Re: Whisky Flights - Bourbon - Low to Mid Budget 4-12 yrs
Last night, I compared Old Charter 10 and 12. I found 10 to have the viscosity and feel of a rivalry similar to Macallan 10 and 12. In that shoot out, I am partial to neither the ten or twelve for the drinkability. The same rivalry goes to Old Charter 10 and 12, but in both Macallan and Old Charter, the slightly more aged 12 year olds have more wood character from the barrel due to aging. When comparing apples to oranges, it really comes down to what you prize in a 10 year old.
Today, I varied the theme and went with Early Times 354 Bourbon. It is a 40%ABV that is priced at $14.99 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulleit prices out at about almost double depending upon the retailer. The Old Charter 12 year old, if you can find it is priced at $21.99.
On the Bulleit, I get a vanilla brown sugary honey scent that moves to spearmint then I can sense the wood aging on the nose. It is a 45%ABV that mellows a bit if you let it sit a spell. The taste brings honey spearmint to peppermint spice. It dries a bit from the wood char typical of bourbon. The spearmint peppermint spice feel provides a mouth feel that lingers at just the right tempo. This bourbon is reputed to be a bit stronger than others. Younger, not young, bourbons share these characteristics.
On the Early Times 354 Bourbon, it has a lower 40%ABV. Definitely more honey vanilla on the nose with a orange citrus like scent. More pepper than mint turning into fresh poundcake. As a younger whiskey, I get a more of an H2O feel as the vanilla honey moves to the younger oak wood notes. The spirit is not dry, but drier due to the newer char. Again, this is typical of Bourbon based upon the method. I can only hope that ET is allowed to age some casks in an effort to show how this spirit can evolve. A quite affordable and reasonable bourbon that does not have the sex appeal, since it is looked upon as being too young to win the dance with the stars.
Old Charter 12 year old is a lost icon in bourbon. A sought after, yet once common bourbon, its label is now under the control of Buffalo Trace. BT has decided not to reintroduce Old Charter 12, but focus instead on creating and marketing other brands. The nose is pure brown sugar. I can just hear Mick Jagger singing in the background; oh, it tastes so good, but I haven't tasted it yet. The vanilla follows and I get a bit of newly tanned leather at the end. This also has a bit of peppermint on the nose, as well. The taste starts like mint honey, but has similar feel to the Bowmore 18 y.o. on the finish. It lacks the bit, but the tannin char like finish brings out something similar on the mouth feel. One of these days, I am going to read someone describe exactly what I got in both the Bowmore 18 and Old Charter 10 finish.
Buffalo Trace - Binny's Selection 2009 - 45%ABV - mint honey vanilla with a hint of Lapage's Mucilage glue. The taste is more vanilla honey and almonds than the others. It is no wonder why Hansell praised this whiskey in 2005, which was the year after I visited the distillery. This bottle is a bit over three years old, but was stored well. This is a single barrel selection, I believe, but not cask strength. The mint spice char mouth feel is what bourbon drinkers expect. However, it is not as smooth as the more aged expressions. Its character and complexity are more appreciated after a nip of the Early Times Bourbon.
After samples of all four drams, the limitations of the taste buds are more pronounced. I noticed more almond on the Bulleit after drinking the others.
Summary: I prefer the Buffalo Trace Binny's Select Cask. However, it is unclear whether this selection is from 2005 or 2009. It was purchased in 2009.