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  1. #1
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    Starting to Finish

    I wrote over in the Rye area about a zin barrel finished rye, Hooker's House Rye, that I enjoyed last night. It seems we are seeing finished bourbons and ryes enter the marketplace with some regularity. After a slow start, there are some I haven't cared for (WR Sonoma-Cutrer), and some I simply adore (Angel's Envy, Parkers Heritage...). It looks like most every distillery is trying it's hand at it, along with some of the upstarts and NDP's. After just not "getting it" at first, I have found that I have to approach these whiskies differently than the regular bourbons and ryes. They seem to excell as an apertif-type sipper. Many seem to pair well with some foods, especially desserts, cigars, etc., but I find them not to stand as well on their own, like they might in their original form before finishing. For instance, I can't see myself spending an evening sipping nothing other than these finished whiskies. But, where they do fit, I find them to oftentimes hit the spot directly in my wheelhouse. So, I have found a place in my line-up for them, and see myself continuing to experiment with what I hope are continued offerings from the distilleries.

    So, that's what I think. How about you? Like them? Dislike? Waste of whiskey, and your time? Or, notable additions to the line, and worthy of your "regular" or "experimental" whiskey dollars? Would you like to see more offerings? Less?
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  2. #2
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    As a Scotch guy, I'm fairly used to finished whiskies. I see no reason the Bourbon industry shouldn't try it. There is nothing wrong with trying a new twist to a tried and true product.

    Having said that, I have to say that I really dislike the flavored stuff like Red Stag and WT Honey.

  3. #3
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    I would agree with Joe and that I don't see myself spending an entire evening with a "finished" line up of pour, but they do have there place.I do enjoy several such as AE and PHC Cognac with a cigar and that is where they truly shine for me.Overall they fit in a much smaller market zone for me,yet I will continue to buy the ones that are well done.I know true purist's will disagree but I feel at least these few products keep it interesting and innovative in the whiskey world.
    "To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human."
    Larry Wachowski

  4. #4
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    I'm in agreement with those who have no problem with venturing out into the world of the experimenters who finish off bourbon in various barrels or .. ship them to sea on a barge .. or sweeten them up with honey and the like. The fact that they do does not detract, in my opinion, from the true masters who work so hard to bottle damn good bourbon. They (The true Master Distillers) at the top of the libation pyramid. Just under them are the blenders and experimenters and they do, from time to time, hit a chord. Still .. all I had to do was smell the Maple Crown Royal to know that I have my limits even though it's selling like hotcakes.
    For they guys who want to try to make it better without actually distilling it .. have a ball.
    It really piques my interest in those who are now in the early phases of making their own juice .. KBD and High West. I can't wait to see what they come up with. And .. to quote Drew .. neither can he. (I say this at the risk of tipping over the cauldron of haters who would prefer that you-know-who's name never be mentioned here again.)
    Jon

  5. #5
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post
    As a Scotch guy, I'm fairly used to finished whiskies. I see no reason the Bourbon industry shouldn't try it. There is nothing wrong with trying a new twist to a tried and true product.

    Having said that, I have to say that I really dislike the flavored stuff like Red Stag and WT Honey.
    Though, I can see the correlation, just for the sake of this topic, I hope to keep the discussion just on the "finishing" side, and not the "flavored" whiskies like Red Stagg and WT Honey. That's a whole 'nuther animal (dog)
    Last edited by smokinjoe; 01-27-2013 at 12:37.
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  6. #6
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    The timing of this thread comes as a very coincidental surprise to me. Reason being, just this last week, I revisited a bottle of the WRMC Sonoma-Cutrer that I've had open for four or five years. I bought this bottle not long after I started getting into bourbon. I bought it for two reasons. First, it seemed interesting. Second, at that time I didn't know any better. When I first opened this bottle, I found it totally abhorrent.

    Maybe a long time open has changed the taste, or maybe my tastes have changed some. I'm not sure why, but this bottle sure doesn't seem near as bad as I remember it being. I took some to bowling to share with the boys Wednesday night. None of them liked it much. At least I find it fairly palatable now. That is a big statement on my part because this is a bottle that almost made its way into the old "Down The Drain" thread here.

    I understand people's tastes differ. That's why there's a niche for almost anything under the sun that's being produced nowadays. As far as my own tastes are concerned, i agree with Joe that the Angel's Envy and PHC are a couple that are pretty good. I've had a couple of bottles of the Angels's Envy, and also a couple tastes of the PHC cognac. I would buy more of the Angel's Envy, but the price around here is $45-$55 a bottle. A little too expensive IMHO. My beloved wheaters cost a lot less. On the flip side, I've also had a couple of finished bourbons that I thought weren't very good. No names to protect the innocent. Sorry Dragnet.

    For some strange reason, a bourbonized version of Field Of Dreams just came to me. As the sun is setting, a man (distiller?) is walking around a hillside in Kentucky surrounded by rickhouses. A voice emanates from a rickhouse in a faint whisper. "If you distill it, they will drink."
    " I never met a Weller I didn't like"

  7. #7
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    I think the Angels Envy is a decent pour when in the mood for something a little sweeter. The Abraham Bowman Port finished is a damn fine whiskey regardless of the finish. It seems to add a softness over the top of the bourbon if that makes sense. Definitely not stuff I have every day but when the mood strikes it definitely hits the spot.

  8. #8
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    I've tasted them plenty but never bought a one so I guess I'm finished before starting . A little vermouth and bitters is all I need to mix it up on occasion.
    Thad

    BTOTY-2011

  9. #9
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    Haven't been a fan of any of the finished Bourbons or Rye's I have tasted with only two exceptions. There is no reason a re-barreled blend or Bourbon finished in a dissimilar barrel shouldn't be really good, certainly some Scotch benefits greatly, just need to find the ones that fit your particular palate.

    So far most have seemed overdone with the finish overpowering the character of the primary juice. In finishing subtle is better. YMMV.

  10. #10
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    Re: Starting to Finish

    Bourbon and rye could definitely use the variety, so I would like to see more finished releases. With that said, many of the finished products I've tried have been mediocre. The regular Angel's Envy is okay, but nothing special (I haven't had the cask strength version). The PHC Cognac finished bourbon, on the other hand, was fantastic. The challenge, I think, is that for a finished product to be outstanding, the underlying bourbon/rye needs to be great. It seems that, so far at least, most of the finished products start with young or subpar whiskey and hope that the finishing will improve it.

    Another thing I would like to see more of is bourbons finished in rye barrels and vice versa. They don't all have to be finished in wine/brandy/port barrels. I've recently been enjoying a HW Rendezvous that was finished in bourbon barrels for a couple years, and I think it resulted in a significant improvement over the regular Rendezvous. Also, I recall that the Party Source put out a BTEC bourbon that was finished in rye barrels that was well received (I never tried it).

 

 

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