whiskey

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: Old Ezra Barrel Strength Bourbon

When this bottle of Old Ezra came across my sample table, the idea of a 7-year-old barrel strength bourbon excited me. The fact that it’s available for less than $40 is icing on the cake.

From a value standpoint, Old Ezra Barrel Strength checks off all the boxes on paper. But most important of all – is it any good?

It is, friends. In spades.

The nose is bold and full of rich caramel, spice, and some nuttiness. Taste-wise, Old Ezra Barrel Strength is full-bodied and robust, featuring hints of salted caramel, toasted oak, and black pepper. The finish is warm, with lingering cinnamon and toffee notes.

Luxco has another hit on their hands with this one. I hope Old Ezra Barrel Strength is a whiskey we can easily find on shelves. Luxco hasn’t made any mention of this being a limited release in press materials.

I can’t say it enough – this bourbon is fantastic! It’s on my shortlist as one of my favorite bourbons released in 2018. I know the flavor profiles are different and all, but this gives Booker’s a run for its money. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how huge a Booker’s fan I am.

Highly recommended. 8.5/10

Luxco.com

Thanks to Luxco 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.