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.

Jefferson’s Buffalo Trail TTB Request Spurs Excitement, Lawsuits and Curiosity

Jefferson’s Bourbon has just submitted a new TTB request for a very unique new Bourbon: the Jefferson’s Buffalo Trail Bourbon.  Partnering with Ted Turner, the owner of the largest Buffalo herd in North America, Jefferson’s has developed a unique proprietary saddle that will attach two 10 gallon barrels to an adult buffalo, part of Turner’s Buffalo herd, as they migrate across the Montana Buffalo Trail.

Turner said, “When Trey (Zoeller) approached me about this unique opportunity to involve my herd in one of my favorite other passions, Bourbon, how could I not gallop at the opportunity?” Trey Zoeller, founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, is always looking to push the envelope of new aging techniques after developing Jefferson’s Ocean.  Zoeller commented that he “was extremely excited about Turner’s enthusiasm for the joint venture to create a unique Bourbon product.  We hope power, American Spirit and wooliness of the American Buffalo will transferred into the barrels in the saddle for the public to enjoy.”

However, not everyone is excited for this new product.  A representative from the ASPCA commented that they were very concerned for the welfare of the Buffalo involved and believed the saddle to hold the Bourbon barrels constituted animal cruelty: “how would you like to have two full whiskey barrels strapped to you during a 500 mile journey!”

In addition to the ASPCA, an unnamed source at a Louisville, KY based law firm leaked to the press that Sazerac Co. is preparing to file suit against Zoeller and Jefferson’s for trademark infringement because it is too close to their Buffalo Trace brand.  When asked for comment, Zoeller said “tell Goldring to bring his best, because as far as I know, he doesn’t have any real Buffalo involved in his brand, and we do.  If he wants to sue us too, he can see me in court!”

Zoeller says he will partner with select retailers to product a cask strength single barrel limited release version in two years if the first trail run is successful, but for the Fall they will be releasing an expected 4,000-5,000 barrels of the Jefferson’s Buffalo Trail #1 at 100 proof, non-chill filtered.  We at newbourbondrinker are looking forward to trying the new expression and would love to try a sample when it is available.

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WhiskyLive 2017

I went with some friends last week to WhiskyLive 2017 in NYC.  I didn’t use my “press credentials” to get in, rather I bought VIP tickets (at a discount 6 months ago). VIP basically was supposed to get you entry 30 minutes early, access to a special lounge and a higher end crystal glass.  Well, the line got all screwed up and even though I got there early, I didn’t get in until almost 6pm. The glass was weird and I think I’d rather have the normal glass. And to top it off the VIP lounge didn’t have anything special in it–literally they were serving Evan Williams 2008 Single Barrel, a $22 Bourbon and some awful Widow Jane swill.

However, enough complaining and venting… but seriously, next year, the line situation needs to be fixed and they need to get a few more epic bottles in the VIP lounge.

I am very glad that I went for three reasons though. First and most importantly, Four Roses brought Brent Elliott up for the event and I got to meet the man himself. He is awesome and I plan on having an interview with him in the coming weeks: stay tuned!  They also were pouring FRSBLE2016, and while I do have several bottles of it at home, it was really nice to see a special pour.  Very few producers did that, so a real special thanks to Four Roses for stepping up and bringing their best.

The second reason I was glad to go was to see the upcoming releases from Barrell Bourbon. Joe Beatrice was there pouring Whiskey 003 and the new Bourbon 009, 010 and even 011. They also had some New Years Bourbon which they were nice enough to give double pours when I asked nicely–thanks guys!!!  (The New Years Bourbon should have been in the VIP lounge as it was better than pretty much every other one there)  I can’t say enough good things about the Barrell guys, they bought tons of bottles so everyone could try as much as they wanted, no severely limiting the pours like some other people did…

The third reason I am glad I went was to try to new Michters 10yr Rye.  It was good. But it wasn’t great. If I find any this season I will be trading it for something else because I wasn’t overly impressed. I tried it three times. It was enjoyable but the finish just wasn’t enough to make me need it. It’s probably a 90 +/- but certainly not a top 10.  They also were really stingy with the pouts: yes, I’m talking about you Kenny Ng!!!!! (exceptionally stingy pours matter in this situation, and I doubt they ran out because it was still there 2 hours into the event).

Anyway, WhiskyLive was a fun event, but not as well done as WhiskyFest was in the Fall.  I am glad I went for the reasons above and it was amazing to meet Brent and great to see Joe and try both of their whiskeys. But to be honest, the rest of the booths just didn’t do it for me: too many low end whiskeys and bad craft distillers or generic Scotches that I’ve already had. I hate to be “that guy” but if people are expected to return, they need to have something unique and new each time–I’m not sure I will be going back for 2018 unless they really step up their game. And of course… they really need to figure out the entrance better… at least the weather was nice, but it could have been below zero with all of us waiting outside.

Thanks everyone for reading my venting!

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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Bookers Center Cut 2015-03 Good Bourbon, A bit too hot though

Quick Review here… Booker’s is always a solid dram, uncut, unfiltered, never bad, but trypically a little hot…

Hot nose, melon balls, french toast brioche, butterscotch lollipop, cracked black pepper and all spice.

Hot on the tongue too, but with a lot of interesting spices that permeate the entire cheeks in an extended mouthfeel that goes for just over a minute. Integrated wood tannins and oil that invites another taste as well.

This one was extremely well hyped and is enjoyable but doesn’t quite reach the hype. Even though it’s aged over seven years, it still had a lot of excess heat and hasn’t quite mellowed out enough to be worthy of expectations.  However, you still want to have seconds on it…  87/100.

 

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