I Dipped It Myself! Maker’s 46 Cask Strength

Part of my trip to Kentucky several months ago included trip to Loretto to do the Maker’s tour.  At the end of the tour I bought a couple bottles and dipped them myself.  Maker’s Mark does one of the best tours of any distillery and is a must do for those making the trip to KY.  It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth it.  For now, Maker’s 46 Cask Strength is only available in the gift shop, but I’m told that will change soon.

Lots of baking spices: vanilla, cinnamon, allspice on the nose, raisin bread, mesquite chips and pencil shavings. Not too hot on the nose, good for a 110.7 proof Bourbon.

The palate is enjoyable, nice chew, decent oils, moderate and warm finish.  The spices come through strongly tickling the tongue, but the finish drops off.

Definitely one of the best tours on the tour, but not the best bourbon.  I prefer the original Maker’s to the 46, and the cask 46 is just more of it.  Enjoyable certainly, but nothing that’s a must try.  86/100.

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Widow Jane Whiskey Distilled from Rye Mash: BOLD FACED LIARS

I have to say, this is one of the least attractive bottles I’ve ever seen.  Don’t judge a book by its cover…. they say, and because I’ve never tried anything from Widow Jane, let us just hope that the worst part is the visual.  The liquid in the bottle is super hazy, with weird clouds of nebulous clumps floating around, in addition to a touch of charcoal dust at the bottom–I really do like the dust.  There is a sticker they attached to the top of the bottle that says: “new technique, blah blah blah.”  Here is where I have a problem. This sticker, is a bold faced lie.  They claim they have a new technique of non-chill filtering that causes this issue?  No.  This is a very old issue that every distillery encounters.  Distillers that choose to proof their whiskey down well below 100 proof (this one is 91), are faced with cloudiness in their bourbon due to the way water interacts with the liquid.  So if a distillery wants to non-chill filter (which I’m so glad so many do!) they usually sell it at a cask strength, or at least a bottled-in-bond style.  At this proof, the liquid is clear and beautiful.  Once you get to 91, it clouds up so you would have to chill filter to remove those elements to make it look attractive.  So again, saying that it is a new technique, is just a bold faced lie.  The question is whether or not, even with the weird asthetic choice, proofing down a non-chill filtered young rye whiskey to 91 proof is the right decision from a taste perspective.  I’m willing to forgive the ugliness of the rye if the taste makes up for it.

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Spoiler Alert… it didn’t.  The nose is moderately hot, medicinal, soapy, full of cough syrup, menthol, with hints of rock candy, eucaliptis and mint.  Not particularly inviting at all.

The taste echoes the nose with heat first and foremost, with unexciting flavors that go into a short finish dominated by more heat.  The mouthfeel is the other redeeming aspect of this rye which is due to the non-chill filtered, as you get some nice grippy tannins.  Unfortunately this doesn’t salvage the dram.

I did a little research online and here is what I think happened…  No where on this bottle does it mention where this whiskey was distilled (is that still legal in this day and age?), and I heard they source it from somewhere in Kentucky.  My bet is that this is barely two years old from the new Willett rye production.  They ship it up to Brooklyn, and no, not everything is cooler and better in Brooklyn.  They probably move it into different barrels they had in the distillery so they can say they finished it in New York.  Then they bring a few barrels of water from their eponymous source upstate, and use it to proof down.  They probably wanted to bottle this at 100 or higher proof, but the heat is so bad, and they didn’t feel like waiting for the rye to mellow, that they felt they had to release it at the lower proof.  Putting a sticker at the top of a label in certain states is legal, not requiring TTB approval, so they stuck it on after the fact once they realized that it wasn’t selling because of the cloudiness.  These are all educated guesses, but I’m willing to bet that they are pretty close to the truth.  Ultimately, Widow Jane should be embarrassed to put this product out with a label that is a lie, and with a product that isn’t very good.  I’m relieved to say that I didn’t buy this bottle, instead my wife received it as a work gift from one of the law firms that her firm works with.  I guess they don’t care too much about her business, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent such a shit gift.  I can’t believe anyone would pay anything for this awful “craft” whiskey, let alone the $50 MSRP.  73/100

Barrell Whiskey 002: MAGICAL Sherry Cask Finish

I was at a whiskey tasting a couple weeks ago at the Harrison Wine Vault in Harrison, NY which was a charity event for the local pet shelter.  I convinced my wife to go with me because I said there would be lots of puppies with which our 1yr old would love to play.  There were a couple puppies, but my main purpose was to secure a designated driver for a whiskey tasting… I was sneaky, yet successful.  There were many new craft producers and only a few producers that I had tried before and liked.  I would say that 50% of the whiskeys to try were from a random new craft producer, trying to sell a product between six months and two years of age.  All of the new craft products were literally horrible.  Trying to push a nine month rye as a $60 bottle is just embarrassing–I don’t foresee many of them still in business in a couple years…  I was lucky Garrison Brothers was there (link from old review:    https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/garrison-brothers-texas-straight-bourbon-whiskey-another-great-drink/), Four Roses and Barrell Bourbon.  I knew I liked Batch 006 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/barrell-bourbon-batch-006-home-run-top-5-of-the-year/), but they also were serving Batch 007 (very very good, but not yet on the market and I haven’t given it a proper tasting), and their new whiskey product, Barrell Whiskey Batch 002, which is a Sherry cask finish.  For those who follow this blog, you know my rants about finishing, so I was clearly skeptical about this product as well.  However, when I tried it, my concerns immediately melted away.  I was lucky to secure a bottle and my review is based on bottle number 1096.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 is a nine and a half year whiskey that has been finished in Sherry butts from Spain.   Like everything from Barrell Craft Spirits, this is bottled at cask strength: this particular batch is 61.9% abv.  I looked online, and I have confirmed that this is both the oldest whiskey that they have sold and their first cask finished product.  Like I said, I am extremely skeptical about finished whiskeys as I feel like most producers just mix in low quality dessert wines and pretend they have created something great–most fail at this (see my review of a failed “finished” whiskey from High West:    https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/high-wests-tragic-whiskey-a-midwinter-nights-dram/comment-page-1/).  Not only was I  surprised by BW002, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this whiskey.

The color is honey suckle brown, for almost a 10yr whiskey, you can tell this has been aged in used barrels instead of the new barrels that bourbon is aged in.

The nose has hints of sherry, unlike most finished whiskeys which overpower the nose with the dessert wine that it is mixed with.  In addition to the sherry, notes of graham cracker, honeysuckle, Halloween Candy Corn, baked pumpkin seeds and butterscotch ice cream.  What is also surprising is the complete lack of heat on the nose–not something you would expect for a 120+ proof whiskey.  Perhaps that is due to the near 10yrs of age?

The palate is a delight.  The perfect integration of the sherry residue from the cask and the 9.5yr whiskey is so enjoyable on the tongue.  Every note from the nose is coming through even stronger on the palate, but the better part is the mouthfeel.  The intense thickness of oil and grit just creates a finish that goes on and on. By such a large margin, this is the best cask finished whiskey I have ever had, but it also is one of the best whiskeys I have ever had as well. The complexity of this whiskey has so many layers and the taste goes on for several minutes.  What is also amazing is how little heat comes through–for a cask strength product you often get an overwhelming amount of heat but this whiskey has just enough to know it is there, like a cashmere blanket next to a wood burning stove.

I checked into this batch and it turns out that only 200 cases (1200 bottles) were produced.  The Yamazaki Sherry Cask Finish 2016 had 3,000 bottles produced and I think this is even better than that.  I know that hoarders get a bad name, but I am not embarrassed to say that if I see any of these bottles left at any store, I will be buying them and drinking them for years to come.  I also hope that Barrell Craft Spirits comes out with another Sherry Cask batch because if this is just a one off project, the whiskey community will be at a deep loss.  So PLEASE: Barrell Craft Spirts, PLEASE continuing making a Sherry Finished product, you will have a customer for life in me.  If any of my readers are able to secure a bottle of this, just close your eyes and buy it: I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  97/100.

 

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

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