Blind Wheated Bourbon Tasting by Chris

Greetings fellow Bourbon Evangelists! We’ve been mostly dark over the holidays. We’ve both been hanging out with family and I’ve been dealing with an obscene amount of paperwork. While we finish up Part 2 of the Prohibition extravaganza, I thought I’d post an interesting little activity I did over the break.

I was perusing my collection and noticed a Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 Year Old hiding in the back. Needing an excuse to open it, I decided to do a blind tasting with some things I had on hand. Since Heaven Hill, makers of Old Fitzgerald, are discontinuing their 1849 label and shunting this towards the newer Larceny brand, I figured that would make a good comparison. I  added some of the Weller line as a wheated baseline, and then couldn’t resist sticking Van Winkle Lot B 12 Year in to see where it shook out. I did the tasting blind, wrote down all my thoughts, and only then looked at the ‘answers’. So what you’re getting is a label-blind perspective on these bottles. Identity of each bourbon is at the bottom so you can read it blind, as I tasted, if you want. Enjoy!

2015-01-11 18.53.12

Number 1

Nose: Thick, syrupy, plenty of wood (more of the planty expression of wood rather than vanilla), hints of bananas, candied nuts

Taste: smooth, refined, brown sugar, red fruits/berries, toffee, something coconut or otherwise estery, medium length finish into nice barrel notes, good mouth feel (if a little thin), finish fades to slightly tannic black tea flavor

BBB Rating: 3 barrels (was a 3.5, but the lingering tannic/black tea ended up downgrading it)

Guess: Weller 12 Year Old

Number 2

Nose: something distinctly Beam-like/yeasty, bananas, some young moonshine notes, cashews

Taste: spearmint, lightly sweet, fair amount of corn, some baking spice (clove and allspice), pretty thin finish, faint barrel vanilla

Rating: 2.5 barrels, on par with Maker’s Mark

Guess: Larceny

Number 3

Nose: Very rich, vanilla, caramel, red fruits, something distinctly Buffalo Trace, spicy in the non-rye sense, reminds me of apple pie

Taste: full/fills the mouth, great esters (green apple/coconut), good barrel to round out the back, nice long mellowing finish that stays pleasant without getting tannic

Rating: 4 Barrels, slightly overpowering ethanol nose and taste nearly kept it at a 3.5

Guess: Weller Antique 107 Proof

Number 4

Nose: wet wood, backed with decent barrel notes, again something nutty/cashew, fruity and pleasing

Taste: leads with barrel and sweetness, ethanol there in a good way, vanilla and toffee fade into a nice almost butterscotch, medium to long finish that stays pleasent

Rating: 3 Barrels

Guess: Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 Year Old

Number 5

Nose: thick syrupy nose, red fruits, candy, backed by good barrel, not too much ethanol, something slightly astringent, pleasant

Taste: creamy, good level of sweetness and barrel (vanilla/pralines), good esters (mostly coconut), medium to quick finish, much better balance than #1 despite similar flavors

Rating: 3.5 barrels

Guess: Van Winkle 12 Year Old Lot B

The Answers

1: Weller 12 Year Old

2: Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 Year Old

3: Weller Antique 107 Proof

4: Larceny

5: Van Winkle Lot B 12 Year Old

Comments:

The Weller Antique was a major standout in this lineup, and my favorite overall. I was very surprised that I enjoyed the Larceny significantly more than the 12 Year Old Fitzgerald. Heaven Hill has done a great job selecting the barrels for this expression. Somewhat as expected, the Van Winkle had a more complex, and slightly more enjoyable nose and taste than the Weller 12 despite the same mash bill, but not nearly enough to account for the price/availability difference. Let us know if you guys have had similar experiences, cheers!

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