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.

like-vector.png

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.


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, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey

I'm going to say that it was my first serious taste of whiskey that was the last time I truly liked a malt whiskey. In that case, I think that for me, liking that taste was more about enjoying the switch in flavor from clear spirits to aged ones than it was anything about the Malt Whiskey itself. Shortly afterward, I made the switch to Bourbon and Rye and have seldom looked back.

That should tell you something about my tastes. I used to say that it wasn't that I didn't like Malt Whiskey, it was just that I hadn't yet found one that I liked. But now, it's been enough time and I've tried enough that I'm willing to admit to the fact that I generally do not like Malt Whiskey. And that's ok. We all like different things. 

Not caring for Malt whiskey is one of the reasons that it appears on the site so infrequently. I have to really be interested in something about one to spend the money on one. Sometimes, as in the case of Stranahan's, I'm in the distillery and pick one up because the tasting went well. Other times, it is because of a cask finish that I found interesting. One I tried because it was made by a well-known large bourbon producer and I wanted to taste their version. 

That last one made me quite happy that my friend had spent the money on it and not me. I disliked it so much that in 2016 I named it one of the five worst American Whiskeys I'd ever had. That one was the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection: Double Malt Selection. It resulted in both my friend and I taking our drams and dumping them down the sink.

So, it was with some trepidation that I bought the recently released
Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey. After all of that, why did I buy it? Well, it's new, I figured that they may have had time to perfect their recipe, and I liked the rest of the non-experimental whiskeys under the Woodford name (Bourbon, Double Oaked, and Rye).

So what does this bourbon drinker and admitted Malt disliker think of it? Let's find out.

Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey

Purchase Info: $26.98 for a 750 mL bottle at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN

Details: 45.2% ABV. 51% Malt mashbill (via the brand website).

Nose: Nutty with caramel/vanilla and uncooked oatmeal.

Mouth: Sweetened, cooked cereal with nuts and a hint of dark chocolate. 

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Chocolate and dried grains that show as slightly bitter and a touch medicinal. Almost grassy after a while. 

 IMAGE: A hand-drawn neutral face

Thoughts: You know what? I do not dislike this. I wasn't a fan while doing the tasting. But after giving it a couple more tries and some time, I'm ok with this one. Don't get me wrong, it's not something I'm likely to ever buy again, but I'm not going to dump the bottle or relegate it to prop whiskey either. So I didn't like it, I didn't dislike it, that sounds like the very definition of Meh to me. 

But maybe take that with a grain of salt and give it a shot yourself, as I'm not generally a fan of Malt whiskey, I may have ranked it lower (or higher) than you would. 


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!

Bottom-Shelf Brackets 2018: Other people's brackets

So one of the things I did this year to shake things up was to introduce more judges to this project. In the past, it has been just my wife and I and if we disagreed, I'd overrule her due to the fact that I do all the writing. Now I was not able to get everyone together in time to get started on these so I was unable to use their input in the initial rounds. 

And now that I think about that, I think this is a good thing. This is a blog that is run by my wife and I and it reflects our palates. Plus, as you will see, everyone so far has chosen a different winner. But, there are a few commonalities in the results that I think you will find interesting. So let's begin.

This is the bracket of my friend Dave. He was the inspiration for this experiment because he asked if he could be a part of it. He knows almost nothing about whiskey that I haven't taught him but he is an enthusiastic amateur. I did the pouring for Dave's bracket. So one interesting thing that I think you will see is that Old Overholt was Dave's winner. I've described Old Overholt as one of the gentlest rye whiskeys that I'd found. And I think that it makes sense that an inexperienced whiskey drinker would like a whiskey that wasn't overly hot and aggressive. In fact, you'll notice that most of the whiskeys that made it to his last four were fairly nonaggressive whiskeys. A corn whiskey beat a rye, a low proof beat a high proof on a couple of occasions, and then there is Old Forester where he had a hard time choosing between the two.

This is the bracket of one of my dog sitting clients, Jeff. Jeff is a guy who likes whiskey but mostly sticks to the brands he knows. Jeff administered his own test which is why everything is labeled with a letter instead of a name, all the seeds are in the same location though. In this case, Old Grand-Dad beat Old Overholt, Two Stars beat Hirsch Corn, Ezra Brooks Rye beat Mellow Corn and Old Forester beat Four Roses. I haven't finished my bracket yet, but so far mine matches this one. And if you were to ask me how I thought my bracket might finish out, I can see similarities between his and mine. I'm a bit shocked that Two Stars beat out Old Grand-Dad, but hey Barton/Sazerac makes some pretty good juice. Oh, and for Jeff, Old Forester won. 

This is my wife's bracket. She and I disagreed on whether Mellow Corn should beat Ezra Brooks Rye so I had her finish her bracket based on her scenario. Once again I administered the contest for her. As you will see, there are some similarities between the previous three, Everyone likes Two Stars more than the Hirsch Corn whiskey and Everyone liked Old Forester better than Four Roses. In fact, Old Forester was in the championship for every one of these three. It sort of makes me wonder if my bracket will follow suit? I guess we will see next Tuesday.

Now, this last one is from Pat, one of my wife's coworkers. Pat also administered his own test. And Pat went a different way than anyone else. Unbeknownst to Pat, he seems to be a fan of rye whiskey. And he found this fascinating since he hadn't had very much rye before. From what I understand, he is going to be remedying that in the future. Even so, I can see the Ezra Brooks Rye winning this. It is a good and flavorful whiskey that even at two years old, brings a lot of flavor to the party. 

So I hope you found this as fascinating as I did. I liked seeing the trends among people. All of us liked Old Forester over Four Roses, which I didn't expect from me much less anyone else. It was split evenly between those who preferred Mellow Corn and those who preferred Ezra Brooks Rye. Only one person thought that the Hirsch Corn was better than Two Stars. And yet even with that, they all chose a different winner. I'm very curious now to know which one will win on my bracket. 


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!

Bottom-Shelf Brackets 2018: Round 1c: Ezra Brooks Rye vs. Mellow Corn

Round 1c of the 2018 BourbonGuy.com Bottom Shelf Brackets features number 1 seed Mellow Corn Bottled in Bond Corn Whiskey versus Number 4 seed Ezra Brooks Rye. 

Mellow Corn is a product of Heaven Hill Brands. It is a bottled-in-bond product, meaning it is the product of one distilling season, bottled at exactly 100 proof and was aged for at least 4 years. As this is corn whiskey, it is made from at least 80 percent corn in the mash recipe and was aged in either uncharred or used barrels. It is a number one seed due to its high proof.

Ezra Brooks Rye is a product of Luxco. It is a sourced whiskey that is assumed to have been distilled at the MGPi distillery in Indiana. It is a two-year-old rye. It is the youngest whiskey in the contest and as such is a number four seed. 

These were tasted blind in the following order. My thoughts on each are from before the reveal.

Mellow Corn

Purchase Info: $11.88 for a 1L bottle at Blue Max Liquor, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV, non-age stated.

Produced by: Heaven Hill Brands

Nose: Buttery popcorn, spearmint, a touch of cinnamon, and after a while strawberry oatmeal. 

Mouth: Warm and spicy. Cinnamon and honey. 

Finish: Medium and warm. Lingering dried grain notes. A touch of bitterness. 

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: Nice and warm. Good spice. Only slight knock on it is a slightly dried grain note on the finish that doesn't agree with me.

Ezra Brooks Rye

Purchase Info: $17.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Eagan, MN.

Details: 45% ABV.

Produced by: Luxco (Assumed MGPi)

Nose: Strong mint and ginger ale. 

Mouth: Thinner in the mouth than the last one. Mint and ginger spice.

Finish: Flavorful finish. A "Blossom" of flavor after swallowing. Mint, cinnamon, and ginger. 

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: Just the opposite of the last one. This has a pretty mild mouth, but a fun finish. 

Who wins?

So, Mellow Corn is sweet baked good on the nose while Ezra Brooks Rye is a spicy soda. This is a draw on the nose. Mellow Corn has a nicer mouthfeel while Ezra Brooks Rye has a more pleasantly flavorful finish. This is the hardest matchup in the contest. These are both good and to be honest my wife and I both chose a different winner. After sitting on this for most of a week I have to declare a winner based soley on the finish. Winner: Ezra Brooks Rye.


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!

Bottom-Shelf Brackets 2018: Round 1b: Hirsch Selection Straight Corn vs. Two Stars

Round 1b of the 2018 BourbonGuy.com Bottom Shelf Brackets features number 2 seed Hirsch Selection Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey versus Number 3 seed Two Stars Bourbon. 

Hirsch Selection Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey is a Limited Edition straight corn whiskey. But wait? Why would a Limited Edition be in the Bottom Shelf Brackets? Well, mostly because the price was right. I found it on a shelf in Minneapolis for $16.99. I haven't seen it anywhere else, so I'm going to guess this is an inexpensive shelf turd from a few years ago. So, now you know. This has no age statement so it is at least 4 years old. It states it was aged in used barrels. 

Two Stars bourbon is a Total Wine exclusive bourbon produced by the Clear Springs Distilling Co. Clear Springs is a dba used by Sazerac when they produce house brands for stores. Last I heard (2016) this one was a product of the Barton distillery, though it is possible that has changed by this point.

These were tasted blind in the following order. My thoughts on each are from before the reveal.

Hirsch Selection: Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey

Purchase Info: $16.99 for a 750mL bottle at Surdyk's Liquor and Cheese Shop, Minneapolis, MN

Details: 45% ABV, non-age stated.

Produced by: Preiss Imports

Nose: Delicate. Almost a white wine note and brown sugar. After sitting a bit a vinegar note flashes across the nose before disappearing again 

Mouth: Cooling and thin at first. As it sits in the mouth a sweet baking spice note develops. 

Finish: Starts almost nonexistent but a gentle burn develops after a little bit of time.

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: This could be a wonderful whiskey for a white wine drinker. I find it interesting, but not something I'd come back to.

Two Stars

Purchase Info: $17.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Eagan, MN.

Details: 43% ABV.

Produced by: Clear Springs Distilling Company (Sazerac)

Nose: Almond, brown sugar, nutmeg. 

Mouth: Gentle at first with more spice developing as it sits in the mouth. Almond and mint.

Finish: Warmer than the mouth. Lingering bitter almond, baking spice and mint.

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: This is more to my tastes than whiskey #1.

Who wins?

I'm not sure either of these would have won if they had drawn a different matchup. They are both pretty meh. They are strangely similar. Both of these start very much the same, they are both gentle and both take time to develop in the mouth. But at the end the day, I like where Two Stars ends up better than Hirsch Corn. Winner: Two Stars.


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!