Drier and woodier than previous vintages, giving you a rich oakiness similar to a much older bourbon without the cost.
Notes: This whiskey is produced at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown,and has a new visitors center the Bourbon Heritage Center (which sadly was about to open the week after we visited).
Close to both Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve Distillery if you are touring. Home of numerous other whiskies such as Elijah Craig 12 Year-Old, Elijah Craig 18 Year-Old Single Barrel, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny Bourbon, Fighting Cock and Cabin Still among others.This is a single barrel bourbon from ten year old barrels that are selected every year.We had previously reviewed the 2000 Vintage ( 2010 release) which may still be found in some liquor stores
Appearance: Deep red / gold bronze color in the bottle, wears it’s age almost as well as its’ distiller (Parker Beam). Beautiful clear Baltic amber in the glass. A wonderful and promising color in a whiskey, as this color denotes a good amount of maturity and aging with some good interaction/respiration with the barrels it sojourned in for 10 years. If you saw this color in a single malt scotch, it would have to be a to older and about four to ten times more expensive. On swirling it leaves a nice oily coat on the glass, with legs forming on the edge line slowly
First Impression: Persimmons, nutmeg , cinnamon, vanilla, new leather, some spiciness, and on more warming: char. A nice full-bodied whiskey.
Taste: Toffee, (not caramel), corn, apricot again, vanilla , cinnamon, fairly woody in some respects. A bit drier and seemingly less complex than some earlier iterations/vintages we have had in the past. Medium mouth feel, more like a good l cognac in it’s spareness. Nice warming going down, without the burn you would expect for the price. Lovely medium finish with a fair amount of leather, dark fruit, oak and char.
Drinks: Great in almost any drink calling for bourbon that we tried – Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and Whiskey Sours and all the rest we tried were hugely improved by using this bourbon. The dryness and char stand up to almost every other ingredient in a cocktail without getting lost or overwhelmed.Another point heavily in favor of this bourbon is it is cheap enough to use with, we hesitate to say abandon, but it is cheap enough to use as a house bourbon all the time – drink a little less but enjoy much more for the money.
Bottle: Bottle is the same as earlier releases but the labeling has changed. Black sealing wax with (thankfully) a good pull tab. The bulbous neck makes the bottle easy to grip when pouring. Main body is slightly squat with rounded edges give it a nice effect and shelf appeal (in the store or on your own shelf). make the bottle easy to grip when pouring. The clear glass show off the color of the whiskey to good effect and the trimmer, narrower label with a deckled edge has the legally required labeling and the important stuff on back – barreled on date, barrel number and bottling date, and little more. The weight and heft of the bottle conveys a solid feel. Overall the design harkens to a scotch single malt bottle in overall influence and appearance.
Final Thoughts: The difference between this single barrel bourbon and a mass produced bourbon is is huge – and for only a few dollars more than what you would pay for a mediocre bourbon. This vintage would be a great gateway bourbon to get a Scotch drinker to try a bourbon. Nicely spare and woody without being overly sweet, it would appeal to most Scotch drinkers as interesting interlude in American Whiskey. It also is somewhat similar to an older aged whiskey in its spareness, and while it is not a much sought after 20 or 23 year old Van Winkle, it is also considerably less expensive and shares some of its oakiness and charm for a fraction of the cost ( not to mention much more widely available) but is a bit rough around the edges compared to those, but the trade off is it can stand up better in a cocktail .
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