Thursday, October 26, 2023

Review: Johnnie Blonde

Color (5%):  Very light, faint gold, no brown whatsoever. Faint greenish young hay hues. 3/5

Nose (10%): Lots of sweetness and fruitiness. Raspberries, crisp red apples, sweet corn/caramel corn. There is a bit of a young alcohol note, a bit sharp. 7/10

Palate (20%): Not as much red fruit on the palate as on the nose. There's more crispness of apple and pear. There's a faint, bready caramel pastry note coming through. Kind of crackery, bready overall, with some notes of red fruit. 16/20

Finish (10%): A soft finish. The wheated nature comes through here, making it fairly easy to session. Apple and pear carry through that malic acid is prevalent, which is rare in Scottish whiskey. Alcohol burn lingers longer than the flavor. Reminds me of a young bourbon, and I don't care for either. 5/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is a little rough. There's a note of cardboard and cheap chewy crackers. There is some nice fruitiness, which might shine with some ice and soda water, but neat, this isn't exemplary. It's an experiment at best, and I don't mind a fruity scotch when talking about a port or sherry finish. But this is young and underdeveloped. I'm curious about mixing it, but this does not hold up in the neat scotch market.  18/30

Retry on Ice (25%): The alcohol burn is still here. The raw, crisp apple shifts into a bit more softened baked apple. A bit more citrus character comes in. improved certainly. This is not a sipping scotch, but it could be mixed up in a way that does it justice. On its own, with assistance and supplement, this is better.   20/25

Total Ranking: 87% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $40
Actual Price: $25

Conclusion: The name Johnnie Blonde makes some sense here. It matches the hue of the whiskey and how unaged this "scotch" is. Making a budget scotch is tricky, and this tries to reinvent the notion of what scotch can be with the incorporation of wheat and that extra fruit character. This is not a well scotch. It's fine. It's not great, even for the money. 

Fact Sheet:
ABV: 40%

Monday, October 9, 2023

Review: Ron del Barrilito 2 star

Color (5%): Light to medium body, with lots of thinning at the edges. Nice golden amber hue. There are darker aged rums, but this is on the younger side in used wood. 5/5

Nose (10%): Lovely heather honey and leather notes hit me first. Dried fruits like apricots come out. Dark orange and purple colors. Woody nuttiness comes through, almonds. A bit of funk carries through. Alcohol isn't that hot, but it is certainly there. A bit of acetone sharpness. I'm not looking forward to trying this neat, but I'll stay open-minded. 8/10

Palate (20%): I expected it to be worse. There's a nice tobacco note. Caramel sweetness makes you think that sugars are added after distillation, but the brand claims that is false. Caramelized walnuts, cedar wood, roasted coconut, and peppery spice. It's a bananas foster profile. Pair it with some French toast, maybe some salted caramel. 17/20

Finish (10%): It's a pretty hot burn. That banana funk does stick around. Lots of funky esters and alcohol burn. 6/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is a decent daiquiri rum. I wouldn't put this in the sippable aged rums. At a stretch, maybe with ice, but not neat. I see the cocktail application, but there are aged rums out there that fit the neat, sippable bill for me, and this is not one of them. It has a home in the mixing rums family on a tiki bar shelf, but I wouldn't use this for rum and cokes or straight sipping. Let this guy sit on the shelf unless you're an aspiring bartender who wants to learn about tiki. 21/30

Retry on Ice (25%): Those funky notes pop out much more. Some of that caramel sweetness comes out. The oak and nuttiness fall away. It does get easier to sip.   22/25

Total Ranking: 79% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $24
Actual Price: $30

Conclusion:  This rum is fine. It's that nice funky banana gold rum that works well in cocktails. This is not a sipping rum, but it's easy to see beverage applications. Tiki cocktails could use this, and dessert old-fashioned cocktails with this in a split base. It'll probably take me a while to kill this bottle unless I'm intentionally depleting it. I might use it in a punch, but when I get home from work, I rarely want to put in the effort to make a complex cocktail. It'll be perfectly good for your cocktail needs but it needs other flavors to bring out the harmonies. 

Fact Sheet:
Distillery Location: Puerto Rico
Aged 3 to 5 years in white oak barrels that were previously used for aging Oloroso sherry
It's been made since 1804 by the oldest rum manufacturer in Puerto Rico
ABV: 43%