Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

My Photo
Location: Texas, United States

Friday, November 26, 2004

Booze Reviews - #5, #6, #7, #8

One of the things I dislike about Xmas shopping is the inability to keep from spending money on myself. You'll be out fighting the crowds, loaded down with bags, yet that little doggie in the window presses its nose up against the glass and says "Take me home!" In this case, I justified the decision by saying I would use it for blogfodder, but still...

In this case, the 'little doggie' was actually a sampler set of 4 bourbons. I ran across the set while stocking up on Xmas cheer for others, but just couldn't resist picking it up. After all, it's an opportunity for a 4-in-1 Booze Review!

So, being otherwise unoccupied this evening, I'm gonna just jump right in and taste some of the best the bourbon makers have to offer. This might actually become a 5-in-1 review, depending on my stamina and the possible need to measure these fairly recent offerings up against my Gold Standard for bourbons, Maker's Mark.

This set is called the Original Small Batch Bourbon Collection. (pictured below)

It's a set of four 50 ml bottles of some whiskeys I would normally not sample, since they tend to run $40 to $50 a bottle. So, as far as I see it (in my tortured logic) the collection was well worth the $18 it cost me. God knows ordering a shot of each in a bar would cost at least that much!

In order of ascending potency, we have the following whiskeys:

Basil Hayden's (80 proof) - 8 years old - Kentucky Springs Distilling Co.
Knob Creek (100 proof) - 9 years old - Knob Creek Distillery
Baker's (107 proof) - 7 years old - James M. Beam Distilling Co.
Booker's (126.7 proof) - 6-8 years old - James M. Beam Distilling Co.

I'll be trying them in that order, so armed with my set of trusty tasting glasses and a bottle of spring water... (just in case!)

Off We Go!!!

#1) Basil Hayden's - The first whiff of this stuff is alcohol and corn, followed by a light toasty aroma, and just a hint of lemon. When I smell Maker's Mark, I think of perfume. This stuff reminds me of bathroom tile cleaner. Not an auspicious start.
The first sip sent waves of alcohol galloping over my tongue, and the fumes went right up the chimney to nestle in my sinuses. Not a good balance, IMHO. There's a bit of an unpleasant bite on the back of the mouth and the sides of the tongue. The aftertaste is a bit astringent.
I'm not sure I'm getting anything out of this bourbon that I couldn't get from Jim Beam or Old Crow. Seems to be more thought put into the label design than the balance of the flavor.

I'm not impressed. It's not bad, but it's not great, either. Certainly not worth the money for a full bottle.

5 out of 10 pulltabs

#2) Knob Creek - First of all, the bottle design sucks. This feels too much like pouring out a bottle of Aramis cologne into a glass. Note to liquor bottlers... stick with round bottles!
The nose on this whiskey is markedly different from the previous. There's a fuller, richer aroma, with more of a caramel and nut scent. Even with the higher alcohol content, there doesn't seem to be the solvent aroma of the Hayden's whiskey.
Wow... the first sip was powerful... a very different whiskey. The flavor is remarkable. There's an alcohol hit, to be certain, but it's immediately followed up by this incredible wave of sour mash flavor. I'm gonna take another hit straight, then see what it's like when cut with a bit of spring water.
Man, good stuff! The spring water cuts the alcohol burn, and lets a bunch of underlying flavors out to play around. This one's a fine sipping bourbon to be sure. I gots to get me a bottle of this whooskey!

El Capitan sez: Cain't go wrong here. Beats the hell out of Whiskey #1.

7 out of 10 pulltabs

#3) Baker's - Ahhh... the perfume nose comes out on this one. There's a bit of a floral note, followed by a citrusy, toasted-nutty aroma. I think the alcohol fumes are anesthetizing my nose, though... Still, if I can still spell 'anesthetizing', I'm doing OK.
Oh, Jumping Jesus in Jazzy Jeans... this stuff'll curl your hair. Eeek. 107 proof is nothing to play around with. There's almost a candy-like flavor here, followed by the hot alcohol burn. This one's complex. It's like eating Indian food, where one flavor slowly fades into another, leaving a blend of both behind to savor. I want to keep sipping this one straight, but the high proof is kicking my ass. Lemme pour a bit of water on the fire...
Ahhh... There we go! Once the alcohol's out of the way, the fudgy-vanilla taste comes through. This is some good hooch. I can see sitting out on the porch with a bottle of this and a jug of branch water, just watching the clouds go by.

I'll give this one a big thumbs up!
7 out of 10 pulltabs

#4) Booker's - They advertise this last one as being straight from the barrel. The aroma has a lot of sweet oakiness, a lot of sour mash, and a shitload of paint thinner fumes. I'm almost dreading the first sip of this 63.35% alcohol liquor.

BuuuuWaauuuggghhhhhh!!!!! Holy Shit!!!! I think my tongue just died, followed by the skin off the roof of my mouth. That's way too much liquor to be drinking straight. It tastes goooood, though! Raisins, caramel, and charcoaled oak all come though, once the burn dies off. OK, no more screwing around. In goes the spring water... after just one more sip...

Wooohooo! Man, that's good liquor. Hard to believe this comes from the same folks that put out Ol' Bastard Jim in the plastic bottle. I could almost get used to this stuff straight. Adding water, though, kicks this up into the stratosphere. There's more complexity than any of the others, and this could give Maker's Mark some competition, if it wasn't for the price differential.

This is a remarkable bourbon whiskey. Add it to your "to do over the holidays" list.

8 out of 10 pulltabs, and a sombrero tossed into the air!

well, there it is, campers. I'm starting to hae trouble typing, so I'm gonna go pour a tall glass of iced tea and vegitate on the frnt porch for a while. Hope you enjoyed yhe review!

El Capitan