Category Archives: Taste of the…

Traverse City American Cherry

Traverse City American Cherry Edition
35% ABV

What the Distiller Says

When you live in the “Cherry Capital of the World” and come from a multi-generational cherry farming family, a cherry whiskey is a bit of a must. Our American Cherry Edition is different than most cherry whiskies on the market today and is steeped with Montmorency cherries grown on our family’s farm. We like to say that its flavor profile resembles “whiskey with a hint of cherry, not the other way around.”

What Gary Says
Nose: Cherry cough medicine.
Palate: Less heavy cherry than the nose, but still a LOT of cherry; barely “whiskey” essence.
Finish: Short and sweet.
Comments: I’m not a huge fan of flavored whiskey, but this one to me is less a flavored whiskey, then a cherry liqueur with a hint of whiskey. The cherry is really overpowering. If you like cherry, this might be a great thing. If you’re looking for whiskey with some cherry – I’d recommend checking elsewhere.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says
Nose: A mix of Luden’s cough drops and cherry flavor Popsicles.
Palate: All cherry. Cherry Fanta maybe.
Finish: Basically not even there.
Comments: I agree with Gary. This really seems like more of a liqueur instead of flavored whiskey. I don’t think I would drink this straight but maybe as a substitute for cherry herring or Luxardo liqueur in your favorite cocktail.
Rating: Probably Pass

We would like to thank Traverse City Whiskey Co. for sending us a bottle for review.

Traverse City XXX Bourbon

Traverse City XXX Straight Bourbon Whiskey
43% ABV

What the Distillery Says

Amber and elegant, our XXX Straight Bourbon Whiskey has been aged at least four years in new American white oak barrels. With warm vanilla and a little heat, this is your go-to whiskey for all occasions. Perfect for sipping, it still holds its own in your much deserved craft cocktail.

What Gary Says
Nose: Vanilla pudding with a hint of cinnamon and a layer of corn with musty/soft oak; a slight edge/bite; on the young side.
Palate: Thin mouthfeel with sweet corn, cinnamon, vanilla custard with some caramel; a touch of sour oak with a slight pepper note at the end.
Finish: Short to moderate in length and mellow while drying.
Comments: Growing up in Michigan, I was really excited to try this. While I found nothing off-putting about this straight bourbon (which is at least 4 yrs old), I also didn’t find anything exciting or special. Each time I tried it, I walked away uninspired and reminded of young, craft whiskey. I didn’t pass the “would I prefer this over Evan Williams Black Label” test – even if priced the same (which they’re far from). Don’t get me wrong – this hits all the right notes for a straight bourbon with the vanilla and caramel. I suspect that the impression of being “young” is a function of being aged in northern Michigan compared to Kentucky.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says
Nose: The nose is predominated by malty corn notes. Not dissimilar from younger (4-6 year old) Heaven Hill bourbons.
Palate: Corn pudding and vanilla cream sweetness. The youth of the taste comes from it being more corn forward as a bourbon than any deficiency or harshness in the product. Nice for a young bourbon.
Finish: The finish is mellow and clean.
Comments: [A quick note on the bottle that we reviewed. The current release featured on Traverse City’s website is a four or more year old XXX Bourbon but the bottle we got and reviewed is labeled as a two or more year old XXX Bourbon.] I’m a bit gun shy on new “craft” bourbons because they are always overpriced and typically pretty awful. In opposition to that, Traverse City seems to be doing it right. It’s still pricey at $35 for a young bourbon but that is much more reasonable than like products. The quality of the product is pretty top notch too. It’s young but in a corn forward way. It’s not harsh or rough at all. I hope they are laying down stocks for older versions because I would really like to try this again in a 6 or preferably 8 year old version.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Traverse City Whiskey Company for sending us a bottle to review.

Blood Oath Pact 3

Blood Oath Pact No. 3 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels

49.3% ABV

What the Blender Says
A masterful union of well-bred bourbons. Taking the lead is a far-from-shy, sharp and floral rye, finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a dry, blackberry and espresso complexity. This, coupled with a well-seasoned, rye bourbon, rich with fragrant vanilla, toasted caramel, oranges and oak. Be grateful for this fateful affair between Kentucky and California.

APPEARANCE Deep dark amber with long legs.
AROMA Caramel, vanilla, stone fruit, cocoa, oak.
PALATE Caramel, vanilla, creamy smooth from the barrel finish, toasted oak, apricots, higher spice than the previous pacts but still ultra-smooth for the proof.
FINISH Long lingering spice, balanced and surprisingly-smooth at this high proof, with lasting caramel and oak.
BARREL DETAILS Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Finish: For the third chapter in the Blood Oath epic, we’ve conspired with like-minded craftsmen in the heart of California wine country. Nestled in the Oakville region of Napa Valley—famous for its fertile, alluvial soil—Swanson Vineyard has been making nationally known and limited, small batch Bordeaux style wines for over three decades. These prized Cabernet barrels add an unforgettable layer of complexity to the whiskey.

What Gary Says
Nose: Thick, rich dark fruit with chocolate, allspice, oak, cinnamon, and a touch of smoke (maybe cigar paper); together reminds me of a toasted marshmallow.
Palate: Creamy mouthfeel with intense sweetness (but not cloyingly sweet), salted caramel, dark fruit preserves, brown sugar with a spicy bite (but not overly sharp); solid balance with an oak undertone.
Finish: Moderately long, drying with pepper and cinnamon notes.
Comments: I haven’t had any previous releases (or “pacts”) in this series, but this is a very tasty bourbon. Solid balance between the sweet and spice without losing the oak, and none of those were overpowering. It is a bit brash/sharp, but not overly so – and a bit of water doesn’t hurt it (although I didn’t find it needed it – delicious neat). Sure – I’m not crazy about spending this kind of money on a non-age stated whiskey (to be honest, I’ve passed this on the shelves for that reason). But it is pretty solidly in my wheelhouse – and with pricing on most limited releases these days – I’d pick one up now that I’ve tried it.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says
Nose: Luxardo cherries, vanilla extract, roasted fruits, and a sharp bitterness. This whiskey wears its alcohol heavy on the nose. It’s a bit challenging to pull the pieces out. You would think that this ran about 20% higher in alcohol with the nose.
Palate: Caramel apples, Tabasco, wet pulp, more vanilla extract, and cherry pie filling.
Finish: The finish is a bit hot with heavy wood, black pepper, and tannic influences.
Comments: This is a very nice and enjoyable whiskey but it wears the alcohol hard. A couple of splashes of water settle this bad boy down to a nice enjoyable experience. I am admittedly not a fan of wine finished, or really any finished bourbons. The exceptions are far fewer than the ones that come up short. However, this is definitely one of the better ones. I’ve heard that Pact 3 is the best yet and far superior to the first version of Blood Oath. I’ve only had this one and cannot opine of such things but it is very nice none the less. The hardest thing for me to swallow about this bourbon is the price tag. It’s a solid $50 bourbon. It’s an interesting $75 bourbon. At $100+ I would let this one pass. If you are lover of wine finished bourbons (Jefferson’s Groth, etc.) then you may find this one pretty stellar. For fans of good old fashioned middle of the road bourbon, you may want to keep that Benjamin in your wallet. I highly recommend trying before you buy if at all possible.
Rating: Stands Out

Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask

Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
57.2% ABV

What the Distillery Says
For several years, our Friends of Laphroaig have been interested in tasting a Cask Strength version of our popular Laphroaig Quarter Cask — which offers an irresistible doubling of flavour, due to the double maturation in two barrels made of American oak. This year we decided to bring this dream into reality.

First fill Makers Mark casks have been used for the first maturation of 5+ years in Warehouse 1 next to the Atlantic Ocean. Different ages have been awoken temporarily to be brought together, before laying to rest for a second time in our smaller quarter casks (125lt). After a further 6 month maturation, the liquid from 177 of these casks were put into the bottle at Cask Strength, with no colour, no chilling and a simple barrier filtration.

What Gary Says
Nose: “Classic Laphroaig” profile – medicinal (band-aids, iodine, rubber bands), sea air, peat, earthy – but with a really nice hint of sherry sweetness followed by some smoke; not as hot or sharp as I’d expect at this proof.
Palate: Oily mouthfeel with sweet malt that kicks up after a bit, with pepper, peat, sour oak and smoke throughout.
Finish: Fairly long and with a drying peppery smokiness that leaves me wanting more.
Comments: I’ve found that Laphroaig is typically one of those “polarizing whiskies” – most folks either really like it or don’t care for it at all. I’m in the “really like it” camp. Laphroaig holds a special place for me as the first Scotch I fell in love with, and my first sip of this one lit me up inside. It reminds me of Laphroaig PX Cask, which I really enjoy (but unfortunately can’t buy retail in the US). It has that nice sweetness added to the peaty/medicinal/sea-air profile. This drinks like a lower proof pour – and while water doesn’t hurt it (really maintains that nice oily mouthfeel), I didn’t find myself needing to add any. If you’re a fan of Laphroaig, I’d absolutely look for a chance to give this a shot.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says
Nose: The nose of this reaches out and grabs you. As soon as it goes from bottle to class the smokey, seaweed laden smell come right at you. Spend more time with a bit of water in it and creamy vanilla notes start to come out.
Palate: More of that rich and creamy vanilla hits you first before it starts to settle in to campfire smoke and a classic Laphroaig astringent medicinal flavor, not unlike Bandaids.
Finish: I’m left with a heavier medicinal finish and wisps of smoke. There is also something there that’s almost meaty.
Comments: The only Laphroaig better than Laphroaig is cask strength Laphroaig. If there is every a scotch that carries proof well it is Laphroaig. This is everything good about the Quarter Cask kicked up a notch. I’m saying this is a must try whisky but you don’t care for Islay scotches then this probably isn’t for you. It’s not the most interesting Islay out there but if you like your scotch young and peaty then this one is for you.
Rating: Must Try

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

Great King Street Single Cask

Great King Street Artist’s Blend Single Marrying Cask
Dekalb Bottle House Exclusive, Cask No 6

49% ABV

What the Blender Says
(When referencing the standard Artist’s Blend, Compass Box says):
Rich, round, fruity. Artist’s Blend is a tribute to a time when blenders used an artistry, creativity and craft to make this combination of flavourful single malt whiskies and delicate single grain whiskies one of the world’s most famous drinks.

What Richard Says
Nose: This bottle still has that fruity, spicy, oak nose but made more robust by the additional time in new French oak.
Palate: Big vanilla sweetness pops out right away. Creamy peach custard, vanilla sugar, a nip of black pepper around the edges.
Finish: The oak and spice come big time on the finish. Lots of cracked black pepper and allspice.
Comments: This version takes the blend to a new level. The finished blend is then filled into new French oak cask and matured or married for an additional year. That plus the addition of pushing the proof from 43% to 49% makes the already delicious Artist’s Blend a more muscular and imposing version of itself. This is only available through a handful of liquor stores around the US. Dekalb Bottle House is the only store in Atlanta that got one. They bought cask 6. At $50 a bottle this is pretty much a steal. Go, now, hurry and get a bottle before they are all gone.
Rating: Must Buy