High West Son of Bourye

High West Son of Bourye                                                                                                As readers of this blog know, we are big High West fans. We know they don’t distill most of their juice themselves but who cares, its usually good and in the end that’s what matters, at least to us.

Son of Bourye is a blend of a Rye that has a mash bill of 95% Rye and 5% barley that is blended with a Bourbon with  a mash bill of 75 % corn, 20% Rye and 5% barley. It is packaged in the same tall, cool looking old fashioned corked bottles as all the High West Whiskeys.  It comes bottled at 92 proof and sells for around $47 and is somewhat available. Both the Rye and the Bourbon are aged at least 5 years.

Side note, just like the original Bourye, a lot of the juice comes from Four Roses. Also, while they call it Bourye, a blend of Bourbon and Rye, you can do the math with mash bill proportions and see that this is really just a Rye.


Todd:   Was not blown away, smelled slightly hot with nothing really jumping out as a dominate smell. But I did get a lot of aromas, all just kind of in the background. They included cinnamon, clove, cocoa, plum and yeast. Also a very slight bit of ethanol.

Ron:  Agree with the nose smelling a little hot, a small, melted cube took care of that. I then got nice aromas of oak, clove, grain and spicy Rye.  Slightly behind that was anise and the cinnamon that Todd got.


Todd:   Too hot for my taste, not impressed neat, it really needs ice or water. After things calmed down I got pepper and Rye up front with almonds, citrus, cinnamon and a slight bitterness.

Ron:  Unlike Todd, I found it not as hot as I expected from the nose. Spice, Rye and oak upfront followed by anise, and clove. After the ice had melted some, slight bits of cinnamon and cherry emerged.


Todd:   Medium to medium-long with a slight burn on the tongue and a faint taste of caramel. Not a lot going on with the finish.

Ron:   Great warm, medium-long finish with hints of Rye and cherries.


Todd:  A decent drink but at a little too high of a price. That is the first time I have thought that about a High West product. They say the age is at least 5 years, I would guess from the lack of complexity that is right at 5 years. $47 is too much in my mind to pay for just a 5 year old Whiskey.

Ron:  A very tasty Whiskey but maybe it is slightly overpriced for the experience. I liked it better than Todd.

Nose     3.75 out of 5

Taste      7.5 out of 10

Finish     3.75 out of 5

Total score       15 out of 20 Barrels

Well we were somewhat hard on our beloved High West, we guess there’s a first time for everything. It was not that is was bad, just not enough going on to justify the price. The price also makes it un-conducive as a mixer, even though it does make a good cocktail. We recommend you try some other High West Whiskey, most are very good.

One final thought, we were so surprised by our reaction to Son of Bourye that we questioned our taste buds. This was Todd’s bottle, Ron has one as well that we sampled a few weeks ago and thought we enjoyed drinking his a bit more. We are going to taste Ron’s again, possibly side to side with Todd’s.  It was a bottle from last years issue, so that just may be the difference. If anything changes we will update the post.



Van Winkle Special Reserve

ripvanwinkle12_2012-222x231                                                              The name Van Winkle is revered by Bourbon connoisseurs the world over. While most, if not all Bourbon lovers have heard of it, possibly less than the minority have actually tasted it. For the past few years anything with Van Winkle on the label has been very hard to find. That is true even for us here at Talking Bourbon, who have been known to stop by every liquor store we pass and even make road trips in search of hard to find booze in less traveled and sleepy towns.

Van Winkle Special Reserve is the 12 year expression of the Van Winkle line which includes 10 year Rip Van Winkle, and the World Famous 15, 20, and 23 year Pappy Van Winkle.  It comes in a tall unremarkable corked bottle, is 90.4 proof and sells for around $90, if you can find it. As stated above this is a very hard Bourbon to find.

One note, we have always been under the impression that the Weller line and the Pappy line shared the same mash bill. If true there is an over lap here with Weller’s 12 year. Are they the same thing? We tasted both together and there was a difference, what caused it? Maybe a different barrel char, maybe a different location in the rick house, or maybe our info is wrong. We will keep searching.


Ron:   Really nice nose with quite a few aromas. Oak, caramel, vanilla, cherries and molasses come to mind immediately. Behind those are slight scents of leather, almonds and clove.

Todd:   Wood, honey and cherries dominate with secondary aromas of tobacco, grain, caramel, and leather. Also got a very slight musty smell along with an even slighter scent of barley.


Ron:   Very complimentary from nose to taste. Much more complex than I remembered from the last time I had it when it was much easier to acquire. Oak, vanilla, caramel, leather and almonds led the way with tastes of cherries, cinnamon and grain right behind. One side note, the taste mellowed some with a melted cube, maybe too much. Recommend neat or just a small splash of water or small cube.

Todd:   Not bad neat, a little hot for my liking, much better with a cube partially melted. I got a nutty, oaky taste at first, this was followed by very nice tastes of honey, caramel, grain and I picked up the cinnamon that Ron tasted. Very good.


Ron:  Very long and pleasant with an essence of honey.

Todd:  Long sweet and musty.


Ron:  Quite enjoyable! If you can get a bottle at a relatively fair price, it is worth it. A very nice addition to your cabinet.

Todd:   Definitely agree, good stuff. Also agree that it was better than I remembered.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste    9.25 out of 10

Finish   4.25 out of 5

Total score   18 out of 20 Barrels

If you can find it, which is a big if, and you can afford it, we say you should buy a bottle. This is very good juice, complex and a joy to drink. We hate to say this but there is a small pride factor involved by possessing a bottle. It is nice to offer a real Bourbon fan a glass of Van Winkle Special Reserve.

Crown Royal

crownroyal375__53225__91017.1358534358.1280.1280                                           Ah, the legendary Import, Crown Royal Blended Canadian Whisky. Who doesn’t remember getting out of College or finally getting a decent check and ordering Crown & Coke? No more Jim, Jack or even worse,  you hit the big time. Well at least that is how it felt back then.

Crown comes in the very well known, elegant and ornate screw top bottle blanketed in a cool little purple felt bag, they then put the whole thing into a purple and gold foil box. CR sells for around $25 for the 750 ml, bottled at 80 proof and is widely available. It does not have an age statement, and we could not find one online.

Side note, CR was introduced in 1939 when King George the VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada. It was named for the royal visit and was only available in Canada until 1964.


Todd:   Mild and  clean with very slight aromas of oak, citrus, tobacco, varnish and bananas. Was not that impressed.

Ron:   Light smells of spice, citrus and ethanol. Strange, I also got a plastic aroma with a hint of chlorine, like in a pool. I guess it could have come from the plastic 375ml bottle.


Todd: Seemed hot for just 80 proof, was pretty smooth after a little ice melted. Got the varnish/paint that I got on the nose. Also tasted a little spice and some Rye.

Ron:  I thought it was smooth neat, even though it did taste a little better with one cube melted. Not much flavor, maybe a little citrus and some type of light wood.


Todd:  Medium with no noticeable difference in taste.

Ron:  Medium and flat. That’s all I can say.


Todd:  It has been years since I drank the standard Crown Royal. The last time I did, I thought it was somewhat bland, I was stuck trying to figure out what the draw was 30 some years ago. This tasting did nothing to help solve that puzzle. Is it possible that since it was not available to the U.S. as an Import until 1964, that it created a status as being elite like Cuban Cigars are today? Who knows.

Ron:  A very popular Whisky due to clever and ingenious marketing. It has very little flavor and no complexity. Just a smoothness about it.

Nose     3 out of 5

Taste     7 out of 10

Finish    3 out of 5

Total score           13 out of 20 Barrels

We decided to taste this because a while back we had Crown Royal’s Rye expression and really liked it. You can read the review. This stuff is just like every other Canadian Whisky, smooth but boring. Having said that it is the best of the regular Canadian Whiskys. So if you are Canadian and want to show some pride and don’t like Rye or don’t want to spend the money for the higher Crown expressions, this is for you. For the rest of us,  there are a lot of Bourbons and Rye at or below that price that are, in our opinion, much better.

Bottom line, the only reason to keep a bottle of Crown Royal around, much like we said about Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve and even Jack, is just the sheer popularity of the product.