Tag Archives: BT Mash #1

Charter 101 Bourbon – Review

Old Charter 101 Background

Charter 101
Charter 101

Charter 101 comes from Buffalo Trace Distillery as part of their #1 low rye mash recipe. The Old Charter brand has roots back to 1874, but in more recent history the it was a part of the United Distiller (later reorganized as Diageo) portfolio until the 80’s From there it was sold to Buffalo Trace parent Sazerac.

Old Charter had an 8 year and 10 year expressions, but the 10 year is gone and the 8 year lost its age statement. Old Charter 8 is still available at 80-proof, but the 8 is just a number on the bottle to make loyal customers feel warm and fuzzy. Like the new Old Charter 8, Charter 101 also lacks an age statement.

Details

Bottled at 101-proof.  No age statement. Buffalo Trace #1 mash of less than 10% rye. MSRP – $27.99 (2016 Price)
 

Aroma

Caramel, honey, fruity. Light char. Vanilla. Roasted corn. Grainy, kind of barn yard straw.
 

Flavor

Light, sweet. Pleasant oak char then sawdust. Corn comes through. Fruity with the edge of solvent. Medium-low astringency in the finish with slight bitterness.

Overall

I don’t know the age on Charter 101, and I don’t want to assume based on price, but I’m thinking this is a younger Bourbon. In Charter 101 I’m getting the heavier corn and sawdust flavors that to me age out with more time in the barrel. Not quite my preference, but this is still some pretty easy drinking stuff. Given the 101-proof and reasonable price it certainly is a fine candidate as a mixer.

I get what I think of as Buffalo Trace signatures of fruity with the edge of acetone. Also not much in the way of rye that jives with their low-rye #1 mash recipe. Buffalo Trace Bourbon I think matches up well and tasting these side by side the resemblances are apparent. While actually not generally my preference, I like Buffalo Trace better as it seems a more mature Bourbon for my tastes. Although, it’s about $10 or so more expensive, so there’s that.

To sum it up, Charter 101 is a good Straight Bourbon that might be on the younger side, but carries a nice punch of a proof and an attractive price. It’s not my choice for sipping, but you could do a lot worse. Charter 101 seems a quality budget bottle to keep around for mixers.

Recommendation

Try a Glass – 2.0 out of 5.0 Rating
 
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Charter 101 is a low rye Bourbon, which is a little unique in my classifications. In this price range, you could check out the mentioned sibling Old Charter 8 and Buffalo Trace. Both have the same Buffalo Trace mash recipe. From there, a little high rye recipe could be Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star, Wild Turkey 101, and Old Forester.

Links & Other Reviews

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof – Review

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof Background

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof
Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof is the big brother in the new-ish Taylor Jr line from Buffalo Trace. Current Bourbon releases also include Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch and Colonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel. There’s also a Colonel EH Taylor Jr Rye out there.

There have been three releases of Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof and I’m looking at the last two.

  • Batch 1 – 134.5-proof (67.25%)
  • Batch 2 – 135.4-proof (67.7%)
  • Batch 3 – 129.0-proof (64.5%)
  • Batch 4 – 127.2-proof (63.6%)

I never got a chance to try the first release, but I’ve had plenty of time with the second and have been getting acquainted with the third. There are some differences between the releases, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

So, the idea is we’ve got a barrel proof version of Buffalo Trace’s low rye #1 mash. This should make Bourbon nerds think about George T Stagg, which is also a barrel-proof Bourbon from that recipe. The big difference is Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof is aged likely around 7-8 years while George T Stagg is about double that, typically. We also have Stagg Jr, which promises to be a younger version of the granddaddy GTS, but if you were to ask me, I’d call Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof more of a true “Stagg Jr,” but lets save that comparison for the review.

Details

Bottled at 129.0-proof.  No age statement. Buffalo Trace #1 mash of less than 10% rye. $69.99 (2016 MSRP)

Aroma

Dark fruits, raisin bread, some grapes. Vanilla. Burnt sugars. Charred Oak. Trace of coffee. A little perfume. Add some water: Fruit turns more to pears, apples, cherries. Now getting baking spices of Cinnamon and cloves. Brown sugar. Vanilla seems stronger.

Flavor

Roasted coffee, charred oak, toffee, burnt sugars. Overwhelming at full strength. A little water brings out a bunch of caramel and more sweetness. Finish has wood and some astringency.

Overall

I hate to sound like a hipster and claim the older version of Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof is better, but I do like the second release more than the third. I enjoy both of these releases, especially with a splash of water, but the second release more so. I think the difference is enough to affect my rating, but only in the sense of it’s worth buying, but not worth stocking the bunker.

As far as George T Stagg, there is no comparison, in my opinion, but if you dig Stagg, Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof arguably could be the next best thing. It lacks the complexity and robustness of Stagg, but to me it’s much more enjoyable than Stagg Jr. Retail pricing is only about $10 less than Stagg, which is kind of funny, but the big difference is you actually have a relatively decent chance of finding Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof sitting on a shelf.

On the flip site, another way of looking at Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof could basically be a barrel proof version of Buffalo Trace, which also is #1 Buffalo Trace mash. I’m not sure I’d agree with that, although the resembles is there when adding enough water. Even if the years in barrels are close, I think Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof is aged better than Buffalo Trace, thus worthy a premium.

I enjoy barrel proof Bourbons and this is a good one to have on hand. A little water I think really makes Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof sing.  If you can find some of the second release, I’d say grab that one, but the third release is just fine. If the third release matched up for me like the second, I’d be probably gushing more in this review. I’ll be curious to see what next year brings.

I’ve seen pricing get up to $100+, which is getting to be a questionable value, in my opinion. If you can find it for a little closer to retail, I think it’s a good buy. Compare that to other Barrel Proof offerings from Heaven Hill, Marker’s Mark, and Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace itself, Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof retail is about ball park, I think.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 /5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

I’m going to stack this up against other barrel/high-proof Bourbon near in price. Four Roses Private Barrel is a great deal, I think, and worth considering for a few dollars less. Also, the new Marker’s Mark Cask Strength is about the same price retail for equal volumes. Booker’s is another option for less, sometimes a lot less, depending on your local pricing. Then we have Stagg Jr, which I’m not a huge fan, but does fit in well price-wise and comparable in flavor. Lastly there’s Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, of which I’m a fan.

Links & Other Reviews

George T Stagg 2014 – Review

George T Stagg Background

George T Stagg 2014
George T Stagg

George T Stagg is of course the flagship release in the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. It’s pretty much right up there with the Pappy Van Winkle line in sought after bottles.

George T Stagg for 2014 comes to us from a long slumber in Buffalo Trace’s Warehouses C, H, I, K, L, P, and Q. So, a wide variety of barrels, although still very constrained number of bottles. The good news, however, is starting with this year’s release there should be more bottles to go around as Buffalo Trace ramped up production of George T Stagg starting in 1997. Of course, demand is disproportionately higher, so it’s likely still a net negative. This batch was distilled in the spring of 1998, which makes it officially 16 years old, but at least 17 summers old.

Details

16 Years Old. 69.05%. Buffalo Trace #1 Mash of less than 10% rye. 

Aroma

Dark fruits of raisin and figs. Old wood, wood polish. A little musty. Dark caramel. Deep, dark, and old. A little water brings out more lighter fruits and spices.

Flavor

Lots of sweetness and alcohol heat up front. Fruity. Thick syrupy. Resiny wood and tannins make for a nice thick mouthfeel. Char lingers in the finish. With a little water I get a bunch more caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon spice up front that the heat may have been hiding along with chocolate and coffee. Still has some heat.

Overall

So, I have no idea why I’m posting this review. Odds are if you’re interested in George T Stagg, you either will buy it on sight or can’t find it. What I may say here probably won’t persuade you and certainly won’t change your chances. But hey, I managed to get a bottle, so lets have some fun.

This is my first go around with George T Stagg. I never got a bottle before, so I don’t have much frame of reference to previous releases. I do know some old Bourbon and barrel proof, so we’ll go from there. George T Stagg is a flavor bomb. It’s big, old, and packs a punch. After a respectable pour uncut from the bottle it probably doesn’t much matter what you drink afterwords. Adding some water brings out a lot more nuanced flavors pulled from at least 16 years in the barrel and dials down the heat.

The downside on George T Stagg is it is an old Bourbon, which may not be everyone’s thing. It’s heavy on barrel character and has some dullness compared to more lively younger Bourbons. Personally I prefer Bourbons in the more conventional 8-11 year, depending how they’re aged. Still, a nice old Bourbon is quite enjoyable as a change of pace and special occasions. It also has some fire with its high proof, but a sensible person can solve that with a splash of water. It’s not the most delicate and nuanced pour out there, but it’s a treat that doesn’t come around often.

I don’t know if George T Stagg is the best thing ever, but it’s very nice, very interesting, and a fun pour.  Considering how rare this is, given the opportunity, my hoarder instincts would push me to buy as much as I could at a relatively reasonable price. If this was plentiful, however, I think I would be content with this bottle and just replace it when it was eventually gone. I don’t see it as a frequent pour, nor something to stock up just in case the world ends. That’s based on price and characteristics of age. I do love barrel proof Bourbons, however, so I’m down with that bold power.

So if you can find George T Stagg anywhere near list price you must buy a bottle. I only ask you actually drink it. In fact, drink it with friends. If you can’t find George T Stagg, there’s a lot of great stuff out there right now on shelves.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Links & Other Reviews

 

Stagg Jr Batch 1 & Batch 2 – Review

Stagg Jr Background

Stagg-Jr-Batch-1-Batch-2George T Stagg bourbon needs no introduction. It’s a part of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and arguably the king of the bunch. Since the first released in 2002 the series has been going strong. So strong, Buffalo Trace geared up to launch a Stagg Jr companion product that last August came to age and hit shelves.

Stagg Jr is touted as a younger version of George T Stagg. Where George T Stagg is aged 15-16 years, the new Stagg Jr is aged 8-9 years, typical of many of the Bourbons reviewed here. Time does wonders to higher proof Bourbon, so the big question is whether all things equal, assuming that’s the case here, how will a younger Stagg be?

Stagg Jr is planned to be released “several” times a year. Just recently the second batch hit the market, which seems on pace for 2 batches in the first year. The first batch came in at a stout 134.4-proof. The second batch is a tamer 128.7-proof. For this review I tasted these side by side cut with water down to 110-proof. For the heck of it, I also poured a similarly cut 110-proof glass of Colonel  EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof, which uses the same Buffalo Trace #1 mash. I don’t know the age of the CEHT-BP, but I assume it’s older.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 134.4 & 128.7-Proof. Buffalo Trace #1 Mash of less than 10% rye. Paid $50 each.

Aroma

Batch 1: Roasted, caramel, cocoa, nail polish remover, brown sugar. Slightly fruity solvents kind of dominate over the rest of the subtle stuff.

Batch 2: Vanilla, caramel, roasted, raisins. Cinnamon. Some oak. Some fruitiness.

Flavor

Batch 1: Ample black pepper, cherry, red hot cinnamon. Brown sugar. Spicy alcohol. Solvents. Hot alcohol. Roasted.  Leather, tobacco. Charred oak. Finish is a little astringent and a bit acrid-bitterness. Burn hangs on.

Batch 2:  Sweet, toffee, caramel. Cherry syrup. Hot cinnamon. Some cocoa. Black pepper. Roasted. Charred oak. Still hot, but not brutal.

Overall

Definitely similar, but the second batch to me is much better. Sweeter and more caramel-toffee. Much more enjoyable in my book. Some people say a bottle changes for the better after it’s been opened, and I’ve been sampling the first batch for three months. I haven’t seen any improvements for the better.

I think Stagg Jr caught a lot of flack because it got hyped it up as an alternative to George T Stagg, and when it disappointed, it kind of bombed. Putting Stagg on the bottle really drove up expectations and the product simply didn’t deliver. I don’t think it’s horrible, but I find it needs a lot of water to ease up the harsh edges. At that point I might as well just grab a bottle of Buffalo Trace.

The second batch is a different story. This is one is much more enjoyable both out of the bottle and cut to the a lower proof. For $50 or so, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable buy, but I could probably come up with a list of other things to do with $50. Specifically I think Stagg Jr is no comparison to the similarly priced Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof.

When comparing these to Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof there too is no comparison. While the Taylor Jr bottle is significantly more expensive, usually $80-$100, I really like. If I had to choose between Stagg Jr and drinking less CEHT-BP, I’d go with a pour of Taylor Jr and drink water the rest of the night. I’ve yet to post my review Colonel  EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof, but spoiler: it’s going to get my top rating. So, that’s curious here because it’s the same recipe, although I assume Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof is a bit older and perhaps that’s what makes all the difference. It might be interesting to see if Buffalo Trace can hold Stagg Jr back a couple more years and see what happens. Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been many releases so far? Or perhaps the second batch just gives us an indication Stagg Jr is still searching for its groove.

Recommendation

Batch #1 – Pass – 1.5/5.0 Rating
Batch #2 – Try a Glass – 2.5/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

First off, I’d recommending passing on a first batch bottle if you come across it. If you want to try Stagg Jr, keep looking for the second batch. After that, as a high-proof/barrel proof bourbon in this price range, the mentioned Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof is a home run. Knob Creek Single Barrel is another option, as is Booker’s. Another good option is tracking down a store selection barrel proof Four Roses Single Barrel.

Links & Other Reviews

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch – Review

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch Background

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small BatchColonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch is second review from the Colonel EH Taylor Jr lineup. I previously reviewed Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel ProofColonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel and this is a similar expression of that except vatted from multiple barrels. Like the Single Barrel, this is Bottled in Bond meaning the whiskey is distilled from one plant during one season and aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years. Taylor was an advocate of government regulations on Bourbon and he is credited in helping to make the Bottled in Bond Act law in 1897. Taylor was also a pioneer in raising quality and standards for Bourbon, which makes sense why he pushed to establish quality standards in law.

This line is bottled by Buffalo Trace and the connection here is Taylor received financing from George T Stagg. Taylor fell in financial problems and Stagg foreclosed on his the O.F.C. Distillery. The properties would later become a part of today’s Buffalo Trace and the company is commemorating Taylor with this line of Bourbons.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Buffalo Trace’s #1 Mash of about less than 10% rye. MSRP – $39.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Vanilla. Caramel. Green apples. Smells fruity, sweet, with a little wood.

Flavor

Oak barreled Apple cider, Sweet. Buttery. Caramel and vanilla comes through well. Some hot cinnamon and toffee, and burnt sugars in there. A little tartness in the finish with some drying astringency. Some water bring out more sweetness and cools off the hot cinnamon and spice.

Overall

I’m enjoying this bottle of Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch, although I get a touch of nail polish remover that’s keeping me from really liking it. Like a lot of Buffalo Trace offerings, this is fruity with nice sweetness and typical bourbon caramel and vanilla characteristics. This has some nice complexity and a pleasant drinking low-rye Bourbon. Also, like the entire Colonel EH Taylor Jr line, this bottle comes with a very nice tube container giving it a classy touch.

The big question to me how Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch stacks up against Colonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel? I find my bottles to be pretty similar. Small Batch seems a little sweeter while Single Barrel to me is a little better mouthfeel and a little more of that hot cinnamon. I prefer the Single Barrel, but I don’t think it’s worth an extra $20. Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch is I think the best value. I’ll probably keep this one around.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

This is a low rye bourbon and it’s fairly unique category. Some similar alternatives in this price range would be Eagle Rare 10. It has the same mash bill as Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch. As mentioned you could try the Colonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel for a chunk of change more, but I’d suggest starting out here. Elmer T Lee is a higher rye recipe, but similar I think. As is Bowman Brothers Small Batch and Russell’s Reserve 10. Those are some options that should help you out if you’re looking to do some alternatives to Colonel EH Taylor Jr Small Batch.

Links & Other Reviews