Jack Daniel's Single Barrel "Heritage Barrel"

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 the folks at Jack Daniel’s PR for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion.

When my wife is away for work, I have absolutely no willpower. I will eat the most lopsided, unnutritious meals just because they are easy. For example, last night I ate an entire container of microwave garlic mashed potatoes. That’s it. Nothing else. Just potatoes. Over the course of today, I opened and finished a box of four frozen, breaded chicken patties. I ate them for every meal. I made sandwiches out of them. At least they were organic, I guess. Though the cheese and bacon weren’t.

This lack of willpower also extends to my nightcap as well. But in this case, that lack of willpower manifests itself a little differently. See, instead of doing the easiest thing possible, I do the tastiest thing possible. Or, at least the tastiest thing that is close to hand. I’m not digging through the whiskey closet to open something new.

I mean, let’s not get crazy.

That little voice that would normally be telling me that an entire container of potatoes is not a meal is also the same one that would tell me that I should probably save that limited edition whiskey for when my wife is around to share it with me. That voice would, of course, be my wife’s and lucky for me she is in another state right now so there is no one around to tell me these things and I am free to act like an animal that has slipped its leash.

Tonight’s whiskey is one that was sent to me from Jack Daniel’s. It is their upcoming single barrel release that they call: Heritage Barrel. The company says that this release was aged in barrels that had “a deeper, richer toasted layer before being charred.” It was barreled at a lower proof than their regular releases and aged at the top of one of their aging warehouses before being bottled at 100 proof.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel "Heritage Barrel"

Purchase Info: This sample was generously provided by Jack Daniel’s for review purposes. Suggested retail is $64.99 per 750 mL bottle.

Details: 50% ABV. Uses a more highly toasted barrel and a lower barrel entry proof than is standard for Jack Daniel’s.

Nose: Butterscotch pudding, french vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, allspice. Very dessert-like.

Mouth: Mellow and sweet, but with a nice spice to add complexity and balance the sweetness. Butterscotch pudding, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon.

Finish: Long and with a warmth that fades quick but then reappears in a bloom of warmth. Baking spices and butterscotch linger.


Thoughts: The nose reminds me of bread pudding cooking in the oven. The mouth is mellow and sweet but brings a nice spice as well. I really like this, I am already planning on buying a full bottle when it hits shelves.

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Old Forester Distillery Tour at the Old Forester Distilling Co., Louisville, KY

It's Bourbon Heritage Month and I just got back from Kentucky so I thought it might be a good time to highlight some Bourbon Fun. Tonight, I’m taking a look at the Old Forester Distilling Co. A new visitor experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville, KY.

Hey! I’m back from my annual trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival…only this year, I really didn’t go to the Festival all that much. I only went to two events that were officially part of the Festival, and only one was a paid, ticketed event. It’s odd, but I might be falling out of love with the KBF. All of the prices have increased to the point where I just don’t want to pay them anymore. Which, on one hand, really sucks. I don’t like to be priced out of things I enjoy (welcome to bourbon in 2018…amirite?) But on the other, it did allow me to have a lot of other experiences that I normally wouldn’t have had time for.

Experiences like tours of some of the new distilleries (or distillery-like experiences) that have popped up since I last took the time to wander away from Bardstown. One of the tours I took was of the new Old Forester Distilling Co. experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville.

When you walk in the door, you are immediately greeted by a large brick and wood room that contains a desk for checking into your tour (or buying tickets) and a waiting area. This is where your tour will start. Depending on how early you arrive, you may decide to visit the gift shop. they will certainly let you, but in true Disneyland fashion, you will also exit the tour into the gift shop as well. So when you give them your money is up to you.

If you choose to visit the Gift Shop before you take your tour, you will be greeted with the best view of the tall copper column still (as well as branded merchandise and multiple bottles that are available for purchase).

By a strange coincidence, one of my fellow tour-takers was a distiller from England who was there as a guest of Brown-Forman and Campbell Brown, the President of Old Forester (who also tagged along for a good portion of the tour as well). This meant that not only were there a few more geeky questions than you normally find on a typical bourbon distillery tour, but we also got a few more candid and honest answers than you would usual too.

Above is the entry to the official “tour area” this area talks about their mash bill and the benefit of Kentucky water.

One of the especially candid answers we received on the tour related to the fermenters (shown above). When the English Distiller (whose name or company I have forgotten) asked why they had open fermenters instead of closed ones, Mr. Brown answered that it was because it provided a better visitor experience and that they have closed fermenters in the big distillery. I enjoyed the candor. It’s refreshing to go on a distillery tour and not be overloaded with marketing speak.

When we stopped to take a look at the still, which I had already seen in the gift shop, I turned around and looked at the other wall which featured these windows showing where spirit at various parts of the distilling run would be visible. One thing I liked about the tour, was that it was really set up to be an education in to how bourbon is made for the average consumer. They wouldn’t have had to have made all the extra graphics to explain what was going on, but they took the time to do it. Nice touch.

Of course the highlight of the tour was the barrel making area. And not just because we happened to have one of the cooper’s grandfather and other older relatives on the tour with us (though watching the young kid sneak up to surprise an elderly great-aunt with a hug was heartwarming as well). Once again, they showed all the steps and let us know which pieces of equipment were state-of-the-art and which were from a previous era of barrel making. More refreshing candor. Some things were just there because it made a better show on a small scale, not because they were efficient on a large scale.

This was our tour guide (I forget her name because her hair covered her name tag and I’m bad with remembering names at the best of times). In any case, she was excellent. Normally, I have a conversation with myself regarding the things they are over simplifying or just plain getting wrong. I didn’t have that conversation here. She was very knowledgeable and I don’t remember a single of noticeable error.

This was a pretty cool machine. It was a hydraulic press that put the hoops on the barrel. I don’t remember seeing anything like this when I toured Independent Stave a few years ago, but my memory is notoriously bad (and it may have been behind the scenes as well). Still, having been a metal-stamping press operator for a few years after high school, this looked like much more fun (and much less noisy) than those were. It even had a JoyStick!

Of course after you build a barrel, you need to test it. And this was where my fellow tour taker’s nephew/grandson came in. He basically adds some water, fills it with air and looks for bubbles.

This is a fairly small distillery by big bourbon standards, but it is a working distillery none-the-less. And they say that some of the liquid that is being made on sight is also being aged on site. Not sure how I’d feel about all that flammable liquid being there, if I was Duluth Trading Company next door.

And this is a bottling line. Once again, it seemed like it was there so you could see a bottling line and learn what they do. It was running pretty slowly compared to others I’ve seen in other distilleries.

And no tour would be complete without a tasting at the end. This tour offered tastes of Old Forester 86 proof, Old Forester Statesman, and Old Forester 1897 bottled in Bond.

IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Overall, I really enjoyed the tour. There was little, to no, “Marketing BS” and the entire place was set up not only to show you how bourbon was made, but also to help you learn about how bourbon is made. Plus it was fun! And honestly, that’s just as important at the end of the day.

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

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!