Giving each whiskey (and whisky) I try a final grade, but only after reaching the bottom of the bottle. After all, just one drink is never enough!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- 90 Proof
On a recent family mini-vacation to St. Louis, I sniffed out a liquor store with a good whiskey selection (luckily for me it Randall's Wines & Spirits was just down the road from my hotel). Though I always love perusing the selections and prices at any liquor store, I was primarily looking for a relatively cheap bottle of something that just doesn't make it to the shelves in Illinois. When I looked up and saw a Willett bourbon for $21.00, and a label that I don't believe I've ever seen in my life, I knew I found my bottle.
The bottle does not have any frills. Nothing about it screams "buy me!" In fact, the label is incredibly plain, a two-toned label of brown on cream. Even the bottle shape is that of other bottom-shelf offerings. But I do have a love for Willett, and back to the hotel I went with it to give it a go.
The nose is heavy on the caramel, with a hint of cocoa to it. It was actually quite enjoyable, and I took it as a sign of good things to tome.
On the first sip the first thing I noticed was the texture. I fully expected a thin, watery bourbon much like most of the other stuff you can find in this price range. What I found, however, was a nice, velvety smooth bourbon that was more oily in texture. It really coated the mouth, which caused the flavors to linger around for a decent amount of time.
As to those flavors, up front it is distinctly brown sugar overlaying a strong cherry note. I find such a note offensive in some bourbons, as frequently it reminds me of cough syrup. That wasn't the case here, though, as instead the cherry with the brown sugar created a nice combination that resulted in a sweet and long finish.
I looked for the cocoa from the nose, but it just didn't seem to be there. Nonetheless, other flavors found there way in as well. The traditional vanilla and caramel were there, though subtle. There was almost no spice and no burn. However, there was a slight anise note that seemed to be noticeable only on the finish. This was really the only negative mark that I would give it, as that note seemed to come out of nowhere and did not really mesh with everything else going on in this bourbon.
That being said, that one down mark is not enough for me to not recommend this to others. At the price of only $21, were this available by me, this is a bourbon that I could certainly make a regular drinker. Although it's not a bourbon you'd write home to mom about, it nonetheless drinks like a much more expensive bourbon, and for that it gets higher marks!
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