Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

As trees begin to change and the air starts to chill, lines starts to form and phones start to ring; bourbon season is a beautiful thing! It's that time of year, and the Buffalo Trace Antique collection has been released to distributors around the world. Similar to last year, below are tasting notes for each of the 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys as well as a ranking

2016 Sazerac Rye 18
90 proof
18 years 
24 barrels selected

Nose: Loaded with mint and pine trees. It's sweet and has a heavy dose of herbal tones. 
Taste: Much spicier than the previous vatted expression. Allspice, pepper, and oak are dominant on the palate. Vanilla crackers, mint, and molasses hide themselves under the spice.
Finish: Long with an oaky and dry finish.

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Past years of Sazerac 18 have been pulled from a vatted supply of rye being stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent further aging.  This is the first "new batch" of Sazerac 18 which no longer uses that supply; bottled right after resting 18 years in the warehouse. This 2016 expression is much sharper and has way more spice. It's a very nice whiskey, but doesn't seem quite as special when compared to the vatted expression. 

2016 Thomas H. Handy Rye
126.2 proof
6 years and 3 months old
61 barrels selected

Nose: A sweet bouquet recminicent of a bourbon more so than a rye. Vanilla cream, caramel candies, butterscotch, and baking spices. 
Taste: Up front lays a heavy amount of pepper spice, cinnamon, and clove. The sweetness peaks on the midpalate with toffee and vanilla then fades quickly.
Finish: Smooth and medium in lenght At 126 proof, there's just a faint trace of spice.

Rating: B (Good)

2016 George T. Stagg Bourbon
144.1 proof
15 years and 4 month old
142 barrels selected

Nose: Chocolate covered cherries, vanilla, barrel char, rolled tobacco, maple syrup. 
Taste: A burst of fudge and dark chocolate.  It's complex with tobacco, vanilla, coffee, and charred oak. The proof may detract from the flavors slightly however with time I think this will open up nicely.
Finish: Deliciously long! Fudge and tobacco linger. 

Rating: A (Great)

2016 Eagle Rare Bourbon
90 proof
17 year old
32 barrels selected

Nose: Vanilla, toffee, and leather.

Taste: This is the most one dimensional expression of Eagle Rare 17 that I can remember in recent years. The sweetness is subtle compared to the leather and tobacco.
Finish: Medium and unremarkable, you are left with a dry mouthful of sweet tobacco.

Rating: B (Good)

2016 William Larue Weller Bourbon
135.4 proof
12 years and 7 months old
145 barrels selected

Nose: Burnt sugars, red hot candies, dark fruits, and an intense bouquet of baking spices.
Taste: Very thick mouthfeel, with a sweet spiciness throughout. Vanilla, dark fruits, molasses, sweet spices, and toasted oak.
Finish: Long with a delicately sweet and spicy warmth.

Rating: A (Great)

In conclusion, George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller are the clear cut winners from my initial tasting. The Eagle Rare 17 and Thomas H. Handy are bland compared to previous years, but I would imagine they should open up nicely with time. Sazeac 18 is loaded with spice but falls short of the vatted expression. It's worth mentioning that the suggested retail price has increased to $89, but good luck finding any at MSRP. Here is my ranking:

1st: George T. Stagg
2nd: William Larue Weller
3rd: Sazerac Rye 18
4th: Thomas H. Handy
5th: Eagle Rare 17

Monday, September 12, 2016

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad is another historic brand of bourbon produced at the Jim Beam Distillery. It pays homage to Basil Hayden, a Kentucky distiller known for producing bourbon with a higher percentage of rye in the mashbill. It's a brand with a neat history; my favorite anecdote being that during prohibition, OGD was one of the few bourbons permitted to be prescribed as medicine. In today's age of craft whisky and limited releases, it's not often spoken about in whiskey clubs and social media, but I believe It's a highly underrated bourbon.  

-No Age Statement
-114 proof
-High Rye Mashbill
 -Price: $25

Nose: Top heavy with rye spice, Vanilla Wafers, and Sugar Babies candies. It has a fairly herbal aroma along with a hint of leather and toasted oak.

Taste: Chewy with a sweet yet spicy entry.  There's a hint of peanut with a touch of fresh cut grass and corn. Heavy black pepper spice and leather shuffle through the palate.

Finish: Medium with a fading sweetness. Black pepper spice lingers along with a nice warmth. 

Old Grand-Dad 114 is the perfect value bourbon. The robust flavor, thick mouthfeel, and $25 pricetag make this a definite buy. It wont surprise you with complexity, but it's one of those bourbons that you can drink neat night after night without breaking the bank.  The high proof and high rye mash are also the perfect combination for an awesome cocktail. I will for sure be buying another bottle in the future. 

My Rating:  B (Good)

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Bourbon Brothers Review: Coming Soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Whistle Pig, The Boss Hog: The Spirit of Mortimer

In addition to their flagship 10 year whiskey, Whistle Pig also produces annual, limited edition whiskeys. This is the second rendition of Boss Hog, named Spirit of Mortimer.  Released in 2014, it pays tribute to the distillery mascot, Mortimer, who had recently passed away. His spirit indeed lives on, atop the bottle in the form of a heavy pewter top


- 100% rye, single barrel
-Barrel #10

-13 years old
-119 proof
-Price: $199

Nose: Spicy with an aroma of pine trees, pepper, and oregano, emphasized by delicate sweet notes of caramel, vanilla, and maple.

Taste: Creamy with a lively entry of vanilla jellybeans and caramel. It's extremely bright with a delicious pine tree presence. Waves of spice absorb onto the palate, with notes of  anise, black pepper, and tannin.

Finish: Rich and balanced. A sweet spice and oak tannin lingers for a long, mouth watering experience.

Conclusion: The Spirit of  Mortimer will indeed live on, as this will always have a place in my heart. From nose to finish, it's a well balanced, complex, and delicious rye whiskey. No doubt it exceeded my much so that I've started looking for another bottle! 

My Rating:  A (Great) 

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Bourbon Brothers Review: 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Knob Creek 11 Year Bourbon

Knob Creek is a Jim Beam brand with a variety of small batch whiskies. In the last few years, Knob Creek has expanded their portfolio to include a rye whiskey, some single barrel offerings, and most recently an older, limited edition release small batch bourbon. The bottle I have today is a store select pick from one of my local liquor stores in Baltimore County. In the past, Knob Creek store picks have always been 9 years old. When I saw this was aged for 2 additional years, I was ecstatic.

-11 years old
-120 proof
-Price: $45

Nose: Burnt sugars and vanilla pudding float out of the glass. Corn and cherries are present but fairly subtle. Savory notes trail the sweetness, with pepper spice, green herbs, and oak.

Taste: Upfront lays a burnt caramel sweetness, followed by a decent amount of green herbs, cinnamon, and rye spice on the mid palate. 

Finish: Medium in length with a gentle spice and toasted oak.

Conclusion: This bourbon exceeded my expectations! The additional two year's gives this a robust, well rounded profile and cuts down on the typical Jim beam yeast that we have grown accustomed to with the Knob Creek 9 year. If this were aged for another year or two,  it may just fall in the "A" rating range- it's almost there! If your local liquor store is involved in single barrel programs, don't sleep on them; in my experience, it's usually the best bang for your buck whiskey available.

My Rating:  B+ (Very Good) 

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Bourbon Brothers Review:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jack Daniel's Barrel Proof Single Barrel Whiskey

I can't believe it's taken me this long to review a Jack Daniels whiskey! While I spent my early years in Memphis, becoming familiar with good ole Jack, I must confess it has never been something near and dear to my heart. When I heard Brown-Forman had plans to release a single barrel, barrel proof product, I was all in. 

Jack Daniels is labeled as a Tennessee whiskey, meaning it must be a straight bourbon whiskey produced in the State of Tennessee. What makes Jack Daniels unique (from most Kentucky bourbons) is the use of the Lincoln County process. This is a method by which the whiskey is filtered using columns of sugar maple charcoal. It gives Jack Daniels (and most other Tennessee whiskey) that unique, sweet, and almost artificial flavor.

No Age Statement
Barrel: 16-0486
132.7 proof
Price: $65

Nose: I'd never thought a 130+ proof whiskey could remind me of my childhood, but this is a walk down memory lane; it literally smells like Bubblicious gum and Coke! It's a very vibrant nose, packed with a heavy cola influence, artificial sugars, vanilla bean, caramel, sweet corn, and barrel char.

Taste: The soda influence dominates the palate.  Dr. Pepper spices, cherry syrup, and cola. Tons of sweetness; every flavor seems to have a sugar tinge added to it. The bubble gum note remains vibrant, and is followed by a a hot spice.

Finish: A very long finish full of sugar and barrel char. 

Conclusion: If you are a fan of Jack & Coke cocktails then will really enjoy drinking this neat. It's a super sweet whiskey with bold character. I'm personally not a huge Jack Daniels fan, but this is hands down their best whiskey to date. I will enjoy the bottle, but I won’t keep it stocked behind the bar.

My Rating:  B (Good)

Bourbon Brothers Review: