Knob creek select rye single barrel
Rye — Kentucky , USATastedFirst pour from one of these with the new label. Last time around I recall loads of brown sugar. This sample was supplied by my neighbor as a dram exchange. Light amber-red color. Floral and cedar notes, but of brown sugar and hint of astringency but no ethanol. Maybe some lemon candies as well. Thin mouthfeel. Instant burst of rye spice, tobacco and sour vanilla. Mid palate there is some brown sugar, lemon candies coming back and the finish hangs in for a minute or so with some slightly nutty, floral, citrus and cola qualities. Sipping along there are also mint leaf, oak and candy cigarette elements. Wow, this is just odd. Not bad. Not remarkably good. It’s like someone found a bag of parts and threw them together with a “what the hell” kind of attitude. Sad to say somewhere in there is a hint of white label beam, which is about as appealing as a glass of warm milk on a hot summer day. So, this one isn’t for me. Eclectic if not eccentric pour.
Michter's US*1 Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedBottle 20L3104. That might mean something, I have no idea. This is the third of the Michters I’ve tried. Their US American was a marriage of apricot jelly and oak and their Sour Mash was just a little too robust in its profile to believe the proof. That said, I’m becoming a big fan. Best part, and get this, it was on sale! That’s right. I didn’t wait in line for hours, spend 2-3k at my local indoor dent liquor store or beg on Facebook for this. I just walked in and bought it, for less than what they usually charge. Feels weird. The color makes me think of a rich, well bodied bourbon. There’s almost a red-brown hue to it. On popping the bottle there is plenty of sour mash sweetness, canned cherry preserves, wood and a caramel-nail polish thing going on. Flavors seem to progress in that direction the more I stick my nose into the glass. Maybe I should stop doing that. The front end is full of caramel, sour cherries and sawdust and is pretty thin in entry. That said it has all the burn of room temperature water. Then the slow, building allspice, nutmeg and a bit of clove come in and altogether they fade at medium pace. I don’t know that I like this as much as their Sour Mash Whiskey but it shred some similarities. This has more spice and maybe less wood if I remember correctly. Also picking up more fruit in this one. So, at $38 (supposed to be $48) where does this stand? Profile reminds me most of Beam and this might contend with a standard bottle of Knob Creek. Also on par with a 4R small batch and better than standard Makers. I would probably take WR double oaked, OF 1897 or a McKenna BiB over this on most occasions. Cons: - acetone note - would love to see it for $35 Pros - widely available - balanced with a decent, medium finish and very little burn (although Sour Mash is their better offering to introduce to new or timid whiskey drinkers) Possibly my first and last bottle but no regrets, still enjoy the brand as a whole.38.0 USD per Bottle
Maker's Mark 46
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedLight orange in color. Pungent corn and caramel nose. Something like clover in there as well as. Just pleasant, rich and warm. For just above 90 proof this might have the best mouthfeel of any bourbon up through the $60 price range. I would put the viscosity near that of FR Small Batch Select. They also share some nice milk chocolate and light wood notes. The big difference is that the MM 46 has a good teaspoon of allspice to it whereas the FR has more fruit and dialed back baking spices. I would still take the 4R SbS but if price or availability are an issue this is certainly a strong choice. Now - this vs CS 46. Based on memory alone the CS is just what it should be, an amped up version of the same profile. Might be that certain notes like pecan come forward and finish lasts longer. The standard is a solid supper and the CS just makes me want to sip a little longer and more slowly while picking out the nutty, earthy chocolate notes. Cant go wrong with 46 if you like sweet bourbon!
Castle & Key Restoration Rye (Batch #2)
Rye — Kentucky, USATastedThis was brought over by a friend along with its sister bottle. Both were purchased directly from the distillery and picked up at the sinking castle itself despite the winding and icy roads. If you’ve read my review of batch 1 you might not be expecting much. I certainly wasn’t. In the end I was pleasantly surprised. Knowing nothing of their mashbill I suspect the same distillate went into two different barrel types, batch 1 being heavy char and this being char-not-specified but with toasting. Probably all bullshit, but allow me to explain. This has the same caraway and lemongrass backbone as batch 1 but is significantly more well round. Beginning with the nose there’s is a noticeable vanilla, almost brown sugar. There is also a bit of apricot (Buffalo-trace-esque). The palate begins with light, stove-top caramel and then caraway, then a blip of candy cigarettes and them back to a slightly buttery sweetness. My guess is some degree of vanillin extraction due either to barrel toast or maybe entry proof. So, this is good. Maybe even $30 good. I could enjoy drinking this again but I won’t seek it out due to shelf space. I will say without a doubt that batch 2 is the clear winner here.
Castle & Key Restoration Rye (Batch #1)
Rye — Kentucky, USATastedThis was brought over by a friend along with its sister bottle. Both were purchased directly from the distillery and picked up at the sinking castle itself despite the winding and icy roads. Batch 1 initially excited me with its higher proof. I believe this was bottle 3000-something. Labeled as 3 years I will say it’s youth is present from start to finish. The color is light golden. The nose is sparse and a bit undecided as to what it wants to get across. There’s a dose of green apple and caraway. No true vanilla, not much wood to speak of and honestly not much rye grain either. The palate is thin with... well, not much. Something like lemongrass leads to caraway and then a surge of candy cigarette sweetness and then... just gone. I don’t know what was paid for this but I’d be hard pressed to go over $18 if I had no idea that this was a flagship bottling from an upstart distillery down the road. Punch line - buy batch 2.
Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Batch 10
Bourbon — Kentucky , USATastedVery cherry, much wood. Dust? Bottle 8058/14030. Hardly feels exclusive. Let’s see where this fits into my track record of poor choice, NDP splurges. I’ve never tried KY owl before. When I could have picked up a batch 3 or 4 of their bourbon at $150-180 I scoffed and passed in my fleeting youth. Then this batch pops up everywhere around town. And it sits. And it sits. And I wonder... Probably because this now commands a $300 ticket to ride. When I randomly see it for $230 my feeble mind thinks “What a bargain!” And now we pour, either to celebrate or forget - we will find out soon. The color is nice - a bit of a rusty orange or even light copper. The nose right out of the freshly opened bottle is somewhat robust with cherries, candies fruit, baking spices, vanilla and wood. Fairly classic. As it rests a bit of earthy, dusty funk comes out and something like an old leather couch. Still, the nose is predominantly sweet but suggests an entertaining balance. This is not bad. Medium bodied at first and like a winding country road - it takes you around a few bends before an oily, long finish sets in. Let’s apply throttle and carve again. Butter cake, vanilla, brown sugar, dried pineapple, marzipan, tobacco on the nose. This lands so nicely with a balance of brown sugar, butter, nutmeg, clove and then cherry, marzipan and then the oily walnut and oak turn until we start to fade into bananas foster, cinnamon and brown, dry tobacco finish. Ok, so I’m impressed. As in really happy with this. It takes me places. Few pours do that these days. All of this from an initial pour. It just checks my boxes. So now we turn to the question of financial regret. At $230 this is one of the most expensive bottles I’ve purchased. Garrison Bro. Cowboy is there too. If I had to pick? Don’t make me do that... the Cowboy might win but might lose depending on the day. The finish on this is just so classic, so lasting. That said, how far off is a $60 bottle of ECBP, an $80 bottle of Remus III/IV or a unicorn $75 ($699) bottle of Weller Full Proof? Well, truth be told it is more complex with a better finish but only slightly. It’s like when Car and Driver posts 0-60 times and you see a 2.9 instead of a 3.6 and think holy smokes!! And then you realize both are more than what most could handle. Neither are practical on the daily. They both will cost you. And frankly a 4.1 second launch will still thrill. And with that I say adieu. Not often will I praise a NDP, but this is an exception. I would like ~$50 back but whatever, I’ve done worse.230.0 USD per Bottle
Down Home 12 Year Batch 2
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedI’ll take shit I paid $120 for and don’t know much about Alex. Well, I believe it is MGP. How many barrels - I don’t know. How many bottles - I don’t know. What I do know is that I found it after a year of looking for it. The color is an orange-amber. The nose starts with vanilla frosting and then what I remember of the scent of my grandfathers pipe bowl - wood, smoke, tobacco. A little banana, a little cola. A little ethanol. A little anise or caraway. Medium, silky body that rolls in slowly with building but un-intrusive heat. A wave a sweet, woody vanilla rolls across the tongue. The anise anise and caraway are well balanced by rich sweetness and then into the sunset the spice and sweetness rejoin an earthy tobacco. For what it’s worth: 1) this is the initial neck pour, 2) I just downed 4 assorted street tacos, 3) I’m surrounded by the noise of my kids playing and collegiate basketball on TV. Do I like this? Yes, quite a bit. I would take this over many many things. That said, it’s not far from Remus reserve III (also 12y MGP but a few proof lower), Bardstown Discovery 3 (simile proof, $10-20 more), WT rare breed or a Larceny BP (neither MGP and both around $50-60) in my book. This has a bit more earth and vanilla frosting, less in your face spice than Remus or LBP, less powdered sugar than Bardstown and less fruit than Rare Breed. If you are longing for this but can’t find it then you will be happy in the company of those mentioned above. If you have more money or lust for bourbon than you can handle then find this. Cheers all. I’m gonna go peel my kids apart before they murder each other. ————— Visit #2 - that well seasoned pipe on the nose is lovely. Earthy tobacco, wood, perhaps a bit of amaretto. The tobacco and earth forward palate lands with soft heat, bit if dill, wood and then a chalky, tannic finish. So much tobacco. There aren’t as many sweet elements as I would like (thinking the strong vanilla kick of ECBP). Still, well worth the price paid for my likings. I’m a sucker for pipe tobacco and MGP.120.0 USD per Bottle
Amador Whiskey Co. Double Barrel Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky (Finished and Bottled in California), USATastedYou ever get a bottle of bourbon as a gift and wish people would have just let you drink your own bourbon in peace instead? This is that bottle... Batch 4, case #2730. Finished in Chardonnay barrels. Others have mentioned other wines but this is Chardonnay only. The nose has a punchy amount of caramel with tones of raisin, milk chocolate and ritz crackers. Entry is viscous with caramel, grape jam and then a slow transition to a strong vegetal note that reminds me of having a sinus infection. Why. This may work for some people. Sadly, I believe it is essentially an April fools of a bourbon - a well disguised prank. Never has a finish so ruined a bourbon. I want to drink more and find that it goes away but it keeps coming back. Lovely bourbon - and then something takes a dump in my mouth. I’m gonna go sit in the corner and burn this off by slurping Bookers mixed with cask strength Makers.
Buffalo Trace Single Barrel Select Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedSpring 2019 Unlimited Spirit pick. This one has been open for a while just below the neck. For what it’s worth I’ll cut to the chase. Nose of canned peaches and sawdust, hint of pipe tobacco. Quintessential BT without unexpected frills. Palate is light, zero heat with an array of light, fruit forward flavors and very short finish. Canned peaches are back with just a tad of vanilla and new wood. Not really worth the $20 premium over the standard offering. That said, I’ve had single barrel offerings that drank like 12y+ heavy vanilla and aged oak barrels. This was somewhat the opposite but I can see the zero-heat appeal.40.0 USD per Bottle
Old Forester 1897 Bottled In Bond
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedMy early days of bourbon drinking consisted of Elijah Craig, Four Roses single barrel, Eagle rare and if I could take it I would go for Bookers or Bakers. This was the first bottle of Old Forester I ever purchased and in hindsight I can’t say why. Maybe it was the bottled in bond statement. Maybe it was an interest in what American whiskey of the olden days tasted like. Maybe it was on sale. Maybe I lied and I bought this alongside their standard 86 proof expression. The 86 proof was gentle on my young palate whereas the 100 proof BiB brought the heat... but in a good way. With the heat came flavor, or rather flavors. They were big. And I liked them. And then I tried more bourbons neat. I learned to appreciate the singe of Bookers. I spent too much money. I drank lots more bourbon. I said I would stop buying bottles... In short, this was an excellent gateway bourbon and I don’t know that it gets enough credit. I say that, and certainly could have been blown away by a comparably priced bottle of Rare Breed, Russel’s Reserve or numerous others. But I didn’t stumble over one of those. This has a nose that punches out of the glass with vanilla sweetness. There is dark chocolate, wood burning fireplace, apricot, over-ripe banana, cherry, green apple, nutmeg... it just keeps going. There is a nice medium body and then a building head and flood of sweet vanilla, tobacco, leather, fruit and barrel char. The finish is decently long as well with a warming Kentucky hug within the chest. Somewhere along the way in by bourbon adventure I was lured by the harlot that is Buffalo trace and sought (without luck) my own bottles of Rock Hill Farms, Elmer T Lee and single barrels of Buffalo Trace and EH Taylor. What I loved about some of those I believe this bottle has in spades. The sweetness, body, fruit, barrel char and well balanced spice. Look, when this bottle is gone I won’t have to pay $300 to some shady Facebook bottle slinger or waste countless hours hunting. If this is too bold or brash for BT fans then so be it. I’ll take this over many of BT over-hyped, marked up expressions any day. Not only will you find it anywhere - you may even find it on sale.