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View Full Version : Which younger whiskeys do you appreciate most? And other thoughts on younger whiskey.



fog
11-21-2007, 16:16
I had my first taste of Evan Williams Black today. It was very sweet, with the same basic sweet flavor which I find in EC 12 and Henry McKenna 10 yo single barrel. There was nothing harsh or unpleasant, and I enjoyed the sweetness, but I found myself disappointed by its lack of uniqueness; it tasted like older Heaven Hill whiskey, minus the complexity and length. Perhaps, if this were the only whiskey produced by Heaven Hill, it would be worth consuming, but as is I suspect that I will never feel a craving for this bourbon.


With other younger whiskeys, I experience enjoyable notes which seem to be modified with age, rather than just added to, so that I still desire to consume the younger whiskey for variety. Which younger whiskeys do you most enjoy?

I recently have been greatly enjoying WT 101, although earlier in my bourbon drinking days I found it harsh and astringent. It has a salty taste, and a nice strong char. In Russel's Reserve, I find the salty sensation absent, and the char taste completely modified and softened. The char in WT 101 tastes like, what I imagine a plank of burnt oak would taste like were I to give one a lick (I have never done so), while Russel's Reserve reminds me more of burnt leaves. In Rare Breed, I taste more leather, which I have been attributing to its >10 year old component.

Another younger bourbon which I appreciate is Jim Beam White. Again, this is a bourbon which I did not care for in the past; I found it harsh and bitter.

fog
11-21-2007, 16:17
This gets me to thinking, is young bourbon an acquired taste? From my first sip, I enjoyed the older bourbons, even at quite high proofs, yet it took me about a year of tasting before I developed an appreciation for the younger bourbons.

After I had initially found Beam White distasteful, I never intended to drink Beam White again. Yet, while vacationing in Bonaire, Beam White was the only bourbon I could find, so I eventually ordered a pour at the beach bar. The bourbon was warm - beach bar temperature. Sipping it while admiring a few attractive Dutch blondes was one of the most pleasant bourbon experiences that I can remember; it tasted perfect at the moment.

This brings me to another point. I have never appreciated bourbon chilled or with ice. With cold bourbon, it seems that the effects of the oak are muted, while other flavors come to the forefront, which were earlier overpowered by the oak. Effectively, chilled bourbon tastes younger to me. The only bourbons which I have found palatable while cold are those with the strongest oak influence, which even when muted by the cold still retain character from the wood.

Edward_call_me_Ed
11-22-2007, 06:14
My favorite young bourbon is I W Harper. It's wonderful bourbon, a soft round vanilla character. It's not harsh or spirity as I find some other young bourbons.
Ed

craigthom
11-22-2007, 06:32
I have a quick question that I hate to start a new topic for, and it fits in a way.

I am visiting family in Georgia, and I have seen Evan Williams Bottled in Bond all over the place, even in stores with a very limited bourbon selection. I don't remember seeing this in Kentucky, and it's a pretty distinctive label.

Is this going to be any different from Heaven Hill BIB? Would they go for different flavor profiles for these two low end bourbons, are is it the same stuff with different marketing?

polyamnesia
11-22-2007, 07:13
fog, i think you are right about be able to appreciate or "appreciate" the younger bourbons after having gotten some tasting ground under your belt...and having a small (or large!) wall of referentiality/experience.

same here.

i really appreciate the more "refined" WTs....(and glad you used this example because i am right now juggling and comparing Rare Breed, RR 101...and just knocked out a RR 90 a few weeks ago...and a good ole WT 101 before that. but i have gone back to the WT 101 with an even already deeper now deepened appreciation for it. i love the refined stuff. i like complexity. Rare Breed is doing that to me now! but i am missing that char, that saltiness, that 'whoa there fella, let me burn you a bit then you can enjoy the finish...' sense i get with WT 101.

if i am ever offered the WT 80, i might try it...but i am sensing that i need higher proof in younger borubons so i can at least get a sense of resistance...the first signs of complexity?

thanks for asking this interesting question!

fussychicken
11-22-2007, 09:20
Good topic fog, and one that I have thought about myself. I agree that younger whiskeys are probably an acquired taste. Although many of us would probably say we like whiskeys of all ages and types, the reality seems to be somewhat different. Especially within the last couple of years, many of us have been caught up in the explosion of super premium bourbons and ryes. I am no exception to this rule as I have spent a good deal of time and money tracking down BTACs, heritage collections, anniversary bottlings and the like. Even the regular "premium" segment of EWSB, EC12, FRSB, etc. keeps one quite busy with many choices.

With that said however, I find I am starting to really like some of the younger whiskeys. Just this week I drank the regular Buffalo Trace and Saz Jr all the while I had my recently acquired 2007 BTAC sitting on the counter next to me. Those are some good whiskeys! I even had some regular Jack Daniels on the rocks a couple a weeks ago at a party with a limited bar, and while it didn't knock me off my socks, it was still quite good in a simple way.

The question for me is "youthfulness" in a young whiskey vs "burn." Is there a difference between these two things? Are these the more volatile alcohol components that are a result from a less than generous head and tail split and/or the result from less barrel mellowing? My guess is that yes there probably is at least some difference between youthfulness and burn, and that is what can make the difference between a good young whiskey and a bad young whiskey.

I'm also guessing you can draw similar parallels between the above and barrel/wood influences. Maybe the reason you get some bad wood flavors in the cheaper and younger bourbons is because you simply can't be picky at that price range, and thus as a result you will get batches of whiskey more tainted by off barrels.

TNbourbon
11-22-2007, 11:02
...I find I am starting to really like some of the younger whiskeys. Just this week I drank the regular Buffalo Trace and Saz Jr..Those are some good whiskeys!..

Agreed, but not young. Buffalo Trace is 8-9 years old. The first Saz was a 7-8yo, though it may have reverted to six.
Anyway, many old-time (and, perhaps, current) distillers thought 6-8 years were the prime years for bourbon. Thus, I'd define 'young' as something less than 6 years old.

Gillman
11-22-2007, 14:05
For me Heaven Hill's regular bonded (plus of course the 6 year one but I am speaking of the regular black and gold "4") is a winner, I just bought some and love it. It is my favourite younger whiskey (and Elijah Craig 12 is my favorite older one on an all-round basis).

HH's bond has what I call the Bardstown taste (in rye-recipe), which has something in common therefore with Beam's and Barton's whiskeys of similar age but Heaven Hill's are superior in my view (before the fire, "during", after!).

Next to that, Old Forester 100 proof although I thought the most recent sample I bought was not quite as good as recent years', seeming a little younger-tasting. Still, it is a solid favorite.

Gary

drrich1965
11-22-2007, 14:38
I have actually having Aristocrat right now, 3 old Heaven Hill.

The nice is light, spearment, corn, mild. The palate, not much complexity or depth, more mint, a bit oak spice...Not a great deal there, but can I say it is bad? Just too light and thin for me to really enjoy- not a bad whisky for someone who wants to pound them..

It was $9, so its worth the education, if nothing else....

I do like Old Grandad BIB a good deal, and really love Old Weller Antique, 7 year old..not very young, but nice.

fussychicken
11-22-2007, 17:13
Thus, I'd define 'young' as something less than 6 years old.

From a historical standpoint, you are absolutely right. However when looking at today's market, I think it is hard not to call a 6 year old young. (Although I'm sure some might counter that by saying today's older whiskeys are "too old" or "super old.")

In any case, I had no idea Buffalo Trace was 8-9 years old! I figured it was in the 6 year range.

cowdery
11-22-2007, 19:33
With the caveat that it's not widely distributed, I nominate JTS Brown bottled-in-bond, a Heaven Hill product. It's a great example of a good, young bourbon. It has a very fresh taste, with grapefruit and wintergreen. And it's cheap, $8.69 for a 750ml at Liquor Barn in Louisville.

CrispyCritter
11-23-2007, 19:00
I'd give the nod to the BIB versions of Old Grand-Dad and Rittenhouse Rye - and also Saz Jr, though some special single-barrel versions of Saz have been as old as 10 years.

Modern-era WT 101 (in bourbon or rye form) is also a favorite of mine.

whiskeyhatch
11-24-2007, 23:09
Interesting thread. I myself prefer the flavor profiles that are typically found in the older bourbons. However, the seemingly disagreeable concept of learning to appreciate younger bourbons may be one that I will have to accept. In a fit of frustration over the incessant disappearance of well aged bourbons, I banged out some not-so-nice things about OGD BIB. But in thinking about it with a cooler head (and a couple reluctant pours from the one bottle I have), the BIB as well as the 80 proof are, dispite their young age, very well put together. I mean, stuff this age could be a lot worse. Heaven Hill's BIB is rather enjoyable. And Elmer T. Lee, which tastes kind of like a younger Buffalo Trace, seems to take on a character of it's own, and there's nothing bad I can say about that stuff. I've done some recent Googling into the world of tequila. It seems that the folks who love tequila as much as I love bourbon don't give special credence to an older tequila over a younger one per se. They take it for what it is and judge accordingly. I hate to say it but, despite my preferences, it may be wise to do the same with bourbon.

Edward_call_me_Ed
11-25-2007, 03:28
And Elmer T. Lee, which tastes kind of like a younger Buffalo Trace, seems to take on a character of it's own, and there's nothing bad I can say about that stuff.


It seems to me that Ken Weber said that Elmer was picking some 13-14 year old barrels for his namesake bourbon. That doesn't mean that is still the case, though. And being a single barrel, anything that matches the profile can be tagged.

Ed

squire
11-25-2007, 04:16
My pick would be J.W. Dant BIB which is J.T.S.Brown under a different label. It sells for about $9.00 a bottle around here sitting right next to the Evan Williams 100 proof that sells for $10.90. Actually, any 100 proof or BIB made by Heaven Hill suits me fine and recognizing whats in the bottle rather than whats on the label can locate a good choice wherever Bourbon is sold.

The best buy around here however is 80 proof Ten High which is a young Barton product. My local store charges $12.39 for a 1.75 plastic liter. Now That's a bargain.

Regards,
Squire

whiskeyhatch
11-25-2007, 07:48
It seems to me that Ken Weber said that Elmer was picking some 13-14 year old barrels for his namesake bourbon. That doesn't mean that is still the case, though. And being a single barrel, anything that matches the profile can be tagged.

Ed

Thanks Ed! I've been wondering what the age of this stuff is. It looks and tastes a bit younger than BT but I'm not sure if it really is or not. Also I meant to mention OGD 86 proof, not 80. I'll do a little research.

jburlowski
11-25-2007, 10:21
I like WT 101 a lot. I'm not sure of its age but given its ubiquity, I assume its on the younger end of the spectrum.

ratcheer
11-25-2007, 15:12
I would also throw in my nod to Old Grand Dad as a quite good younger bourbon.

MissingKY
11-25-2007, 15:18
I'll second Gary's recommendation of Old Heaven Hill BIB. The four-year is a very nice whiskey with a lot of flavor, and as a bonus I don't think I've ever paid more than $7 for it. No matter what the price, this would be a nice whiskey, but you really can't beat it for seven bucks.

cowdery
11-26-2007, 20:52
The nice thing about a cheap BIB is that it's at least 4 years old, while some cheapies are just 36 months. On the other hand, Barton's 36-month-old Mattingly & Moore and their Ten High, at four-years, taste about the same.

brewcrew
11-30-2007, 09:21
I'd give the nod to the BIB versions of Old Grand-Dad and Rittenhouse Rye

I would have to agree as those 2 are my favorites younger regular pours.

NickAtMartinis
11-30-2007, 13:21
I'm really liking this thread because it seems a lot of the bourbon vets here can teach us young'ns a thing or two about bottom shelf whiskey. I mean that. This will certainl open up a bunch of new avenues for us rookies to explore.


Thanks guys,

Mark

StraightBoston
11-30-2007, 14:39
[Mostly for Ed...]

I like the Early Times Yellow Label available in Japan -- a nice blend of corn and vanilla. I haven't gotten around to comparing it to the "Kentucky Whiskey" version available in the States.

(Also another vote for OGD -- at a bar I'll order that out of the well over the Beam collection on the middle shelf if those are my only choices!)

squire
12-01-2007, 08:27
I like the regular Evan Williams black label for its consistency. I don't pour it often but keep it on hand for that reason. Easy to grab without a second thought for anything from cooking to a simple tall cocktail for those who like that sort of thing or for just dumping on the rocks while waiting for the grill to heat up. Well priced traditional Bourbon.
Squire

NickAtMartinis
12-02-2007, 19:12
Bump. I love this thread and would love to see more input from the Veterans of bourbon.

Thanks,

Mark

cowdery
12-02-2007, 19:42
I think a lot of people miss out on a big chunk of the bourbon experience if they confine themselves to the Van Winkles, Kentucky Vintages, Staggs, etc. Anything north of probably 8 years is going to be dominated by wood. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to taste some of the flavors created in the fermentation process and harvested in the distillation process, you need to drink something younger.

Most of the leading brands are in the four-to-six year range, which is what I would call young. The only things younger are the 36-monthers, which are all bottom shelf and generally too young. So while there certainly are differences between Maker's Mark and Jim Beam white label, for example, or Wild Turkey 101 and Jack Daniel's black label, the difference isn't so much age as it is other things.

NAS bottlings are the bulk of what's sold but probably not the bulk of what's consumed among SB.com participants.

NAS bottlings are also the best way to taste distillery character.

Even though Very Old Barton does declare itself to be 6-years-old, some of the NASs, such as Maker's Mark and Old Forester, are closer to six than to four, I would put Evan Williams into that group too. JB and JD, on the other hand, are probably four years and a day.

Bonds are part of this discussion too, since most standard bonds are in that 4-to-6 range, but with bonds everything has to be the same age.

Not sure if that's what you're looking for, Mark, but those are some thoughts.

nor02lei
12-03-2007, 00:42
Even though Very Old Barton does declare itself to be 6-years-old, some of the NASs, such as Maker's Mark and Old Forester, are closer to six than to four, I would put Evan Williams into that group too. JB and JD, on the other hand, are probably four years and a day.



When I did visit the B-F distillery in Louisville last year Chris Morris told me that OF 86 was 5 years old and the 100 proof was 7-9 years old.

Leif

Gillman
12-03-2007, 01:54
This may be but still, the bourbons noted by Chuck represent a classic flavor profile and should not be missed by anyone seeking a traditional palate in bourbon. The term younger is relative since these bourbons (at anywhere from 4-8 or even 9 years in some cases) would have been considered well-aged 100 years ago.

I just bought some OF 100 and found its distillery character quite marked. Distillery character is evident too in WR in a particularly appealing balance in a recent bottle sampled.

Many bottles older than 8-9 years are of great interest (e.g., Buffalo Trace at times, many others) but I think an exclusive focus on this area would miss much.

Gary

NickAtMartinis
12-03-2007, 06:36
I think a lot of people miss out on a big chunk of the bourbon experience if they confine themselves to the Van Winkles, Kentucky Vintages, Staggs, etc. Anything north of probably 8 years is going to be dominated by wood. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to taste some of the flavors created in the fermentation process and harvested in the distillation process, you need to drink something younger.

Most of the leading brands are in the four-to-six year range, which is what I would call young. The only things younger are the 36-monthers, which are all bottom shelf and generally too young. So while there certainly are differences between Maker's Mark and Jim Beam white label, for example, or Wild Turkey 101 and Jack Daniel's black label, the difference isn't so much age as it is other things.

NAS bottlings are the bulk of what's sold but probably not the bulk of what's consumed among SB.com participants.

NAS bottlings are also the best way to taste distillery character.

Even though Very Old Barton does declare itself to be 6-years-old, some of the NASs, such as Maker's Mark and Old Forester, are closer to six than to four, I would put Evan Williams into that group too. JB and JD, on the other hand, are probably four years and a day.

Bonds are part of this discussion too, since most standard bonds are in that 4-to-6 range, but with bonds everything has to be the same age.

Not sure if that's what you're looking for, Mark, but those are some thoughts.


Thanks, Chuck. That's some very good information.

It's funny, looking back on my bourbon tasting throughout the past 1 1/2 years or so, I don't have much bourbon experience below 7 years. The only bourbon that comes to mind is the ND OGD BIB which I like. Other than that, everything has been North of six years. Hence, my interest in this thread. I'd love to save my money and purchase some solid, young bourbon. Sometimes, as a society get the impression that because it's expensive it's good quality. That's not always the case, especially in bourbon.

doubleblank
12-03-2007, 06:51
Like Squire, I have EW Black label sitting out in the kitchen. I never hesitate to grab it and use while cooking or if someone wants a tall cocktail. I also occasionally have one over ice when grilling outside when its warm....EW Black on ice seems to taste best during hot weather and I'm outdoors. That "mentholyptus" note makes it a refreshing warm weather drink.

Randy

cowdery
12-03-2007, 11:21
When I did visit the B-F distillery in Louisville last year Chris Morris told me that OF 86 was 5 years old and the 100 proof was 7-9 years old.

Leif

What Chris probably said is that some of the whiskey in OF Signature is 7-9 years old, not that all of it is.

Pharaoh
12-03-2007, 11:56
Younger as in cheap?

If simply young, probably Blanton's.

squire
12-03-2007, 21:10
Though not cheap the young Grand dad BIB has a very rich, round and deep flavor combined with a tremendous nose.
Regards,
Squire

Route 66
12-11-2007, 07:39
One young bourbon I really liked was the basic Ancient Age. It has the cream colored label with the black and red script. It wasn't a super deal but still certainly worth it as it cost ~$10 for a 750ml. Nor was it refined, complex or super smooth. But, it just had something to it that was quite satisfying in balance, taste and (slight lack of)smoothness, which like a Harley is a necessary requirement of bourbon right?.

For reference, the sticker on the neck had 36 months printed on it. Maybe that's what gave me its slightly different experience and appeal. As others have noted, maybe it's the young age yielding a taste with less wood dominating.

fussychicken
12-13-2007, 17:04
So we all know that price, age, and "super-premiumness" go hand in hand in today's market. However lets say that in a parallel universe "younger" whiskey was appreciated by the masses as the best whiskey has to offer. What would could be done to make today's 4-6 year whiskeys better? What would you do different? Blending? Very careful warehouse management? Different head and tail splits? Different mash bills?

I guess my point is that younger whiskeys appear to lack some of the craftsmanship aspect compared to the upper tier whiskeys. For instance, barrels aren't carefully selected. The batches are huge. The "honey" barrels and select warehouse spaces are saved for special older bottlings. Could we make these younger whiskeys even better?

jburlowski
12-13-2007, 17:20
I here what you're saying...

I love (some) older / select bottlings as much as anyone. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there are more, and generally much better, bourbons all across the price spectrum today than any other time in history.

Rughi
12-13-2007, 18:18
...lets say that in a parallel universe "younger" whiskey was appreciated by the masses as the best whiskey has to offer. What would could be done to make today's 4-6 year whiskeys better? What would you do different? Blending? Very careful warehouse management? Different head and tail splits? Different mash bills?

A parallel universe is too abstract. In keeping with the old saw "if the people lead, the leaders will follow" some of us are actively putting together deals to test this question. So far, Doug, the East Bay Study Group and Jake have each found a way to interest retailers, distributors and one enlightened producer to make it possible to sample 4-6 year old Young Bourbons (from Willett's) in their straight-from-the-barrel state.

We have sampled many barrels to find a few that can stand on their own, but at this young age there are more than a few rough edges. I would love to see the next step be careful vattings of exceptional barrels.

I see no reason that young bourbons can't be a prestige product; Blanton's is certainly not a long-aged product (younger or a similar age with Buffalo Trace, most Old Charters, Elmer T Lee, most Wellers, and any number of other BT products that cost half as much) that owes much of its success to careful selection and the bit of youthfulness it retains.

Young bourbons are almost solely marketed as cheap product at this point, but enthusiasts have dragged producers into offering more barrel proof and other prestige products in the last few years - we can drag them further along if we support their efforts with our wallets. Conversely, if we heap abuse on younger products for not being bottom-shelf cheap (notably, one Birthday Bourbon was treated as a rip-off by many on this forum because it was younger than the others),then we will reinforce the common conception that old = worth more money.

Roger

barturtle
12-13-2007, 18:26
We have sampled many barrels to find a few that can stand on their own, but at this young age there are more than a few rough edges. I would love to see the next step be careful vattings of exceptional barrels.

Roger

At 4-6 years old and barrel proof & unfiltered, well you have a slightly younger Booker's. With smaller batch sizes and more careful selections, you should end up with a damn fine product.

cowdery
12-13-2007, 21:33
Four Roses offers another example of something that is very possible which no one else is doing, which is make several different whiskeys, deliberately developing very profound flavors, that might not be appealing alone, but combined (we never say "blended" when discussing straight whiskey) could produce a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, Gillmanization. This is done in some very limited ways now but only Four Roses, with both yellow label and small batch, comes close to the true Gillmanization model.

jburlowski
12-14-2007, 17:35
I've notice a different label on the standard FR. It includes, IIRC, a quote from Jim Rutledge.

I assume this is the same whiskey with a new label... am I correct?

cowdery
12-15-2007, 02:23
Some people think the recipe has changed, others don't. Nothing official either way from FR.

Martian
12-15-2007, 08:30
HH BIB, JTS Brown BIB, and JW Dant BIB are all HH products. Are these the same whiskey?

cowdery
12-15-2007, 14:30
Yes, in that they all came from the same mashbill, same still, same warehouses, etc. No, in that each at least theoretically has its own brand profile. Yes, in that with such small brands that "theoretical" brand profile likely goes out the window. They probably all share a profile qnd quite probably are all bottled at the same time, i.e., the "batch" is the HH BIB family. That's not a definitive answer, but I would say there isn't much if any difference.

Martian
12-16-2007, 12:24
Thanks, Chuck.

Old Lamplighter
12-16-2007, 12:40
Definitely would not say that I am the 'refined' type, but, as I've gotten older and more experienced in terms of bourbon exposure through the years, I just cannot find a younger expression of just about any label that satisfies. A couple of years ago I decided to go back and try some of the labels of my youth harkening back to a time when the ole tastebuds were less discriminating, the blood was hotter and the wallet was lighter (some might call it a bourbon mid-life crisis). For whatever reason, none of them appealed to me at all and none were over 4-6 years of age.

Bottom line for me: nothing wrong with any of the younger whiskeys and I appreciate them for what they are - and am thankful they are around.......it saves the older bourbon for old dudes like me!

craigthom
12-16-2007, 18:27
HH BIB, JTS Brown BIB, and JW Dant BIB are all HH products. Are these the same whiskey?

If they are the same age (NAS usually means 4yo), then they probably are. I asked if the EW BIB I got in Georgia was the same as the (4yo) HH BIB and was told it was. I'd guess that the others are, too.

JamesH007
12-16-2007, 19:14
I also think the Saz Rye is one of the best younger whiskeys I have had; while still lighter tasting it is very well balanced with some great bold flavors and very smooth. I also like all 4 roses as a younger whiskey, especially the single barrel (although this may be a bit older, its under 10 yo)