NLF: Kentucky Tavern

Kentucky Tavern Straight Bourbon

Kentucky Tavern
80 Proof – Whiskey
Approx. $10.99 750ml


Jeff’s Review:
I was recently given two bottles of whiskey to review for the site, both looked like bottom shelf, and one was even in a plastic bottle. Since my review was coming up first, Tony gave me first choice. After reading both labels, I decided to go with the plastic one, because the other said it was a blend. I don’t think I made a bad decision because Kentucky Tavern turned out to be a very good budget whiskey.

Lately, I have really started to like the lighter more mellow bottles, something that can be sipped, but has enough flavor to mix. I still like my older favorites, but now I also enjoy the younger whiskey that most people wouldn’t bother with.

I tried Kentucky Tavern neat and was pretty surprised by how smooth it was. It’s a little dull, but straightforward and simple. All the basic flavors are there, a little brown sugar, vanilla, oak, and a bit of citrus. I also got a bit of pepper at the end.

I was worried about adding ice, because even with the decent taste, it was a little weak. The ice, like I assumed, did more harm than good, but even watered down, I still enjoyed my drink.

The final test was with coke, and for some reason, I got more of an oaky after taste than when not mixed, this was not a bad thing, just a little surprising.

During my review, I stumbled onto a site that did a tournament style cheap whiskey taste test and this bottle beat seven other whiskeys, including Old Taylor in the final round. So I guess I’m not the only one that enjoys a simple whiskey every once in a while. All in all, this was a very good, very basic, and very cheap bottle that you should try.

NLF: Smirnoff Green Apple


Smirnoff Green Apple
70 Proof – Vodka
Approx. $11.99 750ml


Christal’s Review:
Tonight, I decided to possibly find out if I had something in the cabinets that I had not yet reviewed. I managed to find one bottle that I’ve had for so long that I kind of wish it had a “born on date” like some beers do, because I’m a little curious as to how long ago I purchased it. We’ve actually taken this to several liquor induced gatherings figuring someone would drink it, but we somehow always end up coming home with this unopened bottle. We originally purchased it for a few cocktails we were making that called for an apple vodka. I ended up buying Smirnoff Green Apple simply because it was one of the cheapest apple vodkas that was readily available.

After finally getting around to opening the bottle, it smells just like a green apple lollipop. However the taste is not nearly as good. It has that distinct rubbing alcohol taste that I find in most cheap vodkas. As a shot it is undrinkable. I got goosebumps and cringed. I then moved on to mixing it with a watermelon soda. This was okay but still nothing that you would want to drink regularly or in bulk. The green apple taste is only found as a lingering faint taste.

Unless you are mixing it in a cocktail that calls for a small amount of this vodka, or is hiding in a combination of other liquors and mixers, just stick to a better quality vodka. At least I was able to finish the bottle off and am able to free up a valuable spot in the liquor cabinet. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be purchasing another bottle of it again. I feel like since we’ve started doing these reviews that I’ve been fortunate enough to have found some great liquors that I may have otherwise just passed up, but I also feel like I have had to go through even more poor quality/mediocre bottles to find them. At least this one is complete and over with.

NLF: Puckett’s Branch Bourbon


Puckett’s Branch Bourbon

90 Proof  – Whiskey
Approx. $21.99 750ml


Tony’s Review:
If anyone were to ask me what my favorite type of alcohol was, I would have to say it’s whiskey by a large margin. But then if I had to narrow it down to what type of whiskey, like rye, Canadian, Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, or whatever, I think I would have to say I prefer bourbons. I don’t know why, but they seem to make the best whiskey and cokes in my opinion.

While I do still enjoy some neat or on the rocks, when it comes to drinking on a normal basis I’m usually mixing it with some type of soda. It just goes well with every situation, whether it be with dinner or while playing drinking games with friends, a good whiskey and coke fits in everywhere. I guess that’s why I generally look forward to reviewing bourbons like tonight’s bottle of Puckett’s Branch.

To get things going I dropped a few cubes of ice into a glass and poured in some Puckett’s. The first thing I noticed was a slight peppery flavor on the tip of the tongue as I took my first sip. It then started becoming a mellow oakiness with a hint of caramel before it went down and the peppery flavor showed up again in the aftertaste. It also went down very easy. It seemed like it was a little watered down, but still decent. I poured a little more whiskey in my cup to try to counter any melted ice, but it didn’t seem to change anything.

To try to get the full flavor, I finished that glass and went ahead and tried it straight. It still goes down pretty smooth, but now a decent burn shows up as well. It’s not too bad especially for a 90 proof liquor, but it is definitely noticeable. Other than that, it wasn’t that much different than on ice. What I originally thought was watered down, was just how it normally tastes. And while it does not have a very potent flavor, it does still have an enjoyable taste. If it was just a little stronger and maybe a little bit or a charred barrel taste, it would be perfect.

I assumed that it would just become hidden in coke, but I tried it anyway. Much to my surprise, it was actually pretty good. There was just a hint of sweetness, mostly coming from the coke, but there was a little bit added from the bourbon. The caramel flavor shows up a lot more, but the peppery-ness seems to have dies out. The oak barrel flavor is still there too, so you know you’re drinking a whiskey and coke. I ended up having a few more glasses before I decided to call it a night because I had to work the next day.

If anyone were to ask me what I thought of this whiskey, I would have to say I definitely like it. It’s priced about what I would expect, and while it’s not a great sipper, it does a decent job, and it also mixes very well which is always a plus. I could drink this all night and be completely OK with it, and almost did last night. There was a brief moment where I contemplated about continuing my drinking and just calling in the next day, but I for some reason took the responsible route and just went to bed. I think I’m getting old…

NLF: Rum Haven


Rum Haven
42 Proof – Rum
Approx. $11.99 750ml


Christal’s review:
I’ve seen tonight’s bottle a few times, and have always walked right on past it, even with all of the “new” signs posted in the store. I’ve even had friends that had already had the opportunity to try it, tell me how good it was, and even then continued to walk on by it in the store. On a recent get together with those same friends, I ran out of my go to bottle that I had brought with me to play drinking games. As my bottle became close to empty, I started trying to ration it, and kept thinking ‘this much liquor should hold me over for x amount of drinks’. Their house is much like my house and there are always several different types of liquors, but they tend to keep a lot of dark rums or whiskeys that I am not a big fan of. Luckily for me, they happened to have a bottle of tonight’s liquor, so I was able to finally give it a try.

I usually start with shots, but since we were playing games, I started with mixing it with Pepsi. It has a very creamy smooth taste to it, and was very easy to drink. There is no burn, just a sweet true coconut flavoring. I tried it again as a shot tonight, and amazingly, still had no burn. I then checked the bottle and found that it’s only 42 proof. When drinking alcohol, my face tends to get very flush, and normally the higher the alcohol percentage, the faster and more intense it feels. My face became very flush pretty quickly, so I was a little surprised that it had such a low alcohol percentage.

On the bottle there was a list of recommended cocktails, but each recipe had one random ingredient that I feel no one has in their bar at home, like ginger syrup or Elderflower liqueur. The only recipe that I could kind of do was the Haven & Heat, which is Rum Haven, pineapple juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and muddled chili peppers. I don’t have peppers. so I had to settle for just a Haven. Even with the one missed ingredient, it was really good. I also put a little extra lime juice to cut the sweetness.

Since that first evening, I’ve purchased two more of their larger sized bottles, so I would definitely say it is worth getting. I’ve also now had the chance to try it several different ways, and haven’t been disappointed in any of the drinks that I had. The only semi bad thing I can say about it, is that it is fairly weak, but I feel like it is mostly for cocktails which normally will have other liquors mixed in as well. I found it to be very drinkable. Maybe I should have tried it sooner…

NLF: Newfoundlander’s White Rum


Newfoundlander’s White Rum
80 Proof – Rum
Approx. $29.99 750ml


Jeff’s Review:
Our good friend Paul did it again, he picked us up a bottle of Newfoundlander’s Rum on his last trip through Canada. This worked out very well, since I didn’t have anything ready to review, and I was in the mood for rum. When he handed me the bottle, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t covered in corny pirates or some sort of sea creature. The label on the bottle looked like a painting of a scruffy fisherman sitting on a beach looking out at the sea. It is a nice looking bottle and after looking it up, I found out a Canadian artist named David Blackwood created a series of narrative artworks for the labels. Six different labels were made, each one shows the people who live in the rock harbors of Newfoundland.

Since I was at work and I couldn’t crack the bottle open, I decided to look at some reviews of the rum. It took some searching, but I found a few and they were all pretty positive, but didn’t give a good picture of what I had in store for me. I then found out that it is pretty hard to resist a bottle of rum sitting in front of you all day, especially when you’re having a bad day, but I made it.

As soon as I arrived home the bottle was cracked open. I couldn’t get much from the sniff, but I could detect a slight sweetness and almonds. Going by the fragrance, I would expect a simple mellow rum with more rubbing alcohol flavor than anything else. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This rum packs a punch, the first sip, neat, had me searching for a chaser. I really didn’t expect all the flavors or the burn. It seemed as if I just sipped on a 100 proof dark rum. This bottle is a slightly higher proof than some, but at only 40% alc./ vol. you could really feel it go down.

There was a lot going on in that first sip, vanilla and caramel are dominant, but there is some mint at the end. It finishes sharply and then the burn shows up. I didn’t dislike any of it, even after putting the small fire out in my throat. It was just surprising, and I’m not man enough to finish what I poured neat. I added some ice and this not only helped the fire, but it became slightly creamier. The flavors didn’t change much and it was more drinkable, but after I finished my glass, I didn’t think I could handle another one without a mixer.

I decided that the coke chaser that saved me earlier would do the trick, I gave it a splash and was underwhelmed. The flavors faded and it started tasting metallic. I was pretty disappointed, this rum straight is flavorful and bold, but rough around the edges. Soda usually softens the blow, and gets along well with rum, but that was not the case this time.

I think maybe adding some citrus bitters or using it in a tropical drink would allow this rum to shine. I will have to try that another night, but for now if you like to sip your rum neat or enjoy a nice rum and coke, I would skip this one.