Posts tagged ‘Happy New Year’

Happy New Year! and Koval Single Barrel Rye Review

2015 is upon us, and I hope you have enjoyed Bargain Bourbon’s past year as much as I have.  As always, a massive “Thank You” to all my readers of Bargain Bourbon and the people in my life who put with me through all my bloggings, musings, and rantings. So, on that note, what better way to open up 2015 than with a little whiskey review?

http://www.koval-distillery.com/newsite/whiskey/rye

Koval Rye Official Site (Photo Source)

At WhiskyLive Boston 2014, I was introduced to Koval Distillery, out of Chicago.  I reviewed their bourbon, and found it to be a refreshing take on bourbon that pushed the envelope without sacrificing the integrity of the product.  Needless to say, I was pretty fired up to dabble in some more Koval spirit.  So, I’m kicking off 2015 with a review of Koval’s rye whiskey.  This is a single barrel, 100% rye whiskey with no age statement (but I suspect we are talking about a 2-3 year-old whiskey).  The particular barrel I am reviewing is Barrel #331, and it is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

At first whiff, this is dry stuff, damn near non-liquid with notes of sawdust, dill weed, turpentine, nutmeg, and ginger.  It is a sharp, very dry nose, and while it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, I like it.  The palate is light in its body, with some sawdust, ginger, dry rye, and cinnamon candy.  The finish is spicy, sharp, and bone dry.  As this whiskey worked down in the bottle, it really opened up in its body, cutting through its dry character to become softer and more approachable on the palate.

Overall, this is definitely a great cocktail rye (especially if paired with an especially sweet vermouth in a Manhattan), but it also works well on its own.  This is a very versatile whiskey that will only improve with a few more years in the barrel helping it along.  If you like great rye cocktails, sipping a fine whiskey on the rocks, trying a great new rye, or supporting a very good craft distillery, Koval Single Barrel Rye is worth the money.  My grade: B-.  Price:  $40-45/750ml.  The only complaint that I can really find with this whiskey is the disparity between the age and the price, but this is certainly a quality rye that cuts through the gimmicks of the craft whiskey world with a solid 100% rye.

Happy New Year from Bargain Bourbon!

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Berkshire Bourbon Review (and some End-of-2012 Thoughts)

For my last bourbon review of 2012, I am reviewing Berkshire Bourbon, a local Massachusetts bourbon from Berkshire Mountain Distillers.  Berkshire Mountain Distillers currently make six different products, two gins, a vodka, a rum, a bourbon, and a straight corn whiskey.  The bourbon is bottled at 86 proof; there is no age statement given, but I do not think this is much older than 5 years.  It is readily available in Massachusetts, but its availability decreases the further one ventures from the snowy New England landscape.   Berkshire Bourbon

The nose is the highlight of this whiskey for me.  It is quite hearty and dense, with notes of sweet corn, dessert cheese, candied walnuts, and dense caramel.  However, the whiskey goes downhill from there.  The palate is light-bodied, with dense corn providing the backbone.  There is a little orange peel and vanilla, but it does not present a lot of complexity.  The finish is short, with some lingering caramel and sweet corn.

Overall, this might be a nice whiskey for mixing, but I am not a fan of this whiskey on its own.  I am inclined to agree with Ralfy’s end of the year comments on the whisk(e)y world in 2012 when it comes to micro/craft distilleries.  It is important to release a good product on the first go round, because you only get one chance to make a good impression.  Too often, micro-distilleries are too anxious to put a product on the shelves that they whiskey gets bottled before it is ready.  It might be better to follow the High West or Willett model and source whiskey until you have a homemade product that you can confidently stamp your name on.

Berkshire Bourbon did not impress me, and it will take something special for me to return to this bourbon any time soon.  Honestly, if you like a simple, sweet bourbon, save the money and pick up some Evan Williams Black Label.  However, that is not to say that all craft/micro distilleries are bottling sub-par whiskey.  I hope to have a few reviews in the coming months that demonstrate that you don’t have to be a big Kentucky Distillery to make great whiskey.  My grade for Berkshire Bourbon: C.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  Not terrible, but certainly not worth the money.

That concludes my final bourbon review of 2012, but the New Year will bring some new reviews, and some new posts.  In the meantime, I will again turn to Ralfy for my parting thoughts.  Enjoy the mystery of whisk(e)y, and seek that same mystery of sensory adventure in all other areas of life, whether it be food, drink, flowers, or everyday life.  If you concentrate on the senses around you, it is hard to slip into monotony.  Happy New Year and let it ride!