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.

Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel (Maisano’s)

Single barrel whiskey can some of the most unique, flavorful whiskey you can taste. These single barrels can sometimes vary wildly from the brand’s core flavor profile. It could come down to age, warehouse location, or even the barrel itself. Store owners, or those choosing barrels, must sometimes make a decision to choose something close to the brand’s familiar profile to please a wider customer base or they can select something more interesting.

In the case of this Knob Creek selection, Jonathan Maisano of Maisano’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Ocean Springs, Mississippi went with the latter. I know because I offered my opinion during the barrel selection. During this year’s New Orleans Bourbon Festival, Jonathan and I tasted through several barrels of Knob Creek with Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and his son Freddie.

All six barrel samples were varying degrees of delicious. However, for my tastes, one barrel presented itself as ‘the one’ by all parties involved. This barrel, number 6740, matured for 14 years and two months on the third floor of warehouse X. The barrel selection proof was 124.5, which is really close to the final bottling proof of 120.

The nose features hints of spiced cherries, dark brown sugar and caramel, cinnamon stick and sweet toasted oak. Dark notes dominate the palate: brown sugar, dark chocolate-covered cherries, molasses, and vanilla. A touch of burnt orange peel and leather show on the mid-palate, followed by dusty oak and some more spice heading into the back-palate. The finish is long, with barrel char, tobacco and molasses notes lingering.

What I find fascinating about this barrel is the fact that being so old, its oak notes do not dominate in the least. Those dark, heavy notes are here in spades. As much as I enjoyed Knob Creek 25th Anniversary, this barrel blows it away.

Now for the bad news. As of the writing of this post, which happens to be the day after the barrel pick was released, less than 10 bottles remained in stock. That is not only the sign of a beautiful single barrel of whiskey, but of a store’s loyal fanbase. This one is easily the best Knob Creek Single Barrel bourbon I’ve tasted. 9.5/10

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Review: Chivas Regal Mizunara

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Chivas Regal’s latest addition to their US portfolio is Chivas Regal Mizunara.  Mizunara is a Japanese Oak.  It’s generally not used outside of Japan, which makes Chivas one of the first wave of Scotch whiskies utilizing the oak.  In this case, a portion of this blended whisky is finished in Mizunara.  You might recall a Bowmore Mizunara a couple of years back.  It too was finished in this eastern oak, which tends to add some spice notes.

This new expression from the big blending house is bottled at 40% ABV and available for a suggested price of $45.  Chivas has always been an approachable whisky.  Let’s see how this one fares.

The somewhat muted nose features hints of vanilla, cloves, light toffee, and a greenish grain note, suggesting some young whisky in the blend.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the price.  The palate fares a bit better with waves of spiced toffee, sweet grain,  anise, and dried apricot.  The mid-palate does come across as a bit thin.  Chivas Regal Mizunara carries a short, clean finish.

It was interesting to taste spicier notes than what I usually find in a Chivas Regal blend, and that’s thanks to the Mizunara oak finish.  However, the brand only finished part of this whisky in said oak.  What’s in the bottle is pleasant enough, but at the same time non-offensive and maybe a bit bland.  A slightly higher ABV might have made for a better tasting experience.  Chivas Regal Mizunara should appeal to people who don’t like bold whiskies.  7/10

Chivas.com

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

Review: Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye

Beam Suntory Inc Rye Bottle

Photo courtesy of Beam Suntory

Closing out the year, Knob Creek has dropped another special edition rye.  Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye Whiskey takes their fully-matured rye whiskey and adds it to a new charred oak barrel for a short secondary maturation period.

You might remember Jim Beam Double Oak.  That saw the standard white label Jim Beam finished in a new, charred barrel.  Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye is the second time the distillery has finished its whiskey in a new barrel, but first time for the brand.

Bottled at 100 proof, KC Twice Barreled Rye showcases some red fruit and baking spice on the nose alongside brown sugar and toasted rye grain.  On the palate, the whiskey is rich.  Maple and brown sugar intermingle with waves of rye grain, stewed orchard fruit, and toasted oak.  A squeeze of fresh orange essence is felt on the back palate.  The warm medium-long finish maintains a caramel and oaky note.

While I absolutely adore the bourbon side of Knob Creek, I’ve recently felt its standard rye whiskey was a bit… boring.  The second barrel finish here has breathed new life into the whiskey.  Flavors and aromas are a bit more robust.  More sweetness and oak complexity is most welcome and add up to a more pleasant tasting experience versus the standard rye.  Simply put, for the $45 asking price, I can’t recommend Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye enough.  8.5/10

Knobcreek.com

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