Saint Cloud Bourbon Disaster

Nose initially is painful. Nail polish, Pine Lysol, very medicinal. You really need to stick around to try to get any secondary aromas of enjoyment, and I just couldn’t. It’s 120 proof and you can feel every one of them. Total nostril scorcher.

It’s also hot on the palate too. Nothing hiding this Proof here. The mouthfeel is ok as you can tell it’s non-chill filtered and the finish does go on for a while but only the heat and bitterness. I never get a hint of butterscotch or caramel or anything enjoyable. This is clearly an extremely young Whiskey.

I put it aside and tried again later but I still was getting medicinal notes and heat. It hadn’t evolved in the bottle.

I feel bad about this. I really dislike this whiskey and I’ve had some that were too young but saw potential. I don’t see it here. Peerless is a great example of a good young whiskey that you can tell will get better and better. I’m not sure where this is contract distilled from, but it tastes medium to low end and I just don’t see how this is going to evolve into something much better unless something drastically changes. Ray seems like a nice enough guy who is passionate about his product, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I paid around $100 for this and I can’t recommend it to anyone for any reason. 50/100.

“No I can’t get you Pappy at MSRP” or another way to show you the top 5 bottles under $100 for 2019

I’m sure every avid Bourbon hunter/collector/drinker gets the same questions I do: “hey man, can you get me the hookup on some Pappy?”  Of course I can, $450 for a Pappy 10yr… “whattttt?”…. I don’t get it at MSRP, I don’t own a store, but I know people who will sell it for secondary (which seems to be 400-500 depending on where you are, if you can get it for less, great, but don’t pay more)… But then people think they can get it for MSRP, good luck with that unless you have a serious hookup, that I certainly don’t have either… After calling a bunch of stores and asking other people, the realization settles in, they ask, well, what can I get for under $100 that is really good too? Every year my list changes, but this year I am recommending these bottles to get, either as value drinks for yourself, or to recommend to your friends for drinkers… I know there will be a lot of disagreement, and I would love to hear your recommendations:

  • Mellow Corn (~$12)… great for cocktails
  • Buffalo Trace (~$25)… hard to beat for the price
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrels  (~$35)… great single barrel value
  • Russel’s Reserve 10yr Single Barrels (~$45)… all around solid choice
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail (~$75)… great sipper, cask strength, finished whiskey

Honorable Mention: ECBP, OWA 107, ETL, Blantons…. but they have been harder to find these days and often trade above $100 in secondary…

What do you think I should have on this list?  Comments welcome!

For the Love of the Hunt… and for all the people out there that have pissed off their spouses for liquor store detours.

My wife thinks I’m nuts. Why do I find incredible enjoyment walking into random liquor stores when I’m on vacation or places I’ve never been before. Is it a disorder? I just have this incredible invisible force compelling me into these stores. I can’t help it. Most of the time I walk in, look around, and walk out… but then there are times when I’m there for an hour.

Hunting in 2019 (and going forward) makes me appreciate commercial fisherman on the East Coast even more… it’s over hunted, you have to go twice as far to get half the load, and every once in a while you get scolded so badly by your spouse for ignoring your children (or dragging them in with you) that you almost want to quit. But then this happens:

Here’s the story. I’m in upstate New York visiting a cidery and I forgot I had to mail a letter. I pull over to the post office and across the street appears to be a closed down liquor store. I walk over and they have a doorbell, it says “push hard.” I do. Twice. A minute later a little old lady walks out the next door and comes over, introduces herself, unlocks the door and lets me in. It’s mostly very low end stuff, but above the shelf, about 7 feet above the floor, I spot a dusty Rebel Yell. I reach for it and she says it’s not for sale because no one would want anything up there because it’s all been there since they bought the store in the mid 1970’s. Jackpot. I say I’d really like to buy it and she says, ok, but it’s probably gone bad (Turns out the Rebel Yell was a 1983, I found that out from some trolls on Facebook, but that’s a story for another time). I climb on a box and behind the Rebel Yell is an Old Fitzgerald 1976 decanter. Two Stizel-Weller bottles?? There were a few other lesser decanters and I paid cash and went on my way. I gave them more than they were asking for them because I felt bad they didn’t know what they had. But these things were sitting in plain sight for 45 years. Reminds me of Godfather III: “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

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I’ve never seen Stitzel-Weller bottles on a dusty random shelf before… only in glass cases for thousands of dollars. I don’t ever expect to again… but I know they must still exist.

I did another hunt a month ago and the take is below… I didn’t buy anything at MSRP, but most was below secondary. I’m going to sell some, trade some, and drink most. I didn’t get everything I wanted this Bourbon season, but hopefully with the multiples I got, I’ll be able to trade my way into my deepest desires. That’s the only way to do it these days and as far as I am concerned there is no stigma to it. Anyone who thinks there is, probably isn’t going for the stuff I am going for anyway.

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The closest I got to MSRP this year was $200 for a Stagg from my local guy I do a lot of business with. Patronizing your local guy, making friends and staying on them is still your best way to get the best price on the allocated stuff. But for those who need more, the hunt is still alive and well and there is just enough out there to stock the bunker, and keep the dream alive for next year!

Full 2019 Pappy Lineup Reviews…

I recently shared a tasting with a friend and client…. here are my notes. He’s not the same experience of taster that I am but on average he agreed with my conclusions. If anything he had a lower score for the rye and higher score for the older Pappy’s. The reviews are in order of my tasting… enjoy!

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The 13yr rye has an epic nose, better than both BTAC. The spice of Handy with the complexity of Saz…. and I haven’t even tasted it yet. It a touch hot but not bad on the palate, but the mouthfeel is a little lacking. The flavors are good but it just falls off a little too soon. The nose was epic but the follow through just missed it for me. Still wonderful, but not worth the price. 94/100 (When I went back to this after the Pappy 15, the nose was still great but the mouthfeel was even thinner than before)

Pappy 15, always a crowd favorite…. creme bruele, toasted corn bread and cinnamon toast crunch on the nose with hints of dusty wooden age surrounding it, so you know it’s older. Really nice mouthfeel, good tannins and oil coating the entire mouth with butterscotch, toffee and graham cracker flavors oozing into spaces between my teeth. This knocks it out of the park. The finish goes on for 3 minutes or more. I wish this was affordable. 98/100.  I’m a buyer of this one… send me a DM please…

Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr…. another favorite, usually the best value of the bunch…. to be fair I had this after the 15yr which probably wasn’t fair…. nose is great, much fresher than the 15yr but not young in the bad way… getting tons of orange peel, chocolate covered orange peel, dried orange peel with cloves stuck in them… oh and a little bit of butterscotch and buttered, toasted brioche. Mouthfeel is awesome, might even edge out the 15yr… flavors lovely too. So… how does it stack up? The nose is very good but not insane. The mouthfeel with the heat component might be the most perfect balance I’ve ever experienced. The finish is long and good but the flavors from the Pappy 15 are more complex and enjoyable. This is my favorite Rip 10yr in a while though… 97/100.  I’ll be trying to hunt for this one…

Lot B… 12yr… generally people’s least favorite one… the nose always is older then the statement and this one is one different… forest mushroomy floor, No 2 pencil shavings, ginger snaps, dried cherries and Rollos. Mouthfeel is not bad but not great…. a little thin and falls off quickly. I guess they get points for consistency? Still enjoyable but this one you should trade for a 10yr if you can sucker someone into that trade… 87/100

Pappy 20….. interestingly light and floral on the nose, lightly toasted wheat toast with Nutella lightly spread across. Mouthfeel is a little lacking and the flavors go a touch bitter on the finish. It’s still enjoyable and complex but doesn’t compare to the 10, 13 or 15… 90/100

Pappy 23….. oldest for last but is it best? You can tell from the nose it is the oldest. Definitely wood forward but lots of tertiary notes of chocolate, leather, candy and almonds. Almost no heat at all and the mouthfeel is pretty good. Not a lot of oil but a good amount of enjoyable tannins. Finish is less sweet but not bitter, I’d consider it savory. It’s good. No, it’s very good. It’s the oldest, but it’s not the best. Trade this one for 2x 15yrs. 94/100.

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Another sketchy liquor store… and $2500 Pappy 20 behind the counter!

If you are ever in midtown Manhattan at 55th & 8th ave… be sure NOT to stop at the local liquor store…. Westerly Liquor

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$211 for CEHT Small Batch?  $200 for Stagg Jr? Seriously?

Top 5 Disappointments of 2018 in Whiskey

#1 Parker’s Heritage Collection release number 12, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Orange Curacao Barrels.  55% alcohol, 110 proof.  Not great.  Was hoping it would get better after being opened a while…. I’m still hoping and it’s been a few months.  I gave this a 78 out of 100 and I think I was being overly generous.  I will re-rate it again after it’s opened for six months, and hopefully it’s better; I’m not optimistic.  You gotta give some credit to the secondary market though, it came out at $200-$225 initially and has been crushed, as it should be.  Now trading between $100-$120, right where it has been offered at retail.  My guess is that is floors at $100 and then in a few years completionists will bid it up a little bit but it will go no-where.  Avoid this release, which was by far the worst ever for PHC.  Sad too because the story is great.

#2 Weller C.Y.P.B. is a perfectly fine Bourbon.  It’s like an average OWA chill filtered pick.  But it’s impossible to get, trading around $350 in secondary and it’s just not that great.  Opening my bottle was one of the biggest disappointments for me in 2018.

#3 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Sazerac 18.  This has routinely been one of my favorite releases of the year and it just came out so flat and bitter this time.  I yearn for the tanked juice.  What’s crazy here is secondary is still holding in really high.  This one is trading like a collectible and not a drinking whiskey clearly.  If you own it, sell/trade it now because I’d rather have a WLW+GTS, which I think it close to where it is.

#4 Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye 2009 Distilled special release.  I don’t know why I even buy these anymore… the store picks are almost always better, and I’m such a sucker for a special release.  They trade lower in secondary and no one likes them.  I’m just lucky I only bought one this year.  Avoid!

#5 Bad craft distillers who market well like Breckenridge Distillery… I’m picking on these guys, but Hudson (Tuttletown Spirits), Brooklyn Distillery, etc etc all qualify by putting out expensive, bad products, in good marketing packaging.  My wife JUST got a bottle of Breckenridge from one of her clients (last year she got Hudson Baby Bourbon) and I wonder why her clients must hate her so much?  Prediction for 2019… by the end of the year at least one “major” craft distiller will go bankrupt because people will realize their juice is terrible and overpriced, while you will see some of the good ones rising in popularity and respect.

There is is… 2018’s top disappointments… However there was so much to celebrate in 2018, check out my top 5 list.  Or check out last year’s top 5 disappointments….

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/i-love-parkers-heritage-collection-i-dont-like-this-release-though/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/12/23/weller-c-y-p-b-for-sale-caskers-only-1000/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/i-never-should-have-opened-my-weller-c-y-p-b/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/knob-creek-cask-strength-rye-2018-limited-release/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/2018-buffalo-trace-antique-collection-btac-reviews/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/breckenridge-distillery-not-a-fan-not-worth-a-visit-or-the-money/

I still hate this store… Grand Central Cellars

Buffalo Trace 750ml $75…

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Pappy 23 Gold Wax… $10,500…

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2017 BTAC George T. Stagg $650…

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Pikesville Rye at least they reduced that price from $125 to $80!!!

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/shame-shame-nyc-central-cellars-wine-spirits-shame/

But before they went to $80 from $125, then stopped at $105…

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/central-cellars-wine-spirits-price-reductions/

The argument people tell me “oh, it’s high rent, they need to charge more”… that argument is defeated with these three photos… if you can’t sell something for $125, or $105, maybe you can sell it for $80, or maybe you won’t sell it at all and you will go bankrupt…

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Sorry for being so negative, but they guys consistently overprice stuff and I know their rent is high, but I never see any of the bottles gone… so if your rent is high, and your prices are high and you only sell cheap rose and champagne for people who need them and the bourbon just sits there… how are you still in business?  Sorry for the rant.  Have a nice day.

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