James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon

James E. Pepper, a historic brand purportedly established in 1780 (NOT in 1776) but mothballed in 1958, was distilled at several sites in Kentucky including the long-abandoned James E. Pepper distillery in Lexington, KY. In 2008 the rights to the brand were purchased by the Georgetown Trading Co., and re-launched as a line of several bourbons and three ryes using sourced whisky from various distilleries. … The bourbon bottlings were originally contracted out of the Corsair distillery in Kentucky, but are now all sourced from MGP as well.

Johnny Drum Private Stock Bourbon

Here we have yet another sourced bourbon, this time from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett). Johnny Drum is sold in three expressions: an entry-level Green Label ($20), a Black Label with and without an age-statement (12 years), and this Private Stock bottling that lost its 15-year age statement in a rebrand years ago. The usual vague assurances on the Internet that it “still contains some old whisky” are not even backed up by the tried-and-true “a dude at the distillery told me” type of hearsay.

Mortlach Rare Old

Mortlach, one of those “only for blends and independents” distilleries that has graduated through sweat and perseverance (or marketing and PR) to official lineup status, is actually one of my favorite distilleries. … The Rare Old is a non-age statement bottling at an appropriate 43.4% ABV (Why not 43%? Who knows.) from a mixture of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, the Rare Old shocked everyone with its initial price …

The Balvenie (12 year) Single Barrel “First Fill”

The “First Fill” on the label, of course, refers to the use of first-fill ex-bourbon casks (casks the previously aged bourbon but haven’t been used for anything else). These first-fill barrels have been used to age Balvenie malt for at least 12 years, and watered down a little bit to a reasonable 47.8% ABV. The whisky is not chill-filtered and has no added coloring (which is obvious by its pale straw appearance).

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

The Teeling Single Grain is a grain whiskey which means it is column distilled from a mash of multiple grains, often corn, rye, unmalted and/or malted barley, and wheat and made at a single Irish distillery. In this case, the mashbill was 95% corn and 5% barley and it was distilled at the Cooley distillery (now owned by Beam-Suntory). The whiskey is fully matured in Cabernet Sauvignon casks from Napa, California for “just under” 6 years (legally speaking, that means it is 5 years of age).

Highland Park Magnus

Like the rest of the line, Magnus is partly peated and partly aged in “sherry seasoned” American oak casks. Before you ask, that just means they took regular old ex-bourbon casks and sloshed some sherry around in them for a few months. This is becoming pretty standard practice in the scotch whisky industry, since nobody drinks actual sherry these days and real sherry barrels are hard to come by. Some refill casks are also used, but the distillery says the sherry-seasoned casks are a “high percentage” of the vatting. If you say so, Edrington. …

GDPR Headaches

The aforementioned GDPR regulations go into effect on May 25th, in 5 days from this post. Because of the headaches and intense amount of website work this is causing me, I do not have time to write a review this week – you can thank the EU. A quick summary of the sources of my …