Whisk(e)y Reviews

Some of our Admins like to include a numerical score to accompany their review. All reviews with a score are on a 100 point scale – here is how the scale breaks down:

1-10: Do you even Whiskey Bro???

11-49: Would not recommend

50-59: Average

60-69: Better than average

70-79: Solid/Good

80-89: Excellent

90+: Truly Exceptional

We also like to add a visual descriptor from time to time in our reviews – for this we are employing the Pfund Color Grading System as seen below:

https://www.sizes.com/units/pfund_scale.htm

LIBERTY POLE PEATED RYE

Reviewed by: Aaron, Alexander, Bobby & Scott

Appearance:
Color is amber, with long, well-defined, oily legs that descend very slowly.

Nose:
The first scents are both dry and sweet: leather and cedar, and bown sugar caramel.
The barrel note is woody and dry. The smoky phenolics are there, but surprisingly light and well-integrated.
Overall the scent is deep and robustly earthy, like warm river clay, but with flecks of oily and bitter walnut and the sweetness of pecan pie.

Initial taste:
Straight away the combination of flavors is Red Hots candies! Sweet and toast cinnamon and corn sugar.

Body:
It begins with a plasticky phenol from the rye/peat combo. Don’t let the “plasticky” desciptor scare you, as it’s actually quite pleasant. The phenolics develop into a smokiness towards the mid-palate.
The texture is full and sweet, maple-syrup like, and buttery (with some suggestion of those flavors to boot).
The bulk of the sweetness has the quality of blood orange flesh, and with accompanying orange oil top notes, but no bitter pithy flavor.
As it opens, vanilla and fennel seed come to the fore.
The strong Red Hots taste is faded after the palate acclimates; it becomes a more mild cinnamon brown sugar/cinnamon bun/orange spice cake.
Some might also find a slight salinity and the taste of umeboshi (pickled plum) and chewing tobacco.
With water, sipped before and after, the dram releases largely floral pomme fruit flavors, rosy apple and pear, before subtly transitioning into red berry flavors of wild red raspberry.

Finsh:

The aftertaste continues with the theme of a dry/sweet combination with drying notes of black peppercorn terpenes and woodiness, and black tea.
The Red Hots taste reemerges for sweetness and the flavor of cinnamon.
The finish is where so much of the smoky phenolics come to play: burnt hay, campfire smoke, and Lapsang Souchong (cypress smoked black tea).

liberty pole peated bourbon

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Fresh cracked earthy black peppercorns and smoke like that from kindling being lit, deeper in there are hints of barbecue and barrel char with some sweetness highlighted by cereal grains and a light honey note. 

Palate: Char and smoke greet you with bits of cedar and barbecue, it transitions to a bit of an earthy hay-like grass note that blends with the sweet honey and corn flavors present throughout 

Finish: First sip comes off spicy but after 2-3 the liquid opens up and offers more peppercorn spice and barbecue char, sweet corn comes on strong leading to a delightful version of earthy, smokey, sweet vanilla blended with honey and cereal grains, there are bits of caramel hidden deep in the finish with mint and anise spice bringing this long finish to an end.

74/100. Overall this is an impressive whiskey with plenty to offer. The sweet notes blend with the more smokey and savory notes in a pleasant way. Most people who know me realize I don’t love peat however the smokey part of this whiskey goes a long way to create balance. The nose is a bit smokey for me personally but lays a solid foundation for your palate. Smoke hits you hard in the early palate leaving you nearly stunned as it is stripped away then replaced by sweetness and vanilla as the finish goes on. The finish is quite complex leading me to believe this tasted like honeycomb cereal at one point but either way a very fun and different experience for the bourbon world. I would adore being able to have this a little older and at a bit higher proof as I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to proof. 

Recommendation: Grab a Bottle. Sitting between 45-60$ in Pennsylvania stores this is a unique expression that warrants your attention. Unless you absolutely can’t stand smoke I think there is something for everyone in this bourbon whiskey. If you don’t want a whole bottle you could always go and visit the guys in Washington, PA where they serve it up neat or in a myriad of cocktails. This whiskey is branching out and the guys are playing with a Peated rye so keep your eyes peeled for Liberty Pole spirits! 

BOOKER’S BOURBON BATCH 2019-02 (SHINY BARREL BATCH)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Warm, caramel and honey. Play with vanilla and soft, but noticeable roasted peanuts. Charred oak and earthy spice like rye grains and cracked black pepper. Deeper in there are some faint notes that hint of chocolate.

Palate: Creamy, peppery spice with a pinch of fruity citrus like the pulp of an orange. There are notes of honeyed vanilla and faint caramel. A pinch of barrel char shows up in a warming way and carries a nice roasted peanut. The peanut blends with an earthy spice similar to black pepper.

Finish: Bits of buttery brown sugar mixed with a heavy charred barrel spice. Peppery rye and butterscotch, not sweet like candy due to the influence of the high proof and spice. It then bursts like sweet honey before going into tart and woody blasts of oak. This is followed by hints of nuts, like walnut and more roasted peanut.

Score: 86

Old Ezra 7 Year Barrel Strength

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose:
Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, dark stone fruit, oak, spice and cocoa

Palate:
Rich dark caramel and spicy oak, cocoa, dark fruit, nutmeg, honey, baking spice, char, cocoa and brown sugar

Finish:
Oak, spice, and dark cherries and sweet corn

Weller Special Reserve FWGS Single Barrel Select

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: toasted marshmallows, caramel, vanilla, fresh berries, cantaloupe

Palate: creamy mouthfeel, vanilla, caramel, oak, butterscotch

Finish: cocoa powder, oak, vanilla, caramelized sugar, baking spices

Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Great notes up front of red fruit, cranberries, raisins, and possibly strawberries. The oak is noticeable along with vanilla, molasses, tobacco, leather, and faint caramel. Truly a delicious, sweet, and fruity aroma. Very mild alcohol tickle, which just amazes me at 130 proof.

Palate: The first things I taste are caramel, oak, and molasses before the dram eases into the fruit cocktail described in the nose. The dried fruit flavors primarily red fruits-I get raisins or dried cranberries, possibly strawberries, and a touch of a tart fruit too. Then it transitions into what I call the darker flavors in bourbon.  The caramel and oak are strong and the creaminess of this drink almost makes me think of a wild berry smoothie. There is minimal burn as it is pleasantly disguised amongst a myriad of fruits and cream.

Finish: The finish is long and enjoyable with a fruity creaminess to it that is very candy-like. To be exact it’s strawberries and cream, similar to hard candies.  The sweetness isn’t over powering though and plays nicely with the hints of caramel, oak, and sweet corn. There is little burn on the finish.

Buying Recommendation:  Must Try!  This is an excellent glass of whiskey. Comparable to the best I’ve ever had. The fruit and cream are unbelievable and the oak, caramel, and slight notes of vanilla that create the creaminess are exquisite. I could drink this every day all day. The alcohol is hidden well and this is so flavor-forward you could probably convince people it was added artificially.  I would tell anyone who likes Blanton’s to find away to acquire one of these bottles.  To all else, find a way to get a pour and at least experience it once!

Score:  91

BOOKER’S BOURBON BATCH 2019-01 (TERESA’S BATCH)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: sharp toffee and sweet fruity red gummy candy lead into a blast of molasses accented by a boozy nuttiness with buttery cinnamon bread as well as spicy cinnamon and sweet clove before herbal tea and charred oak woody vanilla and citrus

Palate: pops with sweet corn bread and a subtle caramel before going into a malty lightly toasted oak and nutty vanilla creme brulee, spice shows up delivered by the barrel char and boozy heat, cinnamon helps add spice to this rich lactosey body

Finish: bread pudding, caramel, and nutty vanilla lead into some soft cinnamon and barrel char with buttery corn notes and a vegetal note of herbal tea and chewy cereal grains coated in vanilla and a very faint caramel mixed in with more charred spice, honey, and cinnamon.

GEORGE T. STAGG (2018)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Special Thanks to Dave Coopey

Nose: warm cherry toffee and cranberry with creamy buttery leather and black peppercorn spice, light caramel deep char nearly milk chocolate

Palate: tart cherry and light Coco powder with crisp apple leather and balck pepper, char and floral spice with a bit sweet and spicy with fun notes of toffee and spice

Finish: big leather and bold sweet toffee, light brown sugar and a little bit of cherry and black pepper, citronella and orange peel, light creamy vanilla soft but present leads raspberry cream candy and spicy char with good barrel influence and a refined body and sweetness

BOOKER’S BOURBON BATCH 2018-03 (KENTUCKY CHEW)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Toasted wood, brown sugar sauteed in buttery cream, caramel and oaky vanilla, freshly shelled peanuts, and a bit of a chewy bubblegum-like note.

Palate: Rich, buttery, creamy, nougaty, sweetness greets you with a candied touch – like a caramel soft candy with vanilla cream in the middle. The development is chewy and sweet with charred wood mixing into the more assertive decadent caramel.  A very light pinch of smoke – like the smell a saw makes when it cuts through wood – sits subtly underneath with a soft hint of mint.

Finish: Chewy and sweet with a harder, more boozy vanilla extract than the softer vanilla notes in the nose and palate. The brown sugar pops large, playing with notes of charred wood and black pepper spices, and there is some leather carrying more earthy notes as it begins to fade to a sweet yet vegetal corn finish.

Buying Recommendation:  Must try!  Great balance and huge pops of very traditional bourbon flavors with caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla leading the charge. The sweetness is accented by earthy notes and the spice of the high proof. This whiskey just works. Often times I’m knocking spirits for their simplicity but this is a case where simple just feels right. The depth here comes from the glorious chewy body of this liquid. Kentucky chew lives up to it’s name and offers a bit of a retrospective look at Booker’s because to me this is their old profile shining through. There’s a place for complexities and nuances, but the classics are classics for a reason.

Unless you avoid barrel proof bourbons like the plague or simply find the $60-80 range to be too much, this is something you need to have. It blends classic bourbon with excellent mouth feel in a way I believe most whiskey drinkers will enjoy. The heat is there but more tamed than previous batches of Booker’s, while still offering high end flavors. I believe this batch is a cut above even the best Knob Creek single barrel releases. This one really plays to those that enjoy the classic bourbon profile that has made Beam so popular around the world.

Score: 90

ELIJAH CRAIG BARREL PROOF BATCH C917

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Buttery cream and vanilla with big, rich oak and toffee backbone, alongside spices from the barrel and a note similar to that of a root beer.

Palate: Bold cream and vanilla similar to the nose.  The vanilla is like a frothy root beer or a fresh cream soda.  The oak is assertive and further carried by the proof. It further develops into more dominating vanilla extract and soft spices, similar to a yellow sponge cake. Very drinkable even with the high ABV.

Finish: A big burst of vanilla rushes to the front with a bit of caramel and a huge dose of oak. It transitions into creamed sweet corn for a finish that is seemingly neverending.

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  I can’t stress to you enough the importance of not leaving it on the shelf and hoping it will be there later. This stuff started at $49.99 and its roughly $65-70 most places nowadays. Don’t let the price deceive you; this is a premium bourbon that can compete with damn near anything on the market.

Score: 93

BOOKER’S BOURBON BATCH 2016-05 (OFF YOUR ROCKER)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Charred parchment paper and warm toasted oak sit alongside floral spice and caramel. As the aroma evolves, further notes of bold leather, spicy anise, and a touch of cinnamon develop.  The aroma is sweet and floral, bold and rich.

Palate:  The arrival is dense with creamy peanut butter, pencil shavings, and soft pine verging on juniper.  The arrival is quickly overtaken by a full bodied cinnamon graham cracker and caramel note with a unique herbal tea undercurrent.  The burn is big but not overwhelming, and melds with the sweet and earthy flavors well.

Finish:  Full and long with pops of pine, spice, and earthy candied flowers.  The spice is sharp and lingers as hints of toffee and vanilla sneak in before finally fading out with a touch of corn and soft leather.

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  Of course, it’s a bit arbitrary to give a buying recommendation to an extinct past release, it’s a testament to how good this release was, especially at it’s former suggested retail price of $60.  This is a great batch for those who enjoy a big bite and complex sweetness.  This is a fun and unique bourbon that sits in the upper half of my Booker’s rankings.  The odd herbal spices may seem out of place, but they really are the highlight here, and they go together well with the more classic bourbon notes.

Score: 88

BOOKER’S BOURBON BATCH 2017-03 (front PORCH BATCH)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Heavy and bold, but also saturated by ethanol from the high proof.  Sweet charred oak, robust tobacco, leather and nuts make up the bulk of the aroma, with some more subtler notes of caramel and vanilla that are partially blanketed by the ethanol burn.

Palate:  Full and chewy with loads of Beam’s signature nuttiness and spice leading the way.  Beyond these are a big oak presence, bits of caramel, and faint notes of vanilla and tobacco.  The flavors here are not incredibly well-balanced, and this dram really needs a long rest in the glass to let off some ethanol heat and open up.

Finish:  The medium-length finish is equal parts nutty and oaky with bits of caramel, smooth leather, and tobacco around the edges.  It fades out sweet and spicy.

Buying Recommendation:  Worth buying a pour.  At this point, you don’t need to convince me that Booker’s is a excellent bourbon; I love the stuff.  Beam’s uniquely nutty profile speaks to me.  Nonetheless, my goal is always to do an objective tasting.  The fact is that this batch is a bit messy, unbalanced, and hot if you don’t give it some water or a long rest, and while that bold nuttiness is great, in this batch it covers up a few subtleties that are better expressed in other batches.  At the premium price that these batches sell for nowadays, these are important things to consider.  This is a great whiskey – as the score attests to – but it sits middle of the pack in the rankings of the 9 different batches of Booker’s that I’ve been lucky enough to try.  Booker’s has become a juggernaut; you can count on getting a high quality bourbon each batch, but some certainly have more to offer than others.

Score: 85

ORPHAN BARREL RHETORIC 25

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: warm butterscotch and sweet toffee mis with caramel and softly toasted oak like furniture closed up in a room and opened on a warm summer day exposing the woodsy vanilla of the oak, it then becomes more tart after the initial rush of sweetness

Palate: oily yet light with a pleasant blend of vanilla and caramel mingling with tarter wood notes from the lengthy stay in the barrel, there is a mild burn that plays in with barrel char and a faint vegetal rye spice

Finish: very long, it grows and fades starting with buttery creamy vanilla more like extract than something with added sugar as it is quite tart but notes of popcorn and toasted white bread appear before going to caramel and charred wood, the final notes are earthy corn and vanilla

Nose: 82
Palate: 74
Finish: 78

Recommendation: Try this at a bar. The price of the bottle compared to the 25 year age statement isn’t that bad. It leaves me in a strange spot where I would love to recommend this 150$ bottle but the flavors aren’t quite good enough for me to do that with confidence. The tartness of the whiskey from the 25 year stay in oak is an aquired taste. If you love oakey whiskey this is a must have. The flavors aren’t muted by the wood but you have to get through the oak to enjoy them. Another positive for most drinkers would be that this is a relatively soft spirit so it won’t burn you too much if you’re new but it may not give a more experienced drink the sensations they’re seeking.

Score: 78. In a direct comparison to the Rhetoric 22 year this 25 year is a bit over oaked for me. Now that’s not saying it’s bad but the more tannic sour notes came through a bit much and it was missing the depth of a younger bourbon. This one comes off like it was smacked over the head by an oak log and the flavors back that up. If you can get through the heavy wood notes the vanilla hidden in there is excellent. For me I would’ve liked to see the proof higher to counter the oak notes but this still works it just has a lot of barrel influence. The extended age seems to simplify the notes and take away from some of the complexities I want when it comes to giving out a very high score.

Glenfarclas 105

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose : Notes of sweets, fruits, and cereal grains.  Salted caramel and a pinch of butterscotch with pear or green apple and sweet and sour berries.  Subtle woodsy molasses accented by a soft honey note round it out.

Palate :  Slightly salty malted sweet cereal with a bit of mocha show first before a faint chocolate powder and molasses take over with more sweet and sour fruits.  There is a hard to describe slightly honeyed earthiness similar to charred wood and kindling in the background.

Finish:  Full flavored with a body of sweetness that blends with the spice of the proof, honey and tart crisp apple combine with coffee bean before turning to a woodsy dash of smoke and briny caramel/butterscotch.

Score: 86

Woodford Reserve Barrel Finished Rye

Reviewed by: Aaron Hajduk

Appearance: Light Amber, oily, rich, sheeting with some thick legs
Aroma: Leather, oak, cedar, and fruit cake
Taste: Oak, baking spices, leather, light mint, and coffee
Finish: Rye bread, pepper, spicy, long & warm with just a bit of roasted coffee

Buy • Try • Pass

This is a definite Buy. While it is not the reference or standard bearer for Rye Whiskey, it is very interesting how this rye becomes more bourbon-like by finishing in a toasted new oak barrel. Plus, that coffee note is so welcoming, and me being a bit of a coffee nut, it hits all the right places.

BATTLE DOUBLE OAKED

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked vs Double Double Oaked

Reviewed by: Aaron Hajduk

I finally had some time to sit down and compare & contrast Woodford Reserve Double Oaked vs Double Double Oaked. Neither one disappoints and there are similarities: brown sugar, oak, leather, oily, with a drying finish; but also unique notes like banana & cake in Double Double and lemon & vanilla in Double.

Double Oaked

Appearance: light amber, rich, oily, long legs
Aroma: brown sugar dominates, vanilla, leather & hay, with some alcohol
Taste: oily, thick, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, cake, oak, leather, and the slightest bit of lemon
Finish: Corn, caramel, leather, oak, and light citrus. Drying, medium finish, with a nice tingle

Double Double Oaked

Appearance: Amber, rich, oily, long, quick running, legs
Aroma: oak, brown sugar, caramel, and corn
Taste: oily, coating, oak, cinnamon, a bit of heat, with some leather, mocha, tobacco, and a bit of banana
Finish: long & tingly, drying, with oak, mocha, cake, & banana e:  Oak, brown sugar, and a bit of corn

Buy • Try • Pass

My recommendation is Buy for both of these. Neither disappoints and they are great examples of what can be accomplished with extra/different finishing options, but still using newly charred (toasted) oak barrels.

Rhetoric 25-Year-Old Bourbon – Orphan Barrel

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: dark brown sugar, butterscotch, creme brulee and a touch of baking spices
Palate: starts soft and slightly sweet with creme brulee, vanilla sugar Then transitions to supple leather, cedarwood, some spearmint and cinnamon
Finish: Dry, but surprisingly sweet. With salted caramel and a touch of fresh cracked black pepper.

This is surprisingly good and not just some oak bomb. Cheers!🥃

Score: 93

Woodford Reserve Double Double Oaked

Reviewed by: Aaron Hajduk

Appearance: Amber, rich, oily, long, quick running, legs
Aroma: oak, brown sugar, caramel, and corn
Taste: oily, coating, oak, cinnamon, a bit of heat, with some leather, mocha, tobacco, and a bit of banana
Finish: long & tingly, drying, with oak, mocha, cake, & banana e:  Oak, brown sugar, and a bit of corn

Smokehead (the Rock Edition)

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

I made an impulsive whiskey purchase after spending way too much time in the store being indecisive about entirely different whiskeys.
I am a big peat-head, and like char and smoke in a whiskey, as well as salinity, etc.
So, I saw Smokehead (the Rock Edition).
It promised high-octane, aggressiveness.
Sounded fun, looked ridiculous, so I dove in, despite reading terrible reviews about it!

All I have to say is, I’m glad I trusted my gut. 
This whiskey delivered all it promised!

My initial impression was:
Maybe this lacks finesse, but isn’t that the whole point? This may not deserve a 9/10, BUT it definitely does not deserve the trash reviews it has to date! The scotch is impressive in the nose, big time ashtray, and the taste to follow is an Islay oil fire, scorching the shore, as the nearby metal music festival patrons destroy nearby houses and the local rick-house to drink the stuff and add the wooden pieces to the massive shoreline bonfire.

If you’re a peat-head, go for it.

Highland Park 12 Year Old

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Don’t know why it took me so long to taste HP. 
But here we go finally!
Nose is meaty and grainy with charcoal oak, vanilla, apple, and pear. 
Palate is definitively clean and malty with some earthy island peat character, some smoke, a good bit of deep oak, and some sweet apricots and peach. 
The finish is a lovely balance of oak and smoke dry with both a fruit and malt sweetness, and just the right touch of salinity and tang to wrap it all up neatly. 
This is a great scotch, easy to find, and not insanely priced, but with an impressively well-rounded character that scratches most scotch-related itches all in one go.

Cheers! What do you think?
What’s in your glass?

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel 
(Gates Circle pick)

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

FINAL SCORE 82/100
Vital Statistics:
Distillery/Blender: Wild Turkey Distilling Co.
Category: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age Statement: NAS, at least 2 years
Proof: 110
Mash bill/blend: 70:13:12, Corn:Rye:Barley

Tasting Date: 05/11/2018
Nose: 17/20
Butterfinger candy bar, sweet and rich. Jersey sweet corn. Maple, pecan praline, vanilla. Syrupy and buttery-sweet, like a sweet cornbread with bits and pieces, draped in butter and drizzled damp with Aunt Jemima. Fruity esters beneath manifest mostly as prunes, with a heady mace-like spice. After a bit, that tart corn distillate nose is discernable, with an additional waxy, candy corn top note. Higher proof seems evident, but the aroma brings anticipation and is enough to enjoy nosing on its own, though it loses points for the drift towards waxy candy corn as it sits.
Initial Taste: 11/15
Spicy and surprisingly oaky-tannic, with an astringent pucker and acidic tang. It’s not what I expected. Tannic and spicy, quite phenolic.
Body/Mouthfeel: 8/10
Although there’s a lot of oakiness here, there’s also a big load of both cream and spice. The combination is very exciting and satisfying, providing both a fun ride and a long one, that delivers a very complete sensory experience without too many peaks or valleys.
Taste: 13/15
After chewing it a bit, the deeply tannic and phenolic oak and tang persist, but as strong undercurrents to a wave of buttered yellow sweet corn on the cob. Exhaling through the nose, there’s a sense of deep char as if the corn on the cob had been fire-roasted in the husk, “Indian-style” directly on the firey coals. This balance is very dynamic, nearly a clash of two intense flavor fronts, but instead, they function together as a devastating tidal wave of flavor that overtakes your palate and penetrates even into your sinuses!
Finish: 17/20
Endless. There’s gumbo as the main course, and it gives a spicy cayenne and peppercorn heat that sustains, begging another bite of buttered corn. For dessert, though, after the last bite of gumbo, there’s peach cobbler, skin-on peaches baked soft and covered in perfectly bronzed lardy biscuit batter dollops with a sprinkle of brown sugar. The spice from the last bite of gumbo hangs around all through dessert.
Value: 8/10
A flavor bomb, being smooth in the right ways, with enough kick, holler, and hoot to make it a party, and all for about $50? Yes please, every day. I’d say the only competitor her would be the likes of KC Single Barrel or WT Rare Breed, maybe Noah’s Mill, that I know of. 
Overall: 8/10
I can’t say anything is left to be desired here. It delivers, and it over-delivers. Perhaps the oaky phenolics are too much for some, especially if you’re used to the average Russell’s, or other single barrel picks. I suspect the extra-dominant oak flavor is particular to this barrel pick, but I do think it stops an otherwise butter bomb from potentially getting boring. Each sip begs another. If you want a ride, and a bit of challenge, like you’d get from the phenolics of an Islay, but nothing out of bounds or imbalanced, this fits the bill.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

While I don’t live in KY any longer, I am still Kentucky in Spirit.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit so much, with its straightforward nose of oak and sweet cherries, spicy caramel creme flavor with nutmeg and mixed peppercorns, and an enduring spicy-sweet and slightly minty/anise finish.

This one’s got punch and character. Seems fitting they call it Kentucky Spirit.

Cheers! What’s in your glass?

Macallan Edition No. 3

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Sometimes when you meet with an old friend, you end up making a new one. 
Had a going away party for a good friend and he showed up with this, Macallan Edition No. 3 and told me to take it home with me back to Pittsburgh.

Nose is golden raisins, Fig Newton bars, an sherry. Taste is sherry up front, chewy with raisins, but robustly spicy and tannic, with a lot of of black and white peppercorn and red wine and oak. There’s also a floral undertone throughout. Finish is long, bittersweet chocolate with raisins, and oak.

Cheers to the weekend PWFs!
#whatsinyourglass?

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Charlotte is my lady!… Port Charlotte, that is. 
Aroma is citric, yeasty, smoky, and a bit sour and sweet.
Taste is youthful and bright with zesty citrus. A refined and balanced malt profile with honey and floral overtones. Bold brine and smoke with negligible rubbery phenols, and just some yeastiness. 
Mouthfeel is just thick enough to be satisfying but still spritely. 
Finish is enduring, refreshing, and salty-sweet (pretzels and caramel) with a tad more smoke and some iodine.

Noah’s Mill Bourbon 

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose: almond, marzipan. Melanoidins and caramelized lignins from the barrel toast and char. Toffee and fresh cream… and chocolate as it opens up. 
Taste: A great follow-up to the nose, marzipan, then semi-dark chocolate.
This is the lovechild of an Almond Joy candy bar and a tiramisu doused in amaretto and a shot of mild espresso. Layers of vanilla cake and cinnamon creme, rained on by almond and subtle cocoa roastiness, with chocolate topping. Forward lactones and aldehydes provide the delight of toasted coconut! 
Finish: It goes on and on… carrying the flavors of the tiramisu, and finally, washing down with the grape-stem notes of a fine grappa to complete the bitter-sweet ending. 
Overall: This is NOT sweet, but the impression of the dessert flavors is proud, yet refined. 
The oak’s influence is powerful but not domineering or brash. This is a cultured country gentleman. 
It is neither hot nor acidic, and sulfur compounds, acetates, or grassy hanols are undetectable. 
I’d compare this to Booker’s for strength and profile… but the complete experience of this dram and the depth and nuance trump ANY Booker’s I’ve had… and most barrel-proof offerings otherwise..

Pairs fabulously with a medium-strength maduro.

The Dead Rabbit

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

After hearing the Whiskey Cast episode where they interviewed the folks behind the Dead Rabbit, I was intrigued… especially since I don’t drink Irish whiskey, generally finding it too mild for my preference.

Here are my notes:

Nose:
Big cereal grain and freshly cracked barley malt. Underneath the veil of barley lies freshly toasted oak. 
This smells like a particularly malty Speyside if it were aged in new American oak.
The scent is straightforward, but not lacking in complexity, just deeply barley, and deeply oak.
As it breathes, I find white grape must.
Taste:
Oh so thick! On the palate, it floats like honey or B grade maple syrup. 
It definitely has a clean flavor at its core, as most Irish whiskies do, and if it didn’t have anything else, the great velvety texture with a hint of heat would support it just fine.
However, the big oak presence is there; 
It’s woody, like fresh pencils, new limbs, and seasoned log piles; 
It’s spicy, like flame-charred jalapeno peppers, spicy, with a toasty bitter skin, and green soft berry beneath.
Though it gives great texture and viscosity, the barrel finishing also gives a touch of sweetness.
With just a bit of time, that buttery Chardonnay flavor blooms forth… all of a sudden, this dram has something going on!
Finish:
Husky barley flavors dwell, as the footstools of tongue-smacking oak tannin, a dab of puckering oak tartness, and a heavy lacquer of that oak barrel sugar that leaves your palate still feeling silky, but just dusted with white peppercorn and mace.
Overall:
OK, you got me. I found an Irish whiskey I like and would drink!
This is like a fair American whiskey and a mild Highland single malt had a lovechild and it somehow came out Irish.

Sagamore Spirit Barrel Select Straight Rye

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose: signature spicy, piney, resin and eucalyptus characteristic of most MGP-sources ryes on the shelf. Yet, there’s a sweeter golden treacle and some ripe pear note that underpin the usual sappy spice.
Taste: Like all other MGP-sourced ryes on the shelf, it has what you’d expect: lots of hay, grass, fennel, anise, and a touch of dill. Yet, like it promises with the “Maryland style” moniker, there is a subtle sweetness, most likely due to the high calcium carbonate content of the limestone water they add. There’s a tad of vanilla hiding in there too. Adding water really enhances the vanilla and sweetness.
Finish: An extension of the highly botanical taste, some of the barrelling comes through, and a good little bit of heat. It’s surprisingly long, and if you’re in a spicy kind of mood, it does hit the spot.
Overall: It’s not remarkably different than almost every rye on the shelf (as most of them are MGP-sourced these days). The extra sweetness helps it rise above the majority, but it’s still a member of the crowd. 
It’s got its merits as an herbal, resiny, young-tasting rye, but its complexity and depth end there. It’s solid, but it values (by my standards) as a $35 bottle, and it is often priced above this point. With water, it’s very nice young product, but why should we feel that necessary?

Laphroaig 10 

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Laphroaig 10 quickly became a mainstay for me and it was my gateway into the hellfire of peat. 
I now am a total fan of anything Laphroaig, loving the marriage of brine, bright malt, ash, heather, and coriander without the yeast, meat, rubber. 
I now associate it with great family memories around an open fire on the patio with hors d’ouvres and cigars. 
Speaking of cigars, it pairs great with this Ecuadorian Habano wrapper Diesel Unlimited.

Here’s my first impression of it for interest:

“Islay was NOT my style, BUT. I had to try this given the reviews and bold and umami pungent flavors well-presented alongside the peat… and being able to pick up a bottle for only $41+tax.

Nose: Cyprian latakia, bandages with ointment, the sea on an overcast October evening.
Taste: No bandages, but all of that oriental tobacco, woody, but more than just pine or oak with an extra dimension. Behind the moderate veil of smoke lies salty seaweed, lilac, and heather, with a twinge of lavender and only just-ripe green pears, bittersweet and earthy, making this so surprisingly deep and flavorful for a moderately-priced 10yr peated scotch.
Finish: long and fine, with no undue warmth of solventy notes returning, the tastes initially perceived fade and blend to create a dry, earthy, robust…. and… dare I say “manly” finish that practically begs for a deep bowl of mature pipe tobacco from such a master blender of English and Oriental blends and cakes as G.L. Pease.

Liberty Pole Bourbon Whiskey

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose: corn silk, freshly broken sweet white summer corn, freshly split young oak limbs, violin bow rosin. Definitely fresh, and a tad green, but pleasantly, not grassy.
Corn ethanol is obvious, and the scent of sweet corn, but without the actual sweet smell itself.
Taste: light and thin on the tongue, but spritely. This whiskey’s youth is actually what makes it shine! It’s green and fresh, spicy, but highly aromatic. 
The initial flavor is a small hit of the ethanol, but quickly makes way for the white summer corn, and resiny, geraniol-laden flavors of coriander, and resiny wood. No vanilla. Herbal perilla and fenugreek, and some minty, terpene-heavy bouquet of wild marjoram, lemongrass, and calamint, sprinkled with a touch black pepper, and splashed with a squeeze of acidic lemon.
Finish: It finishes with a capsaicin spiciness, and as that dull burn fades, we have the resurgence of all of the muddled botanicals, like someone was making a gin-based mojito and you took a deep breath with a piece of Trident mint gum in your mouth.


Overall, the spirit has an unmistakable young and fresh profile, and a wheater’s burn. The corn is noticeable but not sweet. So as this spirit dodges all of the familiar harsh overtones present in young spirits, yet preserves the punctuated and harmonious high notes, it plays wistfully, capriccioso, as “refreshing.”

Ardbeg Ten 

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose:
Right off the bat, you smell mineral oil, green pear skins, near-ripe Seckel pears, the flesh of Meyer lemon, then something like wet sand and burning clay.
Initial Taste:
Wow, it punches you! Like a black peppercorn and juniper berry tincture suspended in mineral oil that you set on fire. Chewing this sip by sip, perhaps with a drop of water seems necessary.

Body and mid-palate:
As slick as fish oil, with an extremely savory character. The salt of it puckers your mouth without coming across like a salty pretzel or an anchovy filet.. and yet, it is so very savory, I am reminded greatly of jiucai, that is, a pungent Chinese garlic oniongrass. There is also the slightest trace of fish bones from the oiliness, pungency, and minerality in combination. 
To me, the peat is not quite so smoke at all, but dense and earthy like mulch or potting soil heavy with sulfur.
Just a touch of water, opening up, and becoming familiar with the drink, reveals the Meyer lemon, but with no trace of the pear. The sand and burning clay show up as well, and wood like that from the burning torches and wood-handled pitchforks of angry villagers.

Finish:
So very long, like the right hook you took in a bar fight with a Scotsman that made you consider seeing a dentist after a week of applying analgesic. Strangely, the smoke shows up in the end. Big-time burnt honey flavor. Then, much like cigar ash and the tar-heavy last puffs of a Maduro cigar, slightly acrid and sour, but welcome. Even stranger is that the faintest bit of Seckel pear peeks out despite being absent initially and in the mid-palate… probably cowering in fear.
There’s not much spice and yet, your mouth is left numb, but not like from 
cloves, rather, camphor… and a shot of Novacaine… and the bloody gauze to boot.
Then a floral mustiness like dead flowers pressed between the pages of an old encyclopedia.

Overall:
Undoubtedly, this drink is abrasive and forward, “cavalier” even, but I hesitate to call it “harsh;” The flavors otherwise cloying in isolation passionately grapple with one another, entwined, melding in the ring of the palate like two wrestling brothers, angry and intense and sweaty, but making some strange beauty of the seemingly crude rivalry in the glory of the struggle and resolution.

Take this drink when you wish you grow your beard hair a few inches.
In summation, dinosaurs, peat bog mummies, witches, and refuse of orchards and flower gardens were cremated in a seaside glass factory… this mixture was fermented and distilled, and aged beneath a wharf.

New Riff Bourbon – Bottled in Bond

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

I used to live down the street from this place, loved O.K.I., and now finally can taste this!!

The nose is mix of both fresh and old oak, warm and dry like an old wooden shed, with sweet corn and brown sugar sweet notes beneath. 
The taste is sweet kettle corn, molasses, nicely balanced by warm (but not overly bitter) oak. There’s also an impressive amount of vanilla and coconut in this one that really shines. 
The texture is actually good and full, though not quite chewy. 
The finish is long, with more sweet corn, vanilla, orange peel, allspice, anise, brown sugar, and dry oakiness, and then at the very end, a slight spicy cayenne warmth.

I am quite impressed with this, especially considering the price tag. There was a lot of love that went into this product from start to finish, and it shows…

Liberty Pole Peated Bourbon

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose:
Vegetable glycerin and roasted corn. BBQ pork ribs, KY style, pit smoked in a spicy vinegar-based sauce.

Taste:
Medium mouthfeel with a slight slickness. Slight cayenne spice (heat) is noticeable immediately and throughout, but not intense. 
Deep into the drink comes oak-smoked green apples, Guatemalan coffee, vanilla extract. 
Leathery tannins. Texture quickly becomes meaty. 
Salted pretzels emerge, showcasing a minerality and toasted malt profile.

Finish:
Heavy on the back palate, with those leathery tannins heavy and clinging, satisfying between sips. Gentle warmth.
White pepper flavor and after-aroma.

Overall:
An intriguing drink with noticeable peat qualities, though in a different fashion than the Islay you may be used to… yet equally savory!
The fresh flavors of a spirit, with balancing the sweetness and added flavor from that heritage Bloody Butcher corn, with a new way of peat on top. 
This is fun and approachable.
Looking forward to furthering innovation from Liberty Pole Spirits!

Ardbeg Uigedail

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose: Lemon, lime, apple, pear, and then sweet malt and sweet Tokaji wine. A hint of crisp salty air, but very little tell-tale medicinal, oily, smoky, or earthy aroma, if any… even after letting it open. Surprisingly fruity and sweet, for Ardbeg, even knowing it’s sherry-finished. There is a bit of old charred cask scent behind it all, but no bandaids or campfires, shockingly, and… sadly.
The nose is delightful actually, but shockingly polite, reminding me more of an eau de vie than an Islay scotch.

Taste & Body: Very similar to the 10yr at first, but much less graphite and turf, with flamboyantly obvious fruit like perceived in the nose. The oiliness is subdued by comparison, though by no means thin. Luckily, the familiar brine is still full on here. 
The more present and loud fruit and malt flavors create a harmony unheard in the Ten, distracting from the bold soloists of oiliness, fish bones, and weeds. The sour, sweet, floral, herbal, medicinal flavors are all there, but in concert as a choir rather than the war cry of the front-line. 
Enhanced honey-like, pomaceous sweetness seems to bring forward sharp and acidic raw cocoa, sour white burley tobacco, and a markedly more noticeable Meyer lemon flesh flavor (than perceived in the Ten).
Rather than decisive, serial assaults strikes to the senses, the approach of the Uigeadail is concerted, marching in a phalanx at you to the tune of snare and fife rather than charging with bloody war-cry, bolstered by hogskin drum and war-horn.

Finish: Though I can set aside my preferences and expectations for the nose and taste, I will have to say, some points are lost on the finish.
There’s nothing overly wrong, but nothing noticeably right either. The finish is so short, there are only moments before you may forget you’ve had a sip at all… and that’s especially shocking when you consider how at least some salt and smoke should be the feathers stuck to your tarred tongue!

Overall:
The flavors are big and deep, but very tight. Definitely, the coordination has finesse and reminds me of Talisker in this way, but not necessarily what one might have come to appreciate from Ardbeg.
The concert of flavors definitely makes for what some may call a more “refined” product, but I also would say that it makes for a less “robust” product where none of the elements shine brightly for any moment in their own rights. 
Let’s call your typical Islay William Wallace, and the Uigeadail is Robert the Bruce?

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose: Not betraying any higher alcohols, just orange cream soda, bright and carbonic, with crispy vanilla and a velvet citrusy overtone.

Taste: chewy rye cereal and cream soda with navel orange, reminiscent of Cointreau, and then some of the more polite expressions of fennel and coriander come to play.

Finish: soft and gentle tingle that so neatly and quietly ties the sweet cream, orange, and aromatics together with finesse. What really sets this apart–and adds to its surprisingly delicate nature–is the distinct aftertaste of floral dandelion and violets!

So smooth for the proof, this is a dangerous treat and an interestingly fruity and floral expression of rye with much less heat and astringency than expected.

Jura Superstition Lightly Peated Single Malt Scotch

Reviewed by: Alexander Gábor Szokolyai

Nose:
Sweet white tawny port, and kombu (dried kelp). Deeper in the nose is shingo (Korean pear). A deep inhale draws out the vanilla and opens the sense to the undertones of dried, pressed wildflowers.
Taste:
Quite oily! The salinity and pungent quality resembling kombu in the nose manifest like an oily smoked kipper, sprinkled with golden raisins, atop a slice of yeast bread with thinly sliced shallots (there’s that higher alochol sharpness coupled with some sort of sulfide). 
There’s also a meaty, yeast autolysis-esque chewiness that transitions into saddle leather, and then realizes as an oak-derived tannin with a dab of hay-like peatiness.
One cannot help but be reminded of a pork shoulder roast, it’s so meaty.
Finish:
The yeasty/leathery/woody tannic taste sticks in a layer on the mid-palate and the roof of the mouth, like the feeling of being parched and thirsty. 
Aftertaste is lightly metallic and a bit oily, or perhaps like that of very ripe January-harvest olives, without sweetness or spice, leaving little but the sensation that hangs heavy like a quantum singularity, putting a black hole in the center of the palate.
Overall:
The sweet/savory chewiness of this could be compared to teriyaki-flavored jerky, and the accouterments of sharpness, grain, and fresh crisp Shingo make the spread on your palate quite fun. 
Some individuals could find this confusing, but if you have the graces to be able to separate these trying, contrasting (competing?) flavors, it can be quite a ride.
In the end though, the finish is lacking in complexity and want for stimulation. Besides that and how confusing this drink can be, the biggest complaint is that for peat-lovers… it’s the “kids’ menu PB&J with the crusts cut off.”
For those sherry lovers who are easing into a love of peat, however, this could be a gateway whiskey, and a way to get that sherry along with the salt, oil, and savoriness, but without an aggressive smoke.

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and an assortment of baking spices with spice cake-like sweetness form the bulk of the aroma.  Deeper in are more subtle notes of honey, leather and very soft tobacco, with hints of maple and tree bark.

Palate: The arrival is sweet and the mouth feel is thick, with oak and honey setting the stage for a chewy vanilla and pops of soft cinnamon.  A bit of maple syrup and a very faint note of caramel develop before a more full tasting toffee presence takes over.

Finish: Sugary sweet with toasted wood and a pinch of vanilla marshmallows.  A more tannic leather note is noticeable but the finish stays sweet and chewy, carrying the flavor nicely.  Some cinnamon lingers briefly before going to a maple like toffee with caramel and a touch of creamed corn.

Score: 83

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-04 (KITCHEN TABLE)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Deep creamy rye accents and sweet vanilla form the initial plume of aroma with soft oak smoke – like boards being dried in the sun – piercing through. Further in there is floral pepper and a citrusy aspect, with light touches of lemon meringue and zesty orange peels, a bit of leathery oaky sweetness, and subtle caramel.

Palate: Rich and citrusy with a lemon and vanilla cream arrival before a light nuttiness develops.  There is a pinch of a noticeable brown sugar note and floral spice, with the spice coming off as black pepper.  The flavors are creamy and thick.  Light barrel char and faint smoke blend into the thick body, like brown sugar seared in a light butter.

Finish: Bold creamy citrus notes blend with candied vanilla and a pinch of caramel. There is a floral honeyed sweetness and an earthy peanut note with faint sweet corn and a touch of gourmet baking spices.  Next is a boozy heat that blends with the wood tannins in a fun sweet and spicy way.  There are subtle undertones of zesty orange rind and pine with just the slightest pinch of anise spice….very forward rye notes, but the creamy sweets and tart citrus notes provide nice contrast before the finish fades out.

Score: 86

Johnny Drum Private Stock

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Forward notes of honey roasted peanuts and freshly shelled walnuts waft out of the glass first. Oak, char, and spice mingle with the sweet nuttiness alongside an odd burnt paper-like note.  There is a subtle vanilla and damp wood undertone.

Palate: Bits of roasted peanuts with a honeyed sweetness lead the way. This is quickly followed by charred paper and toasted oak that covers a very mild vanilla note. As it develops, it transforms into a strange, earthy, vegetal note flecked with ginger.

Finish: This is surprisingly long with cinnamon leading the way mixing with barrel char and a sweet, nutty honey. It then becomes a bit leathery and earthy with hay and fresh corn before finally fading away with hints of sweet vanilla and caramel.

Score: 76

Old Weller Antique

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Soft caramel with hints of vanilla and toasted oak form a classical bourbon aroma and are encapsulated by a nice fresh cherry note that is forward and quite sweet.

Palate: Packed with cherries both natural and artificial in flavor.  The cherry note is very sweet, like they’ve been stored in syrup, but with nice heat from the high proof and a smokey, oaky char cutting through the decadent fruit notes. An undercurrent of vanilla blends with the sweetness and the medium bodied mouthfeel in a way that reminds me of fruit cocktail.

Finish: Hints of ethanol booziness exude from this otherwise sweet drink adding a layer of spice that balances the overall flavor.  The cherries are sharpened into a blade by the alcohol, and this cuts through the candied oak and vanilla present in the finish. The wheated profile lingers softly with pleasant back end barrel spices of light black pepper and a subtle smokiness, and the caramel pops one last time in this medium length finish.

Score: 81

Little Book Batch 2: Noe Simple Task

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Tart apples, honey, black pepper, and toasted nuts form the bulk of the aroma.  The nuttiness is reminiscent of walnuts and peanuts. Deeper in, the more assertive notes give way to light floral tones and faint caramel and burnt sugar with a dash of toasted wood chips.

Palate: Crisp, light, and hot. Somehow chewy and thin at the same time.  Citronella pops first, but it is short lived and followed by wood and toasted walnuts with a bit of peanut brittle.  There is a chewy, almost bubble gum note with black pepper and a light tart apples that develops mid-palate, before being over powered by tannic and peppery notes.

Finish: Very rye forward, with some brown sugar leading the way to a big floral pop and more tartness.  This is aided by charred wood notes and more black pepper spice.  The linger is a bit short for the proof and the age with light butterscotch and leather accents, before fading with an earthy and corn-like note.

Score: 83

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2017-01 (tOMMY’S bATCH)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Caramel and sticky toffee with hints of dried cherries, honey, and wood vanillins.  Further in is a fairly aromatic leather note – like it’s been sitting in the sun for awhile, and just a touch of candied fruit.

Palate:  The arrival is full of notes both creamy and candied, before chewy baking spice notes develop and form a spice cake-like profile.  As it further develops, more assertive flavors of toffee, caramel, and cinnamon graham cracker appear with subtle hints of char, fresh wood, brewed tea, and a touch of mint.  A very mellow fruitiness underlines everything.

Finish:  Initially very sweet with honey, maple, and toffee fading into caramel and vanilla alongside barrel char, baking spice, anise, and herbal tea.  It’s a very refined experience with excellent balance.  The finish is long even for Booker’s, and some faint earthy notes refuse to leave my tongue.

Score: 92

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-02 (BACKYARD BBQ)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Fresh cut cedar wood and leather lead into a sweet brown sugar note that mingles with caramel and vanilla.  It’s warm and inviting with further hints of of maple, butterscotch,  baking spices, and cinnamon.

Palate: Full bodied with big pops of leather and light fresh tobacco, alongside buttery sweet honey and caramel.  On the back end, these notes transition to faint vanilla blended with that signature Beam nuttiness – like peanuts and marzipan.

Finish: A pleasant warmth greets you in the finish with notes of peanuts, vanilla, and oak sugars leading the charge.  Light butterscotch and cedar play sweetly with the bold proof and warm burn before finishing with a simple corn and charred wood note that hearken back to the aptly naked Backyard BBQ moniker they placed on this bottle.

Score: 87

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2017-04 (SIP AWHILE)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Bourbon-y caramel and vanilla lead the charge with strong fresh oak and a tame clove note. There is a light nuttiness like peanuts that combines well with the rich buttery vanilla notes that are already present.

Palate: Very bold with a thick full body of rich cut oak and creamy caramel. The barrel spices and char come to life after the initial sweetness, and play well with vanilla and light butterscotch, before the nutty Beam profile finally shows up in a delicate yet refined roasted peanut note verging on honey nut.

Finish: Big and sweet as this bourbon reminds you it is uncut and unfiltered. The finish is very long with caramel leading the way with a bit of vanilla and rich fresh tobacco notes mixing together in an excellent balance of sweetness and spice. There is some earthy leather and a very faint sweet corn note that lasts a good long while.

Score: 91

Barrell Bourbon Batch 011

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Delicately blended scents of oak and sweet corn drift out of the glass first, before giving way to rich notes of honey, roasted nuts, and caramel.  Deeper in is a slightly zesty citrus note.

Palate:  The arrival is filled with sweet candy corn that bursts on the tongue.  The barrel proof carries the flavor boldly, but the dram is free from much alcohol burn.  As the dram develops, additional notes of caramel, vanilla, honey and oak emerge, with hints of rye spice flirting around the edges.

Finish:  Long lingering with great warmth and depth.  The oak and vanilla hold strong before finally giving way to sweet corn, a bit of spice, and a fun, sweet oakiness.

Score: 88

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B518

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Big blasts of rich buttery toffee and oak. There is a nice caramel and vanilla complex here as well – like a charred cow-tail candy. Noticeable booziness, but it blends well with creamy, lactose-y, under tones to form an overall balanced, full, and enjoyable bourbon aroma.

Palate: Rich caramel rushes forth and mixes with vanilla and wood chips. Very full and creamy with sugary notes of toffee and pie crust. Warming yet fluffy on your tongue as all the flavors merge together like a sweet dark dessert. The mouthfeel is so full that it’s nearly frothy, similar to whipped cream, but the sweetness is cut nicely by the proof of this whiskey, creating a nice balance.

Finish:  Long and warm with charred notes of caramel and vanilla, light wood accents, bold brown sugar and chewy sweet dough – like pie crust baked after being sugared. The dram finally finishes with corn and leather, but in a light and sweet way.

Score: 90

Henry McKenna 10 Year

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Honey, caramel, and cherry candy are most assertive.  Deeper in lie some vanilla, black pepper, oaky sweetness, barrel spice, and an oddly out of place bubblegum note.  The nose is permeated by a fair amount of ethanol heat that, while it makes itself known, is not too detracting.

Palate:  Fresh cut wood and sweet brown sugar greet the palate alongside a bit of heat before caramel and a big burst of peppery spice emerge.  Underneath is a nice layer of soft charred vanilla marshmallow.  The flavor is intense and more reminiscent of something bolder than 100 proof.

Finish:  Nutty – almonds or pecans – and full of vanilla alongside more of that big black pepper spiciness.  Further evolves to display bold toasted oak and faint notes of sweet caramel, honey, corn, and bubblegum.

Score: 80

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year (2017 Release)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Rich, gourmet caramel and oak, with sweet, creamy, butter cream and vanilla frosting.  Molasses and brown sugar are noticeable, as well as a hint of coconut and chocolate reminiscent of Almond Joy candy bars.

Palate:  Big, oily, rich butter and caramel fill the arrival with a warming burn carrying a wave of flavor.  Not as sweet as the nose indicated, with more of a toasted, dry oak mingled with the rich, creamy caramel and faint butterscotch.

Finish:  Creamy and buttery with plenty of lingering caramel and corn.  The finish is sweeter than the palate and reminds me of caramel covered popcorn.  The finish is epically long with a bit of warming spice and a tartness from the oak lingering seemingly forever.

Score: 87

Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  A bit of alcohol heat emanates from the glass, but it is not so strong as to inhibit a full and proper nosing.  The aroma carries distinct notes of citrusy lemon, pencil shavings, sweet nutty frosting, and faint toffee.  There is just a touch of bubblegum in there as well.

Palate:  The entry contains some spice-laden dill, but as the dram develops it expresses further notes of oak sugars, peanut brittle, sweet butterscotch, and accent notes of charred spice and tart corn.  The body is warm and full, providing an excellent mouth feel.

Finish:  Spicy and creamy with a nice dose of vanilla extract, tart oak, peanuts, and caramel.  There’s a faint smokiness intertwined.  The finish is quite long, and it dries out as it lingers with fading notes of sweet corn and leather.

Score: 84

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Mild cherry and honeyed sweetness with a nice subtle floral note woven through it.  Under the sweetness is a fresh, green sapling wood note that’s a bit tart, along with a touch of black pepper.

Palate:  Light caramel, toffee, and vanilla give way to tart cherries, charred oak and black pepper.  The collage of flavors blend together well.  A bit of honey and cinnamon come through as the dram fully develops.

Finish:  While fairly short, the finish is eventful.  Cherry bubblegum lingers alongside an earthy cream corn note and a bit of peppery sour oak.  All in all, the finish is a tad rough and dry.

Score: 63

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-01 (KATHLEEN’S BATCH)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  A big initial blast of fruit – cherries and forest berries – mingled with sweet oak, vanilla, an earthy nuttiness, and leather.  Further in, there is a Springtime floral note, cocoa, and honey.

Palate:  Buttery and rich.  Leather and floral sweetness great the tongue upon entry before opening up into chewy, oaky, vanilla sweetness, barrel spice, bits of char, and hints of anise adding a dark bite to this sweet dram.  Nuts, light caramel, and tart cherry round out the flavors on the palate.

Finish:  Bold and oaky with a good, full chest warming hug.  Filled with vanilla and caramel.  Almost all of the fruit dissipates quickly, but a nice spicy complex lingers – tobacco, char, woodspice, leather, and candied peanuts.

Score: 87

Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Crisp apple and light oak initially explode from the glass.  Making their way up next are caramel and vanilla in equal parts with a candied fruit undertone I find somewhat akin to butterscotch-covered granny smith apples.

Palate: A touch thin with an entry note of briny, oaky, crisp apple peels.  As it develops, a bit of barrel spice and char come through alongside earthy butterscotch and caramel with hints of pepper.  The flavor is easy going and approachable.

Finish: Creamy oak and vanilla that are on the thinner side, but followed by a nice caramel and crisp green apple.  The dram lingers with a good sweet corn and butterscotch for a short span of time that is not quite as long as I’d hoped for.

Score: 79

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch A118

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Deep and buttery oak up front with caramel, vanilla, and butterscotch following the big blasts of fresh wood. With the swells of oak there is a richness that reminds me of much older whiskeys before giving way to peppery spice and wood from the barrel. It is very pungent with a hefty dose of ethanol burn.

Palate: Very rich and buttery as the whiskey shows off its age statement. Vanilla and fresh cut wood come on strong, followed by waves of sweetness before tapering off to the more mature side of this drink. The flavors that follow are a bit more tart and spicy with deep pepper-like notes alongside some caramel. There is a nice fade back to dark vanilla extract and bold oak with some nuttiness reminiscent of almond or walnut.

Finish: Rich caramel nougat and vanilla.  Sweet at first before fading to a bit more of a refined and somewhat tannic wood note. The spice comes in strong with the proof of this whiskey showing itself a bit peppery, woodsy, and faintly floral.   Finally, at the end of this marathon finish, a bit of a mild tobacco, creamed corn, and a nice nuttiness linger.  There is a lot of depth to enjoy to this finish.

Score: 88

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Caramel and warm oaky pleasantries mingle with equally strong notes of butterscotch, brown sugar, corn and a light vanilla.

Palate:  Big and rich body as the proof levitates the liquid over your tongue. There is a nice buttery caramel note with plenty of vanilla, similar to a warm cream soda, with full oak notes in the background. A bit of fruity zest like orange or banana peel rounds things out.

Finish:  Caramel candies and oak pervade with an earthy tobacco before transitioning to baked nut bread. This finish is big and long and ends with a candy corn like note and a bit of banana foster.

Score: 90

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Rye

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Rich butterscotch and caramel come right out with dark toasted oak, spice, brown sugar and molasses. The vanilla is prominent too and smells very similar to a cake or cookies being baked.

Palate: Thick, full and creamy.  The dark spices dominate this dram with brown sugar, caramel and a good pepper rye bite.  A black pepper-like taste pervades underneath with charred oak mixed in.

Finish: Rich gourmet butterscotch, toffee and vanilla blend together excellently with the spicy wood character of this drink. I think the toasted barrel aspect is most prevalent in the finish, which is also very long.

Score: 87

Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2016-06 (Noe Hard Times)

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose: Full and rich cream, mild oak, and light citrus, a touch of sweet corn with a hint of ethanol that dissipates quickly.  With the ethanol dissipitated, some peppery rye spices and a little sweet brown sugar and fresh shelled nuts come in.

Palate: Creamy sweets and rye spices coat your tongue, with the spices more at the end of the sip than right up front. There are some hints of toasted nuts and oak, with citrus and vanilla also hanging out in the background,  before you get a little light tobacco and soft leather on the tail end.

 Finish: Deep and thick with pleasant creamy rye spices. The oak and vanilla wrap this up with caramel and a little burn that reminds you it’s 128 proof. It’s long and complex transforming from cream to sweet corn notes before fading to that peppery rye spice that blends so excellently with the sweet corn.

Score: 90

1792 Sweet Wheat

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Alcohol prickle creeps up first but is quickly followed by sweet fruitiness.  Almost like a thumbprint cookie, sweet elements dominate here.  The fruit is strong and reminds me of a fruit punch medley with warm vanilla and light toffee underneath.

Palate:  Sweet, light and thin.  The oak is present initially, followed by the sweet fruit punch flavor which pulls this whiskey along your palate.  There is some caramel and vanilla mixed with the fruit and wheat.  This dram shines mid-palate when the sweet vanilla really hits the fruitiness. There’s an odd touch of sourness like wine or maybe apples before it leaves you with a nice pie crust flavor.

Finish:  Lots of soft and fresh literal wheat notes here, alongside fruit and vanilla with a little cream to it-almost custard like, then it goes to that warm baked pie crust I noticed at the tail end of the palate.

Score: 70

Little Book Batch 1: The Easy

Reviewed by: Bobby Long

Nose:  Cream, toasted nuts, peanut brittle, and spices at the beginning.  It transitions from there into oak, leather, tobacco, and a hint of citrus.

Body: Big and bold profile with sweet oak and peanuts upfront then some rye like spices and cream. The darker notes – tobacco and leather – come out mid palate, along with some vanilla and a peppery spice.

Finish: Toasted nuts and rye spice with a little cream.  It finishes long and sweet with vanilla and oak and a peppery like spice that balances the sweetness well.

Score: 88

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve –
13 years R2-BDub

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

This is a store pick from Liquor Barn – 13 years R2-BDub

Nose: Starts out sweet and savory with brown sugar and butter, followed by vanilla, caramel and a hint of cherries.

Palate: Fresh roasted peanuts and more vanilla, salted caramel, leather, and oak.

Finish: Long, dry and spicy with notes of oak and cinnamon. Another great Liquor Barn pick.

Stagg Jr. Batch #8 – 129.5 proof

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: vanilla, caramel, fudge brownies and a hint of cherries.

Palate More fudge brownies, cherry cola, caramel, and vanilla.

Finish: Long and spicy with dry oak, barrel char, aged leather, and cinnamon.

Little Book Batch 1: The Easy

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: roasted peanuts, fresh corn, caramel corn, baked bread, citrus, tobacco, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Palate: A thick mouthfeel with caramel, cocoa, coffee, and vanilla. Cinnamon spice at the mid-palate, reminiscent of Red Hots candy.

Finish: Sweet and smokey, with more cinnamon, cocoa, fresh oak, and leather.

This bottle is getting more interesting with air time.

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year (2017 Release)

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: Caramel popcorn that has been drenched in sweet cream butter, notes of finely aged full grain leather, dates and cherries.

Palate: Dark fruit, caramel popcorn, tobacco, finely aged full grain leather and oak tannins.

Finish: Sweet and smooth for its age, hints of vanilla and oak on the very end.

Thanks to Aaron Hajduk for giving me the opportunity to sample this fine bourbon. 🥃

Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon Bottled-in-Bond

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: slight alcohol burn, fresh sweet corn, green apple, vanilla, salted caramel, walnuts, and oak.

Palate: caramel, and more toasted oak, green apple, spearmint, walnut, cinnamon, and clove. 

Finish: is long and spicy with dry oak, cinnamon, salted caramel and a touch of spearmint.

Four Roses Small Batch

Reviewed by: Scott Ritenbaugh

Nose: apples, pears, a floral essence, as well as vanilla and caramel.

Palate: more pears, vanilla, caramel, oak, and pleasant baking spice, possibly nutmeg.

Finish:is long and sweet with more pears and caramel. This is my favorite Four Roses bottling, very consistent. 🥃