Posts tagged ‘Rowan’s Creek’

Willett Pot Still Reserve Single Barrel Review

Today, I am reviewing Willett Pot Still Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon.  The name is quite a mouthful, and the bottle is quite a sight.  I ranked it as one of my favorite bottle designs, and you can see why.  The bourbon in the bottle is a single barrel bourbon bottled at 94 proof.  It is distributed by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who also distribute Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, and Kentucky Vintage, just to name a few.

On the nose, Willett is a real treat.  It is light, elegant, and sweet.  There are notes of freshly cut flowers, caramel popcorn, vanilla, herbs, herbal tea, and some light wood spices.  The palate is light-bodied, giving way to flavors of caramel apples, maple syrup, toasted coconut, some light herbal spices, and some floral notes.  The finish is not especially long, but it does taste very nice.  The finish reminds me a lot of caramel popcorn, but there is are also some light herbal and wood spices that come through.

Overall, Willett is a very unique bourbon, a bit reminiscent of some of the Four Roses products I’ve reviewed. My only complaint is that it does not have a lot of body, even when bottled at 94 proof.  I think that it could be bottled at an even higher proof, with a lot of benefits.  As it stands, Willett is not a great value buy as it is relatively pricey, but it is a fantastic whiskey.  It makes a great gift (especially because of the bottle design), and it should be savored slowly and responsibly.  It is easy to drink a bit too much of this one… My grade: B-.  Price: $40-45/750ml.  This is a very enjoyable whiskey to keep around, but there are better (in my opinion) bourbons on the market for less money.

Bourbon Rankings (Taste)

I have had several people ask me to provide a ranking of the bourbons I have reviewed based solely on the bourbon.  Well, here are my bourbon grades.  Check out my grading scale here.

1.  Booker’s (A)

2. Four Roses Single Barrel (A-)

3. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (B+)

4. Jefferson’s 18 yr. Presidential Select (B+)

5. Noah’s Mill (B+)

6. Rowan’s Creek (B+)

7. Maker’s 46 (B+)

8. Rock Hill Farms (B+/B)

9. Wild Turkey 101 (B+/B)

10. Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002 (B)

11. Woodford Reserve (B)

12. Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel (B)

13. Blanton’s Original (B)

14. Wild Turkey Rare Breed (B)

15. Four Roses Small Batch (B)

16. Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel Reserve (B/B-)

17. Elmer T. Lee (B/B-)

18. Basil Hayden’s (B-)

19. Buffalo Trace (B-)

20. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut (B-)

21. Elijah Craig 12 Year (B-)

22. W.L. Weller 12 Year (B-)

23. Willett Pot Still Single Barrel Family Reserve (B-)

24. Jefferson’s (B-)

25. Four Roses Yellow Label (C+)

26. Wild Turkey 81 (C+)

27. Old Forester (C/C+)

28. Knob Creek 9 Year Small Batch (C)

29. Old Grand-Dad Bonded (C)

30. Old Weller Antique (C)

31. Jim Beam Black Label (C)

32. Evan Williams Black Label (C)

33. Bulliet Frontier (C)

34. Berkshire Bourbon (C)

35.  Fighting Cock 6 Year (C-)

36. Kentucky Vintage (C-)

37. John E. Fitzgerald Larceny (C-)

38. Maker’s Mark (C-)

39. Wild Turkey 80 (C-)

40. Jim Beam White Label (C-)

41. Jesse James (D+)

Those are my bourbon rankings ranked solely on my tastes.  That’s the fun of bourbon, you might rank these completely different.  Which ones would you change?

Kentucky Vintage Bourbon Review

Kentucky Vintage is the third product that I have reviewed by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (the other two being Noah’s Mill and Rowan’s Creek).  Kentucky Vintage is a small batch bourbon bottled at 90 proof.  There is no age statement on this whiskey, but I suspect that it is between 6-10 years old, and probably a batching of whiskeys of different ages.  This is an interesting whiskey to review on this site because I have seen Kentucky Vintage at many different prices depending on where you get it.  I have seen it sold for as little as $22 a bottle, but I have also seen it sold for as much $45.  Therefore, take where you live and where you are buying it if you are interested in picking up a bottle of Kentucky Vintage.

On the nose, Kentucky Vintage is a quite shy.  It takes a few drops of water to open it up to big whiffs of caramel and charred oak.  On the palate, Kentucky Vintage has a good, full body to it, and it is very sweet.  The biggest flavors are brown sugar and caramel, with some oak coming through towards the back of the palate.  The finish gives off strong oak, some tannin, and a slight whiff of caramel after a while.  When drank neat, the finish is long and warming, but with a few drops of water to open the nose up, the finish is drastically shortened.

Overall, Kentucky Vintage falls short of my expectations of KBD’s small batch bourbons.  Noah’s Mill and Rowan’s Creek both leave Kentucky Vintage in the dust in my opinion.  Kentucky Vintage is not very complex, and the oak is not integrated very well.  However, I do think the sweet character of Kentucky Vintage would make a great mixer for certain whiskey-based mixed drinks, so if you find a bottle for cheap, it might be worth the buy.  My grade: C-.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is a good mixing bourbon, but not much of a sipper.

Top Ten Foods to Pair with Bourbon

In honor of July 4th, a day when many folks will be eating a ton of food, I thought I should do a post of my favorite foods to drink bourbon with.  Of course, bourbon is a big, flavorful spirit that is certainly not in need of a food pairing.  However, it is July 4th, and bourbon whiskey is America’s native spirit, so why not try a few fingers of bourbon with some of good food?

Here are my favorite foods to pair with bourbon…

10. Peanuts – Of course peanuts are a beer companion.  However, I think they go well with certain types of bourbon as well.  I think peanuts go especially well with oaky bourbons, so maybe try a bottle of Rowan’s Creek next time you are shooting pool and munching on peanuts.

9. Apple pie (a la mode) – I find that the sweetness of an apple pie is bolstered well by a full-flavored bourbon with a lot of brown sugar and caramel flavors.  If you’re up for it, try a finger or two of Booker’s with your apple pie this evening.

8. Pistachios – Pistachios are another great beer companion that also works well with bourbon.  I like a big bourbon with my pistachios to compliment the big pistachio flavor.  Take it slow, and enjoy a long evening with friends, pistachios, and a bottle of Eagle Rare 10 year.

7. Fresh Peaches – Fruits are a great bourbon companion, and I have found that peaches have a delicate enough flavor to compliment bourbon well.  Peaches are a fantastic pairing with the subject of my most recent bourbon review, Jefferson’s.

6. Cheese and Crackers – Crackers are especially good for a bourbon tasting because they will clear the palate to ready you for more bourbon.  However, a light-bodied cheese with some crackers is a fine snack for the next summer evening with friends.  Like with peanuts, I usually like a big, oaky bourbon with my cheese and crackers.  However, a flavorful, rye-forward bourbon like Wild Turkey 101 also makes for a great evening.

5. Banana Bread – Banana bread has a tempered enough flavor profile to make for a very good bourbon companion.  I find that banana bread goes especially nice with a balanced, sweet bourbon.  This is where I recommend a bottle of my favorite value bourbon, Buffalo Trace.

4. Dark Chocolate – A few bites of a bitter dark chocolate can really set off some amazing flavors in the palate of a bourbon.  If you were to indulge in some Old Forester with some dark chocolate, you mind just find a whole new reason to love a great value buy like Old Forester.

3. Pecans – Of all the nuts that I have on my list, pecans are soundly my favorite to drink bourbon with.  They have a natural ability to compliment sweet flavors very well, which is probably why they top so many desserts.  Although I have only tried this pairing on one occasion, I was extremely pleased with the way pecans tasted as I was drinking William Larue Weller.

2. Cheesecake – Cheesecake is one of my favorite foods, with its soft, seductive flavors and texture.  It goes great with bourbon because it will not overpower the palate.  If you want to make your 4th of July a memorable one, I would highly recommend a slice of cheesecake and a glass of Woodford Reserve.

1. Steak – A nice cut of steak is my all-time favorite food to drink bourbon with.  For some reason, the savory flavors of a steak always seem to go right along with a great summer bourbon.  There are few things in life that I enjoy more than eating a good steak, and washing it down with a glass or two of Basil Hayden’s as the sun sets on a warm summer’s eve.

Of course, most of the time, I drink bourbon before or after a meal, not during.  However, if you would like to try some bourbon and food pairing, I think these ten foods are a great place to start.  Please comment and let me know which great bourbon foods I’ve left off my list.  Let it ride!

 

Rowan’s Creek Review

Rowan’s Creek is the first bourbon I’ve reviewed that comes from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) line of bourbons.  Rowan’s Creek comes out of a small batch collection that includes one of my choice bourbons, Noah’s Mill.  Rowan’s Creek is the younger brother in the small batch collection, being aged 12 years to Noah’s Mill’s 15.  However, that also means that Rowan’s Creek is cheaper, usually in the same price range as a more popular bourbon like Knob Creek.  The two whiskeys have similar profiles, but as you will see, I think Rowan’s Creek is the one I’d rather drink.

Like Knob Creek, Rowan’s Creek is bottled around 100 proof, which gives it a powerful flavor profile and mouth feel.  On the nose, Rowan’s Creek comes right out and says that it is a big, oaky bourbon.  However, it is a sweet oak, with some of the burnt sugars from the barrel coming through as the bourbon sits in the glass.  There are rich notes of brown sugar, maple fudge, and nutmeg.  On the palate, Rowan’s Creek is medium-bodied, with a strong oak character.  However, it is backed by some citrus notes (pears, oranges), vanilla, and roasted nuts which add a lot to the whiskey.  The finish is strong and of medium length, leaving oak and fresh pepper all over the palate.  However, like the nose, the oak has a sweet character to it, with some well-timed vanilla.

Overall, Rowan’s Creek is a big, bold bourbon whiskey.  One of the most interesting things about Rowan’s Creek is that it opens up very nicely in the bottle.  Don’t go through the bottle too quickly, or you might miss this bourbon’s beautiful evolution from a rich, oak monster to a complex, sweet, well-oaked bourbon.  It is not going to be everybody’s favorite bourbon, much the same way that people are polarized over Knob Creek.  However, between the two, Rowan’s Creek has a lot more complexity. Rowan’s Creek can be a tough bourbon to find, but if you love rich, oaky bourbons, then it is a good bourbon for a good value.  My grade: B+.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This is very good stuff, but it isn’t quite a top shelf bourbon (but it’s close).