At a dinner to meet Heaven Hill’s new master distiller, Colin O’Driscoll, my Bourbon & Banter colleague Matt Evans took one sniff and pronounced it a “chocolate bomb.” That was dead on. A friend at the same dinner asked, “Did you add water?” I answered, “Why? It’s soft at 135 proof!” Whiskey nerd that he is, I knew he meant “Did you act professionally and discover anything important by adding water like rational people do?” So I did, and it turned into honey: extraordinarily delicious, but I missed the oomph of the barrel strength. So, I advise no water be added.
I’m among the many saddened by the disappearance of the 4-year-old Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond during 2017. Like most BIBs, it was a terrific bargain, a great sipper and one of my favorite cocktailers for recipes with citrus (think Gold Rush).
But since businesses aren’t charities, they must improve products and profitability, so Heaven Hill smartly moved to make Old Fitz’ a more premium product and sell it at a super-premium price. Why not, when much older versions of it–from Stitzel-Weller days–now fetch thousands of dollars on the secondary market? There was brand equity to be built and reaped by putting longer-aged Fitz’ into eye-catching retro-Fitz’ decanters and boosting price by eight times its final 2017 cost.
Rhetoric Bourbon: All Six Releases ReviewedView Post
From its explosive nose to its punch-in-the-mouth flavor and texture, this is what Booker’s fans love. Booker Noe himself created his namesake brand to be powerful, and it does not disappoint. I first tasted “Booker’s 30” with Fred Noe, III, and a press group inside a 40 F rickhouse in November. Cold but still bold, yet the chilly temps numbed its nuances. (Not complaining. Such adventures make this job fantastic.) Four hours later we tasted it again in a 70 F conference room at the distillery: much more aroma and brighter flavors. We even passed around some cured Kentucky ham slices to top it off.
This is a flat-out delicious bourbon, no arguing it. At 104 proof, its balance of potency and nuance is ideal, and I never considered adding water to it. I can’t imagine a neat bourbon drinker not loving everything about it. To avoid being skewed by tasting notes in a press release, the only details I read before tasting anything are age and proof. And even though Double Barrel is in its name, I didn’t even consider that as I sipped this release. Here’s why:
Read the Brand’s Notes to understand why this is a twice-barreled product. It’ll help you understand why it’s so fruity, sweet and tannic. Sipped at 93 proof, it’s perfect. With a splash of water, the fruit notes become juicier, the mouthfeel pleasantly heavier and spice notes emerge. As the last expression to be added to the Whiskey Row Series, there’s hardly a better way to cap off a multiline series so well.
I’m a fan of about every Fo’ on the shelf, but I was not quick to like this bottle. When first opened, my press sample was sharp, edgy, not inviting. I gave it time in the glass—a 45-minute rest, in fact—but it wouldn’t come to heel. I let it sit a week or so and revisited it.
This might just be Brent Elliott’s best release since taking over as Master Distiller at Four Roses. It’s a great sign of what he’s capable of and gets me excited to see what he does next. Is it better than the Al Young commemorative release? To be honest, it’s been a long time since I sampled that one, but based on my tasting notes I’d say that I prefer the 130th Anniversary Limited Edition over the Al Young release.
I think this is a great starter bourbon with something to keep you coming back for more. Not quite the sweet spot of flavors that I gravitate towards but a good one to get started or to enjoy on a hot summer day with friends.The President’s Choice selection was officially introduced in 1964 by George Garvin Brown II, who picked each barrel himself. The product was chosen by Brown until his death in 1969; stocks chosen by Brown were gone by 1972.