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”
Age: 6 Years
Color: ( 92 )
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.”
Age: 17 Years
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.
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.”
Age: 18 Years
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.”
Age: Mix of 15 Year & 13 Year
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!
Age: 4 – 5 years
Amber. Reminiscent of its cousin, Old Medley 12 Yr.
Youthful grain with aromas of caramel and butterscotch
Momentary sweet grain on the front palate with hints of caramel and vanilla
Oak rising in the mid-palate adds complexity and balance
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.
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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
Age: 10 Years
Waves of cocoa and butter meet the nose with hints of leather and floral spice. The proof makes itself felt here.
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.
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 distilleries pride themselves not only on filling their bottles with quality spirits, but on designing the bottles so that they distinguish themselves from other brands. Consider the rustic-inspired Bulleit bottle, the winged elegance of Angel’s Envy, the horse and rider atop the round Blanton’s, and the majestic Willett pot still.
No doubt the bottles are more valuable full than empty, but what do we do with them when we do enjoy the last of their contents? Nelson County, Kentucky artist Donna Cheek doesn’t throw them away – in fact, she ventures around the state of Kentucky every week, looking for bottles that might otherwise be on their way to landfills, and transforms them into Kentucky Bourbon Recipe© oil lamps.
The Bourbon Guys witnessed Donna’s artistry first-hand during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September. We walked into a Bardstown store called At Mary’s (http://www.atmarys.com/) with our wives, who oooooed and aaahhhed over Donna’s creations. In addition to antiques and unique gift items, At Mary’s sells the work of local artists like Donna Cheek.
Donna’s art is far more than home décor. She and her family now own and operate a farm that dates back to the 1830s. They still grow many of the ingredients in bourbon, including corn, rye, wheat, and barley. Donna recycles empty bottles and fills them with these home-grown products and candle oil. She includes a wick that can be burned like a candle, and you can simply refill the bottle when the oil runs low, making them functional as well as beautiful. She also sometimes displays particularly breathtaking bottles on lighted stands. (Just imagine that Blanton’s bourbon bottle!) Each creation has a barrel sliver lazered with Donna’s trademark Kentucky Bourbon Recipe© hanging around the neck of the bottle.
The Bourbon Guys with Donna Cheek of Kentucky Bourbon Recipe©
Bourbon Name: Four Roses Limited Edition 125th Anniversary 2013 Small Batch Bourbon
Distiller: Four Roses Distillery
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!!!
September is an important month for the State of Kentucky! It’s the month when the entire state comes together to celebrate its Bourbon heritage. The epicenter of this celebration takes place at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. Bardstown is a great little city – once named “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by Rand McNally – best-known for its Bourbon heritage. But many visitors may not be aware that it’s also a town with some excellent restaurants. The Bourbon Guys would like to introduce you to what we feel are some the best and most unique eats in Bardstown:
We ate breakfast at Mammy’s Kitchen on our way out of town after our visit to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail because we were sick of the hotel buffet. Mammy’s did not disappoint! The eggs benedict (pictured) were fantastic and the breakfast hot brown… all I can say is “Oh my gosh!” The overall atmosphere was quaint and friendly and the server kept our coffee cups full at all times. Mammy’s also serves a great lunch and their pies are amazing if you just want a snack (or pie for lunch!).
Check out Mammy’s Kitchen on Facebook:
Susie Q’s is our choice for the best all around lunch place in Bardstown. The service we received was outstanding and the food was even better. We had their signature items, the famous slaw burger (pictured on right) and the fried green tomato BLT (pictured on left). Both were very good and unique, but the slaw burger was absolutely divine.
Then it came time for dessert! Owner Connie Nalley makes her own homemade desserts and you can’t go wrong with any of them. But we had to try Connie’s famous bourbon bread pudding, which was hands-down the best bourbon bread pudding we’ve ever had. Don’t miss Susie Q’s!
Check out Susie Q’s on Facebook:
The Rickhouse Restaurant
If you like good food and bourbon you’ll really enjoy the Rickhouse Restaurant! Located literally underneath the Bardstown Whiskey Museum, the small but welcoming entrance makes you feel as if you are entering a real bourbon rickhouse.
The food at the Rickhouse was delicious and their bourbon selection wasn’t bad either! They have excellent steak, chicken and fish, and their sides are creative and tasty, especially the 7 cheese mac-n-cheese. They offer many different bourbon flight options which of course is a plus not found at many restaurants. Enjoying a nice flight of five – yes, five, not three – different bourbons with your dinner is an experience that any bourbon lover would enjoy.
If you are in Bardstown and are looking for a great dinner, check out The Rickhouse Restaurant.
Check out The Rickhouse Restaurant Online:
Most Unique Dining Experience
The Kentucky Bourbon House
The Kentucky Bourbon House, also known as the Chapeze House, is the type of place you go if you have an entire evening to spend. The host, who is named “The Colonel” is a unique guy who is apparently not only locally famous but nationally known as well.
Reservations must be made at The Kentucky Bourbon House because they serve dinner to everyone at the same time each evening. Seems like sort of a strange concept but it is very unique. Upon arrival you make your way to the bar area where “The Colonel” makes up some mighty fine drinks and then tells some pretty good stories.
Dinner is the best part of the evening! You are served a delicious dinner consisting of pork chops, butter boiled corn, green beans, potatoes and the best corn bread you will ever taste in your life. If you have an entire evening free, love good food, love good whiskey, and can tolerate a lot of story telling you will not be disappointed in The Kentucky Bourbon House.
Check out The Kentucky Bourbon House online:
Best Distillery Lunch
Toll Gate Café (at Maker’s Mark)
Though it’s a few miles away from downtown Bardstown, The Toll Gate Café (at Maker’s Mark) is a great place to grab a quick lunch while visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Located right at the entrance of the beautiful Maker’s Mark Distillery, you will find a quaint little building with quick lunch eats. The bourbon pulled pork is amazing and their other sandwiches are excellent as well. If you get hungry while touring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and don’t have time for a long lunch the Toll Gate Café (at Maker’s Mark) is a cool little place.
Check out the Toll Gate Café online: