Russell's Reserve Bourbon Enthusiast 0420

 

Russell’s Reserve Bourbon Enthusiast 0420

Age: 11 years

Warehouse: CN-D Floor 3

Proof: 110

Neat

Notes: Heavy on the oak for a Russell’s pick with tannic notes, Wild Turkey funk, vanilla extract, baking spice and a bit of nuts.

Stars: 2 Stars - Very good whiskey

Conclusion

TL;DR: Another great pick from BE but not in my top tier.

Blue Note 17 Year

 

Blue Note 17

Age: 17 years

Proof: 92.3

Neat

Nose: Pancake batter, rich oak and a bit of the Dickel mineral/vitamin notes

Taste: More vanilla, more oak and subtle but present minerality. Really nice, creamy mouthfeel especially impressive for the proof.

Finish: Long slightly dry finish with linger vanilla cream frosting and tannic oak notes

Conclusion

First off I am enjoying this bottle and I tend to like Dickel more than most online reviewers. The nose inviting, flavors are simple but pleasant, the mouthfeel is great and it is very easy drinking. Blue Note 17 Year is definitely on the high end of the Dickel profile but still not good enough to stand out and command the $150 price tag. If you aren’t a Dickel fan this is an easy pass. If you are a Dickel fan I’d stick with the BiB or the 15 year from Dickel and skip these $100+ NDP bottlings.

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

TL;DR: Great whiskey at an unfortunately low proof and too high a price.

Old Bones 15 Year Batch 1

When another mystery 15 year old dropped and local shop ask if I wanted one my tater self couldn’t resist. So here we with the Old Bones 15 Year Reserve. This is from an unnamed distiller in Frankfurt, Kentucky(most likely Beam) unlike most of Old Bones line which if from MGP.

Old Bones Bourbon 15 Year Reserve Batch 1

Age: 15 years 7 months

Proof: 108.2

Price: $120

Neat

Nose: Honey roasted peanuts, rich oak, warm spice and sweet vanilla.

Taste: Rich oak, vanilla cream, caramel, nuts and then spice coming in toward the end. Great mouthfeel that’s not too viscous while being almost creamy.

Finish: Long and lingering with rich oak and caramel then warm spice at the back of your throat.

Conclusion

This was some fine 15 year old Kentucky bourbon. It doesn’t have any crazy notes but it has all the core notes I’d want from a bourbon with a great balance and intensity. It drinks below its proof in terms of heat/burn but above it in terms of flavor intensity. The creamy mouthfeel was a nice touch too. Despite the high price this is one I want to drink but don’t want to be out of so I’m definitely going to look for a backup.

On another note this reminds me a lot of the initial Doc Swinson’s 15 year release, #6. This is a lower proof but it was also excellent. I am unfortunately out of that release but I’ll definitely be blinding this against Doc Swinson’s Release #7.

I’d definitely stack this up against other releases in the same price range such as Michter’s 10, Lux Row Double Barrel or Bardstown Discovery series so it’s worth it in that sense. Compared to cheaper, higher proof offerings such as ECBP or the increasingly elusive 114-15 year old KC picks this is much more approachable and just a flavorful so I would say it is better than them in. Is it worth twice as much? To me yes but I could also easily see that answer being ‘no.’ Personally I went out and got a backup.

TL;DR: Great bottle, backup secured

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

Scale

Samples: KO, Clyde Mays and Booker's

A quick tasting of 3 samples. Trying to get back on the horse with getting through this mountain.

Kentucky Owl Batch 11

Age: NAS

Proof: 118.8

Neat

Nose: Cinnamon sugar, caramel, rich oak and a bit of proof sting.

Taste: Nice balance of sweet and heat with more cinnamon sugar, cherry, caramel, oak and a bit of leather. Nice but unremarkable mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Long warm, slightly dry finish with cinnamon, oak and baking spice.

Buy a bottle? No

Clyde Mays 12 Year Alabama Style Whiskey

Age: 12 years

Proof: 120

Neat

Nose: Spiced apple cider, caramel, artificial sweetener and vanilla extract

Taste: Unpleasant with a bit of an artificial almost plastic taste. Also hot.

Finish: Too long, more plastic and artificial sweetener.

Buy a bottle? No, definitely not

Booker’s 2015-01 “Big Man Small Batch”

Age: 7 years 2 months 16 days

Proof: 128.7

Neat

Nose: Classic bourbon nose with caramel, rich oak, vanilla cream and just a hint of nuts.

Taste: Big and bold with baking spice, brown sugar, oak, vanilla cream and a hint of nuts again. Very nice, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and warm with a Kentucky hug and notes of baking spice, caramel and oak.

Buy a bottle? Yes even at the new Booker’s retail

Conclusion

The Kentucky Owl was exactly what I expected great bourbon at too high a price. If it was ~150 like Bardstown Discovery I’d definitely buy a bottle but at 300 it’s just not worth it to me. The cinnamon was pleasant, the proof was well integrated and there was a nice depth of flavor.

The Clyde Mays reminded me of my least favorite whiskies that I’ve reviewed. I hope to never drink it again. It’s a shame because their 15 year old bourbon is great!

Batches like this one are what made Booker’s reputation. There’s not exotic tasting notes or anything fancy but it is just a great execution on the classic Beam profile that’s big enough to let you know it’s barrel proof but not overwhelming. The younger, more expensive batches we get today usually don’t hit the spot like this batch does.

TL;DR: KO was great but not worth the price, Clyde Mays was rough and the 2015 Booker’s was a hitter

Ardbeg Wee Beastie and Corryvreckan

 

Wee Beastie

Age: 5 years

Proof: 94.8

Neat

Nose: Smoked meat and more smoke just to be safe

Taste: More smoked meat but with some nice dark fruit and malt notes to balance it. Great mouthfeel for the proof even if it doesn’t hold up to a cask strength whiskey there. Excellent proof integration with the smoke and sweet completely covering any burn.

Finish: Short to medium finish with more smoke, a bit of wood and some vanila.

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

Corryvreckan

Age: NAS

Proof: 114.2

Neat

Nose: Smoky, peppery meat and rich oak.

Taste: Vanilla cream, smoked meat, slightly acrid smoke and rich oak. Great mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length with a bit of bitterness and plenty of smoky meat.

0 Stars - Poor to Fine: I would not specifically choose to drink this

Conclusion

The Wee Beastie does a great job bringing a solid proof, NCF and age statement(albeit a young one) to the sub $50 price point. If you’re willing to spend a little more Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength is a step up for sure but in the sub $50 Islay price point Wee Beastie is my go to.

The Corryvreckan is a nice but that slight acrid note is a bummer as is the missing age statement. At this price point I’m expecting a little more to get a star.

TL;DR: Great whiskey at an unfortunately low proof and too high a price.

Cigar Blend 21

I hadn’t reviewed a bottle of Cigar Blend in nearly a year so it’s time to fix that. Batch 21 was released about a year ago and was one of the new higher proof offerings from Joseph Magnus. I was a little skeptical about the proof change but after Batch 19 my fears were laid to rest so I grabbed as many as I could of the 19-22 series.

Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #21: Icing on the Spice Cake

Age: NAS

Proof: 124.3

Price: $180

Neat

Nose: Sweet, dark and spicy like a delicious boozy fruitcake.

Taste: A little more spice forward than my favorite Cigar Blend with holiday spices, rich oak, dark fruit notes, brown sugar, vanilla and a bit of cinnamon. Very nice, viscous mouthfeel that hits the roof of the mouth especially.

Finish: Very long and very tasty with dried fruit and holiday spice notes and a slightly dry oak but in the good tannic red wine way. A touch of proof sting on the finish isn’t unpleasant but isn’t perfect either.

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

Conclusion

Another winner from Nancy Fraley that’s just a little more spice forward on the palate and slightly hotter on the finish than my favorite batches. It’s definitely nitpicking at this point though and I’d happily pick up more of this batch(and most batches) of Cigar Blend.

On another note I’m very glad I stocked up on Cigar Blend when I could regularly get new batches for 170-250. It’s hard for me to value any bottle of whiskey at over 250 but the best batches of Cigar Blend come close. That said if I was in a pinch and willing to go big I’d go for batches 12 or 19 and probably 14 over 21. While folks like Bardstown and Redwood are certainly giving Magnus a run for their money in this niche I’m still team Cigar Blend.

TL;DR: Fantastic whiskey but it doesn’t quite hit the perfection of batch 12 or 19 for me.

Old Forester x Taste Select Repeat

When OJ from Taste Select Repeat told me he was getting his Old Forester at 100 proof instead of barrel strength I wasn’t sure what to think but it was a barrel from warehouse I and TSR had done some solid picks so I ordered a bottle. Then I tasted it.

 

OF x TSR

Age: NAS

Proof: 100

Barrel: I2-5272

Neat

Notes: The nose is sweet and sticky landing somewhere between a candy bar and a chocolate covered banana. The palate brings more banana, warm spice, caramel and subtle oak. The mouthfeel was great for the proof and proof integration was excellent. The finish was medium to long with cinnamon, banana and vanilla notes.

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

Conclusion

Overall this was a great bottle and I enjoyed every drop. It is best 100 proof OF pick I’ve had/ Who knows how it would have been at barrel proof but it was a winner at 100 for sure.

TL;DR: Great pick, lots of flavor for 100 proof

Willett Rose in Paradise

Rose in Paradise was one of the Willett single barrel ryes that hit Texas back in 2020. I’ve been nursing my second bottle but it’s time for a review and a bottle kill

 

Willett Rose in Paradise

Age: 10-13 years

Proof: 110

Notes: The nose has a bit of proof sting then becomes sweet and herbaceous with mint, cinnamon candy and vanilla. The palate brings more of the same with a bit of oak and some proof sting too. The long warm finish gives you a KY hug with cinnamon candy and herbal liqueur notes.

Stars: 3 Stars

Conclusion

I’m a huge Willett fan these ryes are killer at 6+ years old. Rose in Paradise lives up to my expectations for Willett and is surprisingly drinkable for the proof.

It’s been years so hopefully another round of Willett single barrels hits Texas soon. We’ve seen them rolling out in other states and I’m optimistic we won’t be too far behind.

 

TL;DR: Great releases, my favorite Discovery Series bottles

Bardstown Discovery Series 3 and 4

It was a bittersweet evening finishing off bottles of my 2 favorite Bardstown Discovery Series releases. 3 and 4 are basically tied for my favorite release with 2 and 7 as the next tier and the first release still eluding me.

 

Bardstown Discovery Series 3

Age: 10-13 years

Proof: 110

Notes: A beautiful blend of well aged Indiana and Kentucky bourbons. The classic brown sugar sweetness and leather notes from 13 year MGP are balanced with nutty and oaky notes from the Kentucky bourbons. I haven’t had another IN/KY blend ever hit my palate quite like this.

Stars: 3 Stars

Bardstown Discovery Series 4

Age: 10-15 years

Proof: 115

Notes: Sweet and rich with notes that remind me of cracker jacks and a long slightly dry and spicy finish that makes me want to take the next sip.

Stars: 3 Stars

Conclusion

Thankfully I have backups of both of these but I need to clear some shelf space before I crack them! I’m also very excited to see what Bardstown Bourbon Company does next after the return to form with Discovery Series 7.

 

TL;DR: Great releases, my favorite Discovery Series bottles

Sazerac Rye Texas Single Barrel

A while back these State of Texas Sazerac single barrels started popping up around Austin so I made sure to grab one. I mostly used this as a cocktail base but also drank it neat a few times. Now that the bottle is almost empty it’s time for a review!

 

Sazerac Rye Texas Single Barrel

Age: NAS

Proof: 90

Neat

Notes: Sweet, herbal and spicy but thin mouthfeel and short finish.

Stars: 1 Star

Conclusion

I drank most of this as a mixer but did enjoy some neat as well. Overall it was pleasant but not something I reach for to sip neat. That said the herbal notes came through nicely in cocktails though which made it a great spirit base and it was a go to for rye old fashioneds, sazeracs and old pals. I also tried it side by side with Thomas H Handy Sazerac and while you could tell they similarities there was no competition even when proofing the Handy down.

 

TL;DR: Good for the price, great for cocktails.