Belle Meade has done a lot of great things recently with their finished line of bourbons. Sherry, Cognac and now Madeira cask finishes are all out of the park home runs for [Sniff] and I. This is a blend of 10yr and older whiskies from MGP (formerly known as LDI). Andy Nelson of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery (co-owner of Belle Meade and head distiller) has always been very open about where they get their distillate from and how little or hands on they are with the processes of selecting the yeast strains, barrels and locations of aging. Will this Single Barrel make the cut? Or will we stick to the fancy finishes that they are so good at churning out? Read on to find out!
C: A light reddish orange liquid with lighter edges when the light catches it.
N: The nose has an eerily similar honeyed characteristic like that of The Balvenie 12 yr doublewood. It’s very soft on the nose but a sweet, subtly spiced oak. A very light toffee/caramel notes comes through after sticking my nose deep in the glass. Possibly cooked quince or a tart fruit (not a fruit tart).
P: Vanilla, with spiced chocolate notes flood the mouth. Slightly charred oak and licorice create a sour bitter note, handled well by the welcoming sweetness.
F: The bourbon finishes with a slightly peppery, welcomed oaky spice. The longer the glass lingers with bourbon in it, the more the caramel and toffee characteristics swell and tempt you back for more. After a full day of sampling and reviewing bourbons, I can honestly say that coming back to this bourbon is a real treat. It feels like home base, that all other higher proof bourbons can be judged against.
Great company, great people and a pretty darn tasty bourbon. Like I said before though, their finished bourbons and whiskies are nothing to shake a stick at and you should definitely pick up a few cases when you get a chance. Unless we get to them first.
This single barrel bourbon isn’t like the normal blends from multiple barrels that other bourbons are usually created from. Tagged as “Super Premium”, this whisky is aged in a single barrel for the full 18 years and then bottled when deemed ready by Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam. First introduced in 1994, they discontinued the 18 year in 2012 after the demand for whiskey grew too great and there weren’t enough 18 year old barrels to meet it. They did however bring it back in 2015. Back for good? Not too sure, but we snagged a couple bottles to taste and see what all the hubbub is about.
C: Sunset orange with glints of reddish orange around the rim.
N: The smell you get from peeling an orange is the first thing that I get on the nose. That spritz of orange essential oils spraying into the air and perfuming everything, even your fingers and everything you touch afterwards. That is immediately followed by old oak, a little stale and musty saturated oak. Like under-ripe plum skins and over ripe apples sitting on your kitchen countertop that should have been eaten last week. It definitely smells rich and powerful, just not too sure yet if that’s a good thing or not. Oh, and a very faint ripe banana smell.
P: It is rich. And I’m immediately slapped in the face with oak, followed by that random banana. 90 proof plays the slow roll and gently singes the outer ends of your tongue. It’s spicy though, not to be mistaken with alcohol burn. The oak is extremely present but dark cocoa and stale cinnamon spice are layering up a defense to add something to the playing field. Smyrna Figs come through in a layer followed with raisins and black strap molasses. This is far better than the 23 year, you can actually taste things. Yeah, the figs are strong in this one.
F: The finish is full flavored. Full of spice, dry cocoa, nutmeg, dusty old cinnamon that you should have used 5 years ago, white pepper, a toothpick you should have stopped chewing on 10 minutes ago and vanilla extract. The oak is ever present in this expression, slightly dominating every aspect of the tasting, but somehow it does work. This bottle is a niche type of bourbon that a certain super premium bourbon buyer will want to have in there collection. There are definitely better values out there and I truly believe you’re not missing out on anything not buying this. But it is unique and always fun to explore.
This is something we’ve thought about doing for a long while now and thanks to a friend who lives in the video world, it’s become a reality. We’re hoping to bring a different perspective to the scotch and whisk(e)y world that might be a bit more relaxed than most people are used too. Then again, we think that everyone should be able to enjoy whisk(e)y without the pretensions that have been left at the quality spirit table.
Are there certain topics in the whisk(e)y world you’d like to hear about? Certain bottles you’d like to see reviewed? Leave us a comment here or on our new youtube channel and we’ll do our best to help you in your whisky journey 😀