Revisiting the Hakushu 12

Hakushu 12 was the second Japanese whisky that I ,[Scotch], had purchased after the Hibiki 12 year. Without knowing anything about Hakushu, I jumped right in head first thinking that it was going to be the sweet floral symphony that the Hibiki was. Boy was I wrong, but boy were my eyes opened to the Japanese way of handling peat.

C: A golden pale honey, syrupy and coating as I swirl the glass.

N: Very soft lemony, piney peat. A pine sap being reduced down over a fire to create  a resinous pitch. The nose is like walking into a Japanese tea shop, amongst all the bamboo accessories, and lifting each of the tea jars to sample a smell. across the street someone is starting a fire using the wood that they chopped from a neighboring forest, covered in moss, still green. Pear skins, and a mixture of plums and raspberries that are very unripe, very green. It’s hard to explain but the peat, as subtle as it is, is powerful and similar to that of an older peated whisky. Very light vanilla sweetness in the background. Fresh, green and like stepping out of a spearmint gum commercial.
P: The peat is apparent but quickly takes a back seat to green pear and crisp green apple notes. Smoked barley and spices dance around the peat, weaving a delicate strand. Wood sour and vegetal notes. Malted barley similar to The Balvenie style of being very subtle, while still being very pronounced. A slight spice develops around the outer portions of my tongues. The smoke intensifies, not like a billowing flame though, more like a blown out candle.
F: The finish is mainly smoke and soft edged spices. This is a very mature whisky for the 12 years the label presents. Slightly tannic and mouth puckering near the back of my mouth, reminding me of dried lemon rind. The peat presents itself again but only as a remnant of what was initially present. Waving at you, as you leave, reminding you of the good time you just had.
Hakushu reminds me of the restraint and the perfect execution that the Japanese command over things. Just google Japanese Woodworking and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Like a perfectly carved puzzle box, form one piece of wood. Sometimes it’s not about blowing people away with the high PPM of peat you have in your whisky. Sometimes it’s about how it all comes together.
[Scotch]

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]

Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 year Barrel no 4219 Barreled on 11-18-97

This single barrel bourbon isn’t like the normal blends from multiple barrels that other bourbons are usually created from. Tagged as “Super Premium”, this whisky is aged in a single barrel for the full 18 years and then bottled when deemed ready by Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam. First introduced in 1994, they discontinued the 18 year in 2012 after the demand for whiskey grew too great and there weren’t enough 18 year old barrels to meet it. They did however bring it back in 2015. Back for good? Not too sure, but we snagged a couple bottles to taste and see what all the hubbub is about.

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Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 year

C: Sunset orange with glints of reddish orange around the rim.

N: The smell you get from peeling an orange is the first thing that I get on the nose. That spritz of orange essential oils spraying into the air and perfuming everything, even your fingers and everything you touch afterwards. That is immediately followed by old oak, a little stale and musty saturated oak. Like under-ripe plum skins and over ripe apples sitting on your kitchen countertop that should have been eaten last week. It definitely smells rich and powerful, just not too sure yet if that’s a good thing or not. Oh, and a very faint ripe banana smell.

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Elijah Craig 18 year ScotcNSniff Glencairn

P: It is rich. And I’m immediately slapped in the face with oak, followed by that random banana. 90 proof plays the slow roll and gently singes the outer ends of your tongue. It’s spicy though, not to be mistaken with alcohol burn. The oak is extremely present but dark cocoa and stale cinnamon spice are layering up a defense to add something to the playing field. Smyrna Figs come through in a layer followed with raisins and black strap molasses. This is far better than the 23 year, you can actually taste things. Yeah, the figs are strong in this one.

F: The finish is full flavored. Full of spice, dry cocoa, nutmeg, dusty old cinnamon that you should have used 5 years ago, white pepper, a toothpick you should have stopped chewing on 10 minutes ago and vanilla extract. The oak is ever present in this expression, slightly dominating every aspect of the tasting, but somehow it does work. This bottle is a niche type of bourbon that a certain super premium bourbon buyer will want to have in there collection. There are definitely better values out there and I truly believe you’re not missing out on anything not buying this. But it is unique and always fun to explore.

[Scotch]

Dewar’s 30 Year review

A buddy of mine from work went on a weekend trip and ended up going through a London Duty Free Store. Before leaving on the trip, he did what any awesome guy would do for a friend and asked me if I wanted anything in particular from the DFS. I said, “As a matter of fact I do!” and then proceeded to ask him for a Ballantine’s 30 year blend. The next time I see him, I’m anxious for the bottle to taste and review it. He says, “[Scotch] I had to pull an audible..” Okay okay, he didn’t call me [Scotch], but that’d be awesome! Anyhow, He continued and said, “The duty free guy said that this would be better, cost a little more, but you’d like it more.” I could see the worry in his face and being the awesome guy that he is, he’d already figured out a plan to split the bottle with me to cover the extra cost. I said, “Naw man, anything for our readers!!” Without any further ado, and anymore lengthening of this post, let’s see how it goes!

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C: Our regular readers will know how we feel about color, but this is a Cherry Wood with darker edges.

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N: The nose is incredible. I poured a glass and was occupied doing other things before I could try it, so it sat around for 5-10 minutes opening up. The air around the glass is filled with the scent of raw walnuts and thick toffee pudding. The Pedro Ximenez influence is easily recognizable in just the nose alone. It’s dusty, like an attic, and fairly smoky in the nose for a non-Islay variety. There’s dark chocolate candy bar as well as cocoa powder, dried figs and it’s like sticking your face into a bag of dried prunes, just sticky all over. A kola smell comes forward and near the end of my nosing a faint lemon smell, as if someone spritzed a lemon over a cocktail. This nose is layered and rich. My mouth is water because the nose is giving every indication that it’s going to be delicious. Cinnamon raisin bread covered in a smoked prune jam. I don’t even think smoked prune jam is a thing but this is it. Bitter orange marmalade. Okay I think I’m done. Quince paste. Done.

P: First sip is creamy, mouth coating and very savory. Almost a bready savory. Immediately I wish that the ABV would have been pumped up from the very basic 40%. But saying that, it does carry a lot of flavor. Second sip, everything continues to remain enjoyable. There’s a wonderful savory spice that undulates with spicy, then savory, then dried sweet flavors. Again and again layers of bran muffin, including the raisins, hearty grains covered in a sweetener that isn’t too sweet. You know how some people say that scallops can be sweet or milk added to your coffee can be sweet. Sweet like that. A very savory sweet. Rich malt, black strap molasses. Going in for another sip maple syrup covered French toast, with too much cinnamon (still good though). The dustiness from the nose carries over to the palate a little, you can definitely taste the age, not a bad thing, just apparent.

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F: The finish is mouth watering, no dryness whatsoever. The bready, wheat filled flavor lingers, like you just bit into a piece of wholegrain bread. A very faint soft smoke lingers in the background. The spices are subdued in the finish but very rich and not watered down. This whisky just drinks so easily.

With single malts, you sometimes have specific characteristics that you particularly enjoy. Tamdhu has an amazing sherry flavor, Laphroaig will smoke you out with peat and Glenfarclas will spice you up like Christmas morning. The thing with these older blends is that there are no peaks or specific characteristics, that’s the essence of blending. Like the Hibiki 30 year, this Dewars 30 year is an exceptional blend, and drinks like water. The nose is rich with individual layers. The palate is round, well blended and just plain delicious.

[Scotch]

BACKROOM Bourbon review

This blend of Bourbon straight whiskeys from District Distilling Co. seems to have popped up out of nowhere. One day I walk into my local liquor store and see the regular old faces, the next day I see this bright orange label staring back at me. I try to support local people whenever I have the chance and I noticed that this company is basically right down the street from where I live. So I think, let’s give it a go!

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BACKROOM Bourbon

C: The color is vivid orange, like the label, with bright spots around the edges. There is sediment in my glass, which looks like barrel char, but the bottle doesn’t state whether it’s non-chill filtered, chill filtered or filtered period.

N: Surprisingly enough, even at 48.5% abv, I can still stick my nose straight into the glass and smell nothing but sweet fig, toffee and caramel goodness. Not quite sure of what the mash bill is for the bottle, the company is going to email us with a response, but it definitely smells like it has a high corn ratio and definitely some spice richness from rye. We’ll have to update this post as soon as we hear back. Continuing to nose, I get black licorice, not something that I normally find while nosing whisk(e)y but this one sticks out. A little bit of toasted oak and then more of the vanilla sweet stuff. The nose is a little short and one-sided and maybe needs some time or water to open it up.

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BACKROOM Bourbon

P: Initial taste is a soft-ish floral vanilla sweetness and spice, slow to build in the mouth. Second sip reveals a little tobacco mixed with light brown sugar. The mouth feel is light and a soft creaminess develops as it coats my palate. All of the flavor, spice and warmth seem to be lingering right at the front of my mouth, leaving the mid-palate and back of my mouth as if I haven’t sipped anything. Peculiar.

F: Short. Stronger oak replaces the sweetness and licorice type spice. A little burn continues under the front of my tongue, but again, silence in the background. A little bit of water added to the glass reveals more minty characteristics and brings out oaky woodiness a little more, without the wood-sour aspect that water can sometimes do.

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BACKROOM Bourbon a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys

The website says that this bourbon is perfect on ice or in your favorite cocktail. I would completely agree with that. It has a strong enough flavor to withstand vermouth, lemon juice or even mint. I purchased this bottle for $45 and if I had a decision to purchase this bottle of “local” bourbon or some other $45 bourbon, I would buy this Backroom Bourbon again. I can’t wait to try something that District Distilling Co. distills on their own though, that’ll be the true test.

[Scotch]