Review #66: Evan Williams Bottled in Bond

I’m in Seattle this week for a work trip and good whiskey is stupid expensive here so it seemed like a good time to review something more affordable. Evan Williams Bottled in Bond seemed like the best bet so without further ado let’s get to the review!

Review

Age: 4 years

Abv: 100 proof

Color: A medium amber

Price: $21.99 (with all the crazy Seattle taxes)

Neat

Nose: Rich oak and caramel notes with peanuts and just a bit of harshness

Taste: More oak but a little too much with lesser caramel and vanilla notes. Oddly thin mouthfeel for 100 proof

Finish: Medium length and a little harsh with peanuts, oak and caramel

On a rock

Nose: The ice cures the harshness and leaves the caramel and oak notes intact

Taste: It starts reasonable but with an odd bitterness later on. Notes of vanilla and caramel

Finish: Shorter and oaky with just a bit of sweetness

With Diet Coke

Nose: Cola and oak with a bit of vanilla

Taste: Starts all cola which fades as the oak notes ramp up

Finish: A nice blend of cola and oak

Conclusion

The nose on this improved significantly with resting. When I cracked the bottle and poured the first dram it was very harsh. Overall I was all little disappointed with this one and found it bitter and a bit harsh. It makes an excellent mixer, especially given the proof and price.

Quality

3 - Better than not drinking whiskey but just barely

Value based on what I paid

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #65: Oban 14

As far as scotch goes I’ve mainly reviewed Glenfiddich so far and I’ve been looking to mix things up so when a coworker asked me about Oban it seemed like a great excuse to review it. Oban 14 is a Highland single malt from a very small town on the west coast that is now owned by Diageo :) So let’s get to the review!

Review

Age: 14 years

Abv: 86 proof

Color: A medium to deep gold

Price: $69.99

Neat

Nose: Rich and sweet with strong apple and honey notes and subtler smoke and malt notes.

Taste: More sweet apples and honey with a bit of oak and malt and a hint of spice. I couldn’t find any smoke though.

Finish: Long, full flavored finished with a linger sweetness with the same honey and apple notes that we’ve had throughout and a bit more of the oak from the taste.

On a rock

Nose: Significantly weaker nose with just a bit of fruit and honey, the nose doesn’t hold up well to the ice.

Taste: The ice opens the taste up for me with more balanced apple and honey alongside oak and baking spice notes. The lower temperature also helped the mouthfeel go from just fine to quite nice.

Finish: A little shorter and not quite as full but still doing well in both categories with apples, honey, spice and just a pinch of saltiness.

Conclusion

Oban 14 is an excellent scotch and reasonably priced. It’s a bit in a valley for me as far as peat goes; I’d rather they just went unpeated or ramped it up a little bit. The sweet fruit and honey notes are excellent and well balanced with spice and oak. The mouthfeel is solid but nothing to write home about. Overall I’, happy to buy a bottle from time to time and due to the taste profile combined with the price and availability this is a staple of steakhouse scotch orders for me.

8 - an excellent bottle I’d be happy to buy

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

Scale

My reviews are mostly about taste but occasionally take price into consideration generally dropping a point from whiskies in the 8-9 range that seem significantly more expensive than similar quality bottles.

10 - an all time favorite, must buy

9 - a favorite that I almost always have a bottle of on my shelf

8 - an excellent bottle I’d be happy to buy

7 - a solid whiskey I’d happily order at bar if they don’t have something 8+

6 - a decent whiskey that I don’t prefer but don’t avoid and would be fine having as a mixer or in a pinch somewhere with a poor selection

5 - I would drink it if offered and I didn’t have to pay for it

4 - Fine as a mixer, bring on the Coke Zero

3 - Maybe a mixer if I’m in pinch

2 - no thanks

1 - pouring out the bottle

The Whiskey Vault: The Bourbon Run Premium Review

I went to Whiskey Marketing School’s Whiskey Vault and did The Bourbon Run Premium on Jan 5th for my birthday this year(thanks wife!). I’ve been meaning to post this but first I got lazy and then all the drama went down. So here we are now, let’s do this

Getting There

First off it’s a bit out of the way to say the least and I live in Austin! Since we both planned on imbibing neither the wife nor I could dd so we Ubered which turned into an adventure(more on that later…). If you are planning on going be sure to factor that cost in.

The Grounds

Once we got there the place was amazing! They had all kinds of awesome stuff from crazy sculptures to bronze lion and the gondola from Lost. They also have the largest Don Quixote art collection in North America because why not? Somehow I managed not to take any photos of that.

The Sommelier

We had a level 3 whiskey sommelier guiding us on the tasting. He was a cool guy, definitely knowledgeable about whiskey(mostly about scotch) but also not anywhere close to a wine sommelier’s level of expertise. He was also super into Bitcoin so that became a big part of the conversation. All in all he did an awesome job giving us the tour, working with me to pick the whiskies and guiding the tasting.

The Vault

So many whiskies!! Lots of great, rare stuff and I got to try 15 different ones from all over the world!

In order (somm pick : my pick : joint pick):

  • Wyoming Whiskey
  • Stranahan’s Sherry Cask
  • Clyde May’s Bourbon
  • Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye
  • Orphan Barrel Gifted Horse
  • Blood Oath Pact No 1
  • Writer’s Tears
  • Clynelish Distiller’s Edition
  • Auchentoshan Three Wood
  • Hibiki 12 yr
  • Kilchoman Original Cask Strength
  • Jefferson’s Presidential Select 16 yr
  • The Dalmore King Alexander III
  • Old Forester 2017 Birthday Bourbon
  • Glen Grant 30 year

We were supposed to taste 8 bourbons but the sommelier said if he did small pours we could taste more and boy did he come through. We alternated between tasting 3ish whiskies and then touring part of their Wizard Tower. It was a great, boozy time and i got to try some things I was really excited about and he even tossed in the Birthday Bourbon to celebrate.

The Bastards Bar

So coming off the awesome vault experience I was excited to checkout the bar but boy was it disappointing. They only served their Eleanor Chapter 6 and Chapter 4 as well as some underwhelming cocktails made with the Chapter 6. Both Chapters are very young(3 years) MGP bourbon and while they showed promise they also needed a few more years in the barrel. Honestly I’m a little disappointed that we are 6 chapters in and they have all been very similar 3 year MGPs.

Conclusion

Despite the weak finish we both had a great time and would definitely go again for something like a birthday party, promo celebration, etc. Based on my experience I would not take the whiskey sommelier certification classes as I think you can easily learn that material online or by reading a book. Next time I’ll be do more homework on what they have in the vault before I get there to get an even better lineup! Originally I was going to do that research in the Uber but we got in a wreck, which surprisingly wasn’t the worst part of the ride.

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

Review #64: Nikka Whisky From The Barrel

In August 2018 Nikka from the Barrel was finally released in the US! I had the good fortune of being able to grab a few bottles between the release and Whiskey Advocate naming it whiskey of the year killing the availability. SO let’s see how the whiskey of the year stacks up!

Review

Age: NAS

Abv: 102.8 proof

Color: A medium deep gold

Price: $64.99

Neat

Nose: Soft and sweet with floral honey, sweet pear and vanilla notes.

Taste: Floral honey and pear notes with just a bit of caramel and baking spice. Excellent mouthfeel that I have come to associate with most 100-110 proof whiskies

Finish: Short, warm and sweet with caramel and baking spice notes, almost like a bourbon

On a rock

Nose: Brighter than the neat nose but with the same sweet pear and floral honey notes

Taste: Clear pear and caramel notes with some citrus as well though the spice is gone. The mouthfeel holds up well to ice

Finish: Short and sweet without the warm spice from the neat finish but with the same caramel note

Conclusion

Ah this was a hard one. When I nosed, tasted and mouthfelt(?) this whiskey I wanted to give it a 9 but then I was disappointed by the short and simple finish :( Still this is great whiskey, an awesome intro to higher proofs and I’m very glad I can get it in the US now! That said it wasn’t my 2018 whiskey of the year or even in my top tier of whiskies. I wouldn’t hunt for it but if you see it a retail it’s definitely worth picking up.

8 - an excellent bottle I’ll buy from time to time

On a side note this whiskey on the rocks is my wife’s favorite whiskey of all time. She prefers short finishes for some reason I have yet to understand.

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Review #63: High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select Repeal Day 2018

For Repeal Day 2018 High West released a barrel select American Prairie finished for 2 years and 1 month in the 36th Vote Barrel Aged Manhattan barrels which were originally used to age rye whiskey. My folks went to the party and grabbed a couple bottles, one of which ended up being a gift for me! I got to try my dad’s bottle back in Utah and have already done some damage to this one so let’s get to the review.

Review

Age: 2-13 years and then finished for 2 years and 1 month

Abv: 101.98 proof

Color: A reddish amber

Price: $49.99

Neat

Nose: The Manhattan finish is clear from the nose with the prominent dark cherry and herbal notes backed by a subtle vanilla.

Taste: Excellent mouthfeel and rich dark cherry notes with tamer herbal and oak notes.

Finish: Longer than the regular bottling with warm spice and vanilla

On a rock

Nose: A little muted by the ice but still very Manhattany with the cherry note standing out and the herbal and vanilla notes in the background

Taste: Even better than it was neat with a more viscous mouthfeel and more balance between the cherry, herbs and oak. The vanilla for the nose is also there.

Finish: Very similar to the neat finish if a hair shorter

Conclusion

The finishing and higher proof definitely made this more interesting than it’s usual expression. It’s very flavorful, has a great mouthfeel and I’d be happy to use this on the rocks as a replacement for a Manhattan or to sip neat. Overall it’s a great bourbon and if I could grab another bottle at retail I definitely would.

9 - a favorite that I almost always have a bottle of on my shelf

This will be the last entry in my High West series and I’ll do a little wrap up post in the next few days covering the whiskey line up and the distillery experience.

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

Scale

My reviews are mostly about taste but occasionally take price into consideration generally dropping a point from whiskies in the 8-9 range that seem significantly more expensive than similar quality bottles.

10 - an all time favorite, must buy

9 - a favorite that I almost always have a bottle of on my shelf

8 - an excellent bottle I’d be happy to buy

7 - a solid whiskey I’d happily order at bar if they don’t have something 8+

6 - a decent whiskey that I don’t prefer but don’t avoid and would be fine having as a mixer or in a pinch somewhere with a poor selection

5 - I would drink it if offered and I didn’t have to pay for it

4 - Fine as a mixer, bring on the Coke Zero

3 - Maybe a mixer if I’m in pinch

2 - no thanks

1 - pouring out the bottle

Review #62: Glenfiddich Project XX

Today we’re picking up the Glenfiddich experimental series with the Project XX. This experiment involved 20 folks each choosing a cask from one of Glenfiddich’s warehouses and then blending them all together. This sounds like a really high budget version of an infinity bottle but let’s see how it stacks up!

Review

Age: NAS

Abv: 94 proof

Color: A deeper gold

Price: $67.99

Neat

Nose: Light and sweet with pear and floral honey notes

Taste: Warmer and fuller than the nose but still sweet with some spice perhaps pear and cinnamon? Nice, viscous mouthfeel

Finish: Longer than I expected as the sweet pear fades into spice and a bit of oak

On a rock

Nose: Very light with just hints of floral honey

Taste: Candied pear notes and vanilla without any of the spice from the neat taste. The mouthfeel is still very solid

Finish: Medium length with pear and warmer spice notes

Conclusion

This was a good dram but it didn’t really standout to me. The Fire and Cane and IPA Cask each tasted very unique whereas this tasted like a pretty generic Speyside scotch. It was sweet and fruity with a little something more to it. The higher proof was a nice treat as most Glenfiddichs are in the 80s but overall I preferred the other two experimental series. That said another solid and affordable scotch from Glenfiddich.

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

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Review #61: High West A Midwinter Night's Dram Act 6 Scene 5

s Dram

And now back to the regularly schedule High West series. Every winter since High West releases A Midwinter Night’s Dram which is a blend of port cask finished rye whiskies. This year’s is, I believe, the first year to contain actual High West distillate in addition to MGP and Barton’s juice. With that let’s get o the penultimate review for the series.

Review

Age: NAS for the aging or finish this year

Abv: 98.6 proof

Color: A nice deep reddish amber

Price: $99.99

Neat

Nose: The nose was just slightly but with rich herbal and sweet dark cherry notes

Taste: Herbal notes takes the lead but with more subtly and complexity than the usual dill forward MGP rye notes with a nice balance of sweet dark fruit and warm baking spice notes with an excellent mouthfeel

Finish: Long and lingering finish that starts with sweet dark cherries and becomes spicier as it goes

On a rock

Nose: Warm spice and sweet dark cherry notes

Taste: Less spicy but still with herbal and sweet cherry notes and a nice mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length sweet finish with more cherry notes.

Conclusion

This year’s MWND was excellent; a step up from last year’s which had a little more dill than I prefer. The balance between the sweet, spicy and herbal notes was excellent and I preferred it neat. That extra bit of proof over most High West offerings also helps the flavors and mouthfeel. I get a bottle or two every year and am very glad I snagged 2 for this year :) All that said it wasn’t as good as the Barrel Select Rendezvous Rye finished in Port Casks for 4 year and 7 months.

8 - an excellent bottle I’ll buy from time to time

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #60: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2018

I’m taking a quick break from my High West series to very cheesily review Old Forester Birthday Bourbon for my birthday! This is another bottle I failed to hunt in 2018 but was thankfully able to enjoy at bars including a couple pours tonight.

Review

Age: 12 years

Abv: 101 proof

Color: Deep dark brown

Price: $20 for a 1.5 oz pour

Neat

Nose: Robust holiday spices and strong, sweet brown sugar. Very nice.

Taste: Even more brown sugar than the nose but the distinct holiday spice notes fade into more generic warm baking spice notes; on the plus side some pleasant oak notes are there as well.

Finish: Surprisingly short though the sweet and spice were well balanced with hints of oak and a little more heat than I like

Conclusion

I’ve had a few pours of this from a couple different bottles and each time I nose it I get really excited and then by the time I get to the finish I am a little let down. That said it is still an excellent bourbon especially if you like things a little hotter. Not worth hunting in my opinion but I would happily buy a bottle at retail.

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

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Review #59: High West Valley Tan Batch 18G03

Valley Tan is a Utah whiskey that is actually made from 100% High West distillate. It is a blend of wheat and oak whiskey aged in a combination of new and used oak barrels. This one is bottle number 1941 from batch 18G03. This juice is supposed to be a throwback to the whiskey that the Mormons made in Utah back in the 1800s so let’s see if it stands the test of time.

Review

Age: 1 year

Abv: 87 proof

Color: A light, pale gold

Price: $50

Neat

Nose: Sweet honey and bright fruity notes with some unexpected harshness

Taste: Green apples and honey

Finish: Short, slightly sweet finish with just a bit of burn and a bit of oat

On a rock

Nose: Light fruity notes

Taste: Thin mouthfeel but nice honey, green apple and melon notes.

Finish: Even shorter than the neat though thankfully the burn is gone, the bit of oat remains though

Conclusion

Oddly this one reminds me more of a mid to low end blended scotch than an American whiskey. I don’t get much of what I expected from the wheat and oat whiskies this is blended from. I tried my best to pick notes out but it’s relatively smooth and a bit generic tasting. Overall it was better than not drinking whiskey but especially given the price I’d pass on this one.

5 - a whiskey with notable strengths but also held back by some flaws

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

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Review #58: High West Rendezvous Rye Barrel Select Port Finish 2018

For my last day in Utah I headed out to High West in Wanship for their Refectory brunch. I knew that they often hold back some of their limited release bottles for the bar there and was hoping to be able to taste their most recent Double Rye! finished in MWND barrels but when I asked the server which Barrel Select whiskies they had and she said 3 I was optimistic. She came back and said “American Prairie Bourbon finished in Manhattan barrels, Double Rye! finished in MWND barrels and Rendezvous…” and I knew the rest. For my second pour I asked if I could grab a picture of the bottle and for the third pour I wrote up the tasting notes :)

This release is barrel 1713 and bottle 158 of 198 bottles.

Review

Age: 6-16 years plus 4 years and 7 months finishing in a Port cask

Abv: 106.9 proof

Color: A deep amber

Price: $14 for 1.5oz

Neat

Nose: Luscious dark cherry notes with just a hint of baking spice

Taste: More dark cherries and baking spice from the nose and some subtler herbal and oak notes. Very rich mouthfeel. Sweet without being cloying and spicy without burning.

Finish: A long, lingering finish with warm rye spice, dark cherry and oak notes

Conclusion

This was amazing. It was a combination of the best parts of a good rye whiskey and a good Port. Right up there with the Pappy Van Winkle 15 year and BCS 15 year for my favorite whiskey this year and my first 10/10 rating. I still wish I’d been able to snag a bottle but having 3 pours in the High West Refectory was an excellent consolation prize.

Oh and the brunch was good too.

10 - an all time favorite, must buy/hunt

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