This is going to be a pretty long post, so I’ll make the intro as short as I can. The Bourbon community is awesome, and is made up of awesome people like our internet friend Stephen (a.k.a. @fletcher_whiskeydog). He decided to pick a few of his online whiskey friends and send them 3 blind samples, then organized a time when they were all to post their notes before he revealed the identity of the samples. We were lucky enough to be one of the participants. The goals were to write some notes, rank them, and guess what they were (with no list of options, by the way). So Kate and I did this, and I have posted our notes along with those from the other participants below (using Instagram handles). They range from super detailed to quick summaries So here we go.
Minimal formatting applied in some cases, no notes were modified.
Nose: Very light and subtle, and very sweet. There is a decent amount of ethanol at first but it faded completely after about 10 minutes and it turned into rich caramel. There’s also light vanilla, brown sugar, red apples and maple syrup.
Taste: Not quite as sweet as the aroma suggests as it’s got a touch of bitter dryness, but in combination with a burst of caramel. Interesting. Kate said it made her think of caramel corn ,where it’s sweet but you get some of that dryness from the popcorn. There is also a slightly grainy vibe and a nice, buttery mouthfeel.
Finish: Short, grainy finish where those red apples come back and some very dry oak shows up.
Color: Deep Honey
Nose: Good balance to this nose. There’s some fruity barrel funk and some perfumy things going on. It’s kind of grassy with more oak than #1 and some citrus. No ethanol to speak of.
Taste: Dry and somewhat grainy, funky oak, bitter dark chocolate, and a touch of honey. There is a nice little fruity kick on this one which adds some welcome sweetness. As it sat out it also developed a bit of a peanut thing.
Finish: Medium finish, Kate says it’s kind of “coconutty”, and that it makes her mouth warm. I also get some bright fruit like apple or pear or something. Not bad at all.
Color: Deep Honey
Nose: Definitely the hottest nose of the 3, with huge cinnamon spice and lots of oak. There are some earthy blasts along with green apples and some barrel funk. Although it’s hard to pick out exact flavors as this one is burning my nose hairs off.
Taste: Not even close to as hot as the aroma, although there is some really nice sweet cinnamon. Tons of vanilla joins in too as well as oak, red fruit, and a fantastic, oily/buttery mouthfeel. It’s super rich and balanced almost perfectly.
Finish: Like the taste, the finish is incredibly well balanced with that sweet cinnamon heat and a bright raspberry flavor.
Well we couldn’t tell even a little bit of difference between the colors on these. Either the lighting sucked or we don’t know how to look at things properly.
Sample #1 was our favorite aroma of the 3. After sitting out for a while the caramel dies down and doesn’t blow all the other flavors away quite as much. This one really transformed and went from my least favorite nose to the best (although it was always Kate’s favorite) as the ethanol faded to huge caramel which faded into a a pretty nice little balance. I’m suspicious this might be Weller 12
Sample #2 was the least exciting to us, it’s somewhat grainy and peanuty. It does have decent balance, but just isn’t crazy interesting. A solid pour, but in this lineup it just doesn’t stand out. We have no clue what this whiskey is.
Sample #3 carried our least favorite nose of the 3, but by far our favorite taste and finish. We’re guessing this is the highest proof of them all given that aroma and mouthfeel. The taste and finish completely make up for the hot lava aroma, and if we had to sit down with any of these on a cold January night, this one would get the nod from us both. Could this be some kind of barrel proof Buffalo Trace expression? Maybe a Willet Family Estates?
Final ranking is 3,1,2.
Sample #1 was my favorite. I enjoyed the sweet nose and the oaky, oily heat on the pallet and the smooth warm finish. I would then pick sample #3. It has a spicy sweet nose, seems like a rye to me but what do I know, it has an even heat start to finish with a mellow pallet. I enjoyed sample # 2 just not as much as the others. It seems like something in the 90 proof range and something that would make a nice sipper that could easily be found.
Nose: Toffee charred oak tobacco
Palette: Dark chocolates, citrus, smoke .
Nose: Spice, honey, hints of tobacco
Palette: Honey, apricot, peanut butter .
Nose: Butterscotch, berries, spicy
Palette: toasted toffee, citrus, pepper.
Some kind of rye?
I liked most to least 3, 1, 2 (a good beer as well)
Interesting nose, reminds me of Weller Special reserve. I keep nosing this thing and I just keep telling myself, this HAS to be Weller….I am most likely wrong.
Old Forester….HAS TO BE. If I had to guess I’d say 86 proof. Again, I am probably wrong. Also I blame @fletcher_whiskeydog steering me this way with his OFBB pour…
The nose reminds me of a wheated bourbon, perhaps Bernheim. This was my favorite pour, a little hot, but still tasty.
At First Sight: Honey.
On the Nose: Slightly sour, cinnamon, stale-grayish colored chocolate, generic caramel syrup, lightly toasted oak, flat cola pop, apples.
On the Palate: Sweet, dark red fruits, caramel apples, old-cold coffee, creamed corn.
Overall: Looks like bourbon,smells like bourbon, tastes like bourbon, but I had a hard time with this one at first. The notes were all muddled together and took awhile to open up for me before I could distinguish what was going on. Seems watered down, too tame and lame. That being said, light, almost too smooth, and extremely easy sipping. No Kentucky Hug! This bourbon was ok, I could drink it if I had too. Michters 10??
At First Sight: Copper.
On the Nose: Menthol Cigarettes(Newports), Grizzly Wintergreen Dip, Sweetmint Orbit Gum, black licorice, very green, pea pods, fresh cut grass, herbs, botanicals, toothpaste, chlorine, rubber tires, and Dicks Sporting Goods Store.
On the Palate: Smokey, mint toothpaste, Griz Wintergreen, nicotine, mouthwash, pea pods, gin, rubber.
Overall: Well, this bourbon danced for me. It danced for me like that stripper that wasn’t very hot and she was extremely trashy and needed to B-Bop some other guys way. She had no rhythm and couldn’t shake her ass for shit. She smelled the part with a distinct non appealing stripper smell, she looked the part, she felt the part, but she was no top earner. She ain’t earn’n my dollars! Bourbon I mean, not stripper. Womp-Womp. I really hope this is not Blanton’s straight from the barrel, and I sound way crazy. It reminds me of whistle pig, but this is a rye tasting?!?!?!?! My least favorite of the 3. Pepto Bismol??
At First Sight: Amber.
On the Nose: Must, smoked BBQ’d meats, honey, caramel, vanilla, nice and nutty, heavily toasted oak, bonfire, slight citrus.
On the Palate: Coffee, spicy, pepper, cinnamon, BBQ meats, big time vanilla bean, caramel, tobacco, heavy-thick-rich-deep wood, and peanut butter.
Overall:This is some good bourbon. Sweet and savory, has a nice amount of depth to it, very meaty. I’m assuming above 100 proof, and Kentucky Hug’n for sure! This is the top option for me here. I’d personally buy this bottle and be happy to drink it. BSFTB??
Editor’s note: If you want to see @bourbonboomed in action, you can watch this video (tasting notes start at 3:40)
Another editor’s note: Ok, that wasn’t really @bourbonboomed, but come on, it’s pretty close. Good stuff. So funny.
Alright! Time for the reveal!
Sample #1 – @fletcher_whiskeydog’s “slight variation of Poor Man’s Pappy with Weller 12, OWA107 and VW12”
Sample #2 – Michter’s 10-year barrel 15J810
Sample #3 – Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel, barrel 566
So most of us picked a Weller on #1, good job us! @bourbonboomed totally nailed #3, and we got in the ball park thinking it was some barrel proof Buffalo Trace expression. None of us got close on #2, and all of us picked it as anything our least favorite.
Man, this was a freaking blast. Thanks again to Stephen and to all the participants for letting me post their notes here (and to @bourbonboomed for letting me poke some fun, even though I didn’t ask for permission on that part). Like I said at the beginning, the community is awesome, and this is the perfect example of that. By the way, this shit is like 1,500 words long, so congrats if you read the whole thing.