Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1

Although I wasn’t able to get a bottle at retail, I did snag one from http://www.bottle-spot.com and it is trading for around $200 right now, which is not bad, if it turns out to be a high quality rye.  It’s 110.6 proof, lower than both the Handy and Pikesville, but at 11 years in the barrel, it’s almost double their age.  Distilled in Kentucky, I have no idea where this is originally from… this is my first Kentucky Owl product ever as the Bourbon has been too small of a production and too high of a secondary price.  I did try a dram at Jack Rose and loved it, however, I was about 10 drams into the evening, so who really knows?

On to the review… nice dark color, very inviting.  The nose has evolved quite a bit since I opened it this weekend.  I’m getting candied orange, rock candy, nutmeg, bubble gum, graham crackers and grapefruit rind.  The nose isn’t nearly as hot as the proof would suggest.

The mouthfeel is great, really grippy and bursting with flavor.  I’m really getting the orange and rock candy and spicy notes on the tongue.  The finish goes on for at least two minutes, hard to tell exactly because I keep drinking more before I get to three minutes.

This is a really nice rye.  It is expensive though.  I did a quick side by side analysis vs Thomas Handy, and although good, not quite at THH level.  Is it better than the Pikesville?  Well, it’s different, but it is also 3x more expensive–that hurts it a little bit.  The bottom line is this is a wonderful rye and if you like rye, you should absolutely try to get it and if your budget allows, you should pay up for it in the secondary market.  Pikesville will still be my go-to rye given the cost and availability, but if you are able to grab one of these, you will not be disappointed to add it to your whiskey cabinet.  95/100.

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Jack Rose: Old Fitzgerald BIB Stitzel Weller

Old Fitzgerald BIB Stitzel Weller:
Golden hue–just like expected. Baking spices, vanilla, heat is more than expected, creme brûlée and graham crackers.  If you were expecting me to orgasm at this point, unfortunately, you will be disappointed. The mouthfeel is good but nothing special. The taste is good, but again, not life altering. It’s solid but to be honest the finish very quickly turns bitter and isn’t that exciting. It’s similar to the Old Crow dusty in terms of enjoyment. The difference is the mouthfeel is slightly better but the bitterness on the finish is significantly worse. There is no Fucking way these bottles are worth even remotely close to what they go on the secondary market. I’m torn on how to rate this. If price was not a factor I would rate it two points lower than the dusty Old Crow, but my system takes price into account. 84/100.

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I Dipped It Myself! Maker’s 46 Cask Strength

Part of my trip to Kentucky several months ago included trip to Loretto to do the Maker’s tour.  At the end of the tour I bought a couple bottles and dipped them myself.  Maker’s Mark does one of the best tours of any distillery and is a must do for those making the trip to KY.  It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth it.  For now, Maker’s 46 Cask Strength is only available in the gift shop, but I’m told that will change soon.

Lots of baking spices: vanilla, cinnamon, allspice on the nose, raisin bread, mesquite chips and pencil shavings. Not too hot on the nose, good for a 110.7 proof Bourbon.

The palate is enjoyable, nice chew, decent oils, moderate and warm finish.  The spices come through strongly tickling the tongue, but the finish drops off.

Definitely one of the best tours on the tour, but not the best bourbon.  I prefer the original Maker’s to the 46, and the cask 46 is just more of it.  Enjoyable certainly, but nothing that’s a must try.  86/100.

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Four Roses Gift Shop Elliott’s Pick OBSF

Part of my Kentucky trip took me to the gift shop at Four Roses. I actually didn’t open this up until very recently and after I had already tried the Elliott’s Select, but after trying it I had to open this up as soon as possible.

This private single barrel is an OBSF, 50.3% abv, aged 11yrs and 7 months, from warehouse GW and is barrel # 81-1H.

Medium heat on the nose, dried grass, graham crackers, cloves, cracked walnuts and a hint of raspberry jam. Initially I’m a little disappointed by the nose compared to this year’s Elliott’s Select.

The taste is better and so is the mouthfeel. There’s a lot of spiciness on the palate that I was completely missing on the nose. It really tickles your tongue.  The tannins and oil nicely balance out the mouthfeel.

Overall this is a solid single barrel but not even close to the Elliott’s Select. The finish is quite long but it lacks some of the sweet notes that the other had. 87/100.

 

Johnny Drum Private Stock 101 Proof Gem

Johnny Drum is one of those hidden gems that those in Kentucky know about, but few people outside of the Bluegrass State have been made aware of yet.  It retails for around $32, is aged 15 years and comes from Bardstown, at the Willett Distillery.  It’s a sourced whiskey and I have know idea where the Willett boys find it, but where are you going to get 15 years Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey for around thirty bucks?  I have the sneaky suspicion it’s a blend of stuff they think is not quite good enough for their WFE single barrel program, but still good enough to drink.

The color is a darker golden amber, shows the age without doubt.

There is an earthy aroma on the nose, mushrooms, dried hickory bark, but also baking spices with some brown sugar in the background.  It is an enjoyable nose with minimal heat.

The taste is good.  Upfront you get the richer notes which evolve into the spicy notes afterwards.  The palate is enjoyable and the finish is fairly long.

The is not a particularly complex bourbon, but it is enjoyable with rich notes given to it by the 15 years in the barrel.  It may be the stuff that doesn’t make it into the Willett Family Estate Single Barrel program, but it’s pretty good.  Not to mention the price, which can’t be beat.  It’s better that Forged Oak by a large margin, the only other 15 year bourbon easily available on the market, costing 2-3x (or more if some retailer is ripping you off).  90/100.

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Jefferson’s Groth

I’ve always enjoyed Jefferson’s–never blown away but never unhappy. I have traded/begged/hunted for some of the older ones, but I thought I’d try the Groth which is pretty much available everywhere. (Will the person on bottle-spot who is trying to sell it for more please stop??)

Finished whiskeys have been incredibly en vogue recently, but not all of them are good. I’m going into this one with an open mind.

Baking spices, plums, green apple, rubber and raspberries. Interesting and fruity nose.

Palate is enjoyable, smooth and uncomplicated. The oak and wine from the finish certainly are coming through–but I’m not sure it’s just changing the flavor or improving. Enjoyable experience.

This is a hard one. I enjoy it but I prefer the classic bourbon notes that have been pushed to the back burner on this one. If it was $30, I would be a 90+ score, but given it usually goes for $80-$90 it’s hard to justify the price. Buy a dram at the bar, but not worth adding to the collection. 86/100.

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BTEC Entry Proof Experiment

I love the BTEC collection, even if I don’t love each of the individual whiskeys. The fact they are experimenting and letting us try them is pretty cool. I’m not in love with the costs either, but the market has dictated most of high prices.  Not to give this one away, but this experiment is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to the results.

The BTEC is about entry level proof into the barrel, 105 vs 125 using the BT rye bourbon mash #2 and aged for 13.25 years.

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Both look equally golden Amber in color.

105: a bit hot on the nose initially, but butterscotch, lemongrass, peach pits, cinnamon, allspice and oak come through in the second whif.

125: surprisingly not hot on the nose, it’s sweeter with toasted raisin bread, butter cornbread, cracked walnut and baking spices. The nose on this one seems far more developed and approachable.

105: enjoyable initial taste, although thin mouthfeel and quickly drops off with a slightly sour aftertaste with just warmth remaining.

125: even more enjoyable initial taste, with a medium mouthfeel that continues for much longer and does not give a sour aftertaste. The finish is moderate and there is a much more balanced flavor, feel and warmth profile that the 105 entry point is missing.

There isn’t even a comparison here and it’s shocking to believe these started as the same, with everything identical expect for the entry proof into the barrel. The 105 proof is an incomplete and lacking bourbon, while the 125 is very enjoyable. A bit expensive for a 375ml, but good to know how important entry proof is into a barrel, and it’s no wonder that most distillers fill their barrels at the legal maximum.  Great experiment and worth trying side by side to see.

105:  83/100
125:  91/100