Newbourbondrinker’s 2018 Top 5

This year had so many great releases even though the level on social media complaining has hit an all time high… don’t worry, I will be putting out my top 5 disappointments soon… but it’s the holidays so I’m only going to be positive today!  Instead of ranking them this year, I’ve decided to go with five different categories and give the overall winner for them… Disagree?  Hit me up on twitter @newbourbondrink or facebook @ newbourbondrinker or instagram @steaknbourbon

Best Overall Bourbon: Barrell Craft Spirits 15yr Bourbon Gray Label.  For a straight down the middle Bourbon, this one can not be beat.  It also edged out everyone else from Fred Minnick’s blind tasting for Forbes’.  It got a huge score from me and everyone else.  The only downside is the limited case amount.  The one thing you can be certain, is if you see any gray label Barrell Craft Spirits product on a shelf, grab it!

Best Wheated Bourbon: William Larue Weller 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.  This one was easy, and tied for best overall with BCS, but split out the wheaters.  The finish, so long, so good.  If you can grab the 2017 or 2018 of WLW BTAC, for any reasonable price at all, pick it up.

Best Rye: Thomas H Handy 2018.  Another BTAC, but 2018 was tough for Rye, as the releases we not as strong as 2017.  The Lot 40 cask Strength 11yr was not as good as last year’s 12yr and higher priced and lower proof; Kentucky Owl Rye was also good but not quite as good as the first release.  THH stood out among it’s peers, but only by a smidge.  The secondary prices have continued to creep as well which is annoying for those of us who drink a lot of Handy.

Best Small Bottle Release: Elijah Craig Grenade… it’s a gift shop only release, but readily available on secondary.  It trades at close to BTAC levels given it’s only 200ml, but it’s sooooooooo good.  Grab one if you are ever in Bardstown, or just lift one on secondary.

Best Rum: Appleton’s Joy 25yr.  This was probably the hardest category to rate to be perfectly honest.  So many great releases: Foursquare 2004, Foursquare 2005, Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands, Barrell Craft Spirits Rum Gray Label… all could have taken these honors, but Appleton’s 25yr comes out ahead.  Retailing around $220 and still available, this rum has crazy flavors and notes that rival any whiskey.  Looks great on the shelf too.

There it is for 2018… it was a great year, so many amazing drams and I look forward to what 2019 brings.  Happy New Year!

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Hidden Gem or Obnoxiously Priced? Lynn, MA

Lynnway Liquor at 702 Lynnway in Lynn, MA 01905.

Take a look at some of these bottles… total unicorns, but the prices are way above secondary.  The owner wasn’t in to discuss, but his employees were pretty obnoxious and misinformed about them.  On the other side, maybe they were just the owner’s collection and he was showing off.

On the main shelf had quite a few good things at reasonable prices including Stagg Jr under $50 (most of MA has great deals on Stagg Jr for some reason), Jos. Magnus, Barrell Bourbon…  But in the cabinet along with some unicorns was Michters 10… they also overpriced Weller…

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When I peered into the owners office and saw three bottles of Weller CYPB.  Three!  The employee was pretty annoying about it, wouldn’t call the owner.. there was also a ton of EHT Barrel Proof and some other stuff.  Always annoying.

Anyway… If I’m ever up there again I will stop by this store and hope the owner is in to talk… but I’m not paying 5k for some old Black Maple Hill nonsense…

Kavalan Port Finish Concertmaster

Extremely quick review….

Medium Amber

Hard to describe nose, but enjoyable. Burnt orange peel, tawny notes from the port finish, cinnamon, old leather couch… Not much heat.

Good mouthfeel. Medium finish with citrus notes and sweet port aroma. The heat is enjoyable and smooth.

Adding a little water brings out some nutty aromas but doesn’t do much for the palate or finish. Recommend this one neat.

My first whiskey from Taiwan, pretty bottle but not cheap at all. A lot of hype on this name, and I’ll try to track down their higher end ones at a bar. Quite enjoyable but not going to be one I recommend given the price point. 86/100.

Bourbon and Charity… special thanks to New York Shaving Company!

The Bourbon Community has always been really great about giving back.  We recently had our third annual Bourbon at the Barbershop special charity event that we hosted at The New York Shaving Company.  We raised over 3k for local children’s charities and everyone had a great time.  Take a look at the photos below, but let’s just say that everyone felt they got their money’s worth.  We had 80% of the BTAC collection, Al Young, Willett Family Estate, a couple great Barrell Bourbon releases, Garrison Bros. Cowboy, Lot 40 Cask Strength, Wiser’s 35yr, EHT Four Grain, Kentucky Owl Rye, Appleton’s Rum 25yr Joy, Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, Elliot’s Select, JPS 25yr and more!  It was the best heel party I’d ever been to!  Thanks again to New York Shaving Company for being an amazing partner!

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Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This is a review I wrote a long time ago… but never uploaded… I’m in the middle of a Four Roses kick, so I thought I would do it now:

Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Barrel No. 34-5T, warehouse DN, 50% abv, purchased at Morrell’s in NYC about a year ago.

Watching the Patriots Sunday Night Football, and needed something to drink…

Beautiful medium dark amber color.

Roasted brown sugar slow cooked yams, peanut butter s’mores, graham crackers and maple syrup flavored cereal. Even at 50% abv, very nice, easy to sniff nose.

Nice palate feel, not too hot at all, all the flavors are coming in on the tongue… It feels like it’s was a little too filtered, because I am looking for more in the mouth, and I’m not getting it. It’s very tasty and enjoyable, and the finish is pretty decent too. I made the mistake of having the 2014 FRLESB an hour before which is an epic dram, and although this is very solid, it doesn’t make it to the upper echelon.

For the price, this is certainly a very solid bottle.  I don’t know which recipe this is, which I’m a little bummed about, but it’s good. I think Four Roses makes an excellent product, and highly recommend checking out their higher end products. 88/100.

 

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I never should have opened my Weller C.Y.P.B.

This Bourbon probably has more hype on it than any one this year… Buffalo Trace’s Weller “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon.” Based on a poll, BT gave the public the choice of the mashbill, the age, the proof to choose their perfect Weller expression.  Reminiscent of Ann Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, this committee expression of a Bourbon came out just like the committee decisions in the book.

Before I go to the review, is this a good bourbon?  Yes, it’s ok.  Weller makes lovely Bourbons, and some of the single barrel, NCF Antique 107s are some of the best values out there.  This one has a lot of similarity of a mix of Reserve and Antique, with a secondary value in between them and the daddy, William Larue Weller.

Notes: Good notes of butterscotch, vanilla, graham crackers, fresh biscuits and Twizzlers.  Medium heat on the nose.

Palate: The palate is far more bitter than the nose would indicate in addition to being much hotter.  The mouthfeel is disappointing and the finish is short ending really bitter.  The nose indicates sweet and complex, but the palate just falls flat.

Conclusion: If this was $30, it would be just fine.  However, NCF Weller Antique 107 Bourbons are universally better than this one–in fact I’ve never had a NCF Antique 107 that wasn’t significantly better than this.  I paid $150 from my local retailer and he knew he was giving me a good deal, if I was going to flip it.  But I opened it and we both had a couple pours and we both decided that it was just ok.  I incorporate price into my ratings, so given it’s a $250-300 secondary market Bourbon, I’m giving it an 80/100.

 

If you want to try it first, try buying a sample first: https://bottle-spot.com/classifieds/category/317/Whisky/listings/65772/Weller-CYPB-Samples-Try-before-you-buy.html

Quick Bar Review: Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Barrel 8

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Barrel 8 warehouse G rick 43, 50.5% abv.

Definitely Turkey. Spicy nose with cinnamon and vanilla and allspice. Decent heat but not overpowering.

Good mouthfeel but nothing crazy. Necco and Cinnamon Toast Crunch on the finish. Finish is nice but not too long.

Solid dram. Worth getting at a bar but not for the collection. 85/100.