We hosted our first tasting Saturday May 30, and it was a huge success! We tried three Michter’s varieties: Bourbon, Rye, and Sour Mash. We invited some of our closest friends and had a blast.
The night began with some cocktails (recipes from some of our favorite bourbon chefs: Kathleen Purvis & Edward Lee). Purvis’ book Bourbon: a Savor the South Cookbook has some truly phenomenal recipes in it. The delicious Bourbon Slush was hit with the ladies. It’s basically frozen tea, lemonade, orange juice, and bourbon. Also, one of our favorite celebrity chefs, Edward Lee, has this great cookbook – Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen. He had one of the best Kentucky/Bourbon Mule recipes I’ve ever seen: the trick is to use ginger simple syrup. Those were a crowd pleaser. Another fun fact about Edward Lee: you might recognize him if you bought a bottle of Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration, as he was one of the chefs involved in that spectacular blend.
In keeping with the bourbon theme, we cooked recipes from both cookbooks: Bourbon Ginger Carrots and Bourbon Skirt Steak. We finished off our meal with a Bourbon Pound Cake – finger licking good! I think we all ate pretty well that night; we had six pounds of skirt steak and no leftovers!
This leads us to our awesome tastings. I will preface this with saying that Michter’s is one of my favorites. Yes there is a stigma amongst the bourbon community that if you don’t distill the juice yourself, you aren’t as worthy as someone who does. But…if you find something you like, great! Stick with it, who cares where it comes from? We decided to do a blind tasting of the three Michter’s offerings. (I hid my Toasted Barrel – no way was I sharing that!) The results were definitely mixed amongst our tasters. Everyone was divided among the three. The Rye was probably the least liked of the three, which isn’t surprising because I don’t think there are many rye drinkers in our group.
The Bourbon and Sour Mash were pretty much in a tie among our reviewers. Background on these: the sour mash is not a bourbon or a rye, with more of equal grains between corn and rye, aged around 6 years. The Bourbon is a normal corn heavy bourbon, aged 8 and ½ years or so. Some people thought the Sour Mash was incredibly smooth and had a great taste but lacked a strong finish. The bourbon however had a great finish and soothing aroma but was a bit too strong for our drinkers, they didn’t appreciate the burn. I think both whiskies are great in their own right. The night of the tasting I preferred the Sour Mash, but tonight sipping on the Bourbon, I appreciate the complexity of the flavor and think it’s a great choice.
The true consensus is that Michter’s makes some fine products and everyone liked them. I think everything really came together well that night, from the cocktails, to the food, to the awesome tastings.
I want to genuinely thank everyone for coming last weekend. I know there were a few people that are not the die-hard bourbon fans that Jacob and I are, but we appreciate you sticking with us. This is the first of many bourbon events that the Bourbon Society of Baton Rouge hosts. We will definitely have an event at the end of the month at one of our favorite bars in town.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight to what we are all about. The purpose of this society is to get together with friends and bourbon drinkers alike and just enjoy ourselves. We just truly enjoy bourbon and want to introduce as many people to this awesome liquid as possible. Please continue to invite your friends to join this society. We can’t wait to make some new friends at our first outing!
Today’s choice: Angel’s Envy Rye
THE RATING → 5 pours; move this to the top of your wish-list. Want to know why? Read on below …
Angel’s Envy Bourbon has become one of the most popular bourbons in the market (and for good reason). Lincoln Henderson found a superior product and finished it in port barrels to give it a truly delicious and unique flavor. The Rye is given another unique finish that separates it apart from an otherwise crowded Rye field.
Henderson found a 6 year rye from LDI distillery (now MGP of Indiana) and finished it in Plantation XO Caribbean Rum Casks for another 18 months. The rumor is that the Henderson’s tried close to 100 different rums to decide which cask to finish their rye in (what a lucky task indeed). The mashbill is pretty common for MGP at 95% Rye and 5% Barley. It is a small batch that consists of 8 to 12 barrels at a time. Also this is barreled at 50% ABV or 100 proof.
THE TASTING: We had this rye neat in rocks glasses. There are many aspects that set this rye apart from everything else on the market, starting with the smell. It is the epitome of aromatic intoxication. I cannot recall the last time I smelled a whiskey that made my mouth water like this did. We smelled ginger, citrus, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla. We took a sip and…wow, it did not disappoint. You can tell it’s a rye with the spiciness coming through but the rum cask perfectly mellows it out with a sugar and molasses taste. These two competing flavors perfectly come together to give you a blend of sugar and spice that is pure whiskey bliss. The finish cannot be ignored either, with the spiciness of the rye coming back at you with a good burn. It left us wanting another sip, that’s for sure. All three elements of this Rye perfectly work together to give a truly unique and tasty whiskey.
THE VERDICT: We cannot speak more highly about this Rye whiskey. With the influx of rye whiskies hitting the market right now, especially all the NDP that purchase their stock from MGP, this one sets it apart from the competition. It’s such a unique Rye that you have to try. If you’re a traditionalist when it comes to rye, you may not like Angel’s Envy Rye; it certainly isn’t conventional. If you’re up for something different, RUN – do not walk – to your favorite store ASAP.
What else do you want to know about Angel’s Envy and their selection of whiskies? Please let us know what you think of this in the comments section below.
This week we are taking a closer look at Larceny Bourbon. Larceny is a wheater, a bourbon that has wheat as its secondary grain as opposed to rye or barley. It is produced by the monster distillery Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center, one of the last “family owned” distilleries in Kentucky.
Wheat Bourbons are pretty popular these days, with brands such as Weller and Makers being its direct competitors. The other mega name in wheated bourbon is none other than Pappy Van Winkle (yes, the most in-demand bourbon in the world is a wheater). So how does Larceny hold up compared to these giants in the crowded field?
Larceny is a small batch bourbon, coming from 100 barrels or less. It is aged between 6 and 12 years and bottled at 46 % ABV with a 92 proof. I wasn’t able to find the bourbon in Baton Rouge anywhere so I picked it up online from my favorite website, Ezra’s for $29.99.
THE RATING: We award this Three Pours, something worthwhile to have and try especially if you like wheated bourbon.
THE TASTING: We tried this bourbon in rocks glasses neat. We immediately smelled a hint of brown sugar, maybe some caramel and vanilla. It isn’t too blatantly sweet though, which is nice. Taking a sip, I noticed a follow through of that sweetness that comes with most wheated bourbons. It has a molasses and vanilla taste that unfortunately doesn’t deliver as much as I had hoped. It has a hint of spice that melds well with the sweetness to give a soothing taste. As a whole I was happy with the taste. The finish was what felt weak for me, a small amount of burn that didn’t follow through. I wanted more from the finish and this is where I was most disappointed.
THE VERDICT: This is definitely a decent bourbon, something that is competitive with a Weller Special Reserve and Makers Mark. I would consider this more complex than the incredible smoothness of Makers but not so complex that it can take on its bigger brother of Makers 46. MSRP is $25-30 and at that price, it’s a nice change of pace from the before mentioned competitors. I know this has been in BR before and it may be out there now, we just weren’t able to find it in the few stores we went to. If you are a fan of Makers, give this wheater a try; it has a more complex profile than the Makers but is still easy enough to try neat.
What else would you like to know about Larceny and Heaven Hill? Please let us know if you have any questions and be sure to leave your own opinion below.
For our first Bourbon Review, we decided to do a side-by-side comparison of Jefferson’s Reserve and Jefferson’s Reserve Groth Cask, which is Jefferson’s Reserve finished in a cabernet sauvignon cask.
A couple notes about the company: 1) I love Jefferson’s and think they’re a great company; 2) They don’t distill on-site; rather, they take casks from several other distillers and blend it to their liking. (This is actually a pretty common thing to do amongst bourbon companies, but few have mastered the art as Jefferson’s has.)
Both bottles are bottled at 45.1% ABV, giving them a 90.2 proof. Jefferson’s Reserve is a blend of four different bourbons that vary in ages, one they consider an “elder statesman”. The Groth Cask is 6 year aged Reserve finished in casks from Groth Vineyard & Winery.
THE TASTING: We tried them both neat in rocks glasses, starting with the Groth Cask, as we were eager to try this new bourbon. It has a spicy and overtly woody note that comes full-fledged in your mouth when you sip it. There is a robust sort of spice in this bottle, a lot of wood and not much else in our humble opinions. It is spicy in a way I do enjoy, but the strength of the wood flavor was not as pleasant. The finish left bitterness in my mouth that simply wasn’t enjoyable.
The Reserve, however, was much more delicious. As soon as you pour a glass, vanilla and caramel aromas soak the air. It’s like a bakery opened shop in your glass. The taste is nothing short of caramelized sugar and almost a flame roasted marshmallow. It is sweet, for sure, but not overtly sweet where you don’t want to drink it. This is something I could drink every night, and honestly, enjoy it forever I imagine. The finish was smooth with just the proper amount of burn that left me wanting another glass.
FIRST THOUGHTS: It’s obvious: the Reserve is a superior glass to the Groth finish. We don’t not recommend the Groth, because the bitterness may be different for you. If you already like red wine, this might be a perfect marriage for you. The Reserve’s drinkability is great for anyone new to bourbon or someone looking to try something neat. The Groth Cask is a bold and robust drink full of spicy flavor. For people who are into rye or more full-bodied bourbons this is something you might like.
I also realize that comparing the two side by side really elevated our opinions of the Reserve while putting the Groth Cask down. I decided to sip on the Groth again while writing this review, and it is not as bad as initially tasted. It has a certain depth that the Reserve doesn’t have but there is still a bitterness with the finish that I cannot get over.
THE VERDICT: Four Pours to Jefferson’s Reserve. This is something I will always have in my bar; a no brainer. The Groth Cask is harder to determine. Last Wednesday we gave it a hard Two Pours, something with potential but not something we would buy again, especially with a MSRP of $79.99. But today, sipping it again solo, I realized that it is more enjoyable than I initially realized. I think I will stick with the Two Pours but it is most definitely a soft two. Could very easily be a three for me as I continue to sip on the bottle. Certainly an acquired taste.
What else would you like to know about Jefferson’s? Please let us know if you have any questions. Be sure to leave your own opinion below in the comments.
Before we share our first review, we wanted to give a little overview of our criteria and basic thought process. Disclaimer: we are not professional tasters. However, we are huge fans fanatics of bourbon (and whiskeys as a whole). David is going to take over now to share our approach:
I love this “water of life” and have spent the last year throwing myself into learning everything I can find about it. I consider the history, the distilling process, and bourbon’s place in America very interesting. I have tried countless bourbons now, and I’m always eager to get my hands on new spirits. While I’m not an expert, I have a deep passion for exploring and hope to open your eyes to a great bottle of Bourbon.
When we set out to create this society, our mission was to publish informative reviews. I found that many reviews leave me still questioning whether the bottle is actually worth the buy. So, our reviews will tackle taste and value.
We’ll review bourbons and whiskeys on a 5 Pour Scale:
- One pour à Absolute garbage. Don’t bother drinking.
- Two pours à Acceptable when free; most likely would not purchase.
- Three pours à Worth drinking at the bar or at home after a regular ol’ day. Consider a “go-to choice” for easy drinking.
- Four pours à A great bourbon. Good for special occasion. Must be a staple in your home bar.
- Five pours à Reserved for truly outstanding bourbons. Seek far and wide to get your hands on this bottle. Definitely pay secondary market prices to purchase this gem.
You can expect lots of 3 Pours, a few 4 Pours, and a handful of 2 Pours from us soon. (David tends to be generous with his bourbon reviews because he genuinely likes most of the bourbons he’s tried.)
You will always get our honest review, including whether we would spend our own cash on something. We are still humans (read: not professionals) and may miss some elements that other people bring up. That’s why we created this space. We want the input and collaboration from this community of like-minded Bourbon-obsessors.
Ultimately, the purpose of this community is to get people excited about all things bourbon. We hope that you’ll try some new tastes with us, as well as share YOUR knowledge and recommendations. We simply want everyone to find some killer bourbon they can drink together and enjoy each other’s company.
Our first bourbon review to follow momentarily… let us know what you think!