I’d been eager to try an Angel’s Envy private selection since their barrel program first launched. After a chance encounter at a newly opened liquor store in Georgia, that box was quickly checked. But does the additional proof and single barrel status warrant an $89 price tag?
Pour: Angel’s Envy Private Selection b. JB-682C
Age: not stated
Color: dense copper
Nose: toasted caramel, “porty” jam, bubblegum
Taste: singed toffee, maple syrup, charred oak
Finish: moderately long w/ molasses, dry spice, leather
Overall: While this Angel’s Envy selection offers significant depth over the standard 86.8-proof offering, it’s a bit concentrated, or “tight.” The finish leans dry and the profile notes fight for space. Thankfully, a few drops of water remedies this.
A few months back, I purchased a Frey Ranch Single Barrel Bourbon selected by the Bourbon Lens podcast. After reviewing the standard 90-proof Frey Ranch Bourbon, I’d been itching to try a barrel-strength version. Needless to say, I’m expecting a more robust and complex whiskey.
Pour: Frey Ranch Single Barrel Bourbon b. 979
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rich copper
Nose: caramel popcorn, cinnamon grahams, wintergreen
Taste: peppery vanilla, pancakes w/ maple syrup, spiced apple
Finish: long & spicy w/ cinnamon candy, clove, oak, pepper
Overall: As predicted, robust and complex – especially considering its age. And while high in proof, I wouldn’t classify this bourbon as hot; the ABV is actually quite comfortable. A unique and tasty pour with a wintergreen zing.
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)
Age: 5 years
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.
Four Roses Single Barrel private selections aren’t easily found in my neck of the woods. When I see one, I buy it, as was the case with this 10-year OESF barrel from “South Carolina Hospitality.” Based on the fact it hit multiple stores, it’s likely a distributor selection.
Pour: Four Roses Single Barrel Select (b. 79-6L)
Age: 10 years, 2 months
Color: dense copper
Nose: heavy caramel, blood orange, toasted coconut
Taste: tart vanilla, oak char, tangy maple syrup
Finish: long, hot, and dry – cinnamon candy, raspberry tea, tobacco
Overall: While the nose sings with an enticing medley of caramel and dark fruit, the taste beats a tart & shaky rhythm. Any hopes for a rousing finale are swiftly shuffled off stage by its heat and drying finish. Not terrible; not great.
Rating: Every rose has its thorn.
Today, I’m placing two heavyweights of the bourbon arena head to head: the incomparable Fred Minnick vs. Matt “Drama King” Rehwoldt a/k/a Wrestling with Whiskey. Each have 2021 New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon selections. Let’s find out who deserves the champion’s belt (ascot?).
Pour 1: New Riff SiB Bourbon 17-0126 (Minnick)
Age: 4 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: honey-apple, caramelized peaches, boozy bread
Taste: seared caramel, brown sugar, charred maple
Finish: sweet & savory licorice, oak char, applewood
Pour 2: New Riff SiB Bourbon 16-2899 (Rehwoldt)
Age: 4 years
Nose: butter toffee, bright citrus fruit, cake frosting
Taste: cream soda, caramel candy, singed honey
Finish: well-balanced oak, toasted vanilla, pepper
Overall: Such interesting profile differences. Fred’s selection is darker, showcasing orchard fruit, boozy dessert, and a heavier oak presence (slightly reminiscent of mature Barton). Matt’s is primarily toffee, citrus fruit, and candy, with a gentler oak vibe (very much reminiscent of 8-year Wild Turkey). Fred’s barrel is arguably more unique, but Matt’s is … well, I think y’all know how this match ends.
Victor: Drama King.