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Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

What happens when you try to make a bottle of your whiskey look like a bottle of Jack Daniel's? You get sued. That's what happens.

So guess what happened to the makers of Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey when they put out a Tennessee Whiskey in a bottle that had a fairly close resemblance to Jack? Jack Daniel's sued them for Trademark and Trade Dress infringement. (Though not for the bottle I bought and show above, the mini bottle doesn't have the same features as the big ones.)

In fact, that lawsuit is the only reason I knew of the brand as I was wandering through my nearest Total Wine location. I first read about the lawsuit/heard of the brand in late April 2018. The Spirits Business, in the course of their reporting on the suit, stated that it was Brown-Foreman's position that the whiskey had received “highly critical customer reviews, indicating that said product is of inferior quality.” 

In other words, Jack Daniel's sued Lonehand and their owners for infringement and then called them lousy whiskey on top of it. I find that funny as hell. 

So of course, I had to buy a bottle. I mean, not a full bottle, that would be silly. No, I bought a 50mL bottle. Trying bad whiskey is my idea of an extreme sport, it's something I do just for the experience. But it's not like I'm about to jump off this particular cliff more than once, so I did not need more than 50 milliliters. 

But all this talk of lawsuits makes one wonder why anyone would think that taking on Jack Daniel's is a good idea. Maybe they read the history of Ezra Brooks, a brand that did the same thing back in the late 1950s and is still around today. 

In any case, I don't know if it means anything but the website for the brand owner is not working as of this writing, so maybe the odds aren't great that Lonehand will be the next Ezra. But what do I know? Maybe in 20 years, Sipp'n Corn will be writing a post about how Lonehand took on Jack and survived. 

Lonehand Tennessee Whiskey

Purchase Info: $1.49 for a 50mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: Grain, light butterscotch, buttered popcorn

Mouth: Spice at the beginning that fades quickly. Dried grains, slight sweetness as it moves back.

Finish: Short. Sweet with lingering notes of buttered popcorn

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Thoughts: Hard pass on this one from me. It's not terrible, but there are better Tennessee whiskeys out there. And if the price is the issue, there are also better and cheaper bourbons out there. I woulnd't bother with this one.


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Jefferson's Reserve

Posted on by Eric Burke

When you go into a restaurant, do you expect that said restaurant has grown the vegetables they are serving you? Do you assume that they bred,  raised, and slaughtered the cow that your steak was once part of? If you know that they are sourcing their ingredients from somewhere else, do you demand to know what farm they sourced them from? Of course, some restaurants pride themselves on doing just these things. But does it make you mad that not every restaurant does? Do you loudly proclaim to the internet that you have a right to know who the restaurant's suppliers are and propose boycotts of restaurants that can't tell you?

Now, what if that restaurant is not a restaurant, but is instead a whiskey producer? If you know that the whiskey producer is not distilling the whiskey, do you loudly proclaim to the internet that you have a right to know who they sourced their ingredients from? 

Of course, there is a difference between a restaurant and whiskey producer. Namely that most restaurants do not also claim to be growers of vegetable and raisers of beef cattle. And until relatively recently, many Non-Distiller Producers (NDPs) did claim to be distillers. And of course, some still do. But I think it is sensible to point out those that are transparent about the fact that they didn't "kill the cow" and are instead specializing in being "an excellent chef." Using the ingredients that they source—in this case, bourbons—to create something different from and hopefully better than what they started with.

Based on my reading this is what the folks who produced tonight's whiskey are saying. Jefferson's acknowledges they didn't distill the bourbons that went into their product. They do seem proud of the fact that they have blended them together into something they like more. 

In the end, though I value folks that grow and raise food, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good chef.

Jefferson's Reserve

Purchase Info: $54.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Savage Liquors - HyVee, Savage, MN

Details: 45.1% ABV

Nose:  Floral and fruity with vanilla, oak, and baking spice. 

Mouth: Nice tingly baking spice and very floral with a hint of fruitiness. 

Finish:  Warm and of decent length. Initial notes of bubblegum transition to lingering notes of baking spice. 

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this. It is a nice "change of pace" bourbon that is quite unlike the stereotypical bourbon flavor profile. It's one of those that you turn to when you want something a little different but not so different that you are looking at a different spirit entirely. The flavor reminds me a lot of Canadian Club but with more bourbon backbone. It's interesting.


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Good reviews and High West American Prairie Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

An interesting thing that I've only recently realized is that while my hobby is providing reviews for things that other people have made, my living is made providing services and creating objects that live and die by reviews from other people. I'm a Freelance Graphic Designer, I have an Etsy store, and I watch people's dogs. 

It is amazing how bad a poor review or a lost client can feel when you've worked your ass off. It is why I try to couch negative reviews in the nicest way possible. Very few people set out to purposefully create a bad product so just because I think a poor review is justified and is good for consumers, I don't want to discourage someone just because being a dick will get more clicks than being nice about it. 

Conversely, a great review will make you feel like you are on top of the world. Like all the hard work you put into a job was noticed and made someone's life better. It's even better when that good review is hand-delivered and is accompanied by whiskey. 

Which is what happened to me last week. 

There is a dog that I have been watching at least once a week for the last six months or more. He was just a pup when it started and we've had the pleasure of watching him grow up. Last Friday, our client came up the walkway holding a bag that looked suspiciously like a booze bag. In it was a very lovely card letting us know how much she appreciated all we do for him and a bottle of High West American Prairie bourbon. Which was doubly appreciated as we hadn't reviewed it previously. 

Long story short: if you appreciate someone, let them know. It'll make their day.

High West American Prairie Bourbon

Purchase Info: This bourbon was a lovely gift of appreciation from a dogsitting client. Suggested retail price is $34.99.

Details: Age stated as 2 years old. The High West website says that is is a blend of 2- to 13-year-old straight bourbon whiskeys with one of them being an MGP bourbon of the 75% corn, 21% rye mashbill.

Nose: Butterscotch, mint, cinnamon and a hint of pickle juice. 

Mouth: Sweet with a nice mouthfeel. Caramel, nutmeg, dusty oak and a hint of anise. 

Finish: Medium length. Notes of cinnamon, mint, and oak. 

Thoughts: The folks at High West have a reputation for sourcing whiskeys from multiple distilleries and blending them to make a tasty end product. This is no exception. Even though the product is legally only 2-years-old, this is a pretty good dram. They recommend using it in a cocktail, but I think it works just fine on it's own. 


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Bottom-Shelf Bourbon Brackets 2018: The Championship Rounds

Posted on by Eric Burke

Well, it's finally here. The championship rounds. This year was an interesting one for me on a couple of levels. For one, it was the first year that had guest judges. I have an idea that I may expand it further next year. This feels like it could be a fun party game for whiskey folk, provided the sips are restricted and everyone has a driver. Secondly, it is also the first year that I didn't restrict the competition to bourbon. I included corn whiskey and rye whiskey and sort of expected that corn would fold and rye would reign supreme. I was sorta right on the corn whiskey, it was a little too delicate to win against the flavorful rye, but it was no pushover. 

So now here we are. We are at the Last Four (Final Four being a registered trademark of a very litigious entity, there is no way I will use those two words together in a bracket post...): Old Grand Dad Bonded vs Two Stars and Old Forester vs Ezra Brooks Rye. Three bourbons and a rye. Let's see if rye reigns supreme or if bourbon can hold on to the odds. 

Division 1, Round 2: Two Stars (A) vs Old Grand-Dad Bonded (B)

Nose: Whiskey A is drier with more grain present while whiskey B is sweeter but shows a bit more alcohol. Winner: Draw.

Mouth: Whiskey B is sweeter but also shows a lot more grain notes. Whiskey A is more of a well-integrated whole, though it is a tad more delicate. Winner Whiskey A.

Finish: The finish on Whiskey A is a bit harsher and drier. Whiskey B is really good though and it has no obvious plusses or minuses to it.Winner Whiskey B. 

Thoughts: I'd say that Whiskey B wins this one on the strength of a better mouthfeel and a much tastier finish. Old Grand-Dad Bonded is moving on. 

Division 2, Round 2: Ezra Brooks Rye (A) vs Old Forester (B)

Nose: Whiskey A has a spicy ginger note while Whiskey B is pretty generic with sweet caramel.  Winner: Whiskey A.

Mouth: Whiskey A is spicy and fun but a bit thin. Whiskey B is sweet and spicy with a nice mouthfeel. It is close but the Winner is Whiskey A

Finish: Whiskey A shows ginger and citrus while Whiskey B is sweet and fruity. This comes down to personal taste. Winner: Whiskey A.

Thoughts: This one is tough. I adore the fun aspects of Whiskey A. I think it is bright and vibrant and I'm digging the citrus notes. On the other hand, I really like the sweet flavors, the nice mouthfeel, and the fruity finish of Whiskey B. Gun to my head? Winner: Ezra Brooks Rye. 

Championship Round: Old Grand-Dad Bonded (A) vs Ezra Brooks Rye (B)

Nose: Whiskey B is a spicy soda, Whiskey A is a dusty rickhouse. Winner: Draw.

Mouth: Whiskey A is sweet with a lovely mouthfeel. Whiskey B is spicy with a ginger ale flavor. Winner: Draw

Finish: Whiskey A is long with more sweetness. Whiskey B is also long, but is spicy. Winner: Draw.

Thoughts: Sometimes the tasting notes of bloggers make it look like we value the individual parts of a whiskey more than the whole. Though these two whiskeys are different, I liked them both, just in different ways. I like the spiciness of Whiskey B and I like the lovely mouthfeel of Whiskey A. There was a draw on every indiviual metric. And, though it was really close, when taken as a whole the Winner is Old Grand-Dad Bonded. 

Lessons learned

So was I shocked by anything this year? Not really. I was surprised that Old Forester beat Four Roses for every participant, but not enough to call it shocking. I was mildly surprised that a four seed beat a one seed, but when you notice that it is rye vs corn whiskey it is less surprising. Going into the final rounds I had guessed that Old Forester could very possibly be my winner, but wasn't shocked that a rye whiskey beat a bourbon. Even if it was only two years old.

Overall, I thought that there could very possibly be five winners in the initial grouping. I wouldn't have been surprised at any of Old Grand-Dad, Old Forester, Four Roses, Ezra Brooks and I thought that Mellow Corn had an outside shot. Because I worried that the seeding worked against them I went ahead and tried an alternate seeding. I put all the bourbon on one side and matched corn vs corn and rye vs rye on the other. Ezra Brooks beat Old Overholt and Mellow Corn defeated Hirsch, with Ezra Brooks rye still advancing to the finals. On the Bourbon side, Old Grand Dad beat Four Roses on the strength of a good mouthfeel and Old Forester beat Two Stars. Old Grand Dad then defeated Old Forester and advanced to the finals where the result was the same. Overall, I'm satisfied that the best whiskey (for my palate)won.


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Bottom-Shelf Brackets 2018: Other people's brackets

Posted on by Eric Burke

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!