Dram Review: Michter’s 20 Years Old (Barrel No. L16956)

[57.1%・20 Years Old・Official Bottling・Barrel L16956・Single Barrel Release of 588 Bottles]

Nose:

Praise be! Heavenly mahogany with smooth vanilla and leather interwinding seamlessly, well aged cigar leaves, stately yet endearing.  Wood smoked bacon in time with some thick toffee creaminess and buttery treats surfacing.

Palate & Finish:

Wow, honey soaked raisins and dried muscats, the sweetness oozes out from the oak and is elevated by the cinnamon; as the wood slowly gains ground, it releases menthol cigarette that is layered with this sticky sugary note of dried strawberries together with a brush of chilli spices that gives the dram a wee kick.

The finishing appears to be dry with aged oak and sandalwood, yet the syrupy base once again reveals itself, lengthy and mellow with a hint of almond sugar.

Thoughts:

Ah.. simply divine, brilliantly seasoned and orgasmically satisfying.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Years Old (Bottled Circa 2014)

[45.2%・20 Years Old・Bottled in 2014・Buffalo Trace Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A complex nose, an intensely rich dose of brown sugar drenched walnuts with an orange zing.  Hearty doses of cinnamon spices, leather and smoked sandalwood with some vanilla, thick toffee, dark chocolate and raisins.  The char is sweet and mesmerizing..

Palate & Finish:

Big charred oak presence, sweet on the palate with some candied apple, orange peels and a hint of salted caramel.  Some lighter floral and honey notes float around, cinnamon and milk chocolate before the woodiness blankets over things.

A satisfyingly soothing finish of seasoned char, wood oil and lasting warming spices.

Thoughts:

A hospitable, beautiful bourbon. In my honest opinion the oak really makes for a special experience..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac (Fall 2009 Release)

[69.5%・7 Years Old・Distilled in 2002・Bottled in 2009・Buffalo Trace Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Big peppery nose at first, then cinnamon, Chinese hawthorn, charred oak, orange and tanned leather.  Eye watering pungent spices.

Palate & Finish:

A thick maple sweetness first appeared on the palate, a couple of lemon twists to lift the body as the caramel and milk chocolate moves in along with apricots and tea.

The spices and oak take over in the finish.

Thoughts:

I suppose one ought to buy into the idea of full proof rye to fully appreciate this dram, not exactly a problem for Australians now is it..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: George T. Stagg (2007 Release)

[72.4%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 1992・Bottled in 2007・Buffalo Trace Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose comprises of sticky walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar and burnt toast. Homey but heavy.

Palate & Finish:

Condensed brown sugar sweetness on the palate with the spices being rather overwhelming.  Such power displayed from the grain and oak.

The spiciness stays on for a long while with notes of leather and dried fruits slowly being released from the high proof shackles.

Thoughts:

There is a certain exhilarating thrill with this bourbon, fiery and sensational.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Sazerac 18 Years Old (Spring 2015 Release)

[45.0%・18 Years Old・Bottled in 2015・Buffalo Trace Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose: 

The nose is real attractive, cherries with a polite splash of cinnamon and perfect almond of buttery sweetness, freshly baked almond cookies, wholesome vanilla, brown sugar and this fine Horween leather note giving this fine satisfaction like a generous bosom.

Palate & Finish:

Green apples, apricots and grapefruits, the initial citrus is soon replaced by the fairly dry rye note, tobacco and menthol with ample of oak giving this classy burn.

Dark chocolate dust lingers on with the rugged oak and hint of pineapple syrup in the aftertaste.

Thoughts:

The nose is as satisfying as it gets as far as my limited rye experience goes..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Koval Single Barrel Mikkeller (Cask No. MK 5)

[40.0%・NAS・ Official Bottling・Cask No. MK 5・Sngle Cask Release]

Nose:

Citrus car fragrance, lemongrass, grapefruit peels, creamy mangos, finger limes and a whole bunch of over-ripen tropical fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Finger limes and green kiwi, with a nice vanilla sugar note, hint of greek yoghurt to go with passion fruit coulis and yoghurt coated sultana, the grain spirit is minimal here.

Soft finish, more green kiwis as well as this tangling pineapple enzyme-esque sensation.

Thoughts:

This is not anyone’s typical whiskey per se but it’s funky and more importantly, immensely fun and dangerously drinkable.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Seven Stills Chocasmoke

[47.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2016-2017・ Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Meaty barbecue smoke with some eucalyptus, burnt rubber and sandalwood on the nose.  Stewed green apples coated with cinnamon served with some Vienna almonds and some limestone dust.

Palate & Finish:

Full of mint chocolate, very sweet with a burst of menthol cream, almost a carbon copy of After Eight slices.  Gingery with green apples and short bread biscuits.

More menthol in the finish, with hints of caramelised peanuts, vanilla sugar and toffee crisp.  Dried orange peels with traces of bitter chocolate.

Thoughts:

The dram is full of fun/funk, on point with the experiment of using chocolate oatmeal stout and peat.

I must admit I didn’t have much expectation going into it, but this was certainly a pleasant surprise.

[Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Seven Stills Fluxuate

[47.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2016-2017・ Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

The nose is a blast of quirky aromas, syrup, dates, cinnamon dust, cashew milk, almonds and hazelnuts all shuffled together.  Raw sugar and white peaches with a slight hint of earthiness that after a while reveals itself as deep roasted barley that fares like Chinese twenty four herbs, smoky and macho.

Palate & Finish:

Dried dates with plenty other esters coming through, spirit-y with notes of vanilla grain, milk chocolate and red cherries before a good cinnamon burn.  In time, the hint of espresso ground grows very, very herbal and almost overwhelmingly so.

A bit of a drop off in the finish after as the cinnamon burn subsides, a bit of burnt pastry.

Thoughts:

Funky stuff, a youngling that does get some coffee cues from the use of coffee porter brewed with cold brewed.

It has a fun profile but the dram doesn’t hold up after sitting for a while. Alas, the Fluxuate is a core release so later batches should fare better..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Rock Town Single Barrel Reserve Cask Strength Barrel #120

[57.4%・NAS・Bottled in 2015・ Official Bottling・Cask No. 120・Sngle Cask Release of 220 Bottles]

Nose:

Oozing of caramelised banana, oily spirit with plenty of cinnamon powder and pitted red tart cherries. Solid doses of vanilla, golden honey and molten caramel folded atop each other, grows rather grainy in time.

Palate & Finish:

Juicy red cherries and a buck load of spices. Hot cinnamon and chilli pepper. Very much still very raw with the alcohol not feeling quite tamed at all, almost thinner like.

The burn goes on for a while, the alcohol remains unpolished with some charred oak note.

Thoughts:

Sound extraction of flavours from the oak but definitely needs more time for the spirit to mellow out.

Very much a work in progress..

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Old Forester Statesman

[47.5%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Quite an oomph of citrus, orange peels and on the dry side of things with a noticeable lean on the wood.  The char asserts itself confidently, cloves and tobacco at first and chocolate milkshake, honey and corn syrup sweetness to follow.

Palate & Finish:

The spirit lays bare as it’s dressed with orange essence.  Quite young indeed with some pear nectar joining in before a sudden wave of overwhelming spices.  Hints of milk chocolate and toffee wash up afterwards.

Light fruits and slight creaminess with a curious bitterness from the tannins and leather.

Thoughts:

It is said that the Statesman is created from casks that have been ageing in the “warmest places at the warehouse”, which supposedly allows more interactions between the spirit and the wood.  It does not appear that emphasis on wood influence pays off on this occasion.  Perhaps the sequel will do better..

Cheers to Brown-Forman Australia and Tonic PR for inviting me to the media launch and thank you to Zeta Bar and Mr. Millhouse for hosting us.

-Nicholas