Stagg JR – Batch 5

Stagg Jr,Stagg JR,Stagg JR review,Stagg JR tasting notes,Stagg JR - Batch 5,Stagg JR - Batch 5 review,Stagg JR - Batch 5 tasting notes,George T Stagg,Buffallo Trace,Buffallo Trace Antique Collection,kentucky,america,american whisky,bourbon,bourbon tasting
Distillery/Brand: Buffalo Trace | Region: America | ABV: 64.85% | Colour: Mahogany
Nose: 8.2 | Palate: 8.2 | Finish: 8.2 | Overall Score: 8.2

Review
I’m desperately trying to close out 2016 on a positive note. Personally as well as from a whisky review perspective. Of late it seems all I’ve been doing is getting angry at whiskies and their masters for letting me down. Some have in mildly irritating ways and others in much more spectacular fashion.

But the general aim this year has been to upset me and, along with fattening the books, they seem to have met their target. But I won’t let them drag me down to their level. No, thank you.

So while I do have some scathing reviews tucked away they’ll be better suited to the dawn of a new year. My objective now is to comment only on whiskies that make me happy until this dreaded year is finally over. I look forward to an interesting ten days.

And that brings me to the Stagg Jr.

For those who know me know that I am in love with the senior. It changed my perspective on how I perceived bourbons especially ones that came close to spontaneously combusting thanks to inhuman levels of alcohol strength. I’m talking 70%+ here ladies and gentlemen. To achieve a bouquet of flavours and balance in a beast that strong is almost an unfathomable work of art.

And that’s precisely what the Antique Collection is. A work of art.

The Stagg Jr comes from the same pedigree as the senior. Introduced back in 2013 as a younger alternative to the George T Stagg it uses a blend of whiskies 8 or 9 years old and the same mash bill – Mashbill #1. The recipe is pretty much a secret and all we know is that #1 uses less than 10% rye in the overall mix. As for the remaining grains I’m sure there’s a large percentage of corn and then some wheat. There could be some barley too. But I’m not certain.

Panned by critics when it first came out it was considered an unworthy alternative to the George. However, later batches saw the same set of non-believers warm up to this rather tasty barrel proof bourbon. I have sat in my glass Batch 5, recognisable by the proof hastily scribbled on the label. Mine sits at a wonderful 129.7 which, in layman’s terms, is around 64.85% ABV. My sample is from a half empty bottle opened just a week ago.

Nose: That familiar sweetness. Instantly took me to the George. Peppers. Black berries. Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Chocolate milkshake. Did I mention chocolate? Touch of black liquorice. Brown curry powder. In a good way! Burnt caramel marchiato. Breakfast toast. Ripe watermelon. Watermelon? Seriously? Quite drying with a ton of cooking spices on a dry forest fire. What’s not to like? 8.2

Palate: As you would expect. A nuclear explosion of pinpricks brought under control by a dark chocolate. Like a Lindt red chilly. Cherries. That smoke from that fire. Milk chocolate. Quite tannic. Dries mid-palate. The oak is quite pronounced. As are the spices. Not as sweet as I expected it to be. A hint of maple syrup. Feels youngish for some reason. But I love the strength. 8.2

Finish: Long. Long. Long. Oaky. And oily at the same time. Barbecue rub. 8.2

Overall Comments: First up let’s consider what is on offer here. A solid whisky made from the same recipe as the George. A touch younger, yes, but when you compare the price point it’s a no brainer. Pick this up for no more than US$60-70 (the later batches, of course) instead of mortgaging your children for the George T Stagg – that is, IF YOU CAN FIND IT! Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges but aren’t we all? In fact that’s what makes us so endearing, doesn’t it?

Overall Score: 8.2

Balcones Texas Single Malt

Balcones Texas Single Malt,Balcones Texas Single Malt review,Balcones tasting notes,Balcones Texas Single Malt,single malt tasting notes,single malt review,balcones distillery,Texas,america,Balcones Texas Single Malt tasting notes,Balcones Single Malt review,Balcones,Balcones Single Malt tasting notes,Balcones Distilling Texas Single Malt,Balcones Single Malt,Balcones review,whisky,single malt,whisky review,whisky tasting
Distillery/Brand: Balcones Distilling | Region: America | ABV: 53% | Color: Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 87

Review
The first two whiskies I had from Balcones Distillery were the Brimstone Resurrection and the Brimstone Blue Corn. Both spirits being uniquely treated to sun baked Texas Oak smoke.

The result was a truly unique flavor profile which can be best described as a spicy Texas campfire. Now for those of you who know me I’m a sucker for anything unique and anything that can challenge my palate and both of these wonderful whiskies ticked the right boxes for me.

With my curiosity piqued I got my hands on one of the very few single malts out of USA, the Balcones Texas Single Malt.

Chip Tate, the owner of this wonderful micro-distillery, uses a secret formula to mature his spirit – experimenting with used bourbon barrels of different sizes and ages to create his flavors.

The Texas Single Malt is distilled from Scottish malted barley called The Golden Promise. Produced by Northern Brewers this traditional strain has a sweet, clean flavor and is favored for making good Scottish ale.

My sample is from Batch SM12-10 (bottled 12/31/2012) and served at 53%.

Nose: So fruity. Lots of citrus. Floral. Light fleshy fruits. Banana. Apricots. Jack fruit. So much Jack Fruit it’s insane. Chocolate. More Horlicks. Fresh grass. Beeswax. Honey dew melon. And mango. This reminds me of a Yamazaki Distiller Reserve I recently tried. Like a tropical fruit basket.

Palate: Chili. Lots of it first up. Mellows out mid-palate with pink melon. Chocolate. Lots of oak. Fennel. Cumin. Banana. And there it is again. That jack fruit. That never-ending jack fruit. Such an overripe tropical fruit platter.

Finish: Long. Oak. Orange. Pink papaya. And the melon is back.

Now let me be honest. After the first two Balcones I had pegged this distillery to produce only highly smoked, insanely unique flavor profiles. However, this Texas Single Malt is more like a Scapa 16 and Yamazaki Distillers’ Reserve blended together.

That’s not entirely a bad combination but it doesn’t work for me given my first two experiences. One need not go to Waco, Texas to get this flavor profile. With some creative blending it can be found in Scotland.

Mind you, it’s not that bad but it certainly belies it’s heritage as a kick-ass Texan.

Rating: 87

Balcones Brimstone

Balcones Brimstone, Balcones Brimstone,Balcones Brimstone review,Balcones Brimstone tasting notes,Brimstone,Brimstone tasting notes,Brimstone review,Balcones,Balcones review,Balcones tasting notes,america,american whisky,texas,waco,micro-distilling,micro,distilling,balcones distillery,whisky,whisky review,whisky tasting,corn whisky,corn,blue corn
Distillery/Brand: Balcones Distilling | Region: America | ABV: 53% | Color: Dark Bronze
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review
Up until a few months ago I had not heard of Balcones Distillery. The brainchild of Texan Chip Tate this micro-distillery is only six years old and has already won a Confederate pickup worth of awards including a WWA for it’s Brimstone Resurrection bottling.

After managing to get hold of the award-winning sample I decided this micro-distillery was far too exciting to just pass up after one experience. They have around seven expressions all of which are under two years of age. Using mainly blue corn for distillation the unique spirit is smoked with sun baked Texas Oak giving it it’s signature charred barbecue pit flavor.

Balcones Brimstone is made with 100% blue corn and matured for just under two years in American Oak but only after it’s undergone a thorough Texas oak smoking. My bottle is from Batch BRM14-1 bottled on January 22, 2014 at a lovely 53%.

Nose: So unique. I have not nosed a whisky this different. Sweet diesel. Cinnamon. Garam Masala. Charred oak. Bitter chocolate. Red chilies. Barbecue pit. Burnt caramel. Digestives. Jute bag full of husky grains. Imagine sitting in the desert around a campfire.

Palate: Medium bodied. Red chilies. Bitter chocolate. Sour cherries. Smoked oak. Dried tobacco. Bitter marmalade. Red wine tannins. Leather. This is quite an intense delivery with the red chili leading the way. Sadomasochistically delicious.

Finish: Long. Herbal. Minty. Lots of wood. Husk.

I’m a sucker for anything out of the ordinary. Be it a creative process or unusual taste. And if something has both then it’s got me.

Can’t wait to get through the other expressions.

Rating: 90

Balcones V Brimstone Resurrection

Blacones Brimstone Resurrection
Distillery/Brand: Balcones Distilling | Region: America | ABV: 60.5% | Color: Dark Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 92

Review
I had never heard of Balcones Distilling until they won the WWA 2014 award for best American Whiskey. While I’m not a big fan of awards this time around I’m grateful to them for bringing this Texan distillery on to my radar.

When you think of Texas you don’t think of whisky. And, frankly, the only thing I know about Waco, Texas (where the distillery is located) is that a certain madman by the name of David Koresh burned down a ranch along with a lot of people.

Luckily now I will begin to associate Waco, Texas with pretty awesome whiskey. So thanks to Balcones for that.

Started only five years ago Balcones is the lovingly built brainchild of a certain Mr Chip Tate – can’t get any more Texan than that! Hand-built pot stills and a unique smoking method are responsible for this unique tasting corn whiskey.

Legend has it that one fine day Chip managed to burn a heck of a lot of corn at the bottom of his stills. Rather than throw it away he decided to use it. But not before he subjected it to his rather unique method of smoking the spirit with Texas Scrub Oak and then aging it in heavily charred barrels.

The result is the award-winning Brimstone Resurrection (get it?) released to commemorate the distillery’s 5th year of operations. This is a spirit that can only be described as a raging Texas campfire.

Nose: Completely scorched! Burnt leather. Dry barbecue meat. Clove. Ginger. Nutmeg. All spice. Cigar box. Let it breathe and it gets sweeter. Molasses. Baby ginger. Figs. Spicy Fruitcake. Cherry cough drops. All treated to that heavy Texan oak smoke. Wicked.

Palate: Seriously intense. Very woody cocoa. Peppers. Fruitcake. Java coffee beans. Nutmeg. Dry fruits. Figs. Raisins. All charred. All smoked. All fantastic.

Finish: Long with herbs. Wood. Cocoa. And did I mention smoke?

Powerful dram that is only three years old with a limited run of around 155 bottles so count your self lucky if you have one of these bad boys.

I’ve not tried any of the other Balcones offering but you better be sure I’m going to.

Rating: 92

Four Roses Single Barrel

Four roses single barrel, Four Roses Single Barrel,Four Roses Single Barrel review,Four Roses Single Barrel tasting notes,four roses,four roses tasting notes,four roses review,america,american whisky,america,bourbon,bourbon tasting,four roses,single barrel
Distillery/Brand: Four Roses | Region: America | ABV: 50% | Color: Copper
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 94

Review
It’s been a while since I put a good old fashioned bourbon on the tasting block. Five months to be exact. No real reason other than getting swept up in my single malt purchases and ignoring this spirit from the West.

For some reason I always get grief from my whisky club about my love for American whisky. Not that they’re snobs or anything. It’s just that I organized a bourbon tasting one night and, let’s just say, things got out of hand.

The following morning was a barrage of half coherent phone calls blaming my generous pours and the Devil that was inside this damned spirit for their complete lack of motor skills.

Sure guys. Blame the bourbons.

I’ve had my eye on Four Roses for a while but just didn’t get around to picking one up for the bar. Good thing I did. I’m quite proud of my growing bourbon collection and the Four Roses makes for a worthy addition.

My sample is from Barrel 69-6W from warehouse ME bottled at a perfect 50% ABV.

Nose: Howdy pardner! So many aromas all working together in near perfect harmony. Maple syrup. Chocolate fudge brownies. Overripe oranges. Espresso coffee beans. Black licorice. Burnt caramel. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Oak. The longer you nose the more aromas you get. In the interest of space I had to stop.

Palate: Brilliant delivery. Controlled at 50% which I think works beautifully. Oaky at first before getting sweeter mid-palate. Honey. Molasses. Cherries. Dark plums. Chocolate caramel. Black peppercorns. Cinnamon.

Finish: Satisfyingly long. Touch bitter with vanilla and black peppers.

As a recent practice I’ve been drinking the actual whisky while writing my review. For some reason this review has taken twice as long. You figure out why.

Rating: 94

Parkers Heritage 6th Edition

NewImage

Distillery/Brand: Heaven Hill Distilleries
Bottling: Parkers Heritage Collection
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 68.95%
Colour: Old Sauternes

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

Review
Ok so here’s the deal. I love Parkers Heritage. And I’ve managed to put Editions 3,4 & 5 safely on my shelf for all to admire. I remember first purchasing the 3rd Edition wondering what I was getting into and then proceeding to get blown away.

This 2012 Sixth Edition features select barrels of 11 year old Heaven Hill rye-based Bourbons mingled with select barrels of the wheated mashbill Heaven Hill uses for the Old Fitzgerald line, also aged for 11 years.

The rye-based Bourbon was pulled from the 4th floor of Rickhouse “R” in Bardstown, while the wheated Bourbon aged on the topmost 7th floor of nearby Rickhouse “T”.

I’ve always felt mixing rye with wheat is a tricky exercise because they tend to fight or cancel each other out. But not here.

Nose: BIG. Lots and lots of vanilla and sticky sugar. The sweetness then mellows out and gives way to chocolate almonds and coffee beans which is quite delicately enveloped in a fine mist of rose water.

Palate: The experiment seems to have worked! The rye and wheat manage to stand out independently from each other. There is big oak smeared with dark berries and cocoa dust rubbed with an equally dusty cinnamon clove. The delivery belies the alcohol strength though adding a drop of water gives it a drop of caramel. Quite fantastic actually.

Finish: Very long. Very oaky. Lingering spices.

This is such a class act of balancing high strength alcohol with flavors that truly work. And for me the real joy is seeing those two grains work so well together.

Rating: 94

Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof

NewImage

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