Jack Rose Part 2: Old Heaven Hill Wheater & Old Bernheim

Kentucky Crest 10yr 1950s bottling by Bernheim 103 proof
Golden color, with charcoal bits; I love charcoal bits. Classic bourbon nose, with some dried apricot fruit as well.  A touch hotter than expected but really nice. Mouthfeel is average and finish is moderate. Really nice but not one you need to mortgage the house for.  As the night went on, the aroma got better and better with vanilla and baking spices really coming through. 92/100

Old Fitzgerald 1849 Heaven Hill 1990s juice
Dull straw yellow coloring. Classic wheater nose, sweet and bready.  Easy down, no heat, enjoyable but not overly complex. Not sure what the hype is on these bottles. As the night continued the aroma stayed the same and did not improve.  88/100

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Dusty 1970’s Wild Turkey Decanter… It’s good!!!

This is the third 1970’s decanter that I’ve blogged about in the past year or so, and the last two were not very good.  The first one was terrible, but that was probably because the cork was broken and was leaking the past decade or two.  The last one was drinkable, but nothing spectacular.  The expectations were sufficiently low for this one.

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This decanter is a Wild Turkey 101, 8 year old 4/5 quart Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, made by Austin Nichols.  This is a limited edition decanter series, this is the 6th in the series.  I got this in the original box from the basement of a liquor store that shut down over a year ago.  The dust you can see on the top of the box is original dust from the store in the basement… talk about legit.

When removing the turkey head off the bottle, the cork cracked in half, but it was definitely sealed for the last 40 years so the chance of it being good was ok.

Dark amber color…. the nose it muted, a little musy and charcoaly, but not getting much spice or sweetness.

The taste however, it much better than the nose.  The heat is coming through nicely, warming my throat, but I’m getting pepper spices and some cinnamon as well.  The mouthfeel is a little thin, but not too bad.  The first sit was the best, and after it was in the glass for an hour, it lost some of it’s initial pop.  I’m hoping that won’t be the case for the rest of the bottle I poured it into.

I’ll be honest… this is better than I expected.  Very drinkable, and I probably will keep drinking it over the next few months and if there are any significant changes, I will provide an update to this blog.  80/100

 

Holiday Sample Party: Willett Family Estate Single Barrels WFE Rated

I’ve been trading and collecting samples of lots of different whiskies for a while, especially Willett Family Estate single barrels.  It got to the point when I had too many to drink alone, but I also don’t feel like writing up a full review for a single sample is warranted due to the potential of contamination in a sample.  My brother in law is a big bourbon fan as well, so we tried them all together and gave individual ratings.  The notes are from me.

Willett Family Estate 12yr #751: Nice standard butterscotch and caramel nose, graham crackers. GREAT mouthfeel, sharp, enjoyable, long finish.  I wish I had a whole bottle of this.  94/100   Brian’s Score: 90/100

Willett Family Estate 13yr #780: Very strong nose, maple syrup, much hotter and bolder than the previous sample.  Tons of brown sugar and vanilla on the nose too.  Thick, juicy and spicy palate but finishes in a bitter note. Very different than the previous one.  93/100    Brian’s Score: 94/100

Willett Family Estate 9yr #7174:  Sweet rock candy, Reeses Pieces and vanilla with some pretty strong heat.  Palate is a lot of heat as well, ok mouthfeel, sweet but not overly complex.  87/100     Brian’s Score: 81/100

Willett Family Estate 14yr #2366: Nice nose, caramel and s’mores.  Tannic with oak on the palate but without solid oils leaving it bitter and astringent on the finish.  After a solid nose, the taste is disappointing.  86/100     Brian’s Score: 80/100

Eagle Rare 17 2010 Vintage: Forest Floor, Leather, mushroom, candied walnuts, stewed pears and apple sauce with cinnamon on the nose.  The palate is equally complex with all the nose coming through in an extremely mellow way.  No heat at all, easy down.  Finish is very good.  96/100   Brian’s Score: 92/100 (he also said the nose was better than the taste)

Barrell Bourbon New Years 2017: Reeses Pieces, caramel, Twix, very nutty nose.  GREAT mouthfeel, thick and chewy, nice oils, very comple.  Moderate heat with an amazing finish.  This is a bottle that I am going to hunt and hunt and hunt until I find it and then I’ll do a very proper review.  96-97/100   Brian’s Score: 95/100

2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon: Classic OFBB nose with mushrooms, nuttiness, caramel with weight, but hotter than this year’s release.  The palate is less exciting than the nose, but with a bit more bitterness than I would prefer.  Overall better than the overage OFBB.  89/100   Brian’s Score: 94/100

Old Charter 10 (Old Label): Butterscotch, cedar, oak, sour cherries.  This mouthfeel, underwhelming sour finish.  79/100   Brian’s Score: 81/100

Booker’s 25th Anniversary: Hot nose, caramel, butterscotch, ginger snaps.  Amazing mouthfeel, less hot on palate than expected but still classically Booker’s hot.  Long, long and incredible finish. 96/100   Brian’s Score: 92/100 (too hot)

1993 Old Grand Dad (National Distillers): Different than the OGD 114 I had tonight, more vanille, brown sugar, stewed pears, green apple, very mellow nose.  Super smooth, very nice taste, mouthfeel ok but low proof and chill filtering take out a lot of the complexity.  Wish this was cask strength.  93/100      Brian’s Score:  90/100

 

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1976 Canadian Club Dusty ‘eh

There are few whiskies out there with less respect than Canadian Club.  It’s relegated to the lowest of bottom shelves, inconceivable to be drank in anything other than a cocktail and tends to linger on home whiskey shelves for decades.

My dad retired from the corporate world and now runs people’s estate sales for a second career.  He loves it, doesn’t have any bosses to have to deal with, sets his own hours, and genuinely enjoys the work that he does.  What am I mentioning this?  Well, one of the things you can almost always count on in a house of a very old deceased person that needs a estate sale, is a three quarters full bottle of Canadian Club sitting on their bar or kitchen cupboard: it’s virtually a guarantee.  It was most likely gifted to them in the 1960’s or 1970’s and suffered more from evaporation than consumption.  The bottle being reviewed today comes from one of those sales, but it was one of the rare sealed ones, as opposed to the opened ones which inevitably gets poured down the drain at the end of the garage sale…

Like most 6yr whiskies not aged in new charred oak barrels, it is on the lighter side of amber.  The 1L bottle looks pretty cool with the big Hiram Walker in script and the 1976 boldly written on the tax stamp.

Pure vanilla on the nose, so strong and powerful, almost like someone poured a touch of vanilla extract into the bottle before trying it (I didn’t).  I’m also getting notes of apples, pears and crushed almonds.

The taste is remarkably enjoyable.  It’s not overly complex and at 86.8 proof there is literally no heat on the mouth at all, but it’s playful and enjoyable.  I guess with the 40yrs in the bottle, this has mellowed out so much and now only vanilla and fruit notes remain.  Although the mouthfeel is not overly complex due to the chill filtering and low proof, the finish is surprisingly long, well over a minute while never losing any of the satisfaction.  Vanilla and smiles all the way to the end.

This is what I would say… next time you are at grandma’s house and she offers you a drink, go check out the back of the bar.  Dust off that 1970’s CC that someone, maybe at a key party, brought to her house 40+ years ago, and pour yourself a glass of it.  You will probably be impressed.  94/100.

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Ancient Age 80 Dusty

I love me a good dusty.  I traded for this one as part of a larger bottle-spot.com 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.

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2016 Whisky Jewbilee and Event Tasting Strategy

The 5th Annual Whisky Jewbilee was my first time attending this cool New York City event… I brought a few clients and friends with me to enjoy the fun.  As part of any large tasting, you need to have a game plan ahead of time—know where the rare bottles are and hit them first.

A huge mistake rookies make is trying to be very polite and going through the whole vertical.  I totally understand being polite, going through each one and hearing why the 10yr is so great.  But… there will be time for that at the end of the evening if you really care.  There were about 6 Scotches that were 25yrs or older and they were all gone within the first 30 minutes, so if you didn’t hit them first, you missed out.  Fortunately for me and my friends, I had them all mapped out and we were able to try them all.  To be honest though, a the selection of 25yr Scotch didn’t really excite me…

I’m much more of a bourbon fan than scotch, so I was hoping for something special underneath the tables, that wasn’t on the original tasting list.  There were three tables that really stepped it up in my opinion:

Skinner Auctions brought a bunch of dusties including a 1970s Stitzel-Weller Cabin Still decanter.  Only a 4-5yr bourbon, but so incredibly smooth.  And to get the chance to try anything from Stitzel-Weller is welcomed.  I went back for five pours, which probably was overkill, but almost no one was hitting this table, so it was a hidden gem.

For all the negative things I have written about Balcones over the years, they actually stepped it up at this tasting.  I tried their normal products, and again, I really didn’t like them.  I had never tried their Brimstone, and I think that might be my least favorite one of theirs of all time—just horrible.  However… when I asked if they had anything under the table, I was very pleasantly surprised.  Winston Edwards (the brand ambassador) pulled a new product, the Balcones Texas Rum Special Release 63.9% abv.  He said it was mostly a 3.5yr rum blended with some younger ones.  This product blew me away.  Great mouthfeel, such rich notes, just a tremendous amount of complexity and length.  This was so good I bought two bottles online and can’t wait to try it at home and do a proper tasting.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a full review on this rum.

The other favorite table was Barrell Bourbon.  Joe Beatrice brought both whiskey batches, including the sherry cask Batch 002, which was a top 5 of the night as well as Batch 006 and Batch 007.  They also has a special Batch 007b, which apparently was the same barrels from Batch 007, but bottled a few months later, so a little more age, and slightly different proof, but everything else the same.  Very tasty.  I love when the presenters have a little something special under the table if you ask nicely–thank you Joe!

I was very disappointed by a lot of the other bourbon tables, especially Four Roses, Bookers, Basil Hayden, Bakers, etc… they just brought their normal bottles.  Four Roses should have at least brought the Elliot’s Select, but just brought their normal ones.  For a tasting, they should have stepped up their game a little bit.  If I wanted a glass of Basil Hayden, I could just go to any bar, their performance was not exciting.  For next year, hopefully the larger brands lose the attitude and bring something a little special.

At the end of the evening, my clients and friends had a great time, we all drank quite a bit of very good whiskey and I even got to meet Mark Gillespie from WhiskyCast which was a treat.  Because it wasn’t in a proper tasting setting, I am not going to give any grades but the top drams of the night, not in any order were: Stitzel-Weller Cabin Still 1970’s dusty, Barrell Bourbon Batch 006, Barrell Whiskey Batch 002, Balcones Texas Rum Special Release, Balvenie 25.

 

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1929 Hiram Walker Prohibition Unicorn

The 21 Club in NYC found a few cases of Prohibition Era whiskey a few years ago and now they are down to just a couple bottles.  It is Hiram Walker Private Stock Blended Canadian Whiskey from Walkerville, Ontario, Canada–it looks like like Canadian Club.  Distilled in 1919, aged for 10 years in barrels and bottled in 1929, this whiskey has continued to mellow in the brown bottle for the last 87 years.  Initially very skeptical about paying up for something like this, however, I am glad I went ahead and bought it.

The color was lighter than a bourbon, but on par with a Canadian Whiskey aged in used barrels.  The nose was all Madagascar Vanilla, uber velvety and oozing of smoothness.  The second draw had cinnamon sticks, cotton candy, with a steam shower water vapor-esque consistency which was just so light and fresh.  The nose was not overpowering at all, but so gentle and unique I could only hope the taste equaled.

At 90.4 proof I had lower expectations for the palate and mouthfeel, but oils on the mouth came in nicely, although any remnants of tannins were long gone if they ever were present to begin with.  Vanilla clouds permeated through each sip, and this was one you wanted to keep in your mouth for a long time to get every nuance.  Something about 87 years in the bottle after 10 years in wood really did some magic with this whiskey.

If you are in NYC you need to go to the 21 Club and order it.  On the menu it is $100, but if you ask Anthony nicely for a half pour, then may give you a full one for $50.  At $50 I would buy this every single time. Hard to grade something that isn’t readily available, but I feel comfortable giving it a 98/100.