Broken Barrel Single Oak Series

For part 10 of the finished whiskey series I am going to take a look at 4 offerings from Broken Barrel out of LA. The folks there were kind enough to send me 4 120ml samples of their whiskies. Broken Barrel takes various whiskies, dump them into a steel tank where they are finished with different types of barrel staves.

Since I received these for free I will not be reviewing them but will just offer some tasting notes and thoughts.

 

Broken Barrel Mizunara

Age: Blend of 4 and 5 year

Abv: 100 proof

Neat

Nose: Cornbread, vanilla, nutty notes, faint oak and honey

Taste: More of the same from the nose with cornbread, vanilla, honey and nutty notes but with some nice spice notes kicking in toward the end

Finish: Long finish with warm spice balanced by sweet vanilla and honey.

Broken Barrel The Cask of Amontillado

Age: Blend of 5 and 12 year

Abv: 110 proof

Neat

Nose: Very unusual with big dark fruit notes, maybe cherries and plums?

Taste: Leather, earthy notes, dark grapes and warm spices with just a little bit of cornbread. Very nice mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length with rich chocolate, dark fruit and warm spice notes

Broken Barrel Bourbon Barrel Select California Oak

Age: 1 year

Abv: 116 proof

Mashbill 70/21/4 Corn/Rye/Malted Barley

‘Oak Bill’: 80% Cabernet cask, 20% French oak

Neat

Nose: Young and harsh notes with subtler red wine notes underneath.

Taste: Rich dark fruit notes, clear wine influence, warm baking spices and subtler sweet vanilla and caramel notes. Thick mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to short and slightly harsh finish but with more of the nice red wine notes from the taste.

Broken Barrel Isle of Peat

Age: 1 year

Abv: 110 proof

Neat

Nose: Very unusual nose with wheat bread, malt and faintly smoky notes.

Taste: Starts with butterscotch and wheat bread then jumps to smoke and young malt notes. Viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, lingering with smoke, baking spice and just a hint of sweetness to balance them.

Conclusion

Mizunara

The Mizunara starts out tasting like you would expect from a good corn whiskey but it gets more interesting as it goes with a very nice finish, presumably from the Mizunara finish. I would guess this is a blend of MGP and Heaven Hill sourced corn whiskies. It’s definitely a step up from Mellow Corn though. Overall I enjoyed this one even if it did taste a little grain forward. I think a version of this that was just a few years older or maybe just finished longer would be a step up in terms of reducing the youthful corn notes and adding more of the complexity from the Mizunara oak.

Amontillado

The nose was nothing I would expect from American whiskey. Overall this was super heavily influenced by the finish in a very good way. The leather notes make me suspect the 12 Light Whiskey portion is from MGP. I really enjoyed this one with the big fruit and leather notes as well as the finish which had a chocolate note for me.

Broken Barrel Barrel Select California Oak

The nose really revealed the youth but the taste was a big step up unfortunately the finish was young and a little hot again. I think the flavors other than the young grain were solid though and an older version of this could be quite nice.

Isle of Peat

I was pretty skeptical going in on this one with a blend of young wheat and malt whiskies finished with peat staves but I was very pleasantly surprised. Flavor notes I associate with all 3 things came through clearly with wheat bread and butterscotch from the wheat whiskey, distinct malt characteristics and a smokiness throughout that did not overpower the other flavors. I do think a little more age would have helped but this is definitely a very interesting dram.

Overall

I enjoyed all 4 of these samples though to different degrees :) I’m definitely curious to try more finished corn whiskies after this and I think the finishing does a lot for them. I hope the folks over at Broken Barrel have some stocks aging and I look forward to seeing what they can do with some older whiskey.

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Review #219: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 13

For part 9 of the finished whiskey series we’re back to Joseph Magnus with another batch of Cigar Blend. Batch 13 came from the same master blend as batches 11, 12 and 14. Each batch was then finished in a different Armagnac cask. I was lucky enough to get 3 of the batch, 12-14, and it was pretty surprising how much different they were.

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 13

Age: NAS but all the bourbons are 10+ years

Abv: 103.6 proof

Price: $170

Neat

Nose: Very rich with leather, brown sugar and baking spice notes.

Taste: More leather and more baking spice with tobacco, oak and herbal notes as well as a fainter brown sugar. Thick, viscous mouthfeel

Finish: Very long, dry and warm with predominantly baking spice notes though there is a touch of oak and sweetness.

Conclusion

I love me some Cigar Blend and batch 13 is no exception. It’s significantly spicier than 12 and 14 but not so spicy as to detract from the enjoyment especially if you are pairing it with a cigar. The leather and tobacco notes in these are something I don’t usually get anywhere else and they pair really with the brown sugar and herbal notes my favorite MGP bourbons tend to have. I’m a little concerned that between Magnus getting bought out, changing distributors in Texas and the semi debacle of them sourcing at least some of their single barrels from Dickel that the golden age of Cigar Blend is coming to an end. Hopefully not though!

TL;DR: Not quite batch 12 but still delicious

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

I also tasted this as part of a blind tasting with batch 8, 12, 13 a single barrel and regular Magnus though it ended up being somewhat long and rambling. As an added bonus the master blender from Joseph Magnus, Nancy Fraley, decided to show up and shame me in the comments just to be safe.

Scale

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Review #218: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Taster Barrel Reunion 1

For part 8 of the finished whiskey series we’re looking at our first Tennessee whiskey with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Barrel Reunion #1, a Straight Tennessee Whiskey finished in red wine barrels. The shtick behind the Tennessee Tasters’ Selection series is that Jack Daniel’s master tasters pick some of their favorite expressions to release. In today’s bourbon market who knows if that’s true? Either way after getting into the JD Single Barrel series when I saw this little flask on the shelves I had to pick it up. I tend to like finished whiskies and red wine always seems to compliment bourbon bringing out more fruit notes without making it too sweet.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Barrel Reunion #1

Age: NAS with a 228 day finish

Abv: 90 proof

Price: $35 for a 375

Neat

Nose: Sweet bananas and red jam with vanilla and warm spice in the background.

Taste: Cherries, bananas and vanilla with hints of oak and smoke. Decent mouthfeel.

Finish: Short to medium length, sweet finish with caramel, banana and vanilla notes.

Conclusion

This was super easy drinking with great fruit notes. It was a little light for me at only 90 proof though. I think a little more age and a little more proof would have given this some more complexity and improved the mouthfeel. It was a little pricey for what it is but given that it was a special release and came in a 375ml I don’t feel bad about the price. It definitely met my expectations of taking the classic JD banana and vanilla profile and bringing out some nice red fruit notes. While it didn’t hit the highs of the JD Heritage Barrel I’ll probably pick up a future release to see what else they can do.

TL;DR: Surprisingly good; wish it was a little higher proof and a little older.

6 - a good whiskey I’m still happy to drink - 1792 Small Batch

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #217: Rare Perfection 14 Year

To set the scene I don’t particularly care for Canadian whiskey apart from some ryes such as whatever Whistle Pig and Treaty Oak are sourcing. So when these Canadian Rare Perfections and Old St Nicks hit I initially trusted my instincts and ignored them. Then I got curious with all the drama and wildly varying reviews so when I got the chance to get a bottle for below retail I figured it was a 14 year old whiskey, it can’t be bad even if I do end up overpaying for the quality. So I bought one and let’s find out how wrong I was…

 

Rare Perfection 14 year 2020 release

Age: 14 years

Abv: 100.7 proof

Price: $125

Neat

Nose: Off putting with notes of plastic, maple and vanilla with hints of oak

Taste: Still slightly plastic tasting but with some solid caramel, maple and warm spice notes.

Finish: Long and lingering with warm spice, vanilla and maple notes.

Conclusion

Well that was bad. I added some Coke Zero and it got worse somehow. I don’t have much to say here. I took the tater bait and lost.

 

TL;DR: I liked the finish but nothing else

1 - Pouring out the bottle, Coke Zero deserves better

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

 

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Review #216: Blood Oath Pact 3

Part 7 of the finished whiskey series is back to Blood Oath with my favorite Pact. Pact 3 is a blend of two rye bourbons, one finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from Swanson Vineyard in Napa Valley. When I lived in California I developed a taste for their red wine so adding a few of those notes to bourbon sounds pretty appealing to me.

 

Blood Oath Pact 3

Age: NAS

Abv: 98.6 proof

Price: $99

Neat

Nose: Rich and sweet with red wine, nutty, vanilla and oak notes,

Taste: Oak, caramel, red fruit, vanilla, faint nuttiness. Solid mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, warm and sweet with more caramel, red fruit and oak notes.

Conclusion

I’ll start by saying I’m glad I have a 3rd bottle of this since I killed the second one writing this review. This is definitely the high water mark for Blood Oath for me though the Pact 5 was getting close. I really enjoyed the red wine notes that the finish added to the nuttiness of the Heaven Hill profile. The mouthfeel was solid for the proof, the finish was great. I do wish this was higher proof but I can’t blame them for their little body temperature gimmick.

The price on these is a bit high but it’s the same as High West’s A Midwinter Night’s Dram and is also an NAS, sourced, 98.6 proof, finished whiskey so I guess it makes sense. I don’t feel bad about buying MWND each year and the same applies here. I think Pact 3 is on par with the my favorite recent batch of MWND, Act 6.

At this point it’s probably not worth tracking down another bottle of the dwindling supply of this release but I’ll definitely be on the look out for Pact 6 which should hit in the next couple months.

 

TL;DR: Great whiskey, the red wine and nutty notes pair brilliantly

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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Review #215: Sagamore Spirit Cognac Finish

For part 6 of the finished whiskey we’ll be tasting a second Cognac finished rye. Sagamore Spirits is a distillery out of Maryland who is sourcing MGP while their own stocks come to age. Each year they release a finished variation and the 2019 release was a Cognac Finish. I first tried it at Whiskies of the World in Austin and went and grabbed a bottle the next week.

I also have a blind tasting video for this vs a High West Barrel Select vs a homemade cognac and rye blend.

 

Sagamore Spirit Cognac Finish

Age: NAS

Abv: 101 proof

Price: $62

Neat

Nose: Sweet and herbaceous with faint rye spice and hints of oak.

Taste: Very similar to the nose with MGP herbal notes and a nice fruity sweetness. Solid mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Medium length finish with rye spice, herbal notes and oak

Conclusion

The Cognac comes through much stronger on this bottle than the High West Barrel Select we looked at last time. That I said I preferred the High West but it was close. With how much more available this bottle is it’s an easy recommendation for folks wanting to try a good Cognac finished rye. Needless to say the home blend of cognac and rye whiskey was not as good as the actual finished ones.

 

TL;DR: More cognac than the HW, almost as good

8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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Review #214: Traverse City Whiskey Barrel Proof Bourbon Bob's Lake City Liquors Taterade Pick

When I went to my first bourbon tasting in Seattle there was a ton of amazing bourbon. A handful of bottles stood out among the crowd. One was the Four Roses 17 Year ‘Mutant Yeast’ but that is nigh impossible to acquire. Among the non-unicorn bottles a local Traverse City pick was quite tasty and had the perfect tater sticker. Thankfully the owner of the shop that did the pick was there and he generously agreed to dig a bottle out of his bunker for me. Several months and half the bottle later let’s see if this is as good as I remember.

As an aside the first time I tried to write a review of this bottle one of my French bulldogs came into my office and ripped a huge fart, ruining my ability to meaningfully taste the whiskey. So that was fun.

s Lake City Liquors Taterade Pick

 

Traverse City Whiskey Barrel Proof Bourbon Bob’s Lake City Liquors ‘Taterade’ Pick

Age: 11 years

Abv: 112.4 proof

Neat

Nose: Classic MGP nose, rich and sweet with oak, vanilla and brown sugar notes with hints of cinnamon

Taste: Spicier than the nose with more cinnamon, rye spice and the sweet vanilla and rich oak notes. Very oily, very nice. mouthfeel

Finish: Long warm finishing lingering rye spice and cinnamon balanced by vanilla and caramel.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed the clear but not overpowering cinnamon note, the mouthfeel and the transition from sweet to spicier notes as the dram goes. Otherwise it was just an excellent MGP single barrel which tends to be right up my alley. I’m looking forward to trying more picks from Bob’s.

As far as Traverse City goes this barrel definitely feels like an outlier to me. I haven’t been particularly impressed with anything else I’ve tried from them.

 

TL;DR: Excellent MGP single barrel, nice cinnamon note, excellent mouthfeel

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

 

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Review #213: High West Rendezvous Rye Barrel Select Cognac Finish

Part 5 of the finished whiskey series takes us to Utah and High West. Instead of a traditional single barrel program High West’s Barrel Select program is a batched whiskey then finished in one barrel for varying lengths of time. In the case of this bottle it is Rendezvous Rye finished for 1 year in a cognac cask. According to their website Rendezvous rye is a blend of 4-7 year old ryes from MGP and High West. Of course that is no guarantee of the age in this bottle. The other nice thing about the barrel selects is the higher proof. It is unclear to me whether or not it is barrel proof or just higher but here we are.

 

High West Rendezvous Rye Cognac Finish

Age: NAS

Finish Length: 1 year

Abv: 101.4 proof

Price: $79.99

Barrel Number: 14180

Neat

Nose: Rich herbs, baking spices, faint fruity sweetness.

Taste: Sweet fruit, more herbs, warm spice, strong vanilla and subtler oak notes. Decent mouthfeel.

Finish: Long with fresh herbal notes, sweet vanilla and faint spice.

Conclusion

The cognac wasn’t super prevalent on this for me especially on the nose and finish. There was some of the sweeter fruit notes I’d expect from cognac on the palate. Overall this just tasted like a particularly sweet MGP rye bottle.

 

TL;DR: Solid offering, not as good as the previous rum finish

8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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You can also read this and my other reviews at atxbourbon.com or follow me on Instagram(@atxbourbon) to keep up with these reviews and my other whiskey-centric adventures.

You can also follow me on Instagram(@atxbourbon) or reddit to keep up with these reviews and my other whiskey-centric adventures.

Review #212: Maker's Mark RC6

Part 4 of the finished whiskey series takes us away from barrel finishing and into stave finishing with Maker’s Mark RC6. Maker’s Mark’s Wood Finishing Series and Private Selects take Maker’s Cask Strength and add 10 pieces of wood to a barrel then leave them sitting in their cellar for a bit to finish. It’s definitely a different take on finishing and I’m not really sure why they went this route.

There was a bit of hype that seemed to die down relatively quickly for Maker’s Mark RC6 when it first came out. I’m not a big Maker’s fan but I did grab a sample when I had the chance. I still had about half a bottle of a Maker’s Mark Private Select to taste alongside it.

s Mark RC6

 

Maker’s RC6

Age: NAS years

Abv: 108.2 proof

Neat

Nose: Soft and sweet with butterscotch and wheat notes.

Taste: More sweetness and wheat notes with a decent amount of baking spice and some subtle cherry. Good mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish with baking spice and butterscotch notes.

Conclusion

I feel like I should like this, and most Maker’s Private Selects, more than I do. The notes are always good, they aren’t too harsh and the high proof leads to a nice mouthfeel but for some reason they just don’t stand out to me. Maybe they are just too young? I do think the stave finishing process makes a noticeable difference compared to regular Maker’s Cask Strength which is even more underwhelming to me.

Comparing the RC6 to the Oak Liquor Cabinet Maker’s Mark Private Select I’d say they are pretty close but I would give the win to the RC6 but not by much.

TL;DR: On the same level as a good Maker’s Mark Private Select

7 - a great whiskey I’d order at a bar

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Review #211: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 8

Part 3 of the finished whiskey series takes us to my current favorite line of finished whiskey: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend. I know u/prepreludesh would be disappointed if I didn’t have a Cigar Blend early on in this series (and maybe one or two more later on) so here we are with the oldest batch I have #8.

Cigar Blend is a blend of middling to old MGP bourbon, including some that is finished in Cognac and Sherry casks, which is then finished in an Armagnac cask to give it a robust finish that holds up to a cigar pairing.

 

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 8

Age: NAS

Abv: 112.82 proof

Price: $225 ($169.99 MSRP)

Neat

Nose: Rich and sweet with leather, vanilla and brown sugar notes backed by a subtler spice.

Taste: Deeply complex with layers of sweet, rich and spicy notes including butterscotch, vanilla, leather, charred oak and baking spices as well as rye spice. Thick and velvety mouthfeel.

Finish: Extremely long slightly dry finish with warm spices, sweet vanilla and faint leather and oak

With a Cigar

Cigar: Alec Bradley Magic Toast

Nose: Strong enough that I can still smell the leather and sweetness over the cigar smoke

Taste: Definitely muted by the cigar but the sweet and spicy combo is still there as is the mouthfeel.

Finish: This is the best part as you keep tasting the long finish as you draw on the cigar

Conclusion

This wasn’t my favorite batch of Cigar Blend but it was still excellent and very much fulfilled the goal of pairing with a cigar. It has all the upside of well aged MGP with some additional notes from the Armagnac and a much longer finish than I get with a lot of 10-12 year MGP. It was a little spicy and dry for my taste especially compared to batches 12, 14 and 18. I paid over retail for this batch and wouldn’t do it again though.

 

TL;DR: Weakest Cigar Blend of the batches I have, still fantastic. One of the longest finishes I’ve had on a bourbon.

8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

 

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