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:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Russell's Reserve 10 Year

Russell's Reserve is a line of whiskies created for the 50th Anniversary of famed Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. These small batch barrels are hand selected by Eddie Russell (Jimmy's son), who was recently announced as the new Master Distiller for Wild Turkey.

90 proof
10 years old 
Taken from the center cut of Wild Turkey rickhouses 

Color: Bright Amber

Nose: Not too many complex flavors, however the few that are present are rich and robust. Sweetness is the first thing you notice. Distinctive rye spice and oak round out the sweetness for a very balanced nose.

Taste: Delicate yet full flavored; initial brown sugar sweetness combines with toffee and vanilla.  This transitions to a dry and peppery mid palate.
Finish: Fairly smooth and medium in length; sweet tobacco with a spicy rye kick.

Conclusion: The Russell's Reserve line is amongst the higher end Wild Turkey products available, and at $35 for a 10 year bourbon, this whiskey is a steal. 

My Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Bourbon Brothers Review:

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: C (Decent)

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: A (Great)