Category Archives: American Whiskey

A Pair of WhistlePigs For 4th July, 50% & 43%, Rye

I received this lovely looking duo of ryes courtesy of Axiom Brands – many thanks.

Being a self confessed rye head WhistlePig loomed large yet had always eluded me.

Now was my chance to try them out.

First the controversy.

To begin with WhistlePig didn’t distill their own rye. They bought a load of Canadian Rye destined to be used in blending, shipped it across the border & finished it to WhistlePig’s own requirements at their Vermont Farm.

Having built up a bit of a following & brand recognition they latterly distill their own rye made from grain grown on the farm, aged in oak trees from Vermont & cut with water from the farm well.

Some folks have a problem with this.

I don’t.

To me it makes sound business sense being able to sell sourced product before your own matures. It also allows experimentation & a growing knowledge in handling the spirit in advance of committing even more money into building a distillery.

But what really interests me is how it tastes.

So let’s go!

2 (1 of 1)-2
WhistlePig Straight Rye 10yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 10 Year Old, Straight Rye, 50%

Very marginally paler than the 12yo.

Classic peppery rye spice on the nose yet balanced & nuanced with the decade in oak.

A powerful rye hit on tasting. The balance has gone as rye spices shine through with added tannins in the mix leading to a long lasting dry finish.

A no nonsense take no prisoners brute of a rye.

2 (1 of 1)-3
WhistlePig Old World Rye 12yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 12 Year Old, Old World Rye, 43%

Can I detect a slightly darker hue to this one?

The rye spices have taken on a more rounded, almost perfumed nose. Makes me want to jump in!

Softer on the palate, even creamy to begin with, before it reminds you this is a rye with that classic dry peppery spice slowly growing in intensity.

A more balanced & complex rye that benefits from it’s ageing in Madeira, Sauternes & Port Casks.

Preferred Rye?

The ‘in yer face’ honesty of the 10 or the complexity of the 12?

Both have their good points – but on balance – the Old World 12 piques my interest the most.

The novel triple cask approach adds depth & variety to the classic rye canon.

I look forward to tasting more from WhistlePig.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

Advertisements

McAfee’s Benchmark, Old No 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 40%

As it’s National Bourbon Day I thought I’d celebrate by cracking open a bottle that’s been sitting in my cupboard for some time.

When I first bought this bourbon I knew nothing about it.

2 (1 of 1)-12
Old No 8 c/othewhiskeynut

My original impression was that as it has a large 8 emblazoned on the label it must be a step up from the 7 on a bottle of Jack?

DSCF7375 email
Old No. 7 c/othewhiskeynut

And on eventually getting round to a tasting – it certainly did satisfy my palate more.

A lovely golden hue complete with decent legs graced the Túath glass on a pour. Being a ‘straight‘ bourbon guarantees no added caramel in the mix.

Soft and gentle on the palate to begin with, the flavours & heat slowly grew in intensity giving a good showing of vanillas & sweet caramel mixed with darker hints of tobacco and a lovely growing spice towards the end.

For me the finish was the best bit.

The spiciness – suggestive of a decent rye percentage in the mashbill – slowly dried out leaving a gentle prickliness in the mouth – which I enjoy.

2 (1 of 1)-11
McAfee’s Benchmark c/othewhiskeynut

Being an entry level bourbon – Benchmark is appropriately named as it does provide an exceedingly pleasing drinking experience from which other bourbons can be compared.

Only after I purchased this bottle did I find out it’s part of the Buffalo Trace portfolio from Kentucky.

Interestingly it shares the same mashbill as Buffalo Trace itself – along with the more aged Eagle Rare & George T Stagg offerings!

The only differences are the time spent in the barrel – they are all virgin american oak remember with the same char level – and which part of the rickhouse they were stored in during maturity.

2 (1 of 1)-11 (2)
The 2017 Antique Collection – fabulous! c/othewhiskeynut

Having tasted the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2017 release at Whiskey Live Dublin – it would be folly to compare the 2 bourbons – but you can appreciate the solid foundations of the young Benchmark that with added maturity grew into the stunning Eagle Rare 17.

But then my local O’Briens only stocked Benchmark!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

 

 

Jack Daniel’s Rye, 45%

I’m a big fan of rye.

The dry peppery spice, the warm mouth feel & the little kick of prickly heat all entice me.

I’d heard Jack Daniel’s had a rye at the Slane Distillery opening. Being a Brown-Forman distillery all the reps were over for the shindig & being a little tipsy – I got chatting to them.

Always keen to try out a new rye – I happened to spot this bottle travelling back from France at a very reasonable sub €30 price tag.

2 (1 of 1)
Rye, Mellowed & Matured c/othewhiskeynut

How could I resist?

Now this is a rather no frills, no nonsense, straight down the line offering.

It has that classic dry peppery nose – yet softened & more rounded by the ‘charcoal mellowing method’ JD uses in all it’s products.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Tennessee Rye c/othewhiskeynut

It takes a while to get going – before a gently growing spicy flourish develops.

A pleasant prickly heat fades away towards the finale.

Even at 45% – this is an easy approachable rye that demonstrates the pleasures of that particular grain.

There’s not much complexity or depth to it – but for the cost – it delivers.

Slàinte

Good Logo

Manchester Whiskey Adventures

It wasn’t planned.

I was supposed to be revising for an exam – but the Teeling Small Batch on the Aer Lingus flight only reacquainted myself with this lovely little blend & provided a taster for what was unknowingly to come.

2 (1 of 1) (2)
In flight entertainment! c/othewhiskeynut

After checking into the city centre hotel – a quick read over the course book – it was out for a wander to visit the Whiskey Jar pub.

2 (1 of 1)
Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

The promise of 400+ whiskies to whet my appetite accompanied by a tasty pie for the late Sunday afternoon lunch sounded too good to miss.

On entering I was taken aback!

Gathered in the pub were a clutch of whiskey companies displaying their wares.

Woo Hoo!


A small cover charge – along with a tasting glass – had me at the first stall.

Heaven Hill.

2 (1 of 1)-3 (2)
Fighting Cock Fighting Whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

Now any company that puts out a bottle called Fighting Cock emblazoned with a fiery red rooster just calls out for a tasting!

At 51.5% this high rye bourbon packs a lively spicy punch on the nose.

It followed through with rich warming vanilla & caramel in a mouth filling flavour explosion.

My kinda bourbon.

The rep guided me onto the Rittenhouse Rye.

2 (1 of 1)-5
Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

A much more cultured well balanced offering than the beast that is Fighting Cock.

In the interests of exploration Mellow Corn also hit my palate.

2 (1 of 1)-4
Mellow in name but not on taste. c/othewhiskeynut

Normally corn wouldn’t be a favourite of mine – but the high ABV – 50% – along with a minimum 2 years in virgin oak casks had imbued this whiskey with some very attractive notes & flavours.

I could be a corn convert with this one!

Old Pulteney were up next.

2 (1 of 1)-11
Where has the boat gone? c/othewhiskeynut

They’ve had a little brand update – new labels & new expressions – I do miss the old fishing boat motif however.

The Huddart NAS – with the peat influence coming from the barrels rather than the barley – was a pleasant little easy peaty sipper.

The 15 year old was well balanced – just lacked a little character – whereas the top of the range 18yo had gained some gorgeous drying woody tannins from the extra years in the cask & pulled me in.

Jameson were on show too.

I had a quick chat with the rep who informed me Whiskey Jar have a monthly whisky showcase which is usually well attended & seems to be growing. Check out the Whiskey Jar link for further events.

2 (1 of 1)-12
A Glenlivet trio. c/othewhiskeynut

Being familiar with the Jameson on show – I was guided to fellow Pernod Ricard brand Glenlivet for a vertical tasting of their core range.

All very grand – but nothing exciting.

Only the Captain’s Reserve had a bit more going on to entice me.

Cotswolds showcased their very enticingly fresh single malt.

Having already polished off a bottle I was just congratulating the rep when this was produced.

2 (1 of 1) (3)
Cotswolds Cask Strength c/othewhiskeynut

A cask strength single malt matured in American Oak which previously contained red wine & has been shaved, toasted and charred too!

It works!

At 60.9% there is no burn on the nose.

It does fill the palate – but the rich flavours shine through in a fabulous frenzy of taste more like a 50% offering!

Dangerous stuff – yet oh so gorgeous.

Without doubt my prize pick of the evening!

For a last pour it was back to Heaven Hill and a shot of Elijah Craig Small Batch.

2 (1 of 1)-13
A cultured bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Despite being a low rye bourbon this had an attractive spice from the years in virgin charred oak. The rounded complexity of the drinking experience surprised me.

Show over – most of the whisky fans departed.

I settled down to a hot pie washed down with my original intended choice for the evening – English Whisky.

2 (1 of 1)-14
Peated English Whisky? c/othewhiskeynut

Chapter 15’s a heavy peat hitter. I like it for that – but it’s rather one dimensional otherwise.

I got chatting to some other late departees so another pie – and another whiskey – were ordered.

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye.

2 (1 of 1)-2

Like Chapter 15’s peat – the rye dominated here – but with additional fruity notes too.

Very fresh & enjoyable.

Time to head home – or I should say the hotel bar?

I pondered over a glass of Hibiki Harmony – which sang to me a lot sweeter than on my first encounter – while shooting the breeze with a fellow late night imbiber.

2 (1 of 1)-15
Hibiki Harmony sang sweeter c/othewhiskeynut

A hot mug of tea eventually rounded off my supposedly Sunday afternoon few.

I did make the exam the next morning.

A hearty breakfast works wonders.

WSET Level 2 Spirits – with distinction if you were wondering.

I think the liquid training added to the pleasure!

Sláinte

Good Logo

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, Port Finish, 47%

When in Manchester recently I did a quick internet search to find a suitable watering hole.

The Whiskey Jar won the day.

2 (1 of 1)
Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

One of the many whiskeys on offer that took my eye  – Dad’s Hat Rye – ended up in the glass.

A satisfyingly welcoming peppery rye spice greeted my nose – although it seemed to be muted somewhat by sweet dark fruits.

Oh!

I didn’t notice the bottom line – Finished In Port Wine Barrels.

Now that’s a novel approach which does seem to add additional flavours to the standard rye offering.

The fruity notes held sway on the front before that spicy pepper hit I love kicked in towards the latter half.

A gorgeous little combination of elements to tease the palate.

2 (1 of 1)-3
Aged for how long? c/othewhiskeynut

I was taken aback when I read the maturation times on the side label.

For only 9 months old – the virgin charred american oak quarter casks & ex-port barrels have worked their magic to create a wonderfully fresh rye with a fruity twist.

A very enjoyable baby rye!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

Buffalo Trace, White Dog, Rye Mash, 62.5%

For International Poitin Day I’ve decided to go – well – International!

Now Poitin is an Irish term.

It denotes a raw, unaged distillate made using unspecified grains & conjures up all sorts of folklore and fancy tales.

Across the water in America it goes by a different name – Moonshine – or in this instance – White Dog.

There are similarities in style, manufacture and fairytale – as well as music.

What drew me to this example however was the Rye Mash label.

I do like a drop of hot spice!

At 62.5% – or 125 proof – this White Dog doesn’t disappoint.

The clean clear colourless liquid has an oily, softly sweet yet sour corn nose with a hint of peppery spice.

It’s surprisingly gentle – even smooth to begin with. The corn & barley mash pulls you in before a growing dry peppery spice takes over with a big hit of alcohol.

The dryness lasts through to the finish which is complemented by yet more spice & prickly heat from the high strength.

The rye, corn & barley mash brings a degree of complexity to this essentially simple style of distillate.

I find it fascinating tasting raw spirit like this before the maturation in wood adds more colour, flavour & depth to the mix.

It’s how our forebearers would have enjoyed their whiskey.

Enjoy your International Poitin Day!

Sláinte

Good Logo

Blind Bourbon Tasting July 4th 2018

It seemed like a good idea.

An opportunity to taste without prejudice. To judge all equally without bias to distillery of origin or mash bill. To savour  & enjoy new tastes & styles in a manner echoing the ethos of the Declaration Of Independence written all those years ago.

Yet the Midlands masses were not moved and on the day there were more whiskey expressions on offer than punters to drink them.

Ah well. All the more for those that did attend.

I tried to put together a flight of whiskeys that represented as many different styles of American bourbon – to compare & contrast – within the limitations of what was readily available in Ireland.

To kick off with – a pair of entry level bourbons showed that even within the same category there were differences of taste & flavour.

To be labelled ‘bourbon’ under American rules means a minimum of 51% corn used in the mash bill. The mash bill is the ratio of grains used to make the whiskey – usually made up of the big 4; corn, wheat, rye & barley.

DSCF7353 email
Clarke’s 1866 Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

I twinned an Aldi own brand  Clarke’s 1866 Old Kentucky Straight Sour Mash Whiskey with a market leading Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey. Most preferred the Jack – although Clarke’s wasn’t far behind.

DSCF7375 email
Jack Old No. 7 c/othewhiskeynut

Considering one is twice the price of the other – it just goes to show you can get a decent pour of a fairly standard bourbon at an affordable cost if you’re prepared to shop around.

DSCF7369 email
FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

The next pour moved up a level both in terms of cost and flavour – FEW Rye Whiskey. All agreed this was a far more complex, definitely a different style and a far more satisfying whiskey. The spicy rye dominated the palate yet was balanced by the sweet corn element in the mash bill.

DSCF2138 email
Brothership Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The rye presence continued into the Brothership Irish – American Whiskey. A collaboration between Connacht Distillery in Ballina and New Liberty Distillery in Philly. It’s a blend of 10 year old Irish Single Malt & a 10 year old American Rye. A lighter & smoother start than the previous pours – all picked out the Irish malt influence – yet joyfully morphed into a lovely drying peppery spice at the end. You can pick out the 2 different styles within the same glass and marvel at how they both compliment each other in the final mix. Fabulous.

I was very much looking forward to the next bourbon.

A representative at Hi-Spirits Ireland – a distribution company handling the Sazerac, Buffalo Trace portfolio – reached out to donate some liquid for the Blind Tasting. Much appreciated.

barton full collapse Corier-Journal
Barton 1792 full collapse c/oCourier-Journal

The bottle in question also happened to hail from the Barton 1792 Distillery which recently suffered a rickhouse collapse causing much loss of bourbon & property. Although thankfully no injuries.

1792 Small Batch Bourbon.

2 (1 of 1)-18
1792 Small Batch Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Again – much like the Brothership – this was a whiskey in 2 halves.

To begin with a rich, deep vanilla & burnt caramel coated the mouth leading you into a drier, cinnamon spice rye body which finished in a delightfully playful prickly heat. This ‘high rye’ bourbon pleased all present – although there was no clear overall winner on the night before the bottles were revealed. Beautiful bourbon indeed.

The final offering was more of a fun product.

Buffalo Trace White Dog Rye Mash.

2 (1 of 1)-17
Buffalo Trace White Dog c/othewhiskeynut

This is the American equivalent of Irish Poitin. Raw un-aged whiskey.

At 62.5% this White Dog certainly packed a punch – yet was extremely palatable & very enjoyable. That familiar – slightly sour – new make nose, the oiliness on first tasting proceeding to a soft dry rye spice rounded the evening off with a bang.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

My thanks to Sean’s Bar Athlone for hosting the event.

Thanks also to Hi-Spirits Ireland for the kind donation of some fabulous bottles.

If you are interested in sampling any of the above contact either Whiskey Nut –  westmeathwhiskeyworld@eircom.net – or Sean’s Bar itself – to arrange.

 

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider, 5.5%

Having reviewed a Jim Beam non whiskey product – it’s only fair – and in the interests of impartiality – that I feature a Jack Daniel’s non whiskey product too.

Well – I say non whiskey – as this cider is a blend of  ‘Crisp Apple Cider’ with some of Jack’s Tennessee Whiskey.

2 (1 of 1)-16
It’s Jack – but not Bourbon! c/othewhiskeynut

I don’t mind a cider now and then – especially on a warm summers evening – but I must admit to preferring a dry style of cider – not too sweet either – so I approached this bottle with none too high expectations.

Both Jack & Jim allow their logo’s to be used on many a product. It’s a great way to promote the brand. But often that product bears no relevance or connection to the original bourbons which are the core expressions of those brands.

Jack’s Cider poured clean & fresh.

It was very pale in colour.  The nose was definitely cider. A bit of dry apple mixed in with enough of a hint of bourbon to give a lift to the experience.

The taste was satisfyingly refreshing. Not too sweet. That crisp dry apple coming through and combining gently with that sticky sweetness associated with a pour of Old No. 7.

2 (1 of 1)-15
Smooth sippin’ c/othewhiskeynut

There’s no real complexity here. It’s a simple bourbon infused cider. But it does exactly what it says on the label & certainly appealed to me as a refreshing alternative to a whiskey on a balmy warm night.

Heck!

If this summer heatwave continues I might be tempted to indulge in a little more ‘smooth sippin’ courtesy of Jack!

Good Logo

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey Potato Chips

You never know what you might find down the aisles of your local German discount store – like Jim Beam Crisps?

I just had to try them.

Manufactured in Devon, England, these chips proudly proclaim to have no added colouring or artificial flavours. Often something many a whiskey brand cannot boast.

Obviously I had to pair them with a decent pour of bourbon – and sat back to enjoy the experience in the fabulous weather.

Well, the crisps do have a wonderfully savoury, meaty, BBQ-y thing going on. Without all the heat, mess & subsequent clean up of a real BBQ. I just didn’t detect any Jim Beam influence – other than the logo on the packet.

2 (1 of 1)-13 copy
Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

They did however compliment the sweet vanilla & caramel notes of the actual bourbon.

Quite a nice pairing indeed!

Both parties brought out & enhanced the flavours of each other to combine into an even better & enjoyable experience.

Savoury & sweet at it’s best.

My suggestion is to get yours soon before the bourbon tariffs kick in. Although I’m not sure that will affect the crisps that much.

Sláinte.

Good Logo

Ransom The Emerald, Pot Still Whiskey, 43.8%

There was a surprise winner for The World’s Best Pot Still Whiskey at the recent World Whiskies Awards 2018.

It wasn’t Irish!

Pot Still is a term used to denote the use of malted and unmalted barley in the mash – which is usually an Irish whiskey speciality.

However here was an American interpretation of a pot still. Or was it?

I was fortunate enough to have come across this whiskey at the Irish Whiskey Awards 2016.

Having tasted this fine offering – I’m not surprised by the award & heartily cheer it’s success.

From a blog of mine back in October 2016 entitled ‘Irish Rye‘ these were my thoughts.

The Emerald release from Ransom Spirits of Oregon was far more approachable however and much more pertinent to the Irish Whiskey brand.

Made using barley, oats and rye to an 1865 Irish Whiskey recipe uncovered by some research this stunning whiskey is satisfyingly smooth yet rich in mouthfeel coupled with a delightfully long rye spice finish.

Emerald to me have captured the PAST of Irish Whiskey in a bottle of the PRESENT.

When you know Brian Nation and his colleagues are poring over old Jameson recipes from the early 1800’s that included rye and oats – as well as currently growing rye in the fields around Enniscorthy – then couldn’t this be a representation of the FUTURE of Irish Whiskey?

I certainly hope so!

It’s innovative.

It’s traditional,

And it’s out now.

Gorgeous!

I followed it up in December with The Emerald making ‘My Top 3 Whiskey Events 2016‘ blog.

Later in the evening some whiskey friends from America were sharing a bottle of Emerald American Whiskey.

dscf9444-email
The Emerald c/othewhiskeynut

Well I say American Whiskey as that’s where it was produced and matured.

But the recipe is based on an 1865 Irish Whiskey recorded for posterity by a British excise agent and includes both malted and unmalted barley along with some oats & rye.

It tasted divine.

Nice to see the World Whiskies Awards 18 pick up on a winner of mine from 2016.

Sláinte.

Good Logo