A fellow whiskey aficionado and I decided to take advantage of some warm weather to roast some coffee, smoke some cigars, and taste the following WT examples.
- WTRR 101 pre-2005
- WTRR 90 current release
All of these were new bottles that were freshly opened for the occasion. We each had a pair of Riedel whiskey glasses in front of us and a tumbler of water for palate cleansing and proof cutting.
Pairing No. 1: WTRR101 vs. WTRR90
We both have, for years, been big fans of the RR101, which we were buying any time we wanted for $22 ten years ago. At the time that it was commonly available, the RR101 was great for sipping, but it also was one of our faves for Manhattans due to its flavor and proof. We were bummed when they discontinued the RR101, and when we saw Jimmy at the San Francisco Whiskey Expo in 2005 or so, we asked him why the new lower proof, to which he rolled his eyes and said "the marketing department." Needless to say, we were both disgusted at the move, and I have never bought a bottle of the new 90 proof. Today's sample was from my friend's likker lokker.
We poured both RR straight and tasted them. Not surprisingly, the older bottling was easily fuller straight out of the bottle due to the higher proof. When the 101 was cut with some water to bring both samples to the same proof, the older bottling was still richer, more complex tasting, and with a longer spicier finish. Winner: RR101 by a decent margin, especially since you have the choice of drinking at higher proof. I'm glad I have a few bottles left of the RR101.
Pairing No. 2: WT101 vs. WTKS
My friend was dubious about including the standard 101 in the tasting because of it's common plebian image. The 101 is always in my cabinet for vatting and cocktails, but I never drink it straight because I always turn to premium expressions when I sip. After reading about the WTKS on this board, I had high hopes.
Since both spirits have the same proof, we poured samples of each and tasted. They tasted virtually identical to both of us. Maybe it was our imaginations, but perhaps the KS had a marginally fuller flavor, but then we tasted the 101 and it tasted marginally fuller as well...LOL. We added a drop of water to each...tasted identical. If you had put them in front of me blind with a gun to my mother's head, I could not have told you which was which. At $21 and $48 respectively, the clear winner was the standard WT101. Based on this tasting, I would never buy WTKS again, and I would not hesitate to order the 101 neat in a bar.
Pairing No. 3: WTRB vs WTRRSB
At 108 and 110 proof, they are close enough that a straight-from-the bottle comparison was appropriate, which we did with anticipation and caution. They both are impressive and delicious drams. The SB is noticeably sweeter and significantly smoother on the palate, The RB has a more traditional flavor, not as sweet, and tasted slightly spicier. When cut with more than a bit of water, they both opened up and proved more drinkable, but their flavors did not change and they both were rich and delicious.
We have both admired the RB and it is one of our top picks for Cadillac Manhattans...of course, we love it straight as well. This was the first time that either of us had tasted the SB, and we both thought that it is one of the finest bourbons we had ever tasted with the WT flavor profile. The winner was the SB for sipping, but we both agreed that the RB would be our clear choice for cocktails because it's drier flavor gave it the ability to make a great balanced Manhattan when mixed with vermouth.
As a side note, the cigars we smoked were Cuban 2009 Montecristo Open Regatta and 2002 Romeo Y Julieta Robusto Edicion Limitada.