Stagg Jr. Batch #9

Stagg Jr. is an uncut and unfiltered barrel proof Kentucky straight bourbon. My bottle is 65.95% and does not indicate a batch number. … There is also no age statement, although the prose on the back states that it has aged “nearly a decade”. The first batch released in 2013 was a vatting of 8 and 9 year-old bourbon. Other Internet sources suggest 7 years, so it’s somewhere between 7 and 9. Stagg shares its “low rye” (under 10% rye) mash bill with Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, and the eponymous Buffalo Trace bourbon. Stagg Jr. is bottled at barrel proof, which varies from batch to batch.

Elijah Craig (12 year) Small Batch Barrel Proof Bourbon

Elijah Craig is Kentucky straight bourbon. The Barrel Proof bottlings, made in three “small” batches per year, are aged for 12 years in new charred oak barrels and bottled uncut (without any water added) and without chill filtration. They are from the same low-rye mash bill as the cheaper 46% ABV (now NAS) small batch edition: 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley (for enzymes).

James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon

James E. Pepper, a historic brand purportedly established in 1780 (NOT in 1776) but mothballed in 1958, was distilled at several sites in Kentucky including the long-abandoned James E. Pepper distillery in Lexington, KY. In 2008 the rights to the brand were purchased by the Georgetown Trading Co., and re-launched as a line of several bourbons and three ryes using sourced whisky from various distilleries. … The bourbon bottlings were originally contracted out of the Corsair distillery in Kentucky, but are now all sourced from MGP as well.

Johnny Drum Private Stock Bourbon

Here we have yet another sourced bourbon, this time from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett). Johnny Drum is sold in three expressions: an entry-level Green Label ($20), a Black Label with and without an age-statement (12 years), and this Private Stock bottling that lost its 15-year age statement in a rebrand years ago. The usual vague assurances on the Internet that it “still contains some old whisky” are not even backed up by the tried-and-true “a dude at the distillery told me” type of hearsay.

Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve Bourbon

Distilled by “Rebel Yell Distillery, Louisville, KY” (The Internet Which Knowest All Things says this is probably Heaven Hill), the bottle contains Kentucky Straight Bourbon bottled in “small batches” from a wheat-flavored mash bill (like Luxco compatriot David Nicholson 1843) at 45.3% ABV. Long a resident of the bottom shelf club, Rebel Yell is a favorite of everyone from the college-guy-sent-to-the-liquor-store-with-a-fistful-of-fives-to-get-booze to the hobo-on-the-corner-with-enough-class-to-not-be-drinking-vodka.

David Nicholson 1843 Bourbon

The David Nicholson brand was previously distilled at Stitzel-Weller (don’t get excited, it hasn’t contained SW juice for decades) and the 1843 bottling – named after the year grocer David Nicholson began selling his own blend of bourbon at his store in St. Louis – in the Stitzel-Weller tradition. Bottled without an age statement at 100 proof (50% ABV), the 1843 is a Kentucky straight bourbon bottled by Luxco in St. Louis, MO.

Winchester Straight Bourbon

Enter competitor TerrePURE Spirits, based in Charleston, South Carolina. A little Googling can tell you what you need to know about the technology, so I’ll just summarize it by saying that they use ultrasonic vibrations to induce chemical reactions in a young spirit (in this case, 2 year-old sourced bourbon), likely with inserted oak staves. This has a variety of effects, including filtering out congeners which cause off-flavors, building mouth-feel by esterification of fatty acids, and improving color absorption from the wood without added colorants.