Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (13 year)

To me, this tastes like the Van Winkle bourbon, but with the heavier (and sweeter) syrupy notes replaced with orange peel, cherry bitters, and a more apparent conversation with oak. Thankfully, the thirteen years of aging stops short of being over-oaked.

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Willett Family Reserve Estate Bottled Rye (2 year)

Now, I have a particular fondness for young rye that actually tastes like rye. I want big eucalyptus, wintergreen, or pine, and I want spicy ‘sharp’ notes of cinnamon, cardamom, and anise. Occasionally, some caraway (think rye bread) is nice too.

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Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon

I think it’s an excellent whisky, and really shows what Angel’s Envy is capable of. I can’t love the price point, however, no matter how carefully hand-picked the casks are.

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Baker’s Bourbon (7 year)

Baker’s is a bit of an oddball. One expects from bourbon a big, sweet ball of corn syrup, alcohol, and oak. Here the sweetness is merely background, letting nuances (including bitter and tannic ones) from the wood and, perhaps, the rye component play out.

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Booker’s Bourbon (Batch C07-B-7)

A beast of a whiskey. Booker’s shows its best flavors and aromas while undiluted (except on the palate, where you can only taste fire), and provides a sense of accomplishment that few whiskies can offer when conquered neat. That said, one will be much more comfortable with a glass of Booker’s if a generous splash of water (or two) is used to tame it.

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Maker’s Mark Bourbon

I was curious about Maker’s because it’s a wheater. In a world of high-rye bourbons, a mashbill with wheat instead of rye is somewhat rare. The Pappys, the Wellers, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny, and Maker’s. That’s a pretty short list considering the hundreds of bourbon brands on the market. Maker’s is also distinct for making its own bourbon, not slapping a label on bourbon produced at MGP or KBD.

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Redemption Rye

While it’s an unobjectionable sip, I think the value of young LDI/MGP rye like this is to serve as the brown spirits in classic American cocktails. There are much more complex ryes for sipping.

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Lost Spirits Umami

This certainly has the hallmarks of Bryan Davis’s work – funky and offbeat, its flavor pairings are just as unlikely (and just as successful) as salt with caramel and bacon with maple syrup.

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Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

A big bourbon with a lot to offer. High-rye mashbill, and the resulting “spice cabinet” really permeates the experience. If you like baking spices in your whisky, you will LOVE this.

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W. L. Weller (12 year) Bourbon

There is a nice array of pleasant flavors and aromas, although just because this is a wheated recipe does not mean it bears much resemblance to Pappy Van Winkle 15. There just isn’t that much depth in the W.L. Weller. Still, for the money this is an easy-going sipper – an uncomplicated glass of bourbon, both with and without an ice cube.

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