Category Archives: This one is a bit of hard work!

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel #922 pick for Warehouse Liquors in Chicago

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsRegion – Kentucky  – Special pick by Gene at Warehouse Liquors – Single Barrel # 922 Rick House “N” – Floor 5-3-3, 55% ABV (multiply ABV x 2 to get “proof” – I really prefer the use of ABV, less multiplication, and more direct – come on America!!!).

Number of bottles ??  Cost: $55

I bought this bottle on the suggestion of Warehouse Liquors store proprietor, Gene.  If you’re ever in Chicago, Warehouse Liquors is a sight for sore whisk(e)y eyes. Like Binny’s, Kenwood, Antioch (and many others… the list could go on, really), Warehouse Liquors is a whisk(e)y destination that helps put Chicago on the map.  Beyond the store itself (300+ ‘Murrican whiskeys, and 650+ single malt whiskies, Scotch and otherwise), it is Gene himself that puts Warehouse liquors on the map. A fountain of knowledge, that one.

Ok, so, the whiskey…  I have never, ever, been a fan of the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels.  Most people love these releases but it tends to not fit my flavor profile.  Each to their own, right?

However, Gene is one of those in the whisky industry that I trust.  His knowledge, his taste, etc… He’s been able to gauge my palate pretty well, and he’s done so in a fairly quick fashion. So, when he suggested I buy this RR SB that he picked, I said no (the first time).  Did I mention that I just don’t like RR SBs?

Then I came back to Chicago this week, and he pressed me again. Who am I to say no to someone a second time?  Sometimes you just gotta say…

So, against my better judgement based on the releases I prefer to stay aware from, but in favor of my judgement on Gene, his selections, and suggestions based on his knowledge of my palate, I pressed ahead and got a bottle.

My thoughts?  Funny you should ask…

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsOn the nose — The first note is big, and it is buttered popcorn (and not a bowl of cherries, as I assume to be smacked with when it comes to the RR SBs).  

The nose is a little hot, which is to be expected (potentially) given the 55 ABV%.  After a couple minutes in the glass, the heat goes away (far away), and I detect cooked tangerine skins, citrus pith, crushed vanilla pods and soft oak.  

Surprisingly, given that this is a #4 char (which is a heavy char, by the way), I’m not smacked in the face with oak. This makes me happy as the grains are fully present here, as are bourbon soaked cherries (subtle note, and yum!).

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsThere’s a cologne note here, too.  Elegant.  Not Axe, not old spice, something old worldy.  

Wow, now there’s a note of turkish delights, too (rose water, pistachio and powdered sugar). Call me happy so far!

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsIn the Mouth — *Easy* entry, oily mouthfeel.  Slightly herbaceous but balanced by candied orange peel and stewed fruits.  

I can not stress this enough – the mouthfeel is fantastically unctuous.

Because this is not smacking you with oak, this whiskey demands that you focus on the grains.  So, let’s do that, shall we?  

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel for Warehouse LiquorsThere’s a corn sweetness here that makes me pine for autumn.  Subtle rye spice, hints of caraway.  Maraschino cherries (real homemade ones, not that jarred stuff you find everywhere).

Finish — Hints of citrus, spice and soft oak. Slightly tannic, and medium in length.

In sum — Either I’m starting to dig RR SBs or I’ve found two this year that I like (the other being from Gordon’s Fine Wines out of MA – review to follow shortly-ish).  

What I really enjoyed about this one was that it wasn’t all wood and cherries.  This is complex, and a fine pick that brings you out of your bourbon-comfort zone, and challenges you.  Not that bourbons aren’t challenging.  Rather, the oak tends to make flavors dense.  And with this one, it’s all about the grain with oak as a component instead of a dictator.  This one is a drinker and worth the $$ paid, no doot aboot it.

Thanks for pushing me, Gene.  You were right.  Great barrel selection!

Exculsive Malts – Mortlach 17yo – 53.3% ABV


MortlachSpeyside region – 53.3%ABV – US only — Price: unknown at this point.

Day two of the Exclusive Malts reviews.

Interestingly enough, after having my little fun with the term “nut skin” yesterday, two people unsubscribed from my posts.  As sad as this is, I gained three new subscribers and a few very nice emails.

Please know that on occasion, in addition to having fun reviewing whisky, I have fun using the humor of my inner nine year old boy.  Sorry if this offends some but, hey ho, I’ll keep doing what I do and will be ever thankful for all of you out there enjoying my posts.

Speaking of “doing what I do,” I’ll move on with my review of this 17yo Mortlach:

Mortlach-1On the nose –  I’m struck first by the scents of bruised apples and apple cider vinegar.  It’s quite present and tough to get past (thankfully, I’m enjoying those notes).

Freshly kneaded dough with a high yeast content and highly sugared cereals.  Speaking of cereal, I’m reminded of a fine muesli and golden raisins, too.

Hot cinnamon and apple sauce (currently warming apple sauce).  Grilled lemons.

Mortlach-2With water it gets a bit more savory with touches of baked tomatoes.

Mortlach-3On the mouth – Thinnish mouthfeel with a keen focus on the malt character of the whisky.  Honied water and just a hint of smoke in the background.

Cracked white pepper or, is it just peppery?  Hmmm…

Mortlach-4Rubber party balloons (or balloon animals), lemon fizzy candies and well, that’s about it I’m afraid.  So far, the nose wins out.  Let me add some water to see if it opens this one up…

Water adds a great amount of texture to the mouthfeel of this whisky and begins to align the nose with the flavors.  Adding water to this whisky was a good choice.

After about 20 minutes, it now, in an odd way, reminds me of Redbreast 12yo Cask Strength.

Finish – A surprisingly long finish filled with fruits and again that touch of smoke.

In sum – While not as approachable or easily dissected as the Clynelish I reviewed yesterday, a bit of patience and water pays off.  This would be a good whisky to have as part of a tasting.  Compare this to some other Mortlachs.  It’s an odd duck out from others that I’ve had but for those up to a challenge, this can be a good dose of fun!