A bourbon throwdown

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A bourbon throwdown

Unread postby Mike » Wed Dec 09, 2015 7:16 pm

I ran cross a bottle of Rock Hill Farms bourbon (100 proof) t'other day for the first time in many's the day. It was the onliest (a Southernism I think should orta be in the Oxford English Dictionary, if it ain't) only one on the shelf so I made the purchase. I ain't gone reveal the purchase price since it ain't germane to my purposes. Before it was one of those many bourbons that became hard to find, I always used to keep RHF on my shelf cause I always used to like it considerable.

Over agin it I am throwing the relatively new Russell's Reserve Single Barrel 110 proof NAS (No Age Statement). I ain't gone reveal the purchase price since it ain't germane to my purposes. I would guess, but would claim no expertise in doing so, that it is probably about 8 years of age. But, as you no doubt know, the actual age is important only when the warehouse, its construction type (wood, brick, etc.), number of stories (4 or more), whether it is heated or unheated, the placement of the barrel within the warehouse, the degree of charing of the barrel, along with other serendipitous factors, are allowed for. Bourbon be's a very complex organic elixir whose making remains far more art than science.

Now, y'all and all, methinks it is appropriate to compare RHF agin WTRRSB because they are both considered 'high rye' recipe bourbons and both have the merits, and demerits, of being Single Barrel. One may presume that being Single Barrel means that they have undergone a selection process at the hands of someone experienced with the singularities of a 'premium' bourbon (whatever that is). As a form of 'control' in this here 'throwdown', and to try to keep meself honest, I took the occasional sip of Old Grand Dad (bonded and 100 proof) and Evan Williams green label (80 proof and about as cheap as you can get). As an aside, in my opinion, the OGD BIB is a fine bourbon, and the EW Green ain't bad bourbon.

Now, if I can make the assumption that you are still interested in this game (I do tend to like to use words aplenty and am 'old school' in that regard), read on because this 'Throwdown' ain't yet been thrown down, nor bounced about.
I am not gone try to balance the proofs against these two contenders, even though the RHF is 100 proof and the WTRR is 110, because in this case I think it worthwhile to do a 'mano a mano' comparison straight from the bottles.

Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon is produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery using their #2 high rye recipe (guess is that it is around 10 to 12% rye grain), but it is not, strictly speaking, a Buffalo Trace bourbon, since the name is not owned by Buffalo Trace.

Wild Turkey, which, it is commonly understood, only uses a single recipe for its whiskies (75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley), is also a high rye recipe, so, these bourbons SHOULD be fairly similar in mash recipe. The differences will lie in the warehousing, the barrel char, and the age........ the age being of least importance most likely since they are both in the 8 year old range. Both of these bourbons aim at the same upscale premium market, and, in my opinion, as you will see, both succeed. But, that is only my opinion. Whether they provide the value of their cost is for the drinker to decide. I will leave that question alone, but will not shy away from making some quality judgments.

I consider both of of these bourbons to be quite drinkable straight from the bottle....... some prefer a few drops of water to open the gambit, but about that I am not sure my palate is able to discern. Although, as a matter of practice, I always take a sip of water twixt tastes.

I will grade these boys based upon what is important to my palate, which is not that of a professional taster, nor is it likely to be what your palate prefers. I will make only the claim that mine is an experienced palate, but one with its own peculiarities.

Rock Hill Farms:

Excellent balance between the rich creamy sweetness and the spicy bite so characteristic of high quality bourbon. The proof carries, but, in the proper amount, does not allow for a dilution of the flavors. No rough edges or wayward tastes. The nose has a mite of vanilla, some oak tannins (desirable in my opinion for a nice finish and a degree of subtlety), and the ability to subdue the alcohol. It is, to my palate, a cut above both Old Grand Dad (an essential bourbon by which others are to be judged) and Evan Williams Green label, (which is too soft by comparison).

I do not propose to create a list of esoteric flavors as might a professional taster because my palate is not that sophisticated and also because I doubt that most professional tasters remember how to be honest. In no way do I intend to demean the ability of those who DO have that marvelous ability to discriminate very subtle aromas and tastes far beyond us mere mortals, but it is rare and most who claim it do so not because they possess that talent, but because they see an opportunity to profit from what they see as their ability to describe taste skillfully?

Wild Turkey Russel's Reserve Single Barrel:

One would not mistake this for anything other than Wild Turkey......... which is a very good thing. The creamy rich barrel flavors are there, and so is the characteristic spiciness....... a bit more than that to be found in the RHF bourbon.
I remember the first time I ever had a Wild Turkey bourbon, these many years ago. Even then, I knew it was a cut above, and it still is. The premium WT bourbons contain more barrel flavors and the richness and creaminess that comes with it.


In this case I prefer the softer taste of the RHF over the extra spiciness of the WT. Another time, maybe not.
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Re: A bourbon throwdown

Unread postby Squire » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:37 pm

Pretty much my take on it as well Mike.
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Re: A bourbon throwdown

Unread postby JLH3 » Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:33 pm

I agree on the notes. Although, being a huge fan of WTRB, I like the spice. But anytime I can find RHFni buy it.
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