We last featured some excellent bourbons last year, when we took a trip to taste the superb range of Buffalo Trace expressions and interviewed the man with the Midas Touch- Harlen Wheatley.
This time round, a couple of total crackers we happened to discover at this years Whisky Live.
William Heaven Hill 18 year old - 127 proof- limited to 225 bottles - available only at Heaven Hill Distillery
Nose: Huge waft of sweet, fragrant vanilla. Possibly the most natural vanilla note I've nosed from any bourbon - amazing. Then comes some polished wood, bee's wax and superbly floral exotic fruits- guava, passion fruit and mango. Finally comes a little Lapsang tea - all this from a simple measure of bourbon. Sensational balance and depth.
Palate: Rich tea biscuits, lemon tea, rich sweet vanilla fudge, with a back beat of more exotic fruit. Reduced and refined, without any noticeable alcoholic bite.
Finish: Lingering cereal notes, lemony sherbet, with a touch of milky coffee, as the flavour's start to subside. This really takes some beating.
Overall: A supreme giant among aged bourbons. This is real back of the cabinet stuff, for the REALLY special evenings.
Next up: a very old fellow, from the house of Van Winkle:
Van Winkle - 23 years old - 95.6 proof - limited to 1,500 bottles
Previous batches of this good ol' boy sold out very quickly and this new bottling surely won't be around for very long.
Nose: Woody spices, cedar, tobacco leaves from fine cigars and a hint of sweet vanilla. Some orange zest and a slight prickle of alcohol.
Palate: Loads of big sherbet - florals, lemon and lime fizziness, mixed with vanilla notes, anise
and dark chocolate covered digestive biscuits.
Finish: Long, lengthy and very powerful. Less clarity and balance than the Heaven Hill, but certainly none the less effective.
Overall: Until this tasting, the George T Stagg was undoubtedly the finest bourbon we had tried- these two add more names to the list of bourbons we simply have to track down- I think a trip to Kentucky is probably in order!!