Last Friday the Filson Historical Society and The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History did a joint tasting to raise money for the two institutions. The panel that led the tasting consisted of Julian Van Winkle, his son Preston and myself. The paying guest included Jerry Dalton from Jim Beam and Randy Getz, Oscar Getz's grandson. The theme of the tasting was "Asleep in the Wood" and we compared aged whiskey with old whiskey with old whiskey being bottles found in a closet after many years. Here are the tasting notes I scribbled down.
The first product was a current bottle of Old Forester 86 proof, 4 YO bourbon.
Color: Golden Straw
Nose: Alcohol, with some corn sweetness. not very complex.
Taste: Corn sweetness with the rye spiciness with a hint of citrus, I thought orangs but apricot was also mentioned.
Finish: very quick and dry
Notes: This would be a bourbon and coke type bourbon but can be pleasant by itself.
Maker's Mark 90 proof, 1977 bottle. Our first "old" whiskey.
Color: Light Amber
Nose: Caramel with a hint of oak.
Taste: Corn and caramel sweetness with some oak but not the smoky oak of an older bourbon.
Finish: Quick and dry for the most part with just a hint of vanilla lingering for several minutes.
Notes: We determoned that this bottle, made while Maker's Mark was still family owned, was probably at least two years longer in the barrel than the current product.
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, 13 YO, 95.6 proof, bottle # C2898.
Color: Dark Amber
Nose: Very complex. Honey, spice (nutmeg) and vanilla. A little water enhances the vanilla.
Taste: Lots of rye spiciness with dry, smoky wood. Water makes it less dry but but brings out the cinnamon spice and open up to some fruit - ripe apple.
Finish: Dry woody finish but water shortens the finish.
Notes: Julian pointed out that this product is popular with Scotch drinkers, probobly because of the spiciness of the rye. He also pointed out that this whiskey is the last of his 13 YO and is actually a 17 YO being made in 1985. If you likr rye and find a bottle, buy it now because there will not be any more.
Mount Vernon Pure Rye Bottled in Bond (1917-1929)
Color: Dark red amber
Nose: Rich dark honey. Adding water adds floral aromas such as honeysuckle.
Taste: Wood and lots of it. This whiskey was not made to be aged 12 years. There are also a lot of spice smells such as pepper and cloves. Water reduces the wood and brings out some citrus - very much like oranges with cloves.
Finish: Very dry wood smoke - Water makes it more pleasant.
Notes: This whiskey was popular with bootleggers during prohibition because they could cut it with neutral spirits and turn 1 pint into six pints. I can understand why after drinking the unadulterated whiskey.
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 YO 90.4 proof
Color:Amber, but lighter than I expected.
Nose: Caramel, Chocolate and oak. Very complex, and I meant to add water but the bourbon did not last long enough to do so.
Taste: Very complex and sweet. I found caramel toffey, pecan nuts and oak.
Finish: Very Long and pleasant with lingering caramel and vanilla.
Notes: A very good bourbon. This the wheat recipe bourbon made at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
Old Rip Van Winkle Bottled in Bond (1916-1933)
Color: Dark red wood like wild cherry
Nose: Very complex on the bad side. Grain, yeast, iodine and horse sweat.
Taste: Very medicinal with iodine and camphor that slowly yields to some caramel and smokey oak and sulphur - like a burnt matchstick.
Finish: Medicinal with traces of the barnyard - like the morning breath after a very bad drunk on sweet liqueurs.
Note: This was a product we all wanted to try because it was a 4 grain bourbon made with corn, rye, malted barley and oats. It turned out we wish we had not drank it. To say we were disappointed is understatement.
These are my notes. I hope you enjoy them.