Thanks to /u/orehnmadgib for the sample.
I am tremendously bad at guessing mystery samples. However I ended up with a bunch after some swap, so it’s time to crack them open in a series I’m calling “I’m really bad at mysteries”.
It’s tough to buck trends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the standards kept by American whiskey. I think the requirements ensure that cheaper, bad whiskey is not made. However, there is a scary feel of ubiquity when having some whiskies from the US.
I’m not attacking them, I’m just saying that the very things that ensure there are good standards means that quite a few of them stick to that formula. Which is what you would do given the chance because it works. I would follow it too, given how little money there is in making whiskey. Companies that haven’t stuck to the idea have had mixed success, with not all of them ending up as successful as a Balcones or Westland.
Add to that MGP and Alberta distillers (as well as Barton’s and others) being an excellent supply of new make allowing various new “aging” warehouses startup (that’s my name, not a standard) without needing to buy expensive stills and test out mashbills/yeasts/etc or merely buy single barrels of whiskey and sell them to the public.
Again, I’m not bashing this. It doesn’t work all the time for me, but when it does it’s really great. It works for bigger bourbon fans, thus I’m happy for others. That’s the way it should be. Don’t yuck other people’s yum.
However; coming from a Scotch point of view, where blends and regions and various levels of complexity come into play, it can be difficult for people like me to understand. So when a company takes a whiskey like a Tennessee whiskey, sourced from Tennessee (Speakeasy Spirits if I’m understanding their website correctly), and then does (for the first time ever) a port finish on it, my ears perk up. Thus we have Cumberland Cask Ruby Cut. Something different.
But different doesn’t always mean good. So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Casks used: Virgin oak for 6 years, then 4 fresh ruby port wine barrels from California for 6 months
Colour: 10YR 5/8
Nose: Potpourri, apricot, wheat, caramel latte, cinnamon
Very floral. Having this blind, the initial reaction is it may be some sort of Lowland. However, there’s a distinct earthy tone there. Something that reminds me of Jack Daniels.
Nah, I’m just crazy after that time someone handed me Jack Daniel’s No. 7 as a mystery and told me it was a mystery Island Scotch.
Taste: Cherry syrup, butter, brine, pepper, papaya
Really thick, strong cherry flavour. Nice butter and brine, some earth playing around too.
The first reaction I have is this is obviously port cask. Maybe a full sherry maturation. But I’m leaning towards port. Well frankly given the amount of red wine cask whiskies I’ve had I’m not so sure anymore.
That earth aspect is still showing up. I’m convinced this is a Tennessee whiskey, in a rare moment of clarity.
Finish: Cereal, pepper, coal, mineral, cinnamon hearts
Ah, now I’m sure of it. The finish keeps that earth forward, cereal part. So I’m sure this is an American whiskey at this point and leaning towards a Tennessee whiskey.
Beyond that, I’m lost. Because there’s red wine here.
Conclusion: Water opens up more cinnamon and removes the harsh pepper. Really cool experiment, all in all, and something I hope more of them try out. I really enjoyed sipping on this. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it sets itself aside from all of whiskies out there on the market. After a quick Google, and finding only one port Tennessee whiskey, I guess correctly, proving that a broken clock tells the right time twice a day.
It’s whiskies like this that interest me. Reminds me of Yippe-Ki-Yay or Midwinter’s Night Dram. I hope they eventually bring out a stronger version, or maybe finish it longer, as that may amp up the complexity.
Guess: A red wine finished American, though not Kentucky. Definitely a Tennessee whiskey. Guessing Cumberland Cask Ruby Cut, since that’s the only one.
Actually: Cumberland Cask Ruby Cut
Bourbon review #228, Tennessee review #8, Whiskey Network review #1518