Tag Archives: single barrel

Parker’s Heritage Collection: Promise of Hope – Review #50

Promise of Hope Background

Promise of HopePromise of Hope is Heaven Hill’s latest special release in the Parker’s Heritage Collection. The series is usually a little unique, but for its 7th Edition in 2013 we have a regular single barrel Bourbon. The series is named after Parker Beam, who has been at Heaven Hill for over 50 years. The release comes from 100 barrels from Parker’s preferred EE warehouse. This bottle represents Parker’s ideal expression of 10 year old Bourbon. Recently Parker Beam was diagnosed with ALS. The Promise of Hope release includes a $20 donation to a fund through the ALS Association

Details

10 Years old. Bottled at 48%. Mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $99

Aroma

Caramel, rich sweetness. Vanilla, some toffee and char. A little fruity. Smells pretty great.

Flavor

Nice richness. Char flavors along roasted coffee. Burnt sugars with caramel and nice vanilla. Sweetness and pleasant oak profile. Minty. Nice complexity with flavors and well put together.

Overall

Promise of Hope is a great example of a standard Bourbon. Lots of complexity and interesting things going on here with roasted flavors, balanced sweetness, and a little rye coming through. Promise of Hope is an interesting Bourbon to review. I really like this Bourbon, but similarities to other Heaven Hill Bourbons are apparent. Evan Williams Single Barrel and Henry McKenna Single Barrel stand up well to Promise of Hope. Both those bottles are also 10 years old and are great values and about 1/3 the cost. In a bubble, I would give Promise of Hope a very high rating, but I feel I can get pretty close to this profile with Evan Williams Single Barrel and Henry McKenna Single Barrel. If money was no object, I’d probably buy as much Promise of Hope as I could find, but since that’s not the case, I’ll be pretty happy with those two other Heaven Hill offerings. If you find a bottle out there, I think it’s worth picking up to check it out. If you enjoy those two Heaven Hill offerings, then I would think you would really like Promise of Hope. I really like it and if I find another bottle, I’ll probably grab it. If, however, you’re watching your booze budget and/or don’t feel like hunting for special bottles, one of those two other Heaven Hill products are great options.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 out of 5.0 (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

The mentioned McKenna Single Barrel and Evan Williams Single Barrel is the best here for alternatives. This is a special release, so it’s not easy or fair to compare it with others since Promise of Hope doesn’t have many peers.

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Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Review #46

Kentucky Spirit Background

Wild Turkey Kentucky SpiritWild Turkey Kentucky Spirit takes claim of the second modern single barrel Bourbon. Blanton’s is the first, although there were most likely earlier bottles from a single barrel. But for practical purposed within the realm of modern Bourbon as we know it, they’re #1 and #2.

Kentucky Spirit has the same bottling proof of Wild Turkey 101. The different would seem to be barrel selection and age. Wild Turkey 101 is a bottling of barrels blended together with ages of 6, 7 and 8 years old. Kentucky Spirit is a little older at 8-9.5 years old. And that barrel selection should be good as Master Distiller Jimmy Russell picks them out himself.

Wild Turkey line is unique with its robust flavors. Likely attributed to the lower entry proof going into the barrel. The lower proof means it’s less refined coming off the still, which means it carries more flavors from the mash and fermentation. Also lending to flavors is a heavy #4 alligator barrel char.

Details

8-9.5 Years Old. Bottled at 101-proof. Bottled on 6/14/13 from barrel #48 in Warehouse C on rick #66. Mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $48

Aroma

Caramel and cinnamon. Some cocoa. A little spearmint. Brown sugar. Oak.

Flavor

Sweetness, nice caramel cinnamon, and vanilla profile. Corn. Brown sugar. Burnt sugars. Graininess. Assertive charred oak  and a touch of astringency. Spicy and bold.

Overall

Distinctly wild turkey. This is a flavor bomb with assertive barrel flavors and lots of sweet caramel and vanilla. The burnt sugars I’m getting are a little harsh, I think. All these flavors hold up just fine to water and I think I like a dash in this one to dial down that heavy char. This is pretty flavorful.

Comparing this to Wild Turkey 101, I think Kentucky Spirit has more a pronounced caramel and vanilla profile. Also I’m getting more brown sugar. 101 seems a little more fruity to me and there might be a hint of acetone that’s absent in Kentucky Spirit in side-by-side. If I had to summarize the two, I’d say Kentucky Spirit is a bit more refined although packs more flavor on some levels. I’m going to give this the same rating as Wild Turkey 101. I like Kentucky Spirit better, but pricing difference is elevating Wild Turkey 101. If you like 101, Kentucky Spirit should make for a nice pour for a special occasion.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 out of 5.0

(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 standard rye Bourbon and you’ve got a number of other good options in this category and price tag. If you want to compare this to a few other bottles, I’d suggest checking out John J Bowman, Angel’s Envy, and Baker’s. Of course you can also check out the much cheaper Wild Turkey 101, which would probably be a good place to start.

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Henry McKenna Single Barrel – Review

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Background

Henry McKenna Single BarrelHenry McKenna was a Kentucky farmer who began making whiskey in 1855. He brought his recipe with him when he emigrated from Ireland and after his death his sons continued the family distillery. Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year Old is a tribute to Henry, but that is all. It’s made today by Heaven Hill as a bottled-in-bond product. In fact, Heaven Hill claims it’s the only “extra-aged” BIB single barrel Bourbon on the market. Bottled-in-bond means legally the Bourbon must come from a single distillery, in the same season, bottled at 100-proof, and aged in a federally supervised warehouse for at least four years.

This bottle here is actually the older design. The Bourbon itself is the same, but last year Heaven Hill updated the look of the packaging to be a little less arts and crafty. This is kind of weird look, but I suppose it might stand out on the shelf.  Either way, the new bottle looks like an improvement, but I won’t hold that against this whiskey.

Details

10 Years Old. Bottled at 100-proof. Mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $30

Aroma

Caramel. Toffee. Fruity. A little buttery and nutty. Smoky oak. Touch of perfume.

Flavor

Sweet and caramel. Cherry syrup. Vanilla, Roasted coffee. maple syrup, brown sugar.  Some hot cinnamon. Barrel char. Oak and astringency towards the finish. Nice flavors.

Overall

Henry McKenna Single Barrel is a nice flavorful Bourbon.  A lot of flavors here towards a rich sweet pour. It has nice barrel character that balances out the sweetness a bit, but still seems pretty sweet and refreshing. For me it’s also on the edge of some fruity fusel alcohol, but still good.

I compared Henry McKenna Single Barrel to Evan Williams Single Barrel, which seem pretty similar and both out of Heaven Hill. I think i prefer the Evan Williams 2003 better overall, but it’s close. Both are single barrel expressions and close to the same age, so I could see a little variation may flip the two. They’re both similarly priced, so I’d say just pick up which ever you can find or maybe one of each and just enjoy them both as they’re nice values. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced daily sipper, at 10 years old, 100 proof, and a single barrel bottle, Henry McKenna is a good bet.

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

We already covered Evan Williams Single Barrel. Some similar standard rye Bourbons around this price worth also checking out include Elijah Craig 12, Bowman Brothers, Russell’s Reserve 10, Elmer T Lee, Knob Creek Small Batch, and Woodford Reserve. As you can see there are a lot of options in this category near this price.

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John J Bowman Single Barrel – Review #37

John J Bowman Background

John J Bowman BottleJohn J Bowman Single Barrel is made at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. John J Bowman was a 1770’s Kentucky settler and patriarch of the Bowman lineage that started the distillery in northern Virginia. Abraham Smith Bowman is the great, great nephew of John Bowman and opened his distillery in 1933. He was a farmer and what as was typical he would distill excess crops into a more shelf stable and profitable product as whiskey. In 1988 A. Smith Bowman Distillery opened at its current location and taking on this name and legacy. They began distilling in 1991.

What’s interesting about A. Smith Bowman is while they distill, they don’t do their own mash. Sazerac is their parent company, which is also parent for Buffalo Trace. In some corporate synergy, A. Smith Bowman gets distillate from Buffalo Trace and distills it a third time. Then they barrel it and age it in Virginia. Also interesting is the two distilleries are about the same latitude, but Fredericksburg is on the other side of the Appalachia Mountains and closer to the east coast. It’s said they use the Buffalo Trace #2 mash, so it’s interesting to see differences with that extra distillation and aging locations.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery makes three different Bourbons. There’s the Bowman Brothers Small Batch, John J Bowman Single Barrel, and an annual special release Abraham Bowman.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 of about 13-15% Rye. Paid $49.

Aroma

Caramel. Some fruitiness of cherry, apple. Vanilla. Leather. Some nice charred oak.

Flavor

Buttery. Cherry syrup. Toffee and vanilla. Moderately rich sweetness with some charred oak. Cocoa. A little drying and mild spice in the finish. Water brings out more sweetness and a caramel, but this is nice right out of the bottle.

Overall

I’m impressed with both my bottles from A. Smith Bowman. They’re doing something right. John J Bowman is a pretty nice pour and I  thought Bowman Brothers was a particularly good deal. For me, John J Bowman is $20 more than Bowman Brothers and that might be a bit of a tough sell. That’s not a knock on John J Bowman, but just that Bowman Brothers might be under priced in my book. As I’m editing this I’m sipping on a glass debating the $20 thing. Yeah, I say it’s worth it.

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

John J Bowman is a standard bourbon with a moderate rye. In this price range some other standard Bourbons worth checking out include Baker’s, Angel Envy, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Dickel 9 Year Barrel Selection. A little higher on the price range worth checking out is Blanton’s. You also can’t lose with the mentioned Bowman Brothers Small Batch.

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Colonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel – Review #30

Background

Colonel EH Taylor Single Barrel BottleColonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel comes from the Buffalo Trace Distillery and is named after Bourbon legend Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Taylor operated his O.F C. Distillery in 1869 during the time of some questionable practices. Customers were getting swindled with inferior and doctored Bourbon. He lobbied successfully for the Bottled in Bond designation to ensure quality. His great uncle was Zachary Taylor and he was also related to James Madison, so he apparently had a political pedigree.

Bottled in Bond means the whiskey is distilled from one plant during one season and aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years. The whiskey also has to be bottled at 100-proof. In honor of this effort, the most of the Colonel EH Taylor Jr line is Bottled in Bond.

The O.F.C. Distillery was purchased by George T Stagg in 1878 and Buffalo Trace has commemorated this line of Bourbons to Taylor. The collection includes a Small Batch, Single Barrel reviewed here, Barrel Proof, Straight Rye, Old Fashioned Sour Mash, and Warehouse C Tornado Surviving. The later was a special release of barrels exposed to the weather after a 2006 tornado damaged Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Buffalo Trace’s #1 Mash of about less than 10% rye. MSRP – $59.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Fruity. Apples, plums. Caramel. Cinnamon and maybe a little nutmeg. A little honey. Light oak char. Some corn.

Flavor

Caramel and sweet. Buttery. Hot cinnamon and some alcohol burn. I like this with a little water. Water dials down the heat a bit and brings out more toffee and sweetness. A little jammy. Oak builds in the finish with a nice richness that’s a little woody, spicy, and nutty.

Overall

I’ve been enjoying this bottle of EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel. I think I prefer this at around 90-95-proof. Once I get settled in I find myself enjoying this as the glass goes down and wanting more when it’s gone. This is a nice pour.

The big question for me is how this stacks up to the EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch? For me that’s $20 less and generally easier to find. At the same adjusted proof I found them to pretty similar. Maybe a little more body in the EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel with a little more of that hot cinnamon, but side by side I didn’t see $20 difference. I’d probably recommend checking the Small Batch out first and if you enjoy it grab this EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel and compare.

EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.5/5.0 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

I already covered the EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch and that would be my top alternate to EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel to research or buy. This is a low-rye Bourbon and it doesn’t’ have too many peers, so we’ll look further in the rye category for similar bottles at this price range. Blanton’s would be a good choice as would John J Bowman. If you’re looking to enjoy something similar to EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel for about half the money, Eagle Rare 10 would be something to consider. I’d, however, also put that a bit below the Small Batch.

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