My Wandering Eye: Tequila Clase Azul Reposado

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.

I wanted to buy my wife something for Christmas that would be just hers. I’ve always felt just a little like Homer buying Marge a bowling ball when I get her bourbon as a gift. I mean it’s for her, but we both know it’s really for both of us. So this summer, based on an uptick in tequila based cocktails that were requested, I asked her if she had ever thought about buying one that she would sip neat. She said she had not and I let the matter sit.

See that’s what 21 years of marriage has taught me. You might go buy it on Christmas Eve, but you start planning early for what you’ll buy.

So, I did what any category novice would do. I went to the Total Wine website, sorted by price (highest first) and worked my way down while cross referencing it with random reviews online since I was unable to find anyone conveniently writing a “TequilaGuy'“ site out there.

Ultimately I ended up going with a Reposado Tequila from Clase Azul. The reviews made it sound good. The company website said it was designed to be consumed neat. And it came in a very pretty ceramic bottle that was hand sculpted and hand painted.

I mean it was a gift after all.

Tequila Clase Azul Reposado

Purchase Info: $71.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 40% ABV. Aged 8 months in oak barrels.

Nose: Creamy and sweet with vanilla bean and delicate caramel. This smells like an amazing ice cream or shortbread cookie.

Mouth: Nice mouthfeel. Follows the nose. Sweet with vanilla and delicate caramel. There is a fruity undertone.

Finish: Delicate and syrupy. Lingering notes of milk chocolate and caramel.

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Thoughts: Folks, I am here to tell you that I done good. My wife was very happy with this gift. She already has plans for what I am going to be doing with the bottle once she empties it. She enjoys drinking it on the occasions that she wants something a bit more smooth and gentle than her typical glass of bourbon. On more than one occasion, I walked into the room only to find her smelling the nose of the bottle. And I don’t blame her for that. This has an amazing nose. She has in her notes: “I could sit and smell this all day.” She really likes this

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Now I am not usually a tequila fan, but then I’ve really only ever had inexpensive tequila in cocktails. I’ve never found one that I could make it past the first sip of much less sit down to enjoy a glass. This, however, is missing all the things that I used to identify as “tequila flavor” and is something I would happily accept a glass of. I’m not exactly a fan. It is something that I can appreciate more than it is something I like. It just doesn’t quite align with my tastes. But it does show me that I need to do a little more exploring in this category before writing it off completely.


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Three Whiskeys from Filibuster Distillery

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 Filibuster Distillery for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion.

I’ve gotten used to whiskey showing up at my house. It took a while, but now that it happens about once a month or so, it is getting to be old hat. Usually it starts like this:

Hi Eric,

I stumbled across your blog and was very excited about it!

I was wondering if you’d be willing to review our (fill in the blank). 

They almost always just stumbled across my site and are always excited by it or are enjoying it so far. In return, I almost always say yes when someone comes out and offers me free whiskey. I mean it’s free whiskey. Even if it isn’t any good, I’m sure I can find something to do with it after the post goes live.

Most often, I’ll get a notification from UPS or FedEx, within a few days of replying in the affirmative, that there is a package on its way to me. Sometimes I tell them yes, and nothing happens. But one thing that never happens is that a sample shows that I didn’t have an email about first. Mostly because that is really the only way to get my physical address, which is obviously needed in order to ship something to me.

So, when a box of whiskey bottles showed up in mid-December from Virginia and I didn’t have a record of an email correspondence? Yeah. I was confused. I am an email hoarder. I almost never delete an email. And even if I do, I never empty my trash. I said above that “Filibuster Distillery” sent these to me because I honestly have no other idea as to who did.

Looking through their website, I come away impressed by the company. It is a woman, and minority, owned business. One of the ad agencies I worked for was the same, it’s something to be proud of. Unlike many of the folks that enter the craft spirits business, they aren’t strangers to the spirits business, having “experience in specialty spirits retail.” Plus they seem to be doing a lot of things on the distillery side to run an environmentally friendly operation. They do source some of their whiskey, but based on their labeling they also distill some as well. Based on their website, they seem to cask-finish a lot of their products in wine barrels. Seems like a good operation.

So then I ran into some questions. The bottle lists the bourbon as “aged for less than four years in new charred oak casks,” but the website states that it “is a blend of older and younger barrels – 4-6 year being typical.” Their bourbon is described on the bottle as a straight bourbon. It also says that it was “Bottled by Filibuster” as well as being “Distilled in Virginia and Indiana” thus disqualifying it from the straight designation (as per §5.22(b)(1)(iii)). The Boondoggler whiskey doesn’t use the straight designation. It seems to be a blend of different styles of whiskey. Once again this one states it was aged “for less that years” [sic]. The rye says that it is “Bottled by Filibuster Distillery” and doesn’t mention a state of distillation.

So now I am throughly confused. I’m not sure who sent this to me or how it got here and I have no idea which of the information they are using is correct as the website contradicts the label and sections of the label contradict other sections. I reached out to the distillery in mid-December via the contact form on their website to try to get these questions answered, but didn’t receive a response prior to publication time.

However, one thing I am not confused by is whether I like them or not.

Filibuster Dual Cask Bourbon

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $42.99.

Details: Batch 27. 45% ABV. The label lists a mash of 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% barley.

Nose: Cinnamon, honey, light mint and some dried grain notes.

Mouth: Warm with cinnamon red hots, cherry and some oaky notes.

Finish: On the short end of medium and warm. Lingering notes of black pepper and coconut.

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Thoughts: This has notes of both mature whiskey and very young whiskey. Which would make sense if they are blending some of their juice with MGP as the label seems to describe. The problem is that unlike some people who have done this very successfully, this one is a bit all over the place in terms of flavor profile. Not a fan of this one. Pretty meh. It’s ok but doesn’t align with my palate. It might do ok in a cocktail though where other ingredients can smooth over some of the rough spots of this one.

Filibuster Dual Cask Rye

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $43.49.

Details: Batch 8. 45% ABV. The label lists a mash of 90% corn and 10% barley.

Nose: Mint, pipe tobacco, dried grasses.

Mouth: Spicy, mint, cherry.

Finish: Spicy and of medium length. Lingering sweetness, mint, spice and a hint of coconut.

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Thoughts: This tastes a lot like MGP rye and with the mashbill they list, that makes sense. 90/10 It isn’t far off from 95/5. In fact, based on the fact that their other styles list Indiana as a state of distillation, I had assumed it was until I read the back label.

I like this one. But then I am a fan of the MGP style of rye. This one does say “Bottled by” on the back and there is no listing for a state of distillation. The price is in line with other ryes on the market so I’d say that this one is worth a shot if you can get past the confusion on the label.

Filibuster “The Boondoggler” Whiskey

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $33.99.

Details: Batch 20. 45% ABV.

Nose: There is a good hit of rye spices right off the bat with mint and honey coming along with it.

Mouth: Honey, mint, black pepper.

Finish: Decent length. It follows the mouth with lingering notes of black pepper, mint and honey.

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Thoughts: This one is also pretty good. It tastes like a lot of my house-made rye/bourbon blends. I like it. And at less than $35 it is decently priced as well.

Overall, I’d say that two out of three are worth the asking price (locally) and I guess that ain’t bad when you are talking randomly appearing whiskey that you are not sure exactly who it came from.


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Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Bourbon: Revisited

It's the first week of Bourbon Heritage Month so I thought I'd take a look back and revisit a couple of older brands. First up is Benchmark Bourbon from Sazerac.

It has been 1,266 days since I last posted tasting notes for Benchmark Bourbon. It wasn't a formal review as it was part of 2015's Bottom Shelf Brackets, but for the longest time, it was all I offered. Since I was out this weekend looking around at "affordable" options for bourbon, I thought it might be time to take another look at it. See if the intervening time has been kind to it. Back in 2015, I said the following:

It may only be three years old, but there is nothing to keep this from being a nice card playing bourbon.

Since I didn't talk about it last time around, let's go over a little history of the brand. The brand was originally launched by Seagram's in the late 1960s. During the 1970s, the ads for the brand told consumers to "Measure Your Bourbon Against It." By the late 1980s, the brand was up for sale and was purchased by Sazerac who used it and Eagle Rare (also purchased from Seagram's) to get into the bourbon business

These days, though it is still owned by Sazerac, it lives on the bottom shelf. It has an age statement of 36 months. It even has a few flavored spinoffs in the forms of Apple, Brown Sugar, and Peach whiskey flavored liqueurs. 

Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Bourbon

Purchase Info: $13.49 for a 1-liter bottle at MGM Wine and Spirits, Burnsville, MN.

Details: Aged at least 36 months. 40% ABV

Nose: Green Apple Jolly Rancher candy, caramel.

Mouth: Caramel, mint, and after a little while a little spice builds up.

Finish: Short with a little lingering spice.

IMAGE: a hand-drawn neutral face

Thoughts: My thoughts on this one have been solidly downgraded as time has gone on. With my first pour out of the current bottle, I thought it was a bit of a caramel bomb with undertones of Buffalo Trace. Pretty solid, though more of a "good enough" bourbon than a "good" one. When I did the tasting a few days later, I found it to be a little delicate in the mouth, but it was fine. Subsequent pours have just been really meh. While it might make an ok card playing or tv watching bourbon, for the price, I'd stick with Evan Williams Black or Bonded unless you really prefer those Buffalo Trace undertones. 


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!