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Old 02-21-2005, 09:25 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Puerto Rico/NYC
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Final Assessment of Kentucky Vintage and yet ANOTHER . . .

Bloofingtonian Top 25 Bourbon List.

First off, my apologies to The Colonel because in the final analysis I had to say that I liked this release from a mysterious "Small Batch" bourbon company in Bardstown, KY just a WEE bit more than Fighting Male Member Bourbon. And my apologies also to Jim Beam Black, because while it is low priced, fine bourbon whiskey indeed, I must sadly kick it out of my Top 25. Fred Noe is a very nice man, and the bottle he autographed for me will sit on my bar underneath his picture for as long as I am able to will it, but it's time for it (Jim Beam Black) to say goodbye to the vaunted list.

As for Kentucky Vintage, this is yet ANOTHER of those $19.99 bargains that I keep finding, mostly at http://www.binnys.com, which has become my favorite web site. The "other" of the two liquor stores that I found in downtown Manhattan recently also charges $19.99 for it, while Astor Wines is charging $31.99. While I will lean heavily toward Astor Wines for many future purchases, this is ONE I won't be getting there.

Kentucky Vintage has that same wax button on the neck (different color) as Old Commonwealth and Pure Kentucky. The proprietor's signature is also the same as on the label of Pure Kentucky. Recent evidence provided through some discussion right here and elsewhere, as well as my own speculation, indicates that this is whiskey that some major distiller considered to be "slightly off" and was "offed" to some local yokels to make some money from by putting their own label on it and selling it at bargain basement prices.

With no age statement on this somewhat flavor-muted but quirkily intriguing bourbon, it nevertheless shows a distilled date of 6/25/90. I think it is therefore proper to conclude that it was bottled recently, and is possibly 12-14 years old. Being that I appreciate well aged bourbons that's right in my range, although the 90 proof is a bit weak, being down near the low side of what I like in strength.

This bargain brand bourbon has a quirky, dare I say it, "cloying" flavor which draws you in with each sip. Although the flavors are not quite bold enough to make it exciting and able to vault into the Top 15, I find it quite interesting and very satisfying overall. This bourbon goes straight in with a blast of very sweet, brassy oak, wildflower honey and dips into a very weird mushroom with herb butter kind of flavor. This flavor plays throughout the six sip episode that marks each Bloofingtonian tasting, and the belly warming effect is very, very nice as the wildflower honey builds throughout.

I wait until 25 minutes after the pour to take my first sip, and subsequent sips are taken at the marks of 45, 60, 75, 90 and 105 minutes. I found a long time ago that leaving bourbon or rye sit in the glass for over two hours (120 min.) caused an annoying and sour backdrop to any sip of these whiskies. I also found that I don't even start to like any bourbon or rye until at least 15 minutes after pouring it, which is why I wait 25 minutes to take the first sip. I also stir it with any available stirring implement, chopstick, knife blade, whatever, after the pour into my official Riedel Bourbon Glass.

After at least five tastings I have found that although the boldness and sharp definition between flavors is lacking, Kentucky Vintage is fine, well aged, distinct tasting bourbon, and it's made for the bourbon sipper on a tight budget at $19.99 plus shipping/tax for a "walkout price" of less than $25. Anytime you can get a bottle of fine bourbon for a walkout price of less than $25, you have kicked major whiskey sippin' tuchas.

The funny thing about my list is that the $200 a bottle Pappy's 23 is slip, slip, slippin' away. How much do you want to pay for 95.6 proof root beer anyway? Talk about a superstar passing his peak. Stick with the 20, guys!!!


Top 25 Bourbon List

1. A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 year old
2. Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 year old
3. The Classic Cask Single Batch 20 year old
4. Booker's True Barrel
5. W.L. Weller Wheated 19 year old
6. Distiller's Masterpiece I - Cognac Finish
7. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year old
8. George T. Stagg 2002
9. Baker's
10. George T. Stagg 2003
11. Pappy Van Winkleís Family Reserve 15 year old
12. Knob Creek
13. Pure Kentucky
14. Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve
15. Old Rip Van Winkle 15 year old
16. Basil Haydenís
17. Henry McKenna 10 year old bonded
18. Jeffersonís Reserve 15 year old
19. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
20. Blantonís
21. Kentucky Vintage
22. Fighting Cock 6 year old
23. Pappy Van Winkleís Family Reserve 23 year old
24. W.L. Weller Special Reserve 7 year old
25. Old Commonwealth
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