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Wild Turkey Longbranch

Posted on by Eric Burke

As this is billed as a collaboration between Matthew McConaughey and Eddie Russell, I'm guessing I'm supposed to start this post with some famous movie quote, something along the lines of "alright, alright, alright" or some other such piece of pop culture detritus. 

I'm not going to do that. 

I like Matthew McConaughey as an actor. I've liked him in most of the roles he's played. I was a bit curious when he came on as "Creative Director" for Wild Turkey, but he seems to have made a couple of good commercials. I paused a bit when Wild Turkey announced a collaboration between said Creative Director and Eddie Russell in the form of a new bourbon. I love Wild Turkey, and I wasn't sure what an actor could bring to a brand that was built under Jimmy Russell. 

However, the bottle was only $36, so I decided to find out. 

Wild Turkey Longbranch

Purchase Info: $35.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details:  43% ABV. Filtered...err...Refined with an oak and mesquite charcoal.

Nose: Brown Sugar, Wintergreen, nutmeg and a hint of day-old campfire ashes

Mouth: Thin mouthfeel. A lot of baking spices, wintergreen.

Finish: Full-mouth finish with a nice lingering tingle. Notes of mint and baking spice.

Thoughts: This is a version of Wild Turkey that turns down the "kick" but turns up the spiciness. I don't know that it will appeal to Wild Turkey die-hards, but it would probably appeal to those who are "Wild Turkey Curious." I like it. It certainly isn't my favorite Wild Turkey expression. It's better than the 81 proof. But I like 101 and Rare Breed much better. But then, I've heard of this compared to Old Grand-Dad 114's Basil Hayden. I think that is a good comparison. It's got a lot of the same flavors as it's more assertive brothers, but is accessible to the newcomer. And much like that, if it gets more people in the door, I guess it's done it's job.


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Maker's Mark: Seared Bu 1-3

Posted on by Eric Burke

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Maker's Mark for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

I have spent the last two evenings re-mulching the flower beds in front of my house. If I did it all at once, this would be a much more onerous task, but luckily the pick-up truck can only hold so many cubic yards of mulch. So I get to break it up into three much more manageable (though, to this out of shape drinker, still tiring) jobs. We like to get the ruby red mulch. Not only is it an attractive color, but it nicely accents the green plants that it surrounds. 

Does this have anything to do with tonight's whiskey? Not really. I just wanted to whine about my sore back for a bit. 

Well, maybe there is one connection. Red. Tonight I'm tasting a lovely limited edition, gift shop only, version of bourbon's favorite redhead, Maker's Mark. It is a sold out release, so I'm basically bragging at this point. But the knowledge of how good, or not, this release is might help you decide whether or not to make the trip to Maker's to stand in line the next time they announce a super limited, distillery only release. 

In case you hadn't guessed it already, I'm tasting the Maker's Mark Seared Bu 1-3 bourbon tonight. It is an off-shoot of the Private Select program we discussed back in December. This time they are featuring a new stave that wasn't included in the Private Select program. Not because it didn't taste good, but because it didn't play well with others. 

So what is this Stave Bu 1-3? According to the press release, it is a "virgin seared and sous-vide  French oak stave." And according to author Carla Carlton, that means precisely what it sounds like: the seared staves were soaked in temperature-controlled water for some length of time. How does this help the stave make the whiskey taste different? No idea. I'm not a wood scientist (though if a wood scientist is reading this, I would love to know, and will happily publish, the answer). 

But for now, you probably don't care about that. You just want to know how it tastes. 

Maker's Mark Seared Bu 1-3

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided to me free of charge by Maker's Mark. The suggested price was $39.99 for a 375 mL bottle. 

Details: 55.35% ABV. Batch #1. Sample date April 24, 2018. Stave profile 10 Seared Bu 1-3. 

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, ripe cherries. 

Mouth: Very warm when neat. Buttered toffee, honey, baking spices, and a light fruitiness. 

Finish: Long and warm. Lingering dark chocolate and cinnamon. 

 Image: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is delicious. Forget making me want to drive down to buy it; this bourbon makes me want to live near the distillery so I could be first in line on the off chance there is something like this put out again. I'd love it if this one was added to the permanent line-up along side Maker's Mark, Maker's 46, and the cask strength ones. 

As this is a barrel-strength release, I'll let you know that this holds its own with, and can benefit from, a little water. All the flavors stick around, but the heat gets knocked down some so you can enjoy them. I absolutely love this one. I'll be sticking this in the closet to share when company comes over. 


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1792 Bottled in Bond

Posted on by Eric Burke

I've been reading a lot of old 1950s and 1960s magazines lately. I'm reading them for the history but, as I create ads for a living, I can't help but be struck by the advertisements as well. And of course, these particular magazines have a lot of booze ads in them. 

Knowing that the bourbon crash was only a few years away, I am struck by the differences between the bourbon ads and the ads for clear spirits. The bourbon ads highlight luxury and impressing those you entertain. They are full of photos of men in tuxedos and women in fancy dresses. They look really old-fashioned. By contrast, the ads for clear spirits are fun. Even half a decade later, they still have a freshness about them. It isn't hard to see why bourbon lost the war for the 1960s and 70s drinker. 

I did find it interesting though that bourbon was advertising itself as a luxury item for the ultra-rich and swanky. When I first started drinking alcohol, you could barely give bourbon away. When I first started drinking bourbon, it was an affordable luxury. You could get something old and really delicious for $30-40. Of course, these days the pendulum has swung back again. I saw an article touting an 11-year old bourbon from a major producer for $110 today. $10 per year of age, from the big guys, seems a bit ludicrous to me, but then there is a reason I'm the guy who runs the "Bottom-Shelf Brackets."

Luckily for those of us who drink on a budget, there is one producer who seems to have found their niche producing affordable limited edition bourbons. Sazerac's Barton distillery has been quietly putting out delicious, affordable bourbon after delicious, affordable bourbon in the 1792 line. Tonight I have a glass of the 1792 Bottled-in-Bond. Let's see how it tastes. 

1792 Bottled-in-Bond

Purchase info: $39.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV. Distilled and bottled at DSP-KY-12. Non-age stated though the bottle says "well-aged."

Nose: Almond, Caramel, and cinnamon.

Mouth: Good heat with cinnamon and nutmeg followed by brown sugar and mint. 

Finish: Spicy and long with a heat that sort of creeps back up on you right in the middle of the chest.

 Image: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is a tasty bourbon. Spicy and warm, it doesn't have the almost overwhelming heat of the 1792 Full Proof. Instead, it feels like a warm blanket straight from the dryer: pure comfort. It won't knock your socks off, but then you won't need to mortgage the house to afford it either. It sums up what brought me to bourbon in the first place: a tasty, affordable, luxury. 
 


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A pair of Knob Creek Rye Single Barrel picks

Posted on by Eric Burke

Almost on a whim, I decided to go to Kentucky this past weekend. I was officially going to pick up the bottle of Wilderness Trail Family Reserve Bottled in Bond Bourbon (that we had been on "the list" to get for over four years). But honestly, the bourbon was a perfect excuse to get away and spend a long weekend with my wife. And maybe meet up with a few friends while we were at it. 

As I do every time I go to Kentucky, I did a little shopping. This time around, I was specifically on the outlook for private selections from stores where I had good luck in the past. And I did well this time around. I think I brought back around four or five different store picks. I got an Elijah Craig, a Four Roses and, some Limestone Branch Wheated Bourbon. What I didn't see was a bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye. 

Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye is, as you might have guessed, a single barrel version of Knob Creek Rye. And much like the single barrel version of Knob Creek Bourbon, this rye comes in at a higher proof than it's batched brother. 115° proof to be exact. 

Though I can get the standard, batched version of Knob Creek Rye for $25 per 750 mL bottle, I splurged on the two-pack from Ace Spirits a while ago. $95 for two 750 bottles. Let's see if barrel selection and a 15° proof bump are worth twice the price.

Knob Creek Rye, Single Barrel: Barrels #5722 and #5858

Purchase Info: $94.98 for the pair of 750 mL bottles at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN.

Details: 57.5% ABV. 6 years old (not listed, but I asked Louis, the owner at Ace, for the age and he confirmed both of these are six years old, he just declined to have the info put on the bottle). 

5722 Nose: Spicy with backing spices, mint, caramel, and oak.
5858 Nose: Dusty oak and spearmint.

5722 Mouth: Mint, sharp oak, peanut, and baking spices. Quite hot. 
5858 Mouth: Nice mouthfeel. Sweet honey, mint, strong baking spices and oak. 

5722 Finish: Very warm and long. Lingering peanut butter and baking spice. 
5858 Finish: Warm and long. Lingering sharp oak, baking spice, and peanut.

 Image: hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: Both of these are good, doubly so if you are a Knob Creek Rye fan. I am getting a lot more peanut in them than I would have expected, especially since I don't remember ever getting that on the batched version. As for how they compare, 5722 has a much richer nose and is hotter with a lot of peanut notes. 5858 is sweeter with a nicer mouthfeel, but the nose isn't as nice as 5722. I'm happy to have bought either of these. If I were buying just one, I'd get the 5858. 

One of the reasons I buy Rye is to use it in cocktails. I found that this one didn't work as well in typical Rye Cocktails, but worked great in ones that often call for bourbon. When I made a Sazerac, I would often mix it in a 50/50 ratio with Bulleit Rye to up the Rye notes.

As to the question of if either of these is worth twice the recent local price of the standard Knob Creek Rye. I'll just say, I'm happy to have purchased both of these once, but I'd be hard-pressed to justify a second bottle of either at current prices. If Knob Creek Rye goes back to its regular price, that might change though.


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Tattersall Straight Rye Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

About two and a half years ago, I paid a behind-the-scenes visit to Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I walked away impressed with what they were doing and how they were doing it. The one thing I was a bit sad about was the lack of whiskey. But, knowing that better times (or at least times filled with more whiskey) were ahead, I wrote the following: 

The notable exception is whiskey. Right now the cocktail room uses a bourbon that is sourced from a distillery in Kentucky and bottled by them for use in their cocktails. 
Don’t be sad though. They have started production on a rye whiskey as well as wheated and rye bourbons. The rye whiskey will be 100% rye using rye grain and rye malt and aged for at least two years. They want to put out a straight product. 

Well, it looks like days full of whiskey have arrived for Tattersall as their two-year-old rye whiskey is now for sale at many fine liquor stores in the state of Minnesota. As soon as I saw the announcement I ran out to buy a bottle. 

Tattersall Straight Rye Whiskey

Purchase Info: $34.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV. 100% Rye mash. 

Nose: Dark rye bread

Mouth: Nice, thick mouthfeel. Rye bread, molasses, mint, and nutmeg.

Finish: Not very hot but the flavors of wintergreen and molasses last a very long time.

Thoughts: This is a very interesting whiskey. Based on the timeframe and the fact that they say it is 100% rye, I have to assume that they stuck with the rye and rye malt recipe that they mentioned to me a couple years ago. If so, I think you should try this whiskey. Maybe at a bar, but give it a try. I admit this will not be to everyone's tastes but I like it. I like the idea of more rye styles than barely legal rye (51% rye) and 95-5 rye (MGP) being on the market even more.

Curious on what else Tattersall is doing? Well, when this came out they also put out a whiskey made from Stargrazer, a beer from local brewer Bauhaus Brewlabs. And looking back at that old post I found this tidbit: 

For the bourbons, though they wouldn’t tell me the ingredient ratios, they did let me know that they are using different malts for both the wheat and the rye bourbons as well as a specialty yeast that was developed in Scotland. 

Hmmm.... this might be one to keep an eye on.


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!