Barrell Craft Spirits: Joe’s Playlist #2 Genesis MG01

Barrell Craft Spirits has recently put out several very limited, very special releases.  Many of them are based on a 18yr Kentucky Whiskey, some single barrels, some barrel finishes.  In addition they released a tiny production via social media called “Joe’s Playlist.”  If you weren’t following them on Instagram, you might have missed it.  I think there might be a couple bottles left on Mash & Grape (link).  Today I will be reviewing the Joe’s Playlist #2: Genesis.

Even though I usually don’t give the review until the end,  I will say that I liked this one so much that I reached out to Barrell Bourbon directly to ask them more about this specific barrel.  It was unique and so good, and only 4yrs old, so I needed to understand how it was possible for it to be this delicious.  Joe said “these are amazing barrels that I bought three years ago.  They have been aged in Indiana, New York, Tennessee and Kentucky.  they are among my favorites and are a part of our company history.”  Four years old, aged in four states, maybe all the moving around helped expedite the aging?  I don’t know… on to the review:

Nice amber color, in the beautiful iconic Barrell bottle, their rye label is green and has the Playlist label on top “Genesis Track #2”.  Barrel number MG01 (clearly a reference to MGP), age stated 4yrs, 119.56 proof, straight rye whiskey and distilled in Indiana.

Cinnamon stick, rock candy and eucalyptus on the nose, very strong aroma but very little heat. Never would have guessed the age based on nose.  Secondary notes of dried orange peel, nutmeg and spearmint.

Epic mouthfeel, totally coats everything and the rock candy, spearmint and spices come through strong. There is a decent hug, more than the nose indicates but very enjoyable. The finish goes on for multiple minutes. The spice lingers for so long and not once does it fade to bitter. What gets me is how thick the mouthfeel is and how enjoyable. This is special.

The only downside to this is that it’s a single barrel and will never be duplicated. It’s an insanely good pour and rivals the best Thomas H Handy I’ve had and certainly beats last year’s.  I was told that this is the barrel that inspired Joe’s Playlist and I know why. If there is a MG02 of MG03 I know that I will be in line to get it!  I bought this bottle myself and I’m glad I bought two of them! 98/100

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Barrell Craft Spirits Releases 18yr Whiskey Line…

I haven’t been this excited for a whiskey release in a long time because Barrell products are usually available, the price is reasonable and they are delicious.  I live for BTAC, but my wallet does not… nice to be able to get something really special for $100 or so… what is completely insane about these releases is that this is eighteen years old! WOW!  And I’m hearing most retailers are going to be selling this for around $99.99 as well (no price gouging!).  I found out the codes on the bottles, what they mean in terms of finishes as well, which is listed below.  Apparently there is going to be a bunch of Kentucky 18yr single barrels and then 18yr finished whiskey.  I need every single one of them!!!

  • AH01 – KY Whiskey Finished in a Sauternes Barrel
  • AH02 – KY Whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel
  • AH03 – KY Whiskey finished in a Washington State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH04 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH05 – KY Whiskey finished in a Sicilian Amaro Cask
  • AH06 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel
  • AH07 – KY Whiskey finished in a Oloroso Sherry Barrel
  • AH08 – KY Whiskey finished in a Malmsey Madeira Barrel
  • AH09 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ratafia de Champagne Barrel
  • AH10 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ruby Port Barrel
  • AH11 – KY Whiskey finished in a Gewurztraminer Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH12 – KY Whiskey finished in a New York State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH13 – KY Whiskey finished in a German Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH14 – KY Whiskey finished in a Calvados Cask
  • AH15 – KY Whiskey finished in an Apricot Brandy Barrel
  • AH16 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH17 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH18 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH19 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH20 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH21 – KY Whiskey finished in a Rhum Agricole Cask
  • AH22 – KY Whiskey finished in an Indiana Rye Barrel
  • AH23 – KY Whiskey finished in an Islay Single Malt Scotch Cask
  • AH24 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel

Here is one website you can buy some of them… I wish I had the cheat sheet to where you can buy each one of these, but if I did, I’d need to buy them first 🙂

Update:  they have put some of the stores selling them on this link:

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

 

EHT Amaranth Grain of the Gods: Secondary Price Crazy, Value? Read the Review…

There are so few actual reviews on this from real people… some BS reviews from people who got free samples and others that tasted them at events… here is a real review.

Bottle looks great… obviously…  Color looks amber beauty.

Nose…. sweet, not hot at all… Necco wafers coming in strong, with subtle ginger snaps, elderflower, licorice laced with a heavy cream undertone.

Mouthfeel is enjoyable, but not complex.  Getting those same flavors on the tongue, but the finish is quicker than I expected and leaves me wanting more.

It’s a fun whiskey, it’s enjoyable, but this wasn’t a game changer.  Amaranth is an enjoyable flavoring grain, but this is not one to open.  Try this at a bar, please do not open your bottle.  It is currently trading around $700 on secondary and for a collectible, who knows if that’s the right price… as a drinker, it clearly is not.  85/100

Peerless Bourbon 4yr New Release

No intro here… just straight into the review… Color is shiny copper, really inviting.  Gorgeous bottle, beautiful, heavy cap.

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Quick pop of the gold cap, tons of aroma. Necco wafers, Eggo waffles, muted cinnamon sticks, buttered cinnamon raisin toast and toffee ice cream. Heat is muted.

Really nice mouthfeel, hotter than nose implies but not that hot…. spicy taste with allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon dominate the palate. Finish is good but not epic. Drops off after a minute but not in a bad way.

This is one of the best four year Bourbons I’ve ever had. I’m not surprised by that as their young ryes are also awesome. It does feel like to get something epic, it’s going to need another 2-3 years in barrel, but even at four years it’s extremely enjoyable.

Hard to grade as it needs a little more time to show it’s best, but even at four years it is still a solid 93/100. At six to eight years this might be a ninety-eight… and I bet there will be a single barrel that hits a 99.

I can’t wait until they have more age on their products. Check out my other reviews for their rRes which are also great. I also highly recommend you visit their distillery if you ever go to Louisville. It’s great. Full disclosure: I paid retail for this bottle in NYC, but they did send me a rye for free a year ago. I also got a free tasting when I visited early this year. None of which have any bearing on this review. If this sucked, I would have graded this poorly.

Peerless Rye 3yr Review

Hidden Gem or Obnoxiously Priced? Lynn, MA

Lynnway Liquor at 702 Lynnway in Lynn, MA 01905.

Take a look at some of these bottles… total unicorns, but the prices are way above secondary.  The owner wasn’t in to discuss, but his employees were pretty obnoxious and misinformed about them.  On the other side, maybe they were just the owner’s collection and he was showing off.

On the main shelf had quite a few good things at reasonable prices including Stagg Jr under $50 (most of MA has great deals on Stagg Jr for some reason), Jos. Magnus, Barrell Bourbon…  But in the cabinet along with some unicorns was Michters 10… they also overpriced Weller…

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When I peered into the owners office and saw three bottles of Weller CYPB.  Three!  The employee was pretty annoying about it, wouldn’t call the owner.. there was also a ton of EHT Barrel Proof and some other stuff.  Always annoying.

Anyway… If I’m ever up there again I will stop by this store and hope the owner is in to talk… but I’m not paying 5k for some old Black Maple Hill nonsense…

Top 21 Complaints/Arguments/Issues My Wife has with my Bourbon Hobby

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Today I’m very thankful for my healthy family, my job and my bourbon collection.  My wife is less thankful about my Bourbon hobby and I jotted down the top 21 issues we have… My hope is that this will provide some comfort, laughs and solidarity with those who are going through the same problems.  Everyone likes to know that they aren’t the only ones with these issues… if I forgot any, add them in the comments!  Thank you for reading. (This post was inspired by Subourbia… link at the bottom).

  1. Constantly negotiating how many liquor stores we can stop at when going on family trips or drives to any new area…
  2. Excessive packing material, boxes, popcorn, bubble wrap in my home office, closet, everywhere…
  3. Having to rescue perfectly shaped bourbon shipping boxes from the trash that are former Amazon.com boxes… then see #2
  4. Any errands that I go on my own often take 2-3x longer than normal due to unforeseen liquor store stops…
  5. Most stops only take 2-3 minutes, but every once in a while you hit a honey pot and that can take 20-30 minutes to negotiate with the owner and find all the good stuff, and you can guarantee by the time you get back to the car, both kids are melting down and you have a dozen nasty texts to hurry up…
  6. Having too many bottles in general being accused of being a hoarder, or obsessive, etc…
  7. Empty Glencairn glasses littered around the house on bookshelves, ledges, etc…
  8. Going to restaurants or bars together and me complaining about either having a bad selection or overpricing the good stuff…
  9. I will decline restaurant selections she suggests if the bourbon collection or bad or if they do not do wine corkage for free or at a reasonable price…
  10. She thinks it’s weird that I bring sample bottles or flasks of good stuff to family weddings or events that I know will be lacking on the quality…
  11. Roadies…. she hates that….
  12. Do I even need to mention how much I spend on bottles?  To be fair, 1/2 of it I trade or sell, or at least that’s what I tell her… 🙂
  13. Constantly taking long inhale smells with my nose deep in a Glencairn glass… she thinks it’s silly.
  14. She hates that I display empty bottles… I mean, can anyone actually recycle their old BTAC bottles?  I can’t.
  15. Whenever her brother comes over, it automatically becomes a Bourbon tasting event with at least ten Glencairn glasses…
  16. Late at night packing bottles to ship makes a lot of noise with the tape gun… lots of shushing around that one…
  17. My home office basically looks like a liquor store or bar… but a REALLY good bar!  Jack Rose is what I’m striving for here…
  18. She hates listening to any podcast related to liquor… sorry #ThePodcask #TheWhiskeyTopic #DadsDrinkingBourbon #BourbonPursuit #WhiskeyCast #WineEnthusiast #VinePair#BeastMastersClub #GuildSomm #VinePair
  19. Lots of furniture has tiny stains from drops of spilled cask strength whiskey that wasn’t cleaned up in time…
  20. (This is more for co-workers) I always need to get the airport a little early for international flights because I’m the only one checking a bag…. you’d be amazed how much good stuff you can get in Toronto if you know the right people… be sure to pack them well!!
  21. She still thinks it all smells like rubbing alcohol and prefers a nice Sancerre…

http://subourbia.com/inside-the-mind-of-a-bourbon-fanatic-new-blog-post/

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Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Sherry Cask Finish

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Sherry Cask Finish

I’ve had mixed success with some of the high end Wild Turkey release in the last few years. Some have come off too old, too woody, too hot, just off or just not right. Despite my mixed history, I decided to take the plunge on this one, and I’m glad I did.

The bottle looks great with a nice wood and metal cap cork with a thick glass base. The Bourbon is dark amber and inviting.  The bottles and packaging has never been lacking…

The nose is great with the sherry complementing, not overpowering. Notes of baking spices, cinnamon stick, caramel, baked scones, raisins and just the right amount of sherry. I was worried it would be over sherried, but it definitely isn’t.

The mouthfeel is really nice, completely covering every part of my mouth with just enough heat to make sure you know it’s over 100 Proof, but smooth enough given the age. Spice comes through on the palate, but the finish ends a little early and a touch bitter.

It’s a really good sherry finished bourbon and I’m happy I bought it. It will look great on my wall and tastes great. Not one I will bunker given the price, but a very good one worth picking up. 93/100.

I took these photos in my backyard and as luck would have it, a flock of wild turkeys were walking by at the same time….

 

And Now the Conclusion of My Phone Interview with Reid Mitenbuler…..

Part IV Conversation, and the conclusion, with author of the book Bourbon Empire, Reid Mitenbuler

NBD: So you were pretty critical on small barrels in the book…

MB: Small barrels are like crack. Once you start using them and have distribution, it’s very hard to change. Places that start from the get-go have a hard time switching to large barrels and longer wait times. And once it’s working, it’s very hard to change. There are a lot of guys who start up an outfit, build a brand and sell it off. These guys are marketing first, and the product is the second consideration. Now, a lot of that is changing. I’d use Few as an example. The first time I tried it, I didn’t like it, but every time I try it is getting better.  Their product can be wildly different from bottle to bottle.

NBD: So are you working on a follow-up book?

MB: I’m working on something involving the entertainment industry, but it’s very preliminary and unrelated. I actually had been working on Bourbon Empire for over ten years and the timing was very fortuitous. Whiskey was blowing up and I was already working on the book. Most whiskey books come from the perspective of an educator, trying to teach about whiskey or about tasting. My angle was to be a storyteller of the industry, through whiskey. There was a lot of details that I cut out, I could have gone full geek, but I felt I would have lost of lot of the broader readership if I did that. I could have gone in incredibly detail on barrel aging and the different type of grains, but the story of the industry would have been lost. I learned more about connoisseurship of wine from reading The Billionaires Vinegar compared to a lot of the books on tasting that I’ve read. I had that in the back of my mind when I was writing this. I felt that you could get a better sense of why older isn’t always better from telling a story.

NBD: Or if you want a really expensive lesson on why older isn’t better, you could just pick up some of the Orphan Barrel Series… Or they can just come over to my house and try them too.

MB: Yeah, I know, and I didn’t put this story in the book, but there is a group of master distillers from all the big places in Kentucky, and they all meet for lunch a few times a year. They all bring fun bottles for everyone to try. There was one of these meetings and one of them pulls out this 23 year old bottle. And these guys are masters, these are the guys from all the big distilleries. The guy who is relaying this story to me says he tastes it and says it’s like sucking on a pencil. He thinks it ‘s just not that good, not balanced, too much wood, it’s gross. He makes eye contact around the room and his buddies give him a look that the whiskey is just beyond the pale. He then looks across the room and the other half their eyes are rolling back… but maybe the other guys are being polite or maybe they honestly like it. It’s a bottle that everyone knows by the way…

NBD: Reid, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. The book was great and I hope everyone reads it.

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MB: Thank you.

Reid Mitenbuler Part III: Pappy, Podcasts & Golden Age of Whiskey?

Part III Conversation with Reid Mitenbuler

NBD: So are we in a Golden Age of Whiskey or are we in a bubble?

MB: A little bit of both. I was talking to a friend about this about whether we are in a true golden age right now. If I could go back to any age in whiskey history, when would I go back? Part of me would go back to the early 2000s. It’s not just about Pappy—I’ve had plenty of Pappy. I had a friend who had a lot of it and anyone who asked he would give them a mini bottle. Half the people would think it’s good but it’s no big deal, while the other half’s eyes would roll back in their head and basically die. In the 90s it was the same with Scotch, you wouldn’t think twice about buying 18 or 20yr old because it wasn’t that expensive. Then you had the 60s, with the Whiskey Lake and the big glut years. Back then you still had more producers with different varieties. The 50s and 60s was perhaps another golden age. Today, I would argue we aren’t in a golden age because the demand is far outpacing the supply. To be in a golden age you need the ability to walk into a liquor store and the good stuff is available and you don’t have to do this big hunt for it. But we could be on the brink of one. People aren’t talking about gluts, but producers are coming up with more supply, and maybe in a few years we could get to a more balanced supply/demand dynamic. When the craft distilleries get better, get rid of the small barrels, age their stuff longer, then, we could be on the cusp of another golden age.

NBD: It seems that a lot of people are investing in new distilleries or brands, do you think now is the right time to invest in one?

MB: A lot of people have asked me similar questions, and I think it is a little late. There are a lot of people who have established the marketing and branding—branding is huge. It might be more important than the product itself. I was looking at a new brand that crowd-sourced $86k and were boasting about it.

NBD: You can’t open a distillery with $86k.

MB: I was looking at that number and thinking they need to multiply that by a hundred to do it right. From a business perspective, $86k, you can romanticize, but you can’t pay your bills with that. I look at some of the more promising craft distilleries and they are extremely well funded. It looks like there is family money behind a lot of them. I was ordering burgers with a friend of mine at a bar and we orders beers from Firestone-Walker brewery, and the story behind it is it’s the Firestone Tire guys. He could do whatever he wanted with it, and he didn’t care about the money, he just wanted to make awesome beer.

NBD: I’m sure they make money, they make phenomenal beer and their limited annual releases like Parabola, Velvet Merkin are always great.

MB: Yeah, and I’m extremely impressed by them. My friend basically said they weren’t too worried about the money side of it because of the funding, and he just wanted to focus on making the best product. The guys out there who have the capital are in it to win it to make the best possible product.

NBD: Seems like the way you used to spend a lot of money if you were rich was buy a vineyard and start a winery. The old adage of how to make a small fortune in the wine making business is to start with a large fortune.

MB: Yeah, or as a retirement project for a lot of guys.

NBD: Do you listen to any whiskey podcasts?

MB: I was just on WhiskeyCast and was also on Mark Bylok’s podcast, that was pretty fun. Mark Gillepsie is very professional, very nice guy. He has a career in news and he is very polished.

NBD: I listen to both of those and I agree Gillepsie’s WhiskeyCast is very professional, but I derive more enjoyment from Bylok’s; it’s just more fun. My wife also will allow me to play his in the car because she likes Jamie Johnson—mostly because Jamie says she goes to bed early and my wife can barely stay up past 9pm.

MB: Ha ha, very funny.

I will post Part IV, the conclusion to my interview with Reid Mitenbuler, later in the week.

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Reid Mitenbuler Part II: Bunkering, Weller 12, Barrell Bourbon & Unicorns

Part II of my phone conversation with Reid Mitenbuler:

NBD: So what is your special occasion bottle, hidden in the back of the bar, so your friends don’t drink it when they stop by?

MB: For that kind of stuff I have the Stagg, the special stuff from Buffalo Trace. Thomas Handy, the old Hirsch, that kind of stuff.

NBD: That’s a pretty good collection.

MB: Yeah, but I don’t bunker though. I have a lot of friends that have dozens of bottles just filling up a closet. I went through a phase where there was a lot of stuff I wanted to try. So I had a million kinds of bottles that were half full, but then as prices started to get a little crazy and people started hoarding bottles… I’d be talking to certain store owners and they’d say that people would walk into the store and as soon as something would get released, they would buy a case. And that is the kind of thing that is causing a shortage. There isn’t a real shortage, bottles are just sitting unopened in the basements and closets of all the whiskey geeks.   Just sitting there, unopened, the shortage isn’t real.

NBD: I know exactly what you mean. I tried to get Weller 12, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the area, I had to trade someone for it on Craigslist.

MB: Right, because people are hoarding it. Speaking specifically about Weller 12, I went to a few liquor stores and the owners would say that when they would get it in stock, some people would just buy all of it. It’s annoying. It feeds on itself. People have this mindset that when the good stuff comes in, it’s gone. It never used to be that way. A lot of old time whiskey geeks complain and talk about the old days. The Van Winkle Lot B used to be my Friday night drink, but I used to get it for $38 a bottle. And when you were finished with it, every liquor store had it. So what I did was stopped buying booze for a long time and just was drinking down my open bottles—plus we were moving so that helped. So I no longer have a huge collection. I fee like I disappoint people sometimes when they ask me for my favorite, as if I’m going to reveal some big secret. I’m not trying to be cute, but stuff like Old Grandad and standard Buffalo Trace is very good.

NBD: I tend to prefer cask strength stuff these days. Speaking of standard stuff, I had the Maker’s Cask Strength and I thought it was really good.

MB: I tried that shortly after it came out and it is really good. It has a pretty heavy punch to it, so I would definitely bring it down with a little bit of water.

NBD: It seems that most of the special release cask strength stuff is the hardest to find, like the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and I’ve seen another one on the shelf, Barrel Bourbon.

MB: Yeah, I’ve tasted a couple different expressions of Barrel Bourbon that I had at a tasting. I thought Batch #004 was great. It has the wine thing going on with the different batches like vintages.

In Part Three Reid will let us know whether he thinks Bourbon is in a golden age or a bubble….

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