The Burrito Tribune


randomness, truth, and burritos

Whiskey Review (Bourbon Kentucky Vintage)

Sometimes a night in with a good drink is just what you need, but in the grand scheme of things a good whiskey is something to be shared.  I was invited to go camping up in the mountains of North Carolina by an old friend of mine and met some new friends who turned out to also be whiskey connoisseurs.  The Big Bottom Bourbon I reviewed last time was a great hit and they were more than wiling to help me work through the bottle.  On the flip side, I was able to sample some amazing scotch and Irish whiskeys that I may have to write about here at a later date.  (FYI:  S’mores and whiskey both go with campfires, but they don’t go well with each other).

Another perk of sharing the Big Bottom with my friends is that it gave me the opportunity to go back to the liquor store here and sample yet another bottle of small batch bourbon.  This time I picked a bourbon out of Kentucky, “Kentucky Vintage Bourbon”.  I realized while writing this post that I threw away the receipt, but if memory serves, it was very close to the $25 mark, +/- a few bucks.

I really do love using a brandy snifter for the first drink of a new whiskey because it really immerses your senses in the drink.  You don’t want it to get too warm in your hand like brandy, but the glass is perfectly designed to bring the nuances of the smells straight to your pallet.  Kentucky Vintage starts out much more strongly flavored than Big Bottom.  The first smell of this bourbon reminds me of cinnamon and mint.  There’s a coolness to it that I like, but it seems like it has a more bolder aroma than the sweetness of Big Bottom.  There is a strong woodsy overtone that reminds me of sitting in a cabin by the lake.

Straight:  My first sip was surprising in how smooth this whiskey is.  It is definitely a very traditionally flavored whiskey.  I felt like I could physically taste what “sour mash”  and “charred oak barrel” does to a whiskey.  Anybody going to the store looking for something that tastes “bourbon-y” will not be disappointed.  Kentucky vintage has a very smooth start with a slight peppery flavor to it, almost reminding me of celery and vanilla bean, this blooms into a strong cinnamon flavor with overtones that remind you of autumn.  As the whiskey finishes, it brings out the strong oak flavor that I think draws most people to bourbon in the first place.

1 to 1:

At a one-to-one mix, the astringent smell of the oak is very prominent.  It makes my nose feel like it wants to pucker.  This is contrasted by the flavor which has mellowed signifcantly.  The taste has a rather dynamic change.  It has a very prominent flavor of vanilla.  The water takes the heat away from this bourbon, and almost leaves it tasting like a dessert drink.  That’s not to say it’s anything like a mudslide, but it has a very pleasant sweetness to it that makes it quite drinkable.  nest to the vanilla is a hint of cinnamon and spice.  I don’t know how to properly describe this last experience I’m getting from this bourbon, except to say that it has a richness that truly immerses your senses.  It almost is a richness like drinking a heavier beverage (think a white Russian, or Amaretto) but it’s a silky smooth bourbon whiskey instead.

1 to 1/2:

I can’t lie, as I’ve drank bourbons, this has tended to be my favorite mix-ratio.  It takes away the worst of the heat of the whiskey, while not diluting the flavor.  At this proportions, this bourbon smells more of spice than oak.  The smell is actually a little bit more muted than one-to-one, and not masked by the alcohol vapors like the neat drink.  There is a very light smell that is somewhere between vanilla and sandalwood.

Taking my first sip, I am inclined to agree that this is still one of the best ways to drink bourbon whiskey.  The regular heat of the neat whiskey is gone, and the flavors of this whiskey just flood the senses.  The flavors still remind me of vanilla and spices, but I think i would throw honey into the mix as well.  It has the smallest bite at the end, like when you bite into a very strongly flavored ginger snap.  It is a great finish and adds to the complexity of the whiskey as a whole.

Final Comments: I would definitely recommend this whiskey be drank at a one-to-one-half ratio.  It reminds me of an after-work cocktail that would just melt the stress and frustration of the day away.  I usually float a few ice cubes in my whiskey, but feel free to enjoy it however you like.  To be fair, I’m not sure I’d buy this before Big Bottom, but it is still a spectacular whiskey unto itself.

Filed under: Small Batch Whiskey, , , , ,

Craft Beer: Great Divide Brewing Co., Rumble IPA

Rumble ipa

In another return to the wonderful world of IPA’s I am sampling another Colorado beer that has piqued my interest.  This one is an “Oak aged IPA” from Denver, CO.  I like that Great Divide Brewing has listed food pairings on the bottle.  They recommend skirt steak, sweet potatoes, brie, and apple crisp with ice cream.  This all sounds fantastic by the way, and even though I don’t have it to pair with this beer, I will probably be eating all of it in the near future.  Lastly on the “what’s writting on the tin” front, this beer is a little higher than standard, at 7.1% ABV.

The beer is a nice dark amber color with a very small head.  The head never really frothed up like i expected, but it let out such a pleasingly sweet aroma as I poured it I’m willing to overlook it.  The smell reminds me of when I tried a recipe for a carmel-butterscotch sugar cookie.  It’s incredibly rich and complex with hints of caramelized sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon.

It’s funny, I often start off my reviews with strict commentary on how the beer smells.  However, it seems more often than not when I taste it I am very surprised at how much the actual flavor varies from the initial smells.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but it does tend to surprise and shock the senses a little.  I might qualify this as one of the most magnificent beers I’ve had to date because it completely lives up to all the expectations you get from the initial scents of the beer.  The first sip was this amazing thick nectar of vanilla wheat with a hint of hops.  There are so many different experiences in the taste-profile of this beer I feel like I’m going to miss something and do an injustice to this beer.  I will try anyways…

As I take my first swallow, the citrus-essence of the hops pops out and wakes up the taste buds.  It makes all the flavors shimmer like a kaleidoscope before settling into this amazing butterscotch-sweet aftertaste, with just enough bite from the carbonation to remind you you’re drinking beer and not an amazing dessert.

This beer is a healthy craft-beer and as such is a bit on the heavier side.  I want to be drinking this with a half dozen friends with big beer mugs, clinking them together and making a real ruckus at the bar.  As rich as this beer is, I could drink at least 3-4 before even contemplating switching to something else.  (be careful with that though, it’s strong enough to get you in trouble if you don’t stretch them out over a long enough time!)

I have had some great beers since I have started this blog.  I will say, this is one of the first times I’ve regretted only buying one bottle of this beer as part of my pick-a-pack selection.  I have to give some major kudos to Great Divide Brewing Co. for a truly superb beer.

P.S.  I keep having to read the label to remember it’s an IPA.  The hops are there, but are just a fragment of the entire experience.  regardless, this beer is definitely worth trying.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , , ,