Booker’s Rye Review

This is a 13 year rye recently released as a limited edition from Jim Beam. It’s bottled at 68.1% ABV.

Nose: Meaty rye with heavy oak laced with tobacco. Malt chocolate and grape cough syrup emerge after a bit in the glass.

Palate: Very oily – strong yeast and bold rye lead off with an herbal oak profile developing. Fairly subdued heat wise given the high proof. Bitter chocolate develops after a few sips.

Finish: Mostly rye and oak as the heat dials up here.

Rating: 87/100 – A solid rye, but a bit too dark and oak heavy all around for me compared to some other slightly younger ryes.

Value for the money: These retail for $299, and I’m very glad I passed at that price. There’s been a lot of discussion about the price and shark-jumping in the bourbon world. I’d have to agree with the critics on this one as in no way does this rye warrant that high of a retail price let alone anything above it on the secondary. Buy yourself a Colonel E.H. Taylor Rye for about 1/4 the price and call it a day.


Springbank 16 Local Barley Review

This is a 16 year Springbank OB that was released recently. It’s made up of 80/20 bourbon/sherry casks and bottled at 54.3% ABV.

Nose: Very grassy (mostly wet grass), brine oaked oak with honey, vanilla, and chamomile.

Palate: Quite briny here again with a nice thick mouthfeel. Salted oak with prominent barley touched with a bit of cardamom.

Finish: Mostly dry oak with heavy salt notes lingering.

Rating: 85/100 – Missing some complexity for me and a bit too heavy on the brine notes all around.

Value for the money: These are retailing for around $170 or so, and I’d pass at that price. Springbank can historically be fairly overpriced, but sometimes they can be worth it – not the case here for me.

Strathisla 25 (Gordon & MacPhail Reserve 2006 Cask #8510) Review

This is a 25 year Strathisla bottled under the G&M Reserve label in 2006 at 48.7% ABV.

Nose: Black cherries with heavy yeast combined with a slight raw barley profile. Anise, blood orange, melon sorbet, rich vanilla, and damp wood chips.

Palate: Fresh dough with honeydew melon, sour malt, a bit of tang, black pepper, and old oak.

Finish: Pepper lingers with some bitter oak and slightly acrid smoke notes – a bit of tangerine cuts through after a bit.

Rating: 90/100

Value for the money: I paid in to the bottle split at about a $285 valuation. I wouldn’t buy a bottle at that price – I’d be a consumer maybe around the $150 mark.

Glen Grant 39 (Whisky-Doris 1972/2011 Sherry Hogshead #11395) Review

This is a 39 year Glen Grant that was matured in a sherry hogshead and bottled at 48% ABV.

Nose: Watermelon jolly ranchers, banana runts, raisins,  orange juice, ripe strawberries – exceptionally fruity profile which evolves constantly. Briny notes emerge after a bit with heavy french vanilla – almost takes on a bourbon type nose at times.

Palate: Red grapes, peaches, brown sugar, strawberry pie, and banana taffy – again, very sweet/fruity profile here but balanced nicely with a very faint smoke and surprisingly mild oak given the age.

Finish: Stonefruit and cherry notes emerge with some added citrus and musty oak.

Rating: 94/100 – Pretty stellar – I think I need to move some old Glen Grant up on my list of things to pick up next.

Value for the money: I haven’t seen these for sale really, but I paid about a $450 valuation with the bottle split on this one. Obviously a steep price, but for what you get, it’s not too bad really given the cost of a lot of other popular 30+ year malts.

Thomas H Handy Rye 2015 Review

This is the 2015 release of the Thomas H Handy rye. It’s an NAS expression that is assumed to be around 6 years old, and it’s bottled at 63.45% ABV.

Nose: Warm, buttery rye bread heavy on the yeast notes. Cocoa powder/rich fudge with butterscotch notes.

Palate: Bold rye with peppery oak, tobacco, vanilla, fresh mint, and chocolate covered cherries.

Finish: Heat is quite strong on finish and washes out some of the notes except dry oak and fresh ground rye grains.

Rating: 90/100 – Typically one of my favorite of the BTAC releases as it really is close to the sweet spot for me in the age of rye whiskies I prefer.

Value for the money: If found at retail, it’s a great buy at $80 or so. This is the cheapest of the BTAC on secondary and can usually be found for around $200 which is a bit too much for me personally.

Springbank 14 1996 Fino Cask #265 Review

This is a 14 year Springbank that was released as part of a series of sherry cask OB expressions that were distilled in 1996. This one was matured in a Fino cask and bottled at 55.3% ABV.

Nose: Freshly mown grass with tart cherries and cranberries up front. Musty cardboard, subtle anise, sawdust, and a bit of charcoal.

Palate: Cranberry juice and grassy malt with a funky oak touched with a tinge of sulphur. Dark chocolate and twizzlers develop after a bit.

Finish: Turns quite tart here with underripe berries and oak lingering on tip of tongue.

Rating: 86/100

Value for the money: These retailed for around $120 or so I believe, but I don’t see them around too often. I’d be a buyer closer to $80 or so if I saw one.

Ardmore 16 (Gordon & MacPhail 1998/2015 Binny’s Selection Cask #5587) Review

This is a 16 year Ardmore that was matured in a refill sherry hogshead, selected by Binny’s, and bottled by G&M at 55.5% ABV.

Nose: Fruity sherry with a bit of a sulphur note – bananas, caramelized apples, glazed donuts, and some gunflint.

Palate: Sherry takes a spicy turn with red pepper flakes and nutmeg – oak presents quite dry with tart apples dusted with cinnamon.

Finish: Turns heavily herbal as sherry fades rapidly. Spicy peppers remain on tip of tongue as musty oak takes hold in the rear palate.

Rating: 87/100 – One of the spicier sherried expressions I’ve tried which results in a nice contrasting profile.

Value for the money: This retailed for $100 at Binny’s which is a pretty fair price for what you get.

Talisker 27 Year 1985 Review

This is a 27 year Talisker released as part of the Diageo Special Releases in 2013. It was matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1% ABV.

Nose: Bold, briny malt with loads of clementines and tangerines. A healthy dose of smoke taking on a slightly acrid/burnt rubber note along with some crushed, chalky candies (Smarties come to mind – and not the weird Canadian Smarties).

Palate: Very salty up front with vinegar-heavy bbq sauce (Carolina style), mossy, damp oak along with bold pepper and allspice, wildflower honey, and Smarties notes again.

Finish: Burning leaves and spiced oak linger with heavy farm notes and sunflower seeds.

Rating: 95/100 – Very complex, expertly balanced, and an all around enjoyable dram.

Value for the money: These retailed for around $600 I believe, and for it’s quality I think that’s not too outrageous of a price in the premium malt world.

High West Campfire Whiskey Review

This is a blend from High West that’s made up of LDI bourbon, LDI rye, and a 100% peated blended malt scotch from an undisclosed distillery.

Nose: Muted rye bread with cardamom, vanilla cream, and oatmeal with cinnamon.

Palate: Young rye up front taking on more of a fresh grain note with a hint of acetone – strong pepper and nutmeg.

Finish: Oak turns quite bitter with a hint of smoke as rye notes fade quickly

Rating: 82/100 – I reviewed this sample before I looked at the makeup of the whiskey, so I didn’t realize there was any peated malt in there. Not sure if it’s a gimmick of sorts with this blend, or if I just didn’t pick up on it the first time.

Value for the money: These retail around $55 or so and I think that’s a pretty fair price.

Glenlivet 19 (Signatory Vintage 1995/2015 Cask #166947 Binny’s Selection) Review

This is a 19 year Glenlivet that was matured in a 1st fill sherry butt and bottled at 58.3% ABV.

Nose: Sherry heavy with blackberry preserves and orange juice concentrate. Oak comes cleanly through after a few seconds with a sharp/younger profile.

Palate: Freshly cracked peppercorns with bold oak. Thick raisiny sherry up front turning rather dry and tart on rear palate.

Finish: Sherry dries out further and oak takes over with a freshly sawn profile.

Rating: 84/100 – Sherry becomes a bit too tart/dry for me leading to the oak taking over a bit too much for my preference in palate/finish given it’s sharp profile.

Value for the money: This was $110 at Binny’s – I wouldn’t buy one at that price. I’d pay maybe $70-$80ish for this bottle.