My Wandering Eye: Flor de Caña 25 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 you may have noticed during the past few weeks, I got really excited by non-bourbon things over the holiday season. I’m doling them out at a slow pace so that there is still bourbon/whiskey content on BourbonGuy.com.

Once a month, my wife and I do what is called a Mystery Date. One night each month, one of us, takes the other out to…something. The only rule is that the organizer can’t tell the other what the date is. It needs to be a surprise. We don’t do fancy things (we are not fancy people), but we try to make it something or someplace that is at least a little special.

Last month my wife took me to a burger and cocktail restaurant that we had never been to. On the way back, we stopped into the Total Wine location near the restaurant because they had something that I had been lusting over: Flor de Caña 25 Year Old.

See, I really liked the Flor de Caña 18 year old and I got really excited when I found out that not only was there an older version, but it was available in the South Metro. Unfortunately, it was about $155. Not the price range for something I would normally buy for myself. But as part of the special experience of Mystery Date Night, she convinced me to splurge.

And so she raised the bar much higher than I anticipated for this month when I am in charge of organizing the Mystery Date.

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old

Purchase Info: $154.99 for a 750 ml bottle at Total Wine, Eagan, MN

Details: 25 years old (according to their website, the bottle says 25 slow aged). 40% ABV

Nose: Brown sugar, oak, ginger, and chocolate

Mouth: Viscous mouthfeel. Ginger, honey, sugar cookies, and oak.

Finish: Gentle and lingering. Ginger and dark chocolate.

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Thoughts: This is delicious. It is a sweet dessert in a glass and I am glad that I purchased it. That said, even if it is available, I probably won’t be buying it again. I just like the 18 year old version better. It is more vibrant and spicy. Plus it sells for over $100 less per bottle.

And I need to save that kind of cash for date night.


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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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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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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!