All posts by Ron-Todd

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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.

OVERALL

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.

 

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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?

FINISH

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.

OVERALL

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

Todd:   Not much change on the finish.

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

OVERALL

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.

NOSE

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

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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.

OVERALL

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.

Rating

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?

Four Roses Single Barrel

Aah, another nice day, another cigar and some Bourbon tasting. In the glass today is a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel. This is 100 proof and has been aged 8 years and 5 months. It sells for around $39.00.

Speaking of the bottle, this one makes for a great presentation. It’s shape reminds us of the Southwest. It has a cool grouping of roses etched into the glass and another in red on the label. The bottle also sports a leather band around the neck. It is also a corked bottle which we happen to like.

Most of Four Rose’s Whiskey’s are pretty readily available. I have actually found the Single Barrel in a local supermarket. They have several versions of the Single Barrel, we have tried several, not a huge difference between them.

NOSE

Ron:  Has a sweet, fruity, leathery nose.

Todd:   I thought it had a good nose of new leather, candied green apples, and spice. Almost seemed like smelling a rye.

TASTE

Ron:   I could also taste the leather and the fruit, specifically the fruit, it seemed a little like pears. It has kind of a hot punch at first sip, but mellows quickly. I found this to be much improved with one ice cube that had partially melted. Took a little of the heat off and opened up the flavors some.

Todd:   On tasting neat, I thought it was a little hot and somewhat rough. I could taste the spice from the rye but not the apples that I smelled. The 8 years in oak came through in a nice way. It also seemed to have a full body, almost thick and creamy. I was not a huge fan until the ice/water, the flavor really blossoms and the heat goes away.

FINISH

Ron:   It had a mid to long fruity finish.

Todd:   Decent finish but not much else, couldn’t really taste much of anything different.

OVERALL

Ron:  Decent Bourbon especially if you like a lot of Rye in your juice.

Todd:   I liked it but not sure it was worth the price.

Nose      3 out of 5

Taste      7 out of 10

Finish     3 out of 5

Total score        13 out of 20 Barrels

Overall, with all the hype that seems to surround this Bourbon, we were not greatly impressed. Not to say it is bad, but we have friends who rave about it. It is also prominent in some local high end bars. Some even having their own hand selected barrels.

At this price, we expect a little smoother and a little more of a taste profile, as well as a longer more distinct finish. And as we have stated, we do take price in consideration.

Now it does make a pretty good traditional bourbon cocktail.  Part of that being the proof and part being the strong rye. And don’t get us wrong, with some ice we really liked sipping it.

This is also an example of a high rye, it has 65% corn, 30% rye and 5% barley. So it is not a bad item to have in your cabinet. And remember, a lot of Bourbon connoisseurs like this better than we did, another reason to have a bottle handy.

And don’t forget, the bottle makes for good presentation.

Old Fitzgerald Prime

Today we are sitting out on the screened-in porch smoking cigars and enjoying what we think is one of the best bottom shelf Bourbons on the market, Old Fitzgerald Prime. This name is one of the oldest in Bourbon, going back to 1870. Old Fitz is also tied to some legendary names in the Bourbon business.

John E. Fitzgerald first made the stuff then sold it to Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, yeah that Pappy Van Winkle, who tweaked the recipe by replacing the rye with wheat as the second ingredient after corn.

For years it was produced by Stitzel-Weller Distillery, another legend in Bourbon lore. Also owned by Diageo, and now Heaven Hill.

It sells around $13 to $14, and is bottled at 86 proof. We could not determine an age and it comes in a screw top bottle.

NOSE

Todd:  The nose, to me, screamed butterscotch/toffee and a little bit of fruit.

Ron:  I got a nose that reminded me of a bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and some kind of fruit topping.

TASTE

Todd:   Tasting neat it comes through as one of the sweetest Bourbons I have ever sipped. I could taste the toffee and the butterscotch, but not as strong as I smelled it. Also got a little woodsy and fruit flavors, but not real strong. In fact nothing really jumped out as a dominant flavor. Just real smooth. Adding ice/water really didn’t do much for me. I did like the chill the ice brought, but as for the taste, it just diluted everything.

Ron:  It tasted pretty close to what I smelled with the addition of butterscotch and a little citrus. I really enjoyed it neat. Adding water just diminished all the flavors.

FINISH

Todd:  It finishes sweet, short and with not much flavor change.

Ron:   The finish was a somewhat long and sweet.

OVERALL

Todd:  Good stuff, would be a good Bourbon to use those Whiskey stones instead of ice.

Ron:  Very good, especially considering the price.

Nose        4 out of 5

Taste        7.75 out of 10

Finish       2.25 out of 5

Total Score        14 out of 20 Barrels

Since we dink a lot of Bourbon we are always on the look out for a less expensive way to feed our habit. If you like wheated bourbon, this stuff is a steal. We really can’t think of anything at that price point that taste near as good or is as smooth.

If our go to Bourbon under $20 is Weller’s Special Reserve, our go to under $15 is Old Fitz. At this price it can be used as a mixer, though we might shy away from Manhattans or old fashions due to lack of complexity and sweetness.

Bottom line is that for $13, you just can’t beat this.

In fact, it’s so cheap we are enjoying a third glass.

Maker’s 46

Maker’s 46 is the Maker’s Mark mash bill but aged a little longer and finished aging with toasted french  oak staves inserted into the barrel. Notice we said toasted not chared. This supposedly gives it a more mellow, sweeter finished product.

It clocks in at 94 proof, and while there is no age statement on the bottle, we were able, with the help of the internet, to determine it to be aged approximately 5 to 7 years. Usually sells for around $35.

Like Maker’s Mark, 46 is a wheated Bourbon. Meaning they use wheat instead of Rye as the secondary grain behind corn.

NOSE

Ron:  The nose brought caramel, vanilla, oak and spice. I just couldn’t put my finger on which spice it was.

Todd:   From the nose I got oak, sweetness, and a smell that reminded me of a cedar box that had held cigars.

TASTE

Ron:   Tasting it neat, I got all the same flavors as the Nose. Oak, vanilla, caramel and that dang spice that I can’t name. This goes down real smooth for a 96 proof. Adding ice at first brought out more sweetness, and definitely mellowed it out some. Be aware, a little to much ice or water really diminished the taste and finish. Half a cube is good or if you like it neat, 3 drops of water.

Todd:   I got on the tongue, everything I got on the nose. Tasting it neat, I was really impressed how smooth this was. I will probably anger regular Maker’s Mark drinkers by saying it has one of the hottest, fiery finishes out there. I was expecting the same from 46, and did not get it. I believe this stuff was meant to be drank neat. It has a sweetness that just sits on the tip of the tongue. Adding ice was good, I now got a taste and aroma of honey. I agree with Ron, a little to much and it takes away from the experience.

FINISH

Ron:   Has a long finish of all the same taste.

Todd:  Has a nice, smooth, long finish.

OVERALL

Ron:   I wasn’t real impressed the first time I had this shortly after its new release a few years back. Either my taste buds were off that day or they have evolved. Because this is good stuff.

Todd:   This is good stuff, way better than the regular Maker’s mark.

Nose—–3.25 out of 5

Taste—–9 out of 10

Finish—-4.25 out of 5

Total——-16.5 out of 20 barrels.

As you can tell, we both really enjoyed sampling this stuff. At that price it is a definite deal, and one you should have in your cabinet. It is a great representation of what a wheated Bourbon can achieve. 46 also makes a great Manhattan and Old Fashioned.

Our final say, great neat, great mixed, great price, cool bottle, what more would you want?

 

 

Willett Pot Still Reserve

Willett-Pot-Still-Reserve                                                                                Today we are tasting the Pot Still Reserve from Willett. It checks in at 94 proof with no age statement that we could find. If you have never seen this stuff, it comes in what has to be one of the coolest bottles out there. Looks like a wine decanter, and we both have actually used it for that.

While hard to find at times, it can be found in most liquor stores that have a good Bourbon selection. Usually around the $40 range, even though we have seen it higher.

NOSE

Todd:   It has a pretty strong nose, with grain, oak and alcohol the most prominent. This is followed by a toffee like sweetness.

Ron:   I got a lot more on the nose than Todd. I could detect leather, pine, cedar as well as caramel and like Todd, alcohol.

TASTE

Todd:   Tasting it neat first, as we both do, I thought it was a little rough, especially at that price. While I could taste some of the sweetness, it mostly just tasted hot. On the other hand, let a cube or two of ice melt a little in the glass and you have a very different Whiskey. Now the sweet toffee and oak have a chance to shine.

Ron:   Tasting neat I thought a little hot, but still had nuances of spice and wood. Adding one rock, and letting it almost melt, brought out vanilla, even more spice and just an over all mellowness that I enjoyed.

FINISH

Todd:  It has a pretty long finish neat or with rocks. I still had a lingering taste 60 seconds after sipping.

Ron:    The Pot Still Reserve has a nice long warm finish.

OVERALL

Todd:    This is what I categorize as a traditional Bourbon, meaning it is Corn, Rye, with a little barley. Also a fairly complex drink.

Ron:   I definitely enjoyed my glass and would buy again.

Nose       3 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish      4 out of 5

Total Score     14 out of 20 Barrels

This one was a hard one for us. At 94 proof we shouldn’t have to add so much water to bring out the taste. On the other hand, it is pretty good stuff once the water is added. There is also the issue of price. At $20, this might just be our go to classic style Bourbon, at $40, not so sure. There is a lot of good Bourbon in that $40 range.

This is still a Bourbon we would recommend having a bottle of in your collection. As said, it is sometimes hard to find and has a real cool bottle to impress your friends with.