Making Bourbon Great Again, Again, Again

by Evan

We recently hosted another sold-out Bourbon/American Whiskey tasting here at KWM. Despite having to put up with me talking about the bottles at these Bourbon tastings, people still seem to be excited about tasting them.

This is for good reason: it doesn’t matter how boring my talks are, the bottles poured are typically represent very good value. Unless they happen to be a 15-year-old single cask Tennessee Whiskey like the last one in this lineup. That expensive exception aside, the other six bottles in the lineup were $115 bucks or less. Four of the bottles can be had for 75 bucks or less. In Canadian Dollars even!

I am very happy for two things: One, that these American Whiskey tastings are popular enough that we (I) can host at least one each season. The second is  that there is enough new American Rye and Bourbon hitting shelves for me to put an entirely new lineup together for pretty much every single tasting. Except when I want to revisit some old favourites…

What did I choose to feature in this round of our Making Bourbon Great Again tasting? Read on below!

Bondi 4 Year Old Bourbon $58
Pronounced “Bond-EYE”, this Bourbon is made from a 100% Corn mash at Panther Distillery, which resides in Osakis, Minnesota and was established in 2011. Bondi Bourbon is aged for at least 4 years before being bottled at 40% ABV. Don’t let the full-corn mash or the 40% ABV turn you off – this is a solid Bourbon for the price.

Redemption Bourbon $50
Sourced from MGP (Midwest Grain Products) of Lawrenceburg, Indiana from a mash bill of 75% Corn, 21% Rye and 4% Malted Barley. According to the company’s own website, the Redemption Bourbon is aged for an average of two and a half years and then bottled at Bardstown, Kentucky at 42% ABV.

Legent Bourbon $60
Legent (pronounced ‘lee-jent’) is comprised of three lots of Bourbon matured in different manners. A large portion is 5 year old Straight Bourbon. This was blended with Bourbon that was finished California red wine casks for one year and another batch of Bourbon finished in Sherry casks for two years. Legent is bottled at 47% ABV.

This new Bourbon from Beam Suntory was a collaboration between their American and Japanese arms of whisky making. Suntory’s master blender, Shinji Fukuyo, partnered with Jim Beam’s Master Distiller Fred Noe to create Legent, which underwent several years of development before the final product was released. Fred Noe’s part in everything was the distillation itself – as Master Distiller at Jim Beam. Shinji Fukuyo was in charge of the blending.

Knob Creek Twice Barrelled Rye $90
Beam Suntory has been putting out quite a few special releases American Whiskey-wise recently, including the Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye. Similar to the Jim Beam Double Oak – this Knob Creek was given a secondary maturation in heavily charred virgin oak barrels. Knob Creek itself is produced at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Bottled at 50% ABV.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 64.5% $72
Prepare yourself, for this is no shrinking violet. Jack Daniels Single Barrel at Barrel Proof weighs in at 129 proof. Made from Jack Daniel’s typical mash bill of 80% Corn, 12% Rye, and 8% Malted Barley. The mash was distilled and then put through the Lincoln County Process before being put into heavily charred virgin oak barrels made at the distillery’s own cooperage. Single barrel releases from Jack Daniel’s are typically 4 to 7 years old. 64.5% ABV

At its base level, the Lincoln County Process used to make Tennessee Whiskey means that the new make spirit or white dog/white lightning is filtered through sugar maple charcoal before being put into barrels to age. Jack Daniel’s has its own version of this, wherein the distillery burns sugar maple boards/ricks to a heavy char and then sprays them down with water to prevent complete combustion. After burning the new charcoal is ground into pellets and packed into vats through which the 70% ABV new make spirit filters through. The filtered spirit is cut to 62.5% ABV and put into heavily charred virgin oak barrels to age away.

Whisky Fassle Tennessee Whiskey 2003 $330
Possibly distilled at the Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tennessee, where George Dickel Tennessee Whisky is produced, this single cask was bottled at 15 years of age by German independent bottler Whisky Fassle. Distilled back in 2003. Bottled in 2018 at 49.6% ABV.

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey $115
This Peated Single Malt American Whiskey Made at Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon. Clear Creek is one of the first modern craft distilleries in the USA and was founded in 1985. While the distillery typically focuses on Fruit based spirits and brandies, McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey is far from that. It is made using peated malt sourced from Scotland. After distillation, it is aged for three years in casks made from Oregon oak. Bottled at 42.5% ABV.

Here are the favourites of the night, as voted on by the crowd in attendance:

3. The new Legent (why didn’t they just call it Leejent if that is how you are supposed to pronounce it?) Bourbon wowed many a palate.

2. Redemption Bourbon took second place. If I had revealed the pricing of the bottles before taking votes, it would have easily taken first place…

1. The Whisky Fassle 15 year old single cask from Tennessee easily took first place. However, it was definitely in a different echelon both in terms of rarity, and because of that rarity, price. 330 dollars, even if they are Canadian dollars, can seem like a lot to spend on a bottle of American Whiskey. However, that should not turn you off from trying this bottle out. It is a beauty…

As usual, the tasting was a lot of fun to put on for me, and also a lot of fun making people put up with me! Hopefully, we can do it again real soon, say in a month or two – and maybe run it as a blind tasting just for fun!

Cheers and until next time,
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