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This is the favorite bourbon of another dear friend of mine. It was her favorite (until I let her taste some George T. Stagg 2010 release . . . that blew her mind). However, I have heard that it was much better in the past then it is today.
Nose: The most subdued nose of the night (compared to Maker’s, Woodford, and Evan Williams Black label). This nose is all about that brown sugar in the background. Easily the most complex nose yet. But it is a nose with depth that only hints at other flavors: flowers, honey, hay, stable barn, flapjacks, bacon, coffee and breakfast. Really lovely and complex. This is the most surprising nose for me. Tone: tenor.
Taste: Smooth and round. Sweet, but not that sweet (certainly the least sweet of this group). It is an interesting exercise in harmony: give and take; sharp and sweet; smooth and edgy. But really I can’t pick out more then bourbon plain and simple.
Finish: A big swell of apple cider and roasted apples followed by some spice (cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and some brown sugar. Surprisingly short with a hint of soap and bitterness. It starts out to be an interesting and enjoyable finish, but it ends up being the least enjoyable of the group.
Balance, Complexity: Extremely complex on the nose and even on the mouth. The balance on the nose and mouth are astounding. Really, it is a very poor finish that keeps this bottle out of high marks.
Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: Darkest amber of the night: very blood orange. I really don’t love the bottle shape or the letters (all bold and modern-ish). I like the age statement but this is my least favorite aesthetic bottle.
Conclusion: Not a bad bourbon. I loved the nose, but was disappointed by the finish. If the finish were better I could see why my friend enjoyed it. I would like it more if the price were more affordable in Virginia. Maybe I would try another batch.