Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review

I get excited when a new batch of Barrell Bourbon arrives at my doorstep. The folks making this aren’t looking for consistency between batches like most big time labels. Contrarily, each batch is unique in flavor profile. That allows the blender a nearly unlimited playground to play with when creating a new batch. That, to me, is exciting.

Barrel Bourbon Batch 014 started life with some 9-year-old barrels from Batch 012. A parcel of 9-year-old bourbon barrels were added and topped off with some 14-year-old bourbon. Like all of the company’s releases, Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 is bottled at cask strength. In this case we’re talking 109.4 proof. All the whiskies in this batch were distilled in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The rich nose features hints of caramel corn, vanilla extract, sweet oak, and a touch of herbs and some floral notes. Taste-wise, there is lots going on here. Cinnamon sticks and cardamon kick things off, leading to waves of toffee, butterscotch, rye spice and fruit. Tobacco and leather develop in the mid-palate along with toasted oak and a small blast of refreshing spearmint. The finish is long with hints of caramelized fruit, spice, and oak.

I’ve gotta say this has hit a sweet spot for my palate. It’s built upon classic bourbon flavors with the fruit and spice notes dialed up a notch. Barrell Bourbon’s winning streak continues. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Bourbon for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Advertisements

Booker’s Bourbon “Sip Awhile” Batch 2017-04 Review

Making its way to shelves in time for the holiday season, Booker’s “Sip Awhile” marks the brand’s last batch of 2017. “Sip Awhile” refers to the Noe family’s insistence of having a good time while sipping on a glass of bourbon. The late Booker Noe started bottling honey barrels from the center floors of his favorite warehouses and gifting bottles to friends during the holidays. Eventually, this barrel proof bourbon became known as Booker’s bourbon.

“Sip Awhile” is bottled at a cask strength of 64.05% ABV, or 128.1 proof. The youngest barrels in the batch are 6 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. Barrels from four different production dates and three different warehouses comprise the batch.

I look at my glass of Booker’s and think, “Look at those legs!” The nose carries hints of cinnamon rolls, cedar plank, vanilla and roasted almonds. It carries with it a slightly oily and full-bodied mouthfeel. More than I remember for the last couple of batches. The palate is where Booker’s really comes to life. Initial waves of caramel and spice give way to big vanilla and barrel char. There’s a mild oak grip on the back of the palate. The long, chest-warming finish features spiced caramel, dark chocolate and sun-cured tobacco.

I haven’t enjoyed a batch of Booker’s like this since the beginning of the year with Batch 2017-01 (Tommy’s Batch). I got less of that roasted sweet corn and a bit more complexity than the last couple of releases, giving “Sip Awhile” a very slight shift in the Booker’s flavor profile. What a wonderful way to end the year. Recommended! 8.5/10

Bookersbourbon.com

Thanks to Booker’s for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Highland Park Magnus Whisky Review

A new US and Canada exclusive from Highland Park, Magnus pays homage to the distillery’s founder, Magnus Eunson. According to Gordon Motion, the distillery’s Master Whisky Maker, Magnus uses a “high proportion of Sherry seasoned American oak casks along with refill casks.” It’s bottled at 40% and carries a $40 price tag.

As this sample was en route to me, I tried Magnus at one of my local spots. I thought the whisky was bland and lacked character. Of course, this taste came after trying some rum and cognac. In other words, my palate was off. The preceding spirits colored my tastebuds, thus altering my first impression of Magnus. A few days later, the sample arrived and I was excited to approach the whisky with a fresh palate.

I don’t comment on color a lot, but I have to happily note that Highland Park does not add caramel coloring to their whiskies. This whisky’s pale golden color is all natural. The nose is light and easy going with hints of lemon, grilled pineapple, light smoke, and heather. Taste-wise, Magnus features light toffee, vanilla cake, some spiced fruit and a touch of peat. Those notes carry onto the medium-length finish, along with the slightest hint of wood smoke.

I’m so glad my initial impressions were wrong. Magnus isn’t a nice whisky for the price – it’s just a nice whisky, period. Magnus plays to the lighter side of the Highland Park distillery character, probably because of the use of American casks instead of the spicier European casks. Press materials suggest Magnus could be used in an Old Fashioned. At its inexpensive price, I wouldn’t mind using Magnus in a cocktail. Whatever your preferred imbibing method, Magnus is a versatile addition to any bar. Recommended. 7.5/10

Thanks to Highland Park for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.