Category Archives: Bourbon

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
55.65% ABV
$50 to $60
What the Distillery Says:
From the barrel to bottle at 108 to 114 proof, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength retains the signature front-of-the-palate flavors of Maker’s Mark – while amping up the oak, caramel, vanilla and spice to create a remarkable new bourbon.

Though it’s bottled at a higher proof than either Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46 bourbons, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength has a lower proof than most cask strength whiskies. To us, a higher proof can overwhelm a bourbon with a heavy alcohol taste. And at Maker’s Mark, we’ve always been about creating whiskies that taste “yummy.”

Although Maker’s Mark goes into barrels at a consistent entry proof of 110, the proof of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength will vary. As water evaporates from the barrels as our whisky slumbers, the proof increases. But if you’ve ever lived in Kentucky, you know our summer temperatures can fluctuate wildly so the rate at which our bourbon becomes the “angel’s share” also differs. As a result, we’re never 100% sure what the proof will be till we open the barrels.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Light, sweet oak, vanilla wafers w/ a hint of licorice.
Palate: Warm, soft sweet vanilla with honey, caramel crèmes with undertones of cinnamon creeping in.
Finish: Moderate, with more bite than the start.
Comments: The first time I tried this, I was underwhelmed – especially for the price (it was $50 for a 375 mL bottle initially). Thankfully the price has come down quite a bit, although still on the high side for me. This is what I expected Maker’s Mark to be at cask strength. Still sweet/smooth, but a bit more of a bite that kicks in near the end and carries through the finish.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Much heavier on the wood than regular Maker’s with big doses of vanilla.
Palate: The barrel strength pushes this one out of the gate like it’s on fire. The oily rich mouthfeel bursts with caramel sweets, dark cocoa powder, vanilla cream, and one single Red Hot candy dissolved in the mix.
Finish: Woody but much spicier.
Comments: This reminds me of the first time I tried Maker’s Mark. Back then it was an impressive step up from Jack and Jim. It seemed to be bursting with flavor compared to bourbon’s I had up to that point. I get the same thing from the Cask Strength version. It’s sort of what I’ve hoped Maker’s would be for a long time. As pricing has come down to near $50 for a full 750 ml bottle it’s something you really should try.
Rating: Must Try

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2016

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2016 Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels
62.3% ABV
What the Bottler Says:
Ranked the “Best Spirit in the World” by Spirit Journal, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels is unlike any whiskey you’ve ever tried. Angel’s Envy is releasing fewer than8,000 bottles of our award-winning Cask Strength this year, so don’t miss your chance to pick up a bottle or two of this rare and delicious spirit.

Perfection is a patient man’s game. So we waited until Angel’s Envy reached the perfect level of maturity. We judge only a handful of barrels exceptional enough for our lengthy finishing process. The result? Even at 124.6 proof—our highest ever—every sip is worth savoring.

A remarkably complex and unfiltered spirit, we suggest you enjoy it neat or with just a splash of water to release the flavor nuances, and perhaps with a few friends who appreciate outstanding whiskey. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength was worth waiting for, now it’s worth sharing.

Appearance Rich gold with an amber depth
Nose Rose petals, dense fruitcake, fresh strawberries, cracked black peppercorns, clove
Palate Caramel coffee, dried fig, aged tobacco, toasted sourdough bread
Finish Rich and buttery, add water to soothe the burn and let the finish linger

What Gary Says:
Nose: Rich, luscious port sweetness with dark fruit and molasses, hints of aniseed and cigar paper.
Palate: Viscous mouthfeel with port, caramel apples, plums, and a hint of citrus over oak.
Finish: Moderately long and drying.
Comments: I really do enjoy this whiskey, as I have the previous year’s release of cask strength. It is an intensely flavorful whiskey, on the sweet side to be sure, but nicely balanced (not cloyingly sweet). This is where I would normally rant about the price, and how if it were half the price I would be recommending it up one side and down the other. But I honestly can’t explain prices for most whiskies in today’s market – so, whether it is worth it or not is up to you. If you can afford it, I do think this is a delicious whiskey. But I won’t be a buyer at the suggested retail.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose is a bit coy out of the bottle. It comes across a bit woody and musty (and this bourbon isn’t that old) with a bit of caramel candies. With some water the nose opens to more notes of vanilla, melted peanut butter, and cocoa powder.
Palate: A sweets grab back with a heavy does of semisweet chocolate chips, follow by Big Red cinnamon gum, and toffee crisps. Water pulls more of the vanilla and caramel forward.
Finish: This finishes more on the dry side with a wisp of wood. When water is added more lingering notes of cocoa powder remain.
Comments: Price, price, price. Kind of like Gary I’m getting a little tired of harping on the prices of recent releases. I hear the other side of the argument saying how “under valued bourbon was for so long”…blah blah blah…horseshit. Value is an individual’s perception and opinion. It has nothing to do with price. Price is set by supply and demand. Prices are high because demand is high. And producers of bourbon are taking every advantage they can to maximize profits during the boom. Do I blame them? No. Would I do the same thing in their place? Yes. Do I have to like it? Hell no. It still pisses me off.

All that ranting aside, this is a delicious whiskey. It would be hard to find someone who wouldn’t like it. If it’s in your price and value and range them by all means I suggest picking one up if you are inclined to. And if you happened to invite Gary and I over to share that bottle that you paid for then that wouldn’t be too bad either.
Rating: Stands Out

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