When The Walking Dead Bourbon arrived in NC it was $35 and just a bit more than I was willing to spend for an unknown bottle of Bourbon. While traveling I happened upon it in another state for $25 and at that price I was more than willing to risk it. I noticed some unflattering comments so I decided to tread with caution when in reality I should have thrown caution to the wind. This turned out to actually be a nice drop. The aroma was leather, brown sugar, pepper spice, caramel, and hints of alcohol. The flavor was deceptively smooth with dark cherries, brown sugar, caramel, more pepper spice, and pleasant warming alcohol into the aftertaste. The finish is cherries and prunes with brown sugar and alcohol fading into the finality of the finish. The rumor is this is Heaven Hill juice and at 47% ABV it doesn’t disappoint. If you are a fan of any of the three shows and Bourbon you must have a bottle of this at the ready. TWD returns in February so find one to enjoy while you watch the final season.
After seeing several rave reviews from others I picked up a bottle of Knob Creek 12 Year. I don’t recall the price of admission, but I think it’s typically around 60 beans. This Knob Creek variant is 100 proof which falls exactly where I typically prefer my Bourbons to be for optimal consumption neat. The nose is lightly floral with brown sugar and leather complimented by oaky char and wafts of alcohol. The flavor was more leather and oak with brown sugar and low warming alcohol. The pepper spice background lasts long into the aftertaste with hints of cinnamon and anise. The finality of the aftertaste is lingering pepper, brown sugar, and alcohol. While I enjoyed this Bourbon, it didn’t blow my socks off. If I paid full boat then I would have thought I paid too much as there are more complex bottles at the same price point or less. If you are a KC fan then give it a whirl, otherwise save the coin for another bottle.
NCABC decided to put Wild Turkey Rye on sale for 20 beans so I figured why not give it a whirl. I’d heard good things so I figured an 81 proof rye might be just what the doctor ordered. I was all set to have a wonderful rye experience when I brought the glass to my nose and was immediately struck by a huge fruity aromatic. This really was unexpected as rye was what I thought would be most prominent. Instead a nose of mango and papaya was most notable. This was followed by low wafts of alcohol and pepper spice. I thought maybe this was a fluke, but the next time I poured a glass I got the same thing. Even now as the bottle nears completion that’s the main aroma. The flavor was not nearly as fruity, but still had fruit aspects of mango. There was a low peppery rye spice, a light brown sugar, a bit of a corn syrup flavor, and a final impression of low alcohol and sweetness. Finding much rye at all in this was difficult. For me this is a drinkable bottle, but not much of a rye. Unless you like a fruity whiskey you might want to pass on this one.
Not long ago NCABC had a sale on Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof so I snagged a bottle. With a price of admission of 30 beans and a 100 proof alcohol level it should have been a slam dunk. I opened the bottle thinking the skies would part and the sun would shine bright upon my glass of heaven. Unfortunately that was where it ended. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this Bourbon, but it’s kinda boring. I like a little complexity when I leave the bottom shelf. Anyway, the aroma presents with brown sugar and sherry and a waft of alcohol along with some oak and leather. The flavor is rather weak with more brown sugar and sherry and a bit of leather. The finish is warming with alcohol and lasting sherry pleasantly fading into the aftertaste. While the Bourbon is good, it just isn’t complex enough to command a price point above 30 bucks and so it’s one and done for me. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself as palates tend to differ.
Received a bottle of Legent from a friend without much knowledge about it before it made it to the house. It’s a 47% abv/94 proof Bourbon which is finished in wine and sherry casks. Typically the price point is $35-40 and reviews seem to be mixed. I decided to ignore the reviews and I’m really glad I did. It’s a nice drop with an aroma filled with sherry, oak, brown sugar, plum notes, leather, and light peppery spice. The flavor is smooth with a brown sugar, oak, sherry, pepper, leather, and more nice plum character coupled to enough alcohol to remind you this is a Bourbon. The finish is quite nice with lasting plum and sherry with an underlying alcohol warmth long and pleasant into the aftertaste. If you check out the website it goes into the Bourbon being a collaboration of American and Japanese whisky makers. Whomever takes credit for this should be proud. If you haven’t had Legent then go get some immediately. If you have then pick up another bottle and hit it again, especially at a 35 bean price of admission. It’s legit!
Not sure why I haven’t posted about Knob Creek Rye in the past, but I snagged a bottle the last time it went on sale at NCABC. The price of admission at the time was $32, but it can often be found for a few dollars less. This is a 100 proof rye which is an alcohol level I prefer, not too hot, not too mild. The aroma has what you want out of a rye and is filled with rye spice, brown sugar, and light black pepper coupled to a very nice oak presence. The flavor is similar, but contains a syrupy peach not, more rye spice, light pepper, and oak. The finish lasts very nice with peaches and rye fading slowing into the aftertaste. The alcohol is restrained from start to finish with only a mild warming post consumption. This is a very nice rye and should be one to keep in the bar. There are rye whiskeys which are more complex and with a higher price point and those destined for mixing at a lower price point. This one exists right in the middle. If you haven’t had it, pick up a bottle and give it a whirl.
The first time I heard about Oban Little Bay was when a person from NC was complaining their local ABC would not bring the bottle. They would only get it if he agreed to purchase a case. Fast forward a few years and now Little Bay can be found in many ABC store, but the price of admission is $78. At that price I was not willing to give it a whirl. Somewhere along the way I happened upon a bottle for around $40 so I knew I had to bring it home. At 86 proof (43% abv) this is a restrained bottle of Scotch. The aroma presents with chocolate, candy, light citrus, spice, leather, and oak. The flavor also has chocolate, citrus, light smoke, leather, oak, spice, and breadcrust. The finish fades into light alcohol with light chocolate and leather with subtle sweetness long and pleasantly into the aftertaste. At $40 this is a no brainer. At NCABC prices it is a maybe. It’s a very nice bottle with good complexity, but by the time I get to 80 beans it’s time to take off the training wheels. This could use a boost in complexity to draw those dollars out of my wallet. If you find it at a midpoint price I’d say snag it, it is quite tasty!
I happened upon a bottle of Hatozaki Small Batch at Costco with a sub $30 price point so I figured why not. Imagine my shock when it showed up on NC at $60 per bottle. The alcohol level is 46%. Anyway, knowing this was a Japanese Whiskey I expected it to be very similar to a Speyside Scotch and it was. Unfortunately it was more like a little brother than a twin. The aroma presented as floral and fruity with peaches (think canned peaches), slight oak, hint of sherry, and a light bit of citrus coupled to restrained alcohol. The flavor was similar with slightly sweet peaches, light pepper spice, low oak, hints of leather, and a mild presence of alcohol. The finish was peaches, pepper spice, and light alcohol fading into the aftertaste. The bottle is tasty, but a bit boring and lacking in complexity. At the $30 I paid my thought was I would not want to pay more for this level of complexity. At $60 I would be upset at the price of admission. So if you want to give this one a whirl I suggest you check to see if your Costco might have a deal. Otherwise I don’t think I’d spend the money for this level of complexity.
It took quite some time to locate a bottle of Knob Creek Quarter Oak after it was released. I had seen it on the shelf and neglected to purchase a bottle. The next time I checked it was sold out. Eventually I happened upon a bottle and so I knew it was time to bring it home. The Bourbon is created by taking four year old juice which had been aged in 13 gallon quarter casks and blending with standard KC juice. The result is supposedly a Bourbon with more oak due to the reduced size of the cask. At 100 proof this limited release Bourbon isn’t a high proof and with a price point of 50 beans it isn’t going to break the bank. Many had raved about how good Quarter Oak was so I had high expectations when I poured a glass. The aroma was filled with honey, oak, and pepper spice coupled to brown sugar and cinnamon with a hint of leather. The flavor was pepper, cinnamon, oak, honey, brown sugar, and leather with the leather lasting far into the aftertaste. Also present at the end was oak and brown sugar with pepper and a lasting presence of alcohol. While certainly tasty, I was expecting more from this bottle. The price of admission was affordable, but at $15 more than standard KC, I might be inclined to just buy KC. If you can find a bottle, snag it and give it a whirl if you are a KC fan. Otherwise don’t get too broken up if you missed it.
Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is a Buffalo Trace product which hits the glass at 88.9 proof. Many say it is the same mash bill as Blanton’s, but actually better and for a lower price. Not sure what I paid, but it can often be located for $35-40 in some places. On the secondary market it can bring twice to three times that amount. The cork separated from the wood so I had to glue the cork back into place, but it did not affect the flavor of the Bourbon. At first I was slightly disappointed with the flavor, but over time it grew on me. The aroma was brown sugar, grapes, candy, slight spice, and low alcohol. The flavor was more brown sugar, cinnamon spice, grape, candy, and low alcohol. The aftertaste was lingering spice and brown sugar and a smooth alcohol presence. The complexity was lower than I would expect, but at the $35 price point just about right. If you happen upon a bottle at a reasonable price, pick it up. Otherwise no reason to go out of your way to try to locate.