Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review of the Smooth Ambler - Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 7 Years



With our second review from West Virginia based Smooth Ambler Spirits Co., we highlight the 7 year bourbon.  This expression showcases an excellent example of what this company can do and leaves us curious about other spirits yet to come. 

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Straight bourbon whiskey might not originate from the hollers of West Virginia, but the men and women who chose the juice certainly do.  This 7 year bourbon comes in at 99 proof and is produced by MGP in Lawrenceburg, IN.  Bottled in Maxwelton, West Virginia, this whiskey contains a high rye content of 36% and like the label says, carries a truly smooth taste throughout the whole drinking experience. 
Smooth Ambler does not shy away from their current business plan and it's no secret that some of their whiskey is coming out of Indiana.  Like any young distillery, it takes time to distil, age and produce, but what they do have from the beginning is their raw natural talent and the ability to determine what a good whiskey is and what is not. 
According to recent rumors, we will soon be treated to Smooth Ambler’s newest release and their first distillation – a bourbon that will be aged 3 years at 92 proof and will have a high corn mash bill.

Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Compared to the 8 year, single barrel, 110.4 proof we last reviewed, the 7 year 99 proof was a much smoother expression and provided a more pleasant finish than the higher proof whiskey.  Believing that single barrel would carry a more distinctive taste with more flavor, we again found that the 7 year bourbon had a more complex taste that filled your mouth with sweet caramel and toffee flavors.  I wouldn't turn down either whiskey, but I feel the mood would determine which bourbon I would choose.  
  
The Four Barrels Tasting Notes:

 Nose - A youthful bourbon, smooth aromas of rye and cinnamon. Reminds me of an afternoon walk in the fields of Kentucky.  Hints of maple and caramel along with toffee.

Taste - Very smooth up front and carries the same through the middle.

Finish - A pleasant spice that does not linger to long.  Little to no burn.   

Final Thoughts:



The 99 proof and age of 7 years is a good combination that brings this high rye content to a desirable level.  Unlike most young bourbons, this 7 year is at the beginning of the "honey years" of maturity for this mashbill. 


49.5% ALC. / Vol.
99 Proof
750 ML

Retail Price $38.99 - $45.99

Aged 7 years
Barrel No. 58
Bottle Date 2-5-14

Mash bill:

60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt 

Distillation Process;

Continuous Column distillation
General information per Smooth Ambler:

Awards:

Gold Medal, Best of Show & Best of Class, 2012
American Distilling Institute, 95 points, 2012 Wine Enthusiast
Silver Medal, 2013 San Fransisco World Spirits Competition

Smooth Amblers Tasting Notes:

Bold, sweet and spicy flavors with subtle apple, leather and cherry pipe tobacco.  Exceptionally drinkable for 99 proof.  Serve neat or use to make a helluva' cocktail.

Website: Smooth Ambler
Facebook: FB Page

Monday, November 3, 2014

Never Tamed - Review of the Wild Turkey 101 Rye






Wild Turkey Rye 101

Years ago this whiskey could easily be found on many store shelves. Originally released in small quantities to retailers in 2012, it was easily obtainable to the rye lovers.   The following year it returned to the market but to limited on premise accounts in 21 markets across the country, mainly bars and restaurants.  During that time, the sudden boom in popularity in bourbon and whiskey, it made it harder to find a bottle. Like the label states, 101 Proof, this whiskey has come back strong. This delicious rye has now been re-released to the general public and become a bit more plentiful to meet the demand of the whiskey enthusiasts.  The first time I had the privilege to sample this smooth rye was at a nearby Lexington bourbon bar that I often visit.  After tasting this high proof rye, I quickly started my search to found my own.  It took some time but my hunt was over and I quickly snatched up the first bottle I could find.

The nose of this spirit is quite deceptive.  Not as fruity and fragrant as many ryes as one would expect.  I anticipated to get floral notes but instead got a nose of lightly sweet caramel.   
The front of the palate was incredibly smooth.  Quite surprising for a rye at this proof.  Tropical fruits reminiscent of coconut and banana extend to a buttery smooth mid-palate.
The finish sneaks up very quickly with characteristic rye spice.  The finish is pleasant with only a slight burn.  

The whiskey lingers on the palate for some time with a long peppery sense with only a hint of the oak in which it was aged. 

Although it has no age stamp, based on the flavor profiles, I estimate that this is roughly a 6-8 year product.  Coming in 1 liter bottles for roughly $40 – this is a great example of a delicious rye whiskey.   



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review of Kentucky Owl Bourbon - The Wise Mans Bourbon



 An old Distillery that once flourished back in 1879 located in heart of Kentucky, has recently resurrected.  Kentucky Owl Bourbon Whiskey has made itself known once again.

The history of Kentucky Owl dates back to 1879 in North Mercer County, in a community called Oregon, just off the banks of the Kentucky River.  The bourbon was originally called Kentucky Owl Sour Mash Bourbon Whiskey, "The Wise Man's Whiskey."  Created by the late Charles Mortimer Dedman and his son, Thomas Curry Dedman, Sr, they aged and distilled Kentucky bourbon.  The Distillery was in production up to 1916, until the government enacted prohibition and ordered them to cease production of their whiskey.  The remaining barrels were taken then transported to Frankfort and put away in "Government Warehouse".  Soon after the government seized the barrels, and did not allow Dedman to purchase any type of insurance, the government warehouses mysteriously burned to the ground.  

Only until a few years ago when the fifth generation family member, Samuel Dixon Dedman, who currently serves as the Innkeeper of the family business of the Beaumont Inn, ran into a fellow Innkeeper by the name of Mark Carter during a convention being held in Austin, Texas.  As they started sharing stories, they started having discussions of the booming bourbon industry in recent years.  Once they realized they both had a passion for bourbon and Dixon having deep heritage in the whiskey business, they decided to work together and bring his family brand back to life. 
  

After working together to come up with the right blend, batch 1 was chosen.  Batch 1 comes from five barrels that were hand-picked from a pool of  20 to 25 that Kentucky Owl currently has in its inventory.  These barrels are all short of 8 years old.  The process of making the first batch included choosing five which were dumped at 4 years and then re-barreled in new charred American white oak barrels of differing char levels.  It's then bottled non-chilled filtered at barrel proof of 118.4

S. Dixon told us that they plan to release several more small batches of barrels from the same collection in the future.  The family is also putting away more barrels in hopes to operate their own still in the future.

With such a limited release of around 1,400 bottles, the first batch was only distributed in Kentucky.

Dedman's Tasting note:

“It coats the entire palate with an initial sweetness of caramelized sugar and dark fruit. The mid-palate sensation is of oak with a sweet cedar spice and slight citrus, while the finish is long, peppery and with a sweet dark cherry sensation."

The Four Barrels Notes:

Nose: The nose releases tropical flavors with coconut and an aroma of ripe banana along with creme brulee.

Palate: At first sip, it delivered a dense and viscous mouth feel that had a strong presence of rye and spice at the front.  Surprisingly it followed immediately with a rich soft mouth feel at the finish.  As if it misses the middle of your palate completely.  The finish is long and clearly spent  eight years in oak.  It carries a great thick flavor with intense berry fruits.

Overall Thoughts:

We thought this was a great start to a help revive a once forgotten bourbon.  The whiskey has good character and carried a solid flavor throughout the tasting experience.  We look forward to seeing what else comes from the Owls Nest and hope that more will be produced and the price will be more affordable for a larger group of people to experience what the Kentucky Owl has to offer.     

Batch 1
ABV: 59% 118.4 Proof
Price: $179 - $199

Beaumont Inn

Kentucky Owl Bourbon


* Information above was gathered from the Kentucky Owl website and personal emails from The Four Barrels and Kentucky Owl.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wigle Rye Whiskey Review Batch # 1 - A Organic Approach to American Whiskey






Wigle Whiskey is distilled and bottled in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania at the Pittsburgh Distilling Company.  They are the first distillery to open in Pittsburgh since the 1920's, when the Joseph S. Finch's Distillery closed their doors.  Just opening in 2012, they have been able to put out a number of different whiskeys, including this young 12 month rye whiskey, which was chosen for this review. 

The company and whiskey is named after a pioneer of whiskey, Phip Wigle, a man who was also considered a Whiskey Rebellion in the 1700's.  According to the history books, Wigle was sentenced to hang for treason for his leadership in the Whiskey Rebellion, but was pardoned by George Washington.  This is also why the "g" in Wigle is being hung by a noose. 

Wigle is one of a few craft distilleries in the United States that produces every product they make from scratch and from local organic grain.  They refer themselves as a "grain-to-bottle" Distillery, which they mill the grains on-site the same day they start batching and distilling their whiskey in a traditional copper pot.

Taste Notes According to Wigle:

 This is one of America's few pot-distilled Rye Whiskeys. We believe it to be the spiciest, most robust rye on the market  in keeping with the traditional of Monongahela Rye.
 
In this batch, we have combined ten 15 gallon barrels of rye whiskey.  In aggregate, this whiskey has a high rye mash percentage (over 70% by weight!).  The rye fermented for approximately four days.  The rye beer was double distilled.  After the first distillation, the alcohol content of what is called the low wines was between 26% and 29% ABV.  To be Rye Whiskey, it must be distilled below 160 proof and stored in new charred oak barrels (Vodka, by comparison, must be distilled at or above 190 proof or 95% ABV).   Four of the 10 new charred oak barrels contained whiskey that had been distilled at a lower proof (i.e., below 150 proof).  These barrels provide a more full bodied mouth feel to the whiskey as they contained more higher alcohols.  After distillation, we diluted the whiskey to cask strength.  By law, most American whiskey must be barreled below 125 proof or 62.5% alcohol. The whiskey had for the most part been barreled at or around 120 proof or 60% ABV.  After approximately 13-14 months, we emptied the barrels through a coarse coffee filter to remove any large pieces of sediment that may have come from the barrel.  However, we did not otherwise filter this whiskey in any other way so as to preserve the greatest amount of its flavor -- we do not chill filter or run the whiskey through charcoal.  As a result, sediment or flocculation may occur if the whiskey sits for an extended period of time.  This appearance is harmless and will disappear with a good shake to the bottle (With the cork on!).   

Tastes Notes According to The Four Barrels:

Nose -  At first scent, you immediately smell the "raw"ness and youth of this rye, which according to the distillers notes, is doubled distilled.  With the brief age on this rye, the scent has not been developed through barrel mellowing.  We considered the nose to have a young ripe banana sent with sweet spices.  With a few more years, the nose will develop to characteristic fruit notes.

Taste - If you measured this rye solely by its smell, you would miss what the flavor has in store.  The taste of this young rye was very surprising and was smoother then we had excepted.  The whiskey is very smooth, carrying more flavor than one would think in a 12 month whiskey.  There are hints of maple and vanilla in each sip.  We noticed that most, if not all of the flavor hits towards the back of the pallet.  Very little to no burn was present through the tasting experience.

Finish - Smooth and clean with very list length sitting on the palate.

We would suggest to drink this neat.  


The Four Barrels Rating - 4 out of 5 barrels



Batch # 1





April 28th, 2014
789 Bottles
750 ml
42% ABV (84 Proof)



Grain & Mash
Grain Type                Origin                            % of Mash
Organic Rye               West Salem, OH                                 72%
Organic Wheat                Newfield, NY                                 18%
Organic 2 Row Malted Barley                  Chilton, WI                                    10%


Price - $49.99 - $54.99
Proof - 42% ABV, 84 Proof
Color - Light Amber
Age - 12 months

WIGLE WHISKEY
2401 SMALLMAN STREET
PITTSBURGH, PA 15222
412-224-2827

https://www.wiglewhiskey.com/

You can also follow them on your favorite social media outlet as well:

@wigleWhiskey
https://www.facebook.com/wiglewhiskey
http://instagram.com/wiglewhiskey



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Angel's Share Trapped in a Bottle - Review of Angel's Envy Port Finish Bourbon



The birth of Angel's Envy was in the spring of 2010 and their opening spirit was the Angel's Envy Port Finish Bourbon.

 
The name Angel's Envy derives from the term “Angel's share”.  Angel's share is what distillers have called the evaporation of bourbon that is lost through the aging process.  On average, depending on the rick house, geographic location, and movement of a barrel, 4 to 5% of bourbon is lost per year to the angels.    


Angel's Envy currently produces three varieties of their craft.  The port finish bourbon, the rum finished 95% rye whiskey, and the cask strength bourbon (finished in port barrels as well).  We were fortunate enough to review the port finish and hope to see the rye and cask proof in the future.

 Like many young bourbon and whiskey companies, Angel's Envy is not distilling their own product.  However, recently they have finished a 100,000 square-foot production facility in Louisville, KY to handle the whole process on their own. 

Coming in at 86.6% proof, the bourbon is finished in the French oak barrels that were once used for aging port. These additional steps give the bourbon its smooth vanilla flavor complemented by a slightly sweet finish.  I believe this final process softens much of the alcohol “punch” one would get in a young bourbon like this.


Angel's Envy Port Finish Bourbon is a small batch that comes from 8 to 10 aged barrels at a time.  The average age is 6 years, but no age stamp is present.  Once the selected bourbon is ready, it is then finished in 60- gallon ruby port barrels made from French oak, which are imported from Portugal.  Angel's Envy will let the bourbon age an additional six months in these casks to create this unique flavor. 



Appearance - Gold color with a light reddish amber hues
Nose - slight vanilla, maple syrup and with a hint of almonds

Palate - Vanilla, maple syrup
Finish - Light Oak finish, little to no burn



Angel's Envy Bourbon Whiskey (750 Ml)
Retail Price: $46.99 - 49.99
Proof:  86.6

The Four Barrels Final Review - 3 out of 5 barrels

Overall, it's a good bourbon, but with its low proof and young age, it does not carry a rich complexity that a bourbon enthusiast would be looking for.  You get a hint of the port finish in the appearance but there is a strange absence of its aroma and character on the palate. 


Distillery: Louisville Distilling Co.

Website: Angel's Envy

Notable comments:  Awarded 98 points, by Wine Enthusiast

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review of Belle Meade Sour Mash Whiskey Bourbon



The Four Barrels are always looking for new products to try and spirits to review.  Recently, we stumbled across a unique bourbon that – surprisingly - we had not heard of before.  Unlike many of these micro-distilleries popping up around the U.S., this bourbon has a story a 100 years in the making.

Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery was established on Rocky Fork Creek in 1867 and was acquired in 1870 by Charles Nelson of Nashville.  Nelson's first whiskey held the title “Nelson's Best”.  The distillery produced whiskey until 1909.  At that time, Tennessee enacted prohibition causing the distillery to shut down.  

In 2011, Nelson’s great-great-great grandchildren, Charles & Andy Nelson, decided to resurrect the family business.  As of now, Belle Meade is the only product they are selling.  Belle Meade Bourbon is sourced from stock bourbon produced in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, but they are currently in the process of outfitting their own distillery and rickhouse in Nashville, TN and plan to revive Charles Nelson’s recipe for Tennessee Whiskey in the coming years.
 


-High rye content (30% rye)
-90.4 proof
-Small batch – 4 hand-selected barrels per batch

Age: Unknown.  We believe from the color and taste that this bourbon is at least a four year whiskey.  Also, we know that most bourbons coming out of lawrenceburg are around 4 years old.

Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana


Four Barrels Tasting Notes: (Neat)

-Nose: Maple syrup with a hint of tobacco and smoke
-Palate: strong sweet front with vanilla.  Surprisingly sweet given the nose
-Middle: Smooth and sweet
-Finish: slight spice.  With a 30% rye mash bill, it's not that distinctive

 We would suggest you serve this bourbon neat or use for cocktails.

Final Notes:

We look forward to what the future holds for Greenbrier Distillery.  We know this is a cut-throat market but there are many bourbon sippers out there that want something other than the large corporate labels.

Good bourbon can not be cheated.  If Charles & Andy Nelson keep to their vision, they very well could rise the Greenbrier name to the very top, where it once stood.

Price Point:  $39.99  - 750ml

Nelson's Green Brier Distillery
Chas & W.A. Nelson, Proprietors
Nashville, TN

www.greenbrierdistillery.com

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Review of WIlliam Wolf Aged Premium Bourbon - Be that Wolf on Wall Street









This week, we try a different approach to bourbon.  Much of what we drink around here in bourbon country, a strong spirit – sipped neat… and something that might even start up a car is not always on the menu.  Occasionally, we want something a bit on the sweeter side.  This time, we tried a different side of the barrel.  Introducing the new wolf in town, William Wolf Premium Whiskey.




Retailing at $25-$30 a 750-ml., William Wolf is made with American whiskey which is then infused with pecan distillate in Holland. Unlike your typical whiskey, William Wolf is bottled at 60-proof, which appeals to the first time whiskey sippers with its sweet taste or the after-dinner drinkers.


Neat Sipping Notes:



William Wolf Pecan Bourbon/Whiskey is a unique pecan flavored whiskey.  At first sip, there is a strong indication of pecans fused with the bourbon.  There are very sweet notes of nectar, honey and even almonds.  It lacks the smoothness of straight whiskey but fills your mouth with their signature pecan flavor.


I've found that a lot of honey flavored whiskeys on the market tend to be overbearing with sweetness from the infused flavor, which for me, takes away the experience and complexity of the spirit. However, with William Wolf, it was smooth to the taste with just the right amount of sweetness from the settled pecans, which created great balance.
This is a great introductory whiskey and could be a strong competitor to other "honey and maple" flavored whiskeys on the market. You can try it in the delicious Apple cocktail created specially by the Emerson or simply, as I prefer, served neat.
- See more at: http://network.details.com/post/gents-among-men-presents-served-neat-william-wolf-whiskey#sthash.TqCWdTKK.dpuf




With our Kentucky pallet, we felt this bourbon was better suited for cocktails and mixed drinks. With that being said, the Four Barrels found it to be a great potion ingredient and had the opportunity to share our idea with the local fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine - Mour.  This May, Mour Magazine is celebrating their one-year anniversary on the newsstands and what better way to celebrate such an occasion then with a delicious adult drink?  Our personal cocktail specialist created an excellent beverage for such a special occasion.  
 

                                                             The Birthday Surprise Shot


The Birthday Surprise:
Made with:
1/2 ounce - Dark Rum
1/2 ounce - William Wolf Pecan Bourbon
Spritz of Lime
Mix together ingredients and pour into shot glass


Top with 1 tablespoon of whipped sweetened coconut milk (to give it that icing-on-the-cake look)


This unique sophisticated shot will win anyone over


 

William Wolf has an excellent social media following.  If you want to follow and support them, here is where you can find them.

William Wolf Boubon Website

Facebook Page



Learn more about Mour at:  http://mourmagazine.com/ and follow them on facebook.



I've found that a lot of honey flavored whiskeys on the market tend to be overbearing with sweetness from the infused flavor, which for me, takes away the experience and complexity of the spirit. However, with William Wolf, it was smooth to the taste with just the right amount of sweetness from the settled pecans, which created great balance.
This is a great introductory whiskey and could be a strong competitor to other "honey and maple" flavored whiskeys on the market. You can try it in the delicious Apple cocktail created specially by the Emerson or simply, as I prefer, served neat.
- See more at: http://network.details.com/post/gents-among-men-presents-served-neat-william-wolf-whiskey#sthash.TqCWdTKK.dpuf