Nose: This has a classic bourbon smell with added hints of alcohol and some medicinal and herbal scents. Later sniffs brought out a little bit of mint. Palate: The first sip gives you an immediate reminder that this is high proof. Like most first sips of high proof, you don’t get much other than the heat. After going over the hump of the first sip, the second sip brings out a small amount of alcohol taste (not quite moonshiney….more corn liquory) combined with a decent amount of rye spiciness. This has a decent mouthfeel, but the alcohol heat doesn’t make it very conducive to keep it in your mouth very long. In fact, I didn’t hold on to any of the sips too long because of the heat. Despite the heat, there is a weird combination of intense flavor combined with some moonshiney tastes that make me suspect that this is fairly young. The finish is long and hot. Comments: This is 118.6 proof. The label states it is a three-grain recipe (corn, rye, barley) but doesn’t indicate the %. It also reads, “Aged in charred new oak barrels less than four years.” It is distilled and bottled by FEW Spirits in Evanston, IL. I get that High Proof bourbon is an acquired taste. I happen to like them…..not because of the heat, but because it gives you the chance to taste exactly what it tastes like straight out of the barrel, before anyone alters it. That said, master distillers are master distillers for a reason. The good ones have the ability to take that out-of-the-barrel taste and refine it with the addition of water to optimize the flavor. On the other hand, barrel strength gives YOU the ability to do that. SO……I decided to add some water. I always suggest adding just a few drops first because you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. This one got around 7 drops. It immediately opened up the scent. The alcohol and medicinal scents gave way to a nice sweet honey scent with a hint of rye spice. Just those few drops brought out more of the rye spiciness and toned down the heat so that you only really feel it during the finish (although….it is still decently hot). Further sips brought out even more rye spiciness, so I suspect the mashbill has a decent amount of rye in it. OK…..bottom line…..this was another gift bottle and, at the time, this was difficult to get. It appears to have sold in the upper $60 range. As far as barrel strengths go, it isn’t the best but it is worth having a sip when you’re in the mood for a little heat and you want something with some rye flavor to it. If I have it again, I think I’ll add even more water to it. Lastly, I think this is one that would definitely benefit from more time in the barrel.
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