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.


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:


Northern Border Collection IV: J.P. Wiser’s 35yr

Saving what potentially is the best for last (and definitely the most expensive).


Very lightly colored, like most whiskies from the north.  The nose is without a doubt Canadian: vanilla extract, maple syrup, rock candy, pecan pie and a touch of allspice.

The taste is awesome and so much bigger than I expected with spices and flavor dominating every part of my mouth.  There is grip and oil and complexity in the mouthfeel; it is everything I hoped aged Canadian whiskey could be, but until this point, wasn’t.  The grip is especially surprising, and the finish builds higher to a crescendo before mellowing into a velvety end.

This is a special whiskey.  The finish is epic, the taste phenomenal, it’s just great.  It’s nothing like any of the Wiser’s I’ve ever had before–quite frankly, they were all pretty disappointing.  This has come out of nowhere and crushed the competition.  Well done Canada!  96.5/100.

For a more in depth review, check out Mark Bylok’s piece:

4 New Releases from Barrell Bourbon!

Barrell Craft Spirits remains one of my favorite brands and they continue to put out consistently excellent products at reasonable prices, with good availability and you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal to get them. To me, it’s the best secret left in Bourbon Hunting. I have put a bunch of previous batches away in my bunker because each one is unique and only released once. I was able to grab four new releases at once and thought instead of doing four reviews I’d do one mega review:


Barrell Bourbon New Year 2018: 55.6% ABV and a marriage of barrels from TN, KY, IN, TX and NY. It has an incredibly sweet nose. French toast, Necco wafers, Twizzlers, Butterfigers, yellow flowers, dried cherry pits and creme brule. Almost no heat on nose at all. Wow so easy going down and lots going on. More nuts on the palate than I was getting on the nose and really enjoyable heat in the chest. Solid mouthfeel with the needed oils and tannins following through with a good finish. Really nice special edition. This is the one I’ve had the hardest time finding but if you can get it for a reasonable price, buy two or three. 96/100.

Barrell Rye Batch 002: 5yrs old and 117.5 Proof. I’ve never had a rye distilled in Poland so this is pretty exciting. It is married with an Indiana (MGP?) one which I always enjoy. When I first opened it up the aroma was muted so I waited a few minutes to give it some air. After some time notes of honey suckle, cracked pepper, rock candy and biscotti came through. I decided to wait on this one and try again a week later because I could tell is was still tight–maybe from the plane from Poland?  Easy on the way down with great salted caramel flavor I missed on the nose coupled with strong spiciness.  When I initially opened this rye, it was tight and unforgiving; after a week it’s totally different and the finish goes on for several minutes completely enveloping the tongue. I’ve never had a rye like this before and I’m excited to drink it. I bet that this will continue to evolve in the bottle over the next month or two as I drink it down. 94/100.

Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands: 8yrs old and bottled at 132.8 Proof. Jamaican pot Still, same source as Batch 001 finished is Islay Scotch casks. I really liked last year’s release: brown sugar, tropical fruits, coconut shavings, white flowers and molasses. This one is very similar to last year but much less heat on the nose. The extra year of aging in the Scotch casks really smoothed this one out even better without the peat taking over. The taste is great, sweet and tropical, and it is shocking how at this proof for a rum the heat is so mellow. The finish goes on for at least two minutes. Great rum and if you liked last year’s release you’ll love this one. I’m hearing it’s very limited release, so buy all that you can. 96/100.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014: 54.7% ABV and from a blend of KY and TN specially selected barrels of at least 9yrs old. Medium dark amber color. Really nice nutty nose, Jif peanut butter, roasted walnuts, crushed almonds, buttered cinnamon bread and Honey Nut Cheerios. Almost no heat on the nose which is crazy for this Proof.  Solid mouthfeel and good finish. The gentle warmth filters through the chest as the finish elongates. The palate gets hints of salted caramel and nuts on the way down. Another very good release from Barrell Bourbon, readily available and at a reasonable price. I’m buying one to drink now, one for next month and one for the bunker. 95/100.


Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review

Quick Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2015 Review: Strong PASS

I’ve never been a huge fan of the AECS, I thought the 2014 was ok, but I’ll give 2015 a whirl. Sickly sweet port nose, and a ton of heat. The taste is dominated by heat as well with some raisins, plums and menthol. This is extremely bad value for the price but I wouldn’t buy it if it was 1/4 the cost, which was $179.99.

The 2015 was much worse than the 2014 and another massive disappointment… just because it’s cask strength, limited edition and in an expensive box, doesn’t make it great.  It just makes it expensive.  The port finish on this is so poor, it seems like now that they sold the company, they aren’t even trying anymore.  78/100.


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


Josh Richholt, co-founder of The Well.

Josh Feldman posted to his blog the selections he made, which I voted for in both rounds:

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.


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!


Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye NEW RELEASE

The newest release from Michter’s, the Toasted Barrel Finish Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. I’m seeing a lot of hype on twitter on this one in addition to very high secondary prices. I found this on the very bottom shelf (ironically) of a local store for $79.99, as I wasn’t going to chase it.

Nice golden color, the toasted finish really added a nice color.

When I first opened it the smell was pretty bad but after a few hours it opened up. Candy corn, toasted cinnamon raisin bread, bubble gum and walnuts on the nose.

For 108 proof it’s pretty easy to drink. The mouthfeel is good but not great. The taste is enjoyable. The finish is long and continues nice flavors with limited bitterness. This is a really nice rye.

Is this a whiskey worth chasing and paying 2x or more on the secondary market? Definitely not. If you find it at retail for $79.99 should you buy it? Yes. If you like ryes like I do it’s worth adding to your cabinet, but I would stock up on your bunker. For the price, Pikesville is still the best out there, and for the high end stuff, nothing has yet to be able to touch Handy. Solid juice from Michters, would have preferred to see it at 125 proof though. 92/100.

P.S. I have a couple extra, so if anyone is looking to trade, please DM me @newbourbondrink




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. (

#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. (

#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. (

#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.  (

#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. (

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!