Shoryl and I have instituted another fun new “tour” for ourselves: twice a month, we’re heading to the streets of downtown, rating happy hours and generally having a ball.
For the full review, check out my local site, In the Heart of Minneapolis.
But I want to talk to you about bourbon. Specifically, my first ever bourbon flight.
Three Styles of Bourbon Flight, Butcher and the Boar.
- Maker’s Mark (Wheated)
- Redemption (High Rye)
- Exclusive Butcher & the Boar Single Barreled Knob Creek (Low Rye)
Before the tasting
I didn’t know much about bourbon, actually, for all that I love to drink it. I’m mostly familiar with the big ones you can find anywhere. I couldn’t have told you yesterday that there were three dominant styles of bourbon, but I could tell you that I like my drinks sweet, and bourbon is no exception.
Presented in the order I tried them:
Maker’s Mark Notes
Color: Not as richly amber as many bourbons I’ve tried, but still reasonably dark. Very much the color of an actual amber stone, actually.
Aroma: The aroma is smoky, warm, and strong. I didn’t notice much sweet in the aroma, but then, I’m kind of new at this.
First impressions: Not a lot of bit to it, though it does burn just a touch on the tongue and palate. It’s very full, and holding it in my mouth was an enveloping experience.
Taste trail: Upon swallowing and sitting, I exclaimed that I was never going to be cold again. This one builds a fire as it goes down, and I could nearly feel the heat radiating from it.
Aftertaste: Surprisingly clean. The burn dissipates nearly immediately.
Verdict: I can see why this is a household name. It’s kind of quintessentially bourbon. Definitely made for sipping, but I would put it on the rocks to calm down some of the fire of the first few sips.
Color: Surprisingly pale, almost honey colored. I was a little worried, but hey, it’s bourbon.
Aroma: An equally light aroma. Mostly fruit and floral. It wasn’t as dusky as I was used to, though the aroma went well with the pale color.
First impressions: Very, very soft in the mouth. Even though I like bourbon, the first few sips still burn. Redemption has very little heat in the mouth. It’s also very sweet, predominantly vanilla and caramel. (Not SoCo sweet, but what is?)
Taste trail: Again, very little heat from this one. Consider the difference between a roaring campfire and a friendly, gentle candle. This warmed, but more like a hug.
Aftertaste: The sweetness lingers, much like soda. Very pleasant.
Verdict: This one was by far my favorite. It such a pleasant, mild-mannered bourbon. Though I usually don’t drink neat, this one doesn’t need any ice, and indeed, ice might mellow this one too much.
Knob Creek Notes
Color: The more traditional and familiar deep amber. Clear and it even looked warm.
Aroma: The aroma of the alcohol hits before the dusky scent of the bourbon itself. Once the alcohol scent dies down, it smells just like a campfire: smoky and woodsy.
First impressions: “Goodness, this one has teeth!” I wasn’t expecting a burn on my third bourbon, but this one curled my tongue. That campfire smell? It was now burning in my mouth.
Taste trail: For as strong as it was on the tongue, the trail was not as warm as I would have expected. It’s pretty smooth once you swallow.
Aftertaste: A definite tinge of alcohol to this one, closer to an Irish Whiskey or Scotch.
Verdict: This one had a little too much alcohol in it for me, and I passed it over to Shoryl. I liked the flavor, but that bite of alcohol didn’t do it for me.
The sweetness of the Redemption made it a clear favorite for me. I also appreciated that it had the lightest warmth. However, I’m not ready to count out Low Rye or Wheated bourbons just yet. I do quite like Jim Beam, which is low rye, and the Maker’s Mark was quite good, just not suited for sipping in the sun. I may, however, limit myself to 100 pf or below, due to my reaction to the strong taste of the alcohol in the Knob Creek.
Other things you might find interesting:
- What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey?
- How To Taste Kentucky Bourbon (from which I adapted my own tasting categories)