Thomas Handy Sazerac 2021

Thomas H Handy Sazerac 2021

Age: 6 years 4 months

Proof: 129.5

Neat

Nose: Rye spice, vanilla cream, subtle oak and a bit of cinnamon.

Taste: More rye spice, sweet herbs, licorice, rich oak, baking spice, vanilla cream and cinnamon. Luscious mouthfeel.

Finish: Very long, warm finish with rye spice, oak, some herbal notes, vanilla extract and that cinnamon.

Conclusion

This was my only big Buffalo Trace score in 2021 but I was very happy with it. The rye spice, herbal and sweet notes were well balanced if tending towards the spicy side. I preferred 2020 in a side by side but 2021 was close and definitely a return to form after 2019.

 

TL;DR: Awesome bottle, not quite at the level 2020 but a big step up from 2019

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

Cigar Blend 47

I don’t drink my Cigar Blend bottles as much as I used to but they are still some of my favorites. This batch in particular stood out to me in 2021 and it’s getting low so it’s time for a quick review and bottle kill.

 

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 47 “Beatnik Breakfast”

Age: NAS

Proof: 127.56

Neat

Notes: Old leather, dark chocolate, tobacco and charred oak are balanced by subtler brown sugar and cherry notes.

Stars: 4 Stars - Extraordinary whiskey: An all time favorite

Conclusion

This is one the best high proof Cigar Blend batches I’ve had and while it doesn’t quite hit the same as the lower proof legends like 12 and 14 this is still an amazing bottle and drinks well below the proof. Now it’s time to start looking for a new bottle to fill the spot on the shelf!

TL;DR: Still an all time favorite expression and this batch is a great one

Pikesville Rye

I’m a longtime fan of Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond so I was excited to try its ‘big brother’ Pikesville. These are both Heaven Hill ryes but Pikesville is aged for 2 more years, bottled at a higher proof and theoretically taken from better barrels. Pikesville is ~60% more expensive though so let’s see if it is worth the upgrade.

Review

Age: 6 years

Proof: 110

Neat

Nose: Less fragrant that I expected with oak and smokey notes

Taste: Bold rye and spice are balanced with sweet honey and a touch of the oak from the nose

Finish: Significantly less spicy than I expected a medium to short finish with honey and hints of spice

On a rock

Nose: The ice brings a nice honeyed touch to the nose

Taste: The ice moderates the rye but it is still definitely there though the honey comes a bit more to the forefront. Another note is relatively prominent as well though I couldn’t quite place it, clove or baking spice perhaps?

Finish: Very similar to the neat finish

Conclusion

This is a nice step up from Rittenhouse especially with the extra proof. If you are mostly sticking with Rittenhouse for cocktails this doesn’t do much more but if you are drinking it neat it’s worth the upgrade if you can find a bottle at a good price. This one definitely isn’t worth hunting or overpaying though.

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

TL;DR: Step up from Rittenhouse but not a must have upgrade

Stagg Jr Blind

In February a group of 24 folks from ADLS did a blind tasting of Stagg Jr batch 10 - 17 over a few weeks. A couple of group members poured the samples and labeled them A - G so the tasters wouldn’t know which batch was which. 22 folks got their results in on time and the organizers tabulated them before the big reveal.

I tasted them in 2 groups of 4 with the top 2 from each group moving on to the winners tasting and the bottom to the consolation.

 

Stagg Jr Blind Tasting Batches 10 - 17

B15 - A

Proof: 131.1

Notes: Nose is hot, cherry and spice but a lot of heat. Palate is also hot but very nice cherry caramel notes. Plenty of spice. Finish is slightly dry and warm.

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

B12 - B

Proof: 132.3

Notes: Nose is more accessible. Palate is spice and oak forward, dark, cherry cola notes under the wood and spice. Great mouthfeel. Long warm finish with lingering wood and spice alongside something faintly sweet.

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

B10 - C

Proof: 126.4

Notes: The nose is big but not as intense as A, very bourbony. The palate is awesome with well balanced heat, spice, cherry cola. Also great mouthfeel. Long finish with cola, oak and baking spice. Just the right amount of KY hug.

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

B17 - D

Proof: 128.7

Notes: The nose is on the gentler side like B. Quite sweet with vanilla and cherry notes. Still spice and oak too but less. Medium length finish.

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

B11 - E

Proof: 127.9

Notes: Nose is slightly harsh but some good Stagg Jr notes in there too. Palate is all cherry cola and heat but in a great way. Medium to long finish with cherry, baking spice and oak

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

B13 - F

Proof: 128.4

Notes: Softer nose than E but still potent with some spice. Classic BT profile but dialed way up with cherry, caramel, oak and rye spice. A decent KY hug on the finish

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

B14 - G

Proof: 130.2

Notes: Dark and hot with oak, baking spice and some caramel

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

B16 - H

Proof: 130.9

Notes: Probably the easiest drinker of the bunch. Really nice BT flavors but turned up. Similar to F but better.

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

Conclusion

In the end the batch labeled B really stood out to me in a good way and the batch labeled G was clearly not at the same level as the others. 15 and 17 were also a bit behind for me but were still great. The other 4 batches had their differences and I have slight preferences but they were close enough in quality that I wouldn’t go out of my way to track down one over the other.

My personal ranking was: 12 > 16 > 10 > 11 > 13 > 15 > 17 >> 14.

The group consensus was: 13 > 16 > 11 > 12 > 10 > 17 > 15 >> 14.

There was a lot of variability in people’s top choices but 14 lost really hard.

This was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to do it again with a different bourbon!

Four Roses 2021 Small Batch Limited Edition

I was very fortunate to be able to pick up this year’s Four Roses Limited Edition and to be able to do a side by side tasting with one of my favorite Four Roses releases the 2019 LE.

The 2021 Four Roses LE is a blend of 12 year OESK, 14 year OBSQ, 16 year OESV and 16 year OBSV weighing in at 114.2 proof 🔥Older OESV and OESK were the main components of the 2019 LE and I am usually a fan of OBSQs so I am definitely excited about the recipe this year.

 

Four Roses 2021 Small Batch Limited Edition

Age: 12-16 years

Proof: 114.2

Neat

Nose: Rich oak and dark fruit backed by rye spice and vanilla cream with a slight hint of herbal or maybe floral notes.

Taste: Caramel and cherry, then rye spice and pepper with a surge of oak at the end. That same subtle herbal/floral note from the nose. Very nice mouthfeel especially for 114 proof.

Finish: Long, warm and dry with rye spice, pepper, oak and vanilla extract plus a bit of dried fruit.

Conclusion

Overall this is an amazing pour. It is on the hotter and spicier side for a Four Roses LE though. I also tried it with a couple drops of water and the palate improved with richer fruit notes and less pepper but the finish was a bit heavier on the oak front with a touch of bitterness.

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

TL;DR: Didn’t quite hit the 2019 high water mark but it is close.

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel and 18 Year

I am trying to clear out some older, lower fill level bottles to make room for release season so these 2020 releases of Elijah Craig 18 Year and Toasted Barrel need to go! Which means it is time for a review.

 

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel

Age: NAS

Abv: 94 proof

Neat

Nose: Vanilla and oak with a bbq smokiness

Taste: Vanilla extract, oak tannins, tobacco, rye spice, fainter sweet caramel toward the end. Surprisingly good mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish with slightly dry oak and vanilla

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

Elijah Craig 18 Year 2020

Age: 18 years

Abv: 90 proof

Bottled: 1-10-20

Barrel: 4909

Neat

Nose: Sweet and rich with oak, caramel and vanilla extract plus some subtle nutty notes.

Taste: Leather, oak, vanilla cream, caramel nuts and warm spices. Good mouthfeel for the proof but still 90 proof.

Finish: Long finish with lingering oak and warm spice.

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

Conclusion

Overall I enjoyed both bottles, especially the EC18. The Toasted had a really nice smoky note on the nose and pleasant sweet and oak notes throughout. It’s definitely a step up from regular Elijah Craig and I think it’s a good buy at retail though I’d probably reach for a good store pick over it. This barrel of EC18 had a great leather note that I really enjoyed as well as the classic Elijach Craig notes. 90 proof is a little bit of a bummer here but sometimes you want a low proof, high flavor option and this bottle fits the bill!

I missed out on the 2021 releases so I did sort of nurse these. I won’t be in rush to grab another toasted barrel since there are a plethora of toasted options on the market but I’ll be keeping my eye out for the 2022 release of Elijah Craig 18 for sure.

 

TL;DR: Both are good bottles, I wish they were higher proof

Thanksgiving Russell's Reserve Flight

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m obviously going to be drinking Wild Turkey today so I’ll start things off with 3 picks I’ve really enjoyed from folks I’ve met online.

 

Russell’s Reserve Private Barrel Selections

Bourbon Enthusiast

Age: 8.5 years

Proof: 110

Warehouse: F

Floor: 4

Barrel: 21-592

Nose: Oak and spice forward with vanilla cream rounding it out.

Taste: Vanilla cream, baking spices, a bit of caramel and rich oak. Nice, viscous mouthfeel on par for the proof.

Finish: Long, warm finish with lingering vanilla extract, oak and lots of baking spice.

120th West 58th Street Wine & Liquor

Age: Unknown, label covered

Proof: 110

Warehouse: K

Floor: 4

Barrel: 21-0159

Nose: Sweeter than the BE nose with caramel, vanilla and rye spice. Almost like a baked treat made with rye bread.

Taste: Again on the sweet side with more caramel and vanilla but especially the caramel. The spice and oak are present but faint. Similar mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and very neatly balanced with sticky caramel, baking spice and oak.

Taste Select Repeat Zeus

Age: 8.75 years

Proof: 110

Warehouse: E

Floor: 4

Barrel: 20-0199

Nose: Very distinct from the first two with a clear nutty note in addition to the toffee and spice like holiday spiced nut brittle.

Taste: More toffee and nuts backed by subtler spice and oak. Delicious. Slightly thinner mouthfeel than the first two but still quite nice.

Finish: Medium length finish that’s more on profile with toffee, baking spice and oak notes.

Conclusion

The Bourbon Enthusiast pick is a great example of the spicy side of the Wild Turkey profile while the 120th pick is all the sweet goodness Turkey can bring. Zeus is a whole different animal that brings in a note I tend to like (nutty) but that generally isn’t present in Wild Turkey for me.

I’m not picking any winners or losers this time. These are all great picks and I’m thankful for the folks I’ve met online through the bourbon community who help me get some great bottles of whiskey! Happy Turkey Day 🦃🎉

EH Taylor Barrel Proof

I managed to snag a bottle of this year’s EH Taylor Barrel Proof a few weeks ago and even got to blind it in a flight with the previous two releases. Needless to say it’s a great bottle.

 

EH Taylor Barrel Proof Batch 10 (2021)

Age: NAS

Proof: 127.3

Neat

Nose: Brandied cherries, rich oak, warm spice and a bit of heat.

Taste: Caramel, dark cherry, a little heat, vanilla extract, baking spice and cinnamon. Excellent, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long slightly dry, somewhat hot finish with fading cherry syrup then oak and cinnamon.

Conclusion

First off it’s excellent. It is a touch hot on the finish and is very on profile for high proof Buffalo Trace but those are pretty nitpicky criticisms. I did previously blind this against the last two EHT BP releases and it was clearly above last year though we had it a shade behind the 2019 (batch 8).

This is right there with Russell’s Reserve 13 Year for my favorite release of the year so far. I’m not sure it cracks the very top echelon of my favorite whiskies but it’s close.

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

TL;DR: Another winner in the EHT lineup, a step up from batch 9

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Moonshine Weller Full Proof

I got lucky at a Moonshine raffle event a while back and won one of their Weller Full Proof picks from the 1st barrel. Unfortunately I struck out on the raffle for the second barrel so my dreams of doing a side by side review have been dashed. That coupled with the perilously low level of this bottle mean it’s finally time to write a review and then kill it!

 

Weller Full Proof Moonshine Single Barrel Select

Age: NAS - I believe this one is right around 8

Proof: 114

Neat

Nose: Potent nose with spice, oak and cinnamon balanced by sweet vanilla.

Taste: Cinnamon candy, baking spices, butterscotch and a bit of cherry. Great mouthfeel!

Finish: Long, warm finish with fading butterscotch then lingering oak and cinnamon.

Conclusion

First off this is a great bottle of whiskey and I am very thankful to have gotten a bottle. It’s a little on the spicy side which isn’t bad but it’s not my favorite Weller profile as I am looking for something sweeter from a wheater. If I was going to single in on a Weller Full Proof pick to hunt down there are probably picks I’d place above this on that list (such as the second Moonshine Weller Full Proof!). On the other hand I would happily buy another one of these or enter a raffle for one.

Again, this was a great bottle and I liked it quite a bit the Weller Full Proof pick world just has a lot of tough competition :)

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

 

TL;DR: Another great Moonshine pick but not my favorite Weller pick they’ve done

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Martin House Melted 3rd Edition

I’m going to mix it up a little bit with some quick beer reviews with a heavy emphasis on the centralish Texas breweries that are my mainstays. I don’t pretend to know too much about beer or how to review it but you have to start somewhere and apparently somewhere is a ridiculous Martin House beer.

The 3rd release of Melted is an ice cream ale that somehow incorporates salted caramel ice cream and waffle cones, of course.

First off this does what is says on the tin. The caramel, ice cream and waffle cone come through very strongly. It’s almost a little too waffley for me. The salt is the only part of the description that I don’t get much of but it is there. The creamy texture is a highlight for me as is the long aftertaste. At 5.2% the alcohol isn’t too present and this is an easy choice for a dessert beer outside of that I am not sure when I would drink one of these.

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

TL;DR: Heavy but tasty dessert beer.

Beer Scale