The Whiskey Collective is one year strong. To celebrate, we sampled these 4 bourbons on Monday night.
Know Your Whiskey
Elijah Craig 12-year Old Bourbon
This 12-year-old bourbon is made by Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s named after Reverend Elijah Craig, a Baptist preacher, who the distillery claims discovered aging whiskey in charred barrels. It’s been around for many years and is also made in 18, 20, 21, and 22-year single barrel variations, with a 23-year reportedly coming this fall.
Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon
Rock Hill is made in Frankfort, Kentucky by Buffalo Trace Distillery. It’s named after the farmland along the Kentucky River that was also the former home of whiskey legend, Albert Blanton. This bourbon was first released in 1990. It’s made with Buffalo Trace’s bourbon mash bill #2 (high rye), the same mash bill as Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, and others.
Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bourbon
This small batch whiskey is named after Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr., a descendant of two American presidents and another one of the famous bourbon men associated with the Buffalo Trace Distillery. He began distilling at the end of the Civil War and developed many techniques still used today in making whiskey. Buffalo Trace makes six whiskeys under the E.H. Taylor brand.
Barterhouse 20-year Bourbon
Barterhouse was released earlier this year to much fanfare and hype. This bourbon is part of the Orphan Girl Whiskey Project, a new program of old and rare limited-release bourbons. They claim to have found barrels of whiskey “hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.”
From the very beginning, I have taken this project with a grain of salt. I guess it would be possible to lose a barrel occasionally but to lose enough barrels to essentially create a new company and have multiple expressions (20-year Rhetoric Bourbon and a 26-year Old Blowhard Bourbon) is kind of ridiculous. I would think if that many bourbon barrels are being lost, some people need to be fired.
What was first advertised as rare, seems to be deception, as one of the two bottles we purchased is bottle number 32,017, not exactly rare. With all the hype though, the bottle labels and website are beautiful.
Our Tasting Notes
Elijah Craig is amber in color with a sweet nose of vanilla, oak, and char. The first sip revealed a little spice, surprising since it only has 10% rye. After that, sweet notes of vanilla and caramel carried on for a delicious, long linger. Corn, dark fruit, and char are also present. At only $27, this is one of the great values in bourbon, good for sipping and cocktails.
Rock Hill Farms is deep gold in color with corn, cherry, and mint on the nose. Cherry is prevalent in the taste as well. One of the members even remarked that it tasted like cherry cough syrup. I wouldn’t go quite that far but it did seem a little thick for my taste with additional notes of corn, maple, and vanilla.
Colonel E.H. Taylor is amber in color with a mild and slightly sweet nose. A touch of rye lasts a second before a super sweet beginning of chocolate, vanilla, and dry fruit take over. That lends way to a great, long linger that lasts for minutes. This was an excellent bourbon.
Barterhouse is dark amber in color with a sweet nose that includes some oak. The beginning of this bourbon lacks the oak you’d normally expect with a 20-year bourbon. The initial flavors are amazing: cherry, vanilla, toffee, caramel, candied orange all present.
Unfortunately, those flavors last for about 3-5 seconds before falling off into mediocrity. If the beginning of this bourbon lasted for 10+ seconds, it would rank as one of my top 10 bourbons ever, but as is, it doesn’t strike me as anything exceedingly special, especially considering thie price tag of $85.
The Collective Favorite
At the end of every evening we like to take a vote to see which whiskey is the "fan favorite." The overwhelming favorite of the group, with over half of the votes, was Barterhouse 20-year. Next was the Colonel E.H. Taylor with only five votes.
Thanks to all those that came out. If you'd like to join us at future tastings, sign up on our email list at seattlewhiskeycollective.com.