Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel

I’ve been a big fan of Blanton’s for a long time and my major complaint was the low proof. After consulting Google I realized that they did have a barrel proof product, but unfortunately it was only for overseas.  Thank goodness for bottle-spot.com, because without them I would never be able to get it. For about $100 including shipping I was able to get it sent to my front door…  Not bad for a tough to find cask strength bourbon.

This was dumped on 1/13/2015 from barrel number 484 from warehouse H in Rick #12. It’s 70cl and bottled at 130.6 proof. The claim is unfiltered, uncut and bottled straight from the barrel.

Pretty honey amber color.

Spicy nose of green pepper corns, toasted corn bread, red Twizzlers, creme brûlée and salted butter on cinnamon raisin toast. Given the high proof, surprised how little heat there is on the nose.

Spiciness continues on the palate with a warmth the comes in waves. The mouthfeel is delightful with some coarse complexity while the burn is so mellow for this high degree of abv. The finish is very enjoyable.

Why this is only available overseas is baffling to me. This is one helluva bourbon. If you like barrel strength and Blanton’s, the you will love this one. 94/100

 

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Barrell Bourbon Batch 006 vs BB Caskers Pick Single Barrel 6

I have been hooked on Barrel Bourbon ever since I tried Batch 006, wanting to try more. I did some online research and I believe some of the recent single barrel releases have the same mash bills of Batch 006, but have slightly different ages, proofs and are from different parts of the rickhouse. Why are these single barrels instead of part of a batch? Good question, my guess is that it is because they have special characteristics that certain retailers liked and requested to be bottled specially for them.  In general the way single barrel programs work for most whiskey companies is a retailer will get a bunch of single barrel samples and will pick the one they like the best.  Ultimately, the only way to determine how good these single barrel picks are, is the old fashioned way–you need to drink them.

Batch 006 was amazing and my original 96/100 review is here:
https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/barrell-bourbon-batch-006-home-run-top-5-of-the-year/

I did a side by side analysis using the same Batch 006 bottle as the original review which is good to observe four months of evolution in the bottle:  I’m still getting the same peanut butter flavor with the sweet campfire complexity. The strong oils and complex mouthfeel are just as present as when I first tried it. Months later, my original review is confirmed.

Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel 006 is bottled at 62.55% abv vs 61.45% for the Batch 006. The Single Barrel release is also older clocking 8.5 years vs straight 8. I also didn’t realize it before I opened the bottle (actually a friend opened the bottle and ripped off the top before I even saw it) but I was the lucky recipient of bottle #1!  If I saw it, I’m such a sucker for collecting, I probably would have kept it and bought a new one. This is a Caskers Members barrel pick, and from what I know of them, they tend to pick pretty good single barrels.

The nose is similar but there are definitely subtle differences–it’s obvious that this comes from the same source, but it’s amazing what slightly different aging in different parts of the rickhouse will do. The nose is a little sweeter, more like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Golden Grahams cereal, and French toast brioche. There also is a touch of candied and dried fruit, that I was not noticing in the Batch 006.  The nose isn’t as powerful either, but there are more layers of flavors.  The palate is also excellent with the Reese’s and dried fruit coming through. Although the oils and less present in the mouthfeel, there is more grittiness. Single Barrel 006 is extremely enjoyable.

Both of these Bourbons are excellent and it is almost impossible to pick a favorite; it comes down to subtle styles. If you like the bigger peanut butter with oils, then go with Batch 006. If you like the slightly more subtle with candied fruit, less oil and more grittiness then Caskers single barrel pick 006 will be your favorite. Either way, you can’t go wrong.  96/100

If anyone has access to other Barrell Bourbon single barrel releases I would be very interested in trading bottles or samples and please reach out to me via Twitter @newbourbondrink  thanks!!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

 

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House of Cards Paired with Thomas H Handy 2014 v 2015

I’m a huge fan of House of Cards and I’m almost done so I thought the best thing to do was to pair it with two of my current favorites in the cabinet. As you can tell from the levels, I’m almost done with these as well. I’ve been enjoying them too much to rate them yet, but I wanted to make sure to give them a fair rating before the bottles are empty.

I’m not going to spend too much time going over the history of THH as you can find this online easily, but if you are reading this blog, you probably already know… It’s the youngest of the BTAC and by far the cheapest on the secondary market. While Stagg goes for $500 or so, you can usually snag this for around $250. Yes, still expensive, but compared to the rest of the BTAC, a relative bargain–Ignore people or stores that try to sell it for $400-$500, those people are just silly.

2014: sweet honeysuckle on the nose with cloves, raisin bread, allspice and brown sugar. Even though it’s 129.2 proof, the best is all smooth and sweetness without the heat. The mouthfeel is fantastic, it’s enveloping with a greet grit. The spicy rye is so well integrated into the palate that’s it’s almost unbelievable that this is only six years old.  The finish goes on for minutes and minutes–five minutes later and you can still taste it.  This is one if the best drams I’ve ever had. 98/100.

2015: different but similar to the 2014, more heat on the nose and a little spicier. I get Girl Scout Somoas on the nose, oatmeal with honey and cinnamon sugar. The mouthfeel and grip are still very solid but this one has more heat on the throat than the prior year even though this year has a lower proof, 126.9. The finish is also long and strong focusing on the spicy and heat. It’s very good but doesn’t stand up to the prior year. 95/100.

Both of these bottles are awesome but the 2014 really stands out as one of the best of all time. I wish I could get my hands on more of them.  These bottles are great examples of age not being the most important factor in enjoying a whiskey.  I find these to be just as good as some of their 17yr brothers, but that’s just one man’s opinion.

 

 

 

RIP My First BTAC Bottle: George T Stagg 2014 UK

True Story:  I’m in London last September for a business trip to see a couple clients, meet my colleagues in the office and travel with my new boss.  The first evening of the trip is for internal meetings, meeting colleagues I had not met before and building camaraderie with them.  Part of my job was to not get too drunk and look professional.  My tolerance happens to be extremely high compared to most of my colleagues, so not getting too drunk wasn’t an impossibility, however the professional aspect may have been slightly derailed because of some BTAC… at this point I had not owned any BTAC bottles (that changed later that Fall when BTAC hunting season began and my obsession on this blog expanded)….

I was at a bar with some colleagues that was selling Pappy 10, 12, 13, and George T Stagg, per pour, for less that I could buy it for on the secondary market in the states.  So… I ended up with three pours of bourbon in front of me during dinner.  Not the best way to impress colleagues, but I had never had Lot B, Pappy Rye or Stagg before, so emotions (understandably to you reading this blog, although not to those at the table) overtook me.

By the end of the night, I managed to not get too drunk and we all parted ways. After leaving the restaurant and all the hand shaking, I did a u-turn back to the bar and entered negotiations with the bartender.  The bottle was 1/4 full and I did the math and negotiated to buy the rest of it for less than 1/4 of a full bottle would cost me back at home.  My boss, smarter, soberer, sneakier than I, followed me back to the bar, scolded me, and forced me to return to the hotel before I inflict too much damage to myself, knowing that in addition to buying this bottle, I probably was going to try every other unicorn for pour that night.  (Side Note: good thing he did, because I probably would have stayed there for a couple hours and really did myself in.  He’s quite a good boss and almost always knows what’s best for the firm and his employees, myself included, even if it’s more fun to keep drinking.)

Which leads me to today… after many small pours over six months, this bottle is finally being put to rest.  And I will be giving it a review today as well.

George T. Stagg, 2014 UK edition, 138.1 proof: dark amber with tiny bits of charcoal floating in it, at least for the final pour.  Camp fire fresh s’mores on the nose with candied butterscotch, overbaked brown sugar carrots, raisin bread toast with light butter spreaded on it topped with cinnamon and sugar, and a touch of cloves.  For 69.05% alcohol, the burn on the nose is very manageable.  The first thing you get when you take a sip is the extremely thick mouthfeel which just makes me so happy.  The uncut/unfiltered texture is a delight and everything about the taste is interesting, complex and it goes on and on.  The first sip I had months ago was very good, but the last sip was the best.  Maybe it is because there is more charcoal in the final pour or maybe it’s because I’ve already had a few drinks tonight.  All I know is that I wished I kept my trumpet from high school, because this moment deserves someone playing Taps.  This was a great drink and I’m sad to see it finished, but there are many more bottles that need drinking, and I know I’m the man to do it.  97/100.

 

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Jackson Hole Vacation Wyoming Whiskey

I’m in Jackson Hole for the weekend to ski and picked up a bottle of Wyoming Whiskey at the local liquor store. I’m always a fan of supporting local craft producers, which is why I also picked up a bunch of Snake River Pako’s IPA.

Wyoming Whiskey is a small batch bourbon whiskey distilled, barreled and bottled in Kirby, WY. It is bottled at 88 proof and comes in a nice looking bottle with the interlocking double W logo. This bottle is from batch 31 and was bottled on 9/28/2015 and had no age statement.

Light amber color, looks around 4 years old.

The nose is very mild, nothing overpowering.  It has notes of baked bread, butterscotch and menthol.  The finish is basically nonexistent, and feels thin with a boring mouthfeel.

It seems like this bourbon wants to be Maker’s Mark, but costs more and is not as good. So if you are in Wyoming and want to support the local craft guys, go ahead and buy it. But if you are anywhere else in the world, save your money and just buy Makers. 83/100.

Post Script:  I looked into this whiskey after doing the tasting, and it turns out that the distiller previously worked at Maker’s Mark.  I’m being completely honest in saying that I did not know this before I wrote the review above, but it makes total sense that it smells and tastes like a wheated bourbon in the Maker’s style, because it is made by someone who was trained there.  I’m excited to try this brand again in another few years after they have some more experience, more aging and hopefully a more interesting product.

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