July 23, 2015

The Angel Barrel Part 4: Guest Review - Collectors' Edition

There are those who like a drink, so they keep a couple of bottles neatly stored in their kitchen cabinet for when guests visit. Then there are those who really enjoy whiskey, and have a little shelf of their favorites tucked away in a home bar. These are not those people.

For our next guest review, we wanted a few bona fide whiskey maniacs. We're talking about serious collectors here. People with hundreds of bottles of whiskey who just keep buying more, running out of room, getting endless comments from their significant others. In other words our favorite types of people. We wanted some serious whiskey drinkers (not bloggers or professional writers) to review our bottle. We figure this is the way to get the real skinny!

Todd Osborn - Whiskey Lover


No that's not a liquor store. It's not a bar. That's Todd's man cave right there in all its glory. Top left: Colonel Taylor (guessing there's some of the ultra-rare Tornado and Sour Mash bottles in there), middle: Pappy Van Winkle / Stitzel-Weller, Top right: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Third shelf: Ahh.... do you think Todd likes him some Willettzzz?!???  Then we get into Four Roses, Heaven Hill / Parker's Heritage, and it goes on and on. All-in-all this is a meticulously hand-picked and impossibly awesome place to call home. If you need us, we'll be at Todd's house.  

Todd's Review

NOSE: Woah, alcohol! A little spice somewhere in there. A touch of dusty mustiness but in a good way. (After 30 minutes of resting:) Barely any alcohol in the nose at all! Nice muted baking spice. None of the herbal/minty nose I get in many standard LDI ryes. 

BODY: The sweetness! Caramel comes through quickly and then changes to a huge punch of that baking spice on the palate. The sweetness is very reminiscent of A Midwinters Night Dram. Nice and syrupy with a fantastic amber color. I put a few other LDI ryes next to it and they're nearly all a yellowish/straw compared to this one. (After 30 minutes:) Amazing. Sweetness all the way - Nice and peppery spice with a bit of orange. When first poured it had a sweet kick and then baking spice change but now it's all melded into one great cohesive taste! Just the right amount of heat - I tried a bit with water and this is definitely best neat. 

FINISH: A touch of the spice and sweetness left over. A bit fleeting... I think there's still a little alcohol in the way. (After 30 minutes) Great clove numbness on the tongue. Long finish has remnants of orange tootsie pop; delicious. I split some of this with my buddy Dan who's also well versed in this area. We agreed this is probably the best LDI rye in this age range (I'm tasting it blind and assume it's around 8 yrs). It has a grab-bag of things I like about a variety of great ryes woven throughout it. This has the optimal amount of heat that presents itself as spice instead of alcohol - perfect. Needs some time to open to really get into what happening with this one but if you have the patience you're rewarded with one of the best private rye picks in recent memory

Thanks Todd!

Next up:

"A Gigantic Smooth Ambler Fan in North Carolina"

At first we thought it odd that this reviewer requested to remain anonymous, until we saw his Smooth Ambler Old Scout Collection.


Now we get it. Holy Jebus!! It's definitely bordering on hoarder proportions. Granted if we were single we'd be using that photo as our online dating pic, but sure, it's a bit over the top.  Who is this guy?

"I first starting collecting Makers Mark bottles 20+ years ago. I started collecting Smooth Ambler when the Party Source in Northern Kentucky got their first batch of barrel proof Old Scout American Whiskey. I think I have between 70-75 different SAOS private bottlings. I have no idea how many total bottles are in my collection, but I would guess 350-400 bottles. Other than Smooth Ambler, I am a big High West fan. The High West 21yr rye is one of my top 3 sips ever. I have slowed collecting in the last several months as the newer releases get younger and younger and the older stocks disappear. I am always on the look out for some of the more elusive SA bottlings like Jawbreaker, 1789b, and Bourbon Guys."

Anonymous Smooth Ambler Maniac Review :)

NOSE - deep aromatics, maple syrup, overly ripe red fruit maybe. Not heavy alcohol on the nose. 

PALATE: Cola. Taste is mild at first, but builds in intensity the longer it sits. Allspice, cinnamon, faint hints of nutmeg and maybe ginger. 

FINISH: Creamy smooth. More bourbon tasting on the finish than a rye. Little burn in a good way. Does not taste anything like 128.2 proof. You picked a good one here!  Bold and spicy, but not overpowering.

Thanks dude, 

Basement Phil

Deep in the annals of whiskey lunacy lives Basement Phil, who probably has the best collection of all.


Those Very Old (and Very Extra Old) Fitzgerald bottles pretty much spell out the history of Stitzel-Weller. It's too bad that the entire lineup of wax-top AH Hirsch bottles didn't make it to the top shelf! What's that in the distance, could it be a Rathskeller Rye? Let's see the rest of that shelf.


We believe the term is "Well slap my ass and call me Nancy." The Stitzel-Weller madness goes on for another shelf, and (lest he be outdone by Todd) that three bottle deep fortress of Willett at the bottom is setting off all kinds of Pavlovian booze hound salivation in us right now.

We need to leave, this is too much.  Now where did we put our coats.  Were they in this closet?


Nope, that's another bunker full of bourbon. Damn this is getting to be too much, we might be sick. Let's see what's in Basement Phil's medicine cabinet.


Ok we give up.

Sadly Basement Phil promised us a review, but will be locked in his basement for the foreseeable future. Wouldn't you be??? If and when he finally emerges we will duly post his tasting notes.



It makes us happy that there are folks like this out there in the world, guarding these treasures, and keeping the bourbon dream alive.  Thanks everyone for the review!  Cheers/SB


Read another SmokyBeast Rye guest review!!

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