A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Bourbon-tasting,* which was great, as I was glad to try over a half-dozen different Bourbons While I had had several of them before, not only was it great to compare/contrast them with others, I also got to experience some that were new to me.
First in the evening was Maker’s Mark (90 proof), which was fine and definitely sweet. This was immediately followed by Maker’s 46 (94 proof) for a contrast. When smelling it, it already smells more oakey. On the palette, it feels much smoother (not as a firey) and goes down smoothly and pleasantly – it is significantly better than the standard Maker’s Mark.
Then we had Hancock’s President’s Reserve (88.9 proof), which was my first time having it. I found that it is also smooth when it hits the palette and on the way down, except notably more smooth than Maker’s 46. It definitely goes down quite easily and very pleasant! While it has a subtle spiciness to it, I also think that it has a little less character than does Maker’s 46.
We then had Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey (86 proof), which was my first time having it (although it had come with high recommendation from a few people a few months back). Wow – it was excellent! Made in Colorado (Breckenridge, specifically), the label describes it as “A handcrafted Bourbon whiskey made at 9600 feet with snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains”. The nose has a pleasant fruitiness about it which is not typical for a Bourbon. It is smooth on the palette and goes down nicely with a lovely little spiciness, with perhaps some licorice to it. This is a very good bourbon and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re into calmer, smooth bourbons!
Following that, we had Basil Hayden’s (80 proof), part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, which I had had a year-and-a-half previously. The nose is quite soft, as it is on the palette. It is a bit spicy on the palette and moreso on the way down. It’s a bit less smooth than Breckenridge and rougher around the edges. If I had to choose a “smooth” Bourbon: I would go with Breckenridge over Basil Hayden’s.
Next up was Rock Hill Farms (100 proof), which has an amazing bouquet on the nose (perhaps vanilla)! This is quite an impressive Bourbon: it is quite full-flavored and while it is smooth when it hits the palette, its fieriness increases across the palette and intensifies on the way down. And that’s not a bad aspect – it is definitely an experience – it’s quite the ride – I certainly recommend Rock Hill Farms!
But, one saves the best for last. Our last bourbon was another that I had never had before and it was certainly special. Stagg, Jr. (128.7 proof) was the only cask-strength bourbon of the evening and it certainly wow-ed! It was smooth-ish hitting the palette and, like Rock Hill Farms, increased in spiciness and fieriness and was also a full-mouth experience. Inasmuch as I am loath to add water to any bourbon, adding water to this cask strength offering definitely helped in smoothing it out a little and opening it up – it was really good!
Overall, the three new bourbons I had were all great: Hancock’s President’s Reserve, Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey, and Stagg, Jr. and I would highly recommend them! Also, I did enjoy Maker’s 46, Basil Hayden, and, of course, Rock Hill Farms, as well, which are also solid choices
* Okay, so I ran it for work-purposes, but I was still there in attendance!