Bourbon

Review: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon (April 2018 release)

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Whiskey is such a subjective thing.  While I may really enjoy something, you may not.  Or vice versa.  Neither person is right or wrong, mind you.

I say that because I get very split opinions on Michter’s 10. Some people tell me they absolutely love the bourbon. Others tell me recent releases of Michter’s 10-year-old bourbons aren’t good.  “They don’t hold a candle to older bottlings” is another one I hear.    My answer is usually the same – I haven’t tasted older bottlings, and I happen to like the current releases.  I certainly respect everyone’s opinions.  After all, this blog is filled with my opinions. With so many whiskey bloggers out there, it’s important to find a reviewer who tends to have similar tastes as you.

With that said…

This month marks the latest bottling of Michter’s 10-year-old single barrel bourbon.  Both Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann AND Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson have approved the barrels for release.  The two are choosing barrels based on a certain taste profile, though they have to be at least 10 years old.  On a recent episode of WhiskyCast, Heilmann stated the barrels chosen were actually 12 years old.

My sample came from barrel 18B202.  Michter’s 10-year-old bourbon is bottled at 94.4 proof and is available for $120.

The nose is a touch muted at first, but opens up after a few minutes in the glass.  Patience certainly pays off.  There are hints of toffee, burnt orange peel, cinnamon sticks and allspice.  On the palate, nougat, mulling spices and candied fruits appear first.  Waves of vanilla begin to arrive mid-palate, followed by more cinnamon-dominated spices and slightly astringent toasted oak.  One odd thing… the whiskey does feel a touch thin on the mid-palate.  I usually find Michter’s releases to have a rich mouthfeel.  The medium-length finish is spicy and dry.

Overall, the April 2018 release of Michter’s 10-year-old bourbon is quite enjoyable and comes with a high recommendation.  The problem is finding it close to retail pricing, as a lot of retailers seem to raise their prices for this bourbon.  If you do happen across one close to the suggested $120 price, pull the trigger and buy one.  You won’t regret it. 8.5/10

Michters.com

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

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Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 015

After trying batch after delicious batch of Barrell Bourbon, I finally had the chance to meet its founder, Joe Beatrice, and Master Distiller Tripp Stimson.  During this year’s New Orleans Bourbon Festival, we talked about Barrell Bourbon Batch 015, among other things.

When starting his company, Beatrice told me he wanted to put out a whiskey people really wanted to drink.  “We built a brand.  We were all about being as transparent as we could be.  We were all about only putting in the bottle what we thought was the best quality product and what people want to drink.” said Beatrice.  “As we got accepted and as we grew, we knew we were going to build a distillery, but we were going to continue with the whiskey merchant model.  As the distillery comes online, we’ll blend in some of our product.  But we’re going to continue to work on the aged spirits.  It’s a model that’s worked for us.”

When asked about how they come up with a new batch, Stimson said, “it kind of depends on what we’re working on, whether it be a bourbon or American whiskey or rye.  We’ll have a conversation and say ‘the last time we did this particular type of spirit, we did X.’  We try to do something else.  We’ll look at some of the barrels we have and put together a kind of base flavor.”

After tasting initial blends, the duo would figure out what’s missing and try to find that in their existing stock of barrels.

“We do that until we both say ‘Ah ha! There it is!'” said Stimson.  “Once we get to that point it’s literally a light switch.”

Beatrice added, “that can happen in a couple of days or sometimes a few weeks.”

For Batch 015, Beatrice said the ‘ah-ha’ moment was when he picked up Juicy Fruit in a particular blend.  He said, “after tasting, we both look at each other and said ‘that’s it!’ Bottle it.”

They were initially looking to make Batch 015 a larger batch than previous ones, but they couldn’t keep that precise flavor profile if they went larger.  Quality over quantity indeed.

Batch 015 is nine and a half years old, bottled at 107.6 proof.  Barrels come from Tennessee and Kentucky.  The nose is full of ripe fruit, as well as baking spice, caramel and toasted oak notes.  Upon first sip, that Juicy Fruit character that Joe mentions is evident.  Lots of sweet and ripe apples, peaches and cherries upfront.  There is a rich caramel base underneath.  Cutting through is a bit of oak spice and burnt orange peel.  Lovely.  The medium length finish leaves a touch of sweet fruit, leather and spice.

We have another wonderful batch of Barrell Bourbon.  It’s probably the fruitiest one they’ve released.  It still remains nicely balanced, with those oak and spice notes keeping the sweeter and fruitier notes in check.

I like the idea of a unique flavor profile with each batch.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I haven’t come across a bad or mediocre release from Barrell Craft Spirits.  Batch 015 certainly exceeds being described as just enjoyable, with its complex aromas and flavors begging to be explored. 9/10

barrellbourbon.com

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

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.