Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey

Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey is a higher-tier offering from the company that brought Jack Daniel’s Old #7 into the world. It is still a Tennessee Whiskey, and so is made using a few different process steps than for a bourbon.

50ml Bottle of Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey

The nose of Gentleman Jack is very similar to regular Jack Daniel’s, but is more complex and refined. The banana scent is still prominent, but it seems much sweeter. Even though the alcohol content is the same as regular Jack Daniels, 40%, I believe I can detect a hint more of it in the odor. A nice and rich aged oaken smell makes a strong appearance, as well as a hint of coconut. This whiskey is a real pleasure to smell, and yet at the same time it is shocking how similar the scent is to the regular offering.

In the mouth, Gentleman Jack is much more balanced than the Jack Daniels old #7. The oak taste is right up there with the bananas, and the two go together much better than it seems they should. The banana taste disappears shortly after sipping, but the oak lingers on in a similar fashion to the whiskey Woodford Reserve. Actually, that is what this tastes like; it is as though someone blended Woodford Reserve with Jack Daniel’s Old #7. The combination seems better than either of the two as they stand alone. This is a very dry whiskey, as the sweetness the nose hints at is all but absent on the palate. There is a very minimal hint of charcoal just on the edge of perception.

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Johnny Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky

50ml bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky

Johnny Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky is the entry-level blended Scotch offering with the Johnny Walker label. The nose of this Whisky is very fresh, with a young peaty scent and perhaps a hint of tropical bananas and grass. The nose is not very complex, with a very straight-forward, no-surprise quality.

In the mouth the peat opens up a bit, and it seems that there is actually a slight smoky quality, despite what the nose would leave one to believe. The banana taste hits the roof of the mouth, and the overall feel of the scotch is surprisingly pleasant. The peat notes linger long after swallowing, and all told the taste is MUCH better than the smell. It has a fairly light mouth feel. Compared to single malts, this is most reminiscent to me of a Scotch from the Highland region.

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NutLiquor Peanut Butter Vodka

NutLiquor is a 69 proof Vodka that is marketed as tasting like peanut butter. According to the companies website (, it does not contain any peanut allergen, so those who can’t eat a peanut can still consume this! NutLiquor is made in Michigan, which is not a location that is exactly famous for distilled spirits, and so it’s surprising that a product such as this would arise in the Land of the Great Lakes!

A bottle of NutLiquor Vodka

As promised, the scent is very similar to that of peanut butter, though there is a distinctly sweet quality as well that makes it more reminiscent of the peanut butter used in some famous name brand sweets.

In the mouth the peanut flavor is the first thing to hit, although it is somewhat muted compared to the real thing. There is an initial blast of a flavor that I can only describe as like a hint of cognac that is quickly covered up by the nuts. Letting it sit on my tongue, I can sense a hint of the vodka that the spirit is based on, but I am hard pressed to notice it unless I really pay close attention.

This spirit has some very interesting mixing potential. I tried it, with mixed success, combined with an amaretto, Grand Marnier, a vanilla liqueur, vanilla ice cream, Chambord, and the inexpensive bottom-shelf blackberry wine Manischewitz. Of those, the ones that worked the best were as follows, in no particular order:

  1. Just a tiny splash of Grand Marnier with only a little bit more vanilla liqueur mixed with the NutLiquor. The ice cream also blends well with this combination.
  2. about 1 part Manischewitz to 3 or 4 parts NutLiquor
  3. about 1 part Chambord to 3 or 4 parts NutLiquor

Chambord or Manischewitz combined with NutLiquor makes a drink that tastes very much like a Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J) Sandwich! I wouldn’t enjoy a large glass of any of these combinations, though, so they may be best used for sampling or shots.

NutLiquor is certainly an interesting novelty drink, and is likely to be a big hit at parties. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? It is starting to appear in liquor stores across the United States; check for more information on current availability.

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Caol Ila 12 Year Scotch Whisky

Bottle of Caol Ila 12 Year Islay Scotch Whisky

Caol Ila, a 43% ABV single malt Scotch Whisky from the Islay region, has a strong smoke and peat scent. Also in evidence is kelp and a faint hint of iodine. The nose seems very much in line with other Islays; no real surprises here.

Box containing Caol Isla 12 Year Islay Scotch Whisky

To the palate as with the nose, the peat and the smoke are the most pronounced flavors. There is an almost buttery flavor that hits the roof of the mouth, and the finish is distinctly peat. The mouth feel is on the lighter side, though there certainly is more than a hint of body. Despite this being a Scotch, I can’t help but be reminded of Chardonnay as I sip.

Caol Ila is a good “value” offering from the Islay region, as the price tends to be somewhat lower than many of the competing regional whiskys. All in all this is certainly worth tasting, though my personal preference is to step up to Talisker which is done in a similar style.

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Jack Daniel’s Angelo Lucchesi Ninetieth Birthday Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s put out a special bottle to commemorate their first salesman’s 90th birthday. This bottle is packaged at 45% ABV (90 Proof) which is the original strength of Jack Daniel’s. All of the typical bottles these days are bottled at just 80 proof (40% ABV.)

Bottle of Jack Daniel's Angelo Lucchesi Ninetieth Birthday Tennessee Whiskey

Pouring a glass and inhaling the scent, I can immediately tell that this is Jack Daniels. The yeasty banana smell is prominent, though it seems heavier than the regular edition of this liquor. Oak seems to make up the remainder of the scent. I caught a brief hint of char, but it was quite fleeting.

To my palate, this is quite similar to yet distinct from the regular bottling of Jack Daniels. The toasted oak is much more pronounced, and the banana flavor that comes from the yeast is more of an after-taste than the main showing. There is a hint of an almost rum-like sugariness that hits the back of my mouth, and the increased alcohol content makes itself known.

All in all I must say I prefer this to the more commonly available bottling of Jack Daniel’s, and this is at the original alcohol content that Jack himself would have known. It may cost a couple dollars more, but is worth it if you are a fan of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.

Posted in Tennessee Whiskey, Whiskey/Whisky | 2 Comments

Talisker 10 Year Scotch Whisky

Box of Talisker 10 Year Scotch, produced on the Isle of Skye

Produced on the Isle of Skye, Talisker is a Scotch whisky that is very similar in style to that of the Islay region, even though technically it is an Island Scotch (or even more technically, a Highland Scotch since there is some debate about whether the Islands are even a recognized region!) It stands at 45.8% Alcohol by Volume.

This is a serious Scotch that would probably be a bit too intense for a beginner. On the nose there are intense earthy notes, with iodine and smoldering peat being quite pronounced. There is a distinct peppery quality as well that hits the back of the nose; quite a pleasant feeling.

In the mouth this whisky is quite heavy; almost syrupy in its consistency. The flavors prove to be equally heavy, with iodine and seaweed being the first things noticed. Behind that is the peat, and a distinctly smoky taste that becomes even more pronounced on the finish. This is an extremely rich Scotch, and I’m even noticing the faintest hint of caramel as I roll it around on my tongue. A hint of salty sea spray stays just at the edge of perception.

Talisker 10 Year Scotch is the sort of whisky that one should really take time to enjoy. Pour a glass neat and take slow sips over the course of several hours while reading, watching a movie, or talking amongst friends. This is just about the perfect Scotch for these purposes, and you will want to savor every drop.

Posted in Island Scotch, Scotch Whisky, Whiskey/Whisky | 1 Comment

Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum

Appleton Estate V/X is an 80 proof rum blended and bottled in Jamaica.

A bottle of Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum

The nose of Appleton Estate is surprisingly fruity, with notes of pear, peach, mango, and banana. Underlying all that is the scent of sugar that is typical of almost all rums, and a faint hint of oak. I would be quite contented to simply sniff this rum without ever even tasting it! Appleton is taking a new position as my favorite smelling rum.

Of course though, I did end up tasting it. On my palate, the oak which was barely detectable to my nose is the predominant flavor. The sugar taste is right behind that, along with the banana taste. The liquor finishes with a peach note that works very well with the burn of the alcohol in my mouth. There is also the faintest flutter of apple or pear once the peach fades. After decanting for a few minutes in my glass, the fruit tastes open up and become detectable in the initial wash of flavor.

Appleton Estate is extremely smooth and feels light in the mouth. Certainly it has alcohol, and the alcohol is noticeable, but only in a pleasant and soft fashion. I find this rum to be very enjoyable to sip neat. As a mixer I believe this rum would also work, but of course many of the finer flavors would get lost. At under $20 for a bottle, the price is very reasonable for a dual-purpose rum!

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Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Please note that this review is for the Ancient Ancient Age Bourbon marked “10 Star,” not the one marked “10 Year.”

From the same distillers as Buffalo Trace, Ancient Ancient Age is a real Kentucky Bourbon that has been on the market for more than 50 years.

Bottle of Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Unscrewing the top, I can’t help but notice some of the stronger classic bourbon scents coming out of the bottle. Once I have it in a glass, I am quite surprised at how complex it seems. A pleasant musty corn smell rides on top of what seems like a faint spicy hint of rye. Charred oak and the faintest waft of honey come to the front after a little swirling.

Taking a sip, the alcohol seems overwhelming at first, but at 90 proof that is not too much of a surprise. The oak is perhaps the strongest flavor component, followed closely by the pleasant corn taste typical of bourbons and a faint hint of bananas. As in the smell, I do detect a hint of rye. The flavors stay on the palate for quite some time in a relatively pleasant fashion, with the corn and the rye saying their long and lingering good-byes. If I breathe through my mouth after taking a sip, though, the rye flavor seems to take on a rather unpleasant musty quality. I think I’ll be breathing through my nose with this one! After sipping for a while, I am beginning to think there is more rye than corn in the flavor profile.

This whiskey does take a few sips to get used to as it does have a somewhat harsh quality, but is definitely a bourbon that can be sipped. The only real complaint I have with it is the musty quality that comes when breathing after drinking, which I have never experienced before with any other bourbons. All in all this seems like a reasonable, though not good, value for the money.

Posted in Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey/Whisky | 2 Comments

Bacardi 1873 Ron Solera Rum

Bacardi 1873 Ron Solera Rum is an interesting change of pace from the makers of one of the most mass produced, highly available rums in the world.

Bacardi 1873 Ron Solera Rum

This rum is made using the Solera system of aging, which is a method borrowed from the world of Sherry. Essentially, new batches of rum are mixed with older batches of rum each year, year after year. The longer the solera has been going on, the older the oldest alcohol in the mix will be. That being said, I do not know how long the solera has going on for this rum. I have heard many reports that it has been available for sale in the Caribbean for roughly the past decade, so I would guess the solera has been running for at least that long.

As soon as I unscrewed the top of the bottle, I could smell this rum. Strangely enough, the odor does not seem very typical for a rum, but rather more like a sherry. It is possible that this is due to the solera system, but that is just a guess on my part. The odor is somewhat overwhelmingly sweet, with a syrupy honey quality.

In the glass, the rum is a medium dark amber color, very similar to many of the heavier scotches. The flavor is just as sherry like as the nose, with a sort of sickly sweet burning quality. It also tingles, almost as if it were carbonated. Despite that, it is surprisingly smooth, more towards the smooth side of the scale than the harsh. There is a caramelized sugar note that lingers in the mouth.

I’m not entirely certain what I think of this rum; there are many other rums that are far better for sipping, not least of which is the Barbancourt 8 year I reviewed earlier. As a mixing rum, Bacardi 1873 Ron Solera would add some interesting qualities. However, I think it would be a bit less expensive to approximate the same taste by mixing a less expensive rum with a dash or two of sherry. The more I sip it, though, the more I find the taste growing on me.

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Barbancourt 4-Year Rum

After having had such a good experience with the Barbancourt 8-year Rum, I figured I would go a step down and see how the 4-year 3-star version tastes.

As expected, this rum does not live up to the same quality that four extra years of aging would add. A sniff shows many of the same qualities with, however, an unfortunately strong fusel oil scent hanging overhead. Oak and sugar comprise the bulk of the remaining nose.

Taking a sip I find this to be much harsher. Whereas the 8-year version was dead center between harsh and smooth, the 4 year version is halfway again between that half-way point and the harsh side of the scale. This is a bit harsher than I prefer in a rum for sipping, so I can only imagine using it as a component in cocktails.

The taste is otherwise very similar to the 8-year bottle, with again a slightly pronounced fusel oil quality. The aftertaste is somewhat unpleasant and seems to linger for longer than I would prefer. As a mixer, I believe this will work much better than many other rums on the market. Otherwise, Barbancourt 4-year rum does not seem particularly note-worthy.

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