Rich Cask Strength Bourbon
13th Dec 2010
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Tasting Notes by AboutChoice
Noah’s Mill (NM), a small batch Bourbon, bottled at 57.17% ABV, and produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd, Bardstown, KY, is the boldest offering in their Small Batch Collection: Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage. They also distill Johnny Drum Old-fashioned Sour Mash Whiskey, Vintage Bourbon 17, and the Old Bardstown series. Though my bottle has neither an age statement nor a batch number, many descriptions indicate a maturity of 15 years. Finally, Noah’s Mill is one of the elite members of rare cask-strength bourbons. According to the distiller, NM is bottled at a strength that best compliments its age … which gives me the feeling that, although the ABV is right up there, it may not, technically, be at cask-strength.
Though not a ubiquitous whiskey, I have seen NM now and then on the internet, and I suppose I was attracted by its rarity and seemingly small production as compared to the mainstream bourbons. The label on its wine-type bottle, which appears almost hand-designed, also generates a degree of fascination
Bottle Nose: Tantalizing old cask, dried fruit, licorice, and butterscotch. Dried residue likely contributes to the bottle nose, but this is such a treat with these mature bourbons … and often a better predictor of the imminent taste experience.
Glass Nose: After resting for 10 minutes, we have old piney wood, tobacco and leather.
Palate: Tasting the smallest sip possible without water, your tongue receives a blast of concentrated medium-sweet brown sugar and then dry and leathery old-wood flavor. There are also hints of mint and tobacco. Do not dare to swallow yet, until the nectar has spent some time on the palate, while self-diluting, and then in its own time, has percolated down. When it is all over, there is no doubt that you have just consumed something bold and remarkable!
Finish: You will need to sit down for this lovely and warming medium-long ending … a moment of silence, a catalyst for contemplation … a panacea for all ailments. Upon returning to reality, you notice that there was no bitterness and little or no burn … only a lingering soft and warm dryness.
Conclusion: Noah’s Mill Bourbon may well be, at near cask strength, about as good as bourbon gets; I have gleaned that sometimes a bourbon that has been too long in the barrel, tends to become overly woody and looses what it has taken so long to achieve. I do not believe this is the case with Noah’s Mill.
For those Scotch drinkers who have tasted and enjoyed Macallan Cask, Laphroaig Cask or Aberlour a’bunadh, the cask strength adventure with Noah’s Mill will be familiar. Though NM may neither be a “go-to” nor a desert-island whiskey, you will want to have such a high-octane bottle in reserve or those moments in which you are thinking: “take me to another land!” ... might that be Kentucky?
If done properly, NM is quite drinkable and highly rewarding w/o water. Adding water, sometimes for me, transforms NM into a full-bodied and luscious dram (not a problem at all), but also drops it down out of the bold, sock-it-to-me category … thus loosing that flagrant cask-strength flavor rush. It would seem that the proper dram for these fine high-ABV whiskies would be no more than 1/2 oz (15ml), and that slowly experiencing small sips would take 20 to 30 minutes.
Today I am enjoying NM a bit over the 63% Booker’s … one of its few heavy-weight bourbon peers … I think it might be the slight bitterness I find in Booker’s (although indeed a fine drink itself). Also, I feel that NM is smoother, richer and sweeter than Booker’s. Another peer that comes to mind is George T. Stagg bourbon at a staggering 70%, which begs to be tasted next to Noah’s Mill.
Well I just came in from shoveling a blustery snow, and I am now giving this writing a final review, along with a few sips of Noah’s Mill … indeed the perfect dram to rejuvenate the spirit and warm the innards !