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: Brown sugar, vanilla, apples, mint leaves, 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. 

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 with a fairly sterorypical bourbon palate. 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". This is in the same price range as Blanton's single barrel and Elmer T Lee (both made by Buffalo Trace), and as with any single barrel, there's going to be slight variations in taste. 

My rating: B (Good)

Video Review:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select

Hi guys, hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far. Today I've chosen to review one of my "go-to" bourbons, Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select. This is batch 832, bottle 8802. No age statement on the label; bottled at 45.2% ABV. Woodford Reserve is produced by Labrot & Graham (Brown-Forman). Distiller's Select has a Mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.

Color: Solid Amber

Nose: A young and flirtatious nose. 
Maple syrup jumps out of the glass along with notes of brown sugar, cherries, dried fruit and bubblegum. After some time I'm able to pick up vanilla and banana. A soft, leathery oak spice is also present.

Taste: Cherries, citrus, brown sugar, and maple initially coat the tongue with a nice chewy mouthfeel. Cinnamon, toffee, and pepper spark my palate. Tannin and oak have a strong influence here but balance the sweeter notes.

Finish: A medium, smooth finish with no burn. Tobacco, burnt sugars, and oak linger.

Conclusion: This is a very good bourbon; drinkable neat yet also makes for an awesome cocktail.  The deep flavors create the pleasant flavor profile that can turn a first time bourbon drinker into an enthusiast. I often order Woodford Reserve when I'm out at a bar as it's something that is always available and comes at a reasonable price tag.

Rating: B+
(Very Good) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mixer Review: Eli Mason Syrups

Today I am mixing it up and doing something a little different. Before my next bourbon review, I want to talk about a new product: Eli Mason Syrups. These "spirit-forward" mixers are handmade in Nashville, TN. 

I recently attended a friend’s bourbon tasting. When I initially got my invitation, I meticulously started to pick out which bourbons I wanted to share. After I made my selections, I began thinking about what started my passion for whiskey: the Old Fashioned Cocktail. Reminisces for a moment with me if you will; my first Old Fashioned was during my college years at a hotel bar called the Imperial in Chestertown, MD. I was never a whiskey drinker before this, but I quickly fell in love with the drink and the flavors that came with it- the sweet caramelized sugars, the citrus, the fig, the bitters- simply delicious! Lucky for me, the Imperial also had a fairly exhaustive whiskey menu. I began branching out during my return visits and after experiencing straight bourbon neat, I never looked back. 

With these memories rekindled, I started to think that if there are any new whiskey drinkers present, a cocktail may be a great way to introduce them to whiskey rather than starting with a straight up pour. This lead me to bring along two types of Eli Mason syrups which I recently acquired- Old Fashioned and Mint Julep (pictured).

After formalities and a few drams, we cracked open the syrups and went to town. These were a hit! Eli Mason syrups are easy to mix; in most cases, as stated on the packaging, the recipe is two parts whiskey, 1 part Eli Mason syrup. Eli Mason syrups are perfect for parties/gatherings. It took seconds to mix up and there was no mess afterwards to attend to.

 Let me state the obvious: nothing beats the taste of a cocktail with the real/raw ingredients. Also, if you have the time, its a lot of fun to grab all the individual ingredients (sugar cube, bitters, cherry, etc.) and find what creation taste best to you. That being said, Eli Mason syrups taste very good, and while an Eli Mason Old Fashioned wasn’t quiet as charming as my Old Fashioned at the Imperial, it certainly holds a candle to many drinks that  I’ve ordered out while at a bar.  With summer in full swing, I recommend you give these syrups a try for your next get together! Its a great way to introduce the classics to a wider audience. Find more information, visit