The Spirit Animal Society is back at it again - making picking whiskey barrels more accessible to the community! Thank you so much to the picking team that helped @_lostnemo_, @saxybourbon and me select this delectable whiskey treat. That's you @_yliejus_, @bourbonchick_6, @bustybourbonbatch, @dpmac1970, @filmandbarrel, @luckytimmy13, @trywhiskywithfitzy716, @thejameswells, @subourbon.appa, and @wafflesandbourbon!
For those that don't know what Tokaji is (like me before this pick), it's a Hungarian sweet wine from the Tokaj wine region. This varietal is often made from grapes that experience 'noble rot' which is what creates such sweet flavors on these wines. It is pronounced like "toe-coy", but I think 'toe-kai' would work too, or maybe it's something in-between (I won't be picky either way). I just want to see how this whiskey tastes coming out of the bottle for now! Let's get into it.
Company on Label: Barrell Craft Spirits
Whiskey Type: Finished Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed blend of Indiana (MGP) and Kentucky (C&K) whiskeys
Age: NAS (main component is a 14 year Indiana whiskey)
Further identification: Blend # CJ54; Bottle # 164 - This is the pick that a group of Spirit Animal Society members got to join the founders in picking! From the Barrell Craft Spirits website: CJ54 is a blend of Indiana and Kentucky Whiskeys, the largest component being 14-year-old Indiana whiskey, finished in a Tokaji barrel.
Nose: Creamy vanilla bean ice cream right away on the nose as soon as I lift the glass. Potent lemon frosting, bright florals and intensely sweet crème brûlée jump out of the glass. There's a rich oak characteristic all throughout. The aromas tied to that oak also come across similarly to a sugar cookie with a dash of nutmeg. The nose is ever bright and pungent with a background linger of baking spice and leather which provides a nice contrast to all the sweetness. Time for a sip!
After sipping that amazing creamy cheesecake aroma is definitely present. It's not overpoweringly sweet, but more of a complex, layered sweetness like a well crafted dessert. Wow. The vanilla frosting characteristics of this are just incredible. I remember why we picked this now. Yum! On deeper dives of the nose to the glass you can definitely pull out some strong baking spices from the base whiskey - a great sign that the finish hasn't overpowered the blend. As I move through the glass I find black pepper, white grape skins, and a warm tree bark nose-feel. Lemon tea evolves softly as you progress. The nose on this really is just a soft, dessert sweetness all around - you could sit with this for ages and never have your senses get weathered like some other cask strength releases can cause. The empty glass smells of sweet Spring florals, hints of smoky chocolate and funky, figgy jam.
Palate: My first sip is extremely approachable for the high proof; I immediately find a rich, sweet grape varietal clearing showing itself off from the finish. The linger has heaps of sweet cherry cola, cheesecake and an airy fruit parfait. Another sip builds in punchy raspberry, raisin and a nice grape brandy flavor that reminds of some of the best Copper & Kings releases I've tried. Mmm, yeah! That honeysuckle sweetness is really bringing me down the brandy branch flavor wise; I'm really digging that as it's certainly a unique experience I've never had on a whiskey before. There's an absolutely incredible creamy caramel; it's like Werther's meets flan. Yum, later in the glass I'm finding an orange sherbert flavor. My last sip is caramel forward with spiced plum, exotic wine tannins, and it turns quite bready on the linger. Delicious!
Rating: Two Thumbs Up!
This might be my new go-to dessert pour; it feels exceptional for sharing after a good meal. It's light enough that it won't blow up your palate if you feel like moving on to something else after, but rich and sweet enough that you want to savor it for a long while. I definitely recommend that you give this one a try! It doesn't have infinite complexity but I certainly look forward to seeing how it evolves over time. I truly believe this is one that someone of any whiskey background could get into - which is surprising given the 124.46 proof point. This is one I will certainly enjoy sharing with friends and family all Summer long.