Elmer T Lee is not a $150 Bourbon

Confession: I have bought and bunkered lots of Elmer T Lee over the years.  I once went into a store that had 12 for $35 each and I bought all 12.  I knew the secondary was double that, and I love to drink it, so I bought it for trading and drinking.

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However… ETL is not a $150 Bourbon.  Maybe it should be $75?  Maybe $100?  For some crazy reason I’m seeing it listed for north of $100 recently on secondary sites, but doesn’t seem to be trading above there.  It’s nuts when you go to a store and see if for $150 or more, because at those levels, the owner better like it, because no sane person will pay that.

One of my local stores (Grapes), sent this email around advertising ETL for $149.99, the same price of Rhetoric… but we aren’t going to open that can of worms.

ETL is great.  But it’s only marginally better than the regular Buffalo Trace.  I’m just venting, mostly because I can’t find it anymore at a reasonable price, but I’m probably just part of the problem anyway.

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Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Sherry Cask Finish

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Sherry Cask Finish

I’ve had mixed success with some of the high end Wild Turkey release in the last few years. Some have come off too old, too woody, too hot, just off or just not right. Despite my mixed history, I decided to take the plunge on this one, and I’m glad I did.

The bottle looks great with a nice wood and metal cap cork with a thick glass base. The Bourbon is dark amber and inviting.  The bottles and packaging has never been lacking…

The nose is great with the sherry complementing, not overpowering. Notes of baking spices, cinnamon stick, caramel, baked scones, raisins and just the right amount of sherry. I was worried it would be over sherried, but it definitely isn’t.

The mouthfeel is really nice, completely covering every part of my mouth with just enough heat to make sure you know it’s over 100 Proof, but smooth enough given the age. Spice comes through on the palate, but the finish ends a little early and a touch bitter.

It’s a really good sherry finished bourbon and I’m happy I bought it. It will look great on my wall and tastes great. Not one I will bunker given the price, but a very good one worth picking up. 93/100.

I took these photos in my backyard and as luck would have it, a flock of wild turkeys were walking by at the same time….

 

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 2, Disappointing Follow-up…

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1 was one of my favorite whiskies of last year, and my second favorite rye, next to Lot 40 Cask Strength 12yr. Batch 1 came out strong and the secondary ran up quickly to 200-250 before people realized that tens of thousands of bottles were released and eventually MSRP came all the way down to $110 and it was easy to get everywhere. At the $110 price, it was a no brainer to buy 6 or more and become a daily drinker (I still have 3 left in my bunker). Batch 2 has come out with an MSRP of $180, which is what I paid for this one. I’ve seen secondary offers in the 200-250 range, but I expect this to drop to the MSRP level extremely quickly.

The bottle looks the same, but the top doesn’t have the fake tax stamp and has a slightly different enclosure. This one is slightly less proof as well, but from afar, they look the same.

The nose is good, candied orange peel, NECCO Wafers, honeysuckle, rose petals, brown sugar, ginger snaps and cherry pie. Not too hot.

The candied flavors come in strong on the palate and the mouthfeel is good, but a little thin, as it fails to coat all over as much as I wanted. The finish is medium long but does fade to bitter at the end, far sooner than I hoped.

Batch 2 is a decent, but given the sky high expectations, mildly disappointing follow up to Batch 1; the original is better. The nose and palate are similar with the strong candied orange peel, but the main difference is the mouthfeel, which is superior in the original. The heat is equal, even though this is lower proof. The price increase of more than 50% doesn’t help it either. Worth picking up a bottle, especially if you liked the first one, but certainly not one worthy of stocking up on given the price. 90/100

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Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye 2018 Limited Release

Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye 2018 Limited Release. Barrelled in 2009, bottled at 119.6 Proof.

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The last two Knob Creek special releases were exceptionally disappointing and I promised not to buy more than one this year. I still have the last few in my bunker because no one wants to buy or trade for them. This year the price is half and no fancy wood box.

The nose is rock candy, heat, band aid, pencils and cinnamon toast. It’s not particularly exciting.

It’s very spicy and the mouthfeel is initially ok but turns hot and bitter quickly. This isn’t one of those sweet and spicy ryes that evolves, it just goes flat.

Knob Creek has gone three in a row for disappointing people with their limited releases. The price is good for a 9yr Cask strength rye, except that it’s just not that great. I’m proud to admit I learned my lesson and only bought one this time around. Next year I won’t buy more than one, but I’ll still buy a bottle so I can warn everyone else not to buy it. For better tasting and better value ryes, buy Pikesville or Barrell Rye. 81/100

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/top-5-disappointments-of-2016-in-bourbon/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/top-5-disappointments-in-bourbon-in-2017/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/4-new-releases-from-barrell-bourbon/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/

Appleton Joy 25yr Rum is INCREDIBLE

I’ve been accused recently of only posting bad reviews and negative stories in order to get more hits and blog reads.  I’ll be honest, bad reviews absolutely get more hits than positive reviews, but that’s not why I’ve been posting so many bad ones recently; I’ve just been drinking too many bad things.  Today that changes.

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Appleton Joy Anniversary Edition Rare Jamaica Rum aged 25 years is blended by Joy Spence, bottled at 45% abv and bottled in a very cool bottle with a nice cork and wood top.  It comes in a nice display case and, spoiler alert, tastes amazing.  I paid $219.99 for it, and although it isn’t available at every corner liquor store, it is online and so far hasn’t been trading at crazy levels in the secondary market.  To the reader who says $219.99 is already crazy expensive, I’d argue that for a perfectly blended 25yr (25yrs is the minimum, also has much older rum in here too), the price is incredibly reasonable.  Compare to a (drinkable) Rye or Bourbon, and you’d be lucky to get it for 2-3x that price.

The color is dark amber with copper shininess.  The nose is so complex: it has the distinct characteristics of a high quality rum, molasses, cinnamon stick, cloves, but also has cocoa, leather, caramel, cream cheese based frosting and a hint of espresso.  The nose also has almost no heat at all, just incredibly inviting.

All the flavors on the nose come in so strongly on the palate and just keep evolving.  The mouthfeel is enjoyable and the finish just goes on and on.  This is one special rum, and the only one I’ve ever had that was better was the Foursquare 2006, which was cask strength.

This is such a special bottle that if you like aged rum, it’s a must have.  It’s also readily available, even though it’s above $200.  It’s a special sipper, and don’t let anyone mix this with anything.  Grab your bottle while you still can.  97/100.

Other people have also written about it, take a look at their reviews:

Rum Review: Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend

https://www.tastethedram.com/single-post/2017/08/31/appleton-estate-joy-rum-review/

Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend

More Obnoxious Liquor Stores Part II + one surprising good one

Sometimes when I have a lot of free time I’ll just go for a long walk in New York City and stop at every liquor store along my walk.  It’s good exercise, nice to be outside, and I like trying new neighborhoods that I’ve never been in (or haven’t visited in years since I move to the suburbs), so I try new stores.  Last night I went for a long walk up through the Upper East Side and hit up a bunch of stores, and three stood out.  The first two, well, just see the photos, you’ll understand.  The third one, as I got closer to Harlem was surprisingly good and worth checking out.  There were dozens of others that just didn’t have much but were not worthy of making the blog, either positively or negatively.

Big Apple Wine & Spirits: 1408 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021…. Weller Reserve for $109, Thomas Handy for $699… come on guys.  Plus the guy at the front was extremely obnoxious.  Avoid this place.

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Manhattan Wine Xchange 1079 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10065: Weller 12 for $299, Kentucky Owl Rye for $269, Handy 500, Stagg 850… Why bother?

Crown Wine & Liquor 1587 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028: This place was surprisingly good.  I picked up a ECBP B517 for retail as well as a Hirsch 20yr American Whiskey (from IL, so it probably stinks, but I’ve never seen it before on the shelf) for $99.99.  They had a Handy way in the back on the top of the shelf for $350, which is high, but for NYC, not obnoxiously high, so I passed on it.  I did offer them $250 cash, but the manager wasn’t there so the guy at the front didn’t know what to do.  They were fine, the selection was good, and the prices reasonable.

More Obnoxious Liquor Stores… Avoid unless you want to get upset… Part I

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Sag Harbor Liquor Store: 52 Main St, Sag Harbor, NY 11963 …. Take a look at the prices on this one.  I realize this quaint store is based in the center of Sag Harbor riches, where most houses are second homes of Wall Street elite or primary residences of independently wealthy people who probably don’t even check prices… but these are insane.  $185 for Weller 107?  That’s a $30-35 bottle and it isn’t even a store pick. I find that one the most offensive, the $245 for Weller 12 750ml doesn’t even bother me as much, even though its 2x secondary. How about $1,600 for Michter’s 20, no not the one from a few years ago that was probably SW juice, this year’s release.  I know that’s the bottle in the background in Billions, but seriously guys.  There are so many more, but I had to leave the store before I got really angry.  Anyway, this store is one to steer clear of, don’t even get tempted.

Murray Hill NYC: Winfield-Llynn Ltd Wine & Spirits: 558 3rd Ave @ 37th st: COMPLETELY obnoxious… on the top shelf they have a bunch of bottles that we are all searching for, but are charging close to double secondary values.  When I asked if they are negotiable, the guy basically laughed at me.  What a joker.  Ignore this store…

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JL Wine & Liquors: 60 East 34th Street.  If you want bad service, lack of knowledge, and a Parkers Heritage 11 for $499.99, then this is the store for you!

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Beekman Liquor 500 Lexington Ave: besides horrible service, obnoxious people, you can get a 2017 BTAC George T Stagg there for $699!  Just the worst… avoid like the plague!

Madison Square Grapes: 342 7th Ave & 29th st.  You gotta see these photos to believe it… the funny thing is some of the prices aren’t insane, but some just make no sense at all.  Micthers 10 for $239.99, while EC18 is only $10 more?  Stagg Jr for $119.99 and Forged Oak for $189.99?  It almost makes their Seasoned Wood for $399.99 look like a bargain?