It was a long day and I needed a drink. I headed to the Bobby Van’s in New York City just north of Grand Central (nearest to 46th and Park) and I scanned the bar for a dram of choice. You don’t often see Old Rip 10yr on the shelf, so I asked the bartender how much? $130 a pour (plus tax and tip). Are you serious? I realize there are a few Wall Street banks a 7 iron away, but those days are over. This is a complete joke. Shame on you Bobby Van’s!
I don’t do this enough… you open a bottle, you take a sip, wait a week, write a review, and then forget about it. Sometimes, after 6-9 months, it changes a lot… I also had a pour of it at one of my favorite bars in NYC last week, and it’s just as good as it was from my bottle at home.
My original review, link below, focused on brown sugar, coconut and tropical flavors on the nose and palate. After the bottle is halfway gone and eight months have gone by, the flavors have intensified on the nose, and even more floral and brown sugar cookie. The heat has diminished slightly as well. The finish is even longer than I remembered it, completely enveloping the palate before a two plus minute grand finale. Last time I reviewed it I gave it a 96, but I might nudge it higher to 96.5 for standing up so well.
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.
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.
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 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
Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye 2018 Limited Release. Barrelled in 2009, bottled at 119.6 Proof.
The last two Knob Creek special releases were exceptionally disappointing and I promised not to buy more than one this year. I still have the last few in my bunker because no one wants to buy or trade for them. This year the price is half and no fancy wood box.
The nose is rock candy, heat, band aid, pencils and cinnamon toast. It’s not particularly exciting.
It’s very spicy and the mouthfeel is initially ok but turns hot and bitter quickly. This isn’t one of those sweet and spicy ryes that evolves, it just goes flat.
Knob Creek has gone three in a row for disappointing people with their limited releases. The price is good for a 9yr Cask strength rye, except that it’s just not that great. I’m proud to admit I learned my lesson and only bought one this time around. Next year I won’t buy more than one, but I’ll still buy a bottle so I can warn everyone else not to buy it. For better tasting and better value ryes, buy Pikesville or Barrell Rye. 81/100