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Maker’s Mark Private Select - Linwood Wine & Liquor Company

 

Classification: Bourbon finished with oak staves

Company: Beam Suntory

Distillery: Maker’s Mark

Proof: 111.6

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley

Price: $80 (2018)

Official Website

 

If you’re not familiar with the Maker’s Mark Private Select concept, bottles are created using unique stave combinations to produce a truly one-of-a-kind product. The company opened up this process to stores a few years ago allowing them to pick their own stave combinations. With over 1,000 different possible combinations, Maker’s Mark offers retailers a truly unique barrel select program by allowing them to have a direct influence on how a barrel ultimately tastes.

 

This the second Maker’s Mark Private Select we’ve provided tasting notes for and there are some common threads we’ve found between them. First, they tend to lean on the heavy full-flavored side of the spectrum, more so than a traditional bottle of bourbon. Second, for being on the “lower” side of the barrel proof scale (generally around 111-133 proof) they still pack a lot of heat.

 

Linwood Wine & Liquor Company’s picked 7 baked American Pure 2 staves, 2 seared French Cuvee staves, and 1 toasted French spice stave for their barrel. It has mild aromas of vanilla, toasted oak, and coffee that are a bit overshadowed by ethanol. Allowing some airtime helps tame, but not fully remove the ethanol. I’m surprised how relatively mild the nose has been on the Private Selects I’ve sampled compared to Maker’s standard offerings. The palate packs a strong fiery front of tobacco, oak, and black pepper. This bold display of flavors is impactful as it is long lasting. The tobacco and oak bleeds into the finish which leaves a dry aftertaste.

 

Maker’s Mark Private Selects do come with a higher price tag for their additional steps to create and their resulting uniqueness. Their bold flavor tends to be love it or leave it for a lot of people. If you’ve been nervous pulling the trigger on one of these, many stores will have their store selections open for patrons to sample. That way you’ll know if a particular Maker’s Mark Private Select’s unique flavor is right for you.

Eric - 03/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Linwood Wine & Liquor Company. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Barrell Bourbon Batch 015

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (From a total of three undisclosed distilleries in Tennessee and Kentucky)

Proof: 107.6

Age: Blend of 9.5, 10, and 11 year old bourbons

Mashbill: Corn, Rye, Malted Barley (undisclosed amounts)

MSRP: $90 (2018)

Official Website

 

While some describe sourcing bourbon as simply buying someone else’s barrels and putting it into a bottle with your label on it, what the folks at Barrell Craft Spirits do is anything but. This particular blend comes from three distilleries located in Tennessee and Kentucky, with an estimated 70 - 75% coming from Tennessee. After a strong showing with Batch 014, just how does this latest batch fare?

 

Scents of baking spices and seasoned oak give way to sweet honey aromas. On the palate a bed of gingerbread settles in beneath sweeter fruity notes of peaches and apples. A touch of cornbread and a trace of seasoned oak round things out. Long and warming, the finish consists of buttered cornbread, honey, and just the right amount of rye spice. A bit of sweet fruit also shows through in the finish as it trails off.

 

At 107.6 proof, Batch 015 is Barrell’s lowest proof bourbon release to date, though others have been close. Still cask strength however, the relatively low proof for a Barrell Bourbon doesn’t do this bourbon a disservice, and if anything allows the flavors to shine without being overpowered by an overly assertive proof. What’s especially interesting is the fruit notes I picked up with this batch are more prominent than any other Barrell Bourbon batch I can remember. To put it plainly, I’m a fan of Batch 015. It’s immediately likeable and has a flavor profile I could keep coming back to over and over.  Nick - 03/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Rabbit Hole Bourbon (Late 2016)

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Rabbit Hole Distilling

Distillery: Contract Distilled by an Unknown Source

Proof: 95

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 10% Malted Wheat, 10% Honey Malted Barley, 10% Malted Barley

Price: $50

Official Website

 

Rabbit Hole Distilling was founded in 2012 by clinical psychologist turned distillery owner Kave Zamamian. With the help of Cameron Talley formerly of Brown-Forman and Wild Turkey, Rabbit Hole Distilling started by both contract distilling their standard bourbon and rye, and sourcing bourbon for their PX Sherry Cask finished product. Unlike sourcing bourbon, contract distilling is the act of hiring another distillery to distill bourbon to your agreed upon specifications. In this case, it is rumored that New Rift Distilling was their contract source, while Rabbit Hole Distilling completes the construction of their new distillery in downtown Louisville.

 

Sweet notes on the nose consist of vanilla, light caramel and honey, corn oil, and dashes of oak. The bourbon provides a good mouthfeel with an oily coating of sweet corn, light cotton candy, hints of old fashioned Bazooka Joe bubble gum, and candy red maraschino cherries. The palate shows this bourbon definitely younger but not distractingly so. That said, the finish shows its age as it lacks depth. A flash of heat, corn, and oak are present with the sweeter notes from the nose and finish nowhere to be found.

 

For such a young bourbon, this shows a lot of potential. The nose and palate really highlight its unique mashbill. The finish makes it very clear that it could use more time in the barrel, which makes me all the more intrigued to try this after it has had more time to age. With an up-and-coming distillery and more experience underneath their belt, I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Rabbit Hole Distilling.

Jordan - 03/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Rabbit Hole Distilling. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea - Voyage 12

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Jefferson’s

Distillery: Sourced

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $90 (2018)

Official Website

 

It’s been some time since we last checked in with the Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea series. Nick reviewed Voyages 2-4, giving the highest mark to Voyage 2. With a Wheated Ocean and Jefferson’s Journey (bourbon traveled by boat from Louisville to NYC) expected in 2018, it seems fitting to take another look at a more recent Ocean release. We were curious to see how a recent release tastes, how it compares to previous Ocean releases, and how it compares to the standard Jefferson’s Reserve.

 

Voyage 12 opens with rich butterscotch which is quite assertive at times on the nose. Floral and bubblegum scents also pull through combining into a gentle aroma that is quite pleasing. A unique flavor pops on the palate. It’s not in-your-face different, but more subtle. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s straight up salty, but it does have a brine-like quality and even a hibiscus-like flavor to it. In a way it also tastes like the malted barley got enhanced to a degree by the voyage. Not so much that it tastes like a single malt whiskey, but more so than a typical bourbon. This trails off in the finish as oak takes over and leaves a slight dry aftertaste.

 

Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea has always had to fight against the gimmicky moniker, as aging bourbon on a boat will do that. There’s no way to tell for sure if the standard Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon is the same bourbon that also goes into Jefferson’s Ocean, or if it’s some variation of it. Comparing them directly to each other, there is certainly a difference in taste. Jefferson’s Reserve has a very traditional flavor profile that is a bit more brash both in its palate and finish. Voyage 12 is mellower and this brings out a bit more nuances in the flavors. Its unique tasting palate simply offers something a little different. This of course also comes at a premium price point.

 

Tasting Voyage 12 against Voyages 2 and 4, all three have elements that made them taste different than you would normally expect bourbon to taste. Voyage 2 has its thick mouthfeel and burnt brown sugar, where Voyage 4 has more earthiness. We’ll never know if these bourbons had these elements before being aged on a boat, but tasting them now, as subtle as they are, it’s evident they bring something else to the glass that the standard Jefferson Reserve doesn’t. Call it a gimmick if you want, but it’s clear Jefferson’s Ocean Voyages are unique tasting and are a better sip versus the standard Jefferson’s Reserve. In the end it will be up to the individual drinker if these oh-so subtle changes are enough to warrant its premium price. However after this many voyages, cask strength versions, store selections, and new variations on the way, one can conclude that they just might be.  Eric - 03/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Pete. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

John J. Bowman Single Barrel - DGC & The Book Club Private Select “Dice Bottle”

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company Inc.

Distillery: Buffalo Trace / A. Smith Bowman Distillery

Proof: 100

Age: 11 Years

Mashbill: Buffalo Trace Mashbill #1

MSRP: Not available for retail sale

Official Website

 

This week’s Tasting Note Tuesdays features a private selection barrel of John J. Bowman that was chosen by two groups - DCG of Greenville, SC and The Book Club of Charlottesville, VA. What’s most interesting about this barrel was the selection process - after the barrel was selected, and after much deliberation, the groups decided to take a risk and age the barrel an additional six months in Bowman’s non-temperature controlled warehouse. “Rolling the dice” on whether the additional time in a hot warehouse would enhance or potentially ruin the barrel they selected, we had the chance to sample the result.

 

The bourbon is made from Buffalo Trace’s mashbill #1, twice distilled at Buffalo Trace and then re-distilled in A. Smith Bowman’s famous copper pot still. It entered the barrel at 125 proof and after 11 years emerged at a whopping 141.9 proof, though it was proofed down to the standard 100 for final bottling.

 

The end result is certainly a quintessential John J. Bowman Single Barrel flavor profile. Fresh leather, cigar box, baking chocolate, and a hint of green apple aromas introduce the bourbon to the senses. The sip reveals rich, earthy flavors of fresh leather, seasoned oak, and barrel char. Its notable astringency complements its earthy undertones. A warming heat accents the finish, with cinnamon spice and bouts of chewing tobacco giving way to hard cherry candy sweetness. It’s long and delicious. Leaving it in the glass for a prolonged period accents some of the more refined notes and subdues the astringency.

 

On the surface, leaving a barrel to age another six months doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But if you’ve ever been part of selecting a barrel you know the risk of ruining it can be significant. At $10,000+/- for a barrel of bourbon, that’s a risk not many will likely take. Ryan Gossage, a member of the group who selected the barrel, reached out to us in May 2017 to ask our opinion of whether they should take that risk, and the best advice we could provide him was to say it’s basically a “crapshoot.” They already knew they had a good barrel and ran the risk of ruining it...and much can be said for stopping the aging process at the right time...tanked Sazerac 18 Year anyone? With that in mind it’s an interesting experiment and while I can’t say how much the additional six months of barrel aging changed the flavor profile from their initial selection, the result is as interesting as it is unique.  Nick - 02/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of DGC & The Book Club. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Sourced (From undisclosed distilleries in Tennessee and Kentucky)

Proof: 109.4

Age: Blend of 9 and 14 year old bourbons

Mashbill: Corn, Rye, Malted Barley (undisclosed amounts)

MSRP: $90

Official Website

 

Barrell Craft Spirits run by Joe Beatrice, is a producer/blender out of Kentucky that releases multiple unique batches of barrel proof spirits throughout the year. We’ve reviewed a number of his releases and  some of our favorite whiskeys over the past few years have come from this company including Batch 005, Batch 006, Batch 011, and Batch 013. Eric noted in his Batch 013 review that Beatrice is on an impressive streak with his Barrell Bourbon batches, but with each new batch, we can’t help think that this is it, this is the one batch that finally disappoints. Pouring this batch I wondered, “could this be the one?”

 

The nose consists of a strong dose of milled corn mixed with oak, peaches, and baked pie crust. The palate has a satisfyingly oily mouthfeel that nicely coats your mouth. The sip itself is sweeter and contains mixtures of light vanilla, caramel, rye grain, green apple, and a heat that wasn’t noticeable in the nose. It ends on spicy and dry notes, with leather, white pepper, and rye grain leading the way, all of which are mixed with a well executed dash of heat.

 

It turns out Beatrice delivered the goods, because once again Batch 014 delivers a solid sip. The older bourbons used in this batch, combined with the lower than normal proof for a Barrell product results in an all around enjoyable sipper. If you haven’t experienced a Barrell Bourbon yet, Batch 014 is as good as any to start with and I doubt many will be disappointed by it.  Jordan - 02/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

Weller 12 Year (2017 Release)

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Sazerac Company, Inc.

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Proof: 90

Age: 12 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Price: $30

Official Website

 

Weller 12 has had one of the more interesting journeys for a bourbon this decade. Prior to 2014, it was routinely found in plentiful numbers and on the bottom shelf at most liquor stores. It’s a great case study for perception of value. Once found under $20, many people simply overlooked it because of the price, but for those in the know, they always had it on hand. There were never reports of mass hoarding or exorbitant secondary pricing. It was a house bourbon that no one paid that much attention to. That is until you couldn’t find it anymore.

 

I remember hearing that it was starting to disappear from store shelves in mid 2013 and didn’t think too much of it. I had the expectation that it would come back at some point, probably sooner than later. As 2013 came to a close, I started to get a little worried. I’d spend the better part of a day, typing in “liquor store” into Google Maps and driving to pretty much every single store in my city trying to locate one. At that point it was already too late.

 

It wasn’t until 2015 that I eventually came across another bottle on the shelf. That was the last time that happened, but I also don’t bother looking for it anymore either. In late 2017 I was offered one from a store owner at its retail price: $30. I of course bought it, but knowing in the back of my head reviews for newer batches say it isn’t what it use to be. Well let’s find out.

 

Very traditional aromas up front. Heavy oak gives hints that it might be a dry bourbon despite good amounts of vanilla and caramel present. It’s surprisingly not sweet smelling at all. It has average depth at best, but still the nose has decent overall composition. The palate is rather nice thanks to its velvety consistency. Its dry oaky, sweet caramel, and buttercream notes have their moments, but almost cancel each other out in a way. This transitions into an oaky and tannic-like finish that tastes slightly off. The flavor is a bit weak on the finish, but it has a mild spicy aftertaste that is rather enjoyable.

 

All in, Weller 12 Year (2017) is a bit unrefined, but still has its moments. Its palate is its standout trait, I’d just like to see more of a sweet element injected into it. That is where my 2013 bottle shines. It has the punchy sweetness that adds another dimension to it. Being an open bottle for five years certainly didn’t do the bottle any disservice, but I doubt the same will be able to be said about this 2017 bottle in five years time.

 

Finally, tasting the 2013, 2015, 2017 in succession, the 2017 bottle was the weakest of the bunch. Again, its lack of overall sweetness and disappointing finish holds it back. Where the 2013 and 2015 bottles could easily warrant a $50+ price tag if released today, the 2017 bottle isn’t quite there. I’m satisfied with it knowing that I spent $30 on it, but I wouldn’t have felt the same way, if I’d spent much over that. It’s a good bourbon, nothing more.   Eric - 02/2018

 

 

Copper Cross Hybrid Whiskey

 

Classification: American Whiskey (blend of bourbon and rye)

Company: Copper Cross Spirits

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 84

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed (blend of a high rye bourbon and a rye whiskey)

MSRP: $35

Official Website

 

Copper Cross Spirits was created by Joseph Dehner, owner of Dehner Distillery in Clive, Iowa. With Copper Cross Hybrid Whiskey, Dehner’s goal was to make a smooth, great mixing, or on-the-rocks whiskey, not necessarily a sipping whiskey. To that end, Dehner put this 18 month old MGP sourced blend through a seven step process - a process intended to smooth out the whiskey by removing the rougher notes. He ultimately landed on 84 proof as he found it was most floral at that proof. As noted by Dehner, any less and it was too watery, any more and it was too hot when considering his target flavor profile. I had the opportunity to try pre-release samples of the before and after whiskeys, and as a result can affirm first-hand that his process achieved what he intended it to. Dehner also states that while the blend is not made up of straight whiskeys (the two year minimum time period was not met), it is purely a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys, nothing else.

 

As for flavor profile, Copper Cross is quite approachable. It’s light and sweet on the nose, with hints of creme brulee and vanilla. Taking a sip brings more sweetness, but also a touch of spice. Caramel, vanilla, and a trace of bubblegum sweetness are followed by a rising cinnamon spice that starts on the sip and grows in intensity into the finish where it crescendos. Sugar candy sweetness and a hint of rye grain linger.

 

What’s interesting about this whiskey is that it tastes well beyond its age. While there were more obvious youthful and grain-forward notes in the pre-release and pre-processed samples I tried, this final product is more well-rounded, and I think many would be hard-pressed to guess its 18 month age based on taste alone. After speaking with Dehner during his process to bring this product from where he was nearly a year ago, it was apparent from the onset that he set out to create a product with a specific goal in mind, and a product he wanted to be well received and fairly priced at $35.  Nick - 02/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Copper Cross Spirits. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Sunshine Reserve American Whiskey

 

Classification: American Whiskey

Company: Manhattan Moonshine Company

Distillery: Sourced

Proof: 85

Age: At Least 1 Day

Mashbill: Oat (Primary Grain), Rye, Spelt, Malted Barley (undisclosed amounts)

Official Website

 

Sunshine Reserve American Whiskey is the older sibling of Manhattan Moonshine from the Manhattan Moonshine Company. It carries over the same distinct packaging, which has been made specially so that when the bottle is finished, you can run it under hot water to strip off the labels cleanly and use the empty bottle as a decanter. Manhattan employs a few unique aging techniques, including aging at a lower proof (around 110), and using oak that is baked in a convection oven versus being charred. Additionally, the label indicates Sunshine Reserve is aged for at least one day and finished with additional toasted oak staves, though the company suggests the statement is only there because it’s required by law - the true aging time remains undisclosed.

 

Sunshine Reserve’s rich dark color is deceiving compared to the actual tasting experience. Extremely youthful notes of sweet oak and lightly baked oat dominate the nose along with the distinguishing scent of ethanol without the actual burn. The youth carries through to the palate with baked oat and oak once again dominating. The finish lingers with dry oak, white pepper, and a touch of sweet oats intermixing together.

 

While using oats as the primary grain is an interesting twist, Sunshine Reserve leaves little doubt that it’s a young whiskey. This whiskey doesn't follow what bourbon geeks like to typically see, so it will automatically get written off by a lot of people. New aging techniques can produce interesting new products and experimenting is a good thing...unless the product that is being sold has a hard time winning you over. It's easy to write this off based on technique alone, unfortunately the whiskey itself doesn’t do much to counter this. In the meantime you’re left with a gorgeous bottle to use as a decanter while you ponder this thought. -Jordan 1/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Manhattan Moonshine Company. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Smooth Ambler Very Old Scout 14 Year Barrel #6401

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Pernod Ricard/Smooth Ambler

Distillery: Sourced

Proof: 100

Age: 14 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Official Website

 

Smooth Ambler pulled a rabbit out of their hat last August and released a new batch of 14 Year Very Old Scout at their distillery. Only 3 barrels were bottled and were priced at $195. It was gobbled up thanks to previous releases of their Very Old Scout having attained almost cult-like status. A reader was kind enough to share a sample with us so we could explore the latest release in this line.

 

It opens with rich, yet tempered aromas of butterscotch, vanilla bean, and leather. It’s inviting and extremely enjoyable. The palate is robust with bold spice and pepper against sweet corn and vanilla. The finish comes off a bit heavily oaked and dry, but thankfully a little of the palate’s sweetness sticks around for balance.

 

Overall this is a very enjoyable 14 year old bourbon. There are pronounced notes of oak that surprisingly don’t overpower the bourbon like so many older bourbons experience. The sweet notes provide classic contrast to the dry notes and really elevate it. This bourbon makes me miss this age range which has all but disappeared over the past few years. Yes you typically have to contend with more oak notes, but they also provide a hardy backbone to a bourbon which is on display here.

 

At $195 I might be a bit reserved at picking up a bottle, but that seems to be an ongoing trend with high-aged bourbon nowadays. Bourbon north of 12 years old is commanding a high price, and on top of that, this was a distillery-only release (which adds its own premium). Bourbon really needs to knock your socks off at that price and while this was really good bourbon, it’s hard to ignore the price. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see and taste a Very Old Scout again.   Eric 01/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Mike. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Freedom Bourbon Batch #1

 

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Have A Shot Of Freedom Whiskey Company (HASOF Whiskey Company, LLC)

Distillery: Have A Shot Of Freedom Whiskey Company (HASOF Whiskey Company, LLC) - Distilled in partnership with an undisclosed distillery in Spring Valley, CA

Proof: 90

Age: 10 Months

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Barley

Official Website

 

Have A Shot Of Freedom Whiskey Company is a 100% veteran owned and operated company founded by Zach Hollingsworth (U.S. Marine Corps) and Scott Brown (U.S. Air Force). The company works in partnership with an undisclosed distillery located in Spring Valley, CA, distilling under the HASOF Whiskey Company, LLC name with the help of a U.S. Navy veteran. Zach primarily collaborated with the master distiller to determine the mashbill, flavor profile, and aging of the bourbon. Scott’s role in its curation is largely taste testing and blending the final product.

 

Fresh and youthful aromas of sweet corn and raw whiskey are tempered with light vanilla and apples. The palate is lively with sweet caramel and vanilla notes along with a hint of oak. The whiskey is youthful as well, but not overly so. Crisp and clean, the finish is nicely balanced as the potency of flavor tapers off rather quickly. As the flavors fade there’s a hint of smokiness with caramel sweetness lingering.

 

The guys at HASOF did a fantastic job capturing the feel in their bottle design - a nice strong bottle shape with a bald eagle along with stars and stripes on a shield, ultimately capturing their veteran roots via the label. The bourbon is young, and while it tastes on the better side for young bourbon, there is still no hiding its age - though it does taste well in excess of what I’d expect for 10 months. Batch 1 was comprised of 1,700 bottles, with only about 75 left via the company website at the time of this writing. Batch 2 has already been distributed to numerous states, and we’re told will be available via the company website soon.  -Nick  01/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of HASOF Whiskey Company, LLC. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Resilient Straight Bourbon Whisky Barrel #2

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: BC Merchants

Distillery: MGP Ingredients

Proof: 107

Age: 11 Years, 4 Months

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Corn

Official Website

 

Resilient Straight Bourbon Whisky is the brainchild of Brian Ciske of BC Merchants. For this particular release, Ciske sourced 10 bourbon barrels from MGP and released them in single barrel form over three releases. Release 3 consisted of barrels 1, 2, 5, & 7, of which this review is of barrel #2.

 

Dried banana, caramel, corn, vanilla, and oak on the nose. A straightforward palate of oak, vanilla, hints of white pepper, and dried banana. A drier finish with a touch of heat that consists of charred oak, leather, and vanilla.

 

For an 11 year old higher proof bourbon, the flavors while tasty, lack the depth I would expect from a bourbon this age and at this proof. Whatever depth it may lack in taste, BC Merchants makes up for it in transparency. It’s refreshing to see the up front honesty from BC Merchants in terms of listing out as much information possible about the origin of this bourbon. That said, this is an easy sipping bourbon that anyone can easily enjoy.  Jordan  01/2018

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of BC Merchants. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Bedtime Bourbon

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Louisville Bourbon Transit Company

Distillery: Sourced (Distilled in Tennessee)

Proof: 90

Age: 8 Years

Mashbill: 84% Corn, 8% Rye and 8% Malted Barley

Official Website

 

Louisville Bourbon Transit Company was founded by long time friends Scott Ritcher, Carla Jacob and Joel Jacob. As a non-distiller producer (NDP) they sourced four barrels of bourbon from a distillery in Tennessee with the idea that the bourbon “could stand alongside some of [their] favorites.” If you’re a fan of a certain distillery in Tennessee, Bedtime Bourbon will right be up your alley.

 

The nose brings with it fruity and sweet aromas of butterscotch, caramel, leather and bourbon-soaked cherries. It’s pleasant and inviting and overall a straightforward affair. The plate follows with additional sweetness that’s balanced by notes of nutmeg, oak, and a touch of citrus. It finishes with a short burst of hot cinnamon and dried oak.

 

This bourbon has enjoyable flavor notes and all around good bones. That’s not surprising when you theorize where this bourbon probably came from. With the first batch consisting of 840 bottles and only available in Kentucky, not many will have the opportunity to try it in this current state. Like all NDPs, continually sourcing good barrels is where the true test lies. For their first batch, it’s a crowd pleaser both in taste and bottle/label design. I bet there are many bourbon drinkers out there that have talked about starting their own bourbon brand while throwing back a few with their friends. These friends actually made it happen.   Eric 12/2017

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Louisville Bourbon Transit Company. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon (2nd edition, 2015 release)

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Garrison Brothers

Distillery: Garrison Brothers

Proof: 135

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: 100% #1 Panhandle Yellow Dent Corn

Official Website

 

Garrison Brothers is an artisan distillery located in Hye, Texas, a small community about 60 miles west of Austin. Beginning production in 2008, it’s one of the longest running distilleries in the American “craft” whiskey movement. Garrison Brothers only makes one thing, bourbon, and they seem to take pride in doing it differently. With the intent of making no two vintages that are alike, Garrison Brothers talks about altering different parts of the bourbon making process, including varying mashbill, barrel entry proof, and even headspace within the barrel upon initial fill (filling a barrel only half full, for example). Combined with the intense heat cycles found in Texas, bourbons aging in their barn (currently estimated to be more than 5,000 barrels), the end result turns out to be a flavor profile entirely different from anything else out there.

 

Cowboy Bourbon is Garrison Brothers’ highest priced and rarest offering. This particular vintage is from 2015, and is from bottle 3,419 out of 5,200. It’s incredibly dark in color, a trait Garrison Brothers says may be the only consistent one among their vintages. The flavor profile is quite different, and quite delicious. Citrus and vanilla greet the nose, along with a dollop of fresh oak. The sip is as rich as it is complex, with heavy caramel, clove, molasses, and brown sugar against intense seasoned oak. It has a thick, oily texture, and drinks less than its 135 proof allowing me to roll it around in my mouth with less burn than expected. It finishes nicely with molasses and brown sugar combined with a hint of fresh oak.

 

Because Garrison Brothers’ production and distribution are limited, I have yet to see their products on shelves in my area. Combined with what’s also a fairly high price tag on their bourbons, I just haven’t taken the leap to seek out and get to know the brand. Now that I’ve finally tried one, I’m really glad I have. The 2015 vintage Cowboy Bourbon is fantastic, and goes to show that even a relatively young craft bourbon can be just as good as anything else out there. Garrison Brothers is on my radar, and I’m excited to try more of what they have to offer.

Nick  12/2017

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Michael Iurato. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

 

 

 

2bar Straight Bourbon

 

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: 2bar Spirits

Distillery: 2bar Spirits

Proof: 100

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Official Website

 

2bar has recently upgraded their bourbon line to be classified as Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Unlike their past releases, this means that it has been aged for a minimum of 2 years in new charred oak barrels. Up until recently, 2bar had avoided  the use of 53 gallon barrels and instead ages in smaller barrels. While no information is readily available, it’s believed past barrels used were of the 15 gallon variety. They have recently begun filling full size barrels for future releases.

 

The nose consists of classic scents of vanilla, corn, and oak mix with sweet raisins and allspice. Oak and sweet vanilla dominate the palate with hints of baked pie crust and grain peeking out from underneath. The finish is dry and oaky with a dash of heat up front. It ends on a lingering note of dry tannic oak.

 

Much like how 2bar has been increasing the age of their bourbon, their flavor profile continues to improves over time too. The extra time in the smaller barrel size adds a heavy dose of oak which skews the flavor of the finish negatively compared to the younger version I’ve tried in the past. Overall though, its flavor profile offers a major upgrade comparatively. While still not on many people’s radar, 2bar has come a long way over the years, and now with the recent upgrade to Straight Bourbon, it’s worth seeking out a bottle.  Jordan 11/2017

 

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of 2bar. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.