Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon (2021 Release)
Bourbon — Texas, USA
Tasted May 7, 2022
Rating: 22/23 So I just tried my own bottle of Cowboy 2020 recently and was very impressed. I'm looking forward to seeing how this more recent release stacks up. N: The same polished wood that the 2020 has, but a bit less of the sweet baking spices and a bit more mineral thinness. The orange peel isn't there as much either. There's a sawdust scent for sure, but it isn't over-oaked. Overall, a good nose, but I prefer the 2020. P: Rich, full decadence. There's polished wood with caramel, maple, cinnamon, ginger, clove, a touch of chocolate, and some sawdust woodiness. This is great. The alcohol shows less than in the 2020, though there isn't the same citrus or fullness. The complexity comes across as greater here and the balance really works. This is more restrained and cohesive. I do get a touch of herbal bitterness, including a hint of mint that heads into that minerality. F: More bitter and dry with greater minerality, but the rich chocolate, sawdust, hints of maple and caramel, hints of corn, faint wood polish, and faint baking spices still make their way through. - Conclusion - Off the nose, I was thinking that this was not going to be as good as the 2020, but the palate proved otherwise. This is pretty much everything I want out of a Garrison Brothers release. It's decadent with big rich and full flavors, and there's a solid complexity with great balance and understated alcohol. I'm thinking a 22 or 23. Which is a shocking place to start. Elijah Craig A121 (21/23 - but on the borderline of being a 22) is more complex than this, with a more traditional bourbon profile and rye nuances. This is fuller and richer and burns less. I can kind of imagine how I put the 202 Cowboy ahead of the Elijah Craig, but they're very close. I'm honestly starting to wonder whether the 2020 Cowboy might only be a 21. So the Elijah Craig is certainly a high 21. Next to it, this isn't quite as complex, but it has some decadent richness that combines well with a surprisingly mature (though not super mature) profile and some fullness and decadence. The balance here works really well, without making this seem flat. I'm inclined to place this above the 2020 Cowboy, which just isn't as balanced or complex. I'm thinking though that I might have overrated the 202 Cowboy. This is more likely on par with the Elijah Craig A121, which puts this in the 21 to 22 range. I'm thinking that the nod goes to this, making it a 22. I can imagine a 23 here, but I'm inclined to hold back given the somewhat murky outcome of these comparisons. A 22 this is. So here are my final thoughts for this tasting: such decadence! It's so rich, full, balanced, sweet, and oddly mature. It might not be the boldest Garrison Brothers Cowboy release, but it is extremely bold by most other standards, including those of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. It really just doesn't need to be bolder than this. I cracked one of my bottles of Lost Lantern Balcones 2020 Single Cask #8 (22/23) to compare with this. I gave that a 22 based on a sample that had presumably not been retrieved from the neck, so if this is better, that isn't the strongest indication of a 23. The Balcones certainly isn't as full, but it's rich and sweet with some delightful complexity. Even from the neck, it's giving the Elijah Craig a run for its money. The alcohol flavor comes through more here, but it doesn't burn. Oddly, the Balcones makes me think of A De Fussigny XO or El Dorado 21 with its fruity complexity. So good. Why did I only buy 3 of these? Oh, but the Garrison Brothers - how does it compare? Well, it's tannic and too oaky side by side, but I think that is more of the Balcones' sweetness providing a contrast. Going back over to the 2020 Cowboy, This has less polished wood, but more complexity and smoothness. I'm now seeing that this has a bit more of a bitter tannic profile to it though, which I didn't notice previously. I was really considering giving this a 23, but now I've decided against it. I still think that this beats the 2020 Cowboy, so I'm giving it a 22, but between this last Cowboy duel and the Balcones comparison, I can't really justify a 23. Really, I'm just lucky to have so many 22s in my life right now. Thank you for sharing this delightful dram, @soonershrink ! This concludes my high-proof bourbon series.