Bulleit Rye (70cl, 45%)


Rye whiskey in my opinion is one of the most misunderstood drinks on the market today. A quick scan of the many reviews on the net reveals comments such as “a great mixer ” “rough” and “not for the fainted hearted” and “it makes a great “old fashioned.”   In the early days rye was the looked upon as something to warm you after a hard days work on the farm on a very cold day. A bit rough and uncultured. Thankfully this is changing and there are some really good ryes out there.

Tom Bulleit‘s “frontier” Bourbon has near-cult status among his admirers, and at long last the man has decided to branch out into a second product.

That product is Bulleit Rye, “the worst kept secret” in the whiskey world and a smashing way for Bulleit to double its shelf space.

The more well known sister whiskey Bulleit Bourbon has 28% rye in it already, making it the most rye-rich Bourbon on the market. Bulleit Rye has 95% rye (and 5% malted barley)  and it is made just across the Kentucky border at LDI (formerly Seagram’s) in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and aged for at least four years before being bottled by Bulleit at 90 proof . Produced in small batches it comes with an enviable pedigree winning a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.


I poured the rye in to a Glencairn glass and left it to open for ten minutes, I added no water or ice. In colour the whiskey is caramel with a touch of orange when held to the light, on rolling around the glass it is a little syrupy leaving long legs on the glass.

The nose is surprisingly gentle for a whiskey with 95% rye content an a little caramel, cinnamon, and cloves accompanying the slightly briny rye

The taste is where the rye spice really appears. It may have been slightly muted on the nose, but on the palate it comes roaring out. Cinnamon, cloves, honey, a light peppery sensation and buttery toffee underpinned by smooth caramel. There is a hint of mint and sage before back to sweet caramel. Surprisingly complex and very easy to drink but still within the robust rye traditon of letting you know you are drinking whiskey!!!

The finish is long and dry with notes of caramel and vanilla very smooth with a soft note of cinnamon lingering long after drinking.

This whiskey is very good, it is surprisingly understated in the nose but complex and flavoursome on the palate. This is maybe not be a whiskey that would spring to mind to drink straight and many may will only ever encounter it as a mixer but it has beautiful flavours which challenge the senses making this a real sipping whiskey!

Thanks to Christian at John Scotts for the recommendation


The World’s Best Bourbon? (Part 2)


Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old isn’t what I’d normally put down as a choice for the whisk(e)y or bourbon of the year. It’s not in attainable price range, easy to find or even regularly released. On the other hand it is that good! The quality of this product is second to none and there’s no substitute for that standard of aging and distillation!

This is indeed my spirit of the year!

The #1 rated Bourbon Whiskey in the world with a 99 out of 100 rating by the World Spirits Championship. This bourbon is aged 20 years and bottled at 90.4 proof.


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The bourbon is a dark gold, amber colour. On rolling around the glass the bourbon is quite light in consistency with medium legs.

The nose is initially spirit forward, this is followed by sweet citrus, notes of orange and citrus peel. This is followed by caramel, sweet stewed fruit, soft wood and christmas spices. This is all rounded of by a drier hint of dark chocolate.

The flavour is rich and soft with an initial hint of soft oak. You are then just grabbed by the mouthfeel of this bourbon, it’s like drinking silk! This almost reminds me of a very high quality cognac. This is followed by hits of vanilla and almond sweetness. This is rounded of by a note of orange oil and soft caramel.

The finish is really long with honey sweetness and more prominent spice this is just heaven!

If you get the chance please grab a glass of this bourbon! It is simply the best in the world and a great way to round off 2015!

I just hope I can find something nearly this good next year!


The World’s Best Bourbon? (Part 1)


Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is the flagship brand of bourbon whiskey owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company (which does not actually own or operate a distillery, but rather has it produced under a contract with another company). It is distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is often regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, and is rare to find on the market due to its very low production and high demand

I always wonder if this is due to the rarity, expense or nostalgia that leads to these types of tag? Not just in whisk(e)y but any “luxury” item. Can the 12 year old which I’ll be looking a in this review or the 20 year old which I’ll look at next live up to the acclaim and fanfare which accompanies it?


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The bourbon is an old gold, deep amber colour. On rolling around the glass the bourbon is quite light in consistency with medium legs.

The nose is Initially quite intense with note of alcohol coming forward. This moves away quite quickly developing in to sweeter notes of vanilla, treacle, caramel and demerara sugar surge forward. Sitting and getting to know the bourbon for a while lets you find some sour dough and mashed grain notes which come forward softly. This bourbon is very complex!

The flavour is again a beautiful balance of sweet and spice! Notes of caramel, oranges, vanilla and honey notes all come rushing forward! This is followed by more dry slightly bitter notes of coffee, chocolate, almonds and charcoal. the bourbon is very complex and very very smooth.

The finish long with hints of spice, sweet oak and caramel. Overall This is a wonderful bourbon , a little different from the 20 year old and almost as complex but more about that later!!

Normally I’d link you to somewhere this would be available but sadly I can’t find it! If you happen to I hope you love it as much as I did!





Basil Hayden’s (8 Year old) (75cl, 40.0%)


Basil Hayden’s is the lightest bodied bourbon whiskey in the family of Jim Beam small batch bourbons produced by Beam Suntory. It is 80 proof, in contrast with its three sibling brands of higher alcohol concentration (Knob Creek, Booker’s, and Baker’s).

The Basil Hayden’s bourbon brand was introduced in 1992 and is named in honor of Basil Hayden, Sr. Hayden Sr. was a distiller, and he used a larger amount of rye in his mash than in some other bourbons. Later, Hayden’s grandson Raymond B. Hayden founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label “Old Grand-Dad” in honor of his grandfather. The picture on the bottle was copied from a rendering of Basil Sr.’s likeness. When Beam Industries introduced their “small batch” collection, among the four was “Basil Hayden’s,” which the company says uses a mash similar to that originally utilized by Hayden in 1792.


I poured the bourbon in to a Glencairn glass and left it to open for ten minutes, I added no water. In colour the bourbon is dark amber, on rolling around the glass the whiskey is a little syrupy leaving long legs on the glass.

The nose is very gentle for a bourbon with an abundance of soft citrus fruits with a little honey and oak coming through.

The taste is again gentle and complex, soft sweet grains coming through with more citrus fruit and hints of honey. The rye comes to the fore with more spicy, cinnamon  toffee and vanilla! The end of the taste is absolutely beautiful!

The finish is long with notes of oak and vanilla. The bourbon is very smooth with a soft note of cinnamon lingering long after drinking.

This whiskey is very good, in fact it is gorgeous , gentle but complex. This is maybe not the whisky that would spring to mind and many may over look this gem. The beautiful flavours really challenging the senses making this a real sipping whiskey!

Being a little bit of a sucker for presentation I picked this up more for looks than it’s £70 price tag.

As a little festive gift to yourself or a loved one at this time of year you can’t go wrong!


Blanton’s Original Single Barrel (46.5%)


Blanton’s is a brand of bourbon whiskey produced and marketed by the Sazerac Company. It is distilled in Frankfort, Kentucky at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The Blanton’s brand was launched in 1984 under the guidance of the distillery’s master distiller Elmer T. Lee, as the first modern bourbon brand marketed as a single barrel bourbon. The original brand name was “Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon.” A single barrel bourbon is one for which each bottling batch is produced from the contents of only one particular aging barrel – not mixed with whiskey from any other barrels (and not blended with neutral spirits, colorings, or flavorings). The company says that producing a high quality whiskey using this production method requires constant monitoring of every barrel in the middle of the warehouse by the Master Distiller. The barrels are dumped by hand without using machinery. There are eight different stopper designs, each with a different letter of the alphabet molded into it and topped with a figurine of a racehorse and jockey. When placed in order, spelling “B L A N T O N’ S”, the horse and jockey’s poses display eight different scenes of a horse race, from standing at the gate, to crossing the finish line with a win.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is typically aged for 9 years. It’s aged in Warehouse H at Buffalo Trace, which is metal cladded warehouse. It’s the only metal warehouse at Buffalo Trace and Blanton commissioned its construction shortly after the end of prohibition. Being metal, the warehouse transfers heat quicker than brick warehouses, which allows for more rapid aging.

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The bourbon pours a dark amber colour. I added a teaspoon of water to a Glencairn glass and left the bourbon to develop. On rolling around the glass the bourbon is thin and leaves light legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose is quite nutty with notes of toffee and fudge followed by an aroma of dark sugar in the background. There are notes of oak, vanilla and wood spice through the middle of the aroma. The nose finishes with aroma of orange pith.

The flavour starts with notes of toffee, walnut, orange and hints of cinnamon. This is followed by soft notes of pepper, apple and vanilla through the middle of the taste. Toward the end of the taste there are drier notes of oak and vanilla which balance out the sweetness.

The finish is long with notes of vanilla and pepper spiciness which last long after drinking.

This bourbon is more complex and and absolute treat for the sense. With the notes of sweetness, spice and a hint of dryness which work together to create a tremendous dram!

This bourbon is available from Master Of Malt HERE!!



Eagle Rare 10 year old (45%)



Eagle Rare was originally a 101-proof ten-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (not single-barrel) created by master distiller Charles L. Beam. Introduced in 1970’s. Eagle Rare was among the last new bourbon brands introduced prior to the current era of ‘small-batch bourbons’.

The Sazerac Company, an American family owned producer and importer based in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the parent company of five distilleries, acquired Eagle Rare in March 1989. Sazerac’s Kentucky distillery was then known as the George T. Stagg Distillery. Today the distillery is known as the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The original 101-proof ten-year-old non-single-barrel bourbon has been discontinued in 2005


The whisky pours a dark copper colour and is thick and almost syrupy in the glass. I added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop in the glass for ten minutes.

This gave me a little more time to enjoy the very, very late showing of summer we are having this year. But sunshine is sunshine so I can’t complain too much.

On nosing the whisky is very sweet with notes of fudge and toffee jumping out of the glass straight of the bat. This is followed by notes of dry wood and cinnamon through the middle of the aroma. The nose is finished off by hints of cumin, sweet malt and banana.

On tasting there are again sweet notes of toffee, fudge and almond but this is balanced out hits of alcohol. Through the middle the softer spice notes become more prominent with hits of cinnamon and cardamom flooding the middle of the taste. The taste finishes with notes of wood, pine and a bitter almost herbal note.

The finish is long with a lingering sweetness and a soft alcoholic note.

Truly complex and fantastically well balanced this is an American whiskey worth looking out for!


Woodford Reserve (Distiller’s Select 43.2%)



I’ve taken my first foray in to the world of spirits with gin now I’m going to delve even further with Bourbon.

This to be honest is a type of spirit I’ve only taken notice of fairly recently and it is again not something I know much about.

Hopefully I’ll be able to pick this up as I go along and maybe again press-gang the little I know about beer in to tying to decipher this spirit…..and hopefully what I write will make some kind of sense.

Woodford reserve may have to be a drink where I put my prejudices against large brands aside, having looked in to their claims to be “small batch produced” & “artisanally made”. I found they are owned by Brown-Forman who own Jack Daniels amongst a host of other brands.

Hopefully they are just a backer and have nothing to do with the production, which is housed in the oldest working distillery in the USA.

Even when opening the bottle a waft of malt sweetness seems to appear in waves from the bottle. On pouring the whiskey is a light amber / rose gold colour.

I poured the whisky 15 to 20 minutes ago in order to allow the smell of alcohol to dissipate and allow some of the other notes to come forward.

The smell initially is very sweet almost like a burnt caramel and toffee, this is followed by aromas of stewed apple, butter, corn, cinnamon and a very light note of dried ginger.

Tasting without water: The taste seems more rye like, there are the sweet notes but these seem to fall away and be replaced by a dark malt bitterness. There are still notes of burnt caramel and vanilla fudge but these are a prelude to notes of clove, cinnamon, ginger, a floral grassy note and rye. The taste finishes with a smooth butter like note which coats the mouth.

The nose with water: The notes of Toffee and Caramel are more apparent with water. The sweet notes are even more apparent but this time they are followed by a rose water note. The spice notes have mellowed there are still notes of cinnamon but this is now dominated by apple and vanilla.

The taste with water: The beginning of the taste remains dry with much more rye and red malts coming forward. The sweetness remains with caramel and toffee at the fore but there are also dark sugar and treacle notes. There is again a note of rose water but this is followed by clove, cinnamon and ginger. The finish with water is sweet but to me slightly drier.

This is again a completely new territory to me and hopefully my tasting has made sense.

Having looked past my big brand prejudice I found myself really enjoying this whiskey and being challenged by what it had to offer. I bought this for £26 from Oddbins but it’s available widely and seems to be an excellent “starter” bourbon.