Grudge Match: Wyoming Whisky vs Tom’s Foolery

This special edition of the Scotch Noob is brought to you by Tom at Tom’s Foolery, who wrote me a very polite email and asked that I take another look at his bourbon (which I kinda panned), with two things in mind: First, that I make sure the bottle has been open to oxidize a little bit (it has, at 75% full for a few weeks), and second that I compare it to Wyoming Whisky (which I kinda praised).

First, I should note that my original review of Tom’s Foolery was done with a 750ml bottle that was 2 or 3 glasses in, and had been opened for about 6 days. If there’s truth to Sku’s conclusion that the whisky needs some time to air out, I can neither confirm nor deny it. Luckily for me, I had a 4-ounce sample of the Wyoming Whisky saved in my trusty whisky library. It finally came in handy! Woot!

I poured two Glencairns side-by-side, each to the apex of the glass’s curve. The Tom’s is two shades darker. WW is $5 to $10 cheaper (depending on where you live). Tom’s has greater alcohol by volume (50% vs 44%). They are both bourbons, but the Tom’s is Bottled-in-Bond.

Aroma

WW is light, sweet, and peachy. Tom’s is piercingly piney, vegetal, robust, and dry.

After a 10 minute rest in the glass, the WW is unchanged, maybe a little bit mellowed. The Tom’s is unchanged and not mellowed.

After a 30 minute rest in the glass, the WW is a little fruitier, and the Tom’s is slightly sweeter.

Flavor

WW is Fruity, slightly tannic, sweet (vanilla), almost malty. Its youth is revealed in vibrancy, but not in off-flavors or chemical tastes.

Tom’s is very tannic, piney, and intense. The other notes are vegetal (grassy), and dry. There is a charcoal note, and a stronger tongue burn. Its youth is revealed in grassiness and pine (which I’ve encountered before in young rye, but never to this degree).

Finish

WW carries the same notes through the finish, turns nutty, and fades quickly without bitterness. The finish is short.

Tom’s is more tannic on the finish, and more drying. There is a faint woodsy sweetness, like chewing on spent raw sugar cane fibers. The finish is much longer.

Conclusion

Wyoming I would drink without having to think about it – it’s soft on the tongue, sweet and slightly fruity, and has no off notes. Its short finish is lamentable, but is easily overcome by the taking of another sip. It’s not exactly complex whisky, nor particularly able to stand up to cocktail ingredients.

Tom’s is a challenge. I can’t see, smell, or taste past the choking fog of pine sap. It’s got a more robust body, an oakier core, and a more intense flavor profile, but alas that profile is “pine” cranked to 11. If you could smoke a whisky with a fire made of pine needles, I’d imagine it would taste something like this. Normally that body and woodiness would help it stand up to cocktail making (where I think the Wyoming would suffer, since it’s on the wimpy side), however an Old Fashioned made with the Foolery tastes like I stirred it with a sappy pine bough.

That said, if you’re trying to make a pine-flavored cocktail – Tom’s your man. It’s also a better bourbon choice for recovering peat freaks who can’t respect a whisky if it doesn’t sock them in the face and ravage their taste buds with earthiness. If that sounds like you, you’d probably call the Wyoming Whisky “girly”. Also, if you wear red flannel and have a big beard (ironically or unironically), you basically have no other choice but Tom’s Foolery.

Me? If you handed me $50 and said to buy one of these, I’d pick the Wyoming and pocket the $10. Sorry, Tom!

Update 10/24/2016: Batch 3 arrived, and is from a different mashbill. Does it fix the problems I found in Batch 1? Find out!

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One thought on “Grudge Match: Wyoming Whisky vs Tom’s Foolery

  1. Howdy scotchnoob,

    I have a single barrel of the Tom’s Foolery Bonded that is pretty good. It’s definitely different and still a little young at four years, but I don’t get any of the pine notes you’re talking about. Honestly if I tasted my bottle blind, I really might have guessed 3-5 year old apple brandy, though I don’t think it’s finished or anything. I know he distills applejack too, so maybe it’s a “terroir” thing. Or my palate sucks. At any rate, it’s an enjoyable departure for me. I don’t drink a lot of craft whiskey, and I also rarely drink bourbons distilled via pot still only, so the stylistic differences are interesting to examine. Now that Tom is rid of the Michter’s still and is using an alembic, I’m really curious to see where things go.

    Given that there isn’t anyone else doing things the way Tom does in his area, I expect it is going to take some trial and error for him to figure out the sweet spot for aging his whiskies. I’m guessing 6-8 years and his barrels will truly start coming to maturity. I’m really rooting for him to succeed, though, so please take my bias into account. I root for him because he seems like a nice guy, and because his barrel database literally sets the standard for transparency. I don’t think there is another distillers of aged spirits on the planet giving consumers as much information as he does. At any rate, you can’t drink a database, so I’m sorry you didn’t like the product.

    Cheers,
    Eric

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