Monday, October 30, 2023

E.H. Taylor Binny's Single Barrel Select Barrel #008 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $70
- 100 Proof
- Barrel #008
- Kentucky

Obviously everyone seems to go nuts over Buffalo Trace products, whether that be Weller, Blanton's or E.H. Taylor. I've certainly seen my fair share of customers at my local Binny's willing to climb over people to get their hands on a regular E.H. Taylor Single Barrel.  And I have always been quick to point out to anyone asking (nobody's asking) that there are plenty of great bourbons sitting on the shelf, often at cheaper prices, that are just as good or better, so no need for the histrionics!

That said, when I was given the chance to buy one of their store picks last year, I couldn't help but say, "Yes, please!"  Even though it's not bottled at barrel strength, it's been my experience that every private pick of EHT I've tried has been fantastic (something I can't say about the other products in the Buffalo Trace private barrel program). So, while I wasn't willing to kill my mother for one, I was nonetheless grateful for the opportunity. 

The nose on this one was delicious, the kind of bourbon I want to make a candle out of. I got notes of vanilla and cinnamon spice, all layered over a rich and sweet dark toffee note. It also had a black pepper spice to counter any sweetness and tickle the nose a bit. It really was almost the ideal aroma if you were to ask me what a bourbon should smell like.

Much like the nose, when I took my first sip I was hit right up front with a healthy dose of vanilla. Surprisingly, though, that was accompanied by a great, sweet oak note, like a bourbon with decent age, but not too much age. It also had the sweet caramel notes, though not quite as rich as the toffee note I got on the nose, along with some delicious chocolate notes. 

It had something more to it, kind of a tangy, nutty quality. It was kind of like almond extract, but not as overpowering. It also reminded me at times of candied pecans. Either way, it was delicious and seemed to mix right in with the caramel, vanilla and chocolate notes to create this rich, sweet, dessert-like flavor that I couldn't get enough of. 

The finish seemed to really tie a bow on just how good this bourbon was. In addition to everything else, I was left with a rich cherry note that seemed to bring everything together into this cherry pie note that had me wishing with each sip that I had another bottle of this in reserve.

This was one of my favorite bourbons I've had in quite a while, and I don't feel like I've been drinking bad whiskey, so that's saying something! I milked this bottle for a while before finishing it, so it's not likely to be found sitting in any stores anywhere, but if you do get a chance, drink it!

Grade: A

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Straight Rye Whiskey

- $23
- 99 Proof
- 2 Years
- Kentucky

While I do enjoy picking up many of the nice bottles that I've been fortunate enough to try and review on this blog, I do still make an effort to buy whiskeys I've never tried. That's particularly the case when it comes to new labels hitting the market.  Especially those that go straight to the shelf and aren't allocated or limited or somehow treated as "special."

So, when I saw a new Ezra Brooks product in the rye section, it caught my eye as something I hadn't seen before. Of course, it has the obligatory green label that all ryes apparently must have. But otherwise it looks a lot like the Ezra Brooks bourbons, and I've had some decent bottles of that, at least with respect to store picks. So I decided to give this one a go, even if it is only 2 years and is MGP rye bottled for Lux Row.  At least the price was nice.

The nose came across as soft and subtle or delicate, rather than punchy like so many other ryes, particularly young ones. It had a light cinnamon note to it, but also a grain forward or cereal note to it. It was kind of like toasted Cheerios.  There was a light sweetness to it, but no discernable spiciness on the nose, which had me hoping for better on the palate.

When I took my first sip, the first thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly syrupy, both in flavor and texture. It had a distinct sweetness that leaned a bit towards maple syrup. However, it did have some spice to it, with a touch of clove and even a slight anise note. It had the sharp notes of youth to it, though, with something biting and offensive lingering in the background.

The sweetness seemed to start to take on more of a brown sugar note, reminding me of chocolate chip cookies, but without the chocolate chips. At times it was more of a molasses note, and it came across as a bit resinous, particularly with the hint of pine that came from the rye.

It was that piney, resiny, molasses note that seemed to linger. It wasn't very sweet nor was it very spicy on the finish, and this is really where this whiskey lost me. It really fell flat at the end, leaving me with the sense that perhaps I had licked the bottom of a boot rather than just finished a sip of whiskey.  I didn't have super high expectations with this one, but I don't think I'll be reaching out for it again, at least not until Lux Row and MGP put some age on it.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

- $90
- 100 Proof
- 10 Years
- Barrel N. 5651821
- Kentucky

This is a bit of a re-visit to this bottle.  I was given the chance to grab a bottle of Rebel 10 years, and I knew that it had been some time since I last had it. Additionally, this bottle was being sold to me in the year 2023, yet it had a fill date of 2009. So, while I was never able to confirm the age, I had a pretty good feeling that what was in the bottle was actually a couple years older than the 10 year age statement on the label.

Additionally, I went back and realized that the last time I had a bottle of Rebel 10 Year was in 2016, when it first came out under the name "Rebel Yell"! I had no clue that it had been that long, so even for that reason alone it was worth the re-visit. That's not to mention that it's a single barrel product, giving me all the more reason to try it once again and put my thoughts to paper. 

The nose was full of rich, sweet notes, like dark chocolate mixed with cinnamon. It even had a bit of an espresso note to it as well, but more so in flavor. It didn't seem to have bitterness that comes with dark chocolate or coffee.  There was also a good brown sugar note, and in a way it smelled a bit like chocolate chip cookies.

The flavor was a bit of a different profile. Right up front I got some sweet oak notes (again, none of the bitterness you so often get with oak notes), as well as a good amount of sweet vanilla bean. It definitely leaned toward the sweeter end of the spectrum right away.  

In fact, at one point I was even getting caramel popcorn notes. Now, it wasn't quite that sweet. My teeth weren't sticking together or immediately developing cavities or anything like that. But that was the kind of sweetness that it had to it. The oak and vanilla definitely gave way to a prominent caramel note, that verry much carried forward from that point.

The finish, however, brought me right back to the nose. That's where the chocolate notes came in, though perhaps more on the milk chocolate end. It's also where the brown sugar and cookie notes came through as well.  

The only thing really missing from this was a spicy note to help balance out all the sweet notes. But other than that, this was a delicious bourbon, one that I've clearly been sleeping on!  And I still find myself giving it the same grade I gave it 7 years ago, which is saying something for the product's consistency!

Grade: A-