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GeorgeTStagg-2013Bourbon Name: George T. Stagg

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say: “Straight out of the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, the taste is powerful, flavorful and intense. Open it up with a few drops of water, sit back and ponder the wonders of the universe.”

Proof: 128.2

Age: 15 Years (or so we’ve been told)

Year: 2013

Color: ( 92 )

Deep, burnt orange

Nose: ( 91 / 100 )

Nutty, like roasted pecans, with vanilla and butterscotch

Taste: ( 91 / 100 )

The front reveals mild oak with elements of sweet vanilla and caramel. Heat rises on the mid-palate carrying the sweet elements to the roof of the mouth where they linger into the finish.

Finish: ( 90 / 100 )

Heat fades a little as the savory notes are further revealed in a finish of moderate duration.

Overall Rating: ( 91 / 100 ) Buy (Stagg is still Stagg!)

The nose is worthy of the Stagg moniker, but we would have liked a longer duration on the finish. The front palate flavors are worthy of the Antique Collection series, but the mid-palate is the star as those sweeter elements collect at the roof of the mouth, a truly unique experience. Overall, much like its proof, the 2013 George T. Stagg is a great whiskey, but falls just short of the epic 2012 bottling.

WilliamLarueWeller-2013Bourbon Name: William Larue Weller

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say: “Uncut and unfiltered, this hand-bottled bourbon is barrel proof. Weller substitutes wheat for the traditional rye grain, a production method pioneered by W.L. Weller.”

Proof: 136.2

Age: 12 Years (or so we’ve been told)

Year: 2013

Color: ( 93 )

Dark and rich, like the leather it brings to mind!

Nose: ( 94 / 100 )

Pronounced tobacco with modest notes of leather and caramel

Taste: ( 94 / 100 )

The front is wonderfully balanced between the savory leather and oak elements, and the sweetness of butterscotch and bread pudding. The mid-palate develops some of that high proof burn while elevating the sweeter components.

Finish: ( 94 / 100 )

Long and satisfying, the sweetness slowly recedes to relinquish the spotlight once again to components of savory leather and oak.

Overall Rating: ( 94 / 100 ) Buy (Until you can’t buy any more!)

We’ve got just three words for you: A-Maz-Ing! The 2013 William Larue Weller surpasses the 2012 offering by striking a cleaner balance between the savory flavors of leather and oak (which the 2012 had in spades) and the sweeter notes that became the star of the mid-palate. Excellent in every way, our initial response was to rate this at #2, just behind the Sazerac 18, but further reflection put them in a dead heat!

ThomasHHandy-2013Bourbon Name: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say: “Full of rich flavors, this authentic American rye whiskey is a symbol of the timeless history of New Orleans and the legacy of Thomas H. Handy”

Proof: 128.4

Age: 6 Years

Year: 2013

Color: ( 92 )

Aged Penny

Nose: ( 92 / 100 )

Leather at the outset with notes of banana bread, clove, walnuts, and mild rye spice

Taste: ( 93 / 100 )

Thick and rich, the front palate is loaded with sweetness reminiscent of bananas foster. Wonderful rye spice that is elevated on the mid-palate to bring the taste into perfect balance.

Finish: ( 93 / 100 )

The finish is long and luxurious. It was here we found the heat we had been expecting from a whiskey of this proof, but it was welcomed, carrying with it a wonderful cinnamon and evergreen undertone that lasts and lasts.

Overall Rating: ( 93 / 100 ) Buy (As many as you can find!)

The Thomas Handy carried with it the expectations of the 2012 release. As incredible as that whiskey was, perhaps it was inevitable, even if a bit unfair. Overall, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac had the longest lasting finish, and that is saying something considering it was the last of the five we sampled in the same evening! (We know, it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it!)


Bourbon Name: Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say: “Sip this polished, well-aged whiskey to appreciate why patience is such a virtue.”

Proof: 90

Age: 17 Years

Year: 2013

Color: ( 92 )

Beautiful, Antique Copper

Nose: ( 91 / 100 )

Mild leather and oak with hints of vanilla and toasted marshmallow

Taste: ( 91 / 100 )

Medium viscosity carries noticeable oak on the front palate giving way to a sweeter mid-palate of orange peels, pears and spice.

Finish: ( 90 / 100 )

The finish is short but nutty with pleasant overtones of pecan mixing with a return of oak and leather.

Overall Rating: ( 91 / 100 ) Buy (If you like a strong showing by the barrel)

The Eagle Rare 17 really didn’t hit the mark for us this year, when compared to its Antique brethren. The barrel was far too prevalent for our tastes, but that will certainly appeal to many (who would likely score it higher for that very reason). While always good, for us, Eagle Rare 17 came in 5th in our Antique Collection comparison this year.

Sazerac18-2013Bourbon Name: Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say: “This straight rye has a mellow spice and dry sweetness that dances on the tongue, giving pure delight that is worthy of the Sazerac name.”

Proof: 90

Age: 18 Years

Year: 2013

Color: ( 93 )

Deep Burnt Orange

Nose: ( 95 / 100 )

Impressive with rich fruit, subtle rye, and faint leather

Taste: ( 95 / 100 )

Buttery with a complex mix of fruit, toffee, and chocolate on the front palate is met on the mid-palate with a pleasing balance of rye spice

Finish: ( 92 / 100 )

The finish is pleasing with a return of sweetness from the fruit and toffee on the back of the tongue. The shorter duration was the only thing holding the finish back from a 95 rating.

Overall Rating: ( 94 / 100 ) Buy (As many as you can find!)

The Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was our favorite of this year’s Antique Collection. The rich mouth feel and balanced complexity make this the year’s best rye to date. A longer finish would have earned the Sazerac 18 another point in the overall rating. If you can only buy one bottle of the Antique Collection, try to make it the Sazerac 18!


Bourbon Name: Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirit: Last Millenium Bourbon Whiskey

Distiller: A. Smith Bowman Distillery

What does the distiller say: “Each Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Whiskey expression is truly unique. It is released periodically, always with a distinct flavor profile and expression. These special releases are very limited and once released, are unlikely to be repeated.”

Proof: 100

Age: Mix of 15 Year & 13 Year

Year: 2013


Color: ( 90 / 100 ) Antique Copper

Nose: ( 88 / 100 )

Bright vanilla, mild cinnamon, and sweet bread pudding

Taste: ( 88 / 100 )

Vanilla and light coffee on the front palate give way to strong mid-palate flavors

Tobacco and leather dominate the mid-palate sweeping away the front palate sweetness

Finish: ( 88 / 100 )

The tobacco and leather linger through a finish of moderate duration. By no means is it short, but it does not carry on the way we expect from a premium bourbon

Overall Rating: ( 88 / 100 ) Don’t Buy

The latest Abraham Bowman bottling, Last Millenium, is certainly a good whiskey, but it is closer to a John J. Bowman release than the exalted Abraham Bowman line. At its price point of approximately $80 per 750 ml, I think we have to mark it a DON’T BUY. The name Abraham Bowman sets the bar pretty high, and this particular version just doesn’t hit the mark. There are several offerings in the $50 – $70 range that are as good, if not better.



Bourbon Name: Medley Bros.


Distiller: Charles Medley Distillery


What does the distiller say: Originally, Medley Brothers was sold in 1958. This month marks 55 years that the Medley Brothers label has been off the market. We’reproud to have reclaimed the label so that we can be here today to announce the return of Medley Brothers!


Proof: 102


Age: 4 – 5 years


Year: 2013

Color: (88)

Amber. Reminiscent of its cousin, Old Medley 12 Yr.

Nose: (87)

Youthful grain with aromas of caramel and butterscotch

Taste: (87/100)

Momentary sweet grain on the front palate with hints of caramel and vanilla

Oak rising in the mid-palate adds complexity and balance

Finish: (86/100)

The finish is faster than we would like, but a prominent leather component adds nicely to the mid-palate complexity.

Overall Rating: (87/100) Recommended

Medley Brothers is the latest offering from Charles Medley Distillery. While not as refined as Old Medley 12 Year, it also retails at just half the price of its older cousin. With a mashbill of 77% corn, 10% rye, and 13 % malted barley, you’ll find Medley Brothers a pleasant sipper with a sub-$30 price tag, and at 102 proof,  you’ll find that Medley Brothers stands up nicely in your favorite mixed drinks.



Bourbon Name:   Parker’s Heritage Promise of Hope

Distiller:   Heaven Hill

What does the distiller say:   “I, my wife Linda, my son Craig and all my family are honored and enthusiastic about our efforts toward helping those affected by ALS, and the new Promise of Hope edition of my Parker’s Heritage Collection represents a great way for Bourbon fans and even novices to enjoy a great single barrel Bourbon while helping make a real difference in the fight against ALS.” – Parker Beam

Proof:   96

Age:      10 Years

Year:     2013

Color: (92/100)

Deep Amber

 Nose: (92/100)  

Waves of cocoa and butter meet the nose with hints of leather and floral spice. The proof makes itself felt here.

 Taste: (92/100) 

Neat – Cocoa presents on the front palate giving way to silky butter. Leather rises on the mid-palate to provide a full, balanced experience. Dry yet soft, this whiskey is like a luxurious pillow we could languish in for hours.

 Finish: (92/100)

Spice and oak rise and mingle with the cocoa and leather elements to provide a highly balanced and pleasant finish.

 Overall Rating: (92/100) Recommended

 We highly recommend Parker’s Heritage Promise of Hope strictly on the quality of the whiskey. The fact that $20 from each bottle is being donated to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Foundation is an added bonus in our eyes. If you can afford this 7th edition of the Parker’s Heritage line (at roughly $95 per 750ml), you won’t regret having it to go to on a cold winter’s night



Bourbon Name: Four Roses Limited Edition 125th Anniversary 2013 Small Batch Bourbon

Distiller: Four Roses Distillery

Proof: 103.2

Age: This Small Batch release is a blend of three recipes, which consist of an 18 year OBSV,   a 13 year OBSK and a 13 year OESK.

Color:  Burnished Copper

Nose:  The nose has a very pleasant floral, cherry blossom with a good bit of vanilla. Not a lot of burn on the nose neat or with a little water added.

Taste:  The taste is super inviting. This bourbon hits the front palate with bright notes of vanilla and cherry and then gives way to a fruity apricot flavor. The cherry then picks up and continues on through the mid-palate. There is a nice spice on the back palate and the mouth feel is excellent!

Finish: The finish is very satisfying with notes of cocoa and a hint of leather from the barrel, balancing the fruit to the front and mid palate.

Overall Rating:  (92/100)

This is the second limited edition release of 2013 for the Four Roses Distillery, which commemorates 125 years of distilling this year. The first was the 2013 Limited Edition Single Barrel. We assure you that the 2013 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch release does not disappoint. It is a very well balanced and flavorful bourbon from the nose to the finish. Though we liked last year’s 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch release a little better, this year’s release is not far behind it. Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition is definitely one of the top five releases of the year. If you can find a bottle, grab it!!!

WT_ForgivenBourbon Name: Forgiven

Distiller: Wild Turkey

What does the distiller say: An accidental blend of 78% Bourbon and 22% High-Proof Rye

Proof: 91

Age: Blend of ages

Year: 2013

Color: Golden copper


Nose: (89/100)

Neat -

Tim: (88/100) “Light, sweet, and flowery. The bourbon component is pronounced but you definitely get a very nice high rye nose. I Could smell this all day.”

Larry: (89/100) “Floral overtones are aromatic but not cloying. The rye comes through in perfect balance with the bourbon, offering vanilla and caramel with spicy notes of cinnamon.”

Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.

Taste: (91/100)

Neat –

Tim: (90/100) “Brown sugar, giving way to cinnamon and rye spice on the mid-palate.”

Larry: (91/100) “Beautiful and balanced. Bread pudding on the front with rye rising to strike a perfect rye/bourbon balance mid-palate.”

Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.

Finish: (90/100)    

Neat –

Tim: (89/100) “Long, and mellow with just the right amount of rye and cinnamon spice.”

Larry: (90/100) “Lengthy. The balance on the mid-palate carries clear through to the end. The residual flavors are wonderful. Greater duration is all that could have given this finish a higher rating.”

Overall Rating: (90/100)

Though some believe that Forgiven is more marketing than mistake, we have it straight from Mr. Jimmy Russell that Forgiven was, in fact, the most fortunate error in recent memory. Whichever you believe, you can rest assured that Wild Turkey Forgiven will not disappoint.

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