Big Ass Bourbon

We have yet another guest taster. Brett is a neighbor and has long been a fan of Bourbon. His normal pleasure is Blanton’s, which you can’t fault him for that, Weller’s Special Reserve and Woodford Reserve.

On this rainy afternoon in Indianapolis we are pouring Big Ass Bourbon. BA is 90 proof, comes in a very tall corked bottle with a large donkey on the front. Sells between $25 and $29 and is generally available around here.

One oddity, it has an age statement that says it is under 2 years old. We understand that to be called Bourbon it had to age for at least 2 years in the barrel. It states “Bourbon” on the label but does not have the word straight on the label, maybe that is the difference.


Ron:   I have to really think about it, but I get a little rye/spice on the nose. Maybe a little sweetness.

Todd:  Yeah, pretty weak nose. I detect a little corn/grain smell, that’s about it.

Brett:    I caught the rye that Ron talked about but not much else.


Ron:   I tasted a little spice, honey, and some citrus.

Todd:   I tasted a little caramel on the tongue, a little heat, not much else. Pretty tame.

Brett:   I thought it to be somewhat smooth, but lacking flavor, maybe a little hint of honey. Sorry I am not adding more.


Ron:  Todd:  Brett:  We all thought BA had a pretty weak finish.


Ron: Not impressed, interesting bottle and label but not much taste. Reminds me of a light, or session, beer. It’s not horrible, just drinkable. There are a lot of other more premium tasting bourbons for the same price.

Todd:   I agree with Ron, I have stuff in my cabinet at $12 or $13 that I would choose over this and I could name a whole bunch under $30 that I would buy first.

Brett:  Ditto, definitely not top shelf stuff. Maybe lack of aging has a role in the weak taste.

Nose      2 out of 5

Taste      4 out of 10

Finish     2 out of 5

Total            8 out of 20 barrels.

Well, as you can read, we didn’t come away with much love for Big Ass. Not much aroma, taste or finish. didn’t seem to help adding ice or water. We guess it would make a decent Bourbon and cola.

Bottom line, the extraordinary tall bottle with the name that jumps out seems to be more of a marketing ploy. You can buy a lot better stuff at a lot lower price.

Sazerac Rye

The tasting today consist of yet again one of our favorites, Sazerac Rye. SR has been aged 6 years, is 90 proof, and comes in a somewhat cool corked bottle.

This can be another one that can be hard to find, and the price is all over the board. We have seen it from $29.99 to $39.99, and have even heard of it going for $24.99.


Ron:   SR has a very complex nose of cinnamon, licorice, leather and even a little pipe tobacco.

Todd:   This is odd but I didn’t really get anything Ron got. It has a smooth spicy aroma  with undertones of orange and if my sniffer is working, bananas.

Ron:  I heard that if you smell bananas it means it is a cheap and not very good whisky. I don’t get that at all, though I will give you the spice.

Todd:  I have never heard that about bananas except from you.


Ron:   This one has lots of flavors including pepper, caramel, oak, and a spicy toffee like taste. It goes down warm but not hot.

Todd: Yeah, I got most of that, almost reminded me of a piece of Werther’s candy with a spicy background. It seemed to sit nice on the tongue. I liked it a little better with one cube.  Could also taste the rye.

Ron: I liked it neat, but probably was a little better with ice.


Ron:  It has a nice spicy finish that lingers on for a while.

Todd:  I got a nice sweet long finish, though not overly complex.


Ron:  Back when I only liked to drink Bourbon, this was the only Rye I would drink, I can see why, and as you can tell, I still drink it today.

Todd:  Very good stuff and one of my favorites in the Rye category.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste     9 out of 10

Finish    4 out of 5

Total  Score         17.5 out of 20 Barrels.

A slightly lower score on the finish brought this superb drink down a little. Don’t let that fool you, this is a great Rye at a great price, especially at the lower end of the price range we mentioned above.

Saz goes down good neat, with a few rocks, or in a classic Bourbon cocktail. You need this in your cabinet, and at this price you should go get a bottle.

Now that the work is done, on to the second glass.

Re Headed stranger

Here is a real good and unique Bourbon cocktail from our friend Rod. We also tested this on another friend named Rod, and he liked it as well.
2 parts bourbon.
1 part Domaine De Canton, which is a ginger liqueur.
Couple drops of bitter, squeeze of lemon wedge.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, stir and add ice.

The ginger gives it a sweet taste upfront, followed by the punch of the Bourbon and finally a little lingering heat from the pepper.

You can try this with ginger beer as well, or swap out the ginger with some Triple Sec.

On a side note, I would not use a very expensive Bourbon for this drink.

Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey

Today’s tasting is another one of our favorites. Bernheim, it is one of the very few wheated whiskeys out there. To be a wheat whiskey, the distiller follows all the rules governing Bourbon, but instead of at least 51% corn, it has to have 51% wheat.

This is different from a ‘wheated’ Bourbon like Weller’s, Pappy, or even Maker’s Mark. They still have at least 51% corn, they have just replaced the rye with wheat as the secondary ingredient. So the main ingredient in Bernheim is wheat. This gives it a lighter color as well as a lighter taste.

Bernheim comes in a corked bottle, 90 proof and has been aged 7 years. The 750ml goes for around $30.00, and while available, it might not be in every store.

Todd:  Has a nice aroma of butterscotch, chocolate, and a fruit that I later nailed down as apricot. Also got a nice nose of some honey and wood.

Bernheim has a light, sweet, mellow taste that is not overly complex. which is somewhat strange when compared  to the nose. It also drinks like a lower proof.

It has a buttery finish along with some grain.

Overall this is dangerously drinkable.

Ron:  Bernheim has a very interesting nose of the usual suspects, oak, caramel, and vanilla. But I could also detect a subtle hint of some floral undertones.

On tasting I detected all the aromas as well as a little citrus and maybe even a little coffee?

Has a nice smooth finish that does not burn even when enjoyed neat.

Overall, not real complex, but damn, is it good!

Nose—-4.5 out of 5

Taste—9 out of 10

Finish—3.5 out of 5

Total———17 out of 20 barrels.

Well, as you can see, we really liked Bernheim Original. It was good neat, with a little ice or water, even though it needed neither. This would be a good one to use whiskey stones if you like your drink chilled.

It made a fine cocktail, not the best, seemed almost a waste to use it that way.  We think it is just too light for that.

Last word, this makes a great addition to anyone’s cabinet. We like to have different styles on hand, and this fits the bill. It is not overpriced and even a novice whiskey drinker can tell something is different about this one.


Bulleit Rye

It is a great Friday afternoon in Indianapolis, made greater by drinking one of our favorites, Bulleit Rye. Also helping make it great is the addition of another guest taster, Rod.

Bulleit Rye comes in the same cool, corked medicine bottle look that the original Bulleit Bourbon comes in, the only difference being the green label. It is 95% rye and is bottled at 90 proof with no age statement.

This is very available, almost every liquor store should have it, and goes for around $28.


Ron:    I detected citrus, spice, wood, and Rye upfront on the nose.  Also detected a bit of licorice.

Rod:   I first want to thank Ron and Todd for inviting me to sit in on one of their tastings. Hope it won’t be the last. I got an aroma of burnt oranges, honey and vanilla.

Todd:   This has one of the most unique noses that I have come across. I have enjoyed Bulleit Rye for a while and I swear I could pick it out of a line up by aroma alone. Heavy Rye, some type of herb, and oranges.


Ron:   I got some of the same on tasting, mainly the wood, Rye, and the citrus. Could also taste floral and pepper notes.

Rod:   Very spicy, I could taste the vanilla and honey that I had got on the nose. Also could taste a little orange/nectarine.

Todd:   Overall a very smooth drink with a strong Rye essence along with citrus, pepper and cedar. Only recently started drinking Rye, really liked this one. Actually liked better neat.


Ron:   A nice medium to long finish with hints of clove/cinnamon.

Rod:   An okay finish that didn’t seem all that complex.

Todd:   A very long, satisfying finish with hints of spice and citrus.


Ron:  Overall an easy to drink spicy rye that comes up a little short on the finish.

Rod:  I find this pretty complex, getting spice up front with notes of rye, oak and the same orange that I got on the nose. Also get a little floral and some times a little mint.

Todd:   Overall this is one of my favorite drinks. I love it’s uniqueness. My wife who doesn’t really like Bourbon that much, likes this.

Nose     4.5 out of 5

Taste     8.75 out of 10

Finish    3.75 out of 5

Total           17.5 out of 20 barrels.

This is a great introduction to Rye Whiskeys. It has a good price point, easy drinking, cool presentation, can be found most places and is good neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. In fact, a lot of the Bourbon based bars that have been popping up around here use this for a lot of their drinks. It makes a great Manhattan.

The only thing holding it back from a higher score is the finish. We give this a very high recommendation.

Go buy a bottle.