Blue Run Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey First Release Review

Thanks to Mike Montgomery and the team at Blue Run for sending me this sample to try and review for this blog. As always, there is no quid pro quo whatsoever.

Blue Run Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is 13yrs old, 113 proof, $169 MSRP and is blended and supervised by the great Jim Rutledge. The first run was only 2,600 bottles and is already sold out… on to the review!

Dark copper inviting color in glass… I don’t have a bottle in front of me, but they are well designed and will look good on your bar too.

Notes of s’mores from a campfire, crumbled Graham crackers, burnt molasses, buttered cinnamon toast, freshly opened ginger snaps bag and candy corn. You’d never guess the proof from the nose.

Butterscotch sweetness and nice spiciness up front betraying a high rye mashbill. Really enjoyable mouthfeel with lots of good tingling in the inner lips. The spice and flavor builds for over a minute and the finish is over two.

This is a really enjoyable Bourbon and it’s too bad I didn’t move quickly enough to secure one of the 2,600. If you did, well done!  I like this so much better than Rutledge’s Cream of Kentucky releases, this is way less hot and far more enjoyable. Great debut! 95/100.

2020 Bourbon Holiday Guide $100 and Over but Available

2020 Bourbon Holiday Shopping Guide continues with $100 and over, but also available. Which means you won’t find Pappy or BTAC here.

This year it’s time to check out some Armagnac. I like Armagnac, but it’s not my go to. What I do love about it is that as someone who is 40 years old, I can get a 1980, birth year bottle, for a reasonable price. If you are 80 years old, the price isn’t great, but if you are under 50, the prices are very very good. A wonderful gift for a reasonable price. Highly recommended.

Barrell Bourbon single barrel picks… great way to get a really great bottle, looks great, tastes great, and often has some good age on it. Never had a bad bottle from these guys and most are really really special. Highly recommend Joe’s Playlist stuff when it comes out. It usually sells out fast, so grab it when it comes out. For those looking to go to over $200, BCS 15yr Bourbon in the gray label and black box will make someone very happy to find it under the tree.

Garrison Brothers Single barrel picks are right around $100 and also very good. I’m a big fan of their short barrels, so keep an eye out for those. Their Cowboy Bourbon is also very special, but it’s usually around $250… a polarizing Bourbon for sure, and packs a punch, but I love it.

To mix it up, try some Foursquare Rum this year. The 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 releases have all been really good. Cask strength rum, made by the best; you can’t go wrong.

Whatever you pick for your loved ones this holiday, they are lucky you are doing your research and checking out my blog. I also posted on gift items and sub $50 bottles too, links below. Happy holidays!

2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Good Drinking Bourbons under $50

Welcome back to the 2020 Holiday Shopping guide… I’m going to do something different this year. Instead of ranking a bunch of lower priced Bourbons I’m going to suggest two things: 1) good daily drinkers and 2) store picks.

Find a local store that focuses on Bourbon and has an owner/manager that you get along with. Talk to them, engage them, and discuss store picks. Most stores these days are involved in barrel picks and those who know what they are doing are picking some really cool ones. The ones I’ve really enjoyed this year and are usually available are: Buffalo Trace, Elijah Craig Small Batch, Russel Reserve 10yr. Most good stores will have an open bottle ready to try, and if you like their palate, you should get involved in as many of their picks your budget allows. It is also a great way to get yourself positioned for some of the highly allocated bottles in the hunting season. I regularly text five local store owners and those relationships I’ve cultivated over the last few years… highly recommend doing it yourself (just don’t do it with my guys!!! haha).

Funny enough, my answers are very similar for daily drinkers… I love regular Buffalo Trace, can never go wrong with it. Elijah Craig Small Batch is also lovely. Old Grand Dad 114 is another great value out there. Eagle Rare 10 has been more available for me this year and I’m not the biggest fan, but it is good value. For cocktails, it’s always good to have some Mellow Corn around as well.

I’m leaving Old Weller Antique off this list because you can never find it for under $50. Same with Stagg Jr, that one really rocketed up this year. Next list will have the under $100 and there are some great ones there too.

Still Austin

Still Austin is  a new whiskey brand located in Austin, TX.  I love Austin, the people, the music, the sports, the BBQ!  One of my favorite places to visit.  Next time I go, I will definitely be setting up a visit to see these guys… full disclosure, they did send me a sample to try for my blog, but as always, opinions are all my own.  We are trying “The Musician” their 49.2% Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Certified Texas Whiskey, and “aged at least 2 years.”

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The nose has candy corn, Rollos, Pine needles, cedar shingles, vanilla extract and pencil eraser.  It’s has a little heat on the nose, but not too much.

Nice mouthfeel, medium oils but goes to heat and bitter a little too quickly. Middle palate is the most enjoyable with the sweet flavors.  The pour improves over time though, so don’t just judge it on the first crack.

For a two year old Bourbon, this is really good. And the price is totally reasonable, unlike a lot of lesser craft whiskies ($45 MSRP). These guys have a lot of potential and I’m very excited to see what they come up with next. I hope it’s older and more proof.  This release is a 88/100, largely because the value price.  I’m very happy they are pricing it reasonably and not shooting for the $100 point that a lot of their competitors do.  You won’t be disappointed if you buy this.

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Still Austin

Straight Bourbon Whiskey

https://www.bevindustry.com/articles/93400-still-austin-the-musician-straight-bourbon-whiskey

https://beerconnoisseur.com/articles/still-austin-whiskey-co-debuts-flagship-straight-bourbon-whiskey

 

Garrison Brothers HoneyDew

For those who are followers of this blog know that I’ve always been a fan of Garrison Brothers.  Out of Hye, Texas, they are one of the best craft distillers on the planet and produce a unique product.  Their newest release has nationwide distribution, unlike it’s limited run of 375ml from the gift shop only last year.  It’s in the beautiful Garrison bottle, but dipped in yellow wax, representing the honey finish.  This was distilled in 2015, bottled in 2020 and infused with Texas Wildflower Honey, and comes in at 80 proof.  I purchased this for $80.

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The nose is strong, you would not have guessed this was an eighty-proof Bourbon laced with crushed graham cracker pie crust, Lilacs, marshmellows, cacao powder, molasses, vanilla and honey.

The mouthfeel is better than you would expect for an eighty-proof Bourbon, while there are enough tannins in it to add some complexity.  The taste focuses on the molasses and graham cracker notes up front finishing into the smooth honey flavor at the back.

My blog tends to rate lower proof whiskies lower, and that’s because they tend to lack complexity, flavor and mouthfeel.  Although this is lower proof, it isn’t a gimmick or lame.  It’s enjoyable, it’s fun, but it is a light enough for your entry level Bourbon fans.  Garrison Brothers gets a lot of bad reviews by reviewers who can’t handle the higher proof and “in your face” aspect of their Cowboy releases.  I think this will appease many of those people.  However, I can’t stop thinking how much better this would have been at 107 proof.  I do think they made the decision to go lower proof to expand the audience beyond me, but I’m pretty sure this would get a higher rating from me if it was higher proof.  Nonetheless, this is a tasty pour, and easy enough to drink on a summer day.  I bought one of these to drink and two for my bunker… if I see more on the shelf, I will buy more.  93/100

Cape Cod Travelers… skip Portside Liquors for Bourbon Hunting

Right off the Borne Bridge I needed to do a little whiskey hunting… then in the middle of the store I found it… a glass case with all the goodies…except the pricing… ORVW $800, Lot B $1k, GTS 2017 $899.99…  the workers were actually really nice, they said the owner refuses to budge on price and that they will probably never sell them… at least the employees are realistic. Good for grabbing some Truly, but don’t bother with the whiskey.

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Wild Turkey Decades

I had this one sitting on my shelf for a long time and never loved it so didn’t bother to review it… but I’m trying to catch up on reviews, so here it is.

Very nice presentation with the box and bottle, nice coloring.

The nose is completely muted… after trying an EC18 and CC40 earlier, I can barely smell anything in this glass.  Mostly just alcohol.

The taste is better, I guess it’s hard to be worse, right?  But the overwhelming senses is heat and bitterness.  The spice and flavor are very secondary.

This is an expensive Bourbon and I expect a lot more from it.  Just not worth the price, and not even worth 1/4 the price.  70/100

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Barrell Whiskey 18yr Single Barrel Pick: WhiskeyMentors ButterBall

This is Irene’s pick from Canterbury Liquors in CT and is the WhiskeyMentors QS01 ButterBall.  It is Barrell Whiskey Private Release barrel A123, age stated at 18yrs.  So what I learned from these recent releases is that only the single barrel picks are age stated at 18yrs; while the others are also 18yrs, apparently the new liquor rules about blending and finishing make it very difficult to keep the age statement on the bottle.  This one comes in at 117.6 proof, is not finished, just the pure single barrel.

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The interesting thing about this bottle is when I first cracked it, I was not a fan.  It was very hot and lacked complexity.  I sat it down and a week later it completely transformed.  I never publish reviews after trying something only once after a fresh crack; you always need to see the evolution once air hits.

I know why Irene named this ButterBall… it has a punch of Jif peanut butter right in the face.  Lots of nuttiness and there is a decent amount of heat, but that certainly has turned into a secondary feature.

Good mouthfeel, totally coats the mouth, focusing in the front.  You get that good nuttiness again and the tannins come through causing your mouth to water.  Secondary taste of Cow Tail candy, buttered toast, Skittles and Captain Crunch.  The finish is multiple minutes, and never goes bitter.

This is a good single barrel pick and it’s very hard to find something with an 18yr age statement.  Quite the unicorn!  I’m glad this one was put aside and not finished as it has a very unique profile.  96/100

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Barrell Whiskey 18yr finished in Sauternes Barrel

Sauternes…. mmmm… sweet Sauternes.  But I digress.  Today is the AH01 barrel pick from Barrell Craft Spirits, from their 18yr Kentucky whiskey line, this one finished in a Sauternes barrel.  It comes in at 123.94 proof.

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Entenmann’s original donut, honeysuckle, liquid caramel, Peanut M&M’s and fresh honey wheat bagels.  Very light heat from the nose.

Rich and chewy mouthfeel with big spices that I didn’t see on the nose.  Much bigger on the palate than the nose indicated.  Decent heat with an enjoyable hug and a finish that goes on for about two minutes and never goes bitter.

This is another really great barrel finished whiskey from Barrell.  95/100.

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https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Mt. Kisco Wines & Spirits… overpriced, uninformed, and updated secondary pricing…

Mt Kisco Wines & Spirits…. anything allocated is above top end of secondary on everything. Waste of time.  Hey Buffalo Trace!  Maybe lob in a call to these guys??
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ETL 100… no price but $600… manager says “it’s not my bottle, can’t negotiate”…. secondary recently has been $500… how exactly can’t you sell someone else’s bottle in the three tier system??  Hmmmm….

M20… Been sitting there for six months, $2400… last secondary prices I saw were $2200… lots of dust on it…

$600 for this year’s GTS?  Come on man… $900 for Lot B???  $400 and $525 respectively are recent secondary levels…

Pappy 15yr $1600… secondary around 1k on this one…

FRSBLE… last three years collecting dust for $600… secondary in the 300-400 range…

Elijah Craig’s are a complete joke… take a look at the photo… but nothing more insane than Redemption Rye 18 for $800… my guess is these guys don’t sell any of these and that’s why they are just collecting dust.
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Manager took twenty minutes to basically tell me he wasn’t negotiable. Tell me that upfront so I am not lingering like a schmuck for almost half an hour.  My “favorite” part was them telling me that they are “only” selling Blanton’s for $100 instead of charging $180, like other stores do.  The three stores in the area all had Blanton’s on the shelf for between $70 and $90, didn’t see a $180.

The rest of the store seemed to be focused on cheap rose… waste of time. I won’t be going back here ever again.   At least they were practicing social distancing??

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