2017’s Top 5 Bourbons & Whiskies Under $100

I’m using the secondary prices (which are very close to MSRP for these picks) for this list as nothing bothers me more than someone saying at $89.99 MSRP Sazerac 18 is their favorite bottle under $100.  Get real guys!  The secondary market is here to say and you might as well just get used to it. Also… only two here are actually Bourbons, I have one rum, one rye and one corn whiskey… but who’s really counting?

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Barrell Bourbon is the winner here, although it is the most expensive of this list.  Usually retailing for around $80, they consistently beat out bottles that you can’t touch on the secondary for 2-4x the price.  While they still are priced under $100, stock up. MSRP $80.

Pikesville is my favorite rye under $100.  115 proof, delicious.  Thank you Heaven Hill!  Second year in a row it continues to be available, awesome and affordable.  MSRP $60.

Foursquare Rum 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection… Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.  Thanks for Fred Minnick for tipping me off to this one.  Yes, it’s not a Bourbon, but it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and is just as delicious. Order one today! MSRP $60.

Old Weller Antique 107 Store Pick Non-Chill Filtered.  Make friends with your local liquor store owner.  Beg them to get a bottle of OWA NCF, ask to buy 4 of them when they come in.  Best $35 you can spend.  MSRP $35.

Mellow Corn.  I’m sorry, you may think I’m nuts by putting this on the list, but for $9.99, bottled in bond, again, thank you Heaven Hill.  This is my go-to after I’m three sheets to the wind and shouldn’t be touching the top shelf stuff, because it holds up and still has a good taste. MSRP $9.99.

Honorable mention goes to Old Forester 1920 Prohibition.  It should have been the number five on the list, but I just couldn’t help myself by putting on Mellow Corn instead.

Agree?  Disagree?  Continue the discussion on my Twitter @newbourbondrink or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/newbourbondrinker/

 

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/mellow-corn-must-have-for-all-bars/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/old-weller-antique-ninety-9-single-barrel/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/4-new-releases-from-barrell-bourbon/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/barrell-bourbon-lucky-013/

http://www.heavenhill.com  http://www.barrellbourbon.com  https://www.rumsixtysix.comfoursquare-rum-distillery.html/

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4 New Releases from Barrell Bourbon!

Barrell Craft Spirits remains one of my favorite brands and they continue to put out consistently excellent products at reasonable prices, with good availability and you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal to get them. To me, it’s the best secret left in Bourbon Hunting. I have put a bunch of previous batches away in my bunker because each one is unique and only released once. I was able to grab four new releases at once and thought instead of doing four reviews I’d do one mega review:

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Barrell Bourbon New Year 2018: 55.6% ABV and a marriage of barrels from TN, KY, IN, TX and NY. It has an incredibly sweet nose. French toast, Necco wafers, Twizzlers, Butterfigers, yellow flowers, dried cherry pits and creme brule. Almost no heat on nose at all. Wow so easy going down and lots going on. More nuts on the palate than I was getting on the nose and really enjoyable heat in the chest. Solid mouthfeel with the needed oils and tannins following through with a good finish. Really nice special edition. This is the one I’ve had the hardest time finding but if you can get it for a reasonable price, buy two or three. 96/100.

Barrell Rye Batch 002: 5yrs old and 117.5 Proof. I’ve never had a rye distilled in Poland so this is pretty exciting. It is married with an Indiana (MGP?) one which I always enjoy. When I first opened it up the aroma was muted so I waited a few minutes to give it some air. After some time notes of honey suckle, cracked pepper, rock candy and biscotti came through. I decided to wait on this one and try again a week later because I could tell is was still tight–maybe from the plane from Poland?  Easy on the way down with great salted caramel flavor I missed on the nose coupled with strong spiciness.  When I initially opened this rye, it was tight and unforgiving; after a week it’s totally different and the finish goes on for several minutes completely enveloping the tongue. I’ve never had a rye like this before and I’m excited to drink it. I bet that this will continue to evolve in the bottle over the next month or two as I drink it down. 94/100.

Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands: 8yrs old and bottled at 132.8 Proof. Jamaican pot Still, same source as Batch 001 finished is Islay Scotch casks. I really liked last year’s release: brown sugar, tropical fruits, coconut shavings, white flowers and molasses. This one is very similar to last year but much less heat on the nose. The extra year of aging in the Scotch casks really smoothed this one out even better without the peat taking over. The taste is great, sweet and tropical, and it is shocking how at this proof for a rum the heat is so mellow. The finish goes on for at least two minutes. Great rum and if you liked last year’s release you’ll love this one. I’m hearing it’s very limited release, so buy all that you can. 96/100.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014: 54.7% ABV and from a blend of KY and TN specially selected barrels of at least 9yrs old. Medium dark amber color. Really nice nutty nose, Jif peanut butter, roasted walnuts, crushed almonds, buttered cinnamon bread and Honey Nut Cheerios. Almost no heat on the nose which is crazy for this Proof.  Solid mouthfeel and good finish. The gentle warmth filters through the chest as the finish elongates. The palate gets hints of salted caramel and nuts on the way down. Another very good release from Barrell Bourbon, readily available and at a reasonable price. I’m buying one to drink now, one for next month and one for the bunker. 95/100.

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https://www.barrellbourbon.com/batch13

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/rumbatch1

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/batch12

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/barrell-bourbon-lucky-013/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/barrell-bourbon-batch-10/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review

https://thewhiskeywash.com/reviews/whiskey-review-barrell-bourbon-012/

Orphan Barrel Entrapment

en·trap·ment
inˈtrapmənt,enˈtrapmənt/
noun
noun: entrapment; plural noun: entrapments
  1. the state of being caught in or as in a trap.
    “the feeling of entrapment grows as the roads close and the power goes out”
    • the action of tricking someone into committing a crime in order to secure their prosecution.
      “his style of investigation constitutes entrapment”

admiral-ackbar-its-a-trap

The title of the bottle pretty much tells you everything you need to know… you are basically being tricked into buying this because it has a big 25 on it.  Despite the fact that we know we are being entrapped by Diageo, we still overpay for the bottle anyway… on to the review:

Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Entrapment is the newest release and is a 25yr Canadian Rye from most likely Gimli, but could be Waterloo given they were distilling up to 1992  (Update: I have read online that it is in fact from Gimli).  They had admitted it is Crown Royal and decided to release it in this line instead of a special Crown Royal release or blend it into their normal product.

Extremely light colored. If it were Bourbon I’d guess it was six months old but it’s 25yrs old aged in used wood. The wood is probably so used there is nothing left to be absorbed into the distillate—I doubt the barrels were even reconditioned or recharred.

The nose is classic Canadian Rye, and that’s because it is. It’s Crown Royal and it’s smells just like their low end brand. Vanilla, Christmas tree and candy corn. Doesn’t smell like it’s been aged a lot. Reminds me a lot of older Canadian Club dusties that are easy to find, cheap and enjoyable.

The initial flavor is quite nice, smooth, sweet with vanilla and sugar candy and goes down easily. However there is no friendly heat, the mouthfeel is as thin as it can get and the finish ends before you know it. The taste is enjoyable but not complex.

Unlike some previous Orphan Barrel releases, this is totally drinkable. However it drinks well for a $40 bottle, not a MSRP $150 (I actually paid $199.99 plus tax because that was the only place around me that had it). I have several 70’s and 80’s dusty Canadian Clubs that taste better and I got for significantly cheaper. Prices affect ratings and this one is definitely not one you need to get but if you can find a pour for a reasonable price, maybe worth trying one glass.  DO NOT PAY UP ON SECONDARY FOR THIS! 86/100

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2017 BTAC Reviews

Here is my take on the 2017 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection:

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Eagle Rare 17
Great nose, flowers, mushrooms, ripe peaches, graham crackers. Much fresher than ER17 in the past, much better than last year. Goes down really easily with some nice warmth in the chest. Good flavors in the center of the tongue. The mouthfeel always lacks on this one due to the chill filtering though. Finish is a solid two minutes. Very nice Bourbon. 94/100

Sazerac 18
Typically my favorite of the bunch, the nose is Necco wafers, rock candy, all spice, cinnamon and creme brûlée. Almost no heat on nose.  Nice little grip on the tongue with enjoyable heat follow through. It has very nice flavors but a touch of bitterness on the back of the tongue but not enough to detract from the enjoyment. Finish is very long. I’ve had better Saz in years past but it’s still exceptionally enjoyable. 96/100

Thomas H Handy 127.2
Big nose. Tons of flavor and heat. Kit-Kat, butterscotch, rock candy, melon balls, Fruit Loops and French Toast. Huge mouthfeel, coats the whole tongue. Very complete and full across the board. Long finish and enjoyable. It’s not as sweet as the 2016 or 2014 and lacking some of the charm but it’s still extremely good. Closer to the 2015 in character. 94/100

William Larue Weller 128.2
Sweet nose, fresh cinnamon toast, buttered raisin bagel, stewed plums and crushed graham crackers. Hotter than the rest so far, but not too hot. The mouthfeel is good but not as complete as I hoped and the back end gets bitter quicker than expected. Good finish. Still, it’s lovely and enjoyable—the bar versus previous years is just very high. 94/100

George T Stagg 129.2
By the nose alone, it’s the most enjoyable of the five: tons of butterscotch, deep rich brioche, Twix, vanilla and Life cereal. So much going on in the nose and not at all too hot. The mouthfeel is perfect: just the right amount of tannins, completely coating every part of the tongue including the roof of the mouth and hitting every taste bud with flavor. This is so complete and balanced it’s crazy.  Each of the previous four was missing something, but the 2017 Stagg has it all. If there was a complaint to be had I’d say it’s that the finish it’s as long as I’d like, but now we are just being nit picky. 98/100

WhistlePig Farmstock 001: #NeverAgain

Because I was so disappointed by this WhistlePig product, I am going to do this review in short form.  It’s not worth going into all the details because I will never try it again.

Crop 001
86 Proof
Blend of three ryes, details on back of bottle
Light straw color

Medicinal nose, some rock candy, pine needles, and a touch of citrus.

The mouthfeel is exceptionally disappointing, thin, more heat than expected for an 86 Proof Rye. It’s bitter, medicinal and dries the mouth out. Has notes of young malt as well which I just hate. This is by far the worst WhistlePig product I’ve ever tasted.

I love their Boss Hog… not sure if I agree with San Francisco Spirits that it’s the best whiskey of the year, but then again, I didn’t actually get to try that specific barrel. Given how expensive this is, I’m giving it an even worse score. I’m very worried about their ability to produce quality products once their Canadian stock runs out. Stick to their sources whiskies for now and avoid Farmstock like the plague! 64/100

Beast Masters Club Dusty Battle Tons of Fun

I was lucky enough to buy a ticket and attend the Beast Masters Club dusty battle between the Josh’s:

Josh Feldman of http://www.cooperedtot.com/

VS

Josh Richholt, co-founder of The Well. http://www.thewellbrooklyn.com/

Josh Feldman posted to his blog the selections he made, which I voted for in both rounds: http://www.cooperedtot.com/2017/10/updated-actual-selections-for.html

Josh R’s picks we both excellent, but to pull out a Pre-Prohibition era Rye and then the epic Beam was just outstanding… The crowd voted against me for the first round, going with the Bourbon De Luxe (a classic National Distillers 70’s piece), but went with me for the second round, voting the 1955 Beam glass decanter, which also ended up taking the night.  The Wild Turkey 101 Decanter was pretty awesome too though! There were lots of side drinks and by the end I think we were all way past the tasting phase.

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I didn’t take tasting notes on anything because I just wanted to enjoy the moment.  But each was unique in their own way and wonderful.  I am not sure I would spring to buy a bottle of any of them however, as the secondary prices have gone through the roof.  The quality of juice these days, despite what many people say, is better and more consistent that it was in the past.  But to be able to taste something like this, from 100 years ago, is something I couldn’t pass up!

Big thanks for Ben and Steve from Beast Masters Club for hosting such an awesome evening and I hope they do it again soon!

http://beastmastersclub.com/

http://beastmastersclub.com/events/beastmastersclublive1027

 

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1

Although I wasn’t able to get a bottle at retail, I did snag one from http://www.bottle-spot.com and it is trading for around $200 right now, which is not bad, if it turns out to be a high quality rye.  It’s 110.6 proof, lower than both the Handy and Pikesville, but at 11 years in the barrel, it’s almost double their age.  Distilled in Kentucky, I have no idea where this is originally from… this is my first Kentucky Owl product ever as the Bourbon has been too small of a production and too high of a secondary price.  I did try a dram at Jack Rose and loved it, however, I was about 10 drams into the evening, so who really knows?

On to the review… nice dark color, very inviting.  The nose has evolved quite a bit since I opened it this weekend.  I’m getting candied orange, rock candy, nutmeg, bubble gum, graham crackers and grapefruit rind.  The nose isn’t nearly as hot as the proof would suggest.

The mouthfeel is great, really grippy and bursting with flavor.  I’m really getting the orange and rock candy and spicy notes on the tongue.  The finish goes on for at least two minutes, hard to tell exactly because I keep drinking more before I get to three minutes.

This is a really nice rye.  It is expensive though.  I did a quick side by side analysis vs Thomas Handy, and although good, not quite at THH level.  Is it better than the Pikesville?  Well, it’s different, but it is also 3x more expensive–that hurts it a little bit.  The bottom line is this is a wonderful rye and if you like rye, you should absolutely try to get it and if your budget allows, you should pay up for it in the secondary market.  Pikesville will still be my go-to rye given the cost and availability, but if you are able to grab one of these, you will not be disappointed to add it to your whiskey cabinet.  95/100.

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