Last Friday the husband and I (and a couple of good friends) attended a Bourbon tasting held by Culinary Communion. We were able to try six different brands of Bourbon.
A couple of notes about Bourbon. It must be made in the U.S., but not necessarily in Kentucky (although that is where most of it is made). Bourbon that has been aged for at least four years can be labeled as "straight" or it can be labeled with an age.
Here's what we tried in order from least to most favorite.
Proof: 90 Region: Bardstown, KY Age: straight
Had a lot of sweet nose notes, along with a distinct dirt smell.
The husband's note about the Bourbon was "thumbs down, x10".
Proof: 90 Region: Franklin County, KY Age: straight
We were told that we should be able to smell coconut, black pepper, oak, leather and anise, but neither of us were able to identify any distinct odors. The husband called this a "harsh drink" and said "thumbs down"
Old Fitzgerald, Very Special
Proof: 90 Region: Louisville KY Age: 12 years
This was the husband's second favorite but I did not like this one at all. This (like all Bourbons) is aged in oak and I felt like the very long age time on this one made the oak overwhelming. However, the strong oak notes were very agreeable to the husband. He gave this one a "star", I said "thumbs down".
1792 Ridgemont Reserve
Proof: 94 Region: Bardstown, KY Age: 8 years
We were told that this is one of the better known and more easily found Bourbons. We both liked this one okay. It had some cinnamon and caramel notes that were nice.
W.L. Weller, Special Reserve
Proof: 90 Region: Frankfort, KY Age: straight
This one had notes of vanilla, caramel and pineapple. We both thought this would be a great bourbon for Manhattans because of the sweet notes. This one gets a "star minus".
Proof: 93 Region: Frankfort, KY Age: straight
This one had notes of caramel, citrus, vanilla and honey. This one was the favorite of both the husband and myself. It was nicely balanced, plus it comes in a nifty bottle. We give this one a "star plus".
In addition to the Bourbon we were also treated to some tasty food. Glazed pecans, delicious coca-cola pork ribs, two types of crostini, one with warm country pate and a second with a garbanzo bean spread and yummy pulled pork sliders. They also made brussel sprouts with maple syrup glaze, bacon and pecans. While these were great, the smell of the cooking overwhelmed the entire room and made it hard to smell the bourbons.
After a while some great house made charcuterie was brought out, followed by profiteroles filled with bacon ice cream (yum).
Overall we had a good (not great) night. This is the second tasting that we've done at Culinary Communion and we both agreed that this one was not as good as the first (which was scotch). We would have liked to get a bit more information about Bourbon in general and we're not sure if we got the value for the price we paid ($39 each).