Unicorn Alert! Willett Family 25yr Rye

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Rye…. Aged in hand selected white oak barrels for 25 years. Hand bottled from barrel number 1770 at 50% alcohol. This is a Rare Release from the Willett Distillery. Willett had been distilling on their own for only a few years, so this is not one of theirs, but purchased and bottled by them. I had a friend recently visit the distillery and bring a bottle back for me. I am almost embarrassed to admit the cost of this bottle, but getting a 25yr Rye is almost impossible. The gift shop price was a little more than $300, and I’m happy to have this as part of my whiskey cabinet.

The color is very very dark for a whiskey, like an iced tea.

The nose is of smoldering fireplace, Drakes Coffee Cake, hot cinnamon buns, portabello mushroom burgers, Tootsie Rolls and burnt orange peals. The burn on the nose is minimal.

The burn is stronger than expected given the nose, but very enjoyable on the throat… The mouthfeel is excellent with solid wood tannins and a touch of wood oils as well. The finish is long and enjoyable. All the flavors on the nose are also present on the tongue.  Each sip is followed by minutes of enjoyment.

So, this is a pretty awesome whiskey. But is it worth the money? No. This is the type of whiskey that is best to try at a generous friends house as opposed to buying yourself. I still have 9/10ths of a bottle left though. I plan on enjoying it slowly over a couple years and keeping it on the very top shelf so friends don’t accidentally help themselves. 94/100.

Bonus: I will send a sample of the Willett to the first person who correctly identifies exactly what I am watching on the TV in the background.

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Oprhan Barrel Series Continues with Lost Prophet 22… maybe the best, still overrated.

After this one, only one to go to complete the current Orphan Barrel series, and thus far I have been pretty disappointed.  Largely it has been because the costs have been so high… all have been interesting in their own way, but none of have had any real value to them. This week I saw a blog that said Orphan Barrel has just had their TTB label approved for Whoop & Holler, a 28 year whiskey.  My guess is that it will also be an overoaked, not exciting bourbon, yet I will still try to buy 3 of them and will be first in line to buy it.  I will act like a Mets fan in April, self-imposed ignorantly excited, ready to open my wallet for September tickets, only to subconsciously know I will be disappointed again and should clearly know better.  But Hope Springs Eternal, and that’s how I feel when I try Lost Prophet.  As a Yankees fan I should know better….

When I first opened the bottle and it needed some air… Very flat on the open so I let it sit for 15 minutes.  Seriously folks, we need to do some research on this first open bottle thing…

Color looks like a black tea with two bags….

Interesting spicy nose, Necco wafers, cloves, Skippy Chunky Peanut Butter, toasted buttered cinnamon raisin bagel… Mild heat on the nose.

Very smooth, yet spicy palate. Very tasty but the finish is just okay, and not as long as I would have hoped. The mouthfeel is good but not great.  The nose teased me, but the taste just didn’t follow through.  So many great bourbons have finishes that last for one, two, three minutes or more… this was barely 15 seconds.

Thus far, Lost Prophet is my favorite of the Orphan Barrel series but given the price, it’s just not a must own. For value, Forged Oak is probably better, and given that it’s much cheaper and easier to find, if you feel to need to buy one of these, go for that one.  Overall, this is enjoyable, but if you don’t get to taste it, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.  89/100.

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Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey: Solid for the price, not as good as Sazerac

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the brands currently made by Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, KY. It is “a storied Pennsylvania style rye whose heritage commemorates Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square.”  It is Bottled-In-Bond meaning it has several governmental protections as well as 100 proof.

I did some family research and it turns out that my great, great grandfather owned a distillery and operated in Philadelphia… other parts of the family lived in and around Rittenhouse Square… Evidently they had a decent operation until Prohibition, and when they applied for a medicinal license, they were denied and the company, brand and the whiskey all went down the tubes… Not sure why it took my family 34 years to tell me this amazing history, but needless to say, I wanted to channel that familial spirit through this spirit…  Perhaps I should look into reviving the brand?

Medium Amber color.

Spicy and heated nose with fresh cinnamon bread, ginger snaps, whole black peppercorns and almond butter.

Palate reflects the spicy notes and also has decent hear with some oily wood tannins. The mouthfeel is very enjoyable and the finish is medium. Enjoyable rye.

If you can find this bottle under $25 it’s a strong bargain and worth adding to your whiskey cabinet. I have a preference for Sazarac but this is very solid for the price.  Unfortunately the spirits of my family distillery was not summoned during my tasting experience on this one, but it still was a good drink.  87/100.

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Russell’s Reserve 10: Solid Bourbon, worth picking up

Russell’s Reserve 10: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, one of the special products made from our friends at Wild Turkey.  Bottled in small batches after 10 years in the barrel and at 90 proof.

This bottle was another one that smelled weird when just opened the bottle.  The more I taste whiskey, the more I think all these whiskeys need to breathe. The first smell after open for just seconds was menthol and heat. Not fair to judge whiskeys so quickly. Everyone should open them and wait at least ten minutes before trying.

Light Amber

Decent heat for a 90 proof, although wore off after the bottle had been open for a week. Charcoal, Werther’s Original, candied peaches, gravel, porcini mushrooms, pencil shavings.  I’m getting more of the earthy mushroomy smells than the sweet smells the second day I tried this by the way…

Definitely a sweet first taste followed by a medium long finish and enjoyable heat.  The oak isn’t as powerful on this one nor are the oak tannins, letting the other flavors come through.

Clearly a sipping bourbon, I didn’t even want to put water in it.

Enjoyable and widely available. I picked this one up for $40 and at that price it’s certainly worth having in your collection. 91/100.

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1792: It’s okay, it’s cheap, that’s all.

I’m a sucker for a good price and a pretty bottle. 1792 goes into that category.  Small Batch, 93.7 proof.

Medium light Amber

Medium heat on nose, funky mushrooms, wet campfire, menthol, and overripe bananas like the ones my wife promises to make into banana bread but never does and ultimately gets thrown out after being frozen in our freezer for a month or two.

Sweet palate, not complex, medium finish with medium high heat–a little more than expected given the proof level.  There are some oily and wood tannins coupled with a touch of mint on the tongue.

Water brings out menthol on the nose but just dilutes the palate and removes most of the enjoyment.

This is not a bad whiskey for the price but nothing to get excited about.  I don’t know how this got some of the scores or received… It’s just not worthy. The price is pretty good though which is worth a few points. 85/100.IMG_6627(1)

Buffalo Trace: Yes, the standard one with the buffalo one… yes, it’s very very good.

This is going to be the shortest blog I have ever written… this is because it’s very obvious, even though so many people have forgotten……

Buffalo Trace the standard one.

Medium Amber.

Ground nutmeg, brown sugar, menthol, warm ginger snaps, french toast.

Good heat, medium finish with wood oils and tannins. Spicy and sweet. Extremely balanced.

It’s amazing Buffalo Trace can put out a product of this caliber for this price. Around $20 most places (shame on any retailers who are charging more!), this is a solid, reliable, balanced bourbon that is readily available everywhere and never disappoints. Won’t blow you away, but stands up to many others at significantly higher price points. Must own for all whiskey collections. For those who are just picking up the Bourbon for the first time, do NOT forget to try this standard.  91/100.

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Stagg Jr: This Bourbon is Awesome

I’m going to jump right into this one.  This is one of my favorite whiskeys of all time.  Bottled at a powerful 134.4 proof, this is the bottle that is often available, while it’s older brother is a unicorn most of us have never seen.  I drank this 4 nights in a row and didn’t write anything because I was just enjoying it too much…. I’m ready for the review.

Nice dark amber color with rust hues.

The nose is strong heat as you would expect, but also chewy molasses cookies, melted brown sugar and butter (like the kind on top of sweet potatoes), cinnamon sticks, smokey charcoal briquets, salt water taffy and crushed white pepper.

The palate is has everything from the nose and more.  The most astounding part of this bourbon is the mouthfeel and the finish.  You want to keep this in your mouth for so much longer than any other whiskey because it just massages the tongue and works the flavor deeper into the taste buds.  The finish doesn’t stop, one minute, two minutes, three minutes… it keeps going.  Not just the heat, but the flavor continues as well.  It’s an experience.  It’s so hard to believe that it is 134.4 proof.

I know this is a bottle that is highly allocated and some stores are doubling the price, and most places don’t even have it… but this one is worth it.  They say the retail price is $49.99, but only once in Cape Cod did I see it even close to that, and I bought two at $54.99 when I saw it… usually it’s $69.99 at the minimum all the way up to $99.99.  Even if you have to pay up for it, remember it’s 134.4 proof, not one of those watered down 80 proof jobs…  This is a must own.  96/100.

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