Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail

Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail Whiskey

We could not be more excited for an opportunity to sample and share with you the Dovetail finished whiskey from Barrell Craft Spirits.  We have been a BCS fan for sometime, polishing off a few bottles of their Seagrass Rye and other offerings over the last year.  Tasted from sample, this offering of Dovetail comes in at 124.7 proof but does not drink hot at all.  The fact that it was finished in rum, port wine and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from Dunn Vineyards really adds some incredible finesse and flavors to this lovely and aromatic whiskey.

On the nose is a soul-searching saddle leather aroma, followed by slight pepper, campfire smoke and sweet yellow fruits.  There are hints of that lovely limestone or wet rock aromas that peak through as well.  It's a medium chestnut color and we think if we had added a couple drops of water, the dark cholocate flavors would have made an entrance.  We tasted this neat and there was sweet ripe mango, tobacco smoke, herbs and peppercorn on the palate.  This lovely whiskey stays with you to the very end, providing a finish that is long and it calls you back like a siren of the sea.

Is this a keeper?  You bet!  We have never had a bottle of anything from BCS where our reaction was, "Ehh, it's ok".  They have all been winners and they don't last long around here.  This one is right in line with the quality and expert blending that you expect from Joe Beatrice, Tripp Stinson and Nic Chistiansen.   Absolutely delicious.




ABV:  62.35% (124.7 proof)

Distillery:  Barrell Craft Spirits

Suggested retail price:  $79.99

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100




 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Green River Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Green River Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey


Green River Distilling Company recently expanded their offering by releasing their first ever Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey.  This 95 proof bottle joins their previously-released and very successful bourbons.  This whiskey is a blend from four to six year barrels and has a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley.   In the bottle is a bright mahogany colored whiskey with a nose that includes red fruit, mint and baked biscuits.  This is a very easy sipper and will appeal to devoted rye whiskey enthusiasts as they taste  black tea, hints of spice, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and maple candy.  After a few days opened, we kept going back to this bottle and we're picking up more citrus on the nose and fruit on the palate.  This might be one of the best rye whiskeys we have tasted in months!

This bottle is another fine example that whiskey doesn't have to be expensive to be good and that it doesn't have to age for 10+ years to have mass appeal.  Green River Distilling Company is the 10th oldest licensed distillery in Kentucky (DSP-KY-10) and they are owned by Bardstown Bourbon Company.  This latest addition to their also means that GRDC is expanding their distribution markets and they will be in 34 states.  In the coming years Green River anticipates nationwide distribution in addition to their Australian exports.

We should note that this whiskey was tasted neat and then again with one small ice cube.  We are guessing that this one would also be fine in an Old Fashioned, so if you go that route, you'll have to let us know.  This rye whiskey from Green River Distlling Company is a winner in our book and we can't wait to see what future releases are in store for the whiskey community!

Check out our YouTube review of this incredible Rye!



ABV:  47.5% (95 proof)

Distillery:  Green River Distilling Company

Suggested retail price:  $34.99

Drink The Bottles score:  93+/100

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Traveller Whiskey (Blended)

 

Traveller Whiskey

What does a country music superstar and one of the world's most famous distilleries have in common?  Well, let's find out!  Right out of the gate, we're going to tell you that we were surprised that this wasn't a marriage between the 8-time Grammy winner and Jack Daniel's, but we'll get to that later.

Chris Stapleton has teamed up with Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley to offer this first-of-a-kind blended whiskey with a celebrity association from the Frankfort, KY landmark.  Gimmick?  Genius marketing?  When this bottle was released just a few weeks ago we heard comments all over the board.  Most whiskey enthusiasts were skeptical, but admittedly, they "had" to have that bottle.....or three.  Some people cried foul and said this was all a poor attempt at boosting sales for both the country crooner and the distillery.

If you know anything about either one, you quickly realize that they don't need to boost their sales.  Both parties are doing just fine.  Stapleton has a net worth of about $25 million and climbing.  Buffalo Trace invested $1.2 billion into their expansion in order to keep up with demand.  So, you can debunk the sales boosting theory.

While many country music fans welcomed the collaboriation between the two brands, some questioned why Stapleton, who is admittedly now sober, would add his name to the bottle.  Well, back up a second.  Stapleton recently told Rolling Stone that while he isn't exactly sober, he has cut back on his drinking.  The miscommunication was from a previous interview last year, but "CS" admits that he does enjoy drinking alcohol (he has about 200 bottles of bourbon at home), but not to the volume he used to in younger years.

We love Buffalo Trace.  We really, really enjoy all of their products that we have tasted to date.  When we heard that Harlen Wheatley and Chris Stapleton had joined forces to marry a bottle of blended whiskey, we were pretty excited about the opportunity to find and taste this one.  We really thought that Jack Daniel's would have snagged Stapleton first, especially with his remake of the hit song, "Tennessee Whiskey".  But......we're not mad!  Stapleton had been approached by distilleries and brands before, but the joint effor with BT felt right.

So let's talk about Traveller Whiskey.  Over 50 whiskey blends were sampled and number 40 was the winner and what made it to the bottle.  While the mash bills, age statement and specific sources are under wraps, Buffalo Trace says that this blend is from "award winning distilleries".  This was blended and bottled at the Frankfort distillery.  The bottle features a roadmap of the back woods and the liquid inside is a gorgeous light to medium brown.  Once you pop the cork you're going to love the abundant aromas of vanilla extract, ooey gooey butter cake and carmel syrup.  The nose is definitely on the sweeter side, and that carries over to the first flavors you experience with that intital sip.  Lightly salted nuts and kitchen spices finish this out with a somewhat short finish.  

Almost immediately after Traveller Whiskey was released, we saw several 'taters' flipping these bottles on the secondary market for upwards of $150 per bottle.  Take our advice and don't pay that for this bottle.  Is it one worth having in your whiskey library to share and talk about with friends?  Sure.  Is it worth an inflated secondary price?  Not in our opinion.

No matter what your opinion is of this bottle, we can all agree that it is getting harder to find, is on the minds of collectors and enthusiasts alike, and it has created some buzz in the whiskey world.  Selfishly, we would love to see more artistic collaborations between Buffalo Trace and other music superstars, but that remains to be seen.  Cheers!

Traveller Whiskey Bottle Detail


ABV:  45% (90 proof)

Distillery:  Buffalo Trace

Suggested Retail Price:  $39.99

Drink The Bottles score:  85/100


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

NV Harvester Cabernet Sauvignon

 

NV Harvester Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is another testament from the pulpit where we continually exclaim that not all wine has to be expensive to be good.  This is a non-vintage Harvester Cabernet Sauvignon from Austin Hope Winery.  Non-vintage generally eludes that this wine is a blend of several vineyards and vintages and the production is on the higher side.  That not only means that this wine is readily available, but it is also affordable.  We originally tasted this bottle at a local wine shop and while it didn't mirror the $100 Ghost Block that we tasted, it certainly held its own.

This wine is from Paso Robles and has a pleasant, medium-dark purple color.  The aromas are on the brighter side of red fruits and baked pastry, followed by notes of allspice and vanilla.  On the palate is a plesant and sleek flavor profile of cherry, plum, spices and vanilla.  The wine doesn't linger but the finish is satisfying and this is certainly a wine that would pair well with barbeque or stuffed peppers.  

When you're having one of those nights that you want a solid Cabernet Sauvignon, but you don't want to pluck a $200 bottle out of your cellar, reach for this one!  This would be a solid wine to serve at an informal get together as well.  Enjoy!

NV Harvester Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  13.5%

Winery:  Austin Hope Winery

Suggested retail price:  $19.99

Drink The Bottles score:  88/100





Wednesday, January 3, 2024

J Rieger's Kansas City Whiskey

 

J Rieger's Kansas City Whiskey

There has been a buzz online for several months about J Rieger's whiskey offerings.  Admittedly, we weren't familiar, but the excitement was growing both locally and across the country since they released their first bottle about 20 months ago.  Well, it's not their first, but there was that pesky Prohibition that go in the way.  It only takes a spark to get a fire going, right?  When we came across this bottle of J Rieger's Kansas City Whiskey at a local liquor store, we snatched it up.  In fact, it was the last bottle on the shelf and it has been difficult to find since that time.  Why?  Well, let us tell you!

This is a blended whiskey, coming at 92 proof.  The blend includes straight rye whiskey, straight bourbon whiskey and light corn whiskey - all aged 4 years or more.  But there's also the smallest amount of oloroso sherry from spain (15 year) that is introduced to the blend to create a unique and welcoming flavor profile.  In fact, whether you are a sherry fan or not, you pick up on that decadent and rich buterscotch aroma at first pour.  Dried fig, dark chocolate morsels, candied almonds and allspice swirl around in your mouth, providing you with a solid and mildly spicy finish.  

We paid only $29.99 for this bottle of whiskey and it is an absolute winner!  The price generally ranges from $24.99 to $35.99, depending on your location.  Currently, Rieger's is distributed in 28 states and I'm guessing they will be expanding more in the upcoming year.  Available in 375ml, 750ml and 1.75L bottles.  J Rieger has a fascinating and long history, dating back well before Prohibition.  But in current day, they have been "back in business" since 2014.  Their first release, Bottled in Bond Straight Rye, was released in August of 2021 and they haven't looked back since.  We can't wait to see what is in store for this delicious and proud brand.

ABV:  46% (92 proof)

Distillery:  J. Rieger & Co.

Suggested retail price:  $29.99

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100



Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Russell's Reserve 13 Year Old Bourbon

 

Russell's Reserve 13 Year Old Bourbon

Just over a year ago I had the opportunity to taste Russell's Reserve 13 Year Old Bourbon for the first time.  A friend of mine had picked up a bottle locally for $107 (MSRP at the time was $99) and surprised me with a taste.  He knew, at the time, that this was on my top-10 "wish list" so I was ecstatic to have this opportunity.  We later discovered that he had Batch 2 of this limited release bourbon from Wild Turkey Distillery.

The mash bill on this is 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley and it comes in just under 115 proof (114.8).  The initial nose was on the sweeter side with cinnamon toast, apple pie and baking spices at the forefront.  Admittedly, we didn't really let this one sit very long which was a mistake in hindsight.  In the mouth was a fruity and leathery blend of whiskey that brought to light more complexity with cracked pepper, cherry pie and maple towards the mid palate.  The 13 year oak helps frame this bourbon, bringing back the leather and sweeter flavors.  This is a great example of expert bourbon creation from the Russell men.  

The new MSRP on the latest release of Russell's Reserve 13 Year is $149.  While I would (and have) paid $149 for that bottle, I honestly think that the better bang for your buck is to find a Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Private Barrel Selection.  Nearly every one of those that I have tasted are as equally amazing as the RR 13 and you only lose a few proof points.  Don't get me wrong.  If I see one of these in the wild and not at secondary prices, I'm picking it up.  

ABV:  57.4% (114.8 proof)

Distillery:  Wild Turkey

Suggested retail price:  $99 (currently $149)

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir

 

2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir


Don't worry wine snobs.  Not all great wines have corks.  The 2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir is a screwtop but there is nothing screwy about this wine!  Blueberry compote, leather bound book, wet stone and barn dust are prevalent on the nose.  You really get lost in the aromas of this juice and we found our noses in the glass repeatedly!  Berry cobbler, mocha and ripe plum dance on the palate with a firm but not overbearing acidity.  Medium and memorable finish puts this wine in a "must buy" Oregon Pinot category.  It's quite lovely!

2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir label


ABV:  14.0%

McMinnville, OR

Production:  600 cases

Suggested retail price:  $65.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Winery Spotlight: Krupp Brothers Estate

 

Krupp Brothers Winery

About ten years ago, Jeff blindly reached out to Krupp Brothers winery to introduce himself as a fledgling wine blogger.  The winery was kind enough to send Jeff a few bottles to review, and the rest, as they say, is history.  We have been very enthusiastic fans of Krupp Brothers wines and have enjoyed sharing these wines not only virtually with their readers, but in person with their friends.  And, just as it should happen, it did.  Those friend started buying Krupp Brothers wines and eventually some of them became wine club members.  

In late August, we had the opportunity to travel with close friends to Napa and Sonoma for an amazing wine adventure.  This was our second visit to the Krupp Brothers estate in as many years and we were excited to share this special place with a new couple joining us on our trip this year.


The Porsche tractor at Krupp Brothers
"Napa Scott" posing with the Porsche tractor outside of the tasting room.  We believe that this is an obligator picture for anyone visiting the estate.

Our visit started with estate director Tyler Hinsley and our wine educator/tour guide Sierra Fiddler greeting us at the end of the picturesque drive.  I'd like to think they were eager to see us (which we know they were) but it might also be because we were running about 10 minutes late since we had just landed and headed straight to the estate from the Sacramento airport.

Cabernet grapes at the Krupp Brothers estate
The grapes were looking amazing and about to burst! 

Because our trip was late August/early September, harvest was just around the corner.  Overall, the grapes this year looked, smelled and tasted extraordinary and the consensus in Napa Valley is that 2022 would be another vintage for the record books.  

Cabernet Sauvignon sign
Cabernet Sauvignon at Krupp Brothers estate

Sierra showed us around the estate and guided us to the veranda overlooking the manicured and beautiful vineyards.  She told us about the history of Krupp Brothers, Stagecoach Vineyard and the story about finding water in an area that was believed to be desolate.  Sierra was a breath of fresh air and incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about "everything" Krupp Brothers.

Sierra Fiddler of Krupp Brothers
Sierra Fiddler, tour guide extraordinaire

Much to our surprise, Dr. Jan Krupp, showed up and greeted us out back.  To say that I was over-the-moon would be a gross understatement.  While we met Dr. Krupp previously, it really meant a lot for him to take time out of his busy scheduled to entertain our questions for nearly an hour.  Believe me, I'm sure he's heard them all before!  Maybe our next tasting can be at his house?  (Hint, hint Dr. K!)

Dr. Jan Krupp in tasting room
Dr. Jan Krupp fielding the group's questions and telling us stories

If you ever have the opportunity to sit down with a wine maker or a vintner, do NOT pass up the chance.  We learned so much from our time with Dr. Krupp and we had a lot of laughs on the way.  This is time that we will treasure forever!

Krupp Brothers tasting line up
Incredible setting and gorgeous wines at the Krupp Brothers estate tasting room

Our tasting included five (no, make that 6 because of a 'bonus' tasting) Krupp Brothers wines and charcuterie.  Each wine was unique, elegant and incredibly special.  It's so tough to pick a favorite.  We were determined this year to cellar some of our purchases away so we can enjoy them for many years.  All too often we drink the wines young and don't appreciate the aging capabilities of these gems.  We WILL be sharing our thoughts on these wines on the blog and social media at a later date.

Tyler Hinsley, estate director
Tyler Hinsley, estate director for Krupp Brothers

Another highlight of our visit was our new friend and estate director, Tyler Hinsley.  Tyler's genuine kindness, enthusiasm and excitement about the Krupp Brothers label was infectious.  He even helped us locate a couple of library wines that we can open at a much later date.  Tyler was incredible nice on the phone and via email, but became an immediate friend when we met him in person.  We also had the chance to hang out with Tyler later that evening when we visited the Krupp Brothers downtown tasting room for a fun time.

The California Wine Group at Krupp Brothers
The "Cali Wine Trip" crew with Dr. Jan Krupp

There are literally hundreds of wineries you can visit in Napa and Sonoma.  In fact, the toughest part of planning any trip is narrowing down the list and then narrowing it down again.  While wish we could visit them all, visiting the special places like Krupp Brothers completes our adventure and creates memories of a lifetime.  Krupp Brothers is definitely a "must re-visit" destination for us and we think you will love it too!

For more information about Krupp Brothers, their story, their history and those incredible wines, please check out https://www.kruppbrothers.com

Dr. Jan Krupp and Jeff Lawson
You didn't really think I wasn't going to get this picture, did you!?



Posted by Jeff




















Wednesday, September 21, 2022

2020 Bells Up Winery Jupiter Pinot Noir

 

2020 Bells Up Winery Jupiter Pinot Noir

Rounding out our tastings of samples from Bells Up Winery is their 2020 Jupiter Pinot Noir.  This comes from an estate vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains.  Three words.... It is fantastic.  Too often we have been slightly underwhelmed by Pinot, often getting the "same old" dusty, overly sweet rose petal vibe.  But not with this.  This Pinot Noir is built differently and if this is testament to the Chehalem Mountains AVA, then we can't wait to visit some day.  Cherry pie, tobacco leaf, graphite and forest floor on the nose.  Solid medium purple color makes an introduction to rhubarb, cherry pomegranate and a subtle hint of pepper, leading to a finish that leaves you yearning for more.  This wine should be in your cellar and with such a low production, you'd better act fast.  This is drinking wonderfully now and should for another 5-7 years.

2020 Bells Up Winery Jupiter Pinot Noir label

ABV:  13.5%

Chehalem Mountains, OR

Production:  94 cases

Suggested retail price:  $48.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100





Tuesday, August 23, 2022

2021 Bells Up Winery Rhapsody Pinot Blanc

2021 Bells Up Winery Rhapsody Pinot Blanc

The 2021 Bells Up Winery Rhapsody Pinot Blanc wine from this small, family-owned winery is our second introduction of unique and flavorful wines from David and Sara Specter.  Pinot Blanc is not a dominant varietal and if you haven't tried it, this is the one you need to get.  Aged on lees for six months, this has a fuller body feel than many white Pinot grape varieties and the terroir of Willamette Valley is evident by the wet stone, crisp fruit flavors and dollops of soy sauce lurking in the background.  There is just the right amount of baking spices mid palate and a memorable finish that includes a noticeable acidity and mineral notes.  We love when you taste a wine and just smile from ear to ear, knowing that you've discovered a fun, memorable bottle.  This wine is drinking very well right now and should for another 4-5 years.  

2021 Bells Up Winery Rhapsody Pinot Blanc label
Medium golden color and very fragrant.

2021 Bells Up Winery Rhapsody Pinot Blanc with Popcorn

We generally don't taste wines (when reviewing) with food.  After we scribed our thoughts on paper we could just tell that this Pinot Blanc would be a great wine to compliment a snack.  We tasted this with popcorn from Northern Neck Popcorn Bag and the pairing was a-MAZ-ing!

ABV:  12.9%

Willamette Valley, OR

Production:  114 Cases

Suggested retail price:  $32.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100





 

Monday, August 22, 2022

2021 Bells Up Winery Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir

 

2021 Bells Up Winery Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir

Kicking off our series of Oregon wines, we started with this inviting Rosé that is as gorgeous in the glass as it is on the tongue.  The 2021 Bells Up Winery Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir first captures the eye with the stunning reddish hue, darker than many other Pinot Noir rosé on the market.  It was intriguing and immediately mouth-watering.  We tasted this wine both on its own merit and with food (which is unusual for us, but we had to prove a point to ourselves).  With ample time in the glass, we began swirling and collecting pleasant, but not overpowering, aromas of strawberry and pomegranate.  The fruit is more noticeable on the palate and the acid is in check and doesn't even begin to overpower this easy-drinking wine.  The finish is subtle and enjoyable.  While we don't always taste wines with food, there was something here that was urging us to do so. We tasted this with a variety of salty cheeses and the pairing was absolutely incredible.  This is definitely a "food" wine and one of the best Rosé of Pinot Noir that we have tasted in recent memory.  

2021 Bells Up Winery Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir Label


ABV:  12.9%

Chehalem Mountains, OR

Production:  101 Cases

Suggested retail price:  $28.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100






Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail

We could not be more excited for an opportunity to sample and share with you the Dovetail finished whiskey from Barrell Craft Spirits .  We ...