Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength

I must admit, I’ve had fun exploring the Maker’s Mark catalog in the last year. But I’m not done yet! When I saw Maker’s 46 Cask Strength at my local bottle shop, I figured I’d give it a go. Can’t say I’m the biggest 46 fan, but maybe this uncut version will change my mind.


Pour: Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength
Proof: 110.3
Age: not stated
Color: dense copper
Nose: brown sugar, maple syrup, leather
Taste: bittersweet molasses, stout vanilla, gingerbread
Finish: medium-long w/ boozy English toffee, tannic oak, dry spice


Overall: Such a perplexing pour. There are things I like about Maker’s 46 Cask Strength, and things I don’t. I appreciate its robust, layered character; I just find the tannins and dry spice accompanying it a bit overpowering. Bold, yet unbalanced.

Rating: Mood 46.

Thomas H. Handy (2021)

Of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection expressions, Thomas H. Handy rye is the undisputed underdog. One could even say it maintains a cult-like appreciation, with some veteran enthusiasts claiming it’s the best of the lineup. But is 2021’s release up to snuff?


Pour: Thomas H. Handy Straight Rye Whiskey (2021)
Proof: 129.5
Age: not stated (reportedly 6 years)
Color: copper
Nose: ripe pear, dried pineapple, vanilla frosting
Taste: lemon cookie, boozy fruit rollup, sweet herbs
Finish: long w/ zesty citrus, vibrant oak, cayenne pepper


Overall: A fantastic example of what a six-year, barrel-proof rye should taste like – vibrant, complex, and dynamically spicy. If found at its $99 retail price, Handy is worth a purchase. Outside of that, there’s considerably better options.

Rating: It’s good, but settle down.

Wild Turkey 101

Believe it or not, I just crossed 100 reviews for TweetDrams.com. How time flies! So what’s in my glass for the 101st? Wild Turkey 101, of course. Sure, I have another website dedicated entirely to Lawrenceburg’s Finest, but I wouldn’t have this moment any other way.


Pour: Wild Turkey 101
Proof: 101
Age: at least 4 years (reportedly 6-8 years)
Color: rich amber
Nose: vanilla, toffee, hints of orange peel
Taste: caramel, toasted honey, sweet charred oak
Finish: long w/ brown sugar, honey-roasted nuts, baking spice


Overall: There’s a wide variety of quality bourbon in the $20-$30 range, but only one I could never live without. Wild Turkey 101: the perfect combination of versatile, affordable, and remarkable. In other words, bourbon done right. Cheers to Jimmy!

Rating: Quintessential.

Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch (2021)

Having recently visited Maker’s Mark, I felt a review of a special wax-dipped bottle was in order. Thanks to the generosity of a bourbon friend, I have a sample of the 2021 CommUNITY Batch to explore. Will it prove as extraordinary as its exclusivity? Let’s pour and find out!


Pour: Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch (Oct 2021)
Proof: 108.2
Age: not stated
Color: rosy copper
Nose: caramel apple, brandied cherry, butterscotch
Taste: buttery vanilla, syrupy oak, warm baking spice
Finish: long w/ brown sugar, sweet char, toasted molasses


Overall: This may be my favorite Maker’s Mark expression to date. While not unlike some Maker’s private selections, there’s a surprising hint of dusty-esque butterscotch from nose to finish. It’s not a vintage profile per se, but damn if it isn’t delicious.

Rating: High marks.

Delord Bas-Armagnac X.O. 25

At $50, I’m a fan of Delord’s 15-year Armagnac (and purchase it semi-regularly). When I stumbled upon the 25-year for $20 more, I had to bite. I can only assume the additional maturity will translate to additional complexity. If not, I’ve paid more for far younger spirits.


Pour: Delord Bas-Armagnac X.O. 25
Proof: 80
Age: 25 years
Color: deep rosy copper
Nose: medicinal grape, molasses, dark chocolate cherry
Taste: boozy grape jam, dense sweet oak, hints of leather
Finish: moderate length w/ fruity toasted caramel, tobacco, earthy spice


Overall: Delicious. For 25 years, it’s not quite as robust as I’d imagined, but no complaints. It’s definitely a notch above the 15-year Delord, particularly the finish. The slowly diminishing earthy spice is subtly elegant and worth the price of admission.

Rating: X-O-lent.

Elijah Craig 18

Hyper-aged bourbon is a polarizing subject. One could say the same of whiskey in general, but when it comes to the $150 Elijah Craig 18, it’s generally love it or hate it. Sadly, once secondary market values are factored in, the divide seems moot. Oh well. Time to weigh in!


Pour: Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel
Proof: 90
Age: 18 years
Color: copper
Nose: fragrant oak, cedar, spiced apple
Taste: woody vanilla bean, savory caramel, antique leather
Finish: moderate length w/ charred oak, tobacco, earthy spice


Overall: Granted, it’s a single-barrel expression, so there will be variance, but damn if this Elijah Craig 18 isn’t tasty. It’s an oak bomb, however, and far from subtle. But in this case there’s just enough sweetness to balance out the woodiness.

Rating: Oaky dokie.

Barrell Seagrass

Unless you spent 2021 under a rock, you’ve surely heard of Barrell Seagrass. On paper, it appears as if the Swedish Chef decided to craft a whiskey. Get this. KY, IN, TN, and Canadian rye finished in Martinique Rhum, Madeira, and apricot brandy casks. Bork, bork, bork!


Pour: Barrell Seagrass
Proof: 119.12
Age: not stated
Color: amber
Nose: orchard fruit, almond pastry, floral honey
Taste: candied pear, spiked fruit cocktail, sweet spice
Finish: moderately long – vanilla creme, syrupy citrus, delicate oak


Overall: Well, I’ll be a Muppet’s uncle. This is delicious! “Whiskey of the Year?” Ehh. $80 well spent? Arguably. But no doubt delicious. If you’re looking for a uniquely sweet rye with loads of orchard fruit and elegant spice and oak, this is your jam.

Rating: Chef’s kiss.

Green River Bourbon

There’s been a lot of recent press about Green River Distillery. Formerly known as O.Z. Tyler, the distillery was once infamous for its use of “rapidly aged” whiskey. Now that their distillate has matured, we should see less of that. But is their naturally aged whiskey any good?


Pour: Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 (reportedly 5) years
Color: copper
Nose: apple-cinnamon, French toast & syrup, maraschino cherry
Taste: chewy oak, brown sugar, chocolate chip cookie dough
Finish: moderate length w/ toasted caramel, toffee, faint pepper


Overall: What sorcery is this? Five years and 90 proof?! Did I read that correctly? Wow. You have my attention, Green River. Shooting straight here – for $35 this is a damn good buy. An impressive bourbon that’s strikingly complex for its no-frills specs.

Rating: Green magic.

Maker’s Mark FAE-02

I’ve grown quite fond of Maker’s Mark’s wood finishing series. While some releases are better than others, all have been of exceptional quality, and honestly, extremely underrated in the world of limited edition whiskeys. Will 2021’s FAE-02 prove me wrong? Let’s find out!


Pour: Maker’s Mark FAE-02
Proof: 109.1
Age: not stated
Color: dense honey
Nose: toasted caramel, sweet oak char, robust butterscotch
Taste: vanilla bean, baked brown sugar, chocolate almond
Finish: long & flavorful w/ molasses, velvety mocha, tobacco


Overall: Maker’s Mark has done it again, and in spectacular fashion to boot. Going into this tasting, I was confident 2020’s baking spice laden SE4 x PR5 would remain my favorite. Not so. FAE-02 is a well-balanced showcase of luxurious oak. Rich and lovely.

Rating: FAEnomenal.

Maker’s Mark

One of the most iconic brands in whiskey, Maker’s Mark garners a great deal of respect and praise from the general public. Bourbon enthusiasts are another crowd, however, and many fail to recognize what may be the single most true-to-the-past label in America.


Pour: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: vanilla, honey butter, cotton candy
Taste: toffee popcorn, light oak, sweet pastry
Finish: moderately short – sugar cookie, caramel drizzle, nutmeg


Overall: The list of quality 4-year, 90-proof bourbons that can compete with Maker’s Mark is short. The low barrel-entry proof, absence of chill filtration, and “old school” barrel rotation, all result in a sweet and consistent easy sipper for under $30.

Rating: Simple staple.

Frey Ranch Bottled-in-Bond Rye

I’m a sucker for well-crafted rye whiskey. Unfortunately, the list of disappointing rye releases is endless. At least this Frey Ranch Straight Rye has a lot going for it – 100% ground-to-glass winter rye, aged 5 years, and bottled in bond. Sounds like quality, but is it? 


Pour: Frey Ranch Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey (b. 5)
Proof: 100
Age: 5 years
Color: copper
Nose: buttercream frosting, cherry candy, Fruit Stripe gum
Taste: lemon cookie, zesty oak, vibrantly sweet spice
Finish: moderately long – cinnamon, Snapple fruit tea, white pepper


Overall: Wowza! This is one helluva rye. And to think it’s a bottled-in-bond expression. I can’t imagine what Frey Ranch’s rye whiskey is like at barrel proof. But given a single-barrel rye TTB filing last October, I suppose we’ll soon find out. Count me in!

Rating: A-Frey-zing.


Bottle courtesy of Frey Ranch Distillery.

Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon

It’s time for a double header! Today, I’m tasting some of what Frey Ranch has to offer. Based out of Fallon, NV, Frey Ranch is a genuine ground-to-glass distillery. I have great respect for transparent whiskey producers, even greater respect for whiskey producers that till soil.


First up is Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This 90-proof, non-chill-filtered, non-age-stated bourbon is composed of a four-grain mash bill: 66.6% corn, 10% winter wheat, 11.4% winter rye, and 12% two-row malted barley. Oh, and it’s housed in a hefty, no bullshit bottle.


Pour: Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon Whiskey (b. 5)
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 years
Color: copper
Nose: apple peel, cinnamon-raisin bread, dried apricot
Taste: vanilla wafer, slightly “crafty” oak, baking spice
Finish: moderate length – corn pancakes, peppery char, holiday spice


Overall: Despite its assumed youth, I can’t find anything particularly wrong with Frey Ranch Bourbon. It holds up. That being said, with so much competition out there, $49.99 for a non-age-stated straight whiskey is a tough ask. Try before you buy (but try).

Rating: Frey-okay.


Bottle courtesy of Frey Ranch Distillery.