Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon – 7 year

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.

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Maker’s Mark Bourbon

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.

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Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

A big bourbon with a lot to offer. High-rye mashbill, and the resulting “spice cabinet” really permeates the experience. If you like baking spices in your whisky, you will LOVE this.

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W. L. Weller (12 year) Bourbon

There is a nice array of pleasant flavors and aromas, although just because this is a wheated recipe does not mean it bears much resemblance to Pappy Van Winkle 15. There just isn’t that much depth in the W.L. Weller. Still, for the money this is an easy-going sipper – an uncomplicated glass of bourbon, both with and without an ice cube.

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Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

While Old Fitz doesn’t bring anything exciting or original to the table, it has a good amount of heft (100 proof), some reasonably well-balanced flavors, an unobjectionable finish, and is light enough to mix a cocktail without dominating it.

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Henry McKenna K&L Single Barrel (10 year)

Cost $27 but drinks like a $45 bourbon. A hefty 100 proof gives weight, and the rye-inflected standard bourbon notes are all accounted for and in the proper proportions. I could wish for a little more silkiness in the body and a bit more caramel and less charcoal in the wood notes, but all around a decent workhorse whiskey. A few drops of water elevate it to a $55 bourbon. Did I mention it was $27?

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Old Grand-Dad Bourbon (40% ABV)

It’s not the most amazing bourbon in the world, but it’s light, refreshing, young, and vibrant. There are some interesting flavors and aromas, and except for its watery texture and low proof, it’s probably quite decent in a cocktail.

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Larceny Bourbon

The nose is lackluster and overly biting (it would probably benefit from a longer rest in the glass), but some interesting flavors redeem the palate, and the finish is pleasantly non-bitter. Not too shabby for $25 bourbon out of a plastic miniature bottle.

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Peach Street Distillers Bourbon

Well, it’s quite good. It has the air of an excited young pupppy, full of life and excitement and bounding with energy. Unfortunately, young craft whiskey comes at a price. $63 for a 2 year-old bourbon? That’s the kind of price I might pay after touring the distillery and bringing home a souvenir bottle… but it’s unlikely to become a staple bourbon in my house with such a pricetag.

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2012 Holiday Whisky Gift Guide

Around this time of year I get a lot of emails from people asking for gift suggestions. So, I’ve worked up a handy little chart for anyone who wants to gift something “slightly better” than last year’s gift.

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