Stagg Jr. 65%

Stagg Jr has the name junior because its big daddy is George T. Stagg of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. While George T. Stagg is generally aged anywhere from 15-17 years, Stagg Jr is aged 8-9yrs and released a few times throughout the year. The bottle I have is from 2016 and 130 proof.

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C: The color is a dark brown with even darker edges, yet still see-through.
N: Be careful, at 130 proof it will burn all the hair that you have in your nostrils. Once you get passed the high proof, you’re greeted with rum or white wine soaked raisins, vanilla beans have been scraped into the same vessel adding rich depth. Charred wood takes it’s place on the podium with the other flavors like milk chocolate and baking spices. Every now and then an astringent bite of the alcohol reminds me I’m too close to the fire.

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P: The first flavor I get before my mouth is bombarded with saliva, are the rummy/winey raisins. As my mouth tingles, cantaloupe flavors come forward met with charred toothpicks and dusty spice. Black pepper joins the cocoa powder and what I would imagine leather glove treatment tastes like. Not necessarily a bad thing.
F: The finish is vanilla sweetened black pepper and wood char and slight wood sour. This bourbon isn’t for the faint of heart. I feel like this is the bourbon that people used to drink in western movies, aka “fire water”, coming from a jug labeled with three X’s and possibly a skull and bones logo. I would drink this next to a camp fire in a heart beat. I love the tongue numbing heat that it brings and the genuine “my way or the highway” attitude.

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There are other easily drinkable bourbons out there with more sweetness or more gentle caramel and vanilla flavors that make you feel good. But sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want a kick in the pants and this Stagg Jr. is here to
deliver the business.
Scotch. Out.

Belle Meade Single Barrel 10 yr

Belle Meade has done a lot of great things recently with their finished line of bourbons. Sherry, Cognac and now Madeira cask finishes are all out of the park home runs for [Sniff] and I. This is a blend of 10yr and older whiskies from MGP (formerly known as LDI). Andy Nelson of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery (co-owner of Belle Meade and head distiller) has always been very open about where they get their distillate from and how little or hands on they are with the processes of selecting the yeast strains, barrels and locations of aging. Will this Single Barrel make the cut? Or will we stick to the fancy finishes that they are so good at churning out? Read on to find out!

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C: A light reddish orange liquid with lighter edges when the light catches it.
N: The nose has an eerily similar honeyed characteristic like that of The Balvenie 12 yr doublewood. It’s very soft on the nose but a sweet, subtly spiced oak. A very light toffee/caramel notes comes through after sticking my nose deep in the glass. Possibly cooked quince or a tart fruit (not a fruit tart).
P: Vanilla, with spiced chocolate notes flood the mouth. Slightly charred oak and licorice create a sour bitter note, handled well by the welcoming sweetness.
F: The bourbon finishes with a slightly peppery, welcomed oaky spice. The longer the glass lingers with bourbon in it, the more the caramel and toffee characteristics swell and tempt you back for more. After a full day of sampling and reviewing bourbons, I can honestly say that coming back to this bourbon is a real treat. It feels like home base, that all other higher proof bourbons can be judged against.

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Great company, great people and a pretty darn tasty bourbon. Like I said before though, their finished bourbons and whiskies are nothing to shake a stick at and you should definitely pick up a few cases when you get a chance. Unless we get to them first.
Scotch. Out.

Black Maple Hill Bourbon

The current Black Maple Hill is produced from a company called the Stein Distillery out of Joseph, Oregon. It’s a craft whisky aged a minimum of 4 years with some older varieties mixed in. Does it live up to the standard of the Kentucky made variety of bourbon? We’re not sure, but we’re looking to source some bottles to compare. But until then, on with the review!

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C: A reddish chocolate brown color almost exactly the same as the Black Maple Hill Rye. Coincidence? Colorant?
N: There’s a very aggressive oak char on the nose, veiled in a tea house aroma, like pouring earl grey for hundreds. Dr. Pepper notes comes through as fresh ground pepper as well as generic cola syrup. There’s a medicinal note that calls to memory the often many trips to
the emergency room as a rambunctious kid. The nose isn’t pleasant, plain and simple. it’s not a bourbon that I want to continue to smell. Let’s see if the palate isn’t any better.
P: The palate is rich with oak and spice but nothing that easily calls itself out. There’s a lack of vanilla, caramel and honestly deliciousness in the palate. My mouth is full of dusty spices that aren’t soothed with a caramel sweetness that you often find in more delicious bourbons. This feels like Icy Hot, without the Icy. Peanut butter and Jelly, without the Jelly. Ice cream, without the sunday. Ok, I think you get the point.

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F: The Finish is full of spice, tongue tingling spice. Like opening your spice cabinet and pouring a few dry spices on your tongue, then rubbing your tongue on the roof of your mouth and wishing you hadn’t done so. You had a chance to back out, but you were already committed, you weren’t ready, he wasn’t readyyyyy. The oak and spice continue for a rather long time.

If you read my review about the Black Maple Hill Rye, this one also seems to be a good supporting actor. If your cocktail needs spice and oak, add this, you’ll get those notes. But make sure to add it to an equally fruity cocktail to match it’s equally oaky spice. I don’t think I have to say it, but there are a variety of other bourbons out there that need your attention.
Scotch. Out.

Noah’s Mill genuine Bourbon whiskey Batch 16-77

Noah’s Mill Bourbon has a cute little story explaining how it came to be and why, out of necessity, farmers interchanged between distillers and farmers to keep corn crops from going to waste. Cute stories aside, this barrel strength bourbon is a heavyweight value hitter. All the bourbon flavors you could ask for with enough unique characteristics to keep you sipping for more. Bottled in small batch (I’ve read less than 20 barrels) by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who run out of the Willett Distillery in Bardstown, this bourbon is a blend of mash bills that is left in a bit of clouded mysticism. Although the make up of the bourbon might be questionable, the flavor is definitely not.

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Noah’s Mill Bourbon

C: Slightly Mahogany

N: Had a difficult time sorting out the nose on this one and then it hit me, I ran to the fridge and grabbed my bottle of Luxardo Cherries. Boom, nailed it! Milk chocolate covered Luxardo cherries. A little floral, and a syrupy sweet nose. Sticking my deeper into the Glencairn reveals the oak. Definitely doesn’t nose like a younger whisk(e)y. I’ve read that the contents of this bottle are made up of anywhere from 4-15 year old bourbon, no one seems quite sure since they took the age statement from the bottle. A vanilla custard covered in whipped cream smell prepares me for what could be a very sweet bourbon.

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Noah’s Mill Bourbon

P: First sip makes me question how this is 57.15%. It’s very lightweight, almost like water. But the richness and spice are a little mind-boggling. It’s creamy and spicy, round and oaky. Honestly it’s difficult to come up with positives or negatives about this bourbon. That’s neither a good or a bad thing though. There is a very corny sweetness, a spiced heat that rises halfway through the tasting, climaxes, then drops slowly into a mellow appeal. This is a very bourbon-y bourbon if that makes any sense whatsoever. All of the flavors are there, vanilla, creamy buttery high fat caramel, with the addition of brandied cherries. Fresh figs drizzled with wild flower honey, not clover honey though. Lighter, sweeter, more floral honey. There are some very floral tones that can be picked out from the deep richness.

F: The orange flavors that you would get from XO cognac. An earthiness, forest floor and old farmhouse finish, all good things. Very slight spearmint finish. This is a very unique bourbon that I would love to continue to explore. This is a steal for under $50. The amount of complexity that I’m tasting would fool anyone into thinking that this was a 15 year or older bourbon in a blind tasting. -[Scotch]

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Noah’s Mill Bourbon

 

Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky Batch SM 16-2 Date 3-18-16

Balcones Distillery is unapologetically real. They want you to know that from the very start. Very Texan if you know what I mean. Their pledge of authenticity lets you know that they never use other companies distillate, they never use aged whisky from other sources to blend and that they mash, ferment and distill 100% of what they sell. With well over 50 medals from different competitions, mostly gold, let’s see if the liquid in the bottle lives up to its massive hype!

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Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky

C: Toasted oak with a light yellow rim.

N: An undeniable butterscotch smell emanates from the glass as my nose approaches. The kind of butterscotch you find at a grandma’s house. Not the good Brach’s variety, more the off brand that uses imitation everything but it still tastes good. Included within that smell is of course vanilla, a little peppery sawdust (like you just stepped into Home Depot’s lumber department), and Hungarian paprika (slightly dried and smoked red pepper). The oak on the nose is more similar to pressed wood beams than it is oak staves. Slight notes of wood sour and freshness, not burnt or charred oak. The last couple sniffs reveal caramel and sweet toffee notes, telling my tongue to be prepared for what’s next.

P: First sip reveals the sweetness that I was looking for in the nose. Vanilla and light oak are the dominating flavors. It’s very lightweight on the tongue and at 106 proof you would expect some kind of burn, but it’s very drinkable. The sweetness of this bourbon goes really well with the high alcohol, they both work together to make it very enjoyable. After each sip, an enjoyable dryness coats my tongue inviting another sip. Thankfully the oak isn’t sour as expected from the nose and it’s an enjoyable toasted taste. Tasting again, there’s a fair bit of nutmeg spice and pepper. The description on the bottle talks about “mellow notes of baked pears and apples” but I never get that. The fruit to me is very subdued, overpowered mostly by the spice and sweet vanilla note. Which is definitely not a bad thing. When I think of Texas, I think big, bold flavor with the authentic spice of the South and this is what I get with this whisky. Big bold delicious whisky flavor.

F: The finish is perfumed with spice, vanilla sweetness and a slight drying in the back of the mouth. Toasted malt and oak are left lingering for a short while with a light smoke coming out right at the end.

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Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky ScotchNSniff Glencairn glass

The Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky is a solid American whisky. A great thing to bring along with you to a camping trip or just enjoyed in front of a fire amongst friends.

Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish

This whisky starts off as Jefferson’s Kentucky straight bourbon, matured for 8 years in American white oak barrels, before being transferred into rum casks for 15 months that previously held Goslings Family Reserve Rum. We love a good rum cask finished whisky, so lets see how this one goes. This is batch number 1, bottle number 06211.

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C: A pale light orange

N: The nose is really rich and full in the glass and the finishing in rum casks is super evident. Caramel covered apples is the first scent that punches through the glass, followed by the rich sweetness of rum. Clean, almost watered down sweetness of splitting a fresh sugar cane. Watered down in a good way though. The smell of freshly made candy mixed with really light spearmint tea. Juicy pear tart ,with some very light baking spices. Really great nose.

P: Initial taste is full of fresh apple juice. Not over the top sweetness but you can tell that this was finished in a cask that held something sweet, not overly sweet though. The ability of oak to add a nice round flavor profile, to reduce the harsh peaks of a white whisky is very prevalent. Oaky wood tones really only show up near the back of the palate after swallowing, definitely not an oak bomb. Slightly wood sour entrance with the second sip, but then finishing with a stronger spice and of course a very nice sweetness easing everything on it’s way into your stomach. Biting into a green banana hoping for a ripe one, that’s there too. Tasty adult woody, pear, apple juice!

F: The finish is slightly warming with a 45.1% abv, ending with a slightly heavier hand of baking spices near the front of the palate with nutmeg being the most noticeable spice. Taking another sip and finishing it, I feel like this drinks like a 40% abv bottle with little heat. You can call it “Smooth” if you’d like.

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This bourbon is good, but the price is a little high for what it is. The Balvenie Caribbean cask is $20 cheaper and aged slightly longer.Yes, it’s a scotch, but I’m sure most people would reach for the lower cost when it comes to decision making. The rum flavor is definitely more unique and more pronounced in the Jefferson’s, which could be a plus for many. Have you had a chance to try this one? Comment below!

[Scotch]

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 vs 2016

Old Forester has an annual release called Birthday Bourbon which is a limited-edition expression created to pay homage to founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. Up for our comparison today we have the 2015 versus the 2016. You’re often times met with a decision when you go to the liquor store to choose one bottle. Hopefully after this tasting review, you’ll be able to decide which one to grab if you’re ever presented with the option.

The 2015 expression is offered at 100 Proof, while the 2016 is bottled at 97 proof. So if you’re a proof chaser, go ahead and pick the 2015, but if you want to take into consideration Color, Nose, Palate and Finish, let’s continue!

C: They are nearly identical with a medium rich mahogany color, with the 2016 variety slightly more red toned. Tie!

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 vs 2016

 

N: The 2015 has a fair amount of heat on the nose, accidentally singeing my hairs as I take mini whiffs. Wood sour notes but round oak with whipped cream and toasted marshmallow sweetness. Green grapes, kiwi skins and unripe strawberries floating in a lake of golden corn syrup. The 2016 is more vanilla orange creamsicle, honeyed oak, similar to that of the Balvenie house style. The 2016 seems lighter, very light caramel draped over a tart pear. Werthers Original candies with leather and oak bits dotted throughout. Both are solid winners but the 2015 edges out the nose with more toasted oak, toasted marshmallow and breakfast pastries.

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2016

 

P: Both of these have the obvious bourbon flavors of oak, vanilla, sour toffee/caramel  flavors but these are the nuances that I can edge out in the tasting. The 2016 is a bright, fresh bourbon. Not too sweet on the palate with just enough caramel covered grape flavors, ending with a fresh cherry covered in dark cocoa powder, slightly mouth drying. The 2015 has a sweeter, hotter entry, hazelnuts and orange peel. There’s a grown up root beer flavor ending in a bitter but enjoyable sweet vermouth. Going back and forth a couple times with tasting them the 2016 just edges out the win.

F: The 2015 has a dusty nutmeg infused cocoa finish. Light rye spices linger midpalate, while a slightly drying oak, readies you for your next sip. The 2016 finishes with spice but with less of a pronounced Zip, Bang and Ptchanggg! The vanilla creeps back up near the end with the cocoa powder, but more flat than the 2015 finishes. 2015 wins, hands down for the finish.

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015

 

Both of these bourbons are really nice, and we’re splitting hairs here. The fact that they’re relatively hard to get and that the secondary market lifts the price, really sucks. If it were up to us, we would make it available to everyone, but that’s just impossible. The quantities to appear to have increased from last year, so availability might not be that bad. I enjoy the 2015 more than the 2016, but that’s only by the slightest margin. Both are a solid buy for a very solid bourbon. Comment down below and let us know which one you grab or if you pick both up. Slainte!

[Scotch]