Your search returned 28 results.

95 points

Willett Family Reserve, (Barrel #81L31), 25 year old, 45.1%

Very mellow, silky in texture, and on the sweet side for mature bourbon. It’s not bold like Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old, which has much more oak spice and resin. Willett’s foundation of molasses and toffee is accentuated by candied fruit, fig, dusty corn, and tobacco, with mint tea, cinnamon, and vanilla peppered throughout. It’s perilously drinkable. I am impressed how these 20-plus year old Willett rye and bourbon whiskeys maintain their balance and keep the oak in check. Splendid ultra-mature bourbon. (Less than 100 bottles of this were sent to California, and not all the same barrel. Happy hunting.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

95 points

Willett Family Reserve, Barrel #81L31, 25 year old, 45.1%

Very mellow, silky in texture, and on the sweet side for mature bourbon. It’s not bold like Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old, which has much more oak spice and resin. Willett’s foundation of molasses and toffee is accentuated by candied fruit, fig, dusty corn, and tobacco, with mint tea, cinnamon, and vanilla peppered throughout. It’s perilously drinkable. I am impressed how these 20-plus year old Willett rye and bourbon whiskeys maintain their balance and keep the oak in check. Splendid ultra-mature bourbon. (Less than 100 bottles of this were sent to California, and not all the same barrel. Happy hunting.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

94 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

The other whiskeys in the Antique Collection get all the attention but, for the past few years, Eagle Rare 17 year old has been very impressive. This year’s edition features vanilla taffy, caramel almonds, maple syrup, and candy corn, with balancing notes of polished leather, summer fruit, a dusting of cinnamon, mocha, and soft mint. The flavors are nicely integrated with good depth. A rock-solid effort that will not disappoint.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

94 points

The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1976 vintage, 53%

Very spicy and complex, with incredible depth. Once again, this 30-plus year old whisky proves the aging ability of Balvenie. Still quite vibrant and invigorating for such maturity. The classic Balvenie honey note is there, but more reserved, along with graham cracker, vanilla wafer, citrus peel, raspberry (red and black), nectarine, and polished oak. Long, spicy finish. Another outstanding Balvenie Vintage Cask. Although, I look at the price and remember how shocked I was when the Balvenie vintages were selling for $400.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

93 points

William Larue Weller, 62.65%

A significant improvement over the previous release in 2007, which I felt was the weakest of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection that year. Wheated bourbons, like William Larue Weller, lack the bold zing of rye, and therefore are vulnerable to being too tame, too easygoing, like the 2007 release. What wheated whiskeys gain in drinkability, they can lose in vibrancy and zest. The distiller might want to augment this, and a good way to do this is by increasing the oak impact (spice, resin, balancing dryness), as was done (quite masterfully, by the way) with this new expression. Sweet notes of vanilla custard, maple syrup, Demerara rum, shortbread cookie, and marzipan are balanced by raspberry jam, cinnamon, nutmeg, teaberry, and gentle oak resin that lingers on the finish. Great balance, too!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

93 points

Glenmorangie Astar, 57.1%

Astar’s flavor profile is similar to Glenmorangie 10 year old in many respects, showing a superb balance of sweetness, fruit, and spice. It’s not as subtle as the 10 year old expression, but it is creamier, richer, and fleshier, with loads of honeyed vanilla, coconut cream pie, toasted almond, vibrant spice (cinnamon, mint), and a basketful of citrus and summer fruits. The fact that it is bottled at 100 British Proof (57.1% abv) just accentuates every flavor and helps to make this whisky quite invigorating. Imagine Glenmorangie 10 year old with a shot of testosterone. I don’t rate very many ten year old (or younger ) whiskies over 90. This whisky has certainly earned it.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

92 points

Compass Box, The Peat Monster, Reserve Edition, 48.9%

Compass Box Whiskies celebrates the fifth anniversary of The Peat Monster by thinking big: bigger intensity, put into a bigger bottle. This bold whisky is packed with Islay and coastal character, showing tarry rope, brine, and a hint of seaweed, along with teasing smoked olive, anise, and mustard seed. There is some civility to the whisky: sweeter notes of vanilla wafer, baked apple, ripe peach, and cream attempt to soften the blow. Smoke and tar on the finish. Nicely done. (Price is per 1.75L.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

92 points

William Heavenhill 225th Anniversary Edition, 63.8%

Aged for 225 months (18 years, 9 months). Only 225 bottles available, and only at one location: Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, KY. This is a lot of money for a bourbon, but if you do buy a bottle, you’re going to enjoy it. It’s spicy (especially on the nose), with cinnamon bark, spearmint, and nutmeg. The spice is balanced by an array of sweeter fruit notes (bramble, ripe orchard fruits), vanilla custard, fig, molasses, cola, and charcoal. Soft on the finish. Very polished and well-balanced. It’s much more mellow when compared to Heaven Hill’s other recent ultra-premium release, Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

91 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac, 63.75%

Powerful, lush, and boldly spicy. A mouth-coating, invigorating rye whiskey with chewy toffee, fig cake, and candied fruit penetrated by thumping mint, warming cinnamon, and clove, ultimately revealing more subtle notes of allspice, coconut, and nutmeg. Long, delicious finish. An amazingly vibrant whiskey that lets you know you’re alive. The American whiskey equivalent of a young, cask-strength Islay single malt scotch or an imperial IPA.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

91 points

Glenfiddich 1977 Vintage (Cask #4414), 54.1%

Very elegant and refined. Obviously this whisky was aged in a pristine sherry cask. The flavors are quite clean and well-defined. Gently sweet and fruity, with golden raisin, candy apple, and red raspberry jam. There’s delicate pineapple, dried cherry, coconut, and vanilla too, with a polished oak finish. A very classy Glenfiddich. Not as bold and spicy as last year’s 1976 vintage (which I had a hand in selecting but, ironically, don’t like as much). This new vintage approaches the caliber of the 1973 Vintage release from two years ago which I still think is the best one in recent years.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

90 points

George T. Stagg, 70.9%

Stagg is so smooth, it’s quite drinkable at higher proofs. On the other hand, when you bring it down to the strength that you would normally drink your whiskey, it’s almost too easygoing (I made the same comment about last year’s William Larue Weller bottling). The main theme to this whiskey is lush toffee sweetness and, like last year’s expression, some vanilla fudge, nougat, and molasses. Underlying notes of dates, tobacco, dark berried fruit, spearmint, and a hit of coffee round out the palate. Given the higher strength, it’s a true value bourbon -- almost like getting two bottles in one. A very nice whiskey but, when brought down to comparable strength, the Eagle Rare 17 has more complexity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

90 points

Compass Box Hedonism Maximus

An older, more exotic expression of Hedonism, consisting of 42 year old Invergordon and 29 year old Cameron Bridge grain whiskies. Straw gold color. This is richer and cleaner than most other grain whisky offerings, which are often too thin and overweight with dry oak. Like many older grain whiskies, creamy vanilla, coconut custard, and a variety of tropical fruits abound. Additional notes of toasted marshmallow, caramelized apricot, golden raisin, and a gentle dried spice finish add complexity. Surely one of the better examples of this rather eccentric category.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

89 points

The Glenrothes, 1985 Vintage, 43%

Interestingly, this whisky was bottled in 2005, but not released until the end of 2008. (The brand manager tells me that they wanted to wait until the stocks of the current 1980s vintage (a 1987) were depleted. It’s fresh, lively, and uncluttered, glowing with bright fruit (mandarin orange, nectarine), lemon meringue pie, and a creamy vanilla sweetness that coats the palate. A gently dry oak finish with subtle anise and very dark chocolate. A perky Glenrothes, and a lot of fun to drink.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

89 points

Four Roses Mariage Collection (2008 Release), 55.7%

Silky in texture and gently sweet. This new “Mariage Collection” release shows a softer, more elegant side of Four Roses when compared to their other bottlings (including the most recent limited edition 120th Anniversary bottling, which was a much bolder affair). Notes of candied fruit, black raspberry, blueberry, creamy vanilla, cornbread, and chamomile tea. Delicately spicy too, with a polished oak finish. Clean on the palate and very drinkable. Four Roses utilizes a wide variety of mash bills and yeast strains, and has the ability to produce a diverse array of whiskeys. This “Mariage” offering is a good example.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

88 points

Knappogue Castle 15 year old, 43%

To fully understand this new offering, let me offer a little Knappogue Castle background. The first few vintages of Knappogue (not counting the original 1951 vintage, which was from the B. Daly distillery) were from Ireland's Cooley distillery--including 1990, 1991, and 1992. Then the whiskeys were sourced from Bushmills. The 15 year old, reviewed below, is from the original Cooley stocks. Consider it an encore performance. Knappogue Castle’s first non-vintage, and the oldest since the original 1951 vintage release. The whisky is from three different vintages -- 1990, 1991, and 1992 -- which were married together. I am pleased to see an older expression, because I have always felt that the previous releases, generally 10 years old or less, needed a little more time to blossom. Sweeter notes of peaches and cream, pineapple upside-down cake, banana bread, and vanilla wafer are balanced by a spicy, resinous dry finish. A textural whisky that coats the palate. My favorite of the post-1951 vintage Knappogues.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

87 points

Bruichladdich Sherry Edition Manzanilla 1998 vintage, 46%

The fresher of the two, with appetizing brine, honey, lemon rock candy, golden raisin, and peach. Subtle ginger, toasted marshmallow, and coconut round out the palate. Very bright and lively.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

87 points

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 45%

Deep and complex, yet still quite lovely for an 18 year old whisky. Not as a lush and sweet as its younger sibling (Thomas H.Handy), showing more oak, dried spice, and a certain degree of sophistication. Toffee and molasses are quickly matched and then dominated by notes of brittle mint, vanilla, cinnamon, dried fruit, and black raspberry leading to a long, earthy, resinous, polished leather finish. The last great vintage of Sazerac Rye 18 year old was 2005, which was impeccably balanced and still displayed great youthful qualities. The three vintages since then, including this one, are similar in flavor profile and, while still very nice whiskeys, show just a tad too much oak and lethargy to reach the classic status of the 2005 release.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

86 points

Bruichladdich Sherry Edition Oloroso 1998 vintage, 46%

Less appetizing brine and zing, and showing more “weight” when compared to its sibling. Sweeter notes of toffee, fig, and vanilla fudge lay the foundation for mixed nuts, black raspberry, plum, nectarine, and ripe red grape. A soothing dram.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

86 points

Signatory (distilled at BenRiach) 12 year old 1994 vintage, 59.5%

A peated version of Benriach that was also finished in a port pipe. There is a really nice blend of flavors here; a sweet malty foundation layered with ripe red fruit notes (raspberry, strawberry preserve, currant) and a firm blanket of smoke that goes on and on. All the flavors are bold, but they're equally balanced. Not a subtle whisky but quite entertaining. (Binny's Beverage Depot exclusive)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

85 points

Ancient Ancient Age, 10 year old, 43%

Not overly challenging. Stylish and very easy to embrace. I would introduce a new bourbon drinker to this kind of bourbon. Pleasingly sweet, with honeyed vanilla, graham cracker, candy corn, dates, and golden raisin. Subtle spice (cinnamon, mint, cocoa, and nutmeg), leading to a smooth, silky finish. I would love to see this at 45% ABV or even higher, as it comes across almost too soft. But for this price, I’m not complaining. A great value.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

83 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2008 release), 47%

A very hearty Birthday Bourbon. Richly textured with lush sweet notes of jammy berried fruit, coconut cream pie, and apple crisp, married with firm dry notes of fresh mint, warming cinnamon, and vanilla. Dry, polished leather finish. The oak-influenced dryness on the finish lingers longer than I would like, and the flavors aren’t integrated as well as last year’s version (which is understandable, given that last year’s release was Malt Advocate magazine’s American Whiskey of the Year). This is certainly an entertaining whisky. Save it for after dinner, though.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

83 points

The Balvenie Signature 12 year old Batch #1, 43%

Good, straightforward, moderately sherried Balvenie. Classic honeyed notes combine with vanilla, ripe barley, glazed citrus, apricot marmalade, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A nice entry level Balvenie, a solid effort.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

82 points

The Notch, 44.4%

Soft, gentle aroma, with notes of vanilla wafers, marzipan, and bramble. Continued soft, sweet, and creamy on the palate, with red and black currant, pear, subtle gin botanicals, and lingering anise on the finish. Good oak grit for such a young whisky, which helps to balance the sweetness. Fairly straightforward, as would be expected with such youthfulness, but very enjoyable. I wonder if this whisky is peaking at eight years old (or at least reached a plateau)? Certainly mature enough to enjoy now, but I would be curious to see this at 12 years old, where it might gain some additional depth and complexity, providing the oak is kept in check.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

81 points

Duncan Taylor 41 year old (distilled at Invergordon, Cask No. 15517), 50.2%

Some of these older Duncan Taylor grain whiskies are very individualistic and exciting. With others, the wood has gotten the best of them (Grain whiskies are light in body and thus vulnerable to excessive oak aging). This one, fortunately, gravitates more towards the former, with a rather reserved oak influence, given its age. A bit tight on the nose. Rather sweet too, and somewhat viscous. Notes of vanilla, crème brulee, marzipan, caramel-coated popcorn, brown sugar, toasted coconut, and subtle pineapple and papaya. A gentle dried spice finish rescues the whisky from all the sweetness.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

81 points

Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey, Batch #2, 55%

A unique and quite intriguing whiskey. A “bottle ready” California pilsner beer was given an extra dose of hops, then distilled in a pot still and aged in new oak for six years. Then it was “aged” in stainless steel for another three years. Five barrels were bottled. When I traveled through Europe, some of the breweries let me taste “Hop Schnapps” they’d had a distiller produce from their own beer. It was always just for their own private consumption, not for sale. This Charbay release reminds me of that, only aged into a mature whiskey. It’s a complex whiskey, naturally accentuated by hops, exotic teas, marijuana (seriously!), candied fruit, lavender, dark berries, raspberry (red and black), juniper, freshly ground tellicherry pepper, and light Caribbean rum. A nice “change of pace” whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

80 points

Cutty Sark Blended Malt, 40%

Remarkably light and drinkable for an all-malt product. Malty foundation with citrus (lemon zest, tangerine sherbet) shining through, along with vanilla wafer, white chocolate, coconut, ginger, and cut grass. A worthy “bridge whisky” for blended whisky drinkers curious about malt whisky, but single malt whisky drinkers might want more individuality. A whisky for a warm, lazy afternoon.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

80 points

The Balvenie Rum Cask 17 year old, 43%

Rich and sweet, with toffee, coconut cream, Turkish delight, nougat, and honey. Ripe black raspberries, citrus, and dried spice (vanilla, fennel, and evergreen mint) provide complexity and attempt to balance all the sweetness. A pleasant dram, but I wish there was a little more to prop up all that sweetness. A whisky for those with a sweet tooth. Good with dessert, as dessert, or with a cigar.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

79 points

Old Forester Repeal Bourbon, 50%

A more significant oak impact when compared to the standard Old Forester bourbons, which is evident by the polished leather, tobacco, and dry resin notes (especially on the finish). There’s an attempt to balance all this wood with notes of dusty corn, coconut, mint, vanilla, juniper, and dark berried fruit (blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry), but I don’t think it quite gets there. This bourbon is a nice change of pace (and I understand the reason behind this whisky -- to emulate bourbons from the era of Repeal), but I prefer the Old Forester “Signature” 100 proof to this whiskey. I’m happy drinking the whiskeys of today, thank you. (Price is per 375 ml.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)


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