Reviews

Review: Michter’s 10-year-old Rye Whiskey (2018)

Michter’s has released their coveted 10-year-old rye whiskey for the first time in more than a year.  The single barrel expression consistently ranks among my favorite rye whiskies. Just like the last time, Michter’s 10-year-old rye barrels were selected by Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson and approved by Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann.

Though Michter’s is currently distilling at their new distillery (a place I really need to visit), the stocks that make up this whiskey came through contract distilling.  That’s different from sourcing whiskey.  Contract distilling means making your whiskey at an existing distillery to your specifications (mash bill, unique yeast strain, etc).

Bottled at 46.4% ABV, or 93.8 proof, Michter’s 10yr rye undergoes the company’s “signature filtration.”  My sample bottle came from barrel no. 18E559.

The nose on this whiskey always does it for me – dark, rich caramels with an abundance of baking spices like nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom, as well as a bit of toasted oak.  On the palate, the whiskey doesn’t disappoint.  Layers and layers of dark caramel wash over the front palate as those lovely spice notes ramp up in intensity.  A little bit of toasted rye is present, as is a touch of vanilla pod.  A dark chocolate note appears mid-palate, along with a touch of leather and oak.  The finish features more caramel alongside toasted coconut,  dried fruit, and spice.

Michter’s has another winner on their hands with this expression.  It keeps in line with a richness found in a lot of Michter’s whiskies.  Decadent is a great descriptor here.  Quite lovely.  A bottle runs a suggested retail price of $160, and I think it’s worth every penny.  Nicely done.  9/10

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

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Review: Speyburn 15-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky

My introduction to Speyburn a couple of years ago came in the form of its 10-year-old and NAS expressions.  Their light and approachable character was matched with their very affordable price tag.  Flavor-wise, it’s like a sort of second cousin to Glenmorangie 10yr, without the floral notes.  What’s not to love!

The brand’s core range grew with the recent addition of a 15-year-old single malt.  Priced at $65, Speyburn 15yr is still easy on the wallet.  It matured in a combination of American oak and Spanish oak (read ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) casks.

The nose hints at a creamy whisky, with vanilla, orange peel, and dried fruit.  It reminds me of a custard dessert like a crème caramel.  On the palate, creamy toffee and vanilla kick things off.  Developing soon after are spice notes, dried fruits and semi-sweet chocolate.  Bitter orange appears on the back palate.  The long finish is warm, with hints of creamy vanilla and orange peel.

Compared to its younger 10-year-old sibling, Speyburn 15-year-old manages to bring a slightly darker and elegant quality to the table – the toffee’s a bit darker, more spice, and the addition of dark chocolate.  The dried fruit add even more complexity.

I’m a fan, even with the $30 – $40 markup for an extra five years of maturation.  It is still cheaper than a lot of 15-year-old single malts on the market.  Speyburn is value-driven without sacrificing quality, and that’s something I always appreciate.  Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Speyburn.com

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

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Review: Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey (Batch 2)

Shortly after receiving a lot of generally positive buzz from its initial offering of rye whiskey, Kentucky Owl has released batch two. The sourced whiskey, a Kentucky straight rye, is 11 years old and bottled at 101.8 proof, or 50.9% ABV. The company does not disclose which distillery (or distilleries) the whiskey came from. A bottle of this batch of Kentucky Owl should cost you about $200.

I do love a nicely aged rye whiskey, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The nose features hints of toasted rye grain, toffee, cherry and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Those notes carry over onto the palate. Juicy red cherries and toffee kick things off, developing into a melange of baking spices. The very notable rye grain character is ever present. Things start to become a touch dry on the back palate, with hints of leather and oak being added to the mix. The long finish is dry, warming, and a bit spicy.

All in all, Kentucky Owl rye whiskey batch two is a wonderful example of a well-aged rye whiskey, a category that doesn’t include many entries these days. My only concern is the whiskey’s suggested price of $200. It’s a big increase in price from batch one.

Keep in mind that, while price does not influence the score, it’s hard to justify a purchase at that price. I paid $135 for my bottle, which is well below the suggested retail price and much, much lower than the secondary market price. I know older rye whiskies are hard to come by these days, and people are happy to pay for them. Just good old capitalism at work, I suppose. As for me, it’s a hard pass at $200. But at the $135 price I paid, I’d happily purchase another.

8.5/10