Mellow Corn

You don’t hear a lot about straight corn whiskey, but when you do, there’s a 99.9% chance Heaven Hill’s Mellow Corn comes up. But don’t let this bottom-shelf Kentucky mainstay fool you. What it lacks in style and specs, it surely makes up for in utility.


Pour: Mellow Corn (Bottled in Bond)
Proof: 100
Age: at least 4 years
Color: apple juice
Nose: vanilla, confectioners sugar, apple pastry
Taste: butter toffee, candy corn, spiked simple syrup
Finish: moderate length – caramel, light apple, faint oak char


Overall: I didn’t always think highly (or speak kindly) of Mellow Corn. What can I say? I was a jackass. Mellow Corn is a no-frills, sweet yet spartan, whiskey. It’s not complex. It’s not extraordinary. But that’s not the point. If you know, you know.

Rating: Hella Mella.

Booker’s Bourbon: “Noe Secret”

Price gripes aside, Booker’s is a whiskey I’ve long respected. Age-stated, uncut, and unfiltered, it’s a no-frills, unapologetic, full-flavored bourbon conceived by the late Booker Noe as a tribute to his grandfather, Jim Beam. This is my favorite batch, 2015’s “Noe Secret.”


Pour: Booker’s Bourbon b. 2015-06 “Noe Secret”
Proof: 128.1
Age: 6 years, 8 months
Color: dense copper
Nose: caramel, nutty toffee, cookie dough
Taste: brown sugar, molasses, semi-sweet chocolate
Finish: long & robust – black cherry, charred oak, tobacco


Overall: While all Booker’s batches share a kindred core profile, some, like “Noe Secret,” showcase extraordinary nuances. The dark fruit on the finish is alone worth the price of admission. Sadly, I’ve reached the end of this bottle. It will be missed.

Rating: Noe replacing.

Old Pogue Master’s Select

Outside of Kentucky, Old Pogue is nary a household name. Information regarding their whiskey is sparse, though it appears it was largely sourced until recently. This Master’s Select label states “distilled in KY, bottled by the Old Pogue Distillery.” And that’s all I’ve got.


Pour: Old Pogue Master’s Select (b. 6800)
Proof: 91
Age: not stated (at least 4 years)
Color: copper
Nose: vanilla creme, toasted banana, nutmeg
Taste: trail mix (more fruit, less nuts), savory oak, rum cake
Finish: moderately long – toasted bread, caramel, cinnamon, leather


Overall: While I can’t say it’s worth a triple-digit purchase, I can say that Old Pogue Master’s Select is surprisingly good. Gauging its maturity by profile is a challenge, however. I assume it’s a blend of younger and older bourbon. Regardless, I’m satisfied.

Rating: Fine.

Angel’s Envy

When I first ventured into whiskey, one of my early favorites was Angel’s Envy. The proof was approachable, the flavor was sweet, and the finish fared easy. But over time, I drifted away from Henderson’s neoclassic “bourbon finished in port wine casks.” A revisit is overdue.


Pour: Angel’s Envy
Proof: 86.8
Age: not stated
Color: rich amber
Nose: brown sugar glaze, baked pear, toffee
Taste: vanilla, honey butter, Golden Delicious apple
Finish: moderate w/ caramel drizzle, confectioners sugar, faint white pepper


Overall: Don’t let my notes fool you – this is tastier than I remember. And while Angel’s Envy isn’t complex whiskey, it’s enjoyable whiskey. The port cask influence is just right – enough to add character, yet keep that character undeniably Kentucky.

Rating: Angelically simple.

Jack Daniel’s Bottled in Bond

When you hear the words “bottled in bond,” do you think Jack Daniel’s? Didn’t think so. Believe it or not, Jack Daniel’s has a bottled-in-bond expression. It’s just exclusive to travel-retail outlets. Will it prove a notable step up from the 80-proof Old No. 7? Very likely.


Pour: Jack Daniel’s Bottled in Bond
Proof: 100
Age: not stated (at least 4 years)
Color: rich amber
Nose: toasted banana, creme brulee, faint spice
Taste: mild vanilla, honey-pear, nutmeg
Finish: moderately long w/ custard, barrel char, cinnamon toast


Overall: As predicted, a notch above your everyday Jack Daniel’s but that’s about it. Profile-wise, there’s very little in terms of uniqueness – not much of a boost in complexity either. Still, a decent pour, and for $38 a liter who’s complaining? 

Rating: Old No. 7.1

Old Medley 12 Years Old

What do you get when you combine an Elmer T. Lee style bottle and a 12-year age statement? A bourbon no one brags about. I suppose it makes sense. I mean, Old Medley’s label isn’t exactly a work of art. It’s also whiskey from an undisclosed Kentucky source … for $65.


Pour: Old Medley 12 Years Old
Proof: 86.8
Age: 12 years
Color: amber
Nose: sugary cereal, apple jelly, buttered corn
Taste: vanilla-orange candy, seared pear, sweet oak char
Finish: moderately short – smoky caramel & citrus, faint pepper


Overall: Well, it’s bourbon. Unfortunately, even with a respectable 12-year maturation, Old Medley lacks a premium vibe. Vanilla, light fruit, oak char – you get all of that. Just don’t expect layers of complexity. Easy on the palate, hard on the wallet.

Rating: Oh, Meh-dley.

Woodinville Single Barrel Select

In December of last year, I purchased a Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey (90 proof). I wasn’t impressed. While not unpleasant, it came across a bit too “crafty,” for lack of a better word. Since then, I’ve been encouraged to try a Woodinville Single Barrel Select. Here goes!


Pour: Woodinville Single Barrel Select (Bourbon Pursuit)
Proof: 122.4
Age: 5 years
Color: copper
Nose: maple syrup, blueberry pancakes, caramel popcorn
Taste: toasted vanilla, English toffee, boozy butterscotch
Finish: long & notably warm – molasses, cream soda, sweet sassafras


Overall: I’m not sure if it’s the absence of dilution or just an exceptional barrel, but this Woodinville selection is no joke. Hell, it’s excellent. There’s so much flavor, in a blind tasting I’m doubtful I’d pin its age as 5 years. Well done, Woodinville. 

Rating: Flavorville.

Knob Creek 12 Year Cask Strength

The cask-strength edition of Knob Creek 12 has lingered on my must-try list for months now. Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I finally have the opportunity to taste it. I’ll admit, I’m a little giddy. Knob Creek 12 is a personal favorite. I’m counting on great things.


Pour: Knob Creek 12 Year Cask Strength
Proof: 120.5
Age: 12 years
Color: dense rust
Nose: molasses, maple syrup, baked brown sugar
Taste: chewy caramel, rich charred oak, antique leather
Finish: long & flavorful – chocolate brownie, coffee, clove, licorice


Overall: Knob Creek 12 at 100 proof is wonderful, but uncut at 120.5 (and only $90) … truly remarkable. It’s bourbon done right – bold complexity with an indulgent sweetness atypical of its maturity and strength. Such a shame it’s limited to select markets.

Rating: Impressive.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

At last, the final entry in my Johnnie Walker series, the oft-gifted Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Like it or not, it’s the one recognizable luxury whisky that’s effortlessly found. This is my first time tasting the Blue Label and expectations are high. But should they be?


Pour: Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Proof: 80
Age: not stated
Color: light amber
Nose: white grape, floral essence, smoky melon
Taste: savory honey, graham cracker, faint earthy spice
Finish: moderately long w/ charred golden apple, white pepper, leather


Overall: Taking price out of the equation, Johnnie Walker Blue Label is a respectable pour – flavorful and well balanced. Unfortunately, I’m having a difficult time justifying $225. For me, the 18-year is superior, followed closely by the Green Label.

Rating: Mild blues.

Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years

And now, the penultimate review in my Johnnie Walker series, Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years. I’ve passed over this whisky countless times – always curious, but never biting until recently. I have a hard time believing it will best the Green Label, but one never knows. Sláinte!


Pour: Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years
Proof: 80
Age: 18 years
Color: amber
Nose: apple juice, boozy pear, maraschino cherry
Taste: smoky white fruit, frosted animal cracker, Necco wafer
Finish: moderately short w/ light char, savory vanilla, white pepper


Overall: A well-crafted blend with a nose, taste, and texture that sets it apart from other expressions in the core Johnnie Walker lineup. At $90 it’s not exactly cheap, but for an 18-year whisky from a longstanding brand, you’re paying for what you get.

Rating: Pleasant.

Johnnie Walker Green Label

Moving along with my Johnnie Walker series, we have the fan-favorite Green Label. Most notable, it’s labeled as a blended malt, as opposed to a blended Scotch containing grain whisky. Is the $55 Johnnie Walker Green worth the small premium over Black? We shall see.


Pour: Johnnie Walker Green Label
Proof: 86
Age: 15 years
Color: light amber
Nose: glazed apple, smoky citrus, hints of floral spice
Taste: charred melon, classic vanilla syrup, baked pear
Finish: moderate length w/ toasted caramel, oak, sweet earthy spice


Overall: While I’m uncertain any Johnnie Walker expression could dethrone Black as my personal favorite, the Green definitely warrants cause for pause. Ultimately, Green is an elegant whisky, rich in flavor and surprising complexity to boot. Quite satisfactory.

Rating: Go green.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Next up in my Johnnie Walker series is the Gold Label Reserve. Priced at a significant premium over Johnnie Walker Black ($85 vs. $35) and labeled without an age statement, I’m eager to weigh in on this commonly found, yet infrequently discussed whisky.


Pour: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
Proof: 80
Age: not stated
Color: amber
Nose: smoked pear, glazed apple, honey
Taste: savory vanilla, graham cracker, dried apricot
Finish: moderate length w/ smoky caramel, singed sugar, faint leather


Overall: Maybe it’s an oversimplification, but I can’t help but describe the Gold Label as a sweeter, slightly elegant version of JW Black. There’s a white fruit quality about it, but with enough smokiness to add complexity. I’m just not tasting the premium.

Rating: Gold-plated.