Jameson 18 Review

Not much of an Irish Whiskey fan… I’ll do the Redbreast 12 on St Patty’s Day, but the rest of the year I tend to avoid. Did too many car bombs in college…. and Jameson had a very different meaning to me and it certainly wasn’t associated with quality.

But going in with a fresh outlook and not dropping into a beer, Jameson 18 here we go… great solid box. Beautiful bottle with a cork stopper… solid glass bottom, this is high end packaging. Light amber, clearly used barrels.

The nose is candy, baking spices, especially vanilla, but more vanilla extract, some graham cracker, toffee ice cream and cracked almonds in the background. At 80 proof there isn’t a hint of heat on the nose.

It’s goes down extremely smoothly but actually has some tannins and the finish is pretty good for an 80 Proof Whiskey. The finish builds to more and more sweetness and the toffee ice cream comes through with the almond finish at the sixty second point.

This is a good whiskey. But it’s only 80 proof and around $150. I wish they bottled this at 107 proof or higher; if they did it could have had a very serious score. Definitely order at a bar, and if you see a good price, feel free to add to your collection, but not a must buy. 91/100.

(Turns out, they do have a cask strength version, it’s called Bow Street, and I will do a tasting of that later…)

Barrell Craft Spirits: BCS 2019 15yr Bourbon Gray Label Release: Best Whiskey of 2019???

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label in black box, 15yr Bourbon 2019 release is the follow up to last year’s special release. 2018’s Bourbon won Fred Minnick’s best whiskey of the year in a blind taste, making it very hard for Trip and Joe @ Barrell Bourbon to come up with a worth successor to their, arguably, best release to date.  The year is a blend of Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee and age stated 15yrs (which means there probably is stuff much older in here as well)… On to the review…

Beautiful nose, Milk Duds, cotton candy, and Rolos in the front, all candy and deliciousness. Deeper dive brings out notes of graham cracker s’mores, fresh luxury car seat leather and cracked roasted peanuts. At 106.52 proof you don’t even get a hint of heat even if you stick your nose all the way deep in the glass—almost unheard of.

Perfect balance of oils and tannins and flavor and just enough hug to let you know this is a Bourbon. The mouthfeel perfect coats the entire tongue and the upper sides of the cheeks. The candy and nut flavors rush in and build over time. I’m amazed by the finish here, more than three minutes and never dries off in a bitter note. (The finish might actually be closer to five minutes)

I think this might be the best whiskey I’ve tried this year; it certainly has impressed me more than any of the BTAC line… I didn’t know what to expect after last year. Last year was insane and had so much hype. How could they possibly follow up after that one? Well… they did and I think they even eclipsed it. This Bourbon is phenomenal. MSRP is $250, I’m seeing it on secondary for 300-350… do whatever you can to grab more than one bottle as you will want at least a backup here. 99/100.

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The BTAC Reviews…. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019

Clearly these are all amazing whiskies. I get a lot of negative feedback on how I can possibly grade some of these so low. I take into account prices when I do, so if it’s a secondary $500 bottle but tastes no where near that, the score will suffer. Hate my system or love it, thanks for reading. All clicks are good clicks, right???

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Sazerac 18 / Saz18
Good but subtle nose. very subtle rock candy, subtle hints of mushroom umami, watermellon Jello , #2 pencil shavings, orange clove. Reminds of Saz18 past but less vibrant. Moderate mouthfeel, starts slow but builds up over time. Clove, Skittles and graham crackers on the tongue. The finish is pretty good and doesn’t drop off… it still gives you that 18yr dry dust just in the back of the tongue to let you know it’s the oldest of the bunch. This is one of the better Saz18s from a taste and finish perspective, but the nose is a little lacking. The tanked stuff is still the best. Easy drinker, but still really complex. 95/100. Not going to chase given secondary prices.

William Larue Weller / WLW 128.0
Rich deep nose with moderate heat, spicy ginger snaps, cinnamon raisin toast, allspice, teddy grahams and a touch of Panettone in the background dipped in tawny port. Big mouthfeel, tannins cover all over. The initial taste is a little bitter though which is disappointing. The finish is long but never goes sweet as I hoped it to be. It’s a big wheater, but just comes up short for the Weller name. Nose is better than the taste. I will say that this bottle had been open for three days and I have the feeling of you left it open for a month it might grade much better. 93/100. Not going to chase, last two years were much better.

George T Stagg / GTS 116.9
Crazy sweet and smooth nose. Rare for a Stagg to not give you at least a soft punch in the nostrils. Deep dark butterscotch, Cherry Cola, Juicy Fruit, stewed blackberry currant and a hint of cedar closet. Quick spicy hit up front that melts into an easy velvet caramel blanket over the tongue. Very long finish. The lower proof is noticeable on the diminished heat, especially if you side by side the 144.1. The finish is very long and it’s enjoyable. If people negatively judge and price this based on lower proof I’m happy to buy them… 96.5/100. This one has been the cheapest on secondary the last two years, I’ll try to grab a couple of these.

Thomas H Handy / THH 125.7
Spicy and moderate heat on the nose. Blondies, red hots, cloves, with a hint of vermouth. Biggest and hottest of the initial tastes, a real mouth roof grabber. Lots of the cinnamon red hot flavor with more spice to follow, although it is a little one dimensional for a Handy. Finish is pretty good though. 93/100. Will not chase, the previous releases are much better.

So in terms of my rankings, and I apologize I wasn’t able to try the ER17 this year… but I’m going Stagg, Saz18, WLW, THH. I think I’ll be an outlier but that’s what my palate is telling me. I will also like to say even though my scores are not high, these are still some of the best whiskies on the planet and you should try them if you can.

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Garrison Brothers Cowboy 2019… Better than BTAC?

2019 Garrison Brothers Cowboy release is a 5 year Texas Bourbon at 137.3 proof. Made from Texas Panhandle White Corn, and blended from three different barrel types, it is a limited release of only 6,440 bottles. The distillery is in Hye, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin, and is a great place to visit for tours.

The bottle is the classic Garrison Brothers bottle but this year it is dipped in Gold wax, a first for them. Dark cowboy color, just like you except from the Cowboy.

Roasted graham crackers, stewed blackberries, dark chocolate dusted over dark roasted espresso beans, butterscotch, Twix, burnt almonds and dark molasses. This is a huge nose with a good heat but certainly doesn’t betray the 137 proof level.

Big mouthfeel. Big flavor. Huge finish. I mean, it’s Texas Bourbon right? There is a big hug but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel has nice oils and tannins but not a crazy amount, it’s well balanced. The taste gives you the dried and stewed fruit with molasses and butterscotch in waves. The finish is about two minutes. This really hits the spot for me.

I’ve always been a big fan of everything Dan Garrison and the team does. I’ve visited the Distillery and attended a dinner in NYC with them as well. Full disclosure, I paid retail for this and for all the things I’ve done with them. I’ve asked for samples, but Dan has always politely refused. It’s ok, it’s worth the price every time! I opened the bottle at a family gathering and it was a polarizing drink. Split down the middle some people loved it and some people hated it. Too hot, too big, too smoky, etc. If you have followed some of the reviews of Garrison Brothers over the years, you will see that as well. It is polarizing to many reviewers. You’ll never see an average review for them. It’s always amazing or not their style. For me, it’s my style. It’s a home run. I like my Bourbon big, uncut, unfiltered and no apologies. Dan and his team, with their Texas swagger, produce a product that just understands my soul–thank you guys. I bought a case of it this year and if I see more I’ll buy it. This is a bottle, if you share a similar palate to me, you are going to want to drink and to have at least a backup in your bunker. They only made 6,440 of these bottles and I already own 0.1% of them… when they are gone, they are gone.

Garrison Brothers: Keep up the good work and I can’t wait until the next big release!

96.5/100 … If I had any critiques, I’d like a little more oily mouthfeel and slightly longer finish. But these are minor issues. I think this release is on par or better than every single BTAC released this year.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 13, 8yr Heavy Charred Rye… collect the series, but don’t open this one.

Let me start off by saying I think Heaven Hill is one of the best distilleries on the planet and all the good work they do for ALS through these releases is amazing.  They are also the best value Bourbon producer out there, and I love going to see them when I visit KY.  I paid secondary for this bottle because I wanted to be one of the first to review it, and I actually haven’t read any reviews on it yet, so I’m going in fresh.

Color is dark, reminds me of the color from a lot of the old 1970’s ceramic decanters…. ominous sign.

Nose is muted with graphite pencil shavings, stale store bought brownies, red Skittles, mini marshmallows and stale ginger snaps. It’s not big, it turns in on itself and isn’t jumping out or exciting.

Not much heat initially but then really heats up the chest. The mouthfeel is not exciting. There are few sweet notes up front and skips the mid palate right to the finish. The finish is really long, but it’s not enjoyable. The finish doesn’t drop off quickly bitter like you might expect, but goes on for several minutes. The problem is the finish is just ok. I’ve never had a multi minute average finish, usually a long finish is a good thing. Very strange.

Parker’s Heritage Collection is one of the favorite releases of the year for many people, yet in recent years it has been controversial.  Frankly, last year was terrible. I loved PHC 11yr, and was happy it wasn’t loved by critics so I was able to grab lots on secondary for cheap (it has since almost doubled since then)… the year before was very expensive MSRP, but was a 24yr Bourbon. I enjoyed it but $399.99 was tough for most. And now we have this one. I think the most important thing we have learned is why most people don’t use heavy char for rye… it’s a failed experiment. This might be interesting if blended with a more youthful spicy rye, but ultimately this just isn’t good. It’s going for around $190 MSRP… when it first came out a couple weeks ago, people were paying $300. Now it’s $225-$250, and soon I think it will go to MSRP and I wouldn’t be surprised if it traded below that. It looks nice sealed on the shelf as a collectible, but this is one you are going to want to keep sealed or not buy at all. If anyone bought a bunch to flip on secondary, I’m sorry, but you’ll be stuck with them for a while. 73/100

I loved the 24yr:

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/phc10-parkers-heritage-collection-10-24yr-bourbon/

Did not like last year’s:

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/i-love-parkers-heritage-collection-i-dont-like-this-release-though/

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Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls: A Masterful Blend

This year’s special release Northern Border collection from Gooderham & Worts is a Four Grain Whiskey aged in eleven different types of casks and bottled at 49% abv.

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Nice looking bottle, easy to remove cork and decently medium amber color for a Canadian Whiskey.

Really unique nose, dried peaches, dried cranberry, toffee, Honey Nut Cheerios, graham cracker crust and Christmas cookies. A touch of heat but not too much on the nose.

Very sweet on the palate with just enough warmth to let you know it’s there but smooth enough to know it’s been aged enough. The mouthfeel has lots of grip down the center of the tongue but not over enveloping to start. The finish builds throughout, never dropping or getting bitter. Very enjoyable taste.

Last year’s G&W was enjoyable but not spectacular, I think this year’s may be the best of the lot. Completely different than any other Canadian Whiskey I’ve ever had and I love it. It’s subtle though, not an overpower bomb like Lot 40 Cask Strength was last year nor as epic as Wisers 35, but this is a testament to amazing blenders that can create something epic proving 1+1=3. Well done! 94/100.

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea Review

I wasn’t able to find this at retail so I had to pay up on secondary. Range is $100-$150 from what I saw. It’s a 375ml 115 Proof Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This was Jim Murray’s number one micro distillery whiskey of the year. And I love Garrison Brothers, so I had to try it. Aged four years.. two years in new barrel and then two more in new one.

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I had it shipped to my work to save the guy on shipping and I decided to pop it on the train ride home. Always important to have a Glen Cairn with you wherever you go… #ProTip

Deep dark color, love that Garrisons color. Same great nose I’m used to, big spice, cinnamon, all-spice… then burnt brown sugar, carrot cake, fresh ginger snaps w/ candied pecans, dark espresso and cocoa. Mouthfeel is awesome, heat is enjoyable and finish is long. Some people think The Cowboy is too hot (I don’t), but this one is so approachable. It’s big but not a monster, and just a spectacular finish. Never goes bitter, never falls off. It’s just wonderful.

The bottle looks great and the juice tastes wonderful. Only knock I have is that it’s expensive, and the 375ml will go too fast. Worth the secondary price though if you are a Garrison Brothers fan. I certainly am! 96/100.

P.S. If anyone is willing to cost plus ship a bottle to me, or willing to trade something, send me a DM, I want more.  Thanks!

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Garrison Brothers Balmorhea Bourbon Review

https://www.foodnewsfeed.com/content/garrison-brothers-distillery-wins-american-micro-whiskey-year

https://thebourbonrundown.com/half-ounce-pour-garrison-brothers-balmorhea/