Reviews

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 021

Barrell Bourbon batch 021 comes to us as a blend of 10-14-year-old straight bourbon whiskies distilled and aged in Tennessee and Kentucky. The 10-year-old barrels used in this batch featured an oak-forward character. Eighteen 14-year-old barrels were added to bring a bit of balance to the final blend. The resulting batch comes in at 106.34 proof (53.17% abv).

The nose starts with a big butterscotch note soon accompanied by hints of English breakfast tea, spice, and ripe berries, with a tinge of lemon peel. It’s deep but lively. On the palate, dark berries mingle with vanilla and molasses. Spices build but don’t overpower. The long, dry finish features oak tannins, leather, and dried fruit.

The webpage for this batch mentions it’s a “wonderfully autumnal bourbon, built on a dry toasty backbone with hints of butter and fruit layered in for complexity and contrast.” The description is spot on. I can easily imagine sipping on this batch of Barrell Bourbon in front of a fire on a cool night. It feels like it was designed for precisely this time of year. Another appetizing release from the meticulous minds at Barrell Craft Spirits. Highly recommended.

Barrellbourbon.com

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

Review: Wolves Whiskey (Winter Run)

I love whiskey. Regardless of the type of whiskey, I absolutely enjoy the wonderful aromas and flavors I get in just about every glass. I’m always on the lookout for different, and though new expressions or single barrels are always hitting shelves, they sometimes tend to taste a bit homogenous. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Instead, I use it as a descriptor. For example, I know single barrels of say, Elijah Craig for example, are going to be different, but at the end of the day it’s still going to taste like Elijah Craig. And I like Elijah Craig, but sometimes I want something different.

Cue Wolves Whiskey. Back in May 2019, the first batch of this new whiskey was unleashed on the world. Made from whiskies distilled from beer, Wolves Whiskey was like nothing I’d tasted before (and before you ask, no, I haven’t tasted anything from Charbay).

The “Winter Run” batch of Wolves Whiskey only produced 1,338 bottles. Master Distiller Marko Karakasevic (from Charbay) distilled three of the four whiskies that make up this batch:

  1. 8-year-old whiskey distilled from stout craft beer, aged in French oak
  2. 5-year-old whiskey distilled from finished Pilsner beer, aged in new American oak, char level 3
  3. 9-year-old malt whiskey distilled from two-row malted barley, aged in used French oak
  4. rye whiskey (Whisky Advocate reports this is from MGP)

The resulting whiskey was cut to 52% ABV (104 proof) with “mineral rich water of Mendocino County”. Like last time, the bottle is wrapped in Italian sheepskin leather… a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The nose features hints of hops, vanilla, dried fruit, and honey with a slightly floral undertone. The palate starts out sweet. Lemon cake and almonds meet hops and rich cocoa. A touch of oak spice and tobacco leaf develop on the back-palate. The long, bright finish features orange peel and sweet hops.

When I say this whiskey is different, I mean it. It’s rich, hoppy, and a bit citrusy. There was definitely a lot of care and attention that went into the distillation of the component whiskies, but the finesse of putting together this blend deserves a standing ovation. The Wolves team (James Bond and Jon Buscemi) should be proud of this release. I dig it more than the first blend, which from memory was more hoppy and a bit spicier. “Winter Run” feels more complete and rounded. Well done! If you’re interested in a bottle, you’d better order one from Flaviar.com or ReserveBar.com now before they’re gone. The first batch sold out rather quickly.

wolveswhiskeyca.com

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

Review: GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 and Cask Strength Batch 8

Photo courtesy of Glendronach

As the air starts to turn crisp, my urge to grab a bottle of sherried malt grows. Mind you, I enjoy a quality sherried malt year round. But, there’s something about the fruit cake characteristic of a sherry bomb that screams autumn dram. Thankfully, The GlenDronach has just released a couple of new expressions to quench my thirst.

The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993

This single malt has slowly matured in Andalucian casks for a quarter of a century. The Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso casks that make up this bottling were hand selected by GlenDronach Master Blender Rachel Barrie and bottled at 48.2% ABV. These casks were filled and laid to rest in 1993.

The dark, heavy nose carries aromas of dried fruit, dark toffee, sultanas, and cocoa. On the palate, I agree with the whisky’s official tasting notes of “cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche brightened by a twist of baked orange rind and the juiciness of prune oil.” The finish is long and accompanied by hints of espresso roast and raisins.

The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 hit the spot. It’s rich, dark, fruity, and sumptuous – everything I look for in an old sherried malt. I do like the slight brightness offered by the orange note. It plays well against the whisky’s darker nature. Great on it’s own, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 becomes incredible when paired with a quality Comté. Highly recommended! $350

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 8

The second of the distillery’s recent releases is The Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 8. Bottled at 61% ABV, this cask strength whisky has matured in Pedro Ximenez puncheons, quarter casks, and Oloroso sherry butts for at least ten years. The result is a robust, full-bodied whisky.

Hints of slightly burned caramel, toasted oak, and stewed fruit are found on the nose. Taste-wise, chocolate-covered cherries meet sweet malt and a dark honey note. Dried fruits (raisins, prunes) develop on the mid-palate along with a sprinkling of spice. The long, warm finish sees hints of toasted oak, coffee, and orange peel.

The last cask strength sherried whisky I tasted was too young, bright, and vibrant. That’s not a problem here. Though not as complex as its 25-year-old sibling, this cask strength bottling is firing on all cylinders. It delivers fruity, malty notes in a more concentrated form. The cask strength whisky is extremely drinkable at 61%, but a splash of water doesn’t hurt. Lovely stuff, especially given its $95 SRP. By the way, try this whisky with Parmigiano-Reggiano. You won’t regret it.

glendronachdistillery.com

Thanks to The GlenDronach for the samples, and to Gabriela for the cheese pairing recommendations. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.