Review: Fistful of Bourbon

William Grant & Sons, the family owned company best known in the whisky world for its acclaimed Glenfiddich and Balvenie brands, has introduced its first bourbon to market – Fistful of Bourbon. The 90 proof bourbon is blended by William Grant & Sons’ Master Blender Brian Kinsman and blender Kelsey McKechnie.

Using their 100+ years of blending experience, William Grant & Sons have launched an affordable (SRP $24.99) straight bourbon. They’re keeping a tight lip on where the bourbon is being sourced, but most likely it comes from several distilleries in different states as there is no state of distillation on the label. Although we know they only used straight bourbon that was aged at least 2 years for this blend.

Lots of pressure to deliver a great first bourbon release. How’d they do?

Pretty good, in fact.

The nose carries hints of toffee, spice, ripe red fruit, and fresh herbs. The palate follows closely with hints of buttered toffee candy, cinnamon apples, and a touch of oak tannin. The medium finish carries that caramel-like sweetness and richness and infuses it with anise.

Like I said – not too shabby. The $25 bourbon is well-rounded in aroma and flavor, hitting most points of the flavor wheel. Sure you can make out individual notes, but they work in harmony. Kudos for making this a 90 proofer instead of an 80 proof whisky. The extra proof makes adds to the body of the whisky.

All in all, Fistful of Bourbon is a fantastic new hit from well-established whisky makers. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Thanks to William Grant & Sons for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 023

For Batch 023 of its bourbon, Barrell Craft Spirits turned their attention to older barrels. The uncut, unfiltered bourbon is a blend of 10, 12, and 15 year old barrels. The whiskies were distilled and aged in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana.

The whiskey itself, bottled at 107.8 proof (53.89% abv), nicely showcases the older bourbons in the mix without becoming too oaky and dry. There’s some nice spice on the nose. Cinnamon-led, the nose also sees buttery toffee, baking spices, and some fruit – think apricot. On the palate, the spice is more apparent. Like on the nose, baking spices sit on a bed of brown sugar. Some lovely oak tannins develop alongside some dried fruit and tobacco. The long finish features espresso, spice, and dark brown sugar.

The folks at Barrell always release quality spirits. In fact, Batch 021 recently won Best Bourbon (among other accolades) at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Batch 023 continues in the tradition of high quality widely available at a reasonable price. This older barrel-forward release is highly recommended!

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

Review: Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon Whiskey

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Frey Ranch to check out their grain-to-glass operation. The farm distillery, located just outside of Reno, Nevada, showed me the commitment to quality the owners hold dear.

Their four grain bourbon was recently released in the Nevada market. I sampled it during my trip, though it was only about two years old at that point. Back then I thought it was ready for bottling, but the Freys wanted to wait until at least the four year mark before they considered bottling it. Patience is definitely a virtue.

So here we are. Non-chill filtered and bottled at 90 proof, Frey Ranch bourbon ($49.99) is made of corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. Every one of those grains are grown, harvested, and milled on the 160-year-old family farm.

The nose features wonderfully luscious honeyed fruit, maple, oak spice, and toasted grains. Taste-wise, the complex, viscous, syrupy bourbon kicks off with toffee, dark chocolate-covered nuts, some dark fruit, and sweet tobacco. The finish is medium-long, with honey, slight oak spice and espresso notes.

Frey Ranch’s bourbon might be the most impressive debut release I’ve tasted. I was impressed then, but am blown away now. It’s currently only available in Nevada, but the brand looks to expand to online sales very soon, which would increase availability across the country. Look for this one and thank me later.

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