Thursday, May 24, 2018

E.H. Taylor Jr. Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon

From despair sometimes comes great things.

In spring of 2006 a severe storm and a violent tornado twisted over Buffalo Trace Distillery, damaging two barrel aging warehouses. Warehouse C (which was built by E.H. Taylor Jr. in 1881), had significant damage to its roof and north walls. The aging barrels of whiskey within Warehouse C were exposed to Kentucky’s extreme temperatures for the majority of the summer while the structure underwent repair. Such exposure no doubt created a once in a lifetime bourbon, rich in flavor and character. In 2011, 93 barrels aged in the top two levels of Warehouse C were bottled as Tornado Surviving bourbon, marking the third release of E.H. Taylor Jr whiskey.

In 2013 I acquired this bottle of Tornado Surviving Bourbon and have been holding it for a special occasion. On February 9th, 2018 my wife and I welcomed Conley Elyse Blundon into the world. It’s been a trying year, my wife had a difficult pregnancy. Every OB visit foreshadowed a sense of helplessness and anxiety as fetal measurements were not looking typical, and these stressors were compounded by many emergent hospital stays for fetal monitoring. All we wanted was for our baby girl to be okay, but we were constantly told that things were not. I am grateful that my daughter was born healthy and is thriving. Since her birth it’s been a whirlwind of sleepless delight. I love being a father, and watching my wife transform into an amazing mother has been pure bliss. It's wild how difficult situations can result in amazing outcomes. I’ve found comfort in the similarities of these stories, and Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon is the perfect bottle to celebrate such an experience. 

100 proof
Price: Unavailable at MSRP ($75 in 2011)
No Age Statement- 9 years/8 months to 11 years/11 months old, bottled together

Nose: Apple pie, vanilla cream, and rich dark fruits (plums, figs). Clove and tobacco. Each note is bright and apparent, yet the whole bouquet seems effortlessly balanced. 

Taste: Complex with a rich, yet delicate profile. Jelly jam, butter, and caramel deliver a bold sweetness. Heavy spice, with cinnamon and rye at the forefront. There is a hefty amount of oak/cedar that brings a thick dryness.

Finish: Baking spices, caramel, and hints of tobacco.

Conclusion:  If you're a habitual reader of my blog, you're well aware of my love affair with Buffalo Trace, and that I haven't tasted an E.H. Taylor whiskey I didn't enjoy. As with any limited bourbon now a days (especially those coming out of Buffalo Trace), you can imagine the soaring demand for Tornado Surviving bourbon on the secondary market. Even with all the hype, Tornado Surviving bourbon far exceeded my expectations. No it's not worth current secondary prices, but it's a rich, complex, spicy, and fruity delight.

Rating: A (Great!)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Yellowstone Limited Edition 2017

Limestone Branch Distillery released its 2017 Yellowstone bourbon this past October. Yellowstone Limited Edition bourbons have always been a blend of straight bourbons, but two significant modifications make this latest release particularly special. Most notably is the inclusion of Limestone Branch Distillery’s first available 4-year Kentucky Straight bourbon. This is refreshing, and I look forward to the day when these bottlings are completely distilled at Limestone Branch. Secondly, this release is finished in charred oak casks, a first for the Limited edition series.

Combination of four, seven, and 12-year bourbons
101 proof
Price: $99.99
8,000 bottle release

Nose: Crisp charred oak with dried tobacco. It’s bright and brimming with corn mash, vanilla jellybeans, red fruits, and cinnamon.

Taste: Sharp and mouthwatering. Sweet cream corn lays at the front of the palate, combined with a bit of coffee cake.  It’s fruity, with plums and luxardo cherries. The double seasoned barrels impart hints of baking spices and toasted oak on the overall flavor.

Finish: Dry with toasted oak and tobacco.

Conclusion: This is a delicious blend with a little bit of everything. The young 4-year bourbon shines with grain and corn notes while the 12-year and wine cask finish combine to create bold, rich flavors, all at a proof that is not too smooth, yet not too hot. I look forward to future releases as Limestone Branch Distillery’s stock continues to mature.   

Rating: B+ (Very Good)  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel

George Dickel is produced at Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Like most TN whiskey, Dickel is produced using the Lincoln County Process, which involves undergoing charcoal and chill filtration. In 2013, Dickel started a Barrel Select Program which gave commercial retailers the opportunity to hand select and purchases single barrels of their sour mash whisky. I love when distilleries do this, as the bottles are vetted for taste and sold to consumers at wholesale pricing. I recently spoke with a representative from the distillery, and was told the program is no longer offered, citing "limited supply".

9 years old
103 proof
Price: $45
Mash bill: 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malted barley

Nose: Creamed corn is dominant. Submissive scents of caramel popcorn, apples, and maple introduce a welcomed depth to the overall bouquet. Enclosed is a slight hint of burnt oak.  

Taste: Sweet with a smooth entry. Corn continues to have the most impact on the flavor profile although, there is an edgy fruit tone. Artificial sweetner, butter, and toasted oak are all tertiary notes which don't have much impact on the overall taste.

Finish: Sweet from beginning to end, although the oak is more prevalent on the finish.

Conclusion: This is a smooth, corn forward sour mash whisky that (like most Dickel products) lacks depth. I was raised in Tennessee however tend to shy away from most TN whiskey; I believe the Lincoln County Process leaves whiskey tasting like artificial sweetner and syrup. At 103 proof, it is the nicest Dickel product I've had, so if your a fan of their product line, this is something you may really enjoy.

Rating: C (Decent)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Four Roses Super Premium Bourbon

In 2002, Diageo (the world’s largest distiller at the time) acquired the Four Roses brand and sold it to Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. While there are many Four Roses products available in the United States, there are two bourbons exclusively exported and sold in Japan- Four Roses Black Label and Four Roses Super Premium. My brother-in-law acquired this bottle through a friend who visited Japan a while back, and he cracked it open for the Holidays.  

No Age Statement
86 proof
Price: $59

Nose: Waves of vanilla and caramel with a trace of marmalade. It’s an aroma blended with a multitude of spices, from cinnamon, nutmeg, and tobacco. 

Taste: Extremely smooth, with an edgy oak note that wafts in and out of the sweetness. Orange zest and cherries mix with tobacco, black pepper and other baking spices.

Finish: Quick yet drying with a subtle oak.

Conclusion: Four Roses Super Premium leans heavy on the rye and baking spice spectrum. At 86 proof it drinks fairly light, but the extra spice gives it a kick that makes me think I am dealing with a higher ABV. It’s a unique, however, very enjoyable bourbon. If I could find another bottle at MSRP, I’d buy it, but I’m not going to fly around the world for anything under 100 proof.  

Rating: B+ (Very Good)  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Heaven Hill Select Stock

Late autumn and early winter are my favorite seasons; aside from the inevitable common cold symptoms (daily one-a-day vitamins be damned), it’s a time for holidays, family, food, and of course, amazing whiskey. This year for Thanksgiving, we opened a bottle of Heaven Hill Select Stock. These are of limited availability (unfortunately), and can only be purchased at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown Kentucky. This particular release (2016) is a barrel proof wheat bourbon finished in cognac barrels.

8 years old w/ 21 month cognac barrel finish
126.4 Proof
Mash bill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley
Price: $150

Nose: Sweet with powdered sugar, dark fruits, baking spices, and toasted oak.

Taste: The cognac finish shines on the palate with notes of honey, raisins, and pepper. It’s well-balanced, yet mellow, with hints of maple syrup, cinnamon, and toasted oak.

Finish: Baking spices linger for a dry and mouthwatering withdrawal. 

Conclusion:  From nose to finish, the best way to describe this bourbon is rich. 21 months in cognac barrels is a long time, but I think it was necessary to mellow out what would have been very hot and spicy wheat bourbon. I personally am not a huge cognac fan, but this certainly meets my expectations.  

 Rating: B+ (Very good)  

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