Tag Archives: Bourbon review

Woodford Reserve Malt Whiskey

                                           Today Talking Bourbon is tasting a relatively new offering from the Woodford Reserve Distillery. It is their Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey. To be called that it has to have at least 51 % malt, the rest of the mash bill is mostly corn with a little bit of Rye. For a point of reference Bourbon usually only has around 5 to 7 % malt in the mash bill. So expecting a very different experience here.

Woodford Malt comes in the same style of corked bottle as all of the Woodford Whiskeys. It is bottled at 90.4 proof, sells for around $38 for the 750 ml and while not found everywhere, it is not hard to find with a little looking.

Talking Bourbon is not a huge fan of Woodford Reserve, but does really like their Double Oak and the Woodford Reserve Rye, here’s hoping that the Malt falls into the like category. Here’s also to hoping it doesn’t taste or smell like Scotch.


TB:     Well, it doesn’t smell like Scotch, but to no surprise, being 51% malt, it does remind one of Irish Whiskey. Also get caramel, spice, wood and an earthy aroma. Behind all this is a slight hint of orange.


TB:    Very smooth, even neat, and possessing a very unique flavor.  Pretty much getting all the things that was on the nose. Irish Whiskey, caramel, spice, wood and a slight hint of that orange.


TB:    Medium-long with a lingering sweetness.


TB:   Talking Bourbon really enjoyed tasting and drinking Woodford Reserve Malt.

Nose        4.25 out of 5

Taste        8.25 out of 10

Finish       3.5 out of 5

Final score        16 out of 20 barrels.

Well keeping with tradition Talking Bourbon likes everything from Woodford Reserve except Woodford Reserve. This is a good Whiskey at a good price point with a very different taste profile from either Bourbon, Scotch or Irish Whiskey.

Talking Bourbon recommends adding a bottle of Woodford Reserve Malt Whiskey to your collection and breaking it out on those nights(or days) when you feel like something out of the ordinary.


FEW Bourbon

                                                                     After another long stretch, TB is back with a revue of the Illinois product FEW Bourbon Whiskey.

As stated about a year a year ago when TB reviewed FEW Rye, FEW gets it’s name from Frances Elizabeth Willard who was the co-founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

FEW Bourbon is readily available at most liquor stores, bottled at 93 proof, aged less than 4 years, sells for around $50 and comes in a squarish corked bottle with a red label sporting the image of the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition.

FEW also makes gin and TB has long looked down on multi spirit distilleries. TB also has doubts regarding the quality of a Bourbon aged less than 4 years.


TB:     Nothing jumps out as a dominant scent. A little caramel, a little rye, a little backing spice and some toffee sweetness.  Also get just a slight slight hint of a scent that reminded me of pine. Can not determine if this is good thing.


TB:    Like the nose, nothing really stands out. Get the caramel, spice and sweetness that was on the nose. Also some oak, black fruit and grain. Don’t know if it is imagination due to the nose but also get a very slight taste of  pine.


TB:    Medium finish with more sweetness and baking spice.


TB:    Like the Rye a year ago, TB was not real impressed with FEW Bourbon Whiskey. Nothing really stands out and it seems for $50 something should.

Nose     3.5 out of 5

Taste      7.5 out 10

Finish     3 out of 5

Total score     14 out of 20 barrels.

This is not a bad Bourbon by any means, just not a good one. It will not make you want to hurry home to have a glass. And while TB acknowledges that the price of Bourbon and Rye have going up to ridicules levels here of late, $50 still seems a lot for a Bourbon that is less than 4 years old.

Maybe try FEW Bourbon Whiskey at a bar where you can just buy a glass and see for yourself if it is something you want in your Bourbon cabinet.

Gentleman Jack

                                                                                      Talking Bourbon is once again tasting an American icon in the whiskey business, Gentleman Jack from Jack Daniels. This is a slightly upgraded version of the wildly popular Jack Daniels Old Number 7 Brand.  TB says slightly because all they have done is run the Old Number 7 through the sugar maple charcoal a 2nd time. Both get filtered before barreling, Gentleman then gets a 2nd pass through the charcoal before bottling.

Gentleman Jack can be found most places that liquor is sold, cost around $26 for the 750ml and is bottled at 80 proof.  Gentleman comes in a slender, more elegant looking bottle than the the regular Jack Daniels.

So will the 2nd pass through the charcoal make Gentleman much different than JB? Hope so because TB wasn’t very kind to Jack Daniels back in November of 2015.


TB:   Not the most complex nose with a sweetness and the smell of banana taffy being the most prominent. Also get a little bit of wood and apricot. And just like Jack, get a plastic/varnish type aroma.


TB:    Definitely smoother than ordinary Jack but not much flavor. Get a little of the sweet banana that was on the nose, a little bit of smoke and some fruitiness. Behind that a very, very  slight taste of caramel.


TB:    Short to medium short with not much else, maybe a bit more sweetness.


TB:    Not impressed. At least Jack has some character, Gentleman just taste like watered down whiskey.

Nose       3 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish       2.5 out of 5

Total score        12.5 out of 20 barrels.

Well the extra filtering didn’t really impress Talking Bourbon. While it was smoother and maybe even more Bourbon like than Jack, there was just not a lot going on. It is not that great straight and is too weak to be a good mixer. Hate to say this but would choose Jack over Gentleman in a cocktail.

The price point is low enough that you could try for yourself, and would not be terrible choice for a first timer. Having said that, Talking Bourbon will not be buying another bottle and would recommend you buying something better as well.


Parker’s Heritage Collection #7

Another day of tasting, another legendary Bourbon. Parker’s Heritage is made by Heaven Hill and partners with the ALS Association to help promote and battle that disease. Parker Beam, the Master Distiller who it is named for, was diagnosed with ALS. Every year Heaven Hill comes out with a new, different edition.

We are tasting the 7th edition, issued in 2013, also called Promise of Hope,(kind of sounds like a Star Wars title).  Promise of Hope is aged 10 years, bottled at 96 proof, and comes in an elegant corked bottle. Talking Bourbon bought a 750ml bottle in 2013 for $89, the only place to find it now is the secondary markets for a lot more money.

Since Indianapolis attorney Aaron Pitt was kind enough to share his Old Rip VanWinkle with TB for a review a few months ago, TB is returning the favor, or should it be flavor?

Side note, part of the money collected from the sale of each bottle goes to help fight ALS.


Aaron:    Orange and butterscotch  up front followed by a light woodiness and vanilla cake. Get a very slight aroma of pear as well.

TB:       Very nice nose of cedar, grain, citrus and leather. Also get some hints of praline and vanilla. Lastly, a hint of mint.


Aaron:    Lots of flavors going on, honey, raisin, toast, yeast and  black pepper. With a little water I get a grassy grainy taste along with some kind of cooked vegetable. That last part sounds bad but is not.

TB:    Oak, pepper, leather and bread come to mind right away. Behind that comes a slight floral taste. Very unique flavor and very smooth even neat. Water does open it up though.


Aaron:    Medium short with some spiciness.

TB:         Medium long with some spice as well as the mint that was on the nose.


Aaron:    Great mouthful, very smooth and has a different taste to it. Strictly on taste I would definitely buy a bottle for the $89. Not sure I would pay the secondary mark up price except as a collector.

TB:       This stuff is damn good. Agree with Aaron, would buy again, even at $89, but probably wouldn’t spend the $400 or so that the bottle is fetching now.

Nose       4.5 out of 5

Taste       9 out of 10

Finish      3.5 out of 5

Total score       17 out of 20 barrels.

It’s a shame that this stuff is so hard to find. The Bourbon justifies the price and you can tell yourself you are buying it just to support a good cause. It comes across as a good drink with a good nose, as well as having a nice balance which Talking Bourbon doesn’t often find.

Parker’s Heritage, Promise of Hope is a great addition to a good Bourbon collection. The bottle is cool, the story behind it is cool and it is good stuff.

All in all, you have to decide for yourself if buying a bottle on the secondary market is for you.  But if you can find it under a $100 and that is not out of your Bourbon budget, Talking Bourbon would recommend buying a bottle. Or at the very least tell TB where you found it.

Trader Joe’s Bourbon

                                                                      Today Talking Bourbon is tasting Trader Joe’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, yes that’s right, the unique grocery store chain has it’s own Bourbon now. The stores in Indiana do not sell hard liquor, just beer and wine. So TB wants to thank Stacy Van Deman of Van Deman Photography for the bottle. She was down in Kentucky, saw the Bourbon, thought about TB and picked up a bottle. Unfortunately  Stacy does not drink Bourbon(crazy) so she can not assist in the tasting. In fact it will just be TB tasting today, no guest.

Trader Joe’s Bourbon is bottled at 90 proof, comes in a short, squat, screw top bottle that sells for around $16 for the 750 ml. Couldn’t find an age statement so assume by the name that it is around 4 years old. As stated above it is not available in Indiana. While it is made by Buffalo Trace, Trader Joe’s insists it is not just the regular Buffalo Trace re-branded, but is in fact a unique item.


TB:    A very sweet aroma reminding one of banana taffy and sweetened dried cherries.  Not much depth.


TB:    Pretty much the same sweetness without the bananas. Pick up the cherries from the nose as well as little wood and caramel. Also get faint traces of a nuttiness and nutmeg. Goes down pretty smooth. Better on the tongue than the nose.


TB:    Medium finish with, surprisingly, a little bitterness to it.


TB:    While this Bourbon might have benefited from low expectations, for the price it really wasn’t that bad especially if you like your Bourbon on the sweeter side.

Nose        2.5 out of 5

Taste        7 out of 10

Finish      3 out of 5

Total score        12.5 out of 20 barrels.

While the score was not that great, it really was a decent Bourbon. It just doesn’t have much character. Very smooth neat and makes a decent Bourbon cocktail like an Old Fashioned. This would be a nice Bourbon for your non Bourbon drinking friends to try.

All in all, Talking Bourbon would buy it at the aforementioned price, but wouldn’t go out of the way to get a bottle of Trader Joe’s Bourbon.

Old Forester 1920

                                                  Today we are back tasting with Indianapolis attorney Aaron Pitt. And like the last time Aaron joined Talking Bourbon, he has brought the bottle(TB really likes Aaron).  This time it is Old Forester 1920. This is actually the 2nd time TB has tasted 1920 with Aaron. The first time TB lost the paperwork(might of had too much) and here is Aaron bringing it over again. Yeah, TB really likes Aaron.

Old Forester 1920, also labeled “Prohibition Style”, is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky and the third put out under the Old Forester Whisky Row series. According to the bottle tag, ” Only six Kentucky distillers were granted permits to bottle Bourbon for medicinal purposes. Brown-Forman, maker of Old Forester secured permit KY-3. In 1920 the first bottles under this permit were produced”. That explains the 1920, TB has no idea what Prohibition Style means.

1920 comes in a somewhat ordinary looking corked bottle, sells for around $60 for the 750 ml and is bottled at 115 proof.  There is no age statement and  can’t find one online, this makes TB suspicious. Availability varies but it can be tough to find.

Talking  Bourbon has not been a big fan of  Old Forester, their Birthday Bourbon seems to be a gimmick and is over priced. Their standard 86 proof is uninspiring and somewhat rough for 86 proof. The 100 proof seems to be the best of the lot that TB has tried and it is just okay. Will 1920  change TB’s attitude toward all things Old Forester?  Read on!


Aaron:     Sounds odd, but I get the scent of bananas, and I remember I got that smell the first time. Also get a yeasty type aroma along with a nutty scent. And maybe an ever so slight whiff of coffee.

TB:        Nice nose, getting leather, vanilla, bread and hazelnuts up front. Also get some type of red fruit,  and even pick up on the bananas that Aaron mentioned.


Aaron:    Pretty hot neat, a lot better with a melted cube. I taste the yeast and the nuttiness that I got on the nose but not much else.

TB:     Not as complex as the nose would have you believe. Getting a little ceder, a little cocoa, some bread and a touch of spice. Also got a strange Band-Aid type taste that Aaron thinks is Iodine.


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

TB:     Sweet medium-long finish with a  very very slight hint of cinnamon.


Aaron:   I find it to be a decent Bourbon but nothing exceptional.

TB:       Agree, very good nose but lacking something in the taste department.

Nose          4 out of 5

Taste          7 out of 10

Finish         4 out of 5

Total score       15 out of twenty barrels.

Well Talking Bourbon is still waiting  to be impressed from a Bourbon from Old Forester. It is not that 1920 is bad, it was a pleasure tasting it, but for most people $60 is too much to pay for an everyday bottle. So that puts 1920 in the special occasion category but there is nothing about this Bourbon that screams special.  In fact it seems quite ordinary. The price also makes it prohibitive as a mixer.

Look, if you like Old Forester Bourbon, you will probably like 1920, but take it from TB, there is better juice at that price.



George T Stagg

                                                                Today’s tasting, like the last one, involves a very rare and hard to find legendary Bourbon. For the last blog it was Old Rip VanWinkle, for this one, George T Stagg. Like Rip, Talking Bourbon has not seen a bottle of GTS for sale for quite some time, and like Rip, TB had to rely on it’s guest taster to supply the bottle(more on that later).

George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection series. It is unfiltered and uncut, the latter making for a very high proof, in this case 129.2. It has been aged approximately 15 years and comes in a tall, sleek looking corked bottle with the well known antlers. As stated before it is very hard to find, at least here in the Indianapolis area.

Helping review George T Stagg is Chip Snyder, and as mentioned before, he brought the bottle of Stagg to the tasting. Chip entered a lottery to win the right to buy a bottle of Stagg and actually won(lucky for us). He paid $200 which might sound high until you see what people are asking for it online, we have seen over $800.


Chip:   Honey and oak upfront with some caramel and hickory coming in behind that.

TB:   A very nice nose that surprisingly does not smell hot.  Like Chip, TB gets the strong scents of honey, oak and caramel along with black fruit, tobacco and toffee. Also getting a slight hint of cocoa and even slighter hint of vanilla.


Chip:     Upfront I taste the caramel and wood that I got on the nose. Secondary flavors include spice, smoke and a slight floral taste. This is not a taste but it seems almost creamy.

TB:    Very good neat even though a little water definitely opens it up. Strong tastes of caramel, leather and oak. Coming in behind that is a nuttiness, a mustiness and a fruitiness. TB really likes.


Chip:    Very long sweet finish.

TB:   Long to very long finish with a slight chocolate taste.


Chip:   I like it, tastes nothing like any Bourbon I have ever had.

TB:       Love this stuff! Love everything about this Bourbon.

Nose     4.75 out of 5

Taste     9.5 out of 10

Finish    4.5 out of 5

Total score       18.75 out of 20 barrels

Talking Bourbon wishes this was their bottle seeing as how it is one of the finest, in TB’s opinion, Bourbons you can drink. GTS has it all, from the cool bottle and the mystique surrounding it to the great nose, taste and finish, nothing not to like. Sad it is so hard to find.

If you can find it, even at $200, TB recommends buying a bottle of George T Stagg. You will not be disappointed.


Old Rip VanWinkle

                                                                    Sorry, Talking Bourbon has been a little lax of late. It has been a while since the last post. Holidays, family, even a new job has taken priority. But Talking Bourbon is back and hopefully absence has made your heart grow fonder.

Talking Bourbon has to thank today’s guest taster, Indianapolis lawyer Aaron Pitt. TB thanks him because he supplied the bottle we are drinking. And what a bottle it is, the legendary Old Rip VanWinkle. TB has not seen a bottle of Old Rip for sale at a local liquor store in a long long time.

VanWinkle is the younger brother of the even more legendary Pappy VanWinkle. Rip has been aged 10 years as opposed to the 15, 20 or 23 year old Pappy. Old Rip is 107 proof and comes in a very cool looking corked bottle. It sells for $89 and as stated before, almost impossible to find. Rip, like Pappy is a wheated Bourbon, meaning it uses wheat as the secondary ingredient behind corn.


Aaron:  I get a strong scent of grain along with some caramel. Behind that some leather, tobacco and a slight smell of banana.  Also, a little hot on the nose at first but sweetened up with a little ice.

TB:    Caramel, bread and oak lead the way, followed by some type of red fruit, a nuttiness, and a slight musty scent. TB also gets that very  slight hint of banana as well as the hotness.


Aaron:     Very sweet on the tip of my tongue. Nice taste of butterscotch and wood. Still get that hint of banana along with just a trace of cinnamon.

TB:     Nothing really jumps out, get some leather, grain, oak and a sweetness that can’t quite define. Also get the slight mustiness that was on the nose as well as a hint of the cinnamon that Aaron got.


Aaron:    Medium with a lot of heat neat, more sweetness if iced down a little.

TB:    Medium-long to long with plenty of sweetness and more oak.


Aaron:    Somewhat hot neat  but really enjoyed after a little ice had melted. Not sure it is worth the price but would still buy again just because it is so hard to find.

TB:     Nice drink, little steep on the price but very agreeable to the tongue and nose.

Nose        4 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish       4 out of 5

Total score          15 out of 20 barrels

Well as in other examples, the score really did not reflect the enjoyment of sipping on this particular Bourbon. While no one trait stands out head and shoulders above another, it is still a damn good drink best served with a cube or 2.  While price prohibitive, the strong proof makes for a good cocktail.

With the cool bottle and  the mystique surrounding it, Old Rip VanWinkle makes for a very impressive presentation. For that matter alone it would be worth the price of admission. But like stated before, it is also a damn fine Bourbon.

Angel’s Envy Revisited

                                                                       More than 2 years ago, 9-17-2015, Talking Bourbon reviewed a very popular Bourbon, Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It is still very popular so TB decided, for the first time, to review a Bourbon for the second time.

TB will not go into all the usual stuff we cover when introducing a Bourbon, like proof, bottle look etc, you can read that in the original post. The only difference being the price has crept up just a bit. While you can still find a bottle for the $40 that was mentioned in 2015, most of the time it is closer to the $45 to $49 range.

Joining Talking Bourbon for this trip down memory lane is Rod. Rod is traditionally a wine and beer guy, but these last few years has found a nice appreciation of Bourbons.


Rod:     Getting a lot of good stuff, starting with caramel, brown sugar and vanilla. After that, but still prevalent, is honey and toffee. I also get a slight smell of sherry and cedar.

TB:         Get a lot more citrus upfront, mainly orange. Behind that is cedar, caramel and a slight varnish type aroma.  Very nice nose.


Rod:     Vanilla, cedar and a wet wood type taste all jump out at me.  lesser tastes include  juniper and  medicine. I know that doesn’t sound appealing but it all comes together for a nice drink.

TB:    Getting the orange/citrus that was on the nose with some cedar and a crisp taste that cannot be described any other way. A little rough neat.

Rod:     Crisp?

TB:        Juniper and wet wood?


Rod:    Medium long, not much else.

TB:     Medium long with some sweetness.


Rod:      The great aroma and above average taste makes this a very drinkable Bourbon.

TB:     Agree that the nose is the strong suit. While not sure it is worth the high price,  the taste is unique enough to warrant having a bottle around.

Nose      4.25 out of 5

Taste      8.25 out of 10

Finish     3.75 out of 5

Total Score         16.25 out of 20 barrels

Well low and behold, it actually dropped a point since last reviewed 2 years ago. Has our taste buds evolved, found other things that are better or may be not as impressed by the bottle anymore. Who knows, what we do know is that Angel’s Envy is still a good Bourbon.

It is strong enough to be a good mixer, but has it’s own taste that makes it good on the rocks or neat.  The bottle and name still makes for a good presentation and as we stated in the opening paragraph, it is still very popular.

For all the reasons above, you should keep a bottle of Angel’s Envy in your cabinet.


Hotel Tango Bravo Bourbon

                                                                              As veteran’s Day approaches we here at Talking Bourbon decided to review Hotel Tango’s Bravo Bourbon. According to their web page  it’s the first service-disabled combat-veteran owned distillery in the country. Hotel Tango is located here in Indianapolis and we are not sure about availability outside of Indy.

Bravo Bourbon, American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is 7 years old, 90 proof, sells for around $50 for the 750ml and comes in a nice looking corked bottle.

Helping today is Aaron Pitt, a lawyer here in the Indpls area and long time friend of Talking Bourbon. Aaron has long been a Bourbon Lover. Both Aaron and TB are somewhat skeptical of this Bourbon, Hotel Tango makes a variety of spirits, so we are concerned as to how much love and devotion they give to their Bourbon.

Fun fact,  according to their web page, each Hotel Tango spirit derives its prefix from the NATO phonetic alphabet as such, i.e. Victor Vodka, Golf Gin, Mike Moonshine, etc.


Aaron:    I don’t get the usual Bourbon aromas from from Bravo. Instead I get a pleasant nose of light citrus along with a strong alcohol smell.

TB:    Also get the citrus, alcohol, and the lightness. Add to that a definite apple aroma.


Aaron:    Fruity and fairly smooth neat. Not overly complex but I like it. A little better with some melted ice.

TB:    Oak and maple syrup come to mind first. Secondary tastes include black fruit and a little bitterness.


Aaron:   Medium to medium-long  with a little sweetness.

TB:      Medium-long with some nice heat on the back of the tongue.


Aaron:    I am pleasantly surprised and will buy a bottle.

TB:      Really liked this stuff and agree, need a bottle.

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

Sometimes there needs to be an additional category for an easy drinking, enjoyable Bourbon, because that describes Bravo. Not overly complex and not a lot of superlatives to describe it except that it is good. There is just something about this Bourbon that makes you like it. The price is a bit high for the quality, but it is unique and has a great back story.

Recommendation,  support a veteran and go out and buy a bottle of Hotel Tango Bravo Bourbon. Then  sit back, relax and enjoy a sip.