Saturday, July 25, 2020

Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve Bourbon - Batch No. 5

- $50
- 113.6 Proof
- Indiana

I've had this bottle for a couple years now. I grabbed it as soon as I had seen it on the shelves, having heard really good things about these Belle Meade Reserve bottles. So when I saw it, I grabbed it, and then never got around to opening it. Part of it is that down the road I also grabbed a later batch, Batch No. 23,that ended up getting opened first. 

But, when the shelter-in-place orders began and my office closed, I started doing Zoom happy hours with some work friends, and one of my buddies suggested that I crack this one open for the evening. Seemed like a pretty good suggestion. After all, I really liked the other bottle I had, and it wasn't as though I was saving this one for any special occasion.  So, nearly two years later, I finally got around to opening it up and tasting the whiskey inside.

The nose was full of the more traditional bourbon notes, with a bunch of caramel and a bit of cinnamon spice. It also had a nice layer of vanilla kind of underneath it all. Other notes came through as well, including a bit of a cherry note that at times leaned a bit brighter, like raspberry.  There was also a distinct cola note on the nose as well. All in all, it smelled delicious!

Much like the nose, the flavor was very caramel forward, and it still had that undercurrent of vanilla throughout.  The cinnamon spice that I was getting on the nose seemed to be absent, though, which I found a bit odd. It also had a decent amount of oak to it, making this a more wood-forward bourbon and telling me that it probably had some decent age to it, despite there being no indication of age on the bottle In fact, I got a bit of astringency on each sip, much like I've gotten from older bourbons.

I also got a light anise note, though a bit more than I would prefer. The cherry from the nose was also present, but it wasn't as bright. It was more like dried cherries, and it added a bit of tartness to the flavor. All that being said, though, the traditional bourbon notes carried this, as toffee and caramel seemed to be the most prominent flavors. At times I even got a bit of pecan that gave it a bit of a pecan pie flavor when paired with the caramel and toffee notes.

In the end, I think I liked the later batch better than this one. Don't get me wrong, this one was really good, with a lot of bold, rich flavor and the right amount of heat. It just didn't come across as complex or as interesting, and I was never able to decide if I liked that tart cherry flavor. Nonetheless, should I come across any more of these sitting on liquor store shelves, I won't hesitate to pick them up.

Grade: B+

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