Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey is Horrible

Quick review because I just can’t stand this.

The bottle is cool and the color is dark. That’s where the compliments end.

The nose is menthol, medicinal, pine needles and bandaids.

For 46% abv it’s really hot and not in a good way. Bitter flavors and medicinal. Really unenjoyable.

This is one of the worst ryes I’ve ever had and can’t believe it’s priced around $50. Barely acceptable in a cocktail.  Avoid at all costs… 15/100.



Little Book 2017 #1

I’ve had this one for a while but didn’t open it until recently… I’ve been attempting to not open bottles recently, instead, drinking down what is already open.  I’ve been unsuccessful in my ability to not open new ones, because I want to review them!  Anyway… here is the review, long overdue.

Beautiful dark amber, roasted almond coloring.  Initial impressions of the nose is of a roasted nutty character, smooth peanut butter, graham cracker s’mores and a hint of baking spices in the back.  The tickling heat I’m getting on the nose hairs hints at being cousins of a Booker’s, just enough to be recognizable, but not quite the same.

The taste is strong, with lots of tongue tingling spices.  Hotter on the palate than the nose would indicate, but no where near the heat of a typical Booker’s.  Peppery spices continue to evolve on the roof of the mouth as the finish is long.  The classic Beam nuttiness is clearly evident throughout.

This is a very good introduction to a new line from Beam.  I’m not sure it’s worthy of stockpiling in a bunker, but it looks great, tastes good and is a welcome new addition.  92/100.


Another Foursquare Rum, but this one is a miss…

I love Foursquare, just read my review I posted recently:

However… I just don’t like this bottle at all. It’s a little too sickly sweet, too much port. If you like port finishes you might like it. If you love MWND, maybe you will find this ok, but as you can tell from other reviews I’ve written about poorly aged port cask finishes, this just doesn’t work for me.

It’s aged three years in ex-bourbon casks then six more in port barrels. The other major concern is being bottled at 40% abv removes any sense of mouthfeel or complexity. I actually didn’t realize the proof when I bought it as all of the other Foursquare Rums I have purchased before are Cask strength. I’m confident that this does not belong in the Exceptional Cask Selection, as the others I have had are awesome.

Foursquare is for sipping neat, but this bottle is for mixers. 79/100.


Other bad port cask finishes:

Foursquare Rum Distillery 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection

This is one of those finds that I credit to Fred Minnick.  I had my store in NYC specially order it for me (thank you  This is the Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.

Dried apricot color in the glass.  Notes on the nose are pineapple, rose petal, dried cherries, candy corn, dried apricots, caramel, vanilla, molasses and coconut shavings.  Lots going on there.

For 59% alcohol, this is an incredibly easy rum to sip, yet still enjoyable warmth on the chest.  The mouthfeel is wonderful with both tannins and oils surrounding the mouth.  So much flavor too with caramel and tropical fruits coming in wave after wave.  The finish on this is extremely long, more than two minutes.

Although the 2006 Foursquare is a better rum, it’s impossible to find and insanely expensive.  For the price, you can’t do any better than this one.  The MSRP is around $70, and if you can grab it, grab two or three. 95/100

Top 5 Disappointments in Bourbon in 2017

In no particular order… here are my top 5 disappointments in Bourbon for 2017:

Knob Creek 25th Anniversary edition… once again this bottle was no better, if not quite a bit worse, than a lot of store picks for Knob Creek; but because it came in a nice box, they charged $125 or more and people paid for it.  It wasn’t that good.  I’m such a sucker that I bought three, and the secondary market dropped immediately on it and everyone like me is stuck with this sub-par product.  Good for them for knowing we would buy it, and if they did another Bourbon next year, trust me, I wouldn’t buy it.  But now I’m hearing they are doing a cask strength, straight rye, also in a nice box instead.  Uggg… what am I going to do????  Touche Knob Creek.

Orphan Barrel Entrapment… Once again, we should never be surprised that Diageo continues to put out poor products under their Orphan Barrel name.  It’s crappy.  Don’t waste your money on it.  You know if Crown Royal thinks it is so bad they wouldn’t release it under their own label, and I mean CROWN ROYAL, then you know it’s bad.  It’s also hilarious that it’s a rip off at $149.99, the normal MSRP, but you see it on the shelf at some stores for $300-$500.  Crazy.

Basil Hayden’s special release ryes… some good hype for these and yet THEY WERE ONLY 80 PROOF!  What were they thinking?  This was such a missed opportunity for those of us who love high proof ryes to break into the market that Lot 40 Cask strength and Kentucky Owl Rye moved into this year and Pikesville and Handy had been in for years.  The price was right, the proof was wrong.  They had two releases this year and both fell flat.  I hope they fix it next year.

WhistlePig Farmstock was my most hated whiskey of the year.  After loving so much of their sourced product, by only putting in 10% of their new make to completely destroy it was almost unbelievable.  They get double negative points for making their Dark Prince $500 minimum retail just because they won Whiskey of the Year from San Francisco Wine & Spirits.  Barrell Bourbon won best Bourbon of the year and their retail prices didn’t change, why did WhistlePigs’?  I don’t think I’ll buy another WhistlePig product again.

Facebook groups that post too many newbie messages is my fifth disappointment of the year.  I had to unfollow a bunch of groups because I spent too much time clicking and seeing nothing useful.  I hate to be a hater, but I’m trying for 2018 to spend less time on social media and more time with my family, so staying parts of the groups, but unfollowing the messages is the best way I know how.

Share with me on Twitter your top disappointments in Bourbon for 2017 and you hopes for what is to come for 2018!


Northern Border Collection III: Pike Creek 21yr Speyside Finish

Part III of the Northern Border Collection series: Pike Creek 21yr Old Canadian Whiskey finished in Speyside Single Malt Casks. I’ve never been a huge fan of single malt Scotch finishes (except the the Barrell Rum one recently: review here), but I’m willing to be opened minded for top blenders when I know it isn’t a gimmick.


It’s medium straw colored, not unusual for Canadian Whiskey. Notes of toffee, caramel, roasted almonds, dark maple syrup and honeysuckle.

Easy down the hatch it goes, but perhaps a little too easy. The mouthfeel is good but not overly complex. The finish is medium length but keeps the enjoyable notes until the end.

This is another good Whiskey but not as multidimensional as I hoped. Fortunately the Speyside casks don’t overpower this whiskey, however, it just doesn’t excite me. It’s solid, but for the hype of this limited release, it doesn’t hold up. 84/100.

For a more in depth take on this Whiskey take a look at Mark Bylok’s review:

Northern Border Collection II: Lot 40 Cask Strength

Part II of my reviews of the Northern Border Collection: Lot 40 Cask Strength 12yr 55% abv. This is the one I’ve been most excited about as I’ve had samples from my friend Mark Bylok—and who doesn’t like a aged high proof rye?


Copper/dark amber color just reaching out. Sweet, inviting nose of rock candy, cracked pepper, vanilla, baking spices, maple syrup and Christmas trees.

Seriously good on the palate. Coats everything, tingles the tongue, enjoyable but not overpowering warmth and a finish that keeps going on. Sweet and spicy flavors keep going and don’t drop off. The finish is epic… worth leaving in your mouth for a few seconds to get the full flavors before swallowing to realize the total potential.

This is a special whiskey. I am 1/3 through bottle number 2,251 of 4,968. This is better than this year’s Thomas H Handy, but not as good as 2014, 2015 or 2016. It’s in the upper echelons of ryes and deserves to be. I think this is similar but a touch better than the Kentucky Owl rye release. If you can snag one of these for less than 3x retail, it’s worth it. I hope they release it again next year. 96/100.

For a more in depth review, check out Mark Bylok’s Piece: