Monday, October 1, 2012

August Allotment Tasting Notes

The committee recently (mostly) finished up tasting our August bourbon allotment.  The notes are somewhat haphazard as we haven't quite figured out the best way to organize the tasting notes.  Our August allotment consisted of Fillibuster, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Hancock's President's Reserve Single Barrel, Leopold Brothers American Style Whiskey, and the already reviewed Old Grand-Dad 114.

The line up for August.
KB: This is a whiskey of indeterminate origin  that is finished in White Wine Seasoned French Oak barrels. Mashbill is 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.  That finishing and mashbill is on the back of the bottle.  It does not have an age statement, nor does is say how long the bourbon was in the French Oak.
Nose: A vanilla bomb with some orange peel and citrus, but something just smells off from the start--maybe not off, but just not "normal" for bourbon.
Taste: Vanilla and oak, sharp and thin on the tongue.  I'm not sure if something can be cloying and astringent, but this seems like a candidate.  
Finish: Short, but oddly it hangs around on the tip of my tongue.
Overall I, well, hated this one.  72 overall.  
Wild Turkey Rare Breed:
KB: Nose: Caramel, butterscotch and a spicy rye forward note.  Some cinnamon and spice.
Taste: Hot and spicy--this is the jalapeno pepper of bourbons.  It "pops" in your mouth.  I get some cinnamon and maybe some maple.
Finish: Surprisingly sweet with subtle spices underneath.
Overall:  This one is an 85.  I like it best of all the Wild Turkey expressions (though I haven't had the WT Tradition).  It's relatively high proof--108.2*--so it'll get you drunk.
KI: Very nice.  Like Keith said, strong pepper and barrel flavor.  Quick and lingering alcohol on the tongue with a smooth finish.  Depending on the price I would highly recommend...
Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel (44.5% ABV)
KB: Nose: Spicy/Rye forward, orange peel and some brown sugar.  Green apple, almost like that old cereal Apple Jacks
Taste: Close to the nose: Green apple and spice with a pleasant mouthfeel.  I get some mixed spices as well--cinnamon as well maybe
Finish: Medium--lingers a bit on the mid and rear palette. 
Overall:  First I have to admit that I know just a bit too much about this bourbon to be objective.  It is from the Rock Hill Farms and Blanton's family which Buffalo Trace distills on contract for a Japanese company called Ages International.  All three are made from their high rye recipe (~30% rye), are single barrel, and none have an age statement (if I'm not mistaken).  The only obvious difference between the three is the proof. Overall 87.
With all that said, Rock Hill Farms is one of my favorite bourbons--I can barely keep the damn thing on the shelf.  I quite like Hancock's too, especially when I can buy it for $29.99.  I've seen it retail here for $50+.  If you're willing to spend that coin, buy Rock Hill Farms as it is 100 proof and just over $50.  I'd rate this an 86, assuming that it is $29.99.  If it is a $50, you should expect a bit more (just buy Rock Hill Farms already!).
JF: Color and nose: A darker brown with hints of red and a golden meniscus. The nose is crisp and fresh with some fruits (Currants? Banana?), a small amount of flower (mainly rose I believe, but I’m not a botanist), marshmallow, and fresh rain.
Taste and finish: A very round flavor of oak and mild spices and traces of the floral. Exceptionally smooth and mellow. Flavors round even further to an earthy finish of grass, a recently wetted wood. and nuts.
Overall: A mild sipping bourbon that is very pleasant throughout, aided by the moderate alcohol content. The crisp nose compliments the round and natural taste and finish very nicely. While a delightful bourbon, the balance of Hancock ensure there are no fireworks here. A good, solid buy for every-day use. 89.
Leopold Brothers American Style Whiskey (43% ABV)
KB: Nose: Grassy and young, with some mint and corn stalk.  Smells young, kind of white dog-ish.
Taste: A decent rye spice on entry.  Very crisp and mellow-ish, and I'd say it tastes older than it looks and smells.  But still very thin on the palette and not well balanced.  Kind of watery.
Finish: Some pleasant spice, but not a whole lot going on here.
Overall: 77.  I would be interested in tasting this again when it has 2 to 4 years of age behind it. My guess is this one is aged under 18 months.  It has some promise, but this isn't ready for prime time
JF: Color and nose: A very light amber, noticeably so when juxtaposed with the bourbons. The nose is a bit boozy and medicinal of the old-timey recipe style that seems to be in fashion. Behind this are faint hints of fruit, mainly pear, apple and grape and quite a bit of raw corn in the husk.
Taste and finish: In spite of its strong nose this whiskey falls flat on the tongue. There is a hint of nondescript spice and some more of the corn husk. But these qualities dissipate into an alcohol burn before finishing with a light limestone and grassy aftertaste.
Overall: This whiskey is entirely too young for distribution – another 2 years or so would provide the flavors necessary to overcome the overall boozy penumbra surrounding it. This whiskey has more in common with other bottles that are more pure to 19th Century distilling techniques such as Ransom Old Tom Gin than it does with any whiskey of the post-Prohibition age. Leopold Bros would likely make a good cocktail whiskey. 75.
Gulliver: Two cubes. Very pale straw, lager-colored. Nose slightly medicinal; more like scotch than bourbon. Smooth up front, alcohol heat on the end. Young: no wood. Dry, mellow corn

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