Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
smokinjoe

Thoughts on "Finished" Bourbons?

Recommended Posts

smokinjoe

Before I start, I'll preface this by saying that this post is not about "flavor added bourbons/whiskies, such as Red Stag, WT Honey, EW Cinnamon, etc, as that's for another thread. With that out of the way, I'll say that I have been, and continue to be a fan and proponent of additional alternative barrel/cask finishing of bourbon. I have enjoyed many of these from a variety of distilleries (and NDP's), albeit some more than others. My recent purchase and tasting of the Beam Distiller's Masterpiece PX Sherry cask finished bourbon has been the very best that I have tried to date, and really illustrated how it can be done so well, IMO. Although the process is not unheard of in Bourbonia, it certainly has increased in its use in recent years. And, I believe the practice opens up a tremendous new avenue for the spirit to evolve in the future. I still prefer plain bourbon the vast majority of the time, but there are times when a well executed finished bourbon can be positively perfect to me. I look forward to more releases across the board.

So, that's what I think. What do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paddy

I think you made me get up and pour three fingers of Alberta Dark Batch rye!:lol:

And I couldn't agree more, Joe! :toast:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Golzee

I haven't tried a lot of "finished" bourbons. I had Angel's Envy and was not blown away by it. Others have raved about the port barrel finish, but, it just isn't my thing. Also, I don't know if Makers 46 qualifies as a "finished" bourbon with the addition of french oak staves, but, that as well was just average to me. I prefer regular old MM to the 46. I believe that adding different staves, coffee beans, cocoa beans, etc. can add another dimension to the finished product, however, sometimes it doesn't work out for the better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Harry in WashDC

I like basic BT a lot. I like it when it is redistilled at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and then aged there even more. I especially like the experiments Master Distiller Prewitt and friends at ASB have released including both the bourbon finished in port casks and the bourbon aged in barrels previously holding coffee beans. Indeed, I had to have my wife hide my second bottle of the latter to keep me from O.D.-ing. And, while I can take or leave (and likely would leave) Angel's Envy (if only because at its price point or lower, I can buy stuff I like better), my wife likes it for some cocktails. So, that's why we buy it and that is how we drink it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ken_mays

I haven't tried a wide variety, but I think it's a fine line between enriching and overpowering. HHSS was done correctly, IMO, and with Alberta Dark, the sherry is way out in front, burying the more delicate flavors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
drunkenjayhawk

I hope that the finished thing doesn't take hold like in scotch. What with the capacity being met by demand and best stuff so hard to find now - why even further cut down the supply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smokinjoe
I haven't tried a wide variety, but I think it's a fine line between enriching and overpowering. HHSS was done correctly, IMO, and with Alberta Dark, the sherry is way out in front, burying the more delicate flavors.

Excellent point, KM. And I think, that fine line is a moving target depending on the individual. As Harry referred to above with all of the experiments that Bowman has done, I have found some to be wonderfully balanced (Port finished comes to mind), but the Gingerbread Beer Barrel was "underdone" for me. BTW, kudos to Bowman for their continued efforts in this area. On the other end, the Belle Meade Sherry borders on too heavy a hand in the sherry department for me, but others that tried it at a recent tasting I conducted, found it the Best in Show of the 8, or so, we tried. The HHSS is sublime! :yum:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Harry in WashDC

Joe, I had the same reaction to the gingerbread beer experiment which is why I didn't mention it. It is "interesting" but not sometrhing that knocked me over. And, the HHSS is how it SHOULD be done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Richnimrod

I'd say, for myself, that I have loved a few of 'em; liked a couple others and been underwhelmed by some others. So, I guess, the best response I can muster is; "It depends".

On what? I really can't put a finger on it. Parker's Heritage a few years ago with the brandy finish, I found excellent (I wish I had a case of it!), Angel's Envy leaves me thinking; "It ain't that special."

The first SB pick of HHSS was a revelation, possibly for the fact that it was barrel proof (I'm a sucker for BP's... They allow me to find my own perfect dilution! ...Or none at all!).

The second round of SB picked HHSS was just a smidgen too far for my taste buddies. Don't get me wrong. I love that stuff; just not quite as much as the first one.

So, to sum up: I hope the folx who make these decisions keep making the effort(s); and I will keep trying ones that seem promising to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kjbeggs

I'm all for the "finishing experiments", as long as it doesn't become a way to try and mask the problems with a bad batch of whiskey.

I've tried some of the Bowman's, and enjoyed them, the port finish more so than the vanilla bean or gingerbread. Never cared much for Angel's Envy, but do like the Cask Strength version, which doesn't seem to be as overpowered by the finish.

Belle Meade's standard release was just average to me, but I really enjoyed the Sherry finished release I had.

On a related note, I'm picking up a bottle of Dad's Hat Rye finished in Sweet Vermouth Casks, in a couple of weeks. Fairly excited to try that one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BigRich
I'd say, for myself, that I have loved a few of 'em; liked a couple others and been underwhelmed by some others. So, I guess, the best response I can muster is; "It depends".

On what? I really can't put a finger on it. Parker's Heritage a few years ago with the brandy finish, I found excellent (I wish I had a case of it!), Angel's Envy leaves me thinking; "It ain't that special."

The first SB pick of HHSS was a revelation, possibly for the fact that it was barrel proof (I'm a sucker for BP's... They allow me to find my own perfect dilution! ...Or none at all!).

The second round of SB picked HHSS was just a smidgen too far for my taste buddies. Don't get me wrong. I love that stuff; just not quite as much as the first one.

So, to sum up: I hope the folx who make these decisions keep making the effort(s); and I will keep trying ones that seem promising to me.

Damn Rich you pretty much summed up my thoughts on it exactly. The JB Joe references, the HHSS, and the Parker's set the bar for me. It can be done well and I really enjoy it when it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dcbt

Except for the HHSS SB picks, I tend to be a purist and haven't tried many others; I feel like after HHSS I'd be let down with most others so I don't even bother hah.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flahute

I would agree with others that "it depends on the situation". I'm not a fan of Angel's Envy as I find the standard version to sweet - almost artificially - and the AECS waaay too forward on the sherry. MWND however (yes, a rye, but the best comparison I have) seems to get it just right. The HHSS #2 is fantastic. This kind of makes me think I'm perhaps partial to cognac/brandy finished over sherry/port. I've not had many others as I don't seek them out. The Bowman coffee bean finish is one I'd try in a heart beat, but I was not able to get a bottle.

Short answer: I enjoy the experimentation as a fun exercise, but never see it becoming a staple for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spade

It's not something I'm in the mood for often, but it's a fun change of pace. I'm glad to see it becoming more common.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GAbiker

Joe, I do think it's a way for distillers to experiment a little with their regular juice. I've never fallen in love with Angel's Envy, but REALLY like the Whistle Pig Madeira Cask finished Rye, not so much the Sauterne and Port finished. Tasted the Jefferson Reserve Groth Cask finish, thought it was okay but wan't about to spring for a bottle. As so many said prior...guess it "depends".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BFerguson

Very few get it right. It requires a deft touch to hit the timing in the sweet spot.

HHSS 1 and 2 did it well. Recent growth cask, not so well, but I think it was more of the youngish whiskey, at least I thought it tasted youngish.

AE rye is the odd ball, it's overdone on the rum, as I think the sweetness overtakes it, but yet I love it, but only very infrequently. I just love the whole "Christmas in a bottle" thing it has going.

When finishing, less is generally more.

B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bjhowell

Definitely something I need to be in the mood for. Not my everyday drink, but when the mood strikes a finished whiskey really hits the spot. Angels Envy and High West Midwinter Nights Dram are my two favorites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fozzy71
Joe, I do think it's a way for distillers to experiment a little with their regular juice. I've never fallen in love with Angel's Envy, but REALLY like the Whistle Pig Madeira Cask finished Rye, not so much the Sauterne and Port finished. Tasted the Jefferson Reserve Groth Cask finish, thought it was okay but wan't about to spring for a bottle. As so many said prior...guess it "depends".

Two James Grass Widow (mix of older MGP + their own young, small cask bourbon as I understand) uses these types of casks and I didn't enjoy it. At first I thought I liked it but later I couldn't wait for the bottle to be gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GaryT

I'm a fan - sometimes :lol: At first I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical; the purist in me worried that they were trying to screw with a good thing (and drunkenjayhawk's point on supply constraints had me worried as well!) But as I've broadened my horizons (thanks to the generosity of many members in this community!), I definitely support the potential that different finishes offer. I couldn't agree more on the Beam DM Sherry Cask - really blew me away (although not enough to part for the money that they're asking for it!) I appreciated the PHC Cognac finish, but wasn't a huge fan of that for whatever reason. In fact, I was a little nervous at first that I might not be a big fan of the HHSS for that reason - but was elated to find that wasn't the case! In fact, the 2nd HHSS is one of my top 5 whiskies - period. I think the finishes might be a nice way to introduce folks unfamiliar with other whiskies to what there is out there (if you've never had a "sherry finished anything" but love bourbon, etc). Can it be done poorly? Absofreakinglutely. Just like bourbon, or rye, or damn near anything else. But I think it does more good than harm in the long run - if someone throws something out that is finished poorly, the market will address that (says the guy who pretends that Fireball doesn't outsell 50 far superior whiskies under $50) :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WhiskyBill

I can't say I've had a lot of finished bourbons which I recall. But the three I do remember :

1) Angels envy standard: a little too sweet for me. Wouldn't get again

2) Highwest Midwinter Nights Dram (rye): great even for the price, and made my last holiday season. Even bunkered a bottle.

3) Parkers Heritage Collection, Cognac Finished: one of my all time favorites! Unbelievable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MTNBourbon

I do have some Angel's Envy available now living in CO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smokinjoe
I do have some Angel's Envy available now living in CO.

What do you think about it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MTNBourbon
What do you think about it?

Have not bought any yet. Thinking about it though. Bought a bunch of beers though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
meadeweber

I like Angels Envy although I admit it is quite sweet.

I had one bottle of Michters Toasted Oak and it was enjoyable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Happyhour24x7

I also think it's a rich vein to explore and bring new expressions to our palates. Some fail, some succeed, even in the same type of finish. Like others have said, they will never replace straight bourbon as my standard, but I definitely enjoy tasting and comparing new directions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×