Lock Stock & Barrel 16yr Straight Rye Whiskey

I tried the Lock Stock & Barrel 13yr rye last year at a bar and really liked it.  I didn’t review it, but it was definitely a 90+ rating.  When I saw this on the shelf, three more years of age, I jumped on it.  I did some online due diligence and even though this has been aged in new charred oak American barrels (according the the bottle), it apparently is a sourced Canadian whiskey of 100% rye grain mash bill.  107 proof.

The color is an extremely inviting golden amber shimmering whiskey.

There is a sweetness on the nose, crushed rock candy, necco wafers, apple tart, and vanilla.  The nose is not particularly strong though, as I really had to put my nose in there to get the aromas.

The palate is good, medium tannins but low on the coating oils.  The flavors are ok, but not particularly strong and the finish is on the weaker side.

Although I did not give the 13yr a proper review, from what I remember, I enjoyed that one quite a bit better.  For the $150 MSRP, this one is not one I can recommend.  I always compare ryes to Pikesville and I’d much rather have three of those than one of these.  85/100.

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Canadian Club 20yr: LCBO Pickup

I rated a different 20yr Canadian Rye a couple days ago, (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/ninety-decades-of-richness-20-canadian-rye-whisky/) and this was the other bottle I bought from the LCBO.  This is a “Limited Edition” yet my bottle was number 301,802… so I’m not sure if by limited they mean less than a million bottles?  That’s not particularly limited to me… but what do I know?   Anyway, on to the review…

CC20 is a 80 proof Canadian Rye whiskey, which a dark amber color.  Much darker than the Nintey Rye I tasted a couple days ago, even though it had a higher proof.  The nose has mint, menthol, eucalyptus, graham crackers, and vanilla with medium heat.

Even though this is only 80 proof, there is a decent balance here with the spices, flavors and just enough heat to make it enjoyable.  There is a very smooth sweetness on it, that brings out the best of the Canadian Club, but with overlays of just enough complexity to make it a sipper rather than a mixer.  The finish is moderate, but the mouthfeel is lacking due to the low proof and chil filtering.

This one certainly is better than the Nintey rye from the other day, but one wonders what could have been if it was bottled at 120 proof instead of 80 without any chill filtering.  This could have been a really amazing rye if that was the case.  But in classic Canadian fashion, they water it down and screw it up.  Sorry, eh?  86/100.

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Ninety: Decades of Richness 20 Canadian Rye Whisky

I picked this bottle up at the LCBO the last time I was in Toronto.  Ninety proof, 20yr Canadian rye whisky: what’s not to like?  And it was pretty cheap, I don’t remember the exact price, but converted back to USD, it ended up being around $40-50 or so.  Hard to find anything 20yrs that cheap.  And it said “Ultra Premium” on the bottle, ooooooooohhh… on to the review.

The color is pretty pale, not unexpected for Canadian whisky which typically uses multiple time used bourbon barrels.  The nose is light with stone fruit, baked apples, allspice, vanilla, Necco wafers and baked bread.  Very little heat and the nose is subtle.

The taste is enjoyable, getting flavors from the nose, but the finish isn’t very long and it’s not terribly complex.  There is some light heat on the chest which is good, but the chill filtering takes out most of the mouthfeel leaving me with a thin finish.

Is this worth $50?  Probably.  But would I buy it again?  No.  It’s good, but for a 20yr old rye, I just expected more.  Pikesville Rye, which is only 6yrs old, blows this away from every possible perspective.  I’m going to review the Canadian Club 20 in the next day or so, we’ll see which is better.  This one is an 83/100.

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Top 5 Drams of the Year 2016

Another year gone by and I’ve read so many negative stories, yet, there were some pretty awesome bourbons released this year.  Overall the prices have gone up, but you can still find bargains and making friends with your local retailer has never been more important… onto the list!

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#1 2016’s Buffalo Trace Thomas H Handy 126.2 proof 97.5/100  secondary price: $300 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/btac-thomas-h-handy-2016/)  This was my favorite of the BTAC releases, with a close second being GTS, but THH is far easier to get your hands on and better price giving it the edge.  Handy may be the BTAC that is least respected, but time and time again it is my favorite release.

#2 2016 Release Four Roses Elliott’s Select OESK 52.9% abv 91/100 secondary price $225 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/four-roses-elliotts-select/)  There was a lot of worry when Jim Rutledge retired from Four Roses, but when Brent Elliott came out with this bottle immediately afterwards, all fears were assuaged.  In fact, this bottle was substantially better than the 2016 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition release, although not quite as good as last year’s winner, the 2015 FRSBLE.  I think we can all sleep soundly knowing that Four Roses is in good hands.

3# Barrell Bourbon New Years 2017 retail price $99.99 (for now!) (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/happy-new-year-barrell-bourbon-2017/)  Another top award for this up and comer.  This is their first true marriage release of 4 different barrels from Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and once again blows the competition away.  Grab a few while you still can as the first release of this bad boy probably will be worth a lot of money in the near future…. keep your eye

#4 Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon #438 119.8 proof 96/100 $120 @ gift shop (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/willett-family-estate-single-barrel-bourbon-438-holy-moley/)  This was one of the bottles I was lucky enough to buy when I visited Willett in January of 2016.  This was a honey barrel if I’ve ever tasted one.  If you are ever able to get some of this, don’t hesitate!

#5 Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon #3824 97 proof 96/100 $100 retail price (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/go-visit-garrison-brothers-single-barrel-amazing/) Garrison Brothers consistently puts out a great product.  I also visited their distillery this year and really enjoyed meeting Dan and the team.  Very excited to see the 2017 Cowboy Bourbon when it is released next year!

There were so many that almost made the cut… I tried a couple rums this year that were really good including one from Balcones (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/balcones-texas-rum-special-release-batch-15-1-63-9-abv/) and another from Barrell (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/barrell-rum-batch-001-7yr-jamaican-pot-still-rum/).  Barrell’s Whiskey 002 was another one that almost made the cut, but after careful consideration I preferred the New Years (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/barrell-whiskey-002-magical-sherry-cask-finish/).  Most lists have Booker’s Rye on their top 5, and although it is a good whiskey, it’s just too hot and expensive and does not deserve to make it in my very humble opinion (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/bookers-rye/).  PHC 10yr was also hotly debated, and I thought it was extremely good, but given the price, just not quite worthy vs the Garrison or the WFE (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/phc10-parkers-heritage-collection-10-24yr-bourbon/).

I’ll have my top five disappointments in the world of bourbon coming up soon… thanks again for a great 2016 to everyone who reads this blog.  Readership has gone up 5x and I hope to continue that trend into 2017.  I’d love to hear what your top 5 of the year were?  Happy New Year!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/  http://www.garrisonbros.com/  http://www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com/  http://fourrosesbourbon.com/  https://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey 80 Proof

Old Overholt is an historic rye brand dating back over two hundred years. I’ve seen prohibition bottles going for over 1k each at auction. Not sure what happened to the brand over the years but now it’s relegated to the bottom shelf and Manhattan mixers only. I’ve actually never tried it straight before, so I thought I would give it the Glen Cairn glass treatment.

Light yellowish coloring, most likely not all new charred oak barrels and representative of only three years in barrel.

Sweet and spicy nose but very one dimensional. Very little heat.

Easy to drink, goes down easily, but doesn’t have a ton there. Very little heat which is nice for a young rye but it’s also lacking in depth. Short finish, but not unpleasant.

This is a rye that I bought for $13.99 and can register no complaints. I probably won’t be drinking it straight ever again, but I prefer this to most of the new “craft” ryes that are aged for very short periods of time in small barrels and possibly from locally sourced, organic, free range, sustainable ryes…  This is definitely one to keep on the bar for mixers as at this price, it’s a great value. 81/100.

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Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye: Worth the Hype?

The VWFRR is one of those very rare releases that trades at crazy prices on the secondary market and is arguably the hardest to find of the Pappy line. It is the only Rye and it is 13 years old.

Very spicy nose, lots of cracked pepper, strong oak notes, crushed smoked pecans, Twix, s’mores on cinnamon graham crackers and cedar closet. Moderate heat for a 95.6 proof whiskey.

Initially an enjoyable mouthfeel but then comes in with a big punch of oak. Heat is a little higher than expected the first time around but still very enjoyable. The finish is moderate long as it fades away into mostly wood flavors. The palate is dominated by the oak flavors instead of the more complex spicy ones.

VWFRR is a very good whiskey but isn’t one you need to camp out to try. It’s a little too oaky for my taste. Just to make sure my palate wasn’t completely nuts I thought it prudent to pour some of my favorite rye, the 2014 THH. Everything about the Thomas Handy is better: more spice coming through on the palate. The Handy is hotter, but it’s half the age and 35% more alcohol so that’s not surprising. But the finish is more enjoyable and longer. For 1/3 the secondary price, albeit still expensive, THH kicks VWFRR’s butt. I still really enjoy it, but for the price there are just so many better options. VWFRR 93/100.

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BTAC Thomas H Handy 2016

Unlike a lot of bloggers out there, I have yet risen to the level of free BTAC samples; I have to fight and scrape and use the secondary market like the rest of people to get my BTAC. I bought this one on bottle-spot.com (like most of you) for around $300.

The 2016 edition clocks in at 126.2 proof, NAS as always, and forever beautiful in the iconic BTAC bottle. Nice amber color.

Candy corn, rock candy, white pepper, cloves and cinnamon. Not very hot considering the age and proof, but that’s why it’s THH. Smells amazing.

And the taste… Wow. The spices and sweetness come through immediately while firming up a nice grip on the tongue. There is an extremely enjoyable warmness that permeates through your mouth and upper chest creating an absolutely incredible finish. Even after two minutes the flavors are still evolving and improving. This review is without a drop of water; I don’t think it needs it and I won’t even do it because it is just that good.

I’m pretty much obsessed with Handy. The 2014 was one of my favorites of all time and this one is pretty darn close. If you can find one at a reasonable (and I’ll let your budget determine that) price, don’t be afraid to pick it up. And if Buffalo Trace is reading this and wants to add me to next year’s blogger sample list, I won’t say no (please add me to next year’s list–thank you so much). 97.5/100

 

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