Review #246: Eage Rare Seven Grand Single Barrel Select

Happy 4th of July!

Nothing says the 4th to me like bourbon and BBQ. I was a day off doing a big brisket smoke yesterday but thankfully there’s plenty left to celebrate today. On the bourbon front Eagle Rare is definitely a favorite when it comes to BBQ pairing. At 90 proof it’s much easier to drink for an extended period than a barrel proofer, at 10 years old it’s got plenty of flavor so I’d you want to throw it over ice to hang outside while you BBQ it can stand up to that and a ~$30 it’s a great one to share with no regrets on a one weekend bottle kill! Even better is a good store pick.

This pick is from Seven Grand here in Austin Texas, which is pretty pretty similar the Seven Grand in San Diego. Unfortunately I don’t have any more information on the pick :/

 

Review #246 Eagle Rare Seven Grand Single Barrel Select

Age: 10 years

Abv: 90 proof

Price: $35

Neat

Nose: Sweet and earthy with rich caramel, oak vanilla and red fruit(cherry?) notes

Taste: Caramel, cherry, oak fainter vanilla and a hint of spice. Great mouthfeel especially for the lower proof.

Finish: Medium length with a bit more spice than the taste but still lots of caramel and cherry, less oak.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed that one. It was very on profile for Eagle Rare for me but with more intense expressions of the sweet and earthy notes I like about Eagle Rare. I would have gladly bought another bottle or two but the shop selling them was strict on the 1 per person. Hopefully they’ll still have bottles left at the bar when COVID settles down my personal bottle is gone.

 

TL;DR: Great pick that leans in on the flavors I enjoy about Eagle Rare

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

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

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Review #245: Belle Meade Black Belle

After an inadvertent 2 week break the finished whiskey series is back with part 19 and Belle Meade’s Black Belle. As a fan of Belle Meade, barrel aged stouts and finished bourbon I was very excited for this one. Belle Meade sends used bourbon barrels over to Blackstone Brewing who then barrel age their stout in them before sending them back to Belle Meade who uses them to make Black Belle. There are a few different releases but I couldn’t dig up a definitive list.

 

Review #245 Belle Meade Black Belle

Age: NAS

Abv: 96.8 proof

Price: $150

Cask: #4167

Neat

Nose: Softer than I expected with cinnamon, caramel, malt and a slightly bitter note I couldn’t place.

Taste: The beer influence is heavy with sweet cream and malty beer notes and subtler brown sugar and rye spice. Nice mouthfeel, especially considering the proof.

Finish: Long and disjointed with the sweetness lingering on the tongue but with rye spice and cinnamon in the throat.

Conclusion

That was unique; the well aged MGP bourbon notes and the imperial stout notes were both present but it was almost like I was tasting them separately and not mingled together like I would expect. This led to a sort of disjointed tasting experience but the notes were all pleasant. Overall I enjoyed this dram but wouldn’t buy another bottle though I’d definitely like to try some of the other casks! It didn’t live up to my expectations though I had probably gotten my hopes up a bit too much.

 

TL;DR: Interesting dram for sure but nothing amazing. Glad I bought one, won’t do it again.

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

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Review #244: Four Roses Small Batch Select

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about Four Roses after the long, meandering exploration of their different recipes. The Four Roses Small Batch Select launched last year and was the first line expansion from Four Roses in years. It sits between their regular Single Barrel offering and their Private Selections in both proof and price.

Review #244 Four Roses Small Batch Select

Age: 6+ years according to the neck tag

Abv: 104 proof

Price: $55

Neat

Nose: Sweet fruit and warm spice notes with hints of vanilla and oak.

Taste: Vanilla, oak, dark fruit and baking spices notes backed by a viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, warm and somewhat spicy with more baking spice notes balanced with subtler herbal, oak and vanilla notes

Conclusion

This was a great bottle but it’s hard to want to go grab another one instead of just stocking up on Four Roses Private Selections when they hit town. That said for folks who want a higher proof, NCF Four Roses option that’s readily available you can’t go wrong with this one. On the other hand if you are more price sensitive it’s hard to say if this is worth the upgrade from the Single Barrel from a value perspective.

TL;DR: Solid Four Roses offering you can actually find

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Review #243: Uncle Nearest 1856

Today is Juneteenth and in honor of that I’ll be reviewing Uncle Nearest 1856. Uncle Nearest is a relatively new whiskey brand from Tennessee that in their own words “is inspired by the best whiskey-maker the world never knew, the first known African-American master distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green.” It is a black owned distillery and was the easiest bottle to procure from this list.

They don’t put much information about where this is sourced from other than saying it is distilled and aged in Tennessee, sourced from multiple producers and not from Jack Daniel’s. I’d guess it is a blend of George Dickel, Pritchard’s and Corsair distillate but who knows?

Anyways on to the whiskey.

 

Review #243 Uncle Nearest 1856

Age: NAS on the label but 8-14 on their website

Abv: 100 proof

Price: $55

Neat

Nose: Dickely with chocolate, minerality, a little oak, earthy notes and some spice.

Taste: Dickel minerals, vanilla, chocolate powder, slight dry oak, a little caramel and warm spice. Good mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish with more mineral and chocolate notes, some heat and a slightly odd almost metallic note.

Conclusion

From the nose and taste I thought this was nice, nothing special but pleasant, and then that weird note in the finish hit. I liked the nose, proof and mouthfeel so overall for an NAS whiskey this exceeded my low expectations. Premium is not a term regulated by the TTB so we end up with only the requirements for whiskey which are extremely broad. If you don’t care for the Dickel notes they are present though not overwhelming on this dram.

From tasting I certainly believe a large portion of the distillate, but not all of it, is sourced from George Dickel and is likely their used barrel whiskey. I don’t have enough experience with other non-JD Tennessee whiskey to take a guess at other sources based on the taste.

This won’t be a regular sipper for me but it was interesting to taste and I’m curious to see what their own distillate ends up tasting like.

 

TL;DR: Dickely, doesn’t stand out, an unfortunate note on the finish knocks it down a point

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

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Reviews #238-241: Smoke Wagon Private Barrel Beastmasters Club Picks

I’ve been meaning to write a Smoke Wagon review for a long time and with them launching in Texas later this year it seemed like the perfect time. So here are four of them haha.

Smoke Wagon is an NDP out of Las Vegas who are sourcing MGP, aging for some unspecified amount of time in the hot dry climate of Nevada and then either barreling them as single barrels or blending them for the rest of their line up. Beastmasters Club is a group out of New York that primarily did onsite barrel picks pre-COVID though they’ve moved to kits now. Thankfully all of these Smoke Wagon picks were done onsite. They also tend to have ridiculous names for their picks and over the top stickers. For the Smoke Wagon picks they decided to go with a series of magnets instead since the Smoke Wagon bottles don’t play nicely with big stickers.

I initially did this as a blind tasting video and then sat down to write up more detailed notes.

 

Reviews #238-241: Smoke Wagon Private Barrels Beast Masters Club Picks

Wide Hog Jeans

Age: 12 years

Abv: 118.4 proof

Warehouse: WG3

Barrel #: 5887

Neat

Nose: Sweet and herbaceous with fruit and brown sugar notes and just a bit of spice and oak.

Taste: Dark fruit, rich herbs, butterscotch, cherry and warm almost holiday spice. Very viscous mouthfeel that coats your mouth and tongue.

Finish: Medium to long finish with more of the spice from the taste and lingering butterscotch and cherry.

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

Hot Pickle Tanning Oil

Age: 12 years

Abv: 115.4 proof

Warehouse: WG3

Barrel #: 5892

Neat

Nose: Brown sugar, charred oak, rye spice, herbal notes and vanilla notes.

Taste: More brown sugar and charred wood, less rye spice, some herbal notes. Nice, thick mouthfeel.

Finish: Long warm finish with lingering spices and herbs balanced with some sweetness and oak.

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

Stachey Mustache Wax

Age: 12 years

Abv: 116.8 proof

Warehouse: WG3

Barrel #: 5897

Neat

Nose: Baking spices, clove, rick oak and sweet vanilla.

Taste: Bold rye and baking spice, subtler oak and butterscotch. Very viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Very long, slightly dry finish with lots of baking and rye spice as well as oak and a touch of sweet caramel.

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

Morning Wood Polish

Age: 12 years

Abv: 114.2 proof

Warehouse: WG3

Barrel #: 5910

Neat

Nose: Very oak forward, slightly bitter,

Taste: Dry oak then a wave of sweet brown sugar, vanilla, herbs, dried fruit and warm spice.

Finish: Long, dry, spicy finish with oak and baking spice notes with subtler vanilla and herbs.

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

Conclusion

The Hot Pickle Tanning and Wide Hog Jeans were fantastic and picks like these two and the Chip’s Liquor Drink Smoke Every Day one really stand up to the old SAOS 10-12 year MGP picks in my opinion. The other two were great but not on the same level, particularly the Morning Wood Polish which was the last release of course :) They were about the same quality as the much cheaper Total Wine picks ($165 vs $99) I have from Vegas. Overall I am a big fan of Smoke Wagon and can’t wait for them to hit Texas especially since my Vegas connection has largely dried up in the COVID world.

As for Beastmasters Club I’ve enjoyed most of the picks I’ve gotten from them, with one notable exception, though when their prices occasionally diverge pretty away from retail prices they can be a bit hit or miss. That said if they have a bottle from a distillery I like at closer to retail prices it’s a buy from me.

 

TL;DR: 2 amazing picks, 2 very good ones. Smoke Wagon delivers.

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

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

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Reviews #237: Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau De Laubade

Part 18 of the finished whiskey series is heading back to Kentucky and taking a look a distillery that hasn’t been covered yet with Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Chateu De Laubade. When Bardstown Bourbon Company announced they were releasing a 12 year Indiana(MGP) bourbon finished in Armagnac casks I knew I needed to get a bottle. The previous MGP sourced collaboration they did with Copper and Kings was fantastic and with an Armagnac finish I hoped this release would be comparable with Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend.

 

Review #237: Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau De Laubade

Age: 12 years

Finishing Time: 18 months

Abv: 118.4 proof

Price: $139.99

Neat

Nose: Powerful and sweet with rich brown sugar, leather, dark grapes, warm spices, fainter but present oak and a hint of pecan.

Taste: A rush of dark fruit, oak, leather, wine, tobacco and baking spices. There is a slight twinge of heat and bitter oak at the end. Very nice, thick mouthfeel

Finish: Long, warm and slightly dry with rich tobacco, baking spices, dried fruit, leather and vanilla notes.

Conclusion

Overall this was another winner from Bardstowns that reminds me of Cigar Blend in all the right ways while remaining distinct. The Armagnac finish was very heavy, which is to be expected with an 18 month finish time, but it does not overwhelm the delicious MGP bourbon notes.

On a side note I’m looking forward to Bardstown starting to distribute in Texas later this year!

 

TL;DR: Very good, lots of Armagnac influence without completely overwhelming the bourbon

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

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

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Reviews #235-236: Sagamore Spirit Port Finish and Calvados Finish

Part 17 of the finished whiskey series takes a look at all 3 finished offerings from Sagamore Spirit out of Maryland. They are a relatively new player out of Maryland who are taking the well worn path of sourcing MGP while their own distillate ages. They do stand out a bit by producing some interesting blends between different rye mashbills and each year for 3 running they have released a finished expression. I’d been sleeping on this year’s release the Calvados Finish so far but when my neighbor picked up a bottle it was time to do a blind tasting against the Port Finish and Cognac Finish.

 

Reviews #235-236: Sagamore Spirit Port Finish and Calvados Finish

Sagamore Spirit Port Finish

Age: NAS

Abv: 101 proof

Price: $60

Neat

Nose: Slightly harsh with with rye spice, fainter herbs and a bit of red wine

Taste: Dark fruit, red wine, rye spices, dry oak and fainter herbal notes. Decent mouthfeel for the proof.

Finish: Long dry finish with lots of oak, some herbal notes and a just a touch of sweetness

6 - a good whiskey I’m still happy to drink

Sagamore Spirit Calvados Finish

Age: NAS

Abv: 101.2 proof

Price: $65

Neat

Nose: Rich herbal notes and slightly tart apple.

Taste: More herbs and an apple note that reminds me of a very dry cider with just a touch of warm spices.

Finish: Medium to short finish with more herbal and apple notes along with the warm spices.

6 - a good whiskey I’m still happy to drink

Conclusion

The Cognac finish was the clear winner for both of us though I put the Calvados above the Port while he had them the other way. The Port and Calvados were close for me. The apples from the Calvados really came through for me in the blind which made guessing pretty easy :)

The Port Finish was a step down from High West’s Mid Winter Night’s Dram. I haven’t had a Calvados finished rye other than this one so I don’t have a good comparison. I liked both of these whiskies but I’m not running out to buy either one.

 

TL;DR: The Cognac finish is the best of the run so far, these were good but nothing special

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Reviews #232-234: Jim Beam Distiller's Cut, Single Barrel and Baker's Single Barrel

Jim Beam recently updated their Single Barrel and Baker’s products. The single barrel is now higher proof, NCF and supposedly older while Baker’s has moved to a single barrel. The first drop of the new Baker’s single barrels here in central Texas were over 8 year old. I waited to long to grab one but I did get a sample of an 8 year 6 month bottle to compare with the new Single Barrel. I’ve also included a sample of Distiller’s Cut to use as a baseline.

 

Reviews

Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut

Age: 5-6 years

Abv: 100 proof

Price: $17

Neat

Nose: Cornbread, nuts, vanilla

Taste: Just like it smells with a bit of spice toward the end

Finish: Medium to short with vanilla and warm spice notes

4 - a fine whiskey that does not standout in either direction

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

Jim Beam Single Barrel

Age: NAS (Old ones were supposedly 5-7 and the news ones are apparently “older”)

Abv: 108 proof

Price: $37

Neat

Nose: Baking spice, caramel, nuts, vanilla

Taste: More spice, more caramel, more nuts. Nice thick mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length spicy finish with a bit of nuts and vanilla

6 - a good whiskey I’m still happy to drink

Fair - Worth the money, happy with my purchase

Baker’s 7 Year Single Barrel

Age: 8 years 6 months

Abv: 107 proof

Price: $57

Neat

Nose: Oak, vanilla, warm spice, caramel

Taste: Caramel, oak, rye spice, faint nuts. Also a nice thick mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length finish with oak, warm spice and caramel

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

Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money

Conclusion

Well that was a lot of the same tasting notes. The biggest differences were how much grain came through in the Distiller’s Cut and how much subtler the nut flavor was in the Baker’s. The Baker’s was also the only one to really have oak notes for me. The mouthfeel was also noticeably better on the Single Barrel and Baker’s.

I enjoyed all of these but I’m not in a hurry to go buy any of them. If you are looking for a midrange bottle on the shelf and like the Beam profile I’d recommend the Single Barrel. I feel like the Baker’s is just too expensive for what it is with Knob Creek out there being older, higher proof and cheaper.

 

TL;DR: Baker’s > SiB > Distiller’s > EW BiB. Baker’s is too pricey for what it is.

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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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