Pot Still

Review: Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Willet Pot still 1.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
N/A
Distiller N/A (Produced By Willett)

This whiskey was the flagship Willett brand before the distillery started to distill in 2012, and, thus, it was based on sourced product. Now, it may be their own product - but they could well be still sourcing the whisky so I left the Distiller as “N/A”.

The bottle for this product is extremely unique - it is in the shape of a pot still, and it certainly stands out. The picture above is of a mini bottle, which are also in the pot still shape!


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 16G09

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

The nose is very fruity and unusual for a bourbon – plums, red mulberries, white gooseberry, dried pineapple – but we also have oak and a bit of dry, sweet oak and maple. There are some nice floral touches and a bit of vegetal rye – a hit with me, always. The palate continues with the fruit notes but it has a really nice touch of earthiness and fruity rye, and some caramel – but it’s a lighter sugar caramel rather than a really rich one. Quite herbal - the finish has apple, sweet corn, light herbal notes, and a rich woodiness. Quite a nice bourbon!

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

Value: High at around the $40 USD mark, at least against the Canadian market. Much higher than that, it falls more into the average value category.


Review: Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
American Oak
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

Here we have another premium single pot still Irish whiskey, made of a mixture of malted and unmalted barley and created by Midleton’s Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett, an important figure in Irish whiskey. In typical Irish fashion, this is based on single pot still whiskey - and it’s about as elegant as you can get.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Loads of fruit – pineapple, banana, pear, dragonfruit, mangosteens, prickly pear – but also stone fruits, popcorn, and lime. The palate continues in this vein, with terrific oak, fruit, tannins, and dry spice. This is an excellent whisky – it really is. The finish is loaded with tropical fruit, citrus zest, light oak, and a really nice drying, spicy tannic nature. The fruit is awesome, it has lots of complexity and depth, and the entire experience is very well crafted.

One of my favourite trys of the year – very unique, interesting, complex, and rich – moreover, one of the best Irish whiskeys I’ve tasted, perhaps the best – though Redbreast 21 is rather excellent and very hard to beat.

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

Value: Low. $300+ is a lot of money for a bottle of whisky, even one that is quite excellent.e.


Review: Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
American Oak
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

This is an annual release of some of the best whiskey that the Midleton (Jameson) distillery has to offer. It changes every year and carries a bit of a price tag - I’ve been eager to review a batch for some time, so here we go!


Review (2013)

  • Batch: 2016

  • Bottling Code: L620231222 15:22

  • Bottling Date: 2016

This has a real oaky richness, but also loads of dried fruit, oily spice – it is integrated, deep, and complex. The oak is soft, yet massive and a complement to everything else going on. The pot still character really comes through, and it is an awesome, rich whisky. I’d be happy to drink this both on nights when I want to sit and enjoy a very fine whisky, but also on nights when I just want a really fine whisky.

I guess I didn’t actually provide many tasting notes: Banana, loads of fruit, a core oakiness, light anise, integrated fruit, and a real Irish whiskey richness. Toffee, sugar candies, dried apricot, dried peach, nut oils, pear, dragonfruit, black pepper, coconut, and peach jam. A few notes – there are lots more – but that is up to you to discover! A terrific Irish whisky.

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

Value: Low. It’s a good whisky, but it comes at a fairly substantial price.


Review: Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
Ex-bourbon casks andoloroso sherry casks; bordeaux wine finish
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

This is like our familiar (and quite good) Green Spot, but finished for up to 2 years in Leoville Barton bordeaux casks.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L622331248 09:53

  • Bottling Date: August 2016

A very nice nose. White pepper, light fruit, spicy oak, and a nice grassy finish. Some nice oxidized wine notes, too – the wine is really well integrated into the nose, and it works really well. Apple oatmeal, dense oak, clove, red pepper jelly, and a light dustiness. The palate has a good kick of pot still character, spice, and a great integration of wine! A bit soapy, spicy, fruity – with a growing and rich finish. It really does work well – the finish is spicy and loaded with dried fruit.

A big step up from Green Spot, which is a nice whisky itself. Green Spot is a relatively light whisky, with a focus on lighter, sweeter notes – but still with a oily pot still character. This, however – it’s bigger, more earthy, complex, and interesting – really a bit “darker”. The 46% helps a lot, too.

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

Value: Average. This is a really nice whisky, so it’s “worth” buying at 100$, but you can do better for the price.


Review: Redbreast Pure Pot Still 12 Year Old Irish Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 yrs; Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon Casks
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

This is an Irish pot still whiskey, which means it is made from both malted and unmalted barley - and one of my favorite Irish whiskies. It is distilled at Midleton distillery in County Cork, Ireland. It is aged for 12 years, mostly in Oloroso sherry casks but partially in bourbon casks as well. The first official reference to this brand was in August of 1912, so it’s been around for quite some time. The name, redbreast, refers to a robin. It was likely named by the chairman of Gilbeys, an Irish liquor merchant that managed the brand, who loved birds.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Some nice vanilla comes through, alongside some milk chocolate, dulce de leche, maple, charred oak, honey, dried apricot, strawberries, sweet stewed apples, mango, and still with the distinct pure pot still character…all harmoniously balanced. There’s also some beetroot, contributing a wonderful earthiness as well. Some leather emerges over time as well. A wonderful nose!

Taste: There’s a slightly grassy pot still character, apples, with wonderful underlying sweetness. This is delicious, with a brilliant light and smooth mouthfeel – it’s not extremely thick but it wonderfully coats the mouth. There’s some oak and vanilla in the background which leads right into the slightly spicy finish with a light touch of dried fruit. Lots of caramel and toffee as well…very elegant.

Finish: oaky, with an underlying caramel sweetness and a bit of earthiness. It’s quite light, with some nice vanilla notes, and lingers for some time. There is also some maltiness in the finish, and some charred oak.

This is a whisky full of wonderful balance, complexity, and depth. And, it’s very delicous… very easy to just keep drinking the stuff. It starts off as very enjoyable, and it doesn’t get any worse – this is a highly acclaimed whisky and it lives up to the bill.

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

Value: High, at $75.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L430931228 10:56

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Lots of bourbon on this nose, at first! Quite complex, and a bit sweet, with spice, wood, apple, sherry, creamy oak, and some solid grassiness. It is a nice contrast of creamy wood, apple, and drier sherry and oak. Dry wood and banana cream pie come through at the end. Lots going on, well integrated, and quite lovely. Compared to the batch tasted above it’s cleaner, more creamy and buttery, but less earthy and complex, with a bit more sweetness and vanilla and oak compared to the more malty and slightly heavier character of the other. Both fantastic whiskies though.

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

Value: High, at $75.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Loads of fruit, rich, spice, and fruit. Some nice orchard fruit – and the oak is terrific – it is dense and rich. Interesting marine notes – not sure why I find this with some Midleton products – dried seashells, lighter dried fish (not too fishy), and sea salt. The palate is spicy, fruity, balanced, and a bit tannic – loads of flavour in here, with the fruits leading into oak and spiciness – eventually to a tingly, spicy, oily finish with orchard fruit, vanilla,  white pepper, and citrus pith. Big for 40%.

This doesn’t have the complexity or vibrancy of the past two batches, but it’s still very good.

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

Value: Average. Could be higher if this particular batch was a bit better - this one is still good but not as good as the other two I’ve reviewed above - but still quite a good buy for 70$.


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: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.jpg
ABV
45.2%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak (twice)
Recipe
~72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Woodford Reserve (Versailles, Kentucky)

Woodford Reserve has a cooperage on site, and when I was at the distillery in 2014 they had just released this whisky and it was sold out everywhere. It is a combination of two types of casks – a heavily charred lightly toasted barrel and also a lightly charred but heavily toasted barrel which the whisky is matured for 9 months in, bringing out all sorts of oaky notes.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L300611542

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A rich, oaky, caramel-laden nose. Decadent caramel, apples, pear, cucumber, marmelade, plum jam, burnt toast, and hazlenut. It is interesting to taste woodford – because it is pot distilled, it is a lot narrower and in some senses cleaner than the typical column distilled bourbons, which means the grain comes out completely different – sharp, clean, and spicy. The oak is massive – if there was an oak centre of the brain, this would fry the circuits. The palate is full of charred oak, plum jam, caramel, smoke, and lots of spice – with lots of tannins, too. Oaky, and heavy. The palate, as they say, is going to oak – but this is a lot of oak – too much for me. It’s not that I don’t like it (I do, and I like tannic whiskies...), but I feel it doesn’t quite compete on the stage that other bourbons do. The finish is full of spice, dense fruit jam, charred oak, and tannins. Quite creamy, and it opens up as the bottle stays open.

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

Value: Average, at $72.


Review: Yellow Spot 12 Years Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Yellow Spot 2.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
Ex-bourbon, Ex-oloroso, and Ex-malaga casks
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

Another independent Irish whiskey bottling from the producers of Green Spot, matured in ex-bourbon, ex-orloso, and ex-malaga (a sweet fortified wine made from pedro-ximinez and moscatel grapes, originating in the town of Malaga). It took its time coming to North America, coming in 2015 - but it was orignally a 12 y.o. product of Mitchell and sons (along with an 8 y.o. blue spot, a 10 y.o. green spot - the current version is now 7-10 yrs old, and a 15 y.o. green spot) which dropped off the shelves in the 1960s and came back with the increasing popularity of Irish whiskey.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L710131139 08:55

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Woody and complex on the nose – loads of spices and a terrific, rich, barley character to it. An earthy character, dried apricots, prunes – terrific nose. Oak, star anise, oily, green grass, vanilla, caramel, red fruits...The palate is lightly oaky, with custard, dried fruit, and nutmeg and clove on the slightly drying finish. The mouthfeel is just terrific – mouthcoating and oily.

Definitely more cask driven than Green Spot, but it works really well. A very different whiskey – I like it a tad less, yet I’d pay more for it (does that make sense to anyone? It’s in a style that tends to be more expensive) - but my preference depends on the day.

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

Value: Average, at $100.


Review: Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Green Spot.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
75% Ex-bourbon casks, 25% oloroso sherry casks
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

A lot of Irish whiskey is bottled by independent bottlers, and this is one. The name, Green Spot, comes from the tradition of painting casks of different ages different colours in the Mitchell family, the company who still produces the brand. The Mitchell family started in 1805, sourcing the whiskey from the Jameson distillery (Midleton) - but only made its way to North America in 2014.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L719231278 16:42 11/07/17

  • Bottling Date: 2017

What a nose! Vanilla, green pear, limestone, ripe yellow apples, peaches, green grass, white pepper. What a nice pot still character. Rich and oily. Loads of apple juice on the palate – still very fruit forward, spicy, herbal, and oily. Honeydew, sunflower seeds, too. The finish has rich, earthy barley with a bag of mixed spices, almost with a chilli heat to it and spicy cinnamon. Still lots of nice oils, sunflower seeds, and green apple, pear, and peach.

I’ve had this a few times in the past, but reviewing it formally has been a revelation. Just a terrific whiskey – complex, interesting, a great background or foreground sipper, with a great finish and wonderful pot still character.

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

Value: Average, at $86.


Review: Redbreast 21 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Redbreast 15.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
21 yrs
Recipe
Malted and Unmalted Barley
Distiller Midleton (Midleton, Ireland)

When this first came out (2013 if I’m not mistaken) – it was one of the most desirable bottles in all of whisky to try. I love the redbreast line, being a big fan of the 12, 12 Cask Strength, and the 15 – so another extension, older, and bottled at 46% made me interest. On top of that, many reviewers who I trust rated it very highly – Whisky Advocate with a 96, among others – it received the 2nd perfect score in the Ultimate Beverage Competition. I don’t usually trust the „medals” of competitions – but those at the very top certainly do achieve something. So, I splurged when I found this in the US after it just came out, but now it is more of a regular release – recently appearing in Canada this last year. Let’s see how it held up to expection. At the time, the oldest single pot still whisky ever released, with some whiskies as old as 25 years going into this first batch (now there’s a 25 year old redbreast)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L32423156 12:04

  • Bottling Date: 2013

The nose smells old, but is still surprisingly bright. Very oaky, and spicy alongside that – like the spices from French oak you encounter in a spicy, woody cognac. Dried citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit), rich and rooty earth, dried hibiscus petals, dried mango, a good dose of dried peach, currant, clove, vanilla, dried ginger and yet bright notes as of gooseberry, red grape, dried hibiscus flower. Yet with all this I still don’t have a handle on the nose.

The mouth has brilliant texture. Here the oily, sweet and grassy profile of the pot still comes through brilliantly. And we have citrus, dried fruit, oak, vanilla, dried mango, star anise, and still lots of peach. Brilliant grain character too, with spices and oak creeping up and battling the peach as the finish starts to unfold. It’s oaky, but not as oaky as expected after that nose. The finish has peach, oak, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and some green tea. Just brilliant!

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

Value: Low (Based on $250).