Ninety 20 Year Old

Ninety 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky
45% ABV

What the Distillery Says
After 20 years in charred oak barrels, we have drawn and blended from our cherished reserves to present the most discerning of whiskies. Expect a smooth, luxurious depth of flavour rich in oak, spices, and a light fruit sweetness.

What Gary Says
Nose: Sweet, corn, banana nut bread with maple syrup drizzled on top, hint of malted barley and brown sugar.
Palate: Molasses, subtle raisins and baking spices (clove, allspice), a soft/round mouthfeel.
Finish: Fairly short and uninspiring.
Comments: I picked this up while in Ontario based on the label. Some of my favorite rye whisky has been from Canada (such as the earlier batches of Jefferson’s 10 yr Rye), so seeing a 20 year rye for under $40 – it felt like I was stealing! My old man used to tell me “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is” – although in my defense – he was with me and didn’t stop me from pulling the trigger. Having said all that – it is interesting. It is NOT a rye whiskey by the American definition (my understanding is that this is a corn-whiskey mashbill done in the “rye style” – whatever that means). But it has gentle nuance, and isn’t off-putting. It also isn’t something I’d go out of my way to acquire either.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says
Nose: Big creamy vanilla nose with notes of caramel and bananas. Vanilla ice cream topped Bananas Foster anyone?
Palate: Very sweet and creamy. It reminds me of vanilla cream (like in Boston Cream Pie) sandwiched between two oatmeal raisin cookies.
Finish: Surprisingly alcohol forward on the finish.
Comments: Rye? No. Not like we think about it here in the states. This has more in common with an aged grain scotch. No bad but not inspiring either.
Rating: Average

Corsair Old Punk

Corsair Distillery’s Old Punk Pumpkin and Spice Flavored Whiskey
46% ABV

What the Distillery Says
Yeah….basically nothing.

What Gary Says
Nose: Sweet malted barley, bright spice – anise, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, a “pumpkin spice” vibe without much “pumpkin”.
Palate: Sweet and bright, although thin on the mouthfeel, fall spices (cinnamon, allspice) but less intense than the nose; a malty note.
Finish: Short and a bit dry.
Comments: Interesting. I’m not a big fan of flavored whiskey, but tried this in 2012 and thought it was interesting (although it was one in a lineup of 20+ samples – so, there’s that!) Now – I find it less interesting. I do like to use this in my aged egg nog recipe (ok – not “mine” but Alton Brown’s). Nothing off putting about it – the nose is interesting but the palate isn’t as flavorful. It reminds me more of a scotch than a bourbon – more gentle and not heavy handed.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says
Nose: When you see “whiskey” by an American distiller I wouldn’t assume bourbon/rye anymore. This one is more in tune with a mixture of highland scotch, Swedish Glogg (look it up because it is delicious), and a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.
Palate: Sweet…too sweet…with lots of cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, Malt-o-meal.
Finish: Dry and alcohol forward.
Comments: I appreciate experimentation. Even though I’m a bit of a stodgy whiskey drinker I appreciate experimentation there too. However, I am very much over selling the crappy experiments to unsuspecting whiskey buyers. Try out all the funky crap you want but don’t try to pawn it off on me for $40 or $50 or $100 a bottle. There is a reason that Corsair stopped making this.
Rating: Probably Pass

Mellow Corn Bottled in Bond

Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey Bottled in Bond
50% ABV

What the Distillery Says
Mellow Corn is authentic American Corn Whiskey, a unique kind of straight whiskey that is rarely seen. As corn whiskey, it must be at least 81% corn grain in the mashbill and can be aged in new uncharred or used charred barrels.
The forerunner and kissing cousin to Bourbon, American Straight Corn Whiskey has a recipe or mashbill that includes the minimum of 81% corn, the rest being malted barley and rye. As world-renowned whiskey writer Jim Murray wrote, “If you are a true student of whiskey, your education is a long way from being complete until you have mastered this particularly charming form.”

What Gary Says
Nose: Sweet cornbread with vanilla, a hint of honey and oak.
Palate: Corn sweet, vanilla with a bit of a bite.
Finish: Short and dry with a slight peppery edge.
Comments: I’m not a huge corn whiskey fan, but this is the standard bearer in the category. It isn’t something I reach for very often, but if you’re learning about whiskey I think this should be a required core class. As corn is the major component in bourbon, it helps to understand what it brings to the party, versus that of the “flavoring grain” (typically rye, or wheat). Spoiler alert – this won’t be as complex as a 4 year old straight bourbon, but it helps in identifying “corn sweet” from other flavors. And as an inexpensive product, I think it’s a no brainer to give it a try.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: A bit hot and alcohol forward before opening up honey drizzled warm cornbread.
Palate: Great viscosity, just nice a oily in the mouth with a delicate vanilla sweetness.
Finish: Hot. Wood that’s been wet and rolled in cracked black pepper.
Comments: Gary pretty much sums it up. Not stellar but required reading for all new bourbon enthusiasts.
Rating: Average

George Washington Rye Whiskey

George Washington Rye Whiskey
Batch 2014B (Nov), Bottle 1731
43% ABV
$100 (375 mL)
What the Distillery Says
This special bottle of George Washington’s Rye Whiskey® is one of a limited number of bottles distilled at George Washington’s reconstructed distillery at Mount Vernon.

The mash bill, or recipe, was discovered by researchers examining the distillery ledgers for 1798 and 1799. His whiskey consisted of 60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley. The records also indicate that George Washington’s whiskey was distilled at least twice before being sent to market. In Washington’s time whiskey was not aged and was sold in its original form. The whiskey in this bottle accurately represents that process.

Mount Vernon staff used Washington’s original mash bill and traditional 18th-century methods in the production of this rye whiskey. This included grinding of all the grain in Washington’s water-powered gristmill, fermenting in wooden mash tubs and distilling in copper pot stills heated by wood fires, making this rye whiskey as close to the original recipe as possible.

What Gary Says
Nose: Thick, robust cereal, corn bread and freshly baked rye bread; a hint of barley malt and pine.
Palate: Rich, creamy, sweet corn and sweet barley malt with a bite of pepper and a touch of sourdough bread.
Finish: Fairly quick (although more pleasant than the other white dog whiskies evaluated during the same sessions).
Comments: In early 2015, I visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery and Gristmill, and bought this bottle (despite not being a fan of white dog). They make whiskey a couple times a year, using the same techniques used in George Washington’s day (almost completely by hand!) They sell a limited number of bottles, and I was anxious to taste what whiskey back in Washington’s day may have tasted like. In that period, whiskey wasn’t aged (at least not intentionally), so the unaged rye whiskey was as close as I could get (although I guess something aged for some odd months might have been more accurate – who knows). Besides the methods used, this is a much lower proof than most white dog on the market today. And of the three white dogs I reviewed, this was hands down my favorite. Quite interesting, with a lot more going on in terms of depth of flavor on both the nose and palate, and a thicker mouthfeel. I would absolutely love to try this with some real age on it, based on what I’ve read about lower proof distillates. Don’t get me wrong – this was an expensive taste of history, but it left me with no regrets.
Rating: Must Try (if you’re a whiskey geek; otherwise try before you buy!)

Heaven Hill Trybox Series New Make Rye

Heaven Hill Trybox Series New Make Rye
62.5% ABV

What Gary Says
Nose: Alcohol, crisp, only a hint of corn; some water brings out a note of anise and tamps down the burn.
Palate: Warm, sweet – with corn and anise followed by a bite; some water really brings out the anise (like liquid licorice) along with a sugary sweetness.
Finish: Peppery on the finish, but unremarkable.
Comments: At this proof, it needs water – otherwise it doesn’t have much going on (not that you expect a lot from white dog). This was my least favorite of the three white dogs I reviewed, although nothing off putting. Not being a fan of white dog, this fit pretty squarely into what I expect, if not a touch less interesting than that.
Rating: Average