Batch 016 Alc/vol 60.1% 120.2 proof
Barrel Date 5/20/02 Bottled on 9/2017
Distilled in Lawrenceburg IN. Bottled by Backbone Bourbon (Bardstown Kentucky.)
I received this as a gift. I think the MSRP is around $55-60 When I checked online. I was curious about this whiskey when I got it and I cracked into it. I usually do not buy barrel proof whiskeys for myself due to the fact they end up being super strong on the alcohol and I lose the flavor and smell quickly. Now this will be a two-part review. This was an interesting bourbon.
Here is the first part of the review.
Smell – Initially when I popped open the cork and poured myself a drink, I forgot about it being a high proof alcohol. I took a nice deep sniff. That was a mistake. It burned. I had to take a small break and come back to it. I held the glass about an inch or two away and took a few sniffs and really the only thing I could pick up on was alcohol and oak. The alcohol overpowered everything else.
Taste – The taste was extremely potent of alcohol and it had a strong burn to it. After the first slap in the mouth of alcohol I could pick up on flavors of oak, vanilla, and a sugary sweetness, it was subtle to say the least. Then the pleasantries faded to a dry mouth with a lingering burn. After a few sips it made my mouth feel numb. It was not enjoyable.
Color – A rich amber color in the bottle and having a pour in the glass revealed a yellow with a tint of orange.
Now on the second part of the review. I drank about one quarter of the bottle down and moved on to a different bottle. This bottle sat for a month or two before coming back to it. After letting the bottle sit with the empty space in it and get some air or oxidation, I poured another drink. I was determined to finish this bottle. When I poured my next drink, I realized it was a different experience. I held my glass up to my nose, took a whiff, and wasn’t punched in the face with alcohol. It had a slight burn on the nose. It transformed from offensive to pleasant. I could pick up more vanilla, oak, and caramel. It was sweet and enjoyable. The taste had also changed. It went from being only in my mind a mixer whiskey to savory and enjoyable. The flavor had a subtle bit of alcohol burn that did not overpower the flavor of vanilla and sugar. I could pick up a nice oak taste. The after taste lingered with sweetness and not numbness. I actually enjoyed the bourbon now that it was aired out. I think that it had oxidized rather than aired out, but I am not to sure. What ever happened in the bottle made a change for the better.
Letting the bottle sit over a month with three quarters left in it had completely changed the whiskey. I finished the bottle off over then next few months. I found myself gravitating towards that over my other bottles. The more I drank it down the more pronounced the flavors and smell became. I also found out that when I drank this bourbon that if I had a dry mouth it ended up not being as flavorful. If I had any thing to eat before or during, it really messed with the flavor of the whiskey. While the bourbon became a great bottle to drink. I did not like it at first. I still will only recommend this if you like high proof whiskeys. It was to much for me initially. I do not feel that the struggle in the beginning is worth it in the end. Maybe at a lower proof it would be a great bourbon but not at 120 proof. Another thing to note while the bottle sat and was slowly coming to an end the whiskey never got old or stale. It never got that smell of alcohol that was left out to long. I guess this could be attributed to the higher proof. This is a whiskey that I would not recommend to the beginner who is starting to get into whiskey drinking or one who is a stickler for flavor profiles and subtleties in whiskey. I cannot say I would recommend it but I also cannot say I wouldn’t. If you are curious try it out for yourself and make your own judgement call.