Distiller: Mitchell & Sons. ABV: 40%. No age statement, estimated 8-9 years. Price: $50.
Can a 40% ABV Irish pot still whiskey renowned for its delicacy still knock the socks off a sipper living in a barrel-strength world?
It can if it’s the Green Spot.
From Dublin’s Mitchell & Sons, this 8-9 year old pure pot still blend is 25% aged in sherry casks. K&L Wines whiskey guru David O-G says it’s “solidly considered one of the world’s great whiskies.” Now I know why.
Subtler than the Redbreast, but every bit as delicious. Give it 5-10 minutes in the glass. Copper, wildflower honey, jasmine in bloom, Oloroso–a touch. Hot damn.
They got this one right. And it’s getting around. Jump on it and learn just how good Irish whiskey can be. – BO
Producer: High West. Distiller: LDI/Four Roses. 46% ABV.
High West’s American Prairie Reserve Bourbon is a mix of 6-year-old LDI juice and 10-year-old Four Roses. Surprisingly sweet entry with cinnamon and oak, then a drier finish. Curious oatmeal note after some time in the glass.
Solid but unspectacular, especially next to knockouts from High West like the Bourye family. High West donates 10% of post-tax profits to the American Prairie Reserve. Cheers! -BO
Producer: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. Distiller: undisclosed. 57.15% ABV. Age: NAS (estimated average of 15 years). Mashbill: undisclosed. Price: $55-65.
This one doesn’t mess around.
Noah’s Mill from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (Willett, Michter’s, Johnny Drum, Black Maple Hill) is a high-powered, widely available small batch offering that formerly carried an age statement of 15 years old, but in the way of many things, has gone the no-age-statement route. The producer says it’s currently a mix of 4- to 20-year old bourbons, with a similarly wide range of mash bills in the mix, from wheaters to high-rye juice.
It shows. Massively complex with a fiery bite at first, then toffee, vanilla bean, cloves, woodbark. Loads of oak and a touch of bitterness on the finish. Takes water very well, and evolves in the glass in a fascinating way.
Easily available in most markets, a fair value even as an NAS, and for my money, a must-try. A whiskey seller friend tells me that he offers it to many folks looking for presents for their whiskey-drinking friends, and they turn it down because the bottle “doesn’t look special enough.” Don’t make their mistake. Your whiskey-drinking friends will thank you. – BO
Buy Noah’s Mill Bourbon online at Mash + Grape
Distiller: Buffalo Trace. 50%. Mash bill 2 – like Blanton’s and ETL – meaning relatively high rye of 12-15%. NAS but estimated 8-10 years.
Wow. Went to my local planning to grab the Elmer T. Lee and somehow this called to me instead. So glad it did. Rock Hill Farms single barrel from Buffalo Trace. Think of it as Blanton’s Plus.
Corn sweetness, baking spice, rich, mouth-coating, and with a kick. A few drops of water and it comes alive even more. Blanton’s was one of the first bourbons for me, as for many others, that woke me up to what American whiskey was all about.
While I’ll never turn down a Blanton’s – and that little horse makes me happy all by itself – this is a step up in terms of depth and richness. Hats off, Buffalo Trace! – BO
Producer: Willett. Distiller: MGP. 51.7% ABV.
Ran across this in the sports-barriest place you can imagine that could possibly be carrying something this interesting. Which is to say: I was surprised. And it was underpriced, given the $150+ retail cost of the bottle. And I’d noticed the bartender had a heavy hand. So I dove in.
Willett’s XCF Experimental Cask Finish is a 7-year-old MGP rye aged 90 days in Curacao casks (the bitter orange distillate that goes into Grand Marnier). Explosion of fiery orange off the bat. Rich, but with surprisingly little heat. The orange rind at the end of your old fashioned.
As it sat in the glass, the syrupy brandy notes grew stronger, though it retained enough range and rye spice to call to mind the Bulleit Rye, itself an MGP product with some dry orange notes.
Overall, it’s a curiosity I’m glad I tried, and would recommend for the adventurous — maybe as a cordial or digestif — but I won’t be hunting for a bottle at the price. Cheers, friends! – BO
Distiller: Craigellachie. Region: Speyside. 46% ABV. Age: 13 years. Price: $55-60.
A favorite dram of 2015 that tastes just as good in the New Year. From the heart of Speyside, Craigellachie is one of the few single malts distilled with a worm tub condenser, giving an extra weight and density to the spirit. Long a staple of blends, it’s only recently available in single malt form, as part of John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts lineup. (Royal Brackla, Aberfeldy, Autmore, and The Deveron round out the lineup.)
Coppery, buttery, and dried apple notes on the nose. Recalls Redbreast in a very nice way. With time, more malt, bourbon-barrel, and hints of cocoa. Burst of spice on the palate. Shortbread biscuits, a little Chardonnay wineyness. Waxy and viscous on the palate, but with a sense of clarity through it all. Lingering spicy finish with a hint of white smoke.
It’s not the kind of dram that knocks you out the way an A’Bunadh or Uigeadail does, but it’s consistently satisfying–and it lingers in your mind hours later the way a great melody does. And each time you revisit it, it offers more nuance.
It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Speysides. Check out our thoughts on the 19-year-old version, and stay tuned for a writeup on the 23-year-old too. Sláinte, friends! – BO
Buy Craigellachie 13 online at Mash + Grape