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: Barrell Bourbon Batch 019

Nine and a half is a number Barrell Bourbon should embrace. It’s the age of the company’s 19th batch of bourbon. Wow… we’re at 19 already. It harkens to some of my favorite batches. Notice I didn’t say ‘best batches.’ Each batch of Barrell Bourbon is intentionally unique, featuring a different flavor profile than the batch before. So far, it’s been a winning strategy.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 019 comes from whiskies distilled in Kentucky and Tennessee and aged 9.5 to 14 years. It’s bottled at cask strength, as always. In this case it’s 109.4 proof.

The nose is full of praline, grilled corn-on-the-cob, green pepper, and butterscotch. Taste-wise, we’re looking at buttered corn and roasted peanuts upfront. Some fruit sweetness arrives mid-palate along with a hint of spice. A touch of dried herbs mingle with oak tannin and leather on the back palate, leading to a long, warm, and slightly dry finish.

I really appreciate the lack of inherent sweetness on this whiskey. It’s a nice change of pace. There’s an interesting earthiness here, most likely due to the 14-year-old barrels that make up part of this batch. What we have here is a big, oily bourbon full of dried fruit, herbs, peanuts, and oak spice. What’s not to like about that?

Fifteen minutes after taking my last sip, the finish is still with me. That’s the mark of good whiskey. Recommended! 8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

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

Review: Booker’s Bourbon “Shiny Barrel Batch” 2019-02

Back in the day, when late Master Distiller Booker Noe would walk through the warehouses looking for ‘honey barrels,’ he’d look for shiny ones. Why shiny? Distillery warehouse workers would occasionally sneak a sip from barrels. As they thieved some whiskey, they’d rub up against the barrel and remove the dust… hence shiny barrels. The shinier the barrel, the more its contents had been sampled by the warehouse workers. It’s one of the ways Noe knew which barrels to look at first when batching together his namesake whiskey. Most of those barrels were found in the center of the warehouses.

“Shiny Barrel Batch” is 6 years, 5 months, and a day old and bottled at cask strength – 124 proof.

After the previous batch being dominated by its nutty quality, Booker’s has shifted coarse back to a balanced bourbon with this batch. The nose features hints of vanilla bean, red fruit, caramel corn, and a bit of oak. The entry is a bit fiery at first, but calms slightly and presents notes of buttered corn, vanilla cream, and caramel. Red fruit and tobacco leaf appear in the mid-palate alongside some oak spice and Beam’s roasted peanut note. The latter is presented in its usual supporting nature as opposed to dominating. The finish is long with lingering hints of spiced caramel and oak.

I’m happy to report Booker’s “Shiny Barrel Batch” is more balanced than the previous batch. It’s classic Booker’s – big, bold, boisterous, flavorful, and balanced. Recommended! 8/10

Bookersbourbon.com

Thanks to Booker’s for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Orphan Barrel Forager’s Keep

Photo credit: Diageo

We’re now five years into the Orphan Barrel brand’s existence. Wow, time certainly seems to fly by. The brand’s purpose was to showcase older or “forgotten” barrels. We’ve seen lots of bourbon and even a little Canadian whisky released under the brand’s umbrella. A few releases have been great, others not so much, and most lying somewhere in-between. Since the 2014 introduction of the brand, I’ve held my breath for a single malt release, as owner Diageo’s malt distillery profile is quite bountiful.

Now I can breathe easy.

Forager’s Keep, the latest Orphan Barrel entry, is a 26-year-old single malt whisky from the Pittyvaich distillery. You might not recognize the distillery, as it’s output was sent for blending in Bell’s. The single malt bottlings that did exist were very few and far between.

Also, Pittyvaich doesn’t exist anymore. It closed down in 1993 after only 18 years in operation and was demolished in 2002. The reasoning basically came down to the distillery being “surplus to requirements,” according to the excellent Whiskypedia section at Scotchwhisky.com.

Forager’s Keep is bottled at 48% ABV and priced at $399 a bottle. Not bad considering the age and rarity of the whisky. In fact, this whisky aged longer than the distillery was in existence.

The types of barrels used here have not been disclosed. Based on the color (which looks natural to my eyes) and the taste, I’d guess this whisky is made up of mostly ex-bourbon and refill casks. Maybe, maybe a sprinkling of European oak casks.

The nose is centered around refined orchard fruit aroma upfront. Then, hints of vanilla and light spice (cinnamon and cloves) appear, as do dried herbs and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Just a touch. The whisky comes across as a medium-to-heavy bodied and somewhat viscous on the palate, with hints of butterscotch, pecan, and vanilla ice cream topped with stewed spiced apples and garnished with citrus peel. The fruit intensifies as oak spice develops mid-palate alongside a very small earthy note. Light oak spice and apple sauce on the long, warm finish.

I’d mark Forager’s Keep among my favorite of the Orphan Barrel releases. Of course, it stands out as it’s a single malt Scotch and not a bourbon, so it might be a bit unfair to compare. Either way, this is a nicely matured older whisky that showcases the fruit-centric beauty of the late Speyside distillery. This is one bottle I’ll be looking to own. 9.5/10

Orphanbarrel.com

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