This is the cheapest of the core Colonel EHT lineup from Buffalo trace. It’s a NAS small batch expression that’s bottled in bond and thus bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: A bit musty and closed of at first before heavy oak and banana bread poke through. Cloves and nutmeg emerge with a bit of acetone lurking in the background.
Palate: Some weird metallic note up front before turning leathery with anise and toasted oak. Fairly basic palate lacking some of the spicier notes from the nose.
Finish: Cloves come back with a nutty, musty oak and a bit of wheat bread.
Rating: 83/100 – A pretty standard, young BIB bourbon. Would be nice for an every day drinker.
Value for the money: I typically see these around $38 or so which makes a good value buy.
This is the 2015 release of the Thomas H Handy rye. It’s an NAS expression that is assumed to be around 6 years old, and it’s bottled at 63.45% ABV.
Nose: Warm, buttery rye bread heavy on the yeast notes. Cocoa powder/rich fudge with butterscotch notes.
Palate: Bold rye with peppery oak, tobacco, vanilla, fresh mint, and chocolate covered cherries.
Finish: Heat is quite strong on finish and washes out some of the notes except dry oak and fresh ground rye grains.
Rating: 90/100 – Typically one of my favorite of the BTAC releases as it really is close to the sweet spot for me in the age of rye whiskies I prefer.
Value for the money: If found at retail, it’s a great buy at $80 or so. This is the cheapest of the BTAC on secondary and can usually be found for around $200 which is a bit too much for me personally.
This is part of the core range of E.H. Taylor bottles from Buffalo Trace. It’s a single barrel expression bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Applejacks, caramelized oak, green grapes, and a savory corn mash. Quintessential bourbon nose for the most part (maybe not the Applejacks) – quite nice.
Palate: Sawdust, brown sugar, butterscotch, creamed corn and oak. Again, no surprises here.
Finish: Light oak, slightly sweet and buttery, but rather short overall.
Rating: 80/100 – Finish was a letdown, and nose and palate were what you would expect at a minimum for a bourbon. Overall, a nice expression, but nothing very exciting – an easy sipper.
Value for the money: These retail around $50-$60 I believe, and I’d pass at that price point as I’d rather buy a FR Single Barrel, Blanton’s or RHF among other bourbons.
This is the 23 year expression from the Pappy Van Winkle 2013 release which is bottled at 47.8% ABV.
Nose: Super sweet wheat and rich vanilla with old oak mixed with a bit of sawdust. Brown sugar and cinnamon round out a very sweet nose.
Palate: Very oak forward, rapidly turning bitter and slightly soapy. The wheat is still present, but the other sweeter notes get buried beneath the oak unfortunately.
Finish: Oak dials down just a bit but still dominant here. Subtle banana bread accompanies the oak lasting quite some time.
Rating: 85/100 – The nose is great as with most of the other PVW expressions, but this one is too overoaked once you get past that.
Value for the money: As anyone who is a bourbon fan knows, PVW is extremely hyped and priced through the roof on the secondary since these bottles are so rare/hard to acquire. The retail for these has been around $250-$300 the last few years, but on the secondary these have crept up to close to $2000 in the past year. As with any of the PVW on the secondary, it is simply not worth anything close to secondary values.
This is an older bottling of the standard Blanton’s Single Barrel (bottle stamped 1996). It’s NAS and bottled at 46.5% ABV.
Nose: Very grain forward with heavy corn notes. Quite oaky with a nice honeydew melon note.
Palate: Sweet up front with heavy corn and subtle oak. Light fruits, but deep in the background.
Finish: A little pepper here with sweet red apples and vanilla.
Value for the money: Blanton’s usually retails around $50 and makes a great buy as they’re usually pretty solid.
This is a discontinued Blanton’s expression that was a Duty-Free bottling from a few years back. It was bottled at 49% ABV.
Nose: Sweet mash with a little acetone, candy corn, and small traces of rotted oak.
Palate: Oak heavy with caramel and cereal notes. Small traces of vanilla, but fairly bland overall.
Finish: Dry with a touch of sugar and burnt oak.
Rating: 78/100 – Muted overall – one of my least favorite Blanton’s expressions I’ve had.
Value for the money: These probably go for $200+ on secondary currently, and that’s a super easy pass.
This is a standard Blanton’s release in foreign markets which is NAS and bottled at 51.5% ABV.
Nose: Great nose – banana, cherry with a splash of oak, brown sugar, and rich caramel.
Palate: Sawdust, honey and spices – cinnamon and earthy notes.
Finish: Dry with mostly oak and anise with a bit of caramel.
Rating: 88/100 – I like the SFTB (Straight from the Barrel) a bit better, but this is another Blanton’s I wish they sold in the US.
Value for the money: These can be found for about $100 shipped to the US from Europe which is too high. If it were available in the US, I’d buy it up to about $60.
This is a Buffalo Trace wheated 12 year expression that’s bottled at 45% ABV.
Nose: Waves of wheat with vanilla, brown sugar, oak, and subtle pear/green apple.
Palate: Delicate wheat up front with barrel char & oak with black pepper. The low proof is pretty noticeable here.
Finish: Mostly oak with a little brown sugar and caramel.
Rating: 85/100 – A nice entry point into wheated bourbons.
Value for the money: These *should* retail for around $25-$30, however given the bourbon craze, some stores push this up to $60+ to take advantage of uninformed buyers. These aren’t worth anything over retail.
This is a 10 year expression from Buffalo Trace that was produced for Age International. The 10 year age stated Ancient Age has been discontinued for several years now. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Very grain forward – oak, butterscotch, vanilla, and a little WT style spice.
Palate: Funky corn up front with lots of oak. More butterscotch and vanilla – similar butterscotch notes to what I find in National Distiller’s.
Finish: Mostly corn and oak again here with a faint spice.
Rating: 84/100 – Simple, but enjoyable.
Value for the money: I think this 1.75L was around $35 which is a great buy, but seeing as these are discontinued, I don’t think you’ll see them around much. I wouldn’t pay anything over retail on the secondary for this.
This is the 2013 release of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year which is bottled at 53.5% ABV.
Nose: Heavily buttered popcorn, caramel, toasted marshmallows, and golden raisins.
Palate: Very buttery pastry dough with milk chocolate. Oak is present, but well balanced with french vanilla.
Finish: Dries out a bit with figs and buttery biscuits.
Rating: 95/100 – There’s a reason pappy is hyped – this is one of my favorite bourbons as a guy who prefers wheated/sweeter bourbons.
Value for the money: Pappy has single-handedly driven the bourbon price madness in the last few years sadly. This is going for $700+ on the secondary which is insane. At retail of $89-$99 or so, it’s probably the best buy in bourbon if you can find one which is the real challenge.