Monthly Archives: December 2010

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon Review

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon, 55.1% abv (110.2 Proof), $65-70/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Copper

Nose: Vanilla, Confectionary like a candy or fudge shop, sweet spices, and candied golden fruits (pineapple, apricots). Oak is present on the nose but not overpowering at all.

Palate: An eruption of sweet spices, black pepper, mint, rye grain, and alcohol heat. Then waves of red berry fruit, bitter orange rind and char. The sweetness is ever present throughout the sip with loads of burned caramel, vanilla, and rock candy. Not cloying in the least. The oak really asserts itself at the back of the palate.

Finish: Long and lingering with sweet spices, barrel char, and those confection sweet notes.

Overall: A superb bourbon that is well structured and balanced to the hilt. I love love love that it’s also at barrel proof which really helps to elevate those flavors. As with many Four Roses Bourbons, this one has those fantastic fruity and spicy flavors that is a hallmark for the distillery. While this sucker is expensive, I do highly recommend it. But I will say that this price underscores just what a fantastic value the Single Barrel is.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.2 (Superb/Outstanding)

High West Showdown: High West Double Rye! & 12 Year Old Rye

High West Double Rye!, 46% abv (92 Proof), $35/bottle
This is an advance tasting of High West Double Rye!, a new product release for High West slated to hit the market within the next month. I’m very excited to be one of the first to publicly review and rate this whiskey. It turned out to be an excellent one indeed. Double Rye! is a blend of a 16 year old 53% Rye Whiskey (37% corn, 10% Barley Malt) and a 2 year old Rye Whiskey (95% rye).

Color: Pure Gold
Nose: Gin Botanicals, Juniper, Pine Sap, Evergreen, Eucalyptus, Menthol, Mint, Fresh herbs, Honey. Green and fresh with a lurking sweetness and oak character. Truly unique!
Flavor: Immediate rye punch of prickly spices, then Gin, menthol, mint, eucalyptus, wildflower honey, and confectioners sugar flavors abound. Those fantastic fresh notes the nose hinted at are present, but with a really pronounced spiced honey flavor that pieces everything together.
Finish: Long and lingering with honeyed sweetness and warm, prickly rye spice.
Overall: Simply put, one of THE most unique whiskeys I’ve ever tried. The nose is unlike anything I’ve sniffed. Truly it smells of gin and evergreen. These young, fresh flavors I assume come predominantly from the 2 year old rye, while the older 16 year old adds its subtle sweetness and depth as you sip. On the palate the gin-like flavors remain but are softened and rounded by the honey notes. If you enjoy Rye or want to try a really different product than what’s available on the market – Double Rye! fits that bill well. It should be coming your way soon.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Superb/Outstanding)


High West 12 year old Rye, 46% abv (92 Proof), $49/375ML bottle
High West sells this big ole rye whiskey directly from their Saloon and Distillery in Park City, UT. I believe they have somewhere around a half dozen barrels, so not quite enough to get it out to the masses, but worth a drop by to pick up if you are in the area. David Perkins has done a great job sourcing some of the best rye whiskey made. This one I feel is his very best.

Color: Deep Amber
Nose: Rich and deep at first, then yielding intense rye spice, caramel, honey, mint, anise/licorice, and Juicy Fruit gum. A “wow” rye nose.
Flavor: Caramel and honey entry then yielding to rye heat, clove, nutmeg, chili, and well integrated toasted oak. As the nose hinted, this one is big and rich. An almost bourbon drinker’s Rye. Thick and viscous in mouth feel – delicious!
Finish: Long, Intense, your whole tongue tingles with spice and warmth. Dry oak and rye is interplayed nicely with honey and caramel flavors.
Overall: One of the finest Rye whiskeys I have had in some time. Deep and rich with incredible rye intensity, well balanced sweetness, and oak. I mentioned almost a “bourbon drinker’s rye”. Clearly this is an unmistakable rye whiskey, but it carries a richness with it that few ryes can match. It gets our top marks for the year in the Rye category so far. That is saying a lot because I felt Whistlepig might be my favorite straight rye of the year. This one tops it. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.5 (Superb/Outstanding)

High West Distillery and Saloon
703 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060

Note: Samples were provided by High West

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, 50% abv (100 Proof), $32/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Gold

Nose: Mint, anise, coconut, spiced honey, vanilla, chili, red berry fruits, cigar box, and cedar.

Palate: Nicely structured and almost tight (in a good way). Mint, clove, nutmeg, licorice, barrel char, and eucalyptus are all wrapped around a sweet core of crushed pineapple, red berries, honey, and vanilla fudge. This nice core of sweetness anchors the spice notes well. Elegant, full of finesse, and clearly well crafted.

Finish: Long and lingering mint, nutmeg, clove, fruitiness, honey, and dry oak. Very vibrant!

Overall:I have such admiration for Jim Rutledge and Four Roses. They make elegant, sophisticated bourbons that are so well balanced. The Single Barrel is one of my favorites out there. For the money it provides extremely good value. It’s a truly unique whiskey that begs to be drunk neat and savored slowly so you can appreciate all the nuances it brings to the party. Highly recommended!

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Superb/Outstanding)

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Woodford Reserve, 45.2% abv (90.4 Proof), $30/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Copper

Nose: Wonderfully comforting with butterscotch, toffee, crisp green apple, Christmas mulling spices, lightly dry oak, and barrel. Sweet, rich nuances with bracing freshness.

Palate: Old fashioned butterscotch candy, maplye syrup, buttery popcorn, toasted oak, cinnamon, flinty minerality, and fresh, crisp green apples.

Finish: Moderate length, cinnamon, apple cider, and some bitter oak tannins remain.

Overall: The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I expected it would be considering it’s partially copper pot distilled. Perhaps a higher proof might help that and thus would carry the flavors and drill them home a bit more forcefully. I think with a little more texture, this bourbon would be elevated nicely. But even still, this whiskey has some wonderfully comforting flavors and aromas. I love the really intense butterscotch flavors – perhaps the most pronounced I’ve had with a bourbon. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.5 (Very Good/Excellent)

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon Review (90 Proof)

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon, 45% abv (90 Proof), $35/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Gold

Nose: Ripe banana, vanilla, toffee, rum, dried dark fruits, backed with reasonably significant toasted oak aromas.

Palate: Again, a solid oak backbone presents itself. Big, rich mouth feel reveals toffee, vanilla, sweetened coffee, roasted nuts, and burned sugar/caramel. Sweet, rich, and everything a “wheater” should be.

Finish: Excellent length in comparison to other wheated whiskeys in the 10 year and under range. Burned sugar, toast, cinnamon, and barrel flavors remain.

Overall: ORVW 10 is a wheated recipe, a little brother to Pappy Van Winkle 15. Essentially the same recipe just 5 years junior. For those that cannot get a hold of Pappy 15, give this one a try! It’s an outstanding whiskey, and one of the richest wheated bourbons under 12 years I’ve had. The 107 proof packs more whallop, but this 90 proof offering is no slouch. I highly recommend it.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.8 (Superb/Outstanding)