Category Archives: Taste of the…

William Larue Weller (2008 Release)

William Larue Weller 2008 Release
62.65% ABV/125.3 Proof
Limited availability of annual releases

What the Distillery Says:
The combination of exceptional aging and the use of wheat in the mash bill produce a whiskey with a very mature, rich and exotic aroma. Its flavor has been described as full, evolving and sophisticated, with notes of vanilla, teaberry, and cinnamon.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Without water the nose is difficult to discern due the exceptionally high alcohol content. With water the nose opens up but it is crazy busy. There are so many different things flying through the nose that it’s still hard to nail them down. The nose on this is very pleasant but is very challenging for me. The only things I can isolate are oranges and honey.
Palate: Without water it’s oily and peppery, most likely coming from the alcohol. Vanilla and cinnamon are the first things that come through with a good measure of water added. It’s also kind of grainy. Cinnamon topped oatmeal maybe.
Finish: The finish is dry and woody without water. Much smoother than I would expect from the bottling proof. With water this goes down like butter. Who says bourbon has to burn? It does leave a very oaky aftertaste.
Comments: I really like this bourbon. I think it’s a good example of what wheated bourbon can be. It’s not as smooth at bottling proof as George T. Stagg but with the right water ratio I think it really shines.
Rating: Must Try

What Matt Says:
Nose: Without water, I get palm sugar and orange shellac. With water, it’s like a carnival (without the carny b.o.); cotton candy, candied green apples and fried dough. Really lovely.
Palate: You certainly know it’s high proof. Warming and dry with dark fruits and palm sugar. It’s not as sweet or complex as the nose suggests. There are a lot of cereal notes, like a hot multigrain breakfast cereal.
Finish: Fire and fresh cut oak.
Comments: Perennially the weak spot in the antique collection, this is still a fine whiskey. Be judicious with the water. While this will never be as smooth as George T. Stagg, trying to make it so will kill the flavor long before yo get it down to regular bottle proof (40-45% ABV). This one will always burn you. Just like that carny with the ring toss game.
Rating: Must Try

Overall Rating: Must Try

Penderyn Welsh Whisky

Penderyn Aur Cymru Single Malt Welsh Whisky (March 09)
46% ABV/92 Proof
Around $65
Available in select markets

What the Distillery Says:
At premium strength (46%) Penderyn has an exceptionally balanced taste with an aroma of cream toffee and fleetingly of fresh new leather. Then, as the initial sensations fade, the finishing notes of tropical fruits, raisins and vanilla emerge strongly and are long lasting.

Like Welsh Gold (Aur Cymru) this malt whisky is rare and precious. Handcrafted and Madeira Finished.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Ripe fruits, floral sweetness, aged and polished wooden furniture, and well worn leather. Very brandy-like. Cognac in the 10 to 20 Year Old range more than anything else.
Palate: Macerated orchard fruit but not citrus. It’s more like peaches and apricot but not sweet at all. Vegetal under currents. A good bit of heat and spice that seems to be coming from the youth of the whisky and alcohol more than the inherent flavor profile.
Finish: It leaves the lips numb. More woody on the finish. Those vegetal notes show up more pronounced on the finish than the palate.
Comments: This is definitely an interesting whisky. The nose alone makes it stand out. I love the nose. The palate is pleasant and should develop with some more years on it.
Rating: Stands Out

What Matt Says:
Nose: At the back there is a distinct “whisky-ness” about it (an echo of smoke, caramel and crème brulee that reminds me of Springbank). The predominant scents are more akin to sour fruit candies. When I was in the UK, I got addicted to these Starburst Jellybeans. They were a lot better than the ones we get over here (actual fruit juice and different flavors). The two flavors that really grabbed me were the pink grapefruit and black currant flavors. This smells exactly like those tasted.
Palate: Cantaloupe, barley malt, green wood and sap. More oak than the nose suggests.
Finish: Slight burn with lingering oak.
Comments: This is a very nice dram. Its easy to drink. Its not all that complex, so you can drink a lot of it. It easily holds it’s own with other entry-level drams from the rest of the UK. However, for the price point, I want a little more complexity. I love Wales and there is nothing else like this out there, so I would buy a bottle of it for the novelty. I would drink it all and not necessarily buy another bottle based on this bottling. I’ve enjoyed past bottlings much more and look forward to future bottlings.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average

Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Famous Straight Rye Whisky
40% ABV/80 Proof
$15 to $20
Widely Available

What the Distillery Says:
Produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or Monongahela rye whiskies, Rittenhouse is a much acclaimed rye now enjoying a renaissance in the major metro markets of the country. Rittenhouse is a tribute to the classic rye whiskies that were once the preeminent American whiskey style, kept alive through the many lean years by Heaven Hill and two other Kentucky distilleries.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Spicy and oily with hints of tobacco hide under the surface.
Palate: Sweeter than expected at first and then the sweetness continues to dance around the edges of the palate. The middle palate is oak with mild spice.
Finish: Smooth. Most likely from the low alcohol content rather than the character of the whiskey. The aftertaste is chewy with kind of a bitterness that isn’t unpleasant. It leaves you rubbing your tongue on the side of your mouth.
Comments: This particular whiskey comes in two expressions, the standard reviewed here and the bottled in bond version. It is almost universally accepted that the BIB version is superior. I don’t disagree but don’t dismiss the standard bottling out right. It’s a solid rye that can go down straight but makes excellent cocktails.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Nose: Cloves, orange zest and pipe tobacco (a rich, sweet blend).
Palate: That pipe tobacco is right there, along with some oak, anise and clove.
Finish: Smooth. The bitterness Richard alludes to reminds me of when pipe tobacco gets too moist and some of the juices back up into the stem (sharp and sweet).  However, what I get most is a minty taste and a menthol-like numbness that I associate with menthol or clove cigarettes.
Comments: Like Richard, I believe this one really shines at 100 proof.  The 80 proof version represented here is quite tasty and a good introduction into the world of rye whiskey, but the extra water really cuts out some of the complexity.  If you are looking for a gateway rye or a great mixer for old time cocktails, look no further.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average

Evan Williams

Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
43% ABV/86 Proof
$10 to $15
Widely Available

This is interesting because it’s the first time we’ve actually been asked by one of our registered user to review a whiskey. “cwilson” in Atlanta wanted our thoughts on Evan Williams. I know Matt doesn’t have a bottle of this handy so I’m taking a moment during my brief dictatorial reign while he’s on sabbatical to post about EW so here goes…

What the Distillery Says:
Evan Williams, the second largest selling brand of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the U.S., is named for Kentucky’s first distiller of 1783. As the flagship brand of Heaven Hill’s Bourbon portfolio, Evan Williams’ extra aging gives it a richer, smoother Bourbon taste than the competition.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Charred oak, honey, citrus, and the slightest hints of tobacco.
Palate: Very creamy on the mouth. The palate doesn’t stand up to the promise of the nose. There is a light sweetness and mellow oak without many other pronounced flavors except a hint of licorice. It’s easy to drink but there’s not much there to make you want another.
Finish: The finish starts mildly peppery and then settles into a well worn oak. Not offensive but not stunning.
Comments: First let me give props to Heaven Hill for continuing to bottle EW at 86 proof when so many others like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam have gone to 80 proof. Kudos boys! I was surprised how easy EW was to drink. It’s not all that flavorful but it goes down well.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Matt has not had a chance to review this whiskey

Crown Royal Reserve

As Matt mentioned earlier, he’s taking a few weeks off to move and likely set up his lavish whiskey den. That means that you poor souls are stuck with just me for a while. I’ll be doing solo reviews (which Matt will pile onto when he get’s the chance) and posting my various whiskey related ramblings. First up on my solo sojourn is a review of Crown’s next tier of whisky (which I didn’t hate).

Crown Royal Reserve Blended Canadian Whisky
40% ABV/80 Proof
$40 – $45
Widely Available

What the Distillery Says:
This special gift from our Master Blender is flush with sharp, nutty top-notes of rye and is anchored in the cornerstone of all Crown Royal blends, which have a rich, smooth batch base. Andrew MacKay personally selects each whisky in the blend to create this masterpiece.
Color: Rich, golden amber
Nose: Rich and complex, with a slight apple flavor and floral tones
Body: Full and perfectly balance
Palate: Velvety smooth and mellow, with defined oak tones and rich, spicy flavors of cinnamon and vanilla

What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose is very similar to the standard expression of Crown Royal but with more fruit and less nuttiness. This is more brandied and caramelized than the typical fruit found on the nose of whiskeys.
Palate: This is a much more mellow palate than standard Crown Royal. It’s like Crown’s answer to Gentleman Jack. The palate has less flavor than the entry expression but that’s actually a good thing. It definitely smoothes out the rough edges.
Finish: Again much more mellow. The flavors all quickly fade to oak. It’s a very heavy oak. It’s kind of like licking cords of wood.
Comments: This kind of restored some of my faith in Crown Royal. I’m still probably not going to keep a bottle of this at home but I wouldn’t avoid it either. If you’re a fan of Canadian whisky then definitely give it a try.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Matt has not had a chance to review this whisky.