review

Review: Elijah Craig (New Orleans Bourbon Festival 2019)

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With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

Last July, I had the pleasure of joining Tracy & Barbara Napolitano, co-founders of the New Orleans Bourbon Festival, for a private barrel selection of Elijah Craig.  We were given four different barrels to choose from without knowing their ages.  The pick would be solely based on flavor, which is the way it should be.  Just like Elijah Craig Small Batch, this single barrel is bottled at 94 proof.

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The nose carries a rich toffee aroma along with orange peel, honey, barrel char, and a touch of oak spice.  Taste-wise, caramel chew and orange creamsicle are balanced by waves of baking spice, toasted oak, and a hint of red fruit.  The medium length finish leaves lingering notes of spiced fruit and oak.

This Elijah Craig bourbon goes down easy and is VERY drinkable. Almost dangerously so.  It’s not as big & oaky as what Elijah Craig Small Batch used to be.  It’s a bit more rounded and vibrant, but not young.  I’m not sure this whiskey is still available for sale, but it’s my understanding it will be poured at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival.  If you do see a bottle for sale, don’t waste a moment picking it up.  8.5/10

Review: The Macallan Classic Cut (2018)

I like Macallan.

Let me rephrase – I like whiskies from Macallan.  What I don’t care for is their pricing, which seems geared for the luxury collector instead the whisky drinker.  But, that’s a rant for another time.

So it was with great surprise that I saw this 2018 edition of The Macallan Classic Cut for about $100 on the shelf.  Given that their lovely 18-year-old is inching closer to the $300 mark, I know this NAS release is going to be comprised of mostly young whiskies.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s just something to be mindful of… setting expectations, so to speak.

Classic Cut is bottled at 51.2% ABV, a big jump from the 43% ABV of Macallan’s standard releases.  Only sherry-seasoned casks were used in this release.  Based on the color, my guess is most of those casks are refill sherry casks.

The nose features macerated orange, vanilla, and waxy malt, with a tinge of toasted oak. Gone are the dark, heavy sherry notes I equate with Macallan.  Instead, because of those young whiskies used in this bottling, the nose is more vibrant, as is the palate.  The high ABV delivers a burst of wonderful strawberry jam, orange peel, and vanilla.  A bit of spice develops about halfway through, as does a young malt note.  The medium-length finish leaves lingering notes of spiced fruit and spice.  No need for water here, as this Macallan is easily drinkable.

Macallan Classic Cut delivered almost exactly what I expected – a big, vibrant, fruity malt.   I was a bit surprised at the amount of citrus, but liked what I tasted.  I don’t expect to dissect this whisky in a Glencairn glass.  Where it lacks complexity, Classisc Cut makes up for it in delivery of flavor.  That said, I’d LOVE to taste a high proof Macallan with a little more age.  As far as what’s in the glass, I’d give this one a recommendation.  7.5/10

 

Review: Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon

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A few years back, Basil Hayden’s bourbon lost its 8 year age statement.  The brand did a nice job of keeping the flavor profile of its NAS replacement the same, or at least very, very close.  The latest limited edition offering from Basil Hayden is a 10-year-old bourbon.  It’s made from Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill, which is also used in Old Grand Dad.  Bottled at 40% ABV, Basil Hayden 10-year-old bourbon is available for $60, which is about a $20 premium over the brand’s standard bourbon.

The nose features brown sugar, rye spice, and oak.  There’s a bit of charred fruit and slightly herbaceous.  The entry is light, due to the bourbon’s low 80 proof bottling.  Delicate flavors of caramel, toasted rye bread, and oak spice emerge.  A bit of orange rind and nuts add some complexity.  The finish is short-to-medium length with hints of cinnamon sugar, toasted rye grain, and oak.  Compared to the standard Basil Hayden’s, this new 10-year-old offering isn’t as vibrant and showcases darker notes.

Is it good?  Yes.  It’s a nice enough bourbon, and fits in line with other Basil Hayden products.  Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill can be quite delicious, and this whiskey shows it.  The negative side is its low proof, which dampens the entry and diminishes the finish.

Is it worth the price of admission?  No.  Basil Hayden’s low 80 proof doesn’t seem to fit into the current world of high-proof bourbon offerings.  That aside, this bourbon doesn’t offer much more than the very solid standard bottling.  7.5/10

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