Wheated Bourbon

Heaven Hill Select Stock Review

Heaven Hill Select Stock

When I last visited Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center, I made sure to pick up a bottle of something for myself.  It came down to two bourbons: Heaven Hill Select Stock and William Heavenhill 11 year old Bottled-In-Bond.  I sampled both just minutes prior to my purchase and decided to go with the more experimental of the two: Heaven Hill Select Stock, available only at their Bourbon Heritage Center.  This is a barrel-proof (124.4 proof), single barrel, 8 year old wheated bourbon that’s finished in cognac casks for 32 months.

(more…)

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection – Warehouse Floors Experiment Review

IMG_3461

Buffalo Trace’s latest release in their Experimental Collection looks at the aging process using their wheat bourbon mash bill.  It’s the same mash bill as W.L. Weller and the Van Winkle bourbons.  From their press release:

The Warehouse Floors Experiment was started in 2001, when Buffalo Trace filled 15 barrels with their Wheat Bourbon Mash Bill and placed five barrels on floors one, five, and nine of Warehouse K. This brick warehouse has nine wooden floors in total and was chosen for this experiment due to the variety of tastes it provides during the aging process.

Buffalo Trace Distillery sent me a sample of each.  Here’s how the three bourbons panned out:

FIRST FLOOR

nose:  soft caramel,  slight fruit (maraschino cherries),  surprisingly very little oak

palate:  toffee, caramel, butterscotch, a little fruit

finish:  short & sugary sweet

FIFTH FLOOR

nose:  slight oak,  caramel.

palate:  soft entry followed by caramel, cinnamon, slight oak

finish:  nice and balanced.  Not as sweet as the first floor…  almost bittersweet.  Slightly drier and a tad spicier.  Very nice.

NINTH FLOOR

nose:  sweet oak, caramel, vanilla, smells a bit more robust

palate:  a lot of oak,  sweet (caramel) and a little nutty

finish: dry and spicy

The first floor was not a spicy whiskey.  It was a nice combo of butterscotch, caramel, and fruit.  The fifth floor introduced oak.  It makes a cameo, but wasn’t the star of the show.  It was also slightly spicier than the first floor.  The ninth floor is an oakier and drier whiskey.  The sweetness and oak went back and forth and never really meshed for me.

Also of note is the evaporation differences between the floors, especially compared to a similar earlier experiment using their rye bourbon mash bill.  According to Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, “we noticed a higher evaporation rate on the wheat recipe experiment vs the rye bourbon recipe experiment.  The wheat evaporated between 42-51% over the twelve years, depending on what floor the barrel was aged.  The rye experiment evaporated between 25-49% over the twelve years, with significantly less on the lower floors.  This higher evaporation rate is expected in wheated recipes, but it’s interesting to see it up close with the rye experiment.”

As always, the Experimental Collection is a limited, one-time release.  A 375ml bottle will run you about $46.  This is a great examination of the influence the aging location of a bourbon has on its final flavor. These barrels filled with the exact same distillate sat feet apart from each other and end up as completely different whiskies.  I’d suggest you pick up a bottle of each to taste the differences for yourself, which is what I think is the heart of this release.  However, if you’re in the market for one bottle, I’d stick with the fifth floor.  Highly recommended.

9/10

William Larue Weller Bourbon Whiskey (2014) Review

IMG_2745

William Larue Weller is the only wheated bourbon in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.  In essence, this is a barrel proof W. L. Weller 12 year old, which is not a bad thing.  I’m sure this release gets choice barrels from the W. L. Weller line of whiskies.  A wheated bourbon means wheat is used as the flavoring grain instead of the more common rye.  Maker’s Mark and the Van Winkle bourbons are all wheated bourbons.  Mr. Weller is credited with being the first distiller to use wheat instead of rye for bourbon back in the mid-1850s.

This year’s release of William Larue Weller is a hellish 140.2 proof.  That’s the highest proof this bourbon’s ever been.  It’s even higher than this year’s George T. Stagg… if only by a couple of proof points.  Buffalo Trace Distillery provided a review sample.

When I take a nice big whiff of this bourbon, I get lots of alcohol and caramel.  When I take a smaller whiffs, I get LOTS of caramel and toffee, as well as a little oak.  Tasting it there’s a lot of sweet caramel, baking spices like cinnamon and cloves, and toffee.  The finish is sweet and dry.  While the high proof does come into play in terms of spice and heat, I find it slightly more palatable to drink neat when compared to George T. Stagg.  Adding water to this calms down the heat and really brings out the sweetness.

Make no mistake, this is one delicious bourbon.  Being a member of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection means it’ll be very hard to find in stores.  If the planets align and you run across a bottle, pick it up for the $80 suggested retail price.

9/10