Sunday, February 11, 2018

Quick Hits: Knob Creek Goose Island - Austonian Texas Whiskey - High West Bourye - High West Pinot Finished American Prairie Bourbon

Sometimes I find myself enjoying a bottle so much, that before I even have a chance to pause and pay attention to what I'm drinking, what I'm tasting, or to even take notes, that bottle is gone. It would be easy enough to just not bother reviewing it, and wait until I finish my next bottle to which I've given a bit more attention.

However, when I do go through a bottle so quickly (always with friends, of course -- I try to make it a point not to drink an entire bottle in one sitting when I'm drinking by myself), it's often due in part to the fact that it's really good whiskey. So, why shouldn't you hear about it, even if it doesn't provide all those bullshit tasting notes that nobody really believes I'm tasting anyway?!?!?

So, below are my quick hit reviews from the four bottles of bourbon myself and some friends finished last weekend during our annual guys' ski trip:

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Goose Island Private Select Barrel #5555

- $40
- 120 Proof
- 12 years, 9 months
- Barrel #5555
- Kentucky

This was the bottle we enjoyed the first day of our trip. It was the first thing we cracked open when we got to the condo to toast the rest of our upcoming trip. More importantly, it was a really damn good whiskey, and we realized right off the bat that we had something delicious and potent here. I've had Barrel #'s 5556 and 5558 for comparison, as did one of my other friends on the trip, and we both agreed that we liked this Barrel #5555 the best. It was bold and strong, with nice spice overlaying molasses and vanilla. It was complex with a nice, oily mouthfeel that left a long, drawn out vanilla finish that (dangerously) had us going right back for that next sip, and then that next pour. My friend had previously had a Knob Creek private selection that was one of the best whiskeys I've ever tried, and he couldn't help but make a direct comparison. This bourbon was, in many ways, exactly what I look for in a bourbon, from flavor to texture to proof to price. It's a shame it's going to be hard to come by again (though the collectability of these bottles means more than a few are going to hang around for a while).

Grade: A


Austonian Texas Whiskey

- $26
- 90 Proof
- Texas

This was the surprise of the trip. We opened this bottle not knowing what to expect. However, given the price and the region, we expected it to be not so great. To the man we knew immediately after the first sip we were wrong! Although it's not bourbon, nor does it try to be, it is nonetheless a sweet, delicious whiskey. It's on the sweeter end, but it does a great job of doing what it seems to have set out to do. This was also the whiskey that accompanied me on the slopes in my hip flask, so I enjoyed this one in multiple settings. The most prominent flavor here was oatmeal cookie. I'm not sure what it is, but every time I took a sip, I kept coming back to that same note of oatmeal cookie.  And I really liked it! Something about it worked! It was a sweeter whiskey, but not a too-sweet whiskey. It certainly was not "rough" as I've heard some Texas whiskeys described, and it certainly did not have the harsh qualities that other "rapid-aging" or "alternative aging" whiskeys I've tried have had.

Grade: B+


High West Bourye Limited Sighting Blended Whiskey - 2018 Release

- $80
- 92 Proof
- Batch 17L21
- Utah, Indiana

We happened to be in town and, even better, at the distillery on the day that this year's Bourye was released. Of course I wasn't going home without a bottle. I did the same thing last year and that bottle went very quickly. This year was no different. Having had last year's as my most recent and direct comparison, that's what I immediately did was compare the two, and this year's, to me (at least from what I remember) was just a little better than last year's, which I thought was great. As with last year's, it had a unique nougat character that I really enjoyed, a sort of sweet, soft and creamy quality that seemed to envelop the more traditional vanilla and caramel flavors, and provided a nice contrast to the lightly cinnamon-spiced, finish. I thought this was a delicious blend of bourbons and ryes that really captured some amazing flavor. Curiosity got the best of me, and I should not have been surprised at my love for this year's release given its make-up:

2018 Batch (New Label - year two):
All sourced from: MGP, Lawrenceburg, Indiana
14yo - 95% rye, 5% barley malt
13yo - 95% rye, 5% barley malt
12yo - 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley malt
11yo - 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley malt
11yo - 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% barley malt

That's some well-aged bourbons and ryes which High West did an incredible job of blending to create an absolutely delicious whiskey!

Grade: A


High West American Prairie Bourbon Pinot Noir Finished Private Selection

- Not Available for Resale
- 106.6 Proof
- Finished 1 year, 9 mos.
- Bottled for Utah Whiskey Drinkers Union
- Utah

This was a special treat from a very good friend of mine at the High West Distillery, who accepted our invitation to our Super Bowl Party on our last full day in Utah. We had a chance to try a sample of this Pinot finished American Prairie while we were at the distillery, and all five of us were floored at just how good it was! Apparently this is a private bottling for a local whiskey club. As such, it's not available for retail whether at the gift shop or otherwise. However, we were nonetheless able to obtain a bottle through the good graces of our guy, and it still didn't disappoint. This was unanimously the best whiskey of the trip, and one of the best whiskeys I've had in quite some time. The flavor is fruity, but it doesn't overpower the bourbon. Rather, the dark raspberry, cherry and plum notes from the Pinot finish blend perfectly with the blended bourbon to create a silky, sweet and delicate whiskey that we could have enjoyed by the pint. Soooooo good!!!!

Grade: A+

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