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Vintage Bourbon 17 Year Old

Bourbon With a Soul

0 898

@AboutChoiceReview by @AboutChoice

15th Sep 2010


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I had been passively looking for Vintage 17 Bourbon, and its cousins from the same distillery, for quite some time. Then while recently traveling, I decided to stop in for a browse at a spirit store whose only means to lure in customers was an indelicate billboard next to the expressway. Surprisingly, this seasoned old store turned out to have a very well-stocked collection of liquor, which not unlike a candy store (a few years back), caused tingles of excitement, and a drop in my vigilance of controlled spending. It was also a treat to also have discovered some of the cousins, such as Rowan’s Creek and Noah’s Mill.

Vintage Bourbon 17 is produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd, Bardstown, KY, where they also distill Johnny Drum Old-fashioned Sour Mash Whiskey, the Old Bardstown series, and the Small batch collection: Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage

Vintage Bourbon 17 is a Limited Edition vintage bourbon, aged 17 years. According to the distiller, it is selected from the very rarest lot of barrels, each hand-picked for taste, aroma and bouquet. The bottlings are very limited, and in my opinion, could very well differ between themselves. The color is deep amber, and there is also a 21 and 23 year expression. You would not think to find such a fine whiskey in such a plain bottle, with glued-on labels. If you can find it, the cost appears to vary widely, becoming higher the farther away you are from Kentucky.

Adding water seemed to mess with the soul, and flatten the depth, and so these notes are based on tasting without water. Prime the palate first with some other bourbon, then if you take small sips and let the nectar slowly percolate down, you should experience no burn in this one.

Bottle Nose: It is often rewarding to smell the open bottle before the pour, perhaps to capture a whiff of the dried residue (applies to the empty glass as well). Here we have a luscious assertive nose of dried fruit (prunes, dates, figs, apricot), toasted butterscotch, brown sugar and caramel. A very fine sniffing bourbon … which may very well be all you need for an occasional healthy and cost-free morsel of enjoyment.

Glass Nose: Rich piney, sugary caramel with bananas and perhaps a note of Oolong tea. The alcohol fumes are nicely controlled, thus yielding a pleasant nose without sharpness.

Palate: Deep and flavorful blast of sweet, toasted brown sugar, dried fruit, and some leathery notes, then drier toward the finish, with spiced almonds … reminds me a little of Bulliet bourbon, but with lots more going on. There is no bitterness or distracting harshness, and the structure is always smooth and syrupy.

Finish: Take your time and you will be rewarded by a long, creamy smooth and flavorful finish. You will develop a soft, warm and lasting glow … followed by ecstatic and satisfying feelings of amazement, well-being and suspended animation.

Conclusions: I have now tasted Vintage 17 many times, and each time I have concluded that this is a unique ultimate bourbon (higher than top-shelf), and probably the strongest contender for “if-you-can-only-choose-one-on-the-island”. This is a highly-engaging, satisfying and easy to drink bourbon which has a character of accomplished maturity and class. It is like meeting a dear old friend who you cherish, and who offers many old meaningful stories. Save this for special occasions … such as when you need cheering up after being stranded on a desert island.

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jdcook commented

I've never thought to write about the nose from bottle and glass for a review. Good idea!

11 years ago 0

dbk commented

Wonderful review, @AboutChoice! I've added this one to the Wishlist.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

Thank you @AboutChoice, for your review. This is a bourbon which you seldom or never see around here. I have been curious about it for a long time. I very much like Kentucky Bourbon Distillers' products in general, especially all ages of the Willets, Pure Kentucky XO, and Johnny Drum. I am sorry that I had not read this review earlier, since I finally saw a bottle of the Vintage in a store in Arizona a few days and about 2,000 miles ago. Next time, perhaps.

10 years ago 0

AboutChoice commented

Thanks to all for your kind notes. Along with some luck, you might be able to find Vintage 17, etc., in Indiana, and probably in Kentucky. And then again, I have not found Pure Kentucky XO or Johnny Drum yet :)

10 years ago 0

stevesmyth30 commented

About: Great review...I work in downtown Boston and have a guy in this tiny little liquor store, inthe middle of the city. He is a big bourbon guy, so I come in once a week and ask "what do you have for me". He pulled this one out from behind the others and told me he only had 2 left. He was "only' selling it for 54 dollars...so I snapped it up. Interestingly enough...I do my nose test via two seperate ways, but my "bottle nose" I actually like to get a good whiff of the cork. My bottle nose is very consistant with yours....A strong butterscoth aroma for me, coupled with dried apricots...quite lovely actually. My first taste was somewhat of a drag, actually. I taste it neat, as I do all bourbons at first. I found the first glass to be overwhelmingly leathery, and quite bitter. I was honestly concerned I may have received a "bad bottle". So of course, because I am me, I poured another substantial amount and let it sit in the glass for about 5 minutes. I stepped away, came back and WOW....what a difference. For me it was strong maple syrup notes with, I also agree, candied almonds. The finish was, in a simple note, delightful. It was warm, with no harshness. I found the finish to be similar to vanilla ice cream with butterscotch topping. it just stayed there nicely for a good minute or two. At first I was scared I had a bad bottle.....but since that first "bad" taste to start, the following 3 pours have been very, very good. I would put this bourbon well up there with my favorites, and have it on the waiting list with my "guy" for another bottle to stash away....def a keeper here.

9 years ago 0

AboutChoice commented

Hi @stevesmyth30, really glad you enjoyed Vintage 17, and that you even found it ! Thanks for sharing your technique of leaving the pour sit for a while ... I'll keep that in mind for any dram in the future. Let us know what else your "guy" finds for you ! :)

9 years ago 0

stevesmyth30 commented

Yeah, hes an old guy...everytime I go in, by afternoon he's pretty sauced. He always looks up and says "boy, i've got a juice for you". Not always na expensive one either. He turned me on to some really good inexpensive Willet's and others. ts funny, I let the pour sitby accident, but it makes sense, I mean it works for wines and ports, so why not whiskey?

9 years ago 0

Fons commented

I found it here in Belgium for € 52 a bottle. Talk about value for money!

8 years ago 0

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