About – Maker’s Mark is one of those brands that everyone, including those who don’t drink bourbon, is familiar with. Any many ways it is the brand that started the modern bourbon revival as well. Maker’s is a wheated bourbon distilled in Loretto, KY by Beam Suntory and is bottled at 90 proof.
Smell – Bold nose especially for a 90 proof bourbon, sweet vanilla and caramel are accompanied by the trademark Maker’s Mark spice
Taste – Surprisingly tame in spite of the nose. Oak and vanilla are present, but the thin mouthfeel leaves much to be desired.
Finish – A short flash of heat, a surprise for a 90 proofer, with little else of redeeming value.
Score – 79
Verdict – Is this really the bourbon that sparked the bourbon revival? I can’t believe that to be the case. Something must have changed since then with either the recipe or the age of the whiskey put into the bottle. I know it is unlikely, but if you haven’t tried Maker’s Mark before I would only recommend it for use in cocktails.
It is hard to believe that we are already almost a full month into 2017. 2016 came and went and brought plenty of stellar releases such as Old Forester 1920 and Booker’s Rye. 2017 looks to be a year that is packed with solid new releases as well. Instead of going over yearly releases such as Pappy and BTAC we are going to focus solely on new releases, which brings us to a release that came out earlier this week.
Smooth Ambler the West Virginia distillery responsible for bringing us one of the most lauded sourced whiskeys with its Old Scout series brings us their first true release of their own distillate. Smooth Ambler Wheated Bourbon was released earlier this week, and is initially only available for pickup at their Distillery in West Virginia.
In February Wild Turkey will be bringing back to marker two historic labels with their Whiskey Barons collection. Old Ripy dates back to 1868 and was distilled on the site of the current Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky. The bourbon itself will feature a combination of 8 and 12 year old whiskeys, it will be non chill filtered and bottled at 104 proof. Bond and Lillard was a well regarded brand in the pre-prohibition era even winning a gold medal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This whiskey will be aged a minimum of seven years and will be bottled at 100 proof. Both of these whiskies will be releases in 375 ml bottles and retail for $49.99.
E.H. Taylor’s ongoing set of experimental releases will bring us a four grain bourbon this year. As opposed to traditional recipes which consist of corn as the base grain, malted barely to help with alcohol production, and either rye which produces a spicy, fruity bourbon, or wheat which produces a sweeter bourbon, this bourbon will feature the use of all four grains. There have been other brands release four grain bourbons recently and not many of them have gone over well. If anyone is capable of putting out a good version of this whiskey style is is E.H. Taylor.
Last but not least is a release that has started to trickle out at the gift shop and will start to make its way to the rest of the market fairly soon, Wild Turkey master’s keep Decades. This is the second release in the Master’s Keep series which now seems to be Eddie Russell’s experimental brand. This particular whiskey will be a blend of 10 and 20 year old bourbons, will be non chill filtered, and bottled at 104 proof. Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades will retail around $149.99
This is the best list I could compile from information that is available right now. Stay tuned to Bourbon for the Masses for updates on bourbons to be on the look out for as 2017 picks up steam.
About – 1792 Small Batch is a product of the Barton distillery which is a member of the Sazerac conglomerate which also owns Buffalo Trace. 1792 gets its name from 1792 being the year that the state of Kentucky joined the union. It is a high rye content bourbon and is bottle at 93.7 proof.
Smell – Bright, slightly floral with a trace of caramel tinged with ethanol. After resting for 10 minutes of so dark fruit appears.
Taste – Caramel leads the way along with oak that doesn’t stand out in the nose. Not a lot else going on.
Finish – Surprisingly on the borderline of being hot, a long tannin laced oak finish with with a hint of vanilla coming along for the ride.
Score – 84
Verdict – This is not a bad bourbon, but to be honest it isn’t that good either. I have seen it priced anywhere from $22-$30. It can compete on the lower end but at $30 it doesn’t hold up against options such as Russel’s Reserve, Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, or Henry McKenna.
About – Colonel E.H. Taylor is a name is that is drenched in bourbon history. He is the father of the bottled in bond act. Although that may seem of little importance today, at the time it was an important act to protect bourbon drinkers by making sure they were getting quality juice. Colonel E.H. Taylor was also the founder of the O.F.C. distillery which is now the site of the modern Buffalo Trace facility. The Taylor brand itself is one that has been around for a long time and has switched hands several times with varying quality throughout its existence. Today the brand is made by Buffalo Trace and has a variety of offerings including Small Batch, Single Barrel, Barrel Proof, Rye, and some limited offerings as well. Today we will be focusing on the Small Batch which is a bottle in bond bourbon which means it was aged at least four years and is bottled at 100 proof.
Smell – The first sniff reveals a huge whiff of citrus, as you dive deeper in it is joined by notes of caramel and honey as well.
Taste – A true explosion of flavor hits you immediately. This is a bold bourbon, the citrus from the nose introduces itself first and in a big way along with a generous amount of vanilla, there is a trace of pear in there as well. The pallet is underlain with oak throughout and there is a substantial mouthfeel to this bourbon as well.
Finish – The oak is the star of a nice long finish that slowly fades into vanilla.
Score – 93
Verdict – Colonel E.H. Taylor is a fine example of what great bourbon is. It brings all of the classic bourbon flavors to the table and adds a nice amount of citrus making for a very pleasurable experience. At around $40 a bottle it may be a bit expensive for an every day drinker, but is still in the range of things that are affordable to pour to treat yourself after a long day at the office. This is a bourbon that makes a fantastic gift as well thanks both to its great flavor and its elegant packaging.