I had the chance to snag a local group’s New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon pick. I had seen plenty of rave reviews so when the opportunity arose I figured why not get something which we do not see offered in NC. The bottle and label both say barrel proof, but at 105.2 proof it seems a tad light to me. This was barrel number 4556 which was distilled on 8.1.17 and bottled on 11.3.21. The price of admission was on the steep side at 80 bones. I typically reserve those price points for known quantities, but again, there has been quite a bit of New Riff hype/love so I figured I would take the chance. The aroma had a nice pepper spice, cinnamon, cherries, oranges, brown sugar, and oak. The flavor was restrained with cherries, brown sugar, honey, black pepper, cinnamon, oranges, and light oak. The finish was quite nice with oranges, light black pepper, brown sugar, and oak with hints of leather into the aftertaste. The alcohol was very restrained and faded pleasantly as it made its presence known with warming post consumption. I gotta admit this is a nice glass of Bourbon, but I’m struggling to decide if it is worth the price of admission. When I check some online pricing all over the place, but some with it at a 50 buck price point. At that price it is a no brainer, but it could be I was paying some mule fees. Anyway, I’ll keep my eye out for a reasonably priced bottle of New Riff in the future. If you find a bottle at a bargain, do not hesitate to pick it up.
A local group got the chance to select a Clyde May’s 5 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, and while I don’t remember the entire story behind this bottle, it was produced by MGP to Clyde’s recipe of 75% Corn, 21% Rye and 4% Barley. This bottle was barrel number 171 barreled on 04/18/2016 and bottled on 07/27/2021 at 102 proof. I picked this bottle up during a bottle signing event so L.C. May signed the bottle. I don’t recall the exact price, but want to say it was around 50 bucks. The aroma exhibited a powerful oak presence, brown sugar, citrus, cinnamon, and black pepper with an alcohol note. The flavor had more strong oak, brown sugar, cinnamon, black pepper, light citrus, prune, raisin, and leather once again coupled to alcohol. The finish faded with brown sugar, cinnamon, light black pepper, and dried cherries. The alcohol warmth post consumption was notable and pleasant. You never forget with this one it was barreled in oak and contained alcohol. Despite that strong presence it was quite complex and decidedly delicious. I would not hesitate to try another Clyde May’s 5 Year pick if I ran into it, so if you see one, snag it and give it a whirl.
While I like Scotch, often the price point of a Single Malt can be off-putting. Also with Scotch, I tend to tread lightly on the peaty bottles from Islay although I still enjoy them. When I finally spotted a bottle of Ardbeg Wee Beastie with a 45 buck price point, how could I say no? This is an anomaly for both it’s price point and it’s age being aged only 5 years. It rings in at 47.4% ABV and is not chill filtered. Upon initial opening my first thought is this is pure ashtray. I did a complete 180 a few days later when I poured another glass. The harsh ashy nature had matured into quite a nice drop. The aroma is filled with peat, chocolate, black pepper, apples, brown sugar, and leather in a briny backbone. The flavor was similar with peat, black pepper, apple, low brown sugar, leather, brine and chocolate coupled to a notable alcohol flavor. The finish goes pleasantly just dry with lasting chocolate, brine, leather, and brown sugar into the fading peat aftertaste. This truly is a stellar bottle of Scotch with a fantastic price point. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Wee Beastie will always be a welcomed bottle moving forward.