Raeburn, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California 2021

This Chardonnay from Russian River Valley has a pale lemon color and a fruity nose with hints of citrus, lemons, honeydew, light oak, honeysuckle, apples, light vanilla and spices. On the palate, it is dry with notes of lemons, apples, ripe pears, oak, vanilla, spices, and white pepper. The wine is medium plus in body with medium acidity and a nice creamy mouthfeel.

The wine has a good length on the finish, with a dominant lemon flavor that lingers. It is a great value and easy drinking, making it perfect for sipping by itself or pairing with cheeses and crackers. The wine is aged on its lees for six months in 75% French and Hungarian Oak barrels, which contributes to its creamy mouthfeel and subtle oak flavors. The 14% alcohol by volume adds to the wine’s body and richness.

Overall, this Chardonnay from Raeburn, Russian River Valley is a tasty and well-balanced wine that offers good value for its price. It is a versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with light appetizers. Its creamy mouthfeel and subtle oak flavors make it a perfect complement to cheeses, crackers, and other light snacks. This is a great wine for relaxing by the pool or beach, and it is best enjoyed after being aired for 30 minutes.

Straight from the Bottle Rating = 91 pionts

Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon

Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon is a well-crafted and sophisticated bourbon that is a testament to the skill of the distillers at the Kentucky Owl distillery. It is aged for 10 years, allowing the flavors to mature and develop into a smooth and velvety texture. On the nose, the aroma is rich and complex, with notes of oak, vanilla, and toasted almonds. The palate is equally impressive, with a perfect balance of sweetness and spice, and flavors of caramel, toffee, and baking spices that linger on the finish.

The presentation of Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon is also noteworthy, as it comes in a beautifully designed bottle with intricate detailing and a wax seal. The attention to detail in the packaging reflects the care and attention that went into crafting the bourbon itself. It is a testament to the dedication of the team at Kentucky Owl to create a premium product that not only tastes exceptional but also looks stunning on any bar.

Overall, Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon is a top-shelf bourbon that deserves to be savored and enjoyed. It is a perfect choice for a special occasion or a luxurious treat, and it will undoubtedly impress even the most discerning bourbon connoisseur. The flavors are complex and nuanced, with a smooth texture and a long finish that leaves a lasting impression. It is a must-try for anyone who appreciates a quality bourbon.

Rating = 90 points

You can find for as low as $60 in your favorite store.

Bodegas Lan Rioja Gran Reserva 2015, Spain

Deep burgundy in color with a short reddish rim. Full bodied and soft with medium acidity. Dry on the palate with nice complexity.

Showing blackberries, sweet cherries, plums, espresso, sweet cedar, vanilla, spices, cola, tobacco leaf, earth, chocolates, peppercorn and herbs. Tangy finish with fine grained tannins and pomegranates.

This is a very tasty Tempranillo from Spain. Still young, and will continue to age nicely in the next 5 to 10 years.

Needs a couple of hours to open up properly.

A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano. Aged for 24 months in American and French oak barrels.

Paired with a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses.

13.5% alcohol by volume.

Rating = 92 points.

Can find at most larger wine stores for around $30.

Makers Mark “The Ghost”

A new Maker’s Mark Private Selection pick, Ghost lll. What makes this selection unique is that is has three of the toasted French Spice staves in the mix. There are 240 bottles in this batch, and it is 109.4 proof. For wheated bourbon lovers unable to get their hands on Pappy or even Weller, Maker’s Private Selections are often the next best thing. This one costs around $70.

Color is a nice amber and on the swirl there is a thick film and really thick legs. On the nose I feel like I am in a confectioner’s shop with notes of cinnamon baked goods and hot chocolate wafting through the air. On the palate, this whiskey has a medium mouthfeel but is loaded with flavor – hot baked cinnamon rolls that are heavy on the cinnamon and even has other complex baking spices including cloves, plus cherries and other dark fruits and some dark chocolate notes. The toasted French Spice staves are very assertive. The finish lingers on and on with baking spices and oak.

This flavor profile is just excellent for a wheated bourbon. While it doesn’t have that Pappy Van Winkle mouthfeel, the flavor profile of dark fruits, baked goods, and baking spices, with oak on the finish is what wheated bourbon fans want and is what makes wheated bourbon unique when done well.

This is a well done Maker’s Private Selection.

Point Rating : 93

Hard Truth Master Distiller’s Reserve Chocolate Malt Mash Rye Whiskey, 2022

The Hard Truth Distillery in Nashville, Indiana, is making some excellent sweet mash, 100% rye whiskey. This is another bottle of rye that was sent to me earlier this year. It has been in the running for the whiskey of the month for February, along with the chocolate malt rye that I still need to review. It tastes much older than the two year old age statement and I really liked this expression of Hard Truth rye. I tasted it and here is my tasting notes:

Proof: 109.6

Age: Two Years Old


Rye grass, caramel, butterscotch, herbal tea, honey, baking spices and oak wood.


Rye grass, vanilla, caramel, coffee, white pepper and oak wood. Tasted with the dried cranberry and ripe apple fruit comes out to join the party. Tasted with a pecan and dark chocolate notes come out. The dried cranberry brought out notes of an Almond Joy candy bar with chocolate and almonds and a bit of tart cherry. The pecan brought out flavors of a caramel Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.


Long with oak wood and black coffee. The dried cranberry made the finish sweeter with oak, spice and lingering apple fruit. The pecan made the finish very long with oak wood and chocolate. The pecan made the finish very long with oak wood, peanuts and caramel.

I would pair this Rye whiskey with a cigar that has a lot of vanilla and chocolate in the smoke. I would reach for my favorite My Father The Judge cigar.

Chalk Hill Estate Winery, Chardonnay 2019, California

This is a tasty oaky Chardonnay from Chalk Hill in Russian River Valley. Dry on the palate with mild complexity. Showing oak, vanilla, lemons, apples, pears and light spices. Spicy finish with almonds, good quality wine. Easy drinking, elegant and bold.

Still young and has good potential to be better in a few years. A nice food wine, and good for parties, too. I paired it with a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses.

100% Chardonnay grapes were aged in (40% new) French Oak barrels for 11 months. Unfiltered.

14.9% alcohol by volume.

90 points.

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