Bourbon

Old Forester Statesman Bourbon Review


When the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle debuted online, I literally jumped for joy.  Kingsman was an insane thrill ride.  It’s sort a of 007 on speed all the while winking to the audience.  The sequel, which opens in theatres this Friday, looks to be even wilder.

Movie tie-ins are nothing new.  Sometimes they seemed forced, but every now and then they’re done right.  In the first film, the cover for the secret organization was a tailor’s shop.  In the new film, their American counterpart’s cover: a Kentucky bourbon distillery.  The filmmakers teamed up with none other than Old Forester to create a quality bourbon that would fit right in with the over-the-top world of The Kingsman.

Not that the bourbon is over-the-top.  Well, maybe a little.  This ain’t the Old Forester you’re used to.

The nose is notably spicier than the standard Old Forester.  There is lots of oak spice, which makes me think a lot of the barrels for this release were pulled from upper warehouse floors.  Some hot cocoa, vanilla extract and caramel balance out that spice.  On entry, a sort of spiced vanilla custard, the kind topped with ground cinnamon, plays strongly and is complimented by orange zest.  Some baking spice and a hint of leather on the midpalate add more complexity.  The finish is long, with orange dreamsicle and mint lingering.

Old Forester set out to make a whiskey that balanced spice and heat, and they’ve succeeded.  The volume’s turned up from the standard Old Forester flavor profile, but is still built around the distillery’s DNA.  The whiskey is both familiar and new.  I know what I’m sneaking into the theatre when I watch this film.  7.5/10

Oldforester.com

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Rebel Yell Single Barrel (2017) Bourbon Review

Photo courtesy of Luxco.


The second release of Rebel Yell Single Barrel is already on shelves.  It launched in 2016 and quickly became one of my favorite bourbons released that year.  A 10-year-old, 100 proof wheated bourbon for about $60- seriously, what’s not to like?

As I just mentioned, Rebel Yell Single Barrel is a wheated bourbon.  That means the producers use wheat as the secondary grain instead of the more traditional rye.  Speaking of producers… though Luxco is currently building a distillery in Bardstown, they are still sourcing their whiskey from other producers.  In the case of most of Luxco’s whiskies, that source would most likely be Heaven Hill.

My review sample is from barrel 504315, which was filled in May 2006.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: kudos to parent company Luxco for adding this information to the label.

I’m happy to report the quality of last year’s release remains.  Big aromas of grilled sweet corn, caramelized sugar and vanilla fill the glass.  Slight hints of cinnamon and fresh brioche follow.  On the palate, classic bourbon notes are showcased – vanilla cream, cornbread, and cinnamon. A touch of leather and oak tannins lightly coat the tongue in the back palate.  The finish is long and somewhat sweet, with notes of spiced corn and caramel.

I enjoy bourbons of many walks of life.  Lately I’ve come to consider 8 to 12 years to be my sweet spot in terms of a bourbon’s age.  Heaven Hill’s 10-year-old Parker’s Heritage Collection from a couple of years back is pretty much a flawless bourbon for my tastes.  Barrel Bourbon Batch 005 was aged for eight years and still lingers in my memory.  Rebel Yell Single Barrel, though a different mash bill, hits on all cylinders.  It is extremely well-balanced and delivers a wonderful display of flavors.  8.5/10

Rebelyellbourbon.com

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

Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Bourbon Review (2017 Release)


When Diageo began seriously embracing American whiskey a few years back, it was full steam ahead.  There was a market for ultra-aged American whiskies, which was perfect for the company because it had a large stock of older whiskies aging at their Stitzel-Weller warehouses.  For the most part, these whiskies began seeing the light of day under the Orphan Barrel umbrella.  However, some was set aside for another new bourbon brand – Blade & Bow.  

Blade & Bow was introduced in 2015 as a solera-aged bourbon, with its oldest component whiskies being distilled at Stitzel-Weller before it was shuttered in the early 90s.  A limited edition 22-year-old bourbon also hit the market.  That release was made from bourbons distilled at what’s now Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill.  I have to admit that upon first tasting this limited edition I was a bit underwhelmed.  It was good, but not great.  After tasting it again months later, I enjoyed it more and even upgraded its score in my original review.  On Derby Day 2017, a re-release of the 22-year-old bourbon has been announced to commemorate the second anniversary of the brand.

This second batch is just as enjoyable as the first.  Layers of caramel, spice, dark chocolate and dark fruits fill the nose.  Taste-wise, I pick up hints of burnt orange peel, caramelized fruit, cocoa, vanilla and spiced dark fruits.  There is a bed of oak underlying most of the tasting experience, becoming more prominent towards the back palate.  The finish is long and features hints of dark caramel and spice.

Sadly, this release is extremely limited.  This sample is probably the only time I’ll be able to drink this nicely aged bourbon.  If you see Blade and Bow 22 for sale near the suggested retail price of $200, pick it up!  Chances are you won’t see it again.  8.5/10

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