This is batch 8 in the ECBP series from Heaven Hill which consists of uncut/unfiltered 12 year expressions. This particular batch is bottled at 69.9% ABV.
Nose: Blackberry jam, brown sugar, black cherry, lemongrass, cinnamon, and fresh oak. Fruity and light overall.
Palate: Heat hits hard up front with lemon curd topped with blueberries, vanilla, oak turns a bit heavier with some added funk.
Finish: Heat lingers and remains strong washing out most other notes except for the oak.
Rating: 85/100 – A nice barrel proof bruiser that keeps in line quality-wise with the rest of the ECBP batches.
Value for the money: These typically retail anywhere between $45-$65, and I think they make excellent buys at that valuation.
This is a 5 year single cask expression from Kilchoman that was matured in an oloroso cask and bottled at 57.9% ABV.
Nose: Dominant peat with a helping of sweet barbecue sauce – burnt brats with caramel, dried mushrooms, and a bit of tart fruits.
Palate: Peat overwhelming up front before mellowing as the sweeter sherry emerges with vanilla. Turns rather smoke heavy after a bit, but sherry continues to punch through.
Finish: Peat and vanilla linger with fresh oak and smoked brisket.
Rating: 85/100 – Pretty typical Kilchoman for me: young and brash with full-bodied peat and smoke with the sherry doing just enough work to become noticeable.
Value for the money: I’m guessing these retailed at $100-$125 based on their typical pricing, and I think at $100 it’s an ok buy, but not one I’d be highly motivated to seek out for that price. It would probably be a lock for me around $70-$80.
This is a 34 year Benriach expression that was distilled in 1977 and later finished in a PX cask before being bottled at 54.3% ABV.
Nose: The PX makes itself known off the bat alongside gunflint and mineral oils. Raisins emerge after a bit topped with brown sugar with some new leather appearing towards the end.
Palate: Punchy sherry up front with old oak cleverly masked in the background behind fresh grapes, apple peals, strawberry shortcake, and oddly enough a bit of hay.
Finish: Ripe strawberries with dark cocoa and a rich sherry continue as the oak dries out.
Rating: 93/100 – The PX sherry finish lends a reasonable amount of fruitiness, but more importantly it really helps overpower a lot of what I’d guess is old, bitter oak and thus strikes a great balance here.
Value for the money: I think these retailed around $350-$400, and I think that’s a bit steep, but not too far off. I’d probably pay up to $300 or so for a bottle.
This is a FR Single Barrel OESF selected by Cork Dorks that was bottled at 56.5% ABV.
Nose: Brown sugar, french vanilla, turning flowery with some honey and orange peel.
Palate: Nice mouthfeel – rather dry here with fresh herbs, oak, vanilla, and oranges.
Finish: Dry and herbal still with sawdust and vanilla french toast.
Rating: 85/100 – Good, but pretty standard FR barrel pick – a little on the simple side, but very easily drinkable.
Value for the money: These barrel picks usually retail around $65 these days and make one of the best buys in bourbon at the moment.
This is a 24 year Mortlach that was matured in a Sherry Butt and bottled at 51.6% ABV.
Nose: Clean malt with a minimal sherry influence – this cask must have been on its last legs. Slight banana and apple cider with slightly rancid butter.
Palate: Faint tobacco mixed with a sulphury sherry, damp oak, sour malt, pineapple juice, and some butyric acid.
Finish: Acidic and sour here with some funky oak.
Rating: 76/100 – Guessing this cask was pretty tapped out by this point – a bit too heavy on the sour/acid notes for me throughout.
Value for the money: I think this retailed between $120-$150, and I’d pass on it since I’m not a fan. However, that’s not a bad price in general for a Signatory cask strength malt of this age.
This is a 42 year Longmorn that was matured in a first fill sherry cask and bottled in 2011 at 59.4% ABV.
Nose: Thick, meaty sherry with a cloud of oak and old, worn leather hanging over. Blueberry pie emerging after a bit alongside fresh ground pepper.
Palate: Tart berries up front before a blend of sherry and oak explode across the palate. Musty yet slightly sweet with pepper tossed toasted walnuts.
Finish: Vanilla and toffee notes develop as oak becomes bitter and tannic.
Rating: 88/100 – The oak is a bit overbearing on the palate/finish throwing it out of balance for me. Still very nice overall.
Value for the money: It looks like this originally retailed around €425 or so, and that’s not a terrible price for a 42 year malt, but I wouldn’t buy this particular bottle for that much.
This is the 18 year OB expression from Bunnahabahin that’s a mix of ex-bourbon/sherry casks and bottled at 46.3% ABV.
Nose: Very heavy sherry with macerated grapeskins, damp sawdust, banana bread, and toffee notes.
Palate: Surprisingly the oak is quite dominant here turning it bitter and relatively dry – grape juice, tobacco, and cocoa powder round out the profile.
Finish: Mostly muddled sherry and oak – dry and short overall.
Rating: 84/100 – Not quite as good as the OB 25 year, and it somehow tastes older to me with the dominant oak palate oddly enough.
Value for the money: This is where it shows up the 25 year in that it’s almost as good, but it’s $200+ cheaper. I usually see this around $99, and I think that’s a pretty fair price.
This is the newer 25 year expression from Bunnahabhain that’s non-chill filtered and bottled at 46.3% ABV (up from 43%).
Nose: Very thick sherry with heavy brown sugar and raisins – floor polish, old rubber balls, wet slate, and lemon zest.
Palate: Smoky malt with tons of sherry again – bitter cocoa, musty oak, and brown sugar. I figured some peat would come through, but as far as I can tell so far, there is zero peat involved with this expression based on nose/palate.
Finish: Astringent oak with dry sherry and a hint of chocolate.
Rating: 85/100 – Good, but tame – glad they raised the proof from the old release, but would love to try this at cask strength.
Value for the money: These vary quite a bit, but I see them around $300 retail frequently, and it’s an easy pass at that price. I wouldn’t pay more than $150 for a bottle.
This is one of ten single barrel expressions that were part of the Icons of Whiskey release from a year or two ago where Jim Rutledge picked some barrels for their best retailers. This is an OESK bottled at 9 years/4 months at 57.4% ABV.
Nose: Strawberry cream, vanilla ice cream, watermelon, pine trees, dried thyme, subtle oak.
Palate: Ripe strawberries topped with whip cream, heavy vanilla, dried herbs again, and a fresh oak. Very similar to nose which makes for a nice transition.
Finish: Changes up where with some mint and leather added to the oak with a bit of banana.
Rating: 89/100 – A very good FR Single Barrel.
Value for the money: I’d gladly pay retail for this same bottle ($65 or so), but it’s not worth any more than that on secondary to me. After you’ve had so many FR barrel picks, the bell curve of quality is so tight, that it’s not worth more than any other in my mind.
This is the 2013 Lagavulin Feis Ile expression which was an 18 year sherry-matured expression bottled at 51% ABV.
Nose: Fairly closed off – delicate smoke with mild peat, dark chocolate, subtle figs and blackberries.
Palate: Sherry notes pull out front with plums and berries, mild peat and oak to back it up alongside a drop of vanilla. Still quite mild surprisingly.
Finish: Mostly sweet sherry notes lingering with a bit of oak and peat.
Rating: 82/100 – All the notes were there that I normally love in a sherried peated dram, but it’s like someone dialed the intensity knob down several notches. Not sure if it’s the low proof or what, but it’s a shame as I could tell there was a great foundation there.
Value for the money: These are spotty online, but looks like they’re going around €300 at auction in recent months, and I would pass at that price.