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: Elijah Craig (New Orleans Bourbon Festival 2019)

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With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

Last July, I had the pleasure of joining Tracy & Barbara Napolitano, co-founders of the New Orleans Bourbon Festival, for a private barrel selection of Elijah Craig.  We were given four different barrels to choose from without knowing their ages.  The pick would be solely based on flavor, which is the way it should be.  Just like Elijah Craig Small Batch, this single barrel is bottled at 94 proof.

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The nose carries a rich toffee aroma along with orange peel, honey, barrel char, and a touch of oak spice.  Taste-wise, caramel chew and orange creamsicle are balanced by waves of baking spice, toasted oak, and a hint of red fruit.  The medium length finish leaves lingering notes of spiced fruit and oak.

This Elijah Craig bourbon goes down easy and is VERY drinkable. Almost dangerously so.  It’s not as big & oaky as what Elijah Craig Small Batch used to be.  It’s a bit more rounded and vibrant, but not young.  I’m not sure this whiskey is still available for sale, but it’s my understanding it will be poured at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival.  If you do see a bottle for sale, don’t waste a moment picking it up.  8.5/10

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Review: Maker’s Mark Private Select (New Orleans Bourbon Fest 2019)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

Maker’s Mark Private Select is a great way to put your personal touch on a “single barrel” of the bourbon.  You can read more about the process here.  For the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival Private Select, co-founders Barbara & Tracy Napolitano, Martin Wine Cellar’s Jeff Hirtius, and others (including myself) sat through one of the first remote programs for the whisky.  Generally, MMPS is done at the distillery.  Regrettably,  I had to leave before the final oak finishing stave combination was chosen.

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For the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival edition of Maker’s Mark Private Select, the following oak staves were chosen:

  • 3 Baked American Pure 2
  • 1 Seared French Cuvee
  • 3 Roasted French Mocha
  • 3 Toasted French Spice

Thinking back to my memories of tasting each of the stave finishes, I really enjoyed what those last two brought to Maker’s Mark whisky.

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This edition is bottled at 110.1 proof.  The nose features spiced caramel, espresso, kettle corn, and vanilla bean.  Taste-wise, that rich caramel hinted at on the nose kicks things off here.  Vanilla cake follows just as baking spices develop.  Towards the back palate, dark-roasted coffee and some toasted oak darken things a bit.  The medium-length finish continues those rich, sweet, and spicy flavors.

This is kind of like eating coffee cake while drinking some espresso.  It’s quite tasty, and is perfect as an after-dinner pour.  I really like Private Select as a concept.  The different combinations of barrel staves can bring about some fantastic whisky.  That’s certainly true here.  8.5/10

Review: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel (NO Bourbon Fest 2019)

Next in my 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival Single Barrel review series is this lovely barrel of Jack Daniel’s. Back in November, festival co-founder Tracy Napolitano and I traveled to the distillery in Lynchburg, TN for a barrel selection. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett led the tasting, which I hear is a bit rare. Of the three barrels presented to us, this third barrel unanimously garnered everyone’s vote.

While helping Tracy choose a barrel of Jack Daniel’s, I simultaneously shot and produced a piece on single barrel whiskey for TheSouthernWeekend.com, which you can check out here:

The barrel chosen by Tracy and myself highlights the darker side of Jack Daniel’s flavor profile. The nose features caramelized bananas, dried fruit, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Taste-wise, this JD Single Barrel, bottled at 47% ABV, shows hints of spiced caramel, marshmallow, and banana pudding, which develop into rich cocoa and toasted oak. There’s a tinge of minerality slightly hidden away. The long finish accentuates oak spice and chocolate-covered cherries.

The 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival selection of Jack Daniel’s showcases flavorful and interesting darker, oakier notes while maintaining the brand’s DNA. In other words, it’s delicious. I bet this whiskey would pair nicely with a medium-bodied cigar. As soon as this selection hit the New Orleans market, I made sure to pick up a couple of bottles. So glad I have a backup. 8.5/10