Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye

One night while out and about I tried Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye on a whim. I found it delicious and went on the hunt for a bottle. The price of admission was $50 and IMHO it is worth every penny. This is a 100 proof Rye which has the perfect blend of complexity, alcohol, and price point to be a winner. The aroma is filled with rye spice, pepper, brown sugar, hints of alcohol, and oak. The flavor exhibits more of the same deliciousness with rye spice, vanilla, oak, light alcohol, caramel, brown sugar, and hints of leather. The finish is smooth and sublime with lasting light alcohol, caramel, vanilla, oak, leather, and brown sugar long and pleasant into the aftertaste. If you find a bottle, buy two and enjoy!
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George Dickel Bottled In Bond

I was super excited when I happened upon a bottle of George Dickel Bottled In Bond at a SC liquor store. The 100 proof Tennessee Whiskey cost about $45 and is 13 years old. I was all set to pop the top and enjoy a great bottle and unfortunately that is not what happened. The aroma was musty and old and the flavor was unpalatable. I thought it might make a decent mixed drink and that did not help it any. Often I find my first impression changes with time so I went to have another drink on a different day and poured another glass only to find the same old musty aroma and taste with muted vegetal notes. I immediately poured it out and decided not to subject myself to this awful concoction anymore. Whoever allowed this to be released on the market should be fired. I have never before poured out any whiskey, but there has to be a first for everything. Avoid at all cost.

 
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Four Roses Small Batch Select

Being a Four Roses fanboy I was pleased when Four Roses Small Batch Select was announced and even happier when a friend offered me a bottle at his cost. The price point varies, but typically averages $60 per bottle. This Bourbon is 104 proof and despite being 52% alcohol it does not present as hot or solventy. The aroma is somewhat restrained with brown sugar, dark fruit, cinnamon, and light pepper spice. The flavor is more of the same with a light oak presence and hints of leather. The finish fades to black with the same brown sugar, fruit, spice, oak and leather and a very slight post consumption presence of alcohol warmth. Therein lies the rub. While this Bourbon is extremely approachable, it lacks depth which I would expect in a bottle higher than 50 beans. It’s tasty, no one is going to be upset at having a glass, but I wanted more complexity and have to admit to being slightly let down. So if you happen upon this one give it a whirl because we all have different tastes, but be prepared for a good bottle as opposed to one which will blow your socks off.

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Virgin Bourbon 101 Proof

I was shocked to realized I had never posted about Virgin Bourbon on the blog. It’s a Heaven Hill product which is primarily sold in North Carolina and overseas. Virginia seems to get a smidge of it as well while we can snag fifths and handles off the bottom shelf regularly. The fifth is $14 and handles regularly go on sale for $22. Think about that a minute, decent Bourbon for less than 40 cents an ounce! Virgin is always 101 proof and up until recently it was 7 years old. Just this week Fred Minnick tweeted: “CONFIRMED: Heaven Hill is discontinuing age statement for Virgin 7 yr 101 bourbon, mostly distributed in North Carolina. They need aged stocks for Elijah, McKenna and barrel proof products, company said. Another regional age stated product, HH Green label, is staying, they said.” Almost immediately some of the no age statement product started hitting the shelves and appears in the photo below (used with permission). There is still plenty of age statement product to be found, but once it is gone, it will be gone forever so snag it while you can.

Since I haven’t mentioned Virgin before, this is by far the best bottom shelf Bourbon available. In fact it is the house Bourbon at The Crunkleton in Charlotte. The aroma begins with an oak presence which is slightly rough around the edges. It quickly develops pepper spice alcohol presence, brown sugar, leather, honey, and sherry. The flavor mirrors the aroma with a subdued oak and leather, restrained brown sugar, and peppery alcohol. The finish has another touch of the rough edge oak, a restrained, yet present, alcohol burn and a long lasting impression of Bourbon. I was turned on to this Bourbon by a member and founder of our local Bourbon group after he was given it in a blind tasting and it came in 2nd place out of four. Virgin is great neat, over ice, or mixed. I typically make it an early drink rather than one later in the evening. If you have something wonderful the rough edges may be perceived as jagged so start the evening with this delicious bottom shelf Bourbon and think about all the money you saved. When I see a really expensive Bourbon, above $100 per fifth, I start to think how much more will I enjoy it than Virgin. Assuming the bottle is $150 per fifth, will you enjoy it 15 times more than Virgin. If you can, go out and get a bottle of 7 year old Virgin. At worst you get a 7 year 101 proof Bourbon which is tasty to add to your bar.

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J.T.S. Brown Bottled In Bond

It took nearly forever to find a bottle of J.T.S Brown Bottled In Bond and finally had to break down and buy a case due to North Carolina’s messed up liquor system.  In some states you can find it for as little as $10 per bottle, but NC requires you to buy a 12 bottle case of it at $12.40 per bottle. As you are probably aware it is a Heaven Hill product and resides everywhere on the bottom shelf.  It’s so bottom shelf that Heaven Hill doesn’t even provide information on their website for this Bourbon. Reviews seem to be mixed online, but the main reason is snobbery. Despite being a bottom dweller on the shelf, this Bourbon shines like a diamond. Is it going to wow and amaze, no, but as a daily drinker this Bourbon is quite alluring. It starts with the aroma of brown sugar, cinnamon, and pepper spice coupled to hints of oak. Then the flavor component of more sugar, cinnamon, pepper, leather, and oak takes over. The finish leaves you with leather and oak with a nice warming aspect from the alcohol and a pleasant brown sugar aftertaste. If you live in NC there are a few ABC stores which have this available if you ask, otherwise prepare to buy a case. Otherwise look down and snag a bottle of this Bourbon. It will never fly off the shelves, but I can imagine a day where you will not have it available.

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Old Forester 100 Proof Rye

This year Old Forester released 100 proof Rye and the price point was a winner. I snagged it at full price which was 25 bones or so and it has since gone on sale for 20 and change. While the complexity is low, when the rye is coupled with a very nice flavor which will work well in any mixed drink. I typically look for a neat libation and this one presents with an initial sweetness and hints of rye. The aroma has rye, pepper, and oak with a subtle sweetness while the flavor has more pronounced spice essence, brown sugar, and oak. The finish has linger oak into the aftertaste with rye characteristics.  While this one is not crazy beautiful it would be an excellent mixer or enjoyed neat when the beverage of choice is one without a strong complex flavor. Give it a whirl if you get a chance there is not much to lose mixed or neat.

 

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Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel

The Raleigh Bourbon & Banter group picked a barrel of Wild Turkey Kentuck Spirit Single Barrel through a local ABC Board. It was the standard price point of $60 for the 101 proof Bourbon. The pick was bottled on 04/22/19 from barrel no. 0199 stored in warehouse F on rick no. 24. The barrel yielded 186 bottles and the mash bill was 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. I’m not sure most would realize this was a Wild Turkey product if they had it. It began with an initial brown sugar, cinnamon, and leather presence with hints of oak. The flavor was sweet enough to mask the alcohol until the warming post consumption. The brown sugar sweetness came with leather, oak, a hint of rye, cinnamon, and black pepper for good measure. It was highly drinkable which made me wonder if it had enough complexity or not. The more I tried it, the more I liked it and thought it was a great pick for the group. Unfortunately it is gone baby gone so the chance of finding a bottle is none. I will however put Kentucky Spirit on my shopping list assuming each single barrel produced would be just as tasty. If you see a bottle and it is within your budget, do not hesitate to give it a whirl.

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Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-In-Bond

Due to seeing Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-In-Bond utilized in many bars as a house rye I snagged a bottle to give it a whirl. The bottle typically retails for $25 at NCABC, but I think I picked mine up a few bucks cheaper. After loving Old Overholt Bonded, I figured Rittenhouse would be outstanding. The first night I tried it I found it overly sweet. On another night it presented as slightly spicy, but missing complexity. After the first two innocent encounters I decided to do a little soul searching with the rest of the bottle.  The rye aroma and flavor is notable, but not complex. Alcohol is really only had a role in the post consumption warming. The sweetness I perceived at a high level with the first drink from the bottle, was actually a little more restrained. Still Rittenhouse was sweet malt in the aroma and flavor and presented with a candy character. The bottom line is if I had to choose between Old Overholt and Rittenhouse I would choose Old Overholt. Both are tasty Bottled-In-Bond ryes, but Rittenhouse is a bit too sweet and lacks complexity. Give both a try and make up your own mind.

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Sensei Whiskey

I happened upon Sensei Whiskey at Costco  liquor store and with a $25 price point figured why not. The 40% ABV Whiskey was a bit of a mystery with little information available. It’s a blend of five different Whiskeys including American, Scotch, Irish, Canadian, and Japanese. One would think with an everything but the kitchen sink Whiskey the flavor would be perfection, unfortunately this one is a bit too sweet. The flavors are cherry, vanilla, and sugar with hints of leather and cinnamon spice. The alcohol was restrained and only came forward in the warming post consumption. If you like a sweet Whiskey or need something for mixing this might be worthwhile, but neat in the glass this is a pass for me especially seeing the price point for this is often $10-15 higher than I paid. Try it if you must, otherwise leave it on the shelf for someone else.

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Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey

Some time back Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey was on sale at NCABC so I picked up a bottle and went to the counter. They rang it up and I paid and then realized the price was wrong. I asked and they indicated the set with glasses was what was on sale not the single bottle. This was just about the most ridiculous thing I had heard, but they voided the single bottle and sold me the gift set at the reduced price. Writer’s Tears is priced at the top end of what I am willing to pay for Irish Whiskey so I was hopeful it was spectacular. The tall thin bottle is an imperfect size for our bar so I didn’t pay much attention to the level until I realized a few days ago the bottle was almost drained. The nose is restrained alcohol with an apple ester coupled to vanilla and a caramel sweetness. The flavor was filled with a balanced caramel sweetness, light alcohol, apple, and light spice. The finish was very pleasant with lingering apple and light alcohol with a hint of chocolate. The 80 proof whiskey is restrained and tasty and has a nice complexity, but the $35 price point on sale won’t lead me to keep it stocked in the bar while other Irish Whiskeys I enjoy more are available at a lower price. Give it a whirl if you haven’t and make up your own mind. It’s tasty, but very restrained.

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