NOTE: This selection was part of a “mini week” I did where I reviewed 50ml bottles that were available from Total Wine.
Nose: This has a somewhat odd combination of sweet (almost candy-like) and astringent smells. Later sniffs brought out a little bit of peppermint. Palate: This has a very rich and thick taste to it. The mouthfeel is pretty decent and you don’t mind holding it in your mouth for a while, but it wasn’t really “rich and thick”. I know…..sounds contradictory, and maybe it is. I guess what I mean is, the taste gives the impression that the mouthfeel SHOULD be thicker. There’s not a lot of heat to it, but some creeps up, mostly at the very back of the throat, during the finish. The heat did seem to increase a bit on later sips, but it still wasn’t too hot or too strong. The finish is about medium in length but seems a bit longer because it is followed by a warming down the throat. I’m waffling on whether or not I’m getting rye spice or not….which is a bit odd, because that is usually a pretty easy flavor to pick out. It is equally interesting because I’m getting alternate impressions of sweetness and earthy/mustiness on different sips. Later sips seem more oaky to me and there’s a fine line between that and some dark chocolate and/or molasses tones. On some sips, I seemed to pick up some hints of smoke so I think this would make a good campfire bourbon…..best enjoyed with a whiff of smoke in the air. This isn’t “complex” in the way you’d describe a really fine, high end, bourbon, but it will certainly make you think a bit when you sip it because it seems to strangely change from sip to sip. I can’t really account for that and can’t remember another bourbon that does it to this extent. Comments: This is an odd character. I remember trying this years ago and not liking it at all. I don’t know what might be different with it now, but it isn’t that bad. I find it odd that on each sip, I seemed to get a different impression of it….ranging from “this isn’t too bad” to “this is interesting and complex, but still not a must-buy”, to the expected “meh”. I think this is a great example of something that is well worth trying for $1.99 as a mini to see if it might be something you like. I liked it OK, but I don't think I need to add a full bottle to the inventory. Although the 750ml price of $24.99 is certainly affordable, there are still a bunch of others in that price range that are better. That said, if offered a sip of this, I would not turn it down. The label indicates that this is 90 proof and produced and bottled by TerrePURE Spirits, North Charleston, SC. It also states it is aged a minimum of two years in new oak. SO……it turns out this is one of those gimmicky “using-technology-to-age-it” whiskies. Had I known that before tasting it, quite honestly, I probably would have been biased against it because I have yet to taste one that is decent. Now, these guys at least age the whiskey for two years before applying their “process” to it, so maybe that is what makes the difference? I really don’t know. Maybe my palate just had a weird day today? On the other hand, I really didn’t get a youthful impression out of it, so maybe what they are doing sorta works? Lastly….be aware that there is another version of this….”Extra Smooth”, which is apparently only aged “a minimum of 6 months” before they put their “process” on it. The labels are very similar, so look closely if shopping for this. Also……most reviews of this stated that Winchester is exclusive to Total Wine. So, if you don’t have a Total Wine store close to you, you probably won’t find this.