Jun 25

Seagram’s V.O. Canadian Whisky

Seagram's V.O. Canadian WhiskySeagram’s V.O. Blended Canadian Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $10 – $20 for 750 ML

Distiller: Unknown

Background

Call me a glutton for punishment, because this is my second review in a row on the bottom shelf of Canadian whiskies.  Last time, we checked out Canadian Club, the iconic brand that, at one point or another, could be found on most of our shelves.  This week, we’re checking out Seagram’s V.O., another popular mainstay among the Jim Beam and Jameson bottles commonly found in many rotations.

Review

If Canadian Club didn’t have much to it, V.O. really doesn’t have much to it.  It’s tough to get alcohol burning on your nostrils at 40%, but here we are.  Curious if the caramel color is food coloring (a Google search tells me this is correct), as this whisky noses like it’s been cut with water fresh off the still.

On the palate, I actually get medicinal grape flavor out of this one.  V.O. doesn’t have much wood to offer – just grain and alcohol.  The taste is slightly smoother than the nose, if that is redeeming in any way.  This whisky is simple, sweet, and oh so grainy.

The finish is pretty unremarkable; almost finishes like a vodka.  Yikes…

Rating & Recommendations

Seagram’s V.O. earns (and I mean earns) a rating of 64 out of 100.

This is a bottom of the barrel (pardon the pun) Canadian whisky, that’s really not even worth the bottom dollar you might pay.  There are better low-price whiskies out there.

 

-Ryan

Jun 11

Canadian Club Whisky – Review

Canadian Club WhiskyCanadian Club Blended Canadian Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $10 – $20 for 750 ML

Distiller: Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery

Background

What an iconic brand.  Canadian Club may not be what you think of when you think of top-quality whisky, but there’s no doubt it has a history all its own.  While Canadian whiskies may not always be my preference, I would be remiss not to include a review of Canadian Club on this blog at some point.

Review

The nose is very Canadian – light and airy.  40% ABV even seems too high.  Canadian Club has almonds, and is slightly sweet and basic.  It’s one small step above nosing a vodka.

Canadian Club tastes like your average, run-of-the-mill Canadian whisky.  It’s not very woody; not very much of anything.  It’s just kind of there.  It does have a creamy mouthfeel which is somewhat redeeming.  If anything, it’s better on the palate than on the nose.

The finish is a little tingly and bitter.

Rating & Recommendations

Canadian Club earns a rating of 71 out of 100.

Old school Canadian whisky has its place as either the smooth, easy sipper or the stuff meant to be mixed.  Canadian Club falls into the latter category.

 

-Ryan

May 28

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon – Review

Jim Beam Devil's Cut BourbonJim Beam Devil’s Cut Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

90 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: James B. Beam Distilling Co.

Background

The whiskey business is gimmicky.  And I’m ashamed to say it, but it seems that most of these gimmicks are coming straight from the U. S. of A.  Enter Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, a bourbon from the iconic distiller with a twist – the whiskey is apparently coming from inside the barrel’s wood.  Literally.  Here’s what the website says:

We use a proprietary process that extracts the rich bourbon trapped inside the barrel wood.  When ready, we then blend this liquid with extra-aged bourbon and bottle it at 90 proof for robust, premium bourbon with deep color, aroma and character.

Review

This bourbon noses very much like other Jim Beam products (go figure).  Jim Beam Devil’s Cut is simple, with scents of corn, rye, and charred oak.  There’s maybe a little more wood than the standard Jim Beam expression, followed by sugary sweet vanilla.

On the palate, Jim Beam Devil’s Cut exhibits grassy rye, with a bitter and off-putting taste at first.  There’s less wood here than on the nose; I’m not feeling it.  Corn sweetness begins to work its way in as you continue to sip.

This bourbon finishes a heck of a lot sweeter than I thought it would, with more vanilla.  The bitterness creeps its way back in at the tail end.

Rating & Recommendations

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut earns a sub-standard rating of 76 out of 100.

This is not a particularly great whiskey, but I didn’t expect all that much to begin with.  Sometimes all a brand has is a gimmick, and that seems to be the case here.

 

-Ryan

May 14

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve Scotch – Review

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve ScotchGlenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reseve Single Malt Scotch Whisky

86 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: The Glenfiddich Distillery

Background

Glenfiddich is a big producer of single malt Scotch.  I’ve sampled most of their range.  When the 14 Year Old arrived on the shelf in my local liquor store, I noticed that the label clearly stated “US Exclusive”.  I found that interesting.  I’ve certainly seen “Duty Free Exclusive” and labels of that nature, but never “US Exclusive” on a Scotch label.  I don’t know the full story, but it was intriguing enough for me to buy a bottle.

Review

The nose begins with malt and leather, with vanilla sneaking in to remind you of the bourbon barrel influence.  This becomes increasingly evident.  Not a bad nose at all on Glenfiddich 14 Year Old.

On the palate, there’s more malt with a bit of a bite at 43%.  Glenfiddich 14 Year Old has a fruity character like other expressions from the distillery’s portfolio.  This is tasty stuff – sweet but also slightly bitter.  The bitterness seems almost rye-like; it would be interesting to know which bourbon barrels were chosen for aging, and what the rye content was on the mashbill.

The bourbon influence disappears on the finish.  Glenfiddich 14 Year Old ends like a nice single malt Scotch with more fruit and malt.

Rating & Recommendations

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old earns a respectable rating of 85 out of 100.

This is not a bad whisky by any means.  I definitely sense the bourbon barrel aging more than other, similarly marketed single malts.  I would buy this whisky again.

 

-Ryan

Apr 30

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve Scotch – Review

Glenlivet Founder's Reserve ScotchThe Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Glenlivet Distillery

Background

We’re seeing a trend in whisky, moving from a shelf full of 8 year, 12 year, 18 year old whiskies, to a shelf where numbers are difficult to find.  This leads us to believe that distillers had not planned for the high whisky demand of today, and supply is limited.

Enter Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, the probable (inevitable?) replacement for the flagship Glenlivet 12 Year Old.

Review

My first impression on the nose is that this is much maltier than typical Glenlivet whiskies.  There’s leather and oak, a hint of the trademark Glenlivet pineapple, and some strawberries.  Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve noses like a solid, slightly sweet, single malt Scotch.

On the palate, malt is yet again at the forefront.  There’s charred oak, with nothing out of the ordinary (no sherry or bourbon barrel finish evident, and no peat or smoke).  There’s a touch of lemon noted while tasting Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve.  It’s easy drinking at 40%; a young and tasty whisky with a sweet side.

This whisky has the signature Glenlivet finish with malt balanced by citrus; somewhat long lasting,

Rating & Recommendations

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve earns a rating of 82 out of 100.

This no age statement whisky scores decent points with me,  but I’m not sure what makes this unique, competing against other entry-level expressions.  It will be interesting to watch Glenlivet’s path as they attempt to phase out their standard 12 Year Old.

 

-Ryan

Apr 16

Bushmills 16 Year Old Irish Whiskey – Review

Bushmills 16 Year Old Irish WhiskeyBushmills 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $70 – $80 for 750 ML

Distiller: The Old Bushmills Distillery

Background

Single malt Irish whiskeys are, apparently, on the rise.  Tullamore Dew has one (reviewed here), the new player Hyde has one (reviewed here), and several others sourced from major distilleries have them, as well.  I’m in no way opposed, as I have found the quality coming out of Ireland has been improved since distilleries started releasing single malts.

Bushmills 16 Year Old is the next on my list to review.  Their website says “Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey 16 Year Old is aged for 16 years in a combination of Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon-seasoned casks, then matured for several months in port wine barrels. The unique maturation process gives this single malt its distinct notes of juicy fruits, nuts and spice, as well as a hint of ruby redness. It’s best enjoyed neat or over ice.”

Full disclosure – I was given a sample by a colleague, hence the out-of-place photo.

Review

This whiskey begins with cherries on the nose, almost like a bourbon.  There’s malty goodness and mature, charred oak, followed by thick honey.  Bushmills 16 Year Old’s Irish heritage sneaks in masked slightly by the single malt style.  A very nice nose, indeed.

Malt is at the forefront of the taste of this whiskey.  Bushmills 16 Year Old packs more honey sweetness on the tongue, with peaches and cream and pineapple notes, not unlike the Glenlivet.  This one tastes mature – on a similar level to Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old.  Some could argue that the mouthfeel is a little thin at 40%, but nice nonetheless.

The finish contains more sweet and sour pineapple notes, followed by malt.  It’s also slightly bitter on the tail end.

Rating & Recommendations

Bushmills 16 Year Old earns a rating of 88 out of 100.

This is certainly one of the better Irish whiskeys out there, which proves to me (once again) that single malts reign supreme over the traditional Irish style.

 

-Ryan

Apr 03

Thistle Finch White Rye Whiskey – Review

Thistle Finch White Rye WhiskeyThistle Finch Small Batch White Rye Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $30 – $40 for 750 ML

Distiller: Thistle Finch Distilling LLC

 

Background

I recently posted a review of Bomberger’s, a sourced whiskey that I purchased at Thistle Finch distillery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  While I was there with my wife, we purchased a bottle of the distillery’s namesake Small Batch White Rye Whiskey.  While I am, admittedly, not a big fan of white dog, I find myself interested in sampling the local flavor.

 

Review

Thistle Finch White Rye noses like a bowl of Raisin Bran.  There are grainy notes with a heavy dose of sweet raisins; very sugary and vibrant.  It’s funny how sometimes new spirit just doesn’t seem to smell like it could ever turn into aged whiskey.  The barrel can really do some amazing things.

On the palate, I get breakfast cereal once again.  This whiskey is more sweet than spicy (contrary to dominant rye on the mashbill), with an oily texture.  Thistle Finch White Rye is pretty mellow for an unaged whiskey, but that could just be the 80 proof.  This whiskey tastes like open possibilities.

Thistle Finch White Rye is sweet and syrupy, with orange peel on the finish.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Thistle Finch White Rye earns a rating of 74 out of 100.

As white dog whiskeys go, this one is middle of the pack.  I’m still not impressed enough to drink regularly, but intrigued by what this Lancaster, Pennsylvania distillery may do in the future.

 

-Ryan

Mar 20

Milagro Tequila Reposado – Review

Milagro Tequila ReposadoLeyenda del Milagro Tequila Reposado

80 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: Tequilera Milagro

Background

Last month, I reviewed Don Julio Añejo, one of my “go-to” spirits when I’m not in the mood for a dram of whiskey.  While it is indeed a fine tequila, I noted that it just doesn’t seem to have the character and complexity of my favorite category of spirit (the namesake for this blog).  The more I thought about it, the more I considered that perhaps it’s the more-than-average time Don Julio spends in the barrel (not long compared to most whiskeys) in contrast to Blancos or Reposados.

Enter Milagro Reposado, an entry level tequila with a tall, funky bottle shape that invites you to pick it off the shelf.  Perhaps a little less time in the barrel will help this tequila get back to its roots.

Review

Milagro Reposado begins with in-your-face agave, a hint of oak, and freshly squeezed citrus on the nose.  You can smell the salt around the rim of a margarita glass with chips and salsa by your side.  Chlorine and sunscreen also run through my mind, as this tequila exudes the scents of summer.

On the palate, Milagro Reposado is earthy and intense, but not overpowering.  This is the way a tequila is meant to be, in my opinion.  There’s a touch of woodiness from the short time it spends in the barrel.  Milagro is salty and sweet; simple but very flavorful.

Milagro Reposado finishes with salt and lime.

Rating & Recommendations

Milagro Reposado earns a rating of 80 out of 100.

For the money, you can’t beat this tequila.  It’s an easy sipper with plenty of flavor.  I would recommend this to the novice and connoisseur alike, and will be seeing more bottles of this on my shelf.

 

-Ryan

Mar 05

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon – Review

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

113.3 Proof

Price Point: $30 – $40 for 375 ML

Distiller: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc.

 

Background

Ever walk into a liquor store, not knowing what you are going to buy.  And before you can even glimpse at the shelf, you see something exciting, sitting on the end cap, almost screaming out to you for you to buy it?  That’s what happened with me and Maker’s Mark Cask Strength – it was love at first sight.

 

Review

The nose on Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is surprisingly grassy right off the bat.  There’s fresh celery (leafy), along with soft wheat and charred oak.  Vanilla and caramel round it out this bourbon that’s not as intense as other barrel-proofers (a positive trait, in my opinion).

If the nose tricked you into thinking this wasn’t a big whisky, your first sip will prove that it is, indeed.  A big, unsuspecting burn quickly fades opening up to big flavor.  There are more earthy notes followed by wheat and sweet caramel.  The barley in the mashbill is evident here.

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength finishes with more burn and sweet vanilla notes.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength earns a rating of 87 out of 100.

This whisky is a couple steps above the standard Maker’s Mark, but this one certainly lives up to the hype.  The price for a 375 ML isn’t cringe-worthy, but it’s also not something I would be willing to pay on an ongoing basis.

 

-Ryan

Feb 20

Bomberger’s Whiskey – Review

Bomberger's WhiskeyBomberger’s Distillery American Straight Whiskey

86 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Bomberger’s Distillery

 

Background

The story of Bomberger’s is an interesting one.  I first heard of this whiskey on Twitter, and realized it was being bottled (not distilled) at Thistle Finch Distillery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – not far from where I live.  My wife and I made the trip to the distillery and purchased a bottle.

Time passed before I would open the bottle, and the battle for the Bomberger’s name/brand began.  I won’t get into the details here; you can simply Google for “Bomberger’s” and read all about it.  What I can say is that the old website I had originally linked on this post as a draft no longer exists, which tells me that we likely won’t be seeing more bottles of this stuff (at least with the label pictured and the whiskey I describe) going forward.

 

Review

Similar to Jameson, Bomberger’s starts out with the scent of paper (and maybe a touch of ink).  It takes a while to open up and reveal a blend of bourbon and rye aromas.  Dark cherries and chocolate finally come into play.  Bomberger’s smells sugary sweet with a little bit of spicy rye influence.

There’s more pine and peppery notes on the palate than what could be detected on the nose.  Bomberger’s offers citrus flavors with corn syrup and lightly charred oak.  This whiskey tastes young (and it is), but not terrible.  The taste grows on you as you sip.

Bomberger’s finishes with sugar sweet cherries and toasted oak.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Bomberger’s Whiskey earns a rating of 81 out of 100.

This is a sourced whiskey that doesn’t seem to have its own unique identity.  The juice isn’t bad, but it needs more time in the barrel or something different in the mix to make it really special.  We likely won’t get to experience a more mature or different Bomberger’s because of the dispute, and that’s a shame.

 

-Ryan

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