Apr 12

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 42)

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 09Day 42 of the mini barrel aging experiment has arrived. What started as moonshine on March 1st has been resting in a barrel for almost a month and a half, and the progress has been interesting.

The whiskey is slowly but surely changing in color and transparency.

The nose is very similar to two weeks ago, while it continues to pick up characteristics from the charred oak.

In the mouth, the whiskey is starting to get a nicer mouthfeel, although it’s still untamed and youthful in spirit. Still lots of grainy wood chips and plenty of rye.

Afterward, this whiskey is starting to develop a nice finish, with a touch of smoke. I can see this whiskey going places.

I am finding that reviewing in two week increments just isn’t long enough for the whiskey to change dramatically. Therefore, I plan to wait until Day 84 (May 24th) until I sample again. Stay tuned…

 

-Ryan

Apr 05

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bourbon – Review

Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch BourbonColonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

100 Proof

Price Point: $30 – $40 for 750 ML

Distiller: Old Fashioned Copper Distillery

 

Background

Many times when reviewing a family of whiskeys, I like to start from the bottom (relatively speaking) and move my way up. Many times I will review the younger whiskey first, and move to the older one to show the progression in the barrel.

In the case of Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr.’s portfolio, I started at the “top” with the Barrel Proof release, and am now moving to the “bottom” with the Small Batch. Sometimes my OCD just can’t sort these types of things out. Next on the list is the Single Barrel, but that will have to wait for another time.

 

Review

When nosing this whiskey, I quickly noticed how sweet and crisp it is.  Colonel Taylor Small Batch is akin to Bowman Brothers Bourbon on the nose.  It has nice charred oak characteristics, and the corn, rye, and wheat are all harmoniously evident.

There’s sweet corn and charred oak in the taste of this bourbon.  It’s well-balanced and at an ideal proof (for my tastes).  It’s not too high where it dries your mouth out, but not too low where you can’t taste your whiskey.  Colonel Taylor Small Batch has a little black cherry on the tail-end to round out its taste.

The finish is pleasant – peppery and nice with a decent length.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Colonel Taylor Small Batch stacks up among the top-shelf bourbons I have reviewed, earning a rating of 87 out of 100.

This is one of the nicer small batch bourbons out there, and certainly reasonably priced.

 

-Ryan

Mar 29

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 28)

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 08Nearly a month has passed since I started the mini barrel aging experiment, and the whiskey has certainly changed.

Since two weeks ago, the color has altered slightly. It is now a little bit darker and denser, although it’s tough to tell in the photograph. For the most part, it’s translucent, but it does have a slight cloudiness to it.

On the nose, this whiskey is starting to develop further and continuing to pick up notes from the oak barrel. However, it is still incredibly young. Hints of charred oak are surfacing, and I continue to get green apple as I did in my last post.

Once again I am getting high alcohol in the taste, followed by the distinct flavor (although I’ve never eaten them) of wood chips. The grainy rye is still very evident; it’s spicy in a good way. It’s beginning to get a little smokier, especially as it leads into the finish.

The finish is pretty lengthy, but nothing remarkable yet.

As difficult as it is to be patient when aging whiskey, it is clear after two samplings that this stuff needs significantly more time in the barrel to mature. Once again, we will wait another two weeks and see how things shape up on Day 42.

 

-Ryan

Mar 22

Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey – Review

Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Irish WhiskeyTullamore Dew 10 Year Old Four Cask Finish Single Malt Irish Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $35 – $45 for 750 ML

Distiller: Tullamore Dew Company Ltd.

 

Background

This past Monday was St. Patrick’s Day, a day in which many people of Irish heritage (and many without a drop of Irish blood in their body) choose to enjoy the drink that may or may not be derived from the Emerald Isle – whiskey.

Although a few days late, I would like to acknowledge this “spirited” holiday by reviewing, you guessed it, an Irish whiskey.  Specifically Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old.

I reviewed this whiskey’s younger brother (Tullamore Dew’s standard expression) well over a year ago.  I was not overly impressed.  Let’s see if a little bit of extra time in the barrel, along with some unique maturing methods (for an Irish, that is; single malt, “four cask finish”), have improved upon this whiskey.

 

Review

This is the most complex Irish whiskey I have nosed to date (sorry Connemara and Redbreast).  Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old has the same classic Emerald Isle high notes, balanced out by rich sherry (blueberries?) and creamy cherry pie.

Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old starts out with honey and fruit.  It’s extremely well-balanced; smooth with just enough bite (impressive for 40%).  This whiskey is malty (obviously); a refreshing change of pace among grainy Irish whiskeys.

This is a tasty finish with green apples followed much later by berries.  A much longer finish than expected.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old is a very impressive Irish whiskey, earning a rating of 86 out of 100.

This edges out Redbreast 12 Year Old for best Irish whiskey I have reviewed thus far.  This is a complex whiskey I would put up against the better single malt Scotches.

 

-Ryan

Mar 15

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 14)

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 06
Two weeks ago, I wrote Part One of this experiment.  In that post, I outlined my thoughts behind maturing whiskey in a miniature barrel, including picking a worthy new spirit (in this case, I chose Corsair Wry Moon).

Two weeks later, we’re ready to sample what’s been maturing in the barrel.

After pouring roughly one fluid ounce into a sample container, I poured just a little bit into a Glencairn glass for some closer observation.

The color is about what I expected it to be.  It’s like a very light chardonnay, translucent, with just a hint of cloudiness.

On the nose, it’s still very young (as expected).  The white dog has been mellowed slightly by the oak, but this stuff is very much still Wry Moon.  After swirling the spirit in my glass a little bit and letting it breathe, I get a much sweeter nose with hints of green apple.

The first thing I get after taking a sip is wood chips, followed by the intensity of a very young whiskey.  This two week old rye is earthy with a bit of rye spiciness and a subtle hint of charred oak.  Then “poof”, it’s gone, and Wry Moon is back in its unaged glory.

When it comes to the finish, I wouldn’t say it’s much more mellow than two weeks ago, but it’s certainly different.  Again, I get a distinct flavor of wood chips.

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 07

This is about what I expected for the first sampling of this whiskey as it matures.  It is on its way, but needs significantly more time in the barrel before it can be a drinkable/enjoyable whiskey.  The good news is that there is nothing dramatically wrong with the whiskey thus far (no negative effects from the barrel).

We will re-visit this experiment in two more weeks for Part Three!

 

-Ryan

Mar 08

Corsair Wry Moon Unaged Whiskey – Review

Corsair Wry MoonCorsair Wry Moon Unaged Kentucky Whiskey

92 Proof

Price Point: $30 – $40 for 750 ML

Distiller: Corsair Artisan LLC

 

Background

If you caught my post last Saturday, you would know that I recently embarked on a new “experiment” – one in which I am taking new spirit and aging it in a one liter barrel for a to-be-determined period of time.  The first step in this experiment was finding the right white dog.

At first I considered going the “cheap” route (I use the term loosely) and using XXX Shine Corn Whiskey, as it was the best of the choices I had to begin with.  However, when I ventured to another liquor store with a bit more selection, I happened upon the 92 proof Corsair Wry Moon.  This unaged Kentucky new spirit was pot distilled from malted rye by the Corsair Artisan Distillery.  These guys are doing interesting things with spirits, and my experience with their Triple Smoke has me all confused about American whiskey.

In order to gain a better understanding of the whiskey as it matures in my barrel, I would like to first explore the new spirit that started it all.

 

Review

The nose is crisp and clean.  It has the unmistakable aroma of new spirit, with a heavy rye influence (duh!).  To me, Wry Moon is much more pleasant than Buffalo Trace White Dog or Dad’s Hat White Rye.

This unaged whiskey is surprisingly tasty and balanced.  It’s peppery at 46% ABV, and much more manageable than Buffalo Trace Mash #1.  It’s a little malty, with syrupy sweetness rounded out by cinnamon.  Wry Moon has a bit of a cereal taste on the back-end, almost like a multivitamin pill.

This white dog has a long lasting, gasoline-like finish.  Wry Moon has almost a chlorine aftertaste (not sure if that is a positive or a negative).

 

Rating & Recommendations

Once again, the guys at Corsair have changed my mind about certain types of spirits, and Wry Moon has made me think twice about white dog.  This stuff gets a rating of 79 out of 100 from me.

I have to admit that this is surprisingly drinkable for a white dog.  I’m looking forward to tasting this as it matures in my barrel.

 

-Ryan

Mar 01

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 1)

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 01 Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 02 Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 03 Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 04 Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 05First of all, I am not a scientist.  This “experiment” is not really an experiment – I’m just a whiskey enthusiast with a mini barrel and some white dog.

Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started.

My wife bought me a mini barrel from Thousand Oaks Barrels for Christmas this past year.  I have always wanted to play around with aging whiskey as the whole process (obviously) fascinates me.

The first step in preparing the barrel for aging spirits is to “cure” the inside.  Last Saturday (February 22, 2014), I filled the barrel with near-boiling water.  Next, I sealed off the bung and let it sit for a week.  This helps the wood in the barrel swell to prevent any leaks and limits the amount of alcohol absorbed in the barrel during the aging process.

While I let the barrel cure, I had to find the perfect new spirit to use.  If you’ve read some of my past reviews (here and here), you’ll realize that I do not particularly like white dog.  I wanted to pick something unique, so I bought Corsair Wry Moon, an unaged Kentucky new spirit pot distilled from malted rye.  Corsair does some interesting things with whiskey experimentation, so I thought this was only appropriate.  This particular white dog is 92 proof, which I prefer over the lower proof choices available, as the whiskey should lose its potency over time in the barrel.  Since the barrel holds one liter of liquid (and it’s wise to fill it up completely), I had to purchase two 750 ML bottles of Wry Moon.  For what it’s worth, I decided to buy two bottles from the same “batch” – #51.

Now that I have my new spirit and the barrel has been cured, it’s time to get started.  First, I drained the water that had been curing the inside of the barrel.  Next, I rinsed it out two more times with hot water.  Now the fun begins.

I fit a funnel into the bung on the top of the barrel, and began pouring the Wry Moon into the barrel.  After the first bottle was empty, I proceeded to pour from the second.  I was careful not to overfill the barrel.  Once the barrel was completely full, I removed the funnel and replaced the bung.

My goals for this “experiment” are as follows:

  • Determine how long it takes the whiskey to mature to my tastes.  I will do this by sampling the whiskey from this barrel once every two weeks and writing a new post about it.  This will go on indefinitely until I feel the whiskey is aged to my liking.
  • Find out (generally) how the proof of the whiskey changes as it ages.
  • Determine the amount of whiskey gone to the angel’s share.

Check back in two weeks for Part Two

 

-Ryan

Feb 22

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon – Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed BourbonWild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

108.2 Proof

Price Point: $35 – $45 for 750 ML

Distiller: Austin, Nichols Distilling Company

 

Background

One of the great things about writing a blog is that I get to have back-and-forth dialogue with my readers about whiskey.  It’s not just a one-way conversation – I interact with people who follow my blog through email, the comments sections, and on social media.  Just as I have persuaded people to purchase whiskeys through my reviews, I have also been recommended some whiskeys that I may have otherwise passed over.

In a past review, a reader recommended Wild Turkey Rare Breed; he said I “needed” to try it.  I took him up on his suggestion, and below is the review it has earned.

 

Review

This whiskey noses very much like Wild Turkey 101.  How can it not, being only a few percentage points higher in proof?  There’s sweet grainy notes surrounded by high alcohol aroma.  This is all rounded out by vanilla and a little bit of spice.

In the mouth, Wild Turkey Rare Breed is sweet with rich caramel notes.  It’s surprisingly smooth – Wild Turkey’s website claims that this bourbon is so mellow because of its unique mixture of 6, 8, and 12 year old whiskeys.  It is buttery in texture (coats the inside of your mouth).  Wild Turkey Rare Breed is spicy with notes of nutmeg, while also peppery with a touch of leather and coffee.

The finish is sweet, long, and warming.  This is a very flavorful finish to a nice bourbon.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Wild Turkey Rare Breed earns a respectable rating of 85 out of 100.

This is certainly a tasty barrel-proof bourbon, but I would go with Wild Turkey 101 over this one given the price difference.  With Wild Turkey Rare Breed, I feel that you’re more or less paying for the novelty of the words “barrel-proof” on the label.

 

-Ryan

Feb 08

Maker’s Mark Bourbon – Review

Maker's Mark BourbonMaker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

90 Proof

Price Point: $25 – $35 for 750 ML

Distiller: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc.

 

Background

Just like Glenlivet 12 Year Old, Jameson Irish, and Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark is just one of those whiskies you can find at virtually any bar or restaurant.  Its lightly tanned label and iconic red-waxed bottle top can be spotted from across the room, and its taste is as recognizable as any whisky.

This is one of those whiskies that doesn’t claim to be anything unique – it’s a wheated bourbon that stays consistent from year to year, even though Maker’s is in fact a small batch.  For how mainstream this bourbon can be, it’s clear from their website that a lot of thought and care goes into their product.  But let’s see how it tastes…

 

Review

Maker’s Mark noses like a wheated bourbon should; soft but not too sweet.  It’s simple and nice, and very comforting.

This whisky is delicate in the mouth with soft wheat.  Maker’s Mark has no overwhelming (trademark) tastes.  This is just a simple bourbon that’s smooth and easy to drink.  It’s slightly nutty from the barley in the mashbill (almost the same percentage as the wheat – Maker’s Mark is 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% barley).

The finish is a little short and unremarkable, but what did you expect?

 

Rating & Recommendations

Although there are plenty of tastier bourbons out there, Maker’s Mark fits its purpose a simple whisky, earning a rating of 81 out of 100.

Maker’s Mark is a smooth whisky for beginners.  I would liken it the bourbon version of Jameson Irish Whiskey; use this to introduce your friends to the world of whisky.

 

-Ryan

Feb 01

What’s on Your Shelf? (Part 2)

Whisky Collection February 2014It’s fun once in a while to share not only one whiskey on my shelf with my readers, but all of them.  Back in July, I posted Part 1 of the “What’s on Your Shelf?” series.  My collection has changed since then, and here it is:

What do you currently have in your cabinet or on your shelf?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

-Ryan

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