An effusive nose, with aromatic notes that become almost incense-like—cardamom, cedar, pine resin—as well as sweet berry notes, lemon, milk chocolate, and graham cracker. The palate is fresh and intense; breathe out mint on the exhale. Licorice tea, cacao, horehound candy, and plenty of oak are carried by the chewy, full texture. Peppery mint, oak char, baking chocolate, and pine on the fairly lengthy finish. Sprightly, original, and exciting.
Malted rye is a rarity in whiskey, and at 60% of the mashbill here, this earns high marks for originality. The nose has lively notes of chili powder, pepper, and paprika, along with licorice, pfeffernüsse, candied dark berries, orange peel, and spearmint. The palate begins gently enough, then whips into a spice storm of chile peppers and spicy cooked meats, with flavors of roasted pecan, dark chocolate, blackberry jam, more orange peel, and rich oak, before a finish of dried oranges, vanilla syrup, and well-integrated spice. Number 18 in the 2020 Top 20
Wood varnish, bubble gum, and pencil shavings on the nose give way to tea leaves, dried herbs, and white paper. Add water and smoky campfire ash emerges. More herbs on the palate with sage and oregano, as well as citrus in the form of a flamed orange disc. The finish is lip-smacking, with great length. Water unlocks a world of flavor, with clear vision and execution on display. It’s different, but delicious. (8,400 bottles) Editor's Choice
If you’re searching for the perfect whiskey to pair with ribs, look no further. Chili powder spices of paprika, cumin, black pepper, and dried chiles leap out of the glass, along with tea leaf, dark berries, dark chocolate, and candied orange peel. The palate, chewy and textured, stays consistent with savory and spicy notes of Spanish chorizo, roasted nuts, dark chocolate, red pepper flakes, blackberry, raspberry, and orange peel. It finishes short but satisfying, with more chili powder, black pepper, and smoked almonds.
Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Vintage Series (Fall 2017), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
Fresh herbs and muted dark fruit on the nose, while the palate is sweet and chocolatey as the herbal notes take on a supporting role. The palate opens to reveal stone fruit notes of peach and plum, chocolate layer cake, and a hint of musty antique shop. Fairly powerful, but water softens the palate and brings out peach cobbler and cinnamon toast. Nicely balanced spice, chocolate, and orange tart on the finish.
Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Vintage Series (Spring 2017), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
There’s a lovely tartness on the nose, with dry and earthy notes of fragrant oak and forest floor. The palate pops with cherry coulis, raspberry, chocolate, and the spice of jalapeño pepper, along with some pronounced barrel char. Overall it’s very spiced, heated, and flavorful, but integrates well with its candied and fruity flavors. The finish is less fiery, with richer notes of caramel, chocolate, and roasted pecans.
A hint of caramel corn, along with nutmeg, oak char, blackberry jam, and earthy notes of wet clay and tea leaves. The palate has loads of spice, black tea, and a subtle earthiness. The finish brings on chile-pepper heat, bitter chocolate, burnt walnut, cooked cherries, and light herbaceousness. Very unusual, successfully venturing outside the box, with a deft mix of sweetness, chocolate, earthiness, and spice.
This four-grain bourbon (corn, rye malt, caramel malt, and honey malt) starts with aromas of herb garden and notes of strawberry, dried apricot, orange, and licorice. There’s more apricot and orange on the palate, as well as candied almonds, tiramisu, light oak, and pepper spice. The finish has maltiness and is also spiced and nutty, with chocolate sauce and an earthy back note. Rich and sweet, with balanced herbs and spice.
Chattanooga Tawny Port Cask Finished (Batch 21C11R2), 47.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
This high-malt bourbon was finished for 6 months in tawny port casks. Orange marmalade, grapefruit oil, and raspberry preserves highlight a fruity and citrus-forward nose that also features roasted grains. The silky and spiced palate displays roasted walnuts, dark berries, semi-sweet chocolate, plums, and coffee ice cream. Deceptively light all the way through the finish, which has hints of chocolate, cinnamon, and red fruit. An adept balance of spirit and cask.
Grainy on the nose, with butterscotch haystacks, strawberry lollipop, sugared pineapple, mango, dried kiwi, and grape soda. Without water, the palate is crowded with oak, peppery heat, and cocoa; add a bit, however, and there’s room for sweet plums and cherries, grape jelly, butterscotch, and chai spices, finishing with dry oak, peanuts, licorice, and tobacco. Made with the distillery’s signature “Tennessee high malt” mashbill, which includes corn, malted rye, and two types of malted barley.
More nose than on the Reserve (see below); no surprise. Sweet spicy candy, alcohol heat, and oak. The spicy candy—clove, cinnamon, allspice—blooms in the mouth, firing up oak and corn, with a meaty fullness and a warming finish. Quite a bit more complex and interesting than the Reserve. Sourced whiskey.
Shy nose: some cornbread and spicy candy. Whooshes into the mouth, though, with a lively sweet and spicy rush followed by herbal notes: woodruff, fresh marjoram, meadow grass. The finish becomes drier, finally showing a bit of oak, then drying to a powdery, medicinal astringency. Almost more like a tonic than a whiskey. Sourced whiskey.