Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Review: Early Times Bottled in Bond

Color (5%):  Very dark brown. Little crimson. Thin edges. 5/5

Nose (10%): Big orange peel note right off the bat. decently big booze kick. Honey sugars. actually requires a pretty heavy draw to get much more subtlety. I like orange but nothing too complex or nuanced. 5/10

Palate (20%): a bit of pepperiness from the rye. still some sweet orange character. Nice round creamy texture. pretty nice. not too wild and complex again, but hard to dislike. Nothing unpleasant at all. 16/20

Finish (10%): nice and creamy at the back actually. medium light finish. not very long at all. the pepper is there at first but not for very long. 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%):  22/30

Retry on Ice (25%): The creaminess is still there which often fades out with dilution. Not bad at all, but it doesn't improve anything or eliminate any shortcomings. it is fine, again not legendary status but fine. 20/25 

Total Ranking: 65% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $26
Actual Price: $21 per Liter

Conclusion: This is probably wonderful in a whiskey sour, especially in a New York Sour or a Stone Sour. I can see this being an excellent well whiskey at a lot of bars. That said It's not something I'd hunt for if I were looking for a manhattan or an old fashioned. There are more fun options. This is fine for a whiskey coke. It's not going to be anyone's top ten but it is good enough to do its function. This is still good for the money. It certainly can find a home in many houses but it isn't going on my display of great and legendary bottles for friends to experience. This is a well rail bottle at a pretty nice bar. one that can slot into most roles and not disappoint. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Louisville KY
ABV: 50% 
Age Statement: at least 4 years
Ingredients: 79% Corn, 11% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

Monday, October 3, 2022

Review: Wild Turkey Rye 101

Color (5%):  Dark golden amber, thin edges, rich, well-aged. 5/5

Nose (10%): high alcohol evaporation for sure, I'm diving in deep to warm myself up lately, it seems. honestly pretty bland flavor notes at first impression. light roasted apple pie notes. honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, pie crust, light brown sugar, butterscotch but not so sweet, fairly middle of the road. Nothing intense other than the initial booze buzz, vin du table. 6/10

Palate (20%): That's actually pretty good for the heat. mild numbing heat, a big hit in the back of the throat, hard to do a session with but not bad as a slow sipper kissing the tongue. not for glugging. certainly suitable for mixing. potent spike but rather monotone. 14/20

Finish (10%): the heat is long. There's a great flavor at the start but the heat lingers a hair too long on the first sip. 6/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): Not something I'll be waiting for and savoring as a treat for myself. That said, it does serve a function. It's a mixer and certain notes can hold up in a highball or boulevardier / black manhattan. I don't imagine any awards coming through for it, but it has a home as a mid-tier spirit at the right price. 19/30

Retry on Ice (25%): This does ease the painful heat of the first impression. As ice always does. Oddly, the burning finish lingers longer. something about polyphenols I'm sure. still an excellent mixer, but it lacks any nuance that I look for in a sipping whiskey or even a highball with soda. 16/25

Total Ranking: 66% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $29
Actual Price: $21

Conclusion: Still above average for some higher proof stuff I've had. Definitely worth it for the money. but this is a mixing whiskey. It will not break out of that tier. Get the soda water and the mountain dew. It's also good in cocktails as previously mentioned. Not perfect but good enough for bulk batches. It's a budget choice but a good one.

Fact Sheet: Straight rye
Distillery Location: Kentucky
ABV: 50.5%
Age Statement: aged in new oak

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Review: Callisto Botanical Rum

  Color (5%): water clear, slightly higher viscosity.  4/5 

Nose (10%): Yeah, that smells like gin. Not like a pine tree but that citrusy botanical quality is huge. If I had to guess, bergamot, cardamom, and citrus peels. No licorice notes to speak of, no real pepperiness, slight white floral notes.  9/10

Palate (20%): Quite dry albeit the sucrose flavor is there. It's gin, but with a few undertones. It reminds me of some gins I've had using honey as a base or apples. It doesn't have the pepperiness of most gins but as a "botanical gin" this hits the mark. 17/20

Finish (10%): the spice character does linger quite a while. but it's pretty dang clean. Not nuanced, but lingering and clean 7/10

Overall impression (30%): Overall, this is a non-juniper forward, sugarcane-based gin. this is not a rum on the palate. Rum is sweet, it is dry, it is robust, it is nuanced. there are fruity notes in rum and floral. rum can taste like cognac or whiskey, but when it tastes like gin, that means it's so mild a distillate is belongs in the flavored spirit category. like gin. That's not a bad thing. I genuinely enjoyed this, but it's not a rum. I'll be docking points from an otherwise rather high score based on the marketing. 22/30

Retry on Ice (25%): That gets a bit hotter with ice. The spice and the booze hits more for sure. certainly a step down. 16/25

Total Ranking: 75% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $42
Actual Price: $39

Conclusion: The story is nothing too impressive, a Bermuda gentleman moved to California with the desire to have rum be taken seriously. Not really the ambassador I'd expect, but the product is on point. For use in cocktails, this is a gin or akvavit substitute. I am curious to see how it fits in a lot of classic gin drinks. but you wouldn't put this in a daiquiri and call it a daiquiri. A few tiki cocktails could be given some interesting nuance from this spirit but they would be totally different from their standard. That all said, I do like this. It's tasty and well made. The marketing/labeling is just confused. It's a cool talking point bottle and creative types can easily find some inspiration for new cocktail inventions. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Petaluma, CA, USA
ABV: 40%, 80 proof
Ingredients: California sourced botanicals, blend of charcoal-filtered rums from Trinidad and Nicaragua

Review: Clyde May's Straight Rye Whiskey (Recipe No. 3)

  Color (5%):  Very light, hay hue, 3/5

Nose (10%): light, faint spice, floral notes. 7/10

Palate (20%): still has a bit of oiliness, like the bourbon. honey on the tip, light apple presents itself after a few sips. Nice rye bread spice. 14/20

Finish (10%): quite hot, lots of alcohol burn. some star anise. could've used more time in the wood. 5/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): Overall this is a pretty good young rye. The alcohol burn is harsh, even for the proof. a bit more time in the wood would clean that up, but it would take away from some of the delicate spice balance. It'd be good with a little water or mixed but isn't great to sip on its own. I'm curious to try it over ice. 21/30

Retry on Ice (25%): The nose is still there and quite lovely. lighter, weaker alcohol burn. doesn't add anything but it does get rid of some roughness. 20/25

Total Ranking: 70% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $25
Actual Price: $35

Conclusion: This is a cocktail whiskey, not a sipping whiskey. Their website even recommends it in a perfect manhattan. I agree, the dry vermouth would play well with the spiced floral character. That said, it sets a market cap for its utility. I can think of a few things to do with this but above $30 a bottle is too high for something I don't want to sip straight. I'm curious to try their 8-year barrel select and their Special reserve. At the bar, you can skip the neat pour, but if a cocktail with it is featured on the menu, give it a shot. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Florida USA
ABV: 47% (94 Proof)
Age Statement: 4 years
Method: non-chill filtered
Awards: 92 Points 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge

Review: Clyde May's Original Alabama Style Whiskey (Batch No. 52, Recipe No. 1)

 Color (5%):  lovely light brown / bronze fading to a very thin clear edge, a long gradient. 3/5

Nose (10%): light honeyed apple note, 4/10 alcohol, mild spice, powdered sugar/sherbet, can't quite place it. sort of nondistinct. 6/10

Palate (20%): I taste vanilla, spice, apple. An interesting mash bill. I'm used to bourbon, rye, and single malt. I think there's a bit of wheat or something else in here. I'd certainly guess corn is in there, but I'm going to surprise myself on this tasting. It has a rather mild flavor, leaning me toward wheat. 16/20

Finish (10%): a rather long finish, lovely caramel apple lingers, sherbet. a bit sweet reaffirming my guess of corn. 9/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): A very mild whiskey overall by my standards. The alcohol impact is undoubtedly there and represents what it is. The nose isn't all that much but I do really enjoy sipping this. It reminds me of some Irish whiskeys I've had in terms of intensity, which is to say, lighter. Certainly sweet, not the most candy-like whiskey I've had, but certainly sweet, butterscotch sweet. 24/30

Retry on Ice (25%): nose pops a bit more actually. Sweet finish lessens. Baked apple and oak come through more. Not as good as neat. 16/25

Total Ranking: 74% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $37
Actual Price: $33

Conclusion: I would recommend this whiskey with light foods, appetizers, salads, etc. Watermelon salads come to mind.  Not particular of any style, but everything can find its place. Turns out it is finished with real apples. doesn't really hold up to any intense flavors so doesn't quite fit the whiskey niche for cocktails. More of a brandy/calvados. It's actually sold as an aged moonshine rather than a whiskey. The story that this brand sells is a good one, harkening back to prohibition and some historic styles. I don't know who to pitch this to. A whiskey novice won't get a good education from this. A whiskey connoisseur will have the styles that they like best. The flavoring component will put off purists. But this is good, and I do recommend it. I want this to start a meal, not finish it, which is rare for a whiskey. And that's cool. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Florida, USA
ABV: 42.5% (85 proof)
Age Statement: 4 years
Method: finished with a hint of apple
Awards: 93 pt 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 93 pt 2012 Wine Enthusiast Magazine Top-50 Spirit

Review: Clyde May's Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Recipe No. 2)

 Color (5%): light, amber, thinning edges again. 4/5

Nose (10%): big corn note, brown sugar, alcohol a bit high, stewed apple, slight roast peach notes. great bourbon character. 7/10

Palate (20%): lovely apples and pear notes. slight strawberry pop early in the taste. A bit of oiliness. a good deal of oak spice. 14/20

Finish (10%): very long finish, much less sweet than the Alabama style. rather lingering alcohol burn. 6/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is a pretty rich oily bourbon. the age statement is in the range that I like. Not too young, you can see the impact of the wood, but it's not overdone. There are certain bourbons that I like better and certain bourbons that push the extremes of the category a little more but this is a very good solid bourbon. 19/30

Retry on Ice (25%): It gets a bit rough on the nose, dirty old apples. still holds its alcohol heat. loses the fun, keeps the rough. 12/25

Total Ranking: 62% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $27
Actual Price: $35

Conclusion: This is good rich bourbon, just nothing special. I'm sure that this is somebody's favorite but the market is so saturated and I just didn't see anything that impressive. It doesn't differentiate itself from other bourbons. It's fine. The aesthetic of the bottle with lots of classic prohibition imagery and script text is sexy, but I'll pass on this one. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Florida USA
ABV: 46% (92 Proof)
Age Statement: 4-5 years
Method: Non-chill filtered
Awards: 94 points 2018 Wine Enthusiast, Gold New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, 93
2016 Ultimate Spirits Challenge

Review: Red Brick Single Barrel Barrel Strength (Batch 15 Barrel 7)

 Color (5%):  Deep tarnished copper, light kiss of ruby red. 5/5

Nose (10%): Roasted coffee beans. brown sugar. nice bit of punch 8/10

Palate (20%):  light maple syrup at the start, rich roasted barley at the mid-palate ending with lovely roasty notes of coffee, chocolate, and light spice. 17/20

Finish (10%): rich lingering 50% cocoa chocolate. Barrel strength brings the heat, but not as bad as any other barrel strength I've had to date. 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): That first sip will always have a kick, but you get used to it pretty quickly. by the third sip this was easy, and that can be dangerous. Eventually, that sweet start really hooks you and that long roasty finish is certainly something to savor. 27/30

Retry on Ice (25%): Jesus, coffee, so much coffee. not brewed coffee but coffee beans or over-concentrated cold brew. chocolate-covered coffee beans. very low cream / vanilla. bitter. movie theatre raisinettes. get this with some sambuca, a barspoon would be a cocktail in its own right.  dessert/digestivo through and through. 22/25

Total Ranking: 86% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $70
Actual Price: $82.50


Fact Sheet: 
Distillery Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ABV: 57%, 114 Proof
Age Statement: 1-2 years in 10-gallon new American oak barrels. 
Ingredients: several different levels of malted barley
Method: double pot stilled
Awards: Bronze Medal - Malt Whiskey Category - American Distilling Institute - 2017, People's Choice Award & Best Whiskey Under 2 Years - American Whiskey Convention - 2017