Friday, July 27, 2018

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Binny's Private Selection Barrel #6270 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $40
- 120 Proof
- 13 years, 6 months

Once again the Knob Creek private selection came through for me.  I've gone on and on in this blog about these store picks being one of the best values out there. You get a privately selected, single barrel bourbon, usually aged 9-11 years, and sometimes as long as 13 1/2 years such as this one, or even longer, at nearly barrel strength, and for a cool $40.00.  You can't go wrong in picking one of these up off the shelf, and this bottle proved to be no exception.

The nose was all brown sugar and caramel. It came across immediately as a sugar bomb, almost like those caramel lollipops, Sugar Daddies. It also had milk chocolate and even a slight peanut note to the nose at first. This developed some additional stone fruit notes later on, with almost a tart cherry pie quality to the nose. Certainly the way it smelled suggested the flavor was, at the least, going to be complex.

Not surprisingly, the brown sugar and caramel from the nose was spot on, and the first sip was like drinking a boozed up version of a Sugar Daddy. Given the age, I expected a bit of dryness on the back end, perhaps even to balance out that sweetness, but such wasn't the case. It has surprisingly little wood influence to it, only barely noticeable on the back end.

Initial pours had a light burn to them, but that is to be expected given the proof, and it was anything but offensive. In fact, it cut the sweetness a bit.  Eventually that burn faded, however, and in doing so improved this bourbon so much! While I thought the burn provided a nice balance, what I found was it was masking the rich, sweet flavors that were waiting to emerge in this bourbon.

At first I thought the alcohol burn provided a nice balance to the sweetness.  However, as the alcohol seemed to fade, the sweetness came forward in a big way, but not in a way that made it cloyingly sweet or anything. Rather, that caramel/brown sugar thing it had going developed more in richness than intensity, if that makes sense. 

Don't get me wrong, towards the end of this bottle this absolutely took on a dessert-like quality. However, it wasn't overly sweet, just richly sweet. I may be talking in circles here, but it's as though with each successive pour, the quality of the caramel improved, like it started with some generic, store-brand caramel and finished with high-end, melt-in-your-mouth-and-consume-your-world high end caramel from Godiva or whoever might make really awesome caramel.

This bourbon changed much more from first pour to last than anything else I've had in the past year or so. At first it was a very good bourbon.  The last pour was an absolutely amazing bourbon that made me wish I had a few bottles more.

Grade: A

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Jefferson's 10 Year Straight Rye Whiskey

- $45
- 94 Proof
- 10 Years
- Batch No. 63
- Canada

Well-aged ryes seem to be harder and harder to come by, and Jefferson's rye, which is now out of production, seems to be a symbol of this trend. After all, this 10-year rye at one point offered a well-aged rye at a decent price-point.  Good luck finding this old of a rye at this price today. As was the case with this bottle, the only way to land one is on the secondary market.

Jefferson's is a non-distilling producer, or NDP, however, meaning they don't produce their own whiskey, but rather select and bottle whiskey sourced from other producers. This particular whiskey, which is a 100% rye mashbill, is sourced from Alberta Distillers in Canada (despite the very patriotic branding with the Jefferson name, the profile of Jefferson himself and the arch of stars half-circling him on the bottle).

Nonetheless, I was eager to try something that, in all likelihood, I'll never try again. Interestingly, as I opened this one up, I noticed that the cork was loose, as though it had contracted a bit. The bottle did not show signs of any evaporation, and as I pulled it off the bottom of the court made a tight seal. I did some very brief research on the web and found a few other mentions of this phenomenon. I'm not really sure what to make of it.

The nose is soft, almost floral in nature. It has hints of cinnamon and pine, but not necessarily the spice that usually accompanies those flavors. Just mild versions of those flavors, and with little to no burn.

On the palate, this whiskey is smooth and sweet. It primarily has notes of caramel and vanilla, but also has that pine flavor from the nose. The pine, though light, adds an interesting tang to the mix. Cinnamon comes in late on the back end, but while all the other flavors fade away, the cinnamon flavor seems to stick around forever.

As I made my way through this bottle, I found it to be incredibly easy to drink. It is certainly inoffensive, and delicious enough to keep me going right back to this bottle pour after pour. Later pours revealed the lightest of wood tones that weren't present initially. This turned that cinnamon flavor into more of an earthy note, like a cinnamon stick.

I also picked up a bot of orange peel in the mix. I didn't get this note all the time, but when I did notice it, it provided a welcome and delicious mix of sweet and bitter that had me wishing that it was just a bit more prevalent.

Overall, this was a relatively simple, yet delicious rye. I went into it with hopes that it would blow me away, and it didn't quite do that. Perhaps that's a bit unfair to set the bar that high, but I really had this hyped in my head that it was going to be spectacular, and while it was very good, I just wouldn't go that far.

Grade: B