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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 9, 2014


Young Americans - Part Deux

We’ll choose bigger stuff this time, and hopefully our scores will be higher than 80. Let’s see…

Evan Williams 2003 'Single Barrel'  (43.3%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2013)

Evan Williams 2003 'Single Barrel'  (43.3%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2013) Three stars This one by Heaven Hill isn’t very expensive for a 10 years old. Colour: full gold. Nose: traditional bourbon, that is to say full of vanilla, syrups (maple and corn, as usual) and milk chocolate, as well as some mild honey and pollen. It’s only in the background that one will find more spices, including touches of rye and ginger. A little sawdust and pencil shavings too, but nothing ‘too much’. Mouth: ultra-classic good quality bourbon, not too oaky, not too sweet, not too syrupy, with some stewed tropical fruits (bananas), then rather a lot of mead and sour apples. Then half a lavender bonbon, ripe gooseberries, maybe peaches and a drop of pepper liqueur, unless that’s rather ginger. I enjoy the fact that it’s not just a bed of… vanilla. Finish: rather long considering the strength, quite nervous, with some rye and some caraway. More chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ve seen that this baby’s much more expensive in Europe, but I think it’s worth it. Good tempo. SGP:441 - 82 points.

Bowman Brothers 'Small Batch' (45%, OB, USA, Virginia straight bourbon, +/-2014)

Bowman Brothers 'Small Batch' (45%, OB, USA, Virginia straight bourbon, +/-2014) Two stars This baby was distilled three times in copper stills, apparently it’s redistilled Buffalo Trace bourbon, or quite possibly new make spirit. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts a little wishy-washy, with then quite some oak and grains, caramel, ginger and white pepper. I wouldn’t say there’s much happening, but there’s also a little grass and sour apples. Mouth: it’s having trouble after the Evan Williams, but I like the palate rather better than the nose despite some roughish oak and a sourness that does not work too well in my opinion. Cider and mead, cinnamon, then more honey and maple syrup, overripe apples… Finish: of medium length, with even more overripe apples and cinnamon. Comments: I find this rather okay, but we’re a good ten points below the Evan Williams in my little book. SGP:341 - 72 points.

And now, let’s fly from Virginia to Arkansas!

Rock Town 'Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey' (46%, OB, USA, +/-2014)

Rock Town 'Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey' (46%, OB, USA, +/-2014) Three stars and a half From Arkansas’ first legal distillery since prohibition, located in Little Rock. Reminds me of a band that I used to like when I was a teenager, Black Oak Arkansas. It seems that they’re still around and I’ll add their music to this post, please see and listen below... Colour: deep gold. Nose: reeks of American oak, as expected. It’s not unpleasant, it’s just young and, well, plain oak liqueur. You know, sawdust, pencil shavings, coffee, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, hints of mashed celeriac, porridge, bread, earth and leaves… I have to say I quite enjoy this because beyond the oak, you can feel the grains, they aren’t hidden. Mouth: yeah, sure it’s very oaky, but again, I enjoy these bready notes, the liquorice, even the tarry side (also charcoal? Cigar ashes?) and all the spices. Some kind of very spicy gingerbread. Finish: quite long, sweeter, spicier, on mulled wine and Christmas spice cake (christstollen). Comments: very encouraging, I find this excellent for it’s probable (very) young age. Well done, Arkansas! SGP:451 - 83 points.

And now, off to Illinois…

FEW 'Single Malt' (46.50%, USA, +/-2014)

FEW 'Single Malt' (46.50%, USA, +/-2014) Four stars The FEW craft distillery is located in Evanston, Illinois (which reminds me of Frank Zappa’s Illinois Enema Bandit this time, don’t ask!) and they would distil just anything, as they’re making various gins, bourbon, grappa, rye and malt. It’s the malt that we’ll have today… Colour: gold. Nose: the style is very similar to that of the Rock Town at first nosing, only a little milder and with very, very funny notes of cooked ‘forgotten vegetables’ such as parnsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, and then tinned sardines and anchovies. I’m not making this up! Along all that, some wholemeal bread again, juniper, caraway, cumin, cinnamon… So lots of fun again, and a style that’s rather breadier, drier and grassier than that of the one from Arkansas. Mouth: I-love-this. Serious. There’s more breads than at a breakfast in Vienna or Munich, it’s actually intensely bready and spicy, while the mouth feel is just perfect. Goes on with a few tiny fruits (dried apricots?) and then some peppered chocolate like the Spaniards make. Mexican mole sauce. Finish: long, spicy, very cerealy, very excellent. Comments: a huge surprise. THIS is proof that whisky does not need to be old to be excellent. Doesn’t prove the opposite either, all right. SGP:352 - 86 points.

Rather than ‘regular’ bourbon, maybe we should try another American malt to call this a session. And why not fly back to California?

St. George 'Lot 13' (43%, OB, USA, California, Single Malt Whiskey, +/-2014)

St. George 'Lot 13' (43%, OB, USA, California, Single Malt Whiskey, +/-2014) Three stars I remember we had tasted Lot 3 back in 2009, and although it was young and eau-de-vie-ish, I had already enjoyed it (WF 79). This one is a vatting of various ages, from 4 to 13 years. Colour: straw. Nose: oh, pears, roses and litchis! I’ve never nosed a whisky that was this close to gewürztraminer, even the marc de gewürztraminer we’re distilling ourselves with friends is less gewurztraminery than this. What’s also really striking is that contrarily to most other American whiskeys or whiskies, the oak does not sing the lead here, you don’t even feel it. The freshness is impressive, and the fact that it’s so pure and clean just as well. Now, it’s also a little light, curious about the palate… Mouth: we’re now midway between a bready/oaky/spicy malt with clear notes of beer, and that fruitiness that would add mandarins to the litchis and to the pears. That loses you a bit, we’re navigating between a whisky and an eau-de-vie (or a grappa), but I guess that’s the whole point. Fun stuff again, and I like it. Finish: of medium length, with more oak spices, which is normal. Nutmeg, cinnamon… Comments: seen from here in Europe, well, I tend to like the ‘cowboys’ such as the FEW or the Rock Town a little better than this slightly hybrid spirit, but no doubt it’s great whisky as well. SGP:631 - 81 points.

That was part deux, for part trois we’ll try to taste some more… ‘normal’ bourbon. We’ll see what we can find, sty tuned…







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