My Wandering Eye: Flor de Caña 18 Year Old

My Wandering Eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. My hope is to see if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point. And please remember, these will all be from the perspective of someone who basically only drinks bourbon.

As with a good number of things dealing with Rum in my life, I first had Flor de Caña 18 year old while on a cruise through the Caribbean. The ship I was on had…well…a lot of bars. But one of the most prominent was a rum bar. It was poolside so they had cocktails and beer but it was also the only place on the ship where they had an extensive rum list.

One night as I was sitting alone on my room’s balcony watching the moonlight reflect off the water and listening to the water rush past, my wife surprised me by bringing me a glass of something brown and neat. One quick nosing and I knew it wasn’t the Buffalo Trace from the craft cocktail bar that I’d normally been retiring to our room with. She told me that she had been walking past the pool and decided to grab me something different and fun. On the recommendation of the bartender she brought me Flor de Caña 18 year old.

It was delicious, but I never knew if it was the setting or the liquid. I mean moonlight over the Caribbean at Christmas is a pretty big factor and could easily influence the situation. So when I was going through my end of the year “shopping spree” of things I wouldn’t normally purchase for myself, I remembered the evening I mention above. I was excited to see that the rum from that night was available and was less than $50. I wanted to know if it was the juice, the setting or some combination of the two that made it taste so good.

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old

Purchase Info: $49.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN (I did notice that this is available at a lower price—$43.99—at a locally-owned place…after I’d made my purchase. Remember to shop around kids.)

Details: 40% ABV. 18 Years Old (on the website, the bottle has the number 18 and the words “slow aged”)

Nose: Brown Sugar, dried fruit, ginger and a hint of oak.

Mouth: A bit nutty with brown sugar, vanilla and chocolate.

Finish: Gentle and lingering with caramel, cola and ginger.

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Thoughts: So the setting might have had something to do with it, but not as much as I had feared. This is a delicious rum. It is sweet, but not cloyingly so. And it has just enough heat to keep you from being bored. Overall I like it better than many, though not all, of the bourbons in the same price range. This is a rum that certainly deserves given a look. And when you do, it deserves to be sipped neat.


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Remus Repeal Reserve Series II

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank the folks at Gregory + Vine for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion.

In honor of last year’s initial release of Series 1 of Remus Repeal Reserve, produced by MGP in Indiana, I took an in-depth look at the namesake of the brand, George Remus. I just reread it and it’s pretty good, if I do say so myself. In fact, I think I did such a good job that I’m not going to go over the whole thing again. I even did some research in the archives of the New York Times. If you don’t have any inclination to go read last year’s here is the gist. They named this whiskey after George Remus: a pharmacist, a bootlegger, lawyer and a murderer.

This year, I thought I would take a little less time on the namesake and the story and spend a little more time on the whiskey. Namely, how is Series II different than Series I?

There are a few differences you can see right away from the outside of the bottle. Of course, there is the proof. Series I was 94° proof, while Series II has received a healthy proof bump up to 100° proof. The second difference is the makeup of the blend and the age of the components. Both of these use the same two of MGP’s bourbon mashbills: one is listed as “36% Rye” and the MGP Bourbon Product Guide says this one is made up of 60% Corn, 36% Rye and 4% Barley Malt, and the second is listed as “21% Rye” and is composed of 75% Corn, 21% Rye and 4% Barley Malt. 2017’s Series I was made of 50% 12-year-old “21% Rye”, 35% 11-year-old “21% Rye”, 15% 11- year-old “36% Rye.” 2018’s Series II contains four parts. It is 15% 11-year-old “21% Rye,” 50% 10-year-old “21% Rye,” 10% 11-year-old “36% Rye,” and 25% 10-year-old “36% Rye.” This means that the Series II is younger (10 years old in 2018 vs 11 years old in 2017) but has a higher percentage of the higher rye bourbon in the blend (35% in 2018 vs 15% in 2017).

We’ll get into the differences inside the bottle in a minute, but first let’s take a look at what this' year’s release tastes like.

Remus Repeal Reserve Series II

Purchase Info: This review sample was provided by Gregory + Vine for the purposes of this review. Suggested retail price is $84.99. The press release states that “George Remus is currently available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.”

Details: 50% ABV. The blend is composed of: 15% 11-year-old “21% Rye,” 50% 10-year-old “21% Rye,” 10% 11-year-old “36% Rye,” and 25% 10-year-old “36% Rye.”

Nose: Crisp apple, black pepper, cinnamon candies and old, weathered wood.

Mouth: Spicy and warm in the mouth with a nice thick mouthfeel. Black pepper, baking spices, honey and a bit of fruit as it moves back.

Finish: Long and warm. Lingering apple, oak, baking spice and brown sugar.

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Thoughts: Once again this is a delicious bourbon. It’s hard to imagine that it could be otherwise when you consider the vast stocks of bourbon that are sitting in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. This is rich and thick and coats the mouth.

So, now what about those differences Inside the bottle? The first thing you notice is that 2017 is much richer on the nose. Both have a lot of spice, but 2018 hits you with more fruit and more sweetness. On the palate where 2017 was dry, 2018 is much sweeter. It has a thicker mouthfeel and just feels more complicated. Continuing on the theme, the finish of 2018 is longer and sweeter than that of 2017. Overall, I’d say that though both of these are good bourbons, I much prefer 2018’s Series II. It is much more in line with this Bourbon Guy’s tastes.


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My Wandering Eye: Château de Montifaud V.S.O.P, Fine Petite Champagne

My Wandering Eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. My hope is to see if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point. And please remember, these are all be from the perspective of someone who basically only drinks bourbon.

I am just going to come right out and say it: these days, I almost never find expensive bourbon exciting. In fact lately, I almost never even find it interesting. I came to this realization over Christmas because both my mother and my father separately decided I was too hard to buy for and just gave me cash. Between the two of them, I had about $150 to spend. As it was a present, I wanted something a little special to come of the money. I wanted something I would be happy to get as a gift and something I wouldn’t usually buy for myself.

And do you think that there was even one bourbon that I felt was special enough to spend that money on? No. Not a single one. I wasn’t even drawn to the bourbon aisle. The issue is that I knew that between what is actually available to buy and what the things that are available actually cost, I’d end up overpaying for bourbon. At least when you compare it to what things used to cost and what I think of the relative quality of bourbon in the $50 to $75 range.

I’m pretty sure that I have this series to blame for that. Two years ago, I started the My Wandering Eye series as a way to explore other spirits categories. The thought was that bourbon prices were rapidly rising and I wanted to be sure I was getting the best bang for my buck. And along the way I have found a new love of both brandy and rum. The interesting thing is that I’m not the least bit interested in getting geeky about either brandy or rum. I’m content to just try them, taste them, and enjoy them (or not). It is almost relaxing in a way, not felling the need to be analytical about everything I put in my mouth.

But here I am anyway, being analytical about them. Some of these things are just too good or too interesting not to share. So, like has been the tradition for the last two years, look for an increased number of Posts in this series for the first part of the year before I move back to bourbon as Spring (and the Bottom-Shelf Bracket) starts to rear its head.

Tonight we are looking at a Cognac. I was doing research to find a brandy for my father’s gift when I ran across Chateau de Montifaud. As I read about the product, I realized that my father wouldn’t care for it, but that it sounded right up my alley. According the Cognac-Expert.com, this brand routinely ensures that the cognacs they bottle “are at least twice the age that they need to be – meaning that a Chateau de Montifaud VS is aged between 5-8 years, a VSOP at 8-10 years and XO 30 years.” It sounded good to me.

My Wandering Eye: Château de Montifaud V.S.O.P, Fine Petite Champagne

Purchase Info: $48.93 (on sale) for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 40% ABV. The grapes were grown in the Petite Champagne region of France.

Nose: Very complex. Dried fruit, custard, caramel. black pepper, and sage.

Mouth: Not as complex as the nose. This is floral with caramel and dried fruit. There is a hint of baking spice as it moves back in the mouth.

Finish: Of medium length and savory. Just a hint of heat. Lingering flavors of savory spices and dried fruit.

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Thoughts: I really like this one. Since it has been on my shelf, I’ve chosen it over the bourbons on more than one occasion. I’m really digging the savory notes on it. They are such a nice change of pace from the caramel/vanilla of bourbon.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!