Monthly Archives: September 2011

Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey Review (Barrel Strength)

This is a quick review that I was spurred to write after tasting a sample of Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirit Virginia Whiskey. Whew, that’s a doozy of a name, but in short this is a rye whiskey first distilled by Buffalo Trace before being re-distilled at the A. Smith Bowman distillery in Virginia. This particular one was a single barrel bottled for The Party Source, a wine and spirits store in Kentucky. It was distilled on March 14, 2001 and bottled on February 1, 2011. This is from Barrel #1 and it’s a whopping 68.2 abv or 136.4 proof.

Think of this one as a nearly 4 year older (10-ish years vs. 6 years) version of Buffalo Trace’s other cask strength rye – Thomas H. Handy Rye Whiskey. While I’ve not done a review of Handy, I feel it and the George T. Stagg from the 2010 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) were the 2 stars of last years BTAC releases.

This is the first I’ve been able to get a hold of this whiskey. However, thanks to Steve Ury, otherwise known as Sku, from Sku’s Recent Eats, I was able to try a sample. Steve is a gem of a guy, one of the best whiskey writers on the internet and has one of the more entertaining blogs as well. Check out his site when you can.

Enough blabbering, let’s get into this review…..

Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey, 68.2% abv (136.4 Proof), $70
What a massive pour of whiskey. Abraham Bowman Rye is mahogany hued and drinks just like it looks – intense. The nose blasts you with rye grain and spice, is calmed ever so slightly with toffee and brown sugar syrup, then fistfulls of mint, licorice, and Kirsch. The palate is just enormous (there’s a theme here and it’s big!) with an oily texture that coats anything it comes in contact with. However, even at 136 proof, this is not too hot to sip neat if you take it slow. Syrupy toffee sauce, black pepper, mint, eucalyptus, menthol, and cherry cough syrup are delivered in layers on the palate. The finish is long and lingers for days with cherry, cola, peppery spice, and a gentle bitter quality that is a welcomed respite from the intense flavors that preceded it. Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey is an absolute stunner and a must try for those that love big barrel proof whiskeys.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (9.5 Superb/Outstanding)

Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon Review

Well known for their 101 proof bourbon (SMM rating: 9.0), the folks from Wild Turkey apparently wanted to confuse the hell out consumers even further with another 80-something proof bourbon in their namesake whiskey lineup. Let’s try to get this straightened out. The Wild Turkey Bourbon line has the classic 101. They also have an 80 proof. Did the new Wild Turkey 81 take the place of the 80? Not exactly.

The 80 proof whiskey still exists. The 81 proof bourbon came about because Wild Turkey wanted to offer consumers a bolder, spicier bourbon than the 80 proof, yet one that was not quite as full flavored as the 101. Like Goldilocks it appears they were going for “just right”. In order to accomplish this, 81 is made from barrels between 6-8 years old that have a bolder flavor profile than the original 80.

How does Wild Turkey 81 fare?

Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon, 40.5% abv (81 Proof), $18
Wild Turkey 81 has a very straightforward and familiar nose at first. Flavors of caramel and vanilla intermingle with fragrant corn. There’s a good punch of cinnamon red hot candy that livens up the experience. On the palate this whiskey shines a bit brighter. It is only moderately sweet with a solid balance of oak and spice character. Light caramel hits first at the front of the mouth before drying quickly. Cinnamon spice takes over from mid palate on through to a dry, clean finish that’s fairly lively with some heat, toasted oak, vanilla, and strong black tea. This is not overly complex stuff, but honest and straight forward with its delivery.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.0 Very Good/Excellent)

Frankly, in my opinion this release probably comes off as sort of unnecessary to some. Please don’t mistake me. It’s quite good. Considering the price it’s a great value and something you can reach for when mixing drinks or neat sipping. Does it accomplish Wild Turkey’s goal? Yes it does. That said, I’m afraid they may have muddied their Wild Turkey Bourbon line a little bit in the process. However, if you are a WT fan and want something with a little more oomph in the 80 proof range – this is a good place to start.