Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Malted Red Wheat Bourbon

Have you ever been so busy that you just forget to eat? You wouldn't know it from looking at me, but it happens to me all the time. I'll get so into working on a project that all of a sudden I'll look up and it's four in the afternoon...and it's right about then that I realize that I am really hungry and end up eating a little too much to compensate. 

This is the probably the reason you wouldn't be able to tell that I frequently forget meals. 

Anyway, that's the sort of passion that I expect most craft distillers have. Not the gorging after unintentional fasting part, but the getting so into a project that you forget about everything else part. The distillers that I've met have all really loved what they are doing and loved the experimentation that they could do.

Which brings us to the second of three bottles of Limestone Branch's Experimental Collection that I picked up in May. This one is named Malted Red Wheat and is made up of a mash bill of 60% white corn, 28% malted wheat and 12% malted barley. 

Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Malted Red Wheat Bourbon

Purchase Info: $22.99 for a 375 mL bottle at Total Wine, Louisville, KY

Details: 47.5% ABV. Single Barrel. Barrel 114. Mash bill: 60% white corn, 28% malted wheat, 12% malted barley. Barrel Entry ABV: 50.63%. Barrel Char level 3. Aged 20 months.

Nose: Toffee, floral, gentle baking spices.

Mouth: Generic Sweetness, malted milk, cinnamon spice.

Finish: Youth shows up on the finish bringing cinnamon spice and dried grain notes along with it. 

IMAGE: a hand-drawn face with a neutral expression

Thoughts: I have a feeling that when it grows up, I will like this much better than the first bottle in the series that I reviewed. For right now though, this one is quite a bit too young for my palate.


Hey folks, no plug for the store tonight. I'm taking off next week for a family vacation to North Carolina and would be unable to fulfill the orders anyway. That also means no posts next week. Wish me luck, it's a road trip with a 13 year old, a 7 year old, and a 4 year old...they may just drive me to have an extra bourbon when we stop for the night. 😉

Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey

What happens when you try to make a bottle of your whiskey look like a bottle of Jack Daniel's? You get sued. That's what happens.

So guess what happened to the makers of Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey when they put out a Tennessee Whiskey in a bottle that had a fairly close resemblance to Jack? Jack Daniel's sued them for Trademark and Trade Dress infringement. (Though not for the bottle I bought and show above, the mini bottle doesn't have the same features as the big ones.)

In fact, that lawsuit is the only reason I knew of the brand as I was wandering through my nearest Total Wine location. I first read about the lawsuit/heard of the brand in late April 2018. The Spirits Business, in the course of their reporting on the suit, stated that it was Brown-Foreman's position that the whiskey had received “highly critical customer reviews, indicating that said product is of inferior quality.” 

In other words, Jack Daniel's sued Lonehand and their owners for infringement and then called them lousy whiskey on top of it. I find that funny as hell. 

So of course, I had to buy a bottle. I mean, not a full bottle, that would be silly. No, I bought a 50mL bottle. Trying bad whiskey is my idea of an extreme sport, it's something I do just for the experience. But it's not like I'm about to jump off this particular cliff more than once, so I did not need more than 50 milliliters. 

But all this talk of lawsuits makes one wonder why anyone would think that taking on Jack Daniel's is a good idea. Maybe they read the history of Ezra Brooks, a brand that did the same thing back in the late 1950s and is still around today. 

In any case, I don't know if it means anything but the website for the brand owner is not working as of this writing, so maybe the odds aren't great that Lonehand will be the next Ezra. But what do I know? Maybe in 20 years, Sipp'n Corn will be writing a post about how Lonehand took on Jack and survived. 

Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey

Purchase Info: $1.49 for a 50mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: Grain, light butterscotch, buttered popcorn

Mouth: Spice at the beginning that fades quickly. Dried grains, slight sweetness as it moves back.

Finish: Short. Sweet with lingering notes of buttered popcorn

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Thoughts: Hard pass on this one from me. It's not terrible, but there are better Tennessee whiskeys out there. And if the price is the issue, there are also better and cheaper bourbons out there. I woulnd't bother with this one.


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Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

When I was first getting into cocktails, I read everything I could on how to "up my cocktail game." There was no shortage of listicles telling me what 10 things to try and what 10 things to avoid.

And on almost every list were cherries. List makers of the late aughts and early teens were terrified that someone might use a grocery store Maraschino Cherry in their cocktail. And at the time, the fear was probably well founded. There were not a lot of pre-made cocktail cherries on the market that weren't Glowing Red Neon Balls of Dye and Sugar™. Of those that were suitable for grown-up cocktails, Luxardo was the brand that was recommended the most. 

Unfortunately, Luxardo Maraschino Cherries run almost twenty dollars a jar so, for the longest time, I just omitted the cherry garnish. But my reading led me to believe that the syrup surrounding the cherry made more difference to the drink than the cherry itself and that by omitting it, I was actually losing flavor.

So being a DIY sort of guy who loves to cook, I devised my own recipe for cocktail cherries. Sure, they probably ended up costing more than the store-bought, but I had much more than $20 worth of fun making them. And I got a lot more than a 16-ounce jar for my effort. I made a lot of versions. Two of them were good enough to write about: Chocolate-Bourbon Cocktail Cherries and Orange-Spiced Cocktail Cherries. The latter being my personal favorite and our current go-to cherry for whiskey cocktails. 

But last year, I couldn't find the materials to make any homemade cherries. So I've been buying them this year. I previously reviewed the Woodford Reserve Cherries from Bourbon Barrel Foods and found them to be a good, if lesser, substitute for my own cherries. This time around I thought I might finally give the original a try. See what all those listicles were talking about.

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Purchase Info: $16.99 for a 400 Gram Jar at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN

Image: hand-drawn Neutral face

Thoughts: The syrup these cherries are packed in is pretty damn good for adding a delightful cherry note to your cocktails. But, the cherries themselves are very disappointing. They are certainly a step up from Glowing Red Neon Balls of Dye and Sugar™ but they are the possibly the worst of the cocktail cherries I've tried if you are a grown-up and want to actually eat the cherry in your drink. The skins are tough and sticky and the insides are mush. 

If I were to recommend a cherry for your cocktail, I'd recommend making your own. If you'd rather buy them, go with the Woodford ones from Bourbon Barrel Foods. I'd give these a pass. In fact, I'm actually considering tossing the cherries and just keeping the syrup. 


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Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey

I'm going to say that it was my first serious taste of whiskey that was the last time I truly liked a malt whiskey. In that case, I think that for me, liking that taste was more about enjoying the switch in flavor from clear spirits to aged ones than it was anything about the Malt Whiskey itself. Shortly afterward, I made the switch to Bourbon and Rye and have seldom looked back.

That should tell you something about my tastes. I used to say that it wasn't that I didn't like Malt Whiskey, it was just that I hadn't yet found one that I liked. But now, it's been enough time and I've tried enough that I'm willing to admit to the fact that I generally do not like Malt Whiskey. And that's ok. We all like different things. 

Not caring for Malt whiskey is one of the reasons that it appears on the site so infrequently. I have to really be interested in something about one to spend the money on one. Sometimes, as in the case of Stranahan's, I'm in the distillery and pick one up because the tasting went well. Other times, it is because of a cask finish that I found interesting. One I tried because it was made by a well-known large bourbon producer and I wanted to taste their version. 

That last one made me quite happy that my friend had spent the money on it and not me. I disliked it so much that in 2016 I named it one of the five worst American Whiskeys I'd ever had. That one was the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection: Double Malt Selection. It resulted in both my friend and I taking our drams and dumping them down the sink.

So, it was with some trepidation that I bought the recently released
Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey. After all of that, why did I buy it? Well, it's new, I figured that they may have had time to perfect their recipe, and I liked the rest of the non-experimental whiskeys under the Woodford name (Bourbon, Double Oaked, and Rye).

So what does this bourbon drinker and admitted Malt disliker think of it? Let's find out.

Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey

Purchase Info: $26.98 for a 750 mL bottle at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN

Details: 45.2% ABV. 51% Malt mashbill (via the brand website).

Nose: Nutty with caramel/vanilla and uncooked oatmeal.

Mouth: Sweetened, cooked cereal with nuts and a hint of dark chocolate. 

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Chocolate and dried grains that show as slightly bitter and a touch medicinal. Almost grassy after a while. 

IMAGE: A hand-drawn neutral face

Thoughts: You know what? I do not dislike this. I wasn't a fan while doing the tasting. But after giving it a couple more tries and some time, I'm ok with this one. Don't get me wrong, it's not something I'm likely to ever buy again, but I'm not going to dump the bottle or relegate it to prop whiskey either. So I didn't like it, I didn't dislike it, that sounds like the very definition of Meh to me. 

But maybe take that with a grain of salt and give it a shot yourself, as I'm not generally a fan of Malt whiskey, I may have ranked it lower (or higher) than you would. 


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Rebel Yell Bourbon: Revisited

It has been fourteen hundred, sixty-eight days since I last published tasting notes of Rebel Yell Bourbon. It has been seven hundred, seventy days since I proclaimed Rebel Yell one of the five worst American Whiskeys I've had. The first time it appeared on the blog I noted: 

I have no idea what I will do with this bottle, but I certainly won’t be drinking it. My wife has been bugging me to give her bourbon to use in a homemade bug repellant recipe. This might be fine for that. 

The second time I proclaimed it one of the five worst whiskeys I'd tasted and said: 

Eventually I did find a use for it. It became “Prop Bourbon.” When I need to take a photo for a review, but already finished the bottle, I pour my prop bourbon into the empty bottle for the photo. Afterward I dump it back into the Rebel Yell bottle and stick it back in the closet.

Crazy thing happened to that prop whiskey, I tried it in a cocktail. It wasn't bad. I tried it in a couple more. Still not bad. Of course, by this time, it was no longer straight Rebel Yell. Other bad whiskeys having joined it in some sort of unholy infinity bottle. But, it got me to thinking that, since I drink a lot more cocktails now than I did when I posted the original review, it might be time to go back and take another look at this one. Especially since I have liked most of the other expressions that use the name. Heck, they redid the branding, maybe they've gotten their hands on better whiskey to put into the blend as well.

Rebel Yell Bourbon

Purchase Info: $15.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 40% ABV. Non-age stated. 

Nose: Bran muffin, almond, wintergreen and fleeting hints of melon.

Mouth: Sweet. Almond, pepper, and baking spice.

Finish: On the shorter side of medium. Pretty dry with dried grain notes. 

Thoughts: This is not as bad as I remember. I know, damning with faint praise. But seriously. The bottle I reviewed in 2014 might still be one of the worst I've tasted, but this one does not taste like that. In fact, if it wasn't for the dry, dried grain note finish, this would be an enjoyable sip. As it is, it works well as a mixer when you want to use a sweeter bourbon and don't want to break the bank. I'm upgrading this from dislike to meh and wouldn't fault fans of wheated bourbon (I tend not to be) for liking it more than I do.


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