About – “This year’s edition features a seven-year-old straight bourbon finished in French Armagnac barrels. The new release brings a soft leather aroma with hints of honeydew melon, vanilla notes on the palate with hints of burnt orange and dried plum. The finish is toasted coconut with lingering oak making for a well-rounded, deeply satisfying bourbon.”
“When I began working on this limited edition, I knew I wanted to finish our bourbon in a cask and I was
looking for one that would add complexity and a dimension that expands the flavor profile,” says Steve Beam, master distiller at Limestone Branch Distillery. “Armagnac is a rustic, full-bodied spirit that contributes dark fruit notes, complementing the vanilla notes in the bourbon. Just like a chef adds spices to enhance flavors, I believe cask-finishing should be similar, where it simply enhances the natural flavors in the bourbon.” Approximately 5,000 cases are being produced. Yellowstone 2020 LE is bottled at 101 proof and has a retail price of around $100.
Nose – Oak and spice make a quick first impression. That is followed up by ripe melon. The combination leaves me with licorice on the brain. The longer it sits the melon becomes even more prevalent.
Palate – The melon from the nose is coming across in a big way. Just a splash of fresh melon to start things off. There is a nice oak structure backing that up adding a slight funk and brings that classic vanilla note along with it. There is a bit of nutmeg leading into a slightly spicy and oak tannin laden finish that is medium in length.
Score – B+
Verdict – With this release Limestone Branch achieved exactly what Steve Beam set out to do. The Armagnac finishing has give a big lift of fresh melon to the classic bourbon notes. All in all it hits me as a refreshing combination, something that would be perfect for spring/summer front porch sipping. Yellowstone has also changed their bottle design for this release (pictured above) in a way that is much more striking visually. I have felt in the past that Yellowstone LE’s are unfairly passed over by a lot of people. I remember enjoying the 2018 release in particular. All in all this is a limited edition that is fairly easy to come by and not outrageously priced. I recommend picking this one up if it fits into your budget.
About – “A blend of straight Bourbon Whiskeys distilled and aged in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. The whiskeys used in this blend are 9,10,13, and 15 years old, and all have been aged in American white oak barrels.” Barrell Bourbon Batch 24 is bottled at 113.9 proof and retails for around $80.
Nose – Brightness hits first with citrus that skews towards orange. Behind that is a touch of sawdust. There is some must present that indicates some well aged whiskey in this blend. Cinnamon shows up on the backend along with a faint pear that shifts to apple as it opens up.
Palate – Much darker than the nose. Deep brown sugar or almost a burnt sugar dominate early on before the cinnamon starts to come in. The minerality that is often associated with Dickel sourced bourbon comes behind that. As you keep drinking the burnt sugar shifts more towards a caramel on the mid palate. The finish is long like most Barrell blends and is spicy cinnamon and oak.
Score – B
Verdict – Barrell’s blends never disappoint me and Batch 24 is no exception. It isn’t up to the level of some of the more prolific award winning blends, but is well worth the cost of admission. If you are someone who has passed on offerings from Barrell Craft Spirits because you are unsure if it is worth the price, I am here to tell you it is. Considering the amount of high aged whiskey used in their blends, I consider it to be priced accordingly in the given market.
About – “The fifth expression in the Noble Collection is a rare stock of our Canadian Rye crafted from 90% rye mash whisky. Carefully aged in charred American white oak barrels for no less than 16 years. The aging process intensifies the complexity while also mellowing the finish. This remarkably smooth and layered whisky is hand selected from our reserve stock, revealing its noble roots with every sip.” This 16 year rye is bottled at 90 proof and is available nationally for around $55.
Nose – Soft, sweet stone fruits and vanilla are followed by the typical spearmint that you get from high rye mashbills. There is a bit of spice that lingers in the nose beyond that.
Palate – A big splash of juicy fruit greets you on the palate. A really solid and well developed oak structure is there backing everything up. The rye spice picks up as it hangs around on the palate leading into a medium finish that shifts from rye spice to oak and spearmint.
Score – A
Verdict – This is just a phenomenal rye. The juicy fruit splash on the front end just makes me happy. This is one instance where a whiskey being proofed down doesn’t come across as a negative. If there is anything negative to say, it doesn’t have a huge level of complexity. That being said, the flavors here are outstanding and come across in a big way. If you told me this was from Crown Royal there is no way I would believe it. I highly recommend putting your Crown bias aside and picking up a bottle of this stuff while it is still around.
About – “Distilled, aged, and bottled in Kentucky, Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a rich, elegant mahogany hue; a nose which balances oak tones with sweet notes of dried fruit, caramel, and vanilla; and a palate that opens with soft tannins. A creamy, almost buttery mouthfeel is complemented by butterscotch notes and toasted oak, resolving with a vanilla finish. At 90 proof, there is a slight, welcome bourbon heat. The bourbon is bottled in a replica of the Prohibition-era Chicken Cock bottle.” Retail price is around $60.
Nose – Bright with orange peel and cinnamon. There is some corn behind that followed by vanilla that comes in slowly before becoming the dominant scent. As I dig deeper there is some ripe banana in the mix as well
Palate – Sweet and creamy as it hits the tongue with loads of vanilla. Toasted nuts follow behind that and the orange peel from the nose makes a faint appearance as does the banana note as well. Finish is short and sweet
Score – C+
Verdict – It is light, sweet, and fairly enjoyable overall. I would be shocked if there wasn’t some percentage of Barton in here with the faint banana note that keeps popping up. This is a good choice if you are looking for an easy drinker or a good introductory bourbon. I also dig the bottle. It just doesn’t match up with what I am looking for, especially given the $60 price point.
About – ““This limited release, previously only available in small quantities at our National Historic Landmark distillery, represents the purest expression of the bold taste that has made our original Wood Finishing Series Bourbon so beloved,” said Rob Samuels, Managing Director of Maker’s Mark in a letter to fans. “It’s as close as you can get to sampling Maker’s Mark 46 right out of the barrel in our limestone cellar.” This Limited Edition has been released to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Maker’s 46. This is the first time that the cask strength offering has been available outside of the distillery. This batch is bottled at 109.6 Proof and retails for around $60.
Nose – Interestingly raisins are the first that I pick up followed by vanilla and cinnamon. There is a rich custard filling out the background giving it a bread pudding vibe.
Palate – Buttery as it hits the tongue. Light brown sugar, toasted vanilla, cinnamon that swoops in and out. The raisin from the nose shows up on the backend with toasted oak. Finish is cinnamon and toasted oak. A bit dry.
Score – B
Verdict – Another strong release from Maker’s Mark. Kudos to Maker’s Mark for branching out a little and giving people the cask strength releases they have been asking for. It is a really enjoyable release. What holds it back from being great is the biggest complaint with Maker’s….Age. The toasted oak comes through nicely, but it would really benefit from the addition of a little funk to round it out. It would really work wonders with this flavor profile. We will keep our fingers crossed for that, but in the meantime Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength is an enjoyable pour for the price. It is also one of the easier to find limited releases. Don’t hesitate to pick one up if you come across it.
About – “We took the sweet softness of our Huling Station Straight Wheat Whiskey, and blended it with the bold warmth and complexity of our Huling Station Straight Bourbon to create something unique.” This 50/50 blend of high rye bourbon and wheat whiskey is one of two new releases from Old Dominick the other being the straight wheat whiskey that is used in this blend. It is bottled at 100 proof and will set you back around $45-$50.
Nose – Stewed pears. It has a very pleasant syrupy sweetness that is backed up by a prominent baking spice.
Palate – Starts off with a butter note. There is some funk in the mid palate, but I just can’t put my finger on it. Behind the funk is some vanilla that is quickly overtaken by a sweet cinnamon leading into a medium finish that is straight Red Hot candy.
Score – C
Palate – This blend comes across disjointed to me. It melds at times, but most of the time the profiles of the two whiskeys seem to be competing. It is an interesting pour and I have gone back for multiple pours trying to figure out what is going on. There is nothing bad going on here. The flavors are enjoyable I just think a bit more could have been done with the blending to make this a more cohesive product, and lend to a better drinking experience.
About – “Like existing Wood Finishing Series offerings Maker’s Mark 46 and Maker’s Mark Private Selection®, the 2020 Limited Release was purposefully crafted by finishing fully-matured, cask strength Maker’s Mark in secondary barrels containing the proprietary wood staves. The barrels were then rested in the Maker’s Mark limestone bourbon cellar where the cask strength bourbon interacts with the staves, before being mingled together to develop the expression’s unique flavor. This year’s limited offering differs from its 2019 predecessor by utilizing two stave styles – one drawing on vanilla, the other on caramel – that when married together yield a rich Maker’s Mark reminiscent of butter pecan. The multi-stave approach was the result of more than twelve months of experimentation with Maker’s Mark barrel producer Independent Stave Company. The first stave in the 2020 Limited Release, SE4, is made from Virgin French Oak, convection cooked at medium heat with a short toast period and responsible for much of the caramel flavor. The second stave, PR5, is made from Virgin American Oak and convection cooked at low heat very slowly over time to bring out vanilla.” Bottled at 110.8 proof, each 750mL bottle of the Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Release will retail for a suggested $59.99 and will be available nationwide beginning in September, while supplies last.
Nose – A nice toasty baking spice right out of the gate that puts me in an Autumn state of mind. Behind that is a really rich vanilla and bright caramel that really round things out nicely.
Palate – Rich toffee jumps out along with the rich vanilla from the nose. It has a borderline creamy mouthfeel. The toasted staves show up on the middle palate as a bit of that baking spice from the nose starts to come in as well. The spice leads into the finish, but doesn’t hang around long. The medium length finish really lets the toasted oak shine along with a touch of cherry.
Score – A-
Verdict – Accentuating the vanilla and caramel was the goal here and they achieved that in spades. The nose gives me that great Autumn feeling, the rich toffee and vanilla on the palate are extremely pleasant, and the finish does a surprisingly good job at accentuating the toasted oak staves. The only thing lacking for me is a touch of complexity. This is a great release and highly recommend it buying one if you have the opportunity.
About – “After years of hard work and dreaming and more hard work and more dreaming, we’re almost ready to send out our baby—our flagship spirit, which we’ve been perfecting for years. Our new Straight Bourbon, made from 100% Texas-grown corn, rye and malted barley, is the distillation of all we are, and of all that has created us—an expression of true Texas terroir.” Still Austin uses a mashbill of 70% Non-GMO white corn, 25% rye and 5% malted barley. They use a slow-water reduction method adding a small amount of water the barrel each month instead of just cutting the proof down at the bottling time. Still Austin Straight Bourbon is aged at least 2 years, bottled at 98.4 proof, and costs $45.
Nose – The rye comes across in a larger way than I anticipated. Caramel and vanilla go nicely along with the rye spice. This definitely falls in the realm of a traditional bourbon nose.
Palate – The first thing I notice is the nice creamy mouthfeel. Apricot comes across first followed by a wave of nutmeg. A touch of clove passes through on the mid-palate followed by sweet corn. The nutmeg turns into cinnamon heading into a medium length spicy finish.
Score – B
Verdict – Hats off to still Austin. They have managed to put out a two year old bourbon that tastes better and has more balance than a lot of 4-6 year old bourbon in the market today. This is a fantastic release and shows all the promise of a distillery heading in the right direction. This is a strong contender for craft bourbon of the year, and I highly recommend picking up a bottle if it is available in your area.
About – “In 1789, Elijah Craig discovered greatness when he first charred oak barrels to make Bourbon. Today, we honor his innovative spirit with Toasted Barrel: a unique expression that is charred to start and toasted to finish. This expression takes our award-winning Small Batch and finishes it in a second, custom toasted barrel for an added layer of sweet oak complexity. The result is a 94-proof Bourbon with notes of baking spices & chocolate, and a long, smooth finish.” This new release in the Elijah Craig joins the list of other distilleries with a toasted barrel finished bourbon. Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel is an allocated release and comes with a retail price of $60.
Nose – The toasted element is there, but not as deeply as with other toasted barrel products. Along with that is a rich toffee and baking spice. If you dig a little deeper there is a chocolate note that comes out as well.
Palate – Chocolate leads the ways along with graham cracker that comes in on the mid palate. There is a good amount of oak that comes in towards the back palate and is joined by cinnamon and nutmeg leading into a medium length sweet and spicy finish.
Score – C+
Verdict – In comparison to to other toasted barrel bourbons, particularly Woodford Double Oaked, this release just falls flat. I would venture to say that Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel has spent less time finishing in that toasted barrel. I wish they would have really swung for the fences on the toasted element instead of trying to stay down the middle of the road. I am sure a lot of people will love this release, but after tasting it I wouldn’t feel bad if I had missed out on getting a bottle.