Friends Drift Inn Reads and Reviews
Guest Post by Jason Pyle of “Sour Mash Manifesto”
Tuesday Friends Drift Inn began a four part series on Kentucky Bourbon. Today, I welcome “The Bourbon Baron” Jason Pyle, bourbon expert and blogger at Sour Mash Manifesto Jason knows bourbon! His only flaw is cheering for University of Tennessee. Bless his heart! I think you will enjoy Jason’s style, and the way he describes flavors…something we food bloggers have to do every day! Follow Sour Mash Manifesto on Facebook for a real bourbon education!
Spring Bourbon Primer Guest Post Jason Pyle
With so many bourbon offerings, shopping can be confusing even for the most experienced consumers. Since January there have been numerous new bourbon releases, making decisions even more daunting. Tuesday, Joyce talked about the “Safe bet bourbons.” Today, I will look at a new bourbons for thill seekers, and those who have a more sophisticated palate.
Here’s a trio of my favorite new releases along with a “sleeper” alternative to higher priced wheated bourbons on the market:
Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon Vintage 2001 (86.6 Proof), $26
Each year Evan Williams releases their vintage dated single barrel. A favorite of Master Distiller’s Parker and Craig Beam, it’s aged fairly aggressively for 9-10 years in the upper levels of Heaven Hill’s aging facilities. The higher temperature variances ensure this single barrel gets ample measures of sweetness, spice, and oak. The 2001 Vintage release is silky and syrupy on the palate with caramel, cinnamon, baked apple, and toasted barrel flavors. Typically one of the best values on the market, the Vintage 2001 release doesn’t disappoint. This one offers great versatility lending itself to straight sipping or in cocktails.
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, 9 Years Old (120 Proof), $35
The Knob Creek name is a mainstay in Bourbon Whiskey. This Single Barrel is a “big brother” of the Small Batch version, sharing a definite family resemblance. What makes this one different? “Honey” barrels (i.e. the best) are hand selected and bottled 20 proof higher to ensure the flavors are amplified. The result is full and rich bourbon redolent of maple syrup, orange marmalade, vibrant baking spices, and a long lingering finish. Knob Creek Single Barrel is one of the finest new releases of the year. Sip neat, over ice, or in a classic cocktail.
Angel’s Envy Bourbon (86.6 Proof), $43
There is a common distiller’s term known as the “Angel’s Share”, which references the evaporation of bourbon (or any spirit) during the aging process. Indeed, I am sure the angel’s are envious of what they left behind with this new release. The man behind this winged bottle is former Woodford Reserve Master Distiller, Lincoln Henderson. Angel’s Envy is a stunner, aged 5-7 years in the traditional method (new charred oak barrels), then “finished” in port barrels for 3-6 months. The unique finishing process rounds out any sharp flavors, yielding a smooth and sweet bourbon with intense fruitiness (dried dark fruits), soft spices, toffee, syrup, and vanilla. This one is best savored neat or with a splash of water or ice.
W.L. Weller 12 Year Bourbon (90 Proof) $25
“Wheated” bourbon refers to a bourbon whiskey where wheat replaces rye as the small flavoring grain in the mashbill (grain recipe). The result is a softer, more rounded flavor profile. Wheaters, as they are commonly called, have gained in popularity thanks in part to the cult-like following of the Pappy Van Winkle products. While fantastic, they are expensive and very tough to find….if you can find them at all. Made at the same location (Buffalo Trace) with the same recipe as the Van Winkle 10 and 12 year old, the W.L. Weller 12 may be best sub $30 wheated bourbon on the market. It’s buttery, rich, and sweet with a core of butterscotch and vanilla custard, livened up with soft spices and resinous oak. The finish is sweet and mildly spiced. Sip neat or in a cocktail.
Put some adventure in your Kentucky Derby Party.. and your springtime festivities! Cheers!