Elmer T Lee is not a $150 Bourbon

Confession: I have bought and bunkered lots of Elmer T Lee over the years.  I once went into a store that had 12 for $35 each and I bought all 12.  I knew the secondary was double that, and I love to drink it, so I bought it for trading and drinking.

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However… ETL is not a $150 Bourbon.  Maybe it should be $75?  Maybe $100?  For some crazy reason I’m seeing it listed for north of $100 recently on secondary sites, but doesn’t seem to be trading above there.  It’s nuts when you go to a store and see if for $150 or more, because at those levels, the owner better like it, because no sane person will pay that.

One of my local stores (Grapes), sent this email around advertising ETL for $149.99, the same price of Rhetoric… but we aren’t going to open that can of worms.

ETL is great.  But it’s only marginally better than the regular Buffalo Trace.  I’m just venting, mostly because I can’t find it anymore at a reasonable price, but I’m probably just part of the problem anyway.

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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….

 

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 2, Disappointing Follow-up…

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1 was one of my favorite whiskies of last year, and my second favorite rye, next to Lot 40 Cask Strength 12yr. Batch 1 came out strong and the secondary ran up quickly to 200-250 before people realized that tens of thousands of bottles were released and eventually MSRP came all the way down to $110 and it was easy to get everywhere. At the $110 price, it was a no brainer to buy 6 or more and become a daily drinker (I still have 3 left in my bunker). Batch 2 has come out with an MSRP of $180, which is what I paid for this one. I’ve seen secondary offers in the 200-250 range, but I expect this to drop to the MSRP level extremely quickly.

The bottle looks the same, but the top doesn’t have the fake tax stamp and has a slightly different enclosure. This one is slightly less proof as well, but from afar, they look the same.

The nose is good, candied orange peel, NECCO Wafers, honeysuckle, rose petals, brown sugar, ginger snaps and cherry pie. Not too hot.

The candied flavors come in strong on the palate and the mouthfeel is good, but a little thin, as it fails to coat all over as much as I wanted. The finish is medium long but does fade to bitter at the end, far sooner than I hoped.

Batch 2 is a decent, but given the sky high expectations, mildly disappointing follow up to Batch 1; the original is better. The nose and palate are similar with the strong candied orange peel, but the main difference is the mouthfeel, which is superior in the original. The heat is equal, even though this is lower proof. The price increase of more than 50% doesn’t help it either. Worth picking up a bottle, especially if you liked the first one, but certainly not one worthy of stocking up on given the price. 90/100

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Barbershop Tasting w/ ECBP B517 ECBP Hirsch 20yr

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Lovely event at the New York Shaving Company today with friends, clients and three delicious whiskies…

Elijah Craig 18 bottled 2.4.17 Barrel #4339, 90 Proof
When first opened it was tight and very medicinal. After an hour it opened up with nutmeg, Christmas tree, butterscotch and almond butter. Tastes lovely with a touch more oak than I would have liked. Mouthfeel medium. Of all the EC18s I’ve had, this one is in the middle. Solid but not amazing. Still good price for the age though. 88/100

Hirsch Selection American Whiskey 20yrs, 96 proof
Distilled from Bourbon mash 2.27.1987 in Illinois and bottled in Weston, MO. I’d never seen this on the shelf before and for $100 I thought it was worth the gamble. This was another one that reeked of nail polish when first opened but after sitting for an hour evolved. Sweet nose of marshmallows, Skittles, stewed carrots with brown sugar, portobello mushrooms and cake frosting. The taste is quite a bit more bitter than the nose though with only an ok mouthfeel. The finish loses the sweetness almost immediately. The promise on the nose fades almost immediately; too bad. 80/100.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B517 124.2 Proof WA 2017 #1
Great color and awesome powerful nose. You can tell it’s Cask strength but doesn’t burn your nostrils either. Brown sugar cookies, lots of wood, creme brûlée, cinnamon, allspice and graham cracker s’mores. Terrific mouthfeel on this one, totally coats the tongue in all the right places, lots of sweet and savory flavors for a long finish that never gets bitter. The heat is there but incredibly smooth for the Proof. This is an excellent Bourbon. I wouldn’t have it as my number one, but adjusted for price it’s up there. Absolutely worth picking up if you can find it close to retail (under $100). I paid $80 for this one. 96/100.

More Obnoxious Liquor Stores Part II + one surprising good one

Sometimes when I have a lot of free time I’ll just go for a long walk in New York City and stop at every liquor store along my walk.  It’s good exercise, nice to be outside, and I like trying new neighborhoods that I’ve never been in (or haven’t visited in years since I move to the suburbs), so I try new stores.  Last night I went for a long walk up through the Upper East Side and hit up a bunch of stores, and three stood out.  The first two, well, just see the photos, you’ll understand.  The third one, as I got closer to Harlem was surprisingly good and worth checking out.  There were dozens of others that just didn’t have much but were not worthy of making the blog, either positively or negatively.

Big Apple Wine & Spirits: 1408 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021…. Weller Reserve for $109, Thomas Handy for $699… come on guys.  Plus the guy at the front was extremely obnoxious.  Avoid this place.

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Manhattan Wine Xchange 1079 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10065: Weller 12 for $299, Kentucky Owl Rye for $269, Handy 500, Stagg 850… Why bother?

Crown Wine & Liquor 1587 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028: This place was surprisingly good.  I picked up a ECBP B517 for retail as well as a Hirsch 20yr American Whiskey (from IL, so it probably stinks, but I’ve never seen it before on the shelf) for $99.99.  They had a Handy way in the back on the top of the shelf for $350, which is high, but for NYC, not obnoxiously high, so I passed on it.  I did offer them $250 cash, but the manager wasn’t there so the guy at the front didn’t know what to do.  They were fine, the selection was good, and the prices reasonable.

Breckenridge Distillery: Not a Fan, Not Worth A Visit or the Money

I’m not a fan of Breckenridge Distillery.

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At the tasting room they sell etched Glencairn Glasses for $18… these wholesale for $4… If they really cared about building a brand wouldn’t you want people to buy these?

Instead of free or low cost tastings, they offer four 1/4 oz pours for $10…  I guess they don’t think people will buy their product after a tasting?  When asked if they would apply the tasting fee to a bottle purchase, the answer was no.

Maybe they need to invest in better staff because they have a seriously obnoxious guy behind the counter.

At the shop you have the opportunity to purchase a $450 6yr aged malted Whiskey in a special box. Asked why it costs $450, the guy says “many reasons” and acts all pissed off. “Limited release” and “supply and demand” and “craft” were not things mentioned–it would be so easy to explain, instead he rolled his eyes and acts upset that I even asked.

Admittedly, thus far, all these complaints have nothing to do with their product.  However, I tasted several of their whiskies, and unfortunately, they are all pretty poor.  I didn’t do a proper tasting with notes, but if I did, all the ones I tasted would rank between 40 and 70.  Although, they do have a gin that was pretty good and significantly better than any of their whiskies.

Little known fact about Breckenridge Distillery, they previously sourced from Heaven Hill  but now they are using most of their own new product. It’s too bad because the sourced stuff was good… the new stuff is terrible. For what it is, Breckenridge Distillery is overpriced and a waste of your time. Don’t waste your time or money.

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Little Book 2017 #1

I’ve had this one for a while but didn’t open it until recently… I’ve been attempting to not open bottles recently, instead, drinking down what is already open.  I’ve been unsuccessful in my ability to not open new ones, because I want to review them!  Anyway… here is the review, long overdue.

Beautiful dark amber, roasted almond coloring.  Initial impressions of the nose is of a roasted nutty character, smooth peanut butter, graham cracker s’mores and a hint of baking spices in the back.  The tickling heat I’m getting on the nose hairs hints at being cousins of a Booker’s, just enough to be recognizable, but not quite the same.

The taste is strong, with lots of tongue tingling spices.  Hotter on the palate than the nose would indicate, but no where near the heat of a typical Booker’s.  Peppery spices continue to evolve on the roof of the mouth as the finish is long.  The classic Beam nuttiness is clearly evident throughout.

This is a very good introduction to a new line from Beam.  I’m not sure it’s worthy of stockpiling in a bunker, but it looks great, tastes good and is a welcome new addition.  92/100.

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