Saturday, January 19, 2019

Early Times Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $23
- 100 Proof
- NAS
- Kentucky

For some reason I was under the impression that this was a Kentucky-only release. At the very least, I thought it was released only in certain states, none of which were Illinois. Turns out I was simply wrong, and for some reason it just never crossed my path. However, on a random stop at a new liquor store while taking a detour on my way home from work, I saw it for the first time sitting on the bottom shelf, plenty in stock and a great-looking price (especially for a 1 liter bottle)!

I had hear really good things about this new (at the time) Brown-Forman product, and it seemed to be getting the kind of love that the Rebel Yell 10-Year received, a variant on a bottom-shelf expression deserving of a promotion. Even when I was in the check-out line a random employee commented on this being a great bourbon.

The nose is soft and subtle. Although the notes didn't smack me in the face, they were well worth taking the time. I got a nice mix of light wood notes mixed with cinnamon and cooked cherry notes. I was surprised at the wood tones, as this isn't a very old whiskey. The cherry and cinnamon offered just the right amount of sweetness to make for a really pleasant blend. All mixed together, it seemed to take on a bit of a cocoa powder note as well.

On my first sip, the first thing I noticed is that, while this is not a thick, oily, complex whiskey, the flavors that are there are not only very noticeable, but they all seem to work really well with one another. Right away I got notes of almond, cinnamon and brown sugar, giving the whiskey certain dessert-like qualities, while at the same time maintaining a certain amount of savoriness to give it balance.

Despite the sweetness up front, the cinnamon heat seemed to linger for quite a while, providing a nice warmth from the middle to the back that seemed to last for quite a while. It also coated the mouth quite nicely, and certainly more than I would have expected given the texture and the lack of any really noticeable "legs" on my glass.

I really loved the balance of this whiskey, as it had just the right amount of sweet with heat to give me the best of everything I love in bourbon. It even had a nice, light wood note, not enough to dry it out, but just enough to add another interesting twist to the profile.

On later pours I found myself noticing a lingering caramel note that stuck around in the back of my throat along with the cinnamon spice.  I also had a couple pours where the flavors up front melded together to provide a sweet amaretto flavor that I really enjoyed.

Regardless of what I noticed and what I didn't, what it comes down to is that this bourbon was surprisingly complex in flavor, and everything was incredibly well-balanced. This is one that, if I come across it again in the future, I'm going to be sure to grab to keep a bottle on hand. If it weren't for the fact that I can't seem to find it, this would probably be my every day pour!

Grade: A-

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