I am bringing back the Starlight Sunday trend! I've given this one a few tastes prior to tonight and I think I'm ready to give it a rating. I am a bit shorter for time than usual tonight so this won't be as deep of a dive as I normally do. With prior experiences I remember the sherry quality being high on this one, which is no surprise as the Huber's know their wine very well. Let's see how this gift shop release tastes!
Company on Label: Starlight Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: The 'Carl T.' blend of Starlight's 3 & 4 grain mash (51% Corn, 20% Rye, 9% Wheat, 20% Malted Barley) and (60% Corn, 20% rye, 20% Malted Barley)
Age: 5 years
Further identification: Barrel 21-2192 was selected by master distiller B. Huber and was a gift shop release I picked up in May 2022
Nose: Wow, big brown sugar on the front of this glass. It gives off a sweet barbecue aroma that is a nice surprise. Chocolate. Light smoke. Punchy sweet tarts and raspberry jam. The nose-feel highlights the experience of smelling a fresh jar of ground coffee. I know I said this one would be shorter, but my nose feels like it just opened a portal to a different glass. Graham cracker, hints of Amburana spice, proofy cointreau, and soft brandy tones are suddenly the profile? This has way more layers than I was expecting. Okay - we are back to the brown sugar note which feels more in line with expectations. The baseline oak here is really solid and soft with slight hints of non-descript nuttiness. I feel like I'm most surprised by the char level - it feels lovingly close to a full charcoal level. The empty glass smells of smoked honey and cherry skins.
Palate: Mmm. A perfect dessert selection (which is what I chose it for) presents itself right away. The sweet red fruit you'd expect dance lightly on the tongue. A funky yet sweet earthiness persists. This perhaps leans a bit towards a Calvados profile for me tonight. The mouth feel is creamy and dreamy as oily, viscous caramel washes over me. The finish is mellow here which I always enjoy - let the base whiskey shine. There's a perfect level of spice to this that is balanced well by light fig and raisin. Mmm. Towards the end of the glass the raspberry flavors really begin to build and mix well with black forest cake that carries through to the long linger of blackberry and toffee. I am really enjoying this is as a soon-after-dinner pour (we had creamy lemon dill salmon in the Amongst household for perspective). My last sip is nuanced with blackberry, raspberry and vanilla bread pudding. The linger and finish is just the right level of sweetness as the sherry influence finally makes itself known.
Alright, this was harder to rate than I thought. I admittedly had to go for a pour of a great reference point that I know is already a 5/5 for me (on 3 different occasions confirming that rating) in Redbreast PX Edition to get a better perspective on how to rate this. Admittedly the Midleton Irish + PX Sherry combination just has a touch more of that magic cooperation, but it accomplished the mission in telling me that this finished bourbon comes damn close to that high bar. I think what pushed me into the 5/5 score, which is an incredibly rare score for me, was the quality of the finish. It's long, pervasive and beautiful through and through. For a gage on how rare 5's are for me... as of time of writing there are 20 pages of 4/5 reviews and only 6 pages of 5/5 reviews. I believe that exceptional whiskeys deserve to stand out. Excellent work on this one in particular - hats off to the Huber family for this one!