barrel proof

Review: Booker’s Bourbon 2018-01 (Kathleen’s Batch)

The first of four 2018 batches of Booker’s is hitting shelves now. Batch 2018-01, also known as “Kathleen’s Batch” is a Booker’s Roundtable selection, picked with the help of longtime Beam employee Kathleen DiBenedetto. She helped with the launch of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection with Booker Noe and was also the collection’s first brand manager. This bourbon’s namesake took DiBenedetto under his wings and made her learn every step of the bourbon-making process. In 2015, she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Clearly, DiBenedetto is no stranger to whiskey.

Now for this particulars of this batch. Kathleen’s Batch is six years, three months, and 14 days old. Those are the youngest barrels in the batch. Barrels come from five production dates and culled from three warehouses. As always, Booker’s is uncut and unfiltered.

Like every batch of Booker’s before it, the nose here is fantastic. Buttered sweet corn bread and maple syrup give way to vanilla and aromatic toasted oak. The palate is equally inviting. Brown sugar and pecan-topped coffee cake kick things off followed by waves of dried fruit, oak spice, and that Booker’s trademark vanilla. A touch of bittersweet barrel char hit the back palate along with medium roast coffee beans. The long, warming finish is sweet and slightly dry, with a lingering rich caramel and sweet oak note.

Damn, this is good. This batch of Booker’s comes across as richer and a bit sweeter than previous batches of late. The Booker’s Roundtable picked a wonderful batch that is still “Booker’s” in every sense while offering something extra. Booker’s is a batched product. BUT…here it’s like if all Booker’s was a single barrel product and this particular batch was a honey barrel. It’s that good. This one will be hard to beat. Wow. 9/10

Bookersbourbon.com

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

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Review: Redemption Barrel Proof Whiskies

redemption-agedbarrelproof

Photo courtesy of Redemption Whiskey

Back in the fall of 2017, Redemption Whiskey released a trio of barrel proof whiskies consisting of two bourbons and a rye.  These are the same MGP-distilled whiskies used in Redemption’s core line, but carry higher age statements of 9 and 10 years.  They have been ‘minimally filtered’ and are available for $99.99.  Let’s take a look…

REDEMPTION BARREL PROOF 9-YEAR-OLD BOURBON

Bottled at 108.2 proof, Redemption’s Barrel Proof Bourbon comes from a mash bill of 76% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.  The aromas are packed pretty tight, featuring hints of roasted corn, minerals, maple syrup and a sprinkling of leather.  On the palate, a nice array of flavors present themselves in a bold way, including hints of caramel corn, spice cake, as well as a touch of flint and sweet oak.  The warming finish sticks around for a while.  I don’t think water is needed for this one.  It doesn’t come across as “hot.” Rather, it’s a great example of a barrel proof whiskey whose flavors are well rounded and best enjoyed as is.  8.5/10

REDEMPTION BARREL PROOF 10-YEAR-OLD HIGH-RYE BOURBON

Slightly older is the 10-year-old High-Rye bourbon, with a mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley.  On the nose, the extra rye is evident as we find a boost in the spice department.  Hints of baking spices abound.    In addition, slightly darker caramel, vanilla bean and espresso notes are present.  Taste-wise, big flavors paint the picture: Mexican chocolate, nutmeg, caramel, and sweet oak.  The finish is long and chest-warming, with lingering hints of dark chocolate-covered toasted almonds and toffee.  Like the 9-year-old bourbon, this expression, bottled at 114.8 proof, doesn’t need any water.  It’s a well made whiskey, that’s for sure.  9/10

REDEMPTION BARREL PROOF 10-YEAR-OLD RYE WHISKEY

Last but not least, Redemption’s 10-year-old rye whiskey features a familiar MGP mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley.  It’s bottled at 116.2 proof.  The nose leans a bit towards the herbal, with hints basil and fennel sitting alongside fresh ginger and caramel.  The palate closely follows the nose.  More basil and dill at first, punctuated by dark chocolate, vanilla cream and dark toffee.  Oak spice and cigar box develop soon afterwards.  The finish is long and a touch dry, as expected, with hints baking spices, red pepper flakes and toffee.  A wonderfully aged rye whiskey that balances spice, herbs, and sweetness.  8.5/10

Thanks to Redemption Whiskey for the samples.  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

elijahcraig.com

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