Category Archives: American Whiskey

Stork Club Straight Rye, 45%, Germany, v’s Balcones Rye, 50%, Texas

Some blogs sink without trace – while others gather a bit of traction.

There’s little advance knowledge as to what will – or won’t – capture attention beforehand & it’s often the unexpected that gets results.

Old Grand-Dad was one of them.

Living up to it’s ‘cult’ status a fellow whiskey fan expressed interest in sample swaps.

As I’m sitting on close to 100 opened bottles that will damage my health if I drank the lot – I’m still damaging my wallet by eagerly seeking the next flavour adventure.

My cupboard is always open for exchanges so Old Grand-Dad went one way & a couple of ryes came mine.

2 rye c/othewhiskeynut

I was very pleasantly surprised by the package!

c/oStork Club Distillery

Stork Club Straight Rye, 45%, Germany

My previous encounter with this distillery was back in 2015 when I came across their rather enticingly labelled Sloupisti Single Malt.

Sloupisti Single Malt c/o deutsche-whiskys.de

Sloupisti has undergone both an ownership & rebranding exercise since – resulting in the Stork Club Rye before me.

The nose exuded an earthy, almost farmhouse style of rye.

A very grounded feel to the palate. Rich & vegetal, powerful yet smooth.

A signature dry rye spice finished of proceedings – undoubtedly boosted by the 45% ABV.

Stork Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Using German grown rye & partially aged in German Oak has brought out a rather unique taste of locality & place.

Very enjoyable.

c/oBalcones

Balcones Rye, 50%, Texas

Balcones also briefly entered my sphere with an entertaining sample of their Single Malt Whiskey.

c/oBalcones

This Texas Rye initially offers up a more traditional nose of sweet vanilla & dark caramels.

A rich earthiness – not normally found in US rye – began to make it’s presence felt in a very attractive & enticing way.

For 50% I found Balcones Rye to be full of flavour with a rich warm spiciness on the finish wrapped up with a hint of tobacco too!

Dry yet lip smacking all at the same time.

Using Texas grown rye – along with crystal, chocolate & toasted rye in the mashbill – a melange of unexpected & highly engaging flavours were experienced.

Balcones Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Thoughts

Both these ryes are a delight.

Using mashbills & ingredients not normally encountered elsewhere the range of flavours are boosted adding a richness of depth & complexity I found very alluring.

Both push the rye category forward in new & exciting ways.

Suits me!

Sláinte

Old Grand-Dad, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40%

Usually on tasting whiskey I try to avoid reading reviews or flowery PR to mitigate against any undue influence or bias in my tastings.

Everyone has their own individual & often unique palate preferences as to how they enjoy & experience their whiskey.

With Old Grand-Dad I did pick up it was part of the Beam group – no mention of Suntory on the back of this bottle.

Only Beam here. c/othewhiskeynut

Beam encompasses a worldwide brand portfolio & Old Grand-Dad has been available from the late 1800’s.

It’s also a ‘high rye’ style of bourbon.

Now ‘high rye’ isn’t legally defined. It loosely equates to a rye grain content of between 20 to 35% in the all important mash-bill – along with the 51% minimum corn to be labelled as bourbon.

The rye produces a pleasing dry spiciness over and above the candy floss sweet bourbon which adds a degree of complexity, depth & bite to my palate.

Old Grand-Dad c/othewhiskeynut

Old Grand-Dad certainly is a fine example of this style.

Slightly shy on the nose. The rye is in there – but the 40% ABV might just mute it a little.

Mild & sweet in the palate – it’s not until the finish Old Grand-Dad opens up for me.

That dry, almost biscuity ryeness kicks in above a sugary sweet candy floss leaving an enjoyable prickly tingling slowly departing.

I also read Old Grand-Dad is a ‘cult’ whiskey.

Whether that’s because it’s an old brand given a resurgence, hard to get hold of or limited release – I don’t know.

A happy dram. c/othewhiskeynut

What I do know is Old Grand-Dad offers a lot of flavour for it’s affordable price point.

It also further confirms my high rye bourbon soft spot.

Sláinte

Michter’s Whiskey Launch, Dublin, 2019

There’s some whiskey launches I didn’t get round to writing up – Michter’s being one of them.

It’s nothing to do with the quality of the product – nor the hospitality shown on the day – which were both outstanding I must say – other things & life just got in the way.

So in February 2019 a packed crowd of whiskey fans gathered in a Dublin venue to sample the delights of Michter’s Whiskey. Oh those heady days of pre-COVID freedom!

I was already convinced of the marvels of Michter’s having sampled the core range at Whisky Birmingham.

Michter’s Birmingham 2017 c/othewhiskeynut

A brief history of Michter’s served as an introduction.

Originally founded in 1753 & incorporating the Shenk’s & Bomberger’s families too, Michter’s – along with many others – collapsed during the lean years of the 70’s & 80’s.

A couple of entrepreneurs bought the brand names in the 90’s, selected choice casks from distilleries & proceeded to build up a reputation for fine bourbon & rye. This was Phase 1.

Phase 2 started in the early 2000’s. With dwindling stocks of barrels & increased sales a more steady supply was needed. Contract distilling in Kentucky began with specific mashbills, filling percentages, maturation policy & filtration standards all being controlled by Michter’s exacting standards.

Phase 3 is Michter’s producing their own whiskey in their own distilleries. That is currently in play right now – so for the moment – the whiskeys presented to us at the event were from Phase 2.

9 Michter’s awaiting c/othewhiskeynut

Michter’s Straight Rye, 42.4%

Distinctive rye nose, candy sweet & spicy dry. Smooth & easy palate. Decent complexity with long dry peppery spice on the finish.

A solid rye to start the proceedings.

Michter’s Straight Bourbon, 45.7%

Sweet & surprisingly spicy nose. The rye content isn’t too high – the exact ratios weren’t revealed – & it was suggested the spice emanates from the char 3 level virgin oak casks used. Whatever the method – it resulted in a warmth of flavour rounded up by a long peppery spice finish.

Lovely.

Michter’s Sour Mash, 43%

Being neither 51% corn or rye – Sour Mash has a mixed mashbill offering an intriguing sweet & sour nose. Lovely mouthfeel with soft spices & quite a dry finish.

Entertaining.

Michter’s American Whiskey, 41%

Using 2nd fill barrels for maturation & a corn, rye & barley mashbill – American Whiskey cannot be called Bourbon or Rye. Lighter on the palate than the others, there was still a richness of flavour & slight spice which reeled me in.

Alluring.

The above 4 made up the core range – & very engaging they were too! In a divergence from my love of rye – I have to say the combination of rich warm flavours along with a peppery dry spiciness of Straight Bourbon won me over in this group.

But there’s more!

Crowded table c/othewhiskeynut

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Straight Bourbon, 45.7%

Part of a limited release range, Toasted Barrel benefits from extra ageing in – no surprises – toasted barrels which impart a slight smokiness to the bourbon. Not a peatiness nor BBQ style however – more a gentle wood fire vibe going on.

Very pleasing.

Then a couple of age statement whiskeys – rare enough for America!

10 Year Old Straight Rye, 47.2%

Great classic rye nose – boosted with more depth & warmth – which flowed through into the palate. Smoother, richer & more complex than before.

A gorgeous rye.

10 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 47.2%

Again this bourbon impressed! A winning combination that just dialled up the overall experience a big notch.

Fabulous.

Yet the goodies kept on coming!

I was particularly looking forward to the next pair from the Legacy Series.

Shenk’s Homestead c/othewhiskeynut

Shenk’s Homestead, 2018, 45.6%

Finished in French Oak Barrels – there was more of a rounded dark fruity sweetness on this one. Very chewy – although the finish fell away a bit quickly.

Luxurious.

Bomberger’s Declarartion c/othewhiskeynut

Bomberger’s Declaration, 2018, 54%

Finished in Chinquapin Oak – a gorgeous dry tannic spice gave wonderful richness & depth to this bottle which immediately propelled it to my top spot!

Stunning.

Such a fabulous showcasing of the Michter’s range & generous hospitality of the brand!

There was much milling around & happy chatting afterwards & I managed a cheeky sampling of the 20 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 57.1%

20yo Michter’s c/othewhiskeynut

Ooops!

Despite being such a rare opportunity – I must admit to finding the dryness & high strength combo being too much for me & obliterating the welcome warmth & engaging flavours of it’s younger stablemates.

So what did I take away from it all?

Well I really enjoyed Michter’s!

Their attention to detail certainly comes through in the fabulous flavours of the range.

For my part, age, high ABV & rye aren’t automatic winners. A combination of elements & ingredients along with careful maturation in varied cask regimes can bring about stunning whiskey.

I wish Michter’s future success with their own distilleries!

Sláinte

TinCup American Whiskey, 42%

The most Northern point on the Island of Ireland is in what is often known as The South.

To access the political North from here you travel South.

TinCup American Whiskey proudly displays it’s Colorado heritage on the attractively embossed bottle – as well as the marketing story.

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TinCup story. c/othewhiskeynut

The bulk of the whiskey is actually distilled in Indiana – blended & cut with some Colorado single malt & ‘Pure Rocky Mountain Water’.

So now that’s all clear – what was I doing in The North?

Simple really.

The North – being a different jurisdiction – stocks a more comprehensive & varied array of spirits than The South. Always keen to pick up something new & interesting I called in on an Asda supermarket on my travels & bagged this American Whiskey.

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I like it! c/othewhiskeynut

The design is cool – the marketing is slick – it’s reasonably priced – it made my basket.

A rich golden brown hue with that classic candyfloss bourbon sweetness tempered by a sawdusty dry rye aroma greeted me.

The palate was relatively mellow – yet gradually opened up with smooth vanilla & gently growing peppery spices building to a gorgeously drying finish leaving a tingling prickliness dancing away.

I found the overall presentation of this whiskey extremely endearing & enticing.

The whiskey itself suitably matched the marketing.

A lovely combination of rugged rye & smooth bourbon – stories of the past & visions for the future.

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Jess Graber c/othewhiskeynut

I look forward to further exploring developments from Jess Graber, Colorado Whiskey & Proximo Spirits..

Happy Independence Day!

Sláinte

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Old Pepper 1780 Straight Whiskey, 43%, in Bourbon St, Gothenburg.

It’s February in Gothenburg.

I’ve had a few – more is promised – a feed is in order.

Don’t all the bars do food?

Bourbon St – maybe a burger will suffice?

Yes – burgers indeed – and what to drink?

Well I’ll stick with the American theme & order that distinctive black & gold labelled square bottle I don’t recognise.

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Old Pepper c/othewhiskeynut

Old Pepper 1780 Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey made my glass.

Mmmmmm!

The usual candy floss sweetness on the nose – but with an attractive spiciness to boot

A decent wholesome mouthfeel.

That spice coming through stronger.  Suggests a high rye content – although the virgin oak tannins could be working their magic too.

A very easy & engaging bourbon with a touch of drying spice on the finish to add character.

Who’s behind this one?

A spot of googling reveals a firm by the name of Venturi Brands.

Old Pepper 1
Trademark dispute c/otrademarkandcopyrightlawblog

Despite the trademark dispute Old Pepper was certainly a tasty little number – along with the enjoyable burger & chips!

Sláinte

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Jim Beam Black, 8 Year Old, 43%

There’s an attractive quality to miniatures.

The opportunity to try out unknown treasures – or non runners – before buying a full bottle.

The ease of transport – particularly when flying!

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Jim Beam 8 c/othewhiskeynut

And the chance to taste a wide variety of styles without breaking the bank.

This Jim Beam was part of a job lot auction acquisition.

A simple yet bold label design pleased me.

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Packs a punch! c/othewhiskeynut

Signature sweet bourbony notes with a touch of oakiness on the nose.

The charred casks coupled with added ageing had boosted the depth of the palate with more warmth & richness.

At 43% it packed a spirity punch – which I found attractive.

Miniatures are fleeting memories.

Especially when you find out the 8 Year Old was dropped in favour of an NAS – non age statement – I encountered here.

Sláinte

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Rebel Yell, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 40%

I can’t resist humming a few lines from Billy Idol’s 1983 hit “Rebel Yell” whenever I encounter this whiskey.

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King Rocker? c/othewhiskeynut

According to rock legend – Billy wrote the song after attending a party fueled by the aforementioned beverage.

Rock ‘n’ Roll & Whiskey – the perfect mix.

Would Rebel Yell deliver?

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Ready, Steady, Go! c/othewhiskeynut

Well the nose is sweet bourbon – full of popcorn, bubblegum & a touch of spice.

The mouthfeel is smooth, easy & pleasant.

A touch of intensity on the finish as it slowly dries out.

Not raucous rock to me – more bubblegum punk – which both Billy & Rebel Yell Whiskey excel in.

A suitable pairing.

Sláinte

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Blind Sample Tasting

Blind tasting.

You – the whiskey – your palate.

No transparency – no openness – no labels.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Ready? c/othewhiskeynut

Laid out before me were 7 whiskeys – 7 identical glasses – & some water to cleanse the palate between each sample.

Oh! They weren’t completely blind.

They were from a list I’d selected from a fellow whiskey fan as part of an exchange and it included;

1792 Single Barrel,   Ballantine’s 17,   Chita Single Grain,   Dingle 4 Single Malt,   Evan William’s Bottled In Bond,   Hellyers Road Roaring Forty,   Jack Daniel’s Bottled In Bond,   Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100,   Kilkerran 12,   Miltonduff 9,   Naked Grouse,   North Star Campbeltown 4,   Stagg Jr,   & a Surprise.

A Immediately impressed me. Strong spirit, good clean flavours, rich in the mouth. Nice.

B Wasn’t as enjoyable.

C A bourbon – but with a welcome spice.

D Nice easy drinker.

E Another bourbon – strong, opened up on the finish.

F Didn’t enamour me.

G Very intriguing.

I initially went through them trying to match my experiences to the expressions above. It was really guesswork – as I hadn’t encountered them before this session.

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Score sheet c/othewhiskeynut

On a second round – I scored them.

Then the reveal!

A North Star                              80                B Hellyers Rd     72

C 1792 SB                                    77                D Dingle 4           73

E Stagg Jr                                   79                 F Kilkerran 12   70

G Glenglassaugh Evolution  78

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North Star c/o@bogstandarddram

Congratulations to North Star Campbeltown 4 Year Old Blended Malt!

An independent bottle from undisclosed distilleries presented non chill filtered & with natural colour at a hefty 57% ABV.

Obviously my kinda whiskey!

There’s a clear division between the top 4 – bigger, badder, bolder – and the bottom 3 – softer, subtler, smoother.

My only surprise was the poor showing of Kilkerran 12 – normally a distillery I enjoy.

But then that’s the whole point of blind tasting.

To try and eradicate – as far as possible – any bias you may hold,

and let your palate  decide.

Sláinte

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A trip down memory lane in North London & new whiskeys.

I decided to revisit some of my old drinking dens of times past & enjoy a few whiskeys along the way.

The High Cross, Tottenham N17

How could I resist this?

A recently opened micro bar in an elegantly designed 1920’s public toilet that I can’t recall ever using – despite living round the corner for years – but do remember passing daily.

It looks the same on the outside. You enter via the ‘LADIES’ – which is a little disconcerting being a man – and behold a white tiled space replete with chunky wooden tables & chairs. The bijou bar at the ‘GENTLEMEN’ end of the building offers a good selection of local craft beers, assorted spirits & a tasty range of wholesome bar food.

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I’ll have a Nikka. c/othewhiskeynut

Spotting a Nikka From The Barrel on the top shelf I went for it.

Nice!

This blended whisky drew me in with clean & fresh flavours offering decent depth & complexity – with a bit of bite from the 51.4% ABV too.

I’d happily have this one again.

The Beehive, Tottenham, N17

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The Beehive, N17 c/othewhiskeynut

It’s probably around 30 years since I last had a drink in the Beehive.

I remember a traditional bar with carpeted floors, comfy sofas & polished wooden tables leading to a grassy beer garden.

I found a bare wooden floored open space – filling up with Spurs fans – leading to a concreted patio adorned with large sports screens.

Ah well – change is the only constant in London.

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Single Barrel please. c/othewhiskeynut

From the small whiskey selection Four Roses Single Barrel made my glass – or rather plastic cup – Spurs were playing.

Now Four Roses haven’t exactly bowled me over. Their entry Bourbon is decent enough – and this Single Barrel did boost the flavour experience with it’s higher ABV & higher rye content.

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Four Roses Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Just not enough character to enthrall me.

I toyed with The Ship – but the pre-match crowds were getting larger – so a short bus ride to Wood Green & a spot of lunch set me up for an invigorating walk up to the magnificent Ally Pally with it’s panoramic view over North London.

The Phoenix Bar, Alexandra Palace, N22

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The Phoenix @ Ally Pally c/othewhiskeynut

It felt like I’d just been taken back to the time my better half – now wife – and I spent an anxious few hours here over 20 years ago. All our worldly possessions were in a transit van nearby awaiting the exchange of contracts allowing us to move into our first flat down in Turnpike Lane at the foot – almost – of the wooded slopes beyond the fine windows of this very establishment.

A Dewar’s White Label was ordered.

Having just been introduced to the delights of Dewar’s 12 Year Old Ancestor blend – a lovely balanced example of peated Scotch – the White Label was rather more basic.

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An aged blend. c/othewhiskeynut

Aged – in this instance – is better.

The Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey, N8

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The Great Northern c/othewhiskeynut

A fine venue to round off the day.

I found it poignant to be in London celebrating a 60th entering a bar where a memorable 30th was had by one sadly departed.

The Great Northern has had a facelift since then. Gone was the sticky carpet & shoddy armchairs. In was a sleek craft beer selection & fine foods with varnished floors & comfy seating.

The whiskey choice was a bit thin though.

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Peat Monster c/othewhiskeynut

I’d previously enjoyed a wonderful Compass Box here – but made do with Jura 10 this time.

A soft smudge of peat over a sweet caramelly base just didn’t cut it with me.

Never mind – It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life.

Bar of The Day – High Cross.

Whiskey of The Day – Nikka From The Barrel.

Sláinte

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Brand Ambassador Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder, The Afters.

This blog comes to you with the musical accompaniment of LCD Soundsystem.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Usually on encountering a wall of whiskey I’d be choosing bottles I’ve not tasted before but in this instance – an old favourite was proffered up by the Hi-Spirits rep.

Michael Collins Blend, 40%

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Michael Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

An easy going well balanced & honeyed blend from a few years ago.

Sadly discontinued during the Beam takeover of Cooley/Kilbeggan – there are rumors new brand owners Sazerac are going to revitalize it.

I’d be pleased to welcome it’s return.

My last encounter was with the distinctive ‘baseball bat’ bottle – redesigned into the beautifully labeled one above.

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My empty Micheal Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

I’m Losing My Edge.

UnTamed 63.8%

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The Wild Geese UnTamed c/othewhiskeynut

Ever since giving UnTamed category winner in the Cask Strength offerings of my blind Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 judging session  – I’d yet to meet it in the wild.

It didn’t give much away on the nose.

Initially the flavours were soft, sweet & gentle before an explosion of alcohol hit the palate. Yet those gloriously tasty remnants faded slowly away on the long finish.

I’d vote for it again.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Last orders – FEW Bourbon 46.5%

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FEW Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Searching the wall of whiskey for something suitable – FEW Bourbon caught my eye.

I’d enjoyed their FEW Rye – polished off previously.

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FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

I liked their ‘remembering’ of Francis Elizabeth Willard– a key campaigner in the temperance movement of America – as well as votes for women and anti-lynching.

And I liked the young & fresh combination of flavours within this bourbon.

Only when I checked my tasting list did I discover I’ve had it before!

I’m Losing My Edge – But I Was There!

And I need to get back there to the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder and enjoy a tasty trio of whiskey I’ve yet to meet!

Slàinte

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