Who makes it? Still Luca Mariano Distillery
Mash Bill: 75% corn 21% rye 4% malted barley
Where it’s from: Danville, Kentucky
Now we’re down to the last 2 bottles. The single barrel Bourbon and a Total Wine Barrel Pick.
Jenn goes into more detail about what it means to be a Master Blender. She will get 20 samples at a time and taste through them at strength then proof them down to 103 and see which ones stand out. For the Old Americana she likes to pick a barrel from floors 2,3,4,5 and 6 to blend so you get the full flavor of what Luca Mariano has to offer. The ones she samples that are great from the get go and they get bottled for the Single Barrel. One special barrel gets the Omni Omni by her and Francesco for the Signature bottling for that year.
Kenny tells us how the oldest stone house in Kentucky built by William Crow is on the Luca Mariano property along with bootlegger tunnels from Guy Jones!
Alright, now for the tasting! On the Single Barrel Bourbon Kris picked caramel on the nose while it made Erik think of sweet cream corn, cereal with maple syrup drizzled on top. Then the taste and finish. Kris caught hints of vanilla mixed with sweet caramel while Erik couldn’t shake the corn and maple syrup. Kenny said it had a buttery taste with caramel, with Subway macadamia nut cookies. Jenn on the other hand, had the caramel come through with a hint of smoke and a leathery feel. Then onto the Total Wine Barrel Pick. This was a bit challenging as Kris of the nose found sour notes with stone fruit. Erik pulled in caramelly and an acetone. We loved Jenn’s description of a chocolate chameleon as the flavors kept shifting and then Kenny did us all in as he nosed a full on Twix bar. The taste was awash with nodding heads and Kris could swear that sweet tea notes made an appearance.
We were very impressed with Luca Mariano line up and their barrel pick is an obvious stand out. In the end Kris’ favorite was the Single Barrel Rye while Erik would take home the barrel pick.
For the price? The Old Americana will run you about 45 out the door while the single barrel will cost you about 62 dollars. If you can find the Signature, it will cost you about 88 dollars.
Who makes it? Luca Mariano Distillery
Mash Bill: 75% corn 21% rye 4% malted barley
Where it’s from: Danville, Kentucky
We get to hang out with Jennifer Brandt, Master Blender and Kenny Fuller their Creative Director. They brought 5 bottles for us to go through and in part 1 we get to the first three. The first is the Old Americana Bourbon Small Batch, 5 year, 5 barrels at 89 proof. Then we move onto the Old Americana Rye and the last in part 1, the Single Barrel Rye!
A little history, this all started in Francesco Viola’s garage back in 2010. He pulled out his grandfather’s still and from what his grandfather taught him he started distilling. He’d have neighbors over for cookouts and he’d let all sample his hooch until his lawyer said this hobby of yours illegal and you have two choices: get a license to distill or stop making it! Well, Francesco said he was having too much fun and decided to go legit. He ended up taking a different approach. In 2015 he worked with Wilderness Trail Distillery and filled 240 barrels to start the company and then bought almost 600 acres in Dansville, Kentucky to build the Luca Mariano Distillery. The name comes from his son Luca and grandfather Mariano.
For the Old Americana Bourbon Kris was surprised how much heat it had for an 89 proof but we all think that heat and the humidity definitely played a part. Off the nose Kris came away with a nice toffee note while Erik pulled in a heavy alcohol smell. Then the taste brought more of the sweetness with a little spice. Jenn informed us that she gets toffee, rye spice, caramel, vanilla and slight oak. For the Old Americana Rye Kris was greeted with slight mint on the nose with peppery tones while could smell something deeper couldn’t figure on what it was. Plus, this had a longer finish than the bourbon. While Kenny said this was the whole experience! Then on the Single Barrel Rye had similar notes but that 2 more years of aging really show through. Like Kenny said the Old Americanas are good introduction to Luca Mariano but for Kris the Single Barrel rye is where it’s at! More flavors and and a nice long finish. For Erik, a heavy punching pomegranate wafted up to his nose. Jenn on the other hand said it was green apple, all spice, baking spice and hint of dill, like dill sunflower seeds.
Overall a solid showing, good flavor and a nice lingering finish. Luca Mariano does get the Whiskey and a Hammock stamp of approval!
For the price? The Old Americana will run you about 45 out the door while the single barrel will cost you about 62 dollars.
Who makes it? The Point Distilling
Mash Bill: Undisclosed but infused with Black Currant
Where it’s from: Clearwater, FL
Poor Erik was left all alone not knowing what we were reviewing but then… the Whiskey Hunter showed up with a bottle of Von Payne Black! Kris stopped at Golden Ox on Normandy in Jacksonville for another bottle of New Riff and seen this bottle on shelf and had to pick it up. A very sexy, elegant bottle with a gargoyle pourer perched on top. What’s different is the pourer is also the stopper. In the patented design the pourer has a rubber stopper on the inside that has to be removed so the juice inside can flow free.
This started 3 years ago when Steve Allen, the owner, was on the boat with his daughters(of legal drinking age) and their friends taking shots of vodka and making those alcohol faces, when asked why they said vodka has no calories and they weren’t into Fireball, Tequila or Jager. There had to be something better so Steve decided to create a drink for the next generation. He was currently a whiskey drinker and into old fashioneds and decided on an infused whiskey. Talking to his wife about different flavors, she suggested black currant. Steve knew nothing about it, did some research and found out that it was banned to grow in the US until 2003, was a superfruit, full of antioxidants. So he worked on the formulation for months using 100 proof Old Forester as the base and then figuring out the ratio of black currant and a few other key ingredients until he hit the WOW factor. Then next step was finding a distiller that would help him create his masterpiece. He had a meeting with Point Distilling and poured them samples, while on the tour of their operations the master distiller asked if he could have another pour, that’s when Steve knew this was the place and it had to something good!
Pouring it out of the gargoyles mouth it has a dark red with slight amber hue. Different than any other whiskey that’s out there. On the nose Erik still got an oaky, sweet but not fruity. Kris thought the same, similar to other whiskies but no overpowering fruit coming out of the glass. On the palate, Kris could taste the heat while Erik thought it was smooth coming in at 90 proof . On the finish Kris could taste a creamy blueberry aspect. On the second taste Kris could taste a slight tartness with a little sweet on the backend. Erik says it’s voodoo in a glass! After the addition of ice, it brought out more of the black currant flavor, a bit more of the tartiness comes through.
Kris gave it a 8.5
Erik gave it a 9.0 (his highest ever!)
This definitely gets the Whiskey and a Hammock stamp of approval! If you’re up for something different and enjoy old fashioneds, boulevardiers and other whiskey forward cocktails or want to try something different, you should pick up a bottle. Not only does it look cool and has a gargoyle for a pourer but it has a pleasingly unique flavor. In this vid we embraced the Payne. As they say “Discover the Pleasure of Payne”.
For the price? Von Payne comes in at about 60.00 and can be found in Florida or go to their website www.vonpayne.com and order one up!
Who makes it? New Riff Distilling
Mash Bill: 65% corn, 30% rye, 5% malted barley
Where it’s from: Newport, Kentucky
Kris’s wife picked up the Bottle in Bond on the way home and then Kris picked up the Single Barrel from Golden Ox Liquors on Normandy and told Erik that we should do a head to head. We found out Ken Lewis was fresh out of college, and just landed a teaching job when his dad asked him to come home and help run his liquor store and kick out his uncle. Well he did that and more. He ended up making it into one of the biggest in Kentucky, called the Party Source. The very first liquor warehouse, 80,000 square feet of libations! At one point Ken was even hauled off in handcuffs for having his prices too low and undercutting all the competition. (he didn’t know there were laws against how low it could be). This only fueled the fire and put his place on the map and then Jay Erisman convinced him to buy some MGP barrels at 375 a pop and was the start of New Riff distillery.
Kris on the nose of the BIB got a sweet smell and a slight cinnamon spice while Erik got more of a honeycomb and made Kris’s mouth water. On the palate Erik got a sweet heat with a corn finish. Kris thought is was a nice easy pour, even though it was rye forward did not get a lot of spice. Next up, the SBBP. Kris thought it was more earthy and slightly sweet while Erik thought is was smokey. The palate for Erik was a bowl of chicken noodle soup with fresh cracked pepper and burnt marshmallow. While Kris thought it had a boat load more flavor, more spice and definitely grabs your attention.
Kris gave the BIB a 7.0 and the SBBP a 8.0
Erik gave the BIB a 6.0 and the SBBP a 7.5
In the end bot really good bottles, both Kris and Erik thought the BIB is good everyday sipper but Kris was very impressed with the SBBP and even went back and bought another bottle of it!
For the price? The BIB comes in around 49.99 and the SBBP you’ll pay 59.99 – pony and get the bottle!
Who makes it? Laws Distillery
Mash Bill Rye San Luis VAlley: 50% malted rye, 50% raw rye
Where it’s from: Denver, Colorado
In this review we find out that the Cody family farm that grows the rye for Laws buts up against the biggest producer of serrano peppers. Through some of root commingling. Bringing a little white pepper on the backend. A little bit of heat, vegetable, eucalyptus and tea. Plus, Chad tells us how there is no master distiller at laws and how they have a few barrels that they have no idea what they taste like. With Al being from Canada, they had to do a rye whiskey but it is a uniquely a Colorado rye. They definitely bring the heat but so good. This is where a cube or two comes in to play. Did we mention a giveaway? Huge thanks to Chad for coming down and letting us drink all of Laws whiskey and we even get our very own Whiskey and a Hammock bottle!
Kris on the nose of the San Luis Valley rye gets a hint of mint while Erik can’t pin it down. On the palate it was light and easy, with a slight spice on the backend. Then the bonded comes out. On the nose a little more heat but no mint. Then the palate hits and it’s amazing. More spice, a flavor bomb. This is Erik’s favorite! Kris said it’s smooth, creamy with a thickness to it. Chad then brings out 2 more bottles and they’re cask strength 4 Grain and San Luis Valley Rye. The 4 grain has a bite but not “alcoholy”. We also learn about the trigeminal nerve, that makes your jaw tighten especially when drinking some high proof whiskey!
In the end Laws Whiskey gets our stamp of approval, Kris and Erik both agree that the San Luis Rye Bonded is their fav of the bunch!
For the price? Just regular bottle of 4 Grain and Rye will run you about $60, the bondeds will put you up in the $80s and if you find the cask then you’re talking right around a Benjamin!