Sample Mountain Week 17: Rare Turkey

Week 17 of Sample Mountain is rare Turkey week featuring a 1996 101, the legendary Russell’s Reserve 2002 and Master’s Keep Revival. I’ve had the Russell’s and Revival before as bar pours at Moonshine but this will be my first taste of ‘96 101.

 

Wild Turkey 101 1996

Age: NAS

Proof: 101

Neat

Nose: Sweet with heavy caramel notes backed by vanilla and faint spice.

Taste: Caramel, salted nuts, faintly perfumey floral notes and hints of spice and oak. Enjoyable but unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length, slightly dry finish with a fading salted caramel and lingering oak.

Buy a bottle? No - dusty Turkey is too crazy

Russell’s Reserve 2002

Age: 15 year

Proof: 114.6

Neat

Nose: Caramel, leather, dark cherry and baking spice with subtler vanilla and oak.

Taste: More caramel and leather, more oak and spice than on the nose. Great proof integration bu unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, slightly bitter, dry and oaky with some vanilla extract balancing the oak.

Buy a bottle? Anywhere near retail buy, pass at secondary

Wild Turkey Revival

Age: NAS

Proof: 101

Neat

Nose: Dark fruit and heavy oak notes dominate. Simple but nice.

Taste: Dark fruit and vanilla give way to bitter oak. Oddly thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long with lingering dried fruit, baking spice and too much bitter oak.

Buy a bottle? No - glad I passed on this back when it dropped

Conclusion

Honestly I didn’t love any of these samples. The Russell’s 2002 is very good and almost there but the finish just isn’t quite right for me and I was hoping for a little more given the price and scarcity. If I am going to chase down a big Turkey bottle I’d rather go after a SCN bottling or just grab a hyped Russell’s Reserve pick. The ‘96 101 is better than the modern stuff but not by enough to justify the wild markup on dusty Turkey. As for the Revival I tend to enjoy finished bourbon but this one was a miss for me with too much bitterness and not enough classic bourbon notes. Decades still reigns as my favorite Master’s Keep release.

 

TL;DR: The ‘96 101 and RR2002 were tasty but these are all going to be a pass from me

 

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Four Roses Single Barrel

In the precovid times one of the last non work trips I went on was to Charleston South Carolina where I picked up a Four Roses I hadn’t seen before: a pick that wasn’t barrel strength. I’ve been meaning to blind it against an off the shelf Four Roses Single Barrel for quite some time and today is the day! I tasted these blind and then sat down to write more detailed tasting notes.

 

Four Roses Single Barrel

Age: NAS on the bottle (7-9 years according to their website)

Proof: 100

Price: $43

Barrel: 69-1O

Neat

Nose: Dried fruit, rich oak and a strong vanilla note.

Taste: Simple but enjoyable with caramel, fruit and warm spice notes. Pleasant but unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish with fading dried fruit and lingering oak, spice and vanilla notes.

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

Four Roses Single Barrel South Carolina

Age: 7 years 4 months

Proof: 100

Price: $40-50 range

Barrel: 19-6R

Neat

Nose: More spice and more oak than the non-pick with the same dried fruit but less vanilla.

Taste: Fruitcake with dried fruit and holiday spice alongside a nice oak note. Couldn’t really tell a difference in mouthfeel from the non pick.

Finish: Shorter, cleaner finish than the non pick with fading fruit and vanilla and bit of spice.

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

Conclusion

I think Four Roses Single Barrel is an good whiskey and better than most shelf offerings at that price point but it’s not something I am regularly going to pick up a bottle of anymore, especially with the Small Batch Select being readily available here and my deep bench of their barrel strength picks. The South Carolina pick was a little better but not enough to bump it up, especially since the finish was a step back. I’d probably grab a different Single Barrel pick if I came across one but wouldn’t go out of my way to find one and don’t feel like I needed a back up here.

 

TL;DR: The pick was slightly better, both great shelf bottles but not worth hunting/hoarding

Scale

 

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Sample Mountain Week 16: Bygone Ryes

Week 16 of Sample Mountain is bygone ryes week featuring 3 ryes that they don’t make like they used to anymore. First up is 2012 Michter’s 10 Rye, then High West A Mid Winter Night’s Dram Act 1 and wrapping up with Smooth Ambler Old Scout 12 Year.

 

Michter’s 10 Rye 2012

Age: 10 years

Proof: 92.8

Barrel No: 2337

Neat

Nose: Rich and dark with oak, leather, herbs, vanilla and warm spice. No proof sting.

Taste: Surprisingly sweet with more oak and vanilla cream, leather, chocolate, warm spice and caramel. Excellent mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Very long slightly hot finish with linger oak, spice and caramel.

Better than the modern stuff? Yes - I hope I didn’t ruin my taste for modern M10 Rye

Worth tracking down? Please no, I don’t want to go on an old Michter’s rabbit hole…

A Midwinter Night’s Dram Act 1 Scene 1021

Age: A blend of 6 and 16 year

Proof: 98.6

Neat

Nose: Not as much port influence as the new ones but inviting with rich herbal and spicy notes back by subtler oak and red fruit.

Taste: Warm and sweet with holiday spice and herbal notes balanced by sweet fruit. Very pleasant mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and sweet with dark fruit, vanilla and warm spice.

Better than the modern stuff? Maybe? It’s different and I like the modern MWND quite a bit. This was great though.

Worth tracking down? No - these are super rare, super pricey and not worth it.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 12 Year Rye

Age: 12 years

Proof: 110.4 proof

Barrel No: 15334

Neat

Nose: Tobacco, baking spice, caramel and faint herbal notes.

Taste: Rich oak, leather, caramel, baking spices and herbal notes(including a bit of dill) toward the end. Excellent, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and warm with lingering oak, caramel and warm spice.

Better than the modern stuff? Yes, definitely.

Worth tracking down? Maybe, this was amazing but they are single barrels so finding this specific one would be hard and expensive.

Conclusion

The Michter’s and SAOS were unquestionably better for me than their modern counter parts. The new M10 ryes are great but they don’t stack up to this bottle. It seems a little unfair to compare a 12 year MGP to a 4 year in the case of the SAOS 🤷‍♂️ When I compared it to modern well aged ryes like Kentucky Owl, Redemption 18 or Rocky Mountain Rye I am not as impressed. I saved half the sample for a blind with some modern ryes to see how it stacks up. The MWND the older one is different the carries a lot more of the old Barton rye profile than modern MWND. That said I really like the heavy port influence on the modern ones, especially Act 6, so this older one wasn’t better for me though it was quite good and I can understand why folks who really loved the early Acts were disappointed with the more recent releases.

In general I try not to go too deep on older releases but that M10 rye is a tempting rabbit hole.

 

TL;DR: These old ryes were great especially the SAOS and M10.

 

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Sample Mountain Week 15: Four Roses O

Week 15 of Sample Mountain is Four Roses O week with 3 samples of O yeast strain recipes 2 OESO and 1 OBSO. Unfortunately on one of the samples I wasn’t able to find out where it was from or what the proof was. Going in I expect to like all of these as I tend to be a Four Roses fan and particularly like the O yeast.

 

Mystery OESO

Age: 13 years 10 months

Proof: ??

Neat

Nose: Bright and fruity with cherry and plum notes backed by sweet vanilla cream and subtler oak.

Taste: Fruit and spice notes at the front followed by vanilla and oak. Like a fruit cake with some tannic red wine splashed in. Pleasant but unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Long dry finish with prominent oak and subtler vanilla extract and warm spice notes.

Buy a bottle? Yes at the ~90-150 Four Roses picks can go for from shops, No at the insane secondary.

Bourbon Street OESO

Age: 10 years 11 months

Proof: 105

Neat

Nose: Darker fruit notes than the first one with a richer caramel sweetness.

Taste: Floral and fruity with sticky caramel and warm spice notes. Thick, luscious mouthfeel.

Finish: Big, warm finish with spice, oak and fruit leather notes.

Buy a bottle? Yes and more open minded on the price than the first one.

East Bay Members OBSO

Age: 9 years

Proof: 110 proof

Neat

Nose: Similar to the Bourbon Street but with more vanilla than caramel.

Taste: Rich oak, dark fruit, warm spice and sweet vanilla. Very nice mouthfeel that coats the tongue and roof of my mouth.

Finish: Long and slightly dry with dried fruit and oak notes.

Buy a bottle? Yes and OBSO secondary is more reasonable than OESO AFAIK

Conclusion

From the nose the 13 year seemed a lot younger than it was but the age (and oak) showed up big for the finish. I had a lot of hype for the 13 year age but I actually preferred the other two.

With its floral notes the Bourbon Street pick was almost like a cross of an O and a Q which was fantastic. It was my favorite of the bunch.

The East Bay OBSO was also great but didn’t stand out quite as much as the Bourbon Street pick. Based on my previous experience tasting through all 10 recipes I had thought the OBSO would win, it was the youngest of the 3 though so that may have hurt it.

At or near retail prices Four Roses picks are pretty much an auto buy for me so no surprises here. I do like to keep one of each recipe open so if I needed to track down a backup OBSO that East Bay Members would be a good one.

 

TL;DR: Bourbon Street OESO was the champ. No losers here. Buy at retail, secondary on OESO is crazy

 

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1792 Sweet Wheat

A while back I went through a big 1792 craze and bought entirely too many bottles of their whiskey. I’m slowly catching up on reviewing them.

1792 Sweet Wheat

Age: NAS

Abv: 91.2 proof

Color: A medium amber

Neat

Nose: Vanilla, oak, butterscotch, citrus and banana

Taste: Very sweet with butterscotch, vanilla, oak and spice a little thin on the mouthfeel but solid for the proof

Finish: Medium length finish with vanilla, oak and light spice

Conclusion

I am a big fan of wheaters in general and this is solid entry that category so it’s no surprise I liked it. I’d put it over a readily available offering like Larceny, Maker’s or even Weller Special Reserve that said it falls a bit short of something in a similar price/scarcity range like Weller Antique 107. Maybe it would be able to compete if this were bottled at a higher proof? I’ll never understand why 1792 releases most things at less than 100 proof 🤷‍♂️ That said this is a super accessible drinker with great flavors so if you are in the mood for sweet, smooth and easy to drink this is checks all those boxes.

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

Scale

 

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Sample Mountain Week 14: Angel's Envy Cask Strength

Week 14 of Sample Mountain is Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Week! I was in Kentcuky this week picking barrels for a couple local stores when I trolled self by buying 4 1oz samples of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength from their gift shop effectively setting my sample clearing project back by a week :/

Angel’s Envy releases a cask strength version of their port finished bourbon once a year but they have a deep library of samples for sale at their gift shop. I picked the 2013 because it was the oldest, 2020 because it was the newest and then 2 in between based on the provided tasting notes. All I know for sure if that this is Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished in port casks and that Angel’s Envy sources from multiple distilleries. I’d guess there is at least some Heaven Hill in the blends but who knows?

 

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2013

Proof: 123

Neat

Nose: Sweet with vanilla and dried fruit notes with hints of nuts underneath. Gentle for the proof.

Taste: Similar to the nose but with more of a caramel sweetness. Same dried fruit and nuts balanced with some oak. Nice mouthfeel as I would expect for the proof.

Finish: Medium to long finish with a sticky sweetness and some bitter oak.

Buy a bottle? No

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2014

Proof: 119.4

Neat

Nose: Deep and rich with dark fruit, sweet caramel, rich oak and bit of chocolate.

Taste: Almost like an armagnac with dark fruit, oak, leather and sweet caramel plus that bit of chocolate from the nose. Great mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and lingering with rich oak, dried fruit and faint spice.

Buy a bottle? Probably if I’d found it at retail back in the day

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2017

Proof: 124.5

Neat

Nose: Very similar to the 2013 but a little nuttier and more potent.

Taste: Nice caramel sweetness, nutty notes, warm spice and fainter but present dried fruit. Good mouthfeel in line with the proof.

Finish: Nice, long finish with sweet caramel and slightly bitter oak.

Buy a bottle? No

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2020

Proof: 120.4

Neat

Nose: Dark and rich with dark fruit and vanilla cream notes.

Taste: Holiday spices, dried fruit, sweet vanilla and oak.

Finish: Long sweet and spicy finish with just a little bit of bitter oak.

Buy a bottle? No

Conclusion

To start with the positives all of these had great proof integration and were surprisingly(dangerously?) easy to drink for being around 120 proof. They also all tasted like bourbon with port influence so good job doing what it says on the label. Otherwise for the most part these were enjoyable but nothing special especially given the limited nature and high price point. The one possible exception was the 2014 which reminded me of Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau De Laubade and of Blood Oath 6 in a very nice way. That said I am a fan of both of those releases and they were cheaper and easier to get 🤷‍♂️ On another note the 2020 reminded me a little more of Four Roses also in a good way but not enough to justify the cost and hunt.

 

TL;DR: 14 >> 2020 > 2017 > 2013. They were all enjoyable but 2014 was the only one I would have considering buying.

 

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Sample Mountain Week 13: Thomas H Handy Sazerac

Sample Mountain Week 13 is Thomas H Handy week! I finally wrapped up something in my non-bourbon life so I wanted to crack into some top shelf samples and what better to get into than some BTAC. This week I did a blind tasting of 3 samples 2011, 2014 and 2019 as well as my open 2020 bottle. I have previously reviewed the 2019 and will have a full write up on the 2020 soonish (now that I’ll have more time for hobbies again).

I did this as a sort of rambling blind tasting then sat down to write up more detailed notes on the ‘11 and ‘14.

 

2011 Thomas H Handy Sazerac

Age: 6 years 5 months

Proof: 128.6 proof

Neat

Nose: Brown sugar and rye spice. Just the right balance

Taste: Sweet herbs, rye spice and a sticky sweetness. Great mouthfeel that’s viscous but not too oily.

Finish: Long, warm finish with herbs and spices balanced by brown sugar

Buy a bottle compared to recent releases? Maybe? It was one of the best THHs I’ve had but so is ‘20

2014 Thomas H Handy Sazerac

Age: 6 years 3 months

Proof: 129.2

Neat

Nose: Rich herbs, vanilla, warm spice

Taste: Rye and baking spices, sweet vanilla cream, herbal notes and a touch of oak. Good mouthfeel but not as enjoyable as the ‘11

Finish: Long and lingering but fainter than the ‘11 with rye spice, herbs and something sweet I can’t quite place.

Buy a bottle compared to recent releases? No. It’s good but just grab a ‘17, ‘18 or ‘20

Conclusion

Overall I felt like my priors were validated with ‘20 being a great year and ‘19 being a let down. The ‘11 was also something special but the hassle and/or cost of getting dusty BTAC is even worse than getting the current stuff so I can’t recommend trying to track one down unless you are a THH aficionado. The ‘14 was great but overshadowed by the ‘20 and ‘11 making it even less worth tracking down. As for the ‘19 if you magically stumble upon it at retail sure buy it but otherwise easy pass.

 

TL;DR: ‘20 and ‘11 are 🔥 ‘14 was great and ‘19 was good but not up to the standard of the other 3

 

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Michter's 10 Rye 2020

I was very fortunately able to grab both the Michter’s 10 bourbon and rye last year and after an unexpected delay here is the rye review!

 

Michter’s 10 Rye 2020

Age: 10 years

Proof: 92.8

Price: 160

Barrel No: 20E925

Neat

Nose: Vanilla extract, herbs, baking spices and cinnamon.

Taste: Vanilla cream, oak, cinnamon and rye spices. Decent but unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length slightly dry finish with more vanilla, cinnamon and oak.

Conclusion

Similar to the bourbon M10 Rye packs a ton of flavor into a low proof, very drinkable offering. The mouthfeel suffers a bit from the proofing down but while it is lowlight it’s still enjoyable. Unlike the bourbon I was able to get this at retail but the retail on this is higher than the bourbon. Compared to the only 10+ year old rye that sits on shelves I can think of, Kentucky Owl, I think M10R is the clear winner and is cheaper. On the other hand I don’t think it holds up to the recent High West Rocky Mountain Rye release and it’s hard to compete on value with those extra aged Whistle Pig picks that have been hitting lately.

Overall this is another great bottle and consistent with Michter’s high price, high quality approach to the 10 year releases.

 

TL;DR: Tons of flavor in a low proof offering, tough price

2 Stars - Very good whiskey: I would want to have a bottle

Scale

 

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Sample Mountain Week 12: Weird Stuff

For Week 12 of Sample Mountain I wanted to visit some weirder stuff. First up will be a peated bourbon from Kings County and since I am not particularly a fan of heavy peat or Kings County this will be exciting! Next up in a double oak rye from Peerless. Rebarreling can be hit or miss though I tend to like the results. Last up is Old Carter American Whiskey Batch 3 which I believe is a light whiskey from MGP.

 

Kings County Peated Bourbon

Age: NAS

Proof: 90

Neat

Nose: Young grain and acrid smoke.

Taste: Hot for 90 proof with more smoke and grain.

Finish: Long and lingering with fading heat and lasting smoke with hints of grain.

Buy a bottle? No.

Peerless Double Oak Rye

Age: NAS

Proof: Unknown (most bottles online are between 108-110)

Neat

Nose: Herbs and spices with some proof sting and a fainter sweetness.

Taste: Really balanced between rye spice, oak notes and a vanilla sweetness. Very pleasant mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish

Buy a bottle? Yes - if I was at the distillery and they had it stocked in the giftshop

Old Carter American Whiskey Batch 3

Age: NAS

Proof: 138.1 proof

Neat

Nose: Potent with sweet caramel, oak and warm spice. The proof is present and almost too much.

Taste: Ethanol, heat, a nice caramel note toward the end. Astringent mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, dry and hot. Deserty.

Buy a bottle? No

Conclusion

The Kings County Peated was very much not for me. It was harsh and had an unusual finish. I’d buy Laphroaig 10 over this all day if I was looking for a peat fix.

The Peerless was surprisingly good but given the scarcity (gift shop releases) and price (34/200ml) I wouldn’t seek it out. That said I’d happily pick up a 200ml bottle if I was visiting the gift shop. This is on brand for Peerless with a high quality but even higher priced release.

I had very low hopes for the Old Carter Batch 3 after my previous experience with high proof MGP light whiskey and the disappointing Batch 3 of their bourbon. My low expectations were spot on. Whatever it is about these high proof MGP light whiskies just isn’t for me. There are some nice caramels but they are lost in the hot mess.

 

TL;DR: Peerless solid but pricey, the other two were not for me.

 

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Sample Mountain Week 11: Sixth Street Bourbon

I’m a couple days late but here’s Sample Mountain Week 11 Sixth Street Bourbon featuring Joseph Magnus. I recently acquired samples of 2 12 year old cask strength MGP pick from Sixth Street Bourbon here in Texas and decided that a Magnus pick from another Texas group, DFW Whiskey Club, would be a great benchmark. The first pick is from Liquor Depot in Giddings, Texas which dropped on a Friday morning during a call I couldn’t reschedule or else I would have been there. Thankfully someone from a local group drove out there and did a bottle share. The next pick is Black Cat, I’m sort of unclear who picked this or where it came from, but I got a sample from a friend in Dallas(and drank some from his bottle just to be safe).

 

DFW Whiskey Club Magnus Pick #1

Age: Unknown (I believe 12 or 13)

Proof: Unknown

Neat

Nose: Leather and oak balanced by brown sugar.

Taste: Lots of oak, baking spices, some leather and brown sugar. Pleasant but unremarkable mouthfeel

Finish: Medium length, slightly dry finish with bitter oak, warm spice and faint brown sugar.

Buy a bottle? No at the retail price of ~120

Sixth Street Bourbon Liquor Depot Pick

Age: 12 years

Proof: 106

Neat

Nose: Herbal notes, especially mint, with a sugary sweetness, warm spices and faint oak in the background.

Taste: Sweet and herbal with more sugar and less mint than the nose balanced with a good amount of oak and subtler spice notes. Average mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Long and almost sticky with more sweetness and more mint.

Buy a bottle? Yes - assuming the retail price was ~100-120

Sixth Street Bourbon Black Cat Pick

Age: 12 years

Proof: 116 proof

Neat

Nose: Barrel char, something sweet,

Taste: Charred oak, coffee, sweet caramel, warm spices . Nice mouthfeel and great proof integration.

Finish: Long finish with lots of coffee, spice, oak and some sweetness.

Buy a bottle? Yes - I’d pay more for it but not whatever the crazy secondary on MGP is these days

Conclusion

I am typically a Magnus fan and when I nosed this pick I was very excited but it was a little too dry and bitter for me. Over oaked for my taste. The second Magnus pick DFW Whiskey Club did was significantly better for me. It had similar notes but they were balanced very differently. The second pick dialed down the dry, bitter parts and turned the sweet and spice notes up.

The first Sixth Street pick was nice. The herbal notes remind me a bit of Four Roses F yeast strain and a few other MGP picks I’ve had. I wouldn’t seek it out compared to other 12 year old MGP but if I’d had the chance to grab one I would have. I’ll definitely keep an eye out if Sixth releases more of these nearby.

The Black Cat pick was really off profile. The charred oak and coffee notes were not something I usually get from MGP. Maybe the time(unclear how long) in Texas made a difference? I can definitely see this being divisive if the drinker was expecting something closer to Smooth Ambler or Smoke Wagon. That said black coffee and whiskey are my two favorite drinks so when I get some coffee notes in my bourbon I’m not complaining. This was unique and to my taste so I’d definitely like to get a bottle but MGP prices these days are crazy 🤷‍♂️

 

TL;DR: Black Cat > Liquor Depot. The Magnus pick was a miss for me.

 

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