I went for a long time and was never able to snag a Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon, then I happened upon an A121 while out and about. I’m not sure what the price of admission was at the time, but currently in NC it’s 60 bones. The A121 Batch had a proof of 114.8 and an ABV of 57.48. I’d made comments about Larceny Bourbon back in 2013 and liked the 92 proof which only cost me 15 bucks because I had a 10 dollar rebate. Sadly no rebate was available for the big brother Barrel Proof bottle, but it didn’t disappoint. The aroma was filled with brown sugar, wafts of alcohol, leather, cinnamon, and sawdust from cut dried oak. The flavor was delicious with brown sugar, prunes, light leather, cinnamon, black pepper, oak, and a reserved alcohol flavor which only led to additional complexity. The finish was subdued brown sugar and cinnamon with reserved alcohol warmth which trailed off as the flavors melded and faded into the aftertaste. I typically find wheated Bourbons to be boring and hesitate to purchase them. This is the exception to that rule. It’s a wheater worth the price of admission. If you run into a bottle snag it and enjoy!
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.
Some time back I picked up a bottle of Rebel Distiller’s Collection Bourbon Whiskey which was selected by a local group. There isn’t much info to be found about these picks, but all Rebel Distiller’s Collection picks are 113 proof. After the Ezra Brooks DC from Lux Row I had high hopes for this pick. What I forgot was Rebel is a wheater and I typically find them to be a bit pedestrian and boring. Of course I opened up the bottle and let it do the talking, but as I feared it showed it’s wheat side and just didn’t blow my socks off. Luckily the price of admission was only 40 beans and the Bourbon was solid so no worries. The aroma presented as sweet with brown sugar, raisins, and honey coupled to cherries and hints of orange citrus. The flavor was slightly subdued with brown sugar, raisins, slight hints of leather, very slight black pepper, and orange citrus. There was a light alcohol flavor which was well restrained for a 56.5% ABV Bourbon. The finish had light citrus, leather, and black pepper with hints of alcohol fading pleasantly into the aftertaste. The only strong presence of alcohol was in the post consumption warming. This actually was a nice bottle and a good pick, but I’m just not a fan of wheat Bourbon. If you spot one of these out and about it’s certainly worth your time to pick up at this attractive price point, but I know for my tastes it isn’t one I will chase.
I happened to receive a bottle of Blade And Bow Bourbon Whiskey as a gift which I selected so I was a little reluctant to post a review. The bottle is normally $45 at NCABC, and since I had never tried it I was truly excited to give it a whirl. At 91 proof I didn’t expect to have a strong alcohol presence, but I was expecting it to be easy to consume. The aroma was fruity with apples, cherries, almonds, and sherry with a light bit of pepper spice lurking in the background with just a hint of oak. The flavor was similarly subdued with cherries, light apple, almonds, light oak and leather, sherry, and slight hints of black pepper. The finish was just dry with lasting light pepper and oak into the aftertaste. Alcohol never played a part in the flavor, but there was a slight post consumption warming. It was easy to drink, but it was also quite boring. I was ultimately glad I received it as a gift rather than shelling out my own cash. At this price point there are bourbons which are much more complex and flavorful for the same price or less. So for me this is a one and done. I doubt I will buy another bottle unless I see some people rave about newer batches being stellar. Sorry folks, this one is a pass.
I ran into a bottle of Ezra Brooks Distiller’s Collection Bourbon Whiskey picked by a local ABC, and with a price of admission of only 35 bucks I couldn’t pass it up. There really isn’t much info online about the Distiller’s Collection, but all the Ezra Brooks are 107 proof. Often with a pick you are looking at a singular entity and relying upon whomever made the pick. If you are lucky you can find a group which aligns with your palate, but often it can be the luck of the draw. In this case I was a lucky winner. The aroma was nicely complex with cinnamon and black pepper most notably coupled to brown sugar, leather, sherry, and cherries. The flavor was also complex and presented with brown sugar, sherry, cherries, light presence of oak, more cinnamon, and hints of black pepper. The finish was nicely sweet and the alcohol warming post consumption was pleasant and lasting. Alcohol played a role throughout, but was never overpowering or unexpected. This was a fantastic bottle for only 35 beans. If you happen to see this Gibsonville pick, be sure to pick one up. I know I will likely snag these wherever I see them in hopes they all present with this much complexity and flavor.
I happened upon Smoke Wagon Small Batch Bourbon at the store and decided to bring it home based on the hype I’ve seen. It wasn’t exactly bargain basement pricing at 56 beans for this 100 proof Bourbon. This is typically in a dark bottle, but this came in a clear bottle with a gold label. The back of the label explains they ran out of the dark amber glass and this “is not limited nor special.” We’ll circle back to a part of that statement later in this blog post. The aroma was caramel, brown sugar, leather, oak, cherries, and nuts. The flavor was spicy black pepper, brown sugar, caramel, oak, leather, and cherries. The finish was oak tannin and leather with black pepper and a back of the throat alcohol presence. The aftertaste had a long lasting black pepper and alcohol note. While this isn’t limited, as they stated it also isn’t special. In fact it’s almost pedestrian. It might be worth 40 bucks, but certainly is not worth the 56 buck price of admission. I’m glad I didn’t exert any extra energy to find this bottle. I might try the other Smoke Wagon variants if I run into them, but I won’t go out of my way to try to find them to bring home.
I had seen some recent excited posts for the roll out of Stellum bottles, so when I happened upon a bottle of Stellum Bourbon I brought it home to see if there was anything there. At $55 it wasn’t crazy expensive, but it wasn’t cheap either. It’s in the price point most bottles try to be nowadays, but I’m in the camp of if you are going to charge more than $50, it better be special. Stellum rings in at 114.98 proof so you’re getting full use of all the spirits in the bottle which may make the price of admission acceptable to some. The aroma is restrained brown sugar, black pepper, oak, leather, and tobacco. The alcohol is low yet present in the aroma. The flavor was brown sugar, black pepper, oak, leather, and a back of the throat presence of alcohol. The finish lingers with black pepper and the warming post consumption is where you know it packs a punch. While there is nothing at all wrong with this bottle, it just doesn’t get me excited. It’s not complex enough for the price I paid. If this were $15 less than I might be singing a different tune, but at the 55 buck price point I expect more that just a higher proof. Maybe this needs a cube or a splash to really shine, but when I added water it just seemed more watered down so I stuck to consuming it neat. Again, it’s not bad in any way, but it’s not complex enough for me to purchase it again.
Many people reported loving Redwood Empire Lost Monarch so I had to give this blend a try. It took awhile, but I finally snagged a bottle. I’m still not sure why it was difficult to find, but when I did, it had a $40 price point on the 45% ABV Whiskey. I was hopeful after trying Pipe Dream this would be just as delicious, but it turned out to have more in common with Emerald Giant. That’s understandable once you realize this is a blend of 60% Rye Whiskey and 40% Bourbon. The aroma was filled with spicy rye, black pepper, brown sugar, clove, and hints of spearmint. The flavor was slightly sweet and focused on caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, black pepper, rye, and of course spearmint. The finish was restrained brown sugar and caramel, light black pepper, and lasting low spearmint. I’m just not a fan of spearmint in my rye so this one, although the spearmint is restrained, doesn’t make me want to purchase another bottle. If you love EG then this bottle is definitely one you should try, otherwise, go for the Pipe Dream.
PS: The namesake for this Whiskey is a 321 foot tall coastal redwood.
When I spotted Ezra Brooks 99 Bourbon on the shelf I knew I had to snag a bottle. This was a new to the market 99 proof Bourbon at a price point of $25 regular price. I had heard good things so I figured it was best to check it out for myself. The website touts a high rye mash bill which falls squarely in my wheelhouse. The aroma is filled with oak, cinnamon, caramel, brown sugar, and hints of black pepper. The flavor has a distinct spicy cinnamon, more toasted oak, and delicious caramel and brown sugar. The finish lasts with more caramel, black pepper, cinnamon, and very light oak which all fades fantastically into the aftertaste. It’s a fantastic bottle at an affordable price. Hopefully it’s overlooked for a very long time and will be readily available all the time. Snag yourself a bottle before people realize it’s out there and it becomes gone baby gone.