The Hits Just Keep on Coming… Barrell Bourbon Batch 012

Batch 12 is the most recent release from Barrell Bourbon, just off the heels of their best Bourbon of the year award from San Francisco Ultimate Spirits (http://www.fredminnick.com/2017/04/27/shocking-whiskey-upsets-17-san-fran-world-spirits-comp/). I also was a huge fan of Batch 011 (link). I think I have a future as a spirits judge…

Batch 12 is quite a bit older than 11 coming in at 9 years, but is lower proof, 108.5. I’m not sure, but this might be the lowest proof they have ever released.

The nose on this one is completely different than any previous batch I have tried. This one is a complete fruit bomb: plums, dried cherries, orange peel, hints of graham cracker and brioche. Very little heat on the nose.

Great oils and tannins on the mouthfeel with a wonderful spiciness I didn’t get first on the nose. Getting the fruit and more on the palate. Warmer than expected, in a good way.  The finish is at least two minutes long.

This is a really solid follow up to Batch 011. While most of the stores I go to have sold out of Batch 011, if you buy 012, you won’t be disappointed. It might be enjoyed even more by people who don’t like their Bourbon at 135 proof–probably is more approachable to most whiskey consumers. 94/100.

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https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/barrell-bourbon-batch-10/

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches

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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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.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Wild Turkey’s Rare Breed from friends in the bourbon community, yet for some reason I never tried it… until now.  Widely available, barrel proof, uncut, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey… what’s not to love?

Nice looking bottle, medium amber color.

Hot nose, ginger snap cookies, baking spices, dried orange peels, cooked mushrooms and forest floor.

Enjoyable mouthfeel.  Light tannins, medium oils, totally enveloping.  The heat is still strong, yet the finish is medium length but dries out and becomes slightly bitter.

For a cask strength bourbon, it’s certainly hard to find one under $50 (at least now that Booker’s is going up in price).  But from the ones that are readily available on the shelves, like Booker’s Barrell Bourbon, single Barrel Four Roses, Rare Breed falls short of them.  I’m not sure why so many people get excited about this, but maybe it’s because they haven’t tried the other cask strength ones on the market?  Rare Breed gets extra points for the price, but once this bottle is gone, I won’t be replacing it.  84/100.

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2016 BTAC George T Stagg: Proper Glassware Matters!

I first had 2016 GTS at a bar a month ago.  It wasn’t it the proper glassware, the situation wasn’t perfect, and when I tried it, I found it to be way too hot on the nose and unable to enjoy it.  When I was able to acquire one a couple days ago (thanks bottle-spot.com!) I considering flipping it, but after a few drinks, drunker heads prevailed and I opened it.  I decided that I will review it twice to see how it evolves given how high the proof is.  I also decided to do the first  review in a Norlan glass to help focus on the flavors and reduce some of the heat.

Right after opening it: the Norlan glass is amazing because I’m finding this to be not nearly as hot as I remember it in the crappy bar glass.  The color is pretty much as dark as I’ve ever seen for a bourbon.  On the nose, French toast brioche with maple syrup, buttered cinnamon toast, butterscotch, candied walnuts and subtle charcoal.  The taste is BIG.  Huge tannins, huge mouthfeel and a big amount of heat.  This is so complex, and there is so much happening on the palate.  The heat quickly dissipated leaving the oak notes, tannins and the flavors.  The finish is several minutes long finishing nicely.  When you first taste it you think that the oak tannins will overpower everything, but they integrate nicely and much better than expected in an amazing way.  This is a very special bourbon.  I’m very glad I opened this because it is nothing like when I tried it in the bar with the wrong glassware.

A couple weeks later: this time in the classic Glencairn glass… the aroma is so rich with everything from a couple weeks ago and even though not in the Norlan glass, the heat isn’t that bad.  It’s incredible what a bad bar glass will do to the experience.  The taste is huge, big tannins, big flavor, with an insane finish.  So much sweetness and spice the lingers for minutes.  This is a special bourbon.

144.1 proof, a monster, but in the right glassware, it can be tamed.  Highly recommend picking this one up if you can find it at the lower end of secondary, but given pricing these days, it’s not easy to find.  97.5/100

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Top 5 Drams of the Year 2016

Another year gone by and I’ve read so many negative stories, yet, there were some pretty awesome bourbons released this year.  Overall the prices have gone up, but you can still find bargains and making friends with your local retailer has never been more important… onto the list!

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#1 2016’s Buffalo Trace Thomas H Handy 126.2 proof 97.5/100  secondary price: $300 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/btac-thomas-h-handy-2016/)  This was my favorite of the BTAC releases, with a close second being GTS, but THH is far easier to get your hands on and better price giving it the edge.  Handy may be the BTAC that is least respected, but time and time again it is my favorite release.

#2 2016 Release Four Roses Elliott’s Select OESK 52.9% abv 91/100 secondary price $225 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/four-roses-elliotts-select/)  There was a lot of worry when Jim Rutledge retired from Four Roses, but when Brent Elliott came out with this bottle immediately afterwards, all fears were assuaged.  In fact, this bottle was substantially better than the 2016 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition release, although not quite as good as last year’s winner, the 2015 FRSBLE.  I think we can all sleep soundly knowing that Four Roses is in good hands.

3# Barrell Bourbon New Years 2017 retail price $99.99 (for now!) (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/happy-new-year-barrell-bourbon-2017/)  Another top award for this up and comer.  This is their first true marriage release of 4 different barrels from Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and once again blows the competition away.  Grab a few while you still can as the first release of this bad boy probably will be worth a lot of money in the near future…. keep your eye

#4 Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon #438 119.8 proof 96/100 $120 @ gift shop (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/willett-family-estate-single-barrel-bourbon-438-holy-moley/)  This was one of the bottles I was lucky enough to buy when I visited Willett in January of 2016.  This was a honey barrel if I’ve ever tasted one.  If you are ever able to get some of this, don’t hesitate!

#5 Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon #3824 97 proof 96/100 $100 retail price (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/go-visit-garrison-brothers-single-barrel-amazing/) Garrison Brothers consistently puts out a great product.  I also visited their distillery this year and really enjoyed meeting Dan and the team.  Very excited to see the 2017 Cowboy Bourbon when it is released next year!

There were so many that almost made the cut… I tried a couple rums this year that were really good including one from Balcones (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/balcones-texas-rum-special-release-batch-15-1-63-9-abv/) and another from Barrell (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/barrell-rum-batch-001-7yr-jamaican-pot-still-rum/).  Barrell’s Whiskey 002 was another one that almost made the cut, but after careful consideration I preferred the New Years (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/barrell-whiskey-002-magical-sherry-cask-finish/).  Most lists have Booker’s Rye on their top 5, and although it is a good whiskey, it’s just too hot and expensive and does not deserve to make it in my very humble opinion (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/bookers-rye/).  PHC 10yr was also hotly debated, and I thought it was extremely good, but given the price, just not quite worthy vs the Garrison or the WFE (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/phc10-parkers-heritage-collection-10-24yr-bourbon/).

I’ll have my top five disappointments in the world of bourbon coming up soon… thanks again for a great 2016 to everyone who reads this blog.  Readership has gone up 5x and I hope to continue that trend into 2017.  I’d love to hear what your top 5 of the year were?  Happy New Year!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/  http://www.garrisonbros.com/  http://www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com/  http://fourrosesbourbon.com/  https://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/

Happy New Year Barrell Bourbon 2017

Happy New Year!  This is the inaugural release of Barrell Bourbon’s New Year bourbon, a once a year release based on a blend of multiple barrels from multiple ages, specially picked by Joe Beatrice and the Barrell Bourbon team to come up with what they believe to be an epic marriage.  I did a little research and discovered there are 5yr, 8yr, 9yr, 10yr and 13yr barrels in this blend from Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.

The nose is incredibly sweet with candy corn, Kit Kat, Reese’s Pieces, Peanut Butter M&M’s and fresh french toast topped with fresh butter and maple syrup.  Again, in classic Barrell Bourbon fashion, the nose is not hot at all which is unbelievable for a 117 proof.

What a blend!  The taste is so good, encompassing all the flavors from the nose, with the Peanut Butter M&M’s coming through the most.  The gentle warmth is enjoyable, while the finish is long.

I think Barrell Bourbon New Year is the start of something special, and if you are lucky enough to find a bottle on the shelf, run to grab it, do not hesitate.  I have a feeling this is going to be one of of the most anticipated releases of the year for many years to come… I wouldn’t be shocked if this showed up on bottle-spot.com at 2x retail very quickly.  97/100.

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