Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Van Winkle 12 Year Lot "B" Bourbon

Spirit: Van Winkle 12 Year Lot "B"Bourbon
Distiller: Van Winkle
Retail: $49.99

Van Winkle has a reputation among Bourbon/American whiskey as being one of the premiere labels. I(J) disagree, in my opinion Van Winkle has managed to attach to some kind of identity hearkening back to Southern gentlemen sitting on the veranda drinking juleps. In reality the Van Winkle family is following in the footsteps of their wine counterparts Silver Oak and Opus One, producing over-aged, over-oaked and overpriced product...generally. With the exception of the 13yr Rye and the Lot "B", I tend to think that the Winkles are not doing justice to this spirit. In fact they're convincing a whole new generation of bourbon drinkers that this is what's "good".

I'm losing track here.

The Van Winkle Lot "B" seems to be the best expression the family has to offer. Twelve years seems like an optimal aging time for this spirit, creating the right balance of corn and oak. Not only that but the 15, 20 and 23 year labels can set you back, this seems right on the mark for the price point.

If you're going to buy into the Van Winkle thing, buy the 12 year.



Color: Pale Honey, Mostly Clear with some sediment

Nose: Sawdust, Vegetal, Banana, Apple, charcoal

Palate: Banana on the mouth, oak is balanced(tannic grip on top of tounge), acidity on sides, medium finish, finish hits the back of the throat. Good cut on this one,
ethanol never plays a part. Easy on the mouth.

Rating(out of 10): 8



Color: Dark amber, Fair amount of sediment present

Nose: Sawdust, Sweet Red Apple, Cinnamon.

Palate: High ethanol, dry, somewhat tannic. Long finish. Finish hits back of palate. Oak. Rye or pumpernickel bread. No confectionery notes. Tobacco.

Rating(out of 10): 6.5

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wild Turkey American Spirit

Spirit: Wild Turkey "American Spirit" 15 year Bourbon
Distiller: Wild Turkey
Price(retail): $99.00

A little while back Wild Turkey released "Freedom", a single release only available in Duty-Free stores. Because of the limited production and exclusivity of the product Wild Turkey had an instant hit on their hands. If you're lucky, you can track one of these down on Ebay for around six or seven hundred dollars. Based on that success Jimmy Russell(master distiller of Wild Turkey) thought it would be good to do another single release and I unwittingly thought it would be a good idea to get behind it.

You see, after hearing stories about Freedom's success and being part of the mad dash to get the Four Roses 120th Anniversary edition, I thought it would be good to invest in some American Spirit. I tracked down a few bottles on the internet and started buying. Once I had secured three bottles, one to store, one to sell(down the road, if it took off) and one to drink; I decided to give it a run. In fact this bourbon is why I decided to start this blog, I thought anyone can write about spirits but can anyone really take a stab at something that's supposed to be this great. I can and will.

First let me say that I love Turkey 80 & 101 and Russel's Rye is one of the best I've ever tasted; however they really dropped the ball on American Spirit. I tasted this with Tom(who will have a great deal of input on this blog later) and here are our tasting notes:


Color: Golden, amber. Mostly clear with some sediment floating around.

Nose: Sawdust, banana, cinnamon, green pear, coconut and tropical fruit: passion or papaya.

Palate: Hit me in the nose, mouth and gullet with high ethanol, chocolate and confectionary notes(I thought this was unusual for bourbon. Gave me some acidity on the sides, medium finish in the mouth, left a burning on my gums for a entire minute after taste. Vegetal finish, almost like Tequila.

Rating(out of 10): 7
Tom's Notes

Color: Honey, very clear, trace elements of sediment.

Nose: Sawdust, vanilla and coconut.

Palate: More vanilla, acidity(mouth watering). Tom pointed out the high ethanol in the nose and mouth. Felt it on the tip of his tounge and gums for a full minute.

Rating(out of 10): 7

What's important to note here is that we did our tastings seperately and had no impact on eathother's notes or ratings. We both agreed that this distillate could have been better, particulary from this producer and for this price.