Category Archives: The Collector’s Cabinet

Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve

Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve 13 Year Old
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (slope shoulder bottling)

45% ABV
$25 originally/highly collectible now
What Gary Says:
Nose: Rich, vanilla crème brulee, toffee, soft oak, subtle anise and a hint of sherry; very nice balance.
Palate: Creamy/silky mouthfeel, rich vanilla, raisins, oak, subtle sherry, slight rye spice that builds up with hint of cinnamon.
Finish: Moderately long, nice and lingering.
Comments: This is a dusty bourbon, part of the Bourbon Heritage Collection released in the mid-1990s. I found this bottle in 2014, and paid $30 for it (when initially released, it was a few bucks cheaper – probably part of the reason it sat on the shelf where I picked it up for so long). Likely not to find again (unless you want to spend around $250), but if I saw it on a shelf – it would be a no brainer pick up for me. This is a delicious bourbon. I’m not a fan of Old Charter’s other products necessarily, but this is probably in my Top 10 of favorite pours. More often than not with a 90 proof bourbon, I think “If only this was at a higher proof”, but I think this is perfect the way it is.
Rating: Must Buy (at retail . . . )

What Richard Says:
Nose: This one starts off with a bit of a musty nose that makes me think of bourbons much older than 13 years like some of the Orphan Barrel releases. As it opens up a bit it comes through more as apple danishes, Boston Cream filling, and candied ginger but there is still quite a lot of wood and tobacco driven “oldness” to it.
Palate: Rich and delicate don’t often go together but they really jam here. Creamy, syrupy vanilla that rolls out seriously dry.
Finish: This finishes very dry and heavy on the wood.
Comments: Two of my best drinking buddy’s really love this bourbon. I really value their opinions (yes Gary is one of them) but this isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. This comes across too old and dry. It’s also one dimensional too. Intense in that dimension but one dimensional all the same. I find this interesting as a study in bourbon history and at the price that Gary found this one I would recommend picking it up but I wouldn’t pay collector prices for it.
Rating: Stands Out

Springbank 12 Year Old (Green Thistle)

Springbank Campletown Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Aged 12 Years
46% ABV
What Richard Says:
Nose: Big, meaty, sulfuric sherry on the nose with bits of raisins and caramel covered nuts.
Palate: Oily, rich, sherry sweetness and layers of tobacco and leather showing the older malt mixed in.
Finish: Long and polished. Wood is barely evident.
Comments: I pulled this out of a back shelf at a Kroger liquor store in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen in the wild. These older Springbanks are typically referred to as “Thistle” releases because the labels of various versions of the 12 year old have different colors of thistle under the Springbank insignia. This version is the “green thistle” version. This version came in two variations: a 46% and 50% variation. What makes these unique is the extraordinary components. In the mid to late nineties when these were bottled there were a number of casks in the 30 to 36 year old range that had evaporated to below 40% ABV and thus could not be bottled by themselves. This malt was used to “water down” the existing bottles of standard Springbank. Usually this is done with distilled source water so you can begin to imagine the impact of mixing in 30 to 36 year old scotch instead. The result is a simply amazing “12 Year Old” single malt from Springbank. It tastes nothing like Springbanks on the shelf now. If you see one you almost have to buy it. At least buy it for me. 🙂
Rating: Must Buy

Balvenie RumCask 17 Year

The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky RumCask Aged 17 Years
43% ABV
What the Distiller Says:
The Balvenie RumCask 17 Year Old was matured in traditional oak casks before spending a second period of maturation in rum casks shipped from Jamaica.


NOSE A vibrant aroma with intense floral and fruity notes. Orange peel, lavender, coconut and a hint of ground nut oil.

TASTE Beautifully sweet with characteristic Balvenie vanilla notes backed up with subtle spiciness of cinnamon and silky oak.

FINISH Exceptionally smooth and long lasting

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heavy rum influence on the nose. The combination leaves it almost brandy-like. At first you would pick the preceding casks as bourbon due to the rum influence but give it time and a nice sherry note comes floating out.
Palate: Rich, creamy, and rather sweet. The sherry with the rum finishing definitely pushes up the sweetness factor. Nice toffee and honeysuckle notes. A good dose of vanilla and mint add to the mix. Honeydews and mangoes round out the taste tour.
Finish: A like hot but quickly mellows to a slow soft wood. This is a little more understated than I would’ve expected.
Comments: A very dessert appropriate Balvenie. The rum and it’s resulting sweetness may seem a little over played for many palates but I love it.
Rating: Must Try

Balvenie Signature

The Balvenie Signature Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged Twelve Years
40% ABV
What the Distiller Says:
The Balvenie Signature Aged 12 Years is a classic marriage of The Balvenie matured in the three most traditional cask types, first fill bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry. Produced in small, numbered batches, each cask used is hand selected by Malt Master David Stewart to ensure he achieves the expression’s unique character of honey, spice and subtle oak. David Stewart crafted The Balvenie Signature to mark his 45th year in the whisky industry.


NOSE Rich and complex with honey, citris fruits and vanilla oak notes

TASTE Rich and honeyed with a hint of sherry fruitiness. A spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg and a subtle oakiness develop with time.

FINISH Warm and lingering.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Sherry and a slightly soured cream.
Palate: Lighter more delicate expression of Balvenie. Light honey sweetness, malty, with heavy cereal notes, and mild play between white pepper and oak.
Finish: Crisp, dry, oaky in a raw, chewed toothpick kind of way.
Comments: This isn’t going to rock your world or anything but it’s a fine introductory malt.
Rating: Average

Woodford Reserve Four Grain

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Four Grain Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Batch #1
46.2% ABV
$80 then, collectible now
WR 4 Grain
What the Distillery Says:
Kentucky bourbon distillers traditionally cook, ferment and distill a three-grain mash bill or recipe. Corn is the majority grain as required by bourbon regulation, and malted barley is necessary for natural starch-to-sugar conversion. That leaves the other grain choice to the distiller’s discretion. Rye is the preferred grain for creating a spicy, fruity bourbon character. Wheat delivers a soft, nutty profile. In the Master’s Collection Four Grain bourbon we have combined corn and malted barely with both rye and wheat. This unique combination has created a flavorful bourbon rich in fruity, baking spices and soft cocoa notes. It is a bourbon to sip and savor straight up, or with a single ice cube if you prefer it chilled.

What Richard Says:
Nose: There is no nose like a Woodford nose. It’s prevalent in all their bourbons and bourbon experiments. Buttery oak with notes of citrus and a rich nutty character.
Palate: A great creamy sweetness. Heath toffee, Rolo caramels, slight acidic citrus. Layers of hazelnuts and vanilla.
Finish: Dry and clean with a linger hint of oak.
Comments: This was the first of the Master’s Collection from back in 2005. I’m not one for “dusty hunting” or bunkering whiskey away. Anyone who regularly follows Whisk(e)y Apostle knows I’m a drink it if you got it kind of guy. That said, this one has been squirreled away in my cabinet for years. I recently opened it when we had friends over to the house for dinner. Honestly, I was surprised at myself for not opening this sooner which was the driving reason I opened it then. It wasn’t a blind buy. I had a few bottles of batch 2 when it came out and loved it. I really wish this made it into production like Seasoned Oak to Double Oaked did.
Rating: Must Buy