So we have all of our first round winners set and time to move on to the quarter finals. I'll do a couple separateposts one for the left side of the bracket and one for the right side. But it is time to move this thing along so we can get into Gopher Football.
LIMITED EDITION REGION FINALS
Predictably the top seeds moved on and this match-up could very well be the premier match-up of the entire bracket. These two are really the two best in the bracket and two of the best available period (Pappy be damned). But I broke up the regions intentionally so we'd get to talk about different types of bourbons/ryes. These are really difficult to get your hands on which is sad but every sip is incredible.
1 - George T. Stagg
Whiskey Advocate Rating: 95
Distilled by: Buffalo Trace
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : The new, younger sibling to George T. Stagg. George T.’s signature is its bold nature and high proof, and Junior follows in its footsteps. The aromas are very nice: bold spice (clove, dusty mint, cinnamon, evergreen) with layers of burnt sugars, cocoa, charred oak, and berried fruit. However, on the palate, those sugars become dominated by aggressive spice, leather, and unnecessary tannin, most notably on the finish.
I talked a little about George T. Stagg in the barrel proof region, but now I'll give it the full coverage it deserves. A yearly release from Buffalo Trace as part of their Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. GTS is barrel proof and is usually very strong. The 2013 release was the weakest on record at 128 proof but 2012 was nearly 144 proof. What makes this incredibly strong bourbon so good is that it is very strong without killing you. It packs a punch but still offers you incredible and rich flavors; it won't kill your taste buds like many other spirits that are around 70% alcohol might.
This is one is incredibly difficult to get your hands on so suggesting you go to your local liquor store and buy it is futile. But if you are sitting at a bar with a good bourbon selection and see the Stagg on the menu, it is worth it. The 2012 Stagg was certainly better than 2013 imo but both are outstanding.
2 - Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel & Small Batch
Whiskey Advocate Rating: 96
Distilled by: Four Roses
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : SMALL BATCH 2013 - A marriage of 13 and 18 year old bourbons. A mature yet very elegant whiskey, with a silky texture and so easy to embrace with a splash of water. Balanced notes of honeyed vanilla, soft caramel, a basket of complex orchard fruit, blackberry, papaya, and a dusting of cocoa and nutmeg; smooth finish. Sophisticated, stylish, with well-defined flavors. A classic!
Whiskey Advocate Rating: 92
SINGLE BARREL 2014 - Thirteen years old, but it shows its age nicely. It’s peppered with complex dried spice notes (mint, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla), yet it also has interwoven sweet notes (maple syrup, caramel, honey) to keep the whiskey from being too dry. Hints of dark chocolate and berried fruit add complexity. Dry, spicy, tobacco, and leather-tinged finish. Great complexity!
Every year Four Roses has 2 separate limited edition releases. In late spring they will release a LE Single Barrel. This will actually be multiple single barrels and one bottle to the next might be dramatically different. In the fall they release their LE Small Batch. This is taking a few different batches, blending them together and bottling them. The 2012 and 2013 LE Small Batch won Whiskey Advocate's American Whiskey of the Year award. Both were a couple of my favorite bourbons I've ever tasted.
What makes Four Roses unique is that they have 10 very specific recipes. There are 2 different matshbills and 5 different yeast strains they will use to make their bourbons and each bottle will tell you the recipe that was used. Their regular single barrel that you can find on most liquor store shelves is the OBSV recipe. The letters to note are the 2nd and 4th letters. In this case the B represents which mashbill was used. The B is a higher rye content as opposed to the E which is slightly higher corn. The 4th letter represents one of their 5 yeast strains which bring out various flavors.
The 2014 LE Single Barrel is an OESF recipe that is 11 years old. Higher corn, fuller bodied whiskey that is a bit more sweet and fruity than other strains. Still hunting for this one.
A couple of good ryes still on the board here. Sazerac is actually one of the few ryes not produced by MGP in Indiana. I found this interesting article on non-distiller produced whiskeys.
1 - Sazerac
Whiskey Advocate Rating: 88
Distilled by: Buffalo Trace
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : Youthful and very lively. Bold, crisp, spices (mint, cinnamon, vanilla) are softened by soothing, sweeter notes (candied fruit, coconut, caramel, and rum notes), becoming dry, flinty, and spicy on the finish. It is very clean and polished, and it is superior to other rye whiskeys in this age range. Nicely done!
This rye is one of the best ryes you can actually find on a shelf. It isn't easy to find but you can find it on shelves around town. I originally bought a bottle as this was the primary rye to buy if you wanted to make a sazerac drink, the official cocktail of New Orleans. But I've come to appreciate and drink this one straight on nights when I feel like a rye.
2 - Rendezvous Rye
Whiskey Advocate Rating: 95
Distilled by: High West
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : Thanks to the high rye content, this whiskey is very spicy, with cinnamon, crisp mint, and fennel. Underlying sweet notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, macaroon, cocoa, and candied fruit provide a calming effect and enhance the whiskey's complexity. But in the end, the rye is the victor, emerging with a vengeance and giving the whisky a bold, warming, spice finish.
A blend of two different ryes. High West takes a younger rye that is 95% rye and blends it with a much older rye that is 80%. Both of these are very high in their rye content, remember it only has to be 51% to be classified as a rye. I have not had a lot of experience with this particular bottle. South Lyndale Liquors has a single barrel Rendezous Rye that is a special blend for them, I have tasted this and it was very good. This is a good bottle to own, though it doesn't exactly fall into the value criteria.
High West is a distillery based out of Park City, UT. They source most of their rye from MGP in Indiana but are making their own and will eventually be releasing their own whiskey. They are a well-regarded micro-distillery and you really can't go wrong with anything they have produced or bottled.
I would highly recommend you make the trip to South Lyndale and try their special single barrel. It is delicious.
- I will put each of the matchups in the comments below
- You vote by "Rec'ing" the comment.
- Please only vote for one in each of the match-ups.
- Voting will go for 2 days.
Have fun. Get out and try some of these!