All posts by Ron-Todd

Blanton’s Single Barrel

This afternoon we are tasting the grand daddy of single barrels, Blanton’s. This was one of the first if not the first mass produced single barrel Bourbon. It is definitely the most famous. They started their single barrel program back around 1984, way before the current craze for such a thing began.

It is readily available, costs around $55 and comes in a cool, ornate, almost egg shaped corked bottle. On top of the cork is a metal figurine of a jockey on a race horse.  There are 8 different ones depicting various stages of a horse race. Blanton’s weighs in at 93 proof, and on a side note was first made under the guidance of the legendary Elmer T Lee.

NOSE

Todd:  On breathing in the aroma of Blanton’s, my first thought was, lovely. I got caramel, vanilla and fruit. Maybe even a little coffee.

Ron:   I did not pick out the coffee but did get the rest. I also got a lot of honey and a little spice.

TASTE

Todd: Even neat Blanton’s is pretty smooth and not too hot. It tasted both sweet and spicy with a little bit of citrus.

Ron:   Very smooth and sweet even neat. Got tastes of leather and tobacco. Opens up a little with a small ice cube.

FINISH

Todd: The finish was decent with a slightly musty taste. I also got just a hint of mint.

Ron:  Blanton’s has a long slow satisfying finish with a touch of spice.

OVERALL

Todd:  A very, very satisfying drink. One that I always have in my cabinet, and one that I love to take out and have a snort. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t seem all too complex.

Ron:  Excellent Bourbon! Everyone should try it and even better to own a bottle. Enjoy neat or with a small cube or splash of water.

Nose     4.5 out of 5

Taste      9 out of 10

Finish     3.5 out of 5

Total            17 out of 20 Barrels

Well it doesn’t take a genius to see we really liked this stuff. The only thing holding back the score was a slight lack of complexity on the taste and finish. Seems like at $55 there should be a little more. That said, this is a wonderful drink, meant to stand alone. We are sure it would also make a great cocktail, but why?

It is smooth, flavorful and easy drinking. Adds just enough spice to make it interesting. Also makes a cool presentation with the bottle. Our recommendation, BUY!

Jefferson’s Very Small Batch

Ah, another beautiful afternoon in Indianapolis, and another day to sip some Bourbon. This day we are sipping Jefferson’s Very Small Batch. This is not to be confused with Very Old,  Collaboration, Ocean or Presidential,  seeing as how they all come in the same shaped corked bottle.  JVSB is their least expensive, even though it is not necessarily cheap. Normally around the $35 range, we have seen it on sale for as low as $25.

Pretty accessible, most liquor stores that we frequent stock it. It is bottled at 82.3 proof with no age statement on the bottle.

NOSE

Ron:   I got the normal nose of caramel and oak along with a little citrus. I also got  a little bit of ethanol, reminding me somewhat of tasting White Dog.

Todd:   I also got the caramel on the nose along with a woody/fruity aroma. With ice the nose had some oak. All of these were very faint. I did not get the ethanol.

Ron:  I agree with the faint statement, really had to concentrate to get these aromas.

TASTE

Ron:   On tasting, there was some caramel and spice up front, followed by some malt. A little hot for being only 82 proof. Better with some ice.

Todd:   I agree with Ron on the heat, and that it is better with some melted ice. I really didn’t get a lot of flavors from this. A touch of chocolate when drank neat that I lost with the ice. The ice really smoothed it out though and I would prefer drinking it that way.

FINISH

Ron:  Had a medium finish with a touch of the chocolate that Todd mentioned.

Todd:  I agree, medium finish with not much change for me, maybe a little sweetness on the tongue.

OVERALL

Ron:  Overall I found JVSB a balanced Bourbon that I would prefer over ice. Okay juice on sale, would pass at the normal price.

Very smooth with ice but just not a lot of flavor going on. Reminds me of Canadian whiskey, very smooth, but not a lot of taste. Having said that, I would, and have bought a bottle at the sale price.

Nose:    2.5 out of 5

Taste     6.5 out of 10

Finish    3 out of 5

Total           12 out of 20 barrels.

The score does not accurately tell how we feel about this Bourbon. At the sale price of $25, and with ice,  it really is a nice sipping drink. Lends itself good to a summer afternoon on the porch with cigars. At $35 there are just too many other bottles with more going on.

1792

We know, it has been a while since our last post. Summer is hard on us, lots of vacations and family’s getting together. Hopefully we are back on tasting at least once a week.

Today is 1792, what used to be called Ridgemont Reserve, not sure why they took that part off their name. 1792 comes in a somewhat elegant corked bottle at 93.7 proof. It is found in most liquor stores and sells between $20 to $24. Although we did see it once for $31.

NOSE

Todd:  I got a very complex nose even though I couldn’t nail down the exact aromas. A little spice, a little leather, a little wood, all with a musty nutty background.

Ron:  I got the usual caramel along with some oak, spice and some rye. I also picked up the nutty aroma that Todd spoke of. A somewhat complex nose.

TASTE

Todd:  After my first sip neat I could only think of one thing, Hot. Even after some ice had melted I still found it to be a little harsh. After a little more melting I was able to get some spicy rye notes as well as some kind of grain. Not real complex.

Ron:  Pretty warm neat, even with some ice it was a little rough around the edges. I did get a little caramel, as well as some fruit, and a little sweet oak on the tongue. I got more taste when consumed neat, once one ice cube was added, the taste was almost subdued.

FINISH

Todd:  Medium to long finish with not much change.

Ron:  Long finish neat, medium with ice.

OVERALL

Todd:  1792 is a decent bourbon at a decent price. Not very complex and somewhat rough. Better with ice. It’s boldness does make for a good traditional Bourbon cocktail.

Ron:  Overall I would try to drink 1792 neat but is a bit harsh. I added ice and it was not as complex.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste    7.5 out of 10

Finish   3 out of 5

Total       15 out of 20 barrels

Well as you can see we weren’t bowled over by 1792. We were fired up by the nose, but not with the taste. Not real complex and a little hot. If you can find it at the low end of the price range it is not a bad buy. It would hold its own in a cocktail.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

Wild Turkey, an American brand almost everybody recognizes, or at least every Bourbon drinker. In our younger years we called this The Kicking Chicken or just The Bird. Today we are sampling one of their higher end products, Kentucky Spirit.

This is a single barrel product selected by the legendary Jimmy Russell. Being single barrel, each batch can be a little different. KS comes in a classy corked bottle with scalloped edges that is pretty easy to spot. Bottled at 101 proof, and with a little hunting online, we found that it averages 9 years in the barrel.  Sells between $40 to $55 and is generally available.

NOSE

Ron:   KS has a nose of caramel, toffee and tobacco. I also got a musty aroma that reminded me of an old boathouse, in a good way.

Todd:  I got the caramel and the slight mustiness as well as spice, cedar, and orange.

TASTE

Ron:  KS comes  across as a rich, full bodied Bourbon. I tasted the caramel that I got on the nose as well as sweet toffee. And, oddly, a little taste of salt.

Todd:   I did not taste the salt, got more spice and citrus. Thought it was pretty hot neat, really needs water/ice. Once the ice melted, I definitely tasted the caramel plus a little wood.

FINISH

Ron:  Medium to long finish that was similar to the taste. A pretty hot finish neat.

Todd:   I agree with Ron on the heat and getting mostly the same on the finish as I did on the taste. The only thing I would add would be a slight pepper finish.

OVERALL

Ron:  This is a fantastic Bourbon, I need a bottle in my cabinet.

Todd:   Well I have one in my cabinet, lol. I also find this a very good drink. I have to say though, Ron liked it better than me.

Nose    4.5 out of 5

Taste     9 out of 10

Finish    4 out of 5

Total Score    17.5 out of 20 Barrels

We both liked Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit a lot. The only thing holding back the score was the finish, and that is not to imply the finish was bad, just not much going on. We would recommend using ice or water to take off some of the heat as well as bringing out some additional flavors. The heat and spice lends itself well to traditional Bourbon cocktails.

We know the price is a little high, but the taste and the presentation make it good bottle for special occasions.

Buffalo Trace

Our choice today is the very popular Buffalo Trace. This is a blended Bourbon, 90 proof, in a corked bottle. BT is readily available, we have even seen it in grocery stores. Usually sells for around $22/$23 for the 750 ml.

The bottle did not come with an age statement, through a little research we found that it is supposed to be a blend of different ages, with it averaging out around 6 to 8 years.

NOSE

Todd: I found Buffalo Trace to have light, sweet aromas of citrus, oak, and even a little fruit. When I added some ice I swear I could pick up chocolate.

Ron: I also got the citrus, oak and fruit. Did not pick up on the chocolate, instead got a little caramel.

TASTE

Todd:  As with the smell, BT has a light, smooth, very pleasant taste. I picked up wood, fruit, vanilla and maybe a little honey.

Ron:  I thought BT had a taste of oak, spice and fruit. I also got caramel as well as leather.

FINISH

Todd:  I thought it had a medium finish with not much change in the taste.

Ron:  Got a little burn on the finish as well as a hint of anise.

OVERALL

Todd:  I thought I did not like buffalo Trace, I remember comparing it to Jim Beam White label. My taste buds must of been off that day or they have evolved. Or maybe I need to try Jim Beam again. BT was much better than I remember. My only complaint would be a lack of finish.

Ron:  It has been a while since a bottle of BT has been in my cabinet. Distant memories remind me that I thought it was just okay. Today I retract that statement. I enjoyed it very much. like Todd, my taste buds are still evolving.

Nose     4.5 out of 5

Taste      8.5 out of 10

Finish     3.5 out of 5

Total           16.5 out of 20 barrels.

Well as you can read, we both liked our afternoon with buffalo Trace. At the low to mid $20s, this is a good buy, worth having in your collection. It is also a very good Bourbon for people just getting in to the drink. It is both smooth and light, with not too much burn. Having said that, we both liked it a little better with some ice.

Being so light and smooth, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend BT for cocktails. It is good over ice or with some water, the light taste kinda gets lost with other ingredients.

 

Corner Creek Reserve

We are back tasting with friend/neighbor Brett. Today’s glass holds Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon. CC is common at most liquor stores, bottled at 88 proof, aged 8 years and comes in a corked, somewhat unique bottle that would remind one of a wine bottle. This Bourbon sold for around $20-$22 not that long ago (1 year). Sells for around $27 to $29 currently, sounds like someone might be taking advantage of the Bourbon boom.

NOSE

Brett:    I detected various woods on the nose, not much else.

Todd:   I caught the wood, but reminded me more of a mixture of burnt oak and burnt sugar. Also took in a little citrus.

Ron:   I got a whiff of citrus also as well as honey, caramel and leather.

TASTE

Brett:    Had a very clean, smooth taste, not a lot of heat. Tasted some kind of nut. Not very much going on in my opinion.

Todd:    Funny, I thought it was a little rough for being only 88 proof. I did pick up on that nutty taste. Not very complex, Also got a hint of vanilla.

Ron:    I tasted honey, a little toffee, and maybe a little clove.

FINISH

Brett:    Not much of a finish, pretty much tasted the same.

Todd:    I found it finished a little sweet, but not much else.

Ron:   I thought it had a medium to long finish with caramelized brown sugar.

OVERALL

Brett:   Not a very complex drink, I feel there are better bottles at that price.

Todd:   Decent, a little over priced in my mind. I agree with Brett, that at the current price point, there are a lot of better Bourbons.

Ron:   I don’t really have much to add, okay juice but nothing stands out. I too think it is a little high on the price scale.

Nose—–2.5 out of 5

Taste—–6 out of 10

Finish—-2.5 out of 5

Total——–11 out of 20 Barrels.

This is second bottle in a row that we have come away unimpressed. If it weren’t for Ron on the taste and finish this would even be a lower score. There just isn’t much to say about it. The bottle is kinda cool if you like that sort of thing. Even the label looks like a wine bottle.

Now having said all that, remember we do take price in consideration. If this sold for $12 or $13, we would give it a different recommendation.  But since it doesn’t, We would pass on adding this to your cabinet, because unless you mix it, your bottle will be there for a long time.

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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

OVERALL

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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.

OVERALL

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.