1792 Ridgemont Reserve – Review #55

1792 Ridgemont Reserve Background

1792 Ridgemont Reserve1792 Ridgemont Reserve was introduced by Barton in 2002. It’s a small batch Bourbon that used to carry an 8 year age statement. That age statement was dropped in 2013. I actually have a couple bottles of the old stuff and, at least so far, I can’t tell a difference. Dropping age statements sometimes can be blown out of portion. Downside of course they may sneak younger Bourbon into to bottle and change the product, but it also can give companies more flexibility in when to dump a barrel. It could be ready before it’s officially 8 years old, in this case for example, but they would have to wait on the calendar to meet the age statement. Meanwhile shelves and customers are waiting.

When 1792 Ridgemont Reserve was originally released it was called Ridgewood Reserve 1792. Barton lost a trademark lawsuit in 2004 with Brown-Forman over its preexisting Woodford Reserve brand. Speaking of names, the 1792 in 1792 Ridgemont Reserve is a reference to when Kentucky gained statehood.

Details

No age statement. Bottled at 93.7-proof. High Rye Bourbon. Paid $32

Aroma

Mint, grassy. Nice rye character. Orange peel. Cinnamon. Caramel. Light barrel char

Flavor

Medium to light body, sweet. Citrus, oranges. Nice caramel. Nice rye profile. Barrel char and a medium dry astringency. Finish is some red hot cinnamon and astringency intensifies and dries things out.

Overall

1792 Ridgemont Reserve is more astringent than I’d expect for something around this age. Along with the astringency is a touch of harshness in the finish that to me hurts this a bit. Other than the finish notes, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve is pretty nice pour. As I mentioned in the age statement, I’d wonder if this batch might have been good a little younger? I’m harping on the astringency too much, but that’s just the lasting impression for me here.

I dig the orange sweetness and it has a nice minty, fresh-cut grass rye flavors. It’s lively and hits a number of notes for a little complexity with that rye, sweet, citrus, wood, and that hot cinnamon kick at the end.

If you’re looking for an affordable high-rye Bourbon, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve should do just fine. It’s not my favorite in its class, but pricing is attractive and there probably aren’t many rye-forward whiskeys I’d grab instead at its price.

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

So we have a high rye Bourbon here and if you’re looking to check out some similar Bourbons in this price range you’ve got some nice options. Bulleit Bourbon is right in there, as is one of my favorites Four Roses Small Batch. If you want to get a little spendy-er, Breckenridge is another to check out.

Links & Other Reviews

 

Unsolicited Advice from Whiskey Nerds

Josh from The Whiskey Jug asked a bunch of whiskey enthusiasts, myself included, what they would like to see from whiskey makers. The idea came from a passage in Chuck Cowder’s new book:

“Whiskey marketers have had trouble wrapping their heads around the enthusiast phenomenon. They recognize it as an important market but they are still trying to figure out exactly what the enthusiast consumer really wants.”

He got responses from 48 people from various outlets and social networks. Overall theme seemed to be honesty and transparency in their product. Check it out

48 Whiskey Enthusiasts Weigh In On What They Want From The Whiskey Industry

 

 

Creating a Barrel Proof Four Roses Small Batch Blend – Review #54

Four Roses Small Batch Blend Background

Note: Looks like i got the formula mixed up below. I haven’t retried the blend, but if you’re interested in experimenting, the correct formula should have been:

OBSK = 70g
OESO = 30g
OESK = 70g
OBSO = 30g

Four Roses Small Batch BlendSo, I’m a big fan of Four Roses. I can go back and forth on whether I like the Single Barrel better than the Small Batch. More times than not I’ll probably grab the Small Batch. I also really like their private barrel program. Stores can choose a barrel of one of Four Roses’ ten recipes and have them bottled up at full barrel strength for their customers. I’d argue these private barrels are one of the best thing going in Bourbon right now. At least for bottles that you actually find on the shelves.

The idea of a Four Roses Small Batch Blend came when I reviewed the Small Batch I was left wondering how it would be at a higher proof. The Small Batch is bottled at 90-proof, while the Single Barrel is 100-proof. In that Small Batch review I linked to an interview of Jim Rutledge by Jason Pyle on YouTube. In there Jim basically told us the recipe for Small Batch. With this info, I pulled four private bottles of the shelf and got to work.

Process

Four Roses Small Batch uses four of the ten Four Roses recipes. Two are the higher rye mash recipe and two of the lower split between two yeasts. The recipes are OBSO, OESO, OBSK, and OESK. In the interview Jim states the recipe is 50% of each grain recipe and then a 70/30 split between the yeasts. From his description of the yeasts I would call it 70% of the O and 30% of the K.  So, my trial Four Roses Small Batch blend looked like this:

OBSO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OESK (Four Roses Gift Shop) = 30g
OESO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OBSK (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor)= 30g

Results

First some caveats here. We’re using private barrels, which means bottles likely won’t have a benchmark taste profile that you might get from a commercial release. Then these are single barrels so each will be a little different. And we have barrels ranging from 9 years, 8 months to 11 years 6 months, plus alcohol ranging from 56.7% to 63.6%. What I do here will likely be hard to replicate, so this is just for fun and not science.

To break things down, I felt the Small Batch was more fruity with strawberries and bananas. Also crisper. The Four Roses Small Batch blend was more oak, char, and roasted notes. Lots of fruit still, but seemed to take a back seat to the alcohol and barrel. Also not as bright. The Four Roses Small Batch blend also had a little perfume. I thought the Four Roses Small Batch blend had really nice oakyness and tannic mouthfeel and overall was very nice. The Small Batch though I felt was more nuanced allowing the more subtle flavors to bloom and was generally well put together.

I then tried adding some water to the Four Roses Small Batch blend and that brought out more of the subtle stuff I’m digging in the Small Batch. Overall I think a little water improves this glass. I’m not sure on the proof. I’d guess somewhere around 100-110-proof.

Closing

Blending whiskey is an interesting process. Sometimes the blend transcends the parts like with the Weller 12-Old Weller Antique/Pappy blend. Other times it subtracts like with the Elijah Craig 12/Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof blend.

So how did the Four Roses Small Batch Blend do? I’m coming away from this blend appreciating Four Roses Small Batch even more. The lower proof really seems to showcase these four recipes. I think there is something there with a little water, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble. I’d say just go for the readily available bottle at a good price. And if you do gather these recipes in a private bottling, which you should, I would just enjoy them individually.

Now what if I had a different selection of bottles in these recipes? How would that work? That’s a good question for another time!

Does it Blend?

Don’t mess with a good thing

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

 

Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey – 8th Release (2014) – Review #52

Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey  Background

Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey - PH8Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey is the 8th release in Heaven Hill’s Parker Heritage series. Released once a year, the series features a limited selection of barrels from Heaven Hill stocks. Last year Heaven Hill released Promise of Hope, which was a straight Bourbon that I really enjoyed. This year we have a straight wheat whiskey. Being wheat whiskey, vs a wheated Bourbon, this must be at least 51% wheat mashbill. That’s compared to the at least 51% corn for Bourbon and 51% rye for designation of rye whiskey.

Heaven Hill said Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey is from the original batches for Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. Recently Heaven Hill re-released Bernheim Wheat with a 7 year age statement, which is pretty unusual in a time when whiskeys are dropping their age statements. The Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey is a 13-year-old, so nearly twice as old as Bernheim Wheat. Also interesting is Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey is released as a cask strength, so not only twice as hold but an unfiltered 127.4-proof.

Details

13 Years Old. Bottled at 63.7%. Straight Wheat of at least 51% wheat. Paid $100

Aroma

Sweet candy like. Caramel. Toffee. Bready, biscuity wheat. Spices like cinnamon. Rich charred wood.

Flavor

Sweet syrupy caramel and toffee. Surprisingly mild for the proof. Buttery. A little cherry-berry fruitiness. Roasted flavors with some woody tannic residue. A bit tart and drying in the finish.

Overall

Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey is a nice little treat. Barrel proof whiskey with some age to it always fun, but this js not only a nice whiskey selection, but a little different in a wheat whiskey. The Parker’s Heritage series seems to still be a bit under the radar among the Bourbon hoards. At least initially. Allocation is a bit thinner according to some conversations, but hopefully this is a release that might hang around certain shelves for a bit if you’re willing to look.

Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey has some lingering heat in the finish, but it’s very nice drinking right out of the bottle. A little water makes it more approachable and eases up the finish a bit. Still nice woody dry flavor, but the water takes off a bit of the bite in the finish. The water also brought in some fruitiness to back up the sweetness.

Pricing on this for me was $100, which isn’t unreasonable these days for a special release, especially at barrel strength. Not sure I’d want to buy another at this price, but if I come across another bottle I’ll be tempted. I certainly will enjoy this one and I’m glad to have the experience.

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