Tag Archives: single barrel

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Background

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel

Launched in 2013, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel comes in at 110-proof and is non-chilled filtered. I find Wild Turkey’s lineup to be a little confusing with some overlap. Russell’s Reserve has become its own brand that to me has some parallels to the Wild Turkey brands. Perhaps making it a little more confusing, to me Wild Turkey has a distinctive flavor profile so they all have shared traits. I enjoy them all, so the goal with Wild Turkey Bourbons may be simply finding the flavor you like best at a favorable price.

How I wrap my head around Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, and I could be wrong, is I see it as a premium single barrel version of Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but a little older like Russell’s Reserve 10 Year. Maybe. We do know though that Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is selected from “center cut” barrels, meaning barrels from the middle floors of the aging warehouses. Wild Turkey uses seven story warehouses and the Russells feel the middle floors are the sweet spot of their inventory. The upper floors get hotter and age faster with more robust flavors and lower floors age slower and more mellow.

The bottle shown here is actually their old label as the Russell’s Reserve labels recently were revamped. The old label here is kind of funny saying a small batch single barrel, which I guess is the smallest batch possible, technically. The new labels I think help unify the Russell’s Reserve brand and appears to also clean up the superfluous buzzwords.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 110-Proof. Mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. $53 Shelf Price

Aroma

Vanilla, Grainy, caramel, orange peel, toast, cinnamon,

Flavor

Toffee, oranges, Werther’s Originals. Berries. A bunch of spices. Some nail polish remover. Dark roasted flavors. Viscous, soft and creamy. Woody tannins coming towards the finish. Grainy and roasted corn.

Overall

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel seems a bit of a contradiction. It’s got some of that signature big flavor and zip of Wild Turkey, but it also quite full and creamy backed up by sweet caramel flavors. It doesn’t seem like a 110-proof Bourbon to me, but at the same time flavor is big and bold with just some rough edges towards the finish. I’m getting a little roasted bitterness, some alcohol, and tannic bite that leave a little cotton mouth. Between there is a sweet caramel goodness and full-flavored barrel char.

If there’s ever a case to be made for higher proof Bourbons skipping the chilled filter process, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel would seem to be a good example. Chill filtering is a practice of crashing the temperature of Bourbon near freezing and running it through plate filter. Proteins, fatty acids, and other stuff precipitate out of solution at lower temperatures and then get filtered out. If they’re not chilled and filtered, they could appear as a haze or clumps in your glass when ice is added. But this is only an issue for below 90-proof or so, and even then it’s largely a cosmetic phenomena. Filtering may make whiskey more visually appealing under certain conditions, but it also strips away components that lend to mouthfeel and perhaps also flavor.

Anyway, I’m a fan here of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. I think Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is a nice step up from Wild Turkey Rare Breed, and Wild Russell’s Reserve 10 Year. I could also toss in Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, which in my mind is basically an older single barrel version of Wild Turkey 101. Basically, I think Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is my favorite from Wild Turkey, although the other’s listed have their respective charms and value.

I feel like you can get the Wild Turkey experience for less, so Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel pricing I think is a little high, but at the same time reasonable for what appears to be a top tier bottle. The few things towards the finish have me hedging a bit, but everything else is plenty to enjoy.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 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

I like to offer some options for similar Bourbons around this price. Feel free to investigate other reviews for further research.

If we call this a high proof Bourbon, some similar options may be Booker’s, Stagg Jr, Knob Creek Single Barrel, and if you can find it, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. I think too it’s worth checking out Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Russell’s Reserve 10 Year.

Links & Other Reviews

 

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

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel – Review

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Background

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel comes from an unknown distillery and bottled up by Michter’s. No idea where this Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel comes from, but some speculate Brown-Forman and I can see similarities. Brown-Forman has a distinct flavor profile to me, and Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel seem ballpark. Other rumors suggest Heaven Hill, and that might correct too, but maybe for different Michter’s offerings. Or not. I honestly don’t care about solving these mysteries.

The catch with non-distiller producers is you typically don’t know where the whiskey you’re drinking was made. Which isn’t that big of a deal, but it can make you wonder if the next bottle will be the same. I’ve tried a 2-3 different batches of Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel from 2014 and they were all pretty good. You’re just basically trusting the people behind the label to either keep a steady supply or pick out something similar.

Details 

10 Years Old. Bottled at 47.2%. Barrel 14H505. No guess on mash bill. MSRP – $120 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Phenolic, cloves, bananas. Vanilla wafers. Banana cream pie. Leathery-sandalwood. Charred oak. 
 

Flavor

Dark, rich vanilla dark caramel, and maple syrup. Raisins. Sweet. Oaky with alcohol warmth.

Overall

Not only is this some nice Bourbon, but Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel is unlike most other Bourbons on my shelf. The nose is big and rich with what seems an interesting fermentation profile and ample barrel character. There’s mild astringency to what otherwise seems to be nice a woody. Dark sugars and deep flavors give a sweet and rich personality.
So, yeah, this is pretty good stuff. Again, no telling what future batches will bring, but best I can tell 2014 was a winner. Pricing is a bit steep and available is slim, so this goes into the specialty bottle category. Assuming you can find a 2014 bottle and/or future batches are similar, this is a solid buy for the experience and a little variety on the Bourbon shelf.
With all that said, unique can cut both ways. I’m not sure if I’m just projecting, but I can see the Brown-Forman connection. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that if you like Old Forester 100, then you’ll likely enjoy Michter’s 10 Year.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4/5 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

Four Roses – High Rye Private Selections – Review

Background

Four Roses Private Selection
Four Roses Private Selection

This is the second post in my look at Four Roses’ 10 different private barrels. I’d suggest checking that post on the lower 20% rye recipes for the background on this effort and how I stacked those 5 recipes.

In this post I’ll be looking at the even higher 35% rye recipes. It’s interesting to compare how the same yeast came across in the two recipes, although certainly barrel selection also plays a part.

Process

As I did last time, I’ll rank the recipes towards my preference and put in some notes for each. My goal isn’t really to review these as I expect different batches will move the needle either way a bit. My intent is just to determine which recipes I think I like best so I can seek those out in the future.

Note: The recipes with more than one bottle listed are sampled from all those bottles.

Continue reading Four Roses – High Rye Private Selections – Review

Four Roses – Low Rye Private Selections – Review

Background

Four Roses Private SelectionThis is a bit of a journey, but first, a quick background. The deal with the 10 recipes at Four Roses has been told many times, but it’s kind of critical for what is happening here. Four Roses makes 10 different recipes of 5 yeast and two mashes. One mash is 35% rye and the other is 20% rye with the difference make up with corn. Both are relatively high rye Bourbon recipes. Four of those recipes goes into the Four Roses Small Batch, OBSV goes into the Four Roses Single Barrel, and a combination of all 10 can be used for the Four Roses Yellow Label. Four Roses has a barrel program where stores and restaurants can select a single barrel of one of the 10 recipes and have them bottled up for their customers. In my opinion, these private barrels are one of the best bottles of Bourbon that you can actually walk in and buy.

My first goal was to collect and sample bottles of the 10 individual recipes. This write-up here looks at 5 of the recipes within the lower rye E mash. I’m still sampling the B recipe bottles. After I tracked down bottles of all the recipes, which took probably like 8 months or so and a trip to Kentucky, my next goal was to figure out which recipes I prefer.  What I’m wondering is which recipes I may like best so in the future I’ll know what to grab when I find it. I’d be happy to have any of these bottles, but if there are recipes I prefer I might as well focus on stocking up on those.

Each of one of these private barrels are pretty good. Four Roses screens samples before sending them out for selection, so we should all feel confident that no matter what every bottle should be a winner. Still, there’s a lot of variability between selections of the same recipe. I’ve experienced different opinions of the same recipe between different selections, so there can still be a factor of simply picking out an outstanding barrel of Bourbon regardless of recipe. Beyond the recipe, there are factors in barrel age, proof, and aging location. Even with all those other variables, I think there’s still a preference to be had in the recipe.

So, my first pass through this will be to figure which yeasts I like the most within the two mashes from the bottles I’ve gathered. The second pass will see which I like overall between those favorites. Then, I want to start looking at additional selections of the recipes I liked the best. I’m not sure how helpful this will be to others since your preference may be for a different recipe, plus you’ll likely not find the specific barrel selections outlined here. So, mostly this is just me documenting the journey for myself, but hopefully you’ll still find it interesting.

Process

I’m not go into a full review of each bottle. What I’ve done is sample all five side by side and ranked them. My ranking was Good, Better, Best. I’ll include some notes about each and also details on the barrel, which might prove to be interesting eventually. What if it turns outs I prefer bottles from a particular warehouse? Or even a location within a warehouse? Or maybe upper, middle or lower positions on the rack? (Warehouses at Four Roses are all single floor, but they stack barrels six high)

Welcome to my rabbit hole. The Bourbon is tasty.

Results

Best

OESV
– Garry’s |  Wayne, NJ |10 yr |57.6% _ GW 39-3G

Fruity. Some graininess. Nice. Kind of neutral. Roasted flavors. Nice drinking. A little spice in the end.

OESK
– Four Roses | Lawrenceburg, KY | 9yr-7mo | 58.1% | HE 24-32
– Spec’s | Houston, TX | 9yr-2mo | 55.4% | KW 89-1N

Fruity. Lush. Bright Caramel, full body. Minty. Mild. Drying astringency finish

Better

OESF
– Spec’s | Houston, TX |9yr-7mo | 59.5% | GE 5-3D

Caramel, light chocolate. Sweet Grassy, Minty, Spicy. Rye seems to come through. Tingly mouthfeel. Some bitterness in the finish

OESQ
– Spec’s | Houston, TX |  9yr-11mo |54.4% | RN 85-1P

A little medicinal. Nice rye profile. After taste is little harsh

Good

OESO
– Tippin’s | Ann Arbor, MI |10yr-5mo | BN 31-2K | 63.6%

Fruity, Spearmint, Fresh. Sweet. Caramel. A little acrid bitter alcohol in the finish. Something odd.

Conclusion

Again, these are all nice bottles. Issues seem be most apparent when tasting them in a lineup. If I find a bottle of one of the Best recipes, I’ll jump on it and add it to the bunker.

Next I’ll do the same rundown for the OBSx bottles and see what we get. And then I’ll stack up my favorites there against these OESV and OESK bottles for a final grudge match.