Tag Archive: Bourbon


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.

Advertisements

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

Elijah Craig 12 Year

Elijah Craig: 12 Year (USA Bourbon: 12 Year: 47% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers. Soft vanilla. Paprika. Water makes more heather and floral.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Shredded wheat. Pepper. Honey. Orange crème. Sugared pastries. Beef slices. Water loses some subtlety but adds to the honey bringing out golden syrup.

Finish: Rye crackers. Honey. Orange juice touch. Water sweetens the orange and brings out pepper and a treacle touch.

Conclusion: This is some smooth bourbon – at 47% abv I was expecting at least some kick, but even neat it went down easily. It was warming but completely burn free. Nice.

The flavours are well within what I am used to for bourbon – a taste like honey drenched through shredded wheat backed by vanilla toffee coated rye bread. However, it is nicer than that imagery would suggest. I am aware that toffee coated rye bread would probably taste horrible in real life. Then again, pocky is basically chocolate covered breadsticks and they are addictive as hell, so who knows. Anyway, I digress.

This does have some extra notes, some sweet orange and a slightly dried beef character that I would normally associate with peated whisky – but generally it falls within the expected range of notes, just done very well and easy going.

Some of the lack of variance could be attributed to the fact that I am not as experienced with bourbon as I am with whisky, so I may just be getting the more evident characteristics and not the subtleties – especially considering that I am working with a smaller sample here. Which isn’t a complaint by the way, just an explanation – getting to try all these is awesome.

Anyway. I just checked out the price point on this and at a bourbon in the thirty to forty quid range this is doing very well. Very easy drinking and far smoother than most I encounter in that range.

A nice, well delivered, easy drinking bourbon.

Background: Huh, you don’t see aged bourbon much – usually, as they have to use fresh casks each time, they spend far less time in the wood. Ok, copy paste time again. ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” I think that covers it. Was listening to Crossfaith – just saw them live and they are fucking awesome.

Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve: Distillers Select (USA: Bourbon: 43.2%)

Visual: Deep burnished gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Husked barley and honey. Meringue. Dried raspberry. Rye bread. Menthol touch. Vanilla.

Body: Smooth. Rye and peppercorn. Charcoal. Vanilla. Sour dough. Raspberry notes and meringue. Toffee. Milky chocolate. Menthol touch. Water smooths to add more toffee and vanilla.

Finish: Dry. Charcoal and vanilla. Strawberry notes. Milky chocolate.

Conclusion: This is amazingly mellow for a bourbon. That isn’t intended as a knock on bourbon, I have always liked a spirit with a bit of edge, but this is very satisfyingly mellow, and one of the few bourbons I have tried that actually gets better with water.

Initially there is a slightly harsh edge to it with the spicy rye notes, then slowly you get the vanilla and toffee layers so prevalent in most bourbon. What is interesting is the light fruity notes that come in with it. This is something I haven’t encountered much in bourbon. More interesting, even just a touch of water really brings out those elements and smooths away the last remnants of the harsh edges.

It is very easy to drink, smooth as it is, a bourbon that is full of what you would expect, then gives you a bit more that you didn’t. It is great both neat, where it has more peppercorns, spice and edge, and with water where it becomes a go to for easy sipping bourbon.

While it may not beat the rarities of the bourbon world when it comes to complexity it is no slouch, and it definitely replaced Makers Mark in my go to for (comparatively) easy to find bourbon. The mix of sweetness to rye character and fruit notes is just great, and the water to no water contrast makes for two different drinks in one.

Very interesting and should be the baseline of good bourbon.

Background: This was a gift from Paul Duran – many thanks guv. It’s been a while since I have done a bourbon review, and this was done with the calming backing tracks of a bit of Nirvana. I had just seen a youtube vid of current kids reacting to Nirvana and was happy to see most of the current generation enjoyed it. They get to live…for now.

Pappy Van Winkle: Family Reserve 20 Year (American Bourbon: 20 Year: 45.2% ABV)

Visual: A dark burnished bronzed gold.

Viscosity: A slow intermittent descending sheet.

Nose: Black pepper. Honeycomb. Rye bread. Light charcoal touches. Chives.

Body: Pepper. Strong oak. Maple syrup and pancakes., Slight orange liquore. Rye bread. Water makes sweeter with more maple syrup and the addition of slight custard.

Finish: Dry. Oaken and pepper filled. Rye bread. Water adds treacle and makes the finish last even longer. Vanilla touches come out also.

Conclusion: After the previous tour of the Van Winkle bourbon I was surprised by how smooth this was in comparison to the younger versions. In comparison to being the important words as it is still quite potent.  The alcohol burn however has been traded in, unfortunately to be replaced by a very high oaken presence. You really can tastes the extra years in the oak.

This does seem to limit the room the spice and orange flavour has compared to the younger version. It is a pity but the trade off does give a very easy sipping Bourbon. The person serving me described it as quite peppery and that is definitely true. The peppery element is instrumental to giving it that impressively long finish instead of just a burning alcohol touch.

For its smoothness it seems less lively on its flavours, with the pepper and rye (Again, its odd as I’m fairly sure rye isn’t used in making this) being the main elements alongside the oak. Unusually for a bourbon water really helps by pushing forth a maple syrup like sweetness that offsets the oak and gives the orange flavour more room to play. It also brings out a bit of the traditional Bourbon vanilla sweetness.

For my money this expression is just a bit too oak emphasised to be great, but I will give it respect for the smoothness it brings. I would say the most distinguished of the range is still the 15 year for its bit of extra play in the flavour.

Not bad at all. I don’t think Bourbon quite suits ageing this much but it is a very nice experiment to try.

Background; Drunk at the Rummer hotel. I’ve been slowly working my work up the ages of the van winkle range and reached this, the 20 year. A quite remarkable age for bourbon to be aged, but what Van Winkle seem to consider their baseline expression. The bartender recommended having with ice to counteract the warm flavours but my dislike of ice in spirits overruled that.

%d bloggers like this: