Caribean XO Rum Cask Finish
Tasted neat in an Aged and Ore Neat glass with 5+ minutes of rest. Small amount of dilution was added with additional rest of about half an hour. Blind sample notes edited for clarity with my guesses to the spirit type.
Rye forward nose with many sweet elements to it. Chocolate, caramel, and brittle. Heavy ethanols creep up through a corn syrup sweetness. Pecan pie and bold baking spices. Nutmeg, cardamom, anise, and a faint ceylon cinnamon. A hint of mint and sage with a touch of lime zest. Water brings out a nice charred oak character that balances the overly sweet nose.
An extremely sweet rye with a fair amount of heat to it. Honey butter and fresh bread. Black tea, lightly sweetened with dried peaches. Water made for a much brighter experience. Floral clover, honeysuckle, and fresh hay. Fatty cashew butter, both sweet and slightly savory. Heavier oak influence corresponds with the nose after the addition of water.
A chocolate mint finish! Dank oak, grassy and dark. Cocoa powder and singed toffee. Leather and finishing oils. A pleasant light salinity to it like a saltine cracker or flatbread. Water further enhances the sweet finish and makes it that much sweeter. Pie crust and dark Karo syrup. Lastly, a bit of molasses seems to be brought out as well.
The finishing cask certainly removed many of the more herbal influences of the 95/5 MGP rye. I honestly thought it might be a Wilderness Trail rye from all the chocolate mint aromas and flavors I was getting. I definitely was not getting 95/5 vibes from this one.
Looking back after the reveal, the sweeter notes made much more sense. Those demerara sugars and molasses notes were clearly there. The heavy finish though stripped away a lot of the character of the rye.
Good or bad? Not $95 good, but a fun whiskey to try? Certainly. Has a cocktail-in-a-bottle vibe going for it and can take dilution quite well. Thanks to Bourbon Down South for the sample!