Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Amador Ten Barrels Straight Hop Flavored Whiskey

This straight hop-flavored whiskey is the latest limited release from Charbay Master Distiller, Marko Karakasevic. Charbay is a small craft distillery located in Napa (think wine) county California, who partnered with the Amador Whiskey Co. to bottle this limited release. Seing as only ten barrels were made, it is in fact, the definition of "limited". Reading the accompanying dog tag blows my mind; it's a blend of straight malt whiskey and a hop-flavored whiskey. After these whiskeys were distilled, they were aged separately for over two years in French oak wine barrels and then "married" in  chardonnay barrels for another year before being bottled. 


Batch No. 1, Barrel No. 10, Bottle No. 3582
96 Proof
60% straight malt whiskey
40% hop-flavored whiskey -crafted from Racer 5 IPA (brewed by the Bear Republic Brewery)

Nose: Full of hops, caramel, mint leaves, cloves and vanilla, and plum.

Taste:  There is an initial sweetness with vanilla and honey followed by an extreme burst of hops and spice. The flavors on the mid palate are abundant, with malt, toffee, butterscotch, rich citrus, red fruit, and nougat. 

Finish: It's long, with hops spice and a scotch like dryness. 

Conclusion: As you can see by the amount left in the bottle, I took my time before reviewing this one. For a young whiskey, the flavors are still bold and the proof makes it worth's just, the overwhelming burst of hops takes me a bit too far away from my whiskey comfort zone. While this was a gift, it retails around $99. If you are a hops lover, this may be worth searching for, but as there were only 10 barrels made, so it may be fairly difficult to find. 

My Rating: C (Decent)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Few Rye Whiskey

A few months back I reviewed Few bourbon; it wasn't your typical bourbon but it's a damn good whiskey. After I finished that bottle, I wanted to get my hands on this bottle of rye so...lets begin! 

Aged less than 4 years
93 proof
70% rye, 20% corn, and 2% malted barley

Nose: Raw grains and a dash of sugar grace the nose. Chocolate pudding pie, rye spice, creamy corn, and honey follow. 

Taste: Starts off with a dominant pepper spice that kicks at the back of your throat. It's a buttery whiskey, with sweet notes of creamy vanilla and mini tootsie rolls. Herbal and grassy. 

Finish: It's smooth yet comes with a slight burn. Medium in length. The herbal notes and rye spice continue to dominate along with some bitter oak. 

Conclusion: Similar to Few bourbon, Few rye is very unique and grain forward. Unlike most ryes, there isn't much (if any) mint present. Few Spirits continues to be one of my preferred craft distilleries, and this is an interesting bottle that is certainly worth a try. That being said, at under 4 years of age, the suggested retail of$64.99 is a little more than I would like to spend.

My Rating: B (Good)

Bourbon Brothers Video:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Maker's Mark Cask Strength Bourbon

If I had a dollar for every time I said "this is good, however I'd love to see it at a higher proof", I would be a rich, rich man. Well, it's about time, and Master Distillers have listened to our requests, and are recently starting to respond with these awesome cask strength releases! 

111.6 proof 
Batch  15-02
Wheated mash bill

Nose: This is definitely an amped up Maker's Mark! Sweet wheat on the nose with heavy hints of creamy vanilla, caramel, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Taste: Candied red hots with a slight yet sharp burn. The chewy mouthfeel is great, with wheat sweetness up front followed by bold notes of vanilla, butter and cinnamon sticks. There is plenty of sweet spice to keep things interesting on the mid palate.

Finish: Long and warming with a spicy, cask strength kick.

Conclusion: The first time I tried Maker's Mark Cask Strength bourbon was during my trip to KY for the bourbon trail. We visited Loretta and the beautiful MM Distillery back in October 2014. I remember it being just as sweet, spicy, and delicious. If you are a Maker's fan, this is a must buy bourbon! That being said, at a pricetag of $65, it's hard to keep choosing MMCS over the cheaper yet just as good (dare I say better) Weller Antique 107 proof. 

My Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Bourbon Brothers Video: 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blade and Bow Bourbon: Base & DeLuxe

Blade and Bow is the latest KY straight bourbon whiskey from Diagio. Two Blade and Bow bourbons were recently released to pay homage to the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. B&B bourbons are unique because they use a Solera system aging process to preserve some of the oldest whiskey stocks. 

Blade and Bow (Base):
91 proof
No age statement  (research says least six years old)
Suggested retail is $50

Nose: Pecan pie is the first thing you notice, sweet and delicious. Next is an abundance of red fruits in the form of plums and cherries- almost as if you're walking through an orchard. Caramel and cinnamon are also present, though faint. The flavors blend elegantly and create a lovely bouquet.  

Taste: Similar to the nose, lots of red fruit soaks onto the tongue for a unique yet pleasant pour. The sweetness presents less on the palate with faint hints of chocolate, candied pecans, and cream- this is due to an overwhelming amount black pepper spice that takes charge and leads its way onto the finish. 

Finish: The mouthfeel was fairly light so I wasn't surprised by the short length here. The sweet and fruity tones dissipate rather quickly before ending with black pepper spice and a bitter, bitter oak.

Conclusion:  I'll make this one short and sweet: the nose on Blade and Bow is fantastic, the taste is good, and the finish is a huge letdown. If I had to spend $50 on a Diagio product, I'm going to take Bulleit 10 over this everyday.

My Rating: B (Good)

Blade and Bow 22 year (DeLuxe)
22 years old
90 proof
MSRP $160, Limited release 

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and charred oak.

Taste: Smooth with a chewy mouthfeel. Baking spices such as cinnamon and clove cover the mid palate. Sharp oak. 

Finish:  Long and slightly bitter. The spice continues but is joined by flavors of pepper and drying oak.

Conclusion: There is a huge difference between these two bourbons- we shouldn't be that surprised as they are blended from different sources, but it makes me wonder why they wanted to brand them together. I honestly don't think the DeLuxe is any better or worse than the Base- its just different. That fact that the DeLuxe is $160 makes me sick to my stomach. There are much better things to spend your money on.

 My Rating: B (Good)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blood Oath Pact No. 1

Blood Oath is the first limited edition whiskey brand from liquor giant Luxco, headquartered out of St. Louis MO, and made famous by bourbon brands like Ezra Brooks and Rebel Yell. Pact No. 1, was just released (Spring 2015) and is a blend of three bourbons, ranging from six to twelve years old. For all my non science readers, Blood Oath's proof matches that of the normal human body temperature. I was grateful to be sent this bottle as Blood Oath bourbons will be released annually and in very limited quantities.

98.6 proof 
Blend consists of the following:
-A wheated bourbon aged six years
-A high rye bourbon aged 7 years
-A high rye bourbon aged 12 years 

Nose: Heavy caramel with vanilla cream lead the way for a fairly sweet aroma. Sweet spice, apricot, and oak are present along with a slight varnish.

Taste: On the tip of the tongue there is a wheat sweetness that is quickly overturned by a deep peppery spice. Cream soda, caramel candies, and honey blend lightly on the mid palate. There are nice herbal and mint notes present.  Finally, the 12 portion of the blend year shows itself with a heavy dose of tobacco.

Finish: Smooth and medium in length. The wheat sweetness and rye spice return along with a touch of oak.  

Conclusion: Blood Oath Pact No. 1 is a very unique bottle; the four grains (corn, wheat, rye, barley) really show themselves in this bourbon. It's a nice pour with a unique complexity- the awesome branding doesn't hurt either- but at an MSRP of $89.99 a bottle, it's not a purchase that I can recommend. That being said, I am looking forward to Pact No. 2, coming in 2016 and consisting of an entirely new bourbon blend.

My Rating: B (Good)

Bourbon Brothers Video: