Menu Close

Month: October 2014

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon Whiskey Review

I picked up this bottle the weekend after it’s initial release from the Wild Turkey gift shop, which I believe was May of this year. Once I got it home I nipped away at it from time to time, but eventually it made it’s way to the back of the cabinet and started to collect dust. A recent conversation with Edwin Vargas led to me sending a sample to Cleveland and pouring out another glass for myself.

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon

The Whiskey

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary is a blend of 13 and 16 year old bourbon to commemorate Jimmy Russell’s 60th anniversary in the business, selected by Jimmy’s son and Associate Distiller, Eddie Russell.

Notes

This is a whiskey with character right from the introduction. The wood notes are dry and subtle; very reminiscent of spent hickory sticks, or perhaps that’s my childhood growing up through olfactory memory? Perhaps not.

Imagine the combination of wood pallets lying stationary in the sun and other elements for too long, combined with the fraying exposed beams supporting the facade of an old barn. Dark and faded. Toasting comes through. Stressed, but strong.

What an interesting character. Caramel arrives with perfume-like notes of lemon and citrus. The more time this spends swirling in my glass, the sweeter it gets.

Then the palate. Dry. I don’t typically drink much Wild Turkey as I find it a little too dry and spicy (but I do love it in a heavy-poured cocktail), and this is very familiar. Of course this is much more refined and sophisticated, but it’s still too familiar. Herbal and, well, no not quite that, Earthy is what I’m looking for.

The finish is fairly abrupt, but clean. The initial dry wood notes from the bouquet reemerge here, but they don’t linger for long. The tongue is almost immediately relieved of all duties of carrying flavor and weight. If you’ve had a sip of water within thirty seconds of drinking, you may miss it completely.

As time begins to pass, I’m left wondering if I’ve just finished mowing a field of extremely tall grass in late summer.

Comments

This is a very well put-together bourbon that doesn’t jump out in one direction. It’s well-rounded with a unique character that I respect and enjoy, but I can’t bring myself to completely fall in love with it.

The price doesn’t help it’s case much, either. I have immense respect for Jimmy and and feel privileged to own this bottle, but at $125 I’m hesitant to recommend it to most friends. That’s what we’re going for here, right?

This is definitely a whiskey I’ll reserve for particular occasions. The next time I’m bundled up next to a fire outside, I’ll reach for this. That sounds nice.

Grade: B

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon Whisky Review

I’m one of those people who consider the standard Maker’s Mark to be a one-trick pony, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad pour. The drinkability and quality are apparent, and I enjoy some from time to time (usually when someone orders it for me without consent), but its personality is a little too relaxed for my tastes.

Despite that, there’s always been a mischievous voice in the back of my head whispering, “those nice people at Maker’s Mark are hiding something…

Well, they were.

Hello, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, I’m glad you ditched the water and came out of the shadows. How very full circle of you.

makers-mark-cask-strength

The Whiskey

A delicious barrel proof Maker’s Mark at 113.2 proof.

Notes

A bouquet of beautiful oak aromas leading to thick, caramelized notes begin the introduction. There’s a soft astringency, undoubtedly a minor consequence of proof, but it is so faint it adds more to the experience than it detracts. Some more age would do this justice. Toffee backed up by mild citrus come through in concert. Burnt honey joins in with some dark tropical fruit. Elegant.

The balance of the palate is quirky at first. The alcohol doesn’t seem to find perfect harmony with the entire ensemble, but the key word there is perfect. Wood and cinnamon spice notes are big here, but at the proof the palate is pleasant.

The quality of this whisky is in the finish. It’s long, and as the spice dissipates I’m left with pleasant lingering flavors of oats, molasses, and corn. I’m sure this is almost exactly what I imagine the smell of sweet feed tastes like.

Comments

I love that this is bottled as a 375ml because it makes it an accessible purchase. At about $40 it seems a bit pricey, but it’s worth it. It would be a decent value at $70 for a full 750ml, but I’d personally think twice before pulling the trigger at that price judging from my experience with Maker’s Mark in the past.

If you’re already a fan of Maker’s Mark you will enjoy this. It goes great with a little water for those who don’t like to drink at barrel proof, but at 56.6% it doesn’t quite kick your ass either.

If you’re like me and want a reason to really stand behind Maker’s Mark, this it it. I certainly enjoyed it.

Grade: somewhere between B+ and A-

Let’s hope this makes it into the regular product lineup. At the time of this post, this is only available at the distillery gift shop in Loretto, Kentucky, and a few select outlets across the country.

Jefferson’s Presidential Select 21 Year Old Rye Whiskey Review

It’s the middle of October, which means it’s 80 degrees and sunny here in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s appropriate weather for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and since I’m the only one I know not cooped up on a couch or hanging out in a sports bar drooling over a football game, I figured I’d pour a sample of Jefferson’s 21 year Rye, head to the park, and revisit a whiskey I’ve been on the fence about for almost a year.

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21 Year Rye Whiskey

The last, first, and only time I’ve had a pour of this whiskey was last winter with friends and family back in Kentucky. It was an exceptionally brutal winter where tending to horses outside in the cold led to an agenda of opening some strong winter warmers. Of course, rye was the top priority on that list.

This Jefferson’s whiskey didn’t leave a lasting impression then, but it was also unfairly mixed up with some more–dare I say–sophisticated company that stole the spotlight (more on those in posts to follow). I imagined an isolated tasting in a more serene setting might prove beneficial to its cause. Let’s get to the notes and find out.

The Whiskey

Jefferson’s Presidential Select 21 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey. This sample is poured from Batch 2 at 90.4 proof.

Notes

Light notes of smooth caramel jump right out of the glass in a big way as a tiny burn hits the back of the sinuses. Syrupy and sweet. Others have noted maple, but I’m not getting much of that here. As it opens up, darker notes emerge and the nose relaxes into subtle clove and anise. A very pleasant first act after a sweet introduction.

This whiskey drinks a little hotter than you’d expect at 90.4 proof, but it’s not aggressive. The sweetness of the nose doesn’t follow to the palate, and the caramel is almost lost, but that isn’t necessarily not to be expected. The mouthfeel is a little thin and dry. Toasted oak notes hang out with hints of black cherry. Not bad.

Faint traces of anise hit the back of the throat just before a bitter finish introduces itself. There’s a lingering funkiness that calls for a sip of water. In the same fashion as mentioned before, the funky finish isn’t aggressive, but it’s definitely there.

Comments

Overall I’d say this would be a solid grab at a price point in the range of $40-$60, but at well north of $100, not so much. The nose is as fantastic as it is misleading. Definitely a good pour, but nothing special in my opinion. The finish just doesn’t do it’s job and that’s where I’m left making the final call.

Grade: B

I suppose my initial sentiments stand, but I still had an enjoyable sip in the park with beautiful weather. Perhaps that’s worth a B+?

Cheers.