Nose: On the sweet side with vanilla, caramel and brown sugar. Fruit also present. Good amount of oak and a little amount of leather on the backside. Everything mingles together evenly.
Palate: A little spice at first with sweet notes moving in. Oak and barrel char round it out. Light on complexity but pleasant in flavor.
Finish: Dry finish with a hearty amount of oak. Medium length finish with spice that hangs in there until the end.
Uniqueness: The main trait this bourbon has going for it is its age. The above average length this bourbon spent in the barrel probably turned what would have been a forgettable bourbon into something more noteworthy. Again, this bourbon isn’t complex, but it seems to have a perfect amount of oak/char flavor to it.
Value: This is another one of those bourbons that makes you think, “how’d they do that?” It’s been aging in a warehouse for 12 years and it only costs $25. It's a great deal. It’s worth noting that I would have gladly paid more for a more complex palate, and apparently Heaven Hill knows people want this: $20 more nets you a barrel proof version of this bourbon. They also make more complex versions of this in a 20 & 21 year editions that will cost you $150. Apparently that’s the rub here. Complexity is going to cost you a lot.
Overall: This is a classic example of a well rounded bourbon with few gimmicks. It benefited a lot from its age. Tasty amounts of oak flavor are what stand out most. It’s a great place for newbies to start or for veterans that want that quintessential bourbon flavor.
To sum it up: An even and balanced bourbon that while not complex, still provides enough traits to keep it interesting.
-Eric - Reviewed: 5/2014
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