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First Impression of 2016 Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel

[Generic section where I describe stuff about Four Roses]

Four Roses is a distillery in Kentucky.  They make awesome bourbon.  Blah, blah, blah…

No wait, their bourbon is terrible.  Avoid it, especially the Limited Edition ones and the Private Store picks.  Go for Orphan Barrels.  Much better use of your money.

Ok yes, that was sarcastic.  Four Roses store picks to this day remain the best deal in the bourbon world.  For people really wanting to know more about Four Roses in general, see this review I did in 2014 (http://wp.me/p5n6MB-2w).

For the rest of you, carry on.

[Generic section where I describe how the bottle came to be]

Jim Rutledge was the Master Distiller of Four Roses for a really long time.  Something like 48 years.  He made a lot of bourbon.  He “retired” late last year and Brent Elliott was named new Master Distiller.  Brent worked for many years with Jim.

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It was announced a few months ago that Brent Elliott would be releasing a 2016 Limited Edition Single Barrel (there had been an LE SiB every year since 2007, but there was not one in 2015 due to shortages).  After much begging and pleading with about 25 different people, I was finally given a sample of it.  It lasted about 2 hours before I opened it and drank half of it.

[The reason you are here]

This year’s Single Barrel LE is a 14 year OESK.  I don’t know that I have ever had an OESK, but OBSK to this day remains my favorite recipe.  It’s possible I have had an OESK in a ‘tasting’, where usually the only tasting I remember is the first couple things I try and then usually Waffle House 3 hours later.

The nose smells to me, and feel free to call total BS on this, but it smells like banana cream pie.  No kidding.  It smells like a nice aged wheated bourbon to me, but there is no wheat at all.  Just 75% Corn, 20% Rye, and 5% Barley.  The age definitely softens it up.  Me likey.

At barrel proof (I think around 118), it is so easy to drink with no burn at all.  It’s low rye, so there isn’t as much spice, but it’s got just enough.  I definitely get the caramel and vanilla that I’m used to with OBSK, but man that finish lasts forever.  Honey is the only word I can think of, but damn is it nice.  I’m going to write the word damn until the finish ends.  Damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn.  Sorry that would have been longer but my dog grabbed my sock and took off.  I just got back, I think the finish just ended.  So good.

To make sure I wasn’t wrong, I just finished the second half of the sample bottle I got.  It lasted less than 3 hours at my house.  100ml, down the hatch.

*editors note, I think the second half was even better.

I know the retail price went up a little on this bottle this year, but man I could drink this one every single night if I that was possible.  Surely that’s possible right?  I meant from a monetary standpoint, not so much the health standpoint.  Bourbon is zero carbs though, you know that right?

For now, I’ll settle on however many bottles I can find around town.  Definite winner, it’s delicious.

Wait, I mean its terrible, pass it over in stores.  K thx.  🙂

First Impression: Orphan Barrel Forged Oak

Forged Oak by Orphan BarrelIMG_1351

Price : $65 retail

Age : 15 years

Nose : Beautiful.  Caramel, honey, a burning fire in a fireplace, that smell you get if you are running outside in early winter after it’s rained….like wet leaves.  Little bit of pepper.  Very nice indeed.

Palate : Smooth, very little burn (90.5 proof).    To me the taste is very similar to another bourbon I have had, but I can’t place it yet.  Rum cake and corn pudding and some vanilla, but definitely I can taste some rye in there.  I don’t know if it’s in the mash bill, but I get some rye flavor.

Finish : It’s interesting here.  I do get black pepper that they have mentioned.  It’s so similar to a watered down Stagg Jr here but the pepper does not overpower and it does not burn in the slightest.  There is definitely some oak there as well, and some of the sweetness of an aged bourbon that hangs around.

Overall : I don’t know how to say this.  I know rare bourbons like the Orphan Barrel ones are hard to get due to their limited allocations.  I also know the price point of this one at $65 has piqued a ton of interest in the bourbon community.  And I can honestly say this is the best one I have tried so far.  It has amazing depth, flavor, and price.  It’s worth the price, and more.  I look forward to hunting this bad boy down real soon.

A spicy delight.. (First Impression of Willett Family Estate 6 Year Rye)

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The world of sample swapping is alive and well on Reddit.  Post what you want, and post what you got.  Sooner or later, you hear from a few follks, conversations start, and the next thing you know you are sending samples in the mail and receiving them.  I love it.  I love being able to try stuff I haven’t opened or things I can’t get very often in my area.  A recent trade netted me a few samples I didn’t have, one of them being a Willet Family Estate 6 Year Rye.  Coming in at 114.6 proof, this fine smelling specimen met my belly tonight.  How did it stack up against baby Saz (6 year Sazerac Rye)?  Very well in my opinion.

The nose on the Willett Family Estate 6 Year Rye is nice and smooth, and reminds me of a caramel cake.  Deep inhales burn a little, like spearmint.  Further whiffs make me think of butterscotch, grass clippings, and the smell of freshly fallen leaves in the Fall just after a rainstorm.  I know that smell very well because every time I go for a run in the fall after a rainstorm, I smell bourbon and rye whiskey the entire time and it ruins my run.

My first two sips were not nice to me.  A pleasant taste of honey and caramel hit me initially, and the familiar rye taste.  But it quickly was replaced by a very spicy flavor.  I told my wife it reminded me of those little red hot candies.  It burned for about 30 seconds, the second time, almost a minute.  It wasn’t totally unpleasant, but the finishing spice lingered more than I wanted it too.  I added a few drops of water and that dropped it down very nicely to an almost perfect level for me.

After a little bit of water, I really enjoyed it.   Vanilla and honey on the sip, cinnamon candy and caramel cake on the finish, with that beautiful rye taste lingering for awhile.  It doesn’t have a lot of age in the flavor, not much wood or leather or tobacco, but it has more spice and depth than baby Saz.  It was just a 2oz sample, but I enjoyed it enough to seek out more of the WFE ryes.  Maybe one of their really old ryes will take down my current king, Sazerac 18.

It burns a little… (First Impression – 2014 William Larue Weller)

(Unnecessary Disclaimer: I don’t think it’s fair to review something I’ve only tried once, so I’ll post First Impressions instead of Reviews until I’ve had time to properly try something multiple times).

There is a phrase that bourbonites say when they drink really strong stuff, the phrase is, “it burns a little”.  I thought that sounded really cool.  It burns a little.  I can handle a little burn now and then, I’m a big boy.  Plus all I ever hear about from the big bourbonites is barrel proof, cask strength, put-hair-on-your-chest type bourbons that are the new craze.  EH Taylor Barrel Proof, Elijah Craig barrel proof, Four Roses barrel proof, barrel proof this, Cask Strength that, if I want to hang with the big boys of bourbon land, I must learn to drink with them.  And there I was at a steakhouse in Atlanta when my waiter stated, “we just got William Larue Weller in.  It’s 140 proof and only $12 a glass”.   “Damn!!” I thought, as I reached down to pull up my big boy britches.

And what a meal that had been up to that point.  We were at Chops Steakhouse in Atlanta.   I had consumed an amazing steak, a ridiculous spinach salad (made at the table no less), and thrown back 2 really awesome Manhattans, both of which were served with a delicious piece of smoked bacon btw).  And then I asked for the bourbon menu.  “We do not have a bourbon menu….but let me tell you about something special…” said the waiter.  Then he told me about the WLW.  It was a no-brainer.  Feeling like I have become a boss in my 2 months of bourboning, I asked for it neat with a second glass with a few ice cubes.

The glass arrived and I will admit it’s a pretty color.  A darker amber, nice looking consistency.  It also had a nice nose to it, it smelled like caramel and also like a nice wood fire.  I decided to try a sip neat.  It hit my tongue and my throat and I waited for some sort of flavor.  Instead, all I got was a brief searing pain.  I sat with my mouth open as I contemplated the damage I had just done to my nerve endings.  It’s the same sensation I used to get with Listerine if I hadn’t used it in awhile.  I threw in 2 ice cubes and gave it a few minutes.  Then I took another sip.  Nothing changed.  It is as if I had just swallowed a mixture of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, and mercurochrome.  Mercurochrome was this stuff my grandmother used to have.  It was bright red and she would put it on cuts and scrapes.  As little boys do, I had the dumb idea of putting that stuff on my lips one day.  Not only were they bright red, but I got the taste of it too.  And it wasn’t good.  Perhaps the Mercury in it wasn’t meant for human bodies….who knows.

I continued to add more ice and let it melt.  And again I tried to drink it.  My last sip wasn’t too bad I guess.  I got nice hints of leather, oak, honey, and something…..[suddenly interrupted by a blast of acid reflux].  Forget how it felt going down, the brief reflux I had was the worst burning sensation I can ever remember in my throat.  It is as if the 140 proof quickly aged in my stomach and exploded back up in a fiery volcanic rage.  The big bang theory was just proven to be true within the means of my esophagus.   I mean no water, no left over bread pudding, nothing could help the charring on the back of my throat.  In fact, as I finish this almost 14 hours later, it’s still not normal again.  William Larue Weller and a bone-in Ribeye were the catalysts for the creation of our universe.  Who knew?

Now to be honest, there is a reason this juice is so highly spoken of.  Had I properly had time to water it down to the right level, I bet it’s really good stuff.  That’s why I won’t call this a review, and also I will try it again at some point.  My experience was bad, but I really have to blame myself for it.  I will rise again one day and conquer the William Larue Weller.  Until then, I’ll stick with the 80-90 proof stuff, especially after a big meal, and leave my underoos on for now.