I’ve long been a fan of Jack’s Single Barrel, Barrel Proof Tennessee Whiskey, as I think it’s the best readily available American whiskey on the market. I said READILY AVAILABLE, calm down whiskey police. Also, if you’re wanting to engage in the TN whiskey versus bourbon argument, might I invite you to check out the Iron Sheik’s Twitter feed. The news that their limited release for 2020 was a barrel proof rye had me excited & a little apprehensive at the same time, as I’m not a huge rye whiskey fan.
You may have read my review of the 5-year offering from The Dublin Liberties, Oak Devil, and seen that I did not recommend it very highly (mostly as a result of it being overpriced for what it is). I don’t believe that to be the case here with Copper Alley. It has many of the stereotypical notes of a pot-stilled Irish Whiskey while also bringing some new things to the table as a result of its sherry-cask finish. Most notably, those sherry casks bring some interesting wine notes to both the palate and the dry finish, which I quite enjoyed.
I really enjoy Irish Whiskey and put them into roughly two categories where value is concerned. One of them is the cheaper, simple whiskies that I’d used for mixing with ginger ale, pouring over ice, etc., and the other is for richer, more complex whiskies that I’ll sip slowly and enjoy on their own. For me, Tullamore Dew and Writers’ Tears would be examples of the former that I immensely enjoy and Red Breast or Green Spot would be examples of the latter.
This whisky has an interesting story, going through a secondary aging in Japanese cedar, honoring the Omiwa Shrine at the food of Mount Miwa. The name means God Breath, inspired by the breezes coming from the Mountain of the God. You can tell there’s some story behind the whisky. And that first taste tells you there’s quality whisky in the bottle. I wish it had a better finish, which would have moved my final verdict from Bar to Bottle, but it’s still an interesting enough whisky to try at least once.
This is a swell whiskey. It’s balanced, bold—even muscular—and pretty much what a properly aged 15-year-old bourbon should taste like. Some sourced whiskey shows the talent or luck of the barrel hunter, so let’s call Grain & Barrel Spirits’ master distiller Gregg Snyder talented. It’s delicious. Ironically, I had this same whiskey from a full bottle bought by a friend, and it did little for me. A month later, I got a sample bottle from Chicken Cock, and it was praiseworthy. Go figure. I have no explanation for it.
This was a pleasant surprise. I have had the opportunity to try a number of KO Distilling whiskies including their Cask Strength Offerings at 120 proof and at least 3 years in age. I found them very hot and a good bit of youth showing through. The Distiller’s Reserve is a different story however. The sample I tried was 52 months. A wheated bourbon that is Non Chill Filtered. I would get a slight hint of youth every now and again but overall, this was a very enjoyable bourbon. Soft and sweet going in with a good bit of spice at the end for a wheated bourbon. I have in my collection a 4-year-old Bottled in Bond wheated bourbon from a craft distillery in Kentucky that many people are raving about and I can say that I liked this KO bourbon a lot more.
The nose says, “Whiskey;” the palate says, “Bourbon;” the finish says, “Rye.” I like whiskeys that take you on a journey from the nose through to the finish. As a blend, Manchester Reserve takes you on less of a journey and more around some sharp turns. The nose almost seems delicate for the proof, but the bourbon notes on the palate, followed by a strong rye finish, lacks the harmony I expect in a blend. If “surprising turns” is your whiskey style, you may like this. I think it’s certainly worth a try.
I can’t say I was really looking forward to this whisky, so I was surprised to find how much I really like it. It drinks a bit hotter than it’s 92 proof, but just a drop of water affects that nicely. Too much water, and it’s just kind of a sweet water; add water judiciously, but do try it with a drop or two. The whisky is made with desalinated ocean water, and the company makes a big deal about that. it’s just water, though, but at least it’s clean water, and it actually makes a decent whisky.
I’ve had a hard time remembering a time when my tasting notes differed so widely from the brand’s own for a bottle I actually liked (usually when the difference is this great, it’s a dumpster fire). The sample bottle I received tasted simply like The Original Ten that had a couple extra years on it. I did not pick up virtually any of the sugar or dark fruit notes that a sherried whisky or one aged in port casks should impart. To the contrary, I found the finish quite tart and dry. That being said, I quite liked this bottle and wouldn’t want people to think that it’s not worth a taste. Of the non-smoked whiskies coming out of Benriach right now, though, I believe The Original Ten to be a better value.