William Larue Weller 12 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 62.85%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
Tilled earth, tobacco, and leather meet clover honey, maple syrup, and pecan pie sweetness. It pours broad and mouth-coating across the palate, with a lovely softness and pervasive vanilla and apple sweetness, gently tugged at by oaky tannins and more tobacco leaf. A touch floral and gently spiced, with cinnamon leading the way. Overall, this exudes beautiful balance right through the long finish that resonates both prettily and powerfully with dried citrus. Collectible
George T. Stagg 15 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 62.45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
This offers up warming ginger, candied orange, and wisps of furniture polish. The lavish and leathery oak flavors are apparent but don’t overwhelm the abundance of zippy, bright citrus—orange oil and yuzu—as the palate unleashes wave upon wave of spices that keep you guessing where it will head next. In the end, more lingering ginger and dusty cocoa.
Michter’s 20 year old Straight Bourbon 2018 (Batch 18I1371), 57.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $700
Age is readily apparent, not as weariness, but sheer intensity—like a Vise-Grip handshake from an old man. The flavors come in rapid waves, first on the nose with pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, sassafras, cassis, licorice, orange peel, and menthol-like hints of solvent. Then chewy fruit and drying oak harmonize on the palate, the dark berry fruits playing off the refined oak with its cedary spice. The drying finish echoes of rustling autumn leaves and plum skins. Exquisitely balanced and muscular.
Notably balanced and elegant, the colorful palette of whiskies combines for tremendous depth of flavor. Soft, sweet butterscotch and orange peel meet poached pears and stone fruits. Earthiness appears as dried autumn leaves, coffee, old oak, and tobacco. Among the tangle of spices, tasters identified chili pepper, allspice, cloves, and universally adored its ginger note. Finally, wisps of smoke and sea salt. Overall, it feels generously malty, with the grain whisky lending broad sweetness and supple mouthfeel across the long finish.
Beyond its delightful flavors, Nikka From the Barrel presents some paradoxes worthy of contemplation over a glass. It is a classic, yet new to the U.S. It is typically Japanese, yet singularly magnificent. It is delightful sipped neat and also blossoms with water. Even the simple, squat bottle is in contrast to the profound complexity within. (Fortunately, the 500 ml bottle offered in other markets received a supersizing for U.S. drinkers.)
The great majority of new Japanese whiskies now arriving to our shores are so rare and so expensive that they seem intended only for elite whisky lovers. Nikka From the Barrel is a consummate Japanese blend for anyone to enjoy. Number 1 in the 2018 Top 20
This limited-edition rye from Knob Creek beat the odds to rise to number two by flexing its muscle to impress tasters from both the U.S. and the UK. Superlatives were in good supply: intense, massively chewy, huge, very bold, aggressive. This 9 year old, unfiltered, cask-strength bottling simply presents heaps of flavor for a fair price. Caramel-drizzled flan, charred marshmallow, and honey-roasted peanut aromas lead to mouth-filling flavors of tropical fruits, citrus oil, and peach nectar. Lemony bright with cinnamon and peppery spice galore, it’s surprisingly drinkable at proof, but water really unpacks the flavors. Number 2 in the 2018 Top 20
As bourbon matures in new charred oak barrels over time, it approaches a perilous point when the oak dominates the flavor. To sip Elijah Craig at 12 years of age—at full barrel proof, without dilution or filtering—is to taste bourbon at its apex, so dangerously close to going over the crest of the hill, yet delivering a massive mouthful of incredibly robust flavors that drape leathery oak over a gooey caramel core, sprinkled with baking spice, while candied nuts and tobacco leaf notes appear on a drying finish dusted with cocoa. Number 1 in the 2017 Top 20
Lovely aromas of warm banana bread with toasted nuts are met with oak and underlying savory notes of garden soil, mushroom, barnyard, and menthol that build layers of complexity. The flavor similarly melds sweet and earthy notes, as Bit-O-Honey and grape candy yield to zesty lemon, drying tobacco leaf, and polished oak tannins. The sweetness, perfectly permeated with earthy complexity, is totally captivating, made complete by a long and satisfying finish laced with spices.
Dripping with butterscotch and marzipan, this is a gorgeous mix of confections and spice. The toasted sweetness of coconut macaroon cookies and graham cracker pie crust meets clove, orange peel, teaberry, and a seductive sandalwood note. A whirlwind of spices grabs hold of the tongue, sinking slowly into creamy nut butters, earthy tannins, and toasted pecan. The persistent sweet caramel and fruit handle generous water without yielding, just revealing ever more flavor. Editors’ Choice
This big, sweet, warming bourbon strikes all the right chords. Sizzling sweet corn meets generous oak, like dusty old books, but the bright peach nectar, wet walnuts, and vibrant spice beam through in abundance. Unctuous and concentrated on the palate, it evokes cinnamon-dusted peach pie, with hints of clove and pepper on the finish. A solid and seamless whiskey, with fruit, floral, oak, and spice in perfect harmony.
Four Roses Small Batch 130th Anniversary Edition, 54.15%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $140
A beguiling nose balances maturity and freshness, with charred oak, caramelized sugar, blackberry pie filling, floral notes, and toasted almond evolving in deep layers. The concentration on the palate is jaw-dropping—so much richness, power, and grace, as flavors flit across the tongue. Robust and drinkable, the fruity pie filling turns to candied orange peel and buckwheat honey before a licorice-laced finish. (13,140 bottles) Collectible
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye 6 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 64.4%
Rye Whiskey | $99
Cereal grain notes and fresh-cut oak suggest some youthfulness here, but the stone fruits and hot caramel sundae appear dense and richly layered. On the palate the big, up-front sweetness evolves into nougat, marzipan, and caramel-covered apple, sprinkled with root beer spices, before more grain and pastry notes appear on the finish. Powerful and vibrant stuff.
Dripping with caramel and tingling with spice, this is a blockbuster whiskey that delivers across a spectrum of flavors. Maple syrup, sugar in the raw, and caramel-drizzled flan highlight the aroma, while the palate turns fruity and tropical with the sweet drive of peach nectar, grilled fruits, and pineapple upside-down cake. At the same time, it’s lemony bright, warmly spiced, tremendously rich, and oh-so-good! Pour on the water and enjoy the ride!
The confectionary nose of flan and crème caramel comes draped over lovely grainy aromas of warm porridge and pastry crust. Vinous notes of cherry/berry fruit emerge, along with toasted almonds and floral aromas. On the palate, there is berry coulis, Creamsicle stick, French burnt peanut candies, and warm banana. Overall, this demonstrates both nice maturity and lovely balance of sweetness and spice, with a finish of cinnamon-sprinkled apple pie.
Bright, clean, and fruity, with spearmint and oak, this smells of chewy marmalade, with pretty wildflower, waxy crayon, and solvent notes adding intrigue. On the palate the fruit feels dense—dried apricot and a cardboard box of prunes—before veering toward citrus and Peanut Chews. The generous finish lingers with bitter orange peel, vanilla, and sweet creamed corn. Complex, fresh, and immensely likable.
Typical of Booker’s this bourbon shows lots of concentration and muscle, oozing with caramel and maple syrup, with hints of lavender and bouquet garni. Flavors explode on the palate, with more herbal complexity, root beer barrel candy, green almond, black cherry, and a big rush of dark, bitter-sweet burnt sugar and caramel. Lovely baking spices and lots of toasty oak linger on the long finish. The youngest barrel in the blend is just over 6 years, 2 months of age. Editors’ Choice
This is a whiskey that knows exactly what it wants to be, a rambunctious bourbon that throws the full weight of its barrel behind a flavor-packed punch. Lots of dry, charred-matchstick oak meets chewy fig and dried fruits, fudge brownie, and fresh meadow, with hints of banana and furniture polish in the aroma. Brawny and unapologetic on the palate; peach syrup and baked apples meet a torrent of spices as the moreish finish oozes on like chocolate lava cake. Collectible
Kentucky Owl 11 year old Straight Rye (Batch 2), 50.9%
Rye Whiskey | $200
The vanilla and oak-driven nose offers layers of stone fruits, golden raisin, tropical fruit, and citrus zest, along with hints of espresso, violet, and fresh herbs. On the palate, this is so dialed in! Laser-like in its delivery of sweetness and spice, it rings clean and bright, and simply sizzles with candied ginger warmth before the finish pours on cocoa and nutty flavors. Tastes wonderfully mature, yet full of vigor.
A fascinating flurry of aromas—red fruit punch, floral bouquet, honey, tropical guava and passion fruit, and assorted gummy candies. The dense palate balances sweet pineapple upside-down cake with tart ruby-red grapefruit, punctuated with lively allspice, dark cocoa powder, and ginger. The spectrum of bright flavors is underscored by deep spice and polished oak, while the impressive impact and skillful blending are spellbinding. Kentucky straight rye whiskey with two Canadian whiskies.
The sophomore effort from eighth-generation Beam distiller Freddie Noe cements his place as an innovator and a talent. For this release, Noe blended 8 year old Kentucky straight rye, 13 year old Canadian rye, and 40 year old 100% Canadian corn whisky. Uncut and unfiltered, it pours rich, floral, and fruit forward, with flavors of marmalade, grilled pineapple, guava, and gummy bears. The bright, fruity sweetness is balanced with ruby-red grapefruit and the elder whisky’s rich leather, drying oak, allspice, and dark cocoa. A fascinating and flavorful ride. Number 11 in the 2018 Top 20
Big vanilla and toasty oak meet the generous sweetness of overripe plums and cooked fruits, like canned peaches and marmalade. The deep char aromas suggest toasted marshmallows and bananas Foster, with glints of rose petal. The flavors pour forth like dense fruit preserves, coupled with sweet dried corn, whole-grain toast, and waxy notes of paraffin and honeycomb. A richly layered, complex rye with dried herbs and strawflower on the finish.
Driven by lovely maple syrup and sweet bread pudding, this is like waltzing into a bake shop serving up warm sticky buns—all bready sweet, spice, and dried raisins—laced with toasted oak. The body is delightfully rich and viscous, with a generous jolt of sweetness and spice that pours long and satisfying. The sweet maple, candied nuts, dried berries, and white pepper spice strike a wonderful balance.
Eagle Rare 17 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
An intriguing nose features cherry cough drop and horehound, with hints of mint, crushed herbs, and dried flowers. The palate crackles with candied peanuts, lush spices—pepper and allspice—and oozes with some molten licorice. The oak-driven finish shows exquisite maturity, while keeping the wood in check.
Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Rye 2018 (Barrel #18E560), 46.4%
Rye Whiskey | $160
This smells of rich toffee and caramel draped over leathery oak, and warm apples, with a touch of paraffin that evokes age. The body is quite generous—full and creamy—as flavors of maple candy and chocolate-covered cherry are nicely punctuated with red-pepper spice. Dense fudge-like flavors and lively citrus oils lead to a finish of black pepper and baking spices.
Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Bourbon (Barrel #18B202), 47.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $120
There’s evident age here, with dried leaves, old suede jacket, and dusty oak at the forefront, but underlying that maturity is plenty of dried fruit, figs, and cola. It pours broad and mouth filling, exuding both power and grace as it delivers caramel, tobacco, and a mélange of baking spices—cloves and nutmeg. The solid wood structure and oak tannins are here in abundance, but never out of balance.
While this offers no age statement, it revels in the renewed respect for bottled in bond whiskey which assures us it is at least 4 years old, 100 proof, from one distillery, and one distilling season. This new appreciation is for good reason. Toasted oak, chocolate-covered banana, vanilla, and apple meet hints of coffee and cinnamon on the nose. The high-rye recipe delivers the requisite cracked pepper and baking spices on the caramel-laden palate laced with licorice. This widely available bourbon seems to dwell in the age sweet spot, is nicely balanced with oak, and comes at a price that leaves little cause for hesitation. Number 9 in the 2018 Top 20
Straight bourbon and rye whiskeys aged from 10 to 14 years, this nicely balances its dry oak, almost cedary, aromas with bourbon sweetness and a rye finish. The initial hit of orange peel, caramel, and vanilla flan yields to a spicy finish of lemon zest, peppercorns, and ginger.
Sazerac 18 year old (2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
This elder rye shows fine craftsmanship, balancing touches of toasted-spice and floral aromas, with dried herbs, candied orange peel, and mature varnish notes. It’s big on the palate, with heaps of molasses, creamy vanilla sweetness, and orange Creamsicle that lead to pleasing cedar and sandalwood oak, with zesty grapefruit notes. The medium finish is satisfying and well balanced.
WhistlePig The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve, 59.5%
Rye Whiskey | $500
Rich and mature with its deep flavors of spiced oak, figgy fruit, and varnish, turning to candy apple, dried flowers, hazelnut, torched sugar, and cracked black pepper. The palate is explosive at full proof, as sweet stone fruit gives way to earthy oak and tobacco. The calvados barrel maturation really sings on the finish, where sweet apple candies and pecan pie meet big cinnamon and ginger spices. Incredibly drinkable at this proof with well-balanced oak.
A classic bourbon nose, as butterscotch hard candies meet oak, creamed honey, beeswax candle, licorice, and wood char. At full proof this really blows the doors off, and a splash of water cracks open the peanut brittle flavors, buttery biscuit, root beer spices, and oak. The finish rides on for minutes, a mouthful of Peanut Chews, dark berries, and smoky plum, with scorched campfire marshmallow.
Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve (Batch No. 5), 56.8%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $60
Oak, corn sweetness, and tropical fruit collide in this powerful bourbon that suggests grilled pineapple and charred corn on the cob. It handles the proof well, but be prepared for a no-holds-barred tongue lashing of licorice, bitter citrus pith, and oak, before a heaping spoonful of butterscotch pudding quells the heat. Reveals even more flavor with water—blueberry muffin, clove-studded orange, and cedar shingle.
An opulent nose of dense chewy caramel, butterscotch pudding, and maple syrup gains depth from nutty, earthy, and tobacco leaf notes. The maturity appears in appealing glimpses of varnish and wood polish. The palate, too, doesn’t disappoint, with the rich and creamy sweetness balanced with generous oak tannins, lending fine balance. On the finish, look for drying cedar and oak, with clove and pepper. A blend of four different Indiana high-rye bourbons distilled in 2007 and 2008.
The nose feels dense and richly layered as cedary oak and sandalwood incense take the lead, while a deeper dive reveals toasted walnuts, licorice, and cocoa. The palate serves up plenty of sweet butterscotch, juicy grapefruit, and shaved coconut, before drying oak tannins sweep in, delivering coffee and dark chocolate cake on the finish. A supple mouthfeel and long finish enhance the overall delicious impression made by this bourbon. Shows best at full proof. Best Value
Old Forester The President’s Choice (Barrel No. 1), 55.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Lovely concentration of flavors, including whiffs of vanilla cream soda, clover honey, bananas Foster, and a dash of pepper define this selection of barrels by Old Forester president Campbell Brown. Zippy and bright, with lemony verve, peach puree, and warming ginger. The finish smacks of pecan, bitter citrus oil, and peppery spice, with the exquisite oak content in a supporting role. (Available at Old Forester Distillery)
A beautiful rye nose of clove spice, sandalwood incense, warm cinnamon toast, and vanilla sugar leads to a palate that is both creamy and juicy, with abundant apricot, orchard, and citrus fruit; the citrus smacks of ruby-red grapefruit with its hint of bitterness. Shows a good bit of heat and power, as the seamless flavors and well-integrated spice coast through a long finish. The first bottling to include High West’s own-make spirit. Tasted blind against previous batches.
This begins with a big scoop of banana pudding, or maybe it’s banana cream pie, since there is a lively dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pretty floral notes, sweet Jordan almonds, and apple candies are well integrated with oak. What it lacks in deep complexity it makes up for with vibrancy, joie de vivre, and sheer drinking pleasure that revels in a satisfyingly long finish.
Earthy, leathery, and spiced, this bourbon shows nice maturity and polish, evoking a well-worn wood-paneled barroom. The flavors offer good intensity and concentration, striking a nice balance of sweet and savory notes, as spicy cedarwood and cigar box come draped in toffee. Water releases some vivid chocolate, vanilla cream, and clove-studded orange. Nice verve, fine balance, and evident maturity.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection High Angel’s Share Barrels, 53.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
The nose entices with confections: milk chocolate and nougat candy bars, Whoppers, and honey. The flavors unwind vivid and bright, with warming candied ginger, vanilla-frosted birthday cake, a beam of bright citrus, and toasted nuts and baking spice uniting with Jack Daniel’s estery house character to suggest warm banana bread. Lots of drying oak seals the finish.
A platform of caramel sweetness comes draped in lovely oak spice with dried flower potpourri—like rose petals and an old-lady’s perfume—along with horehound, cedary oak, and iced tea. The palate veers toward dried fruits—apple rings and dates—with bitter orange peel and a beam of spice that turns peppery on the long finish of tobacco and cedar. The overall impression is lithe, upright, and stately.
Lavish oak aromas display sawdust, sandalwood, baking spices, and Christmas cookies, but lurking underneath is lots of dark fruit—black cherry soda, blueberry muffin, and cassis—tinged with root beer barrels and alpine forest. A truly pretty, complex, and delicious whiskey, although the oak feels like it’s just a bit overdressed. Finished in charred wine barrels. (12,000 bottles)
Lemon oil, honeyed sweetness, and sharp peppery notes are underscored by earthy tobacco leaf and fresh herbs. Overall, the impression is spritely, fresh, and muscled, without ever seeming immature. The palate reveals berry fruits with a burst of spice—chilis, peppercorn, cinnamon, and cedar. Takes water, and even ice, exceedingly well, as the lovely mix of sweet and spiced flavors bounce along the long finish.
Peerless Distilling’s first whiskey in nearly a century; at 2 years old, it’s precocious. Captivating on the nose; fruit-driven, with orange, peach nectar melded with vanilla custard, and nice details of clove and nutmeg. The palate pours big and bold, bursting with fruit alcohol and a face slap of spicy, peppery rye. While it’s a touch hot, the reveal of 53.7% makes this forgivable. A generous splash of water unleashes more flavor, baking spice, and aniseed on the finish.
Savage & Cooke Second Glance American Whiskey, 44%
Craft Whiskey | $38
A sourced whiskey of 95% corn, finished in wine barrels from winemaker Dave Phinney. This makes a super first impression, with Bit-O-Honey candy, eucalyptus, black cherry, cinnamon hearts, violet candies, and sandalwood. The flavors pour layered and complex, with clove-studded orange, flickers of rye spice, and pure, crystalline sweetness balanced with lemony lift. Laser-like spice, sweet caramel corn, and more floral notes dance across the long finish.
Wheated bourbon fans will enjoy this wheat whiskey with its distinctly bourbon nose of sweet cornbread and new oak, topped off with mint and pine aromas. It starts soft on the palate, but flavors build nicely as it rolls along, delivering graham cracker, citrus fruit, pecans, and cake batter. It remains really fresh and lovely, as caramel corn and drying cocoa powder emerge on the finish. A well-crafted and easy-drinking alternative to bourbon.
This is sure to be a divisive edition, but once you open your mind to the idea, it’s hard to argue with the titillating aromas and seductive sweetness that curaçao casks bring. Resembling a bourbon liqueur, the nose is replete with tangerine, orange peel, tropical fruit, and nougat. The palate circles back to classic bourbon notes that manage to find balance with the candied orange nose.
Top notes of spearmint and green apple part to reveal deeper nuances of golden raisin, saddle leather, varnish, and pine resin that suggest some maturity. Bright apple meets blazing spice on the palate, reminiscent of applesauce cake or warm spiced cider. The finish really soars, adding layers of tropical fruit and toasted banana-nut bread and licorice.
A bold nose smacks of sweetness and deep layers of leathery oak and toasted nuts. The palate pours sweet initially, with earthy dried apples, citrus, and bread crust, before the bitter citrus pith and tobacco notes rush in, turning dry and tannic, with tea leaves, dried herbs, and cigar wrapper. Finals wisps of varnish are a hallmark of age. This elder statesman deserves respect, but is nonetheless past its prime.
Generously oaked, with toasty oak drive delivering brown spices and earthy dried apple on the nose. The palate pours sweet and rich, with warm corn porridge underscored with dark molasses and maple flavors. There is a lot to like here, from the boiled peanuts to a spiced palate, as the young, house-made whiskey imparts its verve to the 9 year old Indiana bourbon.
A somewhat tight nose, with cocoa, spiced oak, brown sugar, and saddle leather; water reveals vivid vanilla and a bit of banana. The initial honeyed sweetness and chocolate-covered peanut cluster flavors quickly get brushed aside by the tannic oak and searing spice. Drinks a bit hot and hurried—with Szechuan pepper heat before a jolt of citrus oil. (18,000 bottles)
A characterful, if peculiar whiskey that suggests younger rye. Horehound, citronella oil, scented geranium, and lemon balm contribute to an intensely herbal, slightly antiseptic aroma. There is a compelling bitter edge to the flavor, like biting into orange peel, while the finish is intensely woody and mouth-coating. Not for everyone, but quite captivating and flavorful.
Lots of dried fruit, figs, and caramel lead off this bold but balanced bourbon, as dark berry fruits smack of sweet crème de cassis on the palate. There’s a good bit of spice here, like hot and spicy peanuts, that meets the sweet fruit and vanilla. Shows great length and nice polish on the finish with its dusty oak and cocoa.
The additional year of aging in new American oak is readily apparent in this blend of American whiskeys. Dry, toasty, charred oak takes the lead before cherry cough drop, cedar, clove, eucalyptus, and toasted nuts emerge. The red and blue fruits are met with a jolt of spice that will delight rye whiskey fans, before delivering earthy, leathery, tobacco leaf on the finish. Big in oak flavors, but not overdone.
The aroma is a mélange of sweet goodness, with violet candies, figgy dried fruits, and molasses cake that almost evoke a cane-like rum sweetness, as tobacco leaf, leather, and sassafras notes add depth. It’s a real roof burner on the palate, broad and mouth coating, offering a big blast of spices, cocoa powder, tropical fruits, and vanilla before the wood and minty herbs drive it to the finish line.
The nose smells wonderfully chewy, with buttery toffee, candied nuts, charred oak, cracked pepper, and a hint of fresh dill. The palate sings with electric spice and rolls along nicely with stone fruit, peppercorn, sweet vanilla, and leathery oak, each taking their turn before the slightly hot finish of oak tannins. A blend of 51% and 95% rye mashbills from Indiana’s MGP.
Gentle notes of lilac, sweet perfume, and rye bread are underscored by orange blossom, spearmint, and blueberry. Heaps of spice—clove and cinnamon hearts candies—will delight rye fans, as the mix of berry fruits and lively spices really comes to life with water, revealing bitter citrus pith, black pepper, vanilla, and a finish of generous char and tobacco smoke.
Bainbridge Yama American Single Grain Barley Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask, 45%
Craft Whiskey | $495
This high-end whiskey exhibits restrained oak, elegance, and delicateness, with wonderful poached pear, cereal, crème caramel, floral, and lemon chiffon cake aromas that yield to a bright beam of tart, mouthwatering citrus—clementine, lemon, and yuzu—tingling with allspice. Bright, light, and lively, but not lacking in complexity, finishing with marshmallow, toasted almond, and marzipan. Very pretty! American single grain whiskey aged in Japanese Mizunara oak casks.
A lovely balance of oak, clove, and sweetness come together on the nose, while the flavor shows both big impact and refinement. Oak-driven in style, with plenty of tannins and tobacco leaf, but the sweetness and structure stand up, pouring flavors of pecan, caramelized nuts, and toasted spices, with hints of pine before the persistent finish. A very solid and nicely polished bourbon.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Hickory Smoked, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
Instantly evokes buttered pancakes drowning in maple syrup, but on closer inspection there is a lot of depth here, with a distinct charred-hickory note that suggests smoked meat or back bacon. Flavors slowly steer closer to the Jack profile, with tropical fruit, grape soda, and Pez candies on the finish lingering with a note of spent tobacco pipe.
A highlight of the Basil Hayden’s line for its cherry cough drop and clove-studded orange flavors that nicely match sweet fruit with spice. There is some intriguing earthiness—suggestions of a mushroom-covered tree stump. The light-bodied palate delivers modest apricot, peppery oak, and vanilla, with sandalwood on the finish. Very nice flavors, just a bit timid.
This Tennessee-distilled bouron tastes of crusty cornbread leads off this sweet-styled bourbon brimming with Bit-O-Honey, Peanut Chews, and banana taffy. While the bold sweetness and stone fruits take the lead, there is enough tobacco-laced tannin and spice to back up and balance the initial sweetness, as char-grilled corn flavors take this across the finish line and make it decidedly more-ish.
Bit-O-Honey candies, spearmint, and beeswax introduce this seductively sweet whiskey. On the palate, more honey notes, green apple Jolly Rancher, and grape jelly continue the vivid sweetness, augmented by the sweet nuttiness of marzipan and honey peanut butter. A nicely executed and pretty whiskey, finishing with candied almonds.
Sweet bread pudding and cracked pepper are tinged with wintergreen and earthy oak, the alcohol strikes just a touch sharp. With water, banana, lemon, and vanilla cupcake sweetness appear. On the palate, lively citrus, white pepper, violet candies, and peanuts, before finishing with a tapestry of spices: ginger, allspice, and paprika. Characterful, well-proofed, and tasty stuff.
Sweet candy shop, nougat, and honeycomb flavors are underscored by some funky earth and mushroom notes. The palate is sweet and lively, delivering orange peel and subtle hints of baking spice. Overall a pleasant pour, with the only criticism that it feels rather light-bodied, with the oak a bit sharp. Adding water makes this bourbon feel underpowered and hollow, but it is a fine sipper otherwise.
Floral and minty on the nose, with dusty cedar chest and earth over red and yellow apple. The palate offers a decent concentration of flavors, with citrus oil, apricot, and mouthwatering juiciness. It’s nicely layered and well-balanced, but short on the finish. This whiskey has ranged widely over the years, and as a single barrel selection your experience may vary.
Oak-driven nose, where dusty oak floorboard meets light brown sugar and some herbal notes. On the palate this delivers tropical fruits, with hints of banana and papaya, and features a nice slick mouthfeel that succumbs to drying tannins, ending with nutty qualities and earthy forest floor. Simple and easy to enjoy.
A nose of cherry candies, rose water, spiced molasses cookie, candied nuts, clove, and nutmeg make a lovely first impression. On the palate it feels a bit soft, with butter pecan ice cream, banana, and toffee, as it strikes a balance of sweetness and spice. The finish veers toward earthiness, with tobacco barn and warming chili spice.
Broad, earthy undercurrents of cigar wrapper, dark fertile soil, and spice support the honeyed sweetness and vanilla of this big-screen bourbon. Overall, the sweetness is well-tempered by cedar humidor, tea leaf, root beer spice, and berry fruit combining seamlessly on the palate. Well-balanced and easy sipping. Best neat.
Stranahan’s “Yellow Label” Colorado Single Malt, 47%
Craft Whiskey | $55
While the aroma is tightly wound at first, it gradually reveals layers of brown sugar and warming spice, apple and pear fruits woven through with opulent toasted oak. The palate entry is soft and rounded but quickly picks up steam, with layers of biscuity malt, peppercorns, blackberry fruit, and a lovely salted butter note that brings nice balance to the finish. Fully mature, pleasingly complex, and it keeps getting better!
It would be easy to hate on this as bourbon, but taken merely as a whiskey, it’s compelling, original, and surprisingly well-knit. The nose betrays the smoke and sea of its Islay cask finish, while the palate offers more sweet vanilla, candied nuts, and citrus before circling back with distinct vegetal notes of seaweed and jalapeño. Perhaps bourbon is in the eye of the beholder.
Quite confectionery and billowing with fruity candies—banana taffy, bubble gum, Pixy Stix, red cinnamon gumdrops, and Swedish Fish. The palate offers black cherry soda, more banana, and a bit of grapefruit. Very fruity, with just enough oak to deliver a drying finish. Fans of Jack will be like kids in the candy store, with the added proof and intensity. (Travel Retail exclusive)
A perfumed nose of lilac, mint, orange flower water, and powdery Sweethearts candy introduces this pretty whiskey, as distinctive tangerine citrus meets papaya and tropical flavors. The malty palate is broad, sweet, and pure, delivering some bubble gum and confectionery notes. Very enjoyable, and almost juicy in its fruit bomb of flavors.
There is a freshness to the wood on the nose, laced with caramel and delicate minty notes. The palate pours pleasantly chewy with molten butterscotch and offers a pleasant jolt of cinnamon and clove that suggests rye at work, before settling on bitter orange peel, salted caramel, and cocoa, leading to a drying leathery and warm spice finish. Nicely done.
Nuts, plum, dried red fruits, plump berries, and oak on the nose, while the palate pours lush and fruity, with a sherry-like quality with pot still richness. Cigar wrapper, wet walnuts, and pine emerge to ride the wave of vanilla, soft malt, and spice-laced baked fruits. Offers the fruity allure of a Speyside malt coupled with American bravado for a long resinous and fruity finish.
James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye PX Sherry Finish, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $50
Cherry cola, sassafras, and root beer barrels meet sweet vanilla and roasted coffee aromas. The lavish oak almost feels double barreled, or small barreled, with its bounty of spiced flavors—cinnamon, nutmeg, mincemeat, and spiced poached pears. The finish deals more oak, laden with dark chocolate. Nicely executed, with some youth perhaps cloaked in there.
Virginia Distillery Company Brewers Batch (Batch 001), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $65
Delicate, floral, sweet, and reminiscent of a Lowland malt with its Creamsicle nose. Flavors of papaya, bright citrus, and green tea are nicely balanced with the perfect touch of smoke on the pleasingly oily palate, while the long finish smacks of baked apples, cocoa, and minerality. Wonderfully balanced and moreish, this is a happy marriage of Scotch whisky and Virginia single malt whiskey finished in a cask that previously held Wee Heavy style beer. (1,500 bottles)
Rose petal and grapefruit meet clove-like spice, but it’s the soapy floral sachet and dill notes that distinguish this rye. While it seems somewhat young, the generous cinnamon candies, spiced cherry, and red berry fruit pour lively and vibrant, with drying tannins, peppery spice, and green apple on the finish.
An aroma you can really chew on, this comes at you big and bold, its dried cherry, fig, and caramel flavors woven with pipe tobacco, licorice, and saddle leather. The jolt of sweetness and spice on the palate pour on and on. Water helps to temper the heat and release even more flavors, with currant, chocolate, and drying oak on the finish. Sourced Indiana bourbon finished in oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximenez, and Cognac casks.
Initial aromas of toasted nuts, nougat, and pistachio. Water releases cedar and sandalwood along with citrusy grapefruit notes. The palate is both earthy and sweet, with dried flowers, leather, and hazelnut. The medium finish offers a nice balance of classic rye flavors including baking spice, lavender, and zesty citrus. Best Value
Redolent of marshmallow and vanilla, this is restrained on the nose, but revels in pretty sweetness, with peaches and cream, ripe banana, and circus peanuts candies. On the palate, this collaboration with actor Matthew McConaughey betrays some of its Wild Turkey pedigree, capturing the house earthiness. For its modest proof, it pours a bit hot on the palate, with plenty of oak tannins, making it a nice sipper on the rocks or with water. Value pick
The oak juts out a bit in this otherwise fresh and pleasant bourbon, where toasted oak meets cake batter, Honey Nut Cheerios, and porridge with pecans. It’s lacking much in the way of a ‘wow factor,’ but following the slightly tart fruit palate is a redeeming finish, balancing tasty apricot and bright citrus peel with drying oak tannins.
This nose is all dry, earthy oak, tightly wrapped in rawhide, but underneath lurks plenty of sweetness, like overripe bananas, with the slight bitterness of citrus oils or orange pekoe tea adding balance. Pleasing coffee and mocha flavors also emerge on the palate, but the oak feels poorly integrated, with a green-stick quality. Finished for 4 months in a custom grooved barrel. (42,000 bottles)
Grand Traverse Ole George Double Barrel 100% Straight Rye, 46.5%
Craft Whiskey | $64
The quality is instantly discernable, even as the rye grain takes a back seat to layered aromas of cherry and dark currant, coupled with sweet notes of brown sugar and treacle underscored by fresh oak, toasted spices, and dark chocolate. Beyond its richness and depth, this beams bright and lively on the palate as grapefruit zest meets rye bread, followed by a finish of harmonized sweetness and spice. Aged 3 years in American oak; finished in French oak. (Distillery only)
A solid, basic bourbon, with pure sweetness, honey, marzipan, and wildflower notes. The sweet drive is nicely backed with drying oak on the pronounced finish, like sucking on a sweet and woody cherry Popsicle stick. A simple and enjoyable crowd pleaser, and smaller sibling to the Barrel Proof, our 2017 Whisky of the Year.
This light-hued bourbon is bright and airy, with tropical fruit aromas of papaya and lychee, vanilla, and sweet lemon curd. While not especially bourbon-like it’s interesting and super-likeable for its Bit-O-Honey candy and pleasingly nutty notes. Last reviewed in 2011.
Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon (Batch BCB17-1), 64.6%
Craft Whiskey | $80
The concentration here is impressive, as dates and raisins meet leathery oak that smells of a dusty tack shop, joined by some lovely cinnamon, clove, and spearmint. The intensity on the rich palate is face-melting, hot, and muscular. Sweet flan, caramel corn, and vivid spice succumb to a finish built for oak lovers, drying and a bit tannic, bringing the molten sweet flavors to an end too soon.
Exhibits the floral, rose petal, and fresh meadow character often found in St. George malts. The palate pours with white peach and apricot, coupled with warm cereal notes. A delicate whiskey that might have benefited from higher proof, but remains enjoyable for its lingering sweetness, elegant character, and unmistakable craftsmanship.
A true American single malt; the impression of new charred barrels distinguishes this from its Old World counterparts, while the creamed honey, caramel, and candied nuts keep the wood in check. On the palate, the wood influence delivers big vanilla and hints of smoky char, coupled with nicely concentrated flavors of Turkey Golden table syrup, fruit, and spice. A nice rendition of New World single malt, showing proof and gusto.
Lovely aromas of charred toast, nut bread, biscuits, fresh grain, rye spice, and some grassiness give way to a palate-coating sweetness, including malted milk balls, cocoa, and dark baking chocolate. The finish offers fine balance, with cherry fruit nicely matched with drying oak tannins and laced with sandalwood and spices. Vatted from 23 barrels, primarily bourbon and rye, though the malt component offers great backbone.
A host of sweet confections awaits in this whiskey, which appears to be Kentucky bourbon with some types of added flavoring. Big caramel gives way to angel food cake, crème brûlée, lemon chiffon, and batter. But it doesn’t stray far enough to resemble a flavored whiskey, delivering an oily texture and nice viscosity, oozing with apple, citrus, grape soda, and hints of leather. Not one for the purist, but enjoyable all the same.
Bright, delicate, and approachable. While not a showstopper, it delivers generous sweet fruit, almost candied red apple sweetness, along with floral and black cherry notes. On the palate, it shows modest structure, with notes of lemon and pistachio, along with gentle wisps of baking spice and sandalwood. A blend of two Kentucky straight rye whiskeys and two Kentucky straight bourbons.
Westland Garryana Single Malt (2016 edition), 56.2%
Craft Whiskey | $125
This holds real promise for the scotch lover. Interesting vanillin oak, peaty phenols, and adhesive bandage balance the generous, sweet malt foundation. Robust on the palate, but far from fiery, the mouth coating peat takes charge of the marshmallow-sweet malt, before dusty cocoa and dark chocolate win out across the long finish. Like other Westland efforts, this tries hard on many fronts and succeeds on some. It’s hard to deduce what the Oregon Quercus Garryana oak actually brings to the whole.
With 4 years 3 months of age, this is a fine selection, with poached pear, stone fruit, brown sugar, and floral aromas nicely integrated. At cask strength, it serves up a bold and spicy punch to the palate, with peppery notes that quickly overpower the dried corn, treacle, and caramel sweetness. A little water allows that sweetness to shine through before the slightly tannic finish of drying oak and black walnut. (Lincoln Road Package Store exclusive)
Pretty violet and floral notes lead the way, with herb garden and chocolaty oak draped over caramel chews. The creamy palate offers marshmallow and a candy store mélange of Jolly Ranchers and Swedish Fish, before the finely balanced oak comes in, meeting the sweetness with sandalwood and rye spice. A lovely effort that places balance above sheer power.
An intriguing nose of campfire smoke drapes the distinctive aroma of mesquite charcoal, dark toast with honey, and pretty floral notes. On the palate, the blast of initial sweetness gets swept up in burnt matchsticks, peppery heat, and wood tannins. A bit hot on the finish. This is a big, in-your-face, meaty whiskey that any barbecue brisket fan will relish.
The dried fruit, almost like Fruit Roll-Ups, quickly veers toward circus peanuts candy, taffy, and bubble gum, with notes of herbs— especially dill. The palate remains a bit of a fruit bomb, with banana, peach puree, dried papaya, and other tropical fruits, then clove and allspice add some complexity. A flavorful, if slightly peculiar bourbon dominated by tutti-frutti flavors and dill.
Fairly light in flavor, with warm cereal and honey notes laced with aromas of green herbs, chamomile, and spearmint. Seems well-crafted, but the flavors are generally understated, offering gentle sweetness and fleeting glimmers of baking spice. Modest body and a touch hot on the finish.
This malt whiskey shows some maple syrup and honey sweetness, but its character comes from savory notes of earthiness and wet leaves. The easygoing palate offers some stone fruit and sweet overripe banana, like a banana cream pie with graham cracker crust. But the finish circles back to savory and herbal, suggesting youth. A creative, if peculiar choice for Woodford, crafted from 51% malted barley.
The nose on this is lovely and seductive, with a gingerbread cookie quality coupled with leather and baking spices. The palate is lively and warming with root beer spices, but its character is overshadowed by the intensity of the toasted barrel, and feels just a bit hollow beneath all that lavish oak.
Once you get over any initial disappointment (there is no peat smoke), this is one engaging and mouthwatering whiskey; clean with malty cereal notes, golden raisins, bread dough, and freshly-sawn oak. The real clincher, however, is the captivating wisp of saline sea breeze echoing across a warming finish of cherry hard candies, rye spice, and salt brine. Medium-bodied, fresh, and delicious. (Distillery only) 375ml
Balcones True Blue Cask Strength Corn (Batch TB17-1), 68.3%
Craft Whiskey | $80
Baking spices, pipe tobacco, vanilla, citrus peel, cardamom, dried apricots, and dates unwind on the nose, carried by plenty of fresh oak. The potent palate explodes with up-front sweetness, laced with cocoa and maduro tobacco notes, but the chest-thumping herbal oak brings it to a quick and slightly bitter finish. A splash of water brings the elements into better balance as peach syrup sweetness starts to shine.
Oak-driven and tightly wound, with herbal licorice, beeswax, and dried peaches. There is a real outdoorsy quality here of forest floor, autumn leaves, and cut grass. But it feels somewhat tired and weary on the palate, then falls apart with the addition of water. Grab the older bottling (50% ABV). This release has dropped in both proof and quality.
This is a bold style of bourbon, finished in American brandy barrels and brandishing fiery spirit and sweet corn. Yet the beautiful sweetness, layered with butter and spearmint underscored by cedary oak, offers a lot to like, especially on the nutty-sweet finish, with its peanut and charred wood flavors.
Generous proof and just 3 years of age mean this is no wallflower whiskey. Peppermint, white flowers, leather, and Pine-Sol aromas turn gingery on the palate, revealing bold rye spice, root beer, licorice, cinnamon sticks, and pine boughs. Good intensity, if a touch brash.
Westland Garryana Single Malt 2|1 (2017 edition), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $150
Aromas of woodsmoke with hints of hot tar and rubber are draped over ripe berry fruit. Dark and somewhat brash, it comes off a touch hot, fully revealing its 100 proof, becoming more fruit driven on the palate, as sweet berry, buckwheat honey, and sorghum syrup give way to smoldering baking spice on the drying, oak-laced finish. More muscle than finesse, however the 21% Quercus garryana is revealing itself more in this second iteration.
Briney sea air, wet stones, and pretty wisps of campfire smoke give this a strong Scottish bent, while the medium-bodied palate nicely balances the sweet malt, salt, and smoke in a bit of salt water taffy. Showing nice complexity and balance overall, the finish smolders and evolves to become more herbaceous.
John Myer New York Straight Bourbon Single Barrel, 45%
Craft Whiskey | $42
Crafted from estate-farmed organic grain and aged for 2 years. The flavors are impressively seamless, with nice complexity and everything neatly in its place. Fresh oak is well integrated with notes of orange rind, rosewater, sweet corn, and red fruits. The slick, buttery palate sizzles with peppery spice—cinnamon hearts candies and ginger. Robust in flavor, while showing impressive craftsmanship and polish. 375ml
Lavish red fruit and sherry blanket this whiskey, initially aged in American oak barrels followed by 12-18 months in oloroso sherry casks, to approach 5 years age in total. It may be the light toast of the initial barrels that allows this wheat whiskey to stand up exceptionally well, developing seamless flavors of figgy pudding, walnuts, chocolate-covered raisins, cacao nibs, and maple candy, culminating in a finish that nicely balances fruit and leathery oak. Carries its proof nicely.
Craft skeptics will find this very aligned to mainstream bourbon, with its enticing nose of Peanut Chews candy, gooey caramel, and cocoa powder. The palate pours on sweet cornbread and marzipan, just a touch hot and slightly antiseptic, before the long finish of cherry and sweet vanilla. Lots of good stuff going on here.
Union Horse Rolling Standard Midwestern Four Grain, 46%
Craft Whiskey | $35
This amber-hued whiskey seems part bourbon, part single malt, offering a nose of sweet dried fruits —raisin and apples—heaped with earthy, leathery oak. The palate is enjoyable for its crème caramel sweetness and drinkability, but the drying oak is a bit heavy-handed, overwhelming the medium body. A serviceable and versatile whiskey for the price. Corn, malted barley, wheat, and rye.
Copperworks American Single Malt (release 001), 52%
Craft Whiskey | $60
The appealing nose features pretty biscuit notes, great purity of malt, and golden, honeyed sweetness, before adding some flavors of citrus blossom, clover, and cardamom with hints of licorice. On the palate, the initial sweet malt quickly turns herbal, with marjoram and a distinct sage note that lingers through a long finish of salt-tinged sweetness. Aged 2 years, 6 months in full-size charred oak.
This whiskey portrays its coastal origin with a lovely sea-air quality that vies for attention with brown sugar, beeswax, and delicate smoke notes. Gentle peatiness weaves through the cocoa-tinged honeyed malt on the palate, culminating in a smoldering finish, where the mouthwatering saltiness seals the deal. Nicely integrated and well balanced, with fine pot still character. A single malt of pale and peated malts, aged 7 years in bourbon barrels.
Initially restrained; as the nose opens up it reveals plum, red berry fruit, pine resin, and root-beer spices. The palate picks up a bit, slightly vinous in its red-fruit drive, herbal-cherry cough drop, and sweet vanilla, leading to a modest finish laced with licorice, cinnamon, and pine forest.
Violet candies, rose petal, and lots of fresh grainy aromas meet hints of candle wax on the nose. The palate is quite pretty and pure, and delivers good intensity of white pepper spice, citrus, and vanilla cream before a fairly short finish. Does not hold up to water, but there are some nice flavors here.
A veteran rye whiskey brand that flaunts the floral quality of younger ryes with its summer flowers, bright citrus, and lemon oil notes. A well-polished palate, with warm porridge, and grain notes that smack of peanut butter on warm toast. Nice character and balance, if a touch anemic at this proof.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection American Oak, 42.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $130
The nose is a bit hot and generally restrained, with dried leaves, earthiness, and waxy crayons. Light-bodied, very soft, and somewhat juicy. Stone fruit and grain flavors combine for an enjoyable peach-pie quality before the tannic finish.
Bright and lively, with violets, plenty of fresh oak, and traces of mint and pine, leading to a palate of butterscotch, bright citrus, warming spice, and sweet vanilla with drying and dusty cocoa. There is a glimmer of youth, expected given that 20% of this blend is their own distillery-made rye, aged less than 2 years. It’s an exciting glimpse of what’s to come, but the younger rye does little to enhance the great stuff they’ve been sourcing.
A delicate nose of golden raisin, Cracker Jack peanuts, pleasing citrus, and hints of clove. The palate is fairly straightforward in its honeyed sweetness and warm cereal notes, with hints of tobacco leaf. Not exciting, but enjoyable in an understated way and a nice leisurely sipper.
Very aromatic and pretty, with floral lilac, violet, and rosewater notes that follow through on the palate like a grandmother’s kiss. The perfumed soap and sachet qualities are underscored by oaky contributions of vanilla and crème brûlée. Perhaps not for everyone, but this shows another thoroughly enjoyable side of rye whiskey.
An intriguing whiskey, this smells like a flat, warm beer that was so good you still want to drink it the next day. Triple distilled from Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the hop notes are quite identifiable and really work well, imparting citrus, pine, and floral aromas. The palate is medium-bodied, with marshmallow sweetness, stone fruits, guava, and passion fruit, sprinkled with sea salt. Unusual, yet delicate, lively, and almost refreshing.
A host of sweet confections—caramel corn, candied apples, toasted marshmallow, bubble gum, and gobs of banana taffy—are reminiscent of a warm summer night at the fair. The palate speaks of orchard fruits, sweet golden apples, and poached pear, as hints of peach and cocoa appear on the clean, enjoyable, and succinct finish.
Hugely floral and perfumed on the nose, with rose petals, violet candies, and dried orange peel. This is the Gewürztraminer of American single malts—sweet lychee, laced with sachet aromas that explode as if opening Grandma’s dresser drawer. The palate is more tropical; dried pineapple, canned peach syrup, and spice. This could be polarizing, but it’s utterly captivating and worth a try.
Super floral with bright lemon and yuzu, this beams with originality, as violet candies, rose petal, and pine forest join the fray. The mouthfeel has a satisfying oily texture and a slightly tart, bright citrus lift before the creamy sweetness settles in, nicely balanced with drying oak tannins.
Floral and spice, including orange blossom and clove, this pours berry fruit on the palate before the chocolate malt balls set in. Seamless, nicely done, and certainly moreish, as the clean, drying finish gives way to biscuit, brioche, and pain au chocolat.
John Myer New York Straight Rye Single Barrel, 45%
Craft Whiskey | $42
Fresh oak, sweet malt, caramel, and spiced cherries flirt with cracked pepper on the nose, while the smooth and sweet palate offers up clean flavors of citrus zest, butterscotch, drying oak, and saddle leather. Pleasantly herbal and licoricey on the palate with a perky cinnamon-spice finish. Nicely executed. 70% rye with certified organic grain. 375ml
A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Cask Strength (barrel 48), 57%
Craft Whiskey | $78
An intense nose offers complexity with minty herbal notes, licorice, fresh-sawn oak, and peppery spice at the forefront, giving way to pithy orange peel on the palate. With a bit of water to subdue the punch, this becomes impressively smooth and fruity, revealing sandalwood aromas and offering a lovely, long finish of candied orange and sweet chocolate-covered cherries. 60% corn, 20% wheat, 10% rye, 10% barley.
An enjoyable 2 year old from Colorado, the sweet stone fruit nose, laced with mint and herb garden, betrays this spirit as a bit young and primary. Still a touch hot and lacking some intensity, but pleasing clover honey sweetness on the palate and long, warming spice with a cocoa finish bode very well for the future.
Driven by earthy oak and dark cocoa on the nose, this whiskey is alluring in its rustic richness, with saddle leather and a pocketful of dried fruit pulled from an old backpack. On the palate, the cherry and red berry fruit meet some pleasant peppery and clove spice, with the impression of lemon oil. Pleasingly drinkable, with caramel and more oak on the modest finish.
Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Straight Whiskey (Batch 1), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $45
This whiskey shows some green-spirit youth, but it’s headed in a good direction, with sassafras, toasted nuts, leather, forest aromas, and a touch of furniture polish. It’s much bigger on the palate, as burnt peanut candies meet baking spices, and treacle. The wood jumps out a bit and the fiery youth is undeniable, but plenty to like. (2,580 bottles)
J. Henry & Sons 5 year old Wisconsin Straight Bourbon (Batch 34), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $50
The nose offers a nice mélange of herbal and fruit notes, as pine sap, earthy forest floor, and menthol balance with sweet Bananas Foster and baked apple. More banana on the palate, plus juicy stone fruits sprinkled with cinnamon before a drying finish that nicely weaves cocoa, spices, oak, and saddle leather.
New Deal Distiller’s Reserve Oregon Straight Bourbon, 40%
Craft Whiskey | $40
Makes a pleasant first impression as sweet apple and corn notes meet summer flowers, Cracker Jack, and fresh oak. The palate shows a pleasingly oily texture, as butterscotch candy and roasted peanuts come with hints of spice and orange peel. The nutty finish shows toasted almonds and caramel.
Aromas of menthol, licorice, and herbs have a slightly antiseptic quality, yet the caramelized oak and grilled pineapple flavors keep it grounded in bourbon. Bold and intriguing on the palate, it pours a bit hot, with lots of cedar shingle and sandalwood balanced by banana and toasted marshmallow. Cinnamon and candied orange on the finish. A blend of Indiana bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys finished in red wine casks.
There is a rich and robust distillate lurking under all that oak, with chewy maple candies, chocolate-covered cherries, and rhum agricole intensity. The astringent oak does no favors for the heat of this 100-proof whiskey, but with its lingering dark chocolate and char it’s still a bold and tasty rye.
Limited by its obvious youth on the nose, but the fresh herb chiffonade character offers intrigue, with distinct sage coupled with some chamomile notes. The palate is a step in the right direction, with dark berries, spices, vanilla, and charred marshmallows, although somewhat light bodied and supple in texture. Young, but sweet and honest.
A blend of American rye, Canadian rye, and port. Gentle spice and sweet vanilla appear on the nose, but the impression of browning apple, wet leaves, and oxidized red wine are somewhat dreary. Simple and sweet up front, it feels thin, like fake maple syrup, with more sweet vanilla carried on a rather light body, almost resembling some rice whiskies.
Sweet vanilla, dried berries, and a soft display of woodsmoke introduce this whiskey. While notably improved from earlier bottlings, the sherry is still rendered a bit dull, like chocolate-covered cherries, as smoky cocoa nibs and the chewy malt meet on the palate, offering a honeyed finish with hints of baking chocolate.
Cereal grains, flour-dusted breadboard, fresh cut hay, horehound lozenge, and apple pie. The appearance of Fig Newtons cookie and toasted rye bread flavors nicely complements green peppercorn spice and an herb garden edge, with good length to the salted-caramel and sweet maple finish. Pot distilled from 100% Michigan rye and aged in full-sized barrels. It’s just a touch green, but drinking nicely and totally on track. More patience will pay dividends.
There is lovely freshness here, with sawn oak, bread dough, and baking spice aromas. Despite the generous 80% rye content, the malt component really comes through, offering good backbone, creamy caramel sweetness, and approachability. A streak of pleasingly peppery rye is balanced with sweet vanilla, leading to a lively finish with mint and chocolate malt balls.
John Myer New York Straight Wheat Single Barrel, 45%
Craft Whiskey | $42
Soft and sweet; ripe apricot, honeyed porridge, and sweet vanilla take the lead, with a palate that elicits warm peach cobbler sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. There is lots of freshly-sawn oak apparent throughout, but ample fruit keeps this whiskey juicy right through a pleasantly spicy finish. Fruit forward, smooth, and lovely; a real eye-opener for a whiskey of 100% soft white winter wheat. 375ml
A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Bottled in Bond (batch BBL #4), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $75
A nice jolt of violets, pepper, and sawn oak on the nose is underscored by some green stick and leafy sassafras notes, turning a bit more dark and chewy on the palate, with caramel, figgy fruit, green peppercorns, and a long and bold finish dominated by dark chocolate. Softens up nicely with water, and reveals more fruitiness.
Herbal, licorice, and cinnamon notes are initially quite alluring, but stifled by a slightly sour note peering through. Still, this is identifiably bourbon, with sweet corn drive, leathery oak, and cocoa coming together nicely before a warming finish of spice candies.
Seems to show good maturity on the nose, with nutty, herbal, woody, and husky grain aromas. The notes of warm porridge with brown sugar portend the sweet palate, almost cloying with ripe red fruits. Warm, chocolaty, and spicy, but the somewhat hot finish and dusty oak floorboard quality don’t leave the best lasting impression.
Oak-forward with gentle sweetness and light in body, this is a simple and enjoyable enough, with straightforward vanilla and toasted nuts. The finish is a touch astringent, as the drying oak tannins slightly overwhelm the modest fruit.
Some pleasant warm cereal notes emerge, like Quaker oats with cinnamon and brown sugar. The palate offers peanuts and spices, however young spirit juts out, with green stick and slightly antiseptic flavors out of synch with the ample toasted oak. Blind tasted twice with consistent notes.
Wheat has been swapped for oats in this release, but the agenda remains the same, a very primary whiskey with grain at the forefront and just a hint of oak roundness to the surprisingly creamy palate. Fresh flour, violet candies, hints of clove spice, and persistent sweetness, the palate gives the impression of warm breakfast cereal laced with banana and lemon, a testament to the quality of the distillate.
Sons of Liberty Uprising Pedro Ximénez Sherry Finish (Batch 2), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $30
The nose of this mahogany-hued ‘single-malt’ portends dense and chewy flavors of brown sugar, dates, and toasted walnuts. It’s a bit fiery on the palate, where it unleashes a rush of dried fruits, smoke, and spice. While some raw spirit character peeks through, this unconventional whiskey holds appeal for its originality, with a stout-like crescendo of coffee and mocha on the very long finish.
Pale gold in color. Generous oak imparts honeycomb, white chocolate, vanilla custard, and some mint notes that hint of a delicate, pretty bourbon. The palate is a bit deeper, displaying chocolate, berry fruit, and Bit-O-Honey candy; quite confectionary with sweet marshmallow fluff. A pleasing and interesting whiskey worth trying, but feels just a bit disjointed.
Mashbill of 47% corn, followed by rye, wheat, and barley. Aromas of golden fruit with grassy freshness (hay and floral notes) turn a bit more plump and juicy on the palate, with apricot, raspberry, and some tropical fruit—pineapple and mango—emerging. Orange-peel citrus character is lifted by white pepper spice before the oak-laden, leathery, drying finish.
Union Horse Distilling Reserve Straight Bourbon (Batch 1), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $37
Aged up to 5 years, this whiskey serves up lots of fresh, oaky sawdust with its caramel and toffee, along with some varnish notes. Aromas of spice and smoke lead to a palate of butterscotch, smooth and oily in texture, with robust, warming spice and a dry, leathery, and tannic finish. Nice maturity and polish for the price.
Sons of Liberty Battle Cry Oloroso Sherry Finish (Batch 2), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $40
Deep golden in color with a pinkish cast, this shows good purity of fruit, with red berry, black cherry, toasty oak, and some oxidative nutty notes layered across a creamy, malty palate. A nice grilled-fruit palate echoes with sweetness and charcoal smoke on the long finish. The sherry contributes a lot of nice character, but without more overall maturity feels a bit like window dressing.
Painted Stave Diamond State Bourbon (Batch 2), 47%
Craft Whiskey | $40
A coppery, auburn color betrays small barrels, in this case just ten gallons. The distinctive aroma of sassafras recalls rolling in a pile of autumn leaves, then quickly gives way to the apparent spice of a high-rye mashbill. The earthy and spicy qualities meld nicely, developing cedar box and sandalwood, wrapped in the sweetness of maple syrup, while the palate feels slick and buttery before a finish lingering with cinnamon and warm oatmeal cookie.
Union Horse Distilling Reunion Straight Rye (Batch 2), 46.5%
Craft Whiskey | $40
Made with 100% rye aged up to 5 years, this starts off surprisingly fruit-forward, with poached pear and zesty, clove-pierced citrus, though the wood is beginning to dominate. The palate fires up the rye spice, underscored by cocoa, turning hot with some adhesive notes and finishing with fresh cereal grain and bitter oak tannins. A wood lover’s whiskey.
Pretty fruit gets swept up in distinct anise and fennel-bulb aromas, with hints of mint and quinine, backed by vanilla. Very soft, creamy, and rounded on the palate, the peachy stone fruit comes nicely balanced with oak, sweet vanilla, and glimmers of nutmeg and clove spices before the cocoa powder finish. Well-constructed, smooth, and easy-drinking with a pleasant persistence of fruit.
A.D. Laws Secale Rye Mash 2nd Fill Oak (batch BBL #4X), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $40
The oak is nicely subdued and integrated here, allowing buttered fruits to show through—baked spiced apple and poached pear—laced with spearmint and bay leaf. The creamy palate is nicely balanced with baking spices of cinnamon and clove and hints of pepper, giving way to a pleasantly drying, chalky finish. Price is per 375 ml.
Very oaky, with a nose of fresh sawdust, but beneath lurk deep maple sweetness, pralines, and cherry cough drop. The palate is chewy, sweet, and nutty, with pleasing caramel and butterscotch, but is hurt by some peculiar varnish and furniture polish notes. Finishes with cherry, leather, and more oak.
The rye spice on the nose is big, broad, and aromatic, with allspice and clove in the mix, but there are some distillation issues, with a slight rubber-tire note of feints. Rich and viscous on the palate, it’s slightly hot, but shows really lovely spice and toasted nuts, turning oak-dominated on the finish.
Sweet and simple candied nose. Palate is thin, bright, and lemony, like a fluffy mouthful of sweet marshmallows, with hints of banana, circus peanuts candy, and gingery spice. Not especially complex, but pleasant enough.
Fresh and distinctly grain driven, like slurping warm breakfast cereal, but that malt purity also comes at the expense of complexity and development, with lots of grassy meadow, cut hay notes, that lead to a palate of husky grain and honeyed malt, before a finish sweet, young grass notes.
Despite the orange-amber color, green, stalky corn husk and bramble notes dominate this youngster, with secondary flavors of fruitwood smoke and warm cereal. The flavors are beginning to evolve nicely on the palate, as the fresh malt meets lots of dark chocolate before a savory snap of green stick returns on the finish. Malted barley, malted rye, and malted wheat.
The first legal rye from Delaware since Prohibition includes 65% rye and also 5% rye malt. Although showing some spirituous aromas of youth, this is one of the more precocious small barrel projects (10 gallon), with its sweet cinnamon candy and rye bread notes turning still spicier on the palate. Not terribly complex, but enjoyable.
Starts off quite confectionary, with sweet top notes of vanilla, crème caramel, and violets. The palate flaunts its brash youth, showing lots of primary, new make whiskey character, while carrying its 100 proof surprisingly well for such a young whiskey (aged less than 1 year), as the cereal grain, cinnamon spice, generous sweetness, and charcoal power through the palate. Young, potent, and unapologetic.
Soft, creamy, and corn-driven, with sweet stone fruit and char aromas up front. The palate delivers on the nose; simple, direct, and enjoyable, pleasantly soft and creamy, then turning slightly nutty with sweet praline sweetness and a touch of cocoa. While lacking in complexity and verve, it shows smoothness for a whiskey aged less than 2 years.
Pleasantly aromatic of oranges and dusty oak, turning more oily, chewy, and nutty on the palate, with honeycomb intensity. However, the tannins are quite aggressive, suggesting green walnut hulls and wooden popsicle stick.
Grassy notes and damp hay define the aroma of this young bourbon, while the palate offers good citrus and orchard fruits. However, there is a varnish note and stalky green character that hold it back. Needs time.
An unusual style, made from 100% wheat. Hints of stone fruit, brown apples, and molasses come cloaked in earthy aromas of saddle leather, woodpile, and husky grain. Shows well for its age, and quite smooth, but the oak dominates and aromas seem dulled, with vanilla, oak bitterness, and dark chocolate on the finish.
This whiskey pours light, sweet, and pure, with fresh bread and honeyed malt up front while displaying some evident youth to the spirit. The palate offers warm cereals, floral notes, Bit-O-Honey candy, and malty sweetness on the palate. Not especially complex, but delicate, clean, and pretty.
Rich copper in color, following just 55 weeks in a 17-gallon barrel at low proof (106.2), this whiskey is caught between youth and ambition, as flavors of leathery oak, earth, dried apple, and dates emerge to meet green twigs and briar, and some musty basement. Generous and broad-shouldered, this rye aims high, with solid structure and robust spice, but is overwhelmed by dusty, bitterly tannic oak on the finish.
Lots of char and burnt sugar on the nose, leading to some sweet fruit on the palate, with coffee and mocha on the finish. Vanilla cream candies are overwhelmed by a woodpile of oak, drying tannins, and heat that lack balance. Multiple tastings with consistent results.
Aromas hint at a bitterly astringent, almost burnt sugar smell, like green walnut hulls. While the body is full and rich, it’s simply too hot and young to make for pleasant drinking. The finish is long and spicy, but needs more time to mellow.
Wyoming Whiskey Private Stock Bourbon Unfiltered 6 year old, 56.55%
Craft Whiskey | $45
Generously oaky, with sawdust, horse saddle, vanilla, honey, and a chalky, mineral quality on the nose. The palate is mouth-coating, with a full-bodied punch of sweet fruit, caramel, treacle, and heat, but even with dilution, the astringent wood tannins, chalk dust, and dry leathery finish come on too quickly. The rare craft bourbon that might have been better a bit younger. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
Fruit driven, with banana and circus peanuts candies, florals, and violet candies, this turns more peppery and minty on the palate, where warm cereal meets some varnish notes with a bit of heat and slight bitterness that makes it feel a bit rough around the edges. 100% Montana and Canada rye, aged 2 years in full-sized barrels.
Distilled from corn, malted barley, rye, and flaked rye, and aged in small barrels with toasted orangewood chips. While this whiskey smacks of its youth, with green flavors of burnt cane stalks wrapped in orange blossom honey and charred marshmallow, there is something compelling about its primary spirit quality, freshness, and sincerity. A fine example of what it aims to be—young small-barrel whiskey.
Initial aromas of boiled corncob, sugarcane stalks, and burnt sugar give a suggestion of youth and slight bitterness. Dig a little deeper and the secondary flavors of honeyed fruit, green apple, lavender, vanilla, and fresh oak reveal potential. While clearly young, there is still a lot to admire in this soft and delicate wheated bourbon, with its hints of smoke and a mouthwatering saltwater taffy finish, possibly derived from aging in floating boathouses on Puget Sound. 375ml
Campfire smoke, fusel notes, green twigs, and rhum agricole give a rustic edge to this big and broad-shouldered whiskey. Full-bodied with an attitude, the sweet clover honey, oily character, and lingering burnt sugar bitterness feel a bit disjointed. Pot distilled and aged in charred oak for 3 years.
Great Wagon Road RUA American Single Malt (release 6, batch 10), 40%
Craft Whiskey | $47
There is a certain rusticity here, with a nose rooted in rhum agricole, sweet malt, honeycomb, butterscotch, and molasses, tinged with furniture polish and varnish notes. The palate is sweet and candied, with Bit-O-Honey, circus peanuts, and nougat, turning a touch chocolatey on the finish.
Aged in a combination of 25-gallon and 53-gallon barrels, Florida’s first bourbon since Prohibition is 16 to 28 months of age. The honor of being first comes with compromises—a youthful, spirited profile, with clear distillate lurking just beneath the heavy surface oak, dried fruit, and cocoa notes. Slightly hot, earthy, and leathery, with Robusta coffee and oak astringency on the finish.
Showing its youth through an obvious green character that peers from beneath a cloak of campfire and applewood smoke, with banana as the prominent fruit, along with secondary apple, citrus, and a peculiar rubber tire note. The palate is light-bodied and overtly sweet, with grass, marshmallow, and vanilla. Reminiscent of a Lowland malt, which only contributes to the disjointed feeling of the whole package.