Jack Daniel’s Silver Select

Jack Daniel’s Silver Select Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey
50% ABV
$55 to $65
What the Distillery Says:
Bottled in Bond at 100-proof so you can experience the full depth and intensity of its rich flavor. This smooth, aromatic Tennessee Whiskey is only available in select duty-free airports around the world.

Richard’s aside: It’s worth noting that this is no longer called “Silver Select”. Since I bought my bottle Brown Forman has rebranded this edition in conjunction with their other Jack Daniel’s single barrel offerings (Single Barrel, Barrel Proof Single Barrel, Single Barrel Rye) and this now “Single Barrel 100 Proof” and carries the “Bottled in Bond” distinction. It’s availability in Travel Retail only remains.
What Gary Says:
Nose: Thick, rich, mellow with raisins, vanilla, caramel honey, and hints of anise, clove (and yes, bananas).
Palate: Rich/sweet fruit (raisins, figs) with a bit of a sharpness, but not as much spice as the nose advertises.
Finish: Short to moderate in length.
Comments: Another that is unmistakably related to its standard bearer, although I thought this several steps up from Old No. 7 (several more so than Jim Beam Bonded is over Jim Beam White Label). Fairly dark whiskey, so at only 100 proof I expect that this either has a few years of extra age on it, or was aged really high up (and maybe both). I think this is my second favorite Jack Daniel’s I’ve ever tried (below the Single Barrel, Barrel Proof). I wish this was more widely available (no mention of it on Jack Daniel’s web-site, and from what I can see on-line, this is a travel retail offer only). If you are a fan of Jack Daniels, I think this is hands-down a “must try” (maybe a “must buy”, but not sure what the true price tag is). I know if I see one for $60 or less, I’m bringing it home.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Pending
Palate: Pending
Finish: Pending
Comments: Pending
Rating: Pending

Jim Beam Bonded

Jim Beam Bonded Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
50% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
Our bonded bourbon is created from the highest quality ingredients and adheres to the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. Enjoy a taste of history today.

Our bonded bourbon follows the letter of the law: the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. It’s bottled at 100 proof, aged at least four years in a federally bonded warehouse and produced in a single distillery season at a single distillery.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Unmistakably “Beam”; subtle vanilla, cornbread, and a tangy hint of citrus.
Palate: Decent balance of sweetness and oak; sweet up front with vanilla and honey, light spice kicks in; notes of pine.
Finish: Moderately spicy and drying.
Comments: Always glad to see another “bonded” product on the market. In full disclosure, I’m not a fan of the mainstay Jim Beam white label (although I do enjoy Knob Creek, Baker’s, and Booker’s), and there is no escaping the familial resemblance here. But this adds a bit of depth and character, and for only a couple more dollars. For $5 more, I don’t know that I would recommend, but there isn’t a lot at the $20 price point that I like more these days.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: The peanut and cornmeal Beam signature “funk” ever present.
Palate: Corn pudding, vanilla beans, burnt sugar, and kettle corn.
Finish: Dry and lightly peppery with remnants of corn and wet toothpicks.
Comments: Beam throws one up to the discerning value buyer. This is a bit of a missing link bourbon. For less than $20 you should seek this one out instead of regular Jim Beam. It answers the question of how Beam gets from Jim Beam White to Baker’s. The bonded version shows as the little brother to the Baker’s and if you are a Baker’s fan then I think you will really like the less complex and younger iteration.
Rating: Stands Out

Knob Creek 2001

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2001 Limited Edition Batch 1, #12,302

50% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon commemorates a significant year for Knob Creek, as late in 2001, the tradition and responsibility of stewarding Knob Creek Bourbon was passed from Booker to Fred — from father to son. This release, made from barrels that Booker laid down in 2001, was finished by Fred Noe in honor of all he learned from his father and stays true to the pre-prohibition standards that Booker sought to restore when he introduced Knob Creek Bourbon. Bottled at 100 proof and aged for 14 years, longer than any other Knob Creek release to date, this bourbon has an even bigger, fuller flavor than what Knob Creek fans have come to love. It will be released in three limited batches, each accentuating distinct notes of the 14-year-old liquid, for a suggested price of $129.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaged in a commemorative wooden case, Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon was selected with the following characteristics:
Age: More than 14 years
Proof: 100
Color: Deep golden amber
Aroma: Robust oak and char notes balanced by sweet vanillas and caramels with a hint of warm brown spice
Taste: Complex oak and char notes with subtle vanilla and warm spice
Batch One: Higher in sweet notes, vanilla and caramel; very smooth
Batch Two: Higher in wood and oak notes; more tannic in nature
Batch Three: Mid-way between Batch 1 and Batch 2, slightly favoring notes of wood
Finish: Smooth and warm sweetness

What Richard Says:
Nose: Woody in a very tannic way. Burnt vanilla sugar comes to mind.
Palate: Barrel char comes out first. This is a little hotter than other Knob Creeks I’ve had. The vanilla and caramel sweetness moves forward with notes of cinnamon and allspice berries but there is a strong peppery back to the palate.
Finish: Hot oak and deep peppery spice. Very dry.
Comments: It seems like these days that just about every bourbon producer finds a way to piss me off. Well Jim Beam…here you go. A 14 year old Knob Creek for $130? What!?! You can regularly find Knob Creek Single Barrel store selections in that age range that taste just as good if not better at a higher ABV. And then you have the audacity to call it a “limited edition”? I’m not sure what your idea of limited is but it greatly differs from mine. My sample was from bottle 12,302 of BATCH 1! And there are THREE BATCHES!! In no realm of reality is 35,000+ bottles of anything a “limited edition”. It’s only limited by the space time continuum.

Is this a bad whiskey? No, not at all. It’s a fine bourbon that’s maybe seen a few too many years in the wood. On flavor components alone I would say this bourbon Stands Out among others but at $130 I would pass on this if I was you. You could buy an equally good, or better Knob Creek Single Barrel and pocket the other $80.
Rating: Stands Out

Old Rip Van Winkle 15 Year

Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 15 Years
No. L7789

53.5% ABV
$43 originally (HIGHLY collectible now)
What the Bottler Says:
15 Year, 107 Proof A younger version of our famous 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’ Family Reserve, this bourbon was crafted according to our exclusive family wheated recipe. The smooth, oak flavor blends well with the barrel proof. Selected from barrels in the heart of our Kentucky warehouse, it has remained untouched for 15 years and unhurried by time.

What Richard Says:
Nose: As amazing of a bourbon as this is it is fickle on the nose. The nose is surprisingly delicate and the 107 proof can be overpowering. With a fair bit of air you get more notes of burnt caramel, vanilla cream filling for Boston Cream Pie, and polished leather.
Palate: Phenomenal! Dried peaches, cinnamon red hots, vanilla extract, dark cocoa powder, and aged tobacco.
Finish: A tad hot on the end.
Comments: Yes, I know. “Why are you reviewing whiskeys that are basically unobtainium, jackass?” Well, it’s not often you come across lauded whiskey like this. The last time I had a bottle was so long ago that I’m not sure I was even sufficiently experienced to fully appreciate it, which was shortly before they switched to the newer tall bottle and donned it with the “Pappy” moniker. So how does this old Stitzel-Weller juice stack up? It’s really damn good. Really, really good. Is it the best bourbon I’ve ever had? No but that’s a preference thing more than a comment on the passion for this whiskey. The whiskey is surprisingly delicate against the proof but exceptionally flavorful. A splash of water helps it open up a bit. In a heavier bourbon like a George Stagg or Four Roses the alcohol drinks much easier. In this bourbon it is a bit of a hindrance. If you are fortunate enough to come across this don’t be afraid of the water.
Rating: Must Buy (at sane prices)

Blade and Bow 22 Year

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 22 Years
46% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
The award-winning Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a limited-release whiskey inspired by the passion and craftsmanship of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery.

Inclusive of whiskies distilled at both the distillery historically located at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, Ky. and the distillery historically located at 1001 Wilkinson Blvd. in Frankfort, Ky., this limited release offering was most recently aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller.

Smooth and smoky, this limited-release bourbon’s taste is accented with notes of torched sugar and apples baked in honey and spices. Its aroma is one of toasted oak mixed with vanilla bean, fig and just a touch of caramel.

Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was named the “Best Straight Bourbon” and received the DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Collect the five distinct keys – some rarer than others – that adorn every bottle.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Oaky – dominant sour wood, bit astringent, burnt toast, coffee grounds, cigar paper, subtle vanilla & cocoa.
Palate: Thin mouthfeel, heavy wood with a sharp bite of pepper spice, burnt caramel, crème brulee.
Finish: Surprisingly short and drying.
Comments: I’m not a fan of “oak bombs”, and there is far too much oak in this for my taste. If you like a lot of oak, this might be more in your wheelhouse – although setting the oak aside, I didn’t find anything exciting. Typically with age the mouthfeel and finish stand out – and for me both of these were uninspiring. As there isn’t a lot of 22 yr old bourbon on the market, I can’t say the price is out of line – but not something I’m searching out.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: An old men’s study – polished oak, old leather, aged tobacco, as well as…Boston Cream pie.
Palate: I agree with Gary that the mouthfeel is a little thin but it tastes very nice with notes of vanilla cream, dark chocolate, caramel, black pepper, and very woody.
Finish: Drying and very woody. Heavy oak and light pepper.
Comments: I like a good woody old bourbon that also provides layers of flavor. I really enjoyed this bourbon. It’s a bit pricey, mostly on the “Stitzel-Weller” name. That is just the warehouse though, not the bourbon. This is a blend of Buffalo Trace and Bernheim distillate. Both of which you can try in separate older Orphan Barrel bottlings. Even still, there is enjoyable substance here too. If you are a fan of older, oak forward bourbons then give this one a try. If you are a fan of a more youthful and vibrant bourbon then this may not be for you.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Diageo and their PR firm for sending us a sample for review.