The Irishman Single Malt

I happened across a bottle of The Irishman Single Malt at a Virginia ABC store. I cannot remember how much coin they took off me, but currently they price is 45 beans. According to the website each batch of Single Malt is limited to 6,000 bottles and is aged in Oak Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry Casks. My particular bottle was batch 1506/2017 and 40% ABV. The aroma was sweet malt with peaches, tropical fruits, vanilla, and a low hint of oak. The flavor was sweet peach, more tropical fruit, pineapple, low vanilla, very slight oak, passing impressions of leather, and a peppery finish. The alcohol was quite restrained until post consumption which reminds everyone this is an Irish Whiskey. After thoroughly enjoying The Irishman Founder’s Reserve I fully expected this one to be wonderful and the truth is it just didn’t blow my socks off. At $40-45 it’s $15-20 more than Founder’s Reserve which is a much more interesting glass of Irish Whiskey. So drink it if you have it, but choose the less expensive path if you’re in the market for a bottle.

No matter what, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

PS: Wash those hands!!!


Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour

A friend who judges Scotch suggested I snag a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour Single Malt Scotch Whisky so I did. The bottle just so happened to be on special at NCABC for $50 and the price escalated this month so the timing to snag a bottle was perfect. This Single Malt Scotch is 86 proof/43% abv and pays homage to the area’s Viking roots. At first I was quite disappointed in the bottle as it just didn’t trip my trigger. I kept trying it with similar results until at least 2/3 of the bottle had been drained and suddenly my impression changed. I typically never pass initial judgement and in this case that proved to be the best course. The aroma is filled with floral sweet malt, leather, brown sugar, a light alcohol presence, and citrus. The flavor had a very low subtle peat note, citrus, floral notes, sweet malt, leather, and a low alcohol note. The finish was quite pleasant with low peat, citrus, leather, and alcohol lasting into the aftertaste. As I mentioned I was initially not a fan and felt the bottle lacked complexity. Later I came around and believe most anyone who likes a subtle presence of smoke would enjoy this bottle. At 50 beans it’s a must have, but at the current NCABC price of $60 it’s just a tad bit too high. If you find a 50 buck or less bottle snag it and enjoy!


OBAN 14 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Not quite sure where I picked up a bottle of Oban 14 along the way. NCABC runs with a street price of $95 and there is no way I would have paid that much. I’m thinking I picked this up for $60-70 somewhere along the way. Anyway, the proof on this is 86 which rings in at 43% ABV. This one I found nice from start to finish. It’s an enjoyable glass with a nose filled with fruits (dark and dried), light spice, low alcohol, and a pleasant sweet undertone of malt. The flavor was similarly restrained yet complex with sweet malt, dried fruit, retrained low alcohol, light pepper spice, and a low presence of leather. The OBAN website mentioned salt and I can see a bit of that, but I don’t want anyone to think of this as salty, it’s just a subtle flavor which provides complexity as opposed to a briny nature. Unfortunately at NCABC pricing this is a pass for me. I cannot bring myself to shell out a Benjamin for a bottle unless my socks blow across the room. In MA it sells for $65, in SC it is $90, in VA it is $80, and in NJ it is $75. If I could snag it for $65 it’s going to be in the bar all the time, however at NC or SC prices it’s a bit too much for my tastes. Anyway if you see a bottle for $75 or less buy it and drain it.


Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

In late 2019 Baker’s changed from a Small Batch Bourbon to a seven year minimum age Single Barrel Bourbon. I was quite excited to find a bottle of the new Single Barrel while NCABC was having a sale on Baker’s ($55) and before they increased the price. The neck label declares the Bourbon was barreled in 01-2011 and was 8 years 6 month in age. The serial number was 000027306 from warehouse CL-D and the proof was 107. After purchasing I raced home to pull the cork on the new fancy schmancy bottle which was ultra cool looking. Imagine my surprise when I found a Single Barrel Bourbon which didn’t blow my socks off. Thinking back I recall liking the Small Batch better. Anyway, the nose was filled with oak, brown sugar, leather, pepper, cherries/dark fruits, and alcohol. The flavor was pleasant brown sugar, oak, leather, light pepper, more light dark fruits, and alcohol. Had I only had a single glass and stopped my impression would have been the bottled lacked complexity. Over time as the bottle drained it grew on me. The alcohol was present, yet restrained, and the oak lets you know this is a Single Barrel Bourbon. I’m still struggling to determine if the complexity is high enough to command the price point. Would I suggest you rush out and snag a bottle? Only if the price point is less than what I paid, $55. Anything more and you must make a conscious decision to purchase. Of course if it is less I’ll snag more as it is quite drinkable. I do realize other bottles might have better complexity so I shouldn’t count this one out quite so quickly, but I want any bottle which costs more than $50 to be worth the price of admission.


Old Elk Single Barrel Cask Strength Picks

Our local Bourbon group picked two barrels of Old Elk which were the first Old Elk Single Barrel Cask Strength bottles distributed in NC. One barrel was affectionately named “First In Flight” and was 108.2 proof while the second barrel was dubbed “Second To None” and was 106.9 proof. The price point was $61 for each bottle including taxes. I was excited to try the Old Elk Single Barrel since the standard offering in NC is blended. Another reason for excitement is their Master Distiller, Greg Metze, was previously the distiller at MWGP. Readers should be familiar with MWGP as many sourced Bourbons and Ryes originate at the Indiana distillery. The bottles were ultra cool with the custom labels and stoppers which listed the group name. My personal preference was Second To None over First In Flight and while I didn’t take notes on the flavor, it was filled with all the standard attributes of oak, brown sugar, light spice, and restrained alcohol despite the higher proofs. I would have preferred a bit more complexity and a slightly lower proof, but they were not my picks. I tend to gravitate to 100 proof Bourbons and these did exhibit a bit more alcohol than my preference and I’m not inclined to drink with ice or a splash anymore so I only tried them neat. As an experiment I mixed the two to see the result and still preferred Second To None. They were decidedly different in flavor with First In Flight being more restrained and having a lighter color. I’m still trying to decide if the price point was just a bit much, but to have a couple of the first bottles in NC it was worth the price of admission.


J.W. Dant Bottled In Bond

J.W. Dant is a special order item in NC and until recently was only available if an ABC Board decided to buy a case or you purchased a case of the Bourbon. It’s not much of a stretch to purchase a case when it rings in at less than $13 per bottle, but when it’s an unknown quantity purchasing 12 bottles it a tough row to hoe. Anyway, the Angier ABC Board decided it was no problem to buy a case and sell it one bottle at a time and I was lucky enough to snag one from them. This Bourbon is a rye-based Heaven Hill product which is Bottle In Bond. The aroma presents the rye spice, with oak, brown sugar, pepper, cherries, and light wafts of alcohol. The flavor is light with rye, brown sugar, oak, cherries, slight pepper, and a light lasting alcohol flavor. The finish leaves rye and brown sugar with a definite alcohol warming post consumption. While tasty, the Bourbon is not overly complex. Having a bottle at the ready would always be a wise decision at this price point. I’ve seen some mixed reviews, probably the ones looking down the nose are from snobs who aren’t willing to give an inexpensive Bourbon a fair shake. This one isn’t overly complex, but is quite tasty and with such an affordable price point you should give it a whirl!


Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

When Knappogue Castle 12 Year went on sale in NC I picked up a bottle. At 40 beans it was a bit pricey for Irish Whiskey, but it was also single malt so I figured why not.  The triple distilled whiskey is aged for 12 years in Bourbon casks and it is a sourced whiskey, but a brief search did not yield the origin. The aroma was filled with estery banana, pepper, malt, and whifts of light leather. The flavor had more banana, candy sweetness, light pepper, honeysuckle, tropical fruits, and a lasting light spice impression. The finish was tropical with honeysuckle, low alcohol, and light spice. While tasty the money juice character was far too strong for it to be one of my favorites. Had this rolled in at 10 bucks lower I might be more enchanted, but at the purchased price point there are other Irish offerings which best this hands down. If you are looking to try all the Irish Whiskeys you can then certainly give this one a whirl, otherwise the price of admission is too high for this whiskey.


Smooth Ambler Old Scout 107

Our local group ended up with a Smooth Ambler Old Scout 107 pick and it was my first taste of Smooth Ambler. This bottle was from Barrel #12491 and dated 4/15/19.  This is an American Whiskey which is a blend of old and new whiskey which keeps it from being labeled as a Bourbon. At $35 I jumped at the chance to snag a bottle and while I found it enjoyable, this whiskey seemed to lack a bit of complexity. It was filled with a nose of brown sugar and cinnamon with leather, pepper, and wafts of alcohol. The flavor was more of the same with sweet brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper, oak, and an alcohol burn which reminded you this tipped the scales at 53.5% ABV. It was an enjoyable glass, but the roughness of the alcohol and over the top spice made me have second thoughts more than once as I reached for the bottle. If you asked me if this was a Bourbon I would say yes, but the rough nature reminds you this needs a little more time to develop fully. I’m glad our group selected one, but if I had missed the opportunity I would not have been overly disappointed. I may have to give some of the Smooth Ambler Bourbons a whirl, but probably won’t return to the American Whiskey.

Old Scout

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

I heard good things and saw quite a bit of excitement surrounding the release of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey so when it hit our local ABC I had to pick up a bottle to see for myself. At 60 beans the price was certainly premium so I had high hopes for this Tennessee Whiskey with a unique history. Take a few minutes and peruse the website to learn about Nearest Green and his place in distilling history. So let’s get to the heart of the matter, what I thought of the Whiskey. At 100 proof it landed right in the sweet spot of what I prefer in my Whiskey or Bourbon. At $60 the price of admission was a bit hard on my wallet. I’ve come to the conclusion at $40 this would have been a shining star, but at the higher price point it’s rather pedestrian and lacks complexity. From start to finish you know this is no Kentucky Bourbon, rather a rough around the edges Tennessee Whiskey. The aroma is strong with oak and leather coupled to brown sugar and spice. The flavor is rather one dimensional with light oak, leather, more brown sugar, light spice, and an alcohol burn thrown in for good measure. While I liked it, I just couldn’t love it due to the price point. At $40 I’d tell you to run out and snag a bottle, at $60 I’d suggest you wait until you find it for less. If you love Tennessee Whiskey this might just be your cup of tea, but for me it’s a one and done.


1792 Full Proof

The 1792 family of Bourbons is quickly becoming a favorite and 1792 Full Proof is no exception. Typically the high proof Bourbons are not my favorites because I drink my Bourbon neat nine times out of ten. When I came across a Full Proof at $45 I knew I had to try the 125 proof beast to see if it could be tamed. What I found was the alcohol is so restrained in this Bourbon it needs no splash or cube to be enjoyable. It does blossom on the palate when followed with water, but by itself it is pleasant, complex, and the alcohol seems much lower. The aroma is complex brown sugar, black pepper, cinnamon, oak, hints of char, with the alcohol presence coming through with the spice and char. The flavor is similarly complex, yet restrained, with caramel, brown sugar, more pepper spice, more cinnamon, oak, and char. The finish goes dry and has a definitely warming of alcohol, but little to no burn. I absolutely loved this bottle, but have seen a few reviews which were the opposite of my experience so it may be dependent upon the bottling. I’m not sure how to read the product code on 1792 product to determine when it was bottled, but suspect the L18 portion signifies it was bottled in 2018. Anyway, I’d be more than willing to take a chance on a bottle of 1792 Full Proof. Give it a whirl and don’t be deterred by old reviews.