BTAC

Review: William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

WL Weller.jpg
ABV
67.3%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak; 12 Yrs
Recipe
~70% Corn; 16% Wheat; 14% Malted Barley
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

This is about as big as you can get with a wheated bourbon - cask strength, oaky, and nearly 70%. Consistently terrific.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2015 (67.3%)

  • Bottling Code: B152301238K

  • Bottling Date: 2015

This is woody! Lots of char and caramel on the nose - a bit of a reatrained nose, at first - even diluted. Creamy, candied, spicy....fennel root, stewed apples, caramelized vegetables, tobacco, oily, candle wax - quite dark, really. Very lightly floral - like light jasmine - I was expecting something in the Weller 12 category but this is quite different...

The palate is thick, sweet, and incredibly earthy - the mossy oak sort of earthiness - i love this bit. A touch of dill, and full of rich toffee and old, leathery dried apricot. The finish has a bit of mint and loads of creamy caramel and dried apricot and stewed prune. Huge, sweet, finish. Really earthy - oaky, 

It's one that begs me to be slipped slow and savour - it is nice when the whisky you are tasting takes the reins. Really nice. 

I prefer it with a bit of water in it to the mid-high 50 percent range. More complexity is revealed 

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: High (based on $130)


Review: George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

George Stagg 3.jpg
ABV
71.3%
Aging
18.5 yrs; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
~75% Corn, 10% Rye, 15% Malted Barley
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

Of course, each year of Stagg varies in age, barrels, and ABV - the above is for the 2011 batch I have reviewed, the oldest Stagg ever, I believe. Indeed, it is not often you find an 18 year old bourbon, let alone one bottled at cask strength greater than 70%!


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2011

  • Bottling Code: K237 119:44

  • Bottling Date: 2011

This is an oaky beast! The nose has vanilla and oak, dried cherry, almond, corn husks, dried apricot, and the lightest hint of strawberry and hibiscus. Nuttiness grows with time. If you drink at higher proofs, wonderful oiliness and beeswax reveal themselves along with Elmo’s craft glue, dried cranberry, leather, black tea, dried flowers – surprisingly, on the nose, I get more at full proof. Oak is here, there, and everywhere – it is relatively clean though – you aren’t getting a sense of really earthy, mossy, oak or very spicy oak – at least not relative to the magnitude of straightforward oak. It really does smell like a stave of sweet, luscious oak. The palate is loaded through with oak, strawberry, clove, old tough dried fruit, and light bitterness. Nice tanginess, and incredibly rich dried fruit. The finish is full of light fruitiness, vanillla, baking spices, spearmint and stewed apricots and peaches. The finish is dense, slowly unfolding with time.

The whole thing, really, is chained in oak – it is terrific for a powerful, oaky bourbon but in terms of complexity and intrigue – it’s not quite there. The nose is really nice, but the palate is too constrained by the mighty oak and isn’t quite together. I keep wanting to rate this higher because I know it is a Stagg – it is ever the error with non-blind tasting. However, tasting in a flight brings back that advantage...and it isn’t the caliber of the ones I’m tasting beside it. The nose is fantastic, and it develops beautifully, but the palate and the finish don’t meet expectation. But that was a pretty high expectation – this is terrific bourbon.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $150.


Review: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Thomas Handy.jpg
ABV
64.3%
Aging
6 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

The 2011 Handy, showing all the glory that can be had in relatively young rye. Though it's less than half the age of the other whiskies in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection - it shows the sharpness and glory of rye. My favorite BTAC. Of course, ABV and age vary year to year - the table above s not indicative of all releases.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2011 (64.3%)

  • Bottling Code: K2271110 119:44

  • Bottling Date: 2011

This is just a gorgeous, rye nose. Mixed dried fruits, clove, dried rose petals, rosehip jam, anise seed, menthol, oak, light corn husks, stewed apricots...I could go on. The dried floral notes, combined with the spice – absolutely gorgeous. The palate starts off sharp before a creamy wave of spice and dried apricot, dried rose petals, rosehip, clove, nutmeg, and roasted swiss chard. The finish is full of spices, corn husks, rosehip, and cinnamon. Really, a wow whisky...and right up my alley.

Discounting Lock, Stock, and Barrel 16, it’s the best rye I’ve had since Masterson’s batch 1....side by side they offer such different things. Better nose, not quite as good on the palate, but cask strength is (a lot) of fun and takes the finish to terrific lengths. Whisky is just terrific business.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Very High, if you can get it at the recommended retail price (about $150).