As recently noted, I am starting a magazine called Bourbon+. If you haven’t already, please subscribe. While these new ventures in events, podcasting and magazines are my cornerstone, I have one more cool thing I’m up to. More on that soon. In the meantime, I’ll put my reviews on this rag-tag blog, held together with duct tape and bailing wire.
93, Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond 9 years old, 100 Proof, $89.99
It begins with roasted marshmallows over an open fire, caramel macchiato note, toasted pecans and a vanilla bean torte baking in the oven. The nose just wins the day. It’s very complex. But the palate does not follow the same pattern. Rather, it veers down a path I didn’t expect, a pleasant surprise. After a caramel blast, sweet cornbread and vanilla cake batter appear. And then, spice. Baking spices dominate the mid palate, even tingling the roof of the mouth, lingering and lingering for a long spicy finish. This combo of sweet and spice doesn’t come around often: It is a must have sipper.
90, Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition, 7-year Bourbon
Finished in Orange Curacao Barrels, 110 Proof, $89.99
(Ignore the score. READ the TASTING NOTES)
About: Aged for seven to eight years in the upper floors of Rickhouse Q in Bardstown. Then, it aged for four months in French orange curaçao liqueur barrels. A portion of the proceeds benefit the ALS Foundation.
Interesting. When one whiffs American whiskey, you certainly do not expect this: orange peel and zest, followed by mint and licorice. And then, herbal notes, apricot, allspice and several baking spices appear, just before a lovely pepper-orange note dominates, followed by a slight hint of vanilla. It finishes extremely long with an orange chocolate pot de creme note. This is certainly not the purist’s whiskey. You almost have to try it, because it’s so different. In fact, I have never tasted a barrel finish bourbon that the second barrel changed it so much. If you go into this, thinking “bourbon,” you’ll hate it. But if you try it, knowing weird is coming, you’ll like it.
86, Heaven Hill 27 years old, 94.7 proof, $399
About: 41 barrels distilled in 1989 and 1990 from Heaven Hill’s Bardstown distillery, which burned down in 1996. This is truly an historic whiskey, because this distillery no longer exists.
For the nose, it’s coconut, cigar box, leather, caramel, toasted oak and chocolate. As I tilted the Glencairn toward my lips, a new note came in, one that I can only describe as a “vintage” smell that reminds me of old dust-laden basements. So many old duties have this note, and this does, too. Finally, the palate presents caramel, coffee, dried dates, dark chocolate, oak, pecan, brininess, cigar tobacco and cinnamon, all interacting at once over mid- and back-palate. But as soon as these flavors leave, the whiskey just drops. From here, the structure and mouthfeel struggle, while a short finish disappoints. With that said, given this whiskey spent 27 years in new charred oak, it’s a shocker that it doesn’t taste like more like wood.