We held our second gathering of the D/FW contingent of the StraightBourbon forum today in Colleyville and it was a relaxing time with some great whiskey. Here’s the rundown:
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 8 Year Old Straight Bourbon (1789b) – 61.5% ABV, stone fruit, caramel, vanilla, tobacco, not too hot.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 9 Year Old Straight Bourbon (1789b) – 54.5%, more cherry, less tobacco, sweet, less heat.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 Year Old Straight Bourbon (1789b) – 58.5%, good balance of characteristics from 8 & 9, best of bunch.
George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2013 – much like old scout with more heat and more flavor, better chocolate and tobacco with dark fruit. Fantastic.
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (around 2008) – mild heat, muted flavors compared to GTS, lots of wood… I was disappointed.
StraightBourbon Blend (dusty) – This was blended at our last gathering from old paper label bottles of Weller 12 Year Old and Old Weller Antique. It has a similar to profile to the Pappy Van Winkle above, but with more aroma, more flavor, less wood and better balance. This is fantastic stuff!
Heaven Hill Select Stock 2013 (StraightBourbon Batch #1) – This is an 8 Year Old wheated bourbon finished in second fill Cognac barrel for 19 months and bottled at 63.8% ABV. It’s spicy and hot with lots of dark fruit and only mild cognac influence that I can detect… fantastic stuff!
Heaven Hill 6 Year Old Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon – Notes of lemon drop, vanilla, cherry and slightly tannic… a very good whiskey, but not available around here (Kentucky only apparently).
George Dickel Barrel Select 14 Year Old – Mild spice, vanilla, plum, pear, apple, cherry… not as dark as the wheated bourbons. It’s far better than any Jack Daniels that I’ve had, but still not a great whiskey.
Blanton’s Single Barrel #281 Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2014) – Lots of fruit and candy, like lemon drop and cherry, with notes mild tobacco. Very good!
Blanton’s Single Barrel #244 Kentucky Straight Bourbon (1999) – This one was more woody and slightly medicinal. I preferred the 2014 with more sweetness and without these characteristics.
Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition – Another very good whiskey with a nice balance of dark fruit, candy and wood. I’m glad I bought a bottle when they were available.
MB Roland Kentucky Apple Pie – This wasn’t at all what I expected… in a good way. It tasted like liquid Gala or Macintosh apples spiced with cinnamon, allspice and a bit of clove. It’s not very sweet, but is very rich tasting.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 6 Year Old – Very similar to 8 year old special selection above, but less bold… still very good.
Penderyn Single Malt - Welsh whiskey that is finished in madeira casks. Reminds me of Stranahan’s without the rustic elements. For me, the finish mutes the qualities of the malt and leaves the flavor somewhat flat with an overripe black currant flavor dominating the profile.
The highlight for me was the Heaven Hill Select Stock and I’m really looking forward to tasting Batch #2 with 27 months in cognac barrels… it should be even better. Honorable mentions are George T. Stagg and Old Scout 10 Year Old, which were both excellent whiskies. I already have a bottle of Stagg (same 2013 vintage) and will be on the lookout for a barrel proof selection of Old Scout. The surprises of the day were Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old, which was not near as good as I expected, and MB Roland Kentucky Apple Pie, which far exceeded my expectations.