A very nicely balanced nose, with both tart and sweet notes in harmony. I could wish for some hint of rye spice and a more robust finish. Eagle Rare 10 is a very different animal than Buffalo Trace, despite being made at the same distillery from the same mash bill. While I would definitely drink this neat, with those orange and cherry notes it’s practically begging to be made into an Old Fashioned (no actual cherry and orange please, keep it subtle).
The aging-at-home industry appears to be picking up speed lately, with products such as Whisky Elements, Beyond Barrel Aging Masts, and even wooden bottles! They all promise more-or-less the same thing: Take under-matured or middling-quality whisky and quickly infuse them with a little extra oak flavor while also filtering out impurities and mellowing the spirit. As I discovered with my testing, the results are not so cut-and-dry.
On the face of it, it sounds silly. A $6 chunk of wood that promises to make your $20 whisky taste like $50 whisky? Yeah, OK, whatever. There is, however, some solid precedent behind the idea. So what’s the final word on Whiskey Elements?
I like a bourbon that doesn’t make your eyes water with sweetness, but also doesn’t go fully grassy (like Jim Beam). Buffalo Trace is probably the most well-balanced bourbon I’ve had in this price range, and happens to strike my personal preferences in bourbon.
1792 Ridgemont Reserve is the highfalutin’ name (in a similarly highfalutin’ bottle) for the West-Coast US’s version of the acclaimed value brand Very Old Barton: Bottled-in-Bond, affectionately known as “VOB BIB” and only available on the vaguely Eastern half of the US.
I think it’s an excellent whisky, and really shows what Angel’s Envy is capable of. I can’t love the price point, however, no matter how carefully hand-picked the casks are.
Baker’s is a bit of an oddball. One expects from bourbon a big, sweet ball of corn syrup, alcohol, and oak. Here the sweetness is merely background, letting nuances (including bitter and tannic ones) from the wood and, perhaps, the rye component play out.
For me, Knob Creek Rye sits squarely in the middle of the available (read: young) ryes currently available. It avoids the “spicy to a fault” armies of LDI/MGP rye clones with a nice balance of rye spiciness against warm, sweet cereal notes.
A beast of a whiskey. Booker’s shows its best flavors and aromas while undiluted (except on the palate, where you can only taste fire), and provides a sense of accomplishment that few whiskies can offer when conquered neat. That said, one will be much more comfortable with a glass of Booker’s if a generous splash of water (or two) is used to tame it.
Knob Creek, a Beam brand, was created by bourbon legend and Beam master distiller Booker Noe in 1992. It’s aged longer than most bourbons (9 years), and bottled at a respectable 100 proof. It’s part of Beam’s “Small Batch” collection.