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Ezra Brooks 2 year rye – a surprisingly good pour.

Ezra Brooks (part of Luxco) recently launched a 2 year straight rye whiskey with an age statement on the back in months instead of years.  I’ve had month-stated rye before, and most often it ended up in the sink or mixed with a heavy dose of mixers.  To my surprise, this one tastes a lot older than 24 months.  It’s distilled and aged in Indiana, most likely making this 2 year MGP rye, which probably explains why it tastes good.  My favorite rye (besides Saz 18) is the discontinued 7-8 year barrel proof MGP rye that Smooth Ambler used to bottle.  This bottles has traces of the SA rye, albeit at a much lower proof.  The low proof dulls the spice taste, but on the flip side makes it easily sippable as your second or third drink of the night.  It also still carries a nice little caramel corn finish that I find with rye.

I’m pretty sure I finished this bottle in a week.  For $20, you really can’t go wrong, and it might be my new every day rye.

Overall – B+ (a little higher if you include the $).

My review of EH Taylor 4 Grain from a thimble.

First off, I love Buffalo Trace.  I love their products, I love their marketing department, I love Mark Brown, I have nothing but love for the folks over there.  But make no mistake, no one is safe from my sarcasm and witty evilness (or evil wit?).  It’s like they say, “If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t pick on you”.   Except for Blood Oath.  I pick on Blood Oath.  And I don’t like Blood Oath.

Anyway on to the newest EH Taylor release, Four Grain, EHTFG as it will soon be called.  Per BT, the EHTFG is a 12 year Bottled in Bond bourbon made with corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley….hence the name….four….grain.  Suggested retail is $69.99 but good luck getting it retail unless you have a good relationship with a store, or people who work in the store, or you are Swiper. 

I would like to thank Buffalo Trace (henceforth knowneth as BT) for the opportunity to try EHTFG.  BT kindly sent me this sample, and as is usually the case, it was a 50ml plastic sample bottle inside a box that could fit both of my running sneakers.  For size purposes I matched it up with some household candy after trying it:

Now, if you didn’t realize that was a Halloween-sized Nerds box and some Japanese candy that like melts into soda when you eat it and it’s weird as hell but somehow delicious, you might think it was still a good size sample.  But if we pull back the perspective….

You just see an outdated stove and a broken Microwave and a lamp that’s being used instead of the built in oven light that is burned out.  Yes, ridiculous, but we are redoing our kitchen in a few weeks and it’s just pointless.  Anyway focus on the small bottle there, see it?  How about a larger perspective?

There, that does it for you right?  (Please note that Post did not pay me for this product placement.  I reached out to their marketing department to see if they would be interested in sponsoring me but all I’ve gotten back so far is a Kroger coupon for 50 cents off my next purchase.)

So three people in all got to try the Four Grain, myself, a buddy named Anh, and my buddy Jeff.  We each got about 10-15ml which is the same amount of saliva in your mouth at any given time.

This is my buddy Jeff and this is his face after trying Four Grain:

To be fair, Jeff’s face rarely changes, so he actually said he liked it.  

Anh and I felt differently.  We all three agreed it had a nice nose to it.  Despite having malted barley, we got no Scotch like smell from it.  The sweetness of the corn dominates and a little bit of rye spice is there.

We all agreed on the entry and initial taste.  With the four grains together, the corn still prevails and it’s a nice soft taste that to me said “Wheater” more than anything else.  I think the rye and barley were hidden a little bit, and I thought of Weller 12 when trying it.

The finish was the disappointing part, it faded into nothing really, just maybe a little burn with very little of the smoothness and caramel that usually comes with a 12 year bourbon.  Anh agreed on the finish, it just didn’t leave you wanting more.  Granted, all of this is taken from maybe 15ml of product so it’s really hard to tell.  I remember trying Seasoned Wood last year and I didn’t like it from the small sample, but I returned to my open bottle recently and found it really good.

And yes, I do appreciate getting a sample, even one as small as this.  Overall I just wasn’t overly impressed with it, I would give it a solid B.  

We’ll see if that changes when I come across a bottle, and pour a little larger.  And then I’ll give Jeff a little more, and then maybe he’ll smile.  When Jeff smiles, world peace ensues.  When there is world peace, aliens won’t attack us.  For the sake of humanity, I will have to hunt one of these bottles down and try it again.

Buffalo Trace releases Eh Taylor 4 Grain.

Looking forward to trying the first new big release of 2017.  From BT:

 

BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY RELEASES

COLONEL E.H. TAYLOR, JR.  FOUR GRAIN 

BOURBON WHISKEY

 

FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (March 14, 2017) – Buffalo Trace Distillery continues its homage to former Distillery owner Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. with a special release bourbon whiskey made using four grains in the bourbon recipe.  This 100 proof, Bottled-In-Bond, small batch recipe bourbon was aged for 12 years and is a limited edition release.  

            Made from a distinct bourbon recipe using corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, this bourbon was distilled in 2005, entered into the barrel at 104 proof, and has a distinctly different flavor profile from the typical rye and wheat recipe bourbons made at Buffalo Trace Distillery.  These four grains were chosen since they are the four grains E. H. Taylor would have had access to when he set up shop at Buffalo Trace in the late 1800s. During the 1860s, Taylor traded in grains and learned that they can vary tremendously from different farmers and harvests. Taylor consistently wanted the products produced in his distillery “of upmost class,” right down to the grains.

The impetus behind this multi grain recipe was based on the success of Buffalo Trace’s existing rye and wheat bourbons, harkening back to Taylor’s thinking of using the best of the best. “We wanted to extract everything we like from both the rye and the wheat mashbills we currently use and combine them to see how they react,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “Not surprisingly, it added complexity to the finished product.”

Tasting notes describe this bourbon as “opening with an inviting aroma, with the first sip bringing a lot of character.  Caramel notes are touched by sweet vanilla and caramel corn, then underwritten by slightly smoky flavors and oak tannins. It maintains a smooth evenness between the four grains interacting with the charred oak barrel.  Overall, quite different yet very balanced.”

The Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. collection was first released in early 2011 and several subsequent releases have followed.  This Four Grain Bourbon is the ninth and latest release in the collection of  E. H. Taylor, Jr. whiskeys, rounding out the collection of Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, Barrel Proof Bourbon, Straight Rye Whiskey, Small Batch Bourbon, Cured Oak Bourbon and Seasoned Wood Bourbon. The Sour Mash, Warehouse C Tornado Surviving, Cured Oak and Seasoned Wood Bourbons were one time only releases and are no longer available.  Another release of the Four Grain Bourbon will be released again in Spring of 2018.

Like some of the previous releases, this limited edition will be hard to find. Also consistent with past releases, the Four Grain Bourbon displays a vintage label and is offered inside a distinct canister reminiscent of Taylor’s whiskey package from over one hundred years ago. These six bottle cases will again be shipped in an impressive wooden box first used for the Cured Oak release.  The boxes are modeled after the wooden crates used by Taylor to transport goods during the days before Prohibition. 

            Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased the distillery that is known today as the Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today by Buffalo Trace, such as climate controlled aging warehouses. In addition to his bourbon interests, Taylor had political ties. He was the great-nephew of President Zachary Taylor and elected the mayor of Frankfort, state representative to the Kentucky General Assembly and a member of the State Senate.

            This special bottling of Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey will be available starting in April in limited supply.  The suggested retail price is $69.99 per 750ml bottle. 

About Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1773 and includes such legends as Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won 17 distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named “Brand Innovator of the Year” by Whisky Magazine at its Icons of Whisky America Awards 2015.  Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 300 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracedistillery.com To download images from Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracemediakit.com

Breaking News: Buffalo Trace releasing something that you would never dare open.

That’s right, hot off the presses, Buffalo Trace announced today that they are releasing a one time, 25 year old Rip Van Winkle (a.k.a Pappy), in special decanters and a nice presentation box for the small and reasonable price of $1,800.  Being 25 year old barrels and hidden in underground diamond mines or whatever is beneath BT, only 700 or so bottles are coming out which makes this a wonderful museum piece for really really rich people.  Good luck getting a hold of this one which is already worth double it’s retail price before it’s even been shipped.

No, most of us will stare with delight as the others show their purchase of this bottle sitting pretty inside triple-walled glass with a hidden retraction system and a large velvet rope surrounding the display.  Cheers to you BT and to you really really rich people.  🙂

 

 

Actual press stuff:

Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Bourbon to be Released

 

Oldest Van Winkle Bourbon ever bottled is coming this Spring

 

 

            FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (Feb. 21, 2017) – An extra special, one-time bottling of Van Winkle bourbon will soon be released. Only 11 barrels comprise this very small batch bourbon, making the 710 bottles especially rare and even harder to find than the usual Van Winkle whiskeys.

            The barrels were distilled in the spring and fall of 1989 and stored on the lower levels of a metal clad warehouse built in 1935 at the Van Winkle family distillery in Shively, Ky.

In 2002 the barrels were moved to Buffalo Trace Distillery, where they continued to age for another 12 years on the lower floors in Buffalo Trace’s brick warehouses. The lower floor placement helped preserve the sweet, mellow notes of the world-famous wheated bourbon recipe. In 2014 the Buffalo Trace team moved the barrels into stainless steel tanks to halt the aging process and preserve the rich flavor profile fans have come to expect from the Van Winkle line.

These extra special bottles deserve an extra special vessel, so each bottle is a handmade glass decanter from Glencarin Crystal Studio. The bottle information is engraved on each decanter, individually numbered, and hand finished with a silver stopper. A glass top for the decanter is also included.

Each decanter is packaged in a handmade wooden box crafted in North Carolina by James Broyhill II of Heritage Handcrafted. The lid is constructed using the oak staves from the 11 barrels that held this bourbon. The outside of the box bears a metal plaque with the Old Rip Van Winkle logo and states “asleep 25 years in the wood.”   Inside each box, along with the decanter and glass top, is a bourbon certificate of authenticity, numbered and signed by Julian Van Winkle, grandson of original founder Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr.    

            “We are excited to be able to offer something so unique and rare for our most devoted fans,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “This is a once in a lifetime offering and the beautiful decanter and wooden box just take it to the next level and make it something in which I’m very proud to be associated.”

            The 25 year Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is bottled at 100 proof and will start shipping in April. It is packaged one bottle per case. Suggested retail pricing is $1,800 for a 750 ml bottle. 

Smooth Ambler suspends private barrel program for 2017 and gives update on their own distill.

From the Smooth Ambler Spirits page on FB today (https://www.facebook.com/SmoothAmbler/posts/10155031989726495):

An update on Wheated Bourbon and Custom Barrels:

Smooth Ambler Wheated Bourbon

At long last a bit of our homemade wheated bourbon is finally ready. Andrew has chosen the best of our mature (5-6 YO) barrels and mingled them together to allow the married whiskey time to mellow and become balanced. As most of you know, we’ve struggled over the years as to when was the right time to release it. Every Fall for the last few years we’ve tasted it, become tempted to release it, and ultimately resigned ourselves to the impatient truth that it would just get better if we waited. And as good as it is today, it would only get better if we decided to wait again. But we’re not going to. We’re ready to drink a little. We don’t have much of it, though, so the rollout will be slow and careful and initially we’re only going to make it available in the gift shop and through West Virginia retailers. Some of this decision has to do with the small quantity we have and some of it, frankly, has to do with the notion that we feel like it’s a chance to say thanks to the folks in WV who’ve hung in there with us from day one. We’ll announce soon when it becomes available for sale. Retail price at the GS will be $54.99.

Custom Barrels

In the face of a constantly dwindling supply of older whiskey, and despite our best efforts to acquire more at reasonable prices, we have to make some additional tough decisions and harsh realities as we move forward. Principle among these issues is that we simply cannot continue to sell at our current pace whiskey we don’t have much of and have no guarantee of replacing. With this in mind we are suspending production on ALL custom barrel projects. There will not be a 2017 list of customers in line for or waiting for custom bottlings. We have always been and remain immensely appreciative of the surge in our business the custom program has been for us but we simply can’t sustain it until we secure more whiskey. If and when that day comes, or we dream up something else that will suffice, we will take steps to reintroduce a hand selected, custom whiskey bottling for ourselves and our customers. We do not have the whiskey to satisfy all of the current, standing orders for custom barrels on the list as it exists today. As much as it pains us, this means some people are going to miss out – irrespective of their position on the list or the length of their wait. We just can’t fill the orders, y’all. Every day we strive to find more whiskey we can make sense of procuring. Every day we look for inspiration on something new and fun and fresh we can make available to our fans. As uncomfortable and disappointing as we know this is, we hope you’ll hang in there with us as we diligently search for a solution. As a side note, I want to stress that this is NOT a result of our new NBV/Pernod partnership. The Chicken Little’s of the whiskey world can try and call bullshit on that all they want but this is a decision made from Maxwelton, WV. Plain and simple. If anything, having our new partner on board will help ensure that we have the means to expand our in-house production, and better enable our ability to buy great whiskey when we find it, and try keep this from happening again in the future. While we ramp up, though, we need to take a break and catch up. We’re looking at this as just that: a break.

– JF

Obviously the news of the barrel program being suspended is sad, but not completely surprising.  They warned us last year they were starting to run out of bourbon, and their private barrel list far exceeds the supply that is left.  We hope they are able to start the program back up at some point, to this day they remain one of the best deals around for bourbon.

We also look forward to trying their own wheated bourbon as well as some more of their limited edition offerings of rye and now probably some older bourbon in 2017.

Subourbia’s 2016 Bourbon and Rye Award Winners and Losers.

Most surprisingly tasty ‘moderately available’ release of 2016: 

Rebel Yell 10 year Single Barrel

What’s not to like?  It’s Single Barrel, 10 years old, and has an amazing redneck name, Rebel Yell.  Then again, there is also Eagle Rare.  Now don’t get me wrong, ER is smooth and great with a cigar, but this has a little more spice on the finish that I like.  My buddy @epicbourbon says its a 10 year Heaven Hill Wheater, so I’ll take his word for it, but you can take my word for it, it’s a nice addition to any bourbon bar in the $50-60 range.

Most surprisingly tasty ‘available’ 2016:

Old Forester 1920

This one you can find in a store near you.  Similarly priced to the Rebel Yell, and 15 proof higher, this is a must add for any bar.  A great depth of flavor, and surprisingly smooth for 115 proof.  I hear they gots a barrel proof version coming this year, so we’ll just have to see how the price ends up.

Most disappointing rare release of 2016:

2016 Sazerac 18

 

I don’t need to go into it again. 

Worst release of 2016:

Whoop and Holler and Woodford Reserve White Corn

 

Technically Woodford Reserve White Corn was released in 2015, but the bad taste of it lingered long enough to last into 2016.  And then there was Whoop and Holler.

Everyone else’s favorite release this year except for me:

Booker’s Rye

Everyone loved Booker’s Rye and went nuts for it.  It really never did anything for me.  I tried it probably 5-6 times, and always just thought it was ok.  I was impressed how easy it was to drink at it’s high proof, but that’s where my impression ended.

My unofficial favorite release of 2016:

Parker’s Heritage

Heaven Hill had very limited samples to send out when they announced this year’s Parkers, and I was not one of those that received a sample.  Therefore, I ‘unofficially’ declared this my best bourbon of the year.  Some people didn’t like the oak forward flavor of this, I absolutely love it.  Brown sugar and caramel dominate the easy to drink 100 proof bourbon, and the finish leaves just enough spice for me.  Absolutely love it, just wish I could have declared it official.  Maybe next year….

(I also don’t want their heads to explode, but very close runner up to this was the Heaven Hill Select Stock 20 year pre-fire bourbon.  Damn that is tasty as well.)

My official favorite release of 2016:

William Larue Weller

As sad as I was about the Saz 18, this years WLW blew me away.  Absolutely delicious wheated whiskey.  A real winner this year.

Conclusion:

2016 kinda sucked.

Granted there were a few awesome releases this year, namely the WLW, the Parkers Heritage, and yeah I’ll say Booker’s Rye for the rest of you, but most of the other rare releases were just ok.  Seasoned Wood, both Four Roses Limited Editions, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, and the 1792 releases all hit the B to B+ mark for me.

We also saw a trend of rising prices (Willett gift shop, Booker’s bourbon, etc), more age statements being lost (Knob Creek), and just a general trend of greediness that saw bottles hit shitty secondary prices too soon after they were released.  I think a general sigh could be heard throughout the land as we closed out 2016 and I think we all hope 2017 is a better year.  

If not, at least have Blood Oath Pact 3 to look forward to.

2016 Pappy Van Winkle 23 year review.

First of all, I’m very sorry.  It’s been awhile since I have written a blog entry and I know all 3 of you have been waiting anxiously for some more material to read.  I turned 40 in November and basically spent the entire month celebrating (that’s how I like to roll at birthday time).  Now that it’s December, I think it’s time we catch up, don’t you?

Second, a big disclaimer.  Yes, it’s true, Julian Van Winkle (grandson of Pappy Van Winkle and current President of the “Rip Van Winkle Distillery”) blasted me recently on Twitter.  You see, there are a few people out there who refer to the 10 and 12 year Van Winkle releases as “Pappy 10” and “Pappy 12”.  Those of us who know (including myself), always like to correct them by saying there is no Pappy 10 or 12, that the Pappy line is only 15, 20, and 23.  I know this, I’ve known this for a long time, all I wanted was a definitive screenshot from the man himself, so I asked him directly on Twitter:

kerry_tweet

Debate may have been a dumb word to use, but whatever, I was celebrating my birthday that month.  To my surprise, I woke up the next morning to a flurry of Twitter activity and finally found this reply:

jvw

Ouch.  That reply spread through social media like a wildfire.  At first I didn’t really care, but after a little thought, it pissed me off.  What if I had been an absolutely new person to bourbon and gotten that response.  “Read the label”….the average person can’t read the label CAUSE THEY WILL NEVER F–KING SEE IT.  I guess he meant, “Google each bottle and read the label”.  Got it.  The smugness of the response pissed me off.

Anyway after that I started a brief war on Van Winkle.  I had a few tweets about ‘overrated’ Pappy, tagging Julian, etc, etc.  I tried to rally the interwebz to finally declare war on Pappy Van Winkle and end the craze over this product line that has been spiraling out of control ever since Anthony Bourdain opened his trap a few years ago.  As I plotted my war strategy over the course of the next few days, I had several people tell me Julian is actually a really nice guy and that maybe he didn’t mean it as harsh as it came across.  In truth it is hard to express tone when you only have 140 characters to respond.  It took me a little while but I got over it and I ended my war on Van Winkle.  It’s not my place to start this war and get people to open their eyes and change their ways.  I didn’t start the Fire.

I guess the main reason for that whole segment is to say my review here was not biased by that incident.  Let it be known I went into this review with a completely unbiased, open mind, and without a grudge.

A friend of mine was given the opportunity to purchase a 2016 23 year Pappy given the premise that he would show them pictures that he opened it.  I actually love that a liquor store did that, and I love even more that he sent me a free 1 oz sample to try along with some of his soon to be world famous beef jerky.

cyedq7kwiaanbxt

The sample didn’t last long.  That night I started with an Eagle Rare pour to help cleanse my palette.  I also sniffed some coffee beans (thank you to Willie Pratt for that tip).

First thing I noticed is it’s very thick.  It reminds me a little of EC23 but just a tad lighter.  It’s definitely got some of that thickness that I like in older bourbons.

The nose was great as you would probably expect for a nice aged wheated bourbon.  I’m going to use the same 3 words to describe what I smell in a good bourbon: caramel, honey, and cinnamon.  I mean how many different ways can you describe that smell?  It smells great.

So I tried a few sips, swished it around, noticed that of course it’s a nice bourbon.  Nice smooth buttery wheater.  No one is going to sip Pappy 23 and say this is gross.

What they WILL say is….damn…that’s very one dimensional.  There wasn’t much else to it except a decent flavor.  The finish was almost bitter to me and the taste just never changed.

I called up my buddy Chuck from a few doors down and asked if he would come help me try Pappy 23.  I heard his dog drop to the floor and he was in my living room 7 seconds later.  He completely agreed with me.  Smells great, tastes good, finishes bitter.  We each sipped it until it was gone and sat there as unimpressed as Simon Cowell watching Waka Flocka Flame sing the National Anthem.

So where do we go from here?

There are 3 reasons you got this far in this review:

  1. You were honestly just curious to hear my review, to read an article about bourbon, it did not impact you at all.  To you guys I say, thanks for stopping by, come by again soon!
  2. You have a chance to get a bottle but the price is more than you want to pay or more than you want to trade for. 
  3. You have a bottle and you can’t decide if you want to open it, trade it, sell it, or stash it away.  To you guys and #2 guys, read on:

My advice is this.  On one hand, having an open bottle of Pappy 23 is pretty awesome. The bottle is beautiful, the brand is well known, and if you pour your friends even the smallest of samples, they will regard you as a complete badass and tell their friends you poured them Pappy 23.  The visual experience will surpass the oral experience (you get what I’m saying).  Drinking bourbon isn’t always about the flavor, it’s also about memories, friendships, and connecting with people.  If you are a person who regards any of those experiences as much as the taste then I say open it and enjoy it as it was meant to be drank if you got it at retail.

On the other hand, as long as there are morons out there who think the current distillation of Pappy Van Winkle is as good as the no longer produced Stitzel-Weller version, then by all means trade it or sell it to reinvest in different bottles.  These days Pappy has become known as “Pappy Gift Cards” because truly the higher end bottles are held and traded and sold to acquire more bourbon.  And until the people who are paying ridiculous prices decide to move on to something else, and the craze of Pappy begins to die down, take advantage of the market.

Overall Score : 88

 

Whoop and Holler Review [Warning, Not Safe for Diageo]

Mark your calendars.  October 18th, 2016.

It’s the day that I stopped receiving samples from Diageo.  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe they won’t read this, maybe they won’t care.  I no longer care if they care, or the others who send me samples.  Maybe I care.  Maybe no one cares even if I care.  Anyway…

Back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth (also known as 2014), I began blogging and receiving samples.  Back then I was a little more generous in my scoring and in my reviews than I should have been.  As a blogger, you want the samples to keep coming, and there is probably an underlying assumption that if you destroy a product in reviews, the samples will stop.  These days I’m not as concerned.

Whoop and Holler is an absolutely terrible whiskey.  I’ll get to that later.  The part that annoys the shit out of me is not how bad it is, but how this review ultimately makes no difference.  You may be reading this because someone posted it on a secondary site when someone asked if they had tried Whoop and Holler.  You may read this because of the catchy title.  Regardless of why you are here and what I say below, people are going to buy this up at a price of $179 and more.  And they aren’t going to buy it because they heard it was great, they are going to buy it to finish their nice sealed bottle collections.  They are going to buy it because it says 28 years on the front.  They are going to buy it because these days it’s not about what’s inside the bottle, it’s about the bottle itself.

Truth be told, I actually really like some of the earlier Orphan releases.  Rhetoric 21 is a fantastic bourbon, one that I like to keep a nice stock of.  I am also a fan of Forged Oak, Barterhouse, Lost Prophet, and Old Blowhard.  Diageo gets a LOT of hate for their releases, but by and large most of them are actually very good and very well priced.

And then there is Whoop and Holler.

The press release tells us very little except that it is 28 year old whiskey that was distilled at the George Dickel Distillery in Tennessee.  Before being barreled, it was chilled and mellowed with sugar maple charcoal.  It’s an American Whiskey, not a bourbon and not a Tennessee Whiskey.  As far as I know, “whiskey” only has to be aged in wooden barrels, but I don’t believe it has to be for any specified time period.  Either way, it spent probably 18+ years more than it should have in any container.

Forget every other review you see out there, they are probably lying.

It smells like you just ran through a field of pesticide.

It tastes like you just slid into second base and got some dirt and someone else’s sweat in your mouth.

It finishes like you just drank from your dog’s water bowl after he ate an entire rawhide bone and you forced yourself to not wash it down with Cheetos.

Seriously, this is garbage.  Not that it matters.  Enjoy your wonderful sealed bottle collection.

“Man, I went over to [you or someone you know]’s house and he has a sealed collection of [any series of bourbon] and it was amazing!”…..said NO ONE EVER.

It’s more like….”Man, I went over to [hopefully you or someone you know]’s house and got to try all sorts of stuff and it was amazing!”….says EVERYONE.

 

A tribute to my late friend Adam.

Today, I watched as a friend of mine was lowered into the ground.  As I stood in the direct light of the sun, in a full suit, I felt the countless beads of sweat falling down my back as I stared at a plain wooden casket descending.   I just couldn’t believe I was standing there, watching as Adam Greenberg was buried.  The sobs of his heartbroken wife cut through the prayers and the sounds of wind on the trees.  Adam’s 6 year old son was waiting in the Limo, unaware of the severity of the situation at hand.  And somewhere out there, Adam’s 1 year old daughter was being loved and held as the rest unfolded before us.

I’ve been to funerals before.  My grandparents, parents of my friends, relatives, but I had never been to a funeral like this.  We weren’t burying someone who had lived a long life, or a life that simply provided too much physical pain for that person to continue on.  No, we were burying a 36 year old man who had suffered from severe depression for a very long time.  We buried a man who suffered so severely that he said goodbye to his wife and kids and took his own life for reasons that remain unclear.  More than that, we buried a friend of mine, one who kept his secret from me for as long as I knew him, and it pains me to know that I probably could have helped him had I known.

I knew Adam for years, but we really bonded when Adam became manager of Total Wine as their purchaser in 2015.  He knew about wines, but knew very little about spirits.  Once he learned of my heavy obsession with bourbon, we began to talk, almost on a daily basis.  Adam would come over and try the products his store sold.  He would bring bottles with him to get our opinion of them.  A few days would not go by without a text or a call or a message regarding something with bourbon.  He would visit the bourbon trail to pick out bourbons and send me pictures along the way.   We would talk about our kids, about life in general.  He was one of those genuinely nice guys who really cared about you and your family.  There was nothing fake about Adam, and he always seemed content with life.  I enjoyed the bond that we shared.

In all the times we talked, or drank together, I never knew he suffered.  He had been depressed for years, but few people knew.  Had he told me, I probably could have helped.  On the surface, I am very similar to Adam.  I am outgoing, I am friendly, and I am generally very calm.  I am the life of a party, extremely extroverted, and I have no problems making friends.

And yet…

I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember.  I have been on antidepressants, mood stabilizers, sleeping pills.  I have a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I have coping techniques, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques.  No one but my wife and my therapists and a few close friends know the severity of what I have.  I have been stable and happy for awhile now, but I know that could change easily with a major life shift or extreme stress.  My friends know me as the guy who always goes to bed by 11.  I know that not getting enough sleep raises my anxiety, so I sleep as much as I can to avoid that.  You could know me for years and never know I have a mental illness, but I do.

There is a tremendous stigma around mental illness.  We can have cancer, diseases, anything that is physical, and we get support.  But we mention depression or anxiety and there are still far too many people that think it’s not a real condition.  “Oh you just need to toughen up”, “you just need to pray it away”, “just take some meds and you’ll be fine”.

No, that’s not how it works.

Mental illness is real.  It’s not imaginary.  It’s not weakness.  It is not a lack of faith.   It is a physical condition where the proper amount of chemicals are not created in the brain for one reason or another.  It exists with many, it is spoken with very few.  You probably have friends or family who suffer, but you don’t know it.  We all say we don’t know the demons people experience, but we still turn a blind eye to someone when we hear they have ‘mental issues’.  Society still shuns the mentally weak, the mentally ill.  We’ve come a long way, but we are no where near where we need to be.

I hope one day anyone who is suffering can speak freely.  Until then do your part and don’t judge.  Stand by your friends and your family, and don’t wait until they are being lowered into the ground to really offer help.

And Adam, thank you for all the memories.  Rest in peace my dear friend.

 

Buffalo Trace announces a new rare bottle lineup we had never heard about.

Sounds like we really don’t need to worry about hunting for this one until the Spring of 2017.  Thank goodness, I’m already broke and it’s not even October!

BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY INTRODUCES O.F.C. RANGE OF VERY RARE AND COLLECTABLE VINTAGE-DATED BOURBONS

 

First Offering Only Available to Non Profits for Fundraising Efforts

FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (September 21, 2016) This fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery will release three unique vintage-dated bourbons honoring the National Historic Landmark’s original name – the O.F.C. Distillery. During Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr’s tenure, the O.F.C. Distillery was renowned for producing top class whiskey. The first vintages of O.F.C. Bourbon Whiskey coming in November are sure to be collector’s items and will be offered exclusively to non-profit organizations at no charge to raise money for their causes.  Although these rare whiskeys will not be available in stores or bars and restaurants, later vintages will be released to the overall market starting in the Spring of 2017.

All of the O.F.C. collection releases will be vintage dated according to the specific year in which the bourbon was distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each hand-cut crystal bottle will feature the vintage year on the label.

The first release is comprised of only 200 bottles; 100 bottles from the year 1980, 50 bottles from 1982, and 50 bottles from 1983.  Future releases will unveil whiskeys from the 1990s, including a 1993 vintage and several consecutive vintage years thereafter. Subsequent O.F.C. releases will follow year after year as vintages are produced and reach maturity.

Straight Bourbon whiskey must be aged in oak for at least two years, but these O.F.C. releases matured much longer. Recipe and age will vary by vintage, but many are expected to mature for twenty years or more. Barrels are evaluated regularly and some whiskey will be removed from the barrels as taste reaches the peak of flavor.

The packaging for O.F.C. matches the splendor of the whiskey itself, in lead free crystal bottles with detailed fluting engraved into the mold. Glass artisans cut the shoulder facets using equipment created exclusively for Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Each bottle then is manually polished to achieve maximum glass brilliance before in-laying cut copper lettering to spell out “O.F.C.” on the front.  A paper label is then hand applied below with the vintage prominently noted, along with a label on the back of the bottle noting the milestones for the vintage year of the bottle.  For example, the 1980 label memorializes the U.S. Ice Hockey team’s stunning victory over the Soviet Union, along with pop culture happenings and Ronald Reagan’s presidential election.  The bottle is then given one last polish for the ultimate premium presentation, while a cork stopper with a copper top adorns the top of the bottle to finish out this stunning bottle.

This bottle is a replica of an O.F.C. decanter dating back to the early 1900s found in the Buffalo Trace Distillery archives.  Equally as impressive as the bottle is the display box in which the bourbon is presented. The dark wooden box prominently bears the O.F.C. name in copper, along with a copper plaque depicting the year the bourbon was distilled. Upon opening the revolving door on the wooden case, the bottle is proudly displayed on a small riser, commanding attention as its prized possession is revealed. A provenance card is inside each display box, containing the same information found on the back label. Finally, each box is then packaged in a tasteful cream colored bag to protect it from any damage before placing it into the shipping boxes. 

Non-profit organizations located in the United States who are interested in obtaining a bottle to use as a fundraiser for their charity should visit http://ofcvintages.com/ to fill out an application.  To be considered, organizations must submit an official U.S. non-profit tax ID number and use the bottle for fundraising purposes only. Applications will be taken online only and recipients of the bottles shall be notified by email by November 1st, 2016, at which time bottles will be shipped free of charge. Charities will have until March 1st, 2017 to auction their bottle and report back to Buffalo Trace Distillery how much money was raised.

      This is the second time Buffalo Trace Distillery has partnered with non-profit organizations to raise money. In 2011, the Distillery gave away 174 bottles of its Millennium Barrel, the last bourbon barrel filled on the last day of the last century. In total more than $150,000 was raised for various charities across the United States, with the top organization raising more than $7,000 for their cause. 

      “These vintages are certainly unique and special whiskeys. We hope this O.F.C. collection can pay tribute to the many years gone by here at the Distillery. Each vintage has a story to tell indeed,” stated Kris Comstock from Buffalo Trace Distillery.  “To offer this first release to charitable organizations for their fundraising efforts makes this even more rewarding. We expect bottles to raise upwards of $10,000 each for worthy causes.”

Collectors interested in a chance to participate in a fundraiser can start checking the website in November http://ofcvintages.com/ for a list of non-profit organizations who will receive bottles for fundraisers.

About Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1786 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named Whisky Magazine 2010 World Icons of Whisky “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 200 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit www.buffalotracedistillery.com.  To download images from Buffalo Trace Distillery visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/media