Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky

I’ve enjoyed all the releases by Old Forester recently in the Whisky Row Series including the Old Forester 1910.  This 93 proof Bourbon is the fourth in the series and is double barreled. I found a bottle in SC for $50 and was lucky to snag it. North Carolina did not get it when it was released so around here it has been made of unobtanium. The aroma is filled with brown sugar, raisins, light cinnamon, low oak, sweet corn, and hints of leather. Similarly the flavor has restrained brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, corn, oak, and leather. The aftertaste is lasting light pleasant oak and hints of alcohol. In fact, the alcohol really only shows it’s presence in the post consumption warming. There have been nights where I had this and was suitably impressed and a few where I questioned if it was worth the price of admission. In the end it’s a solid Bourbon and is priced about right. If you see a bottle snag it and give it a whirl. I don’t think you will be disappointed. It’s a toss up for me as to whether I prefer this one more or the 1870 release.
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Old Ezra Extra Aged

Last year Ezra Brooks released Old Ezra Extra Aged which was a barrel strength Bourbon ringing in at 117 proof.  The $40 price tag was quite a bit higher than the previous Old Ezra bottom shelf variant which was quite good so I had high hopes. The earlier made a heck of cocktail and while not especially complex, was also a decent drinker. I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with the new one. At times I find it interesting and at others not so much. As I drain the bottle tonight I guess I land in the middle of the road on this one. The nose is cinnamon, spice, alcohol, leather, and oak coupled to brown sugar. The flavor was less complex, but still somehow charming with impressions of spice, especially cinnamon, low alcohol, leather, and again oak with brown sugar. The aftertaste had light lasting cinnamon, alcohol, and brown sugar. It’s a nice glass all things considered, but for some reason the price of admission seems just a tad bit high. If you haven’t had it and run into a bottle then take it home and give it a whirl.

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Old Overholt Bonded Rye

For an inexpensive rye whiskey finding a bottle of Old Overholt Bonded Rye was a bit of a pain. With a regular price of $23 it is certainly affordable, I think I picked up this one on sale at sub 20 beans. I’m a sucker for Bottled In Bond so finding this 100 proof Rye was a necessity. Reviews were mixed, but I didn’t let that deter me in snagging a bottle and I am sure glad I ignored the masses. This rye is subdued, but quite nice. The aroma is filled with spicy rye with light aspects of alcohol coupled with sweet caramel. The flavor is more of the same with light oak characteristics, very slight leather, and restrained alcohol. The finish is light with a low alcohol presence, rye spice, pepper, leather, and caramel. My suggestion is to ignore the snobbish reviews and go snag yourself a $25 bottle of rye. This can have a slot in my bar day and day out. Give it a whirl for yourself.

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Jim Beam Repeal Batch

A friend told me I should try Jim Beam Repeal Batch and so I went in search of a bottle. The 86 proof Bourbon pays tribute to Beam’s first batch of Bourbon after Prohibition ended. While it is tasty and at an economical price point of $17 it’s just tad bit on the boring side. It has a little of everything and not much of anything. It’s a touch of sweet, a touch of oak, a hint of pepper spice, a bit of leather, a little sweetness, etc. I could discuss the aroma, flavor, and finish, but why waste the time to go into great detail on a Bourbon which is a muted conglomeration of a myriad of aromas and flavors. I can think of less expensive Bourbons which are more flavorful and complex. Not for Beam fans this is a must have or at least a must try. Will I go out and snag another bottle, no way, but if someone asked if I wanted a pour I would certainly take her for a spin around the dance floor. So if you are a Beam fan be sure to snag a bottle, otherwise you might want to let it gather dust on the shelf unless you spot it on sale.

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Mellow Corn

I’m a sucker for anything Bottled In Bond and have been trying to work my way through many of the old standards. One which had proven elusive in NC is Mellow Corn which is a Heaven Hill brand. NCABC has it on the special order list, but you cannot go to the ABC store and pick it up. I happened upon a bottle at a crappy liquor store in Tennessee and brought it home. From the get go this was not a favorite which may explain why it has hung out in the bar for so long. It lacks complexity and seems to be defined by an alcoholic nose which is filled with corn. The flavor is very similar with the addition of sweetness, oak, and leather. The finish lingers with more light oak and leather and an alcohol burn which seems a bit high for only 100 proof. If you are willing to order a case of 12 you can get MC from NCABC for $10.55 per bottle. I think at the crappy TN liquor store I paid $13. While I don’t hate it, it’s just not a go to for me and it just a bit difficult to consume. Of course if you want a complete journey through Bottled In Bond you cannot overlook Mellow Corn.

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The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey

I happened to notice NCABC was having a sale on The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey and searched high and low and finally snagged a $25 bottle a few months back. Turns out the search was worth it. This 40% abv Irish Whiskey is matured in Oak Bourbon Casks which may explain why I liked it so much. The aroma was filled with fruit, light pepper, oak, and a sweet citrus note. The flavor had a delicate sweet malt character with light citrus, fruit, pepper, oak, and hints of leather. The finish had just enough alcohol to remind you this was a spirit, but enough residual sweetness to keep you reaching for the glass to take another sip. As far as Irish Whiskeys go this one actually showed some complexity and was quite interesting. It doesn’t appear to be going on sale anytime soon so snag yourself a bottle at full NC retail which is currently $30 and enjoy. Now I’m on the hunt for the 8 year old version!

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1792 Bottled In Bond

As I continue working my way through the 1792 lineup I find them all to be quite tasty. The latest bottle consumed is no exception. 1792 Bottled In Bond is a lower proof than most of the 1792 lineup at 100 proof due to the BiB designation. The recipe for this is touted for having a high rye content which isn’t readily apparent, but isn’t hidden either. The price of admission according to NCABC is 38 beans, but I think I paid a bit more. The aroma was filled with pepper spice and cinnamon with hints of rye and wafts of alcohol. The flavor was caramel with an oak presence coupled to estery banana and light rye spice. The finish has more of the ester with hints of pepper and cinnamon. For me it was tasty, but I would not run out and stand in line for another bottle. A tad bit high in the ester and alcohol department. It could be each yearly release is slightly different so if I run into another bottle I may pick it up to see if my impression is consistent. So for me it’s a coin toss as to whether you should snag a bottle or leave it for someone else. Probably my least favorite 1792 thus far, but still a tasty glass.

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Johnnie Walker White Walker

I feel like a traitor writing a review of this Scotch. Most of my friends and probably several people who have followed this blog over the years know I am an avid Game of Thrones fan and have been showcasing the beers from Ommegang for a long time. Johnnie Walker White Walker was the first Game of Thrones Scotch release from Diageo and it is a blend which includes single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish. So let’s break it down.

The Good
It comes in a temperature-sensitive ink technology label (themocromic ink) which reveals a special message when it becomes cold.

The Bad
Serving this Scotch cold. Heck, serving this Scotch room temperature or at all. Also the message wasn’t all that special although I did like they blue eye glow when cold.

The Ugly
Make that the ugly truth. This Scotch blows cold. This Scotch blows at room temperature neat. I suspect this Scotch just blows no matter how you try to consume it. I started cold to see the message and thought it would be a miracle if ice cold this was good. It was decidedly not good. It was fusel with citrus notes and alcohol. After warming it was much better, but still fusel with citrus notes and alcohol coupled to caramelized sugar.

In the end the $40-50 price point is far too steep a price to pay for a thermal reacting ink bottle of rubbing alcohol. At half the price this is still crap. At a quarter of the price it would still be a hard pass. Do yourself a favor and find something you like more and enjoy that instead of purchasing this.

PS: Whoever was responsible for this blend should be introduced to Ramsay Snow (Bolton).

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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch A117

I really wanted to love Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bach A117 ever since it showed up on the local shelf in 2017, but it has not been an easy bottle to embrace. At the time my MO was to first try each Bourbon neat, then with a cube if it wasn’t stellar neat. This one was not remotely acceptable neat as it was alcoholic and with a strong vegetal note. I’ve always liked Elijah Craig, but this one seemed like it needed some work. At 127 proof I expected it to be somewhat alcoholic, but never wanted to smell vegetables. No problem I thought, let’s drop a cube in and see what happens. Unfortunately not enough to tame this beast and make the vegetables go away. Because I didn’t appreciate it neat and didn’t love it with a cube it has languished in the bar for a very long time. Finally I thought to try it with a splash which would proof it down and determined if I used cold, not room temp, water and made the splash approximately 1/4 of the volume I had poured the vegetables went away and the beast was tamed. The aroma with water presented a brown sugar character with leather and oak. The flavor had more brown sugar, but also a nice peppery/cinnamon spice and still an alcohol burn post consumption. I’m glad I found a way to make this work out since I could never bring myself to ditch a 50 buck bottle of Bourbon. Reviews on this from others have been mixed and perhaps not as harsh as my critique. All other 2017 and 2018 releases have garnered rave reviews so this may just be a fluke. It certainly won’t stop me from purchasing more Elijah Craig, but if you somehow happen upon an A117 my suggestion would be to skip it.

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1792 High Rye

Happened upon a bottle of 1792 High Rye at a slightly higher price than normal retail and decided to snag it rather than try to hunt for it all over. The typical price in NC is $38, but I don’t recall ever spotting it on the shelf. This one rings in at 94.3 proof and uses a higher than normal percentage of rye in the Bourbon. The aroma is quite nice and filled with peppery rye and brown sugar with hints of sherry and cherries. The flavor is in the same vein with more peppery rye, dark cherries, brown sugar, and lasting low impression of alcohol long into the aftertaste. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one, but I found it quite enjoyable and easily finished off the fifth without any struggle or second guessing. It is a tad bit sweet and the sherry/cherry presence is a bid overdone, but if I could snag bottles at NC retail I would keep it nearby most of the time. If you happen upon it, grab one and give it a whirl. It’s certainly worth a try and falls right in line with the NC price point.

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