Category Archives: American

#72 – Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection – Four Wood

Distillery: Woodford Reserve
Name: Master’s Collection – Four Wood
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 47.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £144 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, maple syrup, toffee, ripe fruits, nutty
Taste: Smooth, spicy, oaky, nutmeg, berries
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 9/10

I couldn’t resist buying a sample of this when doing a recent Master of Malt order, it just sounds so interesting. Initially matured in American oak, finished in barrels made from Maple Wood, Oloroso Sherry Wood and Port Wood, how awesome is that?

Huge depth to this one, great body to it. There is a sweetness present from the maple, toffee and ripe fruits, it’s not a sickly sweetness though. There is a spice presence too, I can’t pick it out but it makes me think of cake, so I’m guessing something used in baking. Given a few minutes I can pickup on some subtle walnut and the cake style sweetness begins to develop more. Very impressive.

The palate is very rich, silky smooth and viscous with a lovely level of spice. There is a fruity and maple sweetness there but reasonably subtle as the oaky dryness quickly reins it in, taking the sweetness but leaving the flavour. There is a hint of nutmeg and maybe some dark berries in there too. The finish is long with a warming spice and just a little dryness to it.

Exceptionally good dram this one, it has definitely lived up to my expectation. Very complex, continues to develop over time making it a great savouring bourbon. At £144 it is not cheap, but I’ve had more expensive whiskies that are not as good, I’d say it’s worth the money to be honest.

#71- Old Forester Bourbon

Distillery: Old Forester
Name: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £34 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Baked fruit, slight citrus, marzipan
Taste: Caramel, oaky, dry
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 6/10
As it’s a bank holiday weekend I thought I’d spend my time wisely, doing another whisky review or two. Today it’s bourbons’ turn.
There is good body to the nose from some baked fruit notes, I’m thinking pears, but it also has a lightness about it from a citrus quality and marzipan sweetness. It’s a very pleasant aroma, well balanced.
You get an initial caramel sweetness on the palate, not overly sweet though, more of a dark toffee sweetness maybe. This quickly gives way to the oak however, lots of oak and the dry, spiciness that accompanies it. There is also a fair bit of ABV burn at first and definitely benefits from a drop of water or ice.
Overall it is a pleasant, well priced bourbon. I have to admit that I have had ice with it throughout most of the bottle due to that ABV burn. I’m not really a cocktail man but I could see it being a good option to tame any sweeter concoction due to the heavy oak and dryness.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof

Distillery: Wild Turkey
Name: Rare Breed Barrel Proof
Region: Kentucky
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £48 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, hot, dark toffee, orange
Taste: Rich, spicy, dry, dark chocolate, coffee
Finish: Long, spicy, dry
Rating: 7/10

So I’ve had this sample in for a while now to be honest (curtsey of @Tom_Blumsom), only just getting around to trying it. This particular Wild Turkey is made using a blend of 6, 8 and 12 year old stock so it should be pretty good, lets see.

Straight of there is a real rich depth to the nose but that ABV is also present with a slight burn there too. There is some sweetness there but more of a dark toffee sweetness which is not as strong but more caramel. After a couple of minutes it starts to lighten up a bit, becoming more citrus, not as light a lemon or lime, orange I guess, maybe just orange peel.

Can the palate live up to that fantastic nose? Big hit of both spice and ABV heat that just keep on building, amazingly it holds up to it though. That rich body with the dark chocolate and coffee notes put up a good fight to claw there way into view, have a strut around on your tongue and then get pushed back during the dry finish.

Somewhat different to the bog standard Wild Turkey that I have tried tried before. Fantastic nose to it and a palate that does live up to it. I would like to thank (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Rittenhouse Straight Rye

Distillery: Rittenhouse
Name: Straight Rye
Region: Kentucky
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Light, slightly earthy, sweet, tropical fruits
Taste: Thin, smooth, vegetal, spicy
Finish: Medium, spicy, slightly dry, vegetal
Rating: 4/10

Another Rittenhouse Rye, the last one was the 100 Proof, this one just the Straight Rye, lets see how they compare.

Well the nose is very light for a rye with a real earthiness to it. This frees up and opens itself up to be surprisingly tropical but also with a sugary sweetness there too. Not really any spice to it which I usually find in ryes.

Onto the palate and it is very light and thin, not much body to it at all. It is smooth though at first before that spice that was so missing on the nose comes through. The earthy/vegetal edge is present again which stays onto the medium length finish, not in a particularly good way though, tastes a little dirty on the finish.

Not struck on this one to be honest. The nose is unusually tropical which is kind of nice but it’s just missing the rye spice. The vegetal notes just stand out too much for me on the palate and the finish. I’ll stick to the 100 Proof me thinks.

Buffalo Trace Tweet Tasting

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Name: Bourbon
Region: Kentucky
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £22 (Master of Malt 70cl)
NoseSweet, baked fruits, slight spice, creamy
TasteCaramel, hint of lime, woody, spice
Finish: Medium length, slightly dry
Rating: 5/10

I had the pleasure of partaking in another Tweet Tasting on 24th September thanks to Steve at @TheWhiskyWire, this time it was the turn of the Buffalo Trace group.

First up was the Buffalo Trace. I found this to be a great entry into bourbon, it has a nice level of sweetness with some lovely baked fruits like pears, along with a little spice, all wrapped up in a lovely creamy aroma.

Onto the palate and you get a good amount of caramel with this really interesting and unexpected hint of lime. It also carries that slight spice over well and also some woodiness, giving it a medium length finish that has a slight dryness.

This went down fairly well by all accounts for it’s ease of drinking, good level of flavour and also price.

Distillery: Eagle Rare
Name: N/A
Region: Kentucky
Age: 10
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 45%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £37 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, powerful, marzipan, oak, dried leaves, caramel
TasteThick, rich, powerful, dark chocolate, spicy, dark caramel, wood, aniseed
Finish: Medium, light, dryness, spice
Rating: 9/10

I actually had a bottle of this in anyway, and at time of writing, this is the best bourbon I have tried. Such a powerful aroma with the caramel, marzipan and oak along with an earthiness that is like dried leaves, think walking through the woods in autumn.

Then the palate comes along and throws everything at you, dark chocolate and caramel, that oak in there again with a little aniseed thrown in for good measure. This is all rolled into a thick and smooth texture, just wonderful. It has not done with you yet though, the finish of medium length but for all it’s power on the palate, it picks up a little and lightens, still with some oaky dryness and spice though.

One of those that I will always try to keep a bottle of I think, which is saying something, because I rarely buy a second bottle of anything, there are too many new ones out there to try.

Distillery: The Barton 1792
Name: Ridgemont Reserve
Region: Kentucky
Age: 8+
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46.85%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £50 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Light, baked fruits, apricot, pear drops, lavender, pine trees, glue
TasteWarm, light, fruity, almonds, floral
Finish: Medium, slightly dry, spicy
Rating: 8/10

The final of the evening was The Barton 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, or just the 1792 as we all referred to it as. At £50 I think this is the most expensive bourbon I have tried so was looking forward to seeing what you get for the higher end of the bourbon market.

The 1792 did not disappoint, the nose was very different to the previous two but like the Eagle Rare, had lots to offer. Really fruity, moving into floral with some lavender and pine. A lot of people picked up on glue, I only got a hint of this personally.

The palate was as much a delight as the nose, a real warmth to it, partly from the higher ABV, light and again lots of fruit, pear and apricot coming through again. This started to develop into a slight floral note much like the nose but not before throwing a few almonds your way first.

The finish is of medium length like the others and has a slight dryness and hint of spice to it. The balance of sweet and dryness is just right for me, I was expecting something a little sweeter from the nose but was pleasantly surprised.

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed an evening of Tweet Tasting again and would like to thank Steve at @TheWhiskyWire and also @BuffaloTraceUK for a wonderful evening. It was a good education into bourbon shared with some great friends and new associates.

Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Name: Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof (Bottled in Bond)
Region: Kentucky
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £34 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, rye, caramel, smooth, crisp
Taste: Spicy, smooth, slightly sweet, smoky
Finish: Short, light
Rating: 7/10

So I’ve heard quite a few good things about Rittenhouse Rye and have been after trying it for a while, but then I got a sample of the 100 Proof instead, even better.

The nose starts very rich, obviously very rye, which I love, and also has a caramel smoothness but with a strangely crisp finish. Onto the palate you get a very well-rounded dram with a great mouth feel, very smooth with a slight sweetness and just a little smokiness peaking through towards the end (once aired a little). I was surprised how little alcohol burn there is for it’s strength, I would never guess it’s 50%. The finish is actually quite short and light I felt unfortunately, which is the only thing that lets it down.

I’m no expert on ryes but the ones I have had I also seem to enjoy, this is no exception. I have not been disappointed, it’s a very easy drinking, yet complex and flavoursome rye and worth the money in my eyes.

I would like to thank Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) again for the sample.

Balcones Brimstone

Distillery: Balcones
Name: Brimstone
Region: Texas
Age: NAS
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 53%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £5.27 (for 3cl)
Nose: BARBECUE, smoke, meaty, sweet, powerful
Taste: Barbecue, smoke, sweet
Finish: Long, barbecue, smoke
Rating: 3/10

After just sampling the True Blue I have high expectation for the Brimstone I can tell you, lets hope I sampled them the in the right order. After being left covered up for a while the nose is undoubtedly barbecue, that is the overpowering aroma. You get smoke in there too and a bit of meatiness coming through afterwards, but the barbecue sweetness is very present, a bit too much for me, as if they are trying to cover a very young spirit maybe?

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Balcones True Blue

Distillery: Balcones
Name: True Blue
Region: Texas
Age: NAS
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £5.32 (for 3cl)
Nose: Rich, spicy, slight sweetness, bourbon
Taste: Rich, spicy, fiery (abv), dry
Finish: Long, rich, spicy
Rating: 8/10

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Balcones so have been looking forward to trying a couple. I can honestly say I am not disappointed. Another unusual one to be honest; it has the deep, rich complexity on the nose, a level that you might expect from a sherry cask single malt, although it is matured in virgin oak, with a sweetness and I get a bourbon aroma coming through towards the end.

On the palate it does not disappoint either, a mass of flavour hits you instantly, with a great spiciness and some real alcohol burn around the mouth, which strangely stays in the mouth, it does not work it’s way down too much. It actually reminds me of Adnams Triple Grain, just Americanised you could say, more boisterous; maybe it’s an age thing, the Triple Grain is quite young but then the True Blue is only slightly older I believe, either way there is a similarity for me. It is still that mix of a complex single malt with the bourbon finish, a perfect bourbon maybe?

The finish is strong, very strong, and very long, it’s awesome. The spiciness continues here also, with just a touch of dryness that works really well. I tried it with water also due to the abv and it unsurprisingly handles it very well. The nose is softened but still has all that spice, the extra sweetness (above the bourbon sweetness) is gone though. On the palate it is still intense, and awesome. The burn is lessened but was still there a touch and the finish was still long and powerful.

Overall I will just say that this is a superb dram and Balcones must be very proud. It has most definitely lived up to it’s reputation. I would like to thank @WhiskyDiscovery for the sample, it was much appreciated.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Old Bourbon

Distillery: Smooth Ambler
Name: Old Scout
Region: West Viginia
Age: 7
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 49.5%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £3.89 (£47 for 75cl)
Colour: Amber
Nose: Dry, rye, a little sweetness, oak, burnt wood
Taste: Slight sweetness, rye, smooth, creamy
Finish: Long, spicy, sweet, dry
Rating: 8/10
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Old Bourbon

I actually won this in a raffle at my local pub, The Victoria Newcastle-under-Lyme, as part of their Drinks By The Drink Whisky Advent Calendar competition. Each day they have been raffling off that days’ dram and giving all of the takings to charity.

It has a lovely nose to it, softer that a lot of the bourbons I have had before, not as sweet and a little more complex. Once covered for a little while the oak and burnt wood aromas really stood out. Once left to aerate a while the dryness mellows and the sweetness picks up a little, still not really sweet though.

At 49.5% this has a bit of an alcohol bite to it at first, but that fades to reveal a slight initial sweetness that quickly gives way to the rye. At 36% rye in the mashbill I believe this is quite high (feel free to correct me on this) and it has ensured that this bourbon not too sweet and has just enough rye on the nose and palate. On second sip, and given time to aerate a little, the alcohol bite lessens to reveal the smoothness and creaminess of this bourbon that makes it so moreish. The addition of water really takes that bite away and smoothens it out more, although a surprisingly small amount is needed to achieve this given its ABV.

The finish is long with a lovely warming spiciness to it that leads into a seemingly sweeter taste than is present on the nose or palate; after this there is a dryness as the final finish.

To be honest I haven’t really sat down and really ‘tasted’ bourbons before, they have just been drams I have had when out, usually after a few beers, or around friends whilst chatting, so I have never really appreciated them that much in the past. This one however has really opened my eyes to how good they can be, it is a real contender to gain a place in my collection, not as a replacement to a single malt, they are like chalk and cheese, two completely different drinks, it would be an addition for when I fancy something different.

Heaven Hill – Mellow Corn

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Name:  Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey
Region: Kentucky
Age: 2
Chill-filtered: N/A
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £25
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Corn, sweet, light
Taste: Corn, sweet, crisp, alcohol kick
Finish: Warm, long, corn, ending slightly dry
Rating: 4/10
Heaven Hill Mellow Corn

As the first corn whiskey that I have tried, I was not entirely sure what to expect from Mellow Corn. I have tried bourbon and rye so I was assuming something along those lines, what I found was it appears to be a cross between the two. It has a sweetness to it like bourbons, just not has much as the ones I have tried, but with a dryness to the finish like with the rye I have tried, again just to a lesser degree.

I have found that it benefits from being left to aerate for a while, it enhances some of the flavours and reduces the kick you get from the 50% Abv. With the addition of water as well, this whiskey is really opened up. The nose becomes smoother and a little less sweet but remains light, all of which continue across to the palate. The high Abv is still apparent as it still coats the mouth but it also bring out more of the corn flavour as a result. The warm finish remains but the dryness is enhanced and prolonged with the corn notes being more apparent also. Due to the strength I thought I would try it with the addition of more water; now the nose is very subtle corn, the sweetness has almost gone and it is a little bland. The palate holds strong however, just made smoother but still with an alcohol kick towards the end. The finish is not as warm but still long lasting and dry.

Overall I would say it benefits from the addition of some water but not too much. It is not a complex whiskey with corn being the overpowering note across the range; I would like to try other corn whiskies however to compare. It is a very drinkable whiskey and for the money is not a bad purchase, I think I would prefer a rye personally though for a similar amount.