Maker: Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, USA (Campari)
Style: Straight, standard recipe bourbon “refined” in oak and Texas (!) mesquite charcoal.
Celebrity: Matthew McConaughey
Age: NAS (at least 4 y/o, but hang tag says 8 y/o)
Proof: 86 (43% ABV)
Michigan state minimum: $40
Parting words: Since the invention of what we now call bourbon, humanity has been asking one question: What if you took aged Wild Turkey and filtered it through oak and then Texas (as opposed to Mexican, I guess) mesquite charcoal? Thanks to Eddie Russell and movie star Matthew McConaughey, we now know the answer.
The process seems to be similar to the one behind Dickel Rye. Standard Dickel and Jack Daniels filter their whiskey before it goes into the barrel, which I don’t think they’re doing here, but the internet has not been particularly clear on this.
The target market seems to be the bougie casual bourbon drinker who isn’t a fan of assertive, high proof whiskeys (what Wild Turkey is known for) and values “smoothness” but still wants flavor and a fancy-looking bottle. In other words, Basil Hayden and Woodford Reserve drinkers. But why shouldn’t Wild Turkey have a share of that market?
At any rate, there’s nothing not to like about Longbranch. The price is even reasonable for Celeb Whiskey. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as fellow Texan Willie Nelson’s Old Whiskey River (a collaboration with Heaven Hill), but it’s still all right, all right, all right.
My home state of Michigan, like sixteen other states, is what is called a “control state”. This means that the state government is directly involved with the sale of liquor in some way. Many of those states operate state-owned liquor stores as a result. Others, like Michigan, merely act as the wholesaler for the state. As a wholesaler, the state of Michigan maintains a list of all the spirits available for purchase from itself. The price book is issued by the state a few times each year. Supplemental lists (now called new items lists) are issued periodically listing items to be added to or deleted from the price book. These lists contain a variety of information but the most important to consumers is the minimum price at which the spirit must be sold at retail.
This post is a look at the new items for May 1, 2016. The LARA website with links to lists in the recent past is here. Caps retained out of laziness but with full names given where the state has abbreviated them. Proof (Michigan lists everything in terms of US proof which= 2 x %ABV), bottle size in ml and retail price are given for each one. I have added notes at the end of each if I think it necessary. Some items are not actually new, but fell off the list for some reason and have been added back or are new bottle sizes for items already on the list. Sometimes an item will be added and removed at the same time. I think this is a way to make corrections, but it’s still puzzling. For the sake of brevity, I have excluded apparent corrections from this post. Some new items are also gift pack versions of existing items. These are always the same price as the bottle alone.
Apologies for the lateness of the post. My wife had a baby.
American Blended Whiskey
DAVENPORT’S AMERICAN BLENDED 80, 750, $18.99 Blended whiskey from Davenport, Iowa’s Artisan Grain Distillery. Unclear if this product is sourced or partially sourced.
MAYOR PINGREE 90, 750, $89.99
MAYOR PINGREE-10 YR 110, 750, $89.99 New line of bourbon from Valentine in Ferndale, Michigan. It’s named for former Detroit mayor and Michigan governor Hazen Pingree (1840-1901), a progressive Republican who is widely considered to be one of Detroit’s greatest mayors.
When contacted on social media, Valentine’s Justin Aden wrote the following: “The two new listings are for two new age-stated straight bourbon sku’s we’ll be releasing this summer. One is for cask strength, [non chill-filtered] straight bourbon single barrels and the other is a limited edition age-stated ‘small-batch’ blend by yours truly.” When asked if the bourbon was sourced or their own distillate, Justin replied, “A bit of both, depending on the release. We’ve got several label variations of the Mayor Pingree line. We’ve been laying it down since 2007 but we also have some excellent sourced 10yr stock to share as well. We’ll keep you posted!”
WILD TURKEY 81 81, 200, $3.48 This is just about the maximum amount of WT 81 I would want to drink in the span of a lifetime.
RHETORIC-22 YR 90.4, 750, $99.99 How can we miss you if you won’t go away?
YIPPEE KI YAY 92, 750, $64.99 Yippee ki yay, mother lovers, this new blend of straight rye whiskeys from High West was available just in time for mom’s special day. The proportions of the blend are kept secret (didn’t think this was allowed but whatever) but the two ryes in question are from MGPI of Lawrenceburg, Indiana and Barton-1792 of Bardstown, Kentucky.
GLENMORANGIE ORIGINAL 86, 1750, $89.99 Newly available family size is great for VBS picnics.
CAMPAGNERE COGNAC XO 80, 750, $169.98 The XO joins last month’s arrivals the VS and VSOP. It’s the oldest and by far the most expensive of the three.
AZUNIA ANEJO 80.0 750 6 39.28 37.31 43.99
AZUNIA BLANCO 80.0 750 6 31.68 30.10 35.49
AZUNIA REPOSADO 80.0 750 6 35.70 33.92 39.99 Azunia Black was on this list last month.
The rest of the line arrives this month. As noted previously, the blanco and reposado are made from organically grown agave. Distilled at Agaveros Unidos de Amatitán, 50 miles or so northeast of Guadalajara. They are also partnering with basketball great Bill Walton for some reason.
I received a polite email a few days ago from Mychal Diaz of Southern Champion company, makers of Buzzballz premade cocktails, encouraging me to take a look at their new website and get some more accurate information into your hands, dear readers, regarding their products that were on the New Items list back in February.
Their company is a relatively new one, founded in 2010 by inventor Merrilee Kick of Carrolton, Texas. The company was founded around Kick’s concept for BuzzBallz was for an unbreakable, unspillable quality, full strength premade cocktail for camping, picnics, tailgating, etc. She invented the what the website claims is the first plastic beverage can for this purpose.
Recently they have expanded into spirits with XII Kings Vodka, Andrew Johns Gin (both domestically sourced, filtered, proprietarily processed then cut with Texas water), Pelican Bay Rums (a blend of rums from around the Caribbean) and Crooked Fox blended bourbon (sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee). They are NOT the same spirits used in BuzzBallz. There is also have a wine listed on the website, Closet Freak California Muscat. I asked about additives in their spirits as well but there was no response to that question. They will start rolling out nationwide this summer.
Appearance: Shiny copper with a thick, husky legs.
Nose: Butterscotch candy, sweet cream butter, sharp wood notes appear but then fade (small barrel syndrome strikes again!), alcohol.
On the palate: Full-bodied & sweet. Caramel corn, butterscotch pudding, almond extract, malt. If I didn’t know better I’d say I even tasted a bit of sherry.
Finish: Hot and sweet with a strong Highland accent.
Parting Words: This is the most Scottish American malt I’ve ever had. It is strongly reminiscent of inland Highland Malts with their pure creamy malt characteristics. This is particularly true in the finish. What’s perhaps the most remarkable about this whiskey is how much it changes after being poured. I tasted it in a Riedel Single Malt glass and I felt like every time I took a sip I had to go back and re-write my notes. The Caramel Corn/Butterscotch notes eventually take the lead and it’s for the best. Balcones is one of the good guys in the micro-distilling movement and this whisky (ey?) is exhibit A. Balcones Single Malt is highly recommended.