Sunday, August 24, 2014

Featherbone Bourbon

In 2010, the Journeyman Distillery was built from a renovated 19th century factory located in Three Oaks, Michigan. The factory was previously owned by businessman E.K. Warren, who built an empire with a product called the Featherbone (an innovative process which revolutionized the way women's corsets were made). E.K. Warren was also known for being a stanch prohibitionist. Legend has it that he bought up all the liquor licenses in the county pre-prohibition, to put an end to drinking. The folks at Journeyman Distillery have named their bourbon after Warren's famous product, and they love the irony that their whiskey is now being made at the historic factory.

All of the grains used at the distillery are USDA organic and more or less local. Most bourbons use corn, barley, rye OR wheat in their mashbill, but Featherbone Bourbon uses all four: 70% corn, 20% wheat, with a "dash of rye and a bit of malted barley". It is bottled at 90 proof with no age statement. Do some research and you will find the whiskey is aged for one year in new, charred 15-gallon white oak barrels from Minnesota.

Color: Bright amber 

Nose: Corn, granny smith apples, vanilla, caramel toffee, baking spices.

Taste: For a 90 proof whiskey, this has a nice chewy mouthfeel. Sour apples coat the tongue with waves of vanilla sweetness opening up the palate. These give way to a spicy rye punch. 

Finish:  A strong tobacco note lingers for a medium-long finish. 

Conclusion: Before I wrap up this review, I'd like to thank the fine folks at Journeyman Distillery for providing me with this sample of Featherbone Bourbon. It is the first craft bourbon I've had that uses corn, wheat, rye and barley; the grains play off and balance each other fairly well for a unique pour. Keep a look out for Journeyman Distillery and their products at your local pub, they are definitely worth a try! 

My Rating: 8.2 (Good) 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jim Beam Signature 12 Year Bourbon

Jim Beam has joined the recent craft craze by releasing an "ultra premium" craft bourbon that has been aged for 12 years and blended from hand selected barrels. Bottled at 86 proof, it comes with an MRSP of $40. 

Color: Caramelized honey 

Nose: Cinnamon and spice rise from the glass for a pleasant and warming nose. Sweet vanilla and caramel follow. At the bottom of the glass, there lay some heavy oak and a typical Jim Beam yeast note. 

Taste: (Neat from a Glencarin Glass) Vanilla and caramel candies coat the palate with a light and oily mouthfeel. Yellow cake and dark fruits (cherries) join the party with a peppery spice and woody backbone. 

Finish: Quick with a bit of spice and a lot of wood.

Conclusion: This is a giant step up from Jim Beam's flagship product, White Label. A lot of great things went into making this bourbon, but Jim Beam dropped the ball on one of my most important aspects: 86 proof...really? The lower ABV allows only for a light and subtle flavor profile which isn't enough to balance the oak you get from a 12 year bourbon. It's a drinkable whiskey that Jim Beam fans are sure to enjoy, but even if purchased at a discount, I think i'll keep this out of my regular lineup. 

My Rating- 8.1 (Good)

Video Review:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky is a product of Heaven Hill Distillery and is one of my favorite remaining Bottled In Bond (BIB) ryes available today. BIB refers to the Bottled In Bond Act of 1897, which was a government regulation which required American Whiskey to be the product of one distillation season (Jan. to Dec.) at one distillery. It also had to be aged in a federally approved warehouse under U.S. Government supervision for four years and bottled at 100 proof. The BIB Act was supported by the renowned Edmund Haynes Taylor, who believed that the quality of American distilleries should be kept at the highest level.

Color: Rustic Amber


Nose: A thick, rich rye spice note jumps out of the glass. Sticky caramel follows with vanilla, green herbs (minty), ginger, and oak.

Taste: Rye is the heavy weight champion here with caramel and mint slugging it out for second place. Vanilla wafers and cherries spark on the palate with a grassy oak caboose.  

Finish: A warm and medium finish with a pleasant oak note and wide array of spices (mostly rye and black pepper). 

Conclusion: 
 With these BIB regulations, Rittenhouse flaunts a robust flavor profile with bold caramel, vanilla, and oak notes similar to most well-aged bourbons. At an average price of $25, it's a great budget rye, and while very good neat, it makes a great cocktail; give it a try in your next Old Fashioned or Manhattan! 

My Rating:  85 (Very Good)


Video Review: 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Few Spirits Bourbon

Today we are jumping into the craft world with a review of Few Spirits Bourbon Whiskey. The mash bill for their bourbon is 70% percent corn, 20% rye, and 10% two row malt.

Bottle Details:

93 proof
Less than 4 years old.
Batch: 14J7
Bottle Number: 25
Barrel: 13-338

Color: Bright Mahogany 


Nose: A very elegant nose with light notes of green tea, clove, sherry wine, rye spice, malt, sweet corn, caramel and the shadow of a new charred oak barrel. 

Taste: Grain forward with rye spice commanding over the corn and malt. The sherry remains at the forefront along with the rye spice and black pepper. The oak is present but still fairly subtle.

Finish: Quick and sharp. Rye Spice and slight sweetness leaves me wanting another glass.

Conclusion: Not your typical bourbon but a damn good whiskey.  
Based in Evanston Illinois, Few Spirits produces a variety of spirits.  As a craft distillery, they do a lot of things different (in a cool way). For example, their Bourbon is aged in barrels made from Minnesota Oak which has a shorter growth season, yielding a tighter grain. I'd say it's one of the better craft bourbons available.

My Rating: 88 (Very Good)


Video Review: 




Monday, July 28, 2014

Hancock's President's Reserve Bourbon

Up for review today is a single barrel bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Hancock’s President’s Reserve comes in a neat, decanter-style container and is bottled at 88.9 proof with no age statement. This bourbon uses Buffalo Trace mash bill #2, which is 12-15% rye.

Color: Bright honey amber.

Nose: Fairly shallow in the glass, it's difficult to sense the aromas. Brown sugar, vanilla with a hint of mint, apples, and tobacco.

Taste: Caramel, vanilla, pepper, rye and oak. The rye punch that I enjoy and have come to expect from Buffalo Trace mash bill #2 is not as robust. It just seems watered down. 

Finish: Extremely short. It makes for a very smooth pour, but doesn't leave me with anything to chew on.


Conclusion: This is an incredibly drinkable bourbon that will fall short on the palate and finish for most bourbon enthusiasts. My wife and I recently hosted a house party and a lot of our friends (most were not big whiskey drinkers) liked this a lot as it was "so smooth". based on price, I would not recommend this. It's in the same price range as Blanton's single barrel and Elmer T Lee (both made by Buffalo Trace), and Hancock's Reserve is my least favorite; it simply lacks personality.

My rating: 7.7 (Decent)

Video Review: