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JTS Brown Bottled in Bond - Revisited

Posted on by Eric Burke

"Let’s just say that, unlike most of the Heaven Hill bonded bourbons I’ve had, this bourbon lives solidly in the “you get what you pay for” camp."

Yeah, I said that almost two years ago. I also said: 

"And it isn’t one that will be returning home with me again."

But, in the intervening time, I have been told in no uncertain terms that I was wrong. And I have been told so often, and by so many people, I decided to take another look at this one. I need to find out if I was wrong or if everyone else was. I mean I am still getting comments on that post. I got one a few weeks ago.

Of course, some of the people were nice and offered me an excuse, suggesting that maybe I just got a bad bottle. I don't know about that, but sure, maybe that's a possibility too.

JTS Brown Bottled in Bond

Purchase Info: $9.99 for a 750 mL bottle at The Party Source, Bellevue, KY.

Details: 50% ABV. Distilled at D.S.P-KY-1, Louisville, KY. Bottle at D.S.P-KY-31, Bardstown, KY.

Nose: Honey roasted peanuts and baking spices.

Mouth: Honey, baking spices, mint and a hint of peanut.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering baking spices

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Thoughts: This confirms my suspicion that there was something wrong the last time. Maybe with the bottle, maybe with me. That bottle is long gone. But, I'm getting none of the grain that I got on that last one. No bitterness at all. It's official; I take back my ranking of dislike. I've been enjoying this bottle. I like it. It is a good, solid value bourbon. Nothing fancy, but tasty and affordable.


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Blanton's Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

An interesting thing happened while I was doing a little bourbon shopping on my last trip to Kentucky. I bought a bottle of Blanton's. From a store. Off the shelf. For at (or near) the regular retail price.

It was a bit of luck actually. I was at the Party Source and noticed that there were some bottles on the shelf. I grabbed one and put it in my cart. My wife, who helps with reviews on this site but doesn't follow the business side of bourbon as closely, had never had Blanton's and I thought it might be nice for her to get the opportunity. 

She objected, thinking we could get it at home. Objecting to her objection, I pointed at the shelf where I had picked up the bottle. It was now empty. We had only walked about halfway down the aisle, and already the inventory had been cleaned out. "Is it that hard to get at home too?" she asked. Upon my affirmative, she relented and decided that she did want to try it after all. Not that it would have mattered, I was going to buy it anyway. I'd had Blanton's previously but had never purchased a bottle due to putting off the purchase until it became hard to find. As such, I've never featured it on the site (aside from one store pick sample from a friend). 

And really, that's too bad because Blanton's is important. Introduced in 1984, Blanton's helped to plant the seeds of today's bourbon renaissance. It was the first Single Barrel bourbon to be sold commercially, leading to many future Singel Barrel products at what would become Buffalo Trace and inspiring other super premium bourbon releases at other companies.

Blanton's Bourbon

Purchase info: $59.99 for a 750 mL bottle at the Party Source, Bellevue, KY. 

Details: 46.5% ABV. Barrel 966, Warehouse H, Rick 16, Bottle 149. Dumped on July 20, 2017.

Nose: Cherry candy, cinnamon, and hints of bubblegum and mint.

Mouth: Dry and spicy with loads of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger notes.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering notes of cherry oak and bubblegum.

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Thoughts: This is a damn fine whiskey. Spicy and dry but somehow reminiscent of various candies. I really like it. But we knew that going in. The better question is what did my wife, who had never had Blanton's think of it. Well, she put a little heart in her whiskey journal and said: "I can understand why people clamor for this."


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Jack Daniel's Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

Do you ever notice that those times that you miss a text message coming in are exactly those times that you want to answer the message right away?

I'd been keeping an eye out for the Jack Daniel's Rye since the press release announcing it came out on September 6th. It was just before we headed to Tennessee and Kentucky, so I thought there might be a better than average chance that I could grab a bottle before I could get it here at home. I was wrong. I never saw it. 

But my wife and I decided to keep an eye out for it. I mean I absolutely loved the Jack Single Barrel rye, so I thought I might enjoy this version as well. So one day, I'm working, and despite the fact that I get my text messages on my Mac and the fact that I also had my phone right next to me, I missed the photo come that said: "did you want me to grab this?"

Of course, I did. And of course, by the time I realized the message was there and answered, my wife had left the store. And when I called her to see if by chance she had picked it up, she hadn't. And I was told in no uncertain terms that she was not turning around and going back for it. But being the wonderful person that she is, she offered to stop at another location of the same store that was on her way home. While she was there, she also picked up the bottle of Basil Hayden's Dark Rye that I reviewed on Tuesday. 

So what is Jack Daniel's Rye? What makes it different than all the other ryes on the market? Well for starters, the mash bill is different than the two most prevalent styles. Most of the Kentucky rye clocks in barely qualifying as a rye with 51% of its mash bill being rye grain, a small amount of barley and the rest corn. Most of the rest of the rest of the rye is sourced from MGP in Indiana, and for the longest time, the only one they sold was 95% rye grain and 5% barley. Jack Daniel's Rye splits the difference with a mash bill that is 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn, and 12 percent malted barley. 

The other major difference is the charcoal "mellowing" that the distillate goes through before being barreled. Just like standard Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, this goes through the Lincoln County Process.

So, how does it taste?

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey

Purchase Info: $29.99 for a 750 mL at Lakeville Liquors, Lakeville, MN. 

Details: 45% ABV. 

Nose: Wintergreen, cherry candy, and delicate baking spice.

Mouth: Wintergreen, cinnamon red hots, banana, and baking spice.

Finish: Medium length with lingering wintergreen and baking spice notes.

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Thoughts: I like this quite a bit. Sure, it's on the gentle side and the Jack Daniel's "banana note" rears its head. But all in all, this is a nice, affordable, change of pace from the Kentucky style "barely legal" 51% rye and the 95% MGP style rye that otherwise dominate the marketplace. And it is nice to have other options that we can afford out there. Plus it does ok in cocktails too.


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Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

Posted on by Eric Burke

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

This is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the spooky theme of all the decorations. I love jack-o-lanterns. I love seeing the little kids in their costumes. And, I love the candy. 

Way back in college, I used to love the parties and the costumes too. But these days, I'm more grown up. I sit at home, hand out candy to the few kids brave enough to head around the neighborhood and watch a spooky movie. 

You wouldn't think I would be as happy for Halloween to get here as I am. Ignoring the calendar, before Halloween, it's Autumn. And even though I hate winter, I love Autumn. I love the crisp mornings with the hint of a warm afternoon. I love the fact that, on occasion, I can still get away with shorts and a t-shirt while doing lawn work. The idea that even if you get snow, it probably won't last. But after Halloween, it's winter. November in Minnesota means you are more likely to need a snow shovel than you are shorts. 

But in spite of all of that. In spite of the fact that it'll feel more like winter tomorrow than it does today, I still love Halloween. It feels good to indulge my inner child for one night and eat pizza, candy and drink some beer.

All of which has nothing to do with tonight's whiskey, Basil Hayden's Dark Rye. Basil Hayden's Dark Rye is the latest in the line of Basil Hayden brand extensions. It is a blend of Straight Rye whiskey from Kentucky, Canadian Rye whisky from Alberta Distillers, and Port. If this tickles a memory for you, that is because Beam already has a similar product on the market in Alberta Rye Dark Batch. That is a blend of Canadian Rye, Bourbon and Sherry. So similar, but not exactly the same. I didn't care for the Dark Batch, let's see how Dark Rye fares.

Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

Purchase info: $44.99 for a 750 mL at Lakeville Liquors, Lakeville, MN

Details: 40% ABV. A blend of Kentucky straight rye, Alberta Distillers Canadian Rye, and Port.

Nose: Strong caramel notes lead off. Baking Spice, citrus, and ripe red fruits follow. 

Mouth: Caramel, lots of baking spice, and ripe red fruits.

Finish: Short, but sweet with jammy wine notes dominating. 

Thoughts: I'm going to do something I almost never do. This is getting two ratings from me. 

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Neat: I was ok with it up until the finish. I don't care for most fortified wines outside of a cocktail and the finish being very wine forward was a problem for me. That said, there is nothing wrong with this if you like that sort of thing. So this gets a dislike from me when tasted neat. 

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Cocktails: Night and day difference. Because of the fortified wine notes, we first used it in a Manhattan. My wife thought it was ok, but I thought it was a little too sweet. Then I tried swapping the Vermouth in the Manhattan for Amaro (Ramazzotti is my house amaro), and it was really quite good. It accentuated the baking spice notes which was quite tasty. So tasty that I've used most of the rest of the bottle in various cocktails. I've personally favored the ones that feature bitter notes to play off of the sweet fortified wine finish. So it gets a like from me for use in cocktails because this has been a go-to for as long as it has been here.


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MB Roland Straight Rye Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

Disclaimer: Paul and Merry Beth of MB Roland are my friends. And in my statement of ethics I promised to disclose when I am reviewing one of my friend’s products and to only review them when it was truly something I really liked. This is one of those times.

At this point, I have been married almost half of my life. And by almost, I mean within a few months or so of half my life. The great thing about hitting a milestone anniversary is that people give you things. In this case, my friends at MB Roland gave me a bottle of their new Straight Rye Whiskey. 

This batch of rye is MB Roland's first straight Rye Whiskey. And when I got it, it was damn near fresh from the barrel. One of the cool things about these guys is that they sell all their whiskey at barrel proof so this Rye was dumped and bottled on one day and in my hands the next. That's pretty cool. 

This bottle wasn't given to me as a review sample, but since I am always on the lookout for content that I didn't need to buy, I warned them that I might be reviewing it. But, friends or not, I give these things honest reviews. So let's get down to it. 

MB Roland Rye Whiskey

Purchase Info: This was an anniversary gift from friends. I have no idea what it would cost. I got one of 90 bottles though from this batch if that helps.

Details: Batch 1. Bottle 74 of 90. 54.7% ABV. Mashbill: 68% Rye, 27% White Corn, 5% Malt. Aged in a New Charred oak barrel with a #4 char.

Nose: Anise, clove, brown sugar, unroasted peanuts, mint, and green apple. 

Mouth: Brown sugar, mint, and baking spices such as clove and cinnamon. 

Finish: Warm and long with lingering notes of mint, anise, and cinnamon. The finish is where the distinctive flavor of the MB Roland white corn note appears. 

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Thoughts: This is not nearly as hot as you would expect from a roughly 110 proof whiskey to be. It is extremely drinkable neat. So much so that it shocked my wife when I told her what the proof was as we did our tasting. I'm digging this neat, but I also like it in cocktails. I've tried it in a Sazerac, a Manhattan, a variant on a Boulevardier, and a Whiskey Sour. It did well in the Manhattan, the Sazerac and the Boulevardier riff. It wasn't great in the Whiskey Sour though, so if making cocktails with this, I would recommend sticking with cocktails that will play off the anise note in there. Overall, if you have liked other MB Roland whiskeys, you will like this as well. 


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!