Saturday, June 17, 2017

Full Proof 1792 Bourbon

Full Proof is one of five, limited expressions distilled by the Barton 1792 Distillery. Aptly named, Full Proof boasts a rich, full flavored profile. In addition to being bottled at its original entry proof, it was produced using a distinct filtering process- the chill filtration was bypassed so the bourbon passed only through a plate and frame filter.

The other limited expressions from Barton 1792 Distillery include: Sweet Wheat, Port Finish, High Rye, and Single Barrel- all unique in their own right. A few years ago, 1792 only produced small batch bourbon. It’s been a treat getting to taste these experimental, unique whiskeys, and I look forward to future expressions.

125 proof (entry proof)
No age statement
Price: $45

Nose: Caramel and vanilla sweetness hide under a layer of alcohol. Dark roasted coffee, dill, rye spice, and smoke combine to revitalize a seemingly rich bouquet.

Taste: Robust and hot. A sweet entry with sugar and chocolate candies weaken the sharpness of the initial heat. Coffee beans, rye spice, and a deep smoky flavor assist in the balance of the profile.  

Finish: Bold with a hot and warming rye spice.

Conclusion: I love high proof bourbon, but Full Proof contains a powerful heat that leaves me feeling conquered. The flavors are bold, the profile is balanced, but its sharp instead of smooth. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m going to add a few drops of water going forward. It comes with a reasonable price tag, so I recommend you give it a try for yourself!

My Rating:  B (Good)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wild Turkey Master's Keep: Decades

In 2015 Wild Turkey created Master’s Keep, a high end and limited edition bourbon. These barrels were hand-picked by Master Distiller Eddie Russell after aging for 17 years. Master's Keep is the oldest whiskey Wild Turkey has released to date. As expensive as it was intriguing, I decided not to buy a bottle as it was only 86 proof; I happily turned my head and focused on something else. 

Fast forward to Spring 2017, Master’s Keep Decades is the second premium bourbon released from Wild Turkey. The 10- 20 year-old barrels selected for Decades (also hand-picked by Eddie Russell), represent “the very best of two decades of bourbon making”. Bottled at 104 proof, this was bourbon I was excited to get my hands on! 

-Blend of bourbons aged between 10 and 20 years
-104 proof
-Price: $149

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, oak, and smoke- very vibrant and inviting.

Taste: Layers of sweetness, with milk chocolate, butterscotch, and caramel candies. Dried fruits, such as raisins and apricot add depth to the mid-palate; this is well-balanced bourbon.  The mouth feel is thick. The legs of the bourbon run slow on my glass and are noticeably wide. A backbone of smoke and toasted oak keeps the sweetness in check.  

Finish: Long with a bright sweetness that dims into a dry, mouthwatering oak.

Conclusion: The mingling of these younger and older barrels was executed very well. It’s vibrant bourbon with deep character. Master’s Keep Decades has exceeded expectations in regards to flavor profile, but I’m not happy with the price tag. Overall, this is a very good, one time purchase for any bourbon enthusiast, but if the phrase “limited edition” doesn’t create jubilant fireworks in your head, I can’t justify spending $150 on this one.

My Rating:  B+ (Very Good)

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)