Our first Committee purchase consisted of three bourbons: W.H. Harrison Governor's Reserve Barrel Proof; W.L. Weller 12 Year; and Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey. I'll talk a little bit about what I know about the bourbons and then get into our tasting notes.
W.H. Harrison Governor's Reserve Barrel Proof
Like a lot of craft distillers, W.H. Harrison claims to be the "First Bourbon from State X Since Prohibition." In this case, the state in question is Indiana. Based on the website and the rumblings on the bourbon message boards, this is probably a sourced bourbon from what used to be known as Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (LDI). I can't tell from the website if there is any distilling being done at the W.H. Harrison site. This bourbon is a high-rye recipe (probably around 30-35% rye) and it is bottled at barrel strength (115 proof). It is about 4 years old and it cost us $54.99 from The Party Source.
W.L Weller 12 Year
W.L. Weller is an iconic bourbon brand. It is one of the few easy to find, high quality wheated bourbons on the market. This version is 12 year old, 90 proof, and at under $30, one hell of a deal. Weller comes from the Buffalo Trace distillery and it has long been a favorite of bourbon enthusiasts.
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey
Breckenridge hails from Breckenridge, Colorado and unlike Harrison, they are making this juice on site in their 700 gallon still. This product is about 3 years old and is bottled at 86 proof. It's a bit pricey for a lower proof bourbon--$44.99 from The Party Source. Like the Harrison, it is a high-rye recipe at 38% green rye. I'm not sure what green rye is--I've never seen green rye mentioned in bourbon making.
Harrison: Gulliver called it "super-meh" though I thought this was quite good. Spicy and minty with a pleasing heat. Unfortunately I spilled almost my entire allotment of Harrison so formal tasting notes were not completed.
W.L Weller 12 Year: Corn forward sweetness with some typical-for-wheaters vanilla on the nose. Viscous on the tongue like the other Weller expressions. Pleasant and sweet with a nice spice balance. Vanilla heavy on entry and a slimy (in a good way) mouth feel. Close to being great.
Overall I thought the Weller was consistent with the other Weller expressions--good but not great. A blind tasting between Weller Antique, Special Reserve and 12 year would yield interesting results.
Breckenridge: Nose--vanilla and caramel with a fruity smell--maybe plum? After this one opened up a bit I smelled mint, evergreen and some Christmas spice. The taste had a lot mint which can be typical of rye forward bourbons. Also notable was a disappointingly short finish.
Overall this one shows a lot of promise though I was disappointed with the low proof. I think a cask strength version with a bit more barrel time could produce a really standout bourbon here. This one was so minty-rye that I would have told you that this was a straight rye if I hadn't already known it was bourbon. Gulliver thought this one was the standout of the group.
I liked the W.H. Harrison bourbon best of the three, which didn't surprise me since I generally prefer high-proof bourbons because they reflect the taste of the spirit better. Gulliver and Kyle liked Breckenridge best.
Next month: Hancock's President's Reserve, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Grand-Dad 114, Leopold Brothers American Whiskey, and Filibuster.