Philosophy and Rare Bourbon
25th Sep 2012
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Tasting Notes by Victor
Ezra Brooks bourbons are generally believed to be distilled at the Heaven Hill distillery, and are bottled and sold through Luxco, in St. Louis, Missouri. Ezra Brooks products have included Ezra Brooks Green and White labels at 40% ABV, a Black Label 45% Ezra Brooks, a 7 yo Old Ezra at 50.5% ABV, and this 12 yo Ezra B. single barrel bourbon at 49.5% ABV/99 proof
The reviewed bottle is from Barrel # 361, bottled 7-2009. I looked for this whiskey for about 2 years before I succeeded in buying this bottle of it. The bottle has been open approximately 18 months with less than 100 ml previously consumed. The label indicates that a heavy char was used in the barrels of this whiskey. The review is of the bottle at 18 months opened
Nose: strong sweet vanilla with resonant maple and oak. This smells like delicious maple candy. A lovely bourbon nose
Taste: on the palate the flavours translate, but are even deeper-pitched than in the nose. The resonance of heavy char is quite apparent here, but it is quite pleasant. This is quite thick and chewy in body, and is also a bit oily. Rye flavours are pretty light here, which is typical of most Heaven Hill rye-mash bourbons, Fighting Cock bourbon being the exception. In 18 months the flavours of this bottle have deteriourated a bit, but only a small amount
Finish: long; after the sweetness leaves strong wood flavours remain. The finish of the reviewed bottle was much better when the bourbon was less oxidised
Balance: the reviewed bottle is still enjoyable even though it is a bit altered through oxidation. This bottle would probably have rated 3-7 pts higher from me in its prime. The nose is worthy to be enjoyed in its own right.
Now to the philosophical: this bottle symbolises to me a lot of what 'connoisseur' whiskies are all about. This is a rare bottle, even in the USA. It came from a single barrel. I have only seen Ezra B. offered for sale a couple of times.
When I first sampled from this bottle it was like three different whiskeys sampled neat, with water, and with ice. The flavours were entirely different and intriguing among those three methods of sampling, the greatest deviation of flavours I had observed with any whisk(e)y. I put the bottle aside to observe and review later, but didn't get back to it until now, so I do not have detailed tasting notes documenting those differences. This particular bottle has been quite a "trip" for me, but it now doesn't show the same properties as it did 18 months ago.
Bottom line: engage the distinctive bottle when the opportunity presents itself. There is much to discover, and the opportunity may be fleeting