This was a sample sent to me that I reviewed blind.
Nose: Hmmm definitely a bourbon – quite sweet with loads of vanilla and a surprising amount of dark fruit. Smells wheated to me – some cloves, licorice, and gingerbread.
Palate: Quite sweet up front before turning rather oak heavy – again seems wheated as there are some overarching sweeter grain notes in there. Less fruity here, but still lots of vanilla and spices.
Finish: Turning more oaky and bitter as the tannins linger.
Rating: 88/100 – Pretty nice, but becomes a bit too oak heavy on the back half for me.
Guess: I’d guess this is around 15 years with an ABV between 45-50% – tastes wheated, but can’t think of much wheated that fits my other criteria.
Reveal: It’s an 11 year SAOS Single Barrel from the Wine & Cheese Place bottled at 48.5% ABV. I guess I was off with the aging, but this certainly tastes older than 11 years.
Value for the money: I think this retailed around $50 based on what I found online, and I’d be happy to buy one at that price.
This is a 10 year bourbon from Smooth Ambler that was selected by Binny’s and bottled at 58.8% ABV.
Nose: Quite sweet with lofty, rich grain notes. Almost strikes me as wheated with brown sugar, candy corn, and toffee notes.
Palate: A bit of anise, mild oak, and dark chocolate covered cherries.
Finish: Plenty of heat with sweet grains and mild oak.
Rating: 84/100 – I like this one better than the Spring selection Binny’s did – strikes more of the sweeter notes I like in these single barrels.
Value for the money: These are sold out, but I believe original retail was around $65. I would buy a bottle of this particular bottling at that price.
This is a 10 year bourbon from Smooth Ambler that was selected by Binny’s and bottled at 49.5% ABV.
Nose: Dark cherries, wood chips, brown sugar, banana runts – heavy overall.
Palate: Strong oak up front with fruit punch turning somewhat muted with molasses and charcoal.
Finish: Heat lingers with sawdust and young grains.
Rating: 81/100 – A fairly standard SAOS bourbon all around. I enjoyed the Autumn selection quite a bit better.
Value for the money: These have sold out, but I believe they retailed around $65. I would pass on this particular bottling at that price.
This is an 8 year rye from Smooth Ambler that was selected by the SF Wine Trading Company and bottled at 59.7% ABV.
Nose: Has to be MGP distillate based on the nose – tons of fresh dill alongside freshly ground rye grain, slight mustard note along with some acetone.
Palate: Again, massive dill up front along with the rye. Very heavy mustard spice like profile again which is a letdown personally as I really don’t like mustard.
Finish: Turns hot briefly before becoming very dry and bitter/herbal.
Rating: 72/100 – This one is hampered for me by the big dill and mustard notes. It’s something I find in MGP ryes, but this one had them dialed up to 11 somehow. If you like those notes, this may be right up your alley.
Value for the money: Guessing this retailed for around $50-$60, and I would not buy one of these particular bottles at that price, but in general SAOS ryes (if you can find them anymore) make a good buy at that price.
This was the second batch of Kenwood SAOS bourbon picks. It’s an 8 year bourbon bottled at 62.1% ABV.
Nose: Trio of oak, vanilla, and cherries. New leather and damp cardboard chase those initial notes.
Palate: Fairly hot amplified by intense oak – way more than I’d expect for an 8 year. A hint of vanilla with some charcoal.
Finish: Spicy and the heat from the palate intensifies. Lots of oak with a bit of butterscotch and strawberry.
Rating: 84/100 – A good SAOS (assuming MGP distillate) but a tad oak heavy for me.
Value for the money: At retail, these SAOS picks are usually a good buy around $50 or so. These Kenwoods were a bit more sought after, but I wouldnt’ pay anything over retail for this one.
This was a barrel pick by the same Doug from Doug’s black ink Willett bottles and several other well known WFE picks from the past. It’s an 8 year bourbon bottled at 61.9% ABV.
Nose: Very strong oak – way stronger than I would expect for an 8 year. Brown sugar, dark chocolate with the sweetness cut out from the oak.
Palate: Fairly sweet up front chased by intense freshly sawn oak and vanilla. Very similar to other SAOS bourbons I’ve had.
Finish: Fairly long, butterscotch, vanilla and oak.
Rating: 84/100 – A nice barrel proof SAOS, but wish the oak were dialed down a bit.
Value for the money: These went for over $200 eventually, but they aren’t any better than a typical single barrel SAOS you can get at liquor stores for around $50.