Wait a minute… Crown Royal took top honors somewhere? With who? A Crown employee tasting? What? In Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible (http://whiskybible.com)? That’s a joke or sponsored result, right? Back when I was behind the bar, Crown was seen as an ever so slight step up from the rail and -nobody- drank it without also saying “and coke.” Now its thought of as best of breed? 96 points? What world is this?

I’m a sucker for good design.  This bottle caught my eye immediately when I saw it on the shelf at Binny’s while looking for a gift for a friend’s birthday.  The distillery is located a few blocks from where I used to live in St. Paul, MN which clinched the purchase. I bought the bourbon and we enjoyed it, reminiscent in many ways of FEW’s bourbon.  The next time I was shopping for myself, I decided to try the Rye and, this time, actually write it up for the good folks of WhiskeyRatings.

Woodford Reserve’s Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon is quite a mouthful… in so many ways. For starters, you can order it by its full name but the bartender knew what you wanted when you finished saying “Woodford.” And then there’s the rich, bold nose and smooth taste. It’s a standard that you really should try if you haven’t already.

When I travel, I like to try brands I don’t often see at home, so I was more than happy to listen to Brian at Enoteca (http://www.winedisciplesenoteca.com) who suggested I try the Roundstone Rye from Catoctin Creek out of Virginia. While I am glad I tried it, I can’t say I agree with other reviewers about the quality. Those reviewers must like really peaty Scotches and dirty river water. To each his own, but I didn’t care for it neat and I liked it less in a Manhattan. To say I didn’t like it doesn’t capture the visceral reaction I had when I tasted it and I’m sure I must have looked like one of those toddlers trying lemons for the first time. Obviously, it wasn’t my ideal flavor profile.

The first time I ever tried Eagle Rare was at a coworker’s desk as we had the last couple of ounces of his bottle. It certainly wasn’t the place or time to do a full writeup but the taste stuck with me. I’m so glad I finally got to sit down and give it a full treatment.

The experience begins with the bottle which is tall and clear which means there is nothing to hide. You immediately see the rich maple and honey colors. Very traditional. Very inviting. Once poured, your nose fills with a sweet and relatively strong aromas of vanilla, caramel, clove, and almonds.