Craigellachie 17 Year

Craigellachie Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 17 Years
46% ABV
$150
Website

What the Distillery Says
Smooth and mellow, the aroma opens with vanilla and rich, silky notes of exotic fruits with a hint of smoky liquorice.

To the taste this 17 year old Craigellachie delivers a smooth, sweet palate, with a smoky, lingering finish.

What Gary Says
Pending

What Richard Says
Nose: Thick and meaty with lots of raked wet leaves, vanilla incense, and black licorice.
Palate: Rich and deliciously sweet. Honey Nut Cheerios, vanilla cream filling, and a deep balancing “green” flavor.
Finish: The finish is very grain forward and of medium length.
Comments: Yes please! On my recent trip to Scotland we stayed in the town of Craigellachie. And even though we did quite a bit of whisky tourism, I never actually made it to the so named distillery. However, I did sample many lovely expressions of their malt at the bars and pubs in the area. Each was delicious. This bottling is no different. Dave Broom describes the paradox of Craigellachie as muscly and sweet. Very true words. I highly recommend trying this great malt, which until recently was relegated by it’s owner to being just a blend component. I can live with a few less bottles of Dewars in we can see this malt sing on its own.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Dewars for sending us a sample to review.

Angel’s Envy 2017 Cask Strength

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon whiskey Finished in Port Barrels
2017 Release

62.25% ABV
$180
Website

What the Bottler Says
Ranked the “Best Spirit in the World” by Spirit Journal, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels is unlike any whiskey you’ve ever tried. Angel’s Envy is releasing fewer than 8,000 bottles of our award-winning Cask Strength this year, so don’t miss your chance to pick up a bottle or two of this rare and delicious spirit.

Perfection is a patient man’s game. So we waited until Angel’s Envy reached the perfect level of maturity. We judge only a handful of barrels exceptional enough for our lengthy finishing process. The result? Even at 124.6 proof, every sip is worth savoring.

A remarkably complex and unfiltered spirit, we suggest you enjoy it neat or with just a splash of water to release the flavor nuances, and perhaps with a few friends who appreciate outstanding whiskey. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength was worth waiting for, now it’s worth sharing.

APPEARANCE Rich gold with an amber depth
NOSE Rose petals, dense fruitcake, fresh strawberries, cracked black peppercorns, clove
PALATE Caramel coffee, dried fig, aged tobacco, toasted sourdough bread
FINISH Rich and buttery, add water to soothe the burn and let the finish linger

What Gary Says
Pending

What Richard Says
Nose: Burnt caramel, fig pudding, and a wisp of campfire smoke. Water opens up more spices like clove, allspice, cinnamon, and a pinch of anise.
Palate: Light roasted coffee beans, Dominican cigars, and dulce de leche. Water opens up a slightly bitter note and some pleasant canned cherry pie filling flavors.
Finish: The finish is heavy on oak and very drying.
Comments: Over the last several years I haven’t seen much movement in the spirit released each year as Angel’s Envy’s cask strength bottles. It was consistently a very good but very expensive bottle of whiskey. This year’s release seems off to me. The wood dominates much more heavily than previous releases and you have to work to pull out the subtle aspects of the whiskey. It is not nearly as well balanced. Also, given the every growing price point I’m finding it difficult to recommend this year’s release. Without any insight into the cask strength composition, this feels like stocks getting released at progressively older ages and then this year it has gone a year too far.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Angel’s Envy for sending us a sample to review.

Jack Daniel’s Rye

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey
45% ABV
$25-$30
Website

What the Distillery Says
Introducing rye whiskey made Jack’s way. Crafted with our 70-percent rye grain bill, natural spring water from our own Cave Spring Hollow, and Jack’s time-honored charcoal mellowing process, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye is a whiskey that could only come from Lynchburg, Tennessee. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett and the whiskey makers of the Jack Daniel Distillery have created a unique rye that’s undeniably spicy and complex yet sippin’ smooth. It might be one of our first new recipes in over 150-years, but if you know Jack, you’ll know Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye.

70% RYE GRAIN BILL
CHARCOAL MELLOWED
A BOLD BALANCE OF SPICE & SMOOTHNESS

What Gary Says
Pending

What Richard Says
Nose: Upon first pour a spicy, slightly musty acetone note is predominant. A little more air time and more minty and peppery smells peek through with hint of banana liqueur and vanilla. Water opens the nose up to a delicious banana cream pie.
Palate: Nice kick. You can definitely tell it’s made by Mr. Arnett in Lynchburg but with a solid rye twang. Black and white pepper, warm rye bread, and grassy with a light banana bread sweetness.
Finish: It lingers with a black pepper dusting around the sides of the tongue and back of the mouth.
Comments: Certain distilleries have a relatively consistent note that rings true throughout nearly all of their products. At George Dickel it’s a chewable kids vitamin kind of thing. At Jim Beam there is a peanut like funk to their products. At Jack Daniels it is bananas. I’m not a chemist or olfactory scientist to know what causes that but I think that since I also find it distinctively in their Rye that it must me the yeast they use in the mash. I think the charcoal mellowing actually brings it forward more as it filters out other things. This rye makes me happy. It’s not a “HOLY SHIT” rye or anything. But it is a solid new product from a long established distiller at a reasonable price. I would happily keep Jack Daniel’s rye in my house for cocktails and the occasional sip. It’s not a deep contemplative rye. It’s just solid. And in a sea of MGP rye rebottlings from “craft” producers it’s nice to have another sub $30 rye option that tastes different. Add it to the stable with Rittenhouse, Wild Turkey Rye, and Jim Beam Rye. Kudos Brown Forman. You did this one right!
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Jack Daniel’s for sending us a sample to review.

Basil Hayden’s Rye

Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey
40% ABV
$50
Website

What the Distillery Says
To produce this very special batch of Basil Hayden’s Rye we employed a long known but rarely used “re-barreling” technique.

We start by aging a traditional rye four years, then transfer it to newly charred quarter cask barrels to age an additional seven years. The smaller barrels create more contact with the oak and allows more air to breathe into the cask. The result is an incredibly deep flavor.

It’s not easy or quick, but blending just a small amount of this “re-barreled” liquid into our Rye Whiskey amplifies its natural characteristics and creates a profile that shines in any serve. Find a few friends and try it for yourself. Then be sure to let us know what you think.

AROMA Warm baking spices, caramel, hints of wood and rye spice
TASTE Charred oak complimented by sweet brown sugar, touch of black pepper and dried fruit
FINISH Smoke and char notes wrapped in caramel

What Gary Says
Nose: Soft lemongrass with muted fruit and spice; bright along with some vegetal notes I can’t quite nail down; hint of pickles. All quite subtle – nothing aggressive about this nose.
Palate: Sweet entry that builds to an edge – but never quite sharp; slight spice kick near the end; crème brulee w/ orange zest toasted on top, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon and clove.
Finish: Moderately long and lingering, with pepper notes as it trails off.
Comments: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . . “Nice, but I wish it were higher proof . . . “ I’ll work on a different way to say that, but it holds true here. This is incredibly drinkable right from the bottle (and I was surprised that a couple drops of water opened it up further). It is softer and more refined than most rye, which makes it interesting in my book. While nothing off about this dram, it lacks anything that inspires me enough to go buy one. Basil Hayden has always been an oddity to me, as it is uncharacteristically soft in my opinion for a high-rye bourbon. This very much fits the brand profile. If you’re a big Basil Hayden bourbon fan, this might be right up your alley. If you’ve found Basil Hayden bourbon to be “too refined/smooth/soft” and are a rye whiskey fan – I’d definitely try this before buying a bottle.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: A very delicate fruitiness and orange blossom honey peek around the corners but the nose is almost not there.
Palate: More of a honey sweetness with a pinch of cinnamon but overall it is extremely bland.
Finish: The finish has just a bit peppery spice kicking in.
Comments: I can’t say that this impressed me. For a rye, especially a $50 rye, it is very uninspiring. As Gary said, fans of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon might like it but I can’t really recommend it to the masses.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Jim Beam for sending us a sample to review.

James E. Pepper Barrel Proof Rye

James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Barrel Proof
57.3% ABV
$35
Website

What the Bottler Says
* 114.6 Proof – Not Chill-Filtered – Over 90% Rye in the Mash Bill
* Full Flavored; deep notes of mint, spice, cloves, eucalyptus, chocolate, & honey
* The same exact whiskey as in the standard award winning 100 proof version, only straight from the barrel

What Gary Says
Nose: Hit of alcohol, sharp, bright, crisp, brash; unmistakably young rye with notes of citrus (lemon, orange; a hint of pineapple) and pickle juice.
Palate: Sharp entry, fresh orange zest and pepper spice, subtle sweetness with a hint of caramel.
Finish: Short and drying, with pepper notes lingering.
Comments: I was/am a fan of the James E. Pepper Straight Rye offering, which is this same whiskey but at 100 proof (and $10 or more less a bottle). For the extra dough, this adds 14 proof points – which normally I would celebrate, but I was underwhelmed. As a no-age-statement straight rye, I assume it is at least 2 yrs old, and likely not many days beyond that. I try to align my expectations accordingly, and wasn’t expecting complexity. I did find that with some water, I enjoyed this more – which left me thinking “Why not just by the 100 proof offering?” The water tamps down the rough edges a bit and lets the sweetness shine through on the palate, and the pickle juice become more prominent on the nose. Nothing off-putting about this for me, but nothing motivating me to buy another bottle either. If you’ve never had either of their ryes, I’d recommend trying the 100 proof bottling first – and only if you’re really happy with that, look to give this a spin.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says
Nose: Lemon zest, orange peel, grassy, and a bit of vanilla.
Palate: Orange blossom honey, vanilla cream, and a big blast of spearmint.
Finish: The mint lingers a bit but everything else is gone quick leaving a mildly unpleasant bitterness.
Comments: Meh. There is really nothing about this rye that makes it stand out. It’s not bad but it’s pretty plain. Try this at a bar if you are interested but I would grab a bottle of Rittenhouse bottled in bond for ten bucks less.
Rating: Average