Tasting Notes

Jefferson’s Ocean II (2014)

This bourbon, in what seems to be an unending string of bourbon’s with a back-story, has one. I really could give a crap about the back-story. If you want to read it you can go to NPR and Food and Wine

The important information that Jefferson’s gives us is that they claim the bourbon in the barrel is 6 to 8 years old before it goes to sea. That would be a good thing because it only spent 7 months out to sea crossing the equator 4 times in those many months.  So what has all that time at sea done:

Nose: The nose on the Ocean is pleasant enough and not offensive or harsh. However, you really have to work at it to find and bring anything forward. After working this one for a while Tobacco, New Leather, Orange Peel, New Oak and Honey. Nothing real striking in the nose but nothing offensive.

Palate: On first sip the entry of this whiskey is bitter and unpleasant. I thought the mouth feel is somewhat thicker than regular Jefferson’s Straight Bourbon but someone pointed out that it was more astringent and that accounted for the mouth feel. I kind of tend to agree with them but would like to sample it again for that note. The mid-palate is bitter citrus pith and not citrus like flavors just bitterness. There is an iodine like quality to the overall taste. Toward then finish I finally get a minty taste with some honey and a brine like salty finish. After drinking it my lips had the aftertaste of mint and brine. 

Overall impression: This Bourbon has certainly been influenced by its time at sea. However, compared to Jefferson’s Straight Bourbon and Jefferson’s Reserve it is completely unbalanced. Both of those Bourbon’s have good balance and accessible flavors. This is Bourbon is younger than its claimed media hype. Ocean is out of balance and while an ocean like quality was added to this bourbon its classic Bourbon flavors were hidden. So would I buy this and have it in my collection? No. Am I glad that I tried it and would I try in again? Yes. I think it is a noble experiment and something can be gained by tasting this several times.

Score: 6.8 out of 10.

Last words: This was tasted at a Cleveland Bourbon Club monthly tasting along side Jefferson’s Straight Bourbon for a counter note. Almost everyone preferred the Jefferson’s Straight Bourbon. At this particular meeting we had a person with distilling experience who after tasting the Ocean did not believe it to be 6-8 years old and felt that it was substantially younger in the 4 years of age range. He was complimentary however on the distillation and thought it to be refined with proper cuts on the tails. He also believed it was not the same distillate as the Straight because he tasted more fusel oils in that bourbon. This Bourbon makes me think of Springbank 18yr., which I had the opportunity to taste. The Springbank 18yr. captures the essence of the seaside while not losing its identity. Nice try Jefferson’s but I think you missed the boat.

A.H. Hirsch Reserve (Gold Foil) 16yr.

Well at long last.: The Nose is delicate and subtle not overpowering. Leather, tobacco, oaky and nutty. Coco and light vanilla the nose is not sweet though. But ahh the taste. The taste is complex and subtle as the nose was a prelude of this bourbon. Complex and subtle. Flavors all over the place but not one overpowering the others. Balanced is my overriding thought. The entry is smooth and not overpowered by the alcohol. Spicy but subtle. Cinnamon and cardamom. A tartness and citrus notes holds the flavors together. This is not a sweet bourbon. It is on the dryer side the sweet notes come across to me as marzipan, vanilla and crème brulee. The sweet note lingers throughout taste. Oaky notes add to the dry character of this bourbon.  Overall I could drink this all night. Its subtle and complex. Flavorful and balanced. Unlike some bourbons the flavors are not layered here or separated in their presence. They are present throughout the drink. What a great whiskey every drink is complex, subtle, flavorful and balance.

High West Rendezvous Rye,

Well it’s been awhile since I reviewed a new whiskey. Not that I have n
ot tasted new ones but just looking for something to inspire me. Well my exploration of Rye has brought to High West Rendezvous Rye. As you can tell by the bottle I have been enjoying it extensively. This is a blend of 6 year old and 16 year old Rye whiskey produced by Barton's in Kentucky and sold to High West. The tasting notes:

Nose: Spicy with clove, cinnamon and a hint of mint. The sweet note is of vanilla cream and orange peel.

Taste: The entry is dry and spicy and peppery. Notes of anise licorice leading way to the mid-palate of fresh oak, smoky and nutty. Vanilla bean extract all the way to the finish. The finish is medium long and sweet.

This is a complex whiskey that reveals more and more as you work through a glass. So have a long pour and enjoy it over a long evening. Its rewarding.

Score: A happy 9.1 out of 10. Buy extra bottles for your collection.

Cleveland Whiskey Batch 001 (3/1/13). 

Well here they are the tasting notes. Its not pretty.

This is a special process whiskey that claims to attain the flavor profile that is as good if not better than most 10-12 year aged whiskey. Based on their claims this whiskey falls way short.

Nose: Ethanol(alcohol). Past that nothing but sawdust, old wet wood. None of the notes that you would expect from an oak aged whiskey especially one that claims to be better that one aged 10-12 years. No sweet note or spice notes.

Tastes: At a 100 proof it’s a high alcohol entry but manageable. Then citrus pith, Iodine/soapy. No sweet note jumps out. No vanilla, no honey, no butterscotch, no maples syrup. These you would expect in a highly aged bourbon. The finish is slightly peppery. This first real spice note you get. No other spices that one would expect to find in a bourbon.

Watered: Watering does nothing for this other than to water it down. There are no hidden flavors hiding behind proof.

Overall Impression: The label say that the whiskey rested 6 months in charred oak prior to its processing and it taste like it. This is still simply a young whiskey with very little flavor. I am very disappointed. I was really hoping that this would be good but I have to follow my palate. Dress: .7(Out of 2), Nose: .3(Out of 3), Taste 1.0 (Out of 5) It’s a dreadful 2 out of 10. Sorry Cleveland Whiskey.

Wathen's Kentucky Bourbon 47% ADV Barrel 774 Bottled Jan. 13, 2013

This is a new Bourbon to my collection. The nose on this Wathen's revealed fresh cut wood, oak and it is floral. Certainly there are rye notes in there and the nose is spicy. However, upon a dash of water is reveals subtler character the spiciness and oak notes fade back and butterscotch comes to the front but the nose is certainly not sweet. There is a lite caramel and vanilla.

The taste on this on entry without water is dry with spicy peppery up front crowding out everything else. There is citrus pith in the middle with a lingering sweet note underneath it all. The sweet note is like cooked sugar like you would do for hard candy but not caramel. When you add water BINGO! Nice! the pepper explosion is gone and I get more clove and anise. Baking spicy not black pepper. The citrus taste is more subdued revealing a sweeter side. Not super sweet. Lite caramel to honey. Finish is moderate and clean but not long. This one wants you to come back for more. This is a big boy/ big girl bourbon. Take your time here. Wathen's is robust, spicy with a layered sweetness. It’s complex but inviting. Taste 4.00. Nose 2.3. I'll keep this on hand.

Pritchard's Single Malt Whiskey (Jan. 2013)

This is an American Single Malt. Nose on this is reminiscent of an Islay Scotch peaty but not smoky, leather, some floral and butterscotch candy. However, the more I let this whiskey breathe the more it changed its nose. Revealing a more subtle character. The taste is light and dry on entry. No metallic or iodine tastes. The mid-palate is light and sweet reminding me of Demerara sugar or light syrup of brown sugar. The Finish is spicy but not peppery, cardamom and vanilla. On a 10 scale including points for dress this was a 7.9. A really fine sipping whiskey. Complex and subtle.

Seagram’s Benchmark Premium Bourbon 1971 (6 years Old)

This was a rare treat. Seagram produced this at their Louisville plant (Sam Bronfman pride and joy) that plant was later closed in the 1980 to much disappointment because the bourbon produced there was exceptional. Here we have a full body bourbon. The nose has a slight honeysuckle, praline and wet oak. Spicy entrance but the peppery flavors are mild, there is a honey note underneath with grapefruit (citrus) rind (candy peel), anise. Mid palate exposes woody and oak. Nice smooth finish. The taste was a 4 out of 5. Nose was weak at 1.7 out of 3. Enjoyable old school bourbon a rare treat.

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