3yr Rye Distilled, Aged & Bottled by The Willett Distillery

I’ve been drinking a lot of really great sourced whiskey from Willett over the past several years.  Their products contain some of the best juice in the world and bottled it at cask strength–just the way I like it.  My hope is that Drew & Co have taken the same skills in sourcing, blending and bottling into the distilling world for their rye.  It’s in the same beautiful Willett Family Estate bottle we all love, green capsule for the rye.

This bottle is bottled at 112.6 proof.

Medium light amber color.

Sweet candy nose, a bit hot with menthol but not overwhelming.  Cotton candy, rock candy, and a touch of peppermint are the stronger notes, with a hint of apples and cedar on the back.

The initial taste is ok, but not as good as I expected.  Some of the notes on the nose come through in the palate, but the mouthfeel is thin and the follow through lacks good flavor, only bitterness and heat.  The only enjoyment in this dram is the very first moment, because after that, it all goes away.

This rye is very disappointing.  For all the amazing products I’ve had from Willett, this is the worst one so far.  Maybe it’s because it’s only three years old?  I don’t know… I’ve had some very good 3yr ryes before and ones that I knew had a lot of potential, but I don’t know about this one.  I’m hoping this might have been a one-off occurence, but I won’t be trying any young Willett products for a while…  if anyone wants a sample, I’m happy to send one.  82/100.


Elmer T. Lee

I probably have gone through more Elmer T Lee in the last year than any other individual bourbon. I always have one open and a few in reserve if possible. It’s harder and harder to find at a reasonable price but when you find it there is a sense of accomplishment.

I want to thank Kappy’s on Cape Cod for having one bottle left for me when I went to visit their store on vacation. The price? $28.99.

I also realized that I have never given ETL a formal review, even though I have mentioned it several times in this blog… No time like the present.

Perfect golden Amber hue that I have come to love, trust and expect.

Butterscotch hard candies, dried orange peels, vanilla and baking spices, honeysuckle and spice loaf cake.

This is the epitome of smooth. Even though it is chill filtered it keeps just enough of the oils and tannins to stay interesting. At 90 proof it warms you but like a gentle afternoon sun with no humidity. This goes down easier than any bourbon I know and begs for another sip.

I love this bourbon. It is probably my favorite non-special release, non-cask strength whiskey on the market. If you can find it at anywhere close to retail, just buy as much as you can because it goes down so smoothly you will be needing a new bottle sooner than you can imagine. 94/100.

1974 Ezra Brooks Decanter Experiment: No lead, but not tasty either


I purchased a few ceramic decanters from a liquor store that was closing down a year ago and they have just been collecting dust… I tried to sell some, but no one wanted them.  Some people said that they have lead contaminants and others said that the whiskey is just bad.  I thought I’d open one of them to test both theories.

The bottle I chose was the 1974 Ezra Brooks 90 proof aged 101 months in the weight lifter decanter.  The tax stamp was intact, but when I opened it the cork broke off immediately.  I do not think that it was broken in the bottle, but given how dried out it was, there is a significant chance that there was a good amount of oxidation going on.  It might be worth doing this test again in a decanter that has a fully intact cork.

I had to determine whether it was safe from lead before I could try it.  I removed the cork, poured a healthy amount into a glass and let it sit for several days to evaporate, thus leaving most of the sediment behind.  I then used a 3M LeadCheck swap that I purchased off Amazon.com to see if there was lead.  The results came back clean.  I mixed it up and performed the same test again after evaporating even more, just to be extra sure, and again, the test came back with no lead.

With health concerns out of the way, I was ready to try the whiskey to determine if it was worthless or not.  The test sample comes from a glass decanter that I switched to after removing everything from the ceramic one.

It’s very very dark, much darker than almost any whiskey I’ve tried before, closer to a very old Sherry than bourbon.

It smells old too, but not in a “oh wow there is so much going on here” way, more of a “this just smells old and not awesome” way.  There are some notes of sherry, rock dust, charcoal, dried leaves and leather.

The taste is better than expected.  Although the nose was muted, there is some decent flavors of old a mixture of old Bordeaux, Sherry and Tawny Port.  It’s not good, but it’s not awful.  The heat is very subdued over the years, but there is an astringent aspect to the mouthfeel that is less desirable on the finish which makes you want to grab some water to drink.

It’s not shocking that these old decanters are not worth a lot of money, although, at least this one, does not have any lead contaminants that some people were concerned about.  It’s a unique whiskey that is good to try, but certainly not worth buying a whole bottle of unless it was really cheap.  69/100.

PHC10: Parker’s Heritage Collection #10: 24yr Bourbon

Another one of the epic releases for the year, exploding in price on bottle-spot… and I had to have it so I could share my thoughts with my readers.  I wish I bought it at retail, but unfortunately I paid up for it… was it worth it?

It has a beautiful dark, root beer-esque color too it.  But is it too dark?  We shall see…

Really rich and powerful nose… stewed berries, cocoa, leather, pencil shavings, cigar box, toasted marshmallows and Twix.  So much going on in the nose and really nice… you can smell wood but the wood is not overpowering, which is tough to do on a 24yr Bourbon.  Mild heat on the nose.`

The taste is great… all those flavors on the nose come out in the palate, heat only on the way down, and the finish is long and it improves as it dissipates.  The mouthfeel is ok, but a little thinned out, and I’m a little surprised that it’s not chill filtered.  I had to wait three minutes before the second sip because the finish was going on and on.

It’s amazing comparing this to Old Blowhard… this really nails it while Old Blowhard is the epitome of everything wrong with an old overoaked whiskey.

This is a very special whiskey.  It’s not going to be for everyone’s style, and it will be in even less people’s budgets, but it’s a great Bourbon from Heaven Hill.  I’ve seen it trade online for between $400 and $600 and I think it will probably settle down somewhere in the $450 area at the end of the day.  It’s my third favorite 2016 release this year so far (behind FRSB Elliot’s Select and Barrell Whiskey 002), but by far the most expensive.  I’ll be savouring this one for a while.  96/100


Barrell Bourbon Batch 008

I’ve reviewed the offerings from Barrell Craft Spirits a few times on this blog and I am consistently impressed by all of their whiskeys.  My preference for whiskey is bourbon, specifically cask strength.  I also love having private single barrels or different batches, where I get to try a new permutation of the distiller or blenders vision each time, instead of exactly the same thing each time.  Every year BTAC comes out with something slightly different and yet still awesome.  The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to get at a reasonable price and paying $500+ a bottle is just not doable for an everyday drinker.  WFE used to be reasonable, but secondary prices on the good ones have skyrocketed.  Even EH Taylor barrel proof is getting hard to find, but I find them to be too hot anyway.  That’s why I love Barrell Bourbon so much: it’s great, it’s cask strength, and it’s available (for now) so you don’t need to pay through the nose in the secondary market and feel bad about drinking it every day.

Now on to BB-8… the newest release and the oldest bourbon they have released thus far.  Classic looking bottle, great dark amber color.

The nose is very complex, with chunky peanut butter, light tobacco leaves, butterscotch, anise, hints of buttered popcorn and some hickory lump charcoal in the background.  Very inviting and not at all hot, especially considering it is 132.8 proof.

Captivatingly smooth, yet still spicy and sharp with some good tannins and clearly a non-chill filtered bottling.  Good oils and weight provide a very long finish and warm follow through.  If I had to guess I would have thought this was closer to 100 proof given the lack of upfront heat.  Very well done.

This is the reason I’m so glad I have found Barrell Bourbon, it saves me to much money by buying these great batches and not overpaying for BTAC or other highly priced, impossibly allocated Bourbons.  Batch 008 gets a solid 95/100.

Can’t wait for batch 009, I heard it’s going to be over 10yrs old!!!!




Unicorn Alert! Sazerac 18 Fall 2012 Vintage WOW!

Words fail to describe how good this whiskey is.  Sazerac 18, despite being bottled at 90 proof, is probably my favorite whiskey out there.  Thank you Buffalo Trace.  All hail BTAC.  I was incredibly lucky to find this being poured at a bar in London…

Pure candy nose, mushroom in the back. Spicy cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Superb nose.

Super smooth, easy down. So crisp and sharp with sweet and spicy notes.  Small but nice tannins. Long finish. This is epic.

Obviously a special bottle. Expectations met. 98/100.


George Dickel Reserve 17

Thanks to bottle-spot.com for the reason I was able to get this whiskey.  Being a gift shop only release, I was able to trade for a couple of these bad boys online.  Clocking in at 17 years, this is quite a rare release from George Dickel.  Cute little bottle, but $75 list for 375ml is a little steep, especially when it goes for north of $100 in the secondary market.  We’ll see if it’s worth it…

Peanut butter crunch goodness, graham cracker s’mores, vanilla bean, honeydew mellon and bubblegum.  Really nice and enjoyable nose–can definitely tell there is some age on this, but not overly woody.

Surprisingly warm for a 87 proof bourbon, with a mouthfeel that actually hits above it’s weight as well.  Moderate finish, with good chewy palate.

Enjoyable little bourbon, although probably priced a little high.  Certainly worth buying in the gift shop and if you can trade for something that you don’t want… 90/100