The Busker Single malt says it is a modern Irish whiskey that is smooth enough to drink straight, or perfect for a mixer, or in their own words:
Ireland- The Busker Single Malt Irish Whiskey is born out of a modern Ireland, where the contemporary and bold meet at the crossroads of tradition. Smooth enough to be had alone or added as a delicious kick to your favorite mixed drink.
Now lets see how these claims hold up.
The nose is full of alcohol burn. There is maltiness hidden in there, but the nose really hits you with ethanol.
The first impression is alcohol, just like the nose, that turns to malt and transitions to a bit of butter cookie before finishing very rough. I was really not impressed with the overall mouth feel, the opening, or the very rough finish.
I was really surprised by this as I’d read a ton of positive feedback on “The Busker” brand Irish Whiskeys.
At the end of the day all I can guess is that The Busker marketing team is really good, and really aggressive. For me, The Busker Single Malt scores a paltry 4/100. Yes I drank it, but I didn’t enjoy it, and while it did get me tipsy really fast, it also gave me a headache, which for me, is usually a sign that the quality isn’t up to snuff.
Then again, this is just my opinion, and maybe this just isn’t my cup of tea. Let me know how you feel about The Busker Single Malt in the comments below.
- It tastes like it might power my lawn mower. Is that a positive? I couldn’t think of anything to be honest.
- Too expensive at $34.
- The alcohol hits you on the nose and continues to hit you on the palate.
- How can something give you a hangover while you’re drinking it? This gave me a headache as I was drinking it.
I ranked Death’s Door whiskey as a 68/100 as a straight sipper, but at $40 a bottle for me (Northeast United States) there are better options for two twenties – so I was curious how it would do as a Manhattan.
The good news is that a bit of vermouth did take off the rough edges of this Death’s Door whiskey.
The bad news is that at over $40 a bottle, there are just better options out there, meaning this only improved by e a few points as a mixer. A Death’s Door Manhattan scored a 74/100.
This bottle of Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon has been hiding on the back of my “to be reviewed” shelf for almost two years after I fell in love with Irish Whiskey. Since then I’ve been trying to alternate between an American Whiskey/Bourbon and Irish Whiskey/Scotch every week. I grabbed this bottle of Old Forester 1920 because Old Forester never let’s me down, and I was excited to try this 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon my eyes settled on it hiding in the back corner of the shelf.
Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon is a strong offering. It is bottled at 115 Proof and a mashbill of 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley. Based on the distiller’s lore, this bourbon was created during America’s experiment with making alcohol illegal . Or at least mostly illegal. Apparently there was a medicinal use exception, and Brown-Forman applied and was granted for Kentucky Permit KY – 3. This allowed Brown-Forman to create Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon and legally sell it for “medicinal” use, even during prohibition.
The Old Forester brand has the distinction of being the only bourbon sold before, during, and thankfully, after, prohibition. There is a lot of history in every sip of Old Forester, which is likely one of the reasons it never disappoints.
The nose on this Old Forester 1920 is rich, deep, and layered with fruit and concentrated brown sugar just on the verge of burning. The nose ends with a swirl of alcohol and sweet fruit that is really surprising for how balanced it is. I was expecting a strong alcohol burn based on the proof, but this is such a well crafted whiskey that it all just fits together perfectly.
The first sip was an explosion of flavor. Sweet brown sugar mellowed over oak char and black chocolate. That sweetness continues and melds with ripe fruit on the swallow that does hint at the 115 proof, but in a good way. Yes, you can appreciate this is a higher proof, but it is just so well made that it never smacks you in the face.
While this Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon isn’t something I’d pour for a new whiskey lover, for the advanced class who an appreciate all its complexity, this is just a pleasure to sip. It not only scored a 96/100, tying it for top honors with Red Breast, but it of course made it into my Whiskey Safe, meaning I will always keep a bottle locked up to enjoy during the Apocalypse.
- Awesome back story that dates to prohibition.
- Complex, multi layered nose.
- Lovely sweet brown sugar and fruit on the front of tongue.
- At local prices (east coast) ranging from $59.99 to $69.99 this can take a bite out of your whiskey budget.
- Easy to over enjoy, and at 115 proof it might catch up to you.
- Not for the new whiskey lover. Save it for when you are more experienced.
Stillhouse Black Bourbon has the honor of being my first edition of Second Sip, where I’ll go back and take a second look, and sip, or many whiskeys. I’ve learned a lot on my Whiskey Dreams journey and I’m curious how a much broader exposure to whiskey will change how I interpret different drams.
When I first found Stillhouse Black Bourbon it was all the way back in June of 2019, and I scored it a 73/100.
So how does Stillhouse Black Bourbon hold up to my better educated bourbon taste buds?
The nose is unchanged. It is subtley sweet, and not very pronounced.
I’m not sure if its the “coffee mellowing” or the blend of whiskeys used to create this, but what I called astringency really hammers my mid tongue. The finish on the swallow has bitterness and pepper. It’s not punching me in the throat, but its not what I’d call super smooth either.
Stillhouse Black Bourbon is a great budget bourbon, and while I am updating my score to a 61, this is still a great value Bourbon, and it is still perfect for camping trips and hiking – when a glass bottle would be a bad idea. The one downside that I did notice is that if I have more than a dram or two this bourbon gives me a horrible hangover the next day – which isn’t true of a lot of other options, even at this price point, which cost it major points.
This drops Stillhouse Black Bourbon into Mixed Drinks Only territory, but I am putting as asterisk next to that. I won’t be sipping this as a straight bourbon anymore – but I will absolutely take it on outdoor trips and drink it under the stars. This is still an excellent budget offering at anywhere between $20 and $25 bucks.
This Blade And Bow scored a 48/100 as a a sipper, which relegated it to the Mixed Drinks Only category. Which means I wasn’t super excited about what a Manhattan would do for this Blade And Bow whiskey. I find that a Manhattan can soften some rough edges, but usually results in a 10 or 15 point increase (max) to the base whiskey.
The makers of Blade And Bow might not have been super happy with my score as a “straight sipper”, but hopefully they will be a little more pleased with what their bourbon can do as a mixer, especially for a Manhattan.
I used my normal two to one formula, mixing two parts whiskey with one part vermouth, then adding in a few drops of Orange Bitters, and this Blade And Bow really shone through.
My issue with Blade And Bow as a straight sipper was the soft sweet opening and the hardness on the swallow that was kind of a punch in the face. The good news is that the vermouth really evens this out, turning this jarring sip into something much smoother. The vermouth takes that rough finish and just smooths everything out in quite a lovely way. So much so, that this is the all time biggest increase when comparing a whiskey to its Mixed Drinks Only pairing.
This Blade And Bow Manhattan scored an all time high 90/100 (as of 3/17/2021). If you love a good Manhattan, this is a must try. This just might might help me justify spending $50 on another bottle – which is crazy for a mixer right? But still, it’s that good in a Manhattan.
Slane Irish Whiskey is blended from three casks. virgin oak and seasoned Tennessee/Bourbon casks, and then the final cask previously held Oloroso Sherry.
The nose is sweet and malty that changes to caramel as it fades. I can imagine the faint hints of sherry as well, but I’m not sure if that is real or the power of suggestion because I know its in there.
The palate is malt and butter cookies that is sweet and creamy as it hits the mid tongue. The finish is all dry sherry. I’ve had a few other Irish Whiskeys finished in Oloroso Sherry casks, but I have to be honest that this is the first one that I really liked. They did a great job blending the malty goodness of the base Irish Whiskey with the dryness of the sherry.
I really enjoyed this bottle of Slane and plan on putting a bottle in my Whiskey Safe. This is a great bottle for new drinkers who are now getting just a bit more into what makes a good nose and wonderful palate. Slane earned very point of its 74/100, making it Sip Worthy.
- Pleasant malty sweetness on the nose.
- Perfect balance between the opening malt and the closing sherry notes.
- Whoever blended this whiskey serves a medal.
- Great whiskey to transition a new drinker from more basic flavors to something with a little more complexity.
- If you aren’t a fan of Oloroso Sherry, you may not like the finish on this whiskey.
Death’s Door is an interesting whiskey. Instead of using a traditional whiskey yeast the distillers use a champagne yeast on an 80:20 mash bill of hard red winter wheat to malted barley.
Thankfully my initial fear that this was going to be more akin to white lightening than bourbon were ill founded. Death’s Door’s nose reminded me more of vodka than whiskey. There is malt and alcohol, but for me, the nose is very neutral and not very pronounced. I do have a minor sinus cold, so I’m curious if that will change when I’m back to 100%.
The mouth feel is clean and crisp and the opening on the front of my tongue is creamy malt, that almost, but not quite, turns into butter cookies. That opening is quite lovely. I wish it had finished as nicely. As the whiskey reaches the back of your throat a few of the rougher notes come through. It is unsweetened dark chocolate and raisins left in the sun.
I enjoyed this Death’s Door and will save what’s left of the bottle to see what a few of my friends think of it. The whiskey spent just a little bit of time in uncharred Minnesota oak barrels, but I think the champagne yeast played a bigger part in the flavors at play in this whiskey.
I’m giving Death’s Door a 68/100, making it Sip Worthy. I would call this a novelty, and it is different, but it isn’t making its way into my Whiskey Safe.
- The champagne yeast adds a creamy note that reminds me of Irish Whiskey in a pleasant way.
- Different, very different. if you like trying new things, you should try Death’s Door, even if its a one time buy.
- The opening on the front of the tongue is all malt, creamy sweetness.
- If your looking for bourbon, this is going to be an odd duck for you.
- The finish is a little rough on the back of the tongue.
- $40 is a little bit high for this bottle. $25 or $30 seems like a fairer price.
I have to be honest about why I picked up this bottle, and it was all based on the fact that I haven’t seen clear whisky like this before.
Check back Sunday to see how it ranks.
I’m not sure what audience Agitator is going after, but apparently its the crazy drunks? Wait, how did I end up here? – Oh, never mind.
I guess I’m a rule breaker and a rabble rousers.
According to Agitator’s web site, Agitator starts as a 21% rye whiskey that is aged for two years in new charred white oak before spending a few months in California Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
Let’s see how that effort pays off.
The first thing that hit me on the nose was the alcohol. This whiskey is only 86 proof, but the alcohol on the nose would have made me guess higher. It wasn’t until I added some ice and let it open up that I could appreciate any of the more delicate notes. Once it opened up I could really smell the oak and vanilla. I was expecting to maybe smell something from the time spent in the Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, but the nose is all bourbon to me.
The first sip matched the nose. Straight, the alcohol smacks you in the face. Opened up a bit with some ice or water and I can appreciate the oaky vanilla on the sip, and it does finish with a red wine dry, acidic mouth feel that hints at a bit of sweet fruit.
I’m giving Agitator a 50/100, but because of its red wine roots, I am very curious to find out how it does in a Manhattan, as this is a Mixed Drinks Only bottle from here on out.
- If you like a dry finish, this might be right up your alley.
- Opens up with a bit of ice or water.
- Red wine finish.
- The straight whiskey has a very strong alcohol punch.
- Is $30 bucks too much for this? The fact that I’m not sure makes it a con for me.
This week’s selection is Agitator Kentucky Bourbon. Check back Sunday to see how it ranks.