Tag Archives: Standard Rye Bourbon

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon – Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Background

Wild Turkey Rare Breed BourbonWild Turkey Rare Breed is a barrel proof Bourbon blended from barrels around 6, 8, and 12 years old. Wild Turkey doesn’t rotate barrels, so the mix of barrels among floors and spread of ages gives Wild Turkey a pallet of ingredients. Wild Turkey 101 is a similar formulation to Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but from barrels 6, 7, and 8 years old and diluted to 101-proof. This variety of Bourbons offers a range of flavors from the lively younger Bourbon that’s dominated by roasted corn flavors and a bite, to the more mellow and oaky older Bourbons.

It’s also worth noting the lower proof on this barrel-proof Bourbon. Barrel Proof means no water is added to the Bourbon after it’s dumped from the barrels. Wild Turkey’s entry proof going into barrels is lower than typical from other distilleries, so the resulting Bourbon is lower proof too. Wild Turkey has raised the proof over the years to better ensure it can hit 101 proof for its most popular Bourbons, but is thought to still be lower than most distilleries. The entry proof isn’t known officially, but given the low-ish proof here, this certainly seems to hold true. It’s also important to note that this means each batch of Wild Turkey Rare Breed will have a slightly different proof simply because of how things work out after the barrels are brought together.

This lower entry proof delivers greater flavors from the mash and fermentation as higher proof means more of those elements are distilled out. I think this, along with Wild Turkey’s yeast and recipe, gives Wild Turkey its distinct flavor.

Details

No age statement. 108.2-proof. Batch WT-03RB. Thought to be mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $41

Summary

Rich and spicy. Roasted corn and oak comes through and lots of caramel. It dances in the mouth with a creamy texture and and a dry finish.

Overall

If you like Wild Turkey 101, you should really like Wild Turkey Rare Breed. I sort of think of Wild Turkey Rare Breed as super-sized Wild Turkey 101. Wild Turkey Rare Breed has the same basic formula from across the different floors of their warehouses, but with older Bourbons. Then it’s left uncut to offer up whatever comes out of the barrel. I think Wild Turkey Rare Breed is very enjoyable and a great selection to experience Wild Turkey. I enjoy this one straight from the bottle, but it’s also nice with a little water or club soda. Diluting it a bit brings out more sweetness and smooths out some of the rough edges.

All of Wild Turkey’s Bourbons, except maybe the more mellow Russell’s Reserve Small Batch, are bold and flavorful. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is no exception, but with a little extra. The older Bourbon in there and that extra proof that seems make it stand out from the rest of Wild Turkey’s lineup.

Trying to make order of the various Wild Turkey Bourbons to me is a bit of a challenge. Across the board, I find I like Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel the best, but it also has the highest price point. Go figure, right? Given the cheaper price, I’d put Wild Turkey Rare Breed right in there as a buying option. Depending on your preference, you may like or not prefer the range of flavors with the rougher younger Bourbon and more woody older Bourbons.

Recommendation

4.0/5.0 – Buy Again

(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.

I think starting with Wild Turkey 101 is a good first step, then give Wild Turkey Rare Breed a try. Generally though I try to group high proof Bourbons together, so you may want to also check out Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Booker’s, Stagg Jr, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Old Grand-Dad 114, and if you can find it, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. I think too it’s worth checking out Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Russell’s Reserve 10 Year.

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

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

 

 

Old Forester 1870 – Review

Old Forester 1870 Background

Old Forester 1870
Old Forester 1870

Bourbon lore has Old Forester as the longest selling brand of Bourbons and the first to be sold in pre-packaged bottles. George Garvin Brown was a pharmaceuticals salesman and partnered with his brother JTS Brown to begin buying Bourbon barrels and packaging them in sealed bottles. As a practice, they would buy multiple barrels and “batch” them together to be bottled. The batching helped to create a more consistent product compared to the variations found in individual barrels from multiple distilleries. The practice of both batching for consistency and bottling for consumer protection made Old Forester an innovative brand among consumers.

Old Forester 1870 is a tribute to this batching and the first in what appears to be a Whiskey Row Series of releases. Brown-Forman created Old Forester 1870 by pulling together barrels from three different warehouses across three different days of production, similar to how the “original batch” was made. I’m not sure how this really varies from modern practices, which is basically the same thing. Unless it’s a single barrel product, all Bourbons are batched together across a variety of barrels to create a consistent brand. The only difference is Old Forester 1870 is a small batch Bourbon (an ambiguous term of its own) vs the standard Old Forester brands.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 45%. Thought to be standard Old Forester mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $45

Aroma

Brown sugar. Vanilla, Fruity bubblegum. Caramel apples. Cherries. Oak. Some baking spices.

Flavor

Sweetness is kind of candy-like. Brown sugar and vanilla comes through. Fruitiness too. Oak is firm with a little astringency. Barrel char. Finish is a bit sharp.

Overall

I like Old Forester and if you’re a fan I think you’ll also like Old Forester 1870. Old Forester 1870 is distinctly Old Forester profile, but better. I’ve reviewed Old Forester Signature and enjoyed that as both a nice Bourbon and a good value. I think Old Forester 1870 is more interesting and nicer on the palate. I think Old Forester 1870 is specially sweeter, softer, and just generally more pleasant.

The tricky part is Old Forester 1870 costs basically twice as much as the mentioned Old Forester Signature. I pulled out Old Forester Signature to taste side by side and I don’t think Old Forester 1870 is 2x better to justify that price. Old Forester 1870 is a nice Bourbon, it’s just that relative to the rest of the shelf it’s a little over priced. Also Old Forester 1870 is apparently not bringing anything too novel with its “original batch” marketing. At best, it seems a nice selection of some choice Old Forester barrels at a modest price. And with enough availability to actually be found on the shelf. So, if you’re an Old Forester fan, this bottle should be calling for you. If not, you might be happy checking out Old Forester Signature first.

Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.0 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 enjoy the mentioned Old Forester Signature. Beyond that, other standard rye Bourbons around this price worth looking at include its cousin Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek Small Batch, Baker’s, Angle’s Envy, Wild Turkey Kentucky Sprint, and John J Bowman.

Links & Other Reviews