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Review of 2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

The world works in mysterious ways. If you had any doubt, consider this. I had not written a blog article on this site in over a year. After my recent trip to Kentucky for Bourbon and Beyond, I got inspired again and wrote a review of Michter’s Toasted Sour Mash. A few days later, a friend of mine had trouble opening a Michter’s 10 Year Rye which has a wax top. The paper guide that helps you break the wax broke off, so I had the brilliant idea to use a steak knife to get the wax off. The knife slipped, cut a nerve, and I ended up having surgery and was in a cast for two weeks. Screw you karma. Anyway, the cast is off and it’s time to finish this review that was almost done before I became unable to type.

I’ve seen and read all the other reviews from my blogger buddies. Some were nice and in depth, others were laughably short, but I can’t really blame the guys who have speaking talent but not writing talent. J/k, love you all. What is interesting to me is that there is quite a bit of disparity this year in terms of the reviews. I tried the samples on 3 different nights. On two of them I had friends with me trying the samples as well. The following is a collection of all of our thoughts:

William Larue Weller (WLW) – I’ll start with the one that everyone agrees is good this year, WLW. I don’t know that it is ever really bad. WLW is barrel proof Weller 12 (as opposed to the slightly misleading Weller Full Proof). This year WLW is 128 proof and 12.5 years old. The nose is weak to me, and I usually feel that way about WLW. Light traces of fruit and cinnamon but mostly an ethanol burn. But after that, it’s delicious. Slight minty burn, very easily drinkable without ice or water, WLW has notes of chocolate and cherries on the palate and a long finish of vanilla and caramel. A winner again this year.

George T. Stagg – It’s disappointing to me this year and all my friends agreed. I find it kind of flat and lacking a bite. The 116.9 proof definitely reflects in this one. It’s got a good nose with notes of clove, caramel, orange peel, but all that it has going for it this year. It’s one dimensional with very little finish. I couldn’t even really discern a tasting note beyond the typical vanilla. Not a fan at all this year.

Saz 18 – Believe it or not, I actually like Saz 18 this year. It has not returned to the tanked perfection, but it is much closer and definitely their best release of Saz 18 post-tank. The nose of the tanked Saz 18 is back in this year’s release, I always describe it as apple with a floral note. It’s soft upfront and has that oaky caramel deliciousness that I love from the tanked release but it falls short of that tanked Saz finish that lasts forever and has just a little bitterness at the end. Even with that finish, I’m still a big fan this year of Saz 18.

Thomas Handy – This one was the big disparity with most of the other reviewers, but to my friends and I, Handy was the best release of the 5 Antiques this year. I am very surprised at the low ratings it got from others. At 125.something proof, it was so incredibly easy to drink without any burn, but still with all the flavor and bite that I love with Handy even without any water. Cinnamon candy, red hots, vanilla, char, butterscotch all mix wonderfully on the palette and finish longer than it should for a 6 year rye. Wonderful this year.

Eagle Rare 17 – Last year ER 17 was bumped up to 101 proof, but I found the 2017 release that was at 90 proof better. Surprisingly I still feel that way this year. ER17 always has a wonderful nose, maybe the best of the set. Butter and oak and caramel dominate on the palette, but then the finish abruptly ends. It’s strange to me how quickly the finish fades for a 17 year old bourbon. There’s also a slightly bitter taste after a few pours that I couldn’t really distinguish. We all agreed, not only was 2017 better, but a really good ER 10 year single barrel might give this one a run for it’s money. An ok bourbon, but nothing more.

A review of Michter’s Toasted Sour Mash

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote in this blog. I needed some time off to focus on important things like drinking without talking. I got inspired to write and talk about bourbon again after my trip to Bourbon and Beyond last weekend. While I finish up the long write up of that event, I wanted to sidetrack and post an actual review of something I got to try in Kentucky and really explored when I got home.

Saturday morning of our trip found me wandering down Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville while my wife did some insane marathon training in the hotel gym. I worked my way down to Old Forester, Peerless, and then back up to Evan Williams and they were all uneventful visits. It was my final stop to Michter’s though that blew me away. In February, Michter’s opened a second distillery directly across from the Louisville Slugger gift shop. It is an impressive site filled with a gift shop, a bar/tasting room, and original copper distilling equipment from the old Michter’s distillery in PA. It is a fully functioning distillery so even if you don’t tour, at least stop in to take in the smell of mashing grains (but more on that later).

At the last minute, I got in touch with Michter’s and asked about a tour. I got into a tour at 11:00 am and brought Blake from Bourbonr along with his wife. We had an amazing tour and a tasting and then made our way up to the 3rd-floor bar/tasting room where we got to try the Michter’s Toasted Sour Mash. The newest release to Michter’s Toasted line features Michter’s US-1 sour mash whiskey finished in toasted barrels. I really liked the pour, but didn’t have enough to write up some notes. I had acquired a bottle from a store here in Atlanta just before heading to Kentucky and I could not wait to open and explore it when I got back.

Michter’s Toasted Sour Mash Whiskey – bottle was bought by me and not provided by Michter’s.

The first time I smelled the Toasted Sour Mash, it reminded me of the mashed grain smell at the distillery. Of all the things that have stayed with me after countless distillery visits, that smell is the one thing I always talk about and long for. Nothing can replace that strong scent of baking sourdough bread and I usually only get it if I smell an empty glass of bourbon the next morning. Michter’s Toasted Sour Mash has that smell, along with some vanilla and honey, for a really fantastic nose.

At 86 proof, there is just enough of a bite to keep it from tasting too mellow. I do wish it was a little higher in proof, mainly because I could drink the entire bottle at once, but it definitely drinks higher than 86 proof. It’s got a little bit of spice and toffee upfront but quickly switches to a nice smoky flavor which I can only assume comes from the additional time spent in the toasted barrel. It fades away nicely with a buttery, caramel flavor and makes you want more.

Summary: A delicious new edition to the lineup for Michter’s. The extra time this whiskey spent in toasted barrels really brings out the sour mash and adds a wonderful smoky flavor. I am a big fan. Solid A on this one.

How to get it: The Fort Nelson location of Michter’s in downtown Louisville has a gift shop that occasionally puts out limited edition releases like the M10 Bourbon and Rye and the Toasted series. If you are in Kentucky, make sure you stop there for a visit, it’s well worth it even if you don’t snag one of these bottles. The tasting room upstairs has almost all of their pours available at affordable prices, so you can at least try some of it.

An Announcement from Subourbia

“Welcome to Subourbia, my new home for Bourbon, Whiskey, and other Spirit reviews.  Hope you enjoy!”

My first blog post on Nov 20th, 2014, a day after my 38th birthday. I had no idea how long I would do this, or why, but after my first few blog entries I knew that I had found something I enjoyed. The next couple of years threw me farther into a hobby than I had ever been thrown before. I started a local whiskey group with some close friends, picked out barrels, traveled to Kentucky, met up with ‘internet friends’ in hotel rooms to drink, joined hundreds of Facebook groups , wrote blog article after blog article, and at some point was invited to join a bourbon podcast round-table. It was a whirlwind, and it was fun.

Fast forward to December of this past year. During our most recent round-table podcast, we went around the group and everyone discussed their accomplishments for 2018. Brian (Sipp’n Corn) had written a book, a great book btw. Kenny and Ryan (Bourbon Pursuit) had welcomed Fred Minnick to their podcasting team and had also launched their own bourbon brand. Blake (Bourbonr) had started his own craft spirits store and Nick, Jordan, and Eric (Breaking Bourbon) are at the top of their game with their blog. Then it was my turn. I couldn’t think of anything I had done in 2018. I’m not sure I had written more than 2 or 3 entries. I had not traveled to Kentucky, hell I wasn’t even sure if I knew what the other guys were talking about when it came to bourbon related news.

It was there that I realized it was no longer fun for me. Writing had slowly become a burden and the lack of new blog entries was something we joked about regularly. Even discussing bourbon wasn’t as fun, I just found myself out of touch with the latest bourbon news and just wanting to criticize bourbon releases. I felt embarrassed to be part of the team of people who were flying high, as I was barely touching the ground. I knew then and there it was time to step away. Not just from the podcast, but from the blog as well. Subourbia was fun until it became a burden, then it just wasn’t fun.

I was proud to be a part of the Bourbon Roundtable, but will no longer be a regular member after Monday. Thank you to the Pursuit team and the great group of guys who tolerated me for so long. I don’t know if I will write any more blog articles, we’ll see how I feel later. For now I just want to drink good bourbon and talk with the good people I have met along the way. I’ll still be most active on Twitter and on Facebook, but just don’t expect too much here. Cheers! – Kerry B.

2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Review

First off, a big thank you to BT for providing me samples.  Also, I’d like to point out that the samples are glass and are 100 ml this year instead of 50 ml.  I asked if the change was due to me giving them so much grief about small samples and they said yes.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to give them grief about it and I’m sure they were just kidding, but I’m taking credit for the sample size change.  You’re welcome.

Here is the fact sheet direct from Breaking Bourbon with bottle estimates, ages, and more relevant info that I’m not going to bother to repeat here.  I’m just getting straight to the point, and I’m kinda lazy.  And Breaking has like 8 guys over there, or something.  Love you Breakies.

Eagle Rare 17

The one antique that everyone is most interested to try this year is the ER 17.  This year the proof went from 90 to 101 in honor of the original proof of Eagle Rare.  This is a permanent change going forward.  I really didn’t even want to try it this year because I know I would love it and I know I’ll never see a bottle at retail.

The higher proof really isn’t noticeable on the nose because I thought it always smelled great at just 90 proof.  To me it’s the perfect bourbon smell, a great mix of oak and sweetness, and it’s the same this year.

And it’s delicious of course.  I don’t really notice a change in heat, but the higher proof definitely enhances what is already a great bourbon.  Vanilla, toffee, and butterscotch and some oak last for awhile on the finish. 

Last year’s release to me was one of the best ER 17 I have had, and this years is just as good if not better.   I bet even at 90 proof it would still be amazing.   Love it.  Wish I didn’t.

Grade – A


Sazerac 18

So here’s the deal with Saz 18.  Unless you have been hiding under a rock, the Saz 18 from 2005 to 2015 was the same stuff.  In 2005 there was a large amount of delicious Saz 18 rye and BT didn’t want it to get over oaked so they put it all into steel tanks to halt the aging.  If you look at the stats, the tanked stuff was actually 20.5 year old rye, not 18, which also explains why it was so amazing for so many years.  I am a huge fan of the tanked stuff and I’ve gone through no less than 8 bottles of it.  No rye or bourbon has matched the finish of tanked Saz 18 that I have tried so far.

If the letters BT writes each year regarding Saz 18 are correct, then the 2016-2018 version are all tanked as well from a batch distilled in Spring of 1998.  The odd thing is that the 2016 which was the first year of new distill was very disappointing, but I thought last year’s was actually very close to the tanked distill and a huge improvement over ’16.

Unfortunately this year, Saz 18 is disappointing again.  It’s much lighter than the tanked rye, very thin and the nose almost reminds me of a bourbon and not a rye.

There is some spearmint and wintergreen gum on the palette, and it’s got a little bit of that Saz 18 deliciousness, but it’s still too thin.  The finish fades away quickly, and to me this is the part that is a huge let down over previous year’s Saz 18.

I’m just confused here.  As I said before, 2016 was the first year of new distill and it was disappointing.  As I recall, as a product on it’s own it was disappointing even if you didn’t compare it to the tanked stuff.  Last year, 2017 Saz 18, I thought tasted so much better and so close to the tanked stuff that I thought we were back on the right track.  But this year, it’s disappointing again.  I will say as a stand alone product it is still better than the 2016, but it’s just not close to the tanked perfection.


Grade – C+


Thomas Handy

The other rye on the list is also a letdown for me this year.  I haven’t had a pour of Handy in awhile, but I remember how I love the strong minty burn of the young barrel proof rye.  Not this year.

The nose is nice and similar to most years.  It smells like melted red hots soaked in booze.  Who doesn’t love that?  Brings you back to the college days if I remember correctly, but most of the time I don’t remember correctly.

The rest is disappointing.  First sip burned my tongue and throat a little then faded away to nothing.   Over and over on each sip, slight burn in my mouth or throat and then some rye spice, and then nothing.  It’s like it almost wants to be good…and then…it just isn’t.  I’ve tried 3 times now on 3 different nights and I still feel the same way.  Meh.

Grade – C


William Larue Weller

People love them some William Larue Weller.  I mean yes it’s essentially barrel proof Weller 12, I get it, and people LOVE barrel proof wheated bourbons.  But the first time I tried WLW 4 years ago, I choked on the first sip and burned my throat for a few days.   Maybe in my mind I just haven’t recovered from it, but WLW is probably my least favorite antique.  Now I will say I had a sample recently of WLW from 2009 or something and it was a whole different ballgame of deliciousness.  But let’s focus on 2018 for now.

It does have a nice smell to it.  Some might go all in with lots of adjectives but I’m just gonna say…. butterscotch candy, peppermint, and burning nostrils from smelling it so many times.

Ok so there’s that flavor on the palette guys love, the wheater.  I can’t really place what that flavor is.  Baked cinnamon bread maybe?  Do they make cinnamon bread?  Surely they do.  I read a couple different reviews from people with their tasting notes about this release.  Where do they get this shit from?  I must have dead taste buds because all I don’t taste any of that stuff, just like baked peppermint bread with some sugar on it….in a bourbon kind of way.  Finish is decent but I found my self wanting more.

I dunno, it tastes like every WLW.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not my cup of bourbon.

Grade – B


George T Stagg

I love me some Stagg mainly because they actually released a crap ton last year and I was able to get a few.  I don’t even care how it tasted, I rolled up on parties with a George T. M’FING Stagg a few times like THE MAN.  Ok it actually never left my basement, but I felt like THE MAN drinking it.  I love the bottle design the most of all the antiques.  And this year the proof is the lowest it has ever been at 124.9.

Another great bourbon nose.  Brown sugar and honey and of course ethanol with that almost 125 proof.

It’s also very good this year.  Even at 125 it’s not overly hot and I found myself really enjoying the slight burn and spice along with the usual caramel and vanilla flavors that linger for awhile after each sip.  I found myself wanting to pour more, but sadly the 100 ml sample ran out pretty quickly.  Maybe if they were 200 ml……

A very good addition to the Stagg lineup.  It’s not as good as the ER17 but it’s my second favorite and a must buy if you can find a bottle, which hopefully you can this year.

Grade – A-



Is this the best BTAC lineup ever?  No, it’s not.  Handy and Saz are down, WLW is ok, Stagg is good and ER17 is great.

But the thing I love about Buffalo Trace is that they value positive and negative reviews the same, they are honest about their stuff, and at the end of the day, the make truly incredible products.  A down year for Handy and Saz means nothing in the long run because next year they will probably rebound into great releases.

And let’s be honest, if given the opportunity to purchase any of these bottles at retail, would you really pass?


Four Roses 130th review

One of the most anticipated releases every fall is the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch (a.k.a. LE Smb).  Consisting of 3-4 of the 10 Four Roses recipes, with decent aging of those recipes, each LE Smb one comes across with complex flavors that change over time.  I love the fact that you can revisit an LE Small Batch at a later date and it’s totally different but still an outstanding pour.  Last year’s edition in the Fall reminded me of the 2015 LE Small Batch, which stands out to me as possibly the best one ever released.  This years recipe is as follows:

OBSV – 10 year – 30% of the total recipe

OESV – 14 year – 40% of the total recipe

OESK – 16 year – 10% of the total recipe

OBSF – 13 year – 20% of the total recipe

As you can see, the recipe is dominated by V and F, which are the Herbal and Fruit forward yeast strains per Four Roses.  I was very interested to see how the two meshed together.  OESK is also my favorite recipe so having a good bit of age on that part piqued my interest as well.

For starters, it’s got a great nose to it.  Distinct vanilla notes, caramel, butter, deliciousness.  The perfect whiff of bourbon.  I wish they could make candles from this smell.

On the palette It’s peppery and it kind of burned my tongue on the first sip.  It’s 108.4 proof so it’s got a noticeable bite, but good bourbons rarely continue biting after the first sip.  True to form more flavors open up with each sip as I go.  it’s nice and thick, almost like syrup.  Along with a nice spicy, minty, peppery flavor I get an almost fruity flavor, apples or cherry or something.  It gets better each sip and it’s very complex with all the different recipes and ages.

The finish does not last that long, but the sweetness lingers just enough.  Every single Four Roses LE Small Batch I have ever opened did not start out with a very long finish, but even a month later the finish is noticeably longer.  These are the kind of bottles that really benefit from some air.

Overall even with just 2 small pours, I can already tell I love this release.  I really liked the peppery flavor with the fruit flavor, and I know this is going to be one that improves after being opened.  This may be my second favorite LE Small Batch of all time after the 2015, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.

Review of Parker’s Heritage 12

A big thank you to Heaven Hill for still being one of the only distilleries left that had not realized I had stopped blogging.  Thanks to a few samples, I’m writing again!   Let’s get it going!

Parker’s Heritage 12

The 12th edition of the very popular Parker’s Heritage Collection this year features bourbon finished in Orange Curacao Barrels.  I don’t think I have ever seen or used an Orange Curacao bottle, but I remember when Blue Curacao was really popular and more so in Atlanta because the Braves outfielder Andruw Jones was from Curacao.  I also know that Willett did an experimental release called Willett XCF in which they also finished bourbon in orange curacao barrels.  According to Heaven Hill, the bourbon in this release was aged in the Upper Floors of Warehouse Q before being finished for 4 months in Orange Curacao barrels.  It was also bottled at 110 proof this year and was non-chill filtered.

It smells like orange and butter.  Like butter that was made with oranges.  Maybe I could call this orange marmalade, even though I’ve never actually had that.  There is still some bourbon there on the nose and it did burn my nostrils a little at the 110 proof, but there is definitely a tropical, this-is-not-bourbon nose to it.

The first time I tried it and my friend Chuck tried it, we thought the same thing, that it didn’t taste like a bourbon.  Although it starts out with a strong flavor of mint and caramel, it quickly gets replaced by an orange zest flavor on the finish.  The finish is decent, not offensive, but it does lack the caramel and vanilla finish that I love with bourbon.

I have tried it a few more times and it’s about the same.  It’s different, but I can’t say that it’s bad.  It’s one of the more unique barrel-finished bourbons that I have had.  And at $89 retail, you are going to buy it anyway.  Just don’t expect it to taste like boubon, because it doesn’t.  But if variety is the spice of life, then I guess this can be added to your collection.

Grade – B / B+

Coming later this week – review of the Fall release of Old Fitz and the 27 year Heaven Hill release.

Double Eagle, Very Rare…

For those of you who may have noticed, Buffalo Trace applied for and was approved a label for a new product called Double Eagle, Very Rare.  At this point there are no further details but one might assume Double Eagle means 20 years instead of 10.  Of course that is only assumption, and it is still bottled at 90 proof.  Very interesting news from this morning, I’m sure more details will follow.

TTB Link:

Side by side review: 2017 Four Roses Limited Edition vs Al Young 50th Anniversary

First of all, holy crap I finished a new blog post.  Look at me!  It only took like 90 days or so and I still have about 4 or 5 half finished posts.  You might even see a flurry of new blog posts from me!  I know all 3 of you have been patiently waiting, so thank you for that.

On to a nice little side by side review.  Couple of things to note when reviewing any Four Roses Limited Edition:

  1. Never review a 4RLE just after opening a bottle.  I like to wait 2 months after opening before I decide if I like it or not.  Four Roses bottles, especially the Limited Edition Small Batches, tend to get better with some air.
  2. Never review a 4RLE with a single pour.  This should go for any bourbon or rye but really so with the LE Small Batches.  The combination of recipes and different ages can create a different flavor each time you try it.  Never judge on one pour alone.
  3. Never review a 4RLE because the marketing company asks you to after sending you a sample.  😉

2017 saw two Four Roses Limited Small Batches and each one had something missing from the bottle that still has me perplexed.  The first release was a June/July offering in honor of Al Young, a senior brand ambassador and a staple at Four Roses for 50 years now.  Called the Al Young 50th Anniversary LE Small Batch, the release was said to be around 10k bottles but for the first time that I have seen, there was no bottle number/count on the bottle itself.  Every other LE Small Batch I have seen has had the bottle count on it, but it was left off this one.  Speaking of the bottle, this particular release used a unique bottle design that we haven’t seen since 1967, the year Al Young started at Four Roses.  It’s a great looking bottle, classy and pretty, and it made for one hot item in the market when they were released.

2017’s second LE Small Batch was their standard yearly offering in the November time frame with their usual bottle look.  The bottle count was brought back with this standard LE release (almost 11k), but for the life of me I cannot figure out why they took the recipe off.  I’m still scratching my head on this one as I have to keep looking up the recipe online when I drink it.  I don’t know if it was intentional or not but man that is really annoying.  Ok – on to the reviews:

Al Young 50th Anniversary LE Small Batch


  • RECIPE: Blend of 20% 12 yr OBSF, 50% 13 yr OESV, 25% 15 yr OBSK and 5% 23 yr OBSV
  • BOTTLE COUNT: Approx 10k
  • PROOF: 107.6 (53.8% ABV)
  • MSRP: $150

The nose on Al Young is a little funky to me.  It definitely has some oak in there from the very small amount of 23 year old OBSV.  It doesn’t smell bad, it just surprises you when you get that oak with the typical Four Roses floral nose.  It has a great flavor up front, nice and spicy with flavors of cinnamon and cloves.  It fades away into a great finish with caramel and vanilla and mint ice cream as the flavors I picked up.  I will admit I didn’t think it was that great the first time I tried it.  This bottle has been open 6 months now and it’s delicious.  The secondary price on this bottle is higher than I have seen for any recent 4R LE release and it seems this one was highly regarded by the bourbon world.  A great pour for sure, just give it time to open up.

Grade:  89

2017 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch


  • RECIPE: 15 year OESK, 13 year OESK, 12 year OESV
  • BOTTLE COUNT: Approx 10k
  • PROOF: 108.6 proof (54.3% ABV)
  • MSRP: $129

Following the theme of ‘I don’t review it right away’, I thought the 2017 LE was a bit of a letdown from the sample I had received.  I got a full bottle and it’s been open 2 months now with about 1/3 gone.  Having had a few pours recently, I have to say the 2017 is damn good.  The recipe is strong on the K yeast, my favorite, and it smells wonderful, clove and mint mixed with the unmistakable oak from the 10+ year age of the bourbons inside it.  OESK is my second favorite recipe and at times I get a cotton candy flavor which I love.  I get that occasionally here on the palate along with the typical spice of 4R.  The finish has definitely improved as well, lingering caramel and butterscotch.  Man this one opened up great and really reminds me of the 2015 LE Small Batch.  To me this has been one of the quieter releases so far this year.  Very few people are talking about it, and even fewer are trying to flip these bottles.  That suits me just well as I can find a few more before the hype catches on.  Another great bottle.

Score: 88

Despite some glaring omissions on the bottles of these two releases, we are reminded once again that Four Roses has some amazing bourbon still in it’s warehouses.  The blends of these limited editions don’t always come together right away, but over time they just seem to hold up so well over other seasonal LE releases that are very one dimensional.  I love the fact that you can get a little different taste each time you try them.  Brent Elliott is often criticized these days for not being able to blend as well as Jim Rutledge could, but I find both of the Small Batch releases this year excellent, and on par with anything Jim was able to do.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

2017 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Review

First off, thanks to the fine folks at BT for a sample set of this year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (a.k.a. BTAC, a.k.a. that other hard as hell whiskey to obtain besides Pappy).

Second, this review is not going to be fancy, or wordy, or much of anything except the details you want.  I ain’t got time for much else.  I’ve got a house renovation project, a ransomware webinar for like 7 people, I just got stuff to do.  I’m not even putting pictures in here, just some stock photo I used last year.

On with the part you came to see…

Thomas Handy

Every review of Handy always starts with, “who doesn’t love a Handy”.  I have been a Thomas Handy fan since I first learned that they were the easiest BTAC to get.  I’ve had at least 1 bottle every year, and have a 15 and 16 still open.  I need to be in that certain mood to have a Handy pour, that mood where I am just feeling a buzz and had a bad day and I’m ready to jump off the plank into the sea of tom foolery.  Both times I tried the sample of 2017, I tried it as my first pour of the night.  And both times the fiery flames of stomach acid visited me with such haste I would have sworn I drank lava.  After you get past the Kentucky hug, or in this case, bearhug from pre-Terminator Arnold, it settles down into the Handy I have come to love.  You really have to have a taste for Handy, the unassumed and unknowing will not like it and will probably feel an unrelenting burn for a long time after a sip.  But I enjoy it.  The young, barrel proof rye is full of spice and heat, but after an intense rush it really smooths out nicely.  An ice cube or two, and a little time really improve the overall experience.  This year’s version very much reminds me of ’15 and ’16, and consistency is always a good thing.  B+


William Larue Weller

WLW as it is referred to has a strong fanbase when it comes to BTAC.  WLW is preferred by many over Stagg for it’s wheated mashbill, though it comes in a bit younger than Stagg.  This year, WLW is just over 12 years old, essentially making it a barrel proof Weller 12.  I’ll be honest, WLW has never really done it for me.  I’ve never had any of the really older WLW, just the newer stuff since 2014, and it’s never been my favorite.  It’s probably the coolest bottle of the BTAC, but that’s where it stops for me.  Same thing this year.  It has a great nose, I just get a whole lot of alcohol taste, very little sweetness, and an almost bitter, unpleasant finish.  Still not a fan.  C


George T Stagg

People were very excited to hear that suddenly this year there was 900k bottles of GTS.  Seriously it’s like all the sudden Augustus Gloop jumped into Willy Wonka’s bourbon river and released it all downstream to the public.  It reminds me of the Mad Max remake last year when they turned on all the water in the valley and all the thirsty people drank.  And if I had a dollar for every Oprah “You get a Stagg, You get a Stagg” meme, I would have like 8 bucks.  You will be pleased to know Stagg is pleasing this year.  I did one of those little “mmm” noises each time I sipped it, like I was approving the Stagg to all the ghosts sitting around me watching me.  It’s strong but doesn’t drink hot like WLW and Handy.  It’s got a great finish of caramel and oak.  Very drinkable at 129.2 proof.  A solid drinker again.  B+/A-


Eagle Rare 17

As excited as people were to hear how much Stagg there was, they were also bummed to hear that there were only 7 bottles available of ER17 this year.  I mean seriously, the barrels had 92% evaporation.  The angels didn’t just take their share, they plugged in hair dryers and went to work on these barrels every night, reducing them to slivers of whiskey.  And it seriously sucks because this is probably my favorite one this year.  It’s just so damn good.  Oaky perfection this year, reminds me of 2013.  Sure it’s only 90 proof, I get why people reject this one too, but it’s just so easily drinkable, it’s like caramel syrup.  To the 7 of you who end up getting a bottle, and the 2 of those that actually open their bottle, I do hope you enjoy it.  A+


Sazerac 18

Like every great novel, the end has the biggest surprise.  As you may know, Sazerac 18 has been my favorite pour since I first tried it in 2014.  I have been through 5 bottles since then, and I have a few still stashed away.  Every time someone who is new to the bourbon/rye world comes over, that’s my last pour for them.  Seriously, it’s my drink of choice, and it hasn’t changed in years.  Last year was the first year that BT used new distill for Saz 18, as the previous 10 or so years all came from a tanked version.  I was very disappointed last year and thought the Saz 18 wasn’t just average, it was actually bad.  I was so bummed I rejected my friend’s offer to try from his bottle that he opened from last year.  Fast forward to this year, and we learn that the Saz 18 this year was tanked from last year’s new distill.  I was bummed again.  Then I tried this years sample.  Damnit if it’s not delicious again.  It doesn’t have the same finish as the tanked stuff, but it’s so much better than the sample I had last year, that I wonder what I even had.  I actually wonder if I got something other than Saz 18.  Everyone who tried my sample agreed, it didn’t even taste like rye.  I am befuddled, but alas, this years Saz 18 is quite good.  Again with the finish, it fades faster, but it’s still got a great smooth taste, a little of that apple caramel flavor with a little bit of oak at the end.  I’m a fan again.  A-


Death, taxes, BTAC is worth seeking out.  I know we hate the hunt, we hate the price gouging on the secondary market and the crappy liquor stores near beach locations, but these really are some of the best whiskey’s you can find today, if you can find them.

2017 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Review

The Fall bourbon season always begins with Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.  Every time I see that bottle, it makes me think of Queen singing, “Fat Bottomed Bottles you make the rocky world go round”.  The bottle design is two things:  1)  It’s unique and from a pouring/display/coolness perspective it’s pretty awesome.  2)  It’s unique and from a storing multiple bottles perspective, it sucks.  Seriously the thing takes up so much room in a whiskey cabinet and in shelves, plastic bins, etc, that you really can’t keep too many of them.  But going back to the coolness, it’s unique design is what makes it so sought after.  It really is a beautiful bottle, despite it’s ba-donka donk.  And I swear these days OFBB has become as hard to get as Pappy.  The buzz over this bottle has been strong in Atlanta for weeks now.  Thankfully I got to try it before I bought it thanks to the fine folks at Brown-Forman.

2017 OFBB

Gotta be honest here, I’ve been drinking out of plastic cups for the past 6 weeks.  We have been renovating our kitchen and family room, and I stupidly packed up every glass I had in the house during the reno.  Not that I really care what I drink from, but I’ve learned you really can’t get much of a nose when drinking from plastic.  Everything smells the same if you take a big enough whiff.  Same thing applies here, it smells good, I just can’t pick up anything specifically

This year’s OFBB has 2 proofs, 96, and 95.6.  It’s normally bottled at 96, but they had some issue with proof and some of the bottles are 95.6.  My sample was 96 proof, but I’m in GA which is getting 95.6, so I’ll be interested to see if there is a difference.  What I can tell you is that the 96 is delicious.

At 96 proof, it’s a thicker than I expected, with a bold and spicy oak flavor that I absolutely love in a bourbon.  It’s not too spicy and not too hot, in fact, it’s pretty much perfect with just enough sweetness of caramel to balance it out.  It reminds me of something else that I have had, but I can’t really place what it is, I just know that I like it.  I had a few pours, each time I enjoyed it a little more.   That opinion was shared by two of my friends.  I love to share samples to make sure I’m not crazy, and they both agreed with me that it’s a hit this year.

The finish to me dropped off quicker than I wanted, but one of my friends let me know that it had a much better finish when he drank it last night from an actual bottle with an actual glass.  I’ll have to add the finish to the nose category as a consequence of drinking bourbon like I’m still in college.

The retail price on the OFBB this year is $89.99.  Although the release has been getting slight price increases every year, I still feel like it’s a good bargain when you start to look at all the releases in the Fall.  At retail, this is a must buy.  Nice work BF.  Can’t wait to try it in an actual glass.