This is a swell whiskey. It’s balanced, bold—even muscular—and pretty much what a properly aged 15-year-old bourbon should taste like. Some sourced whiskey shows the talent or luck of the barrel hunter, so let’s call Grain & Barrel Spirits’ master distiller Gregg Snyder talented. It’s delicious. Ironically, I had this same whiskey from a full bottle bought by a friend, and it did little for me. A month later, I got a sample bottle from Chicken Cock, and it was praiseworthy. Go figure. I have no explanation for it.
Despite the inviting nose—which revealed layer after incredible layer of aromas the longer it rested—whiskey is for drinking, and that effort ended the fun for me.
I get that others like some of these extra-long-aged bourbons; in fact, I appreciate it. That crowd is wired differently from me and variety is a great thing. But unlike Michter’s, which somehow pulls off the feat of bottling 20- and 25-year bourbon and rye that is as drying, it doesn’t win me over. This 22-year dries up quickly and heads right to astringency for me. Your reactions may vary, and I hope they do, especially if you spend the exorbitant sums requested online.
I’m really pleased with this release because of its port-forward notes. Some recent Angel’s Envy Cask Strength releases tasted more like delicious, polished bourbon while lacking the distinctive port finish components of early releases. For anyone wondering why I pointed to purple iris in my nose notes: Years ago, a friend gave me some purple iris bulbs that I replanted. As they grew and bloomed, a powdered grape aroma (think grape Kool-Aid) emanated from them. Ever since, they’ve been one of my favorite flowers. That aroma is present in this release.
Old Forester’s 100 proof standard is a super-versatile and amazingly affordable favorite of mine. Some of this year’s special distillery releases (such as the 150th Anniversary Bourbon, Batch 2, which I reviewed here) have been brilliant. But Old Fo’s Birthday Bourbons are always hit or miss for me. The 2019 Birthday was brilliant, one of my favorite ever. At the press event when we tasted it, master taster Jackie Zykan included slices of birthday caramel cake because she deemed it the whiskey’s paramount note. She was dead on. It was deep, dense and rich, just like the cake. So confident that we’d love that release, she even poured us a 150 proof-barrel strength sample that, believe it or not, was far softer than anyone would think.
Straight out of the bottle this bourbon’s inviting nose led me to jump in and taste, which was a small mistake. It was surprisingly oaky and tannic, especially for a 13-year-old. So, I poured a little more and abandoned it for about 20 minutes to let it open up, and it did. The oak returned, but cloaked in brown sugar, and the tannin nearly disappeared save for the finish—and not much of it there either. It’s a delightful whiskey all around; a fine example of what the team at this venerable distillery has learned over 85 years.
Barton 1792 Distillery Debuts Thomas S. Moore Trio of Cask Finished BourbonsView Post
Every Little Book release is, to my palate, unique and extraordinary. Fans will recognize they’re Beam whiskeys, but no standard Beam whiskeys. Hearing Noe talk about the effort required to make them adds to their complexity, and conversations about them reminds me just how hard mingling whiskey really is—especially when using a brown rice-accented bourbon. It’s that bourbon that Noe said, “that anchors the complexity of the blend but not the majority of the blend.” I agree. The sweet, round and
Don’t let Old Forester 150th Anniversary bourbon’s potent proof fool you, this bourbon can be rolled around the mouth and savored. The finish on it is beautiful, silken and long; it’s a real pleasure to drink. This is Old Forester at its purest, boldest, most enticing and exciting. It’s why I love (most iterations) of this brand.
The first time I and a friend cracked a bottle of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, he said, correctly, “This is what Maker’s Mark should have been all along. Why did they wait so long to release at this proof?” I agreed. Neither of us knew then how committed to barrel strength releases Maker’s since the Private Select program (recently renamed Private Selection program) was still in the design stage. Maker’s spent 50 years becoming famous as a one-hit whiskey wonder, but in the 10 years since it released Maker’s 46, it’s shown a high level of skill in creating variations on that long-established theme.