Quick Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2015 Review: Strong PASS

I’ve never been a huge fan of the AECS, I thought the 2014 was ok, but I’ll give 2015 a whirl. Sickly sweet port nose, and a ton of heat. The taste is dominated by heat as well with some raisins, plums and menthol. This is extremely bad value for the price but I wouldn’t buy it if it was 1/4 the cost, which was $179.99.

The 2015 was much worse than the 2014 and another massive disappointment… just because it’s cask strength, limited edition and in an expensive box, doesn’t make it great.  It just makes it expensive.  The port finish on this is so poor, it seems like now that they sold the company, they aren’t even trying anymore.  78/100.

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Bookers Center Cut 2015-03 Good Bourbon, A bit too hot though

Quick Review here… Booker’s is always a solid dram, uncut, unfiltered, never bad, but trypically a little hot…

Hot nose, melon balls, french toast brioche, butterscotch lollipop, cracked black pepper and all spice.

Hot on the tongue too, but with a lot of interesting spices that permeate the entire cheeks in an extended mouthfeel that goes for just over a minute. Integrated wood tannins and oil that invites another taste as well.

This one was extremely well hyped and is enjoyable but doesn’t quite reach the hype. Even though it’s aged over seven years, it still had a lot of excess heat and hasn’t quite mellowed out enough to be worthy of expectations.  However, you still want to have seconds on it…  87/100.

 

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Four Roses Gift Shop Elliott’s Pick OBSF

Part of my Kentucky trip took me to the gift shop at Four Roses. I actually didn’t open this up until very recently and after I had already tried the Elliott’s Select, but after trying it I had to open this up as soon as possible.

This private single barrel is an OBSF, 50.3% abv, aged 11yrs and 7 months, from warehouse GW and is barrel # 81-1H.

Medium heat on the nose, dried grass, graham crackers, cloves, cracked walnuts and a hint of raspberry jam. Initially I’m a little disappointed by the nose compared to this year’s Elliott’s Select.

The taste is better and so is the mouthfeel. There’s a lot of spiciness on the palate that I was completely missing on the nose. It really tickles your tongue.  The tannins and oil nicely balance out the mouthfeel.

Overall this is a solid single barrel but not even close to the Elliott’s Select. The finish is quite long but it lacks some of the sweet notes that the other had. 87/100.

 

BTEC Entry Proof Experiment

I love the BTEC collection, even if I don’t love each of the individual whiskeys. The fact they are experimenting and letting us try them is pretty cool. I’m not in love with the costs either, but the market has dictated most of high prices.  Not to give this one away, but this experiment is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to the results.

The BTEC is about entry level proof into the barrel, 105 vs 125 using the BT rye bourbon mash #2 and aged for 13.25 years.

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Both look equally golden Amber in color.

105: a bit hot on the nose initially, but butterscotch, lemongrass, peach pits, cinnamon, allspice and oak come through in the second whif.

125: surprisingly not hot on the nose, it’s sweeter with toasted raisin bread, butter cornbread, cracked walnut and baking spices. The nose on this one seems far more developed and approachable.

105: enjoyable initial taste, although thin mouthfeel and quickly drops off with a slightly sour aftertaste with just warmth remaining.

125: even more enjoyable initial taste, with a medium mouthfeel that continues for much longer and does not give a sour aftertaste. The finish is moderate and there is a much more balanced flavor, feel and warmth profile that the 105 entry point is missing.

There isn’t even a comparison here and it’s shocking to believe these started as the same, with everything identical expect for the entry proof into the barrel. The 105 proof is an incomplete and lacking bourbon, while the 125 is very enjoyable. A bit expensive for a 375ml, but good to know how important entry proof is into a barrel, and it’s no wonder that most distillers fill their barrels at the legal maximum.  Great experiment and worth trying side by side to see.

105:  83/100
125:  91/100

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 🙂

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Trading Samples Is Awesome

About a year ago my collection got a little nuts… I was completely guilty of doing what most beginners do, always buying every new release, every limited edition batch, everything I had not tried before… I had over 100 open bottles, not to mention another 100+ in the bunker… things were getting a little out of hand.  I shifted gears–I still looked for the high end limited edition batches, found a couple brands that were always consistent with their batches and single barrels, but I also started to trade samples.  It helped me reduce my existing collection while simultaneously enabling me to try all sorts of other limited edition and single barrels that I wouldn’t normally be able to unless I owned a bar.  I wholeheartedly recommend everyone do some sample swapping, whether it’s to try new single barrels or before you decide to make a big purchase or just to do some trades for fun… http://www.bottle-spot.com (links below) has some people looking to trade samples and there are other sites as well.  Below are some brief reviews based on samples.  Thanks for reading!

Willett Family Estate 9yr Bourbon Barrel #1330, 117.6 proof: hot but good nose, with anise and butterscotch.  Great mouthfeel, goes down smooth.  Maybe a touch medicinal for my taste though… solid WFE single barrel.  88/100.

Willett Family Estate 11yr Bourbon Barrel #774, 128.1 proof: good age on the nose, quite a bit of forest floor, mushrooms, pencil shavings and bone.  The palate is very enjoyable, strong tannins, nice spicy taste, long finish.  Very enjoyable single barrel, wish I had a whole bottle of this one.  94/100.

Van Brunt Stillhouse Bourbon Lot #20, 84 proof: smells terrible, cheap and medicinal, like a band-aid.  So glad I didn’t buy a bottle of this, it’s proofed down too low, not exciting, not interesting and I can’t believe someone actually is buying this.  79/100.

Gooderham & Warts Four Grain Whiskey Blend A-A1129 2016, 88.8 proof: a friend of mine from Toronto was kind enough to share this one with me.  It has a very interesting nose, has a sweet rock candy note to it reminescent of some of the MGP ryes I’ve had.  The taste is good as well, but I would much rather of had this be cask strength and not proofed down.  Overall it’s good, but the proofing down has taken out a of of the complexity–if aged longer and high proof this one could be a real contender.  87/100.

Barrell Bourbon 8.5yr Straight Bourbon Private Retail Single Barrel #20, 120 proof: This is one of the single barrel releases from Barrel Bourbon that was only available in certain retailers in Minnesota that I traded from a local.  It has a nice peanut butter Jif nose with toasted raisin bread buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  The palate is awesome, fully coating the tongue with strong tannins.  Hot, strong, complex and long finish.  I’m going to reach out to my trading partner in MN and see if he can grab me a whole bottle.  94/100.

The Barrell Bourbon and the Willett Family Estate single barrels are both very interesting and I want to continue to try to get more of them… I’ve never had one of either that I didn’t like…  If anyone who is reading the blog has either of them, and is looking to trade a sample or a whole bottle, please DM me on Twitter.  Thanks for reading!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

http://www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com/home.html

http://www.bottle-spot.com/classifieds/category/314/Samples/listings/17325/BTAC-Samples-PAPPY,-unicorns-Willet-25,-FRLESB.html

http://www.bottle-spot.com/classifieds/category/314/Samples/listings/16534/Samples-of-Great-Hard-to-Find-Whiskeys-Trades.html

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Balcones Texas Rum Special Release Batch 15-1 63.9% abv

I first tried the Balcones Texas Rum at the 2016 Whisky Jewbilee a couple of weeks ago and liked it so much I needed to get a bottle (or two) for my personal collection.  I confirmed with the brand ambassador that the one I tried at the event was Batch 16-1, but this bottle that was available in New York is Batch 15-1, bottled on May 22, 2015.  This is a six barrel blend made of two new American Oak barrels, one new European Oak barrel, and one each used barrels of American Oak, French Oak and European Oak.  The average barrel age is three years.

Initial notes are brown sugar, cloves, smoked hickory chips, Cuban cigar box, almond croissant and candied walnuts.  When the bottle was first opened, the heat on the nose was hot, but after waiting a few minutes, the heat quickly dissipated into pure smoothness, especially nice for a 127.8 proof spirit.

The palate is unlike any rum I have ever had before.  It’s big and takes over the entire mouth with a creamy thickness that reminds me of a very high end non-chill filtered bourbon.  The notes from the nose all come through on the palate, but are a little warmer than the nose.  The finish goes on for a solid two minutes, putting it in an elite category.

I was told this is the oldest to date product that Balcones has ever produced and the patience has paid off–apparently Batch 16-1 is slightly older. The previous products I have tried were all way too hot on both the nose and the throat, but this one is not.  The time in the barrel has paid off and anyone who buys it will be happy.  It’s a shame that too many of their products have been rushed to market, but hopefully the success of this one will show the extra time is worth it.  93/100.

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