Thomas S. Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Casks and Port Casks

When I heard of the Thomas S. Moore Bourbon releases I was excited to find them knowing their origin prior to cask aging was 1792. The Bourbon used for the three variants was 5 to 6 years old and then finished in the Cabernet Sauvignon, Port, and Chardonnay casks. With a price point of $69.95 it was a bit of a stretch to purchase all three bottles so when reviews emerged suggesting a pass on the Chardonnay cask I took that as a sign to skip it. I was able to get the other two bottles and as both leave it building if the Chardonnay is the weakest expression of the three, skipping it was a wise decision. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the other two bottles.

Cabernet Sauvignon Casks
The Cabernet Sauvignon bottle is 95.3 proof. The aroma is reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced Bourbon, but lacks depth and complexity. There is a slight fusel alcohol component which wafts unpleasantly. The background Bourbon notes are brown sugar and pepper with hints of oak. The flavor is extremely restrained with slight Cabernet Sauvignon wine character, low brown sugar, low black peppery, and a smidge of oak thrown in for good measure. The finish is the best part with lingering brown sugar and wine long and pleasantly into the aftertaste. The sweetness in the finish is well balanced and where this bottle truly shines out of the darkness.

Port Casks
The Port bottle has the highest alcohol content and rings in at 98.9 proof. The Port aroma is much more pleasant than the CS. Once again however a slight fusel alcohol note fills the nasal passages with an unpleasant character. The Bourbon is masked by the Port in this bottle and that is not necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing is a vegetal note which while very low is off-putting and present. Otherwise the notable aromatic notes which are worth mentioning are oak and black pepper. The flavor is balanced and tasty, but still not as complex as it should be for a bottle with this price point. It’s mostly Port with slight oak, brown sugar, and pepper. The finish is very pleasant, and similar to the CS bottle with the exception of Port presence. In case you cannot tell, this was my preferred bottle of the two. The Bourbon was noticeable darker and with a ruby hue in the glass. Of course it still wasn’t mind blowing.

While the bottle appearance is eye catching, the slender base is a terrible idea. I first noticed the poor functional design of the bottle when placing in the vehicle. Its near impossible for the bottle to stay vertical on anything but a perfectly horizontal surface. Also the bottle is extra tall. In my bar it was almost impossible to pull out the bottle without contacting the glassware hanging above the bottles. I can imagine someone with shelves might have a difficult time storing the bottle on their shelves. In case you are wondering how tall these bottles actually are, they stand 13 inches tall.

In the end when you consider it all these bottles need to gather dust on the store shelves until they land in the bargain bin. Their flavor and complexity is not interesting enough to command a 70 bean price point. Couple that to a lousy, but eye-catching, bottle at 40 bucks these would be fantastic, even at 50 bucks they would be good or better, but at 70 they are a hard pass. Skip them as a fad. I know if they roll out more I will not be the guinea pig and I may not pick up another even if all the reviews talk about how it blows their socks off. Sorry guys, these aren’t all that and a bag of chips and IMHO aren’t worth the price of admission.

Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Rye

Happened upon Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Rye in the ABC store and figured why not give it a try. With a standard NCABC price of $25 and sale price of $22 there wasn’t much to loose in trying this 90 proof Rye. While the flavor wasn’t mind blowing, it wasn’t a slouch either. The aroma greets the nose with brown sugar, rye, black pepper, and oak. The flavor was filled with black pepper, rye spice, and more oak surrounded by subtle brown sugar. The finish was lingering black pepper and oak and a warming alcohol presence which was stronger than anticipated from a 45% ABV Rye. Not bad rye at all for the price point so snag a bottle if you need a budget friendly rye. You shouldn’t be disappointed and you won’t be out too much coin.

Pinhook Rye’d On Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Not sure where I happened upon Pinhook Rye’d On, nor what it cost, but NCABC pricing is currently 42 beans. This 97 proof Rye is from the 2020 crop according to the bottle. This particular Rye was distilled and aged over 2 years at Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, KY. The aroma was quite subdued, but presented with caramel, rye, and hints of spearmint. The flavor was more bold with the same caramel and rye, but the spearmint was strong, almost too strong. The finish was spearmint and peaches long with hints of rye and black pepper fading into the aftertaste. It was ok, but I’m not a big fan of spearmint and spearmint mixed with peaches is just a bit too much for me. So it’s a decent rye and fairly easy to consume, but it’s not one I’d come back to at that price of admission. Give it a try if you are a spearmint fan as it just might be your cup of tea.

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey

I tend to gravitate toward Kentucky Bourbon and Rye so I was hesitant to grab a bottle of Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey, but I am so glad I did. This California Bourbon wasn’t a screaming bargain at 40 beans, but it also isn’t a bottle which will break the bank. At 45% abv this isn’t a weak Willie, but at 90 proof it’s a little bit shy of my preferred level of alcohol of 100 proof. Anyway, I tried not to like this Bourbon, but the lower the level became in the bottle, the more I realized I had found a new favorite. Some may find it just a bit sweet, but it is 90 proof so it should present with more sweet than heat. The aroma was brown sugar, caramel, cedar, hints of rye, and a substantial oak backbone. The flavor was was more brown sugar and caramel, cedar, rye, oak, honey, and black pepper. The finish and aftertaste were pleasant flavors of brown sugar, cedar, black pepper, and oak fading into the aftertaste. I can see bringing this one to a party since it will be a new one to most people and it could hold it’s own if pitted against other bottles. You should give this one a whirl.

PS: The namesake for this Bourbon is a 1,138 year old tree, located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which stands 367 feet tall.

Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength

When Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength appeared at NCABC I snagged a bottle through a friend. At $60 it wasn’t exactly a bargain bin purchase, but it does ring in at 109.6 proof. This is of course the cask version of Maker’s Mark 46, but with higher alcohol comes a higher price. Where standard MM46 is somewhat subdued, the MM46CS tends to showcase similar attributes accompanied by a notable level of alcohol. The aroma contained caramel, black pepper, leather, and cherries with notable, yet restrained, alcohol. The flavor was nicely complex and showcased more black pepper, leather, and caramel. The fruity nature of the aroma is similarly present in the flavor. The finish is a pleasant mix of leather, pepper, caramel, and alcohol long into the finish. With the subdued nature of the alcohol and other attributes it makes me question whether or not it is worth the price of admission, especially when you consider MMCS is only 40 beans on sale. All things considered it’s a nice bottle even if it it doesn’t have the best price point. If you are a Maker’s Mark fan then seek out a bottle and give it a whirl. I think you will be glad you did.

Bulleit Bourbon Single Barrel NC

When Bulleit Bourbon Single Barrel Hand crafted for NC hit the shelves to rave reviews I knew I needed to find a bottle. It didn’t take much to come home with a bottle from ABC, but it didn’t exactly come cheap. The price in NC was $60 for the 52% ABV (104 proof) single barrel Bourbon. The neck tag has a place for the Barrel Number, but nothing was on it other than being signified as Hand crafted for NC. There is a rumor, and incorrect rumor, but nonetheless a rumor that this is actually Four Roses juice. I’ll speak about that in a minute, but in the meantime I’ll discuss my impression of the bottle. The aroma was filled with floral and citrus notes, namely orange peel. Immediately the nasal passages perceive brown sugar sweetness, leather, oak, and a restrained presence of alcohol. The flavor presented very similar with orange, brown sugar, leather, oak, hints of black pepper, and more retained alcohol. The finish was extremely pleasant with brown sugar, oak, and black pepper lasting and fading into the finish. The alcohol was notable with the warming post consumption, but was retrained from start to finish. This is a darn tasty bottle of Bourbon. My impression is this is quite similar. I’ve not created a detailed review of Four Roses so I need to revisit. Bulleit says this is not Four Roses distillate and barrels, but my palate says it might be 4R. No matter what, Four Roses Single Barrel is less expensive than this Bulleit Single Barrel, so I’d suggest you grab a 4RSiB instead, unless money is burning a hole in your pocket. The bottom line is this bottle is delicious.

Yellowstone Select Bourbon

Recently Yellowstone Select Bourbon went on sale at NCABC for $37, so I figured why not take it out for a spin. Some of the reviews online had been mixed, but after picking up an excellent bottle of Yellowstone Hand Picked it was time to find out for myself. At 93 proof this bottle lands just under my preferred alcohol level of 100 proof, but again, I did not let that deter me in my quest to make up my own mind. I’ll bottom line it for you, this bottle is definitely worth the price of admission. The aroma begins with a very nice cedar spice note, leather, light citrus, cherries, and hints of sherry. The flavor has a wonderful brown sugar backbone, more cherries, rye and cedar spice, oranges, and a bit of black pepper. The finish is spicy rye and black pepper with lingering brown sugar and alcohol into the finality of the aftertaste. The alcohol was present, yet restrained, throughout the flavor, and really only played a part in the post consumption warming. Anyway, if you spot this for a similar price point I’d suggest you give it a try. I know I’ll try to snag another bottle the next time I see it at a great price point. Thumbs up!

The Whistler Double Oaked Irish Whiskey

I happened upon a bottle of The Whistler Double Oaked Irish Whiskey while at the ABC store, and with a $30 price tag figured I should give it a try. This 80 proof Irish Whiskey is matured in Bourbon barrels, and then transferred to Oloroso Sherry casks for six months additional aging prior to bottling. The total aging time is more than 3 years in total. The aroma was filled with sherry, honeysuckle, black pepper, leather, and a solvent alcohol note. The flavor was sherry, more honeysuckle, leather, low black pepper, and a fruity peach character. The finish turns toward dry with leather and low peach lasting with hints of pepper and sherry long into the aftertaste. The alcohol was notable in the flavor, but never overdone and always working in tandem with the other characteristics of this whiskey. For 30 beans this isn’t a bad glass at all. I don’t particularly want to run out and snag another bottle with that odd solventy note to the aroma, but I am intrigued enough to see if I can find more bottles from Boann Distillery. I like what they are doing with the final aging in Sherry casks, and the price of admission is very good. Try it and let me know what you think.

Maker’s Mark 46

I had been waiting on Maker’s Mark 46 to go on sale, so when it did I snagged a bottle in a gift pack with a stopper for $36. According to the website and bottle, they take standard Maker’s Mark and insert ten seared virgin French oak staves into the barrel and finish it for nine weeks in their limestone cellar. The name pays homage to the stave which was “Stave Profile No. 46” in their files. Enough about the history, let’s talk about the taste of this 47% ABV Bourbon. The aroma has a very nice leather and low peppery spice coupled to low brown sugar and caramel notes. The flavor has a deep caramel flavor with vanilla, oak, leather, and pepper. The alcohol starts to become apparent in the flavor and leads to a dry finish of leather and oak long into the aftertaste. The post consumption warming is notable and pleasant, but any higher and it might come off as hot. I’ve been thinking throughout this entire bottle it was rather boring, but as I stare at the empty bottle it actually dawned on me it had a nice complexity. For a $36 bottle of Bourbon it is no slouch. If standard Maker’s is $32 and I can snag this for four bucks more I would do so all day everyday. So if you see a bottle of Maker’s 46 at a great price bring it home to meet the family, you won’t be disappointed if the price is right.

Tenjaku Blended Whisky

One day I was perusing at the ABC store and came across Tenjaku Blended Whisky at a $40 price point and figured I would give it a whirl. The 40% abv whisky is reported to be blended from all Japanese whisky so it seemed like it should be a great bottle. Unfortunately it didn’t quite seem to be worth the price of admission as it was subdued from start to finish. The aroma was vanilla with cedar and a floral nature coupled to pears with just a touch of pepper. The flavor was similarly restrained with pears, very light peaches, cedar, pepper, and a leather flavor lingering into the aftertaste. Alcohol played a secondary role in the aroma and the flavor, but came forth at the finish and with a notable post consumption warming. While extremely easy to consume due to the lower percentage of alcohol, the complexity was too subdued for a Japanese Whisky in my opinion. This had more in common with an Irish Whisky than a bottle from Japan and most Irish has a lower price point. It’s good, but not mind blowing so buy it if you must, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find a bottle unless you are a fan of Japanese Whisky and have as a goal to get everything you can get your hands on.