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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, , , , ,

A night spent in: Whiskey Review

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Sometimes you finish a long week of work and realize you just don’t have it in you to go out and mingle with the crowd in a new city.  Sometimes you want to sit at home and read a good book.  Other times you may want to play a guitar, piano, or other instrument and immerse yourself in the music.  On this particular occasion, I’ll admit I felt like loading up on Battlefield 3 and winning a few Conquest Domination rounds with my trusty rocket launcher and Remington 870 Express.

But I digress….

Whatever your alone-time activity, Sometimes you need a drink to pair up with it.   On the way home from work I decided to stop by the liquor store and look for something new.  Having recently moved to Charlotte, I’ve felt a bit immersed in Southern culture (Carolina BBQ represent!).  As a whiskey drinker, I was curious what I could find on the shelf for a reasonable price.  I put my limit at $30, which is well under your standard single-malt scotch (or High-end Tequila for my FSU pals) and started browsing.  No prior research except for the price, and the description on the bottle.  

I came across the bottle of Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon Whiskey, aged and bottled in Hillsborough, OR.  Priced at $29.99 it came in right at my price cap.  I can’t say that the thick walled simple bottle, rustic label, and cork cap didn’t appeal to my inner mountain man.  

Bringing it home, i popped the seal on the bottle and took a look at what I had acquired.  At 91 proof, I was ready for something that would either put hair on my chest… or make it fall out.  Fortunately I had found a bottle that would do neither.  

The smell of the whiskey surprised me in being a lot mellower than I expected for something of this proof.  The smell alone has strong hints of Spanish Oak and cinnamon, with a cool vanilla floating in the background.  I could tell from the smell alone that I hadn’t wasted my money.  I decided to try it in several different fashions as I’ve learned that different whiskeys can appeal in different ways.  I have listed my experiences below:

Straight:  I poured a measure of Big Bottom into a brandy snifter so that I could immerse myself in the experience of trying it straight.  It definitely did not disappoint.  I will warn all my readers right now, that you should NOT shoot this whiskey for the simple reason that is a waste of a truly incredible experience.  The brandy snifter was helpful in gathering all the aromas from the bourbon as I drank.  Sipping this bourbon, the first tastes to hit me are a peppery combination of cinnamon and mint, flowing into a very light oak body, and finishing with the hint of vanilla.  For sipping a 91 proof bourbon straight there is very low whiskey-heat with Big Bottom.  In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of another straight liquor that goes down this smoothly.  

1 to 1 on the rocks:  I’ve preferred some of the stronger whiskeys I’ve had like this and decided to give it a try.  The flavor comes across much sweeter and the vanilla is the dominant flavor, having a hint of caramel on it.  The smell reminds me of stepping outdoors on Christmas morning inhaling cold air and the hint of pine.  I would almost rate this as a “dessert bourbon”.  With this much water added it’s almost too smooth for my taste, but I think some people will find it enjoyable.

2 to 1 on the rocks:  I decided to cut back the water just a little bit and see if I could find a better balance.  The vanilla stayed the dominant scent, mixing well with the caramel flavorings.  It finished with a strong spice that reminded me of a chai latte.  The water and ice quenches what little heat there was from the straight liquor, making it something you can drink instead of just sip.  

My recommendations with this bourbon are to either sip it in a snifter like a brandy to stimulate the appetite.  It would work well before a strongly flavored meal like a steak or hamburger (just drinking this made me think of red meat).  I would also say that  the 2 to 1 ratio with a few ice cubes is more of your typical drink, and an amazing experience in its own way.

If this is available to you, i would definitely recommend you try it.  I hope it helps you enjoy your next night in as much as it helped me.

 

MB 

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