Recently hung out with some whisky friends that I met on reddit. We decided to challenge ourselves to a competition, of sorts.
Three Bourbons were poured. They were:
- Old Rip Van Winkle 10 (2016)
- Old Weller Antique 107
- Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 From Floor #1
Could we, consistent whiskey drinkers, pick out the high priced Bourbon from the bunch.
The theory, based on economics, is the higher priced bourbon would stand out. If the hype was to be believed, the one that needs to be auctioned off, has been near the heart of the bourbon secondary insanity, and has a name that reverberates throughout whiskey circles, then we should be able to note it.
Making this harder is the fact that the Weller is the same mashbill as the Old Rip Van Winkle, with less years and same Abv. Originally the Buffalo Trace should have been the same, however a reading mishap meant that we actually included a completely different mashbill.
Thus we have our experiment. I nosed each of these in order, side by side, with a time limit and a pour limit (half ounce because my liver is fatty enough).. So while these are reviews, they do not carry my typical standard of time, amount, etc. They were reviewed enough to discover any differences and attempt to figure them out.
Now I assume you’ve skipped that part and already writing me a comment asking if I’m really, really wrong. Great. Let’s get to it, and not leave you waiting.
Oh, and /u/devoz accidentally let slip which one was the ORVW while pouring. None the less, we played along for his ego and kept the original idea in mind (a side by side by side).
Price: $95.00 CAD, however no longer available at the LCBO (and the other two floors were never sold, because… the LCBO isn’t that good)
Type: Bourbon Whisky
Total Production: 4 Barrels
Date Distilled: 11-29-01
Date Barreled: 11-30-01
Recipe: BT Rye Sour Mash #1
Mash Type: Sour
Still Proof: 140 Entry Proof: 125
Warehouse / Floor: k / 1
Rick / Row / Slot: 1/1/1/-4
Barrel Type: Charred White Oak
Maker: Independent Stave Co.
Staves: 3 Month Air Dried
Treatment: #4 Char
Age at Bottling: 12 years, 3 months
Filtration: Chill Filtered
Colour: 5Y 7/8
Nose: Honey, wood, cranberry, grape
Initial nose is sweet, woody, and fruity. Shows more fruit than the other ones. I sneaked a peek at my old review of OWA before, and noticed fruit in it. I think this is that (gee, I suck at these_.
Taste: Dark honey/molasses, cedar, grain, pear, cereal
More sweet, less fruit on the taste. Nice pear note. Oddly enough, looking back, I didn’t pick up any spice on this one. Just pear and wheat. We didn’t realize it was a rye mashbill until we noticed it later.
Finish: Corn, cream, pencil shavings, sand, pear
Creamy finish, has a lighter, dryer wood note here. The fruit is back. I think I have this one in the bag.
Conclusion: I was wrong, but I liked this one. Showed the most growth, and matched the others for well done notes. Taste is nice. Good pear notes throughout, liked the cereal elements, and overall the corn wasn’t too harsh as to overwhelm.
Surprisingly more complex than ones with more alcohol. Age does help, it would seem.
Guess: Old Weller Antique 107
Actually: Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 From Floor #1
Price: $36.95 CAD at the LCBO (No longer available due to overwhelming popularity)
Colour: 10YR 5/8
Nose: Pencil shaving, tree sap, eucalyptus, molasses
Herbs on this one are less developed than the third. Wood is lightest of the bunch. There’s some sweetness, but takes time to pull out. Overall not enjoying it out of the three.
Must be the new one (I’m really bad at guessing).
Taste: Honey, pineapple, wood, sprite-y, butter
Fruit is here, but more tart than before. Butter notes are nice. About the same as the others, less developed.
Must be the low abv. one.
Finish: Dry, bitter wood, molasses, wheat
Bitter finish on this one. Really quite rough. It’s a wheater, that’s for certain. All three are dry, but this one is the driest.
Conclusion: My least favourite, which given I enjoyed it so much before, I don’t know what’s changed. Other than me. I found the flavours in this one harder to pull out. Overall was more bitter than the others.
I think comparing it to others has made me a bit more critical. Or maybe this needed more time. Or maybe I hate it now. Or hate life. Or this year sucked? Who knows. More bitter than I’d prefer.
Guess: Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection
Actually: Old Weller Antique 107
Price: $85 CAD at the LCBO… if you win the lottery to buy it.
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Sharp wood, cereal, pineapple, herbal
More refined wood taste, better use of acid, general herbal note. More to this one than the OWA, not as much compared to the BTEC.
Herbal note is more generic here than the OWA. Notes meld nicely together.
Taste: Caramel, sprite-y, olive oil, cashew
Same sprite-y element as the OWA, Should have guessed they were similar now that I’m not rushing… And am sober. Butter is more a brown butter/nutty note now.
Much better mouth feel as well on this one. Big caramel note.
Finish: Salt, cinnamon, oak, molasses, wheat
Wish there was some more caramel here. It’s more so molasses, which does well with the salt. Any overly dry or bitter notes are gone, made better with some more time. Or being the better barrels.
Nice spice at the end.
Conclusion: Yup, it tastes noticeably better than the OWA, but not enough for me to lose my head about finding this one. Taking some time to read my notes, I should have gotten 3/3, but was rushing and thought the BTEC was a wheater as well.
Also I’m a whiny bitch who can’t guess mysteries, let’s not forget that.
All in all, I don’t think I’d hunt the secondary for this, and would most likely trade if I had it. It’s not bad, but the hype seems to have raised what to expect from this way higher than it should have.
Guess: Old Rip Van Winkle 10 (2016)
Actually: Old Rip Van Winkle 10 (2016)
Bourbon review #184-186, Kentucky review #116-118, Whiskey Network review #984-986