Four Roses 50th Anniversary is another Epic Win!

My brother-in-law was in town the other day so I thought I would share my sample with him to try.  Thank you to Four Roses for sending the sample, and as always, there was no quid pro quo.  Plenty of other sites have reviewed and talked about the mashbill, I’ll put the links below to those… I’ll just give my take:

Awesome nose: marzipan, peanuts, rose petals, caramel, butterscotch and a touch of charcoal.

Now for the taste… WOW!  The mouthfeel is close to perfect, with just enough tannins to tickle the tongue and plenty of oils to coat it.  The flavors are incredibly complex, with sweetness coming in first, then warmth on the way down.  The flavors continue to evolve every fifteen seconds and the finish goes on for minutes and minutes.  Later on you get a nice oak background with an incredible smoothness.

So far this year, this is easily one of my top three favorites, but I decided to check it against the 2015 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition.  Very similar, and hard to pick a winner, but I think the 2015 might be slightly better.  It’s a judgement call.  My brother in law wasn’t as excited about it as I was, he really liked it, but he prefers the bigger, higher proof bourbons like Elijah Craig Barrell Proof and Barrell Bourbon.  He’s at 95 points, but I’m a 97/100.  Like Fred Minnick said, if you can get it, buy it all.  If you don’t, I will!

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http://fourrosesbourbon.com/celebrating-al-youngs-50th-anniversary-with-limited-edition-four-roses-bourbon/

https://www.fredminnick.com/2017/03/09/four-roses-limited-edition-2/

http://www.breakingbourbon.com/who-is-brent-elliott.html

https://thewhiskeywash.com/whiskey-styles/bourbon/four-roses-celebrates-whiskey-legend-al-young-one-hell-bourbon/

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For the New Bourbon Drinker, Top 5 Whiskies to Try

Bourbonmania has hit new highs. Some people say it’s a bubble. I’m not quite ready to say that because I believe Bourbon was ignored for far too long and only now are the masses actually recognizing appreciating it. We have years before this bubble bursts and the quality and quantity will keep getting better and better for the foreseeable future.

Everyone newbie wants to get the newest BTAC, FRSBLE, or OFBB released. To be honest, it’s not just the newbies who want them–it’s all of us. But the difference between the newbies and the old timers to this hobby, is that the older group has already tried it all and realizes that some things are worth the hunt (or paying up on secondary) and some things aren’t;  what is or what isn’t is purely based on your personal preference, not a review or a bloggers piece. Personally I love the Cask strength bourbons and the high proof ryes. Pappy, OFBB, Michter’s wax capsule releases and ER17 are great, but if I come across them at retail I’ll trade them for GTS, THH or FRSBLE any day.

Today I’m putting out my top five whiskies for the “new bourbon drinker”…. These are the ones that I’m happy to drink any day of the week and are readily available.  You won’t find the unicorns on this list, but these are the whiskies that if you want to start the hobby, go for these.

#1 Buffalo Trace: yes the one that costs $20 in your retail store. This may be one of the most overlooked and undervalued whiskies in the world. Yes it’s lower proof than I like but it has the flavor, the mouthfeel, and for goodness sakes, it’s $19!!! It’s the same mashbill as some of their releases that secondary for hundreds of dollars. This is the Bourbon I serve people to see if they like Bourbon or not. It’s just that simple. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/buffalo-trace-yes-the-standard-one-with-the-buffalo-one-yes-its-very-very-good/)

#2 Pikesville Rye: thank Heaven for Heaven Hill and their high proof 6yr rye. Spicy and amazing in every way and best of all you can usually find it for between $50-$60. When I don’t feel like I deserve a pour of Handy (which is my favorite, but too expensive to make this list), Pikesville comes in a close second. Just an amazing product. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/)

#3 Just when you though I was going to go all cheap on you and only mass produced products, I’m going to throw you for a loop. Barrell Bourbon, any batch, is #3 for all new bourbon drinkers. Unlike most limited release, Cask strength, Bourbon releases, this one can usually be found and retailers aren’t jacking up the prices on it. Retails for between $70-$90 for a regular batch and $10 more for a single barrel release, Barrel is worth every penny. As a sourced whiskey, Barrell finds the best of the best and bottles it at cask strength to provide the consumer with the purest Bourbon you can get. I’ve never been disappointed, and more often blown away by what they come out with on a regular basis. I’ve never missed a release, and some of them I’ve stockpiled because I know once they are gone they are gone for good. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/)

#4 Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. Although I wasn’t a huge fan when I first opened it, after sitting for a month or two it really mellows out but keeps the nice spice and strong mouthfeel. By far the best of the series, this one is still pretty readily available at around $60.  Although my review makes it sound just ok, I would revise it up a point or two after airing it out for several months.  (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/old-forester-1920-very-good-not-great/)

#5 Blanton’s. The Original Single barrel Bourbon. This is most people’s gateway to great Bourbon, and I was no different. Still pretty readily available and looks great on the shelf. I’ve never been disappointed by any Blanton’s I’ve ever had. If you are overseas and can get the Straight From the Barrel, it’s even better and totally worth snagging. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/4-bottle-blantons-tasting/)

I really wanted to put OGD114 on this list, but you can never find it. I also wanted to put Mellow Corn on it, but again, almost every store is sold out of it. Part of the criteria for making the list was being readily available and not trading for silly prices on the secondary, which is why ETL, which is amazing, obviously got cut.

Anyway… I hope people like the list and learn from it. Happy to answer any questions on DM on twitter or on the comment section of the blog. Happy drinking!

P.S. Yes this is my top shelf, and you won’t find most of these on this list, but if anyone wants to come by I’m happy to pour any of them for my readers!

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http://www.barrellbourbon.com

http://www.buffalotrace.com

https://www.blantonsbourbon.com/

https://www.oldforester.com/

http://www.pikesvillerye.com/

Jack Rose: Old Fitzgerald BIB Stitzel Weller

Old Fitzgerald BIB Stitzel Weller:
Golden hue–just like expected. Baking spices, vanilla, heat is more than expected, creme brûlée and graham crackers.  If you were expecting me to orgasm at this point, unfortunately, you will be disappointed. The mouthfeel is good but nothing special. The taste is good, but again, not life altering. It’s solid but to be honest the finish very quickly turns bitter and isn’t that exciting. It’s similar to the Old Crow dusty in terms of enjoyment. The difference is the mouthfeel is slightly better but the bitterness on the finish is significantly worse. There is no Fucking way these bottles are worth even remotely close to what they go on the secondary market. I’m torn on how to rate this. If price was not a factor I would rate it two points lower than the dusty Old Crow, but my system takes price into account. 84/100.

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Jack Rose 3: Willett side by side

Willett 23yr Bourbon B78 black wax capsule 136.2 proof:
Dark golden hue. Big nose,  but not up the middle, it surrounds and envelopes with charcoal, French toast, butter and s’mores. Wow. This is what bourbon is supposed to taste like. It’s huge, but not too hot given the proof.  The mouthfeel is awesome, clearly not chill filtered. The finish just goes on and on. This is a three minute+ bourbon. All the flavors from the nose are on the palate and they don’t dissipate at all. If this was all I could drink for the rest of my life I would be ok with that. 97.5/100.  This was a charity bottle for the Bourbon Bonanza Benefit 2016. Bottle number 23/109.

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Willett 24yr bourbon 121 proof Barrel No. 9956:
Nice dark golden color.  Nose is closed with hints of baking spices in the background. Great mouthfeel right off the bat, but the flavor isn’t following through. It’s enjoyable but it’s a shame I tried the B79 first, because this has more wood and tannins and just not as interesting. It’s still solid though–I’m not pouring it out. 92/100

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Jack Rose Part 2: Old Heaven Hill Wheater & Old Bernheim

Kentucky Crest 10yr 1950s bottling by Bernheim 103 proof
Golden color, with charcoal bits; I love charcoal bits. Classic bourbon nose, with some dried apricot fruit as well.  A touch hotter than expected but really nice. Mouthfeel is average and finish is moderate. Really nice but not one you need to mortgage the house for.  As the night went on, the aroma got better and better with vanilla and baking spices really coming through. 92/100

Old Fitzgerald 1849 Heaven Hill 1990s juice
Dull straw yellow coloring. Classic wheater nose, sweet and bready.  Easy down, no heat, enjoyable but not overly complex. Not sure what the hype is on these bottles. As the night continued the aroma stayed the same and did not improve.  88/100

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Old Weller Antique Ninety 9 single barrel

Those in the know, are aware that in terms of value Wheaters OWA tops the chart. What some people may not know, is that some of the Old Weller Antique 107 single barrels are significantly better than the standard issue. This is one of those situations.

I’m not going to review it like normal, but the characteristics are the same as regular OWA, but there are subtle differences. The mouthfeel is much more interesting: it has more tannins and flavor. The finish is longer. Butterscotch, cinnamon and sugar and butter keep going. The heat is lower. Whoever picked this barrel clearly knew what they were doing.

At $34.99, this was one of best bargains of the year. If you live in CT, be sure to go to Ninety Nine and grab one of these single barrels while they are still available! 94/100

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I Dipped It Myself! Maker’s 46 Cask Strength

Part of my trip to Kentucky several months ago included trip to Loretto to do the Maker’s tour.  At the end of the tour I bought a couple bottles and dipped them myself.  Maker’s Mark does one of the best tours of any distillery and is a must do for those making the trip to KY.  It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth it.  For now, Maker’s 46 Cask Strength is only available in the gift shop, but I’m told that will change soon.

Lots of baking spices: vanilla, cinnamon, allspice on the nose, raisin bread, mesquite chips and pencil shavings. Not too hot on the nose, good for a 110.7 proof Bourbon.

The palate is enjoyable, nice chew, decent oils, moderate and warm finish.  The spices come through strongly tickling the tongue, but the finish drops off.

Definitely one of the best tours on the tour, but not the best bourbon.  I prefer the original Maker’s to the 46, and the cask 46 is just more of it.  Enjoyable certainly, but nothing that’s a must try.  86/100.

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