Colonel E. H. Taylor Four Grain Review

I’ve been blogging for about two years now, and this is the first time that it has actually paid off in terms of free stuff… You know you have made it when Buffalo Trace sends you a free sample to review and write about.  That being said, there were no promises made of a good review for the free sample and I promise to review it as if I paid for it.  There are tons of details online about this release, so I’ll skip that and just go on to my review.

On to the review… nice golden honey color.

Most Colonel Taylor products I have tried tend to be too hot, but this one is not.  The heat is moderate, and the smell has ginger snaps, s’mores, Reeses Pieces, Leggo waffles, and forest floor.  A little closed on the nose to be honest, which might be better if I had a full bottle and could have it open for a month or so…

The taste is…. GREAT.  The mouthfeel has nice oil, and the tannins are very strong, but not overpowering.  The heat is strong, but enjoyable and the finish just goes on and on.  The taste is good, but what makes this really enjoyable is the complex tannis and oil structure on the mouth.  This is a really nice Colonel Taylor expression.

The first taste went on for over 3 minutes, which is pretty rare for a bourbon.  The second went on and on.  If you can grab this, it’s worth getting.  95/100.

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Newest Barrell Bourbon Batch is a Home Run: 011

Let’s just get to the review… Iconic Barrell Bottle, this is the 11th Bourbon release.  This one, and I’m pulling the details right from their website (http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches) is: Straight Bourbon Whiskey​, Distilled and aged in Tennessee, Crafted and bottled in Kentucky, 114.8 proof cask strength bottling, Aged for 6 years in American oak barrels, and Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley.

The aroma jumps out of the glass with Honey Nut Cheerios, Jif, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup with a side of cinnamon toast.  You can feel the heat, but the warmth is a secondary factor that adds, rather than subtracts to the experience.

WOW.  The mouthfeel is incredible, and all the flavors on the nose are coming in really strongly through the mouth and the finish just goes on and on.  The warmth on your chest after the first taste makes you know this is a barrel proof whiskey, but only adds to the experience, and is the background to the flavor.  This Bourbon has a several minute finish with the oils and tannins following through.  You don’t even need to add a drop of water to this, it’s perfect the way it is.

This might just be my favorite Barrell Bourbon release since Batch 006.  This is one I’m going to stockpile.  I still love that the rest of the world hasn’t yet caught on to this brand, so you can still find a bottle of these at the store for under $100.  Still the best limited release cask strength product under $100 on the market.  98/100.

 

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A Tale of Two NYC Liquor Stores…

Shame Shame Shame Elmans Wines & Liquors on 279 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010…  It drives me nuts when I ask for the good stuff and they pull out a Thomas Handy, a George T. Stagg and an ORVW from behind the counter and ask for $400, $750 and $500 CASH.  Come on guys… you can’t ask for cash and significantly above secondary market rates.  Shame on you!

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On a completely different note, House of Wine & Liquor on 222 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016 had lovely people and very reasonable prices.  They may not be experts on Bourbon, but they weren’t out to gouge anyone either.  I ended up buying a Michter’s 10yr Rye with the wax top for $159.99, and they had a bunch of Michter’s 10yr Bourbon for $109.99 for sale, which is a very fair price, and one of the lowest prices I’ve seen in New York State.  Thank you guys for being fair!

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Interview with Four Roses Brent Elliott

Brent Elliott was nice enough to have a phone chat with me… I have made some minor edits for time purposes, flow, continuity and because I took notes and didn’t record it… on to the interview…

NBD: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.  So… what is your daily routine?

BE: It’s different everyday, no two are alike.  When I’m here [at the distillery] I usually spend a lot of time in the sensory lab, mingling and blending different batches.  We look at every batch that comes off the still for quality check.  We check the distillate and 99 out of 100 are fine.  After four years we check each batch again to see where it will go.

NBD: How do you define a batch?

BE: A batch is about 290 barrels, coming from eight fermenters.   We make about 22 batches a month.  After four years we have a pretty good idea where it will go.  We test it and it gets designated for Yellow Label or Private Barrel or something different.  At 6.5-7yrs we test them again and at this point we are 75% sure how long they will go for and where they will end up.  From time to time we find a special batch that isn’t too astringent and still have more to go and that will often go into Small Batch Limited Edition.  Most of the longer aging are from the first or second tier.

NBD: What is a tier?

BE: Our warehouses have six stories, which we call tiers, the first being the ground floor and the sixth the top floor.  The first through third often produce batches that can age longer.

NBD: So… what is your daily drinker?  What did you drink last night?

BE: I actually didn’t drink last night, but the night before I had FR Small Batch.  When I first started out I tried everything, tried to understand the different processes, and the taste differences.  And over the years lots of people have brought over bourbons, but I do not have many competitors products at my house anymore.

NBD: So, I tried to Tweet you the other day and I couldn’t find you. Are you on Twitter?

BE:  I am not on Twitter… or Facebook or anywhere on social media.  I do check it from time to time from my wife’s account, but I’m so busy with emails and phone calls that I do not have time for it.

NBD: So, check my math.  22 batches a month, 290 barrels a batch, so you are making over 75,000 barrels a year?

BE: If we ran for 12 months a year that would be correct, but we shut down for about two months a year.  Historically we shut down for almost 4-5 months a year due to the heat in the river but now we shut down for about two months for cleanup, rebuilding and fixing the pipes, pumps and facilities.  We also are in the process of doubling our production and using that time to expand.

NBD: Thank you so much for your time… if there was anything you could fix in the bourbon industry, what would it be?

BE:  The price gauging on the secondary market bothers me and I also wish we have enough inventory.

NBD:  Seems that if you have enough inventory, the supply and demand would be fixed and would solve the price gauging problem.

BE: That’s right…

NBD: Do you think with all the increases in production that a bourbon bubble is forming?

BE: I do think that bourbon will slow down, whether it is in ten or fifteen years, but I do not think that the bottom will fall out.  This is not like cherry vodka and next week people like grape flavor more.  With bourbon, the growth requires more people to be introduced and there is increased recognition; when people try it they love it.  Bourbon has history, tradition, is hand crafted and has a soul; most importantly it is delicious.

NBD: Thank you so much for your time.