Resurrecting a long-retired whiskey label isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s pretty damn common. But resurrecting a long-retired whiskey label and emulating a 122-year old bottle’s flavor profile, that takes talent and skill. Enter Nancy Fraley and Magnus’ Murray Hill Club.
Pour: Murray Hill Club (b. 19)
Age: NAS (reportedly 9-yr light whiskey & 11-18-yr bourbon)
Nose: creme brûlée, sugar plum, woody spice
Taste: vanilla bean, dark fruit, hints of cedar & tobacco
Finish: moderately long – sweet oak char, toasted caramel, leather
Overall: An impressive, well-crafted whiskey. Murray Hill Club is the best blended bourbon I’ve tasted to date – one that sets a new precedent for American whiskey lacking a straight designation. Complex and graced with elegance, it’s a triumph for Magnus.
Whisky Jewbilee (2012-2018) was a semiannual whisky festival organized by J&J Spirits, formerly known as the Jewish Whisky Company. Each gathering showcased a commemorative release, one of the last being a 25-year light whiskey distilled by Seagram’s (IN) in 1993. L’Chaim!
Pour: Whisky Jewbilee Light Whiskey
Age: 25 years
Color: metallic amber
Nose: fruity vanilla, orange Tic-Tacs, zesty citrus & spice
Taste: strawberry cheesecake, lemon creme, buttery oak
Finish: moderate length – iced animal cookies, caramel glaze, peppery jam
Overall: Unique is a word commonly used in spirits reviews. Hell, I’m guilty. Yet, that’s precisely what we have here. 2018’s Whisky Jewbilee Light Whiskey is an epic display of unique, beautifully offbeat character – a wild, intricate, elegant thrill ride.
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.
High West’s Bourye, a limited edition bourbon & rye whiskey blend, has been around since 2009. Over the years, the sources have varied, including runs with Four Roses and Barton, though MGP remains the sole source since 2016. Speaking of which, I have a 2016 release to review.
Pour: High West Bourye (2016)
Age: NAS (9-17 years per High West)
Color: rosy copper
Nose: caramel apple, blood orange, brown sugar
Taste: fruity vanilla bean, dark citrus-spice, boozy punch
Finish: moderate length – beautifully rich oak, cherry pie filling, herbal tea
Overall: Likely the best bourbon & rye blend I’ve tasted. An incredible whiskey – mature and complex with a remarkably oily mouthfeel for 92 proof (ah, the wonders of NCF). High West’s 2016 Bourye was apparently overlooked, and it’s your gain in 2021.
Rating: Worth the hunt.
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.