Showing posts with label Jim Beam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Beam. Show all posts

Monday, September 20, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Gray Label Review & Tasting Notes


It is almost Autumn. That means it must be limited-edition American whiskey season. It is September, that's Bourbon Heritage Month. It is time for the rush. You've got whiskey money burning a hole in your pocket, you've been waiting all year, what do you spend it on?


Barrell Craft Spirits throws down its gauntlet with Gray Label Bourbon. Gray Label? What's that mean? I sat down and thought about it, and about the best I can come up with is it's old. It starts with a blend of three very old straight Bourbons: one from Kentucky (likely Jim Beam), one from Tennessee (George Dickel), and one from Indiana (MGP). The youngest is 15-years, hence the age statement.


Barrell calls Gray Label its "Ultra-Premium Limited Edition" Bourbon. 


"The barrels harvested for this limited release were selected for their refined properties and extraordinary flavor profile. This complex 15-year old Bourbon was blended and bottled at peak maturity so you can experience its true flavor. The perfect union of grain and barrel, with an opulent, oak forward nose and a honey-Brulee palate that reveals the lushness of the grain." - Barrell Craft Spirits


Bottled at 100.4°, you can expect to pay a premium for this ultra-premium Bourbon. I'll get to that later. But, first, I'd like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of its Gray Label in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Gray Label was deep caramel in color. It formed a thin rim that created thinner legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: Thick, rich caramel started things off. It was soon joined by cinnamon, tobacco, citrus, plum, old smoky oak, and that telltale Dickel mineral quality. Trying to identify something as I drew the air into my mouth was challenging. After many attempts, it struck me I was tasting pineapple.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was certainly different. It was both airy and oily. I don't know how to describe it further. It was a lighter body than I expected. Each time I sipped, I expected that airiness to vanish, but it stuck around. On the front of my palate, I discovered berries, Cherry Coke, and milk chocolate. The middle featured peanuts (that's the Jim Beam component), caramel, and raw honey. At the back, it was pure spice with oak, tobacco, allspice, and nutmeg. 


Finish: Shockingly lacking was any strong spiciness you'd expect from an older Bourbon. Instead, there was cocoa powder, smoked oak, tobacco, nuts, pineapple, and strawberry. Yes, it ended sweet and fruity. Overall, it was long-lasting.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found Barrell Gray Label to complex from the nose to the palate, and the palate to the finish. The mouthfeel was crazy. The finish was impressive. It was a delicious pour, truly. I know you're thinking, there's a "but" coming... and you'd be correct. Remember I said that this with a premium pricetag? I have a rough time spending $250.00 on an American whiskey, and that's what you'll have to pay if you can find it. Barrell suggests this is available in select markets. I don't have a choice other than a Bar rating. You'll want to drink this, it is just hard on the wallet.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Jim Beam Devil's Cut Review & Tasting Notes



Let's get real.  You've seen the commercials. You may have even chuckled at them. If not at the commercials, then the schtick - squeezing the Bourbon from the wood after the barrel has been emptied. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about Jim Beam Devil's Cut. If you've never seen the commercial narrated by Mila Kunis, you can view it here


But, this is a review of the whiskey, not the commercial. I've honestly been curious about Devil's Cut for several years, but I've also not wanted to pay money to taste something that is, well, schticky. But, when I saw a shooter on the shelf, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.


Devil's Cut is basically taking Jim Beam Extra-Aged (which I assume is Black Label), draining it, and then recovering the whiskey that was soaked up in the wood. The two are then blended together, then cut at 90°.  To get there, Beam started off with a mash of 75% corn, 12% rye, and 13% malted barley. The distillate was placed in new, #4 charred oak barrels at 125° and aged approximately six years (but carries no age statement). A 750ml bottle will run about $18.99.


All background aside, what really matters is if this process works, and the only way to know that for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass Devil's Cut presented as caramel in color, but that caramel was lighter than you'd assume. I don't know why, but I expected it to be much darker.  It generated a medium-thick rim on the wall which led to fat, slow legs.


Nose:  Predictably, there was a blast of wood to my nostrils. It was a mixture of wet oak and sawdust. I would not describe that as overly pleasant despite the fact I love the smell of wood. Once I was able to get past that, I found caramel, molasses, and that typical Beam peanutty goodness. Finally, the aroma of orange peel rounded things out.  When I inhaled through my lips, oak and corn rolled across my palate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and coating. For whatever reason, that was unexpected. The oak that hit the front was not. It was joined by caramel, mint, and maple syrup, which seemed appropriate considering the texture. At mid-palate, I found Beam peanuts, oiled leather, and sweet cherry. Then, on the back, flavors of brown sugar, dry oak, and cocoa powder.


Finish:  A very long-lasting finish started with heavy, dry oak and cinnamon. Then, the freight train of black pepper rumbled past that seemed unending.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I like Plain Jane Jim Beam. There are many expressions from the distillery that I love. Like it or leave it, Devil's Cut is still a shtick Bourbon. The question becomes, does it work? I wasn't turned off by Devil's Cut, but I also couldn't picture myself buying a pour at a bar, let alone picking up a bottle. It was interesting, it might make for a good mixer, but my goal is never to buy something to be a mixer. I also don't think it is fair to rate this one a Bust, because despite what I just said, it wasn't bad. And, that's why the Bar rating exists.  Try this one for yourself before committing to a bottle. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Barrell Bourbon Batch 030 Review & Tasting Notes

 


I've reviewed several whiskeys from Barrell Craft Spirits. Most of them have been Bottle ratings. A handful have been Bar and there was even a Bust.  And, good or bad, whenever Barrell tells me it is sending a sample my way, I get excited because, well, they're usually tasty.


The most recent one to come my way is Bourbon Batch #030.  This one is absolutely different because it contains a component I've not yet seen in the prior releases:  Bourbon from a Wyoming distillery.


One of the fun things about Barrell is they're very transparent about some things, and other tidbits they give you just enough information to almost figure it out on your own. For example, here's the make-up of Batch #030:

  • 5-year Indiana Bourbon
  • 10-year Tennesse Bourbon
  • 6-, 9-, 11-, and 15-year Bourbons from Kentucky and Wyoming

Obviously, Barrell isn't providing the sources of those whiskeys, but some simple deductions will give away much of the information.  The Indiana content is MGP. I know this because I've been reviewing Barrell offerings for a few years and the ages make it obvious. Also, I'm not aware of any other Indiana-based distilleries that can provide the volume required. The same is true with the Tennessee portion: George Dickel. What's more challenging are the last two components.


I suspect the Kentucky component is Jim Beam because that's been used in a previous batch. A portion of the Kentucky Bourbons used are described as nutty.  It doesn't mean that it is Beam, but it is because Beam is known for nutty Bourbons and you don't stop working with a partner unless there's a reason to stop. The Wyoming component requires some additional research. 


Taking into account production volume and founding dates, the only Wyoming distillery that makes sense is Wyoming Whiskey. It is the oldest legal post-Prohibition distillery in the state when it was established in 2009. And, that would certainly take into account the possibility of the 15-year portion.


The detective work is fun, at least it is to me. But I know what matters to everyone is what's in the bottle. Both the Kentucky and Wyoming Bourbons are wheaters (or wheated, meaning the 2nd-largest ingredient is wheat instead of the typical rye). The wheaters mingled together for a month separately from the traditional (which also mingled together), until both were married into a single batch. Batch #030 is packaged at a cask strength of 117.32° and retails right around $90.00. 


I'd like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and taste if this is a winner.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Batch #030 presented as mahogany in color. It formed a medium ring that yielded legs that raced back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Sweet aromas wafted to my nostrils. It started with peach and flowers, apple, and, finally, sweet tobacco. The familiar mineral quality of Dickel popped up as well. When I breathed the air into my mouth, coconut gave me a bit of a surprise. 


Palate:  Thin and oily in my mouth, the front started with dark chocolate and orange citrus. As it moved to the middle, I tasted cocoa, coconut, pear, and walnut. The back offered flavors of clove, oak, and English toffee.


Finish:  A medium-length finish featured clove, black pepper, and raw honey. That was Act 1. There was a brief intermission, and then Act 2 began. This time, it was long and lingering, with English toffee, dark chocolate, old leather, and cinnamon.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The finish was just amazing. I love when different (or weird) happens and this was that. The marriage of six barrels from four distilleries was a successful one. Blending is an art form, and this was a masterpiece. Bottle rating all the way, it is well worth the outlay. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Jim Beam Signature Craft Whole Rolled Oat Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes






Experimental whiskeys are a blast. This happens when the distillers get funky and tinker around with wild ideas. Some of them are pretty darned amazing. I've also had some that have been dull and boring and you wonder what was going through his or her mind. Nonetheless, they're an adventure. 


Enter Jim Beam into the foray. It came out with the Harvest Bourbon Collection. These bottles have been around a while, the project is, as far as I can tell, discontinued, but bottles are still out there on store shelves. Sometimes, they're even on clearance (which is how I purchased mine). According to Beam, it is:


a series of hand-crafted Bourbons that celebrate the distinctive tastes imparted by the distillation of different grains. More than ten years of aging has brought out the nuances of each of these unique ingredients.


Today I'm reviewing the Whole Rolled Oat entry of the collection. It is a straight Bourbon. While the exact mashbill isn't disclosed, it consists of at least 51% corn, and the remainder whole rolled oats and malted barley. If we extrapolate a few things, the standard Beam mashbill is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. The other option, used for Basil Hayden and Old Grand-Dad, is 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley. As such, I'm going out on a limb and suggesting the rolled oat content is substituted for the rye, then the oat content is between 13% and 27%. 


Whole Rolled Oat is aged for 11 years and bottled at 90°. We also know Beam is aged in #4 new, charred oak barrels and there is no reason to suspect this one was any different. Suggested retail is $49.99 for a 375ml bottle. I picked mine up for $19.99.


Was it worth the $20 purchase? You know how this works, it is time to #DrinkCurious and find out.


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Whole Rolled Oat appeared as a deep, dark amber. It left a thick rim on the wall, and that led to sticky, thick legs that didn't really do a whole lot except hold their position.


Nose: Fruity aromas hit even before I was done letting it rest. When I brought my glass to my face, coconut and berries started things off. They were joined by toasted oak and stone fruit. Beyond that, maple syrup and vanilla rounded things out. When I inhaled through my mouth, a delicious waft of vanilla sugar cookies raced across my tongue.


Palate: The mouthfeel was soft with a medium body. The first thing I tasted was a blend of toasted oak and toasted coconut. Mid-palate, that typical Jim Beam peanut flavor made an appearance, which married with cocoa and coffee. On the back, it was Nutella and vanilla. 


Finish: The Nutella worked its way into the medium-to-long finish and became a vanilla bomb. Once that wore off, toasted oak was left behind.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: There are a few ways to look at this one. The first is the $19.99 I paid for my bottle, and the other is MSRP of $49.99.


I enjoyed my pour and, in fact, kept pouring as I was writing down my tasting notes. For lack of a better word, it was smooth, it was flavorful, it was delicious. I've had oat Bourbons before, and this one blew them all away.


For an Andrew Jackson ($20.00), this was a steal. Remember, this is a 375ml, so you have to double the price to do a dollars-to-dollars comparison for value. I'd rate this a Bottle all day long. For a Ulysses S Grant ($50.00), this becomes a $100.00 bottle and while tasty, this is absolutely not worth that.


If you can grab this one on clearance, for, say, $30.00 or less, I'd jump on it. You're going to love it. But, I wouldn't go any higher than that. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Friday, December 18, 2020

Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Several years ago, when I first visited The American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky, I saw Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond in the gift shop. It was a bit on the pricy side, at least in my opinion... $20.00 for a 375ml.  It was hard to justify because, for the same amount of money, I could get Jim Beam Bottled-in-Bond in a 750ml for the same price. Being the price-conscious shopper I can be at times (that's cheap for folks that prefer to call a spade a spade), I passed.


And, every time I thought about it, I kicked myself.  The last time I went to Kentucky, there was no time to go to Clermont, although it was something I wanted to do.


Well, lo and behold, this summer, Jim Beam released Old Tub outside of Kentucky, and they did it for the same price, but this time in a 750ml bottle.


I've been impressed with Beam's limited-edition Bourbons. Distiller's Cut was tasty, affordable, and I grabbed a few bottles.  Repeal Batch was lighter but interesting in its own right. As such, when I saw Old Tub on the shelf, I grabbed the one bottle they had.


Old Tub was the original name of Jim Beam Bourbon, and Old Tub Bottled-in-Bond is allegedly the original recipe back from 1880 for what is now Jim Beam White Label:  75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley.  For the record, James B. Beam changed the name from Old Tub to Jim Beam back in 1943.


Being Bottled-in-Bond, while the Bourbon carries no age statement, it is at least four years old, is bottled at 100°, and came from a single distilling season. Old Tub spent its time in #4 charred oak barrels.  It is not only non-chill filtered, but it is unfiltered, basically, the only thing that's happened is Jim Beam sent the aged whiskey through a screen to catch chunks of wood and char.


The question becomes, did I kick myself all these years for no reason, or did I do good by grabbing the lone bottle I saw?  The answer will be found on my palate, and the way to do that is to #DrinkCurious


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Old Tub was a hazy orange amber. It created a thick rim on the wall, that rim generated medium-thick, fast legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was sweet corn. It took a bit to get past that, and when I did, aromas of vanilla, caramel, orange peel, brown sugar, and banana appeared. I was, frankly, shocked the nose was going to be that complicated, as I've never found that on Beam White Label or the other inexpensive, limited-release Bourbons.  When I breathed the vapor in my mouth, I tasted musty hay and corn.


Palate: The mouthfeel was unexpectedly heavy and very, very oily. Despite being 100°, I didn't feel any heat or ethanol blast. Flavors of corn, vanilla, and honey-roasted peanuts were at the front of the palate. Considering this is Jim Beam distillate, I would have been disappointed if peanuts were absent. At mid-palate, things got complicated with tobacco leaf, berries, and orange peel. Those morphed on the back to oak, clove, and cinnamon. 


Finish:  Initially, the finish was short. But, additional sips proved it was medium-long in length. The oak from the back became smoky, the cinnamon from the back took on a cinnamon apple quality, and then toffee came out of nowhere.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $21.00 Bourbon that can compete with more expensive options.  It is full of flavor, much more than you'd ever assumed, and it goes down oh-so-easy. I'm really hoping this limited edition isn't too limited, because I loved it, and not only is this a Bottle rating but an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf. If you see this, get it. No excuses, no hemming-and-hawing. Trust me, just grab it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Knob Creek 120 "Cellars WS" Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


I'm always honored to have a store ask me to review one of their private barrels. I do realize that I've been reviewing quite a few of these picks as of late and that's just how the rotation comes up.


Today, I've got a sample of Knob Creek 120 Bourbon from Cellars Wine & Spirits in Neenah, Wisconsin. This one was aged nine years before being barreled. If you're unfamiliar with Knob Creek, this is a Beam Suntory product and the number refers to the proof. Knob Creek is one of those brands that enjoys an almost cult-like following. And, if you are familiar with Knob Creek, it is in the process of going through a price increase. Cellars sells this Bourbon for $39.99 and this may be one of the last ones you see at about this price point. 


I'd like to thank Cellars for providing me with a sample of their pick in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review.


In my Glencairn glass, this presented as a fairly typical Knob Creek 120. It was a bright amber and left a thin rim on the glass that created thick, fat legs.


Aromas of candied oranges and butterscotch made for a very interesting nose. There was nothing else that I could pick up, and for Knob Creek to have only two notes on the nose is a curiosity, especially when there is no oak, which is also a typical note. When I inhaled through my mouth, I picked up what reminded me only of a creamsicle - all orange and vanilla. 


This Cellar's pick had a mouthfeel that was thin, oily and coating. At the front of my palate, it was simply heavy orange cream, again, just like a creamsicle. Mid-palate, it switched to cereal and vanilla. On the back, it was a punch of clove. 


A very long and spicy finish from the clove remained, and the orange cream snuck back for yet another round. When the orange cream finally faded, it left behind a pleasant rye spice.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I've tasted many, many picks of Knob Creek 120 and truth be told, to stumble on one that doesn't perform well is like finding a needle in a haystack. This particular barrel may be the most unusual one I've ever tasted. I pick up fruits and vanilla from Knob Creek all the time, the fruit and the level of vanilla differ. But I can't say that I've had one where the orange flavor was this dominating. Plus, for $39.99, I don't see where you can go wrong. This one deserves my coveted Bottle rating.  Cheers! 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Rat Pick - Knob Creek 120


Barrel picking is a blast. I've been involved in many, many picks of various Bourbons and Ryes. I've never, though, had my face appear on a bottle's label (I'm the one in the middle). There's also Troy Mancusi, owner of The Speakeasy_WI and Matt Bents, owner of Riley's Wines of the World.  We had a great time picking this 14-year old Knob Creek 120.

This is the second-best whiskey I've ever picked, the first being a Four Roses OBSO... and to prove how excellent this Knob Creek is, the entire barrel sold out in three days!

I had my own write-up, but Matt Bents did a great job... here are his notes:


Aromas of maraschino cherry, crème brûlée, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, orange peel, and fennel. Slight sweetness on the palate with foundations of crème brûlée, clove, black pepper and mint. Honeyed baked apples, cinnamon, and hazelnut layer on more complexities. Adding a few drops of water focuses the aromatics but amplified the baking spices. Even at 120 proof, this drinks best full-strength. Finish is off-dry with lots of black pepper, cherry, vanilla, and cinnamon evolving as the warmth of the whiskey continue to shine.

I'll add that there is no need whatsoever to proof this one down. If you were lucky enough to get a bottle, congratulations!