This is an 8 year, 3 month barrel proof bourbon from Barrell Craft Spirits. It was sourced from a Tennessee distillery (not disclosed) and bottled at 62.35% ABV.
Nose: Very heavy bread/dough notes – like a fresh baked loaf of bread. Yeasty with french vanilla showing up after a bit alongside old leather, anise, and toasted oak.
Palate: Still loads of fresh bread crust, sawdust, buttery, slightly herbal, and a hint of cinnamon.
Finish: Licorice with dry oak and buttered toast.
Rating: 87/100 – Enjoyable – I can’t believe how much bread is in this profile. That alone makes it fairly unique, but a tad one dimensional.
Value for the money: This retailed for $90 which I think is a pretty fair price based on quality. Wouldn’t pay much over that though.
This is an NAS expression that was finished in wine barrels from the Groth winery for nine months. It’s bottled at 45.1% ABV.
Nose: Cinnamon raisin bread, buttery with some cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. All in all, not too sure I can detect any wine influence directly – I’m surprised it’s not very noticeable after nine months.
Palate: Oddly bland with new make notes, quite oak heavy with bold earth notes and a bit of grape juice tucked behind the oak.
Finish: Oak dominant with cloves again.
Rating: 74/100 – The wine finish doesn’t seem to add much here, and it’s often hard to pull off wine finishing on bourbon anyway. Even without the wine finish, it’s a fairly below average bourbon for me.
Value for the money: This retails around $90 I believe which is very overpriced. I think this should be priced around $45-55.
This is a 16 year double distilled rye from Alberta Distilleries that was bottled at 53.5% ABV.
Nose: Smells quite a bit younger than 16 years – I would’ve guessed 8-10. Minimal oak involvement with the bold, peppery rye dominating. Slightly flowery at times with heavy orange rind.
Palate: Orange marmalade and very spicy rye up front with the oak only appearing as a bitter/varnishy note.
Finish: Bitter orange peel remains with chlorinated pool water.
Rating: 77/100 – I had somewhat high hopes for this one, but it just doesn’t come together for me.
Value for the money: This retailed for $150 I believe, and I’d pass at that price. I can’t see a price where I’d want to personally buy this as you have great competition even around $35 with Baby Saz.
This is a 22 year expression from Diageo that is a blend of new Bernheim and Buffalo Trace distillate and is bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Waves of brown sugar with lemon curd, caramel, sugary burnt oak, and some grape juice notes.
Palate: Caramel, burnt popcorn, bright lime zest with dry old oak, cinnamon, and charcoal.
Finish: Fades in a flash leaving traces of dry oak.
Rating: 83/100 – The nose is quite nice, but becomes a bit tame on palate with an almost non-existent finish.
Value for the money: These retailed for $150 and are definitely not worth it at that price. I’d be willing to pay around $60-$70 at the most for this bottle.
This is a 15 year NDP bourbon from the James E Pepper line bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Smells quite young – raw grains with rich vanilla, young oak, and dark brown sugar.
Palate: Anise and buttery corn with sweet caramel, vanilla, and a peppery oak.
Finish: Anise takes over fully with nutmeg and older oak.
Rating: 88/100 – I’d like a little more depth, but overall, a very good bourbon. I prefer the 15 year Rye, but I’m impressed with this one as well.
Value for the money: This retails for between $100-$125 I think, and I think it’s just a bit high. I’d be happy to pay around $75 for this bourbon all day though.
This is a 15 year NDP rye bottled at 45.65% ABV.
Nose: Prominent rye with a heap of dill (MGP distillate?) – very bright all around with minimal oak influence. New leather along with blackberry preserves develop after a bit.
Palate: Tastes younger than 15 years on both the rye and oak front – not very spicy, but oddly quite fruity: apricots, banana, mango – some vanilla rounds it out.
Finish: Rye lingers with a singed oak and fruit cake – very long finish.
Rating: 93/100 – One of the best ryes I’ve had actually. Perfect blend of rye/oak as it hasn’t approached that soapy/bitter overoaked state that a lot of the very famous ryes have.
Value for the money: I think this retailed for $150 which when compared to the other sought after ryes is a steal. Not sure if this is still being produced, but I’d gladly buy a bottle at that price.
This is a 7 year Kentucky sourced bourbon that was finished for 8 months in ex-Harbor Winery Mission de Sol dessert wine casks. It’s bottled at 42.25% ABV.
Nose: Sweet grapes – reminds me of a brandy up front. Dark chocolate, bitter greens, tart cherries, dates, and leather.
Palate: Very brandy like again for me – uber sweet grapes right up front and dominate throughout. Pumpkin seeds and salted oak chips develop after a bit.
Finish: Sickly sweet with raisins and slightly bitter fresh greens – lasts quite a long time.
Rating: 87/100 – If you don’t like sweeter whiskies, you will not enjoy this one I don’t think. It’s a weird kind of sweet, and it doesn’t really taste anything like a bourbon, but it’s great as a dessert pour.
Value for the money: I believe these retailed for around $50 which I might buy just to have something sweet for guests/non-bourbon drinkers or just as an evening curiosity for myself.
This is a 22 year bourbon from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel project. It was distilled at the old Buffalo Trace distillery in 1991 and aged partially in the Stitzel-Weller warehouses starting in 2006. It’s bottled at 45.05% ABV.
Nose: Bold, rich nose full of vanilla, fresh corn, coffee grounds, raspberries & blackberries. The oak is masked extremely well behind the fruits and fresh grain. Great nose all around.
Palate: Oak much stronger here as I expected with fresh grains, red grape skins, bananas, and a bit of cherry cough syrup.
Finish: Mostly oak with grape cough syrup now and some vanilla. Fairly short finish sadly.
Rating: 88/100 – I was pretty impressed with this overall. Not quite an oak bomb as one would expect in a 22 year bourbon, and the nose is really phenomenal.
Value for the money: These retailed for around $120 which isn’t bad for a 22 year bourbon, but I won’t buy another at that price personally.
This is a 20 year NDP bourbon (likely New Bernheim) from Diageo that was part of their Orphan Barrel project. It’s bottled at 45.1% ABV.
Nose: Sweeping oak up front with maraschino style cherry cough syrup. An abundance of sweet corn and vanilla.
Palate: Lots of musty oak with cherries and brown sugar.
Finish: Loses a lot of the cherries/brown sugar from palate – left with dry oak mostly.
Value for the money: These retailed for around $80 and I think that’s a fair price.
This is what I assume to be MGP distillate that New Holland finished for a few months in their dragon milk beer barrels. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.
Nose: Freshly sawn oak, musty grain, nutmeg.
Palate: Oak, rich vailla, cinnamon, you can pick up the stout notes here fairly well.
Finish: Mostly corn and oak with slight vanilla.
Rating: 80/100 – An interesting experiment in bourbon finishing.
Value for the money: This retails between $30-$40 which isn’t terrible, but I probably wouldn’t buy another at that point.