Sunday, November 26, 2023

Hardin's Creek Jacob's Well Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $150
- 108 Proof
- 15 yrs., 4 mos.
- Kentucky

This was an interesting release by Jim Beam.  They announced this release of a 108 proof bourbon aged for over 15 years, priced at around $150.00.  Yet, at the same time they also announced the release of a 2 year bourbon priced around $80.00.  The at 2 year bourbon seemed not only an odd choice at a terrible price, but I think it may have taken some of the shine off of what would otherwise have been a pretty well-anticipated release of the 15 year.

But, I'm a sucker for well-aged Beam products. I'm happy to purchase anything 10 years or older from Beam, and when we get to 15+ years, I'm all over it. So, while the price was a bit steep, I nonetheless made it a point to grab a bottle, knowing full well I was more than likely going to really enjoy it.  And of course I completely ignored the 2 year release (as apparently most everyone else did considering I now see it on clearance shelves in stores).

The nose on this bourbon was one of the best that I could remember. It was cherry cola with chocolate, like an old timey fountain soda. It also had the sweet and rich toffee notes that make bourbon so great, and it all came together as this sweet, rich, dessert-like aroma that had me immediately salivating.

Interestingly, and right in line with that fountain soda note, the first note I got off the tip of my tongue was a sweet and spicy root beer note. That was a delicious surprise. Immediately behind that, though, were those rich toffee notes that I was expected, as well as a great nougat note that provided a softer, yet still delicious note to balance out those toffee and root beer notes. 

Adding to its dimensions, I also got a great cherry cola note. And I'm not talking like a cherry Coke that you grab off the shelf. I'm talking again like a fountain soda, with maraschino cherry, rich and sweet and full in cherry flavor. There was also a slight citrus orange note, though that was more in the background than anything, and that cherry cola note really took center stage.

On the finish, in addition to the cherry cola notes that lingered forever, a rich dark chocolate note came through, only adding to the incredible flavor of this bourbon from front to back. While it didn't come across as very spicy, it nonetheless was sweet and rich and delicious without ever going to far. I'm sure the age and time spent with the oak had something to do with that.

This was definitely the biggest surprise from last year for me. I paid a decent price. I knew it would be good. I had no idea I would love this as much as I did! I had some great whiskeys last year, and this might have been my favorite!

Grade: A+

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Blaum Bros. Old Fangled Knotter Bourbon Cask Strength Straight Bourbon - Batch 9

- $80
- 105.7 Proof
- 12 Years
- Batch 9
- Indiana

This is one of those products that has come and gone, but while it was here, it was amazing! It was one of those whiskeys where people didn't realize what they had at first, and then when people started drinking these bottles, suddenly they were flying off the shelves. And for good reason! I've had the benefit of trying multiple batches, and every one of them has been absolutely amazing.

So, I guess it's no surprise that I milked the last bit of this bottle for quite some time. I didn't want to let it go. This is one of those where once it's gone, it's gone for good. I'm sure a bottle could be found on secondary, but not for any price that I'm willing to pay. So, this post is very much a goodbye to one of my favorite bottles.

This bottle really hit all the highlights of MGP goodness. Right up front I got rich, sweet notes of caramel and chocolate. It had a bit of cinnamon spice to it as well, along with a sort of sweet crackery note, like pretzels coated in milk chocolate. There was also a nutty note, kind of like sweet pecans.

As to flavor, this was a cinnamon and toffee bomb! It was full of that rich, dark caramelized sugar flavor, balanced out, particularly at the end, by a great cinnamon spice to counter the rich sweetness. This bourbon absolutely packed a punch of flavor right up front that never seemed to let up through the finish.

In addition to the huge toffee note, I also got that pecan note I got on the nose. Not surprisingly, it was like candied pecans, with a good amount of sweetness to balance out the earthy, nutty notes. But it was absolutely delicious. At one point I also got a distinct amaretto note, and even a light cherry note.

On the finish, a light black pepper spice came through, working well with the rich toffee notes. It added just a little bit of heat to not only counter the sweet notes, but to make me dive back into my glass for the next sip. The amaretto seemed to really come through on the finish as well, and lingered for a long time as the great, oily texture of this bourbon really coated my mouth. 

As I mentioned, this bourbon really showcased everything I love about MGP whiskey. It was a prime example. I sat on this bottle for four years before finishing it, and now as I write this, I see why. I'll never get a bottle like this again at that price, and now that it's gone, it's gone for good.

Grade: A+

Friday, November 17, 2023

Jack Daniel's Bonded Rye Tennessee Rye Whiskey

- $36
- 100 Proof
- 4 years
- Tennessee

I love finding good, available shelfies.  And by available, I mean not only easy to find, but easily accessible from a price standpoint!  When Jack Daniel's released their bonded Tennessee whiskey along with their triple mash -- two new offerings at the time for approximately $25 each -- I jumped at the chance to try them. And, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I really liked them!

I didn't even know that Jack Daniel's was then planning to release a bonded rye. In fact, I didn't even know it was a thing until I saw it sitting on the shelf, and I had to do a double-take. It was a bit more than the Tennessee offerings were, but I still couldn't really question a bonded Tennessee rye whiskey from Jack Daniel's for only $36.00.  And who knows, maybe I would find myself a new go-to rye, along the lines of Rittenhouse.

The nose had all of those hallmarks of a good, punchy rye whiskey. Right up front I got woody notes of oak along with a healthy pine scent. There was a bit of cinnamon spice to tickle the nose, along with a rich, brown sugar sweetness. There was no questioning that it was a rye.

The flavor was a bit softer than I expected, but it did carry a good amount of spice. I got black pepper and cinnamon, both right up front and through to the finish. In fact, this was fairly cinnamon-forward. I also got more oak than I ever would have expected, given that this is likely not much older than the 4 years required under the Bottled in Bond Act.

While the pine was strong on the nose, it really took a back seat as to flavor. It was the cinnamon that really came forward, as well as a distinct dark cherry note. It wasn't bright, but was certainly rich, kind of like a Maraschino without the syrupy sweetness.

On the finish, that cherry note carried through, and I was left with a spiced cherry flavor that lingered for a lot longer than I had expected, especially given how soft the flavor was up front.

At $36, while there certainly are still cheaper options, there aren't that many, and this is a very good one. I will definitely be grabbing another one of these at some point just to have on my shelf.

Grade: B+