Nose: This has a very light smell that leans toward the “classic bourbon” smell, with some added scents of corn. It is pleasant but pretty light, so there isn’t much in the way of noteworthy scents. A deeper sniff will get you an alcohol tingle in your nose. Palate: The first sip of this starts out with a very nice, oily mouthfeel. It has a very deep and rich feel to it. It has a dark chocolate/milk chocolate mix of flavors, with a little raisin thrown in. Its warmth doesn’t start until the finish. It is pretty peppery, but it really doesn’t have a great deal of heat. It warms part way down the throat and then fades away. In later sips, the heat in the finish seemed to linger longer than in the first few sips. It leaves a bit of a semi-bitter aftertaste, but it isn’t super strong and it is not unpleasant. On later sips I picked up some toasted oatmeal flavors. Comments: I like this but it also confounds me because it seems so close to being REALLY good without quite getting there. It has a rich sweetness that seems to be complex, but only because it is difficult to pinpoint specific flavor profiles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can enjoy this without knowing exactly why (yeah, I know that sounds pretty waffly). First off, this should not be confused with A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 year old, which is MUCH more expensive and pretty much impossible to buy. This is a 92 proof put out by Anchor Distilling (the same folks who make the delicious Anchor Steam beer). It seems to be a good place in the proof range for this. Total Wine sells the latest iteration of this for $32.50. At this price, if it tastes the same (my bottle is from several years ago), this is a good buy. The label also indicates that this is a blend of “between 4 and 6 years old”. Hirsch is actually a name that has some history, but that history is very confusing, so I won’t get into it. Instead, just know that this is “proudly bottled by Hirsch Distillers, Bardstown, KY”. Yeah, baby…..Bardstown. I hate to constantly beat this drum, but I will readily admit I have a weird love affair with this small Kentucky town. Unfortunately, it isn’t really clear that anything in this bottle was actually DISTILLED in Bardstown. It looks more likely that it is an MGP product. The “short” story is, this particular iteration was put out by Anchor Distilling, but they were bought out by Hotaling & Co (which has its own fascinating history) in 2018. So…it seems that this “small batch” version is no longer being made. There is SOMETHING named Hirsch out there with a new bottle and label, but quite frankly, the history is SO confusing that I don’t know if it is even a close cousin to what I’m tasting. I suppose the only way to figure this out is to buy a bottle of the “new” Hirsch! Oh well, put it on the list!
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