Google A few bourbons, part one

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

October 22, 2015


A few bourbons, part one

I’m really glad to see more American whiskies and bourbons coming my way, some being much more characterful than I had thought. But it’s true that I’ve never tasted many of them, and that my knowledge of them is only starting to improve. Very, very slowly…. We’ll try to have a relatively large bag today, from various sources. No, not only from Midwest Grain Products in Lawrenceburg, Indiana…

Bulleit Bourbon (45%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015)

Bulleit Bourbon (45%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015) Three stars and a half We first had this expression by Diageo back in 2009 and found it very nice (WF 83). There’s also a 10, we’ll try to taste it one of these days. Colour: deep gold. Nose: soft and honeyed, not too vanilla-ed, with some pale syrup and quite a few herbal teas, such as chamomile, as well as a faint mentholated touch. Wormwood. I find this rather perfect, and even quite complex given the price. Mouth: good arrival, fruity, on jams and tinned pears and pineapples, plus liquorice allsorts and an earthy touch. Violet bonbons and always this slightly mentholated side. Some ginger too. Finish: the oak’s spices are singing louder. Kind of long. Comments: well as I remembered it. Perfect strength. SGP:641 - 83 points.

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-13-P-3-04-044)

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-13-P-3-04-044) Two stars and a half It’s always strange to see a single barrel that hasn’t got any age statement, not to mention a vintage. But perhaps does ‘07’ mean 2007? The 40% vol. are a wee tad unlikely too… Colour: full gold. Nose: this feeling of pencil shavings and glue/varnish that weren’t to be found in the Bulleit. We’re really at a carpenter’s, not quite the style that I prefer. What’s nicer is that beyond that heavyish sweet oak, one can find pleasant notes of stewed peaches and apricots. Mouth: very ‘traditional’, and I have to say I like this better on the palate, despite the thinness. Mirabelle jams, lavender drops, white pepper… The rye becomes more obvious. Finish: short, but pleasantly spicy and fruity. Touches of fudge and maple syrup. Comments: I don’t care much for these noses, but the palate was quite superb. A shame that it’s losing steam after a few seconds. Please, 45% vol. again! SGP:651 - 79 points.

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-28-P-3-53-042)

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-28-P-3-53-042) Four stars A sister cask, most probably, although the cask number being quite cryptic, we cannot be sure. Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, it is completely different. I’d love to know if this cask was stored nearer the ground, or any other location variations. In fact, it’s both shier and more elegant, with much less ‘glue’, and rather more fruits, as far as proportions are concerned. Globally lighter. Also enjoy these whiffs of fern and moss, which I find a little un-bourbon, in a good way. Mouth: indeed, this is much more complex, with cranberries, rhubarb, hay wine, melons… Great! Even the low strength isn’t a big problem. Finish: a bit short, but fresh and fruity. The oak’s discreet. Comments: amazing differences. I find this pretty top notch. This, at 45% vol… SGP:651 - 85 points.

More Buffalo Trace, with one of their most famous brands…

Eagle Rare 17 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, spring 2014)

Eagle Rare 17 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, spring 2014) Three stars One of the bourbons we poured with my good friends Dave Broom and Mark Gillespie while doing a masterclass (I prefer the word tasting) at WL Paris this year. I was lucky to have them with me, I know so little about bourbon! Colour: orangey amber. Nose: the oak’s back, and frankly, I’m not a sucker for sawdust. Now I do like these whiffs of roasted chestnuts and warm croissants straight from the baker’s oven, but I find the amount of pencil shavings simply ‘too, much’. And yet it’s a rather light style. Mouth: same feeling. Sure there’s a lovely liquorice, but other than that, I enjoyed the last Single Barrel better. Can you keep jams in new oak? Cassis jam? Also crème de menthe and quite some pipe tobacco. Finish: quite long, becoming quite chocolaty. Bitter chocolate, coffee, and white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: in fact, it’s great whisky (proof, it’s in the Antique Collection); it’s just got a little too much oak for me. So it’s me, me, and me. SGP:651 - 82 points.

Colonel E.H. Taylor 'Bottled in bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, single barrel, +/-2015)

Colonel E.H. Taylor 'Bottled in bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, single barrel, +/-2015) Two stars So even more Buffalo Trace… By the way, did you know that by law, any bourbon ‘bottled in bond’ has to be bottled at 50% vol.? Thanks Mark! Colour: pinkish amber. Nose: I find this a little shier than the Eagle, and rather more on chocolate, before it bursts with oak. Sawdust everywhere, vanilla, varnish, cinnamon cake… And just touches of oranges and figs. I’m afraid this style leaves me a bit cold. Mouth: really punchy, rough, pungent… It’s a pleasant all-fruit jam (oranges, rhubarb) coated with some kind of oak sauce, and covered with much cinnamon, which makes it a little cardboardy. Finish: long, very chocolaty and spicy. More cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: not my style at all, I think the oak feels way too much. But then again, that’s just me, I’m sure all bourbon lovers fell in love with this infus… I mean, with this bourbon. SGP:371 - 76 points.

Good, one more by BT, an older one this time… I mean, Stitzel-Weller…

W.L. Weller 19 yo 1982/2001 (90 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon)

W.L. Weller 19 yo 1982/2001 (90 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon) Four stars This is wheated bourbon, am I not right? Colour: dark amber. Nose: indeed, this is lighter and rounder than the rye-driven ones, with a style that’s much closer to milk chocolate (as opposed to black or bitter chocolate), with plenty of custard, shortbread, fudge, confectionary, corn syrup, more fudge, many more fudge, loads of fudge… In the background, a little sweet corn, straight from the BBQ. We’re actually not that far from say some middle-aged Invergordon ex-first fill. If I may… What I enjoy is that it’s not got this massive oak that was in the EH Taylor. Mouth: firmer than expected, drier as well, with much more liquorice. And I’m a sucker for liquorice. Liquorice-filled milk chocolate, the Swiss must be doing that somewhere between Basle and Appenzell. Hoppla. Perhaps a touch of cherry. Maraschino? Finish: medium long, with a wee sourness that prevents it from becoming too sweet. Not much in the aftertaste, surprisingly. Perhaps a small forgotten orange? Comments: funny and excellent style, both light and ‘full’. This session is taking off… SGP:630 - 86 points.

Let’s go to Heaven Hill’s!

William Heavenhill 'Bottled-in-Bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014)

William Heavenhill 'Bottled-in-Bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014) Four stars and a half According to my friends, this is rare. Always believe your friends. I’ve seen that the bottling is/was exclusive to The Bourbon Heritage Centre, and that it’s supposed to be a 11 yo. Oh and remember, bottled in bond = 50% vol. or 100 US proof. Colour: amber. Nose: yes! When what you first get from any bourbon is not oak, you’re in heaven (good one, S.) In this case that would be cut grass, even raw asparagus, wet gravel, and then an ultra-massive amount of clove. Very, very clove-y, but that’s something that I enjoy (yeah I know clove comes from the wood, tsk-tsk). A little caraway too, chocolate, coffee grounds, more earthy touches… And triple-hurray, no oaky tones! Mouth: oh goody-good. Sweeter now, rounded, yet bright, fruity, honeyed… I find this truly excellent. Plum pie, honey-covered pastries, perhaps a touch of ginger, oranges… Finish: quite long, kind of light – in a great way – with fruit syrup and a touch of cinchona. Caraway again. Comments: almost worth flying to Kentucky. But I guess they sold out… SGP:630 - 88 points.

Good, a last one by Heaven Hill, and maybe more tomorrow… Oh and we’ve got quite a few new ryes as well, but that’ll be a separate session.

Evan Williams 23 yo (53.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014)

Evan Williams 23 yo (53.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014) Three stars and a half All right, some say this baby’s exclusive to Japan, but since you can find it elsewhere, I’m not too sure. What’s sure is that the reputation is super-high. Let’s see … Colour: red amber. Nose: oh this is glorious. Stewed strawberries, fruity cigars, old liqueurs, Linzertorte, ginger cake, marmalade, rye, geranium flowers, iris, peonies, lilies… Triple wow! With water: oh, old tea and liqueurs, grandma’s cordials, sandalwood, soft leather from a Parisian handbag maker’s (what?), red peaches… Don’t know red peaches? Check them out, they’re great, but watch your tie and shirt…  Mouth (neat): good, it is a wee bit too oaky now, I mean too oaky to me. As much as I love cocoa, too much cocoa is too much cocoa. Very dry, sticks your tongue to your palate. Suffers a bit after the William Heavenhill, which was better balanced. With water: mixed feelings. No doubt this is very complex juice, but the layer of oak spices and flours and teas and whatever prevents it from ‘exploding’ on your tongue. Like a Ferrari firing on four cylinders. Finish: same feelings, the oak’s a little loud and makes it rather drying. Good liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: what a terrific nose! SGP:661 - 84 points.

See you tomorrow with more US whisky, we’ll try to find a 90…

(thanks Dave, Mark, and Nicolas)

More tasting notes Check the index of all American whiskies I've tasted so far







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