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.


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Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America by Brian Haara

I state in my Statement of Ethics that, if I ever discuss a product that is produced by one of my friends, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I also state that I will disclose if I received a review copy. Brian Haara is a friend of mine. I did buy the book to support his work, but I also received a review copy prior to the publication date as well. All opinions on the work are my own, but it won’t hurt to keep in mind that I might be biased.

I had been reading SippnCorn.com (now housed on BrianHaara.com) long before I met its author in real life. It was, and is, a great resource into bourbon history. I interviewed Brian Haara, lawyer and the proprietor of the site back in 2015. In it, he let loose the secret that he was starting to write a book and ever since that time, I have been eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

Back in April, it finally hit Amazon as a pre-order. I immediately placed my order, without even knowing the publication date, and settled in to wait for my copy to arrive. Interestingly, the publisher reached out to me to see if I wanted a review copy of the book. Since I was anxiously awaiting the book, I decided to accept so that I could read it early.

Let me tell you, Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America is a great book! Brian Haara tells us the fascinating story of how many very litigious bourbon folks ended up, often accidentally, crafting a new and different American commercial society that is still with us today. Lawsuits that started with bourbon ended up affecting industries as far reaching as women's lingerie and mouthwash.

Brian covers topics such as the development of Trade Mark and Brand Name rights, advertising and "puffery," consumer protection, and truth in labeling. And along the way, he delves into the history of many familiar Bourbon brands and distilleries. He even included topical tasting notes. In the end, you will learn something about bourbon, you will learn something about business, and you will learn something about the less talked about history that made America the country it is today. I highly recommend that you run right out and buy it.

But one of you won't have to do that! Remember how I said I had preordered it, but that I ended up with a review copy? Well, I like supporting my friends so I wanted to make sure that I still bought a copy. But as you might expect, I do not need two of the same book. My purchased copy is set to arrive on Monday and as soon as it does, I'd like to ship it off to one of my readers. If you'd like an opportunity for that to be you, enter below! The winner will be drawn on November 7th, 2018 and notified via email. I’m sorry, but I can only ship this to addresses in the United States and Canada due to international shipping costs. Good Luck!


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Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

I state in my Statement of Ethics that, if I ever discuss a product that is produced by one of my friends, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Fred Minnick is my friend. And while I don’t know his exact relationship with the publication he is Editor-in-Chief of, I did buy the subscription to support his work. All opinions on that work are my own, but it won’t hurt to keep in mind that I might be biased.

It’s been over 15 years now since I started my career. My second career, actually. My first was as a shipping coordinator at a metal stamping factory. Eventually, the grind of factory work wore on me to the point where a change was needed. Enter college and a fancy degree in graphic design.

My first real job in my new career was as one of a team of designers for a log home magazine. I eventually worked my way up to the Design Director position. I had a team of designers and was in charge of how the magazine looked and the experience our readers had as they interacted with it.

One of the proudest moments of my working life was when I walked into a random Barnes & Noble, in a part of the country that was nowhere near home, and found one of “my” issues of the magazine on the newsstand. If the world had developed smartphones yet, I would have probably snapped a photo of the page with my name on it.

Eventually, that job went away, and I moved on to other areas of design work. First newspapers, then agencies, marketing departments and now freelance. But my love of magazines never went away. Somewhere in the back of my head was a little dream that one day I would make my own. So it was with great interest that I learned that my friend Fred Minnick was going to be the Editor-in-Chief of a new Bourbon-focused publication. If I wasn’t going to realize my little idea, I couldn’t think of a better person to vicariously realize it through.

Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

Purchase Info: I subscribed to this at a $35 yearly subscription price. I see on the Bourbon+ website that you can do it for $30 if you so desire.

Nose: The delightful odor of ink on paper.

Mouth: Are you kidding? I’m not tasting this… I will however keep tasting the Four Roses OESQ single barrel that I was sipping on while I read the issue.

The issue is delightful. The book is a satisfying nine by eleven-ish inches in size. The paper feels like it has a slightly “soft-touch” coating to it. Most people like this…I’m not a fan, but I can live with it. The issue is beautiful. The layout is easy to read, with large and luxurious margins. It’s filled with beautiful large full-page, full-color photos. Even the ads are good looking. And the content?

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Well, the content is fantastic. I mean, with names like Fred Minnick, Carla Carlton, Chuck Cowdery and Lew Bryson in the issue excellent content is expected. And the excellent content was delivered. There are departments and columns covering everything from entertaining to cocktails to craft distilling. Feature articles include a profile on Maker’s Mark’s Bill Samuels Jr., the science of corn, and even rum. This is a wide-ranging and comprehensive read covering all of the interests of the bourbon lover. I loved it and can’t wait until the next issue.


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, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!