Finish

Review: Redbreast Lustau Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Redbreast Lustau.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
10-13 yrs
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

It is no secret that I love the Redbreast lineup, as a huge fan of the 12, 12 Cask Strength, and the 15, and 21. This is an impressive whisky – matured for over a year in a sherry cask – not like the typical short finishes of 32 months just to infuse the barrel juice – this actually gets some influence from the underlying oak. Oloroso sherry from Bodegas Lustau – Redbreast always has a bit of a sherry influence but the point of this whisky is to bring those notes to the forefront.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L622131243 14:36

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is full of sherry, yet still holding those earthy, grassy, and creamy Redbreast characteristics. Brown sugar, rancio, figs, walnuts, chestnuts, vanilla, apple chips, and old oak. Sharp and spicy too. The finish is deeply controlling, and yet this does not stray from the family style – it is firmly Redbreast. Brilliant. As it sits, the sherry comes a bit more under control and the malt and oak lead more heavily.

The palate leads with a creamy, slightly spicy body before dried fruits, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg assert themselves to the forefront and then slowly fade away into a finish of rancio, creamy malt, toffee, cinnamon, and apples. Very well put together. A bigger redbreast than the 12 and 15, and complex and well integrated – but perhaps the least elegant of them all – but that, perhaps, is not the point of this firm whisky.

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

Value: Average, based on $90.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L810931132 08:54 19/04/18

  • Bottling Date: 2018

I don’t feel like I need to do a full review, but I wanted to revisit this dram. In particular, it’s motivated by a visit to the Midleton distillery where most of the pot still Irish whisky in the world is produced. I visited both Midleton distillery and the Jameson experience in Dublin, where I got to try my hand at blending pot still distillate. What I found, interestingly, was the pot still was a bit less robust than I assumed, and I struggled to get a nice balance between the sherry and pot still. It is remarkable – the balance between the pot still and the sherry in the dram – with the bright fruitiness and oily spiciness of the pot still distillate with the dried fruit, rancio, and spice of the sherry casks employed. It’s about perfectly balanced here, and I love it. Remarkable production and blending – try this dram, but you may need to be accustomed to Redbreast 12 and 15 to properly appreciate this.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This batch just so beautifully balances oak, sherry, and pot still. Amazing.

Value: High. Arguably, it could be viewed as the top of “average” but I really like this stuff and it is a good buy, unless you don’t like sherried whiskies!


Review: Two Brewers Special Finishes Yukon Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

ABV
43-46%
Aging
7-8 yrs in first cask, finished for about a year in finishing cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley - mostly pale malt
Distiller Two Brewers (Whitehorse, Yukon)

The abv above is because the first release was 46%, the second was 43%. Here we have the terrific Two Brewers single malt - but this time finished in a variety of different casks, depending on the release - they say they hope no two releases will be the same. It is worth noting that the finishing period here is longer than typical - most barrel finishes are quite short (more like an "infusion") as most of the liquid remaining in the finishing barrel is absorbed in 90 days or so. The amount of liquid soaked into a finishing barrel is significant - barrels have gallons of soaked liquid in them once they are finished maturation. Thus, most distilleries aren't doing a whole lot more in finishing than adding in another ingredient, in a way that passes as legal because it's soaked into a barrel. However, a longer finish means also that you get a bit of maturation from a second, different, barrel, which means it really is more of a finish. This year long period of finishing means we get to see some of the effect of that.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Release 02

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Distilled in 2009 and finished in PX sherry barrels, 46% ABV.

Very green, and interesting - unripe pear, unripe banana, unripe mango, black pepper, soy sauce, and some sweet grain. The palate brings in lots of pineapple, yellow ripe apple, and a decent strength leading into orchard fruit and light smoke on the finish.

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

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Release 04

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Blended and finished in a bourbon barrel. 1440 bottles, at 43%.

The nose is vibrant and fruity with exotic fruit – guava, soursop – with some mint, vanilla, dried peach, sweet potato, and malt-driven beer notes. The palate has a sweet, malty core on top, middle fruit notes with peach and apple – all with an earthy, nutty edge to it. The end of the palate and finish is very vegetal – arugula and spice, reminding me quite a bit of rye. The finish is clean, spicy, and creamy with light earthy smoke, peach, almonds, and dried papaya.

This whisky is one with great texture, movement, and complexity – I highly recommend.

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

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Release 09

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Finished in European PX barrels.

The nose is full of dried fruits – but more „standard” fruits for a single malt – raisins, prunes, dried apricots. Very sherry driven, with dried orange peel, sherry spices, and oxidized wine playing key parts in the nose. We also have rich grain, in the two brewers style, but it is subdued. Horseradish, too!

The palate is a bit less dominated by sherry, with a strong malty core and a classic spicy, grainy finish. It is still loaded with dried fruit – though the tropical fruits come through, too. The finish has rancio, dried fruit, and a sharp herbal characteristic – thyme and basil. And the herbal grain character comes through, too – I love it.

This is a nice whisky, but I think the cask dominates too much – the fruity, complex and tropical character of two brewers is taken over by a sherry cask which loads the experience with dried fruits, spices, and rancio – still very good, but I don’t think the best pairing for Two Brewers.

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

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review: High West Yippee Ki-Yay by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
New Charred Oak; 2 and 16 yrs old
Recipe
A blend of 2 straight rye whiskies finished in vermouth casks
Distiller Multiple (USA)

This is very unique - a blend of 2 straight rye whiskies (the same as in Double Rye), finished in Syrah wine and vermouth casks. Talk about interesting!


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Very interesting notes – a huge nose. Lots of fruit, nuts, and combined with spicy rye. Caramel, red tannic wine, raisins, oak, cinnamon, black cherry, almonds, cookie dough, and oxidized wine. A lot of black cherry. The palate is full of vermouth – rancio, spices, wine – sour, sweet, and spicy. It’s remarkable, but a bit too vermouth-y for my sort of whisky. Lots of cinnamon, star anise, and dry spices. The finish is terrific – buttery, oaky, and spicy – and I do love rancio.

A very interesting whisky, and a great one to have for the sake of diversity – but it is pushing the boundaries of whisky since it tastes more like a liquer than a whisky. Not a bad thing, but I do like grain and oak. If it were a bit less liquer-ish I’d rate it higher, but exceedingly complex and interesting. But the dynamics at play aren’t really driven by whisky, it’s just a vehicle.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is one of the most unique whiskies I’ve tasted…

Value: Low. I don’t quite like it enough to pay this for it, but it is rather unique!


Review: Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or Highlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
12 years; Finished in Sauternes Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenmorangie (Tain, Scotland)

This whisky was aged in a bourbon cask for 10 years before being put into Sauternes (a sweet white dessert wine from Bordeaux in France) casks for 2 years. It is my favorite of the finished Glenmorangies, as I think Sauternes complements Glenmorangie’s profile beautifully.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: Light bourbon influence, some good barley, white grape (as seen in the original glenmorangie), some floral characteristics – both as seen in some sweet white dessert wines and also the retained delicate floral nature of Glenmorangie, dried apricot, mango, oak – it comes more alive the longer it sits, seemingly.

Taste: That sauternes cask fits so beautifully into Glenmorangie – it adds some fruity complexity to what Glenmorangie generally offers, and it is just a wonderful match. Knowing what Glenmorangie Original tastes like only makes this one more compelling, really – just because you see the match work out so well. It is a bit more woody, with some more tannins and spice on the end, but there is some wonderful tropical fruit and grape added overtop of the light barley of Glenmorangie. There is so much to search out in this one…

Finish: Nice, enduring finish – it does quite well – but it does lack flavour at times. Slightly nutty on the end too, with some dried apricot…creamy on the end as well.

Just about a perfect finish - the sauternes fits in very nicely without taking over the show, as if it’s filling in a hole that you didn’t see before. And it’s not too sweet, to boot. Delicious.

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

Value: Average, based on $123.


Review: Benriach Heredotus Fumosus Aged 12 Years Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
12 Years; Finished in PX Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Benriach (Moray, Scotland)

Another peated Speyside malt from Benriach - a bit older than Curiositas and finished in Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. Natural color (and pretty red!) and non chill-filtered. People tend to be divided on PX finishes for peat - it is a very sweet sherry, so it adds a lot of sweetness to the blend and some might think that it clashes with the peat - while in many cases it often is trying to balance out the peat.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 2014/03/05 16:51 LH30226

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Light apple, rancio, fruitiness, cigar ash, apple seeds - complex and interesting on the nose with a good mix of light fruit and heavier sherry and smoke. A few meaty off notes, unfortunately. The smoke is sharp and lightly bitter which doesn’t quite fit in with the sherry. Does the sherry or the peat win out (you can tell from the natural colour that there’s quite a bit of sherry in this!)? On the palate, they are both present, though I'm not convinced with the pairing here. A bit flat, though I like the finish playing off the spice and the drying of the wood. Malt comes through again at the end.

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

Value: Average, at $78.


Review: Whistlepig The Boss Hog Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Whistlepig The Boss Hog.jpg
ABV
60.3%
Aging
14 Years; Virgin Charred Oak & Refill Scotch Casks
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

Whistlpig has released three "Boss Hogs" - a collection of their best rye whiskies, released at cask strength. The first edition was released in 2013, a 12 year old, with a 13 year old to follow in 2014. This, now, is the third edition, a 14 year old which was finished in a 250 litre ex-scotch hogshead (holding Sherry before the Scotch). 30 barrels have been released, all at the barrel strength. If you want to discover the bracing power of 100% rye at cask strength, this is one of the only places you can find it (the only, in fact, to my knowledge not produced by a micro-distiller).


Review (2016)

  • Batch: "The Independent", Barrel 10

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is rich and dark at first, with lovely caramel, rich oak, and some brilliant oiliness. Sturdy oak here, too…lovely spices – dill, licorice root, clove, cinnamon, watercress, pepper, fenugreek seed – and our typical arugula. The palate is measured, full of rye, with oak in the background. Very vegetal – we have our arugula and fenugreek again, but with oaky vanilla transporting all of the flavors into a dry and spice-laden finish which even has a bit of jalapeno. Brilliant complexity!

Absolutely terrific at cask strength. Lots of cinnamon on the nose, our caramel continues, rich grain, dry caramel, grassy spiciness…the palate is full of rye, toasted spices, and loaded with arugula and watercress. A very peppery finish. At first I thought this was over-oaked with some of the bitterness, but actually it is just about right with the tannins providing brilliant structure for the spices and caramel. The oak has tempered the spirit nicely – this isn’t as hot as I would have expected given the proof. Terrific stuff.

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

Value: Very Low. $400 is not cheap.


Review: Whistlepig 15 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Whistlepig 15.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
15 Yrs; New Charred Oak & Bourbon Barrels & New Charred Vermont Oak
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

Whistlepig is getting closer and closer to having their own grain to glass rye whiskey on the market, but, in the meantime, they've released a number of ryes from Alberta and MGP (in Indiana) stock. Generally, it's easy to tell which is which because the alberta is 100% rye (such as the 10 year old) and MGP is 95% rye (such as the Old World Series).

The 15 year old is Whistlepig's oldest product to date, being triple matured - first in a charred new oak cask, then in a refill bourbon barrel, and finally in a heavily charred Vermont oak barrel. Whistlepig's quest is for the "perfect rye" and experimentation with aging abounds - but this also adds to the list of whisky which has been matured in 2 different new charred oak barrels, showing the emphasis on oak coming from the US these days.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Woody and sweet on the nose, with lots of vanilla-laden oak and apple. Some peppery vegetal notes like arugula and watercress are at the fore – lots in fact – with lots of caramel, wood, and marmelade. Some nice medicinal notes too, and lots of spices - even some fenugreek. At the core, though, there are three main elements which strive with one another on this nose: wood, rye, and sweet caramel or wood sugar. The palate is quite sweet, with very sharp rye both in terms of spice and in terms of vegetal notes – but it is lightly bitter with all that oak. Creamy wood notes come in mid-palate to smooth out the sharpness of the rye. It finishes nicely with strong oak, dark cacao, arugula, spinach, and dill pickle. Quite sweet, once again, with all of that oak.

This follows the recent trend of very highly oaked whiskies. If you like lots and lots of oak, here is your whisky, otherwise I think a lot of the complex distillate is masked with the all-consuming oak. Though rye is big enough to stand up to quite a bit of oak, this is slightly over the edge and brings in too much bitterness and sharpness for good balance. Still, though, very enjoyable.

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

Value: Low. Pretty steep stuff (~250$ CAD).


Review: Amrut Spectrum Indian Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50%
Aging
3 yrs ex-bourbon; 3.5 years in hybrid cask (described below)
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

This whisky, it would seem, was a really wild late night idea. The whisky is a limited release of 1000 bottles, and is made from a single malt that was first matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 3 years before being further matured for 3.5 years in a barrel consisting of a hybrid barrel made from 5 different types of wood - new American oak, new Spanish oak, new French oak, ex-Pedro Ximinez sherry and ex-oloroso sherry. Not really a "finish", more of a maturation as it was quite a long period - hence, we expect lots of wood(s) influence here.

Thanks to Eric at Whisky Analysis for the sample.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

A gorgeous nose that you don’t have to work hard for. The complexity of the charred oak, dried fruit, maple, rancio from the sherry, creamy light bourbon notes alongside light vegetal notes, bean sprouts, celery seed, caramel truffles, and some rich grape notes that remind me of moderately aged Armagnac. Some nice spices, as Amrut seems to produce – that I don’t find elsewhere often – toasted citrusy ones like cumin and coriander. Caraway, too. The nose, also, smells lightly tart. Very complex, and layered with all of the oak and the finishing – not, however, very grain driven.

The palate, indeed, is a bit sour, and our malt finally takes hold. On top, rich rum cake, candied fruits, currants, prunes, figs – and underneath some beautiful rancio and clove. The finish is very full of sherry, brown sugar, molasses, and toffee. There is some fruit hidden in behind it all – pear and dried mango. Though it’s a very nice whisky, my question is - where’s the middle? All of the rich rummy and toffee notes on top, the dried fruit, nutty, and spicy finish – but the middle is a bit blank except for a bit of fruit that I need to go looking for. So, incredible complexity, but not intricate movement of the best of the best. But don't get me wrong – this is still terrific.

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

Value: Low. $250 is a pretty hefty price tag for me!


Review: Wiser's Red Letter Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
10 Years; Virgin Oak Finish
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky, at least in terms of name, is a very old release – Wiser’s “Red Letter Rye” was a highly regarded whisky first produced in 1857 when Canadian whisky was often known for their quality relative to the other whisky or spirit producers at the time. This particular bottling pays tribute to that whisky (and its recipe). A similar Wiser’s Red Letter was released as a 150th anniversary of Wiser’s in 2007 – though I did not try that one, I have heard that this one is similar in profile.

This whisky is aged 10 years in American bourbon barrels and is then further “mellowed” in virgin oak casks. I say “mellowed” since virgin oak casks have capacity to impart some pretty strong flavour – but the whisky likely did not spend (relatively) long in those casks. It is bottled at 45% ABV, rather than the typical 40% found in almost all Canadian whisky. Additionally, it is non-chill filtered – both a process that isn’t often stated on a Canadian label and a practice not that common within Canadian whisky. In fact this is the only non-chill filtered Canadian whisky at the present time as far as I know (I’m not sure what the craft distillers are up to!). This should give better weight and texture to the whisky as the oils and fatty components in the spirit are not filtered out to increase clarity.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: 2013 Release

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Nose: At first my nose picks up some fresh/baking rye bread notes, toasted oak, and toffee. Some cedar comes through, along with some wonderful earthiness that reminds me of moist soil with lots of vegetation and roots. Some vanilla and maple comes through as the nose sits some. It’s intriguing, and deep, but a bit quiet. There’s a bit of tawny port-like fruitiness and some interesting earthy vegetal notes of beets and celery root – though these are very slight. I smell a touch of sourness and spiciness, though it is slight. The nose seems fairly closed, and I find I get whispers of what might come rather than clear declarations. In that sense it is intriguing, yet also could be a little more outspoken.

Taste:  This one goes down easy! quite buttery in its feel and slightly sweet, with some spicy rye and a beautiful kick of spice at the end which keeps developing for quite some time. There is some sharp and grassy rye throughout, and with some vanilla and oak backing. The grains seem to shine through in this one as well, and you can taste the rye and the corn involved. Rye bread comes out quite nicely in this one, and the rye in this is just signature Wisers. It goes down quite easily, as I said, and is quite balanced. There are some citrus notes and grape-like fruitiness in the background, and are simply present just enough. You can sense the bourbon backbone of this whisky – it is fairly gripping especially towards the end – but I find I mainly notice this if I’m sipping it slowly, interestingly enough. I find just at the end of the palate the flavour drops off a bit and alcohol primarily comes through, which isn’t quite what I’m looking for. However, overall, this is fantastic stuff. This score would probably be a touch lower if not for the incredible weight and feel of the whisky, which does help it out a lot.

Finish: Dry with the tannins, and a beautiful glimpse of rye and vanilla with just enough acidity to keep you quite interested – the spiced picks up, with some cinnamon and clove, and the movement continues for some time in the finish which is excellent. I find I get some apple peel after some time as well. Quite excellent.

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

Value: Average.


Revew: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
41.3%
Aging
Sherry Cask Finished
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky, along with the Classic, have both been re-branded and are described as “small batch” whiskies – mine is from batch C12-047. Some batch variation can affect this bottling. The whisky is aged 6 years, I believe, and then finished for two years in spanish sherry casks. It comes in at 41.3%, a bit higher than the standard Canadian 40%.

Canadian Club is owned by Beam brands (now Suntory), so I notice the bottle resemblance of this to Knob Creek every time (as the cheaper CCs are very similar to Jim Beam White and Black Label) – it isn’t a bad bottle but I would prefer something a little more unique. I do like the label, however.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: C12-047

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: Distinctly Canadian Club, and yet distinctly different with the impact of the sherry casks. The green graininess of the rye, the cola notes, the earthiness, and the spice are all there in line with the Canadian Club line but with seemingly more grainy notes which are slightly similar to Irish pot still whiskey. However, it is a bit closed and flat, I find. There are some light raisin notes, heavy pine notes, cinnamon, oak, pencil shavings, ginger, rose water, and light vanilla – but it isn’t that well held together.

Taste: Lots of vanilla, cola notes, and some really nice spices on the finish with an underlying caramel throughout. The rye comes through slightly, but, once again, I find a green graininess which reminds me of Irish pot still, interestingly enough. A bit peppery, with even the pencil shavings making a bit of an appearance. However, I am not really sure what the blenders are trying to accomplish here – it’s a bit flat, at times bitter, and it appears that it has lost the best parts that the sherry cask, and the whisky, had to offer. Too bad.

Finish: Really doesn’t meet its potential here, with the tingling of the spices remaining without much definition or flavour. The body is decent, and it is lightly fruity – this eventually shifts from fresh to dried fruits with raisins and a bit of bitterness coming forth, and some of the almond, apple seed (as in fino sherry), and light oxidized fruitiness and caramel found in other sherries.

An interesting take on Canadian Club, but I find that it is a bit flat and seems that the sherry cask in this case has killed the whisky more than make it come alive. It is an interesting pairing, and may appeal to cognac and brandy admirers – but I’m not sure about whisky lovers. I have heard some good things about this bottling, so I hope this is just a bad batch. That being said, I have had another batch of this (which I reviewed, but lost the notes) which was also nothing to speak of.

Value: Low at $33. However, it’s not a lot to pay and some people like this one more than me.