Tag Archives: mgp

Barrell Rye Batch 1 Review

Barrell Rye Batch 1 – Producer: Barrell Craft Spirits. Distiller: MGP & undisclosed Tennessee distiller. ABV: 58.5%. Age: 4.5 years. Mashbill: see below. Price: $80.

When it comes to bourbon and rye whiskeys we all have our favorites, but sometimes there’s nothing like satisfying the urge to try something new and different. The question is where do you go to find that “something different”?

The previous batches of Barrell Bourbon have been a part of my answer to that question, so I was eager to give the new Barrell Rye Batch 001 a go.

Although Barrell is in the process of building its own distillery in Louisville, it continues to do an amazing job sourcing and bottling cask strength whiskeys (and rum) from different distilleries. Each batch is a unique blend of whiskeys that provides a new experience with every release, and this inaugural rye batch is no exception.

This is a unique blend of rye from MGP and an undisclosed Tennessee distillery. There is a higher component of the MGP rye, which has an interesting 51% rye/49% malted barley mash bill.

Sweet caramel, toffee and butterscotch lead on the pleasant nose and are followed by a soft rye spice. The palate has a similar sweet and spicy profile but there’s an additional complexity of malt and citrus. As the palate transitions to the finish, the familiar MGP mint notes become evident and intermingle beautifully with the malt flavors. The finish is a little subtle but quite sustained with rye spice and malt.

For its first rye batch, Barrell could have released your typical and familiar sourced rye, but instead we get something both different and delicious. Cheers! -JTR

Barrell Craft Spirits graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Craft Spirits online at Mash + Grape

High West Bourye 2017 Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46%. Age: 10+ years. Blend: it’s complicated. Price: $80.

A few years back, Baldo and I sat down for lunch in my town of Evanston, IL. The restaurant, a very good and basic Italian, had High West’s Bourye as an option. “Grab it,” Baldo said, “you’ll love it.”

Well, it’s two years later and I can’t say he was much off the mark. The 2017 version of the Bourye is a blend of straight bourbon and ryes ranging from 10 to 14 years old, all from MGP. There’s a high-rye rye, a low-rye rye, and a high-rye bourbon in the mix. (Got all that?) And like previous releases, it’s got a welcoming profile that’s good for the novice and experienced consumer alike.

You definitely get that rye on the nose, but there’s also vanilla, raisin, and a hint of blackberry. The palate is really nice, with an initial nutty overlay that’s quickly conquered by the swelling fruits of blackberry, raspberries, and a touch of currant.

I wasn’t mad for the finish, which was too abbreviated for me, but I quite like this one overall.

My main quibble is the price point. I like the whiskey enough where it could be a staple of the collection on taste alone, but it’s just not an $80 whiskey to me.

Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy High West whiskey online at Mash + Grape

High West graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Redemption Rye Review

Producer: Redemption. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46%. No age statement. Grain bill: undisclosed (likely 95% rye, 5% malted barley). Price: $30.

The holidays tend to jam me up a bit. One second, it’s Halloween and I’m growing my holiday beard, the next it’s February 3, the beard is gone, and I’m realizing that I’ve got a logjam of photos and reviews with which to bless the whisk(e)y world.

So today, we’re discussing Redemption Rye. Now, I’ve made little secret that I think Redemption’s plunge into the world of barrel proof whiskies left much to be desired. All heat, no heart. But I truly dig their flagship whiskies.

The rye, which comes in a nifty new bottle (as do all their classics), is distilled by Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana, the spirits giant that also sources rye to Bulleit, Dickel, High West, and many small non-distiller producers.

It has a nice floral nose that isn’t afraid to allow the spice to show a little leg. On the palate, there’s a touch of mint that I have always dug, which dances ever so nicely with that carnival caramel corn and baked orange that I’ve come to associate with Redemption. And I do love the finish. It swirls and leaps at the front, before settling in for a taste that at the very end reminds me that maybe it’s time for another dram.

It’s not a fancy whiskey, and my general love for it goes against my overall mixed feelings of the MGP factory products, but what can I say. The heart wants what it wants.

So here’s to an evening sipping an old friend and being quite happy to do so. – TM

Redemption kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

High West Midwinter Night’s Dram Review

Producer: High West. Distillers: MGP and Barton. ABV: 49.3%. Age: see below. Price: $100.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: High West is sourced whiskey done right. (Yes, they’re distilling too, quietly and in no rush, though when they’re ready to release something of their own, I have a feeling it’ll be worthy of the name they’ve already made as a bottler.) Their selection of stocks, often from the ubiquitous MGP, is excellent, and their instincts for blending and barrel finishes are all but unerring.

Witness the latest Midwinter Night’s Dram. It’s High West’s justly praised Rendezvous Rye–a blend of 6-year-old MGP rye and 16-year-old Barton rye–finished in port and French oak barrels, bottled at a potent 49.3% ABV. They apply the Shakespearean conceit to the release numbers on the Mindwinter’s: this is Act III, Scene I.

The core of it is every bit as good as the recipe suggests: the finish adds a round, raisiny warmth to the bold rye notes of the Rendezvous. But there’s more to it than that. Think late-season grapes in the afternoon, heavy with months’ worth of sunlight–and the green vine, and the dusty leaves, and even a bit of the wood from the arbor. Evolves and unfolds in the glass for as long as you’ll give it. Cabernet-soaked oak and slightly bitter blackberries on the finish.

The best finished rye I’ve ever had. Willett’s XCF was an intriguing entry in this genre, but I’d pick the Midwinter’s over it, hands down.

Bring on the blizzard–any month of the year. Cheers, friends! – BO

High West kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy High West Whiskey online from Mash + Grape

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7 & Barrell Whiskey Batch 2 Review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7 – Producer: Barrell Bourbon. Distiller: undisclosed TN distillery. ABV: 61.2%. Age: 5 years. Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley. Price: $70-80.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 2 – Producer: Barrell Bourbon. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 61.9%. Age: 9.5 years. Mash bill: corn, rye, malted barley (proportions undisclosed). Price: $70-80.

Two exciting new releases from Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon, whose reputation for impeccable taste in sourcing and bottling true single barrel, all-cask strength bourbons and whiskies is growing by the day–and justly so. (See our Joe Beatrice interview here.)

Batch 7 of his bourbon is the youngest yet at 5 years, and Batch 2 of the whiskey has an intriguing sherry cask finish. Let’s dive in!

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7

The nose immediately dispels any concerns that this one might be too young. It’s a straight-up flavor bomb, starting with carts full of sweet toasted tobacco. Dark fragrant oak. Cinnamon. Mint playing at the edges. With a few drops of water, it brightens. With more–and the high proof leaves lots of room to play in–it really comes alive, with the oak blooming into cedar.

On the palate, the oak and mint blend into white pine sap, behind which are baking spices galore: nutmeg and ginger especially. Sweetness and tannins play along the long finish…baked apple with a little char on the bottom.

The image that kept popping into my mind was of a lacquered box. It takes a fair bit of water to open it properly, but the goodies inside make it worth the effort.

Bourbon Whiskey Batch 2

Cask-finished American whiskies are more common than they used to be, but I’ve never had one done this well.

The nose has the bright buttery baked-goods notes familiar from other excellent Barrell bottlings of MGP whiskies–think fresh challah with a golden crust. But then! Utterly bewitching velvety warmth from the sherry cask.

A little water unlocks roasted cocoa beans, along with pleasantly musty mature barrel notes common in 21+ year old single malt Scotches. The palate explodes with buttery MGP goodness and sherry fruits–dry at first, then juicier with time and water. Graham cracker and fresh tobacco. The finish  reintroduces each element one and at a time, letting you savor the whole experience over again in a slow fade.

Amazing how well the sherry flavors integrate. It reminded me of the Kings County Peated Bourbon in this respect: there, the toasty flavors from the peat blended in so well, I wondered whether a blind taster would identify the presence of peat at all. With the Barrell Whiskey Batch 2, I wonder whether a blind taster would identify the finish as sherry–or just beg for a second pour.

Two more excellent outings from a man who loves what he does, and does it damn well. Cheers, friends! – BO

Mash + Grape kindly provided samples for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Bourbon online at Mash + Grape

High West 14-Year-Old Light Whiskey Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46% ABV. Age: 14 years. Price: $100.

The whiskey world’s first diet product? Not quite. “Light whiskey” is a long-standing U.S. spirits category that’s essentially the halfway mark between straight whiskey and neutral grain spirits. It’s distilled at 80-95% ABV, comes off the still with far fewer flavor compounds than straight whiskey, and can be aged in used or uncharred new oak barrels. Light-bodied, light flavored, and far more often a component in blends these days than a freestanding product–especially at a time when whiskey enthusiasts want juice so dense you can stand a spoon in it.

High West often sources from MGP, as they did in this case, acquiring 10 barrels of MGP light whiskey (99% corn, 1% malted barley) that was aged 14 years in second-fill (bourbon?) barrels.

My only previous experience w light whiskey was from Mosswood Distillery, an interesting outfit in Oakland, CA, that ages 4-year-old MGP light whiskey in a variety of barrels, from apple brandy to espresso.

Those are delicate spirits with delicate finishes. The High West 14-year-old packs more of a punch. It starts with a hot nose with big corn and coconut notes. Then comes the sweet baked goods, hot buttered brioche, fresh challah–interestingly reminiscent of the Barrell Bourbon Whiskey Batch 1, another MGP-sourced product.

Palate’s sweet, with more body than you might expect. Not bourbon density, but a light syrup feel. Vanilla and coconut. Maple. Candied banana. By the time we hit the finish–a touch too sweet more my taste–I’m craving the balance some oak tannins or a flavor grain would bring.

I think there’s potential for the light whiskey category that we’re only glimpsing so far. This particular release isn’t for me, especially at $100 a bottle. Still, High West is doing things right as usual: experimenting, pushing boundaries, and offering full transparency along the way. This release is distillery-only for the time being. If it catches on, though, I’m sure we’ll being seeing more of it around.

Hope your Saturday’s a tasty one! Cheers, friends! -BO

High West graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy High West Whiskey online at Mash + Grape