Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rittenhouse 21 Rye Review

Thanks to a local whiskey friend for supplying a sample.

Nose: Rich, buttery rye with complements of maturity in all the right places. The profile of the rye features a lot of rich, fruity tones. Apricots, honey, cinnamon, and a lot of brown sugar. It is a sweeter rye profile, but not quite as sweet as the Sazarac 6 or THH. A few select briny, salty notes keep this nose from being one dimensional. Smells younger than 21 years. If not for the intense hue of this product I would have blindly guessed it was much younger than it actually is.

Taste: Yeah, never mind about the age of the nose thought. The age comes through on the palate in spades. Intensely dry, sharpened rye delivers a dominant peppery note. It’s hard to translate into other rye flavor profiles, there’s just a pure, loud rye whiskey note that really masks everything else. Wood influence is surprisingly nuanced, but definitely present and contributes a smaller bitter/sour note. The mouthfeel of this product is fully developed. Some floral notes and cloves strike at the back of your tongue when you think you have an idea of where this is going.

Finish: Strong pepper notes with a touch of salty brine ride this one out for a long time, but it’s pretty subtle. Long, but light, if that makes any sense to you. Weirdly salty (in a good way)

Balance: Rittenhouse 21 offers a matured high aged rye that puts maturity in all its right places with a very limited wood trade off. The word that keeps coming back to me on this one is “Pure”

Stupid letter grade: B NOTE: If you didn’t already know I am an age queen and have a really hard time getting into anything even over 12 years. If age isn’t such a deal breaker to you (or even your thing...weirdo) this is getting into A- territory.

Would I buy again: At retail. See above.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

OYO Michelone’s Reserve Bourbon

2/8/14 OYO Michelone’s Reserve Bourbon 45%

This sample was provided to me as a generous addition in a recent trade I made.

OYO is made at Middle West Spirits, which I have never heard of before today.

Nose: I don’t know what is is (besides possibly confirmation bias), but there’s something in this nose that immediately identifies itself as a micro distilled product. Maybe it’s a green note, or something in the phenolic notes, or since I haven’t tried to ID it blind maybe my hubris. There are some expected green notes. This product is identified as a four grain bourbon, but the dominant notes are rye and young corn. Some allspice and pepper round out the nose. If you really dig in there there are some custardy, sweet notes in there too.

Taste: Unlike the nose. Oak vanillins, soft wheat contribute a fruity, dessert-like sweetness that is cut sharply by some younger corn notes. An oily mouthfeel complements this product well. Early on some faint cherry notes can be detected.

Finish: Lingering sweet notes quickly transition to peppery. Alcohol notes, which have been so far evasive, rumble in at the finish to continue to a strong experience. Tiny marks of dry oak creep in there at the end. .

Balance: I’ll skip to the chase. This is the best micro distilled product I’ve had short of a wee sample of Balcones Single Malt. Taking off the qualifiers of ‘micro distilled,’ this product has legs to compete against any straight american whiskey out there. Bottled young and a little wild with all the twists and turns that entails. A quirky product that goes quickly from young and green to sweet, to dry. Great experience.

Before today I also thought that Balcones aside, microdistilled products lacked the production value, numbers, and resources required to make a good whiskey. I’m going to have to reconsider that.

Stupid Letter Grade: B/B+

Would I buy again: Yes.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

TheBoy's first Stitzel-Weller Review: Old Fitzgerald Prime 80 proof

2/2/14 Old Fitzgerald Prime 7 Years 80 Proof

Tax stamped mini bottle. Aside from JPS18, this is my first S-W.

Nose: Full, creamy. Surprising amount of alcohol fumes for something that’s 80 proof. Wheated, grainy, bready nose but a little more complexity and murkiness than a modern 80 proofer. Lots of brown sugar, maybe a little bit of raisins and cinnamon. It’s filled with that bright sweetness only a wheated product can bring. The sweetness is cut with a little bit of sulfur-like, briny bitterness that adds to the complexity.

Taste: First flavor I got was raisins. From there some bitter oak and hints of orange rind. Huge mouthfeel, it instantly separates in your mouth into oil and water. Just an outstanding mouthfeel. Specks of flat cherry coke, whisps of pepper. The overpowering element of this is, for lack of a better comparison, a wheated bourbon. Maturity is appropriate. Wood and grain are in check. A balanced product.

Finish: Minty. As the light bitterness drives off there are some aromatic mint notes that quickly dissipates. It’s a light, simple finish; which I welcome compared to the tannic tongue that I encounter with some bourbons. There are worst things in life than being clean and fleeing.

Balance: This met my expectations for my first taste of a standard shelf bottling of a Stitzel-Weller bottling. Specifically, it was good, not great. Wheated products have never been my thing and this isn’t going to change it, but I did encounter a good wheated product today. A common theme I see quickly mentioned in S-W products is the mouthfeel, and I have never seen a mouthfeel like that in a product that’s only 7 years old before

Stupid letter grade: B+

Would I buy again: Maybe, I need to consider the premium before I think about it.

Bonus: I have saved my last two or three sips to compare to the other wheated bourbon I have open in my home right now: a HH Larceny. Here’s a quick comparison

Nose: The OF has serious legs on the Larceny. There is a much heavier spice profile in the OF, and surprisingly way more wood in the Larceny. The Larceny is considerably more dank than the OF, and considerably less sweet. Larceny has a much drier, grainer nose. The alcohol on the nose of the Larceny is considerably less pronounced (Larceny is 92 proof).

Taste: Larceny tastes a lot like the Old Fitzgerald Prime I recently had from HH. Again, considerably less spice and liveliness in the Larceny. It shouldn’t surprise you that a HH product has much more wood in the palate than a contemporary.

Winner: OF by a mile. This surprises me, as I honestly thought I would not find a considerable difference between the two.

My quick grade for Larceny C-/D