Sonoma County Distilling Co. Cask Strength Bourbon No. 2

Sonoma County Distilling, located in Rohnert Park, CA and opened in 2010, uses direct-fired copper alembic pot stills for its whiskies, which are twice-distilled (like most single-malt scotches, which are also distilled in pot stills). The West of Kentucky Bourbon No. 2 has a mashbill of Midwest yellow corn, unmalted Canadian wheat, and malted barley from Wyoming.

I.W. Harper Bourbon

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.

Eagle Rare (10 year) Bourbon

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).

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?