When it comes to American Highway Reserve, despite some older whiskey in this blend, it all smells young: new wood, green apple, cooked corn, dried rye and ethanol. Initially, the aroma is faint, but a few vigorous swirls moves it from non-existent to hot in the nostrils; from “Is anybody home?” to “Please go back inside your house!” It’s corn-whiskey-sweet and light on the palate before finishing unpleasantly dry. I hate to sound like a jerk, but I like nothing about this bourbon.
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This is a delicious mature whiskey, far from overly oaked, and full of complexity and nuance. The nose is loaded with cooked dark cherries, warm dark chocolate, macaron, green apple and Juicy Fruit gum. On the palate it’s rich and mouth coating, not drying at all. Surprises like dried strawberries and Cap’n Crunch Cereal (think sweet-sweet corn) interweave with darkly toasted bread and s’mores. For me, the 20- and 19-year-old barrels are ideally balanced with the younger 17-year barrels.