Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Review

Northern Harvest RyeThe new job has definitely made regularly posting (and tasting) a chore, but I should do better in the future.  Today, I am reviewing Crown Royal’s new Northern Harvest Rye, a 90% rye mash-bill from  a few different distilleries (Alberta and Forty Creek, I believe, but if you know for sure, let me know).  There is no age statement on this whisky, but it is bottled at 90 proof (45% abv), which is a move I really like.

On the nose, there is some notes of fresh mint leaves, cloves, spearmint, rye spice, and eucalyptus.  It’s a pretty straightforward rye nose, with not a lot of complexity, but it is very well-executed and very pleasant.  The palate is soft and dry, with good hints of mint and rye, and a bit of caramel sweetness.  The finish is dry and medium in length with pleasant rye, vanilla, and caramel lingering.

On the whole, I am a big fan of this whisky.  It isn’t anything that will blow your mind, but it is a well-built, straightforward rye.  If you like rye whiskey, this is a dry rye with a lot of classic rye flavors going on.  Crown Royal gets knocked down occasionally by connoisseurs in the whiskey blogosphere, but this is a very fine rye whisky.  My grade: B-.  Price: $30-35/750ml.   If you are looking for a good rye to keep around the house for both cocktails and a fine dram before dinner, this is a great rye to have on hand for such a purpose.

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Scotch Review

I do sincerely apologize for my lack of posts of late; there have been a great deal of changes in my life of late.  But, to honor those changes, I thought I would do a review of a whisky from a distillery that is constantly changing – Bruichladdich.  I have tried a great many whiskies from this distillery, all of which are different and unique.  Bruichladdich has always been a distillery known for its shifting expressions, and its use of peat in varying degrees.

Today, I am reviewing Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, a whisky with no-age-statement, bottled at 100 proof (50% abv) without any chill-filtration.  The Port Charlotte lineup is a series of whiskies comprised of peated Bruichladdich stocks.  Port Charlotte is peated from the inland peat of Islay, a contrast to the low seaside peat of Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin.  This leads to a slightly different flavor profile, with the Port Charlotte being a drier peat and the coastal peat being a wetter peat.  The Port Charlotte expressions tend towards a dry, woodier smoke, as opposed to the damp, medicinal smoke of the southern Islay distilleries, such as Laphroaig and Lagavulin.

The nose on this Port Charlotte expression is an earthy, dry peat, with notes of malt, burning leaves, brine, sea salt, and perfume.  The palate is soft and elegant, belying the youth of the whisky.  There are notes of honey, heather, hay, vanilla, peat, and burning wood.  The finish is short for a peated Islay whisky, whispering burning wood, honey, and barbecue smoke on the back of the tongue.

Overall, this is a delicious, young peated malt.  I love the character of the peat, and the balance of the whisky as a whole.  It is complex, balanced, and full-flavored.  This is a great introduction to Bruichladdich peat and the Port Charlotte range.  My grade: B+/A-.  Price: $60-70/750ml.  This is a little pricey for its age, but this is surely a wonderful peated single malt.

St. George Single Malt Review

St. George as he slays the dragon (Note: he celebrated his victory with a glass of single malt whiskey).

St. George as he slays the dragon (Note: he celebrated his victory with a glass of single malt whiskey).

Today, I am reviewing one of the whiskeys I get asked about most often – St. George Single Malt. I have already reviewed the bourbon that comes out of St. George – Breaking and Entering – a bourbon I rather enjoyed. Unlike Breaking and Entering (which is a blend of sourced bourbons), St. George distills their single malt on the premises.

The single malt is the flagship spirit of the St. George’s distillery, as Lance Winters (St. George’s founder and Master Distiller) was a brewer by trade before getting into spirits. Lance is famous for tweaking the mash bill of the whiskey by using different types of barley, much like one would with beer. In terms of casking, St. George is also a creative product, using a myriad of different casks, such as French oak, ex-bourbon casks, and port pipes. St. George Single Malt is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv), and the particular batch I am reviewing is Lot 14.

The nose is soft and gentle, with pine, elegant smoke, potpourri, citrus peels, and perfume. The palate is medium-bodied, and it is nutty, with vanilla, whipped cream, and some nutmeg type spices rounding it out. The finish is short with some pine nuts, wood shavings, and fresh ginger.

Overall, this is a unique single malt, and one that I have enjoyed sipping. This is a very approachable malt, but the flavors are complex and presented well. My only problem with this single malt is the price point. This is definitely one of the best whiskeys on the American craft scene, but I don’t think it fully warrants the $80 price tag. A lot of people have asked me what I think of this one, and I really do like the whiskey in the bottle, especially for an American single malt. My grade: B-. Price: $70-80/750ml. This is good, unique whiskey, but if you are looking to spend $80 on a bottle of whiskey, there are at least a dozen whiskeys I would turn to before looking at this one.

Jameson 12 Year Select Reserve Irish Whiskey Review

Well, the Masters is underway, and of course, the top-ranked golfer in the world is the story this week.  Will he get the career Grand Slam?  Will he head to Chambers Bay in two months with a Rory Slam on his mind?  Those questions are yet to be answered, but his opportunity this week seemed like a good reason to review another Irish whiskey.Rory McIlroy

Today, I’m reviewing Jameson 12-Year Select Reserve, a blended whiskey with a slightly higher percentage of pot-still whiskey than the standard Jameson label.  Another difference between the 12 year-old edition and the standard Jameson blend is that the older of the two has a bit more sherry-aged stock than its younger sibling.  The result is a whiskey that has a woodier, darker take on the standard Jameson profile.  Jameson 12-Year Select Reserve is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

The nose is definitely oakier than standard Jameson, taming some of the fruity alcohol notes. The nose here still yields pears, red apples, and vanilla, but also brings forth red wine notes, oak, and raisins. The palate is soft and creamy, with vanilla, whipped cream, sandalwood, pears, sweet and tart apples, walnuts, and oak. The finish is short, sweet, fruity, and slightly tannic.

Overall, this is a definite improvement on the standard Jameson blend.  There is a good bit more depth to this, and it seems that the wood has influenced this whiskey a great deal more than in younger Irish whiskeys.  The classic flavors of Jameson remain, but this has more depth and body to it.  My grade: B-.  Price: $60-70/750ml.  This is a very enjoyable whiskey, easy-drinking and pleasant all the way through; there are better value buys at this price point, though.

The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Irish Whiskey Review

One fine Irishman deserves another.

One fine Irishman deserves another.

To conclude the month of March, I thought I might work another Irish review into the mix. Today, I am reviewing The Irishman Founder’s Reserve a small batch Irish whiskey blend. The Irishman is a whiskey company that does not distill any of their own stock, but does bottle some lovely whiskies. The Founder’s Reserve label is comprised of 70% single malt whiskey and 30% single pot still whiskey (which I have heard rumored to be sourced from Cooley). The Founder’s Reserve is triple distilled and aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. It comes in at 80 proof (40% abv).

The nose is a classic Irish nose, with pears, apples, big floral notes, honey, malt, and potpourri. The palate is light and sweet, with a good dose of honey, vanilla, malt, orchard fruits, and a little floral twinge. The finish is slightly drying (of oak), sweet (butter cream), and medium in length.

Overall, I am rather fond of this whiskey. It is pleasant all the way through, and very approachable. However, there is enough complexity to keep it interesting and avoid the dread moniker of “smooth.” Whiskey and Rob Thomas songs only rarely mix, you know. The fruit characteristics work well with sweet and dry flavors from the bourbon cask to form a fine Irish dram. My grade: B-. Price: $30-35/750ml. The Irishman Founder’s Reserve is soundly better than any other Irish blended whiskey I have had in its same price range.

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey Review

Teeling Small Batch 750ml WhiskeyWell, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and when you have a whiskey blog, you are supposed to review an Irish dram. That is just the way of things. So today, I am reviewing Teeling Small Batch, a wonderful Irish whiskey from Teeling in Dublin. I have yet to determine whether all of the whiskey in this batch was distilled in Dublin or not, but I have heard rumors that this blended whiskey uses about 65% malt compared to only 35% grain whiskeys. So, if anyone out there can help out a misguided American on St. Patrick’s Day, I’d be much obliged.

What I do know is that the bottle I am enjoying was bottled in May 2014, and it was finished for 6 months in ex-rum casks, although there is no age statement on the bottle.  However, what I like most about this whiskey is the craft presentation; it is bottled without chill filtration at 92 proof (46% abv).

The nose is wonderful, with apples, cinnamon, gingerbread cookies, molasses, pears, honeysuckle, and potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied and quite dry, but it still maintains the classic silky smooth Irish whiskey texture. The flavors that emerge are spicy and sweet, with some clove, cardamom, cinnamon, apples, molasses, and sawdust. The finish is sweet with pears, vanilla, and a bit of honeysuckle, lingering with some drying orange and lemon flavors.

Overall, this is a gem of an Irish whiskey. The rum finish adds a drying spiced quality to the spirit that beautifully complements the sweet flavors of the American oak aging. As I have worked through this bottle, it has opened up pleasantly, revealing deeper and more complex flavors. Teeling does have a few other whiskeys released, but so far, this iteration is the only one available in the U.S. I did receive this bottle as a St. Patrick’s Day gift, but I would absolutely purchase another bottle. My grade: B/B+. Price: $40-45/750ml. There are a lot of Irish whiskeys around this price point, but I have yet to come across one that I enjoyed as much as this one.

Filibuster Triple Cask Bourbon Review

Today, I am reviewing a limited release from the D.C.-based company, Filibuster. Filibuster is mostly known for their “Dual Cask” series, which features a bourbon and a rye, both of which involved sourced whiskey finished in French Oak ex-wine casks (neither of which have I tried). However, Filibuster recently released Batch 1 of their limited release, “Triple Cask.”

Like the “Dual Cask” series, the “Triple Cask” is a sourced bourbon from an unnamed distillery and finished in our nation’s capital by Filibuster. The “triple cask” moniker refers to the Sherry casks (both Fino and Pedro Ximenez) that finish this bourbon. The sourced bourbon is about 5 years old, which puts the finished product at about 6-7 years, but there is no age statement on the bottle. Filibuster Triple Cask is a limited release bourbon, only being produced in small batches. It is bottled at cask strength, and Batch 1 clocks in at 117.47 proof (58.74% abv). Many thanks to my good friend, Bryan, for the sample on this one!

Let me just say at the outset, I have not yet tasted a whiskey that has evolved in the bottle quite like this one. When we first cracked this bottle, it was rough. The nose smelled mostly of charred rubber and sweaty leather shoes. The sherry influence came through a bit on the palate, but in funky, sulfuric manner. All throughout, the whiskey had a very harsh edge to it, almost in the vein of rubbing alcohol. The finish was long with burnt corn and wet moss notes. When we first opened this bottle, it was hard to drink.

However, after letting this bottle sit for about three weeks, with about one-fifth of the bottle consumed, it opened up quite a bit. Upon a re-taste, the nose was much more pleasant, with candied ginger, tar, burning wood, and some rubber notes. The palate still presented a type of funky sherry (reminiscent of Edradour), but also some macerated grapes and toasted coconut flavors. The finish was pleasant (the best part of this bourbon), presenting notes of sherry, mahogany, caramel, and butterscotch.

Overall, this whiskey was almost night and day. If I would not have gone back and re-tasted this whiskey, I would have given it a “D.” On the other hand, this whiskey would have gotten a “B-” from me if I had just sampled it halfway through the bottle, which is why I have decided to meet Filibuster Triple Cask somewhere in the middle. There are some very good finished bourbons on the market today (see Angel’s Envy), but I don’t think this belongs in that same category. My grade: C. Price: $60-70/750ml. For the price point, I’d be inclined to leave this one on the shelf unless you are extremely curious about a Sherry-finished bourbon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers