Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Basil Hayden's Bourbon

Today for review I've got another whiskey from Jim Beam's Small Batch Bourbon Collection. Back in the day, Basil Hayden's was aged for 8 years, but unfortunately these days, age statements are dropping like flies.

80 proof
No Age Statement- "Artfully Aged"
High Rye Mash bill 

Color: Brand New Penny

Nose: A light sweetness with vanilla, brown sugar and cherries. There is a slight nuttiest present, but the usual Jim Beam yeast is masked by the high rye. Toasted oak with cinnamon potpourri hold everything together. The nose is hands down my favorite part of this whiskey.

Taste: The high rye mash bill really leaves a brash mark on the palate, along with a heavy, nutty influence. Grape nuts, almonds, nutmeg, subtle oak. There is an initial sweetness but it is crisp and vanishes before it can be appreciated. 

Finish: Smooth, but short in length with peppery spice and a dash of cinnamon potpourri. 

Conclusion: The nose got me really excited but I was slightly let down by the taste. For 80 proof, there is a nice bouquet of subtle flavors to be found. While not my preference , this wouldn't be a bad bottle for a new whiskey drinker to start his journey. 

[Sidebar: I don't often speak about bottle appearance, but I really hate the paper poncho and metal/wooden belt thing Basil Hayden's has going for it. I think a first grade student could design better packaging.]

My Rating: 8.1 (Good) 

Bourbon Brothers Review: 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sazerac 18 Rye Whiskey

I think everyone knows my love for Buffalo Trace distillery knows no bounds. In my opinion, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (released every fall) is the best whiskey available to this world. Today I am enjoying Sazerac 18, the only aged rye in the BTAC (Thomas H Handy is the other rye, but is a 6 year, barrel proof expression). 

2014 release 
90 proof
18 years old, distilled spring 1985, stored in metal vats. 
Large/Small/Finish Grain: Minnesota rye, corn, barley. 

Color: Deep Amber

Nose: Sugar cookies and caramel fudge must be jammed into the bottom of my glass because this nose is sweet! Mint floats out of the glass along with rye spice, leather, and a very healthy dose of aged oak. 

Taste: Starts with an extremely refreshing mint. Cherries and vanilla cream touch the tip of my tongue to create a rich, complex sweetness. Molasses, allspice, and rye transition onto the mid palate and are followed by rolled tobacco and aged oak. 

Finish: Long and dry with mint, spice, and oak. 

Conclusion: 18 years in the wood makes for a very smooth and mellow whiskey. At 90 proof, I was pleasantly surprised at how chewy and thick the mouthfeel was. Every aspect of this whiskey is a win; unfortunately for all of us, its incredibly difficult to find. 

My Rating: 9.2 (Great)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

American Barrels Bourbon

American Barrels is a brand new company based out of Fort Myers, FL. The whiskey is distilled in Charleston, SC, then refined using a unique filtering process. I am no scientist, so I'm going to share the word for word description the company founder provided me.

"..the whiskey is filtered through an ultra sonic refinement system that removes minor alcohols and impurities from the whiskey at a molecular level resulting in a smoother drink with a mature taste profile." 

Anyways, the first the I noticed about this whiskey was the unique bottle design (America, fuck yea!). Time to see if the juice is worth its weight in shogun shells. 

Less than 2 years old
90 proof
Mash bill: 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley 

Color: Rustic Gold

Nose: An initial blast of butterscotch popcorn followed by creamy vanilla and slight spice. 

Taste: Grain forward with butterscotch sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Baking spices (predominantly cinnamon) spread throughout the mid palate. 

 Finish:  Short and crisp. Rye spice and with a breath of ethanol. 

Conclusion: The bottle may just be the best part of this whiskey; the shotgun shell design coupled with the "don't tread on me" engraved snake and dog tags perfectly embodies the spirit of a true American. The palate is very unique but reveals an extremely young whiskey. 

My Rating: 7.6 (Decent) 

Bourbon Brothers Video Review:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Barrell Bourbon Batch 003

I've lived in Maryland for 7 years now, but being raised in the south means I'll never get used to this cold weather. Winter is coming, so turn on the fireplace, grab your blankets and more importantly, grab your bourbon! The third expression from Barrell Bourbon- Batch 003- shipped this fall and we were excited to get our hands on it! As mentioned in our previous reviews, these guys aren't distillers, but rather curators of fine whiskey out of New York, NY. 

KY straight bourbon whiskey
Bottle 271
70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley
5 years old
122 proof

Color: Amber

Nose: It's a sweet nose full of sugar, creamy vanilla, and yellow cake. Baking spices, leather, and citrus round it out and add depth for a deep aroma.

Taste: Candy corn and caramel combine for a sweet and chewy mouth feel. Similar to the nose, there is leather and tobacco present on the mid palate along with a sharp, peppery rye spice.

 Finish: Although this is a barrel proof expression, it finishes very smooth with caramel, oak, and rye spice.

Conclusion: This is the third expression from Barrell Bourbon. Many of you have asked how I would rank the three, so here it goes: 1) Batch 001, 2) Batch 003, 3) Batch 002. This third batch is a solid pour that finishes fairly smooth given the proof. A nice whiskey indeed- props to the folks +Barrell Bourbon 

 My Rating: 8.5  (Very Good)

Video Review

Friday, December 12, 2014

Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish

When Woodford Reserve announced the release of their 2014 Master's Collection- a straight bourbon whiskey finished in red wine barrels- I was left feeling frustrated (why not another experimental rye, hyperaged bourbon, or barrel proof?). Previous experiences with whiskeys such as Angels Envy and High Wests' Mid Winter Nights Dram (both similarly finished in wine barrels)  have left me with poor impressions and a bad taste in my mouth. Nonetheless, I am a Woodford Reserve fanboy at heart, and when my brother-in-law told me he had gotten his hands on a bottle of this Sonoma-Cutrer finish, I was excited and hoped that this whiskey would be different. 

Fully matured Woodford Reserve bourbon finished in sonoma-cutrer pinot noir barrels 
90.4 proof 

Color: Deep red

Nose: A blast of red fruits in the form of cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. In addition to some burnt caramel and oak, there is a heavy dose of baking spices in the form of clove and cinnamon.  

Taste: Consistent with the nose, this is an extremely fruit forward whiskey. Fruit punch, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. Underneath are layers of spice and oak sweetness. 

 Finish: Medium in length (though quicker than anticipated), with a warm, fruity and oaky character. 

Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and character of this whiskey. The fruit and spice characters compliment the other nicely to combine for a  complex, warming, and fruit forward experience. My hat goes off to Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris, as he hit the nail on the head with this release. 

My Rating: 8.6 (Very Good) 

Bourbon Brothers Video Review: