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On 5/20/2021 at 3:43 PM, k-train said:

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series FAE-01
Parent Company/Distillery: Beam Suntory/Maker’s Mark
Proof: 110.3 (55.15% ABV)
Age: NAS
Price: $59.95

MEDVON_o.jpg
After missing out on the previous limited edition releases of this series, RC6 (2019) & SE4 X PR5 (2020), I was worried the same would be the case with this 2021. At the time it started hitting shelves here in NC, my bourbon buying budget was completely dried up due to some sudden, immediately necessary home repairs & lumber being at a ridiculously high price right now. I was thankfully able to get this bottle as a result of an incredibly awesome, and much appreciated gesture by a fellow bourbon aficionado who was kind enough to pick one up for me & let me reimburse them once my finances were back on track. I’m super grateful & so psyched to have gotten a chance to try this one!

Nose: Very unique from any Maker’s release I’ve personally experienced,  with less emphasis on sweetness, and more focus on darker, dense notes of oak & tobacco  There’s a decent amount of cherry up front with some vanilla undertones, as well as light baking spice & a tiny touch of cocoa. I also get a touch of the breadiness I often find with wheaters; which comes off like biscotti in this case. There’s enough ethanol present that you don’t necessarily want to take a big which with your nose jammed in the glass, but it settles down a good bit with time in the glass to open up. All in all, the oak-heavy nature of this makes me imagine what it’s like standing in the middle of an old rickhouse packed with aging spirit soaking into the wooden barrels for years. It’s not most inviting, nor is it particularly complex, but it’s a refreshing break from the nose typically found on Maker’s releases.

Palate: The cherry & vanilla found on the nose mix with dark burnt sugar  caramel to provide a slightly sweet base, somewhat reminiscent of Cherry Coke. By the mid-palate, this begins to give way to robust oak which does everything it can to steal the show. Peppery spice ramps up as it heads toward the finish, but stay at a nice level. The mouthfeel on this is very nice, kind of buttery/creamy/oily & very full; coating the entire palate & providing a thoroughly easy & enjoyable drinking experience.

Finish: Black pepper & clove make their presence known. There is a wonderful balance between the semi-sweet caramel, the rich oak & tobacco, and the spiciness. The finish is somewhat dry, and medium-long in length with a slightly bitter lingering aftertaste, most likely due to the heavy amount of oak found throughout. Initially, I picked up a decent ‘hug’ when tasting this, but noticed it seemed much less pronounced on subsequent tastings.

Overall: While I am generally digging this, like a lot it has to offer, and appreciate the uniqueness of this sort of profile on a Maker’s release, I’m just not sure I’m really in love with it. There are definitely days when it seems much better to me than others. But more often than not, it just comes off a touch too heavy on the oakiness for my own preference. Despite the fact this is a wheater, this profile brings to mind things that make me wonder what a less-balanced ECBP that’s missing it’s usual zing, fruitiness, and long finish would be like. At the same time, it also makes me wonder about what a moderately enhanced version of an exceptionally good Elijah Craig Small Batch pick would be like.

Score: 7.5/10

I finally came across a bottle of this bourbon at the store where I found the Knob Creek store barrel pick. They also had a bottle of the SE4 X PR5 (2020). I was tempted to get the 2020 version, but held off after seeing it priced at $120. :o

Maybe at Christmas.....

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3 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

I finally came across a bottle of this bourbon at the store where I found the Knob Creek store barrel pick. They also had a bottle of the SE4 X PR5 (2020). I was tempted to get the 2020 version, but held off after seeing it priced at $120. :o

Maybe at Christmas.....

I think you made the right choice in passing on it for that price. Would not personally go over $70 for either version.

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15 hours ago, k-train said:

I think you made the right choice in passing on it for that price. Would not personally go over $70 for either version.

Yeah, before I shell out a hundred bucks for a bourbon I’m gonna know it’s a d@mn good bourbon. 
 

I did pick up a bottle of MMCS 20-04 and McKenna’s BiB. They had a limit of one bottle on the McKenna’s. The owner said that his distributor was trying to get him to buy more of the regular McKenna’s by saying he could get him more of the BiB if he bought extra cases of the regular. He said “Nah” cause the regular wasn’t nearly as good as the BiB. I’m not sure if this an honest shortage of BiB or a manufactured one. Just letting you know what I heard and curious if it’s the same in NC. 

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On 8/14/2021 at 12:22 PM, Goober Pyle said:

Yeah, before I shell out a hundred bucks for a bourbon I’m gonna know it’s a d@mn good bourbon. 
 

I did pick up a bottle of MMCS 20-04 and McKenna’s BiB. They had a limit of one bottle on the McKenna’s. The owner said that his distributor was trying to get him to buy more of the regular McKenna’s by saying he could get him more of the BiB if he bought extra cases of the regular. He said “Nah” cause the regular wasn’t nearly as good as the BiB. I’m not sure if this an honest shortage of BiB or a manufactured one. Just letting you know what I heard and curious if it’s the same in NC. 

Buckle up, this is gonna be a loooooong one. I apologize ahead of time.

Distributors do that sort of thing all the time... especially when they are dealing with independent stores. An extremely common example: If a store wants to better their chances of getting the BTAC stuff, Eagle Rare, Blanton's, etc., they are regularly at the mercy of the distributor who carries everything under the Buffalo Trace umbrella. They will quite often make the store carry a ton of their cheap vodka (which is branded as Wheatley Vodka), and may also ask/require the store to regularly feature the Wheatley on a display near the register area/front of the store. Big time "scratch my back, and there's a slim chance I might scratch yours" sort of crap.

Next time you're out & about, look at the displays at different stores. Also look at the amounts of certain cheap liquors they have compared to other cheap brands. Those are all good indications of what favors a distributor has asked of a vendor.

Now as for how it all works in a control state like NC...

The hierarchy is much different here than it is for an independent store who is dealing with the distributors directly. Here, it breaks down like this:

NC ABC Commission
This is the overarching alcohol board for the entire state. They have their own buyers who are responsible for dealing with the distributors, and they are the ones doing the purchasing of every drop of liquor to be legally sold in the state. They order from the distributors, and as stuff comes in it is stored in one of two massive warehouses in the center of the state. Those warehouses are owned & operated by an independent company who has a 20 year contract with the state. From the warehouses, cases are then delivered to the individual ABC boards across the state.

County ABC Boards
Each of the 100 counties in the state has its own ABC board. Each of those ABC boards has its own GM, buyer, warehouse, etc. The county buyer orders from the state ABC commission. For rare items, it gets tricky. Many times, the county buyers will have to put in a request for something. So, if you happen to live in a county where that buyer isn't on it & making request as soon as allocated items arrive in the state warehouse inventory, the stores in your county are less likely to get good stuff. I believe there are other factors as well in deciding what goes to which county, but it gets kinda fuzzy on how many other factors influence those decisions from the state level. At any rate, items are sent from the state warehouse to the county warehouses, and from there, they are distributed to the individual stores within that county.

ABC Stores
Within each county are ABC Stores which operate directly under that specific county's ABC Board. These stores each have their own managers & staff who report to their county's ABC Board. How those stores get stocked is almost entirely dependent on that county's buyer & what they think fits the demands of the general demographic of the area in which that specific store is located, sales trends, etc.

Pricing is the same in every single store in the state, no matter what county. So for example, if you see a bottle of RR13 in Raleigh, it'll be the exact same price if you see it at a store somewhere in the sticks outside of Asheville, or along the beach at the Outer Banks.

Sales are also statewide. Each month, the state ABC commission has a list of items available for that entire month at a reduced cost. So again, if you see OGD BIB on sale in August for $20 in Raleigh, it'll also be that price for all of August in every single store in the state.


So because the buyer/distributor negotiations take place at the state level (and on such a massive scale), it's nearly impossible to know just how much of the same sort of bargaining for rare items goes on compared to independent stores.

Specific to McKenna 10Y BiB, it went from always being on the shelf & constantly on sale to literally being almost impossible to find for the past 3-4 years. In the rare times it did show up at a random store here, it was a "1 per customer" item that was usually gone within a very, very, very short time of it hitting the shelves. The price has steadily increased from about $25 or $30 to its current price of $55. Interestingly, over the past few months it seems to be everywhere all of the sudden.

This is just a theory, but perhaps Heaven Hill did not foresee the surge in popularity this particular expression would gain in 2017. After all, it had previously been one that just sat on shelves, constantly marked down in order to try to increase sales. When it suddenly & surprisingly won Whiskey of the Year at the SF Sprit Awards, that skyrocketed its popularity. When it did well again the following year AND as bourbon popularity in general began to really increase, it sent it into the stratosphere.

Keep in mind that this is not only a 10Y age stated product, but it's also bottled in bond. This means they couldn't just crank out more to meet the suddenly huge demand without losing both the age statement and bonded designation. That would essentially make it something completely different than the bourbon which won the accolades, and thus wasn't really an option for Heaven Hill. They simply had to start making more of it at that point in the hopes it would catch up to meet demand in a few years... which is a point we may have started to reach.

I feel like given the current surge in availability, it has to be a sign that they must've finally started being able to produce enough to meet those demands. In 2018, Heaven Hill mysteriously discontinued their beloved, incredibly affordable 6Y BIB (the expression which carried the distillery's name for 78 years & was only available in Kentucky). They did release a 7Y BiB not long after that with wider distribution & a significant price increase. However, I wonder if they used a bunch of the stocks for that old 6Y BiB toward creating enough McKenna 10Y to meet the demand... and thus the real reason to discontinue the 6Y expression. For the 6Y stocks that were ready to go, they simply aged them one more year, redesigned the label, expanded the distribution to several states rather than just Kentucky, raised the MSRP from $12 to $40, and rolled that out as a new product in 2019... Heaven Hill 7Y BiB.

Again, that's just a theory on my part, but IMO it actually makes a ton of sense & could explain why more McKenna 10Y is suddenly available just 4 years after it became scarce. Had they just started making more McKenna 10Y in 2017 when it gained massive appeal, we wouldn't be seeing it until 2017 or later, due to the 10 year age statement. They couldn't just use other bourbon sitting around since it's a bottled-in-bond expression... but they could just age already existing BiB stocks a little longer & call them McKenna 10Y. That would also potentially explain a lot of the pretty large inconsistencies from bottle to bottle people who've tried several different bottles of McKenna 10Y report with this expression over the last few years.

So while there was a very real shortage of McKenna 10Y BiB for a bit, I'm not so sure that's still the case today.

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ME2WC16_o.jpg
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Private Selection Showdown
ME2WCLN_o.jpg

1.5oz from each of these Russell’s Single Barrel Private Selections was poured into a Glencairn glass by my wife while I was in another room, so that I would not know what was in each of the glasses. They were allowed to rest for approximately 10-15 minutes before nosing/tasting. After nosing them all, I very casually speculated on what I thought was in each glass. Then I tasted them in order (A>B>C) with sips of water between each sample. After a short break, I tasted again in the opposite order (C>B>A). I then did a round of 1vs1 comparisons (A vs. B, A vs. C, B vs. C, etc.) before finally ranking them & adding my thoughts on which was which.

The contenders:

Barrel #20-0908
Selected by Stateline Elite (Fort Mill, SC)
Warehouse: S
Floor: 5
Age: 8Y 8M

Barrel #21-544
Selected by Eddie Russell for NC (Chatham Co. ABC)
Warehouse: F
Floor: 4
Age: 8Y 4M

Barrel #20-0215
Selected by Eddie Russell for NC (Orange Co. ABC)
Warehouse: G
Floor: 4
Age: 8Y 8M


Glass A
Nose: Cinnamon sugar pastry & sweet oak are the dominant notes on this one. It got much better on the second pass through, with more time to open up. Not as vibrant as the other two glasses, but probably the closest to a typical bourbon profile.

Palate: Sweet caramel & bright spice notes from the start. Seems to have a bit more oak than glass B or C. Mouthfeel is a heavier medium.

Finish: Nice & long with cinnamon, black pepper, oak, and caramel. This has the punchiest finish of the three by far.

Overall: This is solid, and features a pretty well-balanced standard profile overall. Compared to the other two glasses though, this lacks character. Not really sure which this is, but initial speculation would be either of the NC picks. On the nose, I thought Chatham Co., but after tasting them, I’m not as sure.


Glass B
Nose: Some fruitiness emerges on this one which comes off like candied orange slices. It’s brighter & more inviting than glass A, and offers up a bit more of that Wild Turkey funk than C.

Palate: Sweet, buttery caramel & an equally buttery mouthfeel, along with notes of maple syrup with a touch of nutmeg, makes this taste like a stack of warm pancakes. There are also notes of oak & toasted nuts here.

Finish: Deceptively long, relying more on darker notes of oak & leather to carry it rather than spice. However, the spiciness came through a lot more on the second pass.

Overall: This one seems to have a bit more complexity than Glass A & a profile that’s closer to what I get from Glass C. On the nose, I initially suspected this to be the Orange Co. pick. However, I got a lot of French toast notes during a recent tasting of the Chatham Co. pick, so that pancake thing I’m picking up here has me thinking it’s probably the Chatham Co. pick.

Glass C
Nose: Similar to Glass B but turned up a notch. This has a rich, creamy vanilla note that absolutely rules! There’s a nice bit of caramel going on, along with a pecan nuttiness, and some pie crust.

Palate: This tastes just like it smells… like a slice of bourbon pecan pie. It is heavenly! Caramel, vanilla, baking spices, pralines, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. come together to make this easily the most delicious & inviting palate of the bunch. Also features an excellent, velvety, creamy mouthfeel.

Finish: Very pleasant and closer to the subtleness of Glass B than the abruptness of Glass A. It kinda feels like the finish is short until you examine closer & realize that sweet vanilla/caramel notes have combined with baking spices & cinnamon to gently carry it for well beyond what seems expected at first.

Overall: This is so incredibly inviting & easy/enjoyable to drink. I remember the Stateline Elite pick having a big time pecan pie vibe, so my guess is that is what’s in this glass.

Scoring: (0-5 for nose, palate, finish; then added to calculate final score)
Glass A
nose 3
palate 4
finish 4
total score 11

Glass B
nose 4
palate 5
finish 3
total score 12

Glass C
nose 5
palate 5
finish 4
total score 14

Winner: Glass C

Reveal
Glass A: Barrel #21-544 (Chatham Co. NC ABC)
Glass B: Barrel #20-0215 (Orange Co. NC ABC)
Glass C: Barrel #20-0908 (Stateline Elite - Fort Mill, SC)

Final thoughts: While Glass C stood out to me by a somewhat considerable margin, trying to figure out how to rank the other two was tricky. It took a ton of back & forth between Glass A & Glass B before I could come up with my final ranking. Honestly though, the real winner here is me, because I got to sip on three Russell’s picks.

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On 8/15/2021 at 1:06 PM, k-train said:

Buckle up, this is gonna be a loooooong one. I apologize ahead of time.

Distributors do that sort of thing all the time... especially when they are dealing with independent stores. An extremely common example: If a store wants to better their chances of getting the BTAC stuff, Eagle Rare, Blanton's, etc., they are regularly at the mercy of the distributor who carries everything under the Buffalo Trace umbrella. They will quite often make the store carry a ton of their cheap vodka (which is branded as Wheatley Vodka), and may also ask/require the store to regularly feature the Wheatley on a display near the register area/front of the store. Big time "scratch my back, and there's a slim chance I might scratch yours" sort of crap.

Next time you're out & about, look at the displays at different stores. Also look at the amounts of certain cheap liquors they have compared to other cheap brands. Those are all good indications of what favors a distributor has asked of a vendor.

Now as for how it all works in a control state like NC...

The hierarchy is much different here than it is for an independent store who is dealing with the distributors directly. Here, it breaks down like this:

NC ABC Commission
This is the overarching alcohol board for the entire state. They have their own buyers who are responsible for dealing with the distributors, and they are the ones doing the purchasing of every drop of liquor to be legally sold in the state. They order from the distributors, and as stuff comes in it is stored in one of two massive warehouses in the center of the state. Those warehouses are owned & operated by an independent company who has a 20 year contract with the state. From the warehouses, cases are then delivered to the individual ABC boards across the state.

County ABC Boards
Each of the 100 counties in the state has its own ABC board. Each of those ABC boards has its own GM, buyer, warehouse, etc. The county buyer orders from the state ABC commission. For rare items, it gets tricky. Many times, the county buyers will have to put in a request for something. So, if you happen to live in a county where that buyer isn't on it & making request as soon as allocated items arrive in the state warehouse inventory, the stores in your county are less likely to get good stuff. I believe there are other factors as well in deciding what goes to which county, but it gets kinda fuzzy on how many other factors influence those decisions from the state level. At any rate, items are sent from the state warehouse to the county warehouses, and from there, they are distributed to the individual stores within that county.

ABC Stores
Within each county are ABC Stores which operate directly under that specific county's ABC Board. These stores each have their own managers & staff who report to their county's ABC Board. How those stores get stocked is almost entirely dependent on that county's buyer & what they think fits the demands of the general demographic of the area in which that specific store is located, sales trends, etc.

Pricing is the same in every single store in the state, no matter what county. So for example, if you see a bottle of RR13 in Raleigh, it'll be the exact same price if you see it at a store somewhere in the sticks outside of Asheville, or along the beach at the Outer Banks.

Sales are also statewide. Each month, the state ABC commission has a list of items available for that entire month at a reduced cost. So again, if you see OGD BIB on sale in August for $20 in Raleigh, it'll also be that price for all of August in every single store in the state.


So because the buyer/distributor negotiations take place at the state level (and on such a massive scale), it's nearly impossible to know just how much of the same sort of bargaining for rare items goes on compared to independent stores.

Specific to McKenna 10Y BiB, it went from always being on the shelf & constantly on sale to literally being almost impossible to find for the past 3-4 years. In the rare times it did show up at a random store here, it was a "1 per customer" item that was usually gone within a very, very, very short time of it hitting the shelves. The price has steadily increased from about $25 or $30 to its current price of $55. Interestingly, over the past few months it seems to be everywhere all of the sudden.

This is just a theory, but perhaps Heaven Hill did not foresee the surge in popularity this particular expression would gain in 2017. After all, it had previously been one that just sat on shelves, constantly marked down in order to try to increase sales. When it suddenly & surprisingly won Whiskey of the Year at the SF Sprit Awards, that skyrocketed its popularity. When it did well again the following year AND as bourbon popularity in general began to really increase, it sent it into the stratosphere.

Keep in mind that this is not only a 10Y age stated product, but it's also bottled in bond. This means they couldn't just crank out more to meet the suddenly huge demand without losing both the age statement and bonded designation. That would essentially make it something completely different than the bourbon which won the accolades, and thus wasn't really an option for Heaven Hill. They simply had to start making more of it at that point in the hopes it would catch up to meet demand in a few years... which is a point we may have started to reach.

I feel like given the current surge in availability, it has to be a sign that they must've finally started being able to produce enough to meet those demands. In 2018, Heaven Hill mysteriously discontinued their beloved, incredibly affordable 6Y BIB (the expression which carried the distillery's name for 78 years & was only available in Kentucky). They did release a 7Y BiB not long after that with wider distribution & a significant price increase. However, I wonder if they used a bunch of the stocks for that old 6Y BiB toward creating enough McKenna 10Y to meet the demand... and thus the real reason to discontinue the 6Y expression. For the 6Y stocks that were ready to go, they simply aged them one more year, redesigned the label, expanded the distribution to several states rather than just Kentucky, raised the MSRP from $12 to $40, and rolled that out as a new product in 2019... Heaven Hill 7Y BiB.

Again, that's just a theory on my part, but IMO it actually makes a ton of sense & could explain why more McKenna 10Y is suddenly available just 4 years after it became scarce. Had they just started making more McKenna 10Y in 2017 when it gained massive appeal, we wouldn't be seeing it until 2017 or later, due to the 10 year age statement. They couldn't just use other bourbon sitting around since it's a bottled-in-bond expression... but they could just age already existing BiB stocks a little longer & call them McKenna 10Y. That would also potentially explain a lot of the pretty large inconsistencies from bottle to bottle people who've tried several different bottles of McKenna 10Y report with this expression over the last few years.

So while there was a very real shortage of McKenna 10Y BiB for a bit, I'm not so sure that's still the case today.

Thanks for this breakdown. Always learn something from you my friend. 

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On 8/16/2021 at 3:29 PM, k-train said:

ME2WC16_o.jpg
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Private Selection Showdown
ME2WCLN_o.jpg

1.5oz from each of these Russell’s Single Barrel Private Selections was poured into a Glencairn glass by my wife while I was in another room, so that I would not know what was in each of the glasses. They were allowed to rest for approximately 10-15 minutes before nosing/tasting. After nosing them all, I very casually speculated on what I thought was in each glass. Then I tasted them in order (A>B>C) with sips of water between each sample. After a short break, I tasted again in the opposite order (C>B>A). I then did a round of 1vs1 comparisons (A vs. B, A vs. C, B vs. C, etc.) before finally ranking them & adding my thoughts on which was which.

The contenders:

Barrel #20-0908
Selected by Stateline Elite (Fort Mill, SC)
Warehouse: S
Floor: 5
Age: 8Y 8M

Barrel #21-544
Selected by Eddie Russell for NC (Chatham Co. ABC)
Warehouse: F
Floor: 4
Age: 8Y 4M

Barrel #20-0215
Selected by Eddie Russell for NC (Orange Co. ABC)
Warehouse: G
Floor: 4
Age: 8Y 8M


Glass A
Nose: Cinnamon sugar pastry & sweet oak are the dominant notes on this one. It got much better on the second pass through, with more time to open up. Not as vibrant as the other two glasses, but probably the closest to a typical bourbon profile.

Palate: Sweet caramel & bright spice notes from the start. Seems to have a bit more oak than glass B or C. Mouthfeel is a heavier medium.

Finish: Nice & long with cinnamon, black pepper, oak, and caramel. This has the punchiest finish of the three by far.

Overall: This is solid, and features a pretty well-balanced standard profile overall. Compared to the other two glasses though, this lacks character. Not really sure which this is, but initial speculation would be either of the NC picks. On the nose, I thought Chatham Co., but after tasting them, I’m not as sure.


Glass B
Nose: Some fruitiness emerges on this one which comes off like candied orange slices. It’s brighter & more inviting than glass A, and offers up a bit more of that Wild Turkey funk than C.

Palate: Sweet, buttery caramel & an equally buttery mouthfeel, along with notes of maple syrup with a touch of nutmeg, makes this taste like a stack of warm pancakes. There are also notes of oak & toasted nuts here.

Finish: Deceptively long, relying more on darker notes of oak & leather to carry it rather than spice. However, the spiciness came through a lot more on the second pass.

Overall: This one seems to have a bit more complexity than Glass A & a profile that’s closer to what I get from Glass C. On the nose, I initially suspected this to be the Orange Co. pick. However, I got a lot of French toast notes during a recent tasting of the Chatham Co. pick, so that pancake thing I’m picking up here has me thinking it’s probably the Chatham Co. pick.

Glass C
Nose: Similar to Glass B but turned up a notch. This has a rich, creamy vanilla note that absolutely rules! There’s a nice bit of caramel going on, along with a pecan nuttiness, and some pie crust.

Palate: This tastes just like it smells… like a slice of bourbon pecan pie. It is heavenly! Caramel, vanilla, baking spices, pralines, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. come together to make this easily the most delicious & inviting palate of the bunch. Also features an excellent, velvety, creamy mouthfeel.

Finish: Very pleasant and closer to the subtleness of Glass B than the abruptness of Glass A. It kinda feels like the finish is short until you examine closer & realize that sweet vanilla/caramel notes have combined with baking spices & cinnamon to gently carry it for well beyond what seems expected at first.

Overall: This is so incredibly inviting & easy/enjoyable to drink. I remember the Stateline Elite pick having a big time pecan pie vibe, so my guess is that is what’s in this glass.

Scoring: (0-5 for nose, palate, finish; then added to calculate final score)
Glass A
nose 3
palate 4
finish 4
total score 11

Glass B
nose 4
palate 5
finish 3
total score 12

Glass C
nose 5
palate 5
finish 4
total score 14

Winner: Glass C

Reveal
Glass A: Barrel #21-544 (Chatham Co. NC ABC)
Glass B: Barrel #20-0215 (Orange Co. NC ABC)
Glass 😄 Barrel #20-0908 (Stateline Elite - Fort Mill, SC)

Final thoughts: While Glass C stood out to me by a somewhat considerable margin, trying to figure out how to rank the other two was tricky. It took a ton of back & forth between Glass A & Glass B before I could come up with my final ranking. Honestly though, the real winner here is me, because I got to sip on three Russell’s picks.

While I’ve yet to see a Russell’s Private Selection in my area, I do keep my eyes open. This does make me want to pick up a bottle of the RRSiB again. Great post bud! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got back to work… turned into more like 5 weeks unpaid rather than the 4 weeks it was supposed to be 😡… so things are still kinda tight financially for another few weeks. I was however able to pick up a few budget bottles I’ve been meaning to try for a while now & will post reviews once I’ve had a chance to taste each a few times.

So far, I get the feeling that one is pretty solid while the other one is a bust.

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15 hours ago, VTCrunkler said:

Just had Jefferson. Can’t say I’m a fan. It’s too smooth and doesn’t have a lot of flavor. I want to know I’m drinking bourbon 🥃

I tried a Jefferson’s single barrel release at a restaurant when it first started showing up here in NC a few years back. I had a similar experience to what you’re describing… fine, but mostly too boring/easy/forgettable. Once I found out about that whole “Aged at Sea” gimmicky thing they do, it completely turned me off to them. Too many good bourbons out there to justify spending $80+ on something like that.

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39 minutes ago, k-train said:

I tried a Jefferson’s single barrel release at a restaurant when it first started showing up here in NC a few years back. I had a similar experience to what you’re describing… fine, but mostly too boring/easy/forgettable. Once I found out about that whole “Aged at Sea” gimmicky thing they do, it completely turned me off to them. Too many good bourbons out there to justify spending $80+ on something like that.

Exactly. I just had the ‘very small batch’. It had no flavor. Again I want to feel the bite of the bourbon 🥃 

 

i also got Jameson and it was far superior 

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1 hour ago, k-train said:

I tried a Jefferson’s single barrel release at a restaurant when it first started showing up here in NC a few years back. I had a similar experience to what you’re describing… fine, but mostly too boring/easy/forgettable. Once I found out about that whole “Aged at Sea” gimmicky thing they do, it completely turned me off to them. Too many good bourbons out there to justify spending $80+ on something like that.

 

17 hours ago, VTCrunkler said:

Just had Jefferson. Can’t say I’m a fan. It’s too smooth and doesn’t have a lot of flavor. I want to know I’m drinking bourbon 🥃

I have a "cousin-in-law" that's a doctor who drinks the Ocean version and swears by it. Other than this, he's a pretty good dude. :D

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I have been meaning to post in this thread, but between work and stirring up **** with posting the Schultz' articles, I just haven't had the time.

I have really been enjoying the McKenna's BiB lately. I also picked up another bottle of OF1910. If you remember @k-train, the last bottle I bought was kind of a clunker.....I still drank the sucker. :D

This bottle is as good as the first one I had. Pure decadence! I have been staying in my lane and sticking with what I know that I like. I bought a bottle of RRSiB a few weeks ago that is half gone as well. 

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16 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

 

I have a "cousin-in-law" that's a doctor who drinks the Ocean version and swears by it. Other than this, he's a pretty good dude. :D

First Jefferson's I tasted was a store pick with a finish that tasted like a wet cigarette. Completely turned me off the brand for a while. I picked up one of the wheated Ocean voyages, and it's a keeper. Ridiculous price point for what it is, but a decent special occasion gift for a casual drinker. 

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Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch
Parent Company/Distillery: Heaven Hill/Heaven Hill
Proof: 90 (45% ABV)
Age: NAS (press release says it’s made from 6-8 year old barrels)
Price: $8.95 (375ml)
ME3IRER_o.jpg

Nose: Surprisingly pleasant & inviting, with notes of light vanilla cake & bright, sugary, fruity frosting at the forefront (think vanilla cupcake with strawberry icing). There is a creamy nature to this, which provides a gentle nose overall. Some caramel/toffee scents come on, along with toasted nuts, and a touch of nutmeg as it opens up in the glass. Not too much going on in the way of leather, oak, or peppery spice notes, but there is just enough to round things out. While this isn’t particularly complex on the nose, it is inviting enough simply by being simple. Being a 90 proof expression, there’s really no ethanol noticeable at all.

Palate: Buttery, semi-rich caramel leads the way, joined by vanilla frosting & crushed toasted walnuts. A touch of corn is noticeable, which works with the caramel flavor to remind me of those caramel popcorn balls I’d get at the fair as a child. On the back palate, baking spice & sugary cinnamon emerge along with faint hints of oak & tobacco, adding some dimension. Like the nose, this is lacking a little in terms of complexity, but what is here is very pleasant. The mouthfeel is on the cusp of being oily, but falls just a little short. It’s still rather buttery & provides a solid texture. Considering the price point of this expression, it’s punching above its weight class.

Finish: One the initial tasting, I got something that reminded me of these little gingersnap cookies with vanilla frosting that came in a bag my dad used to eat all the time when I was a kid. On the subsequent tastings, it leaned much more on a burnt brown sugar caramel notes that seemed to get darker as it went along, and eventually transformed into an oaky note. This lies over a backdrop of nutmeg, baking spice, and cinnamon which builds to a mild heat level… not enough to get very interesting, but enough to know it’s there. The overall experience of this finish is fine, but I do find it a bit short.

Overall: This expression got a makeover in May of 2021, which included a redesign of the bottle & label, a boost from 86 proof up to 90, and a designation as a small batch bourbon (press materials claim it is made in batches using 300 or less 6-8 year old barrels). I appreciated the previous version as a cheap mixer, and felt it was kind of overlooked & underrated for what it was. So, I was very interested to see what this new version had to offer. Unfortunately, the store I frequent isn’t stocking the 750ml bottles of the new version until they move out the remaining bottles of the older version. So I was forced to choose between the plastic 350ml bottle for $9, or the 1.75L for $30. I chose to go the safe route & grab the little bottle.

While there are certainly some areas where this could offer a bit more… overall complexity & length of the finish… it’s still very, very easy to drink & actually quite enjoyable when sipped neat. When you consider what this has to offer, and factor in the price tag & availability, it’s punching well above its weight class. The lack of complexity keeps this from being on par with some other 90 proof expressions like Russell’s Reserve 10Y & Eagle Rare which cost about twice as much. However, I think in a blind tasting, this would hold its own against things like Buffalo Trace, Bowman Brothers Small Batch, Four Roses Small Batch, etc.

I absolutely love this new version for times when I want something easy, and to warm up my palate before a tasting. Once, I can find a 750ml bottle, I’m sure it’s going to be one I keep on hand regularly.

Score: 6.5/10

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Old Tub
Parent Company/Distillery: Beam Suntory/Jim Beam
Proof: 100 (50% ABV)
Age: NAS (Bottled-in-Bond release, so it’s at least 4 years old)
Price: $24.95
ME3OJ8F_o.jpg

Nose: This gives off pretty typical notes of light caramel, vanilla, and oak, and is slightly sweet smelling in a way that is not unlike Stevia or Splenda. Fruity & yeasty notes combine to give me rhubarb pie vibes. In the shadows, some hay/grassy/vegetal notes emerge. There’s a bit of the nutty Beam funk showing up, but generally not enough to be off-putting. Although, there is also a bit of a cardboard/papery note here as well, and when that mixes with the yeasty/nutty funkiness, it can often stand out a bit too much, which throws the whole thing off the rails. On one of the later tastings however, the fruit/nut notes revealed themselves more in a way that resembled cashews & cherries in a yeasty, doughy pastry (like the bready part of a honey bun without the sugary glaze). Ethanol is a non-issue, and this really doesn’t come off like a 100-proof expression at all. While there are some things here which can be enjoyable (especially after the bottle has opened up a bit), it still feels clunky… like something that was throw together in a hurry, rather than thoughtfully put together.

Palate: This initially came off incredibly rough around the edges, tasting cheap, young, and having a super thin & watery mouthfeel. Sugary sweetness hits first, along with some black pepper. This is suddenly followed by a papery vanilla note, which seriously tastes like licking an envelope — specifically, the kind that came with a box of Valentine’s Day cards you’d give out to your classmates in elementary school, which had that faint hint of vanilla. There are some additional notes of artificial sweetener, powdered cinnamon, and raw nuts. Like the nose, it feels like a disjointed mess. Some nice, rich caramel shows up to try to right the ship… but unfortunately it gets chocked out by a bitter oak note on the back palate. Nothing seems to be working in conjunction here, and the result is a spiky, uninviting, unpleasant drinking experience.

Finish: This has a medium-length finish featuring dark caramel, damp raw peanut shells nuts, and a tannic bitterness. Peppery spice is met with cinnamon & quickly becomes the dominant flavor. Sadly, it’s not the sweet, toasted nut & cinnamon stick goodness like you get from Old Grand Dad Bonded, but rather a sharp & unpleasant burn without much flavor over a backdrop of bitter, soggy oak & wet cardboard. Again, more disjointed flavors. While the spice isn’t overly hot, it still seems really overbearing & just doesn’t play nice with the caramel/vanilla notes at all. It actually made me gag a bit during one tasting. To make matters worse, this leaves an aftertaste of rotting apples.

Overall: When Jim Beam rolled this out in 2020 as a limited edition release, I was genuinely intrigued. For whatever reason though, it was never one I pulled the trigger on buying until recently. Being a huge fan of another Jim Beam-produced bottled-in-bond bourbon at this price point (OGDBiB), I had hoped that there would be enough similarities that I’d find a nice alternative.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve had with a bourbon in quite some time.

I did more tastings with this prior to writing a review than I have for any other whiskey I’ve reviewed thus far. I was hoping that maybe it just needed more time to come together. While I can say that it was better once I had gotten to the most recent tasting & somehow forced myself through about a third of the bottle, it was still pretty bad overall. The nose got a lot better over time, the palate got just slightly better, and the finish stayed awful the whole time.

This is just incredibly rough tasting to me; coming much closer to drinking like Jim Beam 4Y white label than it does OGDBiB.

I’m not one to typically drink cocktails, but I did use this for a Boulevardier & found that application to be lightyears better than trying to drink this stuff neat. So having some usefulness as a mixer is about the only thing keeping this from being a drain pour for me.

Score: 3.5/10

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@k-train

I finally found a bottle of Bacoo rum. I bought the 5 year and paid $20 for it. First let me say, Oh My God! I’m not usually a rum drinker….I think this might convert me. That is, without a doubt, the best rum I have ever had. In fact, I poured a few fingers and drank it neat. The finish is just awesome, almost like butterscotch. Thanks for the heads up many pages back. 

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1 hour ago, Goober Pyle said:

@k-train

I finally found a bottle of Bacoo rum. I bought the 5 year and paid $20 for it. First let me say, Oh My God! I’m not usually a rum drinker….I think this might convert me. That is, without a doubt, the best rum I have ever had. In fact, I poured a few fingers and drank it neat. The finish is just awesome, almost like butterscotch. Thanks for the heads up many pages back. 

Glad you were able to find it & are enjoying it so far! I've been mainly getting the 8Y lately. It's only a few dollars more & IMO is a noticeable step up from the 5Y. If you see that one, I recommend giving it a try, too. I haven't tried the 12Y yet, but I'm sure it's probably pretty darn good as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Crazy to think the Heaven Hill workers strike is now in its fourth week & there seems to be no indication of a return to the bargaining table at the moment.

Clearly, the optics of Heaven Hill rolling out their highly anticipated & pricier allocated items right now (while their workers are asking to be paid in accordance to what workers earn at similar sized operations) isn’t a good look. So, all of their fall releases seem to be in limbo land until there is some sort of resolution.

 They typically list the specs for upcoming batches of ECBP & LBP on their site right before they get released. For the C921 batches, that should’ve taken place in the first week or two of Sept., but that’s about the same time the strike started… and here we are in Oct. now & still not even a listing of those batches on their respective sites, let alone any info about the batches.

I really hope this can end in a positive way & soon. Who knows, off out drags on long enough (hopefully not) they may end up dropping C921 & A122 at the same time.

EDIT: Looks like they did actually announce the new batches finally. Still no word on when they'll get released though. The ECBP C921 is clocking in at 120.2 proof... which makes it the second lowest proof for an ECBP release to date; just above B521 & a little below A121.

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