Posts tagged ‘Review’

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Vermouth Finish Review

Yesterday, I reviewed Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye in honor of my own father’s birthday week.  Today, I am continuing with this trend with a review of Dad’s Hat Vermouth Finish.  The base of this whiskey is the standard Dad’s Hat rye.  The difference is that this whiskey has spent at least 3 months extra-aging in barrels that previously held Vermouth.  In addition, this whiskey has been bottled at the higher proof of 94 (47% abv).

The nose has some of the berry sweetness, wood shaving, and chocolate notes of the original, but the sweetness is more to the fore against the sharper rye flavors.  The palate has some cherry cola sweetness (without being overpowering or cloying), some rye, mint, and juniper. The finish is longer and spicier than the original in my estimation with a little more rye, cinnamon, and drying gingerbread.

Overall, the fingerprints of Dad’s Hat are right there in this whiskey, with some sweetness rolling through it nicely.  The vermouth finish on this whiskey is well-integrated, adding a lot to the finished product without taking away the quality of the rye.  If you like dry, dusty rye whiskeys, this one might be right up your alley despite its youth.  This one is definitely worth seeking out.  My grade: B.  Price: $40-45/750ml.  Like with the Dad’s Hat rye, the age might make the price seem high, but the whiskey in the bottle is worthy of the price point.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Wild Turkey 101 Rye Review

 

Well, needless to say, I was pretty excited when Wild Turkey 101 Rye hit the shelves again after a few years gone from the wide world of rye, almost as excited as I was to see the U.S. soccer team pick up a 2-1 victory over Ghana.  This has long been regarded as one of the finest value ryes that you could no longer find in liquor stores.  Now, Wild Turkey has rereleased this whiskey, and I am pretty excited to get to review this new release.  There is no age statement on this, but I suspect that we are dealing with about a 6 year-old rye here; we do know that this is 101 proof (50.5% abv).

 

The nose on Wild Turkey 101 rye is quite vegetal, but full of spicy rye characteristics.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, licorice, and wood shavings all present themselves.  The palate is earthy and a bit vegetal, with some wood, soil, rye bread, and licorice.  The finish is long and sweeter than the palate, with honey and vanilla wrapping themselves nicely behind herbal, earthy spices.

 

Overall, this is a fine rye whiskey.  It presents a lot of classic rye characteristics with a lot of value.  I would also imagine that this would do wonderfully in a rye-based cocktail if that is your cup of tea/whiskey.  Either way, this one is definitely worth a try, although I cannot say how it stacks up to what this whiskey was five years ago.  My grade: B-.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is most certainly a fine value for a rye whiskey, evident of a great trend for Wild Turkey.

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George Dickel Comparison Review: No. 12 vs. Barrel Select

Today, I am finally getting around to a review I have wanted to do for a while now, George Dickel Tennessee Whisky.  I have reviewed a few Jack Daniels products on the blog, and I had a number of folks ask me about George Dickel.  I’ll save my thoughts about Dickel vs. Daniels until the end, but suffice to say I am excited to put my thoughts out on this one.

Like Jack Daniels, George Dickel charcoal filters their whisky (Dickel drops the “e”) before putting the spirit in the barrel.  Unlike Jack Daniels, George Dickel chills their spirit before letting it drip through the charcoal.  There really is no right way to charcoal filter a whisky, so long as a distillery does not try to call their charcoal dripped whisky “bourbon.”  That said, charcoal filtration does not necessarily mean the product is better or worse.  Purists might not want their product tainted by the process, and many bartenders prefer to make their drinks with the smoother, cleaner whiskies that are produced by charcoal filtration.  Like most things in whisky, it is a matter of personal preference.

George Dickel No 12The first whisky to be reviewed from George Dickel is their No. 12, “White Label.”  There is no age statement on this whisky, but I have heard it rumored around 6-8 years old, with some older stocks blended in.  It is bottled at 90 proof (45% abv), and is often available for under $25 in places where I don’t live (so I am told).  The nose on this whisky is unmistakably unique.  There are notes of praline, caramel, marzipan, raw oats, some maple syrup, all with a solid backbone of cereal grains and sweet corn.  The palate is medium-bodied and continues a lot of the cereal notes from the nose.  There are a lot of oats, and a bit of caramel-covered peanuts.  The finish is medium-short, with some lingering corn and some honeycomb.  Overall, this is a tasty, drinkable whisky that gives great indication of the quality of George Dickel.  My Grade: B-/C+.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is a fine whisky, definitely worth keeping around the cabinet if you are like Tennessee Whisky.

 

The second whisky I am reviewing today is George Dickel Barrel Select, George Dickel’s premium whisky.  It is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv), and it is aged between 10 and 12 years.  According to George Dickel’s website, each bottle of Barrel Select contains approximately 10 barrels, making it the smallest batched whisky that George Dickel makes.  The nose on this whisky is drop dead gorgeous, presenting complexity galore.  There are notes of cocoa, bananas, and white chocolate, all wound tightly around spicy oak notes.  The palate is especially sweet, but not too much so.  Those banana flavors are still there, along with vanilla, dried pineapples, apricots, butterscotch, and almonds.  The finish is medium in length, a bit longer than No. 12, with a nice complexity.  There is caramel and butterscotch present, but there is also the complexity of oak and spiced almonds.  Overall, this is a wonderful whisky.  My only complaint is the lack of body.  I think at a slightly higher proof, the flavors would hit harder and this whisky would warrant an A- or an A from my taste buds.  My grade: B+.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  For my dollar, this is the finest whisky I’ve had from Tennessee to this point, and it is a great whisky for those sultry summer afternoons.George Dickel Barrel Select

Between these two George Dickel whiskies, I am definitely partial to the Barrel Select.  It is the more complex and the more delicious (in my opinion) of the two whiskies.  That said, No. 12 is still a great buy.  As far as that other Tennessee Distillery that over-advertises and underachieves, George Dickel beats the pants off of similarly priced Jack Daniels products.  Although the Barrel Select still does not measure all the way up to my favorite bourbons, it is a top notch whisky that works well for special occasions and weekday evenings alike.  So, don’t be afraid of Tennessee and give Dickel its due.  There is some fine whisky coming out of Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, and well worth letting it ride.

The Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey Review

The Tyrconnell NASToday, I am kicking off a three-part mini-series on Irish whiskey.  I will be showcasing the three primary styles of Irish whiskey, single malt, blended, and single pot still.  Today’s review is of The Tyrconnell single malt Irish whiskey, with reviews of Redbreast 12 yr. and Concannon to follow.  A single malt Irish whiskey is the same as a single malt Scotch, just made in Ireland.  The Tyrconnell is made entirely from malted barley at a single distillery (Cooley Distillery in County Louth, Ireland).  The Tyrconnell brand is available in several different age statements, including a 10 yr., a 15 yr., and a variety of single cask bottlings and finished bottlings.  The whiskey I am reviewing today is from The Tyrconnell’s standard no-age-statement (NAS) single malt.  It is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).  Special thanks to MK for the sample.

The color is a light gold, but I suspect that coloring is added to this one.  The nose presents a nice balance of fruity and floral notes.  I definitely smell young Bartlett pears and some floral notes reminiscent of an American IPA.  The nose is pleasant, but not especially complex.  The palate is very light and drinkable with those pear notes re-surging along with some stale bread.  The finish is also pretty malty and rather short.

On the whole, The Tyrconnell is a straight-forward single malt Irish whiskey.  It is very smooth and drinkable, but it lacks depth and complexity.  It tastes nice, but if you don’t pay close attention, you might miss this whiskey.   The finish is usually my biggest complaint with Irish whiskeys, and this one holds up that trend.  The finish is too short, and I hardly know I drank anything.  That said, if you are looking to introduce someone you know to a whiskey that doesn’t burn, The Tyrconnell single malt is worth trying.  Personally, I would love to give their finished whiskeys and their 15 year a try.  The makings of a very good whiskey are evident in The Tyrconnell’s NAS bottling.  My grade: C-.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This is a good indication of what to expect from single malt Irish whiskey, smooth and drinkable, but not deep or complex.  This is very reasonably priced, but there are whiskeys I prefer at this price point.

Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey Review

I have recently seen several ads for Gentleman Jack on the internet and the television, so I thought I should get a review of this one so you can decide whether you want to spend your hard earned money on this Tennessee classic.  As I mentioned in my review of Old No. 7, Tennessee whiskey is notably different than bourbon because the whiskey is charcoal filtered prior to going into the oak.  The whiskey comes right off the stills and goes through a charcoal filter, smoothing the whiskey out and extracting possible contaminants.  This might seem like a great idea, but it isn’t all great.  Just like chill filtration, charcoal filtering runs the risk of extracting flavor in addition to contaminants.

Gentleman Jack is different from the classic Old No. 7 in that Gentleman Jack is filtered through the charcoal twice.  The result of that second round of charcoal filtration is that Gentleman Jack is ludicrously drinkable.  I hate to use the word “smooth” to describe whiskey, but Gentleman Jack fits that bill perfectly.  Not surprisingly, it is bottled at 80 proof, but it drinks like its the same strength as a sherry or a port.  Be careful with this stuff.  Drink it responsibly.  It can spiral downhill quickly with this luxuriously smooth Tennessee whiskey.Gentleman Jack

Now that my warning is out of the way, I can give you my notes.  On the nose, this smells a lot like Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, but a bit weaker.  That banana thing is still going on, with some honey, corn, and oak, but it is not the rich nose of Old No. 7.  On the palate, this whiskey is a whisper.  It is soft and a little watery.  It is mostly sweet, with a little vanilla and honey, and maybe a little bit of banana.  The finish barely even exists.  Seriously, I had to remind myself I just drank whiskey.  Honestly, there might be some oak, but there isn’t much in this finish.

Overall, the highlight of Gentleman Jack is its drinkability.  So, if you have a friend or significant other that has been looking for a drinkable whiskey to have at a party, look no further than this one.  If you are a connoisseur of port and you want to expand into American whiskey, this one is a good place to start.  If you love Wild Turkey, I don’t think Gentleman Jack will be up your alley.  But, as always, try it for yourself and let it ride!  My grade: C-.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  A nice, drinkable whiskey, but it is definitely not on my list of whiskeys to buy at that price point.

Knob Creek Rye Whiskey Review

Knob Creek RyeThis is a review of Jim Beam’s newest rye whiskey release, under the Knob Creek label.  Like the original Knob Creek bourbon, this one is bottled at 100 proof.  There is no age statement, but I suspect it is not a very old product.  My guess is that it is a little older than Jim Beam Yellow Label, but not by much.  As followers of the blog have probably noted, the Knob Creek label has never been one of my favorites, although I am a fan of the Single Barrel Reserve.  Of course, I am always up for having my mind changed, which is why I got my hands on a few samples of Knob Creek Rye.  Here are my thoughts…

On the nose, this whiskey smells earthy to me.  There is some mint there, which reminds me I’m drinking a rye.  There are also some herbal notes to it, like basil leaves or musty oregano.  The palate has a nice medium body with a nice entry of cinnamon, ginger, and some vanilla.  It is definitely a hot, intense whiskey.  You know you are drinking it at 100 proof when it is drank straight.  Water lessens the heat, but it does not open the flavors or the bouquet up at all.  The finish is long, minty, and a little spicy.

Overall, I am not impressed with this whiskey.  It is a solid rye, with a lot of rye heat.  However, there really is not much depth or complexity to this one.  I would like to see what would happen if Jim Beam released an older rye, maybe something like ten years.  I think some of the sweetness of the barrel would add complexity to the whiskey to save it from the one dimension of rye in this whiskey.  My grade: C.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This would be a nice whiskey to have around for mixed drinks if it was half the price (in my humble opinion).

Old Weller Antique Review

Today, I am reviewing Old Weller Antique.  It is a 107 proof wheated bourbon from the same distillery and family as W.L. Weller (I have reviewed the 12 yr. old).  It is another whiskey from the Buffalo Trace giant, and it is sold at very reasonable price.  It is usually in the low $20’s, making it a good bottle to keep around the house.  How does it fare in a tasting?  (Special thanks to my good friend, Henry, for enabling my tasting of this whiskey)

The nose of Old Weller Antique is tight, revealing very little depth.  The alcohol and the wheated recipe mask a lot of the scents that are traditionally associated with bourbon.  What does come through are notes of butterscotch, toffee, and wet oak.  This bourbon picks up on the palate.  Old Weller Antique has a viscous mouth feel that yields notes of sweet oak, caramel, vanilla, candied almonds, and honey roasted peanuts.  It is very sweet and rich, but it has very few layers.  The finish is long and warming, but it is simple.  It is sweet and dark, as if somebody was pouring melted caramel and toffee fudge down my throat.

On the whole, this is a classic wheated bourbon.  It is sweet, and not overly complex.  It is exactly what a wheated bourbon should be, with a more powerful palate than Maker’s Mark or Rebel Reserve, which are in a similar price range.  Old Weller Antique is to wheated bourbons what Old Grand-Dad Bonded is to rye bourbons.  It is exactly what it should be, and not much more.  My grade: C+/B-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is good whiskey, not much of a mixer, though.  If you like wheated bourbons, its worth a try.

Four Roses Single Barrel Review

I apologize for my brief hiatus in posts.  I was in the Outer Banks, and I just felt like enjoying the moment rather than blogging about bourbon.  However, that does not mean I love blogging about bourbon any less.  To prove it, I have decided to review one of my favorite bourbons this evening: Four Roses Single Barrel (if you must know, I am currently enjoying Barrel 4-3K).

I have reviewed several Four Roses products before, and I have concluded that they are all very good value.  The Single Barrel is the top-shelf standard offering from Four Roses, and it does not disappoint.  It is bottled at 100 proof, higher than any other Four Roses product.  However, it does not drink like 100 proof whiskey.  It is the perfect combination of gentleness and power.

On the nose, Four Roses Single Barrel is mostly sweet, but it has some balancing notes of spices and flowers.  There are notes of cinnamon, rye, vanilla, dark chocolate, and roses.  On the palate, the Single Barrel is primarily sweet and rich.  It moves from lighter sweet flavors (berries, light vanilla) to denser, heavier sweet flavors (dark chocolate, sweet oak, toffee).  The finish is long, warming, and complex.  It begins with the oak integrating well with the sweet flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and honey.  However, the whiskey finishes strong with a powerful burst of rich, bittersweet dark chocolate and cinnamon spice.

Overall, Four Roses Single Barrel is a phenomenal bourbon whiskey.  It is robust, complex, and unique.  The sweetness makes it a perfect dessert bourbon (if you are into that sort of thing), but it is the kind of whiskey that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.  My grade:  A-.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This is a wonderful whiskey, worth every penny (in my opinion).

Comparison Review: Scotch Styles, McClelland’s Speyside vs. McClelland’s Lowland

I have been asked by several people to begin posting reviews of non-bourbon whiskeys that also fit the mission of bargainbourbon.com.  In that vein, I am doing a comparison review of two great value Scotches that I am fond of.  But first, a few brief words about Scotch Whisky.

Like bourbon to America, Scotch Whisky is made in Scotland.  Unlike bourbon, Scotch is made primarily from barley, although some other cereal grains are occasionally added.  In addition, Scotch varies significantly depending on the region of Scotland that the whisky comes from.  Obviously, each distillery is a little different, but most regions have a distinct flavor profile embodied by the distilleries in that region.

McClelland’s is a Scotch distributor that sources and bottles whisky from different regions of Scotland.  As such, McClelland’s whisky is usually pretty cheap (between $20-$30), and it gives a good introduction to a region’s flavor profile before diving headlong into a Scotch that costs $50 a bottle.  McClelland’s makes single malt Scotches, which means that all of the whisky in the bottle is made from the same mash.  Blended Scotches like Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, and Dewar’s are made from blending different Scotches from different distilleries in order to get the desired product.  Generally speaking, single malts are crisper with a more distinct flavor profile, hence their appeal to whisky drinkers.  Now, on to the whisky…

The Speyside region of Scotland is the most well-known Scotch region, home to about half the distilleries in Scotland.  It is a relatively small region located in the Northeast of Scotland, where the Spey River enters the North Sea.  Distilleries such as The Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Glenrothes, The MaCallan, Aberlour, Glenfiddich, and The Balvenie are all found in the Speyside region.  As a general flavor profile, most Speyside whiskies strike a balance between fruity and floral notes and richer flavors of vanilla and oak.

On the nose, McClelland’s Speyside reminds me of Andes Mint candy.  It is fresh and minty, with some whispers of dark chocolate and fresh cut pine evergreens.  On the palate, the whisky is sweet and nutty, with the most prominent notes being almonds and hazelnuts.  The finish is moderately long, starting with light, piney flavors, and moving towards smoky pine and smoked peat at the end.  Like most of McClelland’s products, the Speyside is not very complex, but it gives a crisp, clear introduction to Speyside whisky.  My grade: B-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a great daily whisky.  It is a great anchor for any cabinet.

The Lowland region of Scotland is located in the south, and it is only home to a few active distilleries nowadays.  As a flavor profile, the Lowland Scotches are known for being very delicate and subtle.  They tend to be fresh and floral, with an almost silky or buttery texture.  Their popularity has died out a little bit in the past few decades as the whisky market has tended towards the massive flavor profiles of Islay Scotches and the Highland and Speyside regions.  However, Lowland Scotches are unique and fantastic whiskies.

On the nose, McClelland’s Lowland is mostly floral and citrusy.  There are notes of lemons and tangerines, coupled with dense floral notes of roses and lilacs.  This whisky is a pure joy to smell.  The palate is earthy and sweet, almost as if chewing on an orange or lemon peel.  The whisky is oily on the palate, feeling like melted butter in the mouth.  The finish is short and fairly weak.  It leaves a perfume-ish taste in the back of the mouth, but it is not very complex or powerful.  My grade: B-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is great daily whisky, not as complex as the Speyside, but it anchors a cabinet just as well.

Overall, I prefer McClelland’s Speyside to McClelland’s Lowland.  However, if you are looking for a gateway whisky, a Lowland Scotch is a great place to start because of how easy the whisky is to drink neat.  These are both great introductions to Scotch, so give them a try and let it ride!

Bulleit Frontier Bourbon Review

I have been asked recently about this bourbon, so I thought I would get to a review this week.  Bulleit Frontier Bourbon is a 90 proof high-rye bourbon out of the Bulleit Distilling Company (Bulleit is bottled at the LDI distillery in Indiana, so it is not technically Kentucky Straight Bourbon).  It is a controversial bourbon in the sense that most people I know either love it or hate it.  Therefore, don’t take my word too heavily on this bourbon, just try it for yourself.  However, I’ve had some people ask me what my thoughts were on it, so here we go.

Bulleit has a fantastic nose, with the floral, peppery scents of the rye coming through.  There is a hidden sweetness that lingers, vanilla and orange peels.  However, I think this bourbon takes a turn for the worse once you drink it.  The palate is overpowered by the drying sensation of the rye, although there is some light pepper and cinnamon in the background.  The rye stays for the finish, mixing in with a little oak.  I would like to see this bourbon aged a hair longer (its only 6 years old) and bottled at a higher proof to see what it might do to the finish.  This bourbon definitely has some strong points, but overall, it is definitely not my favorite.  My grade: C.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This is one bourbon that I am not a fan of.  It makes the grade, but not much else.