Monday, December 28, 2020

Backbone Bourbon: "Unicorn Hunter" and CWBS Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


Back in January, I wrote about a store pick called Unicorn Slayer.  It was selected by The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuth's Southside Market in Appleton, Wisconsin. I had assisted in that pick, and it was one of those mind-blowing ones that resonate with you for years. At the time, I stated Unicorn Slayer was one of the five best barrel picks I've been involved with.


Today, I'm reviewing one called Unicorn Hunter. It was also picked by The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuith's, but this time, I was not part of the selection committee. However, the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club did ask me to review it for them, which I'm happy to do.


Unicorn Hunter is distilled by MGP, and it is bottled under the Backbone Bourbon brand. Like Unicorn Slayer, this is a barrel-proof, uncut, single barrel Bourbon. It is distilled from the same 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley mash. Unlike its predecessor, which was 7.5 years old, Unicorn Hunter is 6 years and a month. It is 117.1° versus 119.3°.  To be frank, two points isn't going to make a lot of difference. You'll find this only at Niemuth's and one of the 168 bottles yielded will set you back $64.99, which is less expensive than Unicorn Slayer was.


I'd like to thank The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for providing me a sample in exchange for my honest, no-strings-attached review. Let's #DrinkCurious and get this taken care of.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Unicorn Hunter presented as chestnut in color with amazing clarity. A thin rim was created, and it generated wavy legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine but also sticky drops that did not.


Nose:  An aromatic combination of mint, menthol, and stone fruit was easy to pick up. As I continued to sniff around, I detected berries and dark chocolate. When I drew in the vapor through my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla ran across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and coated everywhere with ease, and was full-bodied. Up at the front, I experienced a sweet and fruity punch of berries and cherry syrup with dark chocolate. In the middle, I tasted rye spice and toffee. Then, on the back, it was coffee, clove, and oak.


Finish:  A blend of charred oak, coffee, cinnamon, and black pepper lasted several minutes before falling off. Cherry syrup stuck around. There was a distinct Indiana hug about it, but despite the proof, it couldn't be described as hot or burn


Bottle, Bar, or BustUnicorn Hunter was tasty as hell and a very easy sipper. Just to get it out of the way, it takes a Bottle rating and if you missed out on Unicorn Slayer, don't make the same mistake. Saying that, between the two, and I am probably biased, I preferred the predecessor. But, you aren't finding that on the shelf.


But Wait, There's More...


Now, in an interesting turn of events, The Secret Midnight Whiskey Club provided me a sample of another Backbone pick, this time for the Central Wisconsin Bourbon Society. It, too, is six years old and also retails for $64.99, and bottled at 120.9°.




Appearance:  The color was a slightly deeper chestnut than Unicorn Hunter. The rim was heavier, but not thick, the legs were similar, but lacked the sticky droplets.


Nose:  The very first thing I picked up was sawdust, which, interestingly enough, was the first thing I picked out of Unicorn Slayer last year. I smelled toasted oak and cocoa powder, mint, and a brush of cinnamon. Breathing the fumes in through my lips led me to uncover vanilla.


Palate:  An airy mouthfeel was a complete contrast to Unicorn Hunter. The body was closer to a medium than full. Caramel and cherry came out swinging. Clove, rye spice, and char hit me mid-palate, with cinnamon, black pepper, and dry oak on the back. This was, undoubtedly, much spicier than Unicorn Hunter.


Finish: I found the CWBS pick to have a longer finish than Unicorn Hunter. It was made up of cocoa powder, barrel char, caramel, and mint. It didn't have the same Indiana hug that Unicorn Hunter did, but it did leave my tongue tingling. As I was considering that, I found myself tasting dark chocolate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The spice focus of the CWBS pick was interesting and much different than my other experiences with Backbone Bourbon. There was enough going on here to keep me paying attention. I was particularly enchanted by the sawdust aroma because it reminded me so much of Unicorn Slayer. There is no reason to not pick one up, and the price is certainly fair. Add it all up and you get a Bottle rating from me. 


So, between Unicorn Hunter and the CWBS pick, which did I prefer?  I enjoyed them both, but Unicorn Hunter edged out the CWBS pick, mostly because I preferred the fruity flavors on the former. Either, however, would leave you happy. Cheers!


Niemuth's Southside Market is located at 2121 S. Oneida Street in Appleton.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it
  • Bust = Leave it

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