Rye

Review: Yippee Ki-Yay (2018)

The 2018 batch of one of High West’s most fun expressions, Yippee Ki-Yay, is hitting shelves. The distillery starts with their Double Rye!, a blend of straight whiskies, and finished them in vermouth and syrah barrels.

Most of the whiskies that make up the Double Rye! are sourced, but this year’s batch contains some of High West’s own distillate. Master Distiller Brendan Coyle said a component whiskey from the Barton distillery was replaced with a High West-distilled rye, though the team was very careful not to change the flavor profile.

It’s all in the blending, which High West excels at, in my opinion.

Yippee Ki-Yay! is bottled at 46% abv. My sample is from batch 18C29.

The nose is ripe with vibrant rye grain, fresh stone fruits, sweet pickles, sage and cinnamon. The palate starts spicy, with allspice, cinnamon sugar, and black peppercorns. Vanilla and fruit syrup arrives to soothe those spices, developing into caramel and freshly sawn oak. The dried herbs on the nose also show up in the mid-palate. The medium-length, warm, and slightly dry finish features more sweet fruit, dried basil, and rye spice.

As I mentioned earlier, Yippee Ki-Yay! is a fun and tasty whiskey. It takes the spiciness of a young rye whiskey blend and adds in fruit from the unique finish. Want something interesting? Reach for this one. 8/10

Highwest.com

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

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Review: Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project (Feb 12, 2018 bottling)

A number of whiskey enthusiasts are creating infinity bottles. When they have a pour or two of a special whiskey left, they add it to a decanter. They quickly create their own blend, one that’s always changing as new whiskies are added.

Barrell Craft Spirits has embarked on a unique journey with its new Infinite Barrel Project, borrowing from the infinity bottle idea. To start, several different types of whiskies were batched together, including Tennessee whiskey, Tennessee rye, Indiana whiskey (finished in Oloroso Sherry butts), Indiana rye, Polish malted rye (finished in Curoçao barrels), single malt scotch, single grain scotch, and Irish whiskey.

As the company bottles a portion of the batch, new whiskies are added and left for a time to marry. The consumer will see an ever-evolving product, which should be fun to compare.

The first bottling (Feb 12, 2018) comes in at 119.3 proof. The nose is a touch closed off at first, but opens with a little airtime. Orange marmalade and pot still whiskey dominate the nose at first, followed by hints of honey, marzipan and fresh fruit. The palate is rich with fruit cake, baking spices (especially ginger), and toffee. Feint hints of candied orange peel and buttery malt appear mid-palate. The back palate sees bit of oak tannin. The long finish features lingering notes of salted caramel and red pepper.

I had a chance to sample this whiskey with Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Head Distiller Tripp Stimson at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival earlier this year. I thought it was a unique flavor then, and it has stuck with me these past few weeks. After tasting it again, I have come to appreciate it even more. Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project stands out as a ‘must try’ whiskey, one that commands your attention upon tasting. And one that you’ll want to compare to future bottlings. Recommended! 9/10

BarrellBourbon.com

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

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The 2018 New Orleans Bourbon Festival

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New Orleans Bourbon Festival 2017: a chat with Fred Noe and Eddie Russell, moderated by yours truly.  Photo courtesy of New Orleans Bourbon Festival

Back for its second year, the New Orleans Bourbon Festival really didn’t have to change much from its first outing in 2017.  It wasn’t just a successful first year festival.  It was a successful festival, period.  But the festival’s founders aren’t resting on their laurels.

Tracy Napolitano, one of the festival’s founders, is the only full-time employee.  After taking a short breather following last year’s festival, Tracy and fellow founders took all the feedback they received to heart.  Their mission was to improve upon their first outing without losing its spirit.

The festival takes place Thursday, March 8th through Saturday, March 10th.  Festivities kick off with several bourbon dinners at restaurants around New Orleans, each sponsored by a different brand.

Like last year, this year’s festival features two Grand Tasting nights filled with pours from both large and craft brands.  The biggest change is the inclusion of all American whiskey.  The first festival was generally limited to bourbon only.  That means a whole lot of rye whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, and more.  More than 100 different whiskies will be poured.  If you happen to see me at one of the Grand Tastings, please say hi.  I’ll be the guy with the glass of whiskey in his hand.

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You can’t drink whiskey and not smile.  Photo courtesy of New Orleans Bourbon Festival

In addition, this year’s VIP ticket holders are getting more attention.  Some really special pours can be expected in the VIP area.  I’ve been told the list confidentially, and yeah… those VIPs should definitely heed the phrase ‘first come, first serve.’  Better yet, “the early bird gets the worm.”  There’s also a special welcome reception for VIPs entitled “Bourbon & Burlesque.”  ‘Nuff said.

Again this year is a whiskey judging by Ultimate VIP ticket holders.  From what I’m told, these tickets sell quickly.  We’re less than three weeks away.  Go get your tickets now.

Seminars have been spread over two days, now taking place the Friday and Saturday of the festival, which gives folks more access to attend more seminars.  This year’s speaker lineup is a doozy, featuring Fred Minnick, Michael Veach, Peggy Noe Stevens, Bernie Lubbers, Maggie Kimberl, Trey Zoeller, and many, many more.

The festival’s theme this year is “Generations,” a theme very important in American whiskey.  I again have the pleasure of moderating not one but two panels related to that theme. On Friday, I’ll chat with Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and his son, Freddie.  Saturday, you’ll find me moderating Eddie Russell and his son, Bruce.  I simply cannot wait!

Festival proceeds go to Kids Can Nola, a new non-profit benefitting the welfare of children.  It’s a classy touch from the festival founders.

I’m sure this year’s festival will far surpass last year’s wonderful inaugural event.  NOLA and bourbon are made for each other.  If Kentucky is bourbon’s wife, New Orleans is definitely the whiskey’s mistress.

NewOrleansBourbonFestival.com