EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: Sazerac

Review: Old Weller Antique Straight Bourbon

Owned by Sazerac Company, Old Weller Antique Kentucky Straight Bourbon is distilled at the Buffalo Trace Distillery and bottled at 53.5% ABV.

Price Range: Normally $20-$25 however, limited allocation has caused retail prices to skyrocket to $48 for a bottle.

Old Weller Antique is a "wheated" Kentucky Straight Bourbon which means it uses wheat as its secondary flavoring grain as appose to rye. While neither Sazerac nor Buffalo Trace disclose their mashbills it is thought the wheat portion ranges between 10-20%. 

In 2009 Old Weller Antique dropped its 7 Year ages statement which did not seem to hurt the quality of the juice in the bottle. However, as the craze for Pappy Van Winkle reached a fever pitch, word began to spread that Pappy shared the same exact mashbill as the Weller line of bourbons and that they were considerably less expensive. Three years ago when I organized a blind tasting of whiskey's $20 and under, you could still find Weller Special Reserve and Old Weller Antique even though the Weller 12 Year Old had virtually disappear from retails shelves and stores were put on a strict allocation. Not so any more. While one is more likely to find a bottle of Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique had become increasingly harder to find and as a result the retailers who do carry it have started charging a lot more. The day after I finished the last drops of my bottle of Old Weller Antique I was elated to see a local grocery store had two bottles for sale. Now however, instead of costing around $20, the store was charging $48 per bottler. That's more than a 200% price increase in just three years!

My hope is that in a few more years when the increased kentucky bourbon production begins to age out and be bottled that both prices and supply will stabilize. But, in the near term it seems likely that scarcity and price increases will continue.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: In the glass Weller Antique smells of caramel, sweet cherries, candied apple, vanilla, cinnamon, and varnished wood. While the alcohol is noticeable (at 107 proof one would expect that) on the nose it isn't over powering.

Palate: The palate is rich and smooth with no heat on the tongue but it does warms up your chest. The bourbon is sweet up front with notes of caramel and vanilla which are balanced with oak. Mid palate is full of baking spice and dried cherries with a slight bitterness from the oak tannins on the back end.

Finish: The finish is long. Oak tannins and dryness linger with notes of cigar tobacco and sweet corn.

Conclusion: Old Weller Antique is a very well balanced wheated bourbon and a great value at $20. From the first time I drank this bourbon quickly became my favorite wheated bourbon beating out both Makers Mark and Larceny. That being said the for my tastes, the bitterness that comes through from the oak makes it hard for me plunk down $50 to get a new bottle in the current environment. However, if and when Weller Antique returns to a more sane price, I will definitely grab a bottle.

 

Exploring Bottled in Bond Whiskey

Not that long ago I read Bernie Lubbers' book Bourbon Whiskey - Our Native Spirit.  In the book he wrote fondly of bonded bourbon whiskey.  For those unfamiliar with the term bonded whiskey, also labeled as bottled in bond, refers to whiskey that has been: aged for at least 4 years, bottled at exactly 100 proof (50% alcohol), the product of one single distillery, and the product of one distilling season. To be honest, before reading his book, I hadn't thought much of bonded whiskeys. Most of what I saw seemed to occupy the bottom shelf in the liquor store or back bar of my local watering holes so I assumed they weren't as good as the whiskeys higher up on the shelf.  But, as I discovered in my blind tasting of inexpensive whiskies, price and enjoyment are not always correlated.

Inspired by Bernie's passion for bottled in bond whiskeys I've decided to search them out and allow myself to have an open mind.  According to Bernie's website there are now 17 commercially available bonded whiskeys, up from 13 just three years ago, and two others only available at the Jim Beam Visitor Center and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center.

To the best of my knowledge all of these Bottled in Bond Whiskeys are available for retail purchase somewhere in the US. Updated: 7/3/16, 12/30/17, 06/12/19

OhiO

Tom's Foolery Distillery

  1. Ohio Straight Bourbon B.I.B.

Oregon

Oregon Spirit Distillers

  1. B.I.B. Bourbon Whiskey

  2. B.I.B. Wheat Whiskey

  3. J. Becher Straight American Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Pennsylvania

Mountain Laurel Spirits

  1. Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Wigle Whiskey

  1. Deep Cut B.I.B. Organic Straight Rye Whiskey

Tennessee

Brown-Forman

  1. Jack Daniels B.I.B. (Travel Retail Only)

Diageo: Cascade Hollow Distillery

  1. George Dickel TN Whisky B.I.B.

H Clark Distillery

  1. Tennessee Bourbon B.I.B.

Virginia

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

  1. Rabble Rouser® Bottled In Bond Rye Whisky

California

Spirit Works Distillery

  1. Wheat Whiskey B.I.B.

Colorado

Laws Whiskey House

  1. A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye B.I.B.

Spirit Hound Distillers

  1. Straight Malt Whiskey B.I.B.

Georgia

Old Fourth Distillery

  1. B.I.B. Straight Bourbon Whiskey

New York

Coppersea Spirits

  1. Bonticou Crag Straight Malt Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Breuckelen Distilling

  1. 77 Whiskey Bonded Rye

  2. 77 Whiskey Bonded Rye & Corn

Finger Lakes Distilling

  1. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey B.I.B.

Kings County Distillery

  1. B.I.B Straight Bourbon Whiskey

New York Distilling Company

  1. Ragtime Rye B.I.B.

Kentucky

Brown-Forman

  1. Old Forester 1897 B.I.B.

  2. Early Times B.I.B.

Heaven Hill Distilleries

  1. Old Heaven Hill B.I.B.

  2. Heaven Hill 6 Year Old B.I.B.

  3. Evan Williams B.I.B

  4. Rittenhouse Rye B.I.B.

  5. Mellow Corn B.I.B.

  6. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B. (Discontinued)

  7. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B (Decanter Spring)

  8. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B (Decanter Fall)

  9. J.W. Dant B.I.B.

  10. J.T.S. Brown B.I.B.

  11. T.W. Samuels B.I.B.

  12. Henry McKenna 10yr Single Barrel B.I.B.

  13. William Heavenhill B.I.B. (Bourbon Heritage Center Only)

Jim Beam

  1. Jim Beam Bonded B.I.B.

  2. Old Grand Dad B.I.B.

  3. Old Tub B.I.B (only at Beam Visitor Center)

Luxco (NDP)

  1. David Nicholson 1843 B.I.B.

New Rift Distilling

  1. Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Sazerac Company: Buffalo Trace Distillery

  1. Very Old Barton 6 Year Old B.I.B.

  2. Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch B.I.B.

  3. Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye B.I.B.

  4. Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel B.I.B.

  5. 1792 B.I.B. Bourbon

The Old Pogue Distillery

  1. Old Maysville Club B.I.B. Kentucky Straight Rye Malt Whisky

Wilderness Trail Distillery

  1. Small Batch Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. Bourbon Single Barrel B.I.B.

Willett Distillery

  1. Old Bardstown B.I.B.

Review: Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon

Blantons.jpg

Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon, distilled by Sazerac Co. at Buffalo Trace Distillery and bottled at 46.5% ABV. 

Price Range: $45-$60

As the story goes, Elmer T. Lee, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace decided to create a new and innovative bottling for bourbon lovers by producing the world's first single barrel bourbon.  Since 1984, the concept of single barrel spirits has been copied throughout the spirits industry and in part helped birth the "small batch" category which has dominated the growth and sales of premium spirits for the last 20 years.

The bourbon is named after Colonel Albert B. Blanton who began working at what today is the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1897 when he was 16 years old. Blanton worked his way up the company ladder from an office boy to president of the distillery. During National Prohibition, the government gave Blanton permission to continue making whiskey for "medicinal" purposes which makes it one of oldest continuously operating distilleries in the United States. 

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose is light and fruity, reminiscent of candied apple and ripe pear. Underlying these bright top notes are deeper aromas of oak and yeasty bread.

Palate: Neat, Blanton's is very hot and screams for a dash of water. Once my tongue recovered a bit from the impact of the alcohol, the bourbon has a medium body with light sweetness, hints of vanilla and bright lemon zest.  

Finish: The finish is incredibly long with that is semi-dry from the wood tannins. The flavor on the finish shows notes of coffee and an herbaceousness reminiscent of rosemary.

With Water: The sharp heat mellows with the addition of water and the initial sweetness on the tongue intensifies and then transitions to baking spices. The finish is both herbal and sweet not unlike a cough lozenge. 

Conclusion: Blanton's is a fine bourbon though not completely my cup of tea. For fan's of Buffalo Trace, it is definitely worth trying but I felt the balance was off. The heat from the alcohol overshadows most of the flavors and the combination of sweet and herbal flavors are not what I usually look for in a bourbon. I imagine that Blanton's would work well in cocktails that call for sweet vermouth or for those who like to drink their bourbon on the rocks.

Thank you to Rachel for the sample.