Old Mock is a Stitzel-Weller distilled bourbon that was distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1933. I tried this at Delilah’s in Chicago as it was kind of a once in a lifetime bottle for me – I had never had any pre-prohibition before and couldn’t say no despite the hefty price tag.
Nose: Possibly the most buttery nose I’ve encountered in bourbon. Sweeping wheat notes with intense vanilla bean. Oak influence is surprisingly minimal for a 17 year old bourbon.
Palate: Oak much more evident here with a decayed profile, but lacks the musty cardboard profile I get from a lot of other old bourbons (50s/60s distillate). Still quite buttery with rich cake batter.
Finish: Butterscotch and sweet wheat with a bit of caramel and oak – brilliant finish overall
Rating: 95/100 – One of the best bourbons I’ve had. I’m partial to wheated bourbons in the first place, but this was something truly special.
Value for the money: It runs $150 an oz at Delilahs, but I’d still recommend it as it’s one of the few opportunities (if not the only) that most people have to try something this old.
Wild Turkey Tribute was a 15 year expression bottled at 50.5% ABV. There was a US and Japanese release with the Japanese release only being different in that it was bottled at 55% ABV.
Nose: Classic older Wild Turkey profile – sweet cupcake like nose with a lot of spiced oak – almost seems wheated with the sweet/buttery notes.
Palate: On the palate, fairly reminiscent of the Wild Turkey Donut bottle – fairly oak heavy with a peppery grain – caramel and molasses.
Finish: Oak dominant with a bit of sweet corn – lasts for a good while.
Rating: 92/100 – A great older Wild Turkey, but not sure I’d put it that much above some of the other classic bottles from 80s/90s e.g. Donut, Cheesy Gold Foil, Split Label, etc.
Value for the money: I paid $25 for a pour of this at Delilah’s in Chicago and would easily recommend trying it for that much. Full bottles go for $800-$1000 which is an easy pass.
This particular Old Pulteney 21 was from a friend’s bottle from 2012. I don’t expect it changes much year over year, but some malts are known to be better some years over others. This 21 year expression is bottled at 46%. It won some notoriety when it was announced as the Whisky of the Year in the 2012 Whisky Bible by Jim Murray.
Nose: Extraoridnarily briny with damp vegetal notes. Muddled fruits mixed with a decomposing oak with a hint of cigarette smoke.
Palate: Mostly brine again with strong oak – fruits become a bit less muddled and come through as an underripe strawberry primarily. Smoky malt lingers in the background
Finish: Malt emerges and lasts a long time supported by a bit of aged oak and pipe tobacco
Rating: 88/100 – Quite a smoky dram, but complex and unique in its own right.
Value for the money: I believe these are retailing for around $120-$140 these days which isn’t too far off base for what you get.
The Founder’s Reserve is Glen Garioch’s NAS inexpensive offering as part of its core line. It’s bottled at 48% ABV.
Nose: Brine, wet clay, dough/yeast with loads of young malt and bitter oak.
Palate: Quite sweet up front turning a bit grainy – oak starts to pull through and malt takes on a funky note. This has to be quite young based on the malt profile – I would guess maybe 4-6 years.
Finish: Tart green apples and dark chocolate
Rating: 80/100 – Not bad but its youth holds it back a bit
Value for the money: These go for around $40-$45, but I can’t recommend it at that level as there are other solid offerings in the same price range e.g. Dalwhinnie 15, Quinta Ruban, Macallan 10 Fine Oak, etc.
This expression was aged for around 9 years and finished in a barrel which was previously used by a local coffee roaster to hold coffee beans. It was bottled at 67.3% ABV.
Nose: Totally different nose – takes you by surprise. Layers of dark chocolate wrapped around a sweet underlying grain – very young oak with charcoal followed by overwhelming coffee notes. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve been around it enough to be amazed at the strength of it in this bottle.
Palate: Heat is intense off the bat, but once you get past that the strong dark coffee notes take over alongside bitter greens and dark chocolate. This is definitely in a category of its own for better or worse.
Finish: Bitter coffee and toasted oak linger for some time.
Rating: 82/100 – a very fascinating pour, but maybe a bit too intense for me. If you’re a big coffee drinker, you might find this one a tad more enjoyable.
Value for the money: I haven’t seen these sold in awhile, but would guess they’re around $150-$200 as the limited AB releases go quickly. I don’t see this being worth paying over $70-80 for.
This is a cask strength Ardmore 16 from Gordon & MacPhail which is bottled at 57.34% ABV.
Nose: Light malt with lavendar, damp oak, dried grass, and floral notes
Palate: Heavy cinnamon and pepper seasoned oak, bright malt with some old hay – sort of reminds me of a non-sherried Mortlach
Finish: Dry and hot with oak and sugary malt lingering
Rating: 84/100 – no frills dram that presents a slight farm style. Would be interesting to see what a sherry finish would do for this dram.
Value for the money: I was told this was around $90 retail which is too high in my opinion – I’d like to see it a bit closer to $50.
This is a Signatory Vintage Mortlach 16 selected by K&L Wines. It was distilled in 1998, finished in an Oloroso Sherry for 33 months, and bottled in 2014 at 55.8% ABV.
Nose: Crips, clean sherry up front with damp oak, a little smoke, and barley coming through clearly. Slightly musty note overall, but love the distinct sherry/malt side by side.
Palate: Sherry turns subtler with a myriad of spices. Oak presents older here with a citrusy note.
Finish: Bold finish with a lot of peppered malt, sherry, and oak pulling back a bit.
Rating: 85/100 – enjoyable but fairly plain all around. The sherry influence is there enough to make it interesting, but seemed to fall a bit short.
Value for the money: This was $99 at K&L when it was released, and I’d say it would fit more comfortably in the $70 range.
This is a “limited” release Michter’s that debuted a little over a year ago. It was finished in new toasted oak barrels for just under 30 days after aging in a traditional oak barrel first. It’s NAS and bottled at 45.7%.
Nose: The toasted barrel presents a different oak profile – much more noticeable than I expected given the short finishing time. Presents not quite as a burnt note from the char, but instead as a subtle smoke/spice in addition to caramel, cereal, honey, cloves, and vanilla.
Palate: Quite harsh for the proof – perhaps from that fresh oak note. Mostly cereal again with vanilla, brown sugar, and anise.
Finish: Heat lingers on with anise and oak standing out as the sweeter notes fade.
Rating: 82/100 – an enjoyable pour and something different, but a little rough around the edges.
Value for the money: This was around $35 retail which I think is totally fair although I probably won’t be buying another at that price.
This Scott’s Selection Glen Mhor was distilled in 1978 and bottled in 2004 at 56%. Glen Mhor was a distillery in the highlands that was demolished in 1983, so it’s not one you see too often.
Nose: Crisp and clean malt complimented by a bit of salt. Both tart and sweet: pears, green apples, milk chocolate, heavy citrus. Quite green overall with some Brora-like grassy/farmy notes, vanilla, and candied walnuts.
Palate: Loads of pepper up front, lots of vegetal notes with a bit of a sweetness to it. Salt and oak permeate throughout.
Finish: Again salty and sweet combo with plenty of malt and oak coming through – quite long overall with the earthy notes and spices lasting.
Rating: 92/100 – My first and only Glen Mhor to date, but I’d love to seek out additional bottles based on this initial experience. Perfectly balanced all around and an enjoyable pour through and through.
Value for the money: I got this for around $150 but I’ve seen it as high as $225. At $150, it’s a no brainer for me, and I regret not buying more at that price.
This is one of the youngest independent bottles I’ve purchased/tried, and it is only the second Miltonduff I’ve had. Battlehill is an independent bottler that is sold at Total Wine stores primarily.
Nose: Very green – the youth really shows here. Quite briny overall, especially for a speyside. Nose is all over the place: beef jerky, strawberries, young oak, and a bit of funk that I’ve come to associate with Miltonduff
Palate: Delicate barley up front – totally grain forward. Strawberries remain with some musty notes. A dash of black pepper
Finish: Very dry finish with some peppercorn, vanilla, tobacco, and oak lingering.
Rating: 80/100 – A bit too young for its own good, but it’s interesting to try such a young malt to really experience the malt on its own with minimal oak influence.
Value for the money: This was $50 at Total Wine which isn’t expensive in the grand scheme of things, but you can get some pretty good scotch for that amount. I’d like to see this closer to $35 or so.