Tag Archives: Bourbon

1843 By David Nicholson

Today’s tasting is a wheated Bourbon, 1843, distilled at Heaven Hill under the name David Nicholson. While the brand has been around for a long time it is hard to find outside of the Midwest.

1843 is Bottled in Bond, so it is 100 proof, comes in a non descript corked bottle and sells for around $30 for the 750ml bottle.

Joining me today is frequent guest taster Indpls lawyer Aaron.

NOSE

Aaron: A somewhat “hot” aroma with honey like sweetness and a very slight hint of what I can only describe as cooked vegetables. I say that not necessarily in a bad way.

TB: A very sweet nose that one would expect from a wheater. Getting smells of vanilla, brown sugar, oak and a bit of cinnamon. At first I also picked up a funky sulfur like aroma that might be Aaron’s vegetables. After a minute or so I could no longer detect it.

TASTE

Aaron: A little heat followed by white cake and almonds. Also pick up a bit of that honey that was on the nose.

TB: I didn’t find it as hot as Aaron did, which is a surprise because he normally drinks a lot higher proof than I do. Upfront I taste a sweet praline like nuttiness along with some toffee. Secondary flavors included caramel, vanilla and wood.

FINISH

Aaron: Medium-short with more sweetness and oak.

TB: Medium with more of the nuttiness.

OVERALL

Aaron: Not a lot of depth but quite good for the price.

TB: Agree with Aaron, very good for the price.

Nose 3.5 out of 5

Taste 7 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 14 out of 20 barrels

It’s getting harder and harder to find decent juice under $30, so when one is found take advantage of it. While not real complex, 1843 was smooth with some nice heat when drank straight. Water and or ice cooled the heat a little but also opened it up to other flavors, most noticeably the nutty/almond taste.

1843 is a little too sweet to make a good mixer, however it was good with a couple dashes of bitters. It is best to sip neat or on the rocks.

If you live in an area where David Nicholson 1843 is available, Talking Bourbon would recommend getting a bottle or two. Because as long as it is sold in the Indpls area, it will be in my Bourbon cabinet.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

This edition of the Talking Bourbon blog reviews Four Roses Small Batch, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Not to get too complicated but Four Roses has ten unique Bourbon recipes. Of these ten, they use four to make Small Batch. It can very a little between bottles but most seem to have similar taste profiles.

As far as the name, Small Batch, I have mentioned in past articles that there seems to be no set definition of what that term means. Small batches can be as little as a few barrels to as big as a thousand barrels. With a little digging I found that Fours Roses Small Batch uses around 250 barrels per batch.

Four Roses Small Batch comes in a nice looking corked bottle and sells for around $30 for the 750ml. It is bottled at 90 proof and is widely available. While no age statement was available on the bottle or on their web site, with some more digging I was able to pin the average age of the barrels to six to seven years.

There is a special guest taster today, special at least to me. It is my wife Tammie. While Tamm is not a huge Bourbon lover, preferring wine, she does have a good nose for aromas and good taste buds. While I have written this blog now for close to three years, this is the first time she has sat in for a tasting.

NOSE

Tamm: I smell strong aromas of cedar, brown sugar and orange citrus. A little less strong is honey and a scent reminiscent of damp leaves.

TB: Damp leaves? Not getting it. I am getting the brown sugar, honey and citrus. Also a little vanilla and oak. And behind all this is a very slight whiff of cocoa and banana.

Tamm: I get the cocoa after you mentioned it, maybe power of suggestion.

TASTE

Tamm: I taste the honey, citrus and cedar that I got on the nose. Along with those I get a taste that reminds me a little of varnish, but not necessarily in a bad way.

TB: Spicy sweetness along with oak, Rye and a slight nutty flavor. I do pick up a little of the citrus that Tamm mentioned.

FINISH

Tamm: Long with more sweetness and a good burn when drank neat.

TB: Medium long to long with some added woodiness.

OVERALL

Tamm: Smooth with some ice but not overly complex. I did like the long finish but probably not something that I would just pour a glass of.

TB: I find it a bit more complex than Tamm. This is a good drink with a good nose. I enjoyed it.

Nose 4.25 out of 5

Taste 7.75 out of 10

Finish 4 out of 5

Total score 16 out of 20 barrels.

You can count Talking Bourbon as a fan of Four Roses Small Batch. A good nose, a decent finish and a sweet and spicy taste all add up to a good Bourbon at a great price. In fact, I find Small batch a better buy than the Four Roses Single Barrel. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Single Barrel, for that matter I like the Yellow Label, this just seems more approachable and more well rounded than either of the other two.

I always have a bottle around of the Yellow Label, the Small Batch and the Single Barrel. And while they are all good I have a special place in my heart for the Small Batch.

It is good neat, on the rocks and makes a great mixer of fine Bourbon cocktails. The latter is what I use it for the most. If you haven’t tried it, I would recommend you buy a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon.

David Nicholson Reserve

Up for review this week by Talking Bourbon is David Nicholson Reserve, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Nicholson is better known for the wheated Bourbon, 1843. They recently added this more traditional style Bourbon.

Here is a clip from their web site that supposedly happened in 1843:
“In the private back room of a grocery store on North 6th Street in St. Louis, Missouri, unbeknownst to its forefather, a legacy was born.”

DNRB comes in a short squat corked bottle and is 100 proof. It sells for around $38-$40 for the 750ml and is becoming more and more available where better spirits are sold. Unlike 1843, the Reserve has no wheat, just corn, Rye and malt. I was unable to find an age statement.

Joining the review is Erik. Erik is a web designer extraordinaire and a big fan of Bourbon. His favorite pour is Weller’s 12, hard to argue with that.

NOSE

Erik: Aromas of toffee, butterscotch and vanilla upfront with secondary scents of wood, caramel and varnish.

TB: Definitely get the sweet butterscotch, toffee and caramel scents that Erik mentioned. Also get hints of grain, fruit, tobacco and leather. Very nice nose.

TASTE

Erik: Picking up lots of strange things on the tongue. I get the sweetness from the nose as well the wood. But also tasting leather, apple, pear and now here comes the odd stuff, bubble gum and cola. It has a somewhat thin mouth feel.

TB: Bubble gum? I found it not as sweet as the nose had me prepared for. Not too hot neat but with no overwhelming taste. I pick up the wood, leather, tobacco and fruit from the nose but none of them really jump out. Also get hints of the Rye. Kind of a let down after the nose.

FINISH

Erik: Medium short with not much else to add.

TB: Medium with just a hint of cocoa.

OVERALL

Erik: I found it just okay, not bad for the price though.

TB: Not a real complex Bourbon, but not bad either. With today’s sky rocketing prices DNRB is not a bargain at $40 but you could do a lot worse.

Nose 4.5 out of 5

Taste 7.5 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 15.5 out of 20 barrels.

While we weren’t blown away with DNRB, it does make a decent sipper as well as a good mixer. And being under $40 you won’t feel bad about mixing it. While having a very good nose the taste and finish just wasn’t there.

Final verdict, at this price and if you can find it, buy a bottle and see for yourself. You just might like David Nicholson Reserve Bourbon.

Knob Creek Rye

Today’s tasting is Knob Creek Rye from the Jim Beam Distillery. Many of us Bourbon drinkers cut their teeth on Knob Creek Bourbon, one of the first premium style Bourbons that was also a big seller.

Knob Creek Rye comes in the same rectangular corked bottle as it’s extremely popular cousin, Knob Creek Bourbon. It is bottled at 100 proof, sells for around $38 for the 750ml and is widely available. Talking Bourbon was unable to find a positive age statement which always raises TB’s eyebrows. Also could not get a clear listing of the mash bill.

Helping TB today is friend and neighbor Clark. Clark is more of a wine, Rum, tequila and beer guy. But hey, he is always up for a free drink and doesn’t dislike Bourbon, just not his first choice.

NOSE

Clark: I actually get quite a few things, butterscotch, caramel, oak and spice are what I pick up first. Behind that is a woody/cedar aroma. Can also smell the 100 proof, somewhat hot.

TB: Wow, are we smelling the same stuff? Only thing that stands out is the Rye. Secondary aromas include honey, citrus, back fruit and a slight nuttiness. Not really getting the the wood that Clark got.

TASTE

Clark: A little hot with an ethanol taste neat. With one somewhat melted cube the drink opens up. I get the butterscotch, caramel and wood that I got on the nose along with some nuttiness mentioned by TB on the nose. Also get a slight hint of cinnamon and vanilla.

TB: Smooth with a nice burn neat but agree with Clark (ouch, that hurts) that it is better with a little water/ice. Even then not getting any over riding taste, just secondary flavors including Rye, tobacco, pepper, hints of leather and a bit of bitterness.

FINISH

Clark: Medium to medium long with not much change in the taste.

TB: Medium to medium long with a little more Rye and a touch of oak.

OVERALL

Clark: At this price point I would stick to Eagle Rare. While certainly nothing to turn down, I prefer Templeton Rye over this. Maybe that is me being a homer since it has some Iowa roots.

TB: You are definitely a homer. But TB also finds Knob Creek Rye to be just okay. Like a lot of juice here lately, one has to really reach to find much flavor.

Nose 3.5 out 5

Taste 7.5 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 14.5 out of 20 barrels.

While Knob Creek Rye is not a bad drink, it just lacks something, not sure what. Maybe a little more depth when it comes to the taste and finish. And while not over priced, there is definitely better Rye out at that price range or even under.

Knob Creek Rye does make a decent cocktail, especially like it in an old fashion and is a pretty easy drink. It also has a recognizable name, and that name is very popular.

Final verdict, Talking Bourbon is going to punt on this one. If you like Knob Creek Bourbon, you might like this. If you like a Rye that is not too bold or too forward, you might like this. If you are more of a mixing person you will like this. At this price point, you should find out for yourself.

Wild Turkey Longbranch

Today’s tasting is yet another offering from Wild Turkey, Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Talking Bourbon remembers when you could just buy the fine Wild Turkey 101 and the not so fine 81. Longbranch is described on the Wild Turkey web site as:

“Made in small batches and refined with oak and Texas Mesquite charcoals, this unique process results in an extraordinarily balanced and smooth sipping whiskey.”

Longbranch is a partnership between legendary Master Distiller Eddie Russell and Mathew McConaughey, yeah the actor. Guess he is a Bourbon dude, who knew? Supposedly it was “inspired” by the actor’s Texas roots, hence the mesquite.

Longbranch comes in a nice looking squat corked bottle, aged 8 years and bottled at 83 proof. Longbranch, like most things from Wild Turkey, is mass produced and available pretty much wherever spirits are sold. TB found this bottle at Costco. It sells for around $35 for 750ml and has a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% barley.

Assisting in the review today is Maria. Maria is more of a wine and margarita girl but also likes gin and tonics and occasionally a sip of good Bourbon.

NOSE

Maria: Strong aromas of butterscotch is the first thing that jumps out at me. After that I pick up scents of smoke, vanilla and spice.

TB: Nothing really stands out, some Rye, corn, caramel, vanilla and a bit of the smoke that Maria got. Also get a faint taste of wood and once ice was added, some citrus.

TASTE

Maria: Very sweet up front along with cedar. Lesser scents include the butterscotch, smoke and vanilla that I got on the nose. Also, very smooth neat, I usually don’t like to drink any hard liquor that way but this was fine.

TB: Also find this to be very sweet and also taste the smoke and wood that Maria talked about, almost like a campfire. Secondary flavors include pepper, grain and the caramel that I got on the nose. Even further back, a little bit of mustiness.

FINISH

Maria: Medium with more sweetness and wood.

TB: Medium-long with the same sweetness and wood and a little spice.

OVERALL

Maria: I’m no expert and it lacked the nuttiness that I like in Bourbons, but enjoyed drinking a glass.

TB: A little on the sweet side and not a ton of depth but have to agree with Maria, I enjoyed my glass.

Nose 3.5 out of 5

Taste 8 out of 10

Finish 3.5 out of 5

Total score 15 out of 20 barrels.

Not a bad Bourbon for the price, TB paid $29.99, but nothing you need to rush out and buy. Talking Bourbon was scared this was going to taste like Jack Daniels given the charcoal, and as readers know TB does not like JD. Happy to report that Longbranch in no way resembles Jack Daniels.

Longbranch is best enjoyed neat or with Whiskey cubes. When adding ice you lose some of the aromas and flavors. Longbranch is a little too sweet to make a good mixer unless you just like to add a few drops of bitters.

If a sweet Bourbon is your thing, you should definitely give Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey a shot. The added smokiness at least sets it apart from other sweet Bourbons.

New Riff Bourbon

Like the last review, Talking Bourbon has never heard of this particular  Bourbon and it is not sold here in the Indianapolis area. And like the last tasting, TB has local attorney Aaron Pitt to thank for the bottle. As he has done in the past, Aaron is going to be guest tasting as well.

New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, by New Riff Distillery, is a sour mash and bottled in bond, long time readers of this blog will know what those terms mean. New Riff comes in an elegant, tall corked bottle that is darker at the top. It is Bottled at 100 proof, sells for around $40 to $45 for 750ml and is aged 4 years. As stated above, it is not available everywhere. The mash bill is 65% corn, 30% Rye and 5% barley. 

As most readers are also aware, TB likes Bourbon to be a little more than 4 years old.

NOSE

Aaron:    Toast and leather are the most prominent, a bit of sweetness and some ethanol after that. This might be because I know the age, and I don’t know how else to describe it, but it seems to smell young. Also, after adding ice I lost the nose.

TB:    Nothing really jumps out,  get some brown sugar, butterscotch, Rye, cinnamon, apricot and tobacco. All of these reside in the background though. Not a bad nose, just no dominating aroma. Like Aaron, TB lost a lot of the scent once some ice had melted in the glass.

TASTE

Aaron:   Very hot neat, probably due to its youth. Upfront I get a very strong taste of vanilla cake. Not many secondary flavors, maybe a little caramel and cinnamon. 

TB:   Agree, pretty hot neat, better with a little water. A toasted nuttiness and Rye at first. Behind this are tastes of leather and baking spices.

FINISH

Aaron:    Medium with a little spice and some sweetness.

TB:   A nice sweet medium to long finish with hints of cocoa, menthol and more spice. 

OVERALL

Aaron:    Decent, I feel like it could use a few more years in the barrel.

TB:    It’s okay, not good but not bad either. Finish is best part.

Nose     3.5 out of 5

Taste    7.25 out of 10

Nose     4.25 out of 5

Total score    15 out of twenty barrels.

New Riff is priced a little high for being just 4 years old, but that is just the world we live in where everything Bourbon related has gotten so high. The bottle is cool, it’s young age and 100 proof lets it stand up to mixers and a lot of people will not have heard of it, making for a god conversation starter.

But like Aaron said, New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon is just decent. Being just four years old there is just not the depth and complexity that today’s Bourbon drinkers expect. If you see it for the price mentioned, Maybe give it a try, but Talking Bourbon will not be planning an out of state trip just to pick up a bottle.

J Henry & Sons Patton Road Reserve Bourbon

                                                                 Talking Bourbon had never heard of this particular Bourbon until 3 days ago when a friend stopped by with a bottle of this and another one unheard of by TB. That 2nd Bourbon will be reviewed on the next blog.

The full name of today’s tasting is J Henry & Sons, Patton Road Reserve, Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Cask Strength, or JHPRC for short. JHPRC is aged 5 years, comes in a very nice corked bottle, sells for around $70 to $75 for the 750ml and, as the name states, is bottled at cask strength.  This bottle comes from batch # 189 and is 120.32 proof.  Not currently available in Indiana but can be found all over Wisconsin, the Chicago area and online.

JHPRC, according to their web site, is made from heirloom red corn that is grown by Henry Farm Prairie Spirits, the maker of JHPRC .

For the record, TB has never had a Bourbon from Wisconsin, in fact TB has never had anything but beer and cheese from Wisconsin. So not real sure what to expect.

Also today we welcome  back guest taster, neighbor Brett. It has been over a year since Brett last sat in on a review. Brett is a beer guy as well as a lover of Bourbon. His favorite Bourbons are Blanton’s and Weller’s Special Reserve. Can’t fault him on those.

NOSE

Brett:    A very sweet scent, reminiscent of honey and toffee, is the first thing I pick up. Also getting a  slight fruity aroma.

TB:    This does not smell like 120 proof juice. Picking up caramel, maple and vanilla up front with underlying scents of grain and the fruitiness that Brett mentioned. All in all a nice nose.

TASTE

Brett:     I get the caramel, toffee and fruit that was on the nose along with a little corn and vanilla. A very easy drink considering the proof.

TB:      Nothing really jumps out, a little bit of caramel/toffee,  a bit of spice, a little bit of corn and a little bit of a white pepper taste. Also get a slight medicinal taste reminding one of a bandage. Agree with Brett that it goes down easy for such a high proof.

FINISH

Brett:      Medium with more sweetness.

TB:    Medium with a slight hint of a baking spice, maybe clove.

OVERALL

Brett:      A decent Bourbon that goes down smooth.

TB:           The taste and finish are somewhat of a let down after that good nose.

Nose        4 out of 5

Taste        7 out of 10

Finish       3.25 out of 5

Total score   14.25 out of 20 barrels.

Talking Bourbon really wanted to like  Henry & Sons, Patton Road Reserve, Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Cask Strength. That they grow their own corn is a cool story, the bottle is cool looking and TB is always drawn to smaller establishments. And the price is not bad considering you are buying less water at the high proof. However, the taste just did not come through.

Having said that, if an easy drinking and a non complex Bourbon at a high proof is what you are after, JHPRC fits the bill.

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

TB:    Medium-long with a lingering sweetness.

OVERALL

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

TB:    Medium finish with more sweetness and baking spice.

OVERALL

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.

NOSE

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.

TASTE

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.

FINISH

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

OVERALL

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.