review

Review: Old Forester Single Barrels (2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

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.

Leave it to the New Orlean Bourbon Festival to pick not one, but two barrels of Old Forester, aptly named “Mix” and “Sip”.  Both barrels rested on the first floor of Warehouse O.  There is no age information available, and both releases are bottled at 90 proof.  These barrels were picked by Michael Veach, Rosemary Miller, Peggy Noe Stevens, Jason Brauner, Steve Akley, Old Forester’s Jackie Zykan, and Barbara & Tracy Napolitano.  Quite the impressive team.

MIX

The nose seems a bit youthful and slightly subdued with hints of ethanol, spice, and slightly burnt caramel. A little airtime reveals roasted corn and a floral note.  The palate is generally sweet with candied corn and molasses.  A bit of baking spice develops mid-palate.  The medium finish with lingering notes of honey, anise, and oak.

SIP

This goes to show how different barrels can be.  The nose here is fuller than “Mix” with hints of red fruits, caramel, honey, and some toasted oak.  Like its sibling, “Sip” starts out a bit sweet with honeyed red fruit and caramel.  A wave of baking spices and roasted corn develop, followed closely by slightly astringent oak.  The finish is longer, with hints of spice, caramel, and a note reminiscent of root beer concentrate.

Like I mentioned before, both of these Old Forester single barrel picks are aptly named.  “Mix” could be fantastic in a Mint Julep or Old Fashioned.  It’s not very complex, but has just enough character to stand out in those cocktails.  Meanwhile, “Sip” is a bourbon I could pour over and over.  It has a slightly heavier mouthfeel than “Mix”, and that really interesting finish…  Come on, root beer!

Mix: 6.5/10

Sip: 8/10

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Review: Peerless Rye Single Barrel (New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

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.

I anxiously filled my whiskey glass with the New Orleans Bourbon Festival Peerless Rye whiskey.  Anxious because I’ve avoided the brand until now.  Why?  The high price drove me away.  More than $100 for a 2-year-old rye whiskey.  The last cask strength 2-year-old rye I purchased was Willett Family Estate 2-year-old rye, and that was only about $35 a few years back.

This Peerless Rye was actually first poured a few nights prior, during the premiere episode of the whiskey livestream, Another Round – check it out if you already haven’t.   I liked it.  A lot.  Of course, by the time I poured it I’d already had a couple of drams.

But now it’s time to taste it with a clean palate.  Does it hold up?

The nose is extremely rich and decadent, with a dominating butterscotch note.  Hiding behind are hints of grass, vanilla, and maple.  The palate is equally robust and dessert-like.  It’s big and meaty, with butterscotch, maple syrup, rye spice, and an essence of grilled meat.  The medium-long finish showcases the spiciness of the rye grain complemented by a bed of sweetness.

I like it, but I don’t love it.  To me, that butterscotch note is delightfully intense, but in the end dominates everything, which, in turn, diminishes complexity and balance.  This is one of those whiskies in which I can enjoy a single glass but wouldn’t want a second.  Though it seems to be well-made, the syrupy quality isn’t my cup of tea.  I may be in the minority with this opinion, as it sold very quickly at retail.  Remember, whiskey is subjective by nature, and I think I’ll stick with that 2-year-old Willett Rye instead.  7/10

Thanks to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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