After Part I, let’s move on with a few higher abv Bourbons.
Blanton’s Batch 6-8-19 #816 (Buffalo Trace, 51,5%): The coolest thing about Bourbon is the transparency. They give us the batch, the rick and the barrel. The bad thing is that this whole Bourbon world is incredibly tacky, sometime even ridiculous. Well, let’s judge the spirit for what it is. Nose: Nice! Strong on orange, cinnamon and vanilla. Then more fruits related to oranges such as tangerine or sweet grapefruit. It is simple, but it is really good. Palate: Cinnamon sticks dipped into thick, syrup-y orange juice. Again, it is a one trick pony and while I am not necessarily the biggest fan of this composition on paper, I must admit that it works surprisingly well. Later more and other spices as well as some wood but that’s about it. The finish offers more of the same and is longer than average, I’d say. Really, really solid, heck, even good stuff! B
Johannes: Dried fruit, a little cherry, some vanilla some pepper perhaps. Smooth but complex. Guess I need another bottle after this one is finished. B+
Baker’s 7YO (Jim Beam, 53,5%): I know it is a good one but I always gave it a pass in favour of the better Booker’s. This is batch B-90-001. Nose: Glue and corn with a bunch of other grains in the background. Then wood, spices from the cask and something remotely similar to sweet raspberries; juniper berries perhaps. Definitely very solid stuff, we cannot complain. Palate: Caramel, corn syrup, liquid glue and quite some wood. It is a lot drier and more adstringent than I thought. It’s very simple, but it surely works. The finish is medium long with the typical notes from the cask and hints of caramel and corn syrup here and there. It is quite good, but nothing you’d spend an entire evening with though. C+
Johannes: I smell and taste lots of fruits, pear and baked apples. Really nice! C+
Wild Turkey Decades Small Batch QBC N° 18-13 (Wild Turkey, 52%): This one looks special. But given how little we know about Bourbon, there’s fortunately still no need to do this blindly. Nose: Let’s hope we didn’t judge to quickly as this one is quite a bit different from the other Bourbons I know, it is really good! More on the fruity side. I guess that this means smaller Rye share!? I am a noobie, so please don’t judge me! I get sour apples, even quince perhaps. Then pepper, toffee and something close to nutty kohlrabi. Nice, nice! Palate: Slightly less fruity than the nose and more on the nutty side, with quite some spices now (vanilla, cinnamon). Here and there still the apples, paired with wood, rich bread and carrot cake. The finish is short to medium long and essentially a summary of what we’ve just had. Easily one of the better ones we’ve had. I kinda fear that it might be a bit more expensive though. B
Johannes: Some nutmeg, very ripe fruit, some apple in the finish. “Rundish” and well balanced Bourbon. Really enjoy this one ! A-
Wild Turkey Rare Breed (Wild Turkey, 58,4%): Nose: Not very Bourbon-ish, I must say. Is this a wheated one? It resembles some Armagnacs I know, but I take this as a good sign. After about 10 minutes, the corn is there, together with spices such as pepper or cinnamon. It is quite mature and balanced but it doesn’t stand out in any way – but I really like it! Palate: Quite sharp with more cinnamon, pepper, allspice, some more boozy notes, cloves and bitter oranges. Burnt caramel perhaps. Well, the nose was great, the palate, not so much. It is kinda shifting back and forth between being a good Bourbon and one that’s more the super market kind of juice. The stuff you can find in the lower shelves, you know!? A tricky one for sure. The finish is medium long with the spices, wood and caramel. Nah, very mediocre. C
Johannes: Wow, beautiful nose! The taste doesnt dissapoint eighter. A beautiful mix of pepper, vanilla a bit of cinnamon, some caramel. The alcohol bite shines a bit through. Still a great bottle, particularly for that price. B-
114 Old Grand-Dad (Jim Beam, 57%): These names are getting more and more stupid, don’t you agree!? Nose: The higher abv is starting to help as this is much more intense than all previous ones. Glue, caramel, crème brûlée and something close to tonka are my main impression. Another good one. Palate: Slightly sharp at first but is starting to get mellower with the second sip. Slightly bitter and surprisingly simplistic all of a sudden. I was really hoping for more. Finish: More of the same, i.e. super interchangable and forgettable. Now it isn’t bad at all, just not really exciting either. For me, there’s absolutely no reason why you’d ever want to get a bottle of this ever, yet I would never decline a dram of it either. C-
Johannes: Caramel, toffee notes. Mildly alcoholic. Nice Bourbon, just a bit too expensive in Europe. C+
Noah’s Mill (Willet, 57,15%): For some reason, I’ve always wanted to try this but never did. Palate: Full of spices, especially cinnamon, cloves and cumin stick out. Then paprika powder and wood. There are essentially no fruity notes and few of the “typical” Bourbon notes to be found here. Palate: More of the spices from the nose, cinnamon in particular. All in all, the texture is kinda powder-y, like a shredded spice mix. Then peanuts and cocoa. The finish is relatively long with more of the spices, cocoa and wood. A very different, but really cool one. I like it, even though I am missing some of the more fruity notes. I didn’t check it but my guess is that it is heavy on Rye. C+
Johannes: Cinnamon, lots of cinnamon. It taste almost like a dessert. Great stuff after dinner (instead of some sugary liquor). B+
Elijah Craig Small Batch #B518 (Heaven Hill, 66,7%): A brand I am quite familiar with. Their 12YO was one of the few Bourbons I’ve ever decided to get. Nose: Oh this is good. Really intense with the corn and bubble gum combination, spices such as cinnamon and cloves, bread, just a whiff of caramel and then quite some wood. The only thing we are lacking here are some fruity notes but I can live with that, even though that would have been nice of course. Palate: Not sharp or boozy at all – the alcohol is very well integrated. Then wood, spices (pepper, cinnamon, allspice), rich multi grain bread, rye and something close to grapes perhaps (think Armagnac again). Finish: Not short at all, quite the contrary. However, it doesn’t really gain from the long finish I’d say. Well, it is a really good one. Not spectacular in any sense, but incredibly well made. B+
Johannes: Depite its high proof, a very nice and somewhat smooth Bourbon. I get a lot of caramel, some rye bread and green apple. Great stuff ! A-
So it did get a lot nicer towards the end. I think Johannes has to deliver a few more sets… Or let’s just push him into delivering the tasting notes for these Bourbons. What do you think!?