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.




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.


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.


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.


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.


Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky

I’ve enjoyed all the releases by Old Forester recently in the Whisky Row Series including the Old Forester 1910.  This 93 proof Bourbon is the fourth in the series and is double barreled. I found a bottle in SC for $50 and was lucky to snag it. North Carolina did not get it when it was released so around here it has been made of unobtanium. The aroma is filled with brown sugar, raisins, light cinnamon, low oak, sweet corn, and hints of leather. Similarly the flavor has restrained brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, corn, oak, and leather. The aftertaste is lasting light pleasant oak and hints of alcohol. In fact, the alcohol really only shows it’s presence in the post consumption warming. There have been nights where I had this and was suitably impressed and a few where I questioned if it was worth the price of admission. In the end it’s a solid Bourbon and is priced about right. If you see a bottle snag it and give it a whirl. I don’t think you will be disappointed. It’s a toss up for me as to whether I prefer this one more or the 1870 release.

Old Ezra Extra Aged

Last year Ezra Brooks released Old Ezra Extra Aged which was a barrel strength Bourbon ringing in at 117 proof.  The $40 price tag was quite a bit higher than the previous Old Ezra bottom shelf variant which was quite good so I had high hopes. The earlier made a heck of cocktail and while not especially complex, was also a decent drinker. I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with the new one. At times I find it interesting and at others not so much. As I drain the bottle tonight I guess I land in the middle of the road on this one. The nose is cinnamon, spice, alcohol, leather, and oak coupled to brown sugar. The flavor was less complex, but still somehow charming with impressions of spice, especially cinnamon, low alcohol, leather, and again oak with brown sugar. The aftertaste had light lasting cinnamon, alcohol, and brown sugar. It’s a nice glass all things considered, but for some reason the price of admission seems just a tad bit high. If you haven’t had it and run into a bottle then take it home and give it a whirl.


Old Overholt Bonded Rye

For an inexpensive rye whiskey finding a bottle of Old Overholt Bonded Rye was a bit of a pain. With a regular price of $23 it is certainly affordable, I think I picked up this one on sale at sub 20 beans. I’m a sucker for Bottled In Bond so finding this 100 proof Rye was a necessity. Reviews were mixed, but I didn’t let that deter me in snagging a bottle and I am sure glad I ignored the masses. This rye is subdued, but quite nice. The aroma is filled with spicy rye with light aspects of alcohol coupled with sweet caramel. The flavor is more of the same with light oak characteristics, very slight leather, and restrained alcohol. The finish is light with a low alcohol presence, rye spice, pepper, leather, and caramel. My suggestion is to ignore the snobbish reviews and go snag yourself a $25 bottle of rye. This can have a slot in my bar day and day out. Give it a whirl for yourself.


Jim Beam Repeal Batch

A friend told me I should try Jim Beam Repeal Batch and so I went in search of a bottle. The 86 proof Bourbon pays tribute to Beam’s first batch of Bourbon after Prohibition ended. While it is tasty and at an economical price point of $17 it’s just tad bit on the boring side. It has a little of everything and not much of anything. It’s a touch of sweet, a touch of oak, a hint of pepper spice, a bit of leather, a little sweetness, etc. I could discuss the aroma, flavor, and finish, but why waste the time to go into great detail on a Bourbon which is a muted conglomeration of a myriad of aromas and flavors. I can think of less expensive Bourbons which are more flavorful and complex. Not for Beam fans this is a must have or at least a must try. Will I go out and snag another bottle, no way, but if someone asked if I wanted a pour I would certainly take her for a spin around the dance floor. So if you are a Beam fan be sure to snag a bottle, otherwise you might want to let it gather dust on the shelf unless you spot it on sale.


Mellow Corn

I’m a sucker for anything Bottled In Bond and have been trying to work my way through many of the old standards. One which had proven elusive in NC is Mellow Corn which is a Heaven Hill brand. NCABC has it on the special order list, but you cannot go to the ABC store and pick it up. I happened upon a bottle at a crappy liquor store in Tennessee and brought it home. From the get go this was not a favorite which may explain why it has hung out in the bar for so long. It lacks complexity and seems to be defined by an alcoholic nose which is filled with corn. The flavor is very similar with the addition of sweetness, oak, and leather. The finish lingers with more light oak and leather and an alcohol burn which seems a bit high for only 100 proof. If you are willing to order a case of 12 you can get MC from NCABC for $10.55 per bottle. I think at the crappy TN liquor store I paid $13. While I don’t hate it, it’s just not a go to for me and it just a bit difficult to consume. Of course if you want a complete journey through Bottled In Bond you cannot overlook Mellow Corn.