review

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: Game of Thrones Six Kingdoms Mortlach 15-Year-Old Single Malt

Photo credit: Diageo

At last we have arrived. The HBO epic Game of Thrones is complete. Say what you will about that divisive last season (I’m on the ‘it was okay’ camp, BTW), it was a game changer in the current TV landscape. Diageo celebrated by releasing their Game of Thrones Single Malt Collection, which ranged from pleasant to very good.

The final entry in that collection is here – Six Kingdoms. According to press materials, it “pays tribute to the fate of Westeros, whose long-held Seven Kingdoms ultimately became six at the conclusion of the show’s climactic battle for the Iron Throne.”

Diageo has chosen to create a new Mortlach expression this time. The famously meaty whisky has matured in first fill sherry casks for 15 years followed by a short secondary maturation in ex-bourbon casks. The whisky has been bottled at 46% ABV and is available in limited quantities for an SRP of $150. I really like Mortlach’s recently released range of whiskies, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this bottling. Let’s get to it.

Aromas of dried fruit, vanilla bean, toffee and oak spice characterize the nose. Taste-wise, a rich toffee sweetness coats the palate, giving way to hints of vanilla cream and dried fruit. A slight nuttiness also appears, thanks to the sherry cask maturation. A wave of baking spice. leather, and toasted oak increases in intensity through to the long, fruity, and slightly dry finish.

Of all nine whiskies of the Game of Thrones Single Malt Collection, Mortlach 15-year-old is by far the richest and most complex. The ex-bourbon barrel finishing period adds layers of creamy vanilla and caramelized sugar. Combined with Mortlach’s big and fruity nature, the result is a whisky made for toasting a special occasion, after dinner, or any time you want a damn good whisky. This is easily my favorite of the collection.

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

Review: Lagavulin Offerman Edition

Actor, comedian, woodworker, and America’s sweetheart Nick Offerman loves Lagavulin. After all, it was featured as the favorite whisky of Ron Swanson, Offerman’s iconic character on Parks & Recreation. He’s also starred in a series of whisky-related videos on Youtube. Let me reiterate: the man loves Lagavulin.

So much so that Offerman teamed up with Lagavulin distillery manager Colin Gordon to create his very own expression. The result is Lagavulin Offerman Edition, an 11-year-old single malt bottled at 46% ABV. As Mr. Offerman himself says:

I have traveled the world and sampled many attempts at pleasing nectars, but it is solely this distillation of Islay; a tiny, charismatic Scottish isle, that has claimed my palate. Yah, and my heart into the bargain.

Nick Offerman

On the nose, a blend of campfire smoke and grilled pineapple presents itself rather nicely. A sprinkling of kelp, red pepper and sweet oak round things out. The palate offers what I love about Lagavulin: a full-bodied, full flavored smoky malt. Hints of salted toffee meet a wave of campfire-like peat smoke. Grilled tropical fruit (I assume a lot of ex-bourbon barrel maturation here) bring an element of sweetness. The mid-palate offers a hearty helping of oak spice and sprinkling of dried fruit and dried herbs. The long finish is warming, sweet, and smoky.

Photo credit: Diageo

Lagavulin Offerman Edition is a fantastic expression from the distillery. It comes across as bolder than the core 16-year-old offering, but not as intense as the annual 12-year-old release. Showcasing some of the whisky’s spicier notes was a good decision, and one that plays well with the big, smoky distillery character. At $74.99, Lagavulin Offerman Edition is a must buy for Lagavulin fans. I can’t think of a better pour during a Parks & Recreation binge session.

The press sample was accompanied by special pieces from the Offerman Wood Shop.

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