High West American Prairie Bourbon Review

This is a bottle I’ve had open for over a year, and with the new rare whiskey’s being release at the Manitoba Liquor Mart in a couple of weeks, I figured now is a great time to finish off some bottles and make room for some new ones.

You cannot get High West products here in Manitoba, but I was lucky enough to have a friend bring this bottle back for my from the good ol’ USA.  The bottle itself is pretty nice, with a huge honkin’ cork and some nice speckled glass.  This bourbon is made in Utah which is pretty unusual, and the High West Guys have gotten quite a reputation for making good whiskey which is why I wanted to try this one.  Another cool thing about this bottle is that 10% of the profits go to the American Prairie Reserve.

High West American Prairie Bourbon

High West Distillery

Date Reviewed: October 27, 2020

Atmosphere: Sipping in one of my Baba’s pinwheel crystal glasses, on on a Tuesday night during the pandemic.

Distillery: High West Distillery 

Mash: 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Barley

Age: 2 years and some older blended in

Type: Bourbon

ABV%: 45%

Price I Paid: It’s been so long, I don’t remember, but I want to say around $50 Canadian

Appearance:  Light amber, watered down honey

Nose:  I’m not sure if its because i’m drinking this out of a rocks glass instead of a typical Glencairn but there isn’t much of an alcohol/ethanol scent to it at all. Smells sweet, yet faint, nothing too dominant. The high corn/sweetness definitely comes through on the nose though.

Palate:  Still a lot of lingering sweet notes- but surprisingly woody considering it’s not aged very long.  A fairly simple tasting bourbon, but goes down sweet.  A few hints of chocolate and caramel not spicy at all.  Easy sipper.

Finish:  The finish is pretty short, but not in a terrible way.  No burn whatsoever, with a bit of a waxy mouthfeel. The bourbon leaves an oaky/woody aftertaste.

Conclusions:  If this was readily available here in Manitoba, I’d probably buy a bottle here and there, though I wouldn’t be lining up to get one.  It’s a reasonably priced, easy sipping, straight forward bourbon.  From what I’ve read, this would be considered one of High West’s lower level bourbons and I would definitely want to try the rest.  This seems like it would be a good mid level sipper, and introductory bourbon for people just getting into the sweet stuff.

Overall Score:  77/100 

Cheers.

blanton’s single barrel Bourbon Review

Blanton’s single barrel usually arrives in the Manitoba liquor mart twice a year.  Typically you can grab a few bottles before it sells out after a week or two.  The price is around $70 Canadian, and basically anytime we get a shipment in the province I pick up a few bottles.  There is nothing worse than craving a sip of Blanton’s only to realise there is none left in your entire province.

For those unfamiliar with Blanton’s, you may know it by seeing it.  The bottle is one of the most iconic bourbon bottles around, and has been used in many movies, tv shows, etc.

Each bottle includes the date the barrel was dumped as well as a bottle topper that has a horse/jockey in a slightly different position, as well as a letter.  A lot of people try and collect them all to spell out B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S.  This specific bottle was dumped March 05, 2020 and has the bottle topper is the letter “B”.

*Spoiler Alert* This has been one of my favourite bourbons since the day I first tried it.  I haven’t yet done a review on it – so here I go….

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Date Reviewed: September 17, 2020

Atmosphere: In a special rocks glass I was gifted by a good friend for being in his wedding party.  Aside from my Glencairn glasses, this is my go to glass for sipping and cocktails.

Distillery: Blanton Distilling Company; Buffalo Trace/Sazerac Company

Mash: Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2.  This is thought to have a slightly higher rye content – about 15% 

Age: No Age Statement – Thought to be around 9 years

Type: Bourbon

ABV%: 46.5%

Price I Paid: $70 Canadian

Appearance:  Medium Amber/Brown.

Nose:  From a mile away I can pick out the sweet, soft smell of Blanton’s.  It’s one of the few bourbons I can take a big whiff of without any burn in my nostrils.  Even with the glass resting on your lap, notes of vanilla, milk chocolate and caramel will make its way up to you.  Give it a few swirls, and you may get some cinnamon too.  If it didn’t taste so god damn good – I could spend the whole night just smelling the glass – but alas…I must drink it….

Palate:  The first sip continues to showcase it’s sweet notes (think an aero chocolate bar – which by the way pares exceptionally well with this bourbon) it is followed by just the right amount of heat.  Some spices shine through, maybe nutmeg or cinnamon, and although I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life I can see how people would say they can taste a tobacco like flavour in this as well.

Finish:  The finish is smooth, and has an almost burnt orange peel like finish.  There is zero burn, and every sip is better than the last.  I find a lot of whiskey will give you that heartburn like feeling the first few sips you have as it goes down – not this one.  So smooth.

Conclusions:  While not overly complex, that is what I like about it.  Every single time I pour a Blanton’s I know what I am going to get.  A smooth, tasty bourbon I can enjoy neat or showcase in a cocktail.  It’s fancy enough for a special occasion sipper, it also makes a great gift, and luckily where I live it’s also readily available enough for an everyday sipper.  It’s both sweet and smooth, but also spicy and has just enough heat for almost anyone to enjoy.  While it may not have the punch and complexity of say a Bookers or Stagg Jr, I’d put it right up there next to those on my top shelf.  I also highly recommend eating an Aero bar while you sip on this, and let a piece of the bar melt in your mouth between each sip. It is heavenly.

Overall Score:  90/100 (94/100 with an Aero)

Cheers.

Barchef Project: Toasted Old Fashioned Review

Barchef Toasted Old Fashioned Review

It took me months, but I finally got around to opening this bottle. First a little background. This was actually a gift, sent to me by a reader of the site, who happened to know I loved cocktails & bourbon. This bottle is unavailable here where I live, so it was extra special. It just so happens, I later got to know him a bit better, and I am now a reader of his site, and was even a guest on his podcast….what a weird world. If you are interested, you can check out his site HERE

Barchef is one of the top cocktail bars in Toronto, and for this bottling they partnered with Still Waters Distillery who make Stalk & Barrel whisky. I haven’t been to Barchef Toronto yet, but next time I am there I will check it out for sure. I have heard nothing but great things.

First of all, the bottle itself, is really a thing of beauty. It’s just got a real nice, simple, clean look to it. It was also shipped with a small orange aromatic spray (to mimic the orange zest/twist) which smelled absolutely delightful. A friend of mine joked he wanted to take it and use it as a cologne. One of the real nice things about this bottle, is the simplicity. Just pour over ice, give it a spritz or citrus twist, and you have a gourmet cocktail in your glass within seconds.

For the unacquainted, and old fashioned is a very straight forward, spirit heavy cocktail. Typically the ingredients and measurements are as follows:

2 oz Bourbon
1 bar spoon simple syrup
3-4 Dashes of bitters

Classic Old Fashioned’s just happen to be one of my favourite cocktails due to their simplicity, and also the fun in finding the right balance of sweetness and sharpness. If you aren’t a whisk(e)y drinker, or into booze heavy cocktails, a classic old fashioned may not be for you.The good news is, the Barchef Toasted Old Fashioned could be the perfect gateway drink for those wanting to get a bit more into cocktails.

Classic Old Fashioned – This is Not

Barchef Review

The Barchef Toasted Old Fashioned is NOT your typical/classic Old Fashioned. In fact, after trying it, I was a bit surprised they marketed this as an old fashioned cocktail. First of all, it is very sweet, has a lot of added spices and flavours, and the bottle comes in at just 38.9% alcohol. According to the bottle, instead of simple syrup they use maple syrup (which is especially delicious), along with lots of other spices. As soon as you open the bottle, your nose will be hit with a heavy dose of anise/licorice. Unfortunately for me, much like Cilantro, this is one of the flavours I’ve never been able to get into.

The first sip is very sweet, and then you get hit with the spice. If I am being honest, the anise/licorice was too overpowering for me, and the drink was definitely too sweet for my liking. It almost tasted like a Jagermeister old fashioned with added sugar. I can definitely see the appeal of this drink for anyone who enjoys that Jager/Absinthe flavour, but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I tried. I offered some of the bottle to some friends who were visiting, and they were pretty split on it. Some enjoyed it, while some (like me) couldn’t get past the overpowered flavour and seemingly lack of bite that you’d expect from an “Old Fashioned”.

Final Thoughts: Toasted Old Fashioned

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my foray into cocktails over the last few years, it’s that everyone has different taste preferences. For example, I absolutely LOVE Campari, and Negoni’s but it is absolutely an acquired taste, typically you either love it or hate it – much like anise. So although I can’t say I’d pick up a bottle of this for myself if I saw it on the shelf, I would still recommend you give it a shot for yourself especially if you enjoy that jager, anise, licorice flavour profile. The simplicity and ease of making yourself a gourmet cocktail by just pouring it over ice, would make this a great drink for camping as well.

I’ve noticed recently there are a lot more options for pre made cocktails, but I’ve yet to find one I’ve really liked. If you have had this one, or some of the other pre made cocktails, let me know what you thought.

I’d like to once again thank Money Mechanic from FI GARAGE for sending this over, and just remind everyone, I will never say no to a bottle of whisky if you want to send me one…haha

Cheers

Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Review

Spoiler Alert – I decided to write this review because I was craving a sip of Blanton’s bourbon, but I didn’t have an open bottle.  As a general rule I only open a new bottle once I finish one of my open bottles.  I had about 1.5 ounces left of Jefferson’s, noticed I hadn’t reviewed it yet, and needed to clear some space on the bar shelf…so here it goes.

This is a bottle my sister got me for Christmas 2 years ago.  I had never had it previously, and I’ve been nursing this bottle for a while. Jefferson’s seems to sell for quite a premium here in Manitoba (i’m not sure why).  The bottle retails for $97.00 Canadian at the Manitoba Liquor Mart.

Jefferson’s Reserve

Date Reviewed: April 07, 2020

Atmosphere: In a Glencairn glass, neat at home during the covid 19 pandemic

Distillery: McLain & Kyne

Mash:  Unknown

Age: No Age Statement

Type: Bourbon

ABV%: 45.1%

Price I Paid: Zero – but it retails for $97.00 Canadian

Appearance:  Classic Amber colour, but more watered down than most.

Nose:  I found this bourbon to be extremely muted. It lacks the typical sweet vanilla/brown sugar scents that most are accustomed to with a bourbon.  The only thing that stands out is some oak/wood but even that is pretty tame.  After a few swirls, some VERY subtle hints of cherry cola come out, but again very faint.  This might be the least expressive nose of a bourbon on any bottle I’ve had over $20.

Palate:  The taste follows the nose.  The oak from the barrels is the dominant flavour profile.  It is very smooth, with no burn, but leaves a lot to be desired.  The second sip is a little better, some sweeter notes slightly poke through, but it’s not enough to capture my interest.

Finish: The smooth finish is definitely the best part of this bourbon.  No heat, no burn, just a nice easy finish.

Conclusions:  It’s a tame, easy to drink bourbon, but it lacks any real depth.  If this was a $40 bourbon, I’d say keep a bottle for the finish alone – but at almost $100 it’s a hard pass for me.  When you can get Bookers or Blanton’s for the same price it’s a no brainer.  That said I’ve heard some of the other Jefferson’s expressions are real good (Oceans for example) which I will definitely try.

Overall Score:  73/100

Cheers.