Cask Strength

Review: Little Book Blended Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Little+Book+1.jpg
ABV
59.4%
Aging
8-40 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
A blend of straight rye and corn whiskies
Distiller Jim Beam (Clermont, Kentucky)

This is quite the endeavor - a blend of Kentucky Straight Rye (8 years old) with a Canadian straight rye (13 years old) and a Canadian corn whisky (40 years old). One can assume the Canadian portion came from Alberta, since Beam owns that remarkable distillery - but it may have been sourced elsewhere. Talk about unique.

This review is for the second release, which differed from the first release which was based around a 4 year old straight bourbon, a 6 year old rye, a 13 year old corn whiskey, and a 6 year old 100% malt whiskey..


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Chapter 2: Noe Small Task

  • Bottling Code: 1689597L5 13:53 17199

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Sharp, diverse, and complex nose. Mint, lemon peel, pickled lemons, arugula, oak – loaded with oak, so it’s not very much like a Canadian blended whisky despite the Canadian components. It’s a bit sweet – and it’s quite deep. Sweet tarts, dried chanterelles, truffle oil, toasted macadamias, toasted hazlenuts, mixed sprouts, blueberry, canola oil

Deep, yet quite soft. The palate is full of a mix of all sorts of rye – fruity, spicy, herbal (radishes), and cinnamon. Still, there is a nice corn body to this, and a very nice mix of spicy and rich grain notes. What a nice, complex whisky. There is an incredibly rich nuttiness and herbaceousness present, and the balance is terrific – especially at cask strength. The finish is lightly sweet, with some nice spices in tow. The herbal characteristics are not lost at all, and the rich oakiness remains throughout. This is just about a perfect fall whisky.

It has less colour than most bookers, probably because the Canadian rye was refill casks. It is an entirely different animal than a booker’s which is much more focused on corn and a bit more focused on a big bourbon profile than Little Book, which is very much in its own category – but with deep American rye whiskey nods.

One of my favourite American-produced whiskies to date.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is at the higher end of this category, too.

Value: Average (based on $130).


Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye Whiskey (Barreled 2009) by Jason Hambrey

Knob Creek 2009 2.jpg
ABV
59.8%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
N/A (but at least 51% Rye)
Distiller Jim Beam (Clermont, Kentucky)

This was a special release in 2018, and it came with anticipation - a cask strength, 9 year old knob creek rye! Some people certainly liked it, given that Whisky Advocate named it their number 2 whisky of the year.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barreled in 2009, Warehouse A

  • Bottling Code: L3182CLH 13282005

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very oaky, and quite intense. Some of that classic Jim Beam rye nuttiness and vegetal character (buckwheat, perhaps?), mint, sorrel, cacao, and oak. Very rich. There is more – hazelnut oil, roasted celeriac, baking spices, a hint of patchouli, freshly milled whole wheat, and a bit of mandarin.

The palate is sharp and spicy, with loads of oak (fairly tannic), mint, patchouli, bitter clove, black pepper, mint, wild rice, lilac, and tannic oak. Corn is not absent either, with some rich corn husk coming through at the end. Extremely flavourful. The finish is quite herbal, tannic, and oaky.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. A very nice whisky, but still a fairly high price (~100 CAD). If you like it more than I do, as some do, value would be higher, of course.


Review: Elijah Craig Single Barrel for Kensington Wine Market (2019) by Jason Hambrey

Elijah+Craig+KWM+Single+Barrel.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
75% Corn; 13% Rye; 12% Malt
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

One of many single cask selections that Kensington Wine Market in Calgary does, but mostly Scotch – only a couple of bourbons are chosen. Barrel 5214622, warehouse F, floor 3, barrel 17 F.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barrel 5214622

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Soft for an Elijah Criag, not quite as oaky as many. Sweet honey, roasted hazlenuts and pistachios and other mixed nuts, corn oil, tobacco, leather, maple, and even something a bit floral – like potpourri! Old musty oak too – I love that smell in a bourbon. A sweet, oaky palate which is fairly complex – with nuts, spices, and some orange all working well together. The finish is full of oaky caramel, honey – and a bit of earthiness too which is a very nice touch. Quite a nice finish – rich, complex, with decent length.

Oddly, lots of oak here but not very tannic. I’m a bit surprised; it makes it seem a bit lighter than it is.

I rate it very similarly, but I think I actually slightly prefer the official bottlings of Elijah Craig, as I do like the bigger oakiness in Elijah Craig – but I think this would appeal to those who like softer, less oaky bourbons. This showcases a different side of Elijah Craig stock.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. In bourbons alone, it’s a bit below par.


Review: Amrut Peated Cask Strength Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Peated CS.jpg
ABV
62.8%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

A fully peated, cask strength whisky, from Amrut. They also offer another version at 46%. All the barley in this whisky is from Scotland, peated to 23 ppm.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 12

  • Bottling Code: 41640

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Woody, floral (in a dried flower sort of way), vegetal, and peaty with dried fruit and caramel- quite an interesting one here weaving together some very interesting flavor camps. Strong peppermint (like candycanes) too, alongside the rich oakiness. The mintiness, is, in fact, almost like the menthol-like nature of freshly milled green cardamom when amidst the various spices here. But of course we have so much more: dried apricot, dried pear, dried hibiscus, apple seeds, apple sauce, and almost a general mixed bag of spices that all meld together – cloves, cinnamon, saffron (particularly), black peppercorns…This isn't aged long but feels as though it is full of fabulous age - that Indian climate certainly does its work! Not overly peaty, though the earthiness and light smoke are certainly around, especially towards the end of the palate. Complex, interesting, and very nice. With water, it grows a bit, and apple emerges more fully....but I like this one at full strength more. A winner.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). One of my all time favourite whiskies.

Value: Very high. 107$ for this is incredibly worthwhile.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 28

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: Jan 2016

Recently at the airport, and I was debating between picking up batch 28 or batch 35. There was a remarkable difference in colour – 35 was much lighter. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to roll the dice with perhaps a more cask influenced bottling, but I decided to - given how much I loved the oaky intermediate sherry earlier this year. I was intent on buying another to see if there was more peat influence.

A dense, rich, gorgeous nose. Woody and tropical and slightly floral: Leather, heather flowers, lavender, dried peach, dried apricot, dried papaya, light sweet smoke (wood smoke/char rather than vegetal peat smoke), custard. The palate is quite smoky, and rich – fire roasted chickpeas, lots of dried fruit, oak – ever so slightly astringent, in a good way -tannins and tobacco play in lightly. Finish is lightly smoky, vegetal, dry – still lots of tropical fruit and dried fruit. There’s a growing richness and smokiness, a flourish of spice, and I get some more tobacco oils (like the finish of a good cigar, a few hours after it has been smoked).

Batch 12 was more malty, less woody, less smoky – and sweeter. That being said, they are definitely in the same family, and they are both brilliant. This is smokier, and, oddly, brighter at the same time. I like this with a touch of water added – it’s a bit too dense at cask strength. Richer, smokier, but not as well balanced as batch 12. A terrific buy, I should have picked up 35 as well...

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Not quite the last batch, but nearly there, and on the edge of the highest recommendation category.

Value: Very high. 107$ for this is incredibly worthwhile.


Review: Lot No. 40 Cask Strength Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lot no. 40.jpg
ABV
55.0-58.4%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Here we have a rarity - a cask strength, 100% Canadian Rye whisky, well matured and released by a major producer. The only other bottle I can think of which fits into this category (so far) is Whistlepig's Boss Hog, an independent bottling from Alberta Distillers (though I must note that there are some notable young cask strength ryes from micro distilleries like Stalk & Barrel). Basically, it is the connoisseur's dream - this juice.  Given the splendor of the standard Lot no. 40, you'd expect this to do some good work too. Originally single casks of this were handed around at whisky festivals, but now we have an annual release - beginning at a very commendable 12 years of age. The golden age of Canadian whisky is here! 4968 bottles.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 05 05100 (55.8%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: June 2016

This sample was generously sent to me by Mark Bylok of whisky.buzz, who also reviewed this batch of Lot no. 40 CS.

Lots of onion pickle, in fact, in this tasting. Dill, floral rye, new wood, and lots of nuts - hazlenuts, walnuts, almond, clove, floral rye, black tea, terrific caramel, cinnamon, dried rose, dried hibiscus, praline, rosehip….

Brilliant tingling spices on the palate, with lots of spice, caramel, orange, clove, blood orange, cola, walnut…immense at cask strength and lots of rye! But it comes easy with lots of nut, tea, and oak notes surrounding. Some terrific dried floral notes too. Dries off in a huge, spicy finish still with lots of nuts and more light rye notes – almost jasmine-like in their floral nature - and cinnamon, tobacco, drying reeds in the fall, arugula, nut brittle, and some orange peel. Not to mention lots of continued floral notes. Not hard to drink and balanced at cask strength.

This is amazing – but I can only imagine a batch version. As it is, you can tell it is more of a single barrel given the profile and doesn’t quite have the breadth of complexity in some lot. No 40s, but it makes up for it with emphasis and magnitude.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). To get a cask strength rye whisky of this complexity, depth, and breadth is just awesome.

Value: N/A (not available on the market)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1st Edition

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L17200 EW13:27

  • Bottling Date: 2017

What a whisky! What a nose. This is definitely Lot no. 40, and exactly what you would expect – a lot of punch and flavor! Coincidentally, natural colour too. Rich: caramel, lilacs, loads of spices, dried fruits, apricot, brioche, lilacs, clove, nutmeg, icing sugar...it gets better with air. The palate has lilacs, loads of rye, dried apricot, patchouli, cedar, dried apricot, black tea – wow. This batched version is better than the barrels I have tasted. The finish is loaded with rye and oak, along with dried fruit (prunes, raisins, dried apricot), cumin, lemon zest, orange peel (dried), icing sugar, fresh spinach, and a touch of dill.

This batch smells older and a bit more developed than the lot no. 40 which is on shelves now, though I think I’ve had a bad batch in my last bottle – but this still smells a bit more mature than the lot no. 40s on shelves now.  If you like Lot no. 40 (at all), you should buy this. Amazing whisky.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). One of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted - it’s mighty, complex, and incredibly moreish. If you want to see what great cask strength Canadian whisky can be, look no further than here.

Value: Very high. $70 CAD for something like this! Take a look at the best of the cask strength American ryes, as a comparator - you won’t find something to spar with this at this price (especially one with 12 years of age!).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Second Edition (11 Years Old; 58.4%)

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L18204 EW1325

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very different than last year’s release (but still lot no. 40) - it came from a different bond, and each bond has different characteristics. It is very fruity – strawberries, cherries, plums, prunes, and green apple – but also with floral notes – lilac, spice, clove, loads of brown sugar and oak. There’s a nice caramelized nut characteristic too, verging on corn – like candied pecans or caramel popcorn. Rich, deep oak opens up as it sits. Gorgeous. The sweet nature of the oak really comes out too – it is a nice complement to the massiveness of the whisky everywhere else.

The palate is rich, oaky, fruity – tons of lilac and tons of spice. It’s what you expect from the nose – but the fresh fruit character, like strawberry jam that has just started to boil when you make it – is central and exceptional. Still, it’s tempered by loads of spice and oak. Really big, even with water added. Also, a bit less of a “grip” and movement on the palate compared with last year, even with a bit less ABV. But, still absolutely awesome.

Really nice tannins on the finish, and dries out really well. Spices slowly unfold, alongside dried fruit, green apple skins, and tannins. The more you drink, the bigger and better it gets. Lovely.

In comparison – last year’s release was more woody, richer, and heavier – and you get the full range of coconut and rich nut oils and black tea there which aren’t as big here. Think spicy/oaky /floral/fruity vs fruity/spicy/floral/oaky in terms of flavour impact. And the fruit is more vibrant – like fresh berries – vs say berry jam. This is still epic, but I liked the darker richer character last year – and it was a bit deeper.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). This is still an outstanding bottle, but it doesn’t have the depth or integration to take it to the level that the 2017 release was. Still, outstanding - incredibly big, fascinating, rich, and deep.

Value: High. An increase in price and not quite the stunner of last year still leaves this as an excellent value buy, but increases in price could change this in the future - but it is still an excellent value buy.


Review: Amrut Single Cask Peated Port Pipe Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Peated Portpipe 2.jpg
ABV
59%
Aging
Port Pipe
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

Here is an odd one: Indian barley smoked with Scottish peat, matured in a port pipe.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Portpipe/2712 filling: Jan 2011, bottling: Feb 2016, one of 660 bottles

  • Bottling Code: Above

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Really interesting notes on the nose – dried orange, spicy barley, cinnamon, anise seed, and vanilla. Light creaminess throughout. The combination of the berry-like port, with a bit of oxidation, is really interesting with the peat. Really interesting spices – green peppercorn. Rich oak and biscuits really come out on the undiluted at CS.

The palate is fruity, spicy, and smoky – still quite dry. It’s an odd mix – lots of stewed fruit as well, but it doesn’t quite come together despite having a set of solid flavours. The dried fruit (surprisingly bright) sits above, the peat underneath, and the spices oddly in the middle. The finish is tannic and spicy, with a touch of sweetness and cacao. The spices are sweet – in line with cinnamon and star anise.

Interesting, and integrated, but lacking balance

Value: Low. It’s interesting, but I’m not crazy about this for $90.


Review: Aberlour A'Bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~60%
Aging
First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Aberlour (Aberlour, Scotland)

The story with this whisky goes that a few stillmen found an old bottle of whisky from the turn of the 19th century and wanted to replicate it – and so, Aberlour puts forth a monster of a whisky – a cask strength, heavily sherried single malt. Each bottle has a batch label on it, and batches vary in quality but this is a longstanding classic and favorite of many connoisseurs. It isdeep red and brown in colour, with no coloring added or any chill-filtration. “A’Bunadh” means “of the origin” in gaelic, speaking to the old style of this whisky.

The exclusive sherry maturation is reasonably uncommon, and each batch is composed of barrels roughly 5 to 25 years old. Quite terrific. A'Bunadh was one of the old classic sherry monsters, first released in 1997 - but this style is now becoming more prominent with other whiskies such as GlenDronach Cask Strength, Tamdhu Batch Strength, and many others.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: 44 (59.7% ABV)

  • Bottling Code: LKPF3820 290 10 27

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose:  What a brilliant combination of sherry and malt. The cask strength on this lets you feel that at full force - sherry, rancio nuttiness, threads of rich barley, cinnamon, raisins, prune, tobacco, vanilla, and apples, oak, and fabulous earth. Brilliant- integrated,  complex, and deep.

Taste: Hot at cask strength, with white raisins, malt, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak all taking their turn in a slowly unfolding taste along with a consistent chocolate presence. There is lots going on, and the strength and complexity work so well. What is more, there's a brilliant explosion of honey and malt mid-palate which works wonders.

Finish: Buttery, after all the brute force of the whisky before - with a good bit of raisin, malt, malt loaf, berries, cinnamon, clove, mulled red wine- enduring too. Sort of like a good mulled honey, if there were such a thing.

I'm grateful that the malt and spirit doesn't get lost in this - with many whiskies aged in "flavoured" casks, it's always a concern of mine that the whisky itself get s lost to the cask - but this is whisky, not high ABV sherry as some heavily sherried whiskies can be. It's very integrated, without flaws...complex, and strong...wonderful stuff. Batches vary, and this is a good one - though there are better. Well worth a dram, and very good at cask strength, too.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, based on $100.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: 49 (60.1% ABV)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Chocolate, sherry, cacao, nutmeg, rosehip tea, and some nice grape which lifts everything up a bit. Underneath, there is a bit of that funky cheesy sherry, but it’s light enough that it’s intriguing and not detracting (I don’t always love those sherry notes – they’re not sulphur, to be clear). On the palate, the oak shines through really nicely as the finish leads in to a spicy, cinnamon and clove laden finish. The grape and sherry control the finish, as well, and are present in good quantity – the lightest quantity of bitterness is also present, although this may have been augmented by the fact that the bottle has been open for some time before this review. The oak is carried beautifully through in this release, and the balance is quite good too, though this sample is a bit short of batch 44 in a head-to-head especially on the finish.

As a side note, based on reviews I’ve seen, this seems to be relatively below what others have given this. This may have been due to the sample I received or air in the bottle over some time, as this was a sample received from a friend - but this rating is no slouch anyway.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $100. It isn’t as good as the above, so it isn’t quite as high value…


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 58 (61.1%)

  • Bottling Code: LKPK4625 2016/11/15 15:59

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Vanilla, oak come off at first, with a dense, peppery spiciness. Red pepper jelly, dried cranberries, currants, pencil shavings, and some light sherry nuttiness. And some oak char. Underneath, there’s some bright granny smith apple too. The palate is sharp, with a terrific dried fruit and vanilla middle and some enduring spiciness and tannin on the finish. Great earthiness, and more herbal than I remember in previous A’Bunadh’s. Raisins are wonderful here too – just layers and layers of flavors at full strength (though it does very well with water!). There’s a light touch of oily youth, yet there is something nicely appealing about it. Light rancio on the finish, and such mighty oak and spice (quite the enduring cinnamon and allspice). An ever so slight sulphury pepper at the end, which I quite enjoy. What a finish. This is a big batch!

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, based on $100.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 59 (60.9%)

  • Bottling Code: LKPL0522 2017/02/24

  • Bottling Date: 2017

I liked batch 58 so much that I went for another bottle only to find 59s on the shelves. Well, here we go:

Lots of sherry on this one, but also lots of biscuit notes. Dried fruits and pencil shavings develop with time, amidst lots of vanilla. The palate is big, and very cask driven – sherry and oak in every corner –the malt body itself comes through in the middle of the palate quite brilliantly, alongside mandarins and raw cacao. Opens up more and more with time, as with most A’Bunadhs. The finish is full of sherry, dried fruit, spice. Terrific, as usual, but not the 58 I was looking for...

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $100.


Review: Blanton's Straight from the Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~65%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
~75% Corn, 15% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

This is a Blanton's not available in North America, but comes at a hefty price in Europe. The whiskey comes off the still at 70%, dumped into the barrels at 62.5%, and uses a 6 month seasoning (air drying) on the staves before they were put into the barrels. I love Blanton's, and a cask strength and unfiltered Blanton's is just about my favorite cask strength bourbon, dependent a little on mood...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Barrel 566; Warehouse H (65.7%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Distinctly Blanton’s! I love it! All that dried and tinned apricot, and dried rose. Very intense in that respect, particularly at this strength. Vanilla, prunes, dense oak, dried apple, potpourri, maple fudge, and a bit of dry earth also come through. The palate is full, deep, and complex with lots of peach, grapefruit, rosehip, and dried berries. Phenomenal. All in balance, and all with terrific flavour at this strength. And a terrific, complex finish with many of those dried apricot notes, grapefruit, oak, and nut brittle. Watered down, it’s still a nice bourbon – but it rides much better at full strength. Too bad this isn’t more available, like in the North American markets…but if it were, I don’t know if anyone would get a taste…however, if I were American, I would (rightly so) feel a bit robbed.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average (based on $121)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Barrel 221; Warehouse H; Rick no. 31; Dumped 6.26.14 (64.4%)

  • Bottling Code: B1417815:49J

  • Bottling Date: 2014

A rich, full nose – slightly musty, with loads of vanilla and floral rye. Dried rose, tea, dried fruits, cacao, spearmint, raw cane sugar, and lots of clove and oak. The palate is full of tannins and the floral nature of the rye shines through. The sweetness is just about perfect to balance the spice and the proof. Raspberry tea is distinct, melding beautifully with some black tea. A nice rising spice on the jammy finish, and the finish is slightly bitter with all the oak. Dried corn comes out particularly in the finish, and it is there where we also have some of those typical dried flower notes from Blanton’s. And a bit of coconut. I just love the essence of Blanton’s here in this bottle.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $121)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Barrel 706; Warehouse H; Rick no. 44; Dumped 2.11.16 (64.4%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Butter, cumin, a stale bag of mixed baking spices, dried corn, dried apricot, strawberries, and stewed stone fruit. Slightly farmy, too. A spicy, full palate, with a huge wave of sweet corn which is then completely conquered by sharp, spicy rye and some dried flowers. Dried corn, spices, and oak on the finish. Wonderful bourbon, but not quite up to the stuff I’ve had in the past from Blanton’s.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low (based on $121)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Barrel 265; Warehouse H; Rick no. 11; Dumped 4.04.16 (62.8%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

This goes into the barrel at 62.5%, so the proof didn’t really increase in the barrel at all – it must have been in a cool or humid part of the warehouse. Very fruity – strawberry, banana, and a bit of blackberry too – the rye comes in nicely too. Brown sugar and light oak too. The palate is sweet, and doesn’t pack a huge punch. The grains seem to sit at the forefront of this bottle – rather than the fruit. There is a bit of dense dried flowers at the end, in the Blanton’s style, which is quite nice. Some dried chanterelles and strawberries on the finish. A nice bottle…

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $121)


Review: Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~65%
Aging
12 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
75% Corn; 13% Rye; 12% Malt
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

A (magnificent) cask strength version of the standard Elijah Craig...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 12th Release; 64.0%

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Lots of oak on the nose – not surprising for a 12 year old bourbon. Very rich - lots of vanilla, furniture polish, apple, caramel, maple, and a slight bit of rocky mineral character. Very woody, and dry too. Also some sweet floral character – it sweetens with added water, but comes out more as a dried flower note on the nose. The nose itself is dry, but brings to mind a number of dry things – like potpourri. Dried orange, roasted macadamia nuts. Very enjoyable!

The palate has apple, oak char, and tannins creeping up – almost too much, but they’re not over the edge. Well balanced, and a good set of flavours. Loads of oak on the finish. A fabulous delivery, oily in feel (and lightly on the palate) – but restrained so it’s not overwhelming at 64%. Lots of tingly tannins on the finish, and some black tea.

Kentucky sure has some nice distilleries. Terrific stuff.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $112)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 5th Release (67.2%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nice and rich dark colour. I’ve been tasting a Blanton’s straight from the barrel beside this one and it definitely pales in comparison. Nutty, oaky, and full of spice. Light fruit, gooseberry, spices, cacao, smoky wood char. The corn is just brilliant! Oak is supreme on the finish. It is a bit hot, but not very – it has an incredible feel and the balance at cask strength is terrific – sweet, oaky, spicy, and rich. The palate is oaky and rich, packed with fruit ranging from strawberries to apples – dried, jam, and fresh. The corn has just a terrific showing in this – it is wonderfully embraced by the spice, fruit, and oak. What a palate!  Beautiful oak on the finish, which is a touch creamy too. Praline and hazelnut cream too. A terrific Elijah Craig.

Immensely enjoyable. I think bookers lovers might find this quite appealing – but it is richer and rounder – for good effect. But, yes, quite oaky too, but not overdone.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: High (based on $113)


Review: Talisker 57 Degrees North Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
57%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

A non-age-statement, but cask strength, Talisker which has a great reputation in my circle of friends. It is expensive in Ontario ($175 when you can find it) but I once found it in the Toronto airport for $75, which is where I obtained this bottle. I think they just forgot the leading "1" since I haven't seen it that cheap anywhere else - I am happy for the mistake.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L2290CM000 05954480

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Ash, peaches, custard, slightly spicy. Wood smoke, pears, lemon, peat, mineral character – quite bright with all of the stone fruit though. Dried apricot, gooseberries, vanilla – quite zesty.

The palate is sweet, with quite a big, fairly sweet, body – particularly with water. Tinned peaches, smoke, mint, thick vegetation (i.e. peat), sharp earthiness – certainly big on the palate. It is a touch young for my liking – but it’s on the edge. Certainly an interesting contrast of all that fruitiness and the mineral peat. Oh, and it’s also reasonably creamy. Nice balance.

A drying finishes with clove, black pepper, prunes, tannins, and more mineral character. A terrific malt, but certainly overpriced – well, in Canada, I suppose, where it goes for about twice the price of the 10 Y.O.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $175.