Big House

Big-House-Bourbon                                                                               Big House is a relative newcomer to the Bourbon scene, at least in our minds. Neither of us remember this brand being around 3 years ago. The full name, Big House Straight Bourbon Whiskey leaves out the Kentucky part even though it is bottled in Kentucky. It has been our experience that if any of the process takes part in Kentucky you can add that to the name. Maybe we are wrong, couldn’t find much clarification on the internet.

Big House is 90 proof, sells for around $22 and is widely available. It comes in a corked, short rectangular bottle.

Big House is obviously a gimmick meant to take advantage of the current Bourbon craze. The name is referring to a prison, and if you didn’t get that there is a picture of a ball and chain on the label. Also it states on the label that it’s been “aged for a 6 year stretch”. Cute, but what about the quality?

NOSE

Todd:   At first caramel, cedar and old leather, I then got slight aromas of fruit, spice and a cigar like smell.

Ron:   Decent nose especially for the price. Caramel , cocoa, spice and oak upfront with a slight nose of honey and a little mint coming behind that. Many of the aromas dissipated after a cube melted.

TASTE

Todd:  A little too hot neat, much better with one cube just about melted. Tasted  the cedar and caramel that I got on the nose but neither was overwhelming. Also detected slight tastes of a toasty grain and some spicy notes.

Ron:  I also picked up the cedar, caramel and spice, along with some vanilla.

FINISH

Todd:  Medium to medium-long with a nice sweetness.

Ron:  Medium-long with a bit of an ethanol burn.

OVERALL

Todd:  Not real complex but for some reason I can’t quite explain, I like it.

Ron:  A decent bourbon at a good price, I am going to keep a bottle in my cabinet.

Nose      3.5 out of 5

Taste      7.5 out of 10

Finish      3.5 out of 5

Total Score     14.5 out of 20 Barrels

While not a great score, it was an enjoyable drink and we think that should count for something. It is at a very good price point and at it’s price point, you wouldn’t mind using it in a cocktail. Having said that it was good just on the rocks.

Is Big House a gimmick? Sure, but it has some quality behind the branding. This is good enough to become a staple in our cabinets.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

1210                                                             Wild Turkey Rare Breed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is yet another offering from the Iconic distillery and Master Distiller, Jimmy Russell. Rare Breed is a blend of 6, 8 and 12 year old Bourbons, and as always overseen by Jimmy Russell himself.

Rare Breed comes in a corked, somewhat squatty, bottle that will remind one of an old time milk bottle. It sells in the $40 to $45 range and seems pretty available. The proof varies a little from batch to batch, with most coming in around 108. The bottle we are tasting is 108.2.

NOSE

Ron:   Strong nose with excellent notes of all my favorites. Caramel, leather, oak, vanilla and plum dominate. Aromas of toffee and tobacco come next. Revisiting the nose after the ice melted, I got a little cocoa aroma (It could be the power of suggestion from Todd, though).

Todd:  Wood, caramel, leather and cocoa upfront. This is followed by slight smells of butterscotch and tobacco. Very, very nice.

TASTE

Ron:   Too hot neat,  As he took his first sip, I believe I heard Todd say Wow! I needed a couple cubes to melt first before continuing the tasting. After I was able to get the proof down a bit,  the caramel, cocoa, oak, and vanilla that I got on the nose all came through on the taste.  Additionally I got a little pepper, spice and citrus. A very good drink. Also got just a slight bit of bitterness.

Todd:   You can tell this stuff is 108 proof, and I agree with Ron that it needs a few cubes to melt before really appreciating this fine Bourbon. Strong tastes of wood and spice dominate upfront. This is followed by caramel, leather and malt. With cubes completely melted got a touch of vanilla. Also detected the bitterness that Ron noted.

FINISH

Ron:   Long, warm, slightly bitter finish with hints of honey and clove.

Todd:  Med-long finish with a sweetness turning to a very slight bitterness. Nice burn on the back of the tongue even with melted ice.

OVERALL

Ron:  It’s been a little while, maybe over a year since I last had Rare Breed. Loved it then but was really loving it today! The nose alone knocked my socks off, no really, they are off.

Todd:  Real good, and even though I am a big fan of Wild Turkey 101, I am now a much bigger fan of Rare Breed.

Nose     4.75 out of 5

Taste      9.25 out of 10

Finish     4.25 out of 5

Total Score       18.25 out of 20 Barrels

Maybe it was sitting outside on a nice day, maybe hanging out with a friend, maybe just not being at work when we probably should have been, whatever the reason Rare Breed blew us away.

This Bourbon is a little cost-prohibitive but you could have a fair argument/discussion as to it being twice as good as WT 101 which sells for half the price. For our money it is worth the upgrade. Also remember, Rare Breed is bottled at a higher proof so you are buying less water.

Final thought, rob the kids piggie bank of change if you have to but buy a bottle. You will thank us.

Four Roses Bourbon

brbon_fou1                                                             Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, or Four Roses Yellow label, is the entry level Bourbon for the  Four Roses brand. It falls below the Small Batch and even farther below the Single Barrel. As with the other two, Yellow Label is a high Rye.

Yellow Label sells for around $18, bottled at 80 proof and is widely available. It comes in an ordinary looking screw top bottle and is aged at least 4 years. The history of this brand and the name is odd and somewhat confusing. We recommend doing an internet search on the topic if you are interested.

NOSE

Ron:  Somewhat slim on aromas, at least the desirable ones. I get ethanol and medicine up front. Then get slight smells of spice, grass, cherries and honey.

Todd:  Strange, my first impression on the nose reminded me of a field. I also got nice aromas of cedar and citrus. On a more slight note, I got rye, leather, grass and bananas.

TASTE

Ron:   Hot for 80 proof with slight tastes of caramel, spice and cinnamon. Not very complex and just about nil going on.

Todd:   I agree with Ron, very hot and all flavors were subdued. I had to really concentrate to get to them. Having said that, I tasted a little caramel, fruit, vanilla and spice.

FINISH

Ron:   Medium-short with faint hints of caramel, nothing else.

Todd:   Medium-short with a little sweetness.

OVERALL

Ron:   Not real impressed, at $18 a bottle I can name at least 7 other, reasonably easy to find, Bourbons I would buy. However, if there is nothing else available except Jim Beam, “this dog will hunt”.

Todd:   I am not quite as down on Yellow label as Ron. There is not a lot of high Rye out there for under $20.

Nose     3 out of 5

Taste     7 out of 10

Finish   2.5 out of 5

Total           12.5 out of 20 Barrels.

Well Four Roses Yellow Label didn’t really blow us over. It is not terrible, just not a lot going on. Yellow Label makes a decent 2nd glass but needs a few cubes to cool down the heat. The high Rye content makes for an ok Bourbon cocktail like a Manhattan, but the low proof dooms it with something like cola.

Our final verdict, there is better juice out there for the same or even lower price. At $18 though, we would encourage you to try it for yourself and see what you think.