Bourbons for Springtime
Spring is in the air! The trees are blossoming and the bulbs are beginning to flower. And before you know it, it'll be Derby season. Before we rush things too much, slow down, enjoy these first glimmers of growth awakening from a long winter with 5 great bourbons for the season.
Four Roses Small Batch
Four Roses Small Batch is considered to be a blend of 6-7 year bourbon from about 250 barrels. A corn-heavy and a high-rye mash bill are introduced to two different yeast strains - one spicy and full-bodied, and another that is floral (rose petal), spicy and medium bodied. The result is one of the most unique bourbon expressions in the industry. Smooth and mellow, with loads of light floral notes, stone fruits, caramel, spice and oak, this is a symphony for the senses.
Maker's Mark 46
Many may have mixed reviews of the traditional Maker's Mark product, but few can eschew the lovely profile offered by Maker's 46. Beginning with traditional Maker's Mark bourbon (70% corn, 14% malted barley, and 16% soft red winter wheat), the aged bourbon is dumped and the barrels partially deconstructed to allow the addition of several French Oaked staves. The barrels are then reassembled, refilled, and allowed to age in a cave offering a constant 54 degrees carved into a cliffside alongside the distillery. The result is an exceptionally smooth bourbon, with loads of caramel balanced nicely with dark fruit notes in a creamy sensation.
Wilderness Trail Small Batch
Recently purchased by Campari Group (makers of Wild Turkey), founders Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist produce several Bottled-in-Bond expressions, including this high-rye small batch. Most of the grains are sourced locally in the Danville, Kentucky area to make this bourbon with a mash bill of 64% corn, 24% rye, and 12% malted barley. Wilderness Trail uses a "fresh mash" process, where mash tubs are cleaned and sterilized between runs, and fresh yeast is added to each batch, as opposed to the "sour mash" method that utilizes set-back from the prior run (think sourdough starter). The resulting non-chill filtered bourbon, aged for 6 years, is rich with vanilla toffee, butterscotch, and warm fruit compote served with vanilla bean ice cream.
Blade and Bow
Diageo's (makers of Bulleit) nod to Julian Van Winkle Sr.'s Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Blade and Bow is an incredibly easy sipper. The beautiful bottles are each adorned with a key that represents the keys that once hung on the door of the treasured distillery, each one representing a key to crafting fine bourbon - grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and aging. In fact, each of the five keys are unique, and are, thus, collectible, similar to the Blanton's stoppers. At 91 proof, and produced using the solera aging method, you'll find a bourbon that is light and lively, with honey, vanilla, apple and pear notes, balanced with a splash of oak and spice. I featured this at a local bourbon event recently, and it was very popular with the attendees.
Old Forester 1920
At 115 proof, Old Forester 1920 is the highest proof in our selection. The Whiskey Row series demonstrates how a single mash bill can develop a host of taste profiles through barrel location, proof, aging and barrel finishing. 1920, is a nod to the Prohibition-style whiskey that would have been produced at the time. Brown-Forman was one of six distillers that continued to produce medicinal alcohol throughout Prohibition. Full of dark fruit and floral notes, balanced with vanilla and cinnamon, you'll find a smooth and complex taste profile without the heat and burn that typically comes from a high proof spirit.