Author: Bobby

Hello. My name's Bobby, and I'm no whiskey expert. I'm here to share my thoughts as a novice whiskey enthusiast. So, when I try new whiskies (mostly bourbons), I'll tell you about them here.

A Look Back at 2019

As the year concludes, lots of bloggers and publications are putting out their “best of” lists. Instead, I’d rather reflect on the past twelve months. It’s been a rather remarkable year. Here are a few standouts.

I was fortunate enough to see Scotland for the first time in an unforgettable manner that included touring three distilleries(Oban, Talisker, and Glen Ord) and a helicopter ride to Skye. In the spring, my wife accompanied me to the picturesque Maker’s Mark distillery, and I’m glad she garnered a new appreciation for the bourbon.

As far as whiskies, there were a few highlights. In the single malt Scotch arena, as sad as I was to see the Old Pulteney lineup placed into the archives, their new core lineup proved exciting. Highland Park knocked it out of the park with their Twisted Tattoo, which partially matured in Spanish red wine casks. Diageo stepped up their Game of Thrones collection with an exquisite 15-year-old Mortlach. Laphroaig killed it with their latest Cairdeas release, a cask-strength version of their Triple wood bottling.

On the bourbon side, Barrell released delicious batch after delicious batch of bourbon. Michter’s expanded delicous toasted barrel lineup wiht the addition of their Sour Mash whiskey. It’s a winning formula, in my humble opinion. Heaven Hill dropped a delicous new 7-year bottled-in-bond bourbon as well as a beauty of a whiskey in Larceny Barrel Proof. And don’t forget Maker’s RC6 release… wow. Some of the most interesting stuff coming from that distillery. Another standout – Booker’s 30th anniverary. It was nice to taste some older whiskey still centered around the vanilla-centric Booker’s taste profile. Little Book Chapter 3 is another release worth mentioning. It was a blend of Knob Creek, Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden. The result was some of the best bourbon from Jim Beam I’ve tasted in a while. Buffalo Trace released a “low proof” George Stagg, which still managed to deliver a big, robust whiskey-drinking experience.

While we’re talking about Kentucky, I have to mention Copper & King’s A Song for You. That brandy was so delicous, I’m still thinking about it months after finishing off the bottle.

As far as rye whiskey is concerned, two releases really stood out for me. First was Michter’s barrel strength rye. It was big, rich, spicy, and most importantly, quite tasty. Second is probably my favorite WhistlePig to date – a New Orleans Bourbon Festival single barrel pick. That barrel was everything I like about WhistlePig turned up to eleven.

Of course, there were other delicious releases last year, but these stood out just a bit more. 2019 was a great year, and I’m excited about the possibilities of the upcoming one.

Lastly, thanks for being a loyal reader of this blog. Cheers to you, and have a happy new year.

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits Bourbon (2019)

For the second year in a row, I managed to snag a bottle of Barrell Craft Spirits bourbon, and I’m glad I did. Like last year’s edition, this 2019 offering is 15-years-old. It is made up of bourbon distilled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana and bottled at cask strength (106.52 proof).

The nose is sweet, rich, and oaky. Dark fruit meets fresh ginger under a dark maple syrup note. Aromatic oak is present, as expected, but no overpowering. The oak comes alive on the palate, followed quickly by a rich syrupy note. Vanilla extract and dark honey are joined by cocoa and cigar box notes. The long finish is fully of oak spice and toasted marshmallow.

I enjoyed this bottling as much as the inaugural 2018 edition. It’s a fine example of older bourbon. The oak notes are tempered by those dark and fruity notes, making for a sweet and rich whiskey. Nicely done! Recommended.

Review: Larceny Barrel Proof (Batch A120)

Starting in January 2020, Heaven Hill will release the new Larceny Barrel Proof three times a year, with other batches also arriving every May and September. Just like the standard Larceny release, this barrel proof edition is aged six to eight years. The barrel proof edition of Heaven Hill’s wheated mash bill bourbon is also non-chill filtered. It joins a small market of high-proof wheated bourbons competing against Maker’s Mark Cask Strength and W. L. Weller Full Proof.

Batches will utilize the same naming convention as Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. The first letter represents the batch release number for the year, followed by the month and year. In this case, A120 means this is the first batch, released in January 2020.

Batch A120 is bottled at 123.2 proof, or 61.62% abv. It starts rolling out to markets in January for a suggested retail price of $49.99.

There are hints of brown sugar, kettle corn, nutmeg, and cola on the nose. The soft, sweet approach of Larceny is apparent here, though presented in a much richer iteration. The palate first sees hints of spiced caramel, brioche, and vanilla. A bit of oak spice and slight astringency lead us to the short finish, which features a lingering barrel char and toffee note.

Larceny Barrel Proof does a nice job of transforming its approachable lower-proofed sibling into a much richer experience. The added proof points amplify the caramelized sugar quality of the whiskey. If you’re a fan of easy-drinking wheaters but are looking for a bit more oomph, place Larceny Barrel Proof in your sights. It’s an easy recommendation, especially for the $50 price tag. Just don’t expect a deep, complex bourbon.

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.