If you are ever in midtown Manhattan at 55th & 8th ave… be sure NOT to stop at the local liquor store…. Westerly Liquor …
$211 for CEHT Small Batch? $200 for Stagg Jr? Seriously?
#1 Parker’s Heritage Collection release number 12, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Orange Curacao Barrels. 55% alcohol, 110 proof. Not great. Was hoping it would get better after being opened a while…. I’m still hoping and it’s been a few months. I gave this a 78 out of 100 and I think I was being overly generous. I will re-rate it again after it’s opened for six months, and hopefully it’s better; I’m not optimistic. You gotta give some credit to the secondary market though, it came out at $200-$225 initially and has been crushed, as it should be. Now trading between $100-$120, right where it has been offered at retail. My guess is that is floors at $100 and then in a few years completionists will bid it up a little bit but it will go no-where. Avoid this release, which was by far the worst ever for PHC. Sad too because the story is great.
#2 Weller C.Y.P.B. is a perfectly fine Bourbon. It’s like an average OWA chill filtered pick. But it’s impossible to get, trading around $350 in secondary and it’s just not that great. Opening my bottle was one of the biggest disappointments for me in 2018.
#3 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Sazerac 18. This has routinely been one of my favorite releases of the year and it just came out so flat and bitter this time. I yearn for the tanked juice. What’s crazy here is secondary is still holding in really high. This one is trading like a collectible and not a drinking whiskey clearly. If you own it, sell/trade it now because I’d rather have a WLW+GTS, which I think it close to where it is.
#4 Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye 2009 Distilled special release. I don’t know why I even buy these anymore… the store picks are almost always better, and I’m such a sucker for a special release. They trade lower in secondary and no one likes them. I’m just lucky I only bought one this year. Avoid!
#5 Bad craft distillers who market well like Breckenridge Distillery… I’m picking on these guys, but Hudson (Tuttletown Spirits), Brooklyn Distillery, etc etc all qualify by putting out expensive, bad products, in good marketing packaging. My wife JUST got a bottle of Breckenridge from one of her clients (last year she got Hudson Baby Bourbon) and I wonder why her clients must hate her so much? Prediction for 2019… by the end of the year at least one “major” craft distiller will go bankrupt because people will realize their juice is terrible and overpriced, while you will see some of the good ones rising in popularity and respect.
There is is… 2018’s top disappointments… However there was so much to celebrate in 2018, check out my top 5 list. Or check out last year’s top 5 disappointments….
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!
Caskers… Seriously? 1k? I have 1/2 a bottle I’ll sell you for a lot less than that!!! Sometimes posts like this are really stupid. I’d love to meet the guy who ends up buying it.
Hey Buffalo Trace… do you think this is ok?
I tried each one of these three times, on three separate days, over the course of the last few weeks, to make sure my reviews were accurate. I made some minor changes by the final time, but nothing drastically changed. I was unable to try the ER17, which is a shame, but given it’s trading north of 1k on secondary, I wouldn’t have opened it either…
Sazerac 18 (Saz18)
I miss the tanked juice. It’s good but not great. Muted compared to yesteryear. Candied apple, skittles, wood, a touch of menthol with a follow through of Christmas spices, cloves and pine needles. Decent mouthfeel and long finish but grows increasingly bitter. The price isn’t justified here; this one will be a strong pass. Trading around $600 secondary. 84/100
Thomas H Handy (THH)
Amazing mouthfeel coupled with a very good but hottish nose. Butterscotch and spice and everything nice. Finish is medium long and good. Better than last year but not as good as 2014 or 2016. Trading around $375 secondary. I’m a buyer at $300 all day–send me a note if you are a seller. 95/100
George T Stagg (GTS)
Big boy here. Big nose of Wether’s Original, liquid caramel and ginger snap cookies. Big tannins and big flavor on the palate. Big and long finish. Definitely a GTS here. So much flavor. Did I say Big? Trading around $425 secondary and worth buying there. 96.5/100
William Larue Weller (WLW)
This has the best nose of the bunch with hot cocoa, Cinnamon Toast Cruch, warm brioche and biscotti. Sweet and strong at the same time. Insane mouthfeel and fantastic finish that goes way beyond two minutes. Interestingly the fresh crack was a little better than after three weeks. This is the BTAC to get this year to drink… not surprised it’s trading around $700 secondary. 98/100
And yes… it’s pronounced Bee-Tack… thank you.
Buffalo Trace 750ml $75…
Pappy 23 Gold Wax… $10,500…
2017 BTAC George T. Stagg $650…
Pikesville Rye at least they reduced that price from $125 to $80!!!
But before they went to $80 from $125, then stopped at $105…
The argument people tell me “oh, it’s high rent, they need to charge more”… that argument is defeated with these three photos… if you can’t sell something for $125, or $105, maybe you can sell it for $80, or maybe you won’t sell it at all and you will go bankrupt…
Sorry for being so negative, but they guys consistently overprice stuff and I know their rent is high, but I never see any of the bottles gone… so if your rent is high, and your prices are high and you only sell cheap rose and champagne for people who need them and the bourbon just sits there… how are you still in business? Sorry for the rant. Have a nice day.
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