Review: KNOB CREEK – #55 hit

I definitely have a sweet spot for bourbon and this one quickly gained my admiration. It is produced by Beam Inc. in Kentucky and is named after Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home Knob Creek. Because it has aged nine years in charred American white oak it has absorbed more sugar in the wood than younger bourbons. This sweetness really comes through and I guess this is partly why I love this particular edition. That said, the sugary flavors are well balanced with oaky and to a certain extent floral notes. This works very well. You can aKnob-Creeklso find syrup, spicy rye, and small amounts of caramel in here. At 50% abv. you would expect it to be rather harsh and hard to drink on the rocks. This is not the case though. Still I have a tendency to add a few drops of water just to get rid of the edge.

VERDICT: With 50% abv. Knob Creek does not reach the broad audience. A shame if you ask me. It has the perfect balance between woody, sweet and floral notes. In my opinion this is one of Kentucky’s finest.

  (7.2/10)

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Review: JIM BEAM Honey – #72 hit

Jim Beam entering the grey zone!

In a blind test I honestly can’t say if I would have put my money on whiskey or liqueur. I would probably have gone with the latter Jim-Beam-Honeysince this reminds me so much of the Italian apricot/almond based liqueur amaretto. But it is not. This is the four year old white label infused with REAL honey! Is it worth your time? It depends. If you are a single malt connoisseur you would most probably be disappointed. On the other hand if you like overly sweet whiskeys or don’t like whiskey at all this might just be your thing. At 35% abv. it is soft as velvet and pose no resistance as it slinks down your throat. It is liquid candy. Sweet as hell. I found Red Stag Black Cherry sweet but this is incomparable. I have a hard time deciding if I like it or not. I guess I do kind of like it despite its lack of resemblance to the whiskey I am used to. That said I quickly get too much of it. At some point it breaches your sweetness threshold and you start regretting. I’d say it should be taken in moderate amounts.

On the palate: I don’t have much to say here. Honey, honey and…..honey. Okay I guess if you dig a little bit deeper you will find both vanilla and oak as well. There is also hints of almonds.

VERDICT: Reluctantly I must admit I kind of like this Bourbon. Still it quickly gets too sugary and I tend to keep it to one or two drinks. If you like soft, creamy and sweet bourbons and don’t mind that they are borderline liqueurs I would advise you to try this one.

  (6.5/10)

Review: BUFFALO TRACE – #71 hit

“One of the world’s great whiskies”. – Jim Murray

I am a sucker for intriguing advertisements so when I noticed Jim Murray’s statement on a Buffalo Trace bottle the other day I had no choice but to buy it. A “great” whiskey for measly 30 bucks is not something I am likely to walk away from. Luckily so. It appears as if Jim was right again, this is truly a “great” bourbon. I would actually go as far as to say it is one of tBuffalo Tracehe best bourbons I have tasted yet! I am far from alone in my infatuation as Buffalo Trace has won multiple medals throughout the years most recently receiving a Double Gold Rating at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012. Its success is also illustrated by the size of the distillery. To date the Buffalo Trace Distillery site encompasses 119 acres and, impressively, 114 buildings.

The first thing I liked about Buffalo Trace, and maybe least important, was its name. A whiskey that is named after the migration path of thousands of buffalos from the 18th century is just awesome in itself. Secondly, and more importantly, the taste of Buffalo Trace is exquisite! It is much more on the sweet side than most whiskeys but still manage to keep under the sugar-overload-threshold (In contrast to Bourbons like Red Stag and Jim Beam Honey). Caramel is filling most of the picture here accompanied by candied vanilla and hints of orange fruit and green grass. There is good balance in this whiskey and I have to restrain myself from continuously filling the empty glass.

VERDICT: Agreed, this is absolutely one of the world’s great whiskies. It is sweet, creamy, caramel like and yet combines the sugary notes with citrus and orange fruits in a divine manor. This is one of those whiskies I could easily drink half a bottle of and still not get enough. At 30 dollars a bottle this is a steal. Instant favorite.

  (7.7/10)

Review: ELIJAH CRAIG 12yo – #53 hit

Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister from the 1800th century who many believe invented the making of bourbon. elijah-craig-12This 12 year old small batch bourbon won double gold in SFWSC 2008 and is viewed by many as one of the finest bourbons on the market. I moderately agree on this even though I prefer the 18 year edition over any other bourbon. When taking the first sip old leather boots comes to mind. Without being deafening you have the characteristic oaky notes coming through but still leaving room for sweetness in form of vanilla and toffee. It packs a punch but without delivering too much of a burn.

VERDICT: An overall good bourbon! If I were to mention anything negative it would be the lack of character. Nothing really stands out, flavor-wise that is. I would probably not be able to distinguish this from other 12 year old bourbons in a blind test.

  (7/10)

Review: JIM BEAM Black – #54 hit

In this price range this is clearly one of my favorite bourbons. It also got its recognition last year at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition where it pulled home a gold medal. When comparing it to Jim Beam White the main differenJim Beam blackce is in the age while the distillation process is the same. Jim Beam Black Label ages for eight years rather than four years. Due to this the differences in flavor comes more from the longer aging than anything else. Taking my first sip I expected the usual alcohol punch you normally receive from these relatively cheap bourbons. Nothing came. Instead my mouth was filled with buttery and creamy brown sugar accompanied by mellow notes of spices. The finish is delicious with a combination of caramel and hints of cherry. This is truly a soft and straight forward bourbon. Perfect as an everyday drink.

VERDICT: This is some smooth stuff! Not much character though, but at 25 bucks that is perfectly alright.

  (6.8/10)

Review: JIM BEAM Red Stag Black Cherry – #64 hit

Where I come from Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper is not very popular. I only know one person who actually like that stuff and that is me. Why that is I don’t know but I have always had a thing for cherry flavored drinks. So naturally I had to try Jim Beam’s Red Stag.jim-beam-red-stag

My first thought was “this must be the most viscous whiskey on the market”. You can almost chew on it! Also you don’t think of whiskey drinking it. Instead of whiskey I would more describe it as melted caramel mixed with sugar and dried red fruits. The traditional bourbon taste is almost absent and has been replaced by black cherry and heaps of glucose. Don’t get me wrong I like sugary stuff but Red Stag really tests my limit. If I was drinking it on the rocks without knowing what it was I would have put it at around 30% abv certainly not 40%. It is so unbelievably smooth. No wonder it is trying to target the female audience.

Disregarding the fact that Red Stag does not really taste like traditional bourbon, I love it. Maybe a bit too sugary but if you keep to a few glasses it should be fine. There is no question about it, I like this bourbon for the same reasons I like Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper; It is sweet and tastes like cherries.

Red Stag was launched in 2009 and last year Jim Beam came out with two more natural flavored bourbons: Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced. Maybe it is about time to try them as well.

VERDICT: Even though Red Stag never intended to impress whisky enthusiasts like myself I am slightly impressed. However the sugary notes quickly become too overwhelming so my advice is to drink small amounts at a time.

  (6.9/10)