Friday, April 29, 2011

The 1st Annual Abney Gold Cup

So to make no bones about it, I am a bourbon connoisseur.  Hailing from the State of KY you are expected to know three things: Basketball, Horses, & Bourbon.  In order to not let my state down I embarked on the 1st annual Abney Gold Cup Bourbon Challenge.  All contenders on this list are of bourbon products that I frequently enjoy, but have never individually compared.  Sure you may consider this a convenience sample, but when you're a broke Ph.D. student, the ability to dissect every bourbon is limited.

Testing Methods:  In order to test the individual bourbons, in between samples I snacked on cheese and spring water in order to cleanse my palette.  In total 9 different bourbons were sampled for this study.

First off on the list...Good Ole Buffalo Trace

Price: about $25
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Great smell....reminds me of the "Angel's Share" in the bourbon warehouses, nice hint of vanilla, caramel, and oak
Taste: Very sweet, some maple and vanilla lead the way then hint of the oak
Finish: Nice finish.  Warm, but no burn and nice fade out.
Overall: Def a contender and a great bargain for the price.

Next up....Jim Beam Black.

Price: about $23
Color: light amber
Nose: Sweet, very sweet. can detect honey subtle hints of spice
Taste: Honey, spice, and some rye added in
Finish: Warm finish can first feel the sweetness of the bourbon then some spice at the end, good finish
Overall: To be honest I'm not a Jim Beam person.  I just tried this the other day and was very surprised at the quality of this product compared to regular Jim Beam.  Great bourbon for mixing, a nice product.

Batting Third...Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

Price:  $33
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Very heavy oak smell, nice corn smell, some floral
Taste:  Pretty dry taste, not good, not bad. Def can taste the corn/rye to it. Some Earthy flavors as well.
Finish: Dry finish.  Going down there is a sweetness that comes about.
Overall: This is a good bourbon don't get me wrong, but doesn't stand out esp when price is figured into the equation.  

The heavy hitter....Willett Reserve

Price: $41
Color: Mild Amber
Nose: Heavenly. Nice smooth oak smell, very rich nose can def smell the grains involved on this bourbon
Taste: Very full and well balanced taste, can taste everything from cinnamon to vanilla, to oak and other spices
Finish: Quality finish, no burn extremely smooth bourbon, very fruity on finish.
Overall: I like....alot... def can tell the step up from the before 8 yr old bourbons to this 12 yr old.  

The Constant (always quality day in, day out)...Woodford Reserve 90 Proof
(no image available...seriously my last amount of Woodford was in a flask)
Price: $30
Color: Mild amber
Nose:  Sweet, can detect citrus, ginger, slight waves of oak and char, some pine
Taste:  Some hints of the pine/spice taste, little hint of vanilla
Finish: A decent warmth to it, like how its sweet and can taste fruit on it
Overall: Good for both the quality and price.  Def gets the award for most versatile bourbon

The Sequel... Maker's 46

Color: mild Amber
Nose: Great smell, nice shades of vanilla and caramel along with some clove and cinnamon
Taste: Def taste the spice that Maker's Mark is known for that then goes to sweetness tastes of caramel 
Finish: Nice short warmth that fades out, can detect the vanilla, oak, char on finish 
Overall: Some sequels are better then the original, Maker's 46 is proof of that

Gettin Wild..... Wild Turkey Rare Breed 

Price: $35
Color: Mild amber
Nose: Def some char and vanilla mixed in on first sniff along with oak and leather
Taste: Earthy tones are abound on this one, can taste the corn/rye, along with the vanilla
Finish: Combo present between the vanilla and spices makes for a great finish
Overall: Great overall profile of this bourbon from the spice, sweetness, great small batch bourbon

The unknown... Four Roses Small Batch

Price: $26
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Very light nose which is good, floral and sweet smelling
Taste: Citrus and Licorice describe it best, but in a good way
Finish: It lets you know it's there...a short warmth to begin with that quickly fades out (I mean quickly)
Overall: Def better then basic Four Roses. It's character however leaves you wanting more.

Last but certainly not least!!   Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2000

Price: $28
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Inviting, warm and sweet can detect hints of citrus and nutmeg
Taste: A coconut meets vanilla armageddon, but very good.
Finish: Quality finish,  short warmth /tingling but in a good way nice sweet takeaway
Overall: Some people automatically place Evan Williams into the bottom of the bourbon pile, this nice reserve proves those doubters wrong.  

So now that the tasting has been completed it's time to hand out the bronze, silver, and gold medals to all of our participants.

Bronze: Buffalo Trace.  For the price there is no way you are going to find a better quality bourbon.  Very sweet bourbon that can be used in a varying amount of ways and is a good bourbon to sip on throughout the day.

Silver: Willet's Pot Still Reserve.  For a 12 yr old bourbon this is a quality product.  It had nice hints of both sweetness and oak along with a great nose and quality finish.  

Gold: Maker's 46. Comparing Maker's 46 to Maker's Mark is like comparing The Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars, every once in a while the sequel is better then the original and Maker's 46 is no different.  I love everything that this bourbon has to offer from the nose all the way to the finish.  Maker's Mark has def hit a home run in a product that has been on the shelf for right around a year.  

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