Bourbon

REVIEW #1: 4/15/2015

WILD TURKEY 101

Wild Turkey has taken some flack lately. While I do believe they have stalled in the realm of creativity (Diamond Anniversary is good but doesn’t hold weight with the likes of developments at Four Roses, Heaven Hill, and Buffalo Trace), they consistently put out their regular line-up with great results. Your grandfather might have drunk this very dram but it is by no means a nasty, old man’s pour. This is one fine tipple.

Distiller: Austin Nichols/Wild Turkey

Age: 6-8 year old blend

ABV: 50.5%

Bottling: LL/CB030849

Price: $20.95

EYE

Medium-to-dark copper. An orange tint.

NOSE

Vanilla is the first thing I get here. Then, it is quickly followed by a ton of carmel. This is a very spicy bourbon. You can tell it is a high-rye mashbill. Some barrel char notes and alcohol burn. When water is added a lot of sweet honey notes appear. For me, it gets almost too sweet. I like this one neat.

TASTE

Sweet carmel is the first note. Loads of sugar. This is followed by vanilla and some cherry fruit leather. This is a very smooth yet thick tipple with a decent, but not too strong burn. You know it’s there. Again, honey is added to the palate with the addition of water. And, yet again, I find it too sweet. I like this one neat when it comes to the taste as well as the nose.

FINISH

Long. This one stays with you for a while. It goes from carmel and fades into some oaky notes.

CONSENSUS

I absolutely love this pour. It is by no means gut-rot. This is an everyday sipper in my opinion. And, while I prefer my whisk(e)y neat, this would make a mean cocktail. I was first introduced to this bourbon last year by a good friend. I liked it immediately. So, I recently picked up a bottle. It didn’t take me long to finish it and I doubt it will take me long to replace it. This will be a staple in my bar.

RATING

93/100 (An Excellent Tipple)


REVIEW #2: 4/19/2015

FEATHERBONE BOURBON WHISKEY

Distillery: Journeyman Distillery

Age: NAS (less than 2 years old)

ABV: 45%

Bottling: Batch 15, Bottle 23

Price: $45

EYE

Burnt carmel

NOSE

This is a corn-forward whiskey. You also get notes of carmel and granny smith apples. It is unique.

TASTE

Granny smith apples dominate the palate. Too much so in my opinion. Some might really like this taste. It is a little too overpowering and unbalanced for my taste. However, there are some subtle hints of vanilla and carmel which were more present on the nose.

FINISH

Medium. Some smooth and sweet tobacco notes. It is closed out by apple crisp.

CONSENSUS

It is not bad. It is not great. It is unique. The nose is the best part. I was a little let down by how much the granny smith apple notes dominated the palate. If this is your thing then you will love this tipple. It it is not, then I would recommend passing on a bottle and trying a pour.

RATING

80/100 (A Solid Tipple – On The Low End)


BACON-INFUSED FEATHERBONE BOURBON WHISKEY

Distillery: Journeyman Distillery

Age: NAS (less than 2 years old)

ABV: <45% (Affected some by the infusion)

Bottling: Batch 15, Bottle 23

Price: $45 + The cost of bacon fat

Special Note: Infused with bacon fat for 24 hours

EYE

A slightly lighter and cloudier burnt carmel

NOSE

Carmel and vanilla forward. Fresh baked donuts. A little apple in the background. Much smoother than the original.

TASTE

Carmel and vanilla again. Very doughy. Smoke and pepper. A little apple again in the background.

FINISH

Medium. Smooth and creamy. I was left with the taste of a carmel apple fritter.

CONSENSUS

Surprisingly, this is much more balanced than the original. It is smooth and creamy. It puts the apples in the background and without losing them allows the classic bourbon notes of carmel, vanilla, and a bake shop to shine through.

84/100 (A Solid Tipple)

This was a fun experiment and I think I will try some other types of infusions in the future. Please leave a comment on what type, if any, infusions you have tried.


REVIEW #3: 4/25/2015

KNOB CREEK SMOKED MAPLE BOURBON

Distiller: Jim Beam

Age: NAS

ABV: 45%

Bottling: L4293CLH 010622133

Price: $30

EYE

Light carmel with and orange tint

NOSE

Real maple. Not much smoke. Not too overpowering. Some small hints of oak in the background. Not as bad as I expected.

TASTE

Really sweet. Lots of maple. And, fake maple here. The nose is deceptive leading one to believe the taste will follow suit. You can kind of tell it is bourbon but all I get is maple syrup with a slight alcohol burn. This is an unpleasant drink.

FINISH

Medium-short. Sugary and maple.

CONSENSUS

Buying a whole bottle was a mistake. I should have stuck with getting the cocktail next time I was at the pub. If you can find this in a cocktail it might be worth a try. If you like torture then you could always buy a glass at a bar but I wouldn’t pay more than a few bucks for a try.

RATING

65/100 (Pass On This Tipple)

BONUS

Just in case you like this stuff or accidentally bought a bottle and want to know what to do with it, here is the recipe for the cocktail I referenced above:

Only Use For KCSM Cocktail

1) Fill rocks glass half/full with ice

2) Fill rocks glass with 2oz smoked maple bourbon and 1oz fresh lemon juice

3) Top with apple cider and mix

4) Sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper on top

5) Enjoy…hopefully!


REVIEW #4: 7/21/2015

MAKER’S MARK CASK STRENGTH

Distiller: Maker’s Mark

Age: NAS (6-7 year old according to the distillery)

ABV: 55.8% (This has come out in various batches with different ABVs)

Cask Strength

Batch #: 15-02 (2nd batch of 2015 – I assume)

Price: $60*

EYE

Dark Amber

NOSE

It is classic Maker’s cranked-up to the max. All the normal notes are there but they are stronger. Carmel, toffee, vanilla, red fruits (dark cherries), a slight brown sugar and barrel char note. An even smaller but, still present, oakiness. It reminds me a lot of WT 101 but smoother and fresher.

TASTE

This is very smooth and creamy for its proof. The burn is on the front and sides of the tongue. Even so, it is not too hot. It has a medium viscosity. Most of the notes from the nose come out in the palate as well. Carmel, toffee, vanilla, red fruits (dark cherries), and a small amount of brown sugar.

FINISH

Medium. Smooth. The red fruit notes and sweetness lingers and then fades to a dry, slight oakiness.

VALUE (NEW)

I feel this is just slightly over priced. If it was in the $50-55 range it would be perfectly positioned. There are some good options in cask strength bourbons in that range.

CONSENSUS

This is truly a great tipple. But, it wasn’t at first. Time has done this one well. I remember not liking it too much when I first opened it. It did not fare well in a blind tasting of cask strength/barrel proof bourbons. Air and a few months has really helped smooth it out and open it up. I love it. It is a great batch. It will be a staple in my bar again. Maker’s is back!

RATING

93/100 (An Excellent Tipple) – It would be 94-95 if the price was a little lower and the palate was a little thicker.

*Disclaimer: This bottle was a gift from a friend so I did not have to pay the price listed. So, I guess this bottle could have been rated at a 95 or higher since it was free for me.


REVIEW #5: 8/4/2015

STAGG JR.

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

Age: NAS (Rumored to be 8-9 Years Old)

ABV: 66.05%

Mashbill #: 1 – Low Rye

Cask Strength – Unfiltered

Batch #: 3

Price: $50

EYE

Dark, Burnt Amber

NOSE

Chocolate covered cherries, oak, and varnish lead-off. Some caramel enters soon after. There is a slight alcohol burn (I always get more when I smell through my left nostril than when I smell through my right one). Butterscotch and burnt sugar enter in and mingle throughout. It reminds me of eating Werther’s Originals with my grandmother. There is a general spice smell at the end. Maybe cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

TASTE

Spicy and sweet. Cherries and chocolate. Slight butterscotch and caramel in the background. The oak permeates throughout but is not overpowering. This is fairly well-balanced compared to what I had heard and therefore expected from this young gun.

FINISH

Long. Spice fades to sweetness. Cinnamon fades to caramel and butterscotch which last for days,

VALUE

This is a well-priced bourbon. While I don’t think I would have said this a few years ago, in the age of bourbons entering the market at $50, to be able to get an uncut, unfiltered little giant like Stagg Jr. at the same price point is a good deal. Of course, I’d love it to be in the $40 range. But, I would buy this one again for sure. If I can find another when I am done with this one I will be sure to pick it up.

CONSENSUS

This is a mighty fine tipple. It brings tons of flavor, a good amount of bite, is fairly well-balanced, and decently priced. I could not ask for much more. Except, maybe a shot at a bottle of the big brother at a decent price. For now, I will take this little guy and enjoy it until it is gone.

RATING

90/100 (An Excellent Tipple)


REVIEW #6: 8/13/2015

FIGHTING COCK BOURBON

Distiller: Heaven Hill

Age: 6 Years Old

ABV: 51.5%

Mashbill: 75/13/12 (Corn/Rye/Barley)

Price: $19

EYE

Toasted Caramel.

NOSE

Ethanol. Followed quickly by spice and a slight hint of dark fruits (blackberries). Some oak. This one has not opened up much over the past few months. It is an intense and not really pleasent nose. I don’t usually do this but I added a little water and it tamed down the ethanol slightly and brought forward the spice and caramel.

TASTE

Spice and oak. Followed by some sweet caramel and vanilla notes. Semi-dry towards the end. Not a bad thing. Just not overly dynamic. Water brought out the caramel, vanilla, and some nuttiness I did not get before.

FINISH

Long. Spice, oak, caramel, and vanilla. Slowly fades away. The finish is the best part. However, the water shortens it a bit.

VALUE

The value is okay. The price is pretty nice. It is a high-octane bourbon for under $20. Thumbs-up. It is not as dynamic or versatile as the likes of Wild Turkey 101. Thumbs-down. So, in the end, the value category is kind-of a wash with this one.

CONSENSUS

This is a good bourbon. It is not a great bourbon. The nose is nothing great. The palate is okay. The finish is my favorite part. I wouldn’t drink this one straight even the the water makes it quite nice. For the same price I can get the WT 101 which is more dynamic, has more depth, and is much tastier. But, this is a solid mixer with a good flavor. So, in the end, this falls into the good tipple range.

RATING

83/100 (A Solid Tipple)


REVIEW #7: 9/2/2015

VERY OLD BARTON BIB

Distiller: 1792 Barton Distillery

Owner: Sazerac (Owner of Buffalo Trace)

Age: NAS (Used to be 6 Years Old; Now Rumored to be 4-6 Years Old)

ABV: 50%

Mashbill: 75/15/10 (Corn/Rye/Barley)

Price: $15

EYE

Dark honey with an amber/reddish tint.

NOSE

This one is astringent. I let it sit for 30 minutes and then drank it neat from a Glencairn glass and it still hit my nose pretty strong. Once I was able to work my way through the high-proof curtain I picked up a lot of corn sweetness. Some classic vanilla and caramel were also present. A slight bit of ripe banana lingered in the background. It was not as prominent as I have read in other reviews. This might be because it is most likely younger than it use to be a few years ago. I also get some red fruits and apples. It is a decent nose.

TASTE

Right away I get sweet corn and caramel. The sweetness tingles the side of the tongue and is quite unique and pleasant. Some rye spice comes in towards the end. Unfortunately, the rye is a little harsh. Think a raw grain taste.

FINISH

The finish is my favorite part of this tipple. It is medium in length, bordering on long. Rye spice, black pepper, oak, and char dominate. A slight bit of caramel mixes in at the very end. It leaves you with a fairly well-balanced mix of sweet and dry flavors. There is also something floral I cannot quite pin down. It might be a little soapiness but it is not really unpleasant.

VALUE

The value is good, almost great. It is my favorite bourbon in the price range of $10-15 bourbons. Unfortunately, it is held in the high-end of good because it is not quite as complex and pleasant as the closely priced Wild Turkey 101 (which I reviewed here). It is a good value sipper and a nice mixer for cocktails.

CONSENSUS

I like this bourbon. It is my second favorite in its price range. It is versatile and pleasant. It is not quite as complex as I would like it to be. It is also only found in Kentucky (maybe some other parts of the South). So, it is held back a bit.

RATING

85/100 (A Solid Tipple)


REVIEW #8: 9/9/2015

OLD GRAND-DAD BIB

Distiller: Jim Beam

Owner: Beam Suntory

Age: NAS (We know it is at least 4 years old)

ABV: 50%

Mashbill: 63/27/10 (Corn/Rye/Barley)

Price: $20

EYE

Orange. Light copper.

NOSE

Very little burn despite the proof. This one has a great nose. It starts out with a floral/vegetal scent. It reminds me of Four Roses’ F and Q yeast bourbons. It is quickly followed by caramel, toffee, and butterscotch. As it develops and opens up I get some vanilla and citrus. Towards the end I get some corn, rye spice, oak, and a very little bit of barrel char.

TASTE

The palate is note as dynamic as the nose but it is still really nice. I get caramel, rye spice, and vanilla.

FINISH

The finish is long. It is a continuation of the caramel, rye spice, and vanilla notes from the taste.

VALUE

The value is great. This is more dynamic and tastes better than the VOB BIB. While it costs a little more it is well worth it. It also makes a wicked cocktail. This is a staple on my bar.

CONSENSUS

I really like this bourbon. It is relatively available, well priced, and very tasty. I would highly recommend it. It really only loses points in complexity and uniqueness. Buy yourself a bottle. TIP: I did a 50/50 mix of this and the VOB BIB and it was delicious. I would dare to say better than the individual parts. Worth a try.

RATING

88/100 (A Solid Tipple)

 

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