Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2014 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Old Forester is a brand dating back to the late 1800s with founder George Garvin Brown. Currently produced by Brown-Forman in Louisville, KY., this limited edition bourbon is released annually on GGB's birthday (September 2) to commemorate the brands history and his legacy. I usually hold on to limited releases for special occasions, and as I recently celebrated my 26th birthday, I figured Old Forester Birthday Bourbon was the best bottle to celebrate with.  

12 years old
97 proof

Color: Deep amber

Nose: This is honestly one of my favorite noses. The oak is heavy but in a gentle, non abrasive type of way. Creamy vanilla icing, maple, and cinnamon float out of the glass with subtle hints of banana oil and cooking sugars.

Taste: A very chewy mouth feel for the proof.  Oak centric upfront with sweeter notes appearing on the mid palate. Rich flavors of juicy fruit, yellow cake, maple, vanilla, and
cinnamon combine for an experience that way exceeds my expectations.

Finish: Medium in length. Very warming with spice, yeast, and dry oak.

Conclusion: From start to finish, this is an awesome bourbon! The nose is fantastic, and while the taste doesn’t quite match that brilliance, it is still exceptional. If you like oak forward bourbons, this will be right up your alley. Keep an eye our for future releases of Old Forester Birthday bourbon, hitting stores mid/late Fall.

My Rating:
A (Great)

Bourbon Brothers Review:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old Weller Antique

William Larue Weller was one of the early distilling pioneers in Kentucky. While he is well known for replacing rye for wheat in the mash bill, he also believed in the importance of aging his whiskey. To this day, Weller bourbons (made at Buffalo Trace) are aged no less than 7 years. Shoutout to @swansongspirits for the hookup! 

Buffalo Trace wheated mash bill
No Age Statement but we know it's at least 7 years old
107 proof

Color: Light Mahogany

Nose: Waves of cinnamon and sweet spice followed by cherry jam, caramel and vanilla.

This is great bourbon my friends. At 107 proof, there are a lot of thick and full flavors. Vanilla, graham cracker, cinnamon sticks, apple pie, and slightly toasted oak.

Finish: A smooth, warming finish with pepper spice, cinnamon, and pleasant heat. 

Conclusion: Surprise surprise, I love Buffalo Trace products! Old Weller Antique is sweet, spicy, and full bodied- what else can you ask for in a bourbon? It shares some similarities with Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, but OWA can be found for under $30. If you were to ask me if this lives up the to hype, the answer is a definite yes!

My Rating:
A (Great)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Belle Meade Bourbon

Two of the great-great-great grandsons of distiller Charles Nelson recently resurrected the Nelson's Green Brier Distillery with the release of Belle Meade Bourbon. Originally located in Green Brier TN, it was one of the largest pre-prohibition whiskey producers of its time. On November 23, 2014, the new Nelson's Green Brier Distillery (now located in Nashville) opened to the public.

High Rye Mashbill with 4 hand-selected barrels per batch
Aged To Perfection (Andy Nelson stated in a video that each barrel is 6-8 years old) 
90.4 proof

Color: Honey amber

Nose: Caramel candy squares and vanilla are the heavy hitters on the nose. A light
 floral bouquet is present along with some polished wood. Pleasant, but not too complex. 

Taste: Initial sweetness with some dried fruit (predominantly apricot) that is quickly dominated by
a peppered rye spice.

Finish: Medium in length and smooth with little to no burn. The peppered rye spice lingers with a hint of cinnamon and varnished oak.

Conclusion: While I currently live in MD, it's always nice to try good whiskey from my home state of TN. The peppered spice certainly dominates in this high rye bourbon. For $35 a bottle, it's a nice pour, but nothing I would keep stocked in my home bar. I saw they just released a 9 year, barrel proof expression that is currently only being sold at their gift shop...looking foward to trying that one! 

My Rating:
B (Good)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year

I enjoy bourbon; it’s great to drink, fun to talk about, and addicting to buy (hunt). It certainly makes for a great hobby, enhanced even more so when shared among good friends. It’s been a little over a year now that my brother in law (Jeff) and I created the Bourbon Brothers and began filming video reviews on our YouTube channel. In light of this, we wanted to drink something special and mark the occasion. We decided on Pappy 20 because it is one of the most asked about and hyped up whiskeys on our radar at the moment. Let’s see if this one lives up to the hype! 

20 years old
90.2 proof
Wheated mash bill

Color: Red wood

Nose: One could easily pick this
nose out of a lineup. The bouquet is soft yet rich. Vanilla and cinnamon spice can't be contained in the glass. Caramel is right behind along with a healthy amount of toasted oak- simply delicious.

Sweeter than expected. The mouth feel leans towards the thin side, but it is exceptionally smooth. While oak is prevalent throughout, vanilla, toffee, and caramel popcorn grip the tip of the tongue. The mid palate transitions with swirls of cinnamon spice and an endless pit of aged tobacco.

 Finish: 20 years in the wood is no joke for a wheated bourbon. This has a medium finish with sweet-spice, dry tobacco, and bitter oak. 

Conclusion: Wheated bourbons have a much softer flavor profile than your typical high rye bourbon. After 20 years of aging, this soft, wheat profile is heavily influenced by the dry,
astringent oak barrel. In efforts to reverse this effect, it's my belief the proof has been cut-significantly- to 90.2 proof (Pappy Van Winkle 15 year is 107 proof). While it's still very good bourbon, I would take proof over age any day.

My Rating: B+ (Very Good) 

Bourbon Brothers Review: 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Evan Williams 2014 Vintage

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage is an annual bourbon released by Heaven Hill Distillery. It's the same recipe and age every year, but as with every single barrel, there are always going to be slight variations (especially year to year)

2004 Vintage, Barrel #11
10 years old
86.6 proof

Color: Honey-dipped amber

Nose: Up front smells of maraschino cherries , orange zest and caramel. On the back end there is heavy cinnamon with a slight oak spice and a faint nuttiness.

Taste: Fluffy vanilla leads the charge onto the palate. The caramel and nuttiness from the nose carry over onto the tongue to combine  for pleasant flavors, reminisent of a snickers bar. Baking spices (prominently cinnamon) also transfer from the nose to the mid palate.

Finish: Short in length with black pepper spice and a musty, bitter oak. 

Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprised with this whiskey, given the low proof. While I hang my hat on my enjoyment of barrel proof bourbons, sometimes it's nice to slow the pace and relax with an easy drinker. This is an extremely smooth whiskey, but at 86 proof, we do sacrifice drinkability for flavor. Aside from the bitter finish, this is a fairly enjoyable whiskey. While I may not seek out further vintages, it is certainly worth the price tag of $25.

My Rating: B (Good)

Bourbon Brothers Video Review: