PDA

View Full Version : Bourbons with Caramel and/or Butterscotch flavor in their profile



JPBoston
12-30-2012, 10:58
Hey folks,

I did a search on the forums and only came up with one thread from about two years ago asking a similar question, so I figured it would be okay to pose the question again.

I'm looking for bourbons with a sweet spot. The most recent example I've had in my cabinet is ORVW 10/107, but I'm hoping to find a more regular and hopefully less expensive 'everyday pour'. I think OWA may kinda-sorta fall into this category, but it's been awhile so I don't know if my memory is to be trusted.

Quick story --- Back when I first got into bourbon (and the only two I had at that point were BT and MM), I ordered some Woodford Reserve at a nice restaurant. It tasted of butterscotch and vanilla... it was delicious, even my wife liked it! Then I bought a bottle the next week, and it had basically NONE of that character at all! I don't know how the flavor could be so different... Did the bartender pour me a different bourbon? Or maybe it spent so much time in the opened bottle at the bar that it 'opened up'?. Did the atmposhere/food affect my palate? I have no idea.

So anyway --- are there any regularly available pours that feature that caramel or butterscotch sweetness? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ADDED: Sorry if that doesn't read too smoothly --- kids are freaking NUTS today!!! Can't look away from 'em for more then 10 seconds at a time.

jeffrey r
12-30-2012, 11:20
As to less expensive everyday pours with this profile, I don't have exhaustive knowledge, but I would say Weller 12 and Larceny are two great options. OWA to me doesn't fit this profile, as it is more 'in your face' flavor backed by the proof, not so much caramely. Obviously there are the more expensive options like the Van Winkles, Vintage 17 wheater (huge caramel on the finish), etc. I really like this profile as well.

Oh, and my kids are driving me nuts today also. Just went sledding though with a few fresh inches of snow from yesterday, and that broke things up a bit. Guessing you don't have that option in Arizona...

portugieser
12-30-2012, 11:41
Agreed that Weller 12 yr is probably best option. I also find these flavor profiles, though less predominantly, in EW single barrel and good ole Buffalo Trace.

Crowes
12-30-2012, 11:58
I would add Elmer T. Lee as well.

BradleyC
12-30-2012, 12:03
Try Old Charter 10

squire
12-30-2012, 12:10
JP when I started reading your thread my first thoughts were Elmer Lee and Old Charter 101, Lee because Mr. Elmer designed it to hit on the sweeter caramel side of the spectrum and Charter because it is a low rye recipe that is more corn forward, thus sweeter to some.

LostBottle
12-30-2012, 12:16
I recently tried a Willett 8 year wheated that was all toffee and caramel. Though not something I'd regularly reach for as I prefer a drier whiskey, it was enjoyable.

squire
12-30-2012, 12:18
Overlooked the budget aspect of your post. Of course there's the 8 yr 80 prf Charter which costs less. Another consideration would be to sweeten up a regular Bourbon, Barton, Evan Williams, etc., by mixing them in a cocktail such as a Manhattan.

kickert
12-30-2012, 13:25
In general, things in the 10-15 year range are most likely to have that sweet thickness you are after. This is the point where a bourbon picks up most of the carmalized sugar from the barrel, but has not yet picked up all the tannins and oakiness. I find Buffalo Trace to be the sweetest bourbons in general

My top recommendations would be Weller 12, AAA10yr and OC10. ETL is also recommended along side BT and ERSB.

EC12 and EWSB are also in the range and have similar flavors, but I find they have more of a grassy taste alongside the sweetness.

WAINWRIGHT
12-30-2012, 13:48
I would put most of the BT wheated line in this category as way of the W12 and Lot B as a caramel and butterscotch forward pour.I usually get these notes from the older wheated products more than those of which have less age.

JPBoston
12-30-2012, 14:29
Thanks for all the quick replies!

Elmer T Lee --- YES, I've read very positive tasting notes that seem to echo what you guys are saying. But of course, can't get it here in AZ (Gonna have to beg Total Wine will import for me -- read too many good things about this one).

Old Charter 101`or 10yr -- Would definitely fit in my budget (I just meant 'less expensive than Van Winkle products), but it's another brand that isn't available here. :(

BT --- You guys are right about that, though I get more vanilla than Butterscotch and/or caramel. My last bottle of BT was really dry, maybe that's why I forgot to mention it.

AAA 10 yr -- Of course, the only Ancient Age I can find in stores here is the super-cheap version, based on reviews here I've stayed away.

Weller 12yr --- I actually have a bottle of this, but only had a pour or two of it a month ago. Don't remember much caramel/butterscotch, but I was fighting off a cold at the time. Maybe the SB blend (which I've been saving it for, until I grab a bottle of OWA) will bring out that thicker caramel type profile.

The overall theme here seems to be that AZ is bigoted against this flavor profile. ;)

HP12
12-30-2012, 15:51
Isn't the profile of SW juice nicely laden with butterscotch?

squire
12-30-2012, 16:02
HP I remember Stitzel-Weller whiskies more for their balance rather than for any stand out characteristic. Of course a wheat recipe whisky has more going for it in sweetness (corn + wheat) than rye and some tasters find that appealing, but so much of the flavor comes from the wood that maturity, barrel proof entry and placement in the warehouse may well have more to do with our taste sensations than grain alone.

Then there's the yeast influence but that's a whole 'nother thread.

HP12
12-30-2012, 16:06
HP I remember Stitzel-Weller whiskies more for their balance rather than for any stand out characteristic. Of course a wheat recipe whisky has more going for it in sweetness (corn + wheat) than rye and some tasters find that appealing, but so much of the flavor comes from the wood that maturity, barrel proof entry and placement in the warehouse may well have more to do with our taste sensations than grain alone.

Then there's the yeast influence but that's a whole 'nother thread.

Good point on the balance aspect. I personally don't have any reliable experience with much SW juice but thought I had heard the butterscotch was a characteristic.

squire
12-30-2012, 16:17
Sometimes folks find what they want in a whisky HP. I read posts on other whisky boards praising the rye spiciness of the legendary 13 year old, single barrel Bush Pilot whisky from Canada. It was good stuff, I got three bottles before they were taken off the market. When I read tasting notes from some of the people who claim to have tasted it they apparently found what they wanted and were oblivious to the fact that it was a 100% corn whisky.

boneuphtoner
12-30-2012, 16:22
To the OP original question, I have also detected the strongest butterscotch notes in standard Woodford, but more in the nose than the palate. I think the nose is among the finest in all of bourbon, but Woodford's palate is not quite as good IMHO. I have found letting it air out brings out the butterscotch, and for my nose, 10 minutes of air time even brings the slightly inferior Old Forester nose up to Woodford's level. The first time I noticed this was at Churchill Downs when I got the last of a Woodford bottle that had been opened at least the night before, and my next drink was from a freshly opened bottle. Huge difference.

squire
12-30-2012, 16:27
Sometimes I find walnut in a mature Bourbon, not everyone does.

awachatz
12-30-2012, 16:43
Not a bourbon, but Forty Creek Barrel Select Canadian whiskey has a ton of butterscotch flavor imo. Much more than any bourbon.

Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2

smokinjoe
12-30-2012, 17:07
JP, if you happen to run across an Ezra B Single Barrel 15 yr, you will find the most butterscotchy bourbon that I have ever tasted.

FWIW, going along with Awachatz's post...Like Forty Creek, I find Canadian whiskies in general, to have a goodly amount of butterscotch influence across distillery lines.

Curtisc84
12-30-2012, 17:08
EC12 and EWSB are also in the range and have similar flavors, but I find they have more of a grassy taste alongside the sweetness.

I enjoy the sweetness of the EC12 as an everyday pour. Its more of a brown sugar note for me.

smknjoe
12-30-2012, 17:12
I'm sitting here with a pour of OWA and Weller 12 side by side for comparison and, after letting them sit for 20-30 minutes, I have to say the OWA has a sweeter caramel taste than the Weller 12. The Weller 12 has more wood overtones than the OWA and actually seems a little thinner. The reason for the side by side comparison was completely unrelated to the thread, but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in. Bourbon in general is known for a caramel like sweetness to some degree. Of course it can vary from brand to brand. Try them all! I have the ETL next on my list as well. Good luck with your hunt.

If anybody cares: the OWA is from circa 2009 bottling and the W12 is from 2011 I believe.

smknjoe
12-30-2012, 17:14
JP, if you happen to run across an Ezra B Single Barrel 15 yr, you will find the most butterscotchy bourbon that I have ever tasted.

FWIW, going along with Awachatz's post...Like Forty Creek, I find Canadian whiskies in general, to have a goodly amount of butterscotch influence across distillery lines.

Yikes! I didn't know there was already a Smokin' Joe on the site. Do I need to change my username?

squire
12-30-2012, 17:16
Don't bother, doubt he'll even notice.

squire
12-30-2012, 17:19
Speaking of which Joe, I didn't notice the butterscotch in the Ezra 15 so much as the wood. Wish I had another one to reevaluate that thought.

smokinjoe
12-30-2012, 17:29
Yikes! I didn't know there was already a Smokin' Joe on the site. Do I need to change my username?

Brotha from a different motha!!! :D Welcome, Joe!

BradleyC
12-30-2012, 18:55
Isn't the profile of SW juice nicely laden with butterscotch?

When I think if dusty bourbon with butterscotch qualities Old Taylor BIB from dsp 19 quickly tops my list. It's an unmistakable butterscotch bomb.

JPBoston
12-30-2012, 19:30
Loving the discussion here, guys. :)


To the OP original question, I have also detected the strongest butterscotch notes in standard Woodford, but more in the nose than the palate. I think the nose is among the finest in all of bourbon, but Woodford's palate is not quite as good IMHO....

That's exactly what I remember from the night I ordered WR at the resaurant, now that you're jogging my memory. The nose was incredibly butterscotch, but less so on the actual palate. Maybe I should give WR another shot one of these days.




JP, if you happen to run across an Ezra B Single Barrel 15 yr, you will find the most butterscotchy bourbon that I have ever tasted.

FWIW, going along with Awachatz's post...Like Forty Creek, I find Canadian whiskies in general, to have a goodly amount of butterscotch influence across distillery lines.

I can get Ezra Brooks 12 yr Small Batch... have you tried that? And I didn't realize Canadian whiskies were big on butterscotch.... maybe I should take a flyer on a few sample bottles.


I enjoy the sweetness of the EC12 as an everyday pour. Its more of a brown sugar note for me.

I got the same note on my EC12 bottle a ways back as well. Though at first it was more of an unsweetened dark chocolate, then after a few weeks in the opened bottle, I got more of a hint of that brown sugar.

White Dog
12-30-2012, 21:52
Any Old Forester dimpled bottle. That said, I find Woodford to be rather thin and would say that it's the opposite of what the OP is looking for. But hey, that's just my opinion.

michaelturtle1
12-30-2012, 22:04
Dusty old foresters have a very sweet taste, I get a bit of it in the repeal 75th anniv bottles by Old forester but it is not nearly as pronounced as the dusties, OWA, WSR and Weller 12 all have a sugary component of their profile but no where close to the Foresters.

kickert
12-31-2012, 02:17
If you want sweet heading toward caramel in an easy to find bottle, standard Makers Mark might fit the bill.

tmckenzie
12-31-2012, 04:55
The first thing that comes to mind is pre beam Old Taylor, which is hard to come by. Buttersctoch all the way. Not one bourbon on the market now has that much in it. Lots of bourbon used to have this, somebody already mentioned Old Forester. Most distilleries used to ferment hotter as they had not cooling in the fermenters. It stressed the yeast, making diacetyl and there you have it. Most have coils now as they have thickened the mash up to get more whiskey out of a fermenter. Makers Mark I am told recently just did that.

T Comp
12-31-2012, 09:10
The first thing that comes to mind is pre beam Old Taylor, which is hard to come by. Buttersctoch all the way. Not one bourbon on the market now has that much in it. Lots of bourbon used to have this, somebody already mentioned Old Forester. Most distilleries used to ferment hotter as they had not cooling in the fermenters. It stressed the yeast, making diacetyl and there you have it. Most have coils now as they have thickened the mash up to get more whiskey out of a fermenter. Makers Mark I am told recently just did that.

Nice info Tom. Makes sense.The ND distilled...either Old Taylor or Old Grand Dad, nothing comes close to those butterscotch bombs. Not so much, as I recall Old Crow, though I never had pre '60s original formula Old Crow which, per Chuck, was mistakenly changed in a plant expansion the '60s.

squire
12-31-2012, 09:32
Thanks for that Tom, your input is always appreciated.

I've had the pre-1960 distilled Crow Thad and as nearly as I can recall (memory's a bit hazy, this was nearly 50 years ago) it was dryer than a contemporary Old Taylor, both were 6 years old and 86 proof.

Gillman
12-31-2012, 09:55
Interesting how in some ways bourbon production was so traditional or artisan until recently, and in many ways still is. For example, all large breweries - setting aside some craft operations - are now "sterile" (no jokes please) in a way they never were in the era of wooden vessels and poor temperature control. E.g. I've read Guinness only became so around 1950. Yet breweries from the 1700's were at least using "attemporators" to control mashing and fermenting temperatures, essentially through the kinds of coils Tom mentioned. But in whiskey production, that wasn't deemed necessary until comparatively recently because the beer would, i) be rendered slightly acidic anyway to lower the Ph to assist fermentation and prevent spoilage bacteria from getting at the sugars, ii) the beer would last only as long as was needed until the next still run. Diacetyl can still be a problem in brewing but techniques exist such as "rests" to reduce or eliminate it.

One wonders why the distillers eliminated some of these interesting old tastes which gave character to their makes...

Gary

shoshani
12-31-2012, 10:23
The first thing that comes to mind is pre beam Old Taylor, which is hard to come by. Buttersctoch all the way. Not one bourbon on the market now has that much in it. Lots of bourbon used to have this, somebody already mentioned Old Forester.

I turned 21 in 1986 and, having been influenced by 1950s magazine ads, immediately took up with the BIB expressions of Taylor, Grand-Dad, Forester, and Fitz. This amused a bartender friend of mine who called them "World War II Veterans' Whiskey", but I loved them. And in those pre-public Internet days, I had absolutely no clue that I was enjoying the tail end of a golden age that would never be repeated. (We have lovely bourbon now, don't get me wrong, but it's not what it was back then.)

OGD BIB and Old Forester Signature are still pleasant pours, although they have noticeably changed. I'll get Fitz now and again and while HH does their best to keep it going, all they have is what they inherited when they bought New Bernheim - which is a far cry from what was being put out at Stitzel-Weller in its glory days. I haven't had the temerity to try Old Taylor since Beam bought it, although I still have an unopened 500ml ND BIB bottle that's unbelievably nine years old (distilled 1971, bottled 1980) that I'm saving for some special occasion or other. Late 1980s-early 1990s OT BIB was probably my favorite bourbon ever.

squire
12-31-2012, 10:25
Perhaps in retrospect they wouldn't have Gary.

BourbonGuy
12-31-2012, 10:40
The first thing that comes to mind is pre beam Old Taylor, which is hard to come by. Buttersctoch all the way. Not one bourbon on the market now has that much in it. Lots of bourbon used to have this, somebody already mentioned Old Forester. Most distilleries used to ferment hotter as they had not cooling in the fermenters. It stressed the yeast, making diacetyl and there you have it. Most have coils now as they have thickened the mash up to get more whiskey out of a fermenter. Makers Mark I am told recently just did that.

Interesting. From what I was lucky enough to meet Jim Russel and asked him about yeast. He said they use the “cleanest” strain they can. From my beer making days, I know you can get strains that produce diacetyl, perceived as a buttery flavor in stouts.
But they seem not to want that.

squire
12-31-2012, 10:49
Those trying to squeeze every once of alcohol out of the mash don't want that.

tmckenzie
01-01-2013, 04:28
I turned 21 in 1986 and, having been influenced by 1950s magazine ads, immediately took up with the BIB expressions of Taylor, Grand-Dad, Forester, and Fitz. This amused a bartender friend of mine who called them "World War II Veterans' Whiskey", but I loved them. And in those pre-public Internet days, I had absolutely no clue that I was enjoying the tail end of a golden age that would never be repeated. (We have lovely bourbon now, don't get me wrong, but it's not what it was back then.)

OGD BIB and Old Forester Signature are still pleasant pours, although they have noticeably changed. I'll get Fitz now and again and while HH does their best to keep it going, all they have is what they inherited when they bought New Bernheim - which is a far cry from what was being put out at Stitzel-Weller in its glory days. I haven't had the temerity to try Old Taylor since Beam bought it, although I still have an unopened 500ml ND BIB bottle that's unbelievably nine years old (distilled 1971, bottled 1980) that I'm saving for some special occasion or other. Late 1980s-early 1990s OT BIB was probably my favorite bourbon ever.
The main reason is money behind the coils. You can ferment a mash with only so much sugar in it without coils. When you beef the mash up, that sucker will get hot. Over about 104 degrees, yeast start to stress out. We have no coils and it is nothing for mash to get 100 degrees. I want it to so I can get those nice flavors. I think and have been told that the flavors bourbon enthusiasts like so much and miss, like the flavors in OT and OG from years ago were dispensed with on account of trying to make a more drinkable product that appeals to the general public. Some plants might would make a bourbon with those flavors but they have seen business boom on the new cleaner product, so they do not dare mess with it. I can see their reasoning behind it.

PaulO
01-01-2013, 09:32
...

So anyway --- are there any regularly available pours that feature that caramel or butterscotch sweetness? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
...
I can suggest Old Forester Signature. It's similar or the same as Woodrord, except without the addition of the pot still whiskey. Also, Early Times 354 has a sweeter taste profile that reminds me of the dusty OF bonds. Another bourbon that has a maple syrup or carmel type note is Josh Brooks. It is bottled by Frank-Lin in San Jose CA. As with many non-distillers, we don't know who made it. I'm also a big fan of Weller 12, but have noticed that some batches seem drier than others (but all good).

StraightBoston
01-08-2013, 09:46
One that didn't get mentioned in this thread is Weller Special Reserve -- should be in the same price point (or lower) than OWA and very caramelly to my palate. If you can find one that still has the 7yo age statement, better still.

As far as butterscotch goes, I'll pile on to the ND Old Taylor bandwagon.