Review #254: Joseph Magnus Murray Hill Club Special Release Batch 1

For part 23 of the finished whiskey series we’re unsurprisingly back to Joseph Magnus with their first Murray Hill Club Special release. After a lucky find of the Murray Hill Club Special Release Batch 2 and loving it I decided to track down a bottle of the initial release. Let’s see if it holds up.

 

Review #254: Joseph Magnus Murray Hill Club Special Release Batch 1

Age: NAS on the label, blend of 9-18 years

Abv: 112 proof

Finish: Pineau Des Charentes

Neat

Nose: Brown sugar, caramel, charred oak and hints of warm spice.

Taste: Dark fruit, warm spice, rich oak and vanilla. Very viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and lingering with sweet dark fruit and warm, rich oak notes. It get’s a little dry toward the end.

Conclusion

Well that was great. It didn’t stand out as significantly better than the second release but still had a great balance of the bourbon and pineau des charentes notes. The long finish was really enjoyable on this one as were the fruit notes. In general I’d give the Cigar Blend from Magnus the nod over the Murray Hill Special Releases. I do want to know what these blends taste like before they go into the finishing cask though.

 

TL;DR: Great release, neck and neck with batch 2, I need to try some

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

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Review #253: Michter's US1 Unblended American Whiskey

Michter’s Unblended American Whiskey is an unusual release in the modern American whiskey scene. It’s aged in used barrels, carries no age state, is at a low and unusual proof and tells us basically nothing about what’s in the bottle. Drinking the whole thing seemed like the best way to gain a deeper understanding so here we are.

s US1 Unblended American Whiskey

 

Review #253: Michter’s US1 Unblended American Whiskey

Age: NAS

Abv: 83.4 proof

Price: $45

Batch No: 1811337

Neat

Nose: More potent than I expected for the proof with vanilla, caramel and faint spice notes.

Taste: Sweet with vanilla frosting, citrus and caramel. Thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Short and simple with quickly fading sweetness.

Conclusion

I will say that “whiskey soaked barrels” is my new favorite way to say “used barrels” and that’s also my favorite part of this dram. There was nothing wrong with it but other than the surprisingly nice nose it was dull and underwhelming throughout. If it was a budget priced offering I’d be happy enough with this but at a premium price point it doesn’t make any sense to me.

 

TL;DR: Inoffensive but boring low proofer that’s priced like something better

4 - a fine whiskey that does not standout in either direction

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

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Review #252 Malts of Scotland Heaven Hill KSBW Finished in a Sherry Butt 1999

Onward to part 22 of the finished whiskey series with a pretty unusual bottle of Heaven Hill bourbon finished in sherry casks by a German independent bottler who mainly deals in scotch. This is a unique bottle I first came across thanks to u/northernbourbonite and as a fan of both Heaven Hill and finished bourbon I had to have it. Unfortunately we don’t know how long this bottle was aged in the original casks vs the sherry butt or how long it spent in the States vs Europe.

 

Review #252 Malts of Scotland Heaven Hill KSBW Finished in a Sherry Butt 1999

Age: 19 years (Distilled in ‘99 and bottled in ‘19)

Abv: 110.4 proof

Price: ~$200

Neat

Nose: Vanilla, dark fruit, roasted nuts, caramel and hints of spice

Taste: A range of dark fruits, more roasted nuts, sweet caramel, vanilla, holiday spices, rich oak, faint smoke. Viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Very long if simpler finish with slightly dry oak, caramel, vanilla, hints of fruit and a touch of bitterness.

Conclusion

That was great! The nose and taste on this are fantastic but the finish is just good which with that slight tannic bitter note held this back from the 10/10 rating. The quality bar set by this release is where the Master’s Keep Revival should have been. The sherry finish doesn’t overwhelm the bourbon at all and adds some great fruit notes that I find to be missing from most Heaven Hill offerings. This is sort of the equal and opposite version of when Remus Volstead brought nice nutty notes to MGP.

I am definitely going to try and import a few more of the Heaven Hill bourbons that Malts of Scotland has finished. I am a big fan of what other folks are doing finishing Heaven Hill bourbon and I very much hope Heaven Hill releases their own offering too. If you know of any other interesting Heaven Hill finished bourbons please let me know!

 

TL;DR:: Classic well aged Heaven Hill meets sherry, goodness ensues.

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #251: T.W. Samuels Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

A local store got in a shipment of T.W. Samuel’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey which is usually not available here in Texas. When I was trying to buy something else they told me I should really get this, it was super good, very cheap, etc. I was skeptical but since it was only $10.99 for a liter I went ahead and bought it. Let’s see if it’s any good.

 

Review #251: T.W. Samuels Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Age: 3 years

Abv: 80 proof

Price: $11 for 1 liter

Neat

Nose: Corn, nuts and caramel

Taste: Lots of grain, slightly harsh, some nicer caramel towards the end. Very thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Short with corn and caramel.

With Cherry Coke Zero

Nose: Dark fruit, cola, faint corn, hints of caramel and nuts

Taste: The grain cuts right through the cherry and cola notes.

Finish: Short with primarily cola notes.

Conclusion

I’m not a fan of this one. Thankfully it didn’t have any offensive notes but it was very grainy and didn’t really have much going for it. Honestly it wasn’t a good mixer either. If I absolutely only had $11 for bourbon I would buy a 750ml of Evan Williams or Ancient Age over this everyday or if I really needed a cheap liter of bourbon it is only $4 more for for Evan Williams, here in Texas at least.

 

TL;DR: Thin, grainy and boring. Well that was disappointing.

3 - Better than not drinking whiskey but just barely

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

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Review #250 Bull Run Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks

For part 21 of my finished whisky series I’m taking a look at Bull Run. Bull Run is a distillery in Portland Oregon who finishes MGP bourbons and light whiskies among other things. They recently released a straight bourbon whiskey finished in cognac casks which sounded like something I would like. Thankfully A friend of mine from back in Seattle introduced them to me back when I used to travel up there for work and was able to get me a bottle of this release.

I also tasted this blind against Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 19 and Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau De Labade.

 

Review #250 Bull Run Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks

Age: 12 years

Finish: 1 year in Hennessy Cognac casks

Abv: 124.64 proof

Price: $125

Neat

Nose: Dark fruit, vanilla, warm spice and fainter herbal notes.

Taste: A little hot with cinnamon, dark fruit, leather, grapes, and something sticky sweet towards the end. Viscous mouthfeel as I would expect at that proof.

Finish: Long, warm and dry with lingering dried fruit, cinnamon and oak.

Conclusion

That was good, if a bit too hot/spicy for my tastes but there were a lot of great flavors too. This one isn’t going to be a daily drinker for me but I’m glad to have this bottle. It’s definitely one of the more distinct finished bourbons I have.

 

TL;DR: A little too hot and cinnamon for my taste but otherwise great. I think I’ll like it better in the fall/winter

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

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Review #249: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 19

For part 20 of my finished whiskey series we’re back to Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend! This spring Magnus released 4 new batches from the same bourbon blend with each batch being finished in a different Armagnac cask. With the next release coming up soon it’s time to review the current ones starting with batch 19!

 

Review #249: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 19

Age: NAS, unfortunately

Abv: 124 proof!

Price: $170

Neat

Nose: Dark and sweet with dark fruit, leather, brown sugar and faint nutty notes with a hint of herbs.

Taste: Sweet and spicy with brown sugar, dark fruit, nuts(not peanuts though), baking spices, leather, caramel notes finishing with some herbal notes. Very viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Very long and slightly dry with warm spice, brown sugar and leather notes

Conclusion

That was some fantastic bourbon. This dram has my favorite flavor progression where the nose is sweet and inviting, the taste is rich and complex and the finish is spicy enough to make you want the next sip. The dark fruit, brown sugar, leather and nutty notes are some of my favorite bourbon flavors as well. I was a little worried that the higher proof would make these too hot but it doesn’t do that at all for this batch. I’ll definitely be looking for a backup bottle or 2 for this batch.

It seems like more well aged MGP has been having these nutty notes lately and I’m a big fan. I don’t think I’ve gotten those off of an SAOS, Belle Meade or Boone County single barrel before but in a few recent Magnus barrels and the Remus Volstead it was there for me in a great way.

I missed out on batch 22 but otherwise this is easily my favorite of the batches from the 19-22 coup mere. Reviews for 20 and 21 are forthcoming. Spoiler: they aren’t as good as 19.

As far as cost goes this is obviously an expensive bottle but for me it delivers. When I pay over $100 for a bottle of bourbon I want it to wow me and this bottle definitely did. When I look at other expensive bottles that have released recently, like Wild Turkey 17 BiB and Doc Swinson’s 15 year, Cigar Blend Batch 19 stands out from the crowd.

 

TL;DR: My easily in my top 2 Cigar Blend Batches, definitely going to look for another bottle

10 - an all time favorite, must buy/hunt

Great - A great deal, I’d buy it again

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Review #248: Scotch Malt Whiskey Society 36.168 Fruity, Earth and Exciting

I’ve been getting back into scotch lately particularly with cask strength IB bottles so I decided to give the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society a try especially since the membership and a bottle included an intriguing 19 year Speyside with a moscatel finish.

 

Whiskey Network Review #248: Scotch Malt Whiskey Society 36.168 Fruity, Earth and Exciting

Distillery: Benrinnes

Age: 19 years

Abv: 113.2 proof

Initial Cask: Ex-bourbon hogshead

Final Cask: 1st fill ex-moscatel hogshead

Price: $150

Neat

Nose: Dark fruit, warm spice, oak, honey, something else sweet I can’t place

Taste: More dark fruit, brown sugar, warm holiday spices and honey.

Finish: Long, warm and dry with lingering spice, pepper and oak notes

Conclusion

I really enjoyed that. I was hoping for a bit more earthiness especially for a leather note they called out on the label. The moscatel finish definitely added a lot of sweetness that brought out notes that reminded me of my favorite sweeter bourbons.

As far as the SMWS goes I’ll continue to order some bottles for the rest of the year and evaluate at the end whether I felt like it was worth it.

 

TL;DR: Fruity and exciting, not all that earthy. Great intro the SMWS bottlings.

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

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Review #247: Wild Turkey Master's Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond

After my second time tasting Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond I decided I wanted a bottle. Thankfully a member of a local bourbon group gave me a tip on where to find a bottle at retail just a short drive out of town.

s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond

 

Review #247: Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond

Age: 17 years

Abv: 100 proof

Price: $170

Neat

Nose: Cherry, more cherry, vanilla, caramel, warm spices, faint oak

Taste: Cherry syrup, caramel apple, baking spices, almost no oak taste. Great mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Very long, if subtler, finish with baking spice, oak, caramel and smokey notes

Conclusion

That was tasty, very sweet for Turkey and surprisingly bright for something 17 years old. I really do think it has a different flavor profile from modern, higher entry proof Turkey. This might be a plus to folks who aren’t big fans of the current Turkey profile but I doubt they are buying a $170 Master’s Keep.

I’ve blinded this twice now once against a line up of top shelf Turkey bottlings and a second time against Decades. I put in last in the first blind but I did have it come out on top of Decades. I’ve tasted it against a handful of off the shelf Russell’s Reserve picks and it beat them out though not by as much as I would have hoped. I think this is the best Master’s Keep release yet but that the price point is hard to justify. Also I am relatively confident this is chill filtered which is disappointing for a premium release.

 

TL;DR: Great bottle, crazy price; I’d probably buy another one if they sit around for a while then go on sale like previous MK bottles

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

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

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Review #246: Eage Rare Seven Grand Single Barrel Select

Happy 4th of July!

Nothing says the 4th to me like bourbon and BBQ. I was a day off doing a big brisket smoke yesterday but thankfully there’s plenty left to celebrate today. On the bourbon front Eagle Rare is definitely a favorite when it comes to BBQ pairing. At 90 proof it’s much easier to drink for an extended period than a barrel proofer, at 10 years old it’s got plenty of flavor so I’d you want to throw it over ice to hang outside while you BBQ it can stand up to that and a ~$30 it’s a great one to share with no regrets on a one weekend bottle kill! Even better is a good store pick.

This pick is from Seven Grand here in Austin Texas, which is pretty pretty similar the Seven Grand in San Diego. Unfortunately I don’t have any more information on the pick :/

 

Review #246 Eagle Rare Seven Grand Single Barrel Select

Age: 10 years

Abv: 90 proof

Price: $35

Neat

Nose: Sweet and earthy with rich caramel, oak vanilla and red fruit(cherry?) notes

Taste: Caramel, cherry, oak fainter vanilla and a hint of spice. Great mouthfeel especially for the lower proof.

Finish: Medium length with a bit more spice than the taste but still lots of caramel and cherry, less oak.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed that one. It was very on profile for Eagle Rare for me but with more intense expressions of the sweet and earthy notes I like about Eagle Rare. I would have gladly bought another bottle or two but the shop selling them was strict on the 1 per person. Hopefully they’ll still have bottles left at the bar when COVID settles down my personal bottle is gone.

 

TL;DR: Great pick that leans in on the flavors I enjoy about Eagle Rare

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

Great - A great deal, I’d buy it again

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Review #245: Belle Meade Black Belle

After an inadvertent 2 week break the finished whiskey series is back with part 19 and Belle Meade’s Black Belle. As a fan of Belle Meade, barrel aged stouts and finished bourbon I was very excited for this one. Belle Meade sends used bourbon barrels over to Blackstone Brewing who then barrel age their stout in them before sending them back to Belle Meade who uses them to make Black Belle. There are a few different releases but I couldn’t dig up a definitive list.

 

Review #245 Belle Meade Black Belle

Age: NAS

Abv: 96.8 proof

Price: $150

Cask: #4167

Neat

Nose: Softer than I expected with cinnamon, caramel, malt and a slightly bitter note I couldn’t place.

Taste: The beer influence is heavy with sweet cream and malty beer notes and subtler brown sugar and rye spice. Nice mouthfeel, especially considering the proof.

Finish: Long and disjointed with the sweetness lingering on the tongue but with rye spice and cinnamon in the throat.

Conclusion

That was unique; the well aged MGP bourbon notes and the imperial stout notes were both present but it was almost like I was tasting them separately and not mingled together like I would expect. This led to a sort of disjointed tasting experience but the notes were all pleasant. Overall I enjoyed this dram but wouldn’t buy another bottle though I’d definitely like to try some of the other casks! It didn’t live up to my expectations though I had probably gotten my hopes up a bit too much.

 

TL;DR: Interesting dram for sure but nothing amazing. Glad I bought one, won’t do it again.

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

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