Tag Archive: Bourbon


Maker’s Mark: Makers 46 (USA: Bourbon: 47% ABV)

Visual: Very deep reddened bronze colour. Fast and thick sheet of streak comes from the spirit.

Nose: Warm honey. Vanilla. Shredded wheat. Lightly peppery. Slight stewed apricot. Caramel. Water adds custard slice touch.

Body: Strawberry crème. Warm golden syrup. Vanilla toffee liqueur. Thick. Oaken underneath. Water makes smoother. Some alcohol jelly like touch. More vanilla. Cherry pocked biscuits. Liquorice touch.

Finish: Honey. Vanilla sheen. Toffee liqueur. Oak. Water gives a grape touch. Jelly. Shredded wheat.

Conclusion: This feels like Maker Mark’s bigger, smoother, more fulfilling brother. What I am saying is it is more bangable basically.

Neat it feels like warm honey and golden syrup drizzled over cereal. It still has that kind of rustic feel I associate with Maker’s Mark, but with the sweetness shoved way up. The extra alcohol strength , as well as upping the thickness of mouthfeel, also seems to have given it room for some odder notes to make themselves known. From strawberry notes, to cherry biscuits hints hanging around in the thick, heavy texture, there is a bit more variety – it doesn’t give release from the sweetness, but adds more depth to the thick, sweet character.

Neat is has a kind of weight that gives away that it has the higher alcohol content; Not a burn, just an unusual thickness. Water takes it into a smoother, more drinkable dram – closer to standard Maker’s Mark but still with more complexity.

Maker’s Mark has always been a go to bourbon for me for general drinking, and this, while still a touch one track minded, is more complex, more satisfying and more weighty without moving outside of the general drinking field. It feels like it pays off all the promise standard Maker’s Mark had.

It isn’t super complex but as a sipping bourbon this is excellent.

Background: Now the question I was asking myself was, why “46”? Especially as it is 47% abv, which was going to be my first guess. Well it is Maker’s Mark, but a version finished with oak staves. The fact that they were only used for finishing means that it still counts as bourbon – I think that for standard ageing they would not be allowed. Anyway I googled it, apparently this was a result of experiments with French toasted oak labelled “Stave Profile No. 46”. So they kept that as a name, because the marketing team was out at lunch or something I guess. Anyway – been a fan of Maker’s Mark for a while, since it got me through America when craft beer was hard to find – so tried this at The Star a while back and enjoyed it – they have a fair decent whisky selection at a decent price. This bottle was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with the new Ulver album for backing music – the wonderful sounds of “Flowers Of Evil”. Amazing as always.

Heaven Hill: Parker’s Heritage Barrel Finished in Orange Curacao (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 55% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. Fast thick streaks followed by thin puckering.

Nose: Peppery. Subtle orange sweetness and orange skins. Orange liqueur. Washing up liquid. Dust. Water brings out mint leaves and peppermint.

Body: Smooth and thick. Peppery. Treacle. Strong alcohol. Menthol. Mint leaves. Water adds rye crackers and cocktail bitters.

Finish: Orange liqueur. Menthol. Peppermint. Peppery. Shreddies. Mint leaves. Water adds aniseed and cocktail bitters.

Conclusion: You know, I expected this to be more orangey. I mean, I’m not going to lie, there is a very reasonable amount of orange going on, but what actually stands out from it is something completely different – a strange minty character. I did not see that one coming.

So, before we get too deep into that, let’s look at the base. This rocks the peppery, solid, possibly a touch rye backed bourbon style (google tells me about 10% rye, makes sense). As a bourbon it is solid but unexceptional.

If you look behind the bourbon notes you then find the subtle orange, mixed with cocktail bitters, all which make for understated but highly unusual notes for this odd bourbon. It feels slightly closed and dusty as well, over a thick and slightly treacle feel, yet also somehow smooth body,

Then, as mentioned and you knew I was going to come back to this, we have those minty notes – an oddly vegetable meets fresh peppermint to savoury green leaves style thing. It is all interesting, all unusual, all makes me take my time and examine it, and all makes it one I would not really return to after. It could be a good character elsewhere, but the savoury vegetable like elements of it really stick here.

I mean, it is a fascinating mix that takes a standard bourbon and spins something very different out and makes it interesting – but for the price I need more than interesting. Glad I tried, would not try again.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Oddly I thought bourbon had to be entitrely aged in fresh oak, but this is listed as bourbon and is finished in Orange Curacao cask, so I may be wrong. Anyway, this have been made in memory of the deceased master distiller Parker Beam and is the 12th edition of their releases under that name, each with a different take. I think some money from each bottle sold goes to a charity linked with how the master distiller passed away, but I’ve been having a hard time finding out exactly which charity by googling. Let me know if you know please.

Lux Row – Rebel Yell: Small Batch Reserve (American Bourbon Whiskey: 45.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep thick, darkened gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Pepper. Vanilla. Rye crackers. Heather. Moss. A menthol, minty edge – minty chewing gum. Water adds hot fudge cake.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Rye crackers. Peppery. Slight alcohol over time. Dry fudge. Water adds sweet fudge. Subtle orange crème. Raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Subtle white then red grapes.

Finish: Vanilla. Muesli. Peppery. Rye crackers. Water makes more peppery. Fudge. Light grapes.

Conclusion: You know, usually I find American whiskey, especially bourbon, doesn’t play to well with water. From experience drinking bourbon in the USA I see that ice is popular, but generally for me, water doesn’t do a whole lot.

This bourbon is the counter argument to that idea. Neat it is, well, a bourbon. Rye cracker notes and peppery character puts it on the spicier end of the spectrum, and the alcohol is smooth making it a well made bourbon, but generally it has that same vanilla sweetness base and nothing really stands out. I was actually fairly bored with it, and ready to give it a kicking in the notes, but I wasn’t 100% sure. There were hints. Just hints of something more. There was a strange minty menthol edge to aroma, slight dry fudge in the body. Hints, and not great by themselves but still hints.

Water takes those hints and makes them really come out. Sweet creamy fudge, red and white grape notes. In fact the red grape notes make for what I would swear was sherry ageing notes if for the fact that would not be allowed for a bourbon. It comes across as sweeter and richer notes under the smooth body. Now you have the spicier notes against rich sweetness, fresh notes against sweet grapes. Now I don’t want to emphasise the influence of these new elements too much here, they are but backing notes, but they are a great complement to what has come before.

Now there are still a few sticking points – the finish is a bit dry and a bit overly peppery, but generally this is a good bourbon. With water anyway – so yeah, use water, it is worth it. If you can live with a sub par finish the rest of this is pretty darn good.

Background: So, the “Rebel Yell” was a battle cry by confederate soldiers. Awkward. To not put a too subtle point on it, the confederacy were fucking pricks. It is also a song by Billy Idol which is a bit meh, but not the confederacy, so looks amazing in comparison. Apparently this bourbon was popularised a lot by Billy Idol and Keith Richards – I’ve not heard a lot about it, but it has been in the general background of a bunch of Bourbon discussion so I thought it would be nice to give it a try. This is a wheated bourbon, and was found at Independent Spirit. I went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking. Not as good as Endgame as an album but definitely one of my preferred Rise Against albums.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 1 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Standard whiskey barrel with #3 char)

Visual: Very dark reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Very fast sheet of streaks.

Nose: Thick and full of alcohol. Rye crackers and brown bread. Honey. Aniseed. Treacle. Light prunes.

Body: Honey. Charring. Slightly dry back. Rye crackers. Water makes more honeyed and smooth. Slight dried apricot. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Alcohol. Rye crackers. Honey. Slightly rough. Charring. More honeyed with water. Light mocha. Slight cloying sour cream note. Slight sulphur air.

Conclusion: This is – well – the most pedestrian of the 5 experiments I would say. It matches the more simple description of the process it went through – a more charred standard barrel – by being a very stripped down whiskey/bourbon compared to the complex language and layers of the others. A baseline I guess – the base experience that the other experiments build off.

Neat it is very much rye crackers touched with honey backing – pretty much the base bourbon concept but with none of the frills. At this point it is also a tad alcohol touched which doesn’t help it.

Water does help to a degree – it takes out some of the alcohol and lets the honey notes seeps over the harsher charring; It still has a bit of sulphur and other harsh notes – stuff that work with bigger whiskeys or bourbons, but feel off notes here.

It is … sub optimal shall we say – feels a very basic bourbon, with a few off notes. Not one I would recommend – especially considering the equivalent price you are paying for the set of the experiment bourbons as a whole. There is hints of some good stuff, and some mocha notes in the finish which are nice – but generally it feels very generic, with a few points letting it down.

To give it a more positive spin – this is the base, it lets you see how the other experiments develop in relation to it. As itself, it is not much, especially for the cost, It is only really useful as a benchmark to see how the other experiments differ.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, just more charred – so is probably the most normal of the experiments. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is the largest one, so I could spend a bit more time with it.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 11 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Original Barrel: Inserts for used wine barrels. High mocha)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Lightly milky coffee. Tiramisu. Some alcohol. Toffee. Salted lemons. Water adds menthol.

Body: Orange cream. Peppery. Peppermint. Some alcohol. Shredded wheat. Slight sour tang. Orange jelly sweets. Water adds honey and menthol.

Finish: Alcohol. Peppermint. Orange cream. Lime tang. Water adds menthol and mint. Slight milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, like the no 5 whiskey/bourbon I tried before this, this leans towards a more traditional bourbon but with one unusual element that comes out.

What you have here at the base is a sweeter, slightly orange cream touched bourbon – fairly normal, albeit with more alcohol feel than normal.

What comes out, especially with water, is a slightly peppermint to menthol character – a much fresher set of notes than usual. If you need a comparison I would say it comes in kind of similar to Johnnie Walker Green, to my hazy recollection of last time I tried that – however the menthol notes don’t seem to mesh quite as well to the bourbon style as they did to that blended whisky take.

It is odd that that peppermint style freshness is what stands out, as the aroma was quite coffee touched, which made me think that this was going to be similar to experiment 10 – while, admittedly the coffee does come out in the finish, for the most part the coffee really doesn’t seem to have much influence here. A pity.

It’s not terrible, but the twist and the main bourbon don’t mesh in a way that enhances either side. So, interesting, but one of the weaker experiments.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with wine barrel wood staves put in for extra oak influence, and charred for mocha styling. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while (still) listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – yes, I did this one immediately after doing notes on experiment 5.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 5 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% BV)

(Whiskey barrel 3: Standard whiskey barrel. #3 char with a cuvee cube tube.)

Visual: Deep bronzed to red.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers and pepper. Caramel. Water adds more crackers and some brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Cherries. Oak. Honey. Vanilla. Slight alcohol dryness. Water makes much more cherries. Slight fudge. Aniseed.

Finish: Charring. Treacle. Dry. Oak. Slight menthol. Water adds cherries. Slight brandy cream. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is a more standard bourbon/Whiskey than the last two I tried, but still has a few twists in its tail. First impressions are a honeyed bourbon with charring, oak and similar peppery notes. Nothing bad but also nothing unusual.

A bit of time taken and the first oddity comes out – a slight cherry sweetness that isn’t something I see often in bourbon. It is nice, and gives a slight Irish Whiskey style call – especially the sherry aged examples of such. An easy going spirit meeting the more peppery spiced bourbon.

Water brings this side out much more – more sweet cherries matched with slight brandy cream – a quite rich experience and one I enjoyed very much. As time passes the more traditional bourbon notes rise again to take centre stage, with the sweeter elements pushed to the side.

So, overall it has a slight showing of a good twist to a fairly standard bourbon. Fairly solid quality in general. If it managed to balance the sweetness with the bourbon style over a longer time scale this would have been well worth recommending. As is, its a nice twist but not a must have.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with cuvee cube tube added for extra wood exposure, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – still listening to the music Speech Development Records gave away for free digital download.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 10 (USA Bourbon\Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(1 French/American hybrid wine barrel 225L. Traditional with #25 toast profile)

Visual: Deep bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Full. Treacle. Pencil shavings. White chocolate. Light wood smoke. Toasted teacakes. Water makes more toasted teacakes.

Body: Light front. Orange. Peppery. Slight alcohol weight. Tinned tropical fruit. Milky mocha coffee. Lightly nutty.

Finish Toasted teacakes. Milky coffee. Milky hot chocolate. Light nuts.

Conclusion: Even with the small amount I had of this, the split between two distinctly different sides was evident. So, yeah, take everything here as a small first impressions.

Up front in the aroma and on the first sip this seemed fairly booming, but not an unusual bourbon – peppery, slightly smokier than normal in a woody way, and as mentioned, quite booming. Sipping brought a familiarly bourbon orange note in kind of creamy style so, solidly big, but not unusual.

Then the finish comes around and this is where it changes to style two. Milky mocha coffee, gentle and soothing, comes out – plus it returns to some toasted teacake notes that were only hinted at in the aroma, but held off being full developed until the end.

This part is very nice, very easy going, very soothing while delivering well developed coffee flavour. Even better as my sample was coming to the end this part started backing up into the main body, indicating it was probably going to play a bigger part as the drink went on.

I can’t add much more to the notes than that as I added a drop of water to what was left and that returned it to the more standard bourbon that it seemed at the start. So, a mix of two tales, but that coffee part is lovely – hope it would have had more of that if I had spent longer with it.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a barrel constructed from two smaller barrels, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the smaller ones, so I presume was one of their favourites – as of such its more a first impressions than a full tasting note. Hope that is ok with all of you – thought it was still worth sharing as it is a bit unusual. Drunk while listening to some Warrenpeace as he gave an album away free for digital download – pretty cool so far.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: No 4 (USA Bourbon Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Experiment – Whiskey Barrel 3. Standard whiskey barrel #3 char with High Mocha Cube Tube)

Visual: Deep copper gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey. Sherry trifle. Sour mash. Vanilla.

Body: Sherry trifle. Treacle. Warming. A tiny drop of water adds fudge and sour mash style.

Finish: Treacle. Honey. Vanilla and white chocolate. Brandy cream. Sour mash. Tropical fruit. Slight sour grapes.

Conclusion: Just a short first impression for this one, but from what I have tried it looks to be a good one. While it keeps a sour mash feeling style that is one of the more well known bourbon styles it is a lot sweeter than most of those I have encountered. The base feels slight Jack Daniels like in the sour mash style, with lots of the oak influence, but everything else feels much closer to a sherry touched Irish whiskey to me. It has a very sherry trifle sweetness matched with white chocolate and vanilla you would expect from American oak.

Between the two it gives a very sweet dessert interpretation over a solid rustic feeling base. A mix of solid grounded weight and sweet high notes makes for what feels like like a very varied whiskey and bourbon mix of an experience.

After I finished it, the sweet air sunk into what felt like a remnant of brandy cream air hovering in my mouth, and then as that slipped away into charring and sour mash again before finally vanishing.

Ok, I think that’s all I can write about my brief encounter – first impressions – this one I could definitely spend more time with. Think it will have a lot of depth to dig out.

Background: This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, but has had heavily charred American oak placed within it to make for quicker ageing. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the smaller ones, so I presume was one of their favourites – as of such its more a first impressions than a full tasting note. Hope that is ok with all of you – thought it was still worth sharing as it is a bit unusual. Drunk while listening to Jonathan Young’s Disney rock covers playlist. Because of course.

Angel’s Envy (USA: Bourbon/ Whiskey: 43.3% ABV)

Visual: Quite deep gold.

Viscosity: Slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Minty. Peppery. Banana candy sweets. Rye crackers. Banana syrup. Spicy red wine. Light cherries. Vanilla. Topical fruit. Water adds pear drops.

Body: Big. Orange crème. Dry raisins. Madeira. Water adds banana and pear drops and light Blackpool rock.

Finish: Butterscotch. Peppery. Brown bread and rye crackers. Orange crème. Madeira. Dry raisins. Rum soaked fruitcake. Water adds pear drops and dried banana along with hints of malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Right – I really do like this one – it feels like a mix of traditional bourbon vanilla and rye characteristics matched with the unusual fruity raisins and dry spicy wine notes. At this point it feels like a sherry aged bourbon (Yes I know legally you can’t sherry barrel age bourbon, run with me on this one) – and like that I definitely enjoyed it.

However this is not just a good, but in fact an excellent whiskey and what makes it that is it feels like a whole host of traditional sweet shop notes have been mixed in with that – notes of pear drops on the light end, chewy banana sweets for thicker notes and a sparkle of Blackpool rock sweetness above that – lots of lighter and sweeter notes than adds a real easy going character into the bourbon style. It is a huge contrast but not in a way that creates any unpleasant dissonance of character.

This has so many subtle, interesting notes around the solid bourbon like base, and sherry aged whiskey highlights – and these are then subtly enhanced again by adding a drop of water. It calls to mind high quality bourbon, but playing with a range of complexity that normally it would not be allowed to handle.

An excellent whiskey/bourbon – one that I genuinely recommend you grab if you ever get the chance. It has been a few years between tries for me, and I hope it is not that long before I can try it again.

Background: OK, a quick explanation first on why I put both bourbon and whiskey up above. In most fashions this is a bourbon best I know, but, again as a far as I know, legally bourbon has to be aged entirely in fresh casks. This has been aged in port pipes for about 3-6 months after initial maturation, so I think it is technically not bourbon. Any which way – yep – an experimentation that I approve of. I first tried this years ago during the “Road Trip Of Awesome” in America, but did not do notes at the time. So, when I saw that it was in Independent Spirit’s “Mediocre Whisky Tasting” line-up I was a very happy bunny (Disclaimer – I am not actually a bunny). As before this was done in a more social environment, so my notes may be a tad more scattershot that normal – apologies.

Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniels: Gentleman Jack (USA: Tennessee Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey and a mix of rye crackers and shredded wheat. Thick but smooth. Water changes it very little.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla. Warming alcohol. Wholemeal crackers. Slightly light at times. Fudge. Orange crème. Water lets existing notes booms but dims alcohol warmth.

Finish: Vanilla. Clean. Light rye crackers. Toffee. Feels oddly more viscous and with an oily sheen if you add water. Sulphur and smoke.

Conclusion: You know, for years people referred to bourbon as smooth, and as toffee and vanilla tasting, and I never got it. And yes I know this is “Tennessee Whiskey”, but it is close enough for this story to be relevant. Anyway… For me bourbon always seemed rough and kind of rustic. All those years back, this was the whiskey that is pretty much bourbon that helped the idea finally click with me

Basically this is very much like Jack Daniels but smoother. The alcohol kick is less, the harsh edges are less, and with that weight removed it becomes very easy to see toffee, vanilla and fudge notes come out plain as day. Once I had seen the notes here I suddenly could spot them all over the bourbon range. Those sweet notes are layered over a kind of crackers and smoke base.

Neat it still has a little alcohol warmth, but water smooths even that. It never loses the thickness of texture, it even seems to increase the oily character with water. What is odd is that despite the thick feel, the flavours can seem slightly light at times.

So, education aside, is it any good? Well it is smoother Jack Daniel – and as someone who grew up with that stuff it has a kind of retro kick going on. It’s not complex, but is very easy drinking. I have a soft spot for it for memory’s sake, and it is a good educational tool, but I will say it isn’t anything special as itself. Its main problem is that it can feel so smooth as to be a tad light, depsite the viscous mouthfeel – especially with water. It you like JD this is better than jack Daniels, otherwise it is ok but that are far better out there.

Still have a soft spot for it from my youth.

Background: So, the whole, is it bourbon? Is it Tennessee whisky? Argument. No idea. They call it whiskey so I will go with that. Screw it. Discussed this one for far too long over the years. Anyway, this is a bit of a retro kick again. Pretty much grew up in my mid teen years on JD. Anyway, grabbed a bottle of Gentleman Jack years ago and I remember quite enjoying it and it being very smooth. Then again, back then I thought Jack Daniels was the mutts nuts. I was stupid is what I am saying. I may still be stupid, nut now in different ways. Anyway, grabbed this from Independent Spirit to see how it holds up

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