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Bourbon, ah my very first love, my introduction to the Whiskey World. A love that I've had for going on 15 years now.
Gone are the days I'd mix it in coke and ice, gone are the days when I felt I was mature and sophisticated for just putting it on the rocks.
Now I enjoy bourbon neat, in my trusty glencairn.
Now you may wonder why I started this review up with that little trip through nostalgia, the simple fact of the matter is that I've fallen in love again, and I've fallen hard.
A while back I helped out a friend of mine, doing some work, and when he asked how I'd like to be paid I said whisk(e)y, figuring I'd get something nice, but unexceptional.
Instead he gave me the Elijah Craig 20 year old single barrel.
To say I was blown away is an understatement to say the least.
So easily one of the oldest bourbons I've ever tried, much less owned, this whiskey was drawn from the same lot as Whisky Advocates American Whiskey of the Year was, which means it was pulled at the same, it doesn't mean it was the same barrel.
However that's still pretty high praise as you're not likely to age a bourbon for 20 years and then bottle it as a single barrel if it's crap, or so I believe in my own uneducated opinion.
My bottle was barreled on March 19, 1991 and was barreled in barrel 20.
First off the color is lovely, a very dark amber that begs you to take a taste, screams to you that you need to give it a nose, with long sexy legs.
The nose is toasted oak, vanilla, furniture polish, oddles of vanilla, some red vine cherries, coconut, tobacco, spices, mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, dried fruit, sultanas, cherries, brown sugar, tea leaves (earl gray) hint of chocolate, hugely freaking complex.
Yeah that nose is AWESOME! At times it reminds of a very refined Stagg.
Actually I'd be just fine sitting here nosing this whiskey for hours, to hell with drinking it. There's something new each time you go back to it.
But I digress I should honestly take a sip as while it looks pretty in the glass, it eventually will just look sort of odd having a house full of glencairns full of whisky.
On first sipping the first thing you get is the charred oak, then the oak tannins, leather, vanilla, red vines, very drying to the palate, but it continues, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sultanas, figs, more vanilla, leather, god this is good.
Even though it's dry, really dry, it's got a great mouthfeel, and it's so tasting and welcoming that you say screw it, let's have another taste. There's NO burn on this whiskey, this is literally a perfect example of the "Sipping bourbon."
The finish is very mild, but lingers on and on, with vanilla and brown sugar sitting on the palate, 5, 10 minutes after you've finished your last drink.
This is by no means a cheap whiskey, running at around $280-$300 a bottle, and will be very difficult to find as most bottleshops won't stock it, but it's completely worth the hunt.
The only downside to this whiskey is that it's so delicious and easy drinking that a bottle goes much faster then I'd like.
Think you don't like bourbon, I dare you to say that after trying this bad boy.
Now all I need is another bottle of this to make my day.