Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results

BourbonDrinker.com/Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results => My Father and I did a single sitting taste testing of everything listed here. It took over 2 hours and WOW what an experience it was. Controversial

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Offline TheEther

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Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« on: January 23, 2012, 09:14:57 AM »
My Father and I did a single sitting taste testing of everything listed here.  It took over 2 hours and WOW what an experience it was.  Controversial would be a word to describe it, eye opening would be another.  Let me back up.  I started drinking bourbon about 2 months ago, I’m a complete foodie, I’m in my late 30’s and just enjoy new experiences. My very first try at real bourbon was the very same bottle of Eagle Rare 10 that we included in this review.  I don’t consider myself a connoisseur, nor to I consider myself to have a freak-of-nature palate.  My reviews here are written from my point of view for mainly what I tasted during the testing although pieces of others opinions crept in.  I’m also finding that I have a bit of a sweet-tooth and have trouble distinguishing the sweet tastes from one another, I sense them as a low or high sweetness (need to work on that some more).  I don’t find a lot of rye very pleasing over all and I'm sure that'll work itself out in the future.. 

Mainly what I’m looking for from you gents is what holes I have in my bourbon experience to date.  This review represents the whole of my bourbon experience save Makers Mark which I don’t find pleasing. 

I hope you enjoy reading our remarks below as much as we enjoyed transcribing them.  Suggestions are welcome..  I’m curious where that next-level bourbon experience lies..  Our top 8 in order from best to worst are at the bottom.

Thanks!

TheEther


Old Fitzgerald 12 year
Paid: $30.99

Nothing to speak of on the nose, alcohol and oak..  My sniffer may not be that refined..

Taste is a 3 trick pony, slightly sweet on the front immediately giving way to what I perceive is a dry musty rye in the middle (even though this is a wheated bourbon) then slowly tapering off to a glorious long light vanilla way in the back.  The front and middle are bit uninteresting, but the vanilla is worth waiting for.  When I want my vanilla fix, this one has the most overt vanilla I’ve found so far.  It reminded me of Yuengling Lager.  You drink it for the finish..

Is this a 30 dollar bourbon?  I’m still struggling with that one but I do like the vanilla…

Very Old Barton 6 BiB
Paid: $11.99

On the nose I get alcohol and a licorice/honey type scent..  Alcohol is stronger on the nose than the Weller 12.

My first drink really impressed me for a cheap bourbon.  The sweetness lingers then dry rye, then strong toasted oak.. love the wood flavor.  My only issue here is the finish, there really isn’t much to the finish besides a slightly dry sweetness on the back of my palate.  I almost get a light tobacco/espresso taste through the nose on the finish but it’s ever so subtle.  My very last drink there was a peat moss type flavor with the sweetness on the front.  Excellent value..

Bernheim Original (Wheat Whiskey)
Paid: $29.99

A high sweetness on the nose very little alcohol and maybe a wine like smell, is this Angels Envy? (I jest of course) but yes, I do get that from it.

Taste is almost no bitterness, slight sweetness, nothing to grap your attention.  Does have a weird alcohol bloom toward the end.  There’s nothing here for me.. this might be a good whiskey for a beginner with an undeveloped palate.  Sorry dear, I don’t think this relationship will work.. but thanks for the $10 rebate, it takes away the sting a bit…

Old Weller Antique 107
Paid: $20.99

I can’t say enough about this bourbon.  Is it one of the best bourbon values in the business?  I think so.  To be 107 proof, it’s smoother on the palate and going down than some of the other 90 proofers here.

Love the long sweet note up front, in the middle strong wheat then light sweetness on the back.. not über complex but nice and welcoming like an old friend.

Old Weller 12 Year
Paid $22.79

On the nose I get high sweet toasted oak.

Very sweet, creamy then dry I would say a more prevalent dryness that Bufflao Trace.  Frankly I think this would be a completely different bourbon at a higher proof.  I really hate to say it but I’m still gravitating toward the OWA 107, there’s just more there.  I’m also probably an idiot for saying that..

Buffalo Trace
Paid $21.99

On the nose I get little alcohol which is surprising, but I do get a orangey/citrusy note and what I think is sweet prunes…  Impressive..

Very sweet on the tongue on the front, slightly creamy, slightly dry, a little tart, mild rye kick, alcohol doesn’t bite too much.  The finish is dry rye, once that dissipates I get a light/very light hint of the citrus again and poof it’s gone leaving vestigial dryness in my mouth waiting for the next drink

Old Forester Signature 100
Paid $16.79

On the nose it’s very very sweet, walking through a honeysuckle patch sweet

Wow, did they add sugar to this?  Can someone check on that?  (just kidding) This sucker is sweet.. Love it. Sweet citrus red old style licorice is what I get.. but that’s about it, maybe the lightest bit of the nutty barrel oak.  The finish just tapers off real smooth.  I’m very impressed.  Woah, 2 minutes later, are you fricken kidding me?  Vanilla shows up! Not bold and not long like the 12 year Old Fitz, but it surprises me again..  This is one of my top 4 bourbons right now.  I’m just shaking my head in disbelief.

Eagle Rare 10
Paid $28.99

On the nose sweet maraschino cherries.  Shamefully I also get a hint of Vicks 44D cherry.. It’s pleasant.. but funny.. I smile wryly a the 44D thought..

Sweetness is quick up front and gone.. hey hey, welcome gods of sweet rye carrier wave that brings a little mint along.  Not bad.. Finish slightly sweet, just chillin’ then hello soft vanilla.  Yeah, for me that vanilla gives it street-cred.  Love the vanilla.  Not a long finish but nice.


Angels Envy
Paid ~$42.99

On the nose I can definitely smell those port barrels, unique but not so unique that I didn’t catch a hint of that on the nose of Berhneim.  Probably the highest frequency of sweetness on the nose that I’ve experienced yet.

The first drink the sweet left the party so quick it almost started me then immediately the rye kick.. bang.. hold it, hold it, a little sweet tobacco like grandpa’s pipe back filling the room of my mouth.  Ya know it reminds me of Woodford and about as boring as the Bernheim.  Feeling like I was just sold a bill of goods at the price..  My Dad puts it a step above Woodford.

Angels Envy doesn’t exactly scream what it is,  it’s asking you to search deep down to figure it out and honestly I don’t feel like I should have to.

Sorry yall, overhyped

Russell’s Reserve 10
Paid $31.00 (I think)

High alcoholic sweetness couldn’t put my finger on what, but what I’m smelling honeysuckle high though.

Has more body, much like the viscosity is higher, thicker, creaminess.  Very sweet similar but not quite as sweet as the Forrester Signature.  Definitely a mid palate rye punch that lingers and mellows for nearly 45-60 seconds then once the rye is gone, a dry, very very light sweetness..  Smooth.. a keeper for those times when that rye punch is good for what ails ya.


Ancient Ancient Age 10 (not 10 star)
Price Paid Less than $20

On the nose a very pleasant minty cinnamony sweetness

First taste, loads of sweet oak sugar on the palate then immediately a bitterness that dissipates about as quick as it showed up.  Then, back to sweet.  Finish is short for me and if not a bit dry, I wouldn’t consider my batch as “mesmeric” but definitely pleasant.  I’ll keep it around for when I’m looking for a change but not one of my favorites.


Woodford Reserve Distillers Select
Price (you all know what it costs ;-))

On the nose oaky whispy sweetness with a slight earthiness..

Disclaimer, my bottle is half full and is about a year old.  Very sweet up front then about 5 seconds of nothing right after the sweetness is gone.  Rye shows up just a bit and tapers with some caramel… then a slow fade with a light-sweet taste but not really inviting me back to dance with the ole gal..  Leave my palate feeling clean though, not dry.  Meh..  Pretty bottle? ;-)



Four Roses Single Barrel – Barrel 52-G Warehouse NN
Price Paid $32.00

Nose has more alcohol than I expected, lighter than most on the nose

Sweet and velvety honey right up front, the rye kick is lightning fast then yields to more dried muted fruit levels of sweetness.  It kind of blooms in your mouth (no pun intended) from front to back.  Just really really nice and not confusing.  Keeper..


Our Top 8

1.   Four Roses Single Barrel
2.   Old Forrester Signature
3.   Russell’s Reserve 10
4.   Old Weller Antique 107
5.   Buffalo Trace
6.   Eagle Rare 10
7.   Very Old Barton BiB 6yr
8.   Old Fitzgerald 12

« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 09:19:42 AM by TheEther »

Offline Big Tex

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 07:44:51 AM »
Interesting thoughts.  Thanks for posting it.

Try mixing half a shot of OWA and half a shot of Weller 12, in one glass.  Swirl and let it sit for a few minutes....then try it.  See if it is better than Weller 12 by itself.
Defending my whisky principles like they were the Alamo.

Offline TheEther

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 08:25:37 AM »
That's a great idea, I'll have to try that. 

Shamefully there was a piece of the review that I didn't post.  I had a bottle of Rare Breed from 1999, 3/4 empty and with a broken cork.  We tried that as well.  Personally I think it had run it's course, there was an acridness in the middle that i didn't like but my Dad didn't find offensive.  We ended up mixing it with the Angels envy 50/50 and it improved the experience quite a bit.  Sacrilege right?  But a fun experiment nonetheless...

Offline TheEther

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2012, 08:41:46 AM »
The biggest surprise for me was the Old Forester Sig.. Really, it was a shock.  Cheap and complex.  Now, granted it was very sweet, the sweetest bourbon I've tasted yet.  But the nice charred oak int he middle and vanilla at the finish for the price makes it my ultimate neat/mixer drink right now.  More than fine enough to enjoy neat, but cheap enough to be a great mixer..

At this point I drink all of my bourbon neat.  I haven't got the hang of adding water yet.  Maybe I add too much, but most of the time I feel like the bourbon tastes worse after I add water.  I find that I'm gravitating toward the higher proof bourbons (a surprise to me as well) as it seems that there is more flavor there for me.  This might prove to not be a universal truth but that's how it's played out for me at this point.

Just for kicks I fred the Forester Sig again last night, just about a half shot.  When I drink bourbon I take small sips, just enough to coat the tongue and roof of my mouth.  Then I give a short exhale to evacuate the alcohol that has evaporated mainly because the alcohol on the nose masks the personality transitions for me then I wait for it to do it's thing.   I really enjoy how a nice glass of bourbon at room temperature can take hours to finish and I can enjoy it for the flavor but not get knackered.. Fun stuff for sure

E

Offline Big Tex

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 08:57:26 AM »
Don't let the price of a product lead you to any conclusions.  Price is not a description of flavors.  A high price doesn't always mean...a better bourbon profile.

I found this out when I bought a bottle of VanWinkle Lot B.  Lot B is very smooth but also very light.  I wouldn't have made the purchase if I had known it would be so light.  It's good whiskey...just not the profile I expected for the money.  So, I learned my lesson.

I drank Old Forester 86 as a house pour for a number of years before I totally submerged myself in the bourbon realm.
Defending my whisky principles like they were the Alamo.

Offline TheEther

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 10:41:31 AM »
What are your standbys now that are readily available non-special-seasonal release?  Whoops yes, I just found your PM where I asked that question..  Sorry bout that..

« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 10:44:14 AM by TheEther »

Offline TheEther

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 10:45:08 AM »
Do you use water much?  How much exactly is "a splash"?

Offline Big Tex

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2012, 12:28:39 PM »
I usually sip neat.  A splash can be whatever you want it to be.
About the only time I use ice...is when it's really hot in the summer and I need something cool, as well as alcoholic.
There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to drink your bourbon.  Try it many different ways...with many different labels.  Get the most out of your experience. 
 
Try not to make it about....good bourbon and bad bourbon. But, try to find something in every bourbon thats can be interesting(if possible).
 
Every bourbon/whiskey can make some drink well...even if it is not a great sipper.  for example:  I believe corn whiskey would be a good substitute for vodka in a drink recipe.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 08:53:14 PM by Big Tex »
Defending my whisky principles like they were the Alamo.

Offline KirkG

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2012, 07:02:40 PM »
Well, that was a nice read and great review. Thanks for sharing!

Offline borchard

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2013, 10:42:07 AM »
Do you use water much?  How much exactly is "a splash"?

I'm pretty new to bourbo as well. What I've been doing is taking the initial sip neat, then I add two small rocks. This has been like a magic formula for me. It seems to really open up the flavor in the bourbon. For me at least

Offline jfarr63

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Re: Bourbon Tasting 13 Expressions - The Results
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2014, 04:01:01 PM »
Thanks for the reviews.  It looks like you favor the sweeter ones.  I find that Noah's Mill is high on the sweet end.  You may want to try that one out.  Also reasonably priced.

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