Posts tagged ‘sweet’

Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Review

Today, I am reviewing Corner Creek Reserve, an 8 year old bourbon bottled and sold by Corner Creek Distilling (which I believe is owned by Willett, but I could be wrong about that one).  The bourbon comes packaged neatly in what appears to be an old wine bottle.  If you were to rip the label off, I suspect most folks would you think you had an old Brandy or Sherry on your hands (just imagine the picture from Corner Creek’s website without the label…  Of course, like all great bourbon drinkers, I am not swayed by the packaging, and my taste buds do all the work in determining the quality of a whiskey (written with a sarcastic chuckle).  Corner Creek Reserve is bottled at 88 proof, but it is only lightly filtered, leading to a nice, hazy amber in the glass.

On the nose, Corner Creek has some nice vanilla, barrel char, tannins, over ripened berries, bananas, and dried bananas.  The palate is especially sweet with berry fruits and corn syrup, and very light-bodied.  Some bitter tannins begin to creep in towards the back of the palate and into the finish.  The finish is a bit tannic as well, but there is also cherry and vanilla along with a bit of the barrel char from the nose.  To me, this bourbon is sweet and sour throughout the whole way through, playing back and forth between the two.

Overall, I do like Corner Creek Reserve, but it is certainly not my favorite.  It could definitely be a great introduction to bourbon because it is so light and easy-drinking, but that only works if a person then goes on to find better bourbons.  If the sweet, berried, oaky flavor profile suits your palate, snag a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Collection instead.  The real highlight of Corner Creek is the price, which is very reasonable, especially compared to other bourbons the same age.  That said, there are too many other good bourbons on the market to keep this one around my cabinet very often.  My Grade: C.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a bourbon worth trying, but overall I just didn’t find it all that captivating.

Glenmorangie Original Scotch Review

Glenmorangie OriginalWell, I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Glenmorangie.  A few years back, I had the Glenmorangie Original in a bar, and didn’t care for it.  Of course, that was casually in a bar, and I suspect that it wasn’t my first drink of the evening.  The point being that it was hardly the ideal conditions for tasting a whisky.  So, when my roommate offered a sampler pack of 200 ml bottles of Glenmorangie whiskies to me as a graduation present, I was ecstatic to give Glenmorangie another look.

Glenmorangie is a Highland Scotch distillery perched on the northern part of the East coast of Scotland on the Moray Firth.  Glenmorangie has always been known as an innovated whisky company, a tradition which continues with their staple lineup of 12 year-old finished whiskies.  Nevertheless, the signature whisky of the Glenmorangie line remains the 10 year-old Original, aged in American oak and bottled at 86 proof (43% abv).

On the nose, the Original is heavy with barley notes, sweet heather, honeyed sweetness, a note of sweet potpourri, and a wee bit of smoke.  The palate is well-balanced, with a great combination of pears, honey, and the strong backbone of barley.  The finish is medium length, and rather oily as it works its way down the throat.  There is a hint of smoke that weaves in and out of a flavor profile of sweet pears, apples, and a bit of floral airiness.

Overall, this is a fine single malt and one quite worthy of trying.  It is a great way to get interested in single malt Scotch, especially because of the great price and the soft, accessible character of the whisky.  My grade: B-/B.  Price:  $40-45/750ml.  This is a whisky emblematic of the mission of Bargain Bourbon, in that it provides a wonderful whisky experience at a great price.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon Review

Angels EnvyToday, I am reviewing a bourbon that a good number of folks have asked me about – Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  Angel’s Envy is at the edge of mass marketed finished bourbons.  In whiskey language, “finishing” a whiskey means aging the whiskey in some type of wood other than its principle barrel before bottling in order to add another dimension of flavor.  Scotch distilleries have been finishing their whisky for some time, but it has only recently caught on in the bourbon world.  Parker’s Heritage Collection bottled a limited release cognac-finished bourbon in 2011, Big Bottom has released a Zinfandel-finished bourbon and a port-finished bourbon, and Hooker’s House is a bourbon finished in Pinot Noir casks.  Needless to say, there are not a ton of distilleries finishing their bourbons.

In the case of Angel’s Envy, the bourbon is supposedly around 5-8 years old, and finished in port wine barrels.  Angel’s Envy comes out of Louisville Distilling Company, which has since released a barrel-strength version of Angel’s Envy and a Angel’s Envy Rye (finished in Rum casks).  Angel’s Envy is bottled at 86.6 proof (43.3% abv).  At present, the bottle I am reviewing is bottle 1,860 from batch 4G, and what a beautiful bottle it is!

On the nose, Angel’s Envy is soft, sweet, and seductive.  There are notes of craisins, vanilla, honey, toffee, and candied pecans.  The palate is light-bodied and insatiably drinkable.  It is sweet, with notes of honey, sultanas, and vanilla.  There is a bit of a tannic grip, along with some warm, summer florals.  The finish is medium-short, and rather dry (similar to the way a nice, old port can be).  I taste the port mostly in the finish, where honey, tawny port, and oak tannins combine together for a delicious experience.

Overall, I do like Angel’s Envy.  It is a bit sweeter than I like, but I know my good friend, William, over at A Dram Good Time was a huge fan.  If you love Speyside single malts, then I think Angel’s Envy has the potential to become your favorite bourbon.  Personally, I can’t wait to find a bottle of the Angel’s Envy Rye up here in Boston.  Nevertheless, Angel’s Envy bourbon offers a sweet flavor profile in a bourbon that is delicate enough for a Speyside drinker’s palate.  This bourbon is a notable and rare achievement, even though it isn’t really my thing.  My Grade: B.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is a fine, unique bourbon that will win a lot of converts over to the bourbon community.

Rebel Yell Bourbon Review

Today I am reviewing Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, one of the original wheated bourbons.  When most people think of an easy-drinking (smooth) bourbon, Rebel Yell comes to mind.  Like many wheated bourbons, Rebel Yell can trace its roots to the old Stitzel-Weller distillery.  Nowadays, Rebel Yell is distilled and aged at Heaven Hill’s Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky (even though the bottle claims it is distilled and aged by the fictitious “Rebel Yell Distillery”).  The whiskey is then bottled by Luxco, a beverage supplier that provides Ezra Brooks and Rebel Reserve.  Rebel Yell is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) with no age statement.

In the glass, Rebel Yell is a beautiful pale gold color.  The nose is very light and sweet, offering baked apples, honey, and vanilla.  The palate is light, with ripe gala apples, honey, some caramel, and vanilla.  The sweetness is delicious.  The finish is rather short, with only some apples and honey hanging on.

Overall, Rebel Yell is a peculiar whiskey for me.  It is not complex at all, but it is downright delicious.  I love the way it tastes and smells, but it does not last for that long, and there is not much complexity to it.  It is sweet all the way through, so if you like that flavor profile, you might enjoy Rebel Yell.  Honestly, there are times when I am drinking Rebel Yell that I think I am drinking an Irish whiskey; it borders on that type of light, ripe fruitiness.  As such, this might be an easy bourbon to get a non-whiskey drinker interested in whiskey.  My grade: C.  Price: $15-20/750ml.  At the price point, I think Rebel Yell is hard to beat for an everyday pour, but it is far from the best that the world of wheated bourbons has to offer.

Bully Boy White Whiskey Review

Today, I am reviewing Bully Boy’s White Whiskey (Batch 44).  A few weeks ago, I reviewed Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey, and I rather enjoyed it.  Today, I am reviewing Bully Boy’s juice right off the still.  However, unlike many distilleries, Bully Boy does not use the same mash bill for their white whiskey as they do in their aged product.  The American Straight Whiskey is 45% corn, 45% rye, and 10% malted barley, whereas the White Whiskey is 100% wheat.  In addition, the American Straight Whiskey is bottle at 84 proof (42% abv), and the White Whiskey is bottled at the standard 80 proof (40% abv).

According to Will and Dave from Bully Boy, they chose wheat as their grain of choice for their white whiskey because of the softness of wheat on the palate.  As a fresh spirit, wheat has more drinkability than corn and more sweetness than rye or barley.  Down at Bully Boy, they have experimented with aging some of their 100% wheat whiskey, but thus far the results have not been as good as their clear spirit or their American Straight Whiskey.  So, for the time being, Bully Boy will probably be sticking with their wheat recipe for their white whiskey and their corn/rye/barley recipe for their aged product.  It is refreshing to see a micro-distillery trying new things and not bottling those experiments if they don’t come out well.  Too many distilleries nowadays are just bottling all the whiskey they can make, and it is insulting to the product, the process, and the consumer.  Bully Boy is doing it right.  Special thanks to Will and Dave for the bottle!

On the nose, this whiskey reminds me of a tequila nose.  There is a big, sweet agave note, with some hints of wildflowers, grass, brazil nuts, and walnuts.  The palate is very clean.  That agave notes keeps hanging around with some nice honey, sour apple, grapefruit, and banana cream.  There is also some black licorice, cranberry, and bubble gum.  The finish is short (common in white whiskeys), but sweet (agave and bananas).  With water, those sour fruits work their way to the fore a little more.

Overall, this is a very good white whiskey.  Generally, white whiskeys are not my favorite because they tend to be harsh and not very drinkable.  However, this one is a fine example of what a little innovation can do.  The 100% wheat mash bill is a brilliant idea, and it leads to a nice, sweet, soft whiskey.  For a white whiskey, this one is a very enjoyable whiskey straight up, but it is a wonderful mixer.  I had some folks over to my place a few weeks ago, and the cocktail ideas were flowing well.  The drinkability of this whiskey makes it a brilliant base for any mixed drink.  My Grade: C.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This is the highest grade I have ever given a white whiskey in my whiskey journal at home, so Bully Boy has a good thing going on here.  Don’t be afraid of the white stuff, and let it ride!

Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey Review

Redbreast 12Today, I am reviewing Redbreast 12 year, a single pot still whiskey from the Midleton Distillery in Cork.  A single pot still whiskey is very similar to a single malt, with the only difference being that a single pot still whiskey includes both malted and unmalted barley in the mash bill.  Like other Irish whiskeys, Redbreast is triple distilled.  The Redbreast label is also home to a 15 year edition and a 12 year cask strength bottling in addition to the standard 12 year, which is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

On the nose, Redbreast is a quite sweet spirit.  There are notes of Red Delicious apples, honey, some light caramel, all backed up by a background mix of floral notes and barley.  The nose is rather complex for how light it is.  Unfortunately, I think this whiskey trails off after the nose.  The palate is very light with some sweet malt and caramel bread pudding notes.  The finish is short and slightly malty, with a hint of apples.  But, I really had to go seeking for flavors on the finish.

Overall, this is a fine whiskey, one of the finer Irish whiskeys I have had.  This one is beyond drinkable, and I suspect that would make it a great compliment in a Hot Toddy.  However, if you are looking for something to sip slow, this one lacks depth.  The tasting experience is pleasant, but not very original in my opinion.  I definitely like this whiskey, but I think its drinkability holds back its depth.  The 12 yr. cask strength is very high up on my whiskeys to try, though.  I am anxious to see what could happen to this spirit at a higher proof.  My grade: C.  Price:  $40-45/750ml.  This is a good whiskey, but it is definitely not my favorite.  That said, if you enjoy a light, fruity, malty spirit, Redbreast 12 could be your new cabinet staple.  Give it a try for yourself and let it ride!

Breckenridge Bourbon Review

Well, I just finished a huge term paper, so I am rewarding myself with a post that I have wanted to get up for some time.  I am continuing to review some good micro-distilleries with today’s review of Breckenridge bourbon.  Breckenridge Distillery is a small distillery in Breckenridge, Colorado that has already garnered some international attention for their spirits.  Their bourbon won a gold medal at the 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition, which is pretty impressive considering it is only a 3 year old bourbon.

The story of Breckenridge bourbon is that it was originally a sourced whiskey from an unnamed distillery in Kentucky, but the distillery has been churning out its own bourbon since 2009.  Nowadays, the bourbon is mostly Breckenridge stock, with the occasional batching with older, contracted stock to ensure a consistent product.

I first discovered Breckenridge bourbon at WhiskyLive 2012 here in Boston.  I was surprised when the woman pouring my sample of Breckenridge told me that Breckenridge was a 3 year old bourbon that had won one of three gold medals at the IWSC the previous year.  However, once I spent a few seconds with this bourbon, I was hooked.  It took me a while to find a bottle in Boston, but I eventually got lucky.  So, without further ado, here is my review of Breckenridge bourbon (bottled at 86 proof).

In the glass, this bourbon is a rosy red amber, not as dark as some older bourbons.  One of the interesting facts about Breckenridge bourbon is that the distillery uses snowmelt for their bourbon, as opposed to the mineral rich water used in Kentucky.  I think that lends itself to Breckenridge’s lighter character, but that could also be its youth.  On the nose, this whiskey is sweet and citrusy.  There are big notes of sweet toffee and butterscotch, with some orange peel notes sneaking through.  The palate is medium-bodied and simple, but it tastes so good.  Vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar come flooding across my tongue and don’t let up.  The finish is longer than I would have expected, and it keeps the sweetness of the palate all the way through.  There are notes of oranges, caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar cinnamon.  Water doesn’t do much good; this one stands best on its own.

Overall, this is a delightful bourbon.  It is not too heavy, but the sweetness that makes bourbon so delicious is all over the tasting experience.  It goes to show (along with my review of Bully Boy last week) that you don’t have to have old whiskey to have good whiskey.  My Grade: B+.  Price: $40-45/750ml.  This one is a tasty bourbon, and it has enough complexity to make it an intriguing  pour.  With a little more body or complexity, this one could easily be in the A range.  There are better value buys on the market, but it is always fun to give a shout out to micro-distillery.   I can’t wait to see what happens if Breckenridge releases some older stocks or some barrel-strength batches in the future.  In the meantime, let it ride!

p.s. A special shout out is deserved by Bryan Nolt (El Jefe at Breckenridge).  I sent him an email inquiring about the source of his bourbon, and I got a detailed explanation within 45 minutes.  That is customer service and actually investing time in the consumer.  Breckenridge is well deserving of their craft distillery label.  Keep letting it ride out there in Colorado.

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!

Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky Review

Crown Royal ReserveToday, I am reviewing one of my favorite whiskies for the holidays – Crown Royal Reserve.  It is a batching of some of Crown Royal’s older stocks, bottled at 80 proof, and displayed in a decadent leather pouch.

As you may recall, my review of Crown Royal Maple-Finished Whisky was not impressive.  However, this is a much different product and one that I enjoy very much.  It is a great whisky for the holidays because it is a smooth, drinkable whisky that works well for a lot of different palates.  You don’t need to be a connoisseur to enjoy this one.

On the nose, this whisky is sweet and fruity, with big notes of red apples and honeysuckle.  The palate delivers a very elegant mouth feel, light-bodied, but silky like a Lowland Scotch.  It maintains its fruitiness, but there is a slight dry spice that comes up towards the back of the palate.  There are notes of dried pineapple, fresh pears, a little oak, and raisins.  The finish is medium to short, but it does leave a nice sweetness of vanilla and honey.

Overall, this is not an incredibly complex whisky, but it is one that is delicious from start to finish, which makes it a hit around the holidays.  Almost everybody that is visiting will enjoy this one, from your beer-swilling aunt to your single-malt sipping grandfather.  To make it even better, it is usually available for under $50.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  A delightful, light-bodied whisky that is absolutely worth having in your cabinet.

p.s.  This review is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Billy Doyle.  I hope to tend bar as well as he did some day, and his presence behind the bar at The Dugout will be sorely missed.

High West Campfire Whiskey Review (ft. William from “A Dram Good Time”)

Today, I am doing my first tandem review with my good friend, William, from  We both have tried this whiskey on several occasions, and hopefully seeing how we go about reviewing the whiskey will demonstrate how whiskey tastings can differ from person to person.  As a disclaimer, William and I reviewed the same bottle separately, and we did not compare tasting notes prior to our posts.

The whiskey we have chosen for our first (of many, hopefully) tandem review is High West’s Campfire Whiskey.  High West is a distillery and saloon from Park City, Utah.  It is a relatively young distillery that has not started bottling its own whiskey yet.  For now, High West is sourcing whiskey from a variety of distilleries and blending them to make some fantastic products.  Most of the High West products are at least $40/750ml, so they are rarely bargain buys.  However, they do make some great whiskeys for under $50 if you are interested in drinking some fine whiskey this holiday season.

High West’s Campfire Whiskey is a blend of a straight bourbon, a straight rye, and a blended, peated Scotch.  All of the components are at least 5 years old.  The two American components are LDI whiskeys from the old Seagram’s plant in Indiana.  The source of the peated Scotch is kept secret by High West.  They are all blended together in unknown quantities, and bottled at 92 proof.  Needless to say, this is a unique whiskey.

On the nose, Campfire whiskey is unlike any whiskey I have sniffed before.  There are notes of caramel, some vanilla, evergreen trees, and a nice puff of smoke now and again.  With a few drops of water, the rye characteristics of evergreens, gin botanicals, and black licorice assert themselves a bit more.  The palate begins sweet, with caramel, vanilla, and honey.  It moves through some pine, holly, and juniper before it reaches the smokiness at the back of the palate.  The finish is where the peat shows up most.  The finish is medium-long, but very well balanced between sweet vanilla and wet peat.

Overall, this whiskey is unique and very enjoyable.  It can be a little confusing on your senses, but that gives it a lot of versatility.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is a great whiskey, and the price is reasonable.  It is definitely worth a try if you are looking for something a little different.

Here are William’s thoughts (if you would like to read his blog, check it out here).

Color:  Dark Amber/Copper

Nose:  Smoldering pine needles and pine cones, soft peat, cinnamon, toffee, and with a little time it opens up with notes of heather honey.

Palate:  The palate gets interesting with sharp black pepper, followed up with some dry oak, toffee, a bit of that smoke, vanilla, honey, and a light peat that goes right into the finish.

w/ Water:  A little calmer with a bit more honey and sweetness showing, but the spices, light peat, and vanilla aren’t going anywhere.

Finish:  Moderate to long, sweet and dry finish with pepper and hints of smoke and peat.

This is quite a unique dram with each whisk(e)y in this blend clearly present and pretty well balanced with the rest. The rye stands out slightly more but it works very well. I would personally enjoy just a bit more of a smoke and peat influence, but it’s not needed. Not a full campfire yet, but it’s definitely being lit; good stuff.

Rating:  87

That concludes our review of High West Campfire whiskey.  As you can see, we both reviewed this whiskey similarly.  That will not always be the case, but for Campfire Whiskey, it is indicative of a very good pour of blended whiskey.  Let it ride!