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….


Jefferson’s Groth

I’ve always enjoyed Jefferson’s–never blown away but never unhappy. I have traded/begged/hunted for some of the older ones, but I thought I’d try the Groth which is pretty much available everywhere. (Will the person on bottle-spot who is trying to sell it for more please stop??)

Finished whiskeys have been incredibly en vogue recently, but not all of them are good. I’m going into this one with an open mind.

Baking spices, plums, green apple, rubber and raspberries. Interesting and fruity nose.

Palate is enjoyable, smooth and uncomplicated. The oak and wine from the finish certainly are coming through–but I’m not sure it’s just changing the flavor or improving. Enjoyable experience.

This is a hard one. I enjoy it but I prefer the classic bourbon notes that have been pushed to the back burner on this one. If it was $30, I would be a 90+ score, but given it usually goes for $80-$90 it’s hard to justify the price. Buy a dram at the bar, but not worth adding to the collection. 86/100.


Bourbon @ The New York Shaving Company Barbershop

The company I work for has an annual charity auction where employees both donate events/items/experiences and also bid on other people’s donations.  This year I decided to work with the New York Shaving Company to donate a great bro’s event: Bourbon at the Barbershop.  Everyone who won the event was treated to an old school barber’s shave and as much amazing bourbon as they could drink.  John Scala, owner and operator of The New York Shaving Company, was an amazing host for our event and I provided the incredible selection of Bourbon.

The lineup for the event was:

  • Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr
  • Blade & Bow 22yr
  • Willett Family Estate Bourbon bottle #438
  • Thomas H. Handy BTAC 2014
  • Elijah Craig 18
  • Elijah Craig 23
  • Barrell Bourbon Batch 002
  • Barrell Bourbon Batch 005
  • Barrell Bourbon Batch 006
  • Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cask Finish
  • Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2014
  • Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2015
  • Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rediscovered Barrels 17yr
  • Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rediscovered Barrels 19yr
  • Michter’s 10 Bourbon
  • Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project
  • Elmer T. Lee
  • Weller Special Reserve

We raised a lot of money for charity and everyone had a great time–the hangovers were proof.  Thanks again to John and the great people at the NY Shaving Company and to everyone who bid high to win tickets to the event.  It was also a great way to finish off a bunch of heels from my collection.  18 bottles gone, which means I can take 18 more out of the bunker 🙂


Does Glassware Matter?

I am a glassware snob.  I am neither proud, nor embarrassed.  Like I said in previous blogs, I started out as a wine guy and I have no greater pet peeve than going to a restaurant, ordering a nice bottle of wine, and being served in poor glassware.  Actually, low quality, hot, just out of the dishwasher glassware is even offensive to my personal code.  At home I have lots of different glasses for different types of wines so why not have the same thing for whiskey?


There is a new whiskey glass out on the market, which I ordered off of Kickstarer a while ago, the Norlan glass; it just arrived this weekend.  I believed it was prudent to test it versus the old time favorite Glencairn glass.  For good measure I also also tested them against  Reidel’s single malt glass and the Dorset Old-Fashioned glass.

I decided to test the glasses with two of my current favorite whiskeys, one of a high proof cask strength version and one of a lower proof, the subjects chosen were: Elmer T. Lee bourbon and Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cask Finish.  Both of these are great whiskeys and I’ve enjoyed them many times before in Glencairn glasses.  I also decided to do two separate taste tests, the first at two minutes after pouring and the second at forty-five minutes.  This experiment is not about testing the whiskeys, as I know they are both world class, but rather to see how the glasses express the whiskeys.

Elmer T. Lee first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  I’m not getting a lot out of this one, smells ok.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Even less aroma than the old-fashioned glass.

Glencairn Glass:  Really nice concentrated nose, very flavorful, just awesome.

Norlan Glass:  Elegant nose, not as concentrated as the Glencairn, very enjoyable.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Lots of heat, not a lot of flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Not getting much on the nose here.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, not a lot of heat, very enoyable.

Norlan Glass:  Almost no heat at all, less concentrated aroma than the Glencairn, but more balanced.

Elmer T. Lee Second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Same as round one, small but ok flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass: Still not getting much here at all.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, excellent.

Norlan Glass: Same as round one, very enjoyable but less concentrated.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  The heat is gone now, enjoyable.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Finally getting aromas now, elegant.

Glencairn Glass: Extremely concentrated and powerful nose, very complex.

Norlan Glass: Wow!  Best smell of the night, elegant, no heat, complex and flavorful.

Conclusion:  I only rated the smells I was getting from the different glasses as the tastes were too close to differentiate.  I wasn’t sure what to expect before testing these glasses, as I’ve been using mostly Glencairn glasses for a while, but I’m glad I did this.  The main conclusion is that both the Glencairn and the Norlan glasses are excellent.  If you are drinking an old-fasioned, the Dorset is fine, but don’t drink anything straight out of it.  I was extremely disappointed by the Reidel glass, the outward sloping glass lets out all the enjoyment.  For a less powerful whiskey the Glencairn glass is the clear winner: the Elmer T. Lee came out best when the aromas were captured in the tulip glass.  For a cask strenth, high proof whiskey, it’s almost too close to call, but for this test, the Norlan Whisky Glass won by a nose.  The Norlan’s design removed some of the ethanol, while maintaining the essence for the consumers enjoyment.  The answer to the question of whether glassware matters is a resounding yes.







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.