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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Barrell Craft Spirits Releases 18yr Whiskey Line…

I haven’t been this excited for a whiskey release in a long time because Barrell products are usually available, the price is reasonable and they are delicious.  I live for BTAC, but my wallet does not… nice to be able to get something really special for $100 or so… what is completely insane about these releases is that this is eighteen years old! WOW!  And I’m hearing most retailers are going to be selling this for around $99.99 as well (no price gouging!).  I found out the codes on the bottles, what they mean in terms of finishes as well, which is listed below.  Apparently there is going to be a bunch of Kentucky 18yr single barrels and then 18yr finished whiskey.  I need every single one of them!!!

  • AH01 – KY Whiskey Finished in a Sauternes Barrel
  • AH02 – KY Whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel
  • AH03 – KY Whiskey finished in a Washington State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH04 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH05 – KY Whiskey finished in a Sicilian Amaro Cask
  • AH06 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel
  • AH07 – KY Whiskey finished in a Oloroso Sherry Barrel
  • AH08 – KY Whiskey finished in a Malmsey Madeira Barrel
  • AH09 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ratafia de Champagne Barrel
  • AH10 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ruby Port Barrel
  • AH11 – KY Whiskey finished in a Gewurztraminer Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH12 – KY Whiskey finished in a New York State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH13 – KY Whiskey finished in a German Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH14 – KY Whiskey finished in a Calvados Cask
  • AH15 – KY Whiskey finished in an Apricot Brandy Barrel
  • AH16 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH17 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH18 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH19 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH20 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH21 – KY Whiskey finished in a Rhum Agricole Cask
  • AH22 – KY Whiskey finished in an Indiana Rye Barrel
  • AH23 – KY Whiskey finished in an Islay Single Malt Scotch Cask
  • AH24 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel

Here is one website you can buy some of them… I wish I had the cheat sheet to where you can buy each one of these, but if I did, I’d need to buy them first 🙂

Update:  they have put some of the stores selling them on this link:

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

 

Newbourbondrinker’s Top 5 Whiskies of 2019!

Here are my top 5 whiskies/bourbons of 2019!  This year I decided to do a little something different… Instead of ranking them by my previous scores, I decided to do a little blind tasting of them… here are the contenders, with links to the reviews:

So I had my wife pour these 5 into Glencairn glasses, and to mix it up a little bit, we also put in four others just as decoys: an OWA SB NCF store pick, a Buffalo Trace SB store pick, Barrell Bourbon batch 022 and OGD 114.  Instead of giving you the play by play, here is how they all ended up:

  1. BCS 2019
  2. Cowboy 2019
  3. Barrell Bourbon Batch 022
  4. GTS 2019
  5. OWA SB NCF
  6. Cornerstone Rye
  7. Buffalo Trace SB
  8. Wiser’s 23yr
  9. OGD 114

The Top 4 were close together, but BCS took the title, while the bottom four were a bit back.  Nice to see one of the “decoys” make it into the top 5 and beat 3 of the other contenders.  The value pick clearly is BB022, edging out GTS and being much cheaper… and everyone knows that if you can snag a great store pick OWA SB NCF, that’s always worth snagging as many as you can–unfortunately those are harder and harder to get at MSRP, but even at double, still worth it for the right pick.

I’m so sorry it took so long to put out this blog, but first quarter has been a little crazy, and now that we are all working from home, I have a little more time to catch up with older posts that were partially written and actually follow through with this blind tasting!

“No I can’t get you Pappy at MSRP” or another way to show you the top 5 bottles under $100 for 2019

I’m sure every avid Bourbon hunter/collector/drinker gets the same questions I do: “hey man, can you get me the hookup on some Pappy?”  Of course I can, $450 for a Pappy 10yr… “whattttt?”…. I don’t get it at MSRP, I don’t own a store, but I know people who will sell it for secondary (which seems to be 400-500 depending on where you are, if you can get it for less, great, but don’t pay more)… But then people think they can get it for MSRP, good luck with that unless you have a serious hookup, that I certainly don’t have either… After calling a bunch of stores and asking other people, the realization settles in, they ask, well, what can I get for under $100 that is really good too? Every year my list changes, but this year I am recommending these bottles to get, either as value drinks for yourself, or to recommend to your friends for drinkers… I know there will be a lot of disagreement, and I would love to hear your recommendations:

  • Mellow Corn (~$12)… great for cocktails
  • Buffalo Trace (~$25)… hard to beat for the price
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrels  (~$35)… great single barrel value
  • Russel’s Reserve 10yr Single Barrels (~$45)… all around solid choice
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail (~$75)… great sipper, cask strength, finished whiskey

Honorable Mention: ECBP, OWA 107, ETL, Blantons…. but they have been harder to find these days and often trade above $100 in secondary…

What do you think I should have on this list?  Comments welcome!

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!

Full 2019 Pappy Lineup Reviews…

I recently shared a tasting with a friend and client…. here are my notes. He’s not the same experience of taster that I am but on average he agreed with my conclusions. If anything he had a lower score for the rye and higher score for the older Pappy’s. The reviews are in order of my tasting… enjoy!

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The 13yr rye has an epic nose, better than both BTAC. The spice of Handy with the complexity of Saz…. and I haven’t even tasted it yet. It a touch hot but not bad on the palate, but the mouthfeel is a little lacking. The flavors are good but it just falls off a little too soon. The nose was epic but the follow through just missed it for me. Still wonderful, but not worth the price. 94/100 (When I went back to this after the Pappy 15, the nose was still great but the mouthfeel was even thinner than before)

Pappy 15, always a crowd favorite…. creme bruele, toasted corn bread and cinnamon toast crunch on the nose with hints of dusty wooden age surrounding it, so you know it’s older. Really nice mouthfeel, good tannins and oil coating the entire mouth with butterscotch, toffee and graham cracker flavors oozing into spaces between my teeth. This knocks it out of the park. The finish goes on for 3 minutes or more. I wish this was affordable. 98/100.  I’m a buyer of this one… send me a DM please…

Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr…. another favorite, usually the best value of the bunch…. to be fair I had this after the 15yr which probably wasn’t fair…. nose is great, much fresher than the 15yr but not young in the bad way… getting tons of orange peel, chocolate covered orange peel, dried orange peel with cloves stuck in them… oh and a little bit of butterscotch and buttered, toasted brioche. Mouthfeel is awesome, might even edge out the 15yr… flavors lovely too. So… how does it stack up? The nose is very good but not insane. The mouthfeel with the heat component might be the most perfect balance I’ve ever experienced. The finish is long and good but the flavors from the Pappy 15 are more complex and enjoyable. This is my favorite Rip 10yr in a while though… 97/100.  I’ll be trying to hunt for this one…

Lot B… 12yr… generally people’s least favorite one… the nose always is older then the statement and this one is one different… forest mushroomy floor, No 2 pencil shavings, ginger snaps, dried cherries and Rollos. Mouthfeel is not bad but not great…. a little thin and falls off quickly. I guess they get points for consistency? Still enjoyable but this one you should trade for a 10yr if you can sucker someone into that trade… 87/100

Pappy 20….. interestingly light and floral on the nose, lightly toasted wheat toast with Nutella lightly spread across. Mouthfeel is a little lacking and the flavors go a touch bitter on the finish. It’s still enjoyable and complex but doesn’t compare to the 10, 13 or 15… 90/100

Pappy 23….. oldest for last but is it best? You can tell from the nose it is the oldest. Definitely wood forward but lots of tertiary notes of chocolate, leather, candy and almonds. Almost no heat at all and the mouthfeel is pretty good. Not a lot of oil but a good amount of enjoyable tannins. Finish is less sweet but not bitter, I’d consider it savory. It’s good. No, it’s very good. It’s the oldest, but it’s not the best. Trade this one for 2x 15yrs. 94/100.

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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.

EHT Amaranth Grain of the Gods: Secondary Price Crazy, Value? Read the Review…

There are so few actual reviews on this from real people… some BS reviews from people who got free samples and others that tasted them at events… here is a real review.

Bottle looks great… obviously…  Color looks amber beauty.

Nose…. sweet, not hot at all… Necco wafers coming in strong, with subtle ginger snaps, elderflower, licorice laced with a heavy cream undertone.

Mouthfeel is enjoyable, but not complex.  Getting those same flavors on the tongue, but the finish is quicker than I expected and leaves me wanting more.

It’s a fun whiskey, it’s enjoyable, but this wasn’t a game changer.  Amaranth is an enjoyable flavoring grain, but this is not one to open.  Try this at a bar, please do not open your bottle.  It is currently trading around $700 on secondary and for a collectible, who knows if that’s the right price… as a drinker, it clearly is not.  85/100