Tuesday, July 23, 2024

High West Distillery Cask Strength and High Country Single Malt Whiskeys

 

High West Cask Strength Bourbon-Rye Blend


High West Distillery was founded in 2006 by David Perkins, and his wife Jane and began distilling in 2007.  You've undoubtedly seen these eye-catching bottles at most alcohol retailers, but did you know that High West started all of those years ago with just a small 250 gallon still?  Fast forward to 2024 and you now have a world class, internationally-known brand that is producing fantastic spirits!

Today we're sharing our thoughts with you on two of High West's whiskey offerings - the Cask Strength Bourbon-Rye blend and the American Single Malt Whiskey, dubbed High Country.  Both were tasted neat in Glencairn glasses.

The High West Cask Strength Bourbon-Rye Blend is a combination of straight bourbon and straight rye whiskeys that carry an age statement of six to ten years.  As if the age statement wasn't impressive enough, add on a proof of 117.4, a beautiful label and a mahogany color that catches the eye and you have something special here.  Stone fruits and citrus blend with maple candy and dusty bookstore on the nose.  The higher proof welcomes you with a lovely hug and quickly brings baked peaches, marscapone, saddle leather, hints of passion fruit and mocha.  These flavors drift off to an impressive and noteworthy finish with sourdough toast and honey.  Delicious!

ABV:  58.7% (117.4 proof)

Distillery:  High West Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $69.99

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100



The High West High Country American Single Malt Whiskey is a limited-release offering comprised of a mash bill that is 85% base malt, 14% carmel 60 malt and 1% chocolate malt.  If you're a single malt fan, then we highly encourage you to take a look a this!  Don't let the low proof deter you as this is distilled on the grain, helping coax a myriad of flavors and character to this whiskey.  

Copper color with another impressive label, you feel like you're walking into a bakery in full production in a small village in the mountains.  There is no other way to describe the near-sensory overload you get with this - baked goods, farm fields in the fall before harvest, chocolate, vanilla and maple.  We're going to go back and give this a few drops of water at a later point and see what else this whiskey is cooking up.  Brown butter, honey flavored candy, shortcake, vanilla ice cream and mountain air round out the flavors, hitting all of the senses just right.  Single malt fans, this is YOUR whiskey!

ABV:  44.0% (88 proof)

Distillery:  High West Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $79.99

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

Whiskey Acres Bottled In Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Whiskey Acres Bottled In Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Located in the heart of DeKalb, Illinois is a farm and distillery that promotes their "Seed to Spirit" way of life, growing their own grains and completely overseeing the complete process to creat a selection of fine spirits.  As midwesterners ourselves, we have an affinity for this team that grows everything that goes into their bottles.  They are use John Deere equipment, so there is that admiration as well as our family has been in the John Deere business since 1955.

The Whiskey Acres Bottled-In-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey was tasted neat from a 100mL sample bottle.  Golden sunset in color, this bourbon has an impressive basket of several aromas after some swirling - cinnamon stick, fresh earth, sweet corn and toasted nuts.  It's mouth-coating flavors of vanilla, coconut cream pie, cinnamon, mixed nuts and orchard fruits blend effortless and provide an exceptionally smooth finish - we mean REALLY smooth!  The mash bill on this is 75% corn, 15% soft red winter wheat and 10% malted barley.  The soft red winter wheat adds to the nuttiness of this whiskey and there is zero bitterness at all.  

We will be sharing some additional Whiskey Acres spirits with you soon.  This is a great first hand look at what these farmers-turned-distillers are doing!

Whiskey Acres Bottled In Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey Label

ABV:  50.0% (100 proof)

Distillery:  Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.

Suggested retail price:  $54.99

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100



 

Barrell Bourbon Cask Finish Series: Mizunara

 

Barrell Bourbon Cask Finish Series: Mizunara

We're going to tell you right up front that everything we have tasted from Barrell Craft Spirits so far has been delicious.  The Mizunara Oak Cask Finish Series we are tasting today is no exception to our expectations.  It is the color of pure, unrefinded honey and the 100 mL sample bottle proves that good things come in small packages.

Barrell Craft Spirits are the leaders in blended whiskeys, producing winner after winner, often using unique mash bills and differing aged whiskey to create something that is definitely palate pleasing.  The mash bill on this bottle is 76% corn, 20% rye and 4% malted barley.  This "Edition 001" release is comprised of the following bourbons:  Indiana - 6, 7 and 9 years old, Tennessee - 8 and 14 years old and 8 year old Kentucky bourbon.  The final blend is then matured further in Mizunara (Japanese Oak) barrels, further adding to the flavors and memorable drinking experience.  Mizunara Oak must be a minimum of 200 years old before it can be used for aging casks.  In many cases, the trees can reach an age of 500 years.

Tasted neat, this selection presented clay earth, maple syrup, ripe strawberries, honey and leather.  There is a lot going on here and we strongly encourage you to play with this by adding a drop or two of water or tasting it with a singular ice cube.  It's almost insane what other aromas and flavors come to the surface with the water addition.  Honey, barn wood, mint, cookie dough and herbs are dominant flavors, but that also changes with a couple of drops of water.  This whiskey has a considerable finish that invites you back for another sip.  Love this!

Barrell Bourbon Cask Finish Series: Mizunara Label

ABV:  58.21% (116.42 proof)

Distillery:  Barrell Craft Spirits

Suggested retail price:  $84.99

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100



Friday, July 19, 2024

Bull Run Distilling Pinot Noir Finished American Whiskey

Bull Run Distilling Pinot Noir Finished American Whiskey


Lee Medoff, founder and head distiller at Bull Run Distilling Company in Portland, Oregon, is setting the Pacific Northwest on fire with his distinctive spirits.  While being a professional distiller since 1998, he started Bull Run Distillery in 2010 after setting his sights on creating a pure malt Oregon whiskey.  The distillery currently produces a barrel strength bourbon, vodka, gin and a nice selection of whiskeys.  Today we look at the Bull Run Distilling Pinot Noir Finished American Whiskey aged 15 years.  

The age statemen from Bull Run on the Pinot Noir finished whiskey varies, depending on the batch.  But we tasted the 15 year offering that includes an additional 8 month of finished aging in Pinot Noir casks.  The initial mash bill of 99% corn and 1% malted barley spends the first part of its life in former bourbon casks.  We are fans of finished bourbons (especially in red wine casks) so we were excited to taste and provide our thoughts on this one.  Bull Run used the prestigious Seguin-Moreau cooperage for the aging casks and the result is a huge hit!

Medium to dark crimson color with mahogany colors and stunningly beautiful.  Aromas of cherry syrup, ripe berries, barn wood, vanilla and tea offered a mouth-watering introduction.  Tasted neat in a Glencairn, inviting flavors of fine leather, oak, cherry compote, clove and herbs brought a very welcoming potpourri that really dance on the taste buds.  The finish was impressively smooth and satisfying.  There are some great whiskey and bourbons coming out of Oregon currently, and this one is no exception.  For the finished whiskey fan, this is your wake up call.  Check out Bull Run Distilling Company!

Bull Run Distilling Pinot Noir Finished American Whiskey Label

ABV:  58.17% (116.34 proof)

Distillery:  Bull Run Distilling Company

Suggested retail price:  $48.95

Drink the Bottles score:  95/100


Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Mizunara Barrel

 

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Mizunara Barrel

We won't lie.  This was a fun one for us!  It's not every day you get to taste a 6-year-old Kentucky bourbon that is finished in Mizunara Oak Shochu barrels.  We're going to break that down in just a second. There's a lot to unwrap here.

The World Whiskey Society (WWS) has only been around since 2020, but they are creating a huge footprint in the whiskey world with their extremely unique and innovative products.  First of all, you can't help but notice their exquisite packaging.  If ever there was a "cool bottle" story, it resonates with the offerings from WWS.  The labels are sophisticated and appealing.  The unique bottle toppers are secretly sought after by collectors.  So what about what is in this bottle?  Let's take a look.

So what is Mizunara Oak and what in the heck is Shochu?  Mizunara oak, or Japanese oak, is incredibly expensive and rare.  It grows in distinct pockets in northern Japan and it is very difficult to work with.  We should mention that you also have to be patient, as it can take between 200 - 400+ years for the Mizunara tree to mature so it can be used for barrels.  Let that little fact sink in!  And what about the Shochu?  Shochu is a distilled spirit from Japan that is commonly made from rice, buckwheat, brown sugar, barley, sweet potatoes, carrots, chestnut, sesame seeds or potatoes (or any combination of these).  

When WWS society set out to offer this finished bourbon, they thought the entire process through and kudos to their marketing folks.  Obviously we're going Japanese-themed here, right down to the Samurai bottle stopper.  

Auburn and medium brown in the bottle, aromas of dried Asian cooking spices, floral incense, toasted nuts and sweet oak are dominant.  Tasted neat, we went back and forth on what each of us tasted - sweet chilis, coconut, light oak, toasted bread, hard maple candy, cinnamon stick, vanilla cream, molasses and mixed berry compote.  Like we said previously, there's a lot going on here.  We argued back and forth (in fun) a bit about who was right.  But, at the end of the day, you have to just accept that this is a delicious bottle.  

The brown water in this bottle was sourced from Bardstown Bourbon Company with a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley.  At 108 proof this is in a great spot with the age statement and extra finishing.  If you're a finished bourbon fan or have always been curious about Mizunara Oak finished whiskey, you need to check this out!

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Mizunara Barrel Label

ABV:  54.0% (108 proof)

Distillery:  Bardstown Bourbon Company

Suggested retail price:  $124.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100



McLaughlin Distillery 3799 Bourbon

 

McLaughlin Distillery 3799 Bourbon

In a quaint house-turned-distillery (or world headquarters as the sign states) is a local Sewickley, Pennsylvania distiller who is producing local craft bourbon, whiskey and flavored moonshines.  Owner Kim McLaughlin follows his family's distilling traditions and pours his heart and soul into each barrel.  McLaughlin Distillery will tell you up front that they aren't the biggest and they don't have the fanciest machinery.  But what they do have is a passion for making distilled spirits that represent this southwest Pennsylvania borough while using oak from the North to age their spirits.

The 3799 Bourbon has a beautiful dense chestnut-orange color.  While we don't know the age statement of this bourbon, it is the distillery's most popular offering.  The nose presents chocolate covered almonds, green earth, vanilla and dark tea.  Swirling really opens this up and we tasted this neat.  In the mouth was almond crunch, hayloft earthiness, hints of semi-sweet chocolate and carmel.  The initial sip gives you a hug and then quickly falls off to a smoother finish that leaves you curious about the next sip.

We will be re-visiting this with a few drops of water and a cube at a later date.  The McLaughlin Distillery team offers four cocktail recipes on their website for this bourbon, so that might be a fun way to share this with friends as well.  We like what Kim and company are doing and we would love to see what some older bourbons are offering from them.

McLaughlin Distillery 3799 Bourbon Label

ABV:  45.0% (90 proof)

Distillery:  McLaughlin Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $69.99

Drink The Bottles score:  88/100



Friday, July 12, 2024

Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Town Branch Distillery is Lexington, Kentucky's first new distillery built post-Prohibition.  Located on the banks of the Elkhorn Creek, the area's limestone water is rivaled to be some of the best in the world for distilled spirits.  Town Branch is part of the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co and they make one of our favorite beers, which we tasted many years ago - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  We will fight anyone who thinks that isn't one of the best bourbon aged beers on the market!

This is the Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and one of their first released distilled products.  Pleasant dark honey color with aromas of caramelized sugar, biscuits, dry earth and bright fruits.  You get a really warm Kentucky hug from this bourbon and flavors of cedar box, cherry preserves, green chiles with a semi-sweet and long caramel finish, including a hint of orchard fruits.  Tasted neat, as always.  This is a solid daily drinker and one that would be great for cocktails.

Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Label

ABV:  45.0% (90 proof)

Distillery:  Town Branch Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $39.99

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100



 

Thursday, July 11, 2024

2023 Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine

2023 Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine

The long days of summer are here and that means it is white wine season!  Historically, we have only tasted red wines from Flora Springs Winery, so we were excited to have the opportunity to try something new to us and this one was timed perfectly with the hot weather.  The Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine is a blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay and the lesser known Malvasia added for complexity and flavors.  This is one of Flora Springs flagship wines and it is quickly noticeable why it carries that identity.

Pale gold in the glass with hints of greenish blue on the rim, this wine is immediately identifiable as primarily Sauvignon Blanc by the familiar meadow grass, floral and stone fruit aromas.  We tasted this slightly chilled to take advantage of the full tasting experience, but there is no doubt this would be a porch sipping or pool party wine served well chilled.  Citrus fruit, vanilla, and apples are dominant with honeycomb and sea salt showing up in the very pleasant and medium finish.  The acidity is perfect and this isn't overly bright like some Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be.  We love what Flora Springs has done here and think this is a real winner!

2023 Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine Label

Flora Springs Soliloquy Wine

ABV:  14.2%

Napa Valley, CA

631 cases produced

Suggested retail price:  $70.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100





 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Westward Single Malt Whiskey

Westward Single Malt Whiskey

If you don't have the three of four minutes to read our entire review of this whiskey, we will cut to the chase.   This is quite possibly the best single malt whiskey we have tasted in 2024.  Now, if you want to know why then keep reading.  The Westward Single Malt Whiskey is what they call their original whiskey.  It is 100% malted barley from the Pacific Northwest and aged in heavy and light charred oak barrels.  The great northwest is known for exceptional barley crops and that is evident in what we are tasting today.  

Medium to dark copper in color, this single malt whiskey carries distintive aromas and flavors that represent the waters of the Pacific Northwest, which is the foundation for what Westward produces.  Aromas include a basket of fresh picked peaches, orange bitters, maple candy, roasted nuts, lemon-lime soda and tree bark.  There is a lot going on here!  In the mouth is a mesmerizing and colorful palate consisting of caramelized sugar, peaches, lemon zest, macadamia nut, hints of caramel and hay field.  It's mouth filling and you embrace this with each sip.  The finish is on the fruity and floral side and is absolutely stunningly smooth.  

We take several factors into consideration when determining an overall "score" for a bottle.  We always tell folks not to get too caught up in scores.  Hopefully our descriptions will tell the story.  The bottled product, packaging, label, availability, price, value and more go into helping us calculate a score.  This one is nearly perfect in the single malt whiskey category.  It's absolutely a standout and delicious.

Westward Single Malt Whiskey Label

ABV:  45.0% (90 proof)

Distillery:  Westward Whiskey Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $74.95

Drink The Bottles score:  99/100

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Oak Series: French Oak

 

Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Oak Series: French Oak

A Smith Bowman Distillery out of Fredericksburg, Virginian has been turning some heads with their limited edition whiskey offerings.  This is the Abraham Bowman Limited Oak Series: French Oak Whiskey that was available through the distillery via lottery due to its exclusive nature.  The distillery has crafted about two dozen special limited release bottles and you quickly understand why these are so popular with whiskey enthusiasts and collectors.

Gorgeous saddle brown color, this twelve year aged whiskey is a blend of their best barrels aged in French Oak, with and without char.  Tasted neat, aromas of freshly baked biscuits, vanilla extract, cherry cobbler and chewy caramel dominate the the nose.  This is instantly mouth-watering and equally matched by the beaming flavors of cherry cordial, lightly tanned leather, vanilla cream, spice cabinet and stone fruits.  It covers the tongue and leaves a very long and lovely finish.  We had the opportunity to share this with some local bourbon and whiskey lovers and it was an instant hit!  While this particular bottle was only avaialble for a limited time via online lottery, you'll want to be on the lookout for future limited edition releases.  Incredible!

Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Oak Series: French Oak Close Up

ABV:  50.0% (100 proof)

Distillery:  A Smith Bowman Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $79.99

Drink The bottles score:  96/100



Traveller Whiskey from Buffalo Trace

We re-tasted Traveller Whiskey, a collaboration from Buffalo Trace Distillery and country music superstar Chris Stapleton, under the direction of master distiller Harlen Wheatley.  This is a blended whiskey and one that we think you will enjoy.  Don't buy this thinking you are getting a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon!  


ABV:  45.0% (90 proof)

Distillery:  Buffalo Trace Distillery

Suggested retail price:  $39.99

Drink The Bottles score:  87/100


High West Distillery Cask Strength and High Country Single Malt Whiskeys

  High West Distillery was founded in 2006 by David Perkins, and his wife Jane and began distilling in 2007.  You've undoubtedly seen th...