Parker’s Heritage Malt

Parker’s Heritage Collection Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey Aged 8 Years
54% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
Not much really. We know that it has a mashbill of 65% malted barley and 35% corn and was distilled at the company’s Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. Then it matured for eight years on the 5th and 7th floors of Heaven Hill’s Rickhouse Y in Bardstown.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Malty (no surprise), oak, bit of smoke with a subtle cornbread sweetness.
Palate: Starts sweet caramel candies, then starts to dry into a more cereal, crisp light spice.
Finish: Moderate and dry (a bit astringent).
Comments: Quite pleasant, and to me not similar to some other US Single Malts (as this isn’t a single malt). The corn in the mashbill comes through, and makes for a unique experience with more sweetness. If you’re a whiskey-geek, I’d definitely look to give this a try. If you like bourbon but not scotch, or vice-versa; it might be a bit expensive to find out. While I would not want anyone to think it is “like bourbon”, I would consider it “more like bourbon” than I would “more like single malt”.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Corn syrup poured over a malted grain covered floor.
Palate: More syrupy sweetness over a bowl of Malt-o-Meal.
Finish: Dry and a little hot more grain forward notes at the end.
Comments: If you are thinking “Parker’s Malt” is anything like scotch it would be difficult to be more wrong. This drinks more like a corn whiskey than any “malt” I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly sweet and all the grain, malt, and cereal notes come more toward the back. It’s not unpleasant at all. It’s just a bit of a one trick pony. There is nowhere near the depth of flavors here as what you would come to expect from the Parker’s line. For $100 I would probably pass on the bottle but it’s worth a try if you see it at your local watering hole.
Rating: Stands Out

Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye

Michter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
55% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
Since the 1990’s, the Michter’s team has been doing pioneering work to re-establish the high quality American Rye whiskey category. The May 2015 inaugural release of Michter’s US 1 Barrel Strength Rye marks yet another milestone in that quest. For maturation, the Rye distillate is entered into the barrel at 103 proof, rather than a more industry standard higher proof. Barrel entry at a lower proof of 103 rather than a higher proof costs Michter’s more money in terms of barrels and warehousing, but we believe it yields a richer, smoother, more full-bodied whiskey after proper maturation. A single barrel product, each barrel of Michter’s US 1 Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye is bottled at its particular alcohol level at the time of bottling. The majority of barrels in the inaugural release range from 108 to 110.8 proof. To savor it is a unique experience for anyone who enjoys Rye whiskey.

Production: Single Barrel. Limited quantities
State of Distillation: Kentucky
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
Cooperage: Fire-charred, new American white oak barrels
Barrelling Strength: 103 Proof
Bottling Strength: Each barrel is bottled at its particular alcohol level at the time of bottling. The majority of barrels range from 108 to 110.8 proof.
Tasting Notes: Butterscotch and cinnamon with a hint of cherries on the nose; warming, rich, toasty vanilla and caramel up front with a dry oaky spice on the finish

What Gary Says:
Nose: Rich, fruity spice; a little water really opens it up – bringing brown sugar and a touch of (seriously) BBQ sauce.
Palate: Really nice thick mouthfeel with warm pepper spice, fruity (but not citrusy – more like figs, apricots); a touch of water brings out some nougat and cocoa.
Finish: Lingers nicely, and stays wet.
Comments: This is a really unique rye, it makes me think of Lot 40 Malted rye (not that you would ever mistake the two, but something about it makes me think “malted rye”). I sampled this a few times over a two week period, and it is honestly the first whiskey that – with a touch of water – brings to mind BBQ sauce (and not in a bad way!!) This does go into the barrel at a lower proof than most in the industry (103 proof, where many/most go in at 125 proof), and I think that certainly contributes to the lovely mouthfeel and uniqueness. Rye fans will appreciate what this has to offer, although be prepared to pay for the experience.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Toasted nuts, burnt churros, and a nice vanilla sweetness.
Palate: Dark chocolate, cracked pepper, and caramel come out first. Spend more time with it and you get nice dark fruit notes weaving through it.
Finish: Much more woody than spicy with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
Comments: This is a very nice high proof rye. It’s not necessarily nice enough to warrant the price tag but to be honest I have the same complaint about everything Michter’s puts out. I’m not the hardcore rye hound that Gary is but I appreciate a well made rye like this. It doesn’t bowl me over in any particular way but it’s nice. I will enjoy the bottle I bought. However, given the price I won’t buy a second.
Rating: Stands Out

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon
45.7% ABV
$45 to $50
What the Bottler Says:
Introduced to great acclaim in the Fall of 2014, Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon is a groundbreaking whiskey expression. It is made by taking Michter’s US 1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon and then aging it for an additional period in a second custom made barrel. This second barrel is assembled from 18-month air dried wood and then toasted but not charred. The truly unique and delicious taste of Michter’s US 1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon represents a remarkable achievement given that it is Kentucky Straight Bourbon with nothing extra added or done except placement in a second toasted barrel.

Production: Small Batch. Limited quantities
State of Distillation: Kentucky
Bottling Strength: 91.4 proof (45.7% Alcohol by Volume)
Cooperage: First Barrel: Fire-charred, new American white oak barrels
Second Barrel: Toasted but not charred barrel made from 18-month air dried wood
Tasting Notes: Campfire and cinnamon, with pecan and candied fruit. Lingering finish of baked pears, vanilla, and marshmallow

What Gary Says:
Nose: Soft mustiness, leather, cigar paper, fall leaves with a subtle sweetness – hints of vanilla, tapioca and caramel.
Palate: Nice, creamy mouthfeel, woody but also young; fairly subdued spice that is slow to present itself.
Finish: On the short side, and a little forgettable.
Comments: This whiskey has no age statement, and not being a “straight bourbon” we can only guess how long it spent in either the first or second cask. Michter’s states that this is using their US1 Straight Bourbon Whiskey (which also has no age statement, which would imply a minimum of four years old in the original barrel) before introducing it to a second barrel that is toasted rather than charred. For all of that work, it left me wanting. To my palate, it came across as young, with the nose having more of the toasted oak influence and not as much sweetness. It is interesting, but is priced where it needs to be more than interesting for me to recommend it.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says:
Nose: Burnt sugar, curdled corn pudding, and cinnamon with an odd “meaty” base note.
Palate: It’s more floral in the mouth but the flavors are very muted. I would dare to almost call this bland.
Finish: Hot and dry. Not pleasant at all.
Comments: Wow was I not impressed with this at all. I probably wouldn’t reach for this a second time on flavor alone (unfortunately I bought a bottle) but the nearly $50 price tag makes this down right painful. It’s a no age stated bourbon that Michter’s refers to on their website as a “straight” bourbon. I’m guessing from the hot finish and the lack of much in the flavor department that this is more on the young side and pretty close to four years old at the far end.
Rating: Probably Pass

Rhetoric 21 Year

Rhetoric Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 21 Years
45.1% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
An experiment in maturation, Rhetoric is re-released annually to explore the flavor characteristics imparted by each additional year the bourbon spends in wood, allowing for side-by-side comparisons. Aged in charred American oak barrels for one year longer than last year’s 20-Year-Old release, this rich, complex bourbon represents an exciting evolution in the progressively aged Rhetoric series. Throughout the process, the base Rhetoric liquid remains unchanged, with progressive aging expected to continue through the release of Rhetoric 25-Year-Old in 2019.

The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company was created in 2014 to find and share forgotten barrels of whiskey with discerning adult fans, who are encouraged to sip responsibly. Rhetoric 21-Year-Old follows five previous Orphan Barrel bourbons: Barterhouse (20-Year-Old), Old Blowhard (26-Year-Old), Rhetoric (20-Year-Old), Lost Prophet (22-Year-Old) and Forged Oak (15-Year-Old).

Rhetoric stocks were found at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Ky. The bourbon was distilled in 1993 at the Bernheim Distillery historically located at 17th and Breckenridge in Louisville, Ky., while owned and operated by United Distillers. Rhetoric 21-Year-Old is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tenn.

“The progressive aging experiment we’re employing with the Rhetoric series is incredibly unique,” said Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for DIAGEO. “We’re going to be able to compare a line of bourbons side-by-side to see how aspects of the liquid – color, aroma, flavors and mouthfeel – are impacted by extra time spent in the barrel. Like many others, I’m looking forward to tasting what one extra year in the barrel does to these bourbons over the coming years.”

Compared to last year’s release, Rhetoric 21-Year-Old is richer and more complex, with a fuller mouthfeel and slightly higher proof of 90.2 (45.1% ABV). Aromas of cherry, sweet tobacco, honey and leather build upon the oak, fruit, vanilla and caramel of Rhetoric 20-Year-Old. New tasting notes of sweet tobacco, dark chocolate, baking spices and honey complement the charred wood, caramel, vanilla and black pepper spice of Rhetoric 20-Year-Old.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Big oak; the charred bottom of freshly baked spice cookies.
Palate: Less wood than the nose telegraphed, rich sweetness; burnt caramel, ginger snaps, molasses.
Finish: Long, but fairly dry.
Comments: After trying a few times, I did a comparison with the previous year’s release of Rhetoric 20 yr, and found them quite similar. This has a nice, rich mouthfeel at the front of the palate, and then dries out through the finish. 21 yrs is a long time in a barrel, and while there is heavy oak influence, it isn’t what I would call over-oaked. The Rhetoric 20yr was the first Orphan Barrel release I purchased, as I was intrigued by the opportunity to sample whiskey that was distilled at or about the same time over a series of releases. I wouldn’t say there was zero difference between the 20 and 21 yr, but it is very subtle – which isn’t a big surprise (many believe most of the wood influence takes place early on).
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, deep tones of caramel, cinnamon, cherry, and polished leather.
Palate: The palate comes on more slow and muted than the nose. Cherry candies, vanilla extract,
Finish: Medium length going from a chewy sweetness into deep, slightly spicy oak.
Comments: Old and woody with more on the nose than the palate delivers. You’ve probably heard this story before about 20 plus year bourbons and it’s kind of the same here. This should’ve gone to bottle a few years earlier. It’s kind of scary to think they are continuing to age it for later releases.
Rating: Stands Out

Whiskies of The World 2015 – Atlanta (pt. 2)

And now for the spirits part of my Whiskies of the World review.

My strategy for the night was to survey what the non-Kentucky Southern distillers had on offer. Does, as Andre Benjamin put it, “the South got something to say,” or is it just organized noise. Before I start talking about the spirits on hand, I want to point out that this type of event is not necessarily the best place to acquire detailed tasting notes on a variety of whiskies. There are a lot of distractions and you inevitably develop palate fatigue regardless of your degree of restraint.

The short form take away is what I expected, the best “craft” bottlings where (at least in part) MGP products. Most of the stuff actually produced on premises was very young and tasted like it. I’m always torn about craft whiskey. I support it in concept, but rarely is it executed well enough to justify the price tag. That being said, there were a few whiskeys that I enjoyed.

Thirteenth Colony’s Southern Rye Whiskey was a revelation. It doesn’t taste like any other rye on the market, but not so much so that it loses its rye-ness. There is the spice you would normally expect in rye, but the mint that usually hangs in the back like a ghost is very forward. The whiskey is finished with French Oak spirals which gives it an added sweetness. The end result is akin to a Mint Julep. Perhaps next Derby Day, I’ll skip the muddle and just throw some of this in a glass. Thirteenth Colony admits to mixing MGP in with their own make for some bottlings, but I cannot remember if this is one of them.

Palmetto Whiskey, located in Anderson, SC (coincidentally where I spent the first few years of my life), produces a line of flavored “moonshines” as well as three whiskeys (Whiskey, Rye, and Wheat). I tried a few of their straight “moonshine”, a couple of their flavors, and their Whiskey. The moonshine is what you would expect of white whiskey, nothing mind blowing. The flavored offerings, flavored with real fruit juice, were sickly sweet but that’s probably the point. The whiskey, however, was delightful. The nose on this was outstanding. It was very bourbon-y on the palate. There wasn’t a lot of complexity, but that could have been palate fatigue.

One last Southern craft whiskey that I’d like to talk about is John’s Single Malt Whiskey from John Emerald Distilling Company in Opelika, AL. They had two bottlings with the same label, but I was told that one had spent marginally more time in a barrel than the other. Oddly, to my palate, the younger one tasted better. Tasted excellent, in fact, for such a young spirit. Does this mean that John’s Single Malt will never get better or that it has a lot of potential? I’m not sure, but I’d like to find out. I want to keep checking in with these guys and see where it goes.

I’d like to give a shout out to Corsair’s Barrel-Aged Gin. It’s not whiskey, but it is from Tennessee and it’s pretty delicious.

Moving away from my central directive, I thought I’d check out the two Nikka offerings that Richard had recently reviewed. Richard preferred the Coffey Grain to the Taketsuru 12 year old. I felt exactly the opposite, but it was also the very last thing I drank. So, I’d like to do another side by side to make sure.

Thanks to Whiskies of the World and Becca at 360 Media for hooking me up with a press pass. I’m forever grateful.

For more information on Whiskies of the World and a schedule of future events go to their website.

If you are a distiller or represent one and would like for Whisk(e)yApostle to do a formal review on any of the whiskies in your line, please contact Richard.