Sunday, July 24, 2016

Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon OBSK - Master Distiller Selection - Gift Shop Exclusive

- $70
- 104.8 Proof
- 8 years, 6 Months

On my recent trip to Louisville, I went into the Four Roses gift shop with a purpose--to find a gift shop exclusive private selection, one I hadn't had before. The gift shop only had three offerings, but luckily for me, one of those was an OBSK, a recipe I hadn't had before, selected by Brent Elliot, Four Roses' master distiller, exclusively for the gift shop.

Once back on the bus, I didn't hesitate to ask for a cup so I could immediately pour this and try it out. I was not disappointed! On the nose I was hit with a strong vanilla scent, which was accented by a distinct maltiness as well as the tell-tale spiciness of a high-rye bourbon.

The flavor did not have any of that malt flavor, though. The first few drinks were prominently cherry and cinnamon, with the traditional vanilla flavor coming behind it. A peppery spice made its way through on the back end as well, offering a great blend of sweet up front and spicy at the back end.

Interestingly, I found that over the next few weeks, this bottle significantly changed and was a very different bourbon at the end. The cherry flavor seemed to disappear, and in its place was almond mixing with chocolate and vanilla, which sounds like it would come across as incredibly sweet, but that was not the case here.

Rather, these flavors were complemented by a smokiness, stronger than I've ever noticed in a bourbon before, and reminiscent of a peated Scotch. And yet, that malt from the nose never seemed to make its appearance. I really enjoyed the smokey vanilla flavor with the almond undertones as I finished off my last few pours of this, and it was one of those bottles where I was a little sad when it was over.

Though it seemed to almost be two different bourbons from the beginning to the end of the bottle, it was nonetheless fantastic throughout. This one was younger than most of the private bottlings, but Mr. Elliot did a great job in selecting a fantastic barrel for this particular bottling, and I could not be happier to have had the chance to grab it while I was at Four Roses.

Grade: A

Friday, July 1, 2016

High West American Prairie Blended Bourbon

- $35
- 92 Proof
- Batch No. 2

American Prairie is a blended bourbon from High West. As far as its offerings go, it is usually one of the more affordable ones.  According to website, though the ratios aren't disclosed, it's a blend of (1) 2-year old bourbon from MGP; (2) 6-year old Kentucky bourbon from an undisclosed source; and (3) 13-year old Kentucky bourbon from an undisclosed source. So we get complete transparency that it's all sourced bourbon, but ratios, sources and  mashbills on the Kentucky bourbons are still kept secret.

The nose is malty, making me double check to make sure it was, in fact, a blend of bourbons, and not simply a blended whiskey. It also gave off hints of walnut and baking spices. It had a very "bread baking" kind of smell to it.

The first sip was interesting. I immediately caught a mix of brown sugar and peanuts. Quite frankly, I've never noticed such a combination in a whiskey before, at least not that I can recall. It's a sweet bourbon, but certainly not offensively so.

On the back end, I caught notes of anise and rye, leading me to believe that some, if not all, of the bourbons in this blend were high-rye. Despite these spicy notes, it remained sweet on the back end as well, mixing a mild citrus flavor with dark cherry flavors.

The interesting mix of flavors, particularly on the back end, was very enjoyable. Honestly, at first I wasn't overly impressed with American Prairie, thinking it was a somewhat simple bourbon. However, the more I drank the more I noted the complexity of it, and the more I appreciated the complementary flavors that came through both on the front and back ends.

In fact, I realized almost too late just how much I liked this bourbon, particularly for the price, as I was pretty much to the bottom of the bottle before I knew it. Almost subconsciously I kept going right back for another pour, despite having other options available to me. This is a very nice bourbon for the price, and certainly the fact that it's blended and source should not keep you away from enjoying an otherwise very tasty pour!

Grade: A-