Baker’s 13yr limited edition sample review

I swapped samples with a friend of mine, sent him a Remus Volstead 14yr, I got the Bakers 13yr. Here it goes….

Enjoyable nose, crumbled graham cracker pie crust, toasted almonds, peanut butter, cinnamon sticks and Chex Mix.

Enjoyable  taste and easily drinkable.  Average mouthfeel, not overly complex. Finish is good and goes on for over a minute.

This Bourbon is very enjoyable, a crowd pleaser, but not one I’m going to be chasing. 92/100.

Barrell Craft Spirits: BCS 2019 15yr Bourbon Gray Label Release: Best Whiskey of 2019???

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label in black box, 15yr Bourbon 2019 release is the follow up to last year’s special release. 2018’s Bourbon won Fred Minnick’s best whiskey of the year in a blind taste, making it very hard for Trip and Joe @ Barrell Bourbon to come up with a worth successor to their, arguably, best release to date.  The year is a blend of Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee and age stated 15yrs (which means there probably is stuff much older in here as well)… On to the review…

Beautiful nose, Milk Duds, cotton candy, and Rolos in the front, all candy and deliciousness. Deeper dive brings out notes of graham cracker s’mores, fresh luxury car seat leather and cracked roasted peanuts. At 106.52 proof you don’t even get a hint of heat even if you stick your nose all the way deep in the glass—almost unheard of.

Perfect balance of oils and tannins and flavor and just enough hug to let you know this is a Bourbon. The mouthfeel perfect coats the entire tongue and the upper sides of the cheeks. The candy and nut flavors rush in and build over time. I’m amazed by the finish here, more than three minutes and never dries off in a bitter note. (The finish might actually be closer to five minutes)

I think this might be the best whiskey I’ve tried this year; it certainly has impressed me more than any of the BTAC line… I didn’t know what to expect after last year. Last year was insane and had so much hype. How could they possibly follow up after that one? Well… they did and I think they even eclipsed it. This Bourbon is phenomenal. MSRP is $250, I’m seeing it on secondary for 300-350… do whatever you can to grab more than one bottle as you will want at least a backup here. 99/100.

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Widow Jane 14yr The Vault special release from sample…

Sample from a friend and a quick review… I have disliked most Widow Jane products I’ve tried so far. Haven’t been thrilled with their lack of transparency but was intrigued by the age statement and hope they have learned from their previous mistakes.

Lots of vanilla, Necco wafers and almond butter. 99 proof and not too hot on nose.

Adequate mouthfeel and average flavor but finish turns bitter faster than I’d like.

It’s a solid bourbon but not one to try to stretch for. MSRP I think is $150 which is probably 2x what it should be, but anyone looking on secondary to pay more than that should wait for prices to drop. Widow Jane continues to disappoint my palate. 86/100.

The BTAC Reviews…. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019

Clearly these are all amazing whiskies. I get a lot of negative feedback on how I can possibly grade some of these so low. I take into account prices when I do, so if it’s a secondary $500 bottle but tastes no where near that, the score will suffer. Hate my system or love it, thanks for reading. All clicks are good clicks, right???

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Sazerac 18 / Saz18
Good but subtle nose. very subtle rock candy, subtle hints of mushroom umami, watermellon Jello , #2 pencil shavings, orange clove. Reminds of Saz18 past but less vibrant. Moderate mouthfeel, starts slow but builds up over time. Clove, Skittles and graham crackers on the tongue. The finish is pretty good and doesn’t drop off… it still gives you that 18yr dry dust just in the back of the tongue to let you know it’s the oldest of the bunch. This is one of the better Saz18s from a taste and finish perspective, but the nose is a little lacking. The tanked stuff is still the best. Easy drinker, but still really complex. 95/100. Not going to chase given secondary prices.

William Larue Weller / WLW 128.0
Rich deep nose with moderate heat, spicy ginger snaps, cinnamon raisin toast, allspice, teddy grahams and a touch of Panettone in the background dipped in tawny port. Big mouthfeel, tannins cover all over. The initial taste is a little bitter though which is disappointing. The finish is long but never goes sweet as I hoped it to be. It’s a big wheater, but just comes up short for the Weller name. Nose is better than the taste. I will say that this bottle had been open for three days and I have the feeling of you left it open for a month it might grade much better. 93/100. Not going to chase, last two years were much better.

George T Stagg / GTS 116.9
Crazy sweet and smooth nose. Rare for a Stagg to not give you at least a soft punch in the nostrils. Deep dark butterscotch, Cherry Cola, Juicy Fruit, stewed blackberry currant and a hint of cedar closet. Quick spicy hit up front that melts into an easy velvet caramel blanket over the tongue. Very long finish. The lower proof is noticeable on the diminished heat, especially if you side by side the 144.1. The finish is very long and it’s enjoyable. If people negatively judge and price this based on lower proof I’m happy to buy them… 96.5/100. This one has been the cheapest on secondary the last two years, I’ll try to grab a couple of these.

Thomas H Handy / THH 125.7
Spicy and moderate heat on the nose. Blondies, red hots, cloves, with a hint of vermouth. Biggest and hottest of the initial tastes, a real mouth roof grabber. Lots of the cinnamon red hot flavor with more spice to follow, although it is a little one dimensional for a Handy. Finish is pretty good though. 93/100. Will not chase, the previous releases are much better.

So in terms of my rankings, and I apologize I wasn’t able to try the ER17 this year… but I’m going Stagg, Saz18, WLW, THH. I think I’ll be an outlier but that’s what my palate is telling me. I will also like to say even though my scores are not high, these are still some of the best whiskies on the planet and you should try them if you can.

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Garrison Brothers Cowboy 2019… Better than BTAC?

2019 Garrison Brothers Cowboy release is a 5 year Texas Bourbon at 137.3 proof. Made from Texas Panhandle White Corn, and blended from three different barrel types, it is a limited release of only 6,440 bottles. The distillery is in Hye, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin, and is a great place to visit for tours.

The bottle is the classic Garrison Brothers bottle but this year it is dipped in Gold wax, a first for them. Dark cowboy color, just like you except from the Cowboy.

Roasted graham crackers, stewed blackberries, dark chocolate dusted over dark roasted espresso beans, butterscotch, Twix, burnt almonds and dark molasses. This is a huge nose with a good heat but certainly doesn’t betray the 137 proof level.

Big mouthfeel. Big flavor. Huge finish. I mean, it’s Texas Bourbon right? There is a big hug but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel has nice oils and tannins but not a crazy amount, it’s well balanced. The taste gives you the dried and stewed fruit with molasses and butterscotch in waves. The finish is about two minutes. This really hits the spot for me.

I’ve always been a big fan of everything Dan Garrison and the team does. I’ve visited the Distillery and attended a dinner in NYC with them as well. Full disclosure, I paid retail for this and for all the things I’ve done with them. I’ve asked for samples, but Dan has always politely refused. It’s ok, it’s worth the price every time! I opened the bottle at a family gathering and it was a polarizing drink. Split down the middle some people loved it and some people hated it. Too hot, too big, too smoky, etc. If you have followed some of the reviews of Garrison Brothers over the years, you will see that as well. It is polarizing to many reviewers. You’ll never see an average review for them. It’s always amazing or not their style. For me, it’s my style. It’s a home run. I like my Bourbon big, uncut, unfiltered and no apologies. Dan and his team, with their Texas swagger, produce a product that just understands my soul–thank you guys. I bought a case of it this year and if I see more I’ll buy it. This is a bottle, if you share a similar palate to me, you are going to want to drink and to have at least a backup in your bunker. They only made 6,440 of these bottles and I already own 0.1% of them… when they are gone, they are gone.

Garrison Brothers: Keep up the good work and I can’t wait until the next big release!

96.5/100 … If I had any critiques, I’d like a little more oily mouthfeel and slightly longer finish. But these are minor issues. I think this release is on par or better than every single BTAC released this year.