All posts by Richard

Founding Apostle

Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve

Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve 13 Year Old
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (slope shoulder bottling)

45% ABV
$25 originally/highly collectible now
OCPR
What Gary Says:
Nose: Rich, vanilla crème brulee, toffee, soft oak, subtle anise and a hint of sherry; very nice balance.
Palate: Creamy/silky mouthfeel, rich vanilla, raisins, oak, subtle sherry, slight rye spice that builds up with hint of cinnamon.
Finish: Moderately long, nice and lingering.
Comments: This is a dusty bourbon, part of the Bourbon Heritage Collection released in the mid-1990s. I found this bottle in 2014, and paid $30 for it (when initially released, it was a few bucks cheaper – probably part of the reason it sat on the shelf where I picked it up for so long). Likely not to find again (unless you want to spend around $250), but if I saw it on a shelf – it would be a no brainer pick up for me. This is a delicious bourbon. I’m not a fan of Old Charter’s other products necessarily, but this is probably in my Top 10 of favorite pours. More often than not with a 90 proof bourbon, I think “If only this was at a higher proof”, but I think this is perfect the way it is.
Rating: Must Buy (at retail . . . )

What Richard Says:
Nose: This one starts off with a bit of a musty nose that makes me think of bourbons much older than 13 years like some of the Orphan Barrel releases. As it opens up a bit it comes through more as apple danishes, Boston Cream filling, and candied ginger but there is still quite a lot of wood and tobacco driven “oldness” to it.
Palate: Rich and delicate don’t often go together but they really jam here. Creamy, syrupy vanilla that rolls out seriously dry.
Finish: This finishes very dry and heavy on the wood.
Comments: Two of my best drinking buddy’s really love this bourbon. I really value their opinions (yes Gary is one of them) but this isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. This comes across too old and dry. It’s also one dimensional too. Intense in that dimension but one dimensional all the same. I find this interesting as a study in bourbon history and at the price that Gary found this one I would recommend picking it up but I wouldn’t pay collector prices for it.
Rating: Stands Out

Colonel Taylor Barrel Proof

Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof Straight Bourbon Whiskey
67.7% ABV
$75
Website
EHT-barrelproof_0
What the Distillery Says:
Crafted from hand-selected barrels, this bourbon is bottled directly from the barrel; uncut and unfiltered at more than 125 proof. It reflects the way whiskey was produced in the days before Prohibition, when Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. was the owner of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Drawn from barrels aged in warehouses constructed over a century ago under Taylor’s watchful eye, the taste is smooth, yet powerful and uncompromising, just like its namesake.

TASTING NOTES: The aroma of cooked berries meets the nose, followed by a rich caramel and slightly floral smell. The taste is bold and full of spice that fills the mouth with a distinct flavor of toasty vanilla, dried oak and pepper. The finish is long and satisfying with a powerful rye character and lingering hints of fruit.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Hot but rich, dark chocolate over oak, vanilla, allspice, with subtle notes of anise and mincemeat pie (and a hint of BBQ sauce?).
Palate: Warm and intense, caramel apple with candied pecans, oak, honey, cinnamon and pepper spice.
Finish: Moderately long and drying.
Comments: I bought the first batch of this label, and wasn’t that impressed and hadn’t sought it out since. I wish I had some of that left for a side by side, as I really like this one. Not as sharp on the palate as I would have expected based on the heat from the nose. It takes water well, with the nose losing some of the heat without the chocolate, and the palate opens up further.
Rating: Stands Out / Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Hot caramel over vanilla pudding and apricot jam.
Palate: Vanilla cookies, cracked black pepper, mint, and more fruity back notes.
Finish: Slightly bitter, cigar tobacco, wood forward…number 2 pencils?
Comments: For those that keep up with such things, this is Batch #2 for the barrel proof Taylor. This is a very robust and tasty bottle. However, I don’t know that I like it anymore than Stagg Jr (another Buffalo Trace barrel proofer in a similar age range) for the extra $20+ that this one costs.
Rating: Stands Out

Willett Family Estate Rye 25 Years

Willett Family Estate Rye – 25 yr (barrel # 1776)
50% ABV
$250
Website
WFE 25yr
What the Distillery Says:
Willett doesn’t say anything about their estate bottlings on their website.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Big oak, molasses, burnt fruitcake, raisins, prunes, cigar paper.
Palate: Very oaky, sharp dry spices (allspice?) and bitter chocolate, sour raisins.
Finish: Long but quite dry.
Comments: This was the most expensive bottle of whiskey I had ever purchased at the time (which I purchased from their gift shop in September 2012). And it will go down as “lessons learned” in my book, that age doesn’t equate to quality, and if I’m laying down that much money – I need to get a sample first. I think this whiskey was past its prime, and probably would have been amazing at 15 – 20 yrs. For my taste, this is just too oak dominant. I have to really work to pick flavors out from beneath the oak, and I don’t like to work that hard to enjoy my whiskey. I have been blessed with the opportunity to try some amazing older Willett ryes, and I made the mistake of assuming they were a representation of most ryes of that nature (rather than the rare-exceptional barrels that they were). For the retail I paid 4 years ago (which it would be double or more than that today I’m sure), I wouldn’t buy it again – so knowing the current market, I can’t recommend this.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says:
Nose: Light mint, peach cobbler, black strap molasses, and polished leather.
Palate: NyQuil, heavy on the wood, cocoa powder, spearmint, and cinnamon.
Finish: Dry, minty, and long on the oak.
Comments: This is a thick, almost gooey whiskey that coats the inside of the glass. Some people tend to prefer bourbons no older than 10 to 15 years old. Some don’t even go that far. The warm Kentucky summers and new oak can quickly over power a whiskey with heavy notes of wood. I usually like “woody” or “oaky” whiskeys. It’s not as much of a turn off for me. But that said, this rye from Willett is exceptionally far on the woody spectrum. There is a great nose to it but the taste and finish are just in your face with the oak. This probably should’ve come out of the barrel about four years sooner.
Rating: Probably Pass

Willett Family Estate Rye 5 Years

Willett Family Estate Rye – 5 yr (barrel # 78)
55% ABV
$40
Website
willett 5 year
What the Distillery Says:
Willett doesn’t really say a damn thing about their “Estate” bottles.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Bright, crisp Christmas spice (nutmeg, cinnamon), orange marmalade over oak.
Palate: Sharp citrus spice with tangerines and craisins, subtle vanilla sweetness under pepper spice and cinnamon notes.
Finish: Moderately long and dry.
Comments: The line of Willett Family Estate Ryes has been mostly from the same distillery (MGP), although they started distilling their own rye a few years ago. This was a waxed-top bottle bought a few years ago, and gifted to me from a friend who knows I love rye. This bottle is no exception. I appreciate the high proof bottling, and while it is a single barrel – I’ve tried a dozen or so in this age range (4 – 5 yr) and found them pretty consistent. More oak than you might expect for a 5 yr, but not too much (probably aged high in the rickhouse). I really wish I would have picked up more of their 4 and 5 yr rye whiskey when it was laying around at $35-$40. It isn’t as widely available these days, and when it is – the price has gone up quite a bit.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Fresh mint, nutmeg, Big Red cinnamon chewing gum, and lemon preserves.
Palate: This youngish rye is very flavorful but it also wears the proof on its sleeve. You feel everyone of those 110 proof points. Citrus, ginger, cinnamon, sharp mint, and red pepper.
Finish: Mild and woody. The heat comes more on the palate than the finish. It leaves black pepper notes around the edges of the tongue for some time.
Comments: This is a bit of a monster of a young rye. It’s very tasty and back when you could get this rye for $40 it was very versatile. Now Willett whiskeys are getting a bit too big for their britches in the pricing. Regardless, it is a good whiskey and worth trying.
Rating: Stands Out

Heaven Hill 6 Year Old

Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 6 Years Old

45% ABV
$10
HH_Green_Bottle_Image-163x590
What the Distillery Says:
Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon is unexcelled in quality resulting from unwavering adherence to a time honored formula, finest ingredients, limestone water, master craftsmen, and patient aging to create its distinctive character.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Bright & crisp, vanilla, sweet oak, subtle mint with a hint of lemongrass.
Palate: Vanilla, caramel pralines, corn flakes, subtle oak with a hint of dried fruit; starts thin and then warms up w/ a bit of a bite.
Finish: Short, wet and sweet – but forgettable.
Comments: If you like Heaven Hill’s house style, this is a fair representation of that at the low end of the price point scale. While a bottom shelf bourbon that you won’t mistaken for a premium pour, it is a very serviceable bourbon. I prefer Heaven Hill 6 yr Bottled in Bond for $2-3 more, but for about $10 – there aren’t many out there I’d pick over it.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Wet and kind of syrupy…yes it “smells” syrupy. Sweet corn forward with bits of vanilla and cinnamon wrapped up in wet wood smell.
Palate: Vanilla, sweet corn muffins, more wet wood, and toffee crisps. Gary’s right, this one bites back a bit at the end.
Finish: Wood polish, vanilla extract, and burnt cornbread.
Comments: Everyone out there doing craft bourbon please take note…You have to be at least this tall to ride my ride. In other words, this is a very fine serviceable bourbon for $10 a bottle. Why the hell would I pay you $50 for your “craft” bottle if you aren’t at least this good, preferably better? If you are stuttering for an answer then damn it you need to figure that shit out before putting your product on the shelf.
Rating: Stands Out