My Wandering Eye: A. de Fussigny Cognac Collection

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 one thing to remember is that these reviews will all be written from the perspective of a bourbon drinker.

As we are coming up on the Autumn Whiskey Release season, I think it is just about time to clear out the last of the items I bought the last time my eye wandered down the brandy aisle at Total Wine. It was a while ago as I was, once again, looking for a Christmas gift for my Korbel Brandy loving father. Often times, I will get him a cognac or an armagnac for Christmas as a treat. But of course, when I look for a gift for him, I often walk out with at least one gift for me as well.

The thing I found interesting about this gift set was that the company that produced it apparently bottled brandies from each of the regions they produce in separately. So conceivably you could taste the terroir of each region. It reminded me of a daydream I had many years ago of buying five barrels of new make whiskey from the same batch at the same distillery and aging them each in different climates to see what the differences were. Needless to say, that idea was too expensive for me. But if you want to do that feel free, just be sure to send me a sample of each when they are done.

A. de Fussigny Cognac Collection

Petite Champagne VSOP

Nose: Delicate floral notes along with light wintergreen and dried fruit.

Mouth: Cinnamon, dried fruit, white sugar.

Finish: Fairly bitter.

Thoughts: Not a fan of this one. Can't get past the bitter finish. This is a distant number 5 of 5. We are not starting out well.

Borderies VSOP

Nose: Subtle. light notes of baking spice.

Mouth: Sweet, Floral, nutty and peppery.

Finish: Black pepper and caramel sweetness.

Thoughts: Nice pepperiness to it. Took me by surprise. It’s ok, but I wouldn’t seek it out. I rank this number 4 of the 5.

Fins Bois VSOP

Nose: Carmel covered raisins.

Mouth: Sweet and spicy, dried fruit, baking spice.

Finish: Caramel and baking spice.

Thoughts: Sweet. Very bourbon-like finish. This is where we enter the ones that we actually liked. Number 3 of the 5.

Organic VSOP

Nose: Lemon lime soda, light notes of baking spice

Mouth: Citrus, baking spice, almond.

Finish: Candied Almonds.

Thoughts: Delicate but quite tasty. This is a close number 2. I really like this one.

Grande Champagne VSOP

Nose: Dried fruit with a lime-like tartness.

Mouth: Lime, clove, mint, dried fruit.

Finish: Citrus and baking spice.

Thoughts: Refreshing. I like this one quite a bit. It reminds me of my favorite summer white wines with how crisp and refreshing it is. I liked this enough to look up the price. Total Wine has it for about $70 for a 750 mL. I may have to pick a bottle up next time it is in stock. I think it’s worth it.


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O.Z. Tyler, Bourbon and Rye

When I was a kid, Walt Disney's Bambi taught me two things.

1) The mom will always die in a Disney cartoon.
2) "If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothin' at all"

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OZ Tyler Bourbon and Rye

Purchase Info: $0.99 each for 50mL bottles from Liquor Barn Middletown, Louisville, KY

Details: 45% ABV. Processed using the TerrePURE fast filtering process.
Bourbon: "Aged a minimum of a year and a day in new charred oak."
Rye: "Aged a minimum of six months in new charred oak."

Nose: 
Bourbon: Caramel Corn. Smells very young.
Rye: Buttered corn initially. A hint of rye spice appears after a bit.

Mouth: 
Bourbon:
Gentle spice (mostly alcohol tingle), Sweet corn. 
Rye: Thin and cool in the mouth. After holding it in the mouth for a while, rye spices appear. Slightly sweet with a hint of citrus.

Finish:
Bourbon:
The finish really reminds me of the sips of Seagrams 7 and 7-up that I'd steal from my dad as a kid. Thin, grainy and just a bit longer than you'd hope for given the flavors.
Rye: Gentle and short with hints of rye spice that fade quickly.

IMAGE: A hand drawn face with a frown, tongue sticking out and x's for eyes.

Thoughts: It is my understanding that most of the TerrePURE whiskey is being either sold as bulk whiskey or bottled as store brands. Given that, you can be sure that it will end up in plenty of private labels near you. I know that Total Wine has multiple of their own brands that are made from TerrePURE whiskey. I've tried a couple. I haven't found one yet I could recommend. I bought this thinking that since this was a brand being released by the producers, that it might be a good representation of the best that they could do.

I still decided to only risk $4.

If this is representative of TerrePURE whiskey, then "Distilled in Indiana" will become the mark to look for on unknown bourbon instead of "Distilled in Kentucky." This bourbon gives Kentucky bourbon a bad name. Luckily most of the TerrePURE whiskeys I've had have been labeled as such. But maybe we should avoid all store brand Kentucky bourbons, just in case. And in case it wasn't obvious, I really do not like this. At all.

IMAGE: A hand drawn neutral face

The rye is pretty meh. It's light on rye flavor. Doesn't have the punch you'd expect from even young rye. But, hey, it is much better than the bourbon. So there is that.


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George Dickel Tabasco Brand Barrel Finish

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 Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

You've seen the .gif online featuring Jason Bateman in his role from Arrested Development, I'm sure ("What? No. No. No. NoNoNo."). Well, that's what went through my head when I got the PR email regarding a Tabasco barrel finished version of George Dickel. 

But then, then I remembered that my favorite condiment is made by Tabasco. And I remembered that I have planned meals around the fact that I wanted something to eat upon which I could put that particular condiment. 

And so, I requested a sample. A request, I might add, that I was rightly and roundly mocked for when I last met friends for a drink. I believe that the exclamation was along the lines of "But Tabasco is so vinegary! Why would you want vinegar in your whiskey?" I'm not going to lie. He made a point, I hadn't considered. But still, here it is. I might as well taste it.

George Dickel Tabasco Brand Barrel Finish

Purchase Info: This sample was kindly provided to me free of charge by Taylor Strategy. The suggested price was $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle. 

Details: 35% ABV

Nose: Citrus and hot peppers

Mouth: Sweet with hints of pepper flavor. Not as hot as you'd expect.

Finish: Mild at first with a hot pepper kick after a few seconds.

Thoughts: This is not a drink that was intended to be consumed neat. It's a gimmick product. The press release describes enjoying it as a shot. So, I'm going to guess that this was initially envisioned as a Fireball competitor (though I'm hearing rumors this is becoming more of a "one-and-done" sort of product). So, as it wasn't intended as to be consumed neat, it was a bit unfair of me to subject it to my standard tasting regimen.

Because of that, I also decided to try it in a few cocktails. And it did ok there. I'm not a cocktail guru, but I could see this becoming an interesting ingredient in the hands of a skilled mixologist. I used it in a whiskey sour and it did well. Made it slightly spicy. I had a few people thinking it might be good in a Bloody Mary, which I could see. I once made a Manhatten riff with a vinegar shrub in place of the vermouth which was pretty good, so that might be a route to explore too. 

IMAGE: A hand-drawn frown with it's toungue out and X's for eyes.

Bottom line: There is nothing inherently wrong with this and to quote Mark Gillespie from WhiskyCast: it "could have been MUCH worse." But, yeah, this isn't for me. I'll be trying it in more cocktails, but if I can't find something that I like better than my standard ones, I may not finish the bottle. That said, this is a weird one. So if it intrigues you and you see it at a bar, give it a try. 


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King's Creek Tennessee Whiskey

Last week I got an ad circular letting me know that King's Creek Tennessee Whiskey was Total Wine's Whiskey of the Month for March. I promptly forgot about that since I don't make a habit of buying whiskey on price, preferring instead to purchase most of the stuff I review based on how interesting I think I can make it. 

So when I got to the store and noticed that it was 9 years old, my curiosity was piqued. It was a "Spirits Direct" selection which normally means store brand, though there are exceptions. I was curious because a nine-year-old Tennessee whiskey could really only come from a few places. Mostly because there are only a few places in Tennessee that have been distilling and aging whiskey since 2008/2009.

So, what do we know about this? Not much. It is nice years old. It is 90° proof. It was bottled in Princeton, Minnesota so, since it is a Tennessee Whiskey, it is obviously sourced. Like I said, there are only a few places that have been around long enough to put this out so I'm thinking it is either Jack Daniel's, George Dickel, Prichard's or maybe the old Collier and McKeel since, based on my research/SKU's wonderful list, it seems that they may or may not be supplying Costco's Tennessee Whiskey as well.

Based on that, I thought I had pretty good odds of it being something decent. I mean, I'd had 9-year-old Dickel and it was delicious. I've had Prichard but I don't really remember it (I assume that I'd have remembered it if it was bad). Jack can make good whiskey. And that left the one that I knew nothing about except that they sold their brand to a California company that may or may not be supplying Costco. 

Well, now onto the important stuff: how does it taste?

King's Creek Tennessee Whiskey

Purchase Info: $39.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 9 years old, 45% ABV.

Nose: Dried Grain, oak, and peanut. 

Mouth: Cherry, dried grain, hints of spice. 

Finish:  Robitussin Cough Syrup. Long and gentle. 

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Thoughts: Oh please, let this finish stop! The flavor lasts forever and in this case that is not a good thing. You do not want Robitussin to be a lasting reminder of a whiskey and that is precisely what happens here. This is a terrible whiskey. I'll give it this. It would only be a meh if you didn't need to swallow it. But since we all swallow...nothing kinky...this is a hard pass. It is a mediocre mixer but neat? Just steer clear of this one. You can get a better Tennessee whiskey from the same store (Jack Daniel's) at less than half the price. Well, at least I know where my next prop whiskey will come from.


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