Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof

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Distillery/Brand: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Bottling: Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 50%
Colour: Gold

Nose: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 22

Review
I’ve always had a hard time telling one bourbon apart from another. I mean they are essentially the same flavor profiles so it can be a bit tough. But this Rittenhouse Rye is possibly one of the strangest and most unique.

I just don’t know why.

Nose: Unusually fragrant with a pulpy tropical fruit quality. Over ripe jack fruit and soft dates. All on a bed of underlying molasses. Very strange. Not sure if I like it.

Palate: The strangeness continues. Burnt sugar on pudding layered with spicy banana slices. There is that over ripe jack fruit again but this time with a touch of aniseed. Not sure if a bourbon should be tasting like this. I’m still a little confused.

Finish: Oaky dry with a date and rice pudding mix.

Now this is not terrible but it certainly does take you by surprise. Do I want my bourbons tasting like this? I don’t know. I really don’t.

Rating: 86

Evan Williams 23 Year Old

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Distillery/Brand: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Bottling: Evan Williams 23 Year old
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 53.5%
Colour: Old Gold

Nose: 24
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
I’ve realized I managed to get quite lucky during my initial purchase period as a whisky drinker. I don’t know why I chose to invest in this 23 year old class act but so glad that I did.

Nose: A lovely clove marmalade on burnt toast with a side of caramel marchiato dusted with sweet cocoa powder. One of the finest noses I have ever come across.

Palate: Strong and creamy hot. Lots of dark chocolate, raisins and plums with a hint of cherries. I remember the first time I ever tried this bourbon – it literally evaporated off my tongue onto my palate. One of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had.

Finish: Seductively long with a woody cinnamon sprinkle.

This is an absolute beaut of a drink and re-affirms my faith in this world class distillery.

Rating: 94

Elijah Craig 18 Year Old

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Distillery/Brand: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Bottling: Elijah Craig 18 Year old
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 45%
Colour: Burgundy

Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
This exceptional bourbon from Heaven Hill Distilleries is from a single barrel (the Scotch equivalent of single cask) and has spent 18 years in one place becoming sexy. This was one of the first bourbons I had ever tasted and I was hooked!

Nose: Beautifully creamy and elegant. There’s french toast and toffee apples dipped in dark honey with a side of gorgeous vanilla infused roasted carrots.

Palate: The creaminess continues with a chocolate waffle and cherries mixture. But the balanced spices are what makes this special. Black pepper, cloves and cumin all come wonderfully together in tiny pinpricks.

Finish: Long with an oily oakiness and mild spices.

This is truly an exceptional bourbon and one of the oldest I’ve drunk. And let me tell you something. There was a fire 18 years ago at the distillery which wiped out most of the stock so don’t expect a new batch of 18 year olds coming out any time soon.

Rating: 93

Fighting Cock 6 Year Old

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Distillery/Brand: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Bottling: Fighting Cock 6 Year old
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 51.5%
Colour: Deep Gold

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
Bottled after a full 6 years in charred white oak barrels at 103 proof, Fighting Cock has the robust, full bodied flavor that I’ve come to love in a good solid bourbon.

Maybe not the most complex of flavors but possibly the most value for money whisky out there. Also has an edge as this one has rye replacing wheat in the mashbill.

Nose: Strong. Solid. Lots of caramel mocha and chocolate chips. A second wave brings in leathery tobacco with a nice vanilla clove spiciness. Classic aromas.

Palate: It starts with a lovely woody spiced clove and then mellows out to a mild maple syrup and cardamom infused dark citrus.

Finish: Long. Oily. Spicy.

This is a solid no nonsense bourbon and at a price which should allow you an unlimited lifetime supply.

Rating: 88

Bowmore Cask Strength

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Distillery/Brand: Bowmore
Region: Islay
ABV: 56%
Colour: Copper

Nose: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 23
Balance: 22

Review
I bought a case of this expression almost a year and a half ago at my Malt Society’s annual Christmas bash. It was very warmly received thanks to the cold weather and high ABV.

Now I didn’t think much of it back then; probably because I was too busy doing other stuff to really take notice. So tonight when I spotted a half-empty bottle in the back of my shelf I decided to pull it out for a swig.

Nose: It doesn’t say anything in the official literature but the sherry in this expression is enormous. There is the faintest of peat smoke on thick meat sausage. Followed by an earthy dark sugar sweetness with a handful of clove and gorgeous dried thyme; like crashing headfirst into a sweet spice rack. The aromas are made all that greater by the fine incense smoke that envelopes everything in a shroud of deliciousness.

Palate: Intense dark fruits and bananas sit on a bed of caramel and burnt sugar. The sherry, then, mixes in with screaming spices and woody cured meats. An extremely potent experience.

Finish: Once again the massive spices come through with burnt raisins.

This is a lovely malt which has become even better over time. At least I think it’s become better.

Rating: 90

Amrut Single Malt

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 46%
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
I have had a love affair with Amrut ever since I first heard of them a few years ago. They are easily the most intriguing brands out there. Young, exotic, brash and not afraid to take risks. And, boy, do they come out with some corkers!

And while we all go gaga over their insane experiments it’s this humble expression that started it all. Initially distilled and aged for just one year it was used exclusively in blends. However, a stroke of fate (and a blending decision) meant that there was a lot of unused stock left over. A decision was made to leave it for longer to see what would happen. The result? This particular liquid.

Made exclusively from Indian barley and matured in oak barrels this super young whisky (it’s between 3-4 years thanks to faster maturation in hot Indian weather) feels and tastes like a 12 year old!

Nose: Lots of salty sweet pineapples and lemon drops. The young age and freshness comes through a nice sugarcane, cucumber and coriander juice. The malted milk in the first couple of sniffs disappears and is replaced by a husky almond oak.

Palate: Strong like all Amruts tend to be. The lemon sponge cake is peppered with cumin seeds, husky nuts and a drizzle of fish oil.

Finish: Medium to long with it’s oaky white pepper in lemon mist.

This is not my favorite Amrut – only because my favorite Amrut is miles ahead of anything I’ve ever tasted. But if you want to be shocked and taken on an exotic journey then my advice would be to start here.

Rating: 88

Royal Lochnagar 10 Years Provenance

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Distillery/Brand: Royal Lochnagar
Region: Highland
ABV: 46%
Color: Sunlight

Nose: 22
Taste: 21
Finish: 20
Balance: 21

Review
There’s not a lot to say about this whisky other than it’s been bottled by Douglas Laing as part of the Provenance series. It is a Winter 2001 distillation and bottled in the Summer of 2011 from a single re-fill hogshead.

And it’ quite boring.

Nose: Shows initial promise with it’s multi-layered approach. It’s young and sprightly like fresh cut grass. Coconut shavings and warm toffee mix in sweetly with lemon drops and something a touch floral.

Palate: Not as complex as promised. Minty greens, fennel slices and lemon drops roll around in a layer of coarse brown sugar and white pepper. It was all going well until a mysterious bitterness started creeping through and began to distract. This is a brand new bottle so to be fair I’ll give it a couple of months to see if that bitterness still remains.

Finish: Medium oily with a lot of spicy herbs. And that same irritating bitterness.

Move along folks. No fireworks here.

Rating: 84