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.
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.
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.
Happened to catch Maker’s Mark Cask Strength on sale at NCABC for $45. The batch was 20-03 with a proof of 109.8. Wasn’t sure how this would pan out after I revisited standard Maker’s Mark and found it a bit underwhelming. (Note to self, pick up a bottle of Maker’s in the near future and pen a blog post.) After opening and giving this a taste it was immediately apparent this was a different beast. The aroma was filled with brown sugar coupled to peppery alcohol and light citrus. Oak, leather, and tobacco rounded out the aroma and were wonderfully complex. The flavor began with sweet brown sugar and immediately evolved into a myriad of characteristics including oak, leather, citrus, more brown sugar, and light pepper. The alcohol was present throughout, but only gave me hints of the proof in the post consumption warming. This was a delicious Bourbon worth every penny of the price of admission. These do tend to vary by batch so if you get one which is not as complex as I described, pick another. I know my plan is to find several to see how they vary batch to batch. If they are anything close to this bottle then it will be a fantastic Bourbon.
When Maker’s Mark 101 was first released it was a 1 liter bottle and if I remember correctly only available at duty free airport shops. Then 2020 saw at least one bright light when a 750 ml bottle was released and North Carolina was lucky enough to receive bottles. Of course the proof is 101 and it comes in a red box so it is easy to spot on the shelf. Another plus is the price is $41.95 plus tax in NC. The price of admission almost everywhere else is more. Let’s get to what matters. The aroma is quite nice being filled with light pepper spice, brown sugar, leather, oak, and slight citrus. The flavor is complex with brown sugar, leather, oak, low pepper spice, low citrus, and a light aftertaste of alcohol and passion fruit. There is a definite warming post consumption which alerts you to the alcohol level. All in all this is a very well done Bourbon and is one which will always be welcomed in my bar. If you spot it on a shelf, snag a bottle and give it a whirl.
When The Walking Dead Bourbon arrived in NC it was $35 and just a bit more than I was willing to spend for an unknown bottle of Bourbon. While traveling I happened upon it in another state for $25 and at that price I was more than willing to risk it. I noticed some unflattering comments so I decided to tread with caution when in reality I should have thrown caution to the wind. This turned out to actually be a nice drop. The aroma was leather, brown sugar, pepper spice, caramel, and hints of alcohol. The flavor was deceptively smooth with dark cherries, brown sugar, caramel, more pepper spice, and pleasant warming alcohol into the aftertaste. The finish is cherries and prunes with brown sugar and alcohol fading into the finality of the finish. The rumor is this is Heaven Hill juice and at 47% ABV it doesn’t disappoint. If you are a fan of any of the three shows and Bourbon you must have a bottle of this at the ready. TWD returns in February so find one to enjoy while you watch the final season.
After seeing several rave reviews from others I picked up a bottle of Knob Creek 12 Year. I don’t recall the price of admission, but I think it’s typically around 60 beans. This Knob Creek variant is 100 proof which falls exactly where I typically prefer my Bourbons to be for optimal consumption neat. The nose is lightly floral with brown sugar and leather complimented by oaky char and wafts of alcohol. The flavor was more leather and oak with brown sugar and low warming alcohol. The pepper spice background lasts long into the aftertaste with hints of cinnamon and anise. The finality of the aftertaste is lingering pepper, brown sugar, and alcohol. While I enjoyed this Bourbon, it didn’t blow my socks off. If I paid full boat then I would have thought I paid too much as there are more complex bottles at the same price point or less. If you are a KC fan then give it a whirl, otherwise save the coin for another bottle.
NCABC decided to put Wild Turkey Rye on sale for 20 beans so I figured why not give it a whirl. I’d heard good things so I figured an 81 proof rye might be just what the doctor ordered. I was all set to have a wonderful rye experience when I brought the glass to my nose and was immediately struck by a huge fruity aromatic. This really was unexpected as rye was what I thought would be most prominent. Instead a nose of mango and papaya was most notable. This was followed by low wafts of alcohol and pepper spice. I thought maybe this was a fluke, but the next time I poured a glass I got the same thing. Even now as the bottle nears completion that’s the main aroma. The flavor was not nearly as fruity, but still had fruit aspects of mango. There was a low peppery rye spice, a light brown sugar, a bit of a corn syrup flavor, and a final impression of low alcohol and sweetness. Finding much rye at all in this was difficult. For me this is a drinkable bottle, but not much of a rye. Unless you like a fruity whiskey you might want to pass on this one.
Not long ago NCABC had a sale on Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof so I snagged a bottle. With a price of admission of 30 beans and a 100 proof alcohol level it should have been a slam dunk. I opened the bottle thinking the skies would part and the sun would shine bright upon my glass of heaven. Unfortunately that was where it ended. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this Bourbon, but it’s kinda boring. I like a little complexity when I leave the bottom shelf. Anyway, the aroma presents with brown sugar and sherry and a waft of alcohol along with some oak and leather. The flavor is rather weak with more brown sugar and sherry and a bit of leather. The finish is warming with alcohol and lasting sherry pleasantly fading into the aftertaste. While the Bourbon is good, it just isn’t complex enough to command a price point above 30 bucks and so it’s one and done for me. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself as palates tend to differ.
Received a bottle of Legent from a friend without much knowledge about it before it made it to the house. It’s a 47% abv/94 proof Bourbon which is finished in wine and sherry casks. Typically the price point is $35-40 and reviews seem to be mixed. I decided to ignore the reviews and I’m really glad I did. It’s a nice drop with an aroma filled with sherry, oak, brown sugar, plum notes, leather, and light peppery spice. The flavor is smooth with a brown sugar, oak, sherry, pepper, leather, and more nice plum character coupled to enough alcohol to remind you this is a Bourbon. The finish is quite nice with lasting plum and sherry with an underlying alcohol warmth long and pleasant into the aftertaste. If you check out the website it goes into the Bourbon being a collaboration of American and Japanese whisky makers. Whomever takes credit for this should be proud. If you haven’t had Legent then go get some immediately. If you have then pick up another bottle and hit it again, especially at a 35 bean price of admission. It’s legit!