Close

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Sweet Mash Redux

Posted on by Eric Burke

Sour mash fermenting is the process of adding a little bit of the leftovers from a previous batch of fermented and distilled mash (called variously: backset, stillage, slop, all that mash that wasn't alcohol, etc) to your current fermentation run. It’s done to adjust the pH so that the little yeasties have a slightly more ideal environment for eating, growing, procreating and excreting precious, precious alcohol. 

But what happens at the beginning of the cycle when there isn’t any leftover sour mash left? Well then you’d do a non-soured, or sweet, mash batch (or you'd just adjust the pH in some other manner). By not adjusting the pH you adjust how both enzymes work during cooking and how yeast does its gobbling, procreating and alcohol production during fermentation. Either of which could very possibly lead to different flavors being produced in the end product.

A few years ago, Woodford Reserve released a Sweet Mash bourbon under their Master’s Collection label. They must have thought enough of the effort that they decided to try it out again and released Sweet Mash Redux as one of their first releases in the gift shop only Distillery Series.

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Sweet Mash Redux

Purchase Info: $50 for a 375 mL bottle at Woodford Reserve Gift Shop, Versailles KY.

Details: 45.2% ABV. Uses a non-soured mash. Summer 2015 release.

Nose: Corn flakes, warehouse dust and the usual Woodford/Old Forester latex paint note.

Mouth: Strong perfumed grain presence with spearmint, citrus, raisins and a hint of baking spices.

Finish: Baking spices, raisins, citrus and a nice tingle that hangs around a while.

A frowny face becasue I don't like this one

Thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of this one. It is fairly similar to regular Woodford, but with a much stronger perfumed grain and raisin presence that I am finding more than a bit off-putting. The difference is interesting and if you are more interested in being interested by a bourbon than in keeping your $50 for something tasty, feel free to grab it. But otherwise I have a hard time recommending this one on taste alone.


BourbonGuy.com is entirely reader supported. Click the support link at the top to buy a t-shirt, poster or mug or if you want to find out how to get bonus content, please go to patreon.com/arok to pledge ongoing support. Thank you.

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary

Posted on by Eric Burke

Ever pay money for an expensive bourbon only to find out that it’s…not bad? I mean one that is fine, but for the price you were kind of expecting…better? The it’s a decent bourbon, but not for it’s price range sort of thing?

I honestly hope you haven’t. Unfortunately, I have. Numerous times. And I’ve shared them with you. Numerous times. And it saddens me to say that tonight I’m going to be doing it again.

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary is a bourbon that I think people were excited about trying before it came out. It was an Wild Turkey expression made up of 13 and 16 year old bourbons. It was put out honor a legend’s 60th anniversary in the business. Everything was set up for this to be a special release. 

Then it came out. The reviews were nice, but less than stellar with most of them being something along the lines of what I described above. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to be purchasing it. The MSRP was out of my price range and though I love almost everything Wild Turkey has put out, I had to pass.

Then my wife got auction fever. We were at the Oscar Getz Museum Master Distillers Auction during BourbonFest 2015 when this bottle came up for bid. It came with a set of four nice tumblers. No one was bidding on it and she felt bad. She ended up getting the bottle and the tumblers for $140. A little below MSRP once you toss in the price of four glasses. We figured that it was for charity and any bottle that wasn’t sold wouldn’t help the museum. So she waited until it fell below MSRP and pounced. She was the only bidder.

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary

Purchase Info: $140 at BourbonFest Master Distillers Auction (with 4 glasses included), Bardstown, KY

Details: 45.5% ABV. A blend of 13 and 16 year old whiskeys. 

Nose: Kind of flat on the nose with sweet fruit and oak.

Mouth: Sweet. Brown sugar, oak and baking spice.

Finish: Lingering oak and caramel flavors. Slight heat and spiciness.

For the price I find this to be just...meh.

Thoughts: This is a whiskey that either fits your palate or doesn’t. I find it flat and uninspiring while my wife really likes it. Neither of us are looking to buy a second bottle though, not even when Total Wine put it on sale for $89. 

To be honest, if I’m going to spend a lot on Wild Turkey, I’d go with Master’s Keep. I actually picked up a second bottle of that when I saw it for $130 (I also saw it all over the place for around $150). If I’m not trying to spend a lot, I like the Rare Breed better than the Diamond and it is less than one third the price. Both of them tend to be more energetic in the mouth than Diamond, which is something I like about Wild Turkey normally. 

Diamond is not a bad bourbon. It’s actually quite good. It’s just not $90 to $130 good. For the price and the pedigree, I expected a lot more. 


BourbonGuy.com is entirely reader supported. Click the support link at the top to buy a t-shirt, poster or mug or if you want to find out how to get bonus content, please go to patreon.com/arok to pledge ongoing support. Thank you.

My Wandering Eye: Pyrat XO Reserve Rum

Posted on by Eric Burke

I hate winter. I make no secret of this. And today we are in the middle of receiving our first big snowstorm of the year. Which, if forced to be honest about it, is quite nice because it is actually really late for a first major snowfall of the year.

Because I’ve been a fan of rum drinks for most of my drinking life, one of the traditions I have is to drink rum drinks on the night of a large snow storm. It’s my way of giving the storm the middle finger and enjoying something that reminds me a little more of summer. It is only fitting that tonight My Wandering Eye wanders over to rum. 

As I discussed in the intro to this series, regular bourbon prices are creeping up. Limited editions are selling at retail for insane prices. And I’m getting a bit sick of it. My eye is wandering. I need to find things that can get me excited about spirits and not break the bank.

This was the first rum I bought for this series. I had an entire list of things that I had tried before, liked and wanted to review. But as often happens when I am in the liquor store, a sale caught my eye. I had a bottle in my hand (I’ll save which for when I actually pick it up) when I saw a stack of Pyrat XO Reserve Rum at the end cap. It was on sale for $19.99 down from $33.99. Figuring that was a decent deal, I put down the bottle in my hands to save a little money. After all wanting to save money was one of the reasons my eye started wandering in the first place.

From what I can tell online, Pyrat XO Reserve Rum is a blend of about 9 different rums, sourced from around the Caribbean, ranging from as young as two years old to as old as 15. Maybe. No one is saying for sure. After blending, they are aged further and then hand bottled in Guyana. 

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum

Purchase Info: Purchased on sale at Blue Max in Burnsville, MN for $19.99 for a 750 mL bottle. 

Details: Bottled in Guyana. Bottle # 3535790. 40% ABV

Nose: Sweet. Molasses and ginger with a warm earthy note underneath.

Mouth: Very sweet. Cola, citrus, mint and baking spices. 

Finish: Short and sweet with lingering cola and mint. 

A Smile because I like this just fine.

Thoughts: Very tasty. This is a little too sweet for me to drink neat, but I find I like it just fine with a splash of bitters and a little ice. Though it isn’t a whiskey replacement, it does just fine as an ingredient in even a simple cocktail.


BourbonGuy.com is entirely reader supported. Click the support link at the top to buy a t-shirt, poster or mug or if you want to find out how to get bonus content, please go to patreon.com/arok to pledge ongoing support. Thank you.

Wiser's Legacy

Posted on by Eric Burke

Early in my fanatical, must-try-everything phase of whisky exploration, I was offered the chance to blind taste a bunch of Canadian whiskies on Twitter along with author Davin De Kergommeaux and an international group of whisky fans and bloggers. As I was eager to try all the things, I jumped at the chance. Among other things, this experience taught me that there is some really good whisky coming out of Canada. 

Today's whisky was not in that group. But one of it's sibling was. Though Wiser's Red Letter was only available in Canada, it showed me that I really needed to be paying more attention to the stuff that was crossing our northern border. I knew Red Letter was a special whisky, so I went in search of another whisky that was a little more readily available. 

I found it in Wiser's Legacy. One sip and I was in love. Due to the nature of the try-all-the-whiskies phase I was in, I fooled around with a lot of different whiskies. I'd buy a bottle, we'd have some fun, but eventually something else would catch my eye and I'd move on. Not so with the Legacy. With Legacy, I knew I'd found a whisky to settle down with. 

Until rumors started popping up that Legacy was being pulled back to a Canada-only release. The rumor went that what was in the States was all that was going to be there. I nearly cried. Instead I did the one thing that I normally never do. I bought up enough bottles that I would be assured a supply should the rumors be true. Now, a few years later, it seems that that rumor was just that. But, from that point on, I've always had at least one "buffer bottle" in the closet to go with my one open bottle. And once a bottle is emptied, I buy another so I have a supply as long as possible. 

It's a comforting thing knowing that no matter what happens, you will always have at least one more bottle of that one you wanted to settle down with.

Wiser's Legacy

Purchase info: I've bought so many, but one bottle I still have a receipt for says: $42.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Surdyk's, Minneapolis, MN.

Details: 45% ABV.

Nose: Bubble gum, spearmint, hints of baking spice.

Mouth: Nice spicy rye tingle, mint, delicate oak and baking spices with more bubble gum underneath.

Finish: rye spice, mint, bubble gum and a gentle heat that lingers.

A heart because I love this.

Thoughts: This has been my favorite Canadian whisky for quite some time and no matter how many I buy, it continues to maintain that top spot. It is delicate with just the right amount of heat. Sweet, but also spicy. Amazingly well-balanced with well integrated flavors. I always have at least one bottle of this in reserve (though normally two).


BourbonGuy.com is entirely reader supported. Click the support link at the top to buy a t-shirt, poster or mug or if you want to find out how to get bonus content, please go to patreon.com/arok to pledge ongoing support. Thank you.

If You've Had... Heaven Hill Bonded Bourbons edition

Posted on by Eric Burke

Tonight I finally get around to presenting the If You’ve Had… that inspired the whole idea, Heaven Hill’s line of bonded bourbons. Heaven Hill has a lot of bourbons in their bonded stable. I believe I got all of the readily available ones (even if only in Kentucky). But in any case there are enough that these were compared to one another over the course of a few days. 

As a refresher, the set up is like this: "If you've had Whiskey A then Whiskey B is..." hotter, spicier, sweeter, more floral, etc. Each section is written as compared to one of the whiskeys. So if you've had that one, but not the others then that section will be of the most use to you. Remember there are no value judgements here. You get to decide based on what you know of Whiskey A if Whiskey B sounds like something you'd want to try.

Up tonight are the ones I had on hand, or could buy locally, including: Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, JTS Brown Bottled in Bond, JW Dant Bottled in Bond, Heaven Hill (6 year old) Bottled in Bond, Old Fitzgerald (wheated) Bottled in Bond and Henry McKenna (10 year old, single barrel) Bottled in Bond. Your milage may vary on that last one being a single barrel product.

If you’ve had Evan Williams Bottled in Bond then…

JTS Brown is: more grain forward on the nose, mouth and finish. The finish is more bitter. 

JW Dant is: more caramel forward on the nose. It shows more caramel and floral notes in the mouth and the finish is more tannic.

Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled in Bond is: fruitier on the nose. It’s sweeter, warmer and more complex in the mouth. And has a longer and warmer finish.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is: more floral on the nose. It is softer and sweeter on entry, but hotter and rougher on the finish.

Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond is: hotter and shows more oak on the nose. It is sweeter, hotter, fruitier and shows more oak in the mouth and has more oak on the finish.

If you’ve had JTS Brown Bottled in Bond then…

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is: oakier on the nose. It’s breadier and sweeter, showing more vanilla and caramel in the mouth and shows more oak on the finish.

JW Dant is: very caramel forward by comparison. It is sweeter, more caramel/toffee forward and hotter in the mouth. 

Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled in Bond is: softer and sweeter, showing more caramel and oak. The finish is warmer and longer

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is: softer and more flavorful on entry, transitioning to a hotter and sweeter experience as it moves back. It has a much longer and warmer finish.

Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond is: Spicier and fruitier on the nose. Sweeter and spicier in the mouth with a warmer finish.

If you’ve had Heaven Hill 6 Year Bottled in Bond then…

JTS Brown is: much more grain forward on the nose. More vegetal and grain forward, showing more ethanol on both the mouth and finish. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is: very similar on the nose. It shows more mint and baking spice in the mouth and has a shorter finish.

JW Dant is: sweeter on the nose. It shows more butterscotch pudding and baking spice in the mouth and has a more tannic finish.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is: sweeter in the nose. It shows more mint and is more grain forward on the mouth. The finish is much hotter.

Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond is: sweeter and a little more complex on the nose, showing more oak. It’s hotter with more oak flavors in the mouth and is hotter and longer on the finish.

If you’ve had JW Dant Bottled in Bond then…

JTS Brown is: more vegetal and rougher on both the mouth and finish. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is: less sweet on the nose. It’s maltier and shows more baking spices in the mouth. It’s less tannic on the finish.

Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled in Bond is: sweeter and fruitier with more caramel and oak in the mouth with a less tannic finish.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is: softer and sweeter on the nose. It is softer and less flavorful in the mouth and more vegetal on the finish.

Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond is: spicier and less sweet on the nose. Sweeter in the mouth and shows more oak. It’s hotter and oakier on the finish.

If you’ve had Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond then…

JTS Brown is: mintier, showing less caramel on the nose. It’s hotter and rougher on entry and shows more grain and baking spice in the mouth. The finish is more bitter. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is: less floral on the nose and shows more brown sugar and baking spice in the mouth. The mouth is hotter on entry but softer on the finish.

JW Dant is: much more butterscotch forward on the nose. It is sweeter and shows more butterscotch and baking spices in the mouth. The finish is longer with a lingering baking spice.

Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled in Bond is: softer on the nose. It is sweeter on the mouth showing more baking spice. The finish is less hot and harsh.

Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond is: fruitier with more oak on the nose. The mouth is sweeter, fruitier and shows more oak and baking spice. The finish is richer showing more oak and baking spice.

If you’ve had Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled in Bond then…

JTS Brown is: more grain forward on the nose, shows more grain and ethanol on the mouth and has a finish that shows more bitter grain flavors. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is: similar on the nose but shows less oak. The mouth isn’t as sweet and shows more grain and baking spices. The finish is shorter.

JW Dant is: sweeter on the nose showing butterscotch and a touch of campfire smoke. It is less sweet on the mouth, even though Dant’s primary point of difference on flavor is more butterscotch. Dant has a softer, but more tannic finish.

Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled in Bond is: less sweet on the nose. It shows more sweet grains and less oak on the mouth and has a softer and less oak forward finish.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is: less spicy and more sugar sweet on the nose. It is softer and more grain forward on the mouth. It is hotter and more grain forward on the finish.


BourbonGuy.com is entirely reader supported. Click the support link at the top to buy a t-shirt, poster or mug or if you want to find out how to get bonus content, please go topatreon.com/arok to pledge ongoing support. Thank you.