Author: Bobby

Hello. My name's Bobby, and I'm no whiskey expert. I'm here to share my thoughts as a novice whiskey enthusiast. So, when I try new whiskies (mostly bourbons), I'll tell you about them here.

Review: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut Bourbon

Every blue moon, a value whiskey comes around that’ll have me doing a double take.  This is one of those whiskies.  Jim Beam just released their limited release Distiller’s Cut.  The straight bourbon is aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Let me restate that.  Aged five to six years, un-chill filtered, bottled at 100 proof, and priced at $23.  Yep, a double take whiskey.

Distiller’s Cut is five to six years old, which puts it in Jim Beam Black Label territory in terms of age.  Black Label used to be eight years old, but lost its age statement a few years back.  Chill filtering is applied to most whiskies.  It’s done to keep the whiskey clear when adding water or ice.  Skipping the chill filtering allows the whiskey to retain all those fatty acids that help contribute to flavor and mouthfeel.  So, when you add some ice and your whiskey clouds up, it’s completely normal.  Jim Beam didn’t mess around when it came to proof, leaving Distiller’s Cut at a hearty 50% ABV.  This just about guarantees a big, bold flavor.  The surprise is the price.  A bottle will set you back $23, but you’ll most likely find it for less than that. That’s even cheaper than Jim Beam Black Label!

The nose is signature Jim Beam, full of caramel and vanilla with a touch of nuttiness, spice and oak.  Here the aromas are a bit more cohesive than the standard Jim Beam White Label and more robust than the Black Label, thanks to the higher proof.  Taste-wise, we’re talking about hints of caramel chews, grilled corn, charred oak, vanilla bean and a sprinkling of baking spice and herbs.  The finish is medium-long with a sweet and spicy cinnamon cake note.

Wow.  The whole experience for $23 or less?  Is this an answer to the criticism of late concerning some of  Beam Suntory’s high-priced releases like Knob Creek 25th Anniversary or Booker’s Rye?  If so, Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut is a proclamation that great bourbon doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Off the top of my head, the only other options that comes to mind when I think of a big, robust bourbon at around $23 is Elijah Craig Small Batch or Henry McKenna BIB.  And generally those are priced a few bucks higher.  If you know of a better value than Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, I’m all ears.  Keep in mind this is a limited run, so find a bottle sooner than later. Jim Beam should consider making this a permanent entry in their lineup.  Highly recommended!  8.5/10

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


Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (Batch C917)

The 12-year-old cask-strength powerhouse known as Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is hard to beat. It usually delivers an utterly delicious concentration of classic bourbon aromas and flavors that is almost impossible to pass up at $60 a bottle. The third and last release of 2017, batch C917, is bottled at a respectable 131 proof.

Batch B517 was an outstanding release in what is generally considered a very consistently solid line.

As I previously mentioned, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is the only EC release to carry a 12-year age statement. A couple of years ago, Small Batch’s 12-year age statement was controversially removed.  I’m not an age statement diehard, so the disappearance of that age statement didn’t bug me one bit.  I’m going off on a tangent.  Focus, Bobby.  Focus.

Back to the whiskey at hand.

The nose on Batch C917 features hints of sweet oak, molasses, grilled corn cakes and some spice.  On the palate, big, bold waves of caramels and spice cake almost overwhelm the senses.  Hints of cardamom, vanilla, and dark chocolate pop through mid-palate.  A nice, strong dose of oak, an expected note in the Elijah Craig brand, and leather hit the palate late.  The finish is long and warm, with a bittersweet note reminiscent of caramel-coated dark chocolate lingers.

Heaven Hill has another lively and fantastic bourbon release with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C917.  It does what a great barrel proof whiskey should do – transport you to a Kentucky rickhouse with every sip. I slightly prefer the previous batch B517 over this one.  The differences are minute.  Bad batches of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof simply don’t exist.  Recommended! 8.5/10

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

Review: Breckenridge Reserve (New Orleans Bourbon Festival pick)

I can’t believe the New Orleans Bourbon Festival is right around the corner. Last year’s inaugural event proved to be a success. This year the festival’s founders are cranking things up several notches. I’ll have a post on what’s in store for the 2018 outing soon. In the meantime, I wanted to take a look at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival’s selection of Breckenridge Reserve.

Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery uses a combination of their own distillate alongside high-rye bourbon barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana for their final product. Here’s how the distillery describes their Reserve Blend:

The reserve blend program was created to showcase qualities of our bourbon that discerning connoisseurs can appreciate. It consists of four distinct blends that offer the customer a special invitation to see the beauty of the bourbon aging process and the affects of charring that come out in these expressions. Still soft and luscious, these blends capture a different take on the way bourbon can grow up and present itself at maturity.

The blend was selected by two of the festival’s founders, Barbara and Tracy Napolitano. As of the writing of this post, Dorignac’s Supermarket is the only place you can buy this whiskey at $50 a bottle. I was told it’s coming to select restaurants in the New Orleans area soon.

The nose is a bit aromatic, with lightly toasted rye grain, spice and brown sugar. Some young, sweet corn also makes itself known. The palate is a nice balance of sweet and spicy, with caramel apple, ground cinnamon, corn pudding and a touch of vanilla extract. The finish is spicy, featuring a hint of cinnamon candy and a slight “green” note.

Overall, this particular Breckenridge Reserve has a nice flavor profile. Like I mentioned earlier, I really like the careful balance of sweet and spicy here. The high rye content of the whiskies used really shine through. The caramel apple note was a welcome surprise. A couple of things also stood out. First, the bourbon tastes a little young. Not immature, mind you, but young. I would assume two year old bourbon is included in this blend, but since there is no age statement on the label, we know the youngest whiskey used is at least four years old. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting. Secondly, I wish the whiskey was bottled at a higher proof. I’m not one of those people who think the only whiskey worth drinking is barrel proof whiskey. I think the 86 proof here leaves a slightly thin mouthfeel. Minor gripes aside, I’ve enjoyed the four or five pours of this bourbon over the last week or so. 7.5/10

Note: Edited to clarify age of whiskey.

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