Central Cellars Wine & Spirits: Price Reductions


Was my blog read by the Central Cellars Wine & Spirits in Grand Central of New York City?  Or did they just not sell any high end bourbon because the prices were too high?  I guess we’ll never know, but I’ll gladly take some of the credit.  I walked in today and saw that they reduced the price of Pikesville rye from $125 to $105.  Still too high in my opinion but they also had a couple bottles on the shelf that was a great bargain to make up for it.  They are selling Rittenhouse for $30, the super rare Barrell Bourbon New Years for $100 (I bought a bottle of this, but probably should have cleaned them out) and Four Roses Single Barrel for $57.


I guess capitalism works, if they charge too much, no one will buy their products because they can walk across the street and find it for less.  My guess is that all the Pikesville ryes that were on the shelf two months ago are still on the shelf, so they needed to cut the prices to make any sales.  Hopefully they will continue to cut the price to a reasonable level and keep a few goodies like Barrell Bourbon, Rittenhouse and Four Roses Single Barrel at fair prices.

For any other retailers out there or someone thinking of opening a retail liquor store… just be fair to your customers and you won’t have to be embarrassed by bloggers pointing out your foolishness and forced to reduce your prices far too late…

Here was the original post: https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/shame-shame-nyc-central-cellars-wine-spirits-shame/




Holiday Sample Party: Willett Family Estate Single Barrels WFE Rated

I’ve been trading and collecting samples of lots of different whiskies for a while, especially Willett Family Estate single barrels.  It got to the point when I had too many to drink alone, but I also don’t feel like writing up a full review for a single sample is warranted due to the potential of contamination in a sample.  My brother in law is a big bourbon fan as well, so we tried them all together and gave individual ratings.  The notes are from me.

Willett Family Estate 12yr #751: Nice standard butterscotch and caramel nose, graham crackers. GREAT mouthfeel, sharp, enjoyable, long finish.  I wish I had a whole bottle of this.  94/100   Brian’s Score: 90/100

Willett Family Estate 13yr #780: Very strong nose, maple syrup, much hotter and bolder than the previous sample.  Tons of brown sugar and vanilla on the nose too.  Thick, juicy and spicy palate but finishes in a bitter note. Very different than the previous one.  93/100    Brian’s Score: 94/100

Willett Family Estate 9yr #7174:  Sweet rock candy, Reeses Pieces and vanilla with some pretty strong heat.  Palate is a lot of heat as well, ok mouthfeel, sweet but not overly complex.  87/100     Brian’s Score: 81/100

Willett Family Estate 14yr #2366: Nice nose, caramel and s’mores.  Tannic with oak on the palate but without solid oils leaving it bitter and astringent on the finish.  After a solid nose, the taste is disappointing.  86/100     Brian’s Score: 80/100

Eagle Rare 17 2010 Vintage: Forest Floor, Leather, mushroom, candied walnuts, stewed pears and apple sauce with cinnamon on the nose.  The palate is equally complex with all the nose coming through in an extremely mellow way.  No heat at all, easy down.  Finish is very good.  96/100   Brian’s Score: 92/100 (he also said the nose was better than the taste)

Barrell Bourbon New Years 2017: Reeses Pieces, caramel, Twix, very nutty nose.  GREAT mouthfeel, thick and chewy, nice oils, very comple.  Moderate heat with an amazing finish.  This is a bottle that I am going to hunt and hunt and hunt until I find it and then I’ll do a very proper review.  96-97/100   Brian’s Score: 95/100

2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon: Classic OFBB nose with mushrooms, nuttiness, caramel with weight, but hotter than this year’s release.  The palate is less exciting than the nose, but with a bit more bitterness than I would prefer.  Overall better than the overage OFBB.  89/100   Brian’s Score: 94/100

Old Charter 10 (Old Label): Butterscotch, cedar, oak, sour cherries.  This mouthfeel, underwhelming sour finish.  79/100   Brian’s Score: 81/100

Booker’s 25th Anniversary: Hot nose, caramel, butterscotch, ginger snaps.  Amazing mouthfeel, less hot on palate than expected but still classically Booker’s hot.  Long, long and incredible finish. 96/100   Brian’s Score: 92/100 (too hot)

1993 Old Grand Dad (National Distillers): Different than the OGD 114 I had tonight, more vanille, brown sugar, stewed pears, green apple, very mellow nose.  Super smooth, very nice taste, mouthfeel ok but low proof and chill filtering take out a lot of the complexity.  Wish this was cask strength.  93/100      Brian’s Score:  90/100










1976 Canadian Club Dusty ‘eh

There are few whiskies out there with less respect than Canadian Club.  It’s relegated to the lowest of bottom shelves, inconceivable to be drank in anything other than a cocktail and tends to linger on home whiskey shelves for decades.

My dad retired from the corporate world and now runs people’s estate sales for a second career.  He loves it, doesn’t have any bosses to have to deal with, sets his own hours, and genuinely enjoys the work that he does.  What am I mentioning this?  Well, one of the things you can almost always count on in a house of a very old deceased person that needs a estate sale, is a three quarters full bottle of Canadian Club sitting on their bar or kitchen cupboard: it’s virtually a guarantee.  It was most likely gifted to them in the 1960’s or 1970’s and suffered more from evaporation than consumption.  The bottle being reviewed today comes from one of those sales, but it was one of the rare sealed ones, as opposed to the opened ones which inevitably gets poured down the drain at the end of the garage sale…

Like most 6yr whiskies not aged in new charred oak barrels, it is on the lighter side of amber.  The 1L bottle looks pretty cool with the big Hiram Walker in script and the 1976 boldly written on the tax stamp.

Pure vanilla on the nose, so strong and powerful, almost like someone poured a touch of vanilla extract into the bottle before trying it (I didn’t).  I’m also getting notes of apples, pears and crushed almonds.

The taste is remarkably enjoyable.  It’s not overly complex and at 86.8 proof there is literally no heat on the mouth at all, but it’s playful and enjoyable.  I guess with the 40yrs in the bottle, this has mellowed out so much and now only vanilla and fruit notes remain.  Although the mouthfeel is not overly complex due to the chill filtering and low proof, the finish is surprisingly long, well over a minute while never losing any of the satisfaction.  Vanilla and smiles all the way to the end.

This is what I would say… next time you are at grandma’s house and she offers you a drink, go check out the back of the bar.  Dust off that 1970’s CC that someone, maybe at a key party, brought to her house 40+ years ago, and pour yourself a glass of it.  You will probably be impressed.  94/100.


Old Forester 1920, Very Good, Not Great.

Old Forester has been coming out with some special Whiskey Row editions and this is their highest proof to date. Not sure what Prohibition Style means, but it’s clearly just marketing… On to the review.

The color is awesome: nice dark amber. When I first opened the bottle the nose was a little musty, and it was a little disappointing. But I know from experience that a lot of great bottles just need a little air. After a few hours aromas of cinnamon, all spice, cloves, stewed sugar beets and charcoal come through.  There still is that mushroomy musty background noise that was more prevalent when I first opened the bottle.  That smell comes through far stronger in the OFBB editions, but still getting some here too.

The taste is enjoyable. There is some nice spicy flavors coming through and an enjoyable heat. There are some good tannins but the mouthfeel is slightly lacking as the oils have been stripped out, most likely from chill filtering which is too bad for a 115 proof whiskey. For this level of proof, I want something unfiltered, but this clearly is and really misses the mark on this important nuance.  The best part of this whiskey is the finish goes on for a long time continuing the nice spicy flavors.

I added some water to see what would happen.  The nose is diminished, and the palate isn’t improved. I wouldn’t recommend adding water for those who can handle 115 proof.

I’ve read some incredible reviews on this bourbon. This is a very good bourbon. Enjoyable nose, palate and long finish. But it doesn’t quite hit the exceptional level. For $59.99, which is what I paid, it’s worth buying, but after this bottle is gone I don’t think I will be replacing it. 90/100.



Four Roses Gift Shop Elliott’s Pick OBSF

Part of my Kentucky trip took me to the gift shop at Four Roses. I actually didn’t open this up until very recently and after I had already tried the Elliott’s Select, but after trying it I had to open this up as soon as possible.

This private single barrel is an OBSF, 50.3% abv, aged 11yrs and 7 months, from warehouse GW and is barrel # 81-1H.

Medium heat on the nose, dried grass, graham crackers, cloves, cracked walnuts and a hint of raspberry jam. Initially I’m a little disappointed by the nose compared to this year’s Elliott’s Select.

The taste is better and so is the mouthfeel. There’s a lot of spiciness on the palate that I was completely missing on the nose. It really tickles your tongue.  The tannins and oil nicely balance out the mouthfeel.

Overall this is a solid single barrel but not even close to the Elliott’s Select. The finish is quite long but it lacks some of the sweet notes that the other had. 87/100.


Chelsea Wine Vault… Are You Joking?


More and more I’m finding liquor stores really pissing me off.  I’m actually fine with stores selling stuff for close to secondary markets.  I’m not one of those guys who thinks they need to sell it for MSRP.  I’ve given up on that… but I do find it beyond obnoxious to be selling bottles for 2x or more secondary values.  It just is a huge tease when I see it on the shelf and waste my time getting excited.  I prefer and show most of my business to those stores who stick to closer to MSRP, and when I find a store selling for prices like this… I’m going to let all my readers know about it.


Weller 107 for $84.99!!!!  Weller 12 for $299.99, oh wait, it’s on sale for $279.99.  EHT Barrell Proof for $199.99!!  Weller Antique is a $29.99 bourbon at most… Weller 12 secondary is $100, some idiots charge $125 (and bigger idiots buy), but it should be $75… and EHTBP secondary is between $100-$125, but most places you can still get it for under $100.  Stores like this are a complete joke and people should go out of their way to avoid them.

Now… for the real kicker.  And I was so upset when I was there I didn’t even take a photo, but they have an entire wall of BTAC behind a locked cage.  The prices aren’t listed on the shelf, you need to lift up the bottles to see them.  Thomas H Handy is marked at $899.99.  That’s a bottle that goes between $225-$375, but generally can be had for $300 or lower secondary.  You wouldn’t even believe the price of the Sazerac 18…  The manager said that they sourced the bottles from collectors, but I’m pretty sure in New York State, selling liquor that you didn’t acquire from a distributor is illegal.  What do I know though?

All I know is that even though rent in Chelsea Market is quite high, attempting to gauge your clients by charging 2-3x secondary prices and 10-15x wholesale prices is not a way to run a successful business.  I would wish the owners at Chelsea Wine Vault luck, but I don’t mean it.  I hope they are reading this so they can fix their mistakes or move along so someone else can move in and be fair to customers.


Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey 80 Proof

Old Overholt is an historic rye brand dating back over two hundred years. I’ve seen prohibition bottles going for over 1k each at auction. Not sure what happened to the brand over the years but now it’s relegated to the bottom shelf and Manhattan mixers only. I’ve actually never tried it straight before, so I thought I would give it the Glen Cairn glass treatment.

Light yellowish coloring, most likely not all new charred oak barrels and representative of only three years in barrel.

Sweet and spicy nose but very one dimensional. Very little heat.

Easy to drink, goes down easily, but doesn’t have a ton there. Very little heat which is nice for a young rye but it’s also lacking in depth. Short finish, but not unpleasant.

This is a rye that I bought for $13.99 and can register no complaints. I probably won’t be drinking it straight ever again, but I prefer this to most of the new “craft” ryes that are aged for very short periods of time in small barrels and possibly from locally sourced, organic, free range, sustainable ryes…  This is definitely one to keep on the bar for mixers as at this price, it’s a great value. 81/100.