Single Barrel

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

Advertisements

Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel (Maisano’s)

Single barrel whiskey can some of the most unique, flavorful whiskey you can taste. These single barrels can sometimes vary wildly from the brand’s core flavor profile. It could come down to age, warehouse location, or even the barrel itself. Store owners, or those choosing barrels, must sometimes make a decision to choose something close to the brand’s familiar profile to please a wider customer base or they can select something more interesting.

In the case of this Knob Creek selection, Jonathan Maisano of Maisano’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Ocean Springs, Mississippi went with the latter. I know because I offered my opinion during the barrel selection. During this year’s New Orleans Bourbon Festival, Jonathan and I tasted through several barrels of Knob Creek with Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and his son Freddie.

All six barrel samples were varying degrees of delicious. However, for my tastes, one barrel presented itself as ‘the one’ by all parties involved. This barrel, number 6740, matured for 14 years and two months on the third floor of warehouse X. The barrel selection proof was 124.5, which is really close to the final bottling proof of 120.

The nose features hints of spiced cherries, dark brown sugar and caramel, cinnamon stick and sweet toasted oak. Dark notes dominate the palate: brown sugar, dark chocolate-covered cherries, molasses, and vanilla. A touch of burnt orange peel and leather show on the mid-palate, followed by dusty oak and some more spice heading into the back-palate. The finish is long, with barrel char, tobacco and molasses notes lingering.

What I find fascinating about this barrel is the fact that being so old, its oak notes do not dominate in the least. Those dark, heavy notes are here in spades. As much as I enjoyed Knob Creek 25th Anniversary, this barrel blows it away.

Now for the bad news. As of the writing of this post, which happens to be the day after the barrel pick was released, less than 10 bottles remained in stock. That is not only the sign of a beautiful single barrel of whiskey, but of a store’s loyal fanbase. This one is easily the best Knob Creek Single Barrel bourbon I’ve tasted. 9.5/10

Review: Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel

JDSB_SpecialRelease_Heritage Barrel

Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s.

Jack Daniel’s was my first foray into whiskey years ago.  So it’s of great interest to me when the iconic whiskey brand releases a special edition.  With their new Heritage Barrel, the folks at Jack Daniel’s are mainly focused on barrel toasting techniques of early coopers.  Jack Daniel’s makes their own barrels, which is an extreme rarity among the major distilleries.

For this release, 200 barrels have been slowly heated, “achieving a deeper, richer toasted layer before being charred,” according to press materials.  It doesn’t end with specially toasted barrels.  The whiskey entered these barrels at a lower entry proof than usual and matured in the upper floors of one of their highest elevated warehouses.  The resulting single barrel whiskey was bottled at a hearty 100 proof.

The nose here is rich with big spiced banana and vanilla notes.  Maple syrup-covered pancakes and some oak show up with a little airtime.  On entry, that viscous and sweet maple syrup note is quickly joined by a peppering of cinnamon, allspice, and orange rind.  Charred banana and vanilla remind me of wonderful Bananas Foster.  Toasted oak, and the slight astringency usually associated with it, start showing up towards the back palate.  The medium finish leaves a lingering hint of spiced caramel and oak.

The slowly toasted barrels together with the lower entry proof, upper floor maturation, and high bottling proof have done wonders to the whiskey coming out of Lynchburg, Tennessee.  The resulting whiskey is rich, spicy, and amplified version of the Jack Daniel’s whiskey we’re all familiar with.  Heritage Barrel isn’t as spicy/astringent as Sinatra Select.  Instead, it comes across as a bit more balanced.  Delicious!  At $64.99 a bottle, Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel comes with a high recommendation.  8.5/10

jackdaniels.com

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