Editor’s Note: Today we’re featuring the first post from our recent Help Wanted recruitment efforts. Over the next several weeks we’ll be featuring posts from fellow bourbon lovers who are vying to become a regular contributor to Bourbon & Banter. We encourage you to not only read their posts but also share them with your online friends and family as well as chiming in via the comments section. Your sharing and comments will all be factored into our final selection of who will become part of the blog team in 2016. Today’s post is from Chris Mielke who runs Southerndistillingnews.com and is online at @sdistillingnews.
Everyone wants to be number one – as Ricky Bobby said, “If you’re not first, you’re last!”
However when it comes to bourbon being “Batch Number One”… it could be a risky number. The first batch establishes the initial signature of the bourbon and what people will first taste and remember. Plus, if it’s a craft distiller who does small batches then there aren’t thousands of gallons to correct the blending of the barrels in future batches – you’re committed. But, in the hands of a capable distiller “Batch Number One” is a celebration of the passage of time and the release of a product that people will enjoy.
Black Button Distilling in Rochester, New York has released their own Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey this summer and it was a big moment since Jason Barrett (the owner and head distiller) is a fan of bourbon and he has worked towards bringing this first batch to market ever since opening his distillery.
The description of the contents from the bottle reads:
Black Button Four Grain Bourbon is 60% corn, 20% wheat, 9% rye, 11% malted barley and 100% NY State grown and distilled. Experience the product that captured my heart and the reason I’m dedicated to craft distilling. Perfect for a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned or just on the rocks. So sit back, relax and try the new definition of quality American Bourbon. – Jason Barrett, Head Distiller
That last sentence is a bold statement – so how does Black Button’s premiere effort stand up to the rest of the field? Let’s taste.
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Black Button Four Grain Bourbon Review
Bourbon Name: Black Button Four Grain Bourbon
Age: The label says “Aged 17 months in 30 gallon barrels.” As a note – this is a blended bourbon, so the youngest barrel needs to be represented in the blend, so that is why this is less than the standard two years for straight bourbon.
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.
My Nose Noticed:* Caramel | Hay | Oak | Hints of Vanilla
First Sip: Toasted Caramel | Cut Grass
The Burn:** The burn is quite minimal due to the wheat and corn percentages in the mash bill and the smaller percentage of rye. It goes down pretty smooth with only the slight bite of black pepper mixing with the taste of the toasted oak and caramel. The lower proof also makes this a drink that is easily sipped.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: A splash of water will bring out the caramel notes and reveal some cinnamon and sage. But neat is where this beverage really shines due to its grassy overtones mixed with a whiff of oak and the finish of sweet caramel. It doesn’t linger and finishes up quickly which makes you want another sip. As Jason mentions on the label, the bourbon would make and excellent companion with an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan since it goes down without a bite.
Share With: Bourbon aficionados at a tasting party or with your significant other on the couch on a Friday evening while binge watching the latest season of your favorite show. This is a versatile blend which goes down smooth enough to enjoy with people whose palettes may not enjoy higher rye content or higher proof offerings, but is intriguing enough to sample with discriminating tastes who are looking for the next statement and story in American craft bourbon.
Worth The Price: The retail price for a bottle is around $49 and is only available easily in and around the state of New York. If you are on the east coast – visit the distillery, take a tour and pick up a couple of bottles of their small craft spirits.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Buy the bottle! Black Button is a small craft distiller and deserves your hard-earned dollars to continue forging ahead in the rough waters of the distilling world. Bourbon is a waiting game that most craft distillers can’t afford to play out of the gate.
*I like to let my whiskey sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first. In this case thought, the whiskey really required more like 20 minutes to balance out.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?