Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: 2001 Chateau de Briat - 14 Year Old

I'm really excited about this one.  The tasting notes from K&L made this sound big and bold but at 14 years there should still be some essence of the fruit left.  In general K&L knocks it out of the park with their Armagnac selections, let's see if the streak continues.

2001 Chateau de Briat - 14 years old, 47%, $70

Taste:  There is a lot going on in here.  Sweet light caramel up front which gives way to red fruits like strawberries and sweet raspberry.  The fruit is in balance with the oak.  I get cherry on the finish.

Conclusion:  This is pretty good.  It doesn't taste young, but it also doesn't taste old.  It is pretty balanced, there is fruit and there is oak but neither dominates.  From start to finish though it is on the sweeter side.  It is never cloying but the sweetness reminds me a bit of a Cognac, not quite that extreme but in the general direction.  I'm going to need to spend some more time with my bottle before deciding if this is a reorder or not.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: Suntory Whisky Toki

Summer is the perfect season for blended whisky.  Blended whiskey can be light and refreshing.  When it gets hot a lighter blended whiskey really hits the spot.  I don't drink a lot of it but I generally enjoy it when I do.  Johnnie Walker Black Label is a stand by for me when I'm at a bar with a limited selection.  As much as I enjoy Black Label though I don't think anyone does blended whiskey better than the Japanese which is why I was so excited to try the Suntory Whisky Toki.

Suntory Whisky Toki - 43%, $45

Taste:  Initially on first sip this is sweet with the soft vanilla of the grain whisky coming through and a little apple.  Then the smoke hits, not a lot but just enuough to let you know it's there.  The smoke never really fades but this transitions to a sweet, juicy white grape.  The finish is sweet and ashy with a little lingering white grape fighting with a bit of vanilla for attention.

Conclusion:  This is a really interesting blend.  It's light but still has some boldness.  This is a good, easy drinking summer whisky but has enough boldness to keep things interesting.  I really like this and will go back for more.  The price is reasonable for the quality, this is a blend that I would have no problem stocking in my bar on a regular basis.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

Bernheim Wheat Whiskey - 7 Years Old - 45%, $30

Taste:  Light and mellow.  This is fairly two dimensional, if I didn't know better I would think the proof was closer to 80, this has the smoothness and the muted profile of a whiskey of a lower proof.  There is a light caramel and some vanilla.  A touch of brown sugar.  More vanilla on the finish and the oak keeps things dry.

Conclusion: This is easy drinking and pleasant.  This is a good summer whiskey, not too bold but fun to sip.  There are a lot of bourbons and ryes I would rather have over this wheat whiskey but it's uniqueness as a wheat whiskey is worth something and for that reason I'm glad I have my bottle.  This is a whiskey that I enjoyed more for educational reasons than pure sipping.  This would fit nicely in a tasting as an educational element to highlight the effect of wheat in a bourbon or as a counterpoint to a rye.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Maker's Mark Private Select

Maker's Mark Private Select - 55.65%, $70

The Private Select is Maker's Mark's new barrel proof offering,  It is similar to Maker's 46 but it is a single barrel program for stores who get to choose the staves that are used.  Traditional Maker's 46 staves can be used but there are also several other choices that impart different flavors into the bourbon.  Each barrel will use ten staves and stores can choose from five different options when choosing each stave.  In the photo to the side you can see the selections that were made for this barrel.

Tasting Notes:  Wow this is really drinkable for the proof.  This is soft and creamy with loads of vanilla, like vanilla taffy.  There is a bit of cinnamon spice but it's in the background mostly.  This has a nice viscous mouth feel.

Conclusion: I'm going to have to do a side by side with the standard Maker's Cask Strength one of these days.  I liked the original Cask Strength but remember it being bigger on the cinnamon with an almost red hots like taste.  I get much less of that here.  There is a little bit of cinnamon but it's in the background, vanilla is the featured player here.  This is quite different from the standard Maker's Cask Strength, the aging with different wood staves really does impart a difference.  I'm not sure that I like this better than the standard Maker's Cask Strength but it's certainly good.  For the price difference though I would stick with standard Maker's Cask Strength.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Review: 1996 Giboin Fins Bois Cognac

1996 Giboin Fins Bois Cognac- 2015 bottling - 40%, $55

Nose: The nose is very light.  Slightly floral in a perfume sort of way.  I pick up some alcohol and a hint of oak with a little bit of butterscotch,

Taste:  The initial entry is light.  It is very easy to drink, It has a bit of acidity which with the lightness makes this kind of refreshing.  There is a little green apple in here and a bit of butterscotch on the finish which lingers nicely.

Conclusion: The price for this is very fair but it suffers from the proof.  I would love to try this at a higher proof as it seems a bit muted at 40%.  Still, this was light and crisp with a bit of acidity that makes this a great summer Cognac if there is such thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: 1994 Chateau de Pellehaut 20 Year Old Armagnac

1994 Chateau de Pellehaut 20 Year Old Armagnac - 2014 bottling - 48.5%, $70

This is one of my all time favorite Armagnacs.  Pellehaut was my first ever taste of Armagnac and the first bottle I ever purchased.  I have a certain nostalgia due to that but I also love the style and value of Pellehaut.  Pellehaut is a bourbon drinkers Armagnac.  They bottle at higher proof than most Armaganac producers and their expressions tend to be big, bold and full of oak but well balanced all while being very reasonably priced,  Pellehaut is a mark of quality, I have never been disappointed by anything from them.

Nose: This is extremely fragrant with a beautiful nose.  First up is caramel, then it's the fruit, candied orange and peach.  Oak is there too along with a little bit of cinnamon.  This nose packs a punch and I could smell it all day.  This makes my mouth water.

Taste:  It's like there is a party in my mouth.  Big thick honey flavor, sweet toffee.  This is sweet up front with an undercurrent of oak that keeps it balanced and helps structure the big body.  This is full of flavor.  The sweetness gives way to oak and finishes dry but this is never astringent.  The oak is extremely well integrated.

Conclusion: This is big, bold and flavorful.  Drinking this is like going home again.  It reminds me of why I first fell in love with Pellehaut and Armagnac.  This was worth every penny and then some.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon (Green Label) - 6 Years, 90 Proof

Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon - 6 Years, 90 Proof - $10

Nose: Caramel, bread pudding, orange, a little black pepper.  The nose is a bit faint

Taste: This is a bit thin.It's surprisingly dry with a lot of oak given it's age.  I get a lot of oak tannin which gives way to some bitterness.  There isn't a lot of sweetness to balance it all out.  This is spice forward, I get some cinnamon, not a lot but it's there.  It finishes with oak and some toffee.

Conclusion: Often with cheap bourbon it tastes young and corn forward but this didn't.  There was a lot of oak in here and a good amount of spice, there was very little sweetness.  This won't knock your socks off but it was good, drinkable neat or suitable for mixing and is a nice juxtaposition from some of the other cheap bourbons.  This was well worth the $10 it cost.