Wild Turkey 101

With the start of the new US television season this week, I thought it apt to have a bourbon for my next review on my blog. The Wild Turkey 101 is quite popular on television, cropping up often in NCIS and being reference on The Sopranos, Seinfeld and one of my all-time favourite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Wild Turkey_101_NAS_The Smoky Dram

 

Whisky: Wild Turkey 101, 50.5% ABV

Region: Kentucky, USA

Style: Bourbon

Age: NAS

The Ripy brothers built a distillery in Tyrone, Kentucky near Lawrenceburg in 1869. They had consolidated the current facility by 1905 and resumed distilling after Prohibition. According to legend, distillery executive Thomas McCarthy took some warehouse samples on a wild turkey hunting trip in 1940 and the next year his friends were asking him for “some of that wild turkey whiskey”.

Wild Turkey 101 is a 101 proof (translates to 50.5% ABV) bourbon and is a mix of mostly 6, 7 and 8 year old bourbons. One theory on the mash recipe is thought to be 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley.

Colour: Burnished to tawny with long, slow and thick legs.

Nose: Softer than expected and fairly sweet with maple syrup, slightly burnt caramel, sweet fruit and berry notes. There is also some creaminess about, touch of citrus fruit, wood notes and some sweet winter some spiciness (cinnamon and ginger) on background.

Palate: Rich, sweet, spicy, full and mouth coating. Winter spices (more cinnamon and ginger), touch of cooked citrus fruits with honey and hot out the oven backed dessert (malva pudding) drizzled with maple syrup. Palate is complex and well balanced.

Finish: Long with a sweet spicy tingle and nice baked dessert sweetness at end.

Overall: A bourbon that reminds of the festive season with its winter spices and baked dessert sweetness. It is also one that I feel would perform well as a pre Xmas dinner drink, not to mention also as a during and post dinner drink as well.

My Score: 83

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Teeling Whiskey – Tweet Tasting (#TeelingWhiskey)

A couple of things prompted this tweet tasting post, firstly I was going through some old notes and found this one that I had not yet posted (the tasting was almost a year ago). Secondly Teeling Whiskey is now available in South Africa and exclusively at WhiskyBrother, though only the Small Batch is currently available. And thirdly the Teeling Single Grain Whiskey was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards for 2014.

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT

This tweet tasting took place on 4th December 2013, and I was fortunate enough to do this tasting while on holiday on the South African south coast. This twitter tasting was put together and hosted by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and their main tweet tasting account @TweetTastings. Steve was joined by Stephen Teeling from the Teeling Whisky Company. Steve also musically paired the whiskies, so the sampling order, with their musical counterparts, was:

  1. Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey = U2 – Desire
  2. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey = Thin Lizzy – Whiskey in Jar
  3. Teeling 21 Year Old Single Malt = Dubliners – Dirty Old Town
  4. Teeling 26 Year Old Single Malt = Luke Kelly – Auld Triangle

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT_NAS_21yo_26yo

Teeling whiskey

In 1782 Walter Teeling set up a craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin commencing a 230 year tradition of distilling for the Teeling family. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years and it is right back where they started in 1782 and only a stone’s throw away from where Walter Teeling’s old original distillery was. The new distillery will be open for visitors in 2015.

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £40 (R690)

Teeling_Single  Grain_NAS_The Smoky Dram

The Teeling Single Grain was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards, 2014. It is fully matured in Californian red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale gold to corn gold with many medium legs.

Nose: Warm spices (cinnamon) with sweetness in background that comes to the fore with time. Cereal and grains with a nuttiness that leads to lemon and a vanilla sweetness. It has a buttery creaminess to it, like a lemon sponge cake or lemon cheese cake. Also dark cherries with slight ruby grapefruit and a very subtle touch of smoke in back ground.

Palate: Very sweet spiciness on first hit followed by fruit sweetness – berry fruits, red fruits and fruit pastilles. Vanilla again but a custard vanilla. Peppery, cinnamon, citrus, cranberry and strawberry yogurt. Smooth and creamy with some chocolateness around. Drying towards the end.

Finish: Long and warm sweet spiciness with vanilla sweet fruit creaminess at end.

My Score: 83

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey our song pairing for Single Grain is “Desire” from U2 – it’s modern Dublin and whets the appetite for more whiskey!!
  • The wine cask gave the whiskey a nice red colour #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey our single grain is double distilled from maize and full matured in ex- Californian Cabarnet Sauvignon wine barrels
  • Like most grain this is a sweet soft whiskey, but the wine cask has given it a spice and fruit that is unusual #TeelingWhiskey
  • @ansgarspeller yes all our bottlings are at 46% with no chill filtration we just think it makes a better whiskey #TeelingWhiskey

 Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij
  • #TeelingWhiskey anyone know the Rollo candy? (milkchocolate with soft caramel). That. On the nose. – @thomas_speller
  • There’s definitely a big red-fruit thing on the palate. Think they might just be ‘fresh’ wine casks, not ‘knackered’. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • A red fruit frenzy on the palate, with a velvety vinous vivaciousness. #TeelingWhiskey – @TheWhiskyWire
  • Palate smooth with vanilla, butterscotch angel delight, peppermint and nutmeg. #TeelingWhiskey – @MCRWhiskyClub
  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij

 

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £32 (R550)

Teeling_Small  Batch_NAS_The Smoky DramThis small batch bottling consists of hand selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale old gold with many medium legs.

Nose:  Clean with saltiness, rum & raisin chocolate, creamy spiciness and slight citrus notes (more oranges than lemons). Lovely winter spices (mostly cloves and nutmeg), salt & pepper mix, some malty grains and Red Heart rum. There are hints of tropical fruits (pineapple) with time. To round out, some cereal breakfast bar, slight burnt brown sugar, custard and banana. Not as sweet as the single grain.

Palate: Sweet upfront spiciness, aniseed, vanilla and toffee. Slight woodiness, pepper, cinnamon, and some more of those warm winter spices (cloves and nutmeg), salty and with a dryness as well. Palate is very intense, creamy and rich with lovely oily mouth feel.

Finish: Medium to long with sweet winter spiciness leading to a creamy end.

My Score: 84

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey Our music pairing for the Small Batch is Thin Lizzy Whiskey in the jar – rebel Dublin music to go with rebel whiskey !!
  • #TeelingWhiskey our small batch is our take on producing the most interesting blended irish whiskey.
  • #TeelingWhiskey Consists of Hand selected casks of grain and malt left to marry in Flor de Cana casks for over 6 months
  • #TeelingWhiskey interesting that the saltiness is coming through as marrying process happens in our warehouses right on the Irish Sea
  • @eimearocarroll #TeelingWhiskey it depends on when it’s ready to be honest can be a small run of only a handful or 30/40 casks – And in answer to question “How many casks go into the small batch? Roughly if it’s a secret! ;)”

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters: 

  • Faint hints of captain jack n tropical rum #TeelingWhiskey – @irishbeersnob
  • #TeelingWhiskey Small Batch rum; Clan tobacco – proper retro tonite – @Dr4key
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, candy, toffee, chocolate, raisins in lemons, salty, oily and tingling, banana, tea leaves, rum, pepperish, custard – @Girl_Whisky
  • #TeelingWhiskey not as smooth on the palate as the grain. Tropical tho, pineapple & mango… held together with a dollop of dark treacle – @kizzsmyth
  • cinnamon on a fruit tart. The pastry coming through right at end of the finish. #teelingwhiskey – @champdenwhite
  • Don’t like rum, so was a little worried about the SB. Shouldn’t have been. Rum just adds fruity/spicy/sugary notes. I like! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo

 

Teeling Silver Reserve 21 Year Old 1991 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £125 (R2150)

Teeling_Single  Malt_21yo_The Smoky DramThis whisky contains some of the oldest Single Malt Irish whiskey ever bottled by the Teeling Whiskey Company. This Silver Reserve bottling consists of 21 Year Old Irish whiskey distilled in 1991 and matured firstly in Bourbon casks then allowed to marry in Sauterne wine casks (a first I believe for an Irish whiskey). Consisting of only hand selected casks chosen for their distinctive taste qualities this small batch bottling is limited to only 5,000 bottles.

Colour: Amber to deep gold with lovely thick and slow legs

Nose: Waxy, earthy, mushroom farm, smoky (fragrant) and peaty. Has an old character to it. Dark dried fruits (apricots), mint, salty, nutty, liquorice, damp wood, grape fruit pastilles (the sugared kind) and tropical fruits there are some of the seemingly characteristic winter spices (mostly cloves) but not as strong as the previous two. Ending with hint of pear drops, sweet toffee apple, braaied bananas and an old leather couch. A powerful nose.

Palate: Winter spice sweetness (cinnamon and ginger), wet antique wood, cedar, dark chocolate, dried fruits (predominately apricots) with a lovely smokiness. Slight braaied banana again, with liquorice, tropical fruits, honey & nuts and a sweet nuttiness. Palate is silky and smooth with an oily mouth feel, drying towards end. Richer and creamier than previous two whiskies.

Finish: Very warm ‘heart’, with long and lingering winter spiciness that has a sweet smokiness at the very end.

My Score: 87

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):  

  • #Teelingwhiskey The music pairings for our Vintages are the the Dubliners my own favourites being the Auld Triangle or Raglan Road
  • #TeelingWhiskey also recent Thumbs Up winner in Ultra Premium category at the 2013 Malt Maniacs Awards
  • There is a small amount of peat in this one. It brings the start and finish together @irishbeersnob #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey the original mashbill contained some peated malt, was double distilled and matured in bourbon casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey the extra fruity twist comes for the extra maturation in Sauterne sweet wine casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey This is a very complex whiskey. When picking the casks I had to focus on the ones with a marzipan note in the middle.

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • It’s everywhere this one. Pineapple, salt, mint and ferns. #TeelingWhiskey – @EdinburghWhisky
  • 21 y/o Silver Reserve. Love the nose on this one, really powerful. White grapes, gooseberry and also, a hint of banana! #TeelingWhiskey – @whiskybars
  • It smells like I’m in the old wardrobe amongst the fur coats, waiting to walk through to Narnia. @TeelingWhiskeyC Magical! ##teelingwhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovKat
  • Wet dog (but a nice 1), leather, smoky like an old Irish man’s tweed jacket, tinned mackerel #TeelingWhiskey (wet dog courtesy of flatmate) – @eimearocarroll
  • The banana keeps on coming, this time with a little chilli and cumin. Luscious. #TeelingWhiskey – @LRWhisky
  • #teelingwhiskey 21 yo Palate – apricots, peaches, with honey, I gets some nuts towards the finish, with a final boost of smoke – @msykesjones
  • #TeelingWhiskey No 3 was right up my alley with its sea flavours and well matured and balanced palate. – @PWulf

 

Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £440 (R7550)

Teeling_Single  Malt_26yo_The Smoky DramThis Gold bottling of 26 Year Old Irish Single Malt is limited to only 1,000 bottles and comes from a handful of casks selected for their unique quality. Double distilled in 1987 and initially matured in bourbon barrels for 25 years this whiskey is given extra maturation in French white Burgundy wine casks for a further 12 months.

Colour: Deep gold to slight burnished with many thick and slow legs

Nose: Sweet and fresh as well as floral and fragrant. Rocky and pebbly beach with a fine sea spray over it. Marzipan, granny smith apples, waxiness, hints of creamy spiciness, pear drops, vanilla, fruit crumble, boiled sweets and lemons. Dark chocolate coated Turkish delight, black currant wine gums, ginger biscuits, fragrant wood and almonds. With time it gets sweeter, richer and creamier. The nose is delicate, elegant and very complex.

Palate: Very smooth and drinkable with dark fruit pastilles/wine gums, sweet spiciness and sweet smokiness as well. There are berry fruits, strawberries, dried fruits, slight honey, some pencil shavings and strong but nice spiciness. Very oily and mouth coating. Palate is simply stunning and beautiful as well as light and delicate.

Finish: Very long, lingering and changing. Sweet spiciness to a light creaminess at end.

My Score: 89

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC): 

  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey the 26 YO is yet to hit the shelves and is not yet bottled. With release planned for 2014 you are getting sneak peek.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey This whiskey started life in an AB and had just a little fruit in the nose and the finish was not strong.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey So we put it in a White Burgundy cask to try and bring the ends together.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey What we didn’t expect was the fruit explosion that the WB casks released in the nose and taste.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey silky smooth tropical fruit punch or as Alex would say gummy bear milkshake!!
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey we knew the 26 yo was special but blown away with the response

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey 26 yo. Nose – boiled candy cherries. Given the age, very light in colour… but long in legs. like a Rod Stewart ex – @b7ryn
  • There’s that same amazing Grilled Pineapple nose on this. Just amazing. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • 26 Year Old Nose: A cornucopia of dried tropical fruits evolving now, papaya, pineapple, mango and coconut #TeelingWhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovery
  • This whisky just keeps giving…. Layer after layer. From oak, spice, tropical fruit to the tannins of grape skin. #TeelingWhiskey –@SteveRascal
  • 26 yr old is a taste EXPLOSION! Fruit, spice, slight smoke, sweet. WOW!! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, honey, fruit arrival delicate, mouth coating experience very different from the 21 YO tastes superb – @HMcnee

 

Final words

A wonderful introduction the Teeling range and I am really excited to see if more of it will come to the sunny shores of South Africa (though all the rain and load shedding the past few weeks have made it decidedly less sunny). I enjoyed seeing how the different wood finishes, together with the various time in the barrel, created such different expressions, yet with some similar characteristics (like the winter spiciness for me). This I am sure will allow you to find one from the Teeling range that you would really enjoy. For me my favourite from the tasting was the Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt.

A big thank you to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire for hosting us (and the excellent music pairing) and to Teeling Whiskey for the wonderful Irish whiskies we got to sample. A final note of thanks, as always, to my fellow Tweet Tasters for making it an informative and entertaining tasting:

@TheWhiskyWire @TeelingWhiskeyC @StephenTeeling @LRWhisky @EdinburghWhisky @MasterOfMalt @WhiskyDiscovery @champdenwhite @WorldWhiskyDay @HMcnee @eimearocarroll @Alpacajo @kizzsmyth @SohoWhiskyClub @WhiskyDiscovKat @msykesjones @MCRWhiskyClub @b7ryn @SteveRascal @Dr4key @irishbeersnob @thomas_speller @PWulf @Girl_Whisky @DH17slijterij @whiskybars

Sláinte
Edward

Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve

Onwards with my reviews of 18 year old whisky and this time it is a short jump from Scotland to Ireland for my thoughts on the Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve. This whiskey is for at least 18 years in hand selected American bourbon barrels and European oak casks, and are finished in first fill bourbon barrels.

Jameson_18_Irish Whiskey_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Jameson 18yo, 43% ABV (Cost around R1300)

Region: Ireland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

The story of Jameson’s whiskey started on the 5th of October 1740 when John Jameson was born to a family whose motto, ‘Sine Metu’ (‘Without Fear’), was awarded to them for their bravery in battling pirates on the high seas in the 1500’s.

When John Jameson acquired the Bow Street Distillery in 1780 it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the 19th century, it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world, producing 1,000,000 gallons annually. Dublin at the time was the centre of world whiskey production. It was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum and internationally Jameson had by 1805 become the world’s number one whiskey. Today, Jameson is the world’s third largest single-distillery whiskey.

Originally one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys, Jameson is now distilled in Cork. In 2013, annual sales topped 4 million cases (48 million bottles).

Colour: Deep gold (old to burnished) with many thick, long and slow legs.

Nose: Black currant fruit pastilles, fruity – dark berries with more sweetness in the form of toffee, milk tart and toasted marshmallows. More tempered sweetness in some sweet and spicy wood with sweet spiciness (nutmeg) coming through as well. An absolutely beautiful and fragrant nose.

Palate: Spicy fruity burst on tip of tongue followed by grape and black currant fruit pastilles and rounding out with some nuttiness. Some of that toffee and spiciness still around. Complex with a very smooth and mellow mouth feel that has a sweet lining of black currant.

Finish: Fairly long with the spiciness and toffee sweetness that carries you to the spicy warm end. A fantastic finish, it is incredible going down.

Overall: A very well rounded and fairly complex whiskey that is exceptionally smooth with a beautiful fragrant nose and palate that delivers lovely sweet spiciness and dark berry flavours.

My Score: 82

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (always 43.2%-45.2% ABV) is produced at the company’s distillery is in Woodford County, in central Kentucky. Distilling began in 1780 and the distillery building itself was erected in 1838, making it the oldest of the nine bourbon distilleries in current operation in Kentucky (as of 2010).

Woodford Reserve_Bourbon_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Woodford Reserve Distillers Select, 43.2% ABV (Cost around R400) 

Region: Kentucky, USA

Style: Bourbon

Age: NAS

One of the legislation points which specifies when a whiskey can be called a bourbon is that the mixture of grains used has to contain at least 51% corn (in most cases it is higher, 65 – 80%). The other portions of the grain mixture are rye and malted barley (usually around 10 – 15%). Each distillery has its own formula for this grain mixture, also known as the mashbill in the States.

The mashbill for Woodford Reserve features a high percentage of rye: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt.  Woodford Reserve is furthermore also unusual for being triple distilled and having the lowest proof upon entering the barrel, where it matures for at least six years. Each bottle is numbered with a batch number and bottle number.

Colour: Auburn to Tawny with medium to thick legs.

Nose: Upfront toffee cream, and vanilla sweetness. There are also some biscuit notes coming through. Sweet and soft ginger spiciness creeps across with some woodiness, chocolate and slight peppery smokiness along for the ride as well.

Palate: Complex and rich with oily and full mouth feel. Sweet (vanilla and syrup), nutty, cocoa and warm with soft winter spices (especially ginger). Some cereal and woodiness swirling around towards the end.

Finish: Medium to long sherry spicy finish which is damn nice with a sweetness on the back of it.

Overall: I love the thick viscosity on this bourbon, I think my exact thoughts when tasting this was “Bloody nice”. There is plenty of richness and character in this bourbon.

My Score: 81

Redbreast 15yo

For my first Irish whiskey review I decided on one of my favourite Irish whiskey’s, the Redbreast 15 year old from New Midleton Distillery. It was matured in a combination of Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and American Bourbon whisky barrels. The whiskey was bottled at 46% ABV and was non chill filtered. In 2006 it was chosen by Jim Murray as the Whisky Bible ‘Irish Whiskey of the Year’. 

Redbreast_15_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Redbreast 15, 46% ABV (Cost around R790)

Region: Ireland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 15 Years

The Redbreast 15 year old is a pot still Irish whiskey. So what exactly is a pot still whiskey? According to the Single Pot Still website, it is a style of whiskey which is unique to Ireland (in general) and it is regarded as the quintessential style of Irish whiskey. It is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, which is then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills. The inclusion of unmalted barley to the mashbill, along with the tradition of triple distillation, defines the character of Pot Still.

The first official reference to the brand name ‘Redbreast’ appears in August 1912, when Gilbey’s were selling “Redbreast” J.J. Liqueur Whiskey 12 Years Old. The name ‘Redbreast’ itself refers to the bird, Robin Redbreast, and is attributed to the then Chairman of Gilbey’s, who was an avid bird-fancier. In December 1991, Redbreast was re-introduced by Irish Distillers Limited, after an absence of almost 10 years. In 2005 Redbreast 15 is released.

Colour: Deep gold to burnished with long medium legs.

Nose: Wonderfully complex, full and rich nose with a striking oiliness. Sweet wood notes and teasing nuttiness. Delightful sweetness to it, mostly in the form of mixed berries, black currant (fruit pastilles) and icing sugar. Also get some spicy hints on the nose.

Palate: Full bodied and very nicely balanced, while also being rich with lots of full flavour. Very pleasant full mouth feel, oily and mouth coating, luxurious. Nice sweet spicy burn on tip of tongue (and back of mouth). The fruitiness I find coming through is tangerines, oranges and gooseberries. The spiciness is a hot and spicy woodiness while still being a sweet.

Finish: Long and very spicy with enjoyable warmth at end. The spice stays on the tip of tongue for the whole ride. Also get a lovely sweetness in the finish, mostly burnt sugar and custard.

Overall: A pleasingly full, rich and balanced whiskey with an interesting sweet and spicy flavour profile that still has a juicy fruitiness to it. A lovely introduction into the world of Irish whiskey.

My Score: 85

Elmer T Lee Single Barrel

For my next review I decided to once again review a bourbon and this time it is the Elmer T Lee Single Barrel. This was for two reasons. The first, to remember the man behind the whiskey (the whiskey is named after Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee. This whiskey is hand selected and bottled to the taste and standards of Elmer T. Lee himself) who recently passed away (see In Memory of Elmer T. Lee 1919-2013). And secondly as Buffalo Trace Distillery also recently announced its designation as a national historic landmark (read story here).

Elmer T Lee_The Smoky DramWhisky: Elmer T Lee Single Barrel, 45% ABV (Cost around R450)

Region: Kentucky, USA

Style: Bourbon

 Age: NAS

Kentucky born and bred, Elmer joined the Distillery as a maintenance engineer in 1949.  Quickly rising to Plant Engineer, then Plant Superintendent and eventually the shared title of Plant Manager and Master Distiller, Elmer oversaw much of the Distillery’s modernization and growth up until his retirement in 1985. Although Elmer retired in 1985, he never really left, and every Tuesday Elmer would make his rounds at the Distillery in his trademark cap signing bottles, posters and other memorabilia. Elmer’s finest achievement was arguably in 1984 with the introduction of Blanton’s, the world’s first Single Barrel Bourbon, which was bottled from unblended, individual barrels of the best aged Kentucky whiskey available. Not long thereafter, Elmer himself was honoured with his own single-barrel namesake.

The Buffalo Trace distillery has been officially labelled a National Historic Landmark in America, joining the ranks of The White House and the Empire State Building. Over its 240 year history Buffalo Trace Distillery has been privileged to win many awards but its designation as a United States National Historic Landmark is surely the crowning achievement. An award which is only bestowed to 2,577 other properties in the country.

Colour: Deep gold tending to burnished and has very many thick legs.

Nose: Lovely strong spicy nose (cloves, cinnamon and wood spice) that are complimented by a soft vanilla creaminess, pleasingly florally fresh fruitiness (pears, plums hints of citrus fruits), caramel toffees and honeysuckle.

Palate: Very smooth and sweet, with vanilla, honeysuckle, flowery/nectar sweetness and caramel toffee initially upfront that then evolves into a light spiciness (with slight sweet spicy burn on tip of tongue), citrus fruits and oak/wood characters .

Finish: Fairly long and warm with a soft and gentle sweet spiciness that lingers till the end. The end for me is a vanilla cream sweetness.

Overall: For me this is an elegant and balanced bourbon. Love the balance and play between the spiciness and sweetness. It is easy drinking that yet has a beautiful richness to it that makes you pour another dram before you even realise it.

My Score: 83

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002

For my next review I decided to review something other than a scotch, so I have flown (figuratively at least) across the pond to America to review a bourbon and it is one from Kentucky’s first distiller. Evan Williams first began distilling his Bourbon on the banks of the Ohio River in 1783. 

Evan Williams Single Barrel_Bourbon_The Smoky DramWhisky: Evan Williams Single Barrel, 43.3% ABV (Cost around R370)

Region: Kentucky, USA

Style: Bourbon

 Age: 10 years

Before getting into some details on the Single Barrel, here is some information on what makes a Bourbon different to a whisky. By law, Bourbon must be made up of at least 51% corn and aged for a minimum of 2 years in a new charred white oak barrels. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, though almost all brands are made in Kentucky. Furthermore, Kentucky is the only state allowed to put its name on the bottle.

The barrels are all pretty much the same in the beginning. The “White Dog” that goes into the barrels as it leaves the still is the same from barrel to barrel. What turns a standard barrel into one of the Single Barrel Bourbons depends on a couple of things: where they put the barrel and how long they let it stay there. When it comes time to bottle the Bourbon, they concentrate on the barrels that have been stored in key rick house locations – mostly where there are extreme temperature changes. As the contents of each barrel reacts to these extreme temperature changes, the whiskey actually moves through the char layer inside the barrel and builds colour and character. Then, when the Bourbon has aged long enough, the distiller would taste a sample to determine if it has matured to the level required for Single Barrel status.

Colour: Burnished gold to auburn/burnt amber and has with very thick and slow legs.

Nose: Starts off with an earthiness, sweet wood and an extremely slight smokiness, before moving on to candied sweetness, boiled sweets and burnt caramel. A nose that is soft and delicate, that with time in glass, becomes a gorgeous creamy vanilla and warm puddings (malva or sticky toffee). Also picking up traces of spice – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Palate: Smooth with a lovely spiciness (wood spice) to it, as well as fruity notes of sweet baked apples. The spice I get is focused mostly on the tip of tongue. Pleasant spicy sweetness to it, like cinnamon mixed with maple syrup or caramel, and has an almost thick syrupy mouth feel to it.

Finish: Long, rich and mellow finish that has a growing warmth to it. Similarly has a spiciness (but a sweet spiciness) that moves from the tip of tongue to the back of the throat together with a hint of sweetness (caramel again) at the end.

Overall: As Bourbons go this one really is a cracker. Such a well-rounded and rich Bourbon, with a lovely balance to it, especially between the sweetness and spiciness. Very delicious and tempting. So much so that you just cannot help another dram or two.

My Score: 85