Tasting Report: Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s Premier Drams 2018

Not many bars can throw their own whiskey festival, but when a bar happens to have the largest selection of whiskey in the Western Hemisphere, it becomes an ideal setting. Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, DC held its inaugural and appropriately named Premier Drams festival on March 25, and we were invited. The bar is one we at Drinkhacker have regrettably not yet introduced you to (working on that), but I’m sure many of you have heard of it already. Some may have even left a rent or mortgage payment there on occasion. For fans of whiskey – of all types, ages, and regions of the world – there are few bars more famous.

 

The bar is big but hardly a hotel ballroom, so the number of distillers represented at Premier Drams was carefully curated and featured many names you wouldn’t normally find at your average whiskey festival. Kentucky’s Wilderness Trail Distillery actually debuted their new bourbon at the festival. Willett, a distillery beloved by bourbon and rye geeks, doesn’t typically leave Kentucky for festivals, but they were there and pouring three single barrels of their own make that were simply sublime. Independent bottler Single Cask Nation, whose products we’ve sampled in the past, was pouring a range of very interesting Scottish single malts, while Glenfiddich provided a selection of 15-year-old bourbon- and sherry-aged cask strength single cask bottlings that will never see a liquor store shelf. Kilchoman’s new make whisky was a fun exploration of their distillery character sans the barrel influence, and I even found the 28-year-old Czech single malt I had missed at WhiskyLIVE DC (the only forgettable dram of the night). Thoughts follow on most everything sampled. While I know many of these bottles are not easy (or almost impossible) to find, you at least know where you can find a taste of some of them next year!

American

Wilderness Trail Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – really enjoyable at only four years old with candy corn and rich caramel notes for days. A-
Willett Family Estate Bourbon “Frosted Yeast Rolls” – chewy and buttery despite the high octane with a great, tutti-frutti sweetness. A-
Willett Family Estate Bourbon “Wheat” – burnt sugar and cinnamon-filled nosed with a touch of candy apple on the palate. Incredible at only five years old. A
Willett Family Estate Rye “Big Poppa” – a big nose of clove, caramel, and ginger; chai spice and black tea on the palate. Another standout of the evening. A
Kentucky Peerless Single Barrel Rye “Fruits & Florals” – a little cereal-forward but creamy with clover honey and a delicate fruitiness. B+
Kentucky Peerless Rye Whiskey – complex for only two years old with butterscotch and vanilla notes; good body and the perfect heat.  A-
Nelsons First 108 Tennessee Whiskey – silky body showcasing smoky maple and spice notes; a promising start for Green Brier’s own distillate. B
Belle Meade Bourbon Mourvedre Cask Finish – full of big berry notes; tart and a little funky. B+
Belle Meade Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish – great balance; woody and full of spice cabinet notes. A-

Scotch

Single Cask Nation Glentauchers 8 Years Old – lots of great sherry influence with a creamy palate. A-
Single Cask Nation Glenrothes 8 Years Old – bold citrus, toffee and some cereal notes; a bit grassy. B
Single Cask Nation Ben Nevis 20 Years Old – meaty warehouse funk on the nose with tobacco and clove-studded orange; really enjoyable stuff. A
Single Cask Nation Tormore 21 Years Old – interesting nose (almost cheesy); clean and crisp with a big helping of lemon drop on the palate. A-
Single Cask Nation Cambus 28 Years Old – a smoky and sweet berry nose with a nice balance of malty vanilla notes and sherry. A-
Glenfiddich XX – a bit of a fruit bomb on the nose; nutty with pronounced cinnamon on the palate. A-
Glenfiddich 15 Years Old Single Cask Bourbon Cask – honey for days and days with a bit of citrus and the perfect heat, despite the high abv. A
Glenfiddich 15 Years Old Single Cask (Sherry Cask) – elegant with rich stewed fruits, orange marmalade, and gobs of spice cabinet. A
Glenmorangie Astar – a bit on the hot side with bright citrus (mostly lemon) and a chewy, malty body. A-
Bowmore 18 Years Old Manzanilla Cask Finish – beautifully spiced with big raisin notes that become chocolate-covered on the finish. A-
Kilchoman New Make Spirit – a little vegetal but rich and creamy and full of sweet, earthy smoke; surprisingly drinkable. B+
Port Askaig 110 Proof – soft and light on the palate with delicate citrus, campfire, and dried tobacco notes. B+

International

Ohishi Tokubetsu Reserve Whisky – big with overripe dark fruit and oaky spice. B+
Hammerhead Czech Rare Single Malt Whisky 28 Years Old – tannic, dull, and a bit depressing (like you might imagine a Soviet-made whisky would taste). C+
Amrut Portonova Whisky – big tropical notes on top of rich, spicy dark fruit. A-

 

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