Knob Creek Rye

Not sure why I haven’t posted about Knob Creek Rye in the past, but I snagged a bottle the last time it went on sale at NCABC. The price of admission at the time was $32, but it can often be found for a few dollars less. This is a 100 proof rye which is an alcohol level I prefer, not too hot, not too mild. The aroma has what you want out of a rye and is filled with rye spice, brown sugar, and light black pepper coupled to a very nice oak presence. The flavor is similar, but contains a syrupy peach not, more rye spice, light pepper, and oak. The finish lasts very nice with peaches and rye fading slowing into the aftertaste. The alcohol is restrained from start to finish with only a mild warming post consumption. This is a very nice rye and should be one to keep in the bar. There are rye whiskeys which are more complex and with a higher price point and those destined for mixing at a lower price point. This one exists right in the middle. If you haven’t had it, pick up a bottle and give it a whirl.

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Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The first time I heard about Oban Little Bay was when a person from NC was complaining their local ABC would not bring the bottle. They would only get it if he agreed to purchase a case. Fast forward a few years and now Little Bay can be found in many ABC store, but the price of admission is $78. At that price I was not willing to give it a whirl. Somewhere along the way I happened upon a bottle for around $40 so I knew I had to bring it home. At 86 proof (43% abv) this is a restrained bottle of Scotch. The aroma presents with chocolate, candy, light citrus, spice, leather, and oak. The flavor also has chocolate, citrus, light smoke, leather, oak, spice, and breadcrust. The finish fades into light alcohol with light chocolate and leather with subtle sweetness long and pleasantly into the aftertaste. At $40 this is a no brainer. At NCABC prices it is a maybe. It’s a very nice bottle with good complexity, but by the time I get to 80 beans it’s time to take off the training wheels. This could use a boost in complexity to draw those dollars out of my wallet. If you find it at a midpoint price I’d say snag it, it is quite tasty!

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Hatozaki Small Batch

I happened upon a bottle of Hatozaki Small Batch at Costco with a sub $30 price point so I figured why not. Imagine my shock when it showed up on NC at $60 per bottle. The alcohol level is 46%. Anyway, knowing this was a Japanese Whiskey I expected it to be very similar to a Speyside Scotch and it was. Unfortunately it was more like a little brother than a twin. The aroma presented as floral and fruity with peaches (think canned peaches), slight oak, hint of sherry, and a light bit of citrus coupled to restrained alcohol. The flavor was similar with slightly sweet peaches, light pepper spice, low oak, hints of leather, and a mild presence of alcohol. The finish was peaches, pepper spice, and light alcohol fading into the aftertaste. The bottle is tasty, but a bit boring and lacking in complexity. At the $30 I paid my thought was I would not want to pay more for this level of complexity. At $60 I would be upset at the price of admission. So if you want to give this one a whirl I suggest you check to see if your Costco might have a deal. Otherwise I don’t think I’d spend the money for this level of complexity.

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Knob Creek Quarter Oak

It took quite some time to locate a bottle of Knob Creek Quarter Oak after it was released. I had seen it on the shelf and neglected to purchase a bottle. The next time I checked it was sold out. Eventually I happened upon a bottle and so I knew it was time to bring it home. The Bourbon is created by taking four year old juice which had been aged in 13 gallon quarter casks and blending with standard KC juice. The result is supposedly a Bourbon with more oak due to the reduced size of the cask. At 100 proof this limited release Bourbon isn’t a high proof and with a price point of 50 beans it isn’t going to break the bank. Many had raved about how good Quarter Oak was so I had high expectations when I poured a glass. The aroma was filled with honey, oak, and pepper spice coupled to brown sugar and cinnamon with a hint of leather. The flavor was pepper, cinnamon, oak, honey, brown sugar, and leather with the leather lasting far into the aftertaste. Also present at the end was oak and brown sugar with pepper and a lasting presence of alcohol. While certainly tasty, I was expecting more from this bottle. The price of admission was affordable, but at $15 more than standard KC, I might be inclined to just buy KC. If you can find a bottle, snag it and give it a whirl if you are a KC fan. Otherwise don’t get too broken up if you missed it.

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Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel

Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is a Buffalo Trace product which hits the glass at 88.9 proof. Many say it is the same mash bill as Blanton’s, but actually better and for a lower price. Not sure what I paid, but it can often be located for $35-40 in some places. On the secondary market it can bring twice to three times that amount. The cork separated from the wood so I had to glue the cork back into place, but it did not affect the flavor of the Bourbon. At first I was slightly disappointed with the flavor, but over time it grew on me. The aroma was brown sugar, grapes, candy, slight spice, and low alcohol. The flavor was more brown sugar, cinnamon spice, grape, candy, and low alcohol. The aftertaste was lingering spice and brown sugar and a smooth alcohol presence. The complexity was lower than I would expect, but at the $35 price point just about right. If you happen upon a bottle at a reasonable price, pick it up. Otherwise no reason to go out of your way to try to locate.

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Early Times Bottled-In-Bond

Not sure where I happened to pick up Early Times Bottled-In-Bond, but I’ll let the cat out of the bag early and say I am sure glad I did. Of course it rings in at 100 proof and in most markets the 1 liter bottle is under $30. The aroma is filled with a beautiful presence of leather, deep caramel, oak, brown sugar, and citrus. The flavor has a chocolate note, with oak, caramel, brown sugar, more citrus, and a light lasting spice note. The finish is pleasant chocolate and caramel with a lasting low warming of alcohol just enough to let you know you are alive. This bottle is a breath of fresh air and should not be passed if you get an opportunity to purchase. Will it blow your socks off your feet? Probably not, but it is great neat and any Boubon snob would be glad to have in their glass. Go get some and thank me later!

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Elijah Craig Straight Rye

When I heard Elijah Craig was going to release a rye whiskey I got excited because I like EC. I happened upon a bottle of Elijah Craig Straight Rye Whiskey for $30 and decided to bring one home. I was hoping it would be crazy beautiful and perhaps my expectations were too high. At 94 proof, 47% abv, this should have some alcohol presence, but be restrained. The aroma was low rye spice coupled with alcohol and pepper. Brown sugar lurks behind the alcohol presence and hints of chocolate. The flavor was rather muted brown sugar, medium rye spice, and oak at a moderate, and perhaps too high, level. The finish had alcohol and leather pleasantly into the aftertaste. While good, this just wasn’t what I was expecting and I can think of bottles which have a lower price of admission which I prefer more. If you haven’t tried it, snag a bottle and give it a whirl. I have another bottle and if it proves to be the same as this one, I probably will not purchase it again due to the lack of complexity and too strong oak presence.

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Pinhook Bourbon Country

I’ve seen many others post high praises of Pinhook offerings so when I saw Pinhook Bourbon Country in a New Jersey liquor store at an exceptional price I knew I had to snag a bottle. The price of admission was around $30 which seemed like a bargain for a 95.5 proof Bourbon. The bottle listed the vintage as Fall 2018 and I believe this Bourbon is released periodically so it most likely varies quite a bit from one release to another. This one was fruity and alcoholic in the nose with peaches, pear, black pepper, raisins, and cedar along with sweet malt. and brown sugar The flavor was brown sugar coupled to more fruit flavors including peaches, pears, apricots, and raisins along with a peppery cedar finish. The alcohol in the flavor was much more restrained only accentuating the flavor and fading into the finish. The post consumption warming was strong. The issue with this Bourbon is a lack of balance and an overpowered presence of alcohol in the aroma and warming. While this isn’t a bad bottle by any means, I wouldn’t pick up another of this release even at this low price of admission. I’ve seen others rave about other Pinhooks so I’ll try some others as I run into them, but I won’t be buying another Fall 2018 Bourbon Country.

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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!!!

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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!

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