Maker’s 46 is basically Maker’s Mark with an additional 10 weeks of aging with 10 “seared” French Oak barrel staves inserted into the casks, and bottled at an extra 2% ABV (at 47%). The process is done during the winter in the coolest parts of the warehouse, to minimize the movement of whiskey through the wood. This treatment (the 46th attempt, hence the name) is supposed to intensify the vanilla and caramel notes of the bourbon without adding additional bitterness from barrel tannin.
The line of Russell’s Reserve bourbons and ryes are crafted by (and named after) legendary master distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell. Aged a full 10 years (hear, hear for age statements!) and bottled in small batches (a meaningless term, these days, basically an excuse for batch variability), Russell’s Reserve is reportedly made from a mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. The barrels used in each batch are chosen by Jimmy and Eddie, and are from the center of the Wild Turkey rickhouses.
Another in a long line of sourced whiskies, with marketing story and bottle proudly proclaiming its California heritage, while actually being distilled in Indiana. At least these barrels were aged in Healdsburg California (aka Napa), giving them some vestiges of individuality.
The “other” Diageo Bourbon, I.W. Harper is another resurrected brand. The Bernheim brothers began selling I.W. Harper in 1879 and it has been (like most Bourbon brands) sold several times since. It saw a 20-year hiatus in the US, although it has been sold continuously in Japan. Now, Diageo is bringing it back in two forms.
…both bourbons are made from a mashbill of 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley (for enzymes). At more than twice the price of its NAS sibling, the 10-year is essentially the same juice, but aged for a full 10 years in charred white American oak barrels and bottled at a very slightly higher 91.2 proof (45.6% ABV).
The Wyoming Whiskey small batch wheated bourbon is distilled from a mashbill of corn, wheat, and barley and is aged in new charred white oak barrels for five years (or so – there’s no age statement on the bottle). Then it’s bottled at 44% ABV and retails for around $40. They source all of their grain from Wyoming farms growing Non-GMO corn, wheat, and barley.
Bernheim Original, although it looks and tastes like bourbon, is not in fact bourbon. It is however a straight wheat whiskey and thus shares with bourbon an aging (of minimum 2 years) in new charred oak barrels and cannot contain flavoring or coloring agents. Bernheim Original, owned by Heaven Hill Distilleries, is made primarily from soft winter wheat, aged at least 7 years, and is bottled in batches containing no more than 100 barrels (thus the “small batch” designation).
This is a damn tasty whiskey. What I’ve always liked about Angel’s Envy is its ability to transcend the bourbon clichés and deliver both subtlety and complexity in a way that other, heavier bourbons just can’t. At cask strength, you have an iron fist in a velvet glove – those same subtle, complex elements are thrust in your face and burned onto your tongue, for better or for worse.
The maker of Beyond Barrels Aging Masts contacted me with an interesting twist on the sticks-in-bottles concept: Minimize the amount of end grain while maintaining a liquid-to-wood-surface-area ratio identical to that of a 53-gallon oak barrel, heat-treat the wood without charring it (charred wood makes spirits taste like char), and then focus on adding interesting flavors through the use of French Oak, Cherry, and even Peach wood.
Every year around mid-September, Four Roses releases the coveted Limited Editions. 2015 also marks another transition at Four Roses: Legendary Master Distiller and American whiskey celebrity Jim Rutledge will be retiring this Fall. That makes the 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch the last limited release made under Jim’s direction. If you do secure a bottle, you’re in for a treat. A mixture of 4 different bourbons, using 3 recipes (out of the 10 Four Roses recipes) at unusually high ages: 16 year-old OBSK, 11 year-old OBSV, 15 year-old OESK, and 14 year-old OESK.