Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bowmore Darkest 15 Year 43%

Color: Light copper brown, hopefully from the wood and not from a coloring agent

Nose: Modest amounts of peat complemented by a significant brine and fruity, sherry sweetness. Some sulfuric and woody bitterness. Matchsticks.

Taste: Balanced peat and wood. Iodine and seaweed. A nice mouthfeel that complements the 15 year age statement. Oloroso sherry is mostly covered by the light, bowmore house style peat, but there is some sweetness that breaks out. The bottling proof is nice, not overpowering. The taste is good but it quickly yields to the finish.  

Finish: Sulfur, burnt paper, acrid wood, orange zest. It’s long and bitter, and not my style.

Balance: This would be a middle of the road expression before the finish. The early taste is relatively clean, but the finish is muddling and weird. There are some things I respect about this Islay -- an age statement, clearly expressed wood finish, no stupid gaelic name.

Stupid letter grade: C

Would I buy again: No

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hancock's President's Reserve 88.9 proof

Nose: Whoa, char. Charcoal bricks, soot, matchsticks, and a little more sulfur. Lots of corn and a surprisingly low rye influence from a high rye mashbill.

Taste: Corn, heavy char, and not a lot else. Late rye notes transition into the spirit. Watery mouthfeel, but no green notes or anything else that denotes immaturity. A little bit of white oak comes through after all the soot and charcoal. Few pepper notes and few fruit notes, this one is all about the char.

Finish: Smooth oak and a nice combination of rye and oak bitterness (probably oak first). Reasonable duration.

Balance: I took me a long time to figure out exactly what was happening in this bottle. Jefferson’s President’s Reserve is in the price point of a lot of other single barrel offerings (think Blantons) but in my opinion it is not as good a lot of other single barrel offerings. I am not a big fan of this product, but I did have a lot of fun picking out exactly what it was that I didn’t like about it.

Stupid letter grade: C

Would I buy again. No.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ballantine's Blended Scotch Whisky Aged 17 Years

0/18/13 Ballantine’s Blended Scotch Aged 17 Years 43%

Nose: Honey sweet, smooth barley and hints of grain whiskey. Balanced smoke. Light oak sugars, a touch of vanilla. Sugar cookie salts. Light pepper and spice, but overall this is an easy nose. Ex-bourbon barrels add a little but a lot.

Taste: Classic blended barley and grain whiskey. Slight hints of smoke and pepper. Light sweet bourbon notes can be found. Bits of orange rind, bitters. Complex. Age complements the product nicely. The 17 year mark is not stealing the show, but its contributing perfectly to the product.

Finish: Barley starts to come out of the blend and into the center. Hits of pepper and oak bitters arrive. More citrus rind. Flavors are elusive. Whispy.

Balance: A good as blends get in my book. Balance. Malt. Grain. Smoke.

Stupid letter grade: A

Would I buy again. If I ever find myself on a delta flight from Asia to the US, yes.

DYC 8 Anos

Shamelessly jacked from some Spanish website
Color: Really light straw. As least as light as a 10 year islay, maybe lighter

Nose: Very light (but still dominating) peat. Coastal aroma, light barley. Really that’s it. It’s a clean, simple nose.

Taste: A light and straightforward blend. Peated notes arrive early and lightly and linger until the finish. Lightly oily mouthfeel. Grain alcohol palate is fine, not really noticeable but it’s not bad. Elusive barley notes are present after a little reflection on it.

Finish: Easily the highlight of the product. Lemon rind bitters sneak out of the taste as the smoke subsides. The rind travels the width of your tongue like a Szechuan peppercorn (sorry about the obscure spice note). Finish is accommodated by some surprisingly strong tingling for a 40% product. Faint hints of acetone.

Balance: A nice lightweight blend that brings just a little uniqueness based on its origin. I wonder where the peat comes from. I don’t think of the vast Spanish peat fields when I think of Spain. I’d speculate, based on this being a Beam product that the peat is coming from reuse of a Laphroaig barrel.

Stupid letter grade: B -- take that with a larger grain of salt, this product is way outside my wheelhouse. If your passion is blends (and maybe from there light blends) I would give a higher grade.

Would I buy it again: Yes. This was a great souvenir from a vacation in Spain. The best souvenir is the kind that you eat or drink.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Four Roses Single Barrel 2013 Limited Edition

So long, friend
10/12/13 4 Roses 2013 Limited Edition Single Barrel 59.9% Barrel 3-3L (13 years OSBK)

Nose: Intense dark cherry and brown sugar. Fruity, bright profile that has a deceptively low on alcohol and high on sweets. High “B” rye mashbill gives it that classic 4R house style. It’s a special release but it’s definitely a Four Roses bottle. Hint of green, minty aromatics.

Taste: Early blasts of spicy cinnamon and vanilla quickly retreat into a fully developed, fantastic orange rind note. For all the sweetness in the nose, it is not here on the taste. Not a lot of sweetness in taste profile, even the rye seems a little more bitter than usual, but the rye complement is very nice.

Finish: Long, clean, delicious bitters and warmth. Oak lingers complemented by general spiciness. Smooth. Long. Excellent.

Balance: What I want in a special edition. Tasty, high proof, and in the right balance of uniqueness yet a preservation of the house style. Four Roses has always struck me as a classic bourbon. 4R’s classic rye spice, oak, and middle aged profile are just textbook to me. This 2013 bottle was a great trip into limited edition bourbon.

Stupid letter grade: A

Would I buy again: I did.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weller Vertical: Old Weller Antique, Weller 12 Year, and William Larue Weller

Color: OWA and Weller 12 are nearly the same color. Weller 12 may be a little darker. Maybe because I want it to be darker. WLW is defiately slightly darker, and also appears to be more turbid than the other two.


Weller House Style: Faint wheat nose, Some phenolic aromatics, strong dark cherry notes. Subtle baking aromas.

OWA107: Younger bourbon smell. Some acetone, floral notes. A very light sharpness.

W12: Vintage oak notes are beginning to appear. Dark cherry nose is much more focused. Phenolic nose is subdued, a background aroma of something like vinegar is there.

WLW: A cross between the two. Oak notes somewhat more developed than OWA, but not as high as Weller 12. Spices are again between the two. A nice age, strengths of both young and old.


Weller House Style: All feature that smooth, directed flavor profile wheat offers in substitute for the floral spice complication offered by rye. All have a balance of oak and spice that mingle at different levels between the two products. Whether you are into the more raw spice of youth or the refined oak flavors of old is going to divide the products and where your preference lies.

OWA: As you may expect this is directed towards the spice and raw nature of immaturity, still the more harsh notes of young spirit has been pulled out by the oak. The oak notes are young and fresh. There is a hint of the feinty, vinegar notes found in youth, but they’ve been mellowed out pretty far. I am a fan of the presentation proof, it’s definitely not underpowered but it is in no need of water drops, breathing, or other fancy techniques. Just drink it.

Weller 12: Much more matured, refined. Oak is more present, but there’s also a green, vinegar note that is also more present than the 107. Spices are diminished. This one is all about the oak.

WLW: Barrel strength offering brings out the spice. The cherry notes are intense, uncut, barrel proof product contributes to a full, oily mouthfeel. Cherry spice, wheat notes, and intense oak meld into a unified, full palate flavor profile.


OWA: Spices linger, light burn appears finishes in a moderate length.

Weller 12: Any green oak notes quickly dissipate. Oak has a subtle linger. Very long, very clean finish.

WLW: Finish is harder to evaluate; the barrel strength nature of this product is anesthetizing.  But before that numbness the balanced 12 and 107 motif continues. Some oak notes, some continued spice. The best of both worlds.

Balance: Full line of wheaters from BT. The unreviewed Weller Special Reserve, the spicy, younger Old Weller Antique 107, the older, more matured Weller 12, and the special release, uncut William Larue Weller from the Buffalo Trace Antique line. Take your pick, all these products have something special to offer.

Stupid letter grades:

Weller 12: B
Old Weller Antique: B+/A-
William Larue Weller: A

Would I buy again: Weller 107 yes. Weller 12: Rarely. William Larue Weller: Yes for now, but if I ever had to cut down my whiskey budget this would be vulnerable to the slightly lower quality but considerably cheaper Old Weller Antique

SPECIAL BONUS: Tasting of the Straight Bourbon Weller 107/ Weller 12 blend.

Wow this really is as good as everyone says it is. I’m not a blender. I generally respect the bottling strengths of distillers probably more than I should. I will be making more of this in the future.