My Wandering Eye...Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac

My Wandering Eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. My hope is to see if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point. And one thing to remember is that these reviews will all be written from the perspective of a bourbon drinker.

I have a weird fascination with alcohol holiday gift sets. In December, I will happily buy spirits that I would have just walked past at any other time of year because they come with a glass. In other words, their marketing gambit works on me. This year I bought two Woodford Reserve Gift Sets because they came with a beautiful glass (even though I have so many glasses that I am considering donating some of mine to local charity thrift stores). I also bought the Gift Set for Hennessy V.S.O.P.

I normally have a bottle of Hennessy V.S. on hand for cocktails due to the fact that it is inexpensive, ubiquitous and plays well with others in a cocktail. But as I was walking through the liquor store looking for a Christmas gift for my father, I noticed the gift set for Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac. It had a cute Art Deco design and had the recipe for a Cognac Sazerac on the back of the box. Plus it came with a large cocktail mixing beaker. That sold me. I‘d been using a pint glass with a beer logo for years to mix our cocktails and the thought of having an actual dedicated mixing glass made me feel all fancy. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to try the next step up of my house cocktail cognac.

And yes, I am the kind of guy who goes shopping for a gift and makes sure to bring home a gift for me as well.

Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac

Purchase Info: ~$75 for a 750 mL bottle gift set at Lakeville Liquor, Lakeville, MN

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: Raisin, apple, cardamom, and a slight mint.

Mouth: Thin mouthfeel. Dried apple and a hint of mint.

Finish: Short and gentle with lingering dried fruit and cardamom.

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Thoughts: This makes a good cocktail base. But as you can see above, I bought it in December and still haven’t finished the bottle so I am not reaching for it as a neat pour. It isn’t bad, but compared to the other brandies on my shelf, it is just a little meh.

I love the mixing glass though…


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Four Roses Small Batch Select

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 Four Roses for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.

By now you will all have heard that Four Roses is releasing a new addition to their core lineup. Their “fourth rose” to quote their social media feeds. This new release features six of their ten bourbons: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 104 proof. Both Whisky Advocate and The Bourbon Review are reporting that the cost will be in the $50-60 range, slightly higher than Four Roses Single Barrel. It will initially be available in Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, New York and California with a nationwide rollout to follow.

Ok, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s address your real question. How does it taste and is this something that you should be waiting in line for or clearing shelves when you see it? Let’s get into how it tastes first.

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided by Four Roses for review purposes. Reports are that this is suggested to be in the $50-60 range per 750mL bottle.

Details: A blend of six and seven year old bourbons from recipes: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. 52% ABV. Non-chill filtered.

Nose: Herbal mint, juicyfruit gum, caramel.

Mouth: Sweet caramel and floral notes dominate at first. After a few sips the spicy notes of cinnamon and notes of mint and juicyfruit gum begin to appear.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering mint. cinnamon and floral notes.

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Thoughts: This is a Four Roses Bourbon that caters to lovers of the herbal and floral side of their line-up. Let’s put it this way, if the standard Four Roses Single Barrel is your jam because you love the spicy, classic bourbon notes it brings to the party, then this may not be your favorite of their line-up. If, however, you’ve loved every Private Selection that features the F yeast, then this will be right in your wheelhouse.

So, onto that second part of the question above. We all know that there will be enough buzz around this release that there are going to be dickheads who try to snatch up every bottle they can lay their hands on to try to sell on the secondary market. Whether they succeed is beyond me. Here’s the thing though, while this is a very good whiskey (and even though I am the F yeast lover I mentioned above), I think I like the standard spicy Single Barrel better. I tasted this alongside both Single Barrel and Small Batch tonight. It turns out that Small Batch Select is number two on my list of their core releases. It goes Single Barrel, Small Batch Select, Small Batch and then Beige Label.

So my plan is this: if I see Small Batch Select next time I’m in Kentucky, I’m going to pick up a bottle to have on hand as a change of pace bourbon. If I don’t see it, I’ll wait until I get home and get the Single Barrel. It’ll be around eventually and I can be patient with this one. I guess what I’m saying is this. It’s very good, but let’s not lose our heads over it. They are going to be making more.


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Legent Bourbon

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 Articulate Productions and BeamSuntory for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that last week I spent the majority of my time somewhere outside Las Vegas. I’m not a huge fan of Vegas itself, but I do love all the beautiful places that are within a couple hours drive of it. And so, the first thing I would do every day is leave Las Vegas. Over the course of the week, I visited Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Red Rock National Conservation Area, Valley of Fire, and Joshua Tree National Park. Beautiful places, all of them. But every evening, I would find my back on the Strip surrounded by places that were more than happy to sell me liquor. Of those, I found a couple places that made excellent cocktails. And since I much prefer a good cocktail to cheap liquor, I frequented them most nights.

As I was still in the mood for cocktails when I got home, I was happy to see the bottle of Legent sitting on my cocktail station. Among the marketing materials that came with it, were a bunch of cocktail recipes. I was happy to try a few of them. In the name of research, of course.

So what is Legent anyway? Simply put, its base is Jim Beam Bourbon. After aging, some of the bourbon is finished in Sherry and red-wine casks. After aging and finishing, Suntory Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, took those finished and straight bourbons and blended them into Legent.

Like I said, I tried a few of the cocktails that came in the marketing materials. (They are also available on the Legent Bourbon website.) I tried the Legent Manhattan, the Old Pals and my favorite of the bunch: the Kentucky Kyushiki. I liked that one so much that I am going to share it.

Kentucky Kyushiki

2 parts Legent™ Bourbon
1/2 part green tea simple syrup (use green tea as the liquid for your syrup instead of water)
2-4 dashes of lavender bitters
Lemon peel for garnish

Stir all ingredients with ice, serve on the rocks and garnish with an expressed lemon peel.

Legent Bourbon

Purchase info: This bottle was graciously sent to my by BeamSuntory for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $34.99. It is available in “select markets.”

Details: 47% ABV. Bourbon partially finished in red wine and sherry casks.

Nose: Mint, caramel, cinnamon, dried grain, green tea.

Mouth: Spicy cinnamon, mint, caramel and peanut.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering cinnamon, mint and peanut.

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Thoughts: I tried this one alongside Jim Beam Bonded and it compared very favorably. It retains many of the Jim Beam flavor characteristics but presents them in a more nuanced fashion. Especially when used in the cocktail above. Both made a good cocktail but the Legent was a bit more refined.

If you are a fan of Jim Beam branded bourbons, this is certainly one that you will want to pick up and sip neat. If you aren’t normally a fan of the Jim Beam lineup, it might still be worth picking up because this makes a fantastic cocktail base. I like this one and if it comes to Minnesota, I’ll be sure to keep a bottle in my cocktail station.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. And if you are an iOS user, look for Bourbon Guy in Apple News. Thanks!