Foursquare Rum Distillery 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection

This is one of those finds that I credit to Fred Minnick.  I had my store in NYC specially order it for me (thank you  This is the Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.

Dried apricot color in the glass.  Notes on the nose are pineapple, rose petal, dried cherries, candy corn, dried apricots, caramel, vanilla, molasses and coconut shavings.  Lots going on there.

For 59% alcohol, this is an incredibly easy rum to sip, yet still enjoyable warmth on the chest.  The mouthfeel is wonderful with both tannins and oils surrounding the mouth.  So much flavor too with caramel and tropical fruits coming in wave after wave.  The finish on this is extremely long, more than two minutes.

Although the 2006 Foursquare is a better rum, it’s impossible to find and insanely expensive.  For the price, you can’t do any better than this one.  The MSRP is around $70, and if you can grab it, grab two or three. 95/100


Northern Border Collection II: Lot 40 Cask Strength

Part II of my reviews of the Northern Border Collection: Lot 40 Cask Strength 12yr 55% abv. This is the one I’ve been most excited about as I’ve had samples from my friend Mark Bylok—and who doesn’t like a aged high proof rye?


Copper/dark amber color just reaching out. Sweet, inviting nose of rock candy, cracked pepper, vanilla, baking spices, maple syrup and Christmas trees.

Seriously good on the palate. Coats everything, tingles the tongue, enjoyable but not overpowering warmth and a finish that keeps going on. Sweet and spicy flavors keep going and don’t drop off. The finish is epic… worth leaving in your mouth for a few seconds to get the full flavors before swallowing to realize the total potential.

This is a special whiskey. I am 1/3 through bottle number 2,251 of 4,968. This is better than this year’s Thomas H Handy, but not as good as 2014, 2015 or 2016. It’s in the upper echelons of ryes and deserves to be. I think this is similar but a touch better than the Kentucky Owl rye release. If you can snag one of these for less than 3x retail, it’s worth it. I hope they release it again next year. 96/100.

For a more in depth review, check out Mark Bylok’s Piece:

2017’s Top 5 Bourbons & Whiskies Under $100

I’m using the secondary prices (which are very close to MSRP for these picks) for this list as nothing bothers me more than someone saying at $89.99 MSRP Sazerac 18 is their favorite bottle under $100.  Get real guys!  The secondary market is here to say and you might as well just get used to it. Also… only two here are actually Bourbons, I have one rum, one rye and one corn whiskey… but who’s really counting?


Barrell Bourbon is the winner here, although it is the most expensive of this list.  Usually retailing for around $80, they consistently beat out bottles that you can’t touch on the secondary for 2-4x the price.  While they still are priced under $100, stock up. MSRP $80.

Pikesville is my favorite rye under $100.  115 proof, delicious.  Thank you Heaven Hill!  Second year in a row it continues to be available, awesome and affordable.  MSRP $60.

Foursquare Rum 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection… Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.  Thanks for Fred Minnick for tipping me off to this one.  Yes, it’s not a Bourbon, but it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and is just as delicious. Order one today! MSRP $60.

Old Weller Antique 107 Store Pick Non-Chill Filtered.  Make friends with your local liquor store owner.  Beg them to get a bottle of OWA NCF, ask to buy 4 of them when they come in.  Best $35 you can spend.  MSRP $35.

Mellow Corn.  I’m sorry, you may think I’m nuts by putting this on the list, but for $9.99, bottled in bond, again, thank you Heaven Hill.  This is my go-to after I’m three sheets to the wind and shouldn’t be touching the top shelf stuff, because it holds up and still has a good taste. MSRP $9.99.

Honorable mention goes to Old Forester 1920 Prohibition.  It should have been the number five on the list, but I just couldn’t help myself by putting on Mellow Corn instead.

Agree?  Disagree?  Continue the discussion on my Twitter @newbourbondrink or Facebook  https://www.rumsixtysix.comfoursquare-rum-distillery.html/

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.


The Hits Just Keep on Coming… Barrell Bourbon Batch 012

Batch 12 is the most recent release from Barrell Bourbon, just off the heels of their best Bourbon of the year award from San Francisco Ultimate Spirits ( I also was a huge fan of Batch 011 (link). I think I have a future as a spirits judge…

Batch 12 is quite a bit older than 11 coming in at 9 years, but is lower proof, 108.5. I’m not sure, but this might be the lowest proof they have ever released.

The nose on this one is completely different than any previous batch I have tried. This one is a complete fruit bomb: plums, dried cherries, orange peel, hints of graham cracker and brioche. Very little heat on the nose.

Great oils and tannins on the mouthfeel with a wonderful spiciness I didn’t get first on the nose. Getting the fruit and more on the palate. Warmer than expected, in a good way.  The finish is at least two minutes long.

This is a really solid follow up to Batch 011. While most of the stores I go to have sold out of Batch 011, if you buy 012, you won’t be disappointed. It might be enjoyed even more by people who don’t like their Bourbon at 135 proof–probably is more approachable to most whiskey consumers. 94/100.


Barrell Bourbon Batch 10

Batch 10 is not the newest release from Barrell Bourbon, but one the newer side–I actually got 011 before I got 010.  Eight years of age, 122 proof, Straight Bourbon Whiskey and distilled in Indiana.  I think we all know what Indiana means, and most of the time I’ve really enjoyed the products that have come out of everyone’s favorite behind the scenes distiller.

Like all previous Barrell releases, this one comes in their beautiful bottle and has a nice golden amber color.

Strong nose with medium heat, butterscotch, graham crackers, pencil shavings, honeydew melon, tart dark cherries and honey.

The taste is great.  The mouthfeel is thick, chewy, strong and enjoyable.  I’m sick of thin “cask strength” whiskies, and this is powerful with so many layers.  The tannins, oil, and complexity really make this finish go on for a very long time.  I clocked the second taste at 3 minutes and didn’t drop off.  That doesn’t happen often.

So… I know a lot of readers are going to say: “Hey, it’s Indiana, so it’s MGP, so who cares?”  Well… I think what the best thing about Barrell Bourbon so far is that they have an uncanny ability to pick the right barrels.  I’m sure a lot of brands that source whiskey just take whatever they can get their hands on.  It’s very clear that Barrell Craft Spirits is much more picky.  The barrels they picked up this time made one helluva batch for #10.  95/100.

I like Batch 10 a lot and if you can find it, you should buy it.  But if you see batch 011 instead, but two of 011, and only one of 010.  Check out my blog on that one here:



Newest Barrell Bourbon Batch is a Home Run: 011

Let’s just get to the review… Iconic Barrell Bottle, this is the 11th Bourbon release.  This one, and I’m pulling the details right from their website ( is: Straight Bourbon Whiskey​, Distilled and aged in Tennessee, Crafted and bottled in Kentucky, 114.8 proof cask strength bottling, Aged for 6 years in American oak barrels, and Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley.

The aroma jumps out of the glass with Honey Nut Cheerios, Jif, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup with a side of cinnamon toast.  You can feel the heat, but the warmth is a secondary factor that adds, rather than subtracts to the experience.

WOW.  The mouthfeel is incredible, and all the flavors on the nose are coming in really strongly through the mouth and the finish just goes on and on.  The warmth on your chest after the first taste makes you know this is a barrel proof whiskey, but only adds to the experience, and is the background to the flavor.  This Bourbon has a several minute finish with the oils and tannins following through.  You don’t even need to add a drop of water to this, it’s perfect the way it is.

This might just be my favorite Barrell Bourbon release since Batch 006.  This is one I’m going to stockpile.  I still love that the rest of the world hasn’t yet caught on to this brand, so you can still find a bottle of these at the store for under $100.  Still the best limited release cask strength product under $100 on the market.  98/100.