Nose: Tobacco, burnt wood, rich vanilla, and caramel. Robust and fairly complex.
Palate: Buries you with wood flavors - old wood, tobacco, cigar box, burnt caramel, and vanilla.
Finish: A mix of bitter old wood, dark chocolate, leather, and the tail end of a cigar. Lengthy, but hard to tell if it’s incredibly complex or just weird. The longer you sit thinking about it, the worse it seems to get.
Uniqueness: Heavy on wood, super high age for a rye, difficult to find, secret backstory. This creates a recipe for a unique pour and some interesting discussions along the way. I hate to give credit to a secret backstory, but you have to wonder where this 23 year old was born and raised. It’s got a few younger siblings as well - 17 and 21 year-olds. I haven’t had the opportunity to taste them, but it seems as if the 23 year version is about as heavy on wood as anyone might like.
Value: This isn’t something you’re going to want to drink every day, but rather an occasional pour with others who just want to experience it. We purchased ours directly from a liquor store for $90. Would I pay $90 if this was always available? Never. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection blows this out of the water, so it’s arguably not even worth $70 a bottle. However, we don’t live in a bubble. The value lies in the fact that it’s difficult or impossible to find and sports a super high age and an interesting flavor profile. These additional facts could arguably make it priced right at $90 a bottle.
Overall: It starts on a high note and goes downhill from there. For me this is a little too woody to be an everyday sipper. I’ll give it interesting, better than many standard issue whiskeys out there. But it doesn’t have the balance and refinement I expect from quality aging. It doesn’t have the X-factor. Quite frankly, it doesn’t really have the rye spice elements I like either. Although a quality whiskey, this is somewhat of a disappointment overall. You’ll want to share this with others who appreciate interesting flavor profiles, but I doubt many whiskey drinkers would ever make this a go-to even if it was readily available.
To sum it up: If you like heavy wood and complexity, this is for you.
-Nick - Reviewed: 6/2014
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