JIM'S DESERT ISLAND WHISKEYS
"Longer maturation brings more aromatic layers to our distinctive smoky style. For me it's baked orange in a wonderful cake, fired over an open fire, with dark chocolate flavour."
Benriach The Smoky Twelve ScotchBOTTLE DETAILS
NOSE: Caramel | Corn | Spiced Cherries | Toasted Oak
TASTE: Rye Spice | Oak | Faint Sweet Honey | Green Apple
FINISH: Medium with lingering sweetness and some grain
SHARE WITH: While young, this is a blend to share with your “drink curious” not too judgy friends.
WORTH THE PRICE: I found Ingram an interesting expression. I am generally a Midwest Grain Products fan, and I like to support craft distillers/blenders with innovative ideas. With all that being said, at over $70 for a less than 4-year-old, sourced, blended whiskey, this would be a tough sell for me.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This whiskey is not a bust. It has interest and depth that you wouldn’t expect by its age. The blending is done well and with the innovative take on aging, I will give it a BAR rating. Try it first, if you can, before you buy. In the fifty dollar range, I would be tempted to go bottle.
OVERALL: O. H. Ingram River Aged Straight Whiskey, I found interesting whiskey. Aged in a floating “rickhouse” at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, in Ballard County, Kentucky. The theory being the gentle rocking of the barrels enhances the aging process. This process has its roots in the river transport of barreled distillate from Bourbon County delivered to New Orleans, with the transformed taste that apocryphally led to our native spirit. Does it make a difference? I have no idea, but there are a lot of people putting barrels on ocean voyages, riverboats, playing music to them, and even aging in cranberry bogs.
I have an issue with brands using invented or unrelated stories to support the “marketing” of their spirits. I don’t see that as an issue with O.H. Ingram. They have family history tied to the river and actually age on floating barges. They don’t hide the source, age, or mash bills of their product. Starting from typically quality rye and bourbon distillate from MGP in Indiana, aging for over three years and blended well, has produced a straight whiskey. It has a surprising depth for a young age. I found it drinkable neat, better with ice, but not particularly suitable for cocktails. My only issue with this product is the price, which is high for what it is. Understanding that the cost of sourcing and barreling probably drives this cost. If you find it in a bar, or you have the resource and drinking curiosity, I would not dissuade you from giving this one a try.
NOSE: Vanilla | Raspberry jam | Vanilla | Little-to-no smoke
TASTE: Black pepper | Honeycomb | Birch beer | Grapefruit
FINISH: Short-to-medium |Humidor wood and cigar shop | Cooked berries | Chocolate chips
SHARE WITH: Friends who will enjoy a simple and drinkable bourbon. A fine introduction to a high corn and rye mash bill.
WORTH THE PRICE: If you're used to spending $65 for a bottle of Scotch whisky, yes.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: In a vacuum, I would suggest trying this at a Bar. However, given the hype around this bottle right now, I'll round up and say Bottle.
OVERALL: If you're reading this, you've most likely seen this bottle in the #3 spot of the Whisky Advocate Top 20 Whiskies of 2020 list and have come to Bourbon & Banter as your one-stop-shop for some honest feedback.
Here's what I'll tell you: this whisky is like drinking a very good, mildly-sherried scotch while someone across the room from you is smoking a cigar that you think you'd like the smell of it were closer. I do not say that to imply that this is a bad whisky: it's not. While it's Nose is only solid, the Taste on this is really something special, and the Finish is really unique and enjoyable.
With all that said, if I were to have spent my own money on this looking for a smoky whisky, I'd be confused and maybe feel a bit cheated, as I find that particular element lacking. I think if you're a fan of smoky whiskies, I would try The Smoky Ten at a cheaper price point and thank me later. If, however, you also enjoy complex, well-rounded whiskies that just might be a bit mis-named, then I think this could keep your palate busy for a while as you try to suss out everything that's going on. I'm very interested to hear what you all think of this one so please drop me a line as you #drinkcurious!
Disclaimer: Benriach provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.