the limited distribution) led to the rejuvenated brands success; it quickly developed a cult following and gained massive attention within online bourbon markets. Success, however, never goes unnoticed; the Kentucy Owl brand was purchased by the Stoli Group (major vodka producer) in January 2017. Released in Fall 2017, this is the first ever Kentucky Owl Rye. While we know it is a Straight Kentucky whiskey, we can only speculate on the actual distiller.

Age: 11 years
Proof: 110.6 proof
​​Price: $129.99

​​Nose: A floral bouquet packed with vibrant spices, barrel char, and sweet undertones. The depth to this whiskey is incredible; every passing minute allows additional flavors to distinguish themselves and form a fantastic, evolving aroma.

Taste: Chewy mouthfeel with waves of baking spices splashing onto the palate: black pepper, cinnamon, and clove. A sugary sweetness sparks before being overshadowed by mint leaves, green tea, and wood. 

Finish: A mouthwatering heats fades slowly with floral spices and toasted oak.

Conclusion: I've fallen in love with this Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey. There are so many flavors to appreciate and unpack; the depth is second to none. At 110 proof, it's extremely smooth yet deliciously bold. Yes I'm frustrated not knowing who distilled it, but Kentucky Owl Rye is not a bottle you want to ignore.  

Rating: A (Great)

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2017

Old Forester was founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown. Every September 2nd, Old Forester releases a limited edition, vintage-dated bourbon to commemorate his birthday and legacy. The media kit for this year's Birthday Bourbon noted that it is being released at both 96 proof and 95.4 proof. This is a result of alcohol vapors being lost during the bottling process as bourbon was transferred from the holding tank to the bottling line. The sample I received from Brown-Forman is the 96 proof bottling.

Age: 12 years old
Proof: 96 proof
​​Price: $79.99

​​Nose: Sweet caramel and whip cream with toasted oak, walnuts, and a hint of citrus.

Taste: Tobacco and pepper spice balance out a sweet body of sugar cane, cocoa powder, and Boston cream.

Finish: Subtle sweetness quickly fades into a drying oak. 

Conclusion: Although this fell a bit short from expectations set by prior releases, I very much enjoyed the 2017 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. It's well balanced and easy to drink.  If you can find it anywhere close to MSRP, I suggest taking it home with you. Until next year, Happy Birthday George!

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

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