Traveling Spirits – Because Bourbon is Best When Shared with Friends and Family.

I tend to bring bourbon with me to poker night, when stopping by a friend’s house, Friday night driveway drinking during covid, and on trips up to Michigan.  Let’s just say that it’s sort of my thing.  But it’s always a tough decision to find the right bottle for the occasion and I often wish that I could bring a few different bourbons to try.

Traveling Spirits just solved my dilemma.

The Traveling Spirits “Sampler Box” includes six two-ounce Boston round bottles with attractive caps and numbered tops, two Glencairn glasses, and a two-inch stainless steel funnel, all housed in an impressive handmade Baltic Birchwood box with a magnetized clear acrylic top.  Available for $149.00 online at https://travelingspirits.co/, the Traveling Spirits Sampler Box is my new go-to traveling companion for trips with bourbon.

After a long covid hiatus, next week I’m meeting with a client and good friend to catch up over some bourbon.  I’ve poured and packed a 1948 Old Taylor Bottled in Bond, a 10-year old Elijah Craig private barrel aged in Deatsville, and a nearly 11-year old Four Roses Brent Elliott gift shop OESV weighing in at almost 60% ABV, which we’ll save for last.  I’m looking forward to two-ounce pours for each of us, and time to catch up with a dear friend after six months.

This is precisely the sort of comradery that inspired the Traveling Spirits Sampler Box:  a father and his four sons, a fishing trip, and bonding over blind samples of bourbon.  I have such fond memories of spending time with my dad on distillery trips and sipping bourbon on his deck, and the Sampler Box would have been perfect for traveling back and forth.

I highly recommend the Sampler Box, although I’m thinking about the Traveling Spirits 12-Pack (12 bottles in the same type of Baltic Birchwood box, but no Glencairn glasses) as we start to approach the gifting season. Check out the website here: https://travelingspirits.co/, and cheers to friends and family.

Sipp’n Corn Tasting Notes: Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Decanter, Fall 2020

When I teased the Fall 2020 Old Fitzgerald release in my review of the Spring edition, I was expecting the standard profile that, in varying degrees, defines each of the releases to date.  But then it arrived and I realized that Heaven Hill is keeping us on our toes. 

I had a little bit of the Spring 9-year release to try them side-by-side to make sure that it was as different as I was thinking.  And then in my subsequent tastings I found the same unique flavors.  While still keeping up with the strict Bottled in Bond requirements, Heaven Hill was able to pull barrels from different rickhouses, different floors, and different production dates (within the same season, of course), to feature a unique profile.  Reading between the lines, this should also mean that Heaven Hill has more of these 14-year old barrels speckled throughout its rickhouses for future releases!

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Decanter Tasting Notes

Bourbon:Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery:Heaven Hill, Bardstown, Kentucky (distilled in Louisville and aged in Bardstown)
Age:14 years
ABV:50% (100 proof)
Cost:$140.00

Appearance:
Brown with copper highlights.

Nose:
Great aromas that hit as soon as I removed the cap.  Lots of caramel, lightly toasted bread, maple syrup, a little bit of earthiness, and boiled peanuts.

Taste:
Really amazing—caramel and peanuts mixed together; not salty like a Payday bar, but along those lines.  More like praline and chicory coffee.  Buttery on the tongue and lightly oaked (less than expected for 14 years) and light fruit sweetness round it out.

Finish:
Seemingly medium finish with an initial rush of nuttiness, but then the caramel lingers and lasts as it fades.  It’s a sweet tooth’s dream. 

Bottom Line

This was a unique profile for me for a Heaven Hill Old Fitzgerald and I loved it.  It lacks the spiciness of some of the prior releases, but I didn’t miss it one bit.

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me samples for this review,
without any strings attached. 
Thank you.

Sipp’n Corn Tasting Notes: Four Gate Batch 7—River Kelvin Rye.

Four Gate is back with another extremely limited batch of only 1,484 bottles.  And for the first time, it’s a Straight Rye Whiskey.  It’s not a Kentucky Rye—or “barely Rye”—it’s a 95% rye grain Indiana Straight Rye, meaning we can all pretty much guess the source.

Batch 7—River Kelvin Rye

Bourbon:        Straight Rye Whiskey
Distillery:       Undisclosed, but distilled in Indiana
Age:                7 years
ABV:              56.6% ABV (113.2 Proof)
Cost:               $174.99

Appearance:
Brown side of amber.

Nose:
Yup, that’s a Rye.  There’s some ABV sting, but once you get past that, it’s brown sugar, baking spice, lemon zest, and dark, dried fruit.

Taste:
Yup, it’s a big Rye again.  There’s a little telltale dill, brown sugar, black pepper, and oak.  Really mouthwatering flavors.

Finish:
Lingering spice with warmth that lasts.

Bottom Line

Distribution is limited like Four Gate’s other releases, but even more than I recall for earlier expressions, with distribution just for Kentucky and Indiana, and via Seelbachs.com.  Four Gate is also holding back some of this Rye Whiskey to be used with future barrel finishing projects, including a return of the Kelvin Split-Stave and Ruby Port-Rum casks anticipated for 2021.  I probably shouldn’t commit before tasting those, but River Kelvin Rye just as it is hits everything that I’m looking for in a Rye Whiskey.

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me a sample for this review,
without any strings attached. 
Thank you.

Sipp’n Corn Tasting Notes: 2020 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

It’s time again for the September Limited Editions!  The Limited Edition that I look forward to most of all is the annual Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch.  Because of the unique ten recipes at Four Roses, no other distillery can match the components available to Four Roses.

This year, Master Distiller Brent Elliott used the following recipes and ages:
OESV – 12 years
OBSV – 12 years
OESK – 16 years
OBSK – 19 years

This is like a dream come true for me because “V” and “K” have been my favorite yeast strains for Four Roses Private Single Barrels.  My first distinct memory of the “K” yeast was in 2013 when OBSK was featured as the 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Single Barrel, and a majority of the barrels that I’ve helped to select since then have used these yeasts.  And as always, this Four Roses Limited Edition is non-chill filtered and bottled at barrel proof, which this time is 111.4.

Four Roses Limited Edition Tasting Notes

Bourbon:        2020 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery:       Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (and aged in Cox’s Creek)
Age:                12-19 years (% not disclosed)
ABV:              55.7% (111.4 proof)
Cost:               $150.00
Bottles:           14,040 for U.S. distribution only

Appearance:
Golden amber brown.

Nose:
Light fruit, caramel apple pie, vanilla, rye spice, and light leather.  There’s no indication of the high proof.

Taste:
The light fruit shifts to deeper dark red berries balanced with bold rye spice and oak.  This really showcases why high rye grain is so important to the balance of bourbon

Finish:
The finish is forever.  Long and lingering with a rye spice backbone and light fruit on the edges.

Bottom Line

The Four Roses 2020 Limited Edition Small Batch is another home run.  Four Roses has continually set the bar extremely high for itself and Brent and his team delivered again this year.  That’s a remarkable feat!

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me a sample for this review,
without any strings attached.
Thank you.

Sipp’n Corn Tasting Notes: Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Decanter, Spring 2020 (and Fall 2020 teaser)

Some days the mail is just better than others.  One thing that is guaranteed to brighten my day is a chance to taste one of the most recognizable Bottled-in-Bond bourbons—Old Fitzgerald—which happens to be one of my favorite expressions.  Heaven Hill is really firing on all cylinders with its Old Fitzgerald decanter series, barrel proof Elijah Craig and Larceny, Pikesville Rye, and too many other to name here in a short review.

The Spring 2020 Old Fitzgerald has a nine-year age statement coming on the heels of a surprisingly high age statement on Fall 2019.  I remember the first nine-year from a couple years ago as being one of my favorites, so I have high hopes for this edition.  Also, just today Heaven Hill issued a press release for the Fall 2020 edition, which is a 14-year age stated Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon pulled from different rickhouses, different floors, and different production dates.  While I can’t wait for that release, Spring 2020 comes first:

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Decanter Tasting Notes

Bourbon:Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery:Heaven Hill, Bardstown, Kentucky (distilled in Louisville and aged in Bardstown)
Age:9 years
ABV:50% (100 proof)
Cost:$89.99

Appearance:
Worn copper penny.

Nose:
Pleasant sweetness of honey, brown sugar, and candy caramel with slight peppery notes.

Taste:
Caramel with bold oak, which then mellows out into more sweetness and a little bit of cinnamon candy and dry nuttiness.  It didn’t do very well on an ice sphere, so drink this one neat.

Finish:
Great, mostly dry, finish that goes and goes with lingering spice. 

Bottom Line
This is a strong buy if you’re lucky enough to see it at retail.  Heaven Hill was already the leading distillery for Bottled-in-Bond whiskies and this Old Fitzgerald helps prove why.   Bottled-in-Bond is difficult to do right since all of the barrels must come from the same distilling season, and Old Fitzgerald is a testament to the skill involved in selecting the right barrels at the right time.  It’s a fantastically balanced bourbon and worthy of the hunt. 

Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me samples for this review,
without any strings attached. 
Thank you.