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.
I plopped down my $20 for a liter of “Premium Small Batch” Kentucky Straight Bourbon at 7 years of age and an impressive 103 proof, from batch B-5183, if it matters. The label indicated that it was made in Clermont, which leaves no doubt as to its distiller – the Beam Corporation’s Jim Beam Clermont Distillery.
I was curious about Maker’s because it’s a wheater. In a world of high-rye bourbons, a mashbill with wheat instead of rye is somewhat rare. The Pappys, the Wellers, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny, and Maker’s. That’s a pretty short list considering the hundreds of bourbon brands on the market. Maker’s is also distinct for making its own bourbon, not slapping a label on bourbon produced at MGP or KBD.