Reviews #72-73: Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon and Murray Hill Club

The unfortunate weather in Austin this last week has a little silver lining in that it has given me plenty of time to drink whiskey and write about it! I’ve been holding off on the last couple ounces of my bottle of Murray Hill Club to write a review and since I am all about side by sides now I decied to grab a mini of Joesph Magnus bourbon to review with it. I’ve had the Magnus once or twice at a bar and drank a good about the Moonshine barrel select Magnus so I am looking forward to drinking in a more tasting friendly setting. So let’s see how these pricey, sourced bourbons stack up!

Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon

Age: NAS

Abv: 100 proof

Color: Deeper amber

Price: $99.99 (21.99 for this 100ml bottle I bought)

Neat

Nose: Slightly harsh with citrus and oak then vanilla and baking spice.

Taste: A nice mouthfeel with more citrus and oak with caramel, warm spice and vanilla notes.

Finish: Short to medium finish that its a bit hot with cinnamon, oak and baking spice notes.

On a rock

Nose: Subdued with soft citrus and vanilla notes.

Taste: This ice really opens this up with the bright citrus note in the forefront with vanilla and oak supporting. Sort of like a woody orange creamsicle. The mouthfeel is also improved with a bit of ice.

Finish: Short, soft and sweet finish with more fading citrus and vanilla.

Murray Hill Club Batch 11 Bottle No 179

Age: A blend of 10 year light whiskey and 13 year and 20 year bourbon

Abv: 103 proof

Color: Slightly less deep amber

Price: $99.99

Neat

Nose: Surprisingly soft with brown sugar, honey, vanilla and toasted oak notes.

Taste: An excellent mouthfeel with rich notes of honey, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted oak with milder vanilla and warm spice notes.

Finish: Long, warm and sweet with honey and vanilla notes that fade to warm spices.

On a rock

Nose: Subdued with honey and faint oak notes

Taste: The mouthfeel holds up well with the ice. The ice sort of brightens up the whiskey bringing down the toasted oak and spice notes and bringing out a slightly fruity note, green apple perhaps?

Finish: Still long warm and sweet with honey and vanilla and less of a fade to spice than neat.

Conclusion

It looks like an unpopular opinion but I am huge fan of the Murray Hill Club and will definitely be picking up the next batch and keeping an eye out for the special release. The Joseph Magnus bourbon on the other hand was underwhelming, though good, and I am very glad I bought the 100ml instead of picking up a full bottle as I just can’t justify the price point. The citrus and vanilla notes were nice for sure but it a little hot for me neat and if I am drinking it over ice there are so many cheaper and delicious options.

On a side note I want to try blending some of my High West 14 year Light Whiskey with an extra aged bourbon now to see if I can approximate the Murray Hill Club.

Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon

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

Murray Hill Club Batch 11 Bottle No 179

9 - a favorite I’d like to keep on my shelf

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

Scale

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

Reviews #72-74: Lagavulin 8, 9 and 16 year

I finally picked up a bottle of Lagavulin 8 year recently to do a little side by side comparison with the Game of Thrones Lagavulin 9 Year House Lannister release. I broke out the black Norlan glasses I got for Christmas to do a blind tasting and then compared them both against the 16 year(which I realized I hadn’t yet posted a review of so I included that here too). Let’s get to the review:

Lagavulin 8 Year

Age: 8 years

Abv: 96 proof

Color: A light, pale shade

Price: $58.99

Pour #1 - ended up being Lagavulin 8

Neat

Nose: Smokey notes take the lead with some saltiness and just a bit of fruity sweetness

Taste: Heavy peat notes throughout that masked most other notes for me except for an almost acidic note

Finish: A long warm smokey finish with some nice fruity sweetness and a hint of salt

Pour #2 - ended up being Lagavulin 9 Year “House Lannister”

Age: 9 years

Abv: 92 proof

Color: A medium gold

Price: $58.99

Neat

Nose: Subtler notes of peat smoke compared to the 8 year alongside oak and a touch of sweet, dark fruit

Taste: A nice balance of sweet honey and peat smoke with a hint of dark fruit

Finish: The sweetness gives way to spice which pairs very nicely with the peat smoke and a touch of salt in the finish

Lagavulin 16 (not blind)

Age: 16 years

Abv: 86 Proof (43% ABV)

Color: Amber but on the lighter side

Price: $81.99

Neat

Nose: Smoke and salt with some sweeter vanilla notes lurking in the background, it’s reminiscent of enjoying a sweet cigar near by the sea

Taste: Lightly sweet notes, almost like peach nectar, transition into bigger peaty smoke and oak with hints of salt.

Finish: Long lingering smoke and a bit of the salt from the nose return in the delightful finish with some acidic notes with made the whole thing remind me of a smoked sausage

Conclusion

I’ve had all these scotches before and it wasn’t hard to pick out the 8 from the 9, even blind. The 9 year reminds me more of a peated Highland than the traditional Lagavulin profile, but I really enjoyed it, while the 8 year is a peat monster through and through which isn’t my preferred profile. The 16 is an old favorite and the age helps mellow the peat and brings out some more complex notes. The 9 is also a great introduction to peated single malts since it’s a little more accessible with the sweeter notes. All in all this vertical tasting was a lot of fun and I hope Lagavulin releases something like the Lannister as part of their core lineup or at least a semi-regular special release and while it won’t be replacing the 16 on my shelf anytime soon it’s a great scotch at a great price.

Lagavulin 8 year

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

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

Lagavulin 9 year

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

Lagavulin 16 year

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

Scale

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

Reviews #70-71: Old Forester Rye Whisky and Willet Family Estate 4 Year 114.4 Proof

I managed to snag a bottle of the new Old Forester Rye Whisky and couldn’t wait to do a review. I wanted to try alongside another rye or two. The Willet 4 Year has been sitting around, 40% full, waiting to be reviewed and then killed so it seemed like an good matchup especially with OF claiming “There is nothing better on the market.” So let’s see how they stack up!

Old Forester Rye Whisky

Age: NAS

Abv: 100 proof

Color: A deep reddish amber

Price: $19.99

Neat

Nose: Strong brown sugar with some rye spice and candied apple with hints of floral notes

Taste: Rye spice and cinnamon dominate the taste with a bit of apple as well. Very luscious mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long, dry finish with cinnamon fading to baking spice

On a rock

Nose: Caramel apple and rye spice notes

Taste: The taste and mouthfeel do well with the ice. The rye and apple notes are still prevalent with the cinnamon taking a bit of backseat

Finish: The finish is shortened a bit but is less dry with strong cinnamon notes throughout

Willet Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye

Age: 4 years

Abv: 114.4 proof

Color: A deep rust color

Price: $54.99

Neat

Nose: Rye spice and dark cherries, it had a slight acetone note at first so I let it rest another 5 minutes and it cleared out

Taste: Warm, spiced dark cherry pie with an excellent mouthfeel

Finish:Long, dry finish with cherry fading to a lingering rye spice

On a rock

Nose: The dark cherry notes are still very prevalent with less rye spice than neat

Taste: Very strong dark cherry notes with some baking spice and brown sugar

Finish: Medium length warm finish with strong cherry notes fading to rye spice

Conclusion

The Old Forester Rye is potentially the best $20 whisky I’ve had and the Willet is serious contender in the ~$50 price range as well. I did prefer the Willet but not by much. They do both diverge from the super spicy or herbal/dill forward profiles of most ryes I’ve tasted though. I tasted these two alongside a pour of High West Double Rye! after writing my initial notes and they both easily outclassed it. Though to be fair I tend to prefer fruity notes over herbal ones. I definitely feel like High West and Heaven Hill need to step it up now that there is some serious competition in the low cost rye market. The Willet is right there with Whistle Pig 10 Year and High West Rendezvous Rye for me though it doesn’t quite hit MWND status. Either way color me impressed with both these distilleries releasing new, in house distilled rye whiskies at reasonable prices in the current climate even if the OF claim of “There is nothing better on the market” is a bit of hyberbole.

Old Forester Rye Whisky

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

Willet Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye

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/hunt

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 #69: Bellevoye Triple Malt

I attended a Whiskies of the World event last year and tried some rather good French whisky(Brenne) so I went to Total Wine to pick up some French whisky and ended up with Bellevoye Triple Malt. So let’s see how it stacks up.

Review

Age: NAS but 3-8 years

Abv: 90 proof

Color: A light, pale gold

Price: $34.99

Neat

Nose: An odd mix of fresh cut lumber, malt and a touch of artificial sweeteners and something herbal

Taste: Thankfully better than the nose with notes I’d expect from a young single malt. Malt, honey, vanilla and touch of acetone. The thin mouthfeel wasn’t surprising given the low proof.

Finish: Short and weird, I couldn’t place the note but it was harsh I didn’t care for it

On a rock

Nose: The ice mellows the nose out nicely to an inoffensive honey and malt with just a touch of fresh wood

Taste: Very similar to the neat notes with more malt and honey though the vanilla and acetone are absent

Finish: Unfortunately the ice didn’t help with the harsh, short finish

Conclusion

To say the least this was disappointing, especially in the nose and finish though there were a few decent notes in there. I’m wondering if an older variation of this would actually be good? I did not care for this one so I ended up bringing it to a work happy hour just before I left the team :) That said it was fine as a mixer for a whisky and Coke.

2 - Mixer only

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

Scale

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

Review #68: Jack Daniel's Heritage Barrel #18-6357

My little brother is in the Airforce and apparently drinking Jack Daniel’s is an important part of his squadron which motivated me to try some of the fancier JD bottlings to see if I could find something good in their line up. I saw that Whiskey Advocate put this as number 3 in their top 20 for the year, saw it used toasted barrels and was bottled at 100 proof and decided to give it a go.

Review

Age: NAS

Abv: 100 proof (also the barrel entry proof)

Color: A deep, red amber

Price: $59.99

Neat

Nose: Strong vanilla and warm baking spices, especially clove, with caramel and oak notes

Taste: More of the same notes, the rich vanilla and sweet caramel are brilliantly balanced by warm spice and toasted oak and are backed up by an excellent mouthfeel. Very nice.

Finish: The sweetness fades to a warm, almost hot, spicy and oaky finish with a good linger

On a rock

Nose: The ice tames the spices a bit and mutes the oak leaving strong vanilla and caramel notes with baking spice in the background

Taste: Just as good as the neat taste and mouthfeel with slightly less spice and a hint of Jack Daniel’s signature banana note.

Finish: A little shorter than neat with more sweetness though, caramel, spice and banana notes

Conclusion

I love this stuff it’s great neat or on the rocks and is easily the best JD I’ve ever had. These JD SiBs have changed my mind about the company’s ability to make bourbon and this was head and shoulders the best one. I ended up buying 3 bottles though in a moment of weakness gave one to my little brother for Christmas. Also this bottle made me realize that I don’t know much about low entry proof whiskies, but now I want to.

9 - a favorite I’d like to keep on my shelf

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

Scale

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

Review #67: Glenfiddich 12

I’m in Seattle for work this week and the liquor prices are crazy here so it seemed like a good time to grab some mini bottles of Glenfiddich’s entry level single malt. I’ve had this dram many times over the years and tend to enjoy it more as a mixer but let’s see how it stacks up today!

Review

Age: 12 years

Abv: 80 proof

Color: A medium gold

Price: $38.99(for a 750ml back home)

Neat

Nose: Light and sweet with primarily pear and malt notes and hints of citrus and oak

Taste: Medium bodied with malt and oak alongside light citrus notes. The mouthfeel is a little thin but that’s expected with the low ABV

Finish: Short and simple finish

On a rock

Nose: Mostly malt with fainter pair and oak notes

Taste: The ice improves the mouthfeel but brings out a slightly bitter note alongside the oak and malt

Finish: Slightly shorter than it was neat

Conclusion

This is the entry level Glenfiddich and it shows in the lack of complexity especially compared to the excellent 15 year. That said the notes that are there are pleasant and there’s nothing wrong with it. While I’m not the biggest fan of this neat or on ice I do enjoy it in Highball or Penicillin. If you want a single malt for mixing and that you can also drink neat at a reasonable price this a solid choice.

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

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 #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

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

Scale

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.

Scale

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