Westchester Wheat Whiskey No. 3

First time I’ve seen this one in a bar, so I thought I would try it out.

Surprisingly smooth for a young craft whiskey

Candy corn, corn bread, although not a ton of complexity on the nose.

Not a lot of complexity on the palate, but easy to go down, a moderate amount of heat, sweet and not nail polish either. Enjoyable.

Would be interesting to see what these guys come up with after extended aging–would love to see what a 8yr tastes like.  Right now I hope these guys keep up the good work and expand production and aging.  The No. 3 gets a 84/100.image1(26)

Does Glassware Matter?

I am a glassware snob.  I am neither proud, nor embarrassed.  Like I said in previous blogs, I started out as a wine guy and I have no greater pet peeve than going to a restaurant, ordering a nice bottle of wine, and being served in poor glassware.  Actually, low quality, hot, just out of the dishwasher glassware is even offensive to my personal code.  At home I have lots of different glasses for different types of wines so why not have the same thing for whiskey?


There is a new whiskey glass out on the market, which I ordered off of Kickstarer a while ago, the Norlan glass; it just arrived this weekend.  I believed it was prudent to test it versus the old time favorite Glencairn glass.  For good measure I also also tested them against  Reidel’s single malt glass and the Dorset Old-Fashioned glass.

I decided to test the glasses with two of my current favorite whiskeys, one of a high proof cask strength version and one of a lower proof, the subjects chosen were: Elmer T. Lee bourbon and Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cask Finish.  Both of these are great whiskeys and I’ve enjoyed them many times before in Glencairn glasses.  I also decided to do two separate taste tests, the first at two minutes after pouring and the second at forty-five minutes.  This experiment is not about testing the whiskeys, as I know they are both world class, but rather to see how the glasses express the whiskeys.

Elmer T. Lee first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  I’m not getting a lot out of this one, smells ok.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Even less aroma than the old-fashioned glass.

Glencairn Glass:  Really nice concentrated nose, very flavorful, just awesome.

Norlan Glass:  Elegant nose, not as concentrated as the Glencairn, very enjoyable.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Lots of heat, not a lot of flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Not getting much on the nose here.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, not a lot of heat, very enoyable.

Norlan Glass:  Almost no heat at all, less concentrated aroma than the Glencairn, but more balanced.

Elmer T. Lee Second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Same as round one, small but ok flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass: Still not getting much here at all.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, excellent.

Norlan Glass: Same as round one, very enjoyable but less concentrated.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  The heat is gone now, enjoyable.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Finally getting aromas now, elegant.

Glencairn Glass: Extremely concentrated and powerful nose, very complex.

Norlan Glass: Wow!  Best smell of the night, elegant, no heat, complex and flavorful.

Conclusion:  I only rated the smells I was getting from the different glasses as the tastes were too close to differentiate.  I wasn’t sure what to expect before testing these glasses, as I’ve been using mostly Glencairn glasses for a while, but I’m glad I did this.  The main conclusion is that both the Glencairn and the Norlan glasses are excellent.  If you are drinking an old-fasioned, the Dorset is fine, but don’t drink anything straight out of it.  I was extremely disappointed by the Reidel glass, the outward sloping glass lets out all the enjoyment.  For a less powerful whiskey the Glencairn glass is the clear winner: the Elmer T. Lee came out best when the aromas were captured in the tulip glass.  For a cask strenth, high proof whiskey, it’s almost too close to call, but for this test, the Norlan Whisky Glass won by a nose.  The Norlan’s design removed some of the ethanol, while maintaining the essence for the consumers enjoyment.  The answer to the question of whether glassware matters is a resounding yes.







Trading Samples Is Awesome

About a year ago my collection got a little nuts… I was completely guilty of doing what most beginners do, always buying every new release, every limited edition batch, everything I had not tried before… I had over 100 open bottles, not to mention another 100+ in the bunker… things were getting a little out of hand.  I shifted gears–I still looked for the high end limited edition batches, found a couple brands that were always consistent with their batches and single barrels, but I also started to trade samples.  It helped me reduce my existing collection while simultaneously enabling me to try all sorts of other limited edition and single barrels that I wouldn’t normally be able to unless I owned a bar.  I wholeheartedly recommend everyone do some sample swapping, whether it’s to try new single barrels or before you decide to make a big purchase or just to do some trades for fun… http://www.bottle-spot.com (links below) has some people looking to trade samples and there are other sites as well.  Below are some brief reviews based on samples.  Thanks for reading!

Willett Family Estate 9yr Bourbon Barrel #1330, 117.6 proof: hot but good nose, with anise and butterscotch.  Great mouthfeel, goes down smooth.  Maybe a touch medicinal for my taste though… solid WFE single barrel.  88/100.

Willett Family Estate 11yr Bourbon Barrel #774, 128.1 proof: good age on the nose, quite a bit of forest floor, mushrooms, pencil shavings and bone.  The palate is very enjoyable, strong tannins, nice spicy taste, long finish.  Very enjoyable single barrel, wish I had a whole bottle of this one.  94/100.

Van Brunt Stillhouse Bourbon Lot #20, 84 proof: smells terrible, cheap and medicinal, like a band-aid.  So glad I didn’t buy a bottle of this, it’s proofed down too low, not exciting, not interesting and I can’t believe someone actually is buying this.  79/100.

Gooderham & Warts Four Grain Whiskey Blend A-A1129 2016, 88.8 proof: a friend of mine from Toronto was kind enough to share this one with me.  It has a very interesting nose, has a sweet rock candy note to it reminescent of some of the MGP ryes I’ve had.  The taste is good as well, but I would much rather of had this be cask strength and not proofed down.  Overall it’s good, but the proofing down has taken out a of of the complexity–if aged longer and high proof this one could be a real contender.  87/100.

Barrell Bourbon 8.5yr Straight Bourbon Private Retail Single Barrel #20, 120 proof: This is one of the single barrel releases from Barrel Bourbon that was only available in certain retailers in Minnesota that I traded from a local.  It has a nice peanut butter Jif nose with toasted raisin bread buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  The palate is awesome, fully coating the tongue with strong tannins.  Hot, strong, complex and long finish.  I’m going to reach out to my trading partner in MN and see if he can grab me a whole bottle.  94/100.

The Barrell Bourbon and the Willett Family Estate single barrels are both very interesting and I want to continue to try to get more of them… I’ve never had one of either that I didn’t like…  If anyone who is reading the blog has either of them, and is looking to trade a sample or a whole bottle, please DM me on Twitter.  Thanks for reading!






CEHT Seasoned Wood: drink a sample, buy ECBP release #11 or Barrell Bourbon instead.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood Bottled in Bond is the latest special release from the CEHT line from Buffalo Trace. This one was almost impossible to find; I was completely unable to find it at retail.  While refusing to pay $400+ on the secondary market, I was able to get a trade done for 5 bottles of mine, enabling me to reduce the size of my already too big bunker. I was happy with my trade regardless of the outcome of the tasting.

Right after opening the bottle, the nose is toasted raisin bread, high heat, cinnamon sticks and cloves. It’s never fair to judge a bottle without giving it some air, but I wanted to see what it was like because I’m betting that most people didn’t buy their own bottle and relied on samples free from Buffalo Trace or trading.  After waiting 15 minutes I tested the nose again: much more mellow. Now I’m getting Cinnamon Toast Crunch with whole milk, Honey Nut Cheerios, (I must be hungry for carbs or something…..), hickory tree bark and Vermont maple syrup. The second time around the heat is much less pronounced.

The palate is enjoyable. There are brown sugar notes that are complimented by heat and a smoothness that goes straight down. My chest warms up with the easy finish, which goes on for over a minute but doesn’t morph into anything beyond the initial enjoyment.  It seems like it has been chill filtered because the tannins are weak and the bourbon lacks the grip that I was hoping to get. It’s too bad because everything about this whiskey makes me feel like at 125 proof, and no chill filtering, this could be one of the best ever.

Some people blindly love everything Colonel Taylor does…. So far I have been very happy as well but I always keep my eyes open and judge each bottle I taste on its own.  They bottle in bond everything, except their barrel proof releases, but I wish they did all their special releases at cask strength.  Buffalo Trace makes some of the best products in the world, but just because it comes off their stills doesn’t mean it’s gold–remember they also make Fireball (although technically I believe Fireball starts in Canada, but I digress….). If you were able to snag this bottle at the $79.99 retail price, you scored big time–but even at that price I prefer the most recent ECBP and Barrell Bourbon release–both have more complexity, more flavor, longer finish, and not to mention, much easier to find at retail. But at $350 secondary price, it’s not worth it. It’s very good, but not epic enough to warrant this pricing. I’m very glad I got it and not upset I opened it… Bourbon was made to be consumed, not crotch shotted, insta’d and for collecting dust on a shelf. It’s 92/100… Buy a dram at a bar or DM me to trade samples just so you can cross it off your list.



Shame on You: Ehrlich’s Wine & Spirits


I was meeting a friend on the Upper West Side the other evening, and as I typically do when going to a place I haven’t been in a while, I’ll stop into the liquor stores on the way.  In Manhattan there are plenty of offenders of price gouging, but I want to highlight the dumbest and most egregious of them: Ehrlich’s Wine & Spirits on the corner of Amsterdam Ave & 70th St.

How can you with a straight face price CEHT Small Batch @ $199.99, and be so happy about it that you created a special sign for it?  This is a $40-$50 bottle at best, the least desirable of the CEHT series, and not even as good as the bottles around it which have been priced significantly less.

They had a couple bottles that I was interested in, but of course those were way overpriced and the manager/owner was a complete tool about them and unwilling to negotiate to a reasonable price.

So… Ehrlich’s… be ashamed of yourself for price gouging but more importantly, dumb price gauging.

Defiant American Single Malt Whiskey

Like I said in the first few posts, I’m historically a wine guy and when I went to Fairway Wines recently one of the managers was telling me about how great this new American Single Malt Whiskey was.  He told me that it comes from a farm that historically sold their barley to other big producers, but because it was so good they are keeping it and making it themselves now.  Reminds me of a lot of smaller wineries that used to sell their grapes to big products and are now producing great wines themselves.  OK, so I like a good story, even if it’s complete BS, but the bottle looks pretty sharp, and who doesn’t love supporting the home team, so I bought it.

I should have done more research.

Defiant is owned by what seems to be a pretty cool guy who owns a deep sea diving company that does some pretty impressive things–like working on the deepest part of flooded subways post-Sandy.  This whiskey thing is a side gig.

Here’s the actual part of the story that makes Defiant whiskey different: it’s only aged for 60 days. Instead of the long maturation process in large barrels, their “proprietary aging process is far more efficient than barrels.  We use cuts of hand selected premium American white oak, toasted to perfection.”

So… the only thing left to do is actually try it.

Blue Ridge Distilling Co’s Defiant American Single Malt Whisky, bottled at 82 proof.  It is made from 100% malted barley and water drawn from a well under the distillery.  It is distilled in hand built copper potstills.

It looks like a 10yr aged scotch, same coppery tones.

The nose: same classic single malt barley nose smell, slightly medicinal.

Now the real test… it actually doesn’t taste that bad.  The mouthfeel is lacking, but not as thin as many 41% alcohol single malts are.  The finish is short, but it’s not that bad.  It isn’t complex though, and is thoroughly uninteresting.

OK… so I don’t hate it, but I don’t find anything great about it either except for that it is probably the only single malt under 1yr that I have had, and for that brief period of time, it is drinkable.  It would be very interesting to see if they did more experiments on this system, perhaps one or two years to see if it develops more character, more depth and something that makes you want to go back and try it again.  I almost don’t want to grade it because I feel like it is incomplete and needs to go back and try again, but because it is on the shelves, they clearly believe is it a finished product.  80/100.