SMWS Full Bloom

After loving Douro Cruise, when SMWS announced another Speyside single malt aged in a dessert wine cask I was in. This time it was Full Bloom, an 18 year old aged in Welsh Muscat barrels and still bottled at 100 proof.

 

SMWS Full Bloom

Age: 18

Proof: 100

Neat

Notes: The extra age was apparent on the big nose with rich oak notes supported by caramel and fruit sweetness and cinnamon spice. The palate is a little more tame with more oak, caramel and a fruit note that I can’t place. The finish is long and slightly dry with oak, cinnamon and sticky honey notes. The mouthfeel and proof integration were nice but unremarkable.

Stars: 1 - Good whisky: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

Conclusion

This is a good bottle for sure but doesn’t stand out enough from the much cheaper Douro Cruise to win that one. On the other hand $180 for a 100 proof, 18 year old single malt isn’t a bad price. I was hoping for more here but that might have just been me.

TL;DR: Good whisky but I was hoping for more

SMWS 3.315 A Moment of Salinity

This was one of the first peated bottles I grabbed from SMWS. The combination of being “lightly” peated and it being Bowmore won me over.

 

SMWS 3.315 A Moment of Salinity

Age: 16 Years

Proof: 113

Neat

Notes: The nose is coastal with soft smoke, medium saltiness and a meaty note. The palate brings me to a BBQ on the beach with salted, smoked meat, vanilla cream and faint spice. The finish is long and dry with smoke and salt.

Stars: 3 - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

Conclusion

This was an excellent bottle. It brought the perfect level of smoke and the savory notes I like from a good peated scotch. The second fill hogshead isn’t doing a ton so most of the flavor here comes from the well oxidized distillate and I am a fan.

TL;DR: My kind of Islay Scotch

SMWS Douro Cruise

When Scotch Malt Whisky Society started doing blends I wasn’t sure that was for me but then they announced their 14th batch, Douro Cruise, and since I am a sucker for port aged whisky I had to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did.

 

SMWS Douro Cruise

Age: 10 years

Proof: 100

Neat

Notes: The nose is sweet and rich with honey, pear and strawberry notes. The palate brings more honey, some malt and dried dark fruit notes. The finish is long with plenty of sweet fruit balanced by warm spice and a subtle oak. The proof integration and mouthfeel are solid and what I would expect from a 100 proof single malt.

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

Conclusion

Overall this was a great whiskey that was sweet and relatively straightforward but really nailed the notes it brought. This bottle definitely opened me up to future blends from SMWS.

TL;DR: Great bottle, sweet and easy. Looking forward to more SMWS blends.

Jack Daniel's Decoy Hill

 

Jack Daniel’s Decoy Hill

Age: NAS

Proof: 135.1

Neat

Notes: Bananas and baking spice plus a good amount of ethanol burn throughout. Once you get past the ethanol it’s sort of like a boozy banana bread with a caramel butter spread.

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

Conclusion

This is great neat if you can get past the proof or if you dilute it a bit. More importantly it is one of my favorite whiskies to use in an Old Fashioned.

TL;DR: A great JD pick that leans into the things that make JD barrel proof so tasty

Spec's Eagle Rare 057

 

Spec’s Eagle Rare Barrel #057

Age: 10 years

Proof: 90

Neat

Notes: The nose brings cherries and forest notes. More cherry and oak along with other earthy notes on the palate. A pleasant mouthfeel which is great for the proof. The finish is surprisingly long with dried cherry, faint spice and oak notes.

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

Conclusion

The notes here literally reminds me of drinking a cherry coke zero in a forest in northern Seattle. So that’s cool for me but probably doesn’t help anyone else much. It dials up the cherry and earthy notes I usually get from Eagle Rare and manages to punch above its weight in terms of proof. Spec’s continues to bring good picks for a big box store and I hope start to see them again one day.

TL;DR: A solid Eagle Rare pick that leans in on the cherry and earthy notes.

Glenfiddich Fire and Cane

 

Glenfiddich Fire and Cane

Age: NAS

Proof: 86

Neat

Notes: Campfire smoke and vanilla creme sweetness. Fainter malt noes with a hint of fruit. Thin mouthfeel and short finish.

Stars: 0 - Fine: I would not specifically choose to drink this over other readily available options

Conclusion

I wish this had been a slightly higher proof, NCF release. The rum and smoke notes go together nicely but the dram is just too thin and watery. There is a moment mid palate when I went “this is good” but all too quickly it was gone. Even a 92 proof NCF take would have been a huge upgrade. This bottle really highlights why I have moved away from most OB scotches to focus on higher proof IBs.

TL;DR: Enjoyable flavors but the anemic proof is underwhelming

Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Collaboration 2

The folks at Bardstown Bourbon Company were kind enough to send me a sample of their latest collaboration with Chateau de Laubade. I was a huge fan of the first release so my expectations are high for this one! They did change the source of the base spirit from IN to a blend of KY and TN.

 

Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Collaboration 2

Age: Blend of 10-12 years

Proof: 107

Neat

Notes: The TN notes are very present on the nose. Chocolate milk powder, minerality, dark dried fruit, rich oak, long warm finish with cinnamon sugar notes.

Conclusion

Overall this is a nice bottle that blends the KY and TN bourbons to bring out both of their strengths and the 16 months armagnac finish adds a great layer of complexity and sweetess. On the other hand this does not live up to the extremely high bar set by the first release. That said I am certainly going to enjoy drinking it and am very glad to see that the Bardstown folks are able to keep this series going strong even without the 10+ year MGP.

 

TL;DR: It’s nice but that first batch is hard to beat.

Bardstown Bourbon Company Plantation Rum Collaboration

Bardstown Bourbon Company was kind enough to send me a sample of their collaboration with Plantation Rum. I tried both the rum and bourbon neat as well as in cocktails.

The bourbon is a 10 year old from Tennessee weighing in at 104 proof. It reminds me of a peanut butter and banana sandwich with notes of rye bread, nuts, funkiness, banana and some oak. It was tasty neat and made an amazing old fashioned where the rum influence especially the funky banana came through nicely.

The rum was very sweet with a sugary sweetness, some banana and ethanol. The dark and stormy was great, especially for sitting outside on a hot day. The fancy cocktail glass they sent me was perfect for the occasion.

Thanks again to the folks at Bardstown!

Traverse City Bourbon Enthusiast Single Barrel

Bourbon Enthusiast picked an excellent Traverse City Barrel Proof barrel a while back and I’m finally making it to the end of the bottle so it’s time for a review.

Traverse City Bourbon Enthusiast Single Barrel

Age: 7 years

Proof: 118.4

Neat

Notes: The nose is balanced between sweet and spice with caramel, baking spice and black pepper notes. The palate is sweeter with brown sugar, cherry syrup and vanilla balanced by fainter spice and a bit of oak. The mouth feel is nicely viscous and the proof is well integrated. The finish is long especially for the age with a sticky sweet caramel note and just a bit of warm spice. Overall it’s a great bourbon and will be missed.

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

TL;DR: Another great MGP pick from Bourbon Enthusiast

Heaven's Door Spec's x ATX Bourbon Barrel

I had the chance to help pick some Heaven’s Door barrels for Spec’s earlier this year with @jordavis_ and @longhornbourbon 🥃 We selected 4 barrels and my favorite of the bunch was a 7 year old sourced from MGP weighing in at 116.4 proof. It’s a classic MGP flavor profile with a sweet, fruity nose, brown sugar on the palate and a long warm finish. It’s dangerously easy to drink for the proof and this bottle has gone very fast. Heaven’s Door is continuing to improve their offerings and I’m looking forward to the barrels they bring to Texas next!