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
Age: not stated
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.
Amplify Rye is a whiskey blend from Three Chord, an NDP founded by rock legend Neil Giraldo. The label states it’s a combination of Kentucky and Indiana distilled rye whiskey; however, it does not carry a straight designation or age statement. This could get noisy, folks.
Pour: Three Chord Amplify Rye Whiskey
Age: not stated
Color: light amber
Nose: lemon peel, vanilla Tootsie Roll, watermelon rind
Taste: tangy cake frosting, honey syrup, hints of mint
Finish: moderate length – sweet grain, confectioners sugar, peppery dill
Overall: Believe it or not, it’s quite sippable. While Three Chord Amplify Rye is youthful, it maintains enough structure to appreciate neat. Also, at 95 proof I’d wager it’ll fashion a suitable cocktail. Too bad it’s $45. Too bad it’s not labeled straight.
I’ve been asked to review more MGP-distilled whiskeys. Can do! Today, I’m tasting Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve Bourbon. What is it? Well, it’s not labeled straight and it doesn’t carry an age statement, but it is barrel-proof bourbon. So, there’s that.
Pour: Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve (batch 12)
Age: NAS (reportedly 7-11 years)
Nose: sliced apple, honey-roasted nuts, butter toffee
Taste: sharp vanilla, “brisk” oak, lively herbal spice
Finish: moderately long – nutty caramel, cinnamon, pepper
Overall: I’m having a hard time believing this is 7-11-year whiskey. Perhaps it is and this particular batch simply delivers a vibrant profile. Regardless, Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve is full-flavored and packs a punch. It just lacks maturity and depth.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mark and Sherri Carter in the Spring of 2019. Warm-hearted folks with a genuine appreciation for exceptional whiskey and wine. I tasted four of their releases and quickly realized their talents. Here’s 2020’s Old Carter Rye (Indiana) batch 5.
Pour: Old Carter Straight Rye Whiskey batch 5
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rosy copper
Nose: tangelo peel, fruity caramel, mint tea, dill
Taste: tart fruit cocktail, dense herbal spice, citrus punch
Finish: long & zesty – tangy oak, orange-vanilla frosting, white pepper
Overall: There are countless Indiana (MGP) straight rye whiskeys on the market today. Due to youth or imperfect barrel selection, the grand majority pale in comparison to Old Carter Rye batch 5. The downside is its $199 price tag, but I don’t regret a penny.