Quick Review: Boss Hog V

I do like a good presentation. The coffin isn’t for Dave but for the pet pig Mortimer. RIP.

Pears, maple syrup, graham crackers and moderate heat permeate the nose. Rich dark color in the glass.

Big mouthfeel, completely covers everything in the mouth. A bit more heat than I would have liked, but mellows quickly into a nice hug. The finish is very long and sweet throughout. Complex flavors of sweetness, dried fruit and spice on the follow through.

This is a lovely whiskey.  Is it worth $500 retail though? I also like to run expensive ryes through the Handy test, is it better?  The answer is no, but it’s darn close and different. Like all my reviews, price is a factor in my reviews.  If this was $100 it might be a contender for whiskey of the year, but at $500, there are too many I’d rather have in the 200-400 range like GTS, THH, BCS gray label and more… it’s still lovely and unique and totally recommended for trying at a bar; only buy it if $500 is no big deal to you. 94.5/100

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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!

Northern Border Collection III: Pike Creek 21yr Speyside Finish

Part III of the Northern Border Collection series: Pike Creek 21yr Old Canadian Whiskey finished in Speyside Single Malt Casks. I’ve never been a huge fan of single malt Scotch finishes (except the the Barrell Rum one recently: review here), but I’m willing to be opened minded for top blenders when I know it isn’t a gimmick.

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It’s medium straw colored, not unusual for Canadian Whiskey. Notes of toffee, caramel, roasted almonds, dark maple syrup and honeysuckle.

Easy down the hatch it goes, but perhaps a little too easy. The mouthfeel is good but not overly complex. The finish is medium length but keeps the enjoyable notes until the end.

This is another good Whiskey but not as multidimensional as I hoped. Fortunately the Speyside casks don’t overpower this whiskey, however, it just doesn’t excite me. It’s solid, but for the hype of this limited release, it doesn’t hold up. 84/100.

For a more in depth take on this Whiskey take a look at Mark Bylok’s review: http://whisky.buzz/blog/pike-creek-21-year-old-finished-in-speyside-single-malt-casks-review

https://www.jpwisers.com/ca/whisky-family/

http://www.pikecreekwhisky.com/s/agegate.php

http://www.canadianwhisky.org/reviews/pike-creek-21yo-speyside-finish-45.html

https://whiskyanalysis.com/index.php/2017/11/09/pike-creek-21-year-old-speyside-cask-finish/

https://distiller.com/spirits/pike-creek-21-year-finished-in-speyside-single-malt-casks

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/corby-showcases-canadian-whisky-with-the-northern-border-collection-rare-release-645682073.html

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Cask Finish

This is the first of the Master’s Collection from Woodford that I have ever owned. Historically I’ve not been a big fan of Woodford, a little too much bananas, fun but not complex. Anyway, I have heard good things about this one so I thought it would be worth a shot….

Orange peel, blood orange,  charcoal, new car leather, s’mores, raisins, cinnamon and spice on the nose. Very little heat.

Nice spicy mouthfeel, moderate heat and complex flavors. The brandy notes are coming in on the taste, well integrated.

I have a strong bias against non-cask strength bourbons and to be honest, it takes a lot to overcome that. This doesn’t quite reach that hurdle. There is a lot of potential here and if they released it at 120 proof it would probably be a lot better. It’s still enjoyable but it’s not epic.  89/100.

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Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1

Although I wasn’t able to get a bottle at retail, I did snag one from http://www.bottle-spot.com and it is trading for around $200 right now, which is not bad, if it turns out to be a high quality rye.  It’s 110.6 proof, lower than both the Handy and Pikesville, but at 11 years in the barrel, it’s almost double their age.  Distilled in Kentucky, I have no idea where this is originally from… this is my first Kentucky Owl product ever as the Bourbon has been too small of a production and too high of a secondary price.  I did try a dram at Jack Rose and loved it, however, I was about 10 drams into the evening, so who really knows?

On to the review… nice dark color, very inviting.  The nose has evolved quite a bit since I opened it this weekend.  I’m getting candied orange, rock candy, nutmeg, bubble gum, graham crackers and grapefruit rind.  The nose isn’t nearly as hot as the proof would suggest.

The mouthfeel is great, really grippy and bursting with flavor.  I’m really getting the orange and rock candy and spicy notes on the tongue.  The finish goes on for at least two minutes, hard to tell exactly because I keep drinking more before I get to three minutes.

This is a really nice rye.  It is expensive though.  I did a quick side by side analysis vs Thomas Handy, and although good, not quite at THH level.  Is it better than the Pikesville?  Well, it’s different, but it is also 3x more expensive–that hurts it a little bit.  The bottom line is this is a wonderful rye and if you like rye, you should absolutely try to get it and if your budget allows, you should pay up for it in the secondary market.  Pikesville will still be my go-to rye given the cost and availability, but if you are able to grab one of these, you will not be disappointed to add it to your whiskey cabinet.  95/100.

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Jefferson’s Groth

I’ve always enjoyed Jefferson’s–never blown away but never unhappy. I have traded/begged/hunted for some of the older ones, but I thought I’d try the Groth which is pretty much available everywhere. (Will the person on bottle-spot who is trying to sell it for more please stop??)

Finished whiskeys have been incredibly en vogue recently, but not all of them are good. I’m going into this one with an open mind.

Baking spices, plums, green apple, rubber and raspberries. Interesting and fruity nose.

Palate is enjoyable, smooth and uncomplicated. The oak and wine from the finish certainly are coming through–but I’m not sure it’s just changing the flavor or improving. Enjoyable experience.

This is a hard one. I enjoy it but I prefer the classic bourbon notes that have been pushed to the back burner on this one. If it was $30, I would be a 90+ score, but given it usually goes for $80-$90 it’s hard to justify the price. Buy a dram at the bar, but not worth adding to the collection. 86/100.

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Barrell Whiskey 002: MAGICAL Sherry Cask Finish

I was at a whiskey tasting a couple weeks ago at the Harrison Wine Vault in Harrison, NY which was a charity event for the local pet shelter.  I convinced my wife to go with me because I said there would be lots of puppies with which our 1yr old would love to play.  There were a couple puppies, but my main purpose was to secure a designated driver for a whiskey tasting… I was sneaky, yet successful.  There were many new craft producers and only a few producers that I had tried before and liked.  I would say that 50% of the whiskeys to try were from a random new craft producer, trying to sell a product between six months and two years of age.  All of the new craft products were literally horrible.  Trying to push a nine month rye as a $60 bottle is just embarrassing–I don’t foresee many of them still in business in a couple years…  I was lucky Garrison Brothers was there (link from old review:    https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/garrison-brothers-texas-straight-bourbon-whiskey-another-great-drink/), Four Roses and Barrell Bourbon.  I knew I liked Batch 006 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/barrell-bourbon-batch-006-home-run-top-5-of-the-year/), but they also were serving Batch 007 (very very good, but not yet on the market and I haven’t given it a proper tasting), and their new whiskey product, Barrell Whiskey Batch 002, which is a Sherry cask finish.  For those who follow this blog, you know my rants about finishing, so I was clearly skeptical about this product as well.  However, when I tried it, my concerns immediately melted away.  I was lucky to secure a bottle and my review is based on bottle number 1096.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 is a nine and a half year whiskey that has been finished in Sherry butts from Spain.   Like everything from Barrell Craft Spirits, this is bottled at cask strength: this particular batch is 61.9% abv.  I looked online, and I have confirmed that this is both the oldest whiskey that they have sold and their first cask finished product.  Like I said, I am extremely skeptical about finished whiskeys as I feel like most producers just mix in low quality dessert wines and pretend they have created something great–most fail at this (see my review of a failed “finished” whiskey from High West:    https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/high-wests-tragic-whiskey-a-midwinter-nights-dram/comment-page-1/).  Not only was I  surprised by BW002, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this whiskey.

The color is honey suckle brown, for almost a 10yr whiskey, you can tell this has been aged in used barrels instead of the new barrels that bourbon is aged in.

The nose has hints of sherry, unlike most finished whiskeys which overpower the nose with the dessert wine that it is mixed with.  In addition to the sherry, notes of graham cracker, honeysuckle, Halloween Candy Corn, baked pumpkin seeds and butterscotch ice cream.  What is also surprising is the complete lack of heat on the nose–not something you would expect for a 120+ proof whiskey.  Perhaps that is due to the near 10yrs of age?

The palate is a delight.  The perfect integration of the sherry residue from the cask and the 9.5yr whiskey is so enjoyable on the tongue.  Every note from the nose is coming through even stronger on the palate, but the better part is the mouthfeel.  The intense thickness of oil and grit just creates a finish that goes on and on. By such a large margin, this is the best cask finished whiskey I have ever had, but it also is one of the best whiskeys I have ever had as well. The complexity of this whiskey has so many layers and the taste goes on for several minutes.  What is also amazing is how little heat comes through–for a cask strength product you often get an overwhelming amount of heat but this whiskey has just enough to know it is there, like a cashmere blanket next to a wood burning stove.

I checked into this batch and it turns out that only 200 cases (1200 bottles) were produced.  The Yamazaki Sherry Cask Finish 2016 had 3,000 bottles produced and I think this is even better than that.  I know that hoarders get a bad name, but I am not embarrassed to say that if I see any of these bottles left at any store, I will be buying them and drinking them for years to come.  I also hope that Barrell Craft Spirits comes out with another Sherry Cask batch because if this is just a one off project, the whiskey community will be at a deep loss.  So PLEASE: Barrell Craft Spirts, PLEASE continuing making a Sherry Finished product, you will have a customer for life in me.  If any of my readers are able to secure a bottle of this, just close your eyes and buy it: I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  97/100.

 

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

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