Knob Creek 2001 in fancy wooden box

I’m a sucker for a wooden display box and a limited edition. I admit it. They say admitting it is the first step to recovery. But I also am ok with it. I’m a non-recovering limited edition junkie.

I’ve never been in love with Knob Creek, but I’ve never disliked them either; they exist in this purgatory of bourbons for me. I promise to rate at least one more in the coming weeks. No fingers crossed, I swear 😉

On to the review…

Very earthy nose, mushrooms, autumn leaves, cooper nails, pencil shavings and burned pumpkin pie.  In the very background you get some candied orange peel, baseball game bag of peanuts and cocoa.

Palate introduces some spicy elements, more peanuts and it is a little warmer than expected but enjoyable. Nice mouthfeel, decent grit and good chewiness.

This is a solid bourbon but not worthy of the price they are asking. Seems like it’s just taking advantage of the limited edition bourbon craze by adding a silly wooden box and charging a lot more. Solid bourbon, not worth the hype. 87/100.

P.S. I wrote this review a month after first opening it. When I first opened it I didn’t like it and was pissed I paid so much for it. After a month it opened up a little, but clearly not enough to overcome the price.

P.P.S. I finally posted this review more than two years after starting it… I still feel the same way, maybe even more negative about it.

Barrell Whiskey 18yr Single Barrel Pick: WhiskeyMentors ButterBall

This is Irene’s pick from Canterbury Liquors in CT and is the WhiskeyMentors QS01 ButterBall.  It is Barrell Whiskey Private Release barrel A123, age stated at 18yrs.  So what I learned from these recent releases is that only the single barrel picks are age stated at 18yrs; while the others are also 18yrs, apparently the new liquor rules about blending and finishing make it very difficult to keep the age statement on the bottle.  This one comes in at 117.6 proof, is not finished, just the pure single barrel.

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The interesting thing about this bottle is when I first cracked it, I was not a fan.  It was very hot and lacked complexity.  I sat it down and a week later it completely transformed.  I never publish reviews after trying something only once after a fresh crack; you always need to see the evolution once air hits.

I know why Irene named this ButterBall… it has a punch of Jif peanut butter right in the face.  Lots of nuttiness and there is a decent amount of heat, but that certainly has turned into a secondary feature.

Good mouthfeel, totally coats the mouth, focusing in the front.  You get that good nuttiness again and the tannins come through causing your mouth to water.  Secondary taste of Cow Tail candy, buttered toast, Skittles and Captain Crunch.  The finish is multiple minutes, and never goes bitter.

This is a good single barrel pick and it’s very hard to find something with an 18yr age statement.  Quite the unicorn!  I’m glad this one was put aside and not finished as it has a very unique profile.  96/100

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Barrell Whiskey 18yr finished in Sauternes Barrel

Sauternes…. mmmm… sweet Sauternes.  But I digress.  Today is the AH01 barrel pick from Barrell Craft Spirits, from their 18yr Kentucky whiskey line, this one finished in a Sauternes barrel.  It comes in at 123.94 proof.

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Entenmann’s original donut, honeysuckle, liquid caramel, Peanut M&M’s and fresh honey wheat bagels.  Very light heat from the nose.

Rich and chewy mouthfeel with big spices that I didn’t see on the nose.  Much bigger on the palate than the nose indicated.  Decent heat with an enjoyable hug and a finish that goes on for about two minutes and never goes bitter.

This is another really great barrel finished whiskey from Barrell.  95/100.

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https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Joe’s Playlist Track #1 Hungarian Fair: Tokaji Finished 18yr Whiskey

The review series continues and today is Barrell Whiskey Private Release, Joe’s Playlist Track #1 Hungarian Fair: 18yr Kentucky whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel.  This is another very cool finish that I’ve never had before.  I’m a huge fan of Tokaji, the original great dessert wine (even before Sauternes was popular).

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Again, beautiful bottle with the light blue lettering on top of the dark blue background.  I bought this one from Mash & Grape after seeing the playlist being promoted on Instagram.  By the time this is published I’m sure it will have been sold out unfortunately.

The nose is inviting with sweet notes of ripe apricots, butterscotch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch with mild hints of heat.  There are secondary notes of licorice, brioche and flaxseed flour.

Enjoyable mouthfeel focused on the back of the mouth to start then slowly works it was forward, a very interesting progression.  You get the nutty notes first, then fruit and sweetness second.  The second taste is better than the first.  The finish is longer than a minute.  What’s also interesting is the first day you open it, it’s a good pour, but after a week it evolves into a very good pour.

This is a really enjoyable pour and the barrel finish is very cool.  100% worth trying and adding to your collection.  95/100.

Joe’s Playlist #2: https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2020/06/29/barrell-craft-spirits-joes-playlist-2-genesis-mg01/

Ratafia de Champagne Finish 18yr Barrell Whiskey: https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/barrell-whiskey-private-release-ratafia-de-champagne-finish/

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Barrell Craft Spirits Releases 18yr Whiskey Line…

I haven’t been this excited for a whiskey release in a long time because Barrell products are usually available, the price is reasonable and they are delicious.  I live for BTAC, but my wallet does not… nice to be able to get something really special for $100 or so… what is completely insane about these releases is that this is eighteen years old! WOW!  And I’m hearing most retailers are going to be selling this for around $99.99 as well (no price gouging!).  I found out the codes on the bottles, what they mean in terms of finishes as well, which is listed below.  Apparently there is going to be a bunch of Kentucky 18yr single barrels and then 18yr finished whiskey.  I need every single one of them!!!

  • AH01 – KY Whiskey Finished in a Sauternes Barrel
  • AH02 – KY Whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel
  • AH03 – KY Whiskey finished in a Washington State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH04 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH05 – KY Whiskey finished in a Sicilian Amaro Cask
  • AH06 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel
  • AH07 – KY Whiskey finished in a Oloroso Sherry Barrel
  • AH08 – KY Whiskey finished in a Malmsey Madeira Barrel
  • AH09 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ratafia de Champagne Barrel
  • AH10 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ruby Port Barrel
  • AH11 – KY Whiskey finished in a Gewurztraminer Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH12 – KY Whiskey finished in a New York State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH13 – KY Whiskey finished in a German Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH14 – KY Whiskey finished in a Calvados Cask
  • AH15 – KY Whiskey finished in an Apricot Brandy Barrel
  • AH16 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH17 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH18 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH19 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH20 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH21 – KY Whiskey finished in a Rhum Agricole Cask
  • AH22 – KY Whiskey finished in an Indiana Rye Barrel
  • AH23 – KY Whiskey finished in an Islay Single Malt Scotch Cask
  • AH24 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel

Here is one website you can buy some of them… I wish I had the cheat sheet to where you can buy each one of these, but if I did, I’d need to buy them first 🙂

Update:  they have put some of the stores selling them on this link:

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

 

Newbourbondrinker’s Top 5 Whiskies of 2019!

Here are my top 5 whiskies/bourbons of 2019!  This year I decided to do a little something different… Instead of ranking them by my previous scores, I decided to do a little blind tasting of them… here are the contenders, with links to the reviews:

So I had my wife pour these 5 into Glencairn glasses, and to mix it up a little bit, we also put in four others just as decoys: an OWA SB NCF store pick, a Buffalo Trace SB store pick, Barrell Bourbon batch 022 and OGD 114.  Instead of giving you the play by play, here is how they all ended up:

  1. BCS 2019
  2. Cowboy 2019
  3. Barrell Bourbon Batch 022
  4. GTS 2019
  5. OWA SB NCF
  6. Cornerstone Rye
  7. Buffalo Trace SB
  8. Wiser’s 23yr
  9. OGD 114

The Top 4 were close together, but BCS took the title, while the bottom four were a bit back.  Nice to see one of the “decoys” make it into the top 5 and beat 3 of the other contenders.  The value pick clearly is BB022, edging out GTS and being much cheaper… and everyone knows that if you can snag a great store pick OWA SB NCF, that’s always worth snagging as many as you can–unfortunately those are harder and harder to get at MSRP, but even at double, still worth it for the right pick.

I’m so sorry it took so long to put out this blog, but first quarter has been a little crazy, and now that we are all working from home, I have a little more time to catch up with older posts that were partially written and actually follow through with this blind tasting!

George Remus Volstead 100th Anniversary 14yr MPG

Really nice bottle, beautiful presentation bottle and case. Apparently only 6,000 released. It’s a 14yr MGP Bourbon at $200, it has to be great right?

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I actually paid $235 with tax on this one, wasn’t $200 in my store, but close enough.

When I first cracked it open it smelled woody and tasted woody. There wasn’t much else as the wood overpowered everything. I let it sit a while and tried it again. Air does wonderful things to a fresh cracked whiskey.

You still are getting solid wood notes but graham crackers, toasted marshmallows, dried figs and black currant.

The mouthfeel is ok but lacks an oily enjoyment and the wood tannins overpower everything else. The finish is shorter than I hoped and there is more heat than the nose indicates.

I don’t know who the blender is at George Remus but it seems sad to waste such amazing juice on this product. It could have been given to a master blender to produce something truly special, worthy of this packaging. The heavy gold cap is especially nice though…. It’s still good, but not worth chasing. Initial grade: 84/100… after leaving it open for several months it opened up and the regrade is 88/100.

If you are a huge MGP fan, you are going to want to own this and you might think it’s a 90-92/100, but this is not an epic pour, and there are so many better MGP products out there.

Cream of Kentucky Initial Release, Disappointing

Sorry for delay here… I’m releasing it over a year late… I just was hoping that it would get better, and it improved mildly, but not enough… here we go:

Seems like  a lot of bloggers got a free bottle of this one… I bought it on bottle-spot secondary for $160… I guess I’m not getting a lot of love from the free bottle Bourbon Gods these days… But allows my conscious to be clear when I write these reviews.  I never got into it for the free booze anyway…

Bright copper color. Bottle is fairly generic and the plastic wrapper around the top seems cheap to be honest. Juice looks great in the glass.

First crack was heat and a lot of it.

After letting it sit for a while you still get a lot of heat but it’s moderated. Really nutty nose, almond butter, toasted pecans, Reese Peanut Butter cups… afterwards graham crackers and all-spice.

Mouthfeel is ok but not great, it starts out ok but fails to last and the heat is still higher than expected for this level or Proof and age. Finish isn’t particularly long.

This is one of the limited release Bourbons that has come out recently and priced at retail around $160. It just doesn’t deliver. It’s totally average. There are dozens of offerings at half the price that are significantly better. Would have expected more from Mr. Rutledge. 84/100

Top 5 Disappointing Bourbons in 2019

Every year there are more and more “special releases” which some are actually special… and a lot are not… there are also more and more bloggers and podcasts about Bourbon… we are at an all time high of Boubon commentary and releases… a lot of that is positive, some not so much.  I just wanted to put together a few of  what I thought were the biggest disappointments of the year…

The Fall of BSM and Bottle-Spot…  These were the two biggest secondary sites for trading.  There are so many haters out there about flippers, but the truth is that sometimes you can’t get the bottle you want, but you can find some bottles you don’t, so you trade them.  Losing these sites was disappointing for Bourbon overall.

St. Cloud… this was literally the worst thing I tasted all year.  I did a whole interview with the founder, really enjoyed it, was writing up a huge piece… and then I tried it.  It was disgusting.  I didn’t publish the piece because I felt bad about it, but at $100 a bottle for 2 year juice that is barely quaffable, I had to mention it here.  Happy to discuss privately more details.

Parker’s Heritage Collection Rye Heavy Char gets PHC on the list two years in a row…  A lot of people really liked it, I really didn’t.  I didn’t even write a review on this one because I was so disappointed by it.  Hopefully they come up with something better this year!

Kentucky Owl Confiscated… worst thing ever from Kentucky Owl.  Use in a cocktail only.  Their batch Bourbons and Ryes are awesome.  This felt like a money grab from their new owners.  Amazing to see this trade up in secondary the moment it came out, and then crater to below where Costco was offering it… definitely hurt the brand as well as you now see all the Bourbon batches sitting on the shelves and trading under MSRP too.  The Rye remains the bright spot, but I hear they are done at batch 3?

Cream of Kentucky… Too hot.  Expected more out of Jim Rutledge.  It’s hard to charge $120-$150 for a bottle that just has this much heat on it.  Would be reasonable at $40.  Another review that is still stuck in my drafts that will probably never get out…

Again… I’m sure people will threadshit all over this post.  These are my opinions only.  Enjoy.

“No I can’t get you Pappy at MSRP” or another way to show you the top 5 bottles under $100 for 2019

I’m sure every avid Bourbon hunter/collector/drinker gets the same questions I do: “hey man, can you get me the hookup on some Pappy?”  Of course I can, $450 for a Pappy 10yr… “whattttt?”…. I don’t get it at MSRP, I don’t own a store, but I know people who will sell it for secondary (which seems to be 400-500 depending on where you are, if you can get it for less, great, but don’t pay more)… But then people think they can get it for MSRP, good luck with that unless you have a serious hookup, that I certainly don’t have either… After calling a bunch of stores and asking other people, the realization settles in, they ask, well, what can I get for under $100 that is really good too? Every year my list changes, but this year I am recommending these bottles to get, either as value drinks for yourself, or to recommend to your friends for drinkers… I know there will be a lot of disagreement, and I would love to hear your recommendations:

  • Mellow Corn (~$12)… great for cocktails
  • Buffalo Trace (~$25)… hard to beat for the price
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrels  (~$35)… great single barrel value
  • Russel’s Reserve 10yr Single Barrels (~$45)… all around solid choice
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail (~$75)… great sipper, cask strength, finished whiskey

Honorable Mention: ECBP, OWA 107, ETL, Blantons…. but they have been harder to find these days and often trade above $100 in secondary…

What do you think I should have on this list?  Comments welcome!