Everything worth buying 20-100% above secondary prices… complete joke. Staff is pretty obnoxious about it too… they know they have good stuff and seem to rather just keep it and make fun of you rather than sell it at secondary prices.
Old Forester Rye. Super candied nose. Bananas Forester, banana split, skittles, marshmallows, graham crackers. Pretty easy down for 100 Proof. Medium mouthfeel. Nice hug. Finish does go a little bitter at the end though after a minute. Lots of hype here. Very good for $25, but not one I will bunker. 88/100.
1792 Full Proof NCF Single Barrel from 99 Bottles, 125 Proof. This one was around $55, not bad for a Barrel strength whiskey. Nutty, coconut, Necco wafers and waffles. Better mouthfeel and medium heat for the Proof. Mouthfeel builds with intensity in a good way with an enjoyable hug. Caramel and butter comes through at the end. Finish a solid two minutes. I’m generally not a 1792 fan, but this is the best one I’ve ever had. If you like 1792, this is a must get bottle. 92/100.
Barrell Dovetail finished in Dunn Cabernet barrels, 122.9 Proof. Incredible nose, so much going on. Brown sugar, Twix, cassis, totally enveloping. Crazy how easy this goes down for the Proof. I’m loving this Dunn cask finish. Finish 2-3 minutes. This is totally unique and special—tongue completely enveloped with tart cherry and tannic goodness. Glad I grabbed a couple at $80. Seeing it trade double that in secondary. 96/100.
Jefferson’s Presidential Select 16yr Twin Oak. Mixed reviews on this one, but going in unbiased. Strong wood nose but with waves of vanilla and charcoal. For 94 Proof the mouthfeel is better than expected. Interesting tastes but certainly quite a bit of oak. On the good side the finish goes for two minutes and improves instead of bowing out into bitterness. It’s a good Bourbon, but probably not worth the retail price. Worth a try at a bar. 92/100.
I was excited to visit American Whiskey. I was going with clients so I knew I could expense it (within reason). I arrived first and flipped through the book. Big selection and mostly the prices were reasonable.
I get to the BTAC selection. Prices reasonable so I order 5 pours each of WLW, Saz18 and GTS. The waitress leaves for ten to fifteen minutes before coming back saying they are out of all of them and they only have that Handy. I love Handy but it’s not worth the same as the other three but I still order a round. She also didn’t know which vintage, because the profile has varied dramatically from year to year.
On the way to the restroom I run into one of the managers and express my frustration that several of the whiskies I ordered were still listed on the menu. He said it costs too much money to update the menu and that they get BTAC every year so they don’t cross them out or reprint them. I’m thinking to myself…. How much could 100 pieces of printed paper cost? It’s gotta be less than the single round of drinks I ordered first. And they lost 15 minutes of time where I could have ordered again. One round of printing would have been paid for by just me and the extra round of 6x $40 THH’s I bought.
The waitstaff was extremely uninformed about most of the whiskey. The management didn’t seem to care about the patrons or the whiskey.
On the positive note, they do have a pretty decent collection and the prices aren’t crazy. Another pet peeve though… they have several pages that they will do 1oz pours but they refuse to do 1oz pours with others. I even asked to split them for my 6 people but wouldn’t. The bartender didn’t seem to get it. Painful.
Here’s a place with so much potential, decent selection, fair prices, but they fail on so many levels, largely due to laziness. They need to invest in the staff’s knowledge; they need to make the staff care about the customers; they need to have a proper inventory system so time isn’t wasted looking for whisky that no longer exists; they need to update their menus so customers don’t get frustrated (5 of the first 6 things I ordered were gone); they need to let all whiskies do 1oz pours and they need to find a way to make me come back. If I were an owner or manager I would want all these things fixed quickly and the best part is that none of these are insurmountable. It’s a big shame. I’m happy to provide consulting services to them if they want. They are leaving so much money on the table…
On TripAdvisor, I struggled whether to give this place two or three stars. The food was ok but not great, the service was pretty bad, the pricing was decent, the selection was very good but the extreme frustration I had with the menu, poor inventory control and the vast amount of time I wasted waiting for rounds after rounds because they were searching for whiskies that they didn’t know they were out of stock makes me go to a two star rating. I’d do 2.5 if I could but two is fine. Management should take a trip to Jack Rose in DC to see how they should operate their business.
#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!
These photos pretty much say it all… CYPB $900… M20 $4k… OWA $150… ETL $200… Stagg Jr $150… Pappy 23 $5k… but… low and behold, the new Little Book is only $110… but THH is $630….
Located at 111 Lexington in New York City, Wine & Liquors is just one of the most obnoxious liquor stores I’ve been to in a while and the staff are equally obnoxious.