This is a single malt from Clear Creek distillery in the US that uses peated barley from Scotland. They distill and age it for about 3 years before bottling it at 42.5% ABV.
Nose: Very strong peat – the young age is made immediately clear. Playdough with very earthy oak.
Palate: Peat without any smoke or brine – like a one-note Islay malt. A bit of mushrooms and raisins lingering in the background.
Finish: Peat and clay lingering with new oak.
Rating: 81/100 – A bit too young, but nice to try an American Islay style malt.
Value for the money: These retail around $45+ which is a bit of a stretch given Ardbeg 10 isn’t too far off that price.
This is a NAS malt finished in Tawny port, Ruby port, and Vintage port casks and bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Malt with a slightly smoky side – sweet port adding fig and plum notes with a dollop of honey.
Palate: Quite peppery and spicy up front with red grapes, very young oak and honey.
Finish: Oak is dominant with minerals and bitter fruits.
Value for the money: I paid around $75 which isn’t terrible, but I’d like to see this closer to $50.
This is a NAS blend from Compass Box that’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Crisp pear mingling with clean malt. Very little oak with strawberries and honeydew melon. Light and sweet overall.
Palate: Salty with big malt notes up front opening to sweet pears and melon in the mid palate. Minimal oak complemented by nice spices.
Finish: Fairly long with the sweeter notes lingering alongside the barley.
Value for the money: This is a great buy at retail of $35-$40 – would make for a great intro scotch for someone, but it’s also great for seasoned drinkers.
This is part of the Aberlour core range of expressions. It’s a 16 year malt that’s matured in oak and sherry casks before being bottled at 40% ABV.
Nose: Thick sherry with malt pulling through cleanly. Pleasant oak notes with old leather, dates, and barbeque jerky.
Palate: Quite salty and more oak heavy than the nose let on. Sherry influence is quite minimal overall.
Finish: Sherry arrives here a bit, but still mild with plums and brine mixed among the oak.
Value for the money: These retail around $65+ and I’d pass at that price point.
This is a 4 year rye bottled by Willett at 55% ABV.
Nose: Smells like pure, unadulterated rye – very similar to an Alberta Premium 100% rye profile. Like nail polish remover meets rye cereal.
Palate: Very sweet up front followed by the pure rye grain bringing some pepper and acetone.
Finish: Disappears quickly leaving hints of rye with black pepper.
Rating: 81/100 – A bit young and rough around the edges.
Value for the money: This retailed around $45 which I would pass on – definitely not worth any more than that.
This is a part of Brown-Forman’s Old Forrester line which is NAS and bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Very light and delicate overall – rich vanilla chased by classic BF sweet fruits: green apple, bananas, and apricot. Oak is very subtle and telling me this is probably around 4-6 years old. Brown sugar and caramel notes toward the back.
Palate: Tastes quite hot for 50% ABV. Vanilla, caramel, and fruits up front with oak mingled with leather and vegetal notes.
Finish: Short and dry while slightly sweet and nutty with vanilla.
Value for the money: These retail for around $20 which isn’t bad, but I’d probably rather buy an OGD 114 at that price.
This is a cask strength expression from Maker’s Mark which has become part of their core range. It’s NAS and bottled at 56.6% ABV.
Nose: Cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, young grain, and a small amount of oak.
Palate: Caramel and barrel char lead the way with vanilla and toffee rounding it out.
Finish: Heat lingers on tip of tongue with oak, brown sugar, and corn remaining.
Rating: 90/100 – Nice to try a cask strength expression from Maker’s.
Value for the money: I think the 750ml bottles retail around $60 which I think is a fair price for what you get.
This is part of Jim Beam’s core range of expressions. It’s an 8 year bourbon bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Yeast, buttered rye bread, freshly sawn oak, and tobacco smoke.
Palate: Buttery, rich and yeasty with nice pepper and earthy notes from the rye.
Finish: Not much here sadly – a bit of cornmeal and a slight isopropyl note.
Value for the money: These retail around $20 and it’s hard to go wrong at that price.
This is a core expression from Heaven Hill as part of their bottled in bond bottlings. This is a 10 year single barrel that was bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Oak, cherries, and sweet grains up front. Almost comes off as a wheated expression given the sweetness to it. Very grain forward with butterscotch, cinnamon, and blueberries.
Palate: Blackberries, brown sugar, vanilla, black cherry, oak, pepper, and cardamom.
Finish: Oak becomes dominant while the fruit notes fade rapidly.
Value for the money: These retail around $25-$30 which is a great bargain.
This is a Four Roses OESO single barrel selected by Ace Spirits. It was aged for 12 years and bottled at 55.5% ABV.
Nose: Fruit punch weighted toward grape juice. Pineapples, green apple, subtle aged oak, and cinnamon.
Palate: Apple juice turning bitter after a few seconds. New oak with nutty notes.
Finish: Dry & herbal and relatively short.
Rating: 81/100 – If only the rest of it lived up to the nose…
Value for the money: These barrel picks usually range between $50-$60 and are some of the best buys in bourbon currently. I wouldn’t buy this particular bottle again though.