Unlike Batch 1, Batch 3 consists of a blend of two different casks of bonded bourbon. … Together, these casks yielded a batch of 466 bottles at 50% ABV (100 proof, a requirement for the Bottled-in-Bond label). … So, can I finally salve my conscience (and simultaneously ease my anxiety about the reliability of my palate) by evaluating Batch 3?
As usual, Angel’s Envy cask strength brings a wealth of intense flavor at a tongue-searing proof. You pay for the robust, dense flavors of berries and complex caramelized sugars in dead taste buds and the inability to smell for a few hours after. By all means, proof it down, but you might as well experience the full force of the 124.6 proof that you paid for. And paid well, I should add, at around $180.
This special edition of the Scotch Noob is brought to you by Tom at Tom’s Foolery, who asked that I take another look at his bourbon (which I kinda panned), with two things in mind: First, that I make sure the bottle has been open to oxidize a little bit (it has, at 75% full for a few weeks), and second that I compare it to Wyoming Whisky.
Tom’s Foolery is actually made by an Ohio man named Tom (take that, modern whisky marketing!). He does this on a pair of pot-stills and ages his bottled-in-bond Ohio Straight Bourbon in an honest-to-goodness US bonded warehouse for four years in new charred American oak barrels.
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.
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).