Reviews

Review: Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye

The latest Basil Hayden expression, Two by Two Rye, is not a rye whiskey. I can see where a consumer might get confused, thinking he or she is buying a rye whiskey. Simply deleting the word “rye” and naming this Basil Hayden’s Two by Two would have been a more direct approach.

What’s inside is interesting. It’s a blend of straight whiskies: 5-year-old rye, 7-year-old “high rye” , 13-year-old bourbon, and 7-year-old bourbon. The bourbon and rye whiskey blends aren’t new, but are delicious when made well. (See High West’s Bourye and Wild Turkey’s Forgiven.) In keeping with the Basil Hayden tradition, Two by Two Rye is bottled at 40% abv. This whiskey retails for $44.99.

The nose is nice, if a bit muted and a little young, featuring spiced caramel, slightly ‘green’ rye grain, and a touch of burnt sugar. There is more of the same on the palate. Hints of caramel and waxy vanilla meet some baking spice. That green note from the nose is here as well, but in a less upfront way. A bit of toasted cedar develops right before the spicy and slightly dry finish.

I’ve gotta say – this is the first Basil Hayden release that disappointed me. It came across as a bit thin and sort of boring. The thin part had to do with the whiskey’s low proof. That hasn’t hindered the brand’s other expressions, but here it keeps robustness on a very short lease. As for the boring part… the whiskey is not bad. It’s just… okay. There’s nothing exciting here. The aforementioned Forgiven and especially Bourye are big, spicy, and robust, which is what a bourbon and rye blend should be. As for Two by Two Rye, a better choice would be any other Basil Hayden expression. Go for the reliable Basil Hayden’s bourbon with its high rye mash bill, or even the fruitiness of Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye. 6/10

Basilhaydens.com

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

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Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2018 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Laphroaig is a malt one either loves or hates. There’s no in-between. With releases like their annual Cairdeas offering, it’s a great time to be a Laphroaig fan.

This year’s Cairdeas offering was matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks followed by a secondary maturation in fino sherry casks. The resulting whisky is bottled at 51.8% abv. Suggested retail pricing is $79.99.

The nose is vibrant and pungent, with hints of macerated fruit, earthy peat, vanilla, and nuts. On the palate, layers of peat smoke are met with dried fruit, almonds, seaweed, creamy vanilla, and a touch of oak. The finish is semisweet with more of that lovely Laphroaig peat smoke.

Another year, another interesting Cairdeas release from Laphroaig. While it’s not going to convert peat naysayers, Cairdeas Fino Cask Finish should satisfy Laphroaig fans. Me? I like it. 8/10

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

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 016

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Since my first sip of Batch 005, I’ve enjoyed following the whiskey journey that Barrell takes me on.  They aren’t concerned with consistency of flavors between batches.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Every batch is different.  Flavor profile, age, proof… it changes with every release.

For Batch 016, straight bourbon whiskies from Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky were batched together, with the youngest being 9 years 9 months old.  Barrels that were 11 and 15-years-old were also used in the blend.  As always, Barrell bourbon releases are bottled at cask strength.  Here it’s 105.8 proof.

This batch is very fruit forward.  It’s quite evident on the nose, with hints of orange peel, fresh apricots, and apple jam.  A sprinkling of spice and oak add a little oomph.  Even though this is cask strength, there is no need to add water.  I find the 105.8 proof perfectly drinkable.  Taste-wise, hints of key lime pie and orange marmalade paint a picture of sweet and sour.  Toffee, oak spice, and dark roasted coffee (reminds me of Starbucks Cafe Verona blend) round things out.  The finish is warm and sticks around a while, with lingering notes of macerated berries and mineral water.

Thumbs up here.  I really like the roundness of the whiskey as much as I enjoy the big fruit notes showcased.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is another beautiful blend by Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Head Distiller Tripp Stimson.  Keep it going, fellas.  Recommended! 8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

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

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