Tag Archives: Age Statement

Elijah Craig 18 Single Barrel – Review

 Elijah Craig 18 Background

Elijah Craig 18
Elijah Craig 18

A few short years ago there was enough supply of Elijah Craig 18 and low enough demand for it to be a regularly stocked item on shelves. As interest in Bourbon increased, particularly for older Bourbons, Elijah Craig 18 was temporarily discontinued to rebuild aging supplies. Heaven Hill says they didn’t have enough barrels stocked to do a sufficient release, so they spend the past three years reworking their barrel inventory. This fall, Elijah Craig 18 finally returned to shelves with a release of about 15,000 bottles. With that many bottles, Elijah Craig 18 should trickle a little farther than the typical limited edition Bourbon.

I missed out on getting one of the older bottles be by about a week. I was just getting into Bourbon and working my way through a list of stuff to try. I walked into my Bourbon monger and spotted a shelf tag, but no bottles of Elijah Craig 18. They said someone came in the previous week and cleared the shelf at $44.85. The new release of Elijah Craig 18 though will see a price adjustment for current Bourbon times. The new suggested retail price is $120.

Heaven Hill says that Elijah Craig 18 was selected by master distillers Craig Beam and Denny Potter from barrels stored on lower floors. Lower floors of warehouses generally provide slower and gentler aging, which would seem ideal for very old Bourbons like 18-years. This year’s Elijah Craig 18 release joins the standard Elijah Craig 12 Year, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and a new batch of limited Elijah Craig 23 Year.

Details

18 Years Old. Barred on 9/24/97, Barrel #4156. Bottled at 90-proof. Though to be mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. $120 MSRP

Aroma

Old oak, musty, mint, vanilla, menthol, chocolate. Chemical like rubber worm fish lures. A little medicinal bandaid. I guess it smells better than that probable sounds.

Flavor

Sweet caramel, vanilla, honey. Oak, light, Fruity strawberries. Roasted, charred wood, mint and mildly astringency in the finish.

Overall

So, I started writing my notes before doing research on this release. I was surprised this was an 18 year old version of Elijah Craig because it seems lighter, softer, and more delicate than what I’d expect from a super-aged Bourbon that was already fairly robust at 12 years. I was thinking it might have been aged on the bottom floor of the warehouse, and now smart = me I guess because that seems to be the case.

At least with my barrel, I would throw out the window preconceived ideas of super-aged Bourbons. I found Elijah Craig 18 to be surprisingly sweet and honey filled, and while the wood is present, it’s not overly assertive. While I get some weird stuff in the aroma, it doesn’t seem to translate to the sip. Some of that medicinal and musty stuff is there, but it seems to all come together and work. I think this is a very nice Bourbon. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who generally doesn’t prefer older Bourbons.

I’m not going to hold a price hike against Elijah Craig 18. $45 would be a ridiculous price, but $120 seems silly to me regardless of age. Still, I fully expect it to quickly sell out. Also, keep in mind this is considered a limited edition, so it shouldn’t be surprising if a premium was added to that $120 price.

If you appreciate great Bourbon enough to pay for it, I think the price is worthy of at least one purchase, but for me it’s not a regular item.

Recommendation

Buy a Bottle / 3.5 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.)

Links and Other Reviews

Heaven Hill’s Website

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015) – Review

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Background

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015)
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015)

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is a limited edition annual release from Brown-Forman. It’s released each year around the start of September to commemorate founder’s George Garvin-Brown’s birthday on September 2nd. The Old Forester Birthday Bourbon special releases date back to 2002. This year, 13,200 bottles were produced.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is a 100-proof, 12 year old Bourbon barreled from a single day’s production on June 13, 2003. So, that’s kind of interesting, but also unique to this batch is its aging. The barrels for 2015 were pulled from the same warehouse location rather than blended together from barrels of different locations. All the barrels here are said to have aged near a heating duct which results in higher temperatures during warehouse’s climate control cycles. Brown-Forman says this resulted in a “very robust, intense wood-derived characteristics.”

Details

12 Years Old. 100-proof. Thought to be standard Old Forester mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $70

Aroma

Rich aromas reminiscent of Old Forester line and a lesser extent Woodford Reserve. Reminds me of toasted/burnt marshmallows. Lots of spices, sweet, fruity, apples, touch of latex. Really nice smelling glass

Flavor

Soft and sweet. Fruity cherries, charred wood with general deep roasted flavors, coffee. Some sharp bitterness and astringency towards the finish.

Overall

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is sweet, caramel goodness with a firm wood presence. To me once Bourbons age to a certain point, they begin to turn towards more oxidized musty, medicinal phenolic flavors and also usually get extra woody. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon I think is heading down that path. While there is some woody-astringency in there, it’s not too heavy. If you like older and woody Bourbons, this may be more to your liking.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon packs a punch of flavors. Minus a little chemical in the nose, the aroma is pretty outstanding. The flavors and even alcohol seems a little more reminiscent of a barrel proof than a still significant 100-proof. I think Old Forester Birthday Bourbon would be a good slow sipping Bourbon on a cold day.

In recent years, prices for Old Forester Birthday Bourbon have been climbing as it started to show up on the limited edition radars. With any limited edition, there’s a premium that more times than not to me fails to live up to what’s in the bottle. I think this is true of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, so really you’re probably looking to buy it for chance to try something that’s a once a year thing. Given my preferences for younger Bourbons, I’d probably suggest trying a glass first.

Recommendation

Try a Glass / 2.5 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.)

Links & Other Reviews

 

 

Lost Prophet Bourbon – First Look Review

Lost Prophet Background

Lost Prophet Bourbon from Orphan Barrel
Lost Prophet Bourbon from Orphan Barrel

The next release from Orphan Barrel is Lost Prophet. This is the fourth release in the series with Bourbons of Old Blowhard, Barterhouse, and Rhetoric 20. Lost Prophet is a 22-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon that was originally distilled at George T Stagg Distillery in 1991. The Stagg Distillery is the former name of the Buffalo Trace Distillery, and this makes Lost Prophet unique to the other Orphan Barrel releases. The other releases came from either the old Bernheim Distillery or the rebuilt new Bernheim Distillery. The recipe used for Lost Prophet in fact appears to match what’s believed to be the Buffalo Trace’s #2 mash recipe.

Lost Prophet was aged at least for the later part of its time in barrels at Diageo’s Stitzel-Weller warehouses. It was bottled at the company’s bottling plant in Tullahoma, TN.
The marketing on Orphan Barrel products is that these were long-forgotten barrels sitting in their warehouses. It seems a stretch to suggest they were literally forgotten (they do pay taxes on them, after all), but for whatever reason, perhaps due to corporate acquisitions and trading of brands, the barrels never made it into a bottle or sold to someone else to bottle up. The result is consumers get a chance to drink something, not only uniquely old, but born of the days of whiskey inventory gluts.

Details

22-years-old. Bottled at 45.05%. Mash of 75% corn, 7-10% barley and 15% rye. MSRP is $120, this is a sample provided by Orphan Barrel.

Aroma

Lots going on here. Cinnamon, caramel, cloves, toasted oak, nutty like walnuts. Rich and buttery. Kind of earthy with dusty old leather. Digging deeper, little fruitiness with solvents and hint of latex paint.

Flavor

Thin with some sweetness. Baking spices that I can’t quite single out. Earthy, stale coffee. Sherry flavors. Nuts. Light mint. Oaky but not overly assertive for its age. Tannins are moderate and don’t come up until the finish. Finish is also a touch acrid.

Overall

Drinking Lost Prophet I’m thinking of a one room office with old furniture and stale air. Scuffed up hardwood floors and fading sunlight making long shadows and catching dust in the air. Maybe something out of a film noir. Vintage is a good word to describe Lost Prophet.
Older Bourbons aren’t my favorite thing, so this isn’t the type of bottle I’d pull down on a regular basis. Thankfully my tastes prefer the much more accessible younger Bourbons. Like the other Orphan Barrel releases, for me this would be something to savor to share with others or pour to ponder life in general. Mostly though, Lost Prophet is an exercise in what time does to Bourbon.
For its age, there nothing really offensive. In my sampling I think I like it as much if not better than the other old Orphan Barrel releases I’ve reviewed. It’s a soft drinking whiskey albeit with some roughness in the edges. But it also brings a lot of old, vintage character. As this release rolls out, I’ll be looking to buy a bottle. If I find one, I’ll be sure to give it a formal rating.

Recommendation

This was a sample provided by Orphan Barrel. I only offer recommendations and ratings based on whiskey I’ve purchased. Stay tuned for my full review.

Links

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.

Links & Other Reviews

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.

Links & Other Reviews