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O.Z. Tyler, Bourbon and Rye

Posted on by Eric Burke

When I was a kid, Walt Disney's Bambi taught me two things.

1) The mom will always die in a Disney cartoon.
2) "If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothin' at all"

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OZ Tyler Bourbon and Rye

Purchase Info: $0.99 each for 50mL bottles from Liquor Barn Middletown, Louisville, KY

Details: 45% ABV. Processed using the TerrePURE fast filtering process.
Bourbon: "Aged a minimum of a year and a day in new charred oak."
Rye: "Aged a minimum of six months in new charred oak."

Nose: 
Bourbon: Caramel Corn. Smells very young.
Rye: Buttered corn initially. A hint of rye spice appears after a bit.

Mouth: 
Bourbon:
Gentle spice (mostly alcohol tingle), Sweet corn. 
Rye: Thin and cool in the mouth. After holding it in the mouth for a while, rye spices appear. Slightly sweet with a hint of citrus.

Finish:
Bourbon:
The finish really reminds me of the sips of Seagrams 7 and 7-up that I'd steal from my dad as a kid. Thin, grainy and just a bit longer than you'd hope for given the flavors.
Rye: Gentle and short with hints of rye spice that fade quickly.

 IMAGE: A hand drawn face with a frown, tongue sticking out and x's for eyes.

Thoughts: It is my understanding that most of the TerrePURE whiskey is being either sold as bulk whiskey or bottled as store brands. Given that, you can be sure that it will end up in plenty of private labels near you. I know that Total Wine has multiple of their own brands that are made from TerrePURE whiskey. I've tried a couple. I haven't found one yet I could recommend. I bought this thinking that since this was a brand being released by the producers, that it might be a good representation of the best that they could do.

I still decided to only risk $4.

If this is representative of TerrePURE whiskey, then "Distilled in Indiana" will become the mark to look for on unknown bourbon instead of "Distilled in Kentucky." This bourbon gives Kentucky bourbon a bad name. Luckily most of the TerrePURE whiskeys I've had have been labeled as such. But maybe we should avoid all store brand Kentucky bourbons, just in case. And in case it wasn't obvious, I really do not like this. At all.

 IMAGE: A hand drawn  neutral face

The rye is pretty meh. It's light on rye flavor. Doesn't have the punch you'd expect from even young rye. But, hey, it is much better than the bourbon. So there is that.


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Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Posted on by Eric Burke

Apologies for the delay on this post, paying work had me up until midnight last night and didn't leave much time for writing. Thanks for understanding.

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Heaven Hill 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.

My daughter is in her mid-twenties (or as I like to tease her, almost thirty). She moved back home to save up money and doesn't really have too many bills, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when she came to us a few months back and said she was going to be traveling across the country to visit a friend for his wedding.

What was a little surprising was that she was buying a camera for the trip. She's not a gadget person, and I just assumed that, like most of the population, her smartphone was going to double as her camera. What was even more surprising was her choice of camera.

Yesterday the camera arrived, and last night she tried it out using the dog as her model. I was working in my office when I heard the familiar "clickclick...whirrrr" of an old-style Polaroid camera come from the hall.  Shortly after, she came bouncing into my office to show me that her new toy had arrived. Not usually being the bubbly type, it was unusual to see this much excitement from her. It turns out that my daughter has a bit of a hipster streak to her and bought a brand-new Polaroid-style instant camera to take on her trip.

I was shocked. I've been practicing photography for decades now. I remember when I was helping on studio photoshoots and the pros would have Polaroid backs on their medium-format cameras to preview a photo set-up because that was the only way to make sure everything was set-up correctly. It was a pain, and I was delighted when digital workflows made that unnecessary. Little did I know that my daughter is not alone in her desire for an expensive and low-quality image. There are so many people in the market for this old-style type of camera that I was able to find websites that reviewed and ranked all the currently available choices on the market. Having lived through it because I had to, I'm confused by the desire of people to, voluntarily pay that much for a single image.

But I am also smart enough to know that sometimes the things that excite one person are not the same things that excite everybody else. Take tonight's whiskey for instance. Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch is not only a mouthful of a name but is also the oldest bourbon I've personally ever tasted. I'm on record as being a fan of bourbons that fall in the 6- to 12-year-old range. And even then, I sometimes feel that the higher end of that has a reasonable possibility of having too much oak presence for my palate. But far be it from me to yuck someone else's yum.

The bourbon itself is a batch of 41 barrels that were distilled between 1989 and 1990 at the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in Bardstown. That distillery famously burned down in 1996. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is comparatively little of this juice remaining and that much of what is still around tastes more than a bit like you are sucking on an old log. Heaven Hill backs up that assumption by saying that only those 41 barrels passed their taste test. And that those 41 barrels only had enough liquid in them to allow the release of 3000 bottles at barrel proof.

That's right barrel-proof. But before you proof-chasers get all worked up, remember that this barrel proof is only 94.7° proof. One of the reasons this was able to last for a minimum of 27 years was that most of the barrels aged on low floors where the proof actually dropped while in the barrel.

But now we come to the moment of truth, how does it taste?

Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Purchase Info: This sample was generously sent to me by the distillery at no charge. The suggested retail price is $399.

Details: Aged 27 years. 47.35% ABV. Pre-fire Heaven Hill distilled.

Nose: Floral spice with a slightly astringent note greet you upon pouring. After a bit of time in the glass, soft vanilla and red fruits appear as well.

Mouth: Soft in the mouth. You could easily hold this in your mouth for minutes. Notes of floral oak and vanilla predominate.

Finish: Medium length with a strong floral oak presence.

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this, though not as much as others will. It is very, very, far out of my price range, but it also has a much more prominent oak presence than I prefer. Because of that, I'm going to let my wife, who is a fan of old and oaky bourbons take over from here.

"If given this blind, I would have guessed it was in the late teens, maybe low twenties in age. Honestly, before I tasted it, I was expecting it to be an oak bomb. There is a lot of oak, but I don't think it is too much. This is a good bourbon for those who love older bourbons and are lucky enough to have both the means and opportunity to buy it. The floral notes remind me of some of the old dusties we've found. I love it."


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!

Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week I was on a family vacation to the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. As we drove home, I was able to finagle an evening in Louisville, one of my favorite cities to visit. Which reminded me that I should probably get around to talking about a bottle that I picked up on my last trip to Louisville back in May. 

It was on that May trip that I remembered that there was such a thing as a private selection of Elijah Craig Small Batch. Well, one that wasn't the Barrel Proof version, that is. I was sitting at the bar of the Silver Dollar having a drink with one friend while waiting to have supper with another. My friend and I both ordered one of their private picks of Elijah Craig, erroneously thinking it was the barrel proof version of the product. It was not. 

It was, however, delicious. Which meant that when I hit up all my favorite stores to do a little whiskey shopping, I needed to keep my eye out for it. And I found it at a store that had been recommended to me by a reader called Evergreen Liquors. It was only my second stop there, but I had really enjoyed the private picks I'd picked up there the September before. And so with those two thoughts in my head, I picked up tonight's bottle. 

Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Purchase Info: $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Evergreen Liquors, Louisville, KY

Details: 47% ABV

Nose: Worn leather, cotton candy, vanilla, and nutmeg

Mouth: Nice and spicy. Sweet with a good hit of baking spices and vanilla with fleeting hints of fruit.

Finish: On the longer side of medium with lingering notes of oak tannins, mint, and sweet fruits.

 IMAGE: a hand drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is a very good selection from a store where I've been happy with previous picks I've purchased from them. Two data points are not yet a trend, but it might be a trend forming.

Compared to the standard release, this bottle is spicier in the mouth with a warmer and oakier finish. The noses are very similar. 


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!

Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Malted Red Wheat Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

Have you ever been so busy that you just forget to eat? You wouldn't know it from looking at me, but it happens to me all the time. I'll get so into working on a project that all of a sudden I'll look up and it's four in the afternoon...and it's right about then that I realize that I am really hungry and end up eating a little too much to compensate. 

This is the probably the reason you wouldn't be able to tell that I frequently forget meals. 

Anyway, that's the sort of passion that I expect most craft distillers have. Not the gorging after unintentional fasting part, but the getting so into a project that you forget about everything else part. The distillers that I've met have all really loved what they are doing and loved the experimentation that they could do.

Which brings us to the second of three bottles of Limestone Branch's Experimental Collection that I picked up in May. This one is named Malted Red Wheat and is made up of a mash bill of 60% white corn, 28% malted wheat and 12% malted barley. 

Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Malted Red Wheat Bourbon

Purchase Info: $22.99 for a 375 mL bottle at Total Wine, Louisville, KY

Details: 47.5% ABV. Single Barrel. Barrel 114. Mash bill: 60% white corn, 28% malted wheat, 12% malted barley. Barrel Entry ABV: 50.63%. Barrel Char level 3. Aged 20 months.

Nose: Toffee, floral, gentle baking spices.

Mouth: Generic Sweetness, malted milk, cinnamon spice.

Finish: Youth shows up on the finish bringing cinnamon spice and dried grain notes along with it. 

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn face with a neutral expression

Thoughts: I have a feeling that when it grows up, I will like this much better than the first bottle in the series that I reviewed. For right now though, this one is quite a bit too young for my palate.


Hey folks, no plug for the store tonight. I'm taking off next week for a family vacation to North Carolina and would be unable to fulfill the orders anyway. That also means no posts next week. Wish me luck, it's a road trip with a 13 year old, a 7 year old, and a 4 year old...they may just drive me to have an extra bourbon when we stop for the night. 😉

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection: Batch Proof (2018)

Posted on by Eric Burke

I haven't been very flattering to the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection in the past. While I applaud the experimentation and find them interesting, many of the ones I've tried had have just not clicked for me as an enjoyable drink. Because of that, I've tended to stop buying the Master's Collection releases. $100+ is a lot for one drink you will be extremely interested in and the rest of the bottle that you don't know what to do with. 

But I should step back for those of you who haven't been reading every post for the last six years. What is the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection? 
Every year, Woodford Reserve releases a new, Limited Edition whiskey under the Master’s Collection name. Each release is an expression of curiosity and experimentation. Woodford likes to tout its “five sources of flavor: (water, grain, fermentation, distillation, and maturation).” In each release of the Master’s Collection, they change one of those five things. Previous years have mostly included changing either the grain (making it a rye whiskey, a malt whiskey, using a different type of corn, etc) or the maturation (mostly the addition of barrel finishes), plus there was also a sweet mash fermentation instead of the typical sour mash. In other words, this is their chance to mix things up and give you an appreciation of what each part of the process can do.

A couple of years ago, I said: 

"I’d love to see them come out with a version where they change out the water. Not because I’d want to buy it, necessarily. But I’d love to see every pundit on the internet explode when they release the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: Bardstown Water edition for $100."

Well, earlier this year, Woodford kinda did just that. Only instead of getting a different water source to cut their product to proof, they just didn't cut the proof down at all. It's an interesting change. And I decided I need to jump back in and give this one a try. 

Not that I didn't have to do a little fast talking to convince my wife of the soundness of my plan. See this sounds as if it is going to be a yearly release so jumping on it at that exact moment in time probably wasn't high on her list of things that needed to happen. Plus it's a little more expensive than their typical Master's Collection releases. And by a little, I mean it's $130 for this release. But in the end, she relented since she's just as curious as I am about these things. 

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection: Batch Proof (2018)

Purchase Info: $119.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Binny's Beverage Depot, Bloomington, IL

Details: 62.9% ABV

Nose: Caramel, Vanilla, green apple and a hint of charred oak.

Mouth: Thick mouthfeel. Very sweet with a nice spicy heat. Vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering vanilla and cinnamon. 

 IMAGE: A hand-drawn heart.

Thoughts: This is very good. Warm and thick with a wonderful sweet spiciness. I love this one. Don't love the price and doubt I'll be buying another, so I'll just enjoy this one and see if I can make it last a little while. 


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!