Reviews

Review: Booker’s “Pigskin Batch” 2020-03

The latest batch from the continuously impressive Booker’s pays homage to one of Booker Noe’s favorite sports – football. Late master distiller Booker Noe played football in high school, and even practiced with the University of Kentucky when he attended college – though was was not on the team. That’s talent!

The youngest barrels in this batch are 6 years, 7 months, and 7 days old. Barrels came from two production dates aged in five different rackhouse locations. The brand’s generously shared more info on this:

  • 14% came from the 6th floor of 7-story warehouse L
  • 15% came from the 6th floor of 9-story warehouse H
  • 27% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse M
  • 32% came from the 4th floor of 7-story warehouse X
  • 12% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse Z

Coming in uncut and unfiltered at 127.3 proof, Booker’s “Pigskin Batch” boasts hints of brown sugar, ripe red fruit, and vanilla on the nose. Bittersweet dark chocolate meets vanilla on the entry. Hints of charred corn, caramel, and a ever-so-slight smokiness round out the palate. A little airtime reveals roasted peanuts. The long finish adds chocolate-covered oranges and vanilla.

Though quite enjoyable at cask strength, a splash of water brings things to a more comfortable drinking experience. Booker’s Pigskin Batch seems to be more complex than the two previous batches of 2020, both of which were pretty good. Its darker character a slight departure from the “standard” Booker’s flavor profile, but it still tastes very much like Booker’s should. An extremely delicious release, and one I hope to enjoy while the New Orleans Saints tear down the Bucs for yet ANOTHER time this season.

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

Review: Starward Solera

Photo courtesy of Starward

Melbourne-based Starward has been doing some interesting things as of late. The distillery is keen on showcasing what Australia has to offer, maturing their whiskies in Australian wine casks. It certainly highlights the terrior. Their latest, Solera, sees their single malt whisky matured in Apera casks. Apera is an Australian fortified wine. It’s their version of sherry-cask maturation, so to speak.

Bottled at 43% ABV, Solera features caramelized orchard fruits on the nose. They sit alongside hints of vanilla and sweet malt notes. The whisky doesn’t seem too dimensional, until you taste it. Lovely juicy fruit meets figs and raisin on entry. It’s bright fruit accompanied by denser, darker fruit. An undercurrent of creamy caramel adds richness. The backplate sees an introduction of burnt orange peel and a sprinkling of baking spices. The finish sees more of those darker fruits come to the forefront along with a tighter concentration of spice.

Solera might be my favorite of what I’ve tasted from Starward. Like I mentioned above, it reminds me of a nice sherried malt… but different. I love the mix of bright and dark fruit notes. They sit well with the building spice notes. At an SRP of $70, this is a no brainer for sherried malt fans.

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

Review: Barrell Bourbon New Year 2021

My very first pour of the new year is the aptly named New Year from Barrell Bourbon. It’s a blend the whiskey producer puts together each fall to celebrate the new year. The 2021 edition features 5, 9, 10, and 11-year-old bourbon from Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, New York, Texas, Wyoming, and Colorado. As always, this expression is bottled at a cask strength of 113.9 proof.

The fresh nose features sweet corn mash peppered with caramel undertones and hints of ripe fruit and herbs. The high proof lends to a nicely textured and pleasant mouthfeel. No dilution needed here. Taste-wise, Barrell Bourbon New Year 2021 starts with a burst of caramel corn. Red fruit develops mid-palate, adding more character. There’s a lack of big baking spices here (hints of cinnamon poke through now and then), though minty and slightly earthy notes emerge on the back palate alongside some oak tannins. The finish is long, sweet, and fruity.

What a fantastic way to kick off the whiskey year! This edition is vibrant and grain forward, but doesn’t come across as immature. Far from it. The addition of the older casks here certainly balance things out and add some seasoning to the blend. Nice job from Barrell Bourbon.

barrellbourbon.com

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