review

Review: Highland Park Twisted Tattoo

Recently released from Highland Park, Twisted Tattoo sees a unique twist from the Orkney-based distillery. The 16-year-old expression features a large percentage of whisky matured in first-fill Spanish Rioja wine casks. Highland Park is historically known for its use of ex-sherry casks for maturation of its whiskies. Though recent years (and the current whisky climate) have seen the distillery experimenting with other cask types, such as bourbon and port casks.

Highland Park provides the exact cask breakdown on the Twisted Tattoo packaging, which was designed by Danish tattoo artist Colin Dale.

153 casks laid down between 11th May 200 and 29th October 2001, filled into 220 litre first-fill Rioja wine casks in January and March 2016 at 59.5%

70 first-fill bourbon casks from 1999, filled at strengths of between 63.6% and 63.7%.

Casks married together in September 2018 and filtered at 4°C.

It sounds like more than two thirds of the whisky here is rested in Rioja wine casks for a couple of years. That’s just enough time to season the whisky with Rioja wine influence. Twisted Tattoo is bottled at 46.7% ABV.

The nose is aromatic as one would expect from Highland Park. It features hints of that signature heathery peat, vanilla, bright red fruit, and toasted oak. The palate starts with a sweet vanilla, heather, blood orange, and raspberries. Wisps of smoke appear mid-palate. Some oak spice and wine tannins lead us into a long, warm finish.

Readers of this blog know Highland Park is one of my favorite distilleries. I love tasting their non-sherry cask expressions. Not all these experimentations are as delicious as Twisted Tattoo. The bourbon and red wine cask maturation work really well here, as the former really allow the aromatic & slightly smoky spirit shine and the latter doesn’t overtake said distillery character. Rather, the red wine cask maturation compliments it nicely. Very highly recommended!

Highlandparkwhisky.com

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

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Review: Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash

There are plenty of things to like about what Michter’s is doing, but one of them is their interesting Toasted Barrel Finish series. To date, we’ve first seen their bourbon followed by their rye. The bouquet and flavors of both whiskies were given upgrades in the vanilla and caramel department, thanks to the toasted barrel finish.

In this third welcome addition to the series, Michter’s gives their Sour Mash whiskey the toasted barrel finish treatment. The company started by allowing their fully mature Sour Mash whiskey a secondary maturation period in mildly toasted barrels. The resultant whiskey was bottled at 86 proof.

I love nosing the whiskies in this series. In this case, a hearty dose of toffee is accompanied by hints of toasted rye bread, brown sugar, and toasted oak. Some cardamom and cinnamon comes through as well. On the palate, the whiskey provides more of the same. Wave after wave of rich caramel gives way to toasted marshmallow, vanilla bean, and corn pudding. A mild sprinkling of cinnamon and other baking spices come through on the mid-palate. Heading into the long finish is a nice toasted oak note.

It’s worth saying again: I absolutely love what Michter’s is doing with their whiskies, from their US*1 lineup to their 10-year-old bourbon and rye to these toasted barrel finished whiskies. The amplification of caramel and vanilla notes taste natural and not artificial or out of place, all the while keeping a nicely balanced flavor profile. For the $60 asking price, Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash Whiskey is a home run. 8.5/10

Michters.com

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

Review: Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-In-Bond

Saying goodbye to an old friend is hard. Heaven Hill 6-year-old bottled-in-bond was discontinued months ago. At it’s $15ish price tag, it was considered by many bourbon enthusiasts to be not only a steal, but THE steal.

Its replacement was to be a new $40 7-year-old bottled-in-bond. Judging by a lot of social media reaction, the new expression was the equivalent of Yoko breaking up the band (I’m listening to Abbey Road as I write this review)

The truth of the matter is that 6-year-old BIB bourbon was a Kentucky-only release, which put it out of the reach of many folks. Second, it was underpriced by today’s standards. The $39.99 asking price of the new expression isn’t nuts. It’s actually more in line with the 2019 bourbon market.

Additionally, the new expression is available in more states than its predecessor, first launching in California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Colorado. Notably missing is Kentucky. But, those large markets put the whiskey in the hands of more thirsty customers. A lot more.

So, how is it? In the words of Mr. Harrison, “Here comes the sun.”

The nose carries hints of grilled sweet corn, vanilla, caramel, and some spice. Taste-wise, initial notes of toffee and peanut brittle meet baking spice, stewed orchard fruit, and baking spice. The long finish features lingering notes of salted caramel, freshly baked brioche, and a touch of oak spice.

Heaven Hill 7-year-old bottled-in-bond is a bourbon you’ll want to add to your collection. It’s big and bold and full of flavor. Heaven Hill knows its bonded whiskey – it makes more than any other distillery. Final verdict: I Want You (She’s So Heavy). Well said, Mr. Lennon. 8.5/10

Heavenhilldistillery.com

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