Barrell Bourbon Batch 009: 13yrs!!!

The newest release from Barrell Bourbon is a 13yr Straight Bourbon Tennessee Whiskey, and is the oldest to date.  It’s a dark caramel color, in the classic BB bottle.  This one is bottled at one of their lower proofs, 112.1.  Never chill filtered, bottled at cask strength, just the way Bourbon should be…

The nose has a sweet caramel popcorn nose, graham cracker s’mores, crispy apple tart, rock dust, cedar bbq chips and cheerios.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by now with Barrell Bourbon, but there is almost no heat on the nose at all.

Down the hatch… the taste is great, getting all the flavors from the nose on the palate with a great mouthfeel as well.  It really coats the tongue and brings in a peanut butter aftertaste, and like peanut butter, sticks to the top of the mouth finishing for well over a minute, with a very enjoyable warming.

I posted this photo for this review, not just because I like #bourbonporn and #bbqporn but because I thought this bourbon was the perfect pairing for a nice long smoked rack of ribs in my green egg.  Thirteen years is a long time for any bourbon, and quite rare to find one at under $100 that is this good.  This bourbon is also so much better after you have opened it for a few hours or even days.  When I first opened it I thought this was going to be a high 80’s or maybe low 90’s rated whiskey, but after a while this baby really opens up.  I also am generally not a fan of adding water, but a couple drops really helps this bourbon evolve.  Like a great rack of ribs, it takes all day, and evolves by the end of the day.  I’m definitely grabbing a couple extra bottles of this one to put into the bunker, I mean, 13yr cask strength bourbon for under $100?!?!?  95.5/100


Jefferson’s Groth

I’ve always enjoyed Jefferson’s–never blown away but never unhappy. I have traded/begged/hunted for some of the older ones, but I thought I’d try the Groth which is pretty much available everywhere. (Will the person on bottle-spot who is trying to sell it for more please stop??)

Finished whiskeys have been incredibly en vogue recently, but not all of them are good. I’m going into this one with an open mind.

Baking spices, plums, green apple, rubber and raspberries. Interesting and fruity nose.

Palate is enjoyable, smooth and uncomplicated. The oak and wine from the finish certainly are coming through–but I’m not sure it’s just changing the flavor or improving. Enjoyable experience.

This is a hard one. I enjoy it but I prefer the classic bourbon notes that have been pushed to the back burner on this one. If it was $30, I would be a 90+ score, but given it usually goes for $80-$90 it’s hard to justify the price. Buy a dram at the bar, but not worth adding to the collection. 86/100.


Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond

Sometimes when you go on vacation and forget to bring any good bourbon, you just buy the best thing the local store has. I’ve been on a lower shelf kick recently and I’ve never actually tried this one so the stars aligned for me to review this for you today.

Old Fitzgerald is an iconic brand which back in the day was produced by the Stitzel-Weller Distillery but now is in the Heaven Hill stable of brands. This is a wheated bourbon and one of the cheapest ones out there–I paid $18 for it.

Hot yet sweet nose: oak, almonds, vanilla and cloves. Secondary notes of baked bread and caramel. In the very back I get some nail polish and car seat, just enough to not want you to stick your nose in the glass too deep.

The palate is more enjoyable than I expected, but not over the top. The taste is less hot than I anticipated and the mouthfeel is fairly enjoyable but the taste wasn’t as good as the nose. Some spicy notes are there but the sweet and complex flavors are lacking. The finish is moderate.

For $18 it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad deal but it’s certainly not going to knock your socks off either. I’m certainly going to drink this down over the next year or so but it won’t be my first or even fourth dram of the night…  It’s like a common Pokemon lingering around… you still are going to catch it and enjoy it, but you aren’t going to be too excited about it either. 86/100.

BTEC Entry Proof Experiment

I love the BTEC collection, even if I don’t love each of the individual whiskeys. The fact they are experimenting and letting us try them is pretty cool. I’m not in love with the costs either, but the market has dictated most of high prices.  Not to give this one away, but this experiment is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to the results.

The BTEC is about entry level proof into the barrel, 105 vs 125 using the BT rye bourbon mash #2 and aged for 13.25 years.


Both look equally golden Amber in color.

105: a bit hot on the nose initially, but butterscotch, lemongrass, peach pits, cinnamon, allspice and oak come through in the second whif.

125: surprisingly not hot on the nose, it’s sweeter with toasted raisin bread, butter cornbread, cracked walnut and baking spices. The nose on this one seems far more developed and approachable.

105: enjoyable initial taste, although thin mouthfeel and quickly drops off with a slightly sour aftertaste with just warmth remaining.

125: even more enjoyable initial taste, with a medium mouthfeel that continues for much longer and does not give a sour aftertaste. The finish is moderate and there is a much more balanced flavor, feel and warmth profile that the 105 entry point is missing.

There isn’t even a comparison here and it’s shocking to believe these started as the same, with everything identical expect for the entry proof into the barrel. The 105 proof is an incomplete and lacking bourbon, while the 125 is very enjoyable. A bit expensive for a 375ml, but good to know how important entry proof is into a barrel, and it’s no wonder that most distillers fill their barrels at the legal maximum.  Great experiment and worth trying side by side to see.

105:  83/100
125:  91/100

Shame! Shame! NYC Central Cellars Wine & Spirits Shame!

One of my big peeves is egregiously overcharging for whiskey (defined by significantly over secondary prices).  It’s just so annoying and I avoid those stores.  Today’s example is the new store that just opened in New York City in Grand Central Terminal: Central Cellars Wine & Spirits.  The old place, which also was a rip off, closed a few months ago and they have been working on refurbishing this new store and it just opened this week.

A picture tells a thousand words:


Yes, Pikesville Rye is a great whiskey, but it’s also available and not a limited release.  I was able to pick up a six pack for $52 a bottle, but if someone wants to charge, $60 or even $75, I don’t think that’s a problem.  But at $125, it will not sell and will just be  a constant reminder of what a rip off the store is.

The rent is probably very high, but if you don’t sell anything, you won’t make any money.  I don’t see these guys lasting either and I don’t think we should support them.  Shame on your Central Cellars Wine & Spirits!

Here is my original Pikesville review:

Jefferson’s Straight Rye Whiskey 10yr UK

I haven’t seen this whiskey in the US for a long time, which I have heard was due to the contract supplier for the Jefferson’s Rye ending their deal abruptly.  So when I saw this available on the shelves on a business trip to London I jumped on it.  700ml instead of 750ml, but everything is the same compared to the US edition.  Cost GBP 50 (approximately $65).

Looks great in the bottle, the classic Jefferson’s shape, a nice medium amber color.

Candy corn jumps on the nose, cotton candy, rock candy, just a complete sweet tooth.  Reminds me very much of a lot of some of the Whistle Pigs or Canadian rye’s I’ve had in the past.

The taste is very smooth, with a nice mouthfeel, with some really nice spicy notes on the follow through.  Lots of that rock candy sweetness, with a solid spicy follow through.  Enjoyable finish.

Gotta say, this is a nice little rye.  Not overly complex, but very enjoyable.  If this was bottled at cask strength it would most likely rate higher with more complexity.  I wish this was more readily available in the US.  92/100.


Ancient Age 80 Dusty

I love me a good dusty.  I traded for this one as part of a larger trade as a throw in.  Ancient Age Straight Kentucky Bourbon 80 proof, most likely from the 1970’s, with the tax stamp.  Ancient Age is one of the Buffalo Trace brands.

Vanilla, cloves, mushrooms, butterscotch, caramel, nutmeg and allspice.  Almost no heat at all.

The taste is ok, with all the elements from the nose coming through, but all on a very weak level.  The flavors are not strong, and the mouthfeel is very thin.  It’s enjoyable but it’s not complex.  The finish is quick turning slightly bitter at the end.

I love a good dusty, but this one isn’t one worth seeking out.  Nice to try to cross off my list.  80/100.