Evan Williams 1783 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Final Grade: A- Price: $15 (750ml)
The Evan Williams family of whiskeys isn't as well known as some others (like Jim Beam, Jack Daniel's, and Maker's Mark), but it should be, as they make some of the best bourbons for the money that you can find.
Evan Williams 1783 is named for the year in which Williams first established his distillery in Kentucky. It's a small batch version of Evan Williams Black Label that spends some extra time in the barrel. (It used to be labeled as being ten years old, but the distillery has since removed the age statement.)
Its production is overseen by the father-son pair of Master Distillers, Parker and Craig Beam, using (allegedly) the same process and traditional recipe made by the brand’s namesake. Who knows if that last part is true or not. What's certain is that the results are excellent.
The aroma of Evan Williams 1783 is succulent, full of sweet corn and vanilla. The flavor matches the smell, sweet and caramel-like, with some oak, a slight toastiness, and a touch of spice. You can taste the extra aging that this expression gets over the Black Label. It's very smooth, especially for 86 proof, and goes down especially easy with a couple of ice cubes.
Some whiskey drinkers will likely find this too sweet and lacking in the big, bold quality that many bourbons have. But there's so much flavor here, especially for the price, that it demands to be tried at least once.
Fans of softer bourbons like Maker's Mark are especially urged to seek this one out. Evan Williams 1783 Bourbon is a fine-tasting whiskey at an amazing price.
Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Final Grade: A Price: $39 (750ml)
The Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky is one of the most acclaimed in the world. Their bourbons win gold medals regularly at all the major competitions, and their 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel was recently named by F. Paul Pacult as the 3rd best spirit in the world.
The Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon is their highest end whiskey that is regularly available in the United States. Bottled at 100 proof, it's a bold bourbon that is loaded with flavor and enough kick to get you moving.
From the opening sip, it's an explosion on the palate, with many tastes circling around each other. There's vanilla and fruit (cherry maybe?), along with honey and a little spice. It's very well balanced, with the different flavors playing together nicely.
As mentioned above, it's a strong whiskey, and has a long finish to it. It's not overpowering, but it's a spirit you'll want to take your time with, so you can still taste and enjoy the various flavors. You might want to drink it with a little water or a couple ice cubes. I tasted it both straight and on the rocks, and with just a little dilution it goes down very easily.
Everything that Four Roses makes is good, and the Single Barrel is one of their best. It's big and bold, while still maintaining both nuance and even elegance. Distiller Jim Rutledge has once again shown why he's one of the best in the business.
The latest news from Buffalo Trace Distillery, easily one of the most forward-thinking distilleries in the world. They're trying more interesting (and delicious) things with whiskey than anyone else I can think of. If you see a bottle of this, definitely pick it up.
The latest in the Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr. Bourbon Collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery is an extraordinary barrel proof, uncut, unfiltered rye recipe bourbon.
Weighing in at a hefty 134.5 proof, this small batch bourbon was aged for seven years on the sixth floor of Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C, built by Colonel Taylor in 1881.
When your experience this uncut and unfiltered Bourbon, “an aroma of cooked, berries meets the nose, followed by a rich caramel and slightly floral smell. The taste is bold – full of spice that fills the mouth with a distinct flavor of toasty vanilla, dried oak and pepper. The finish is long and satisfying with a powerful rye character and lingering hints of fruit."
The Barrel Proof Bourbon is the fourth in the line of the E. H. Taylor, Jr. collection of whiskeys to be released over the next few years. It joins the Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon and Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon released within the past year. Like the previous three releases, this Barrel Proof Bourbon will have very limited availability and will be packaged in a vintage label and canister reminiscent of Taylor’s bottles nearly one hundred years ago
Taylor is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased the distillery that is known today as the Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today by Buffalo Trace, such as climate controlled aging warehouses. In addition to his bourbon interests, Taylor had political ties. He was the great-nephew of President Zachary Taylor and elected the mayor of Frankfort, state representative to the Kentucky General Assembly and a member of the State Senate.
The Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon will be available in June. Suggested retail pricing is $69.99 for a 750 ml bottle.
Chuck Cowdery is a bourbon expert and a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. He writes for The Whisky Advocate, WHISKY Magazine and other places. So when the man talks bourbon, he's worth listening to.
Chuck has compiled a list of 10 bourbons for beginners, and I think it's the best list of its kind that I've seen. These are great recommendations.
I'm going to list his suggestions below, but make sure to click through to Chuck's website to read his commentary.
One year ago Buffalo Trace Distillery unveiled its Single Oak Project and its quest for the perfect bourbon. Now as the fifth round of Single Oak Project Bourbons are released, there has been much excitement and many reviews, but still many questions to be answered.
The fifth round of experiments will focus on three variables, the recipe, rye vs. wheat; the entry proof, 105 vs. 125 proof; and wood grain size, tight, average, or coarse. All of the other variables such as barrel stave seasoning, aging warehouse, char level, and tree cut (top or bottom) remain constant.
As with the other four releases, Buffalo Trace hopes whiskey enthusiasts can continue to rate each whiskey they taste online at www.singleoakproject.com. To date, more than 1700 accounts have been created online, and nearly 1,550 reviews have been given on the four various releases so far.
The whiskey reviews have been tallied and the leading barrel after one year is…. a three way tie!! Barrels #10, 106 and 184 are all tied for first place. With all three of those barrels having different variables, it seems the only thing the three have in common is that the oak was harvested from bottom half of the tree! The other six variables of the leading barrels vary.
“Quite a mixed bag so far,” said Kris Comstock, bourbon brand manager. “It seems the only thing people can agree on so far is that they like bourbon aged in barrels made from the bottom portion of oak trees, opposed to the top half. Good thing we have 3 more years, 144 more barrels, and thousands more reviews to come!”
After a consumer reviews a bottle online, they will be availed of all the aging details and provenance of the barrel. They can interact with others who’ve also reviewed the barrel, compare their reviews, and even learn for themselves which characteristics they enjoy most, in order to help them select future favorites. Participants online will earn points after each review and most importantly, help Buffalo Trace Distillery create the perfect bourbon!
The Single Oak Project is part of an intensive research project Buffalo Trace Distillery started conducting in 1999 by hand picking 96 trees with different wood grains and then dividing them into a top and bottom piece, yielding 192 unique sections. From there, staves were created from each section and were air dried for either 6 months or 12 months. After all the staves were air dried, a single barrel was created from each tree section, resulting in 192 total barrels. These barrels were given either a number three or a number four char and then filled with either wheat or rye recipe bourbon.
To further the variety of experiments, the barrels were filled at two different proofs, 105 and 125 proof. And if this wasn’t enough, two completely different warehouses were used, one with wooden floors and one with concrete floors. In total, seven different variables were employed in Buffalo Trace’s ultimate experiment.
For eight years the Distillery continued with its tracking process, creating intricate databases and coming up with a potential of 1,396 tasting combinations from these 192 barrels!
The Single Oak Project Bourbon is being released in a series every three months from 2011 through 2015 until all of the 192 barrels have been released. The first releases hit select stores in 2011. This fifth release will reach stores towards the end of May. Like all the other releases, the quantities are very limited. Every case will contain 12 bottles, each from a different barrel. The fifth release is made up of barrel numbers 1, 17, 33, 49, 65, 81, 97, 113, 129, 145, 161, 177. All releases will be packaged in a 375ml bottle. Suggested retail pricing per bottle is $46.35.
At the conclusion of the Single Oak Project, the Distillery plans to take the top rated barrel based on online consumer feedback, make more of that product and launch it under the Single Oak Project nameplate.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Final Grade: A- Price: $24 (750ml)
Reviewed by Bob Montgomery
A glance at the shelves of my local liquor store reveals that bourbon has become the Merlot of the whiskey world, charging ahead of its more stately cousins from Scotland and Ireland and showing its back to the generic Canadians on the bottom shelf. There seems to be three times as many bottles of bourbon as any other kind of whiskey, with a bewildering number of brands and ages to choose from.
Elbowing to the front to stand next to Maker’s in the center of the array is Buffalo Trace. It has a deep amber color in the bottle, and upon opening it immediately fills the room with scents of vanilla and molasses. In the glass, the vanilla is even more powerful, with perhaps a whiff of mint as well.
The initial taste impression is of sweet corn and honey, with a little fruit and mint as it develops. Despite its rye content, it didn’t seem to have any of the typical spice notes of a rye whiskey. This is a thick, rich spirit that hangs around for quite a while in the mouth. What starts as a pleasant warmth soon matures into a mild burn, but nothing too fiery. Definitely sippable, although a splash of water would not be amiss. It makes a decent Manhattan, but, for my part, once you’ve had a Manhattan with good rye, the bourbon version just doesn’t compare.
Buffalo Trace is a solid whiskey for the price, mellow enough to sip but complex enough to linger over. Fans of heavier whiskeys, in particular, should pick up a bottle. An excellent value on an American original.