Single Barrel

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

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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.

Store Pick Review: Calandro’s Supermarket 1792 Full Proof and Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye

Calandro’s Supermarket in Baton Rouge, Louisiana just released a couple of store picks they thought I’d be interested in trying. Who am I to turn down whiskey? Mark Calandro and his son Taylor taste and choose the barrels for their stores. Let’s get to tasting.

First up is 1792 Full Proof. This goes into the barrel at 125 proof. After maturation, the whiskey is proofed down to that same proof. Because that could just mean a couple of proof points, this is basically barrel proof bourbon. The nose is rich with hints of caramel, red fruit and spice. Taste-wise, we’re talking about layer after layer of decadent caramel upfront. Additionally, hints of graham cracker and red fruits develop alongside some baking spice and leather. The finish is long, with lingering notes of barrel char and sweet oak. Calandro’s 1792 Full Proof is big, rich, and worth every penny of its $49.99 cost. 8.5/10

Next up is their Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye, currently one of the first of these releases in Louisiana AND the supermarket chain’s first rye whiskey picks. Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye is bottled at 115 proof. The nose is a touch muted at first, but becomes a bit livelier with a little airtime. Aromas of rye spice, fruit, vanilla, and lightly roasted coffee abound. On the palate, a sweet brown sugar entry develops hints of toasted rye grain, cherries, and wood spice. The finish is long and warming, with hints of sweet vanilla and spicy rye. $39.99 8/10

Great picks from Calandro’s! I am excited to see what they bring into the store next.

Thanks to Calandro’s for the generous samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.