I have made no secret of my love for independent bottlers and recently wrote an article for Bourbon & Banter where I lamented the fact that no one is doing with American whiskies what independent bottlers are able to do with Scotches. Just a few months later, a sample of Lost Lantern, Edition 1 appeared on my doorstep. I want to open this review with an admission: I really wanted to like this.
I have a goal of drinking a whiskey from every state in the union and so jumped at the chance to try this offering from Michigan. This first expression by Wonderland is a really interesting take on a blend in that each component is a straight whiskey and then those straight whiskies are blended together. To me, the rye is most noticeable on the nose and the wheat certainly takes center stage on the palate.
Independent Bottlers 101View Post
While this, to me, is a poor man’s Japanese Harmony (which I also reviewed for Bourbon and Banter), it is not without its intrigue. If you research the use of Mizunara in whisky, you’ll find quite a bit of disdain for what Chivas is doing here. People say that the qualities that Japanese oak imparts on whisky can’t be rushed by using it as a “finishing” technique. While not being an expert on either whisky finishing or the qualities of woods that are grown half a world away, I think I respectfully disagree.
David James Spirits, out of Kentucky, is seemingly in that awkward adolescent phase that a lot of craft distillers must go through. Their website touts a “Purity focused” product that is in the works and that they are excited to put out in roughly three years. During this waiting time, distillers must make a choice: do they bottle some of their own juice while it’s young and maybe not up to their own standards, or do they outsource the aging to other distillers and bottle the work of someone else?
Prior to being sent these two bottles to review, I had tasted the Paul John’s Brilliance before, but never had their peated offering, Bold. The Brilliance lived up to my memory of being an incredibly strong value despite its relatively low proof. It’s a very approachable daily sipper that would be familiar to bourbon drinkers and is equally at home neat in a Glencairn or a highball glass with some soda and lemon.
Don’t let the double-cereal punch from the tasting notes throw you off: this entry-level offering from Amrut was my first taste of Indian whisky and I’ve found myself returning to it over the years even as I’ve branched out and tried more premium labels. It’s one of those bottles that gets better after it’s opened and has a chance to oxidize a bit, and I regularly taste new notes in a bottle after it’s sat for a while.
This is a severe departure from a bourbon-bomb that’s single-barrel or cask-strength. It is appropriate that the brand’s own notes include the phrase “a full orchestra of flavors.” If a high-proofed bourbon is rock-and-roll, then this is truly a classical masterpiece. Obviously, being a fan of one, doesn’t mean you can’t be a fan of the other: sometimes you’re in the mood for Led Zeppelin or the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other times can call for Beethoven or Vivaldi.
- Page 1 of 2