Monday, June 28, 2010

Father’s Day Whiskey Tasting Part 3: Single Barrel Bourbon


On Thursday, June 17, 2010, Union Square Wines & Spirits held Part 3 In its Father’s Day Whiskey Tasting, featuring Single Barrel Bourbon. 

This evening, all of the Bourbons in the tasting were from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY. 

The tasting started with something called Old Charter, an 80 proof bourbon aged 8 years.  Considering its relatively cheap price, it wasn’t too bad, but having said that, be prepared for its roughness – compare it to riding off – road in a four – wheel – drive vehicle without wearing any seatbelts; to say it’s a bit of a bumpy ride might be something of an understatement – but if you can get around that, you may appreciate its sharpness.  In that regard, I suppose that you could say it tastes closer to a rye than a bourbon.  Like all bourbons, it is 51% corn, but unusually, they do not sell their used barrels to Scotland for aging Scotch. 

Next was Buffalo Trace itself; here, you could taste a little less of the corn, but at 90 proof, the extra alcohol content made a huge difference.  If the cocktail you enjoy is a Manhattan, then this would be the bourbon to use (unless, of course, you’re one of those people who prefers to make it with a rye instead). 

Third was Elmer T. Lee, which had a much sweeter taste than either of the first two.  Not sure if this was because the corn was more pronounced, or if there was some other secret they refused to share in either their distilling or aging process.

The hard to get W.L. Weller’s 7 year Special Reserve was next.  This one had the delightful fragrance of a garden, with a taste that was round and gentle.  What I found nice about this one was the fact that it was significantly less sweet than the Elmer T. Lee that I’d just tried. 

Eagle Rare 10 year was the penultimate tasting of the evening.  The New York Times declared this to be The Best Bourbon For the Value.  Of all the bourbons I’d tasted thus far, this one was supposed to have contained much more rye than any of the others, even the Old Charter;  however, in comparison to the Charter, you don’t really taste the rye quite so much for some reason – quite possibly due to the extra couple of years of aging.  Head to head, the Old Charter was much more harsh than this one. 

Finally, ther was Old Weller Antique, a 107 proof bourbon.  Considering the alcohol content, it’s a little surprising that this is a bourbon that won’t knock you on your ass after a single tasting.  This one has a reputation of being a little difficult to get, not unlike Pappy Van Winkle, but is nevertheless worth the effort.  This is the one you want to spend the evening sipping while you’re sitting back in an easy chair. 

The one I took home this evening was the Weller 7yr., because it was the most affordable of all the items served, except for Old Charter – and after tasting the rest of the menu, I was spoiled on everything else after tasting the Old Charter, which, in recollection, was just plain nasty.