Putnam New England Rye Whiskey

This rye has an interesting story. It starts off as a new make rye spirit, distilled from the midwest. Boston Harbor Distillery re-distills the spirit to their Master distillers’ standards, and then ages the spirit in heavy charred oak barrels. A re-distilled rye huh? Let’s see how it tastes!
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C: The color is a russet red in the bottle and more of a lightly toasted oak in the glass.
N: Sticking my nose in the glass I’m met with a candied cherry that’s been left in a bottle of rye to soak. Vanilla salted caramels. Buttered rye bread that hasn’t been toasted. Cinnamon sugar mixed with rye cereal and the leftover sweet milk that remains after you’ve finished a bowl of cheerios. This glass is rich with rye for sure, but not over the top and in your face that some rye’s are. Candied and dried orange peel, cloves, and some dried floral notes present themselves.
P: Initial taste has an earthy, sweet and lightly spiced rye characteristic. Curry spice matched with the mellowing effects of oak. Even though the company says the oak is char # 4, sometimes referred to as “alligator char” (because of the texture and the look of the wood after 55 seconds of intense burning), it’s a very mellow, inviting vanilla rich oak. And with the sweetness of this whiskey, it’s a really nicely executed aging. Second sip intensifies the spice mid-palate, and with a highly manageable 43% abv, drinks easily without the addition of water. There’s no cloying sweetness like one might think after reading the nosing of this whiskey, but rather a really well balanced dram. The sweet, spice and oak all play a really well executed game in this bottle.
F: The finish is rye rich but not an overly yeasty, bready rye that some ryes can have. Again, the spices pair with the rye flavors and the overall balanced sweetness of the whiskey helps it shine. The finish is a little short, but the rye flavors remain in the crevices of my mouth.
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This whiskey is fairly surprising and totally in a good way. I initially didn’t care for it, but I think it’s because I’d been sipping on bourbons for quite some time and my palate went blind to anything non-bourbon. It’s good to try things again and at different times, you never know how circumstances might change and effect your tasting.  For $45 this is a delicious option in the sub $50 rye range. But it’s not really an over the top rye like some can be. In comparison, I just took a quick sip of Knob Creek rye which has a powerful rye entrance, with a relatively one noted spice and then an off-toned finish. The Putnam rye seems to be a lot more refined, and maybe that has to do with the extra distilling on location in Boston. Tasty on it’s own and probably a real treat mixed in a cocktail like the distillery recommends!
[Scotch]

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]

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]