I was a little surprised to find that AECS hasn't been reviewed on connosr. Yes it is nearly $200 per bottle, yes it is somewhat rare, yes bourbon finished in port barrels is (was?) controversial, but all of these things sound like a perfect mixture of qualities that would draw some discerning connosr to buy and review a bottle. I suppose that task has fallen to me. My bottle is the 2014 release, it is nearly empty and has been open for a little more than a year.
Nose: I've used a cover to concentrate the nose on this old bottle. Nose is as it should be with high quality bourbon and port notes. Diving deeper also brings out red delicious apples, fig preserves, cinnamon butter, caramel. There is also a hefty bit of alcohol once other notes settle down. It is significantly sweeter than a standard bourbon nose in a good way.
Taste: Surprisingly woody on first sip. My understanding is that standard AE is between 6-8yr bourbon finished for several months in port barrels. This version is definitely from older stock. Entry is hot and not in a way I enjoy. The heat does calm down after a few sips, but I'd rather not bother with it and add a few drops of water. This brings out more of the port flavors and caramel. When I first opened the bottle, this was a much sweeter bourbon with heavy caramel, cherry, and wine notes. Now it is over wooded with a burning mid palate.
Finish: Caramel and wood dominate, but the port barrels finally make an appearance. Thankfully the heat seems to calm down here, but there isn't any payoff for the trouble.
Balance: With the exception of the nose, the only balance here is that both the palate and finish are equally bad. It is shameful that this was bottled and more shameful that it is priced 3-4 times the standard bottling.
Final Thoughts: Compared to the standard AE, this is crap. I've never really enjoyed the 2014 batch, but I have had the 2015 and it was significantly better. As with most whiskey that commands a $200 price tag, this one does not possess the qualities needed to justify such an investment.