“Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”
Well you have to admit whiskey (especially bourbon) is a great motivator. So is a deadline. This is the last day for members to get double tickets.
If you want to order more tickets for the drawing you can take advantage of our 2-for-1 members entries until February 1.
Now Pappy season has died down, but check out the 4-Shots for damn good bourbons that are worth chasing. Plus, a damn good stogie.
More Pappy Resources
The Pappy Raffle/Lotteries/Auctions Page (Keeps you in the know about Statewide, Store-Specific or other opportunities to locate a bottle of Pappy.)
The Pappy Events Page (Makes you aware of Tasting Events, Whiskey Festivals, etc. that offer and opportunity to taste some Pappy Van Winkle.)
Also, the Pappy List is now categorized by State. (Bars and restaurants do run out so it’s always a good idea to call and ask if that’s the only reason you’re going.)
Pappy Van Winkle inevitably comes to mind when it comes to fine aged bourbon. Now the Kentucky-based brand is making a limited edition stogie to puff with a few fingers of their storied whiskey.
As the name suggests, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigars are wrapped in a tapa-negra style wrapper that’s been fermented in Pappy bourbon barrels. Beneath that is a Mexican San Andres base wrapper and a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos hand-selected by Jonathan Drew, founder of the Drew Estate in Esteli, Nicaragua.
With a “Medium Plus” strength level and “well-rounded, hearty” flavor, Pappy & Company says it’s an ideal choice for everyone from casual smokers to seasoned aficionados.
For $170, buyers get 10 Churchill-sized Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigars presented in a custom wooden box.
Visit Pappy & Company’s website for further details.
Four Roses is an oft-talked about bourbon distillery, and rightly so. Bourbon is an industry partly built on myth and mystique, and when compared to fellow old stalwarts of the Kentucky bourbon industry the 130-year history of Four Roses is distinct. A lesser known aspect of Four Roses lore resides around a mostly ignored dispute over the origin of the name “Four Roses.” Their offerings are unique, as well. Four Roses uses two separate mash bills and five different yeast strains, and whether it’s true or not, I have always personally viewed the “E” offerings as Four Roses privately snickering at the rest of the industry.
Depending on who you talk to, if one were to ask a bourbon professional what constitutes “high-rye,” you are most likely to get an answer back that falls between 15-20%. Though I have heard some claim their 13% rye to be high-rye, I do not, and neither do most people I’ve chose to discuss this predicament with. Four Roses, meanwhile, interestingly refers to their 20% rye mash “E” offerings as “low-rye.” They seem to believe mightily in the power of rye grain in bourbon, and I see this subtle play on terminology as them entertaining themselves and playfully poking at their neighbors. Despite being highly competitive, the whiskey industry tends to be pretty friendly and cordial with one another.
As is the standard for a Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch offering, Four Roses 130th Anniversary is a blend of older bourbons released at cask strength. Coming in at 108.4 proof (54.2% abv), Four Roses 130th Anniversary is made using four bourbons ranging in age between 10-16 years. The proportions of the bourbons are not disclosed, but the bottle details that 10-year OBSV, 13-year OBSF, 14-year OESV and 16-year OESK comprise the blend.
Tasting Notes: Four Roses 130th Anniversary Small Batch
Vital Stats: A cask strength blend of four bourbons ranging in age from 10-16 years. Approximately 13,140 750ml bottles released. Prices vary greatly depending on the market. I have seen as low as $140 and as high as $600 per bottle.
Appearance: Deep amber reminiscent of fresh wood stain. There is sediment in this bourbon, it is not to be worried about.
Nose: More balanced than anticipated. It’s like walking into a candy store that makes its own salted caramel. A pinch of barnyard quality brings the sweet and slightly salty notes together nicely.
Palate: Thinner mouthfeel compared to a lot of cask strength whiskies, but a pleasant warming sensation lingers in the mouth for a while. Less woodsy than expected given the ages of the bourbons. It’s a bit earthy with perfume and medicinal notes on the finish. Bourbon sweet, but off-dry.
By nature of knowing what they’re doing and using bourbon with some extra aging, Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch releases are almost certain to be good whiskey every time. The question has more become are you willing to pay the price of acquiring a bottle for your personal collection? Four Roses 130th Anniversary is tasty whiskey indeed, but is somewhat far from being one of my favorite limited editions Four Roses has released.
I would recommend finding a dram at the bar. With ~13,140 bottles out there, plenty of places specializing in whiskey should be able to score a bottle from their distributor.
- STEVE’S NOTES
- BRAND NOTES
NOSE: Vanilla | Caramel | Oak | Cooked Cherries | Dried Tobacco | Ripe Banana | Wonderfully Uniform Presentation
TASTE: Oak | Roasted Nuts | Chocolate Muffin | Rye Bread | Maple Syrup | Vanilla
FINISH: Long, strong and dry
SHARE WITH: Any bourbon fan, especially Booker’s fans
WORTH THE PRICE: Not for me, but certainly for some
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar unless you’re a Booker’s fanatic.
OVERALL: From its explosive nose to its punch-in-the-mouth flavor and texture, this is what Booker’s fans love. Booker Noe himself created his namesake brand to be powerful, and it does not disappoint. I first tasted “Booker’s 30” with Fred Noe, III, and a press group inside a 40 F rickhouse in November. Cold but still bold, yet the chilly temps numbed its nuances. (Not complaining. Such adventures make this job fantastic.) Four hours later we tasted it again in a 70 F conference room at the distillery: much more aroma and brighter flavors. We even passed around some cured Kentucky ham slices to top it off.
A month later when I received my full bottle press sample, I struggled to drink it neat. I wondered if chill of the rickhouse and the fat of the ham blunted the edges of those first sips. I’ve always drunk Booker’s neat and added ice only when I wanted to stretch it some. Now, neither time nor water could soften the blow of this whiskey (and I gave it four neat attempts over a few days). Adding ice brought the beast to heel as the texture changed from hot and dry to silky and lush. It also released new flavors of cinnamon, taffy and marshmallow. Friggin’ delicious.
Just to prove my hunch about the drinkability of past Booker’s iterations compared to 30, I pulled out tastes of Kentucky Chew, Kathleen’s Batch and Sip Awhile. Just as I’d thought: easier drinkers.
Despite those quibbles, this is what I love about Booker’s 30: It showed Fred Noe III’s still got some rebel in him. Team Beam wanted to use only 16 year-old whiskey, but Noe considered the nose “off, funky, kinda weird, frankly.” To test his take, he brought in Fred Noe IV, a.k.a. Freddie, and asked what he thought. Same reaction: the nose was off. To get the whiskey he wanted, Fred III requested some 9-year-old barrels be blended into the 16s. It took a couple of tries before he was satisfied. He and his son, the final judges on all things Booker’s, believed it “would make Grandaddy happy,” Fred said.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, a Heaven Hill limited edition released three times annually that can claim Whiskey Advocate Whiskey of the Year 2017 among its many accolades, is a whiskey I must admit I have a bit of bias towards. I am not as much a fan of the their standard small batch ever since they dropped the 12-year age statement, but the cask strength remains 12-years-old and has some releases in hazmat territory, of which I am also a sucker.
I typically prefer high-rye or wheated bourbons to heavy-corn, which is also known as the “traditional mash bill,” meaning over 70% corn in the mash. Perhaps the juxtaposition of me loving Elijah Craig Barrel Proof while it happens to be heavy-corn is the root of my bias, thus making me appreciate it more. Just feel like I should be up front, thank you for bearing with me.
With my bias out in the open, let’s get focused on this particular release of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This review is on the third and final release of ECBP for 2018, “C918.” For an easy rundown of what the coding means, click here. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C918 could be intimidating with a proof of 131.2 (65.7% abv), but this actually falls on the lower end for this particular bourbon series.
Heaven Hill has done an amazing job of consistently keeping Elijah Craig Barrel Proof on the lower end of the price market for barrel proof bourbon releases, as well. It is rare you can consistently find a barrel strength bourbon in the $60-80 range and that alone is reason enough to like this whiskey. Time to see how this particular batch turned out.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C918
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C918 (image via Heaven Hill)
Tasting Notes: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C918
Vital Stats: 12-year-old cask strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey released at 131.4 proof in 750ml bottles. Mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley. Retails between $60-100 depending on the market.
Appearance: Has a reddish hue to it, similar to a Manhattan cocktail.
Nose: Substantial caramel notes upfront that cover the high proof rather well. There is a brightness to this whiskey, but somewhat subdued by a creamy heaviness. Notes of dill and baked maple work together to round it all into each other.
Palate: Oaky, with floral notes and cherries throughout. Mildly creamy mouthfeel that fades fast on the finish, which is long but light. This bourbon becomes spicier with a couple drops of water and unlocks some chocolate.
By my account Heaven Hill has once again given reason to believe in their Elijah Craig Barrel Proof series. This is a high-proof offering that nearly any whiskey drinker could enjoy. Barrel proof whiskies are admittedly not for everyone, but Elijah Craig Barrel Proof could be a great way to introduce somebody curious into the category of cask strength whiskey. A side-by-side of the same whiskey neat and just a couple drops of water is fun with any cask strength whiskey, regardless of your knowledge level.