Review #231: Belle Meade Select Cask XO Bourbon The Bourbon Enthusiast Selection

Part 16 of the finished whiskey series takes a turn into new territory with a Belle Meade pick finished in XO Cognac casks. This pick is from The Bourbon Enthusiast who had previously picked an excellent Magnus single barrel. I like finished bourbon, cognac, Belle Meade and Bourbon Enthusiast so my hopes were pretty high for this pick. Let’s see if it held up.

 

Review #231 Belle Meade Select Cask XO Bourbon The Bourbon Enthusiast Selection

Age: NAS

Abv: 115.1 proof

Price: $90

Neat

Nose: Sweet berries, rich oak and vanilla notes.

Taste: More sweet berries, cherry, vanilla, caramel, subtler oak notes.

Finish: Long warm finish with baking spices, oak and subtler sweet caramel.

Conclusion

I was not disappointed. This was a great pick with just the right amount of influence from the finish. The cognac notes were very present without drowning out the MGP bourbon. The proof is in a great spot for me but it was very easy to drink without being thin or watery. Overall I was very happy with this pick and when I had a chance to grab a third bottle I jumped on it especially since these cask strength finished bourbons are moving to distillery only for the foreseeable future.

As far as -gnac finished bourbon goes this isn’t quite Cigar Blend level but it wasn’t far off either and was a lot more affordable!

 

TL;DR: Drinks well below its proof, Well balanced between the cognac notes and MGP notes.

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

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

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Tasting Notes: 1729 Full Proof Oak Liquor Cabinet Batch 4

At this point I feel like 1792 Full Proof needs no introduction. Oak Liquor Cabinet is continuing their insane pace of 1792 picks with their 4th Full Proof. I was part of the picking group back in February and we picked my first choice of the samples so I won’t be giving this a score. We did know this would hit town around when the summer heat would be picking up in Austin so we tried to pick something that would hold up well to ice as well as sipping neat.

 

1792 Full Proof Oak Liquor Cabinet Single Barrel #4

Age: NAS

Abv: 125 proof

Price: $45

Barrel Number: 4088

Neat

Nose: Bold with cinnamon, baking spice, banana and caramel notes.

Taste: Starts with a big cinnamon candy note followed by bananas foster with a nutty note that becomes more prominent near the end. Very thick and oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and a little hot with cinnamon and banana notes.

On a rock

Nose: The cinnamon is tamer but still present giving the whole thing a bananas foster with cinnamon note

Taste: The bananas and cinnamon cut right through the ice with the caramel and nutty note fade a bit. Great mouthfeel

Finish: Medium length with sweet caramel, banana and some cinnamon but noticeably less.

Conclusion

Overall this was a relatively simple but still tasty dram. Cinnamon and banana are two notes I get pretty often from 1792 Full Proof but this pick dials both of those all the way up while retaining some caramel sweetness and a nice nutty note that I occasionally get from Barton. I also like banana notes in whiskey as long as they don’t dominate palate so this was a nice one for me. It holds up super well to ice and now that the temperatures are pushing 100F here in central Texas that’s definitely a plus for a workhorse type bottle like 1792 Full Proof.

 

TL;DR: Cinnamon and banana bomb with just enough caramel and nuttiness to balance it.

 

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Review #230: Jospeh Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 14

Part 15 of the finished whiskey series bring me back to Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend with Batch 14. The last few releases have Cigar Blend have come in sets of 4 batches which are all made from the same bourbon blend then finished in different Armagnac casks. In this case 11-14 came from the same blend and I was lucky enough to get 3/4.

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 14

Age: NAS but all the bourbons are 10+ years

Abv: 105.4 proof

Price: $170

Neat

Nose: Leather, rich oak, warm spices and sweet vanilla caramel.

Taste: More leather and caramel backed by oak, warm spice and brown sugar as well as faint herbal notes towards the end. Thick, viscous mouthfeel

Finish: Very long, slightly dry finish with herbs, brown sugar, leather and oak.

Conclusion

This was a great batch and leaned more towards the darker sweet notes. It was much more balanced than Batch 13 but lacked the nice fruit notes from Batch 12 otherwise it was relatively similar. The finish was surprisingly not spicy at all which is uncommon for Cigar Blend in my experience.

These are definitely my gold standard for what finished bourbon can be.

TL;DR: Not quite batch 12 but still very delicious

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #230: Single Cask Nation Wild Turkey 10 Year

The great Rarebird101 once commented on a post of mine saying that my favorite Wild Turkey to date, the Moonshine Russell’s Reserve Cheesy Gold pick, while great wasn’t as impressive when you put it up against some other really top tier Wild Turkey. I recently came into possession of the Single Cask Nation Wild Turkey 10 year, which I think qualifies as a top tier bottle, so naturally it was time for a blind. I also traded for a sample of the 2002 Russell’s Reserve(review forthcoming) and threw in a random Russell’s pick for control.

The blind tasting video is on Instagram and I sat down the next evening to write more detailed tasting notes.

 

Review #230 Single Cask Nation Wild Turkey 10 Year

Age: 10 years

Abv: 123.6 proof

Price: Hahaha

Neat

Nose: Sweeter than I expected with honey, vanilla and some cherry notes and only faint spice.

Taste: Syrupy caramel, rich oak, rye spice, brown sugar, tobacco, faint nutty notes and that Wild Turkey funk. Really nice, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long warm and sweet with brown sugar, baking spice, caramel and cinnamon notes.

Conclusion

That was fantastic. Right up there with Kentucky Legend for the best Wild Turkey I’ve had. The tobacco and nutty notes aren’t something I typically get from Turkey and I really enjoyed them. The finish was also fantastic. The nose was good but nothing special and I actually thought the RR2002 and Moonshine RR pick had better noses. Otherwise this outclassed both of those and I will say I agree with rarebird now :)

On another note I’ve pretty much explored the breadth of modern Wild Turkey and even taken a few ventures into dusty land but I just don’t think Turkey goes to 10 for me the same way Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and MGP can but that’s ok and as long as Russell’s Reserve picks are ~$60 I won’t stop buying them!

 

TL;DR: Fantastic Wild Turkey, right up there with Donut

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

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Tasting Notes: Oak and Eden Bourbon and Brew

For part 14 of the finished whiskies series I am taking a look at a different type finishing with Oak and Eden’s Bourbon and Brew. The folks over there were kind enough to send me a bottle so I won’t be giving a score.

Bourbon and Brew is a 2 year old MGP bourbon that has a French Oak spiral in the bottle to finish it. In this case the spiral was soaked in cold brew coffee from West Oak, an awesome coffee spot in Denton Texas. Cold brew coffee and bourbon are two of my favorite beverages so I was cautiously optimistic despite the young age.

I received the bottle about a month ago but held off on reviewing it to give the spiral time to do whatever it was going to do. I’ve also saved a bit of whiskey from close to when I opened it to blind against it later on to see how much the spiral actually does.

 

Oak and Eden Bourbon and Brew

Age: 2 years

Abv: 90 proof

Neat

Nose: Roasted coffee, corn bread, vanilla and a bit of caramel

Taste: Slightly bitter with black coffee and oak followed by sweet vanilla, allspice and hints of chocolate. Surprisingly thick mouthfeel for the proof

Finish: Medium to long finish that was surprisingly similar to a mocha with coffee, chocolate and vanilla notes

Conclusion

To start off it definitely does what is says on the tin with bourbon and coffee notes clearly present though the bourbon notes are more prevalent than the coffee ones. The youth mostly comes off on the nose while the coffee influence was prevalent throughout. It is a little bitter between the young bourbon and black coffee but not in an off putting way, assuming you like black coffee. If you’re the kind of person to tip a nip of whiskey into a cup of coffee this is basically just the other way around of that!

Overall I liked this though I think starting with an older base spirit would be a nice step up.

 

TL;DR: Nice coffee notes don’t overpower the bourbon, the young base spirit still shows but not as much as I expected

 

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Review #229: Doc Swinson's 15 Year

Doc Swinson’s is a distillery out of Washington who is sourcing barrels, batching and occasionally finishing them. The 6th release from their Exploratory Cask Series hit Austin this week and I honestly hadn’t heard much about them before then. I was skeptical at first given the unknown source and high price tag but the 15 year age statement, Kentucky source, proof and lack of chill filtration convinced me to give it a go. Let’s see if it was worth it.

s 15 Year

 

Review #229: Doc Swinson’s Exploratory Cask Series Batch 6

Age: 15 years

Abv: 118.2 proof

Price: $130

Neat

Nose: Rich and sweet with brown sugar, roasted nuts, vanilla, tobacco, oak and allspice notes

Taste: Starts off with big vanilla and dry oak notes followed by caramel, warm spices and tobacco. Solid mouthfeel, about what I’d expect for the proof

Finish: Long, warm and dry with oak, vanilla, nuts and baking spice notes

Conclusion

Overall this was like an enhanced version of my favorite batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. It was rich and complex while remaining more approachable which made it easier to find the complexity. The nose in particular was excellent.

All that said it’s hard to recommend such an expensive bottle without any caveats. With 14+ year old Knob Creek picks and ECBP out there at half the price, this bottle isn’t going after value. On the other hand it is a step up from those two and holds up well to things like Baker’s 13 or Cream of Kentucky in that same price range.

 

TL;DR: Great whiskey, tough price point, glad I bought one, wouldn’t hunt/overpay

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #228: Blood Oath Pact 6

Part 13 of my finished whiskey series is back to Blood Oath with the newly released Pact 6. This Pact has both the oldest and youngest bourbons they’ve disclosed so far (Pacts 1-3 didn’t have age information) with a 14 year and a 7 year. From their ryed little pun in the description I think all 3 of the components are rye bourbon with no wheater in the blend but who knows?

 

Review # 228 Blood Oath Pact 6

Age: A blend of 7, 8 and 14 year old bourbons

Abv: 98.6 proof

Price: $85

Neat

Nose: Nutty(pecan?), sweet dark fruit, warm spice and vanilla.

Taste: Butterscotch, vanilla cream, pecans, dark fruit and cinnamon. A bit thinner on the mouthfeel than I prefer but not enough to take away from the dram.

Finish: Long finish with leather, cinnamon, pecan and vanilla notes.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this year’s Blood Oath and found it to be a step up from last year. It’s a dessert bourbon for sure with a lot of decadent sweet notes. The cognac influence was there but did not overwhelm the bourbon at all and just added a nice dark fruit note for me. I didn’t really get much in the way of woody oak notes, just some spice and cinnamon. The nose and finish were both excellent and my only real complaint is the mouthfeel which is going to be hard to do anything about as long as they insist on the 98.6 blood temperature proof.

I’ll definitely be grabbing a backup bottle.

 

TL;DR: Right up there with Pact 3 for my favorite of the Blood Oaths

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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Review #227: Old Weller Antique 2002

For a brief period in the late 90s and early 00s Weller was bottled with distillate from United Distillers when they were operating the Bernheim distillery. I was lucky enough to get a sample of a 2002 bottling of Old Weller Antique from that window. I’m not expert in whiskey or whiskey history from before I was of drinking age(or close to it) but I was excited to try this none the less. Apparently there is some debate as to whether or not this qualifies as a dusty but who care? Let’s see how it tastes

 

Review #227 2002 Old Weller Antique

Age: 7 years

Abv: 107 proof

Price: $??

Neat

Nose: Sweet and potent with rich butterscotch and vanilla notes and subtler oak and wheat bread.

Taste: A rush of sweet cherry and butterscotch with rich oak and tobacco notes. The mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy.

Finish: Medium to long finish with fading sweetness and slightly dry lingering oak.

Conclusion

Well that was tasty. Definitely a different profile than the modern Buffalo Trace stuff but not as far off as I might have thought. Overall a great dram and be happy to drink it but this is another old bottle that has failed to convince me that the old stuff was really that much better. I’ve had modern OWA picks I prefer to this though I do think this is better than regular OWA today.

 

TL;DR: Great whiskey, not worth hunting down compared to modern Weller picks imo

8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home

 

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Review #226: GlenDronach Single Cask 'The Belter' GAS Selection

After going back to Scotland last year and tasting a variety of cask strength and single cask scotches my love for scotch was reinvigorated. Unfortunately most of those great scotches aren’t readily available back here in the states and my time in bourbon world has left me with little desire to drink 80-86 proof, chill filtered whiskey so when I had the chance to grab a well aged, single cask, cask strength, GlenDronach bottling at a price that didn’t completely scare me away I had to take it.

At the time I had no idea what the GlenDronach Appreciation Society was and I still don’t really know much about them other than they picked this cask, they post on Instagram a fair amount and they made this YouTube video(I personally didn’t get any date paste or fig chutney notes on this dram).

 

Review #226 GlenDronach Single Cask “The Belter” GAS Selection

Age: 27 years

Abv: 109 proof

Cask Type: PX Sherry Puncheon

Price: £208

Neat

Nose: Rich and dark with grape, cherry and honey alongside an oak note and something else rich and earthy, tobacco maybe?

Taste: Very complex with wine like dark fruit notes, warm spice, honey, more of the earthy note from the nose and a bit of oak and leather toward the end. The mouthfeel is thick and almost sticky.

Finish: Long dry finish with more dark fruit, warm spice and oak notes.

Conclusion

For a 27 year old scotch the oak was surprisingly tame, though present, throughout the dram. The rich fruit and earthy notes were great and fit my preferences nicely. This is right up there with the r/scotch Wardhead single cask on my favorite scotches but is very much on the other end of my tastes.

While I won’t be buying another bottle of this specific cask, when this gets low I’ll definitely seek out another similar offering from GlenDronach.

 

TL;DR: Very good, very pricey

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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Review #225: High West Double Rye! Barrel Select Gin Finish

For part 12 of the finished whiskies series we are back to High West rye whiskey but taking a step down from the Rendezvous Rye barrel selects to look at the more readily available Double Rye! barrel selects.

This particular bottle was from 2018, finished in gin barrels for 7 months and was a selection from the distributor for “High West Fans of Texas!” so that’s fun. This caught my eye since gin is my preferred clear spirit though I primarily drink it in cocktails. I’ve only had barrel aged gin a handful of times but I was curious to see how it would mingle with the rye whiskey notes.

 

Review #225: High West Double Rye! Barrel Select Gin Finish

Age: NAS

Abv: 102.8 proof

Price: $50

Neat

Nose: Gin botanicals, more gin botanicals and some faint rye spice.

Taste: Bright and rich with herbs, gin, warm spice and faint oak and vanilla notes. Very nice mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and warm with spice, botanical and vanilla notes.

Conclusion

Well that was something different. I liked it but if you don’t like gin this is definitely not for you. The gin overwhelmed the whiskey on the nose but became less prominent as it went. I tend to find that these High West Double Ryes have a lot of herbal notes anyway so maybe some of that was from the whiskey. Negronis and Boulevardiers are some of my favorite cocktails and this unique gin/whiskey hybrid makes a killer spirit base for one of those.

 

TL;DR: Really interesting, lots of gin influence, great in a Boulevardier

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

 

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