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I’ve been told by friends and fellow members (not mutually exclusive) that this would be one for me to try. I often talk about my dislike for cloying sweetness. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to turn me off of a whisk(e)y. Quality sweetness, yes. Cloying, no. As such, bourbon is a frequent offender. Not so here. This is a fiercely unique and powerful whiskey. It’s also one of the best Beam offerings I’ve had. Here’s my take on it:
Nose: Not too sweet, which I like. Rye, butterscotch, nutmeg, charred oak, maple, cinnamon, licorice, vanilla and eucalyptus. The vanilla has a distinctive subtlety and airy lightness about it that’s hard to describe. It seems to hover just above the maple and rye foundation. This rye is herbal and grassy but never sharp. It seems to have a more pronounced drying effect than most other Beams. This is a fun one to nose.
Palate: Wow. Did I just say this wasn’t sharp? A semi-bitter arrival with some serious sting. Very unexpected and very lovely. Despite it’s power, this retains a medium mouthfeel. This is dry, big, and prickly. A healthy helping of rye, roasted nuts, oak, cayenne, charcoal, and again that “airy” hovering vanilla note. This has a brilliant intensity.
Finish: This stings for a while (in a good way). Very spicy and very big. Oak, roasted nuts, licorice, hay, vanilla, butter, spearmint, bitter herbs, and a sarsaparilla note that is somewhere between medicine and root beer. There’s a burnt character to this finish. Long and sturdy.
I don’t get how this is a standard Beam mashbill. It really stands apart from its brothers. Where KC is sweet, this is bitter. Where Booker’s pulls us in with its structured complexity, this pulls us in with its untamed vitality. This is a bold, aggressive, unapologetic creature. This bourbon is for the adventurous. It attacks, it stings, it dries, and it punishes you in the best kind of way.
Of course, it follows that some people might see this as unbalanced. I don’t think it is. I think it has the intended effect. It’s big, it’s merciless, it’s unique, and it’s loads of fun. I have to applaud Beam for going out of their way to give us a full spectrum of profiles in their small batch series. This is a solid compliment to the series and my second favorite to date (all hail Bookers!). I’ve tried just about all the Beam small batch releases. Now onto the KC Single Barrel. Sorry KC Maple; you don’t count.