Wiser’s 23yr Cask Strength: Thank you Mark Bylok

I haven’t been able to try the actual Wiser’s 23yr cask strength yet, but my good friend Mark Bylok shared a sample he got from the distillery. Thank you Mark for the sample!

Really nice nose, maple syrup, vanilla, dried orange zest, cherry Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers, mini marshmallows and Lauderee’s Salted Butter.

Big mouthfeel, freaking great tickling of the tongue. Big heat, but not in a terrible way, big heat. This sample is 142.2 proof so it should have heat. There is great spice and peppery notes on the palate in addition to the second wave of easy maple, vanilla, caramel and candy flavors. The finish is about 90 seconds, and never goes bitter. Really enjoyable.

I’m excited to try the actual Wiser’s 23yr cask strength, even if it’s been watered down from the 71.1%. Do not believe them when they say it’s uncut… that’s ok, there is no legal definition of barrel proof or cask strength, even though people assume it means uncut. Maybe they think it tastes better at low 60’s percent. They may be right. If they can knock down the first smack of heat but maintain the mouthfeel and not reduce the finish, it will be a success.  Ideally the finish would be longer but the flavor and texture is just awesome. I’m a big fan of Wiser’s 35 and once I get a bottle of W23, I will do a proper side by side. This sample, I’m rating a 94/100. Thanks again Mark!

Mark’s Review, which is almost almost more thought out, better edited and contains far more information and research than any of my pieces:

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!

Jameson 18 Review

Not much of an Irish Whiskey fan… I’ll do the Redbreast 12 on St Patty’s Day, but the rest of the year I tend to avoid. Did too many car bombs in college…. and Jameson had a very different meaning to me and it certainly wasn’t associated with quality.

But going in with a fresh outlook and not dropping into a beer, Jameson 18 here we go… great solid box. Beautiful bottle with a cork stopper… solid glass bottom, this is high end packaging. Light amber, clearly used barrels.

The nose is candy, baking spices, especially vanilla, but more vanilla extract, some graham cracker, toffee ice cream and cracked almonds in the background. At 80 proof there isn’t a hint of heat on the nose.

It’s goes down extremely smoothly but actually has some tannins and the finish is pretty good for an 80 Proof Whiskey. The finish builds to more and more sweetness and the toffee ice cream comes through with the almond finish at the sixty second point.

This is a good whiskey. But it’s only 80 proof and around $150. I wish they bottled this at 107 proof or higher; if they did it could have had a very serious score. Definitely order at a bar, and if you see a good price, feel free to add to your collection, but not a must buy. 91/100.

(Turns out, they do have a cask strength version, it’s called Bow Street, and I will do a tasting of that later…)

Kentucky Owl Confiscated? How about the $100 that I feel was confiscated from me? Strong Pass.

Often times when I don’t like something I do not feel like writing a large preamble… so… Initial impressions are muted nose. It’s a classic Kentucky Bourbon but not exciting at all.  Would say a solid $25 Bourbon. Not $100+. Going to try it again after it opens up for more notes.IMG_5574

Ok… so I rarely do this, but now the bottle has been opened for about three months and I’m trying it again… I really didn’t want to slash this with just a fresh crack impression… the nose is now less muted, but it’s not good. Very medicinal, Band-Aid, pine needles, hints of caramel way (way way way) in the background. The mouthfeel is ok, the heat is bigger than expected, and the flavor is average. The heat actually grows instead of mellowing, which is a downside, and the flavor falls off to a bitter note pretty quickly. The highlight is the mouthfeel which extends longer than normal.

My initial impressions were pretty accurate, but after three months there are some more flavors coming through, but not necessarily good ones… if this was $20, fine, but it still wouldn’t beat the normal BT. But at $100 and higher? Strong pass. 75/100.

Barrell Craft Spirits: BCS 2019 15yr Bourbon Gray Label Release: Best Whiskey of 2019???

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label in black box, 15yr Bourbon 2019 release is the follow up to last year’s special release. 2018’s Bourbon won Fred Minnick’s best whiskey of the year in a blind taste, making it very hard for Trip and Joe @ Barrell Bourbon to come up with a worth successor to their, arguably, best release to date.  The year is a blend of Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee and age stated 15yrs (which means there probably is stuff much older in here as well)… On to the review…

Beautiful nose, Milk Duds, cotton candy, and Rolos in the front, all candy and deliciousness. Deeper dive brings out notes of graham cracker s’mores, fresh luxury car seat leather and cracked roasted peanuts. At 106.52 proof you don’t even get a hint of heat even if you stick your nose all the way deep in the glass—almost unheard of.

Perfect balance of oils and tannins and flavor and just enough hug to let you know this is a Bourbon. The mouthfeel perfect coats the entire tongue and the upper sides of the cheeks. The candy and nut flavors rush in and build over time. I’m amazed by the finish here, more than three minutes and never dries off in a bitter note. (The finish might actually be closer to five minutes)

I think this might be the best whiskey I’ve tried this year; it certainly has impressed me more than any of the BTAC line… I didn’t know what to expect after last year. Last year was insane and had so much hype. How could they possibly follow up after that one? Well… they did and I think they even eclipsed it. This Bourbon is phenomenal. MSRP is $250, I’m seeing it on secondary for 300-350… do whatever you can to grab more than one bottle as you will want at least a backup here. 99/100.

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Elmer T Lee 100… Just a smidgen better than the regular ETL

I tried… at a bar… didn’t open my bottle… how could I when it’s going for over $600 on secondary?

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How was it?  It was wonderful!  Of course it was, it’s Elmer T Lee, just with a few extra proofs.  I tried the ETLC a few years ago at a bar, and it also was lovely, just like the regular ETL.

I feel like it’s silly for me to write up a full review on this one, because it’s pretty much the same as my ETL review from a few years ago.  Click for it.

Let’s just say it still has the butterscotch hard candies, dried orange peels, vanilla and baking spices, honeysuckle and spice loaf cake that I have come to love from ETL, but maybe you could argue the mouthfeel was slightly better, the finish slightly longer… although it could have been all in my head.

I scored ETL a 94 a few years ago… at MSRP I’d say this is a 94.5/100, but, given where the secondary market is, you just can’t justify the value for the taste.  Looks great on your bar though as a collectible… just like the Amaranth does too.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 13, 8yr Heavy Charred Rye… collect the series, but don’t open this one.

Let me start off by saying I think Heaven Hill is one of the best distilleries on the planet and all the good work they do for ALS through these releases is amazing.  They are also the best value Bourbon producer out there, and I love going to see them when I visit KY.  I paid secondary for this bottle because I wanted to be one of the first to review it, and I actually haven’t read any reviews on it yet, so I’m going in fresh.

Color is dark, reminds me of the color from a lot of the old 1970’s ceramic decanters…. ominous sign.

Nose is muted with graphite pencil shavings, stale store bought brownies, red Skittles, mini marshmallows and stale ginger snaps. It’s not big, it turns in on itself and isn’t jumping out or exciting.

Not much heat initially but then really heats up the chest. The mouthfeel is not exciting. There are few sweet notes up front and skips the mid palate right to the finish. The finish is really long, but it’s not enjoyable. The finish doesn’t drop off quickly bitter like you might expect, but goes on for several minutes. The problem is the finish is just ok. I’ve never had a multi minute average finish, usually a long finish is a good thing. Very strange.

Parker’s Heritage Collection is one of the favorite releases of the year for many people, yet in recent years it has been controversial.  Frankly, last year was terrible. I loved PHC 11yr, and was happy it wasn’t loved by critics so I was able to grab lots on secondary for cheap (it has since almost doubled since then)… the year before was very expensive MSRP, but was a 24yr Bourbon. I enjoyed it but $399.99 was tough for most. And now we have this one. I think the most important thing we have learned is why most people don’t use heavy char for rye… it’s a failed experiment. This might be interesting if blended with a more youthful spicy rye, but ultimately this just isn’t good. It’s going for around $190 MSRP… when it first came out a couple weeks ago, people were paying $300. Now it’s $225-$250, and soon I think it will go to MSRP and I wouldn’t be surprised if it traded below that. It looks nice sealed on the shelf as a collectible, but this is one you are going to want to keep sealed or not buy at all. If anyone bought a bunch to flip on secondary, I’m sorry, but you’ll be stuck with them for a while. 73/100

I loved the 24yr:

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/phc10-parkers-heritage-collection-10-24yr-bourbon/

Did not like last year’s:

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

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