Woodford Reserve

We are back and tasting one of the most popular premium Bourbons sold, Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select. This is from Brown-Forman, clocks in at 90.4 proof and is sold in a corked bottle. The bottle we tasted was a Kentucky Derby Commemorative 1L bottle, but it is the same juice as the normal bottle. It sells for around $32.00 for the 750 ml and is a very easy bottle to find, we have seen them at super markets.

It comes with a batch number but we are somewhat skeptical about calling this a small batch. It is a huge seller. On the plus side, it is the official bourbon of The Kentucky Derby, that has to account for something.


Ron:  I detected a nose of spice, molasses, brown sugar and oak.

Todd:   It has a warm aroma, don’t know how else to describe it. Also detected baking spice, oak, rye and caramel.


Ron:  Tasted a little hot straight with the same sweet molasses that I had detected on the aroma. Identified spice as nutmeg.

Todd:   It tasted better than I remembered. Light, even fruity, also got a little bit of a bread taste. Not a lot of flavor, found it better with a little ice.


Ron:  Long finish with same taste as above.

Todd:  Had a long but not very complex finish.

Nose    3.5 out of 5

Taste     7 out of 20

Finish    3 out of 5

Total Score 13.5 out of 20 Barrels

We know this is a low score for such a popular bourbon, and while it does have some good things going for it, nothing really jumps out at us. This is a decent Bourbon, not much more. If it were around $20, it would be one of our go to everyday drinks. At $30 or even higher, we don’t know.  It is good in a cocktail, but we can find lesser price juice for that.

Our advice is to try it at a bar or friend’s house before shelling out the dough.

Old Heaven Hill, Bottled In Bond

We are back with our guest taster Brad, and today we are sampling Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond or OHHBB for short.

The Heaven Hill brand has long been considered a bottom shelf dweller, and this is no exception. We got the idea to try it from an article we posted on our Facebook page from Serious Eats, about good bourbons under $20.00. OHHBB is actually pretty hard to find because and may have been discontinued by Heaven Hill. If so, there still is some old stock left behind and remember it has to say Old and Bottled in Bond.

OHHBB is 100 proof, as is all Bottled in Bond Bourbon, and goes for around $11.00 for a 750 ML.  We believe it is aged 10 years.


Todd:  I got the usual vanilla as well as some butterscotch. Also a hint of bananas.

Brad:   I immediately got butterscotch on the nose as well as a hint of cinnamon and rye.

Ron:  I got the butterscotch as well as the vanilla. I also detected a scent of almonds and spice.


Todd:  Has a somewhat spicy taste, not real complex. A lot smoother and nicer with a little water or ice, or both. There is a little oak going on as well, maybe a little corn.

Brad:  It tasted a little hot, pretty much due to being 100 proof.  It has caramel up front on the palate with slight note of roasted nuts. I found it to be a lot better and a little sweeter with some added ice and a few minutes for it to melt.

Ron:  I thought it tasted pretty mellow, especially considering it is 100 proof. Caramel and vanilla came through the most. A little taste of some spice I could not nail down, maybe clove?


Todd:  Not a long finish, nor much going on with it.

Brad:  Not much change on the finish, not overly long either.

Ron:  Medium to long finish with a good vanilla ending.


Todd:  Not bad for the price.

Brad:  I actually liked it once the ice melted a bit.

Ron:   I agree with both statements, I would buy it again.

Nose      3 out of 5

Taste      6.5 out of 10

Finish     2 out of 5

Total Score             11.5 out of 20 Barrels

We know that is a pretty low score, but remember it is only around 11 bucks. It was actually better than we anticipated. This would make a great everyday Bourbon as well as a great mixer.

The low scores came mostly from the effort we had to put in to write this review.  We really had to concentrate on what we smelled and tasted.  And while we did get different properties coming out, they were not real prevalent.  It also suffered from a low score on the finish, with two of us not getting much.

Our final verdict is if you can find a bottle, and it is close to the price we have hear, buy it.

On a side note, since we have tasted this, Ron visited Heaven Hill Distilleries over the weekend while making a speed run to 3 distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. He specifically asked the knowledgeable staff about this Bourbon. they informed him that it is no longer in production and that Bartenders are the most upset about it. It seems there is a large group of Bartenders that think this is one of the best, if not the best well Bourbon on the market for mixing. He was fortunate to find 2 bottles in a very “Old School” Liquor store in Louisville. One for each of us. He paid $10.99 + tax. We don’t plan on drinking this up quickly,  just wanted it for our collection and a conversation piece as it has gone the way of the Dodo Bird.


Old forester Signature

Here is another old name from an old distillery. We are tasting Old Forester Signature from Brown-Forman distillery.

It is 100 proof with a screw top bottle, and while Old Forester is readily available, the Signature is somewhat harder to find. At least here in Indianapolis. It sells for around $20.00, making it fairly affordable.


Todd:    I immediately get burnt sugar with an underlying scent of orange peel.

Ron:  Has a pleasant nose of caramel, citrus and just plain old sweetness.


Todd:  While sipping neat, it had a butterscotch/caramel flavor reminiscent of  Werther’s candy. With one cube this came out even more as well as a little citrus. Also got a little wood in there.

Ron:   Tasted a little hot neat with flavors of tobacco, leather, toffee and caramel. I found this to be better neat, the ice/water really took some of the taste away.


Todd:   Not much change on the finish.

Ron:     Medium finish as far as the lingering effect, but not much in the complexity department.


Todd:  Not a bad Bourbon for $20. I would buy it again.

Ron:   I did like it but not sure I would buy again, lot of good Bourbons at or around $20.

Nose       4 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish       2 out of 5

Total Score        13 out of Twenty Barrels.

All in all, not a bad Bourbon for the price, and we do take that into account. For those who say they can’t smell or taste what we or others write about, take a whiff of this one. It’s too bad the taste doesn’t have a little more behind it.



Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

This afternoon we are tasting Maker’s Mark Cask Strength(MMCS). This is the same Bourbon as the iconic red wax original, just not watered down before going into the bottle.  It comes in a corked bottle, the same shape as the original.

Since it is straight out of the barrel, it is hard to get a consistent proof, ours was 111.3. MMCS goes for around $29.00 for the 375 ml bottle and while somewhat hard to find, not impossible. And we have been seeing it around a little more.

For the this post we are pleased to announce a guest taster, Brad. Brad is a good friend of ours and really likes Bourbon, as well as gin, vodka, beer, well you get the picture.


Brad:  Thanks for the letting me sit in, had a good time. I thought MMCS had a sweet aroma with hint of ceder and vanilla.

Ron:    I got a sweetness with caramel and a hint of vanilla on the nose.

Todd:   I got a strong smell of white cake, and once I smelled this I couldn’t get it out of my head, so consequently I got nothing else


Brad:   While tasting it came off as cool and clear, I know that sounds weird, but that is what came to me. Also a bit of cocoa and, here it gets weird again, licorice.

Ron:  On tasting, brown sugar was very prevalent as well as the vanilla that I smelled. a little hot but not overwhelming, especially when considering the proof. It might have been power of suggestion, but I also tasted licorice.

Todd:  I thought it went down real smooth considering the proof, even that high it can easily be drank neat. I tasted caramel and anise. Adding a little water brings out all the flavors even more.


Brad:  The finish lasted about a minute and went from spicy to sweet.

Ron:  Long complex finish.

Todd:  The finish seemed to go from spice to hot to sweet.


Brad:  I liked it, a little hot a first but some ice calmed it.

Ron:   Good stuff, A lot better than regular Maker’s.

Todd:   I agree with both of you, really enjoyed it.


Nose      4 out of 5

Taste      9 out of 10

Finish     3.5 out of 5

Over all rating      16.5 out of 20 barrels

We all liked this a lot, as you can tell by the scores. This is a great sipping whiskey. Not sure why it taste so different than Maker’s original, since it is supposed to be the same just uncut. Regular Maker’s goes down hotter than this at a lot lower proof.

This also has a complexity not found in the original. Our recommendation is you should definitely try this. As far as getting a bottle, it is a bit pricey so  we leave that decision up to you. We of course have one.

Elijah Craig 12

Another low priced favorite from another legendary name. Bourbon history has it that Elijah Craig, a Reverend, first aged whiskey in a charred barrel.  It is now produced by Heaven Hill.

This is about as low a price you will find for a Bourbon that has been aged 12 years. Readily available in most liquor stores. It goes for around $26.00, comes in a corked bottle and weighs in at 94 proof.

Todd:  The nose brings a smokey, almost burnt wood aroma with a hint of black licorice.

Lots of tastes running around here. I get smoke, wood,  maybe even a hint of dark chocolate and orange.  Very smooth even neat. With ice, it gets a little sweeter and spicier. I get a lot more flavors than I expected.

Nice finish, long but not overly complex, pretty much same flavors linger on.

Ron:   On the nose I was blown away by the oak, didn’t really smell much of anything else at first. Then got hints of vanilla, brown sugar and spice.

Tasting a small sip neat, I came away with caramel and charred oak with definite presence of Rye. Adding a little water brought out the sweet caramel while diminishing the smokey wood.

Long finish with not much difference in the flavor profile.

Nose———4 out 0f 5

Taste———8 out of 10

Finish——–3 out of 5

Total Score———15 out of 20 Barrels

This is hands down one of our favorite go to Bourbons. Every liquor cabinet should have a bottle of this inside. In fact, this is on our very short list of best Bourbons under $30.00.  It is one of the first bottles we advise people to try when they are just getting into Bourbon.

We like the fact that it comes in a corked bottle and is 12 years old. This is a very well rounded product, the Rye doesn’t overwhelm, it is not too sweet, and is not very hot, even when drank neat, for a 94 proof.

At this price you also wouldn’t mind making a cocktail, but then again, at this taste level, why?