The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

Bourbon Tasting

Try five of the best from the Bluegrass State.

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Evan Williams Single Barrel

Evan Williams is distilled by the Heaven Hill distillery which is the second largest US distillery and the only one which makes all styles of whiskey – Bourbon, rye, wheat and corn. Responding to the ever evolving tastes of American whiskey consumers, they are cooking up some innovative expressions that work within the tight parameters of US law, including honey, cinnamon and cherry flavoured Bourbons. Williams, like Jack Daniels, was of Welsh descent. The temperance movement made it very difficult to distil whisky/whiskey in Wales so their families relocated to the US in the 19th century (Southern Comfort was also first produced by Welsh distillers). Evan Williams was considered by many connoisseurs to be the finest bourbon. This single barrel bourbon expression is now in its 19th year.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Dry and dusty. Hickory. Sweet cigarette. Slightly sour but incredibly juicy.
Palate: Vanilla. Spicy, sweet and aromatic. Assertive wood and a definite citrusy, grapefruity hit. Violet chocolates at the death.

Retails for around £35

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It’s an interesting story behind John E. Fitzgerald’s Larceny bourbon. Fitzgerald was a treasury agent (presumably the same as customs and excise man in the UK) who had the keys to the rickhouses – huge racked warehouses where the bourbon matured. Evidently, temptation was too much for him and he helped himself. But not to any old casks. Oh no. Our John took the best. Larceny has wheat as its secondary grain, rather than the usual rye, giving it a softer palate. This is simply one of the best bourbons available.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Jellied fruits, mint and sweet cigarettes. A wonderfully alluring nose with further hints of cherry and dark chocolate.
Palate: Spicy, yes, but also smooth and deliciously fruity with lots of mint toffee and vanilla and no bitterness. This is now one of my favourite whiskeys. Period.

Retails for around £45

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Roughstock Montana Bourbon

There is a common misconception that all Bourbon comes from Kentucky. Well, it doesn’t! This Bourbon is from Montana’s first (legal) distillery in 100 years, situated in the South West of the state at the foot of the Bridger mountain range. Matured in American white oak casks, this straight bourbon is a vatted mix of four different in-house Bourbon recipes with varying rye, corn, wheat and malt contents. We love this and we can see a lot more of Roughstock’s whiskeys making their way into our packs.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Very different from run of the mill bourbons. Sweet and chewy and a little dusty. Oranges and lemons. Slightly charred fruit cake. Light spices.
Palate: Light fruit and vanilla and a touch of banana bread,then a massive spice injection with a little bitterness through to the finish.

Retails for around £35-45

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Four Roses Yellow Label

The sentimental story of how this bourbon received its name involves a marriage proposal from the distillery founder to a Southern belle being accepted by the symbolic wearing of four roses on a ball gown. More interesting is the fact that it stands out from more assertive bourbons like a ballerina in a rugby scrum. Purchased in 2002 by Japanese company Kirin, Four Roses is unique among bourbons in that the pretty distillery operates more like a Japanese concern than an American one. It creates ten different whiskeys within its walls, based on two recipes and using five different yeasts. The whiskeys are then mingled together to create fruity and feminine Four Roses bourbon.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Underneath the pineapple chunks, peaches and sugared fruit jellies, is some searing woody spice.
Palate: Incredibly soft at first, then fruit, hickory, mint toffee and aromatic vanilla and wood spice.

Retails for around £22

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Buffalo Trace

Made at the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, this distillery is, incredibly, older than most of Scotland’s distilleries. Many famous bourbons are produced here, including George T Stagg (a mind-blowingly good bourbon), William Larue Weller, (the best whisky/whiskey I have ever tasted), Elmer T Lee and Eagle Rare. This is one of their entry-level bourbons, but you wouldn’t know it. The name is taken from the path created by the hundreds of thousands of buffalo as they crossed the Kentucky river, where the distillery now stands.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Soft. Light. Rounded. Aromatic. Fruit jellies. Honeycomb. Ripe bananas. Butterscotch.
Palate: Soft at first, then an explosion of fruit, citrus, vanilla and oak. Stunning!

Retails for around £25

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