Sunday, May 14, 2017

Four Roses Small Batch LE 2016

2016 marked the first release of Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch bourbon blended exclusively by Master Distiller Brent Elliot. Brent noted this is the first time in more than seven years the OESO recipe has been included in a Limited Edition Small Batch. Bottled at barrel strength, 9,258 of these bottles hit shelves last September.

111.2 Proof
Blend of three bourbons: 12 year OESO, 12 year OESV, 16 year OESK
Price: $129

Nose: Sophisticated with a plethora of fruits, predominantly green apples and cherries. Caramel, baking spices, and toasted oak bring balance to this fantastic aroma.

Taste: Initial notes of crème brulee, vanilla, and dried fruits create a smooth entry. The mouthfeel is thick and warming, with bold layers of baking spices and sweet tobacco.

Finish: The sweetness fades while the tobacco leaves your mouth watering.

The 2016 release is delicious and well balanced. The flavors are bold however, it goes down exceptionally smooth; always a feat for barrel proof bourbons. It may be my favorite Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch to date- sorry 2012 release, you have been dethroned!

My Rating:  A (Great)

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey

Maryland rye whiskey is recognized for having a unique style, one which contains a lower rye content and a healthy amount of corn to provide sweeter and almost bourbon like characteristics. Before prohibition, Maryland was one of the countries leading rye producers, with more than 40 operating distilleries. The majority of these converted to ethanol production or closed during World War II and only a few resumed making whiskeys when the War was over.

In an effort to restore Maryland’s distilling heritage, Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank created the Sagamore Spirit Company. Plank has stated that Sagamore Distillery aspires to “put Maryland back on the map” as a premier distiller of rye whiskey. Located in Baltimore, construction of the facility recently completed.  While distillation of rye whiskey started at the Baltimore facility on April 10th, the company is currently selling rye whiskey sourced from Indiana. It's a blend of two different rye mash bills- a high & low rye, proofed using spring fed water from Sagamore Farm. The 83 proof pays homage to the water’s journey from the farm to the distillery – a trip down I-83.
-Distilled in Indiana 
-83 proof
-3 years of age
-Price: $45

Nose: Subtle hints of cinnamon and muted vanilla. Herbal tones and an intense burst of dill overpower the aroma.

Taste: Smooth but rather unexciting on the palate. Lackluster baking spices are subdued by a blanket of savory herbal notes, mostly dill and green tea.
Finish: Light, herbal, and crisp.

Conclusion: I didn't find this expression of Sagamore Spirit rye great by any stretch. Fortunately, this post was never intended to highlight the sourced whiskey currently being sold- just to be clear, I wouldn't buy it again! I wrote more to focus on the distillery, which is now open to the public and offering daily tours of the facility. I spoke with their Director of Brand Development, who informed me Sagamore Spirit will continue Maryland's tradition of distilling rye with a healthy amount of corn in the recipe. An unaged, white dog rye from the Sagamore Distillery is available at the gift shop. While they plan to age the spirit based on taste, not number of years, I think its safe to say we can look forward to an aged, Maryland style rye from Sagamore Spirit in next 4 years!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A117

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batch A117 is the first barrel proof release since Heaven Hill modernized the brand with a new elegant bottle design. While Heaven Hill's flagship bourbon, 94 proof Elijah Craig small batch, lost its age statement altogether, I was delighted to see ECBP will continue to be aged for 12 years. My first experience with ECBP was a majestic one. It’s older than most whiskey you can find today, it’s loaded with bold flavors, and most importantly, it won’t burn a hole in your wallet (while still a decent value today, these used to sell retail for $40)!

-Batch A117
-127 proof
-Aged 12 years
-Price: $55

Nose: Aromatic with semi-sweet chocolate, cherries, and a sharp toasted oak.

Taste: Full bodied with whipped cream, fudge, cherries, and cola. There’s a thick layer of dark fruits followed by pepper spice and toasted oak.

Finish: Long with dried fruits, toasted oak, and a mouthwatering heat.

Conclusion: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof continues to be top tier bourbon in my book. Batch A117 is complex with a wide range of bold flavors.  It's a few bucks more than it used to be, but still a great buy in today's market. 

My Rating:  A (Great)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Minor Case Straight Rye

Released nationwide in February, Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey is the newest product from Limestone Branch Distillery (owned in part by Luxco). Interestingly enough, Ezra Brooks (also Luxco) released a straight rye whiskey in January of 2017. These whiskies have many elements in common. For instance, they are both 24 months old and distilled in Indiana (MGP). There is however, one noteworthy difference between the two; Minor Case boasts a sherry-cask finish and is packaged in an elegant, flask-style bottle commemorating the heritage of Minor Case Beam with his original logo.

-90 proof
-2 years old
-Price: $49 

Nose: A delicate bouquet mixed with an assortment of red fruits and sugary sweetness. Plums, cherries, and vanilla icing are followed by a muted rye spice.

Taste: Incredibly smooth, however the flavors are flat and muddled. A subtle pepper spice graces the palate for a mere second, folding to a buffet of red fruits, predominantly plums and cherries. It's sweet but lacks depth. 

Finish: Short with dried fruit notes.

Conclusion: As a result of being such a young whiskey,  the sherry-cask finish seems to have consumed every aspect of its profile- honestly it's overpowering. My wife really liked this, which makes sense because she loves red wine. I on the other hand, do not care for wine one bit! Taste aside, the bottle looks fantastic, but if we're being honest, the price point seems way too high. If you aren't a wine lover, I recommend a hard pass on Minor Case rye whiskey.  

My Rating:  D (Poor)
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon

This bottle of Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon, also known as “the green label", is one of few bottom shelf bourbons I recommend for everyone to try at least once. We live in a world where local/craft distillery’s get away with selling extremely young whiskey for north of $30 a bottle. Heaven Hill Old Style bourbon is a diamond in the ruff; you’ll be hard pressed to find another straight bourbon aged this long and sold at such a reasonable price.

-90 proof

-6 years
-Price: $12

Nose: First whiffs promote a light, sugary sweetness. Peanuts and caramel follow along with a very shy rye spice.

Taste: While the mouthfeel is thin, there is an initial pop of pepper spice and a decent heat. Peanut brittle and brown sugar add sweetness to the palate.

Finish: Extremely smooth, with brown sugar and pepper spice.

Conclusion: At the end of the day, this is a fantastic bourbon for your wallet. The flavors are light but enjoyable, and it makes for a phenomenal mixer.

My Rating:  C (Decent)