1792 Full Proof

The 1792 family of Bourbons is quickly becoming a favorite and 1792 Full Proof is no exception. Typically the high proof Bourbons are not my favorites because I drink my Bourbon neat nine times out of ten. When I came across a Full Proof at $45 I knew I had to try the 125 proof beast to see if it could be tamed. What I found was the alcohol is so restrained in this Bourbon it needs no splash or cube to be enjoyable. It does blossom on the palate when followed with water, but by itself it is pleasant, complex, and the alcohol seems much lower. The aroma is complex brown sugar, black pepper, cinnamon, oak, hints of char, with the alcohol presence coming through with the spice and char. The flavor is similarly complex, yet restrained, with caramel, brown sugar, more pepper spice, more cinnamon, oak, and char. The finish goes dry and has a definitely warming of alcohol, but little to no burn. I absolutely loved this bottle, but have seen a few reviews which were the opposite of my experience so it may be dependent upon the bottling. I’m not sure how to read the product code on 1792 product to determine when it was bottled, but suspect the L18 portion signifies it was bottled in 2018. Anyway, I’d be more than willing to take a chance on a bottle of 1792 Full Proof. Give it a whirl and don’t be deterred by old reviews.

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Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

I happened to snag a bottle of Shackleton Whisky when it was on sale for $32 and figured why not give it a spin. As a blend of Highland single malts aged in Bourbon and Sherry barrels I was hoping it would be tasty and was not disappointed. The aroma is light with honey, sherry, light alcohol, wildflowers, pears, and only slight hints of leather. The flavor is more honey, wildflowers, sherry, very slight alcohol, leather, pears, and cinnnamon. The aftertaste of the 80 proof Scotch has light leather, chocolate, and pleasant alcohol. This is not a complex Scotch and one would not expect it to be so at this price point. Even if the flavor is not complex you can feel good because a portion of the purchase price goes to the Antartic Heritage Trust. If you see a bottle and haven’t given it a try you should. I still prefer Monkey Shoulder as my go to blended Scotch, but this is also a tasty glass and as such should not be overlooked.

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Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel

When the local group picked out a barrel of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel back in February I knew I had to snag a bottle when it arrived in June. The pick was standard Russell’s Reserve which is always 110 proof. At $55 it was a no brainer to pick up a bottle and I’m so glad I did. Our pick has an excellent nose of oak char, slight yeast, sweet brown sugar, slight alcohol, and leather. The flavor exhibited similar complexity with a well balanced sweetness of brown sugar and caramel which kept the alcohol in the background yet offered excellent oak char, very light pepper, and a low presence of alcohol. The finish impression is slightly sweet and once again kept the alcohol at bay. While I wasn’t part of the team who was lucky enough to select this barrel I believe they did the perfect job. This Bourbon has more complexity than it’s price point would suggest and enough sweetness to balance all the other flavors. This makes me want to buy every RR I come across to see if any are this perfect storm of complexity, aroma, and flavor. Two thumbs up for this one, way up!

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-Photo borrowed from Raleigh Bourbon & Banter group.

WhistlePig 10 Year Straight Rye

I happened upon WhistlePig 10 Year Straight Rye at an excellent price so I snagged it. In NC this Rye goes for $85 which I find to be a high price for a Rye. This one started out in Alberta, Canada prior to aging in new American Oak and finding its way to Vermont and a bottle. This Rye is 100 proof and quite smooth with hidden alcohol attributes. The aroma is rye spice, leather, pepper, orange peel citrus, caramel, and light wafts of alcohol. The flavor is caramel with brown sugar, light citrus, low pepper phenol, leather, rye spice, and a low presence of alcohol. The finish has a very pleasant brown sugar with peppery rye spice and a definite, yet pleasant, alcohol warming post consumption. While the complexity of this bottle is very nice and the Rye is delicious, the price seems to be on the high side. I’m thinking I paid around 70 beans for this bottle which is a bargain compared to what NC charges, but I have a difficult time shelling out big bucks for a Rye even if it is 10 years old. If you happen to see a bottle for a steal, grab it and give it a whirl. Otherwise there are many very tasty low budget Ryes which can scratch the itch for less than half the price of admission.

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Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

A buddy turned me on to Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey and I am glad he did although the price of admission is not cheap. With MGP putting out so many great Rye whiskeys at affordable price points, he $50 price tag on Pikesville seems like a luxury item. This 110 proof Rye from Heaven Hill is double the price of most budget Ryes, but does have an excellent complexity which is showcased when consumed neat. The aroma is filled with spicy Rye, subtle alcohol, brown sugar, oak, and leather. The flavor delivers complexity in the form of Rye, fruity cherry, light alcohol, oak, brown sugar, oak, leather, and vanilla with a moderately sweet character. The finish is very pleasantly filled with Rye, cherry, brown sugar, oak, and hints of leather which linger long into the aftertaste. While a tad sweet the complexity of Pikesville makes it a must have for all who love Rye whiskey so run out and snag a bottle. Sure it’s a splurge, but go ahead, you’re worth it!

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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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