Beast Masters Club Dusty Battle Tons of Fun

I was lucky enough to buy a ticket and attend the Beast Masters Club dusty battle between the Josh’s:

Josh Feldman of http://www.cooperedtot.com/

VS

Josh Richholt, co-founder of The Well. http://www.thewellbrooklyn.com/

Josh Feldman posted to his blog the selections he made, which I voted for in both rounds: http://www.cooperedtot.com/2017/10/updated-actual-selections-for.html

Josh R’s picks we both excellent, but to pull out a Pre-Prohibition era Rye and then the epic Beam was just outstanding… The crowd voted against me for the first round, going with the Bourbon De Luxe (a classic National Distillers 70’s piece), but went with me for the second round, voting the 1955 Beam glass decanter, which also ended up taking the night.  The Wild Turkey 101 Decanter was pretty awesome too though! There were lots of side drinks and by the end I think we were all way past the tasting phase.

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I didn’t take tasting notes on anything because I just wanted to enjoy the moment.  But each was unique in their own way and wonderful.  I am not sure I would spring to buy a bottle of any of them however, as the secondary prices have gone through the roof.  The quality of juice these days, despite what many people say, is better and more consistent that it was in the past.  But to be able to taste something like this, from 100 years ago, is something I couldn’t pass up!

Big thanks for Ben and Steve from Beast Masters Club for hosting such an awesome evening and I hope they do it again soon!

http://beastmastersclub.com/

http://beastmastersclub.com/events/beastmastersclublive1027

 

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For the New Bourbon Drinker, Top 5 Whiskies to Try

Bourbonmania has hit new highs. Some people say it’s a bubble. I’m not quite ready to say that because I believe Bourbon was ignored for far too long and only now are the masses actually recognizing appreciating it. We have years before this bubble bursts and the quality and quantity will keep getting better and better for the foreseeable future.

Everyone newbie wants to get the newest BTAC, FRSBLE, or OFBB released. To be honest, it’s not just the newbies who want them–it’s all of us. But the difference between the newbies and the old timers to this hobby, is that the older group has already tried it all and realizes that some things are worth the hunt (or paying up on secondary) and some things aren’t;  what is or what isn’t is purely based on your personal preference, not a review or a bloggers piece. Personally I love the Cask strength bourbons and the high proof ryes. Pappy, OFBB, Michter’s wax capsule releases and ER17 are great, but if I come across them at retail I’ll trade them for GTS, THH or FRSBLE any day.

Today I’m putting out my top five whiskies for the “new bourbon drinker”…. These are the ones that I’m happy to drink any day of the week and are readily available.  You won’t find the unicorns on this list, but these are the whiskies that if you want to start the hobby, go for these.

#1 Buffalo Trace: yes the one that costs $20 in your retail store. This may be one of the most overlooked and undervalued whiskies in the world. Yes it’s lower proof than I like but it has the flavor, the mouthfeel, and for goodness sakes, it’s $19!!! It’s the same mashbill as some of their releases that secondary for hundreds of dollars. This is the Bourbon I serve people to see if they like Bourbon or not. It’s just that simple. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/buffalo-trace-yes-the-standard-one-with-the-buffalo-one-yes-its-very-very-good/)

#2 Pikesville Rye: thank Heaven for Heaven Hill and their high proof 6yr rye. Spicy and amazing in every way and best of all you can usually find it for between $50-$60. When I don’t feel like I deserve a pour of Handy (which is my favorite, but too expensive to make this list), Pikesville comes in a close second. Just an amazing product. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/)

#3 Just when you though I was going to go all cheap on you and only mass produced products, I’m going to throw you for a loop. Barrell Bourbon, any batch, is #3 for all new bourbon drinkers. Unlike most limited release, Cask strength, Bourbon releases, this one can usually be found and retailers aren’t jacking up the prices on it. Retails for between $70-$90 for a regular batch and $10 more for a single barrel release, Barrel is worth every penny. As a sourced whiskey, Barrell finds the best of the best and bottles it at cask strength to provide the consumer with the purest Bourbon you can get. I’ve never been disappointed, and more often blown away by what they come out with on a regular basis. I’ve never missed a release, and some of them I’ve stockpiled because I know once they are gone they are gone for good. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/)

#4 Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. Although I wasn’t a huge fan when I first opened it, after sitting for a month or two it really mellows out but keeps the nice spice and strong mouthfeel. By far the best of the series, this one is still pretty readily available at around $60.  Although my review makes it sound just ok, I would revise it up a point or two after airing it out for several months.  (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/old-forester-1920-very-good-not-great/)

#5 Blanton’s. The Original Single barrel Bourbon. This is most people’s gateway to great Bourbon, and I was no different. Still pretty readily available and looks great on the shelf. I’ve never been disappointed by any Blanton’s I’ve ever had. If you are overseas and can get the Straight From the Barrel, it’s even better and totally worth snagging. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/4-bottle-blantons-tasting/)

I really wanted to put OGD114 on this list, but you can never find it. I also wanted to put Mellow Corn on it, but again, almost every store is sold out of it. Part of the criteria for making the list was being readily available and not trading for silly prices on the secondary, which is why ETL, which is amazing, obviously got cut.

Anyway… I hope people like the list and learn from it. Happy to answer any questions on DM on twitter or on the comment section of the blog. Happy drinking!

P.S. Yes this is my top shelf, and you won’t find most of these on this list, but if anyone wants to come by I’m happy to pour any of them for my readers!

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http://www.barrellbourbon.com

http://www.buffalotrace.com

https://www.blantonsbourbon.com/

https://www.oldforester.com/

http://www.pikesvillerye.com/

Old Forester 1920, Very Good, Not Great.

Old Forester has been coming out with some special Whiskey Row editions and this is their highest proof to date. Not sure what Prohibition Style means, but it’s clearly just marketing… On to the review.

The color is awesome: nice dark amber. When I first opened the bottle the nose was a little musty, and it was a little disappointing. But I know from experience that a lot of great bottles just need a little air. After a few hours aromas of cinnamon, all spice, cloves, stewed sugar beets and charcoal come through.  There still is that mushroomy musty background noise that was more prevalent when I first opened the bottle.  That smell comes through far stronger in the OFBB editions, but still getting some here too.

The taste is enjoyable. There is some nice spicy flavors coming through and an enjoyable heat. There are some good tannins but the mouthfeel is slightly lacking as the oils have been stripped out, most likely from chill filtering which is too bad for a 115 proof whiskey. For this level of proof, I want something unfiltered, but this clearly is and really misses the mark on this important nuance.  The best part of this whiskey is the finish goes on for a long time continuing the nice spicy flavors.

I added some water to see what would happen.  The nose is diminished, and the palate isn’t improved. I wouldn’t recommend adding water for those who can handle 115 proof.

I’ve read some incredible reviews on this bourbon. This is a very good bourbon. Enjoyable nose, palate and long finish. But it doesn’t quite hit the exceptional level. For $59.99, which is what I paid, it’s worth buying, but after this bottle is gone I don’t think I will be replacing it. 90/100.

 

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1929 Hiram Walker Prohibition Unicorn

The 21 Club in NYC found a few cases of Prohibition Era whiskey a few years ago and now they are down to just a couple bottles.  It is Hiram Walker Private Stock Blended Canadian Whiskey from Walkerville, Ontario, Canada–it looks like like Canadian Club.  Distilled in 1919, aged for 10 years in barrels and bottled in 1929, this whiskey has continued to mellow in the brown bottle for the last 87 years.  Initially very skeptical about paying up for something like this, however, I am glad I went ahead and bought it.

The color was lighter than a bourbon, but on par with a Canadian Whiskey aged in used barrels.  The nose was all Madagascar Vanilla, uber velvety and oozing of smoothness.  The second draw had cinnamon sticks, cotton candy, with a steam shower water vapor-esque consistency which was just so light and fresh.  The nose was not overpowering at all, but so gentle and unique I could only hope the taste equaled.

At 90.4 proof I had lower expectations for the palate and mouthfeel, but oils on the mouth came in nicely, although any remnants of tannins were long gone if they ever were present to begin with.  Vanilla clouds permeated through each sip, and this was one you wanted to keep in your mouth for a long time to get every nuance.  Something about 87 years in the bottle after 10 years in wood really did some magic with this whiskey.

If you are in NYC you need to go to the 21 Club and order it.  On the menu it is $100, but if you ask Anthony nicely for a half pour, then may give you a full one for $50.  At $50 I would buy this every single time. Hard to grade something that isn’t readily available, but I feel comfortable giving it a 98/100.