Online tasting: USA Hidden Gems, by Whisky4All / Norbert Tebarts

Ok, so I lied. I am doing more reviews of American whiskey after all. Mostly because when I wrote the previous post, I didn’t know I could join this tasting. I wanted to get in when it was sold out, but with delivery services doing their job carefully, I could get my hands on the back-up parcel.

Anyway, the theme of this tasting was to drink seven whiskeys that are available through Dutch importers, don’t cost more than € 50, and delivery well above that value. According to Norbert, of course. We would be the judge only after the selection had been made.

Check out Whisky4All on their website or on Facebook for upcoming tastings.

Let’s dive right in!


Templeton Rye, 4yo, 40%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Young with quite some notes of new oak and alcohol. Pretty raw, while not harsh. After a few seconds there’s more vanilla and stewed strawberries. There’s some minty spiciness, but not too much. Orange and some baking spices.

Sip:
The spices are dry, with some alcohol heat. Dry spices, with some chili pepper, oak bark, and hints of vanilla and dried mint and thyme.

Swallow:
Again, very dry and with quite a lot of spicy heat. Rather short.

Of course, this is that brand that put so much bullshit on their label that they had to change it, and pay everyone who could show a receipt $6 as recompense, about five years ago.

It’s a sourced rye, with additions (therefore not a straight rye). These additions don’t make it any less ‘tasty’, but they do make comparing this with something else difficult. You’re having apples and oranges, instead of two different kinds of apples.

This ‘whiskey’ is not necessarily bad, but the simple fact that there are additions in it rubs me the wrong way.

75/100


Minor Case Straight Rye, 45%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
I have to pull the aroma out. Even with 15 minutes in the glass, it’s rather closed. Some dryness and sweetness after a few seconds. Slightly more sweet than regular ryes, because of the sherry casks. A very slight minty note, rye bread, the crust of French bread.

Sip:
Dry notes with corky oak. Some chili pepper, with nutty sherry notes. Almond bitterness, cherry stones, oak. A bit of a dustiness with a whiff of glue.

Swallow:
A true rye finish with a spicy heat, which is lovely in combination with the sherry notes.

The flavors are rather nice, and it’s a pretty complex whiskey. A shame it’s so closed, even with time to open up in the glass.

The addition of a sherry cask finish works rather well, and for a two year old whiskey this punches well above its weight.

85/100


High West, American Prairie Bourbon, 46%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Far less spicy than the ryes, but still quite a bit more dry than I expected. Not overly sweet at all! Some banana, overripe pear. Yeasty fruit. Scottish tablet.

Sip:
Dry again, with pear peels, pear. Overripe pear and banana, scottish tablet. Caramel with sweetness, but again, not overly so.

Swallow:
The finish is also dry, but with some fruitiness. Lots of pear, a background of banana. Brown sugar, fudge.

I really like the fact that this is not overly sweet. I was afraid the switch to bourbon after the ryes would give me huge notes of corn syrup and brown sugar, but a fairly constrained dram like this works fine.

Also, I really like High West in general, so that’s a boon. This doesn’t change the rating though.

85/100


Yellowstone Select, 46.5%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
A lot heavier than the previous one. More heavy sweetness, more corn, caramel, browned butter. Stewed apple (the apple pie kind) with cinnamon and raisins. More oak with some rye spices.

Sip:
The sweetness makes it very gentle, and quite sweet. The heaviness is still present. Caramel, sugary popcorn, butter. Cinnamon, raisins.

Swallow:
The finish is a very typical bourbon finish, with dry oak, sugary caramel, fudge, some baking spices. It also shows some orange pith.

With this being a pretty high rye bourbon, there’s a bit more oomph to this one. More spiciness, more notes of leather as well. In the previous tasting I absolutely loved the Yellowstone, and this one is no different. It shows quite some depth for an affordable bottle, especially with the fruity notes on top of the other flavors.

87/100


Wathen’s Single Barrel, 47%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Barrel spice, some caramelized oak, very gentle, with some corn like sweetness. barbecue marinade, dried apple.

Sip:
The palate is a lot sweeter than I expected. Some chili heat, oak, caramel popcorn. A touch of leather, jawbreakers, cinnamon.

Swallow:
More heat here, with quite some sweetness. Again the hot cinnamon notes of jawbreakers.

An affordable single barrel is not something you see often, except for Evan Williams. While I generally find those a bit bland, this one shows a bit more depth with the heat it brings. A bit more depth, not a lot. In the end there was a bit too much sweetness happening for me, especially after the last two whiskeys.

84/100


Rebel Yell 100 proof, 5yo, 50%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Charcoal and bacon, baked apple, fried apple peels. Some vanilla, browned butter, a hint of coffee. Dry without much spiciness.

Sip:
Again, dry, with some heat but not very spicy. Fried apple peels,

Swallow:
A long finish in which the dryness is a bit lower than on the palate, but still with a bit of bite. There’s a fruitiness that I cannot pinpoint. There’s that bacon from the again though.

What surprised me most is that there are affordable wheated bourbons out there. Especially in The Netherlands, with its limited market and high prices.

The wheated bit shows most in the fact that it does have the dryness but not the spiciness of rye whiskey. Very interesting, and some really lovely flavors of browned butter, apples and a whiff of coffee!

This one is now on the wish list.

87/100


J.W. Dant, Bottled in Bond, 50%

Sniff:
Lots of oak, with quite some alcohol. Popcorn, some dry grains, peanuts. Black pepper.

Sip:
A bit more hot than I expected. Lots of oak, lots of pepper on the palate, dry grains.

Swallow:
It brings some new heat, but gets more mellow quickly. There’s some tropical fruit, with mango, somehow.

At this point my tasting skills already went to sleep. With all construction works going on at the house, a lot of moving around and a ridiculous schedule, I was amazingly tired, and might not have given this whiskey the attention it deserves.

However, I did find that this one is a bit too strong for the flavor it packs. The alcohol and the accompanying heat ruled supreme. The hint of peanuts was interesting, but that was as far as I got.

84/100


As promised, all these whiskeys punch well above their price tag. There’s no shortage of affordable bourbon that is very drinkable, but hidden gems like these keep you interested and keep variety available without you having to dig deep into your wallet.

My personal favorites were the Yellowstone and the Rebel Yell, and it would surprise me if these didn’t end up on my shelf as high quality daily drinkers!

Another good school night, if I may say so! Thanks Norbert!

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
This entry was posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, - Rye Whiskey, High West, JW Dant, Limestone Branch, Minor Case, Rebel Yell, Templeton, Yellowstone and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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