The Prideful Goat

Gulf Coast Distillers opened up down in Houston a few years ago and more recently released 3 batches of 15 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with the mystery 78.5/12/8.5 mashbill that so many 15 years have been lately. I believe the first batch was either distillery or Houston only but batches 2 and 3 hit Austin so naturally I grabbed a few bottles.

 

The Prideful Goat 15 Year Batch 2

Age: 15 years

Proof: 113.8

Neat

Nose: Sweet and rich with peanut brittle, oak and faint baking spices.

Taste: Oak forward with some tannins balanced by sweet caramel with some spice for depth. Pleasant mouthfeel that’s inline with what I expect for the proof

Finish: Long, slightly dry, oaky finish with a bit of heat as well.

2 Stars - Very good whiskey: I would want to have a bottle

The Prideful Goat 15 Year Batch 3

Age: 15 years

Proof: 114.1

Neat

Nose: Darker than Batch 2 with leather, rich oak, caramel and a hint of roasted nuts.

Taste: More leather and oak from the nose, the sweetness is more of a vanilla cream than caramel, plenty of warm spices and only hints of nut. Great, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long finish with fading vanilla and leather then lingering oak and spice.

3 Stars - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

Conclusion

These two batches definitely hit different ends of the old Beam spectrum. Batch 2 is all wood and nuts while Batch 3 is more leather and spice. When I tried them individually I thought it would be really close but side by side the B3 was my winner. No losers here though! Both batches were very tasty and I am looking forward to the rye they are releasing soon.

 

TL;DR: Both goats are great older bourbons but Batch 3 was my winner.

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Michter's Toasted Barrel Bourbon 2021

One of the plethora of Michter’s annual releases is the toasted barrel finish bourbon. I first tried this back at a Whiskies of the World event back in 2018 or so and was a fan. Of course when I asked how to buy a bottle the person at the booth laughed and said I probably wouldn’t be able to find it. Fast forward a few years and I finally found one! Let’s see how the 2021 batch holds up against a fond memory of an older release.

 

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Age: NAS

Proof: 91.4

Barrel No: 21G2032

Neat

Nose: Sweet and woody with rich, wet oak, caramel and more oak.

Taste: The same oak and caramel from the nose with some much welcome baking spice and vanilla.

Finish: A shorter clean finish with fading oak and vanilla.

Conclusion

Overall this is an easy sipper than packs a lot of flavor even if most of the flavor is oak. I happen to like sweet and oaky whiskey so thankfully this works for me. To get weird with it the nose especially reminds me of being at a park called Under the Oaks in Jacksonville Florida after it rained. That said this would have benefited significantly from something to give it more complexity and depth such as bottling at a higher proof, more aging or moving a single barrel release.

I am enjoying this bottle and would take it over similarly priced shelfie options but would not go out of my way to hunt for a bottle or overpay for it. I was hoping for more based on previous experience.

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

 

TL;DR: Solid, but basic, bourbon with an extra dose of oak that makes for easy, flavorful sipping.

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Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon Cheers for Charity

Picking up where I left off with the Bob’s Cipher pick next up for Willett is the Bourbon Charity “Cheers for Charity” Single Barrel. This barrel is Willett’s High Corn Mashbill and was sold to raise money for Kids for Kids

 

Willett Family Estate Cheers for Charity

Age: 8 year

Proof: 119.2

Barrel No: 2129

Neat

Nose: Sweet caramel, vanilla cream, bright fruit, hints of spice and oak.

Taste: Perfectly balanced between sweet, spice and oak with more of the fruit from the nose, baking spice, less caramel and vanilla but still some and enough oak to let you know it had been in barrel. Pleasant but not overly viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and warm with a bit of sweet fruit then lingering barrel char and baking spice.

Conclusion

For single digit aged bourbons this is one of the best I’ve had. It drinks a little below the 119 proof but packs a ton of flavor. The notes aren’t anything crazy but the balance and progression of them really worked for me. I also enjoy how present the core bourbon flavors were throughout.

If I had to nitpick on why not a perfect 4 stars I would have preferred more viscosity and a more interesting finish. That said this was an amazing bottle and even better since it was to support a great cause.

3 Stars - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

 

TL;DR: Fantastic bottle, great cause

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Bull Run 15 Year Bourbon Enthusiast Single Barrel

The Bourbon Enthusiast Bull Run 15 Year is a single barrel straight bourbon whiskey rumored to be from Jim Beam. It uses the same mystery mashbill that so many other 15 year old bourbons have lately so let’s see if it tastes like it too.

 

Bull Run 15 Year Bourbon Enthusiast Single Barrel

Age: 15 years

Proof: 108.18

Mashbill: 78.5% corn, 13% rye, 8.5% malted barley

Neat

Nose: Rich with nuts, oak and caramel balancing each other nicely and a hint of cherry

Taste: Thick and creamy with more nuts, caramel and oak plus some warm baking spices

Finish: Long, slightly dry and warm with lingering oak and barrel spice balanced by a bit of milk chocolate

Conclusion

Overall this is a great bottle and I’m glad to be back in the Bourbon Enthusiast barrel club! I hope we start to see more well aged single barrels from Bull Run’s Independent Bottling Collection. This is definitely from the same source as Doc Swinson’s, Old Bones and Three Cord’s 15 year releases and stands up well in that company.

2 Stars - Very good whiskey: I would want to have a bottle

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Stagg Jr Barrel Pick

Back in 2020 a group raised $150000 for St. Jude as part of an auction and got to pick the first 2 barrels of Stagg Jr released to the public. The second barrel picked ended up being released first and I was part of a group that got to split a bottle. I am in the middle of moving so the only thing I had on hand that I could reasonably compare this too is a Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel. The SFTB was only 129 proof so I tasted it first then the Jr.

 

Stagg Jr

Age: NAS

Proof: 134.6

Neat

Nose: Proof sting, cola, rich oak and caramel.

Taste: Powerful flavors with cola, baking spice, oak, rye spice, caramel and tobacco. Great mouthfeel and proof integration.

Finish: Long, warm and dry finish with oak and baking spice notes balanced by a bit of sticky caramel.

Conclusion

This pick was very, very good and easily bested the SFTB. It was on the darker side of the Buffalo Trace profile with the cola, tobacco and oak notes but none of the bright cherry I often get from Buffalo Trace including from the SFTB today. It was hard to capture in the tasting notes but what really stood out about this wasn’t the flavor notes themselves but the intensity of the flavor without it being overly hot. This had to be from a high floor on the rickhouse given the proof and flavor profile but it wasn’t overpoweringly hot.

 

TL;DR: Big and bold with intense flavors. It’s a winner.

 

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Stagg Jr Batch 15 Blind Tasting

I got lucky and snagged the latest Stagg Jr today and after chatting with a friend who contended that he didn’t think Stagg Jr was worth it at secondary and potentially not a retail. I decided to knock out a quick blind tasting to see what I thought and then sat down to write the more detailed tasting notes.

 

Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered Batch 49

Age: NAS

Proof: 113.8

Neat

Nose: Rich and sweet with brown sugar and oak backed by subtle spice and vanilla.

Taste: Well balanced with sweet brown sugar, rye spice and subtler oak. Just a hint of grain. Great mouthfeel and proof integration

Finish: Medium to long warm finish with rye spice, slightly dry oak and a decent amount of sweet vanilla and brown sugar.

3 Stars - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

Russell’s Reserve 13 Year

Age: 13

Proof: 114.8

Neat

Nose: Vanilla extract, oak, baking spice, and cherry notes with a very slight proof sting.

Taste: Vanilla cream, caramel, warm spice, rich oak and subtler cherry. Very nice, very viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Long balanced finish with lingering warm spice and sweet caramel.

4 Stars - Extraordinary whiskey: An all time favorite

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B521

Age: 12 years

Proof: 118.2

Neat

Nose: Sweet and nutty with caramel and peanut notes.

Taste: Very on profile with plenty of nuts, oak and caramel plus a little baking spice and vanilla. Decent mouthfeel but I wanted more for the age and proof. Not even a hint of the proof.

Finish: Long, sweet and woody with oak, caramel and peanut.

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

Stagg Jr Batch 15

Age: NAS

Proof: 131.1

Neat

Nose: Cherries, rye spice and heat!

Taste: Cherry cola, rich oak, baking and rye spices, caramel, something earthy ala Eagle Rare and enough proof to let you know it’s there. Great texture and mouthfeel that is thick but not oily.

Finish: Long finish with lingering spice, oak and faint cherry.

3 Stars - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

Conclusion

First off that Russell’s Reserve 13 Year is amazing. It handily won the blind tasting and I am in no way surprised.

The Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was disappointing but in the way that disappointing fried chicken or weird RPGs can be where they are still good because you like the formula even if this iteration wasn’t exactly what you were looking for.

Stagg Jr continues to be a strong release. I missed batch 14 but I’m glad I scored this one. That said it wasn’t all that much better than Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered. In light of that closer call and how much the Russell’s won by I agree that batch 15 wouldn’t be the Stagg Jr to overpay for or spend a lot of time hunting though it’s an easy buy anywhere near retail.

 

TL;DR: Russell’s is the 🐐, Junior and UU were surprisingly close, poor ECBP

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Willett Family Estate Bourbon Cipher

I recently realized that I have far more open bottles of Willett Family Estate Single Barrels than I do written reviews so it’s time to change that. In addition to sample mountain I am now trying to work my way through my open Willetts as well!

I got this bottle almost 2 years ago in a charity event run by Bob’s Lake City Liquor who somehow got two barrels of Willett Family Estate Bourbon! This is the younger and lower proof of the two and is the wheated mashbill from Willett. I’ve been savoring the bottle but it recently hit the half way mark so it’s time to start hitting it. I got this via a combination of buying a ton of chili for a food bank and of course getting lucky in the raffle.

 

Willett Family Estate Bourbon Bob’s Liquor “Cipher”

Age: 6 years

Proof: 120.8

Mashbill: Wheated

Neat

Nose: Sweet cherry, honey wheat bread, caramel and faint spices. No proof sting.

Taste: Stronger fruit notes, less bread and more baking spice. Some oak and caramel notes as well. Great viscous mouthfeel and very nice proof integration until the very end.

Finish: Long and hot with both baking spice and proof sting along with more sweet wheat bread and subtle, fading caramel

Conclusion

I don’t know that I’ve ever had cherry jam but I suspect the nose of this Willett would be pretty close to cherry jam on honey wheat toast. The palate and mouthfeel a great too but the burn on the finish is just a little too hot and the grain/bread notes are just a little too prevalent for this to get the 4th star and live up to Highway Kind, my favorite 6 year wheated Willett. I’d gladly grab a replacement for this bottle if I thought there was even a remote chance of finding one at a semi reasonable price but that seems unlikely.

Overall these wheated Willett single barrels tend to remind me of the things I like from Weller picks and Four Roses picks rolled into one bottle. I can’t wait for the them to get a little older and in a crazy dream world a little more available.

 

TL;DR: Excellent whiskey, worth the retail price and all the chili cans. A little too young and hot for the 4th star

3 Stars - Excellent whiskey: I would be willing to hunt down a bottle

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Sample Mountain Week 25: Old Forester Distillery Releases

For week 25 of Sample Mountain I am revisiting Old Forester special releases with 2 distillery bottles that my local whiskey club shared. The first is the 117 series High Angel’s Share (which isn’t 117 proof) and the second is a President’s Choice Single Barrel (which is 117 proof 🤷‍♂️). The previous President’s Choice was one of the best Old Forester bottle’s I’ve ever had so my hopes are high for that one. I don’t know what to expect with the 117.

 

Old Forester 117 Series “High Angel’s Share”

Age: NAS

Proof: 110

Neat

Nose: Dark fruit and caramel with subtler charred oak.

Taste: Very on profile for Old Forester with caramel, oak, warm spice, some nuts and a hint of banana. A woody candy bar. Unremarkable but pleasant mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length and well balanced with spice, oak and caramel.

Buy a bottle? No - enjoyable but unremarkable other than the nose

Old Forester President’s Choice

Age: 9 years

Proof: 117

Neat

Nose: Sweet vanilla, caramel, baking spice and subtle oak.

Taste: Again very on profile for Old Forester with the caramel, vanilla cream, rich oak and faint banana. Very creamy, very nice mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long with balanced spice, vanilla and caramel.

Buy a bottle? No - Very good but not enough of a step up from the Single Barrel Barrel Strength picks

Conclusion

The nose on the 117 series was outstanding but the rest was a let down and at the end of the day I’d rather have a barrel strength pick. Maybe if it was higher proof or cheaper/more available I’d be interested but even then it’s a stretch.

The President’s Choice was much better and an instant buy at the MSRP but it wasn’t enough better than the local barrel strength picks to be worth tracking down or overpaying for.

 

TL;DR: President’s Choice > 117 Series. Both were enjoyable but stick with the barrel strength picks.

 

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Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Rye 2015

Early in my bourbon journey SAOS went from being a shelfie NDP bottle to very sought after in what seemed like no time. While I was able to grab a 10 year single barrel bourbon at retail before things got too crazy the rye eluded me. I eventually ended up getting one and had high hopes.

 

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Rye 2015

Age: 7 years

Proof: 99 proof

Batch No: 63

Neat

Nose: Sweet and herbaceous with vanilla frosting, dill, mint and spice notes. No proof sting

Taste: Spicier than the nose but with the same vanilla and herbal notes behind the rye and baking spices. Good mouthfeel for the proof and great proof integration.

Finish: Long and lingering with fading vanilla and oak then herbs and spices that stay in the back of your throat.

Conclusion

Well that was good but it wasn’t some legendary bottle from yesteryear that blows away modern MGP releases. I don’t think it’s worth tracking down one of these older 7 year, 99 proof SAOS ryes with the increasing availability of 6-8 year MGP ryes from places like Nashville Barrel Company, Proof and Wood, Barrell and Nulu. For example it’s taken me a lot longer to get through this bottle than some of the 7 year NBC picks.

 

TL;DR: Good whiskey, especially for the age and proof, not worth the hype

1 Star - Good whiskey: I would choose to drink this over readily available whiskies

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Sample Mountain Week 24: Father's Day MGP Tasting

For Week 24 of Sample Mountain I am back to older MGP bourbons specifically with some Smoke Wagon for Father’s Day. I got most of my early Smoke Wagon bottles and almost all of my Desert Jewel from my dad running it back from work trips to Las Vegas so this felt fitting. For this week’s “Buy a bottle?” we’ll be assuming you are in the market for older MGP and aren’t paying retail price. I tasted these blind to pick a winner then poured the rest of the samples and sat down to write more detailed tasting notes.

 

Old Pepper 11 Year Single Barrel

Age: 11 years

Proof: 112 proof

Neat

Nose: Big and bold with rich oak and sweet brown sugar but enough spice to balance it.

Taste: More brown sugar and more oak with vanilla and rye spice underneath. Nice mouthfeel but I was expecting more for the proof.

Finish: Long and slightly bitter with lots of oak and a little warm spice.

Buy a bottle? No - dubious at retail even given Redemption 10 Year High Rye

Smoke Wagon Private Barrel New Jersey Bourbon and Yacht Club

Age: 13 years

Proof: 108.4

Barrel: #5636

Neat

Nose: Softer than the Old Pepper with brown sugar, rye spice and oak.

Taste: Brown sugar and rich oak take the lead with some barrel char, rye spice, vanilla extract and a bit of mint. Excellent, oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and slightly dry but in a good way with lots of oak and a good amount of baking spice and a bit of sweetness.

Buy a bottle? Yes

Conclusion

The NJBYC Smoke Wagon was great. I don’t think it stood out compared to the other 2 13 year Private Barrels I’ve had (Austin Dead Liver Society and one from Dallas) but it’s still top tier older MGP. The Old Pepper was very good but definitely not worth tracking down vs grabbing a Redemption 10 Year High Rye or even a Remus Repeal.

 

TL;DR: The Smoke Wagon is a winner. The Old Pepper is good but so is most older MGP.

 

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