Posts tagged ‘Review’

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).

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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.

Jim Beam White Label Review

One of the most well-known and popular bourbon distilleries is the James B. Beam Distilling Company.  This distillery produces a wide variety of whiskeys, from their well-known white label to their small batch collection of craft bourbons.  Jim Beam White Label is the cheapest bourbon ($15-$20 per 750ml) that is sold by the distillery, and it is a decent entry level bourbon for somebody interested in starting their bourbon career.  Like Four Roses Yellow Label, Jim Beam White is only 80 proof, which makes it a drinkable bourbon if you are not used to drinking whiskey.  White Label also has a very distinctive and traditional bourbon character, which makes it a good bourbon for learning about what to expect from bourbon.  The nose has notes of vanilla, some light fruits, and some lingering oak.  The palate is traditional bourbon, with notes of vanilla, corn, caramel sweetness, and some oak.  The finish is pretty clean, but still warming.  What makes White Label a cheap bourbon is that the notes are very flat, and they do not come together with any character.  Jim Beam White Label will give you a bland version of the journey that bourbon can take you on, but it leaves a lot to be desired (and consumed) in older, more complex bourbons.

My grade: C-.  Price: $15-20/750ml.  This is a nice, sweet, simple bourbon that makes a nice standard pour on the bottom shelf.

Four Roses Yellow Label Review

My first bourbon review in the history of Bourbon for Beginners is of Four Roses Yellow from the Four Roses distillery.  The reason I am reviewing this bourbon first is because I think it is the best value bourbon that I have ever had.  It is a bourbon that is great for newcomers to whiskey because it is only 80 proof and it is very soft throughout.  It is very mellow on the palate, and the finish is smooth and subtle.  This bourbon is not aged very long, so it doesn’t have the heavy oak notes that some bourbons have.  Fruity and floral notes control the whiskey for the most part, which makes it a great bourbon for the beach, or for anyone looking to experience bourbon at its most basic level for under $20.  My grade: C+/B-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a nice standard pour, especially for price.  It does not offer a ton of complexity, but it is a great introduction to bourbon.