Bushmills was one of my first reviews, number 3 to be exact, back in 2015. Given my journey since then, I’m re-tasting it as I compare to the Prohibition Blend that landed in my local bottle shop.
The Prohibition Blend has a lot going on visually as you can see by the photo at right. There are callbacks to the ‘Shelby’ company, a tie-in to The Peaky Blinders TV series. Their star, Cillian Murphy features on the Bushmills landing page for the whisky. There is a quote on the back of the bottle from a Shelby (who is fictional). We have reached a level of marketing tomfoolery seldom seen. On the side of reality, we see this is non-chill-filtered and bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV), aged for a minimum of 3 years (which is required by Irish law anyway) in ex-bourbon barrels. Also, it’s got a cork stopper; very 1920s.
I have long relied on Johnnie Walker’s 12-year old ‘Black Label’ blended whisky (aka JWB) as a standard everyday drinking whisky and a standard of quality against other blends. I’ve compared JWB to Ballantine’s, Johnnie Walker’s Green Label and special releases, various other ‘two Jackson‘ ($40) whiskies, a Compass Box blend, and Dewar’s Ancestor. And today we’re at it again, comparing the Johnnie Walker ‘Double Black’ to the venerable JWB.
Full disclosure: I can find Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye locally, but I did not buy it for this review. I received a sample bottle of this and two other whiskies for a group tasting event. (Hence not much in the way of photography today.) If I had purchased, it would have set me back about $49 locally, which is a lot for an American whisky with no specific age statement.
Michter‘s is interesting for being a small distiller specializing in small batch whiskies and, in this case, single barrel releases. Yes, this is a single-barrel rye. Of its provenance, the Michter’s web site does not tell us any more than we’d know from the branding as a Straight Rye: aged at least 2 years in charred, new American oak barrels, at least 51% rye in the mash, no colors or flavoring agents added, and all the whiskey in the bottle distilled in same state. It would be interesting to know the actual ratio of rye in the mash bill. I emailed, let’s see what we hear back. But we do know they distill their own spirit (unlike many ’boutique’ rye whiskies that use spirit from MGP). Michter’s distillery is in Louisville, KY.
Note: if you came here for scurrilous photos (searching for ‘naked’ are you?) you will be disappointed….nothin’ but whisky here.
Completely serendipitously, I find myself with two blended malt whiskies. These were purchases of opportunity. They are ‘Naked,’ imported by Edrington (the outfit behind Highland Park and Macallan), and Copper Dog, from the Craigellachie Hotel in the town of the same name, imported by Diageo.
First off, what is a blended malt? It is a blend of only malt whiskies, which can be from different distilleries. I like buying blended malts like Monkey Shoulder because for about the same price as a blend, you are getting pot-stilled malt whiskies, with no column-distilled grain alcohol (as you will find in even a nicely aged blend like Johnny Walker Black). What you usually do not get with a blended malt is an age statement, so the downside of a blended malt is that you may have some more aggressive, younger spirits in the mix.
Note: this is third in a series of 3 single-cask reviews.
On our visit to The Balvenie, we had the opportunity to valinch a small bottle (200 ml) from one of a few barrels they had set aside for that purpose. After a quick, slurped taste out of my hand, I chose the 14-year-old sherry cask. Each bottle we valinched was £15, which is not too crazy considering a 5 cl bottle of Tomintoul cost me £10 in a shop! In fact, the three retired insurance company execs we toured with made off with armloads of these little bottles from The Balvenie.
I still have about half of my valinched bottle, as I’ve only broken it out for a couple special occasions. As I happened to review two single-barrel selections this month, I thought, why not compare this single barrel? How does the random ‘guest cask’ at the distillery tour compare to the malt master’s selected single cask release? And what better comparison than from Review 103, the Balvenie First Fill, Single Barrel?