Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Broadslab Distillery Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon


Broadslab Distillery Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon

We're suckers for farm-to-glass bourbons because you feel like you can really trust the process when everything is done in-house.  Sure, tons of folks are mashing, distilling, maturing and bottling their own product.  But at Broadslab Distillery in Benson, NC they are also growing the grains on their farm.  While the farm-to-bottle process isn't completely unique, it is somewhat rare these days.  And what really sets this distillery apart from others is their flue-cured aging process.  Their patent pending process means that they actually age their whiskey alongside hanging/curing tobacco, providing a unique process that carries over into distinct North Carolina flavors.  

Owner and master distiller Jeremy Norris insists on doing things the old way, or as he refers to, the right way.  The distillery cooks in a 500-pound copper pot still and the barrels are put aside until the whiskey has reached that familiar golden-brown color and rich aromas.  And that is what brings us to the Broadslab Distillery Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon today.  This small batch single barrel is an impressive 115+ proof and just gorgeous in the glass.  

Tasted neat, as always, the bourbon showed up with raw leather, cedar, maple, tobacco and vanilla on the nose.  Since this was a pop-and-pour taste initially, we decided to give this bourbon some air time in the glass before getting an accurate opinion of what it offered.  There was a unique and pleasant earthiness to this bourbon.  It was joined with spice cake, eucalyptus, cherry cola and vanilla throughout.  The finish was lively and this was not overly sweet.  Tasting a product like this confirms that we already knew; Not all great distilled spirits are born in Bardstown, KY!

This is a well-rounded bottle.  We like the aromas, the tastes and the label.  The fact that you can find a really nice product like this, it makes you wonder why people chase only allocated bottles.  Small Batch.  Single Barrel.  Cask Strength.  What else do you want?

Broadslab Distillery Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon Close Up

ABV:  57.63% (115.26 proof)

Distillery:  Broadslab Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $68.95

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

Monday, May 13, 2024

2021 Flora Springs Trilogy


2021 Flora Springs Trilogy

This is our third vintage of Flora Springs Trilogy to taste and review over the years, and it has always been a consistently delicious and top performer.  For the 2021 vintage (their 38th bottling), there is a new label design which is (in our opinion) more elegant and welcoming that previous offerings.  As most of you know, we do take in consideration label design, or what we call shelf appeal, when scoring our wines and spirits.

The 2021 Trilogy is comprised primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) but also includes Petit Verdot (10%) and Malbec (5%).  This flagship wine is incredibly silky-smooth throughout the entire tasting experience, offering up tannins that are glossy and fine.  A swarm of aromas that include ripe dark berries, graphite and cedar are introduced initially, but this isn't a fruit-bomb, in-your-face type of wine, which is extremely refreshing.  After some time in the glass, the cedar yields to more earthy style of aromas.  The black fruits carry over on the palate with whisps of chocolate shavings, mint, minerality and suggestions of pine.  This wine is very structured and refined.  

We tasted this wine unaccompanied first and then paired it with some hard cheeses, cured meats and jams.  While the jams were not the best pairing, this wine absolutely soared with the aforementioned meats and cheeses.  If someone were building a wine cellar and asked us to give them 20 different wines to stock/cellar, this one would definitely be in that group.  It is perpetually delicious and each vintage is just breath taking.  Well done!

2021 Flora Springs Trilogy Close Up

ABV:  14.2%

Winery:  Flora Springs: Napa, CA

2.300 Cases Produced

Suggested retail price:  $100.00

Drink The Bottles score:  95/100

Monday, May 6, 2024

Irons One Bourbon


Irons One Bourbon

Tucked away in a brick building in the bustling city of Huntsville, Alabama is a small craft distillery that is doing things the old-fashioned way and creating a product that may just blow your mind.  Owner and distiller Jeff Irons is nearly a one-man show, using only the help of his CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) and wife, Vicki Irons.  Irons One Distillery produces about 30 gallons of bourbon per week, give or take.  In fact, when he sent us a bottle for review, he was temporarily out of stock because he just can't keep it on the shelf.  Now we understand why!

The philosophy that Jeff Irons uses is to oversee literally every aspect of every batch of bourbon personally, from start to finish, ensuring only the highest quality product.  His "from my hands to yours" business model and the fact that every bottle has his name on it resonates with everyone who has ever tasted his incredible craft.  You won't find a team of seasonal workers or any cut corners here.  What you will find is incredible detail and care that is put into every step of the distilling process.

We tasted this small batch bourbon neat in a Glencairn initially.  We then re-visited it with a single cube in a rocks glass but determined that the neat pour was best fitting in our opinion.  We also re-tasted this five days later and, as predicted, were equally and pleasantly surprised as the initial tasting.  This bourbon provided a myriad of aromas and flavors:  Nutmeg, vanilla, oak, spice, dry earth, cake on the nose and some time in the glass kept throwing in more.  

Folks often talk about the "Kentucky hug" that you get with a whiskey or bourbon.  Well, we would suggest that this bottle gives you an Alabama backrub instead.  The pecan pie, vanilla cream, caramel corn and spice cabinet flavors blend beautifully and you can taste some floral and hard candy elements on the back end.  To say that this bourbon is smooth would be an unfortunate discredit to what Mr. Irons has done here.  We can only compare the smoothness of this whiskey to a professional paint job on a full restored 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS.  

Sometimes when we taste a new (to us) bourbon we start laughing after the initial taste.  And that's exactly what we did here.  We knew instantly that this was a superior product and a real treasure.  It's understandable why Irons Distillery wants to keep every step of the process under their thumb.  The quality, flavors, smoothness and drinkability of this product needs to be protected at all costs.  

So, how did we arrive at our score?  We compare this bottle to others in the 90 proof range.  This could very easily be our favorite 90 proof bourbon of 2024 and it is as good as any that we have tasted in the last 6 months.  The only drawback is the availability and distribution.  If this was more readily available it may have reached our first-ever perfect spirits score!  But if you are in the Huntsville, Alabama area, you absolutely, without a doubt, need to check out Irons One.  They might just have some bourbon waiting for you!

Jeff Irons - Irons One Distillery

ABV:  45.0% (90.0 proof)

Distillery:  Irons One

Suggested retail price:  $50.00

Drink The Bottles score:  96/100

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

ANGEL'S ENVY "Worth The Envy" Marketing Campaign Focuses on Inclusivity


ANGEL'S ENVY is breaking down barriers with their wildly popular, award-winning and globally recognized finished whiskeys.  They are rolling out a national marketing campaign called "Worth The Envy", with a mission to "craft the future of bourbon and break stereotypes".

Maria, Dao, North American Marketing Director for the brand says, "At ANGEL'S ENVY, we pride ourselves in our innovative nature and origin.  We were one of the first distillers ever to bring secondary finishing to the bourbon industry at a time when it was considered a somewhat radical and visionary concept.  'Worth The Envy' strives to bend how people think about bourbon."

This new campaign shows how bourbon sparks conversations and experiences and it makes people who are not necessarily stereotypical whiskey enthusiasts think about how bourbon can enhance their lives.  More unique cocktails, a more welcoming environment and inclusiveness for all levels of whiskey fans and a potpourri of people from all walks of life are encouraged to come together and share in this lovely distilled spirit that we call whiskey and bourbon.

At Drink The Bottles we can tell you that we have personally been fans of ANGEL'S ENVY for many years.  Their Rye whiskey finished in port wine barrels is one of the first finished Rye that we had ever tasted.  We still use it regulartly in an Old Fashioned when we are looking for a sweeter version of the wildly popular cocktail.  Hats off to ANGEL'S ENVY on this new marketing campaign!

Spark Plug Cocktail Recipe

Mix up a delicious twist on the classic Espresso Martini Cocktail.

  • 1 1/2 parts ANGEL'S ENVY Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels
  • 1 part Vanilla Liqueur
  • 2 parts Espresso
Add all ingredients into a shaker tin.  Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass.  Garnish with three coffee beans or grated cinnamon.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Heaven's Door Exploration 1 Bourbon


Heaven's Door Exploration 1 Bourbon

Superstar Bob Dylan co-created the Heaven's Door brand and it has been incredibly popular because of the variety of products offered and of course, the quality of the spirits.  Master Distiller Ken Pierce is a veteran of in the whiskey world and under his influence, has made Heaven's Door a stand out brand among the competition.  Heaven's Door is opening their distillery and brand center later this year and it looks like it will be a place that everyone wants to visit.

Today we take a look at Heaven's Door Exploration 1, and inaugural bourbon offering in the newly-labeled Exploration series.  This bourbon is aged at least 5 years before spending another 2 years finishing in Calvados brandy casks from France.  An addition of medium-heavy French oak staves helps add to the flavor profile.  Coming in at 108 proof, we felt this drank closer to 120 proof with everything that is going on here, including the incredible mouth-coating feel you get and very long, spicy finish.

This was tasted neat in a Glencairn from a small sample bottle.  Medium to darker caramel color with predominant oak, mint, citrus, eucalyptus and orchard fruits all competing for attention on the nose.  The initial flavors were more citrus and grilling spices.  This was not overly sweet, but very structured, allowing a great balance of the citrus with oak and a spicier finish the sat incredibly on the tongue.  Some impressions of dried fruit and floral boquet from the brandy finishing showed up with some additional time in the glass.  Mutt stated that he thought this bottle was "incredible" and we both agree that we can't wait to see what else Heaven's Door has in store!

Check out our quickie YouTube review here!

ABV:  54.0% (108.0 proof)

Distillery:  Heaven's Door

Suggested retail price:  $79.99

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Westward Single Malt Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask


Westward Single Malt Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask

We could keep this short and sweet by stating, "We really like this", but that's not our style.  Today we tasted the Westward Single Malt Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask from Oregon and if you're a finished whiskey fan, read on!

Whether or not you're familiar with Westward Whiskey, you need to pay attention to their history and their philosophies.  This award-winning distillery has been around for 20 years, back when craft distilling wasn't "a thing" and they helped pave the way for the now more than 2200 craft brands in the US.  Head distiller Miles Munroe approaches each offering with critical care, always conscious of the footprint that the northwest United States will leave on each bottle.

This single malt whiskey is finished in French Oak Pinot Noir barrels, after first starting off the aging process in American Oak.  For finished whiskey enthusiasts, this one is hitting on all cylinders.  You start with a cherry pie, sweet tobacco, leather and vanilla.  We tasted this neat and allowed it some ample air time, rather than a pop-and-pour method.  Suspecting we had something special here, we wanted to give this dark amber offering some time to show itself, and it did!  Scorched earth, fig, stone fruits and vanilla were at the forefront with a more herb-like finish, combined with cocoa powder and sweet, savory vanilla pudding.  

While we don't know the mash bill or the details of the finishing time in the Pinot barrels, we can tell you that this whiskey really put a smile on our faces.  As someone who genuinely loves Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest and whiskey, this was a fanstastic marriage.  A self-proclaimed "whiskey purist" might not appreciate a finish like this, but they would be remiss.  If you aren't familiar with wine finished whiskey, we definitely recommend you try this one out.  It may blow your mind!

Westward Single Malt Whiskey Pinot Noir Cask Label

ABV:  45.0% (90.0 proof)

Distillery:  Westward Whiskey

Suggested retail price:  $89.95

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Two James Spirits Johnny Smoking Gun Blended Whiskey


Two James Spirits Johnny Smoking Gun Blended Whiskey

We're not going to lie.  We know that a perk of this project is the ability to taste unique and extraordinary spirits that we may not be introduced otherwise.  The Johnny Smoking Gun Blended Whiskey from Two James Spirits out of Detroit, Michigan is just one of those cases.  

The distillery's founder, Dave Landrum, pays homage to two important men in his life who also bear the namesake of the brand.  Both named James (father and grandfather), left a positive mark on those around them by the love they showed for their communities and the passsion for life, among other things.  Dave is no stranger to the food and beverage world.  He is a mixologist, sommerlier and self-proclaimed spirits snob who wanted to carve his own path by creating a brand he could call his own.

Two James Spirits is deeply rooted and excited about their Corktown, Detroit community.  While being environmentally conscious, they also corn and grain locally in Michigan, maintaing not only more control of the overall process, but also supporting local family farms.

To say Johnny Smoking Gun is riddled with individuality would be a huge understatement.  The packaging and label are both on point and really stand out.  We have always exlcaimed that you need to start with good packaging.  Aged at least 2 years, this 87 proof blended whiskey is proofed down with Japanese tea.  Yes, you read that right.  Japanese tea.  We really didn't know what to expect with this but were very eager to taste it.  We popped this and tasted it neat (and later tasted it with some time in the glass).

On the nose initially were aromas of dried earth, butter cream frosting, lemon and corn casserole.  We've decided after tasting this we are going to skip the casserole for the holidays this year and serve JSG!  The first taste was a real eye opener (literally) with green tea, frosting, faint smoke and a treasure trove of aromas you would pick up at a Hallmark store.   That may sound extreme, but we all know what that feels like.  This is a tasty beast that finishes with a buttery and herbacious blend that draws you back for the next sip.

We generally never taste spirits with food.  It's just not our thing for the most part.  But I'm going to tell you that I had a few sips of Johnny Smoking Gun last night with beef arm roast, carrots and potatoes and the pairing was just remarkable.  If you're looking for something outside of the standard whiskey or bourbon on a lower proof side, give the Two James Distillery a try with this bottle!

Mutt and Jeff explore Johnny Smoking Gun on YouTube

ABV:  43.5% (87.0 proof)

Distillery:  Two James Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $49.96

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Watershed Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Watershed Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Everyone probably knows by now that bourbon is distilled in all 50 states in the US.  One perk we have with this passion project is discovering new-to-us distilleries and connecting with the folks who truly love what they do.  We accidentally ran across Watershed Distillery and now they are popping up everywhere we look online.  A fifteen minute phone call with a representative from Watershed made us instantly feel like part of the family and we couldn't be more excited to talk about this bottle.

The Watershed Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a 4 year-old offering, coming in at 90 proof.  Yes, of course most distilleries offer a lower proof bourbon, but let us share with you what makes this bottle one to put on your radar.  This mash bill is 72% corn, 21% rye and 7% malt, showing the sweeter nose and cookie taste with just a touch of peppery goodness on the finish.  Brunette liquid in the bottle with a boquet of sweet butter, ginger, cinnamon and mahogany leather really lifts your spirit immediately.  After some time in the glass we are introduced to vanilla and breakfast cereal.  Tasted neat, as always.  

There's a medium mouthfeel that covers you with cinnamon stick, sugary churro, vanilla and wisps of oak.  It's not incredibly complex, but we really like this "regular release" bottle.  The finish keeps you interested and pulls you back in for another taste.  This is definitely an every day bourbon that you can enjoy because of the taste, the proof and the price!

Watershed Distillery creates not only this bourbon, but also many limited releases as well gin and vodka.  Started in 2010 by a couple of friends, this Columbus, Ohio staple has grown and grown again.  They even offer a full service bar and kitchen!  We are only a couple of hours away from Watershed and we look forward to visiting with them this summer.  Our local bourbon club is considering a barrel pick with them and we personally will highly recommend it!  One thing to note:  The Watershed Straight Bourbon Whiskey is available only OUTSIDE of Ohio!  So, don't go visiting and giving them heck about not being able to pick up a bottle.  The good news?  They are really ramping up their distribution network, so keep checking your favorite stores to find this one.

Watershed Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey Label

ABV:  45.0% (90.0 proof)

Distillery:  Watershed Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $39.99

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Driftless Glen Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Driftless Glen Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This bottle surprised us.  That might be an understatement.  This bottle kind of knocked our socks off.  Who knew that such a delicious bourbon would come from the banks of the Baraboo River in Wisconsin?  Today we want to introduce you to the Driftless Glen Straight Bourbon Whiskey - Small Batch #73.  This is a bourbon like nothing we have ever tasted.   After our tasting and note-writing, we did some investigating and we truly believe that the unique wand-filtered water along with a natural concentration of limestone set a solid and distinctive base to this spirit.

Driftless Glen sources all of their grains from the Midwest and they use a 44 foot column still and a pot still to produce truly unique, mellow flavors.  The flavor extraction they get from both their distillation and aging process are impressive and welcoming.

If you're a lower proof (sub 100) drinker, this bottle checks off all of the boxes:  Aromas, flavor profile, soft finish, color.  We tasted this neat in a Glencairn glass immediately after we popped the cork, so there was no "air time" to speak of here initially.  This bottle has a gorgeous walnut color.  Initial aromas of maple, caramel and a soft minerality introduce themselves.  A bit of a swirl and a second sniff presented some wonderful citrus aromas and Jeff likened these to Smarties candy.  (FYI, Smarties is his favorite non-chocolate candy).

The first sip brought over the citrus, caramel and hard candy flavors.  This soft and memorable finish showed off some maple and brighter fruit flavors with a touch of spice.  There was absolutely no burn to this bottle and it is one that we suspect would be equally enjoyable with a single small ice cube.  This was small batch #73 and I wish we could have tasted some previous batches to see if the flavors were similar to this bottle.  I'm sure they were all delicious.  This bottle is a huge winner in our book and we highly recommend you check out Driftless Glen.  If we get an opportunity to share more selections from DG, you'll see them here.

Check out our YouTube video on this bottle!

ABV:  48.0% (96 proof)

Distillery:  Driftless Glen

Suggested retail price:  $49.95

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

Monday, March 11, 2024

Holladay Soft Red Wheat Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon


Holladay Soft Red Wheat Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

We were actually introduced to Holladay Distillery through a YouTube video a few months back.  We're always out looking for new bottles to pop and share and this one definitely caught our eye.  The Holladay Soft Red Wheat Bottled-In-Bond from Missouri has been getting great press lately so we wanted to see what all of the hubbub was about.

Most folks know in order for a bourbon to be labeled "Bottled-In-Bond" that it must be aged for 4 or more years in a federally bonded warehouse (hence the name), bottled at 100 proof where it was distilled and produced in a single season.  But......  Did you know that in this particular case, this brown water is aged more than six years?  In addition, Missouri law requires that bourbon must be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled in Missouri in order for it to have the "Missouri" label on it?  What really impresses us about this is the law was updated in 2020 for all corn to be grown in Missouri as well.  Keep in mind, going forward, that the Show Me State is taking things very seriously with bourbon by showcasing the the talents and determination from their distilleries.

The Soft Red Wheat has a mash bill of primarily corn.  Wheat and barley round out the grains and no rye is present here.  Red wheat in particular tends to present a sweeter aroma and taste in the glass, which is exactly what we picked up when tasting this bottle neat.

The majority of the whiskey from each of the Soft Red Wheat releases has historically come from Floor 4 of the rickhouse.  That seems to be the sweet spot and the distiller has honed in on what's really working here.  Here's what we think....

Medium chestnut color in the glass.  You get cinnamon stick, honey, baking spices and strawberry cheesecake for the initial aromas.  Some swirling and time in the glass (that's always the hard part!) throw homemade caramel and red fruits at you as well.  The mouth-watering aromas are justitified at first sip.  Strawberry preserves, honey, cinnamon, fresh baked biscuits and cherry candy are dominant.  There's a very welcoming and surprising mint leaf component that shows up with some cocoa powder towards the mid palate to finish.  

We think that this bottle lives up to every accolade that is published about it.  And we will be so bold to say that we think this gives Weller Antique a very hard run for the money!  This is a bottle that you want to have a back up in place in your bar and then a back up for the back up bottle!  If you're a wheater fan, we have no doubt that this is going to be a pleaser for your palate.  We love what Holladay is doing and where they are going.  This is definitely a brand to keep on your radar and you'll want to snatch up whatever they produce because if this bottle is any clue of the deliciousness they are producing, they are creating another footprint in their long legacy.

Holladay Soft Red Wheat Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon Open

ABV:  50.0% (100.0 proof)

Distillery:  Holladay Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $59.99

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Ironton Distillery Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Ironton Distillery Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Did you know there are approximately 750 whiskey and bourbon distilleries in operation in the US?  Did you know that not all great distilled spirits come from central Kentucky?  We did and today we are sharing one of those with you.  We're tasting and sharing the Ironton Distillery Colorado Straight Bourbon today and we are thrilled to have connected with these folks.  The female leadership team of Kallyn Romero (co-owner) and Laura Walters (head distiller) is making their mark in the Colorado distilled spirits scene by offering up a nice selection of lower proof whiskey from their core portfolio, but also throwing in some cask strength bourbon, a single malt finished in a coffee cask and then gin, rum and other goodies.  For distilling only since 2018, they have been cranking out some quality products that will surely continue to foot their footprint in the "brown water" world.

With Romero's entrepreneurial knack and Walters' previous experience in the wine and whiskey world, we have no doubt that this team will continue to grow, create and share the goodness that is all things Ironton.  We love what they're doing and where they are going!

The current offering of Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Ironton comes in at a very sippable and approachable proof that makes it super easy for all experience levels to enjoy.  While the mashbill is unknown, we can tell you that consists of blue heirloom corn, barley, rye and red wheat.  Aged at least 2 years, the charred oak barrels create a beautiful carmel color and sweet nose of vanilla bean, honey and roasted pecan.  The palate is guided by orange and fig cake initially.  A couple sips in are reminiscent of candy corn and hot Spanish peanuts, finishing with red fruits, sweet nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon candy.  The sweet and nutty flavors likely are pulled from the blue corn and that provides a very unique experience that is a refreshing spin on bourbon.  

While we are starting to see more distilleries west of the Mississippi used blue corn, this one will be a stand out for us as a new and lovely experience.  This was tasted three ways - neat, with a couple of drops of water and then with food.  While we don't normally sip whiskey with food (it just isn't our thing), we found that this bottle paired really well with smoked turkey sausage and fried green beans.  This bourbon really connected with food!

This first bottle from Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse in Denver, CO is a winner in our books.  Without knowing how many barrels they have resting, we are hoping (fingers crossed) that they are keeping several on the racks so we can taste some 4 and 6 year whiskies in the future.  We like what this distillery is doing and we will be keeping tabs on them.  If you're in the Denver area, stop by and check them out!

Ironton Distillery Bourbon Whiskey back of bottle

ABV:  43.0% (86.0 proof)

Distillery:  Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse

Suggested retail price:  $65.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100

Broadslab Distillery Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon

  We're suckers for farm-to-glass bourbons because you feel like you can really trust the process when everything is done in-house.  Sur...