Similar philosophies, similar prices, both claim to be "small batch" bourbons that manage to be just about everywhere.
I'm pretty sure in advance I know how this is going to go, since it is the sheer adoration of Rare Breed by many that finally got me to break down and give it a try.
And I have to admit, despite going in with all these good expectations, I was still pleasantly surprised by WTRB. Extremely pleasant nose, with some hints of vanilla of toffee, and far less of an alcohol nose than I expected by something of this proof. A rich, lucious mouth feel, it started off with a hint of an odd taste that I am having a bit of a problem putting a description on... Somewhere between bread dough and wet paper, but it doesn't stay around long as the spice kicks in with a nice peppery bite, which soon after turns into a rich caramel taste. And I can't emphasize this enough... rich caramel. Not like a cube of cheap caramel out of a plastic wrapper, but the gooey rich soft caramel that would be drizzled on a warm apple pie. The caramel softens but stays around on the finish. I expected a bit more there, but it lingered just long enough to have me anticipating the next sip.
KCSB has a definitely stronger alcohol component to it, and while I guess that is to be expected at 120 proof, it was like giving WTRB a head start. You get a similar vanilla on the nose, you also get some Maple Syrup and dark fruits. At first the taste starts out a bit with that Maple Syrup, and I was almost disappointed that the vanilla on the nose didn't seem to be present. Then comes the caramel, but not the same as the WTRB, far less pronouncement of this flavor as it also seems to contend with more Oak and then settles down with licorice and some spice on the back. The finish doesn't linger as long as the WTRB but is crisp and clean with just a hint of... oh wait, there... the vanilla finally makes a hint of an appearance along with a bit of alcohol on the finish.
Overall, while I liked the complexity of the KCSB more, the extra alcohol doesn't do it any favors. I like the WTRB, more than I ever expected to, but still found a bit less complexity for a Barrel Strength bourbon.
Put a gun to my head or make me choose one that I have to drink forever, I would probably pick the KCSB. But, since that is not the situation, I see no reason that I have to choose and will probably keep both around.
Like I said, I have a feeling I know how this is going to go, but I am still curious, do you think one is better than the other? Or are they just different enough to live harmoniously together? If you had to choose, which one would you pick?